Jessica Damiano Jessica Damiano, Newsday columnist

Jessica Damiano is a master gardener and journalist with more than 25 years experience in radio, television, print

Planting: At planting time, in early spring, cut the leader back to 8 inches above the first side shoot and shorten the rest of the shoots to just two buds. Remove side shoots growing from the bottom 18 inches, and continue doing this through the first year.

pH range: 6.5-7.0

Years until fruit bearing: 4

Pollination: Self-pollinating, but early spring blossoms may require hand pollination.

Pruning: Prune hard every year when in flower to ensure vigorous new growth, as peaches produce fruit on year-old wood. This timing will allow you to see how your cuts will affect the current year's crop. In late spring of the second year, cut back the central leader to just above the first wide-angled branch. Select 3-5 scaffold limbs that give the tree a vaselike shape and remove the others.

Fertilizing: Apply 5-10-5 or 10-10-10 in early spring.

Harvest period: July-September, when fruits soften at the top.

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Storage: Can be canned or frozen, or kept for several days in a cool cellar or refrigerator.

Recommended varieties: Surecrop, Raritan Rose, Eden, Harrow Diamond, Brighton, Redhaven, Madison, Canadian Harmony, Cresthaven