Then something miraculous happened - my Beauty plum gave us the most wonderful and bountiful crop last summer! That tree is in one of the better-drained places on my lot, and I thought maybe I could finally turn my pathetic peach performance around if I could give them the same kind of well-drained soil that produced such a prolific plum. My first thought was to build a big raised bed for them, but then I remembered all the other raised beds I’ve ever built..... nightmares of weeds, crab grass, and nut sedge. The only way to keep the grass out and make it work would be to make a really tall raised bed, something over 12 inches.
When I started calculating the volume of soil needed to fill such a deep bed, it soon becomes apparent how large an undertaking and expense it would be. When I also considered that a raised bed is a pretty permanent installation, and the time it would take to buy, haul, and build it, I started thinking of intermediate options. Then it came to me... Pots! Why not try starting peaches in pots? I could start them in big pots, and if I decided to later I could build the big bed around them.
First I put down some old paving stones I had lying around to cover the area, to let me cut the grass and weeds around the pots easily. Then I just put out four big 25-30 gallon pots that had previously been used for blueberries, and filled them with a 50/50 mix of ProMix and pine bark mulch. I ordered the four low chill peaches of the Pride series (Eva’s Pride, Mid Pride, May Pride, and August Pride *all patented by Zaiger Genetics) on dwarfing Citation rootstock from Bay Laurel nursery, and planted the bare-root trees as soon as they arrived. I pruned them back pretty severely, and ran an irrigation line to all four pots.
Peaches are marginal at best in our area, and my hypothesis that by keeping the trees small through pruning and root confinement, I may be able to more easily manage the pests and issues that normally ruin the fruit. I know a big tree make more fruit, but if given a choice between a small tree with a few good peaches and a big tree full of worm-filled ones, I’ll take the small tree! If I later decide that the pots are too confining, I can either root prune, or build a raised bed around the patio and cut the trees free.