Peach over­load

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - GARDEN -

The sights and sounds of au­tumn are al­ready in the air – and in our area that means heavy dews in the morn­ing and the sounds of bird bangers and the oc­ca­sional shot­gun.

Mind you, these signs and the darker morn­ings are about the only dif­fer­ence be­tween sum­mer and au­tumn this year I reckon.

The chooks agree; they’ve de­cided to scale back pro­duc­tion slightly, cit­ing the cool sea­son as their rea­son.

For­tu­nately, they’re still pro­duc­ing enough eggs for our bak­ing needs, par­tic­u­larly as we have an abun­dance of peaches, and one of my favourite quick and easy desserts with pretty much any fruit is clafoutis. While my clafoutis recipe calls for cher­ries, which I un­der­stand is the usual fruit fill­ing, the clafoutis bat­ter, ba­si­cally a sim­ple egg, flour and milk (or in my case, soy milk) bat­ter, seems to lend it­self well to any fruit. I’ve cooked all kinds in­clud­ing cherry, pear, black­cur­rant, red­cur­rant, New Zealand cran­berry, apricot and, of course, peach clafoutis and al­ways en­joyed the re­sult­ing flavours.

Many of the peaches have fallen from the tree with the winds we’ve had lately, so they’ve needed to be used or pre­served quickly. In the past cou­ple of weeks I’ve bot­tled peaches, frozen some, made peach jam and peach chut­ney, eaten fresh peaches, of course and given a fair few away. Peach cob­bler is on the dessert menu for this week­end.

Af­ter that, I think I might be all peached out for a while, which is just as well as the tree is al­most empty now.

The dogs haven’t shown much in­ter­est in peaches and I haven’t en­cour­aged them to. They’ll eat any­thing I of­fer them – with ea­ger­ness if it smells like dog food and with cu­rios­ity if in their es­ti­ma­tion it smells weird but they’ve seen me eat­ing it and then I of­fer them some. They’re great fans of peas, green beans, ap­ples and straw­ber­ries al­ready. I don’t re­ally want them eat­ing peaches though, be­cause so many fall on the ground and I’m not sure that a dog’s di­ges­tive sys­tem and peach stones would be the best of friends.

As I tell my dogs, they don’t have a great sense of self preser­va­tion at times and so if I en­cour­aged them to eat peaches, they’d prob­a­bly hap­pily raid the or­chard and scoff the wind­falls, stones and all.

I have a peach tree in an­other area that hasn’t fruited this year. It suc­cumbed very badly to peach leaf curl in spring, de­spite my vig­i­lance in pre­ven­ta­tive spray­ing. Af­ter read­ing an ar­ti­cle by Wally Richards, af­ter leaf fall last au­tumn I sprayed with lime sul­phur, then with po­tas­sium per­man­ganate mid-win­ter.

In spring I sprayed reg­u­larly with liq­uid cop­per and at the first signs of curly leaf used Va­porguard on the leaves. Last year I used a cheap sprayer. I now have a de­cent one, which I use mostly for fo­liar feed­ing and I’m pleas­antly sur­prised by how much bet­ter wet­ting and cov­er­age it gives than my old sprayer.

I’m hopeful a sub­stan­dard sprayer was part of my prob­lem this spring.

I’ve also heard that reg­u­lar fo­liar feed­ing helps be­cause it boosts the tree’s health and im­mu­nity, mean­ing it’s less sus­cep­ti­ble to dis­ease, so fin­gers crossed for a bet­ter re­sult from that tree next sea­son or it will be com­ing out.

The chooks haven’t missed out on our wind­fall of peaches. Many peaches aren’t good keep­ers, so they’ve re­ceived the rot­ting wind­falls and also the scraps from my var­i­ous peach cook­ing en­deav­ours.

They seem fairly happy with that. Mind you, while they never com­plain that they con­sis­tently get wheat and chook pel­lets ev­ery day I’m start­ing to de­tect an un­der­cur­rent of mut­ter­ings about va­ri­ety in their diet. I think they’re over peaches for this sea­son.


Just peachy: Photo: MANDY EVANS

A peach ready to pluck al­ways looks mouth-wa­ter­ingly good.

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