This is the third year we've had any significant fruit on the peach trees. And this is the third year that I've spent hours of time trying to salvage a pittance of edible fruit from those trees. I don't think we've had more than a half-dozen peaches that didn't have a worm in them or been chewed on by the local tree rats.
The squirrels and the Plum Curculio have won. Since I could now care less about the finality of the Peach War (as it is hopelessly lost), I shall focus on the final battle. Yes, I know, a lesson in futility. But it gives me some satisfaction that I am able to plink the damned tree rodents much easier now that their movements are dramatically slowed by the weight of the peach in their mouth. Unfortunately they are flea-ridden so I won't be making any Squirrel Enchiladas, but at least Charlie's dog food will be supplemented with some extra fresh protein.
The only way to possibly win next years Peach War would to spray the crap out of the trees and start a planned parenthood clinic for squirrels. To get rid of the plum curculio problem, we'd have to spray like seventy-five times over the duration of the growing season with chemicals that I cannot pronounce nor really want to have our family ingesting. To get rid of the squirrels I'd have to start shooting them every day starting in February....and still not be rid of them completely. I can only eat so much squirrel pot pie, and Paul doesn't even really like squirrel anyhow.
What to do. What to do? I've contemplated just digging them up and pretending that we didn't waste six years of time & care on them. I thought about just pretending that these peaches are livestock feed instead of delicious, juicy fruits for our family and cry when I think about how good my peach jam could have tasted. But no matter what we do, we will not be replacing them with more peaches unless we can find one that is more resilient to the darned bugs.
We've come to the same conclusion about the apple trees. Since it's all but an impossibility to remove all the cedar trees from a mile radius of our homestead, getting rid of the cedar apple rust that plagues them every single year is also impossible. So we are going to cull the Golden and Fuji trees and keep the Arkansas Blacks since they haven't had a single spot of cedar apple rust on them. The Golden & Fuji trees have lost almost all of their leaves to the rust and have yet to give us a single apple. The Arkansas Black trees produced fruit last year and a few the year before.
The pear tress are holding their own and don't seem to need much care other than pruning, although we did lose two of them last year & the year before to fire blight (the fun never ends, does it???). And Paul just planted four Mulberry trees so we'll have some fruit on the homestead in the years to come (assuming, of course, that there isn't a freaky explosion of silk moths in the area).
I'm going to have to be more diligent on selecting fruit trees from now on. When we first started our little orchard, I went bonkers and ordered just about any fruit that sounded yummy not bothering to find out how disease / pest resistant they were. And now I'm paying the price for it.
Too bad we don't have any hogs to give all these crappy peaches to. I wouldn't mind trying a peach-infused pork chop or slab of bacon.