The dwarf peach ‘Bonanza’ is a beautiful little tree in spring, summer, and winter; but it is not usually known for its colors in the fall, at least in the desert Southwest. This fall has proven to be spectacular, as has the little dwarf peach, ‘Bonanza.’
Today was the day to begin harvesting the peaches. How do I know? A little bird told me!
As soon as the peaches almost reach ripeness, the birds begin to sample them. Some people cover their fruit trees with netting to protect the fruit from being eaten by the birds. I find it easier to pick the fruit and let it finish ripening a day or so indoors.
This is what one branch looked liked before I picked its peaches. Notice that the branch is almost horizontal from the weight of the peaches (another reason to thin the peaches after the danger of frost has past).
This is what the same branch looked liked after the peaches had been picked:
Harvesting of the peaches as they ripen will continue over the next week or two. Yummmm. . .
Once the risk of a hard freeze is past, the tiny peaches need to be thinned if you want to get large fruit. Otherwise you will get a whole lot of small, but very tasty, fruit. A shame, you might be thinking. That would all depend upon what use you intended to make of the peaches.
These small peaches make wonderful whole spiced peaches to be canned for use in the winter holidays. They are first canned whole (recipe to follow). They can be cut in half and served over ice cream as a holiday dessert. They can be served alone as dessert. They can be used in a fruit compote. Halved, they make a wonderful topping for custard tartlets. Peaches this size can usually be packed 12 to a quart jar. The ‘Bonanza’ peaches will turn the syrup a wonderful shade of red.
Whole Spiced Peaches (for small peaches) – Recipe from the Ball Blue Book
Wash peaches; drop into boiling water for 30 – 60 seconds; immediately plunge into cold water. Peel fruit, but leave whole. Drop into a solution of FruitFresh or similar while all of the fruit is peeled. Be sure to wash before adding to hot syrup mixture.
For eight pounds of peaches, combine
1 cup sugar
4 cups water
2 cups honey
in a large saucepot and cook until sugar dissolves. Add one layer of peaches at a time to the hot syrup, and cook for about three minutes. Pack hot peaches into hot jars. Leave 1/2 inch headspace.
To each jar, add
1 stick of cinnamon
1/4 tsp whole cloves
1/2 tsp whole allspice
Ladle hot syrup into jars, again leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
Remove air bubbles.
Secure 2-piece lids.
Process in a water bath for 25 minutes.
When cool, be sure to store in a cool, dark spot until you are ready to enjoy these wonderful little peaches.
This weekend I am in Tucson, located in the Sonoran Desert of the southwest, rather than the high Chihuahuan Desert in which Albuquerque is located. Many years ago I lived here for seven years, and although many things about the city have changed, the plants have remained pretty much the same. Palm trees, which do not grow in the Albuquerque area, are pretty much a staple of cities in the Sonoran Desert.
The first thing I noticed when I arrived yesterday was that the palm trees looked very strange: the centers were green, but the outer fronds were brown and looked dead. I did not recall ever seeing all of them look like that before (click to enlarge image).
“What happened to the palm trees?” I asked.
“All the palms had been trimmed up this spring, but after that there was a late freeze that lasted several days.”
In all the years I lived in Tucson that had never happened. Fortunately, the palms seem to be recovering well.
I have certainly seen that happen to roses in Albuquerque, and I hope I have no pictures of that to show you later this season.
(There are some photos of roses with this type of damage, however, and an excellent discussion here.)
Here in Albuquerque, the first things to bloom in my yard in the spring are bulbs and the dwarf peach, Bonanza. I have grown this peach tree in a 3/4 whiskey barrel since the late 1980′s. No matter how cold or how warm the winter, it has never failed to bloom. This year, after the very heavy snows but relatively mild winter temperatures, the blooms were spectacular.