Growing a Little Fruit Tree [Multigrafted Peach – Nectarine]

Growing a Little Fruit Tree [Multigrafted Peach – Nectarine]

Although our yard was filled with fruit trees many years ago, one of the books I sometimes check out at the local library is called Grow a Little Fruit Tree, by Ann Ralph. I like much of the advice in the book except for planting multiple trees in one hole. Back when I first started planting our backyard, around 1999, I tried a planting technique of three different trees in one larger hole. I did this in three different parts of the yard with a set of plums, a set of three peaches, and a set of three nectarines. At the time, it sounded like a great space saving solution for our little yard and my growing obession with fruit trees. Howerver, over the long haul, it turned out to not be a sustainable practice in the confines of our small yard. The varieties on the North side didn’t thrive as well and my pruning choices were very limited. It didn’t help that I was a novice at growing stone fruit, either. The various trees only lived for about 6 to 8 years each and during that time, only produced really well for a few of those years. I have been having much better results with growing either single varieties by themselves or creating my own multiple grafted fruit trees. I have one really little fruit tree, in a 25 gallon pot that has done surprisingly well so far, a peach – nectarine multi-grafted tree.

multigrafted peach nectarine tree low chill
The pot in the at back right of the photo has a little peach tree in it. It is on wheels so it can be moved around on the driveway when necessary, for either full sun realestate or to get it out of the way.

About 6 or 7 years ago, a seedling came up in the area where our Panamint nectarine tree once grew. The desert tortoise used to sit under shade of the Panamint tree during the hot summer days enjoying any fruit that ended up on the ground. She probably buried the seed while digging a burrow. I dug up the seedling and eventually up potted it to a large pot. Over that time, I have grafted it with a variety of low chill peaches and nectarines, just for sampling. I want to find out what blooms every year, regardless of chill hours and still tastes good. I am focusing on early varieties, especially ones I haven’t tasted before, and that will likely be ripe early enough in the season, when no summer vacations will get in the way harvesting.

scottish collie with fruit tree suburbs
Corgie, my Scotch Collie puppy, is sitting next to the peach/ nectarine multigrafted tree for scale. You would not realize it by looking at it, but this is a 6 year old tree in the green pot. The pot has dwarfed its growth considerably, but we still get a small harvest of fruit. Corgie just turned 7 months old on Wednesday.

Currently, the little fruit tree has Eva’s Pride yellow peach, Arctic Star white nectarine, Snow Queen white nectarine, Red Baron peach, and Earligrande yellow peach. There have been a few others varieties I put on it. And there were a few failed grafts. Some just had too little vigor and died. The low chill super stars on the tree have been Eva’s Pride, Earligrande, and Arctic Star. All three bloomed by their second year, regardless of chill hours accumulated. Arctic Star is delicious and productive. It is my son’s favorite stone fruit I grow, but it is the last of the three to ripen and the chill hours are at the higher end of low chill. I think it is around 300 hours.

We started picking the Earligrande peaches last Saturday. I really should have thinned them out a lot more than I did, and I normally would have. However, this year I was sure the dog would be picking or knocking off most of the fruit during the growing season, especially since they are all easily within his reach. He did end up knocking off a couple of the Eva’s Pride peaches early on, but since scooting the tree closer to the blockwall and away from the middle of the driveway, Corgie has left the tree alone. As a result, the fruit size on all the varieties are a bit small.

low chill peaches early grand
The size of the peaches this year compared to a quarter

I am so happy we have fresh peaches already, although the flavor is only fair on the Earligrande. None of the really early peaches or nectarines I have sampled have had outstanding flavor, but neither do the early peaches I buy from the farmers market or at the stores. Summer sun and heat makes all the difference. By mid summer, the farmers market has many wonderful varieties at great prices. Right now, in early to mid May, organic peaches are still at a premium, therefore I am happily enjoying my homegrown mediocre peaches.

Although I don’t have a Panamint nectartine graft on my little multi-grafted fruit tree, I do recommend Panamint as a dependable, good tasting, yellow nectarine variety for SoCal. I think its chill requirement was only about 200 to 250 chill hours because it fruited every year. The only downside was, we were often traveling around the time it was at its peak of ripeness in July. The house sitters and our tortoise sometimes got to enjoy the fruit more than we did. I liked the Panamint despite that, but the tree ended up being a casualty in a blockwall fence extension by the people that live behind us. The Tropic Gold apricot now occupies generally the same the area and it works out better because it ripens around the third week in June.

If you grow fruit trees, what has been your experience with multiple trees in a hole or multigrafted trees? Do you have a favorite low chill peach or nectarine? I would love to know about it.

Thank you for stopping by.

5 thoughts on “Growing a Little Fruit Tree [Multigrafted Peach – Nectarine]

  1. Loved your post about the fruit trees, but I keep looking at those beautiful yellow flowers in that pic–are those hollyhocks? Please tell me what variety, they are gorgeous!

    1. Hi Susie,
      The yellow flowers along my driveway in the photo in this post are Verbacum creticum. I got a couple of 4 inch pots of Verbascum ‘Cotswold King’ from Annies Annuals about 4 years ago and now I have seedlings of it thoughout the yard. I guess technically they are all still Cotswold King since they look exactly the same as the parent plants. I have been sow seeds in fall each year since and planting the seedlings all around the garden because I like it so much. I will probably write a post about it soon, especially since they make me happy. I love hollyhock, too, and have tried growing a yellow hollyhock, alcea rugusa, a few times, but my desert tortoise mows it down to the ground before any of the other hollyhock varieties I grow, and I have never gotten to see flowers on it. The pink flowers are a ruffled version of Clarkia unguiculata ‘Mountain Garland’ and the orange flowers are a canna I got at a plant share. I am glad you like the verbascum.

    1. Hi Elaine! How do you like the flavor and texture of Mid Pride? It is a peach I have not sampled, but often read as a recommended variety for SoCal.

I would love to know what you think about this.

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