When to plant: Late autumn.
At their best: Summer.
Time to complete: 2 hours to plant; 1 hour to prune.
You will need: Fan-trained peach tree, wires and vine eyes, well-rotted organic matter – such as manure, bamboo canes, granular shrub and tree fertilizer, garden twine, clippers.
Buy and plant
Buy a partially trained two- or three-year-old fan, and check that it has eight branches. Fix wires to the wall and tie canes in a fan shape to the wires. Plant the peach 18 in (45 cm) from the wall and lean it toward the cane fan. Tie the stems, with four on each side, to the canes with twine.
Protect from frost
Water the tree regularly for the first year, and during dry spells thereafter. Blossoms appear in early spring and must be protected from frost. Attach a roll of fleece to the top of the wall. Secure a few long canes just in front of the tree, and roll the fleece down over the canes to cover the blossoms. Lift the screen after each frost to allow insects in to pollinate the flowers.
Prune for fruit
In early spring, remove stems that grow toward or away from the wall. Then look for flowering stems, and select one strong side shoot at the base and another farther up the same stem. Tie in these two new shoots to a cane or wire, and cut back all other side shoots along the stem to one leaf.
Prune after fruiting
After the flowering stem has produced fruit in summer, cut it back to the new shoot at its base, or if this failed, to the shoot farther up. Also shorten overlapping stems and remove congested or dead wood. Ripe fruit is soft and gives slightly when pressed gently near the stalk. Eat as soon as possible.
Tips: Thin out fruit
Peaches form in clusters and should be thinned to allow large fruit to form. When hazelnut-sized, remove fruit growing toward the wall, and thin to one per cluster. A few weeks later, thin to one fruit every 6 in (15 cm).