There is nothing quite like a fresh, tree-ripened peach!
The sweet, tart burst of flavor in your mouth and the warm, sticky juice running down your arm and dripping off your elbow, paint the picture of the perfect summer afternoon snack.
I remember as a kid picking these succulent wonders off Grandpa’s peach tree in Breckenridge, Texas.
Fast forward 40 years and I am finally growing my own peaches. And in Connecticut, no less.
About five years ago I planted an Elberta peach tree and have patiently been waiting for peaches that could live up to my childhood memories.
In just the second year, the tree was generous enough to put out those wonderful pink blossoms in the spring. I had visions of peaches tantalizing my taste buds.
Alas! Little did I know there was an army of peach tree marauders who would de-peachify my tree, leaving me with few if any peaches. Squirrels and bacterial spot, you are not my friends
I tried all kinds of things to keep the squirrels at bay.
You can figure out what the squirrels did.
I tried some organic spray that was supposed to be offensive to their cute little noses. How well did it work? Not too well. I also tried some Tabasco sauce, but that didn’t help either.
Last year while I was gone the first week of August, my industrious wife and daughter got a sheet metal contraption that went around the trunk of the tree and seemed to help some.
But the real culprit was the bacterial spot, those black spots on peaches. By the end of the summer, the peaches snubbed by the squirrels were covered with spots that eventually turned my peaches into balls of moldy, rotting fruit while still hanging from the tree.
This was not the way I remembered peaches from Grandpa’s orchard.
How to control bacterial spot on peaches, that is the question. It is very hard to control and almost impossible to completely eliminate, but I made a concentrated effort this year. I was determined to finally have a real peach crop. And the efforts paid off.
I used a product called Plant Guardian™ sold by Gardens Alive. There are other products that do similar things, I am sure. Look for something that has Bacillus subtilis in it. Make sure you follow the instructions on the product label.
I sprayed several times during the summer but could have been a little more consistent. This same product also helped keep the blight off my tomato plants.
Some of the peaches still got a few spots on them (see the picture above), but I think the spraying helped mitigate the problem to a large degree, certainly compared to last year. But the fruit hardly affected. The spots just came off when I peeled them.
Last summer, I was able to salvage only about 15 to 20 peaches. I was so disappointed.
This year I have had many times that.
So far we have been eating most of them fresh, but I have managed to keep enough peaches out of the hands of my teenage daughter to bake a peach galette or two. A galette is a type of French tart. The recipe is below.
Next year, I will continue my spraying program with more regularity and I am going to build some sort of cage around my peach tree as well as my other fruit trees. The squirrels totally de-frocked my apricot and Saturn peach trees. Not a single fruit for me. Waaah!
What have you found effective for keeping the squirrels away from your garden? I’d love to know.
Here’s the recipe for the peach galette (serves 6):
- 2 cups organic spelt sprouted flour
- 1/4 cup organic sugar (I like to use maple sugar)
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 3/4 cup cold butter, cubed
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 to 3 TBSP cold water
- 3 cups fresh organic peaches, sliced
- 1/2 pint fresh organic raspberries
- 1/4 cup brown sugar (maple sugar is good here too)
- 2 TBSP lemon juice
- 1 tsp arrowroot
- 1 pinch of sea salt
- 1 TBSP butter
Prepare the Crust: In a food processor, add the flour, sugar and salt and pulse 4 or 5 times. Add the butter cubes and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 to 12 seconds. Empty contents into a large mixing bowl and mix in the egg and water. When the dough comes together in a ball, pat it into a disk shape. You can wrap it up and store it in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
Roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thickness, making an oval shape. I recommend rolling out the crust on a piece of lightly floured parchment paper the size of your baking tray (I use regular, all-purpose flour here. You can use all-purpose flour for the recipe as well but may need to adjust the amount to get the dough right). The dough tends to be a bit sticky, so use enough flour to keep it from sticking to your rolling pin. Fold over about 1/2 inch all along the edge of the dough to make a ridge so the juices will not run off while baking. Move the parchment paper with the dough onto the baking sheet.
Prepare the Filling: First, preheat the oven to 350˚F. In a mixing bowl combine all the filling ingredients except the butter. Let it stand for at least 15 minutes, stirring 2 0r 3 times. Strain the juice into a small saucepan and set aside. Spread the peaches onto the prepared crust and dot the surface with bits of the butter. Bake for 25 minutes or until it’s just starting to brown.
While the galette is in the oven, put the saucepan of juice over medium heat until it thickens, stirring occasionally. This could take 10 minutes or more. Watch carefully. Remove it from the stove and save for later.
When the galette is done, remove from the oven and let it cool enough to delicately remove the parchment paper. Place on a platter. It is rather delicate, so be careful. Drizzle the thickened glaze over the tart and serve while it’s still warm. ENJOY!!! Vanilla ice-cream is not mandatory but should be.
What’s your favorite thing to do with fresh peaches? Let me know how the galette comes out if you give it a try.
To the organic garden life,James Early Organic Gardening 365 Dedicated to helping you get more out of your organic garden all year long
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