Reader Contribution by Maryann
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When we moved into our house there were a number of large nut trees in the yard rather close to the house. Right in front of the house overhanging the roof was a beautiful oak tree. We argued for a while about that tree but eventually I gave in and the oak and about six more trees were taken down. I love trees so taking down six of them was not an easy decision, but they were large and spindly and too close to the house. We also wanted to have solar panels installed, and they shaded the roof too much.

The yard did not remain an empty lawn of grass. The area around the oak tree in front and the swamp maple in back became islands of plantings and now host two of the largest and most beautiful hydrangeas. The spot along the driveway where the hickory was became the 3B bed planted for the butterflies, bees and birds. Over the years, I’ve become a fan of edible landscapes and have replaced the trees that were removed with many smaller trees, only two of them ornamental. We started by planting two pears trees, two peach trees and a sour cherry. Since then many more have been added including four white peaches, two sweet cherries, an apricot, a plum, six apples, eight blueberry bushes, and a variety of other edible shrubs. 

Currently only the two pears, two of the peaches and the sour cherry bear fruit. I buy the saplings from Arbor Day and they are very small twigs when they arrive. The four white peaches I received from my aunt and uncle and were small saplings as well. The two pears bear an unbelievable amount of fruit, and this year the peaches were just as abundant. We made the mistake of not thinning one of the trees and the branches were so heavy with fruit one actually broke off early in the season. I couldn’t tell you how many peaches I’ve picked so far this season but I can tell you at this point, I’m tired of peaches.  

I’ve been baking peach muffins and peach bread for about four weeks (at least) to bring to market and am exhausting the list of recipes in the canning book for the rest. Normally my husband would be turning them into alcohol, but we already have almost 20 gallons of peach mead fermenting from last year’s harvest. It appears that peaches do very well in our part of Connecticut. I’m starting to wonder what the heck I’m going to do with all the fruit once all the trees mature in a year or two and I have four times as much. I’ll probably have a sign up in the front yard “Help Yourself!”

I made a batch of Peach Barbecue sauce and since I still have Peach Salsa left from last year I decided to try Spirited Peaches. The recipe called for rum or brandy in each jar, but I decided to use the peach mead that we make instead. So far they’ve gotten good reviews, and I just finished a batch with brandy for Christmas gifts. Other than the fact that our tree is a clingstone variety and harder to process, they are relatively easy to make: simply peel, pit and treat the peaches for browning. They are then heated through in s batch of syrup, ladled in jars with 1 tablespoon alcohol and 1 piece cinnamon stick in each and topped with syrup (1/2 inch headspace) and boil canned for the appropriate time. Super easy and a nice treat. 

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