Important: We are not changing our delivery schedule this year for the 4th of July holiday. Please see the note below for more info.
Peaches are the quintessential summer fruit and, in our opinion, a critical component of any good CSA box in Northern California during that season. Since 2005, it has been one of our goals to include them in our boxes every week between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Luckily for us, peach trees grow quickly. Planted in the spring one year, they produce a small but respectable crop just 24 months or so later. By the time they are four years old, peaches and nectarines in California are in full production.
We have two small orchards of peaches that were planted in 2001. We planted a larger orchard in 2005 and have added onto it every two years or so. At this time we have about 1200 trees, or roughly one peach tree for every subscriber.
But it’s not as simple as planting one tree for each of you and then harvesting what we need each week. Peaches are an extremely punctual fruit. Like commuters heading home at rush hour, every fruit on a given tree is ready at the same time, more or less. Unlike oranges, say, which can hang on a tree for a month or six weeks, when peaches are ripe they need to come off the tree immediately. Also unlike oranges (and apples), which keep nicely in cold storage for several weeks, peaches are highly perishable and need to be eaten within ten days or so of harvest.
This is why plant breeders have developed numerous varieties of peaches that ripen at very specific times through the growing season: from early May all the way into September, as shown in the calendar for yellow peaches grown by the nursery that supplies our trees. We have over 30 different varieties of peaches and nectarines planted in our orchards.
Having a favorite peach variety is not like having a favorite variety of tomato, but rather, like having a favorite holiday: no matter how much you enjoy it, it will be over in a week or so. This might be why most of the names are so forgettable: June Pride, Earlirich, etc. I generally don’t bother to include the names of the varieties we are sending you on the list of items, although if there is enough interest I certainly could.
We have chosen to focus mostly on yellow peaches and nectarines that have a traditional balance of sweetness and acidity, as opposed to the newer, sugary “low-acid” varieties favored by supermarkets because they can be eaten when rock hard. This is a subject for another newsletter.
It’s exciting for us to see the, uh, fruit of many years of labor finally realized in our peach orchard and we fully expect this year’s season to last a full 14 weeks and possibly longer. We hope you are enjoying it as well.