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      U.P. Gardening Tip - September 24, 2009

      By Donna Campbell

      A fruitful tree laden with ripe peaches has wowed and awed this Master Gardener. Last Sunday, my next-door-neighbor Connie and I were offered a chance to pick peaches from a new neighbor TMs tree last Sunday. We both gleefully hastened over to her apple, pear and peach orchard along the Chocolay River in South Marquette. What pluck-luck!, I clucked ecstatically as we found a peach tree so laden with ripe fruit that we couldn TMt hold our baskets up near the drooping branches fast enough for the bounty to fall in. The soft fuzzy peaches literally fell into our waiting, grasping arms. The gathering instinct was so strong; I greedily tried to hoard as much fruit as I could. I tempered myself while our new neighbor, apparently delighted, watched the happy harvest. Take all you can carry, she said.

      I could not believe such a tree could grow so bountiful here in the U.P. Visions of peach cobbler, peach ice cream and flaming brandied peach made both my mouth and eyes water. Later, at home, I looked up peaches in the Master Gardener TMs text and was pleasantly surprised. Sure, Tree Fruit Culture was part of my Master Gardener lessons but I hadn TMt paid much attention to peaches, plums and pears and had been, in past seasons, diverted by grapes, apple and cherry trees. I had always thought apple and cherry trees did well in our U.P. climate, but not peach. Well that notion ended last week.

      The memories of last Sunday, with the smacking September sunshine on my face and warm fuzzy peaches falling into my arms, I reveled as close to how a humming bee might feel while burying its face in flowers. For a brief moment, I felt I had fallen into paradise.

      Here TMs the scoop on peach tree orchards in the U.P.:As a rule, peaches are not cold-hardy and usually are susceptible to dormant season cold injury. This particular tree (I believe it TMs a Canadian Harmony or a Flammin Fury Peach). It grew at Lake Superior level and therefore may not have suffered from cold injury temperature. The Chocolay River doesn TMt freeze over and this may have given this peach tree a particular edge. The tree was top heavy on its south side as it stretched for the sun TMs warmth. It is in need of pruning. Dearest new neighbor: I will gladly attempt the task for trade.

      I would love to hear from other gardeners on their encounters with peach trees in the U.P. I am truly amazed!

      TV6 Contributor - Donna Campbell, Master Gardener

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