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What’s Springing at Neal Creek May 2024: The Art of Peach Tree Cultivation

Updated: May 28



Peaches are traditionally known as the “fruit of love.” When we purchased our farm in

2021, we had no idea how much work and love was involved in caring for a 40-tree

peach orchard in a way that would produce a bountiful harvest.



At that time, our peach trees were about 18 to 20 feet tall and were not producing

quality peaches. The trees would produce beautiful pink blossoms, which would evolve

into small green peaches, and dry up. And it appeared that a pest of some type was

ravaging the fruit. In the beginning, we knew absolutely nothing about peach tree

cultivation, which, according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, means “to prepare or

prepare and use for the raising of crops.”


We spent long hours researching and consulting with agriculture experts to develop a

care schedule for the orchard. We learned the importance of pruning the trees in a way

that allowed sunlight to get to the leaves, peaches, and trees to prevent fungal growth.

And we figured out the culprit that was destroying our peaches was the infamous Plum

Curculio Beetle. We spent many long hours pruning, raking, and hauling branches that

we fed into a gas-powered mulcher. We used the piles of mulch for our flower gardens.

All this hard work and a care regimen that included Neem Oil and other treatments at

regular intervals, in addition to keeping the orchard floor clear of fallen and/or diseased

peaches, resulted in our first edible peaches the following summer. However, the yield

was low because we had to cut off a lot of the blossoms to cut the trees down to a

manageable level.


In the Spring of 2023, we had a warm spell and the peaches bloomed early. Then, we

experienced three back-to-back freezes, which destroyed nearly all our peach blooms.

More work and a lot of praying this spring has resulted in a bumper crop of young

peaches sprouting from almost every limb. May is the month that thinning of the fruit

takes place. So, this month we have painstakingly gone tree by tree, clipping unfruitful

limbs, spraying Neem Oil, which is a natural pesticide and fungicide, and thinning the

fruit. Peaches should be three to four inches apart so they can get the nutrients and

sunlight they need to reach maximum size. We are praying daily that our hard work and

blessings from the Lord will produce beautiful, tasty peaches that we can share with

friends and peach lovers from the local area. We are planning our first peach festival at

our property July 20 and are now accepting vendors. For more information, visit the

events page of our Web site at https://www.nealcreekretreat.com/events.




We are so thankful for this opportunity the Lord God has given us. And we know that all

blessings come from Him. The book of Leviticus, in chapter 25, verses 18 and 19,

details the results of the “Blessing of Obedience” that is referenced in Deuteronomy 28:

1-14: “You are to keep My statues and carefully observe My judgments, so that you may

dwell securely in the land. Then the land will yield its fruit, so that you can eat your fill,

and dwell in safety in the land.” (Berean Standard Bible) Blessing to all! Jeff & Linda Johnson, Neal Creek Retreat, Belvidere, Tennessee.

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