Nanaimo Peach Tree: Finally a Homegrown Peach

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Spend a few minutes on my blog perusing summer posts, and you’ll easily grasp my love of growing and eating fresh fruit, and note my undeniable love of the peach, especially. Well after twelve years of trying to harvest a decent peach on an island better suited for cloud-cover, lichen, moss and raindrop cultivation, I may have found a peach variety that stands up to such conditions with juicy aplomb: the Nanaimo Peach.

nanaimo peaches tee shirt
Stretching out a tee shirt for a just cause: carrying freshly-picked peaches

The Nanaimo peach is a peach leaf curl resistant variety from Canada. Its namesake island city, three hours to the north on Vancouver Island, shares a similar climate to Vashon Island, Washington, where I live. Nanaimo is also known around these parts for a delicious baked confection born from the kitchens of this harbor city: the Nanaimo bar, a three-layered bar cookie worthy of a swoon or two. Ah but I digress, back to the peach.

nanaimo peach tree

I planted this Nanaimo peach about five years ago, and like most fruit trees, the first year it slept; the second year it crept; and the third year it leapt. And this year, well, I had a respectable harvest of peaches, 20 or so handsome orange orbs with few blemishes, and of medium size. And I grew these without a drop, spray or dusting of any pesticide.

nanaimo peach fruit

You may ask what’s the big deal? Can’t you grow a peach tree just about anywhere? I fear the answer is no, no you can’t. In the Pacific Northwest it’s a challenge, stemming from a shortage of heat units and poor pollinating conditions during spring bloom (namely incessant rain, the kind Seattle is famous for).  Now, west of the Cascades on the sunny side of the state, the area boasts perfect peaches of prodigious proportions.

betty peach tree
Betty peach tree said, “I’m out of here” after one season.

The sad tree above, a peach tree cultivar named Betty, was sold and touted as a peach leaf curl resistant variety. I would dispute that selling point, as I’ve never had a peach tree succumb to peach leaf curl so quickly and die. And this tree is a mere ten feet away from the super-healthy, thriving Nanaimo peach tree. While their growing and site conditions were the same, the results were night and day.

Nanaimo Peach ripe
Nanaimo Peach: sweet, slightly fuzzy, and richly colored

So if you are looking for a backyard peach tree, I plead my case and share the evidence that Nanaimo Peach beats the leaves off other peach leaf curl resistant varieties, namely Frost, Avalon Pride, Oregon Free, Muir, and Q-1-8. I’m still quite fond of another resistant variety, a white peach named Charlotte.

Oh, and guess what I'm having for breakfast?
Peach Pie: the real breakfast of champions!

nanaimo peach pie

How about I leave you with two of my favorite peach recipes, and my well wishes:

Update: Also, I ordered the tree from One Green World Nursery. I wouldn’t be surprised if other fruit tree nurseries offer this next year, such as Burnt Ridge Nursery, Peaceful Valley Nursery, and Raintree Nursery.

18 COMMENTS

  1. I live a short 40 minutes away from Nanaimo (on Salt Spring Island!) and I have never heard of a Nanaimo Peach…..think I shall be doing some hunting very soon!

    • Hi Joan, I love Salt Spring Island, have been a couple times. The last time I was there I ate a really delicious little orange apricot looking fruit. It may well have been an apricot, but that would be a challenging tree to grow there, and this fruit was pretty widespread and at several local self-serve farm stands, but no labeling. I’m a bit confounded as to what it was. Any ideas? Small, orange, and with a light blush of red on it, ripe around July 10. Thank you!

  2. What a gorgeous looking peach! I’m originally from Vancouver (Canada) and one of the highlights of summer was the foray into the Okanagan Valley for the peaches grown there. I can still taste those juicy, delicious morsels from heaven. But you’re not exactly in a peach-growing area, so congratulations on your success. Your peach pie looks absolutely scrumptious!

  3. Hi Tom
    I am Catherine, the tall Brit who said hi to you in the flower shop a few weeks ago.I am new to Vashon, you offered help…
    Well I am looking for crab apples.I have an awesome rowan tree and made a batch of rowan apple jelly last week….but they say crab apples are best…also does anyone grow Bramleys here?

    • Hi Catherine, I grow Bramleys, but no fruit set this year. It tends to be a biennial producer. I don’t have any crabapples this year either – deer got to them already. But, let me give you a link to the VAshon Fruit Club which may have access to crabapples: https://vashonislandfruitclub.wordpress.com/contact-us/
      Also consider going to the Saturday FArmers Market on the Village Green and ask the farmers if they have any for sale coming up. Good Luck and Welcome to Vashon Catherine!

  4. It is so thrilling and surprising when one gets rewarded by nature after a long patient wait.

    In Canada, we are celebrating the long August week-end and many families would welcome your wonderful peach pie. Sharing is part of being a good neighbour!!!!

    Question: Any plans for peach jam?

    The Niagara Falls area use to be famous for their peaches (now taken over by many vineyards).

    Enjoy and please give Buddy a big hug from the Furry Gang and V

    • Vincent, they didn’t produce one peach, neither the Frost nor the Indian Free. I may do some severe pruning to maybe snap each tree out of it. I’ll see of that works.

  5. Thank you for your peach update. Im in SW Washington State. I just dug up my Mary Jane leaf curl resistant peach which was dead from total infestation of leaf curl. My Charlotte experience echoed yours, some leaf curl but get some peaches. My Indian Free never made a peach. My Oregon Curl Free was good for 2 years then died from canker. I have Salish / Q-1-8 which has no leaf curl at all. Was perusing catalogs, where every variety is wonderful and nothing gets diseases, and saw Nanaimo. Might order one this fall. Your info is very helpful.

    • Thanks Daniel, and I actually have confidence in the Nanaimo peach. It’s produced two years in a row even with our record-breaking rains during bloom time.

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