Hardy Peach trees

(Question)

We cottage in McKellar (Parry Sound area) and have planted fruit trees, Montmorency Cherry, Italian Plum and Pears. We would love to have a peach tree I know Redhaven is the best for eating out of hand and canning. Would it survive up north. Also, we have prevailing winds off the lake, many deer, mice, racoons and want to protect the trees. Suggestions most welcome. One section of our land is heavy clay which pools water. We considered planting sugar maple, willow. Would these trees do well and how should we amend the soil if needed. Thanks for all your expert advice, we are novice ” farmers” eager to learn.

(Answer)

Dear gardener,

How wonderful it is to experiment and to grow your own food. I will try to address all your questions:

1.- The area of your cottage is very peculiar in terms of Hardiness zone for plants.  If you are just North of McKeller on hwy 124 or on Balsam Rd near Mary Jane Lake, Simolea Lake or Moffat Lake you are in Zone 4a; if you are on Mckeller or South of it, including McKeller Lake, you are in zone 4b; on the other hand, if you are in the land between (North of Manitouwabing Lake and South of may Jane lake on Centre Rd, you are in zone 5a!). I am telling you all this information as hardiness zones would determine what you can plant safely. Peaches unfortunately need a minimum zone 6 and therefore I think you may get a bit disappointed. There is however one variety, ‘Relience’, that is said to withstand zone 5 and be one of the hardiest, in case you want to take the risk.

 

2.- In terms of protecting young trees from winds, I may suggest creating a wind barrier with evergreens, if you have the space and, as long as they will not shade your trees. In terms of deer, you can place metal cages around the young trees; make sure that you fasten the cages to the ground with metal stakes or the deer will just push them. For rodents, you may want to place a tree protection around the trunk and bury it a bit (without harming the tree of course). These plastic protectors are for sale at any nursery.

3.- For the wet area, willows (Salix species) would work well. Please make sure that it is not near the house or any pipes as willows will always search for water sources and may block the pipe. Instead of Sugar maple I would suggest Red Maple (Acer rubrum). This native tree is accustomed to moist areas. Silver maple (Acer saccharinum) would also work in a heavily clay area.  Lastly, Pin Oak (Quercus palustris) and River Birch (Betula nigra) are resistant of moist areas and are native.

Hope all this information helps in your decisions. Good luck and have a great summer.