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The Great Peach Saga

14 years ago

Well, OK, as y'all know, this is my first peach harvest in three years. All other years, the late frost killed either new peaches or the blossoms.

So my peach tree has now broken in three places and the fruit isn't all ripe yet. I have been getting one or two that have ripened and eluded me so that they have fallen on the ground to be bruised, cracked and covered with ants.

I had to lop off the broken branches to save further damage to the tree. DH had tied the branches up in a way that he thought would add support when they got heavy and they have broken just above the supported area.

I'm sure I should've removed some of the peaches from the tree when they were small but I was afraid that the ones that remained would fall or be blown to the ground and I'd have nothing again. So I'm removing some now. And of course the branches that I had to lop off were loaded. Some are just ALMOST ripe, and I really hate to lose them. I thought maybe they might be ripe enough to can, even though the quality would not be that good, but when I blanched them, the skins would not slide off and I had to laboriously peel each one, only to lose half of the peach due to worms. I spent as much of all day yesterday as I could spare, what with DH home from total knee replacement in one knee, and DGS having a bacterial infection and having to go to the doctor for the second time with it. It's an awful combination, but I'm able to keep the two separated in different ends of the house. They have their own bathrooms and I'm disinfecting DGS's stuff and myself, since I'm having to take care of both of them. After having it lanced it yesterday, and being on the 3rd day of his medication, DGS is much better. Doc sent a swab to the lab, thinks it's MRSA. But it's caught in time so he thinks DGS will be OK. DH is getting around on his walker, it was a week since surgery on Monday and he got his staples out that day. He is doing well, the swelling and bruising is almost all gone. I still have to help him do a lot of things and I go with him when he goes out on the porch to smoke and out on the sidewalk to get his little walk. He is to go on August 12 for pre-op on his other knee and normally surgery is on Monday so that means August 18.

But anyway, in between stuff, I made jam out of those peaches. One thing I found out was that, although I do know SOME under-ripe fruit boosts the gelling abilities of the fruit, I DID not know that when the mixture is MOSTLY under-ripe the gel temperature is lower. So I'm trying to get the mixture up to jelly temperature and it's starting to stick on the bottom, and before I know it I've burned a batch. That means a pan to clean before I can go further, and it had to soak overnight with ammonia in it.

So this morning while DH was working with his therapist, I started the remaining chopped peaches and sugar cooking and did not go by the temp but by what I thought it ought to look like, and I have made about 8 pints of peach "marmalade". Not as good as normal, but still tasting "peachy" and good enough to stir into yogurt, etc.

But, as I look at the tree, I just have this feeling of utter discouragement. It seems like so many things I do to save money end up costing me more in the long run. I don't think the tree can be salvaged. So now I ask myself, "Do I buy another tree or what?"

My MIL used to put up Porter peaches every year. She'd always find out when her favorite Red Havens were ready and she didn't give up till she found somebody to take her. It's quite a ways from here, so quite a little drive, and now with gas prices as they are.... Still, it could be an outing and you don't count the cost of the gas for an outing, right?

It seems about the only fruit trees that are strong enough to hold their fruit to the ripening point are apples and pears. So I'm thinking maybe I ought to quit fighting Mother Nature and let her have this victory, and plant a pear tree. I don't think I'll buy another peach tree. I'll trim this one down and if there's anything left to make blossoms it'll cross-pollinate with the other, younger tree that I planted two years ago when replacing a tree that was planted in the perfect place for squirrels. But I am going to look upon peach trees as "ornamentals" for me, and plan to go to Porter every year for my "real" peaches. Or maybe I'll just skip the whole thing and buy my peaches already canned. Of course now I have to spray this fall for worms, just in case I get a surprise harvest.

When I was a child, my mother told me, "Ilene, you are too optimistic. You always expect the best to happen and when it doesn't, you're disappointed. Why not expect the worst to happen, and when it doesn't, you'll be pleasantly surprised?" Well I always thought that was a terrible viewpoint but I'm beginning to see the wisdom in it, in some situations.

I'm not whining, mind you. I am kind of hacked, though.

I still have apples and they look great. They should ripen about the time I'm helping DH with his OTHER knee though. --Ilene

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