Thomas Jefferson and Peaches

Does anyone know how the plantation that Thomas Jefferson owned controlled insects/fungus on his peach trees? I am reading things like he had 38 varieties, he planted 900 peach trees as a border for one of his fields, etc. Surely they had to use something?

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I can’t claim to know, but this article seems to indicate he didn’t control disease very well:

It seems to suggest he tried a bunch of different varieties and crops and kept the ones that produced in his climate. A good lesson to remember even in our time.

I would like to get Jefferson’s Garden Book some day to learn more about his successes and failures.

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Also, this article seems to indicate that because peaches were a relatively new introduction to the Americas, a lot of the insects and diseases that bother it in our time were no trouble then.

Plus, he apparently dried a lot of the fruit, used it for alcohol, and also just for harvesting the peach wood itself. Those applications don’t require pristine fruit by any means.

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I asked myself that same question many times. How in the world did he manage all those trees?

Most of the major pests were introduced to the U.S. after Jefferson’s time. PC is indigenous to the U.S., but OFM, CM, Fireblight, Japanese Beetle, ect. were introduced later. Even some strains of brown rot were not indigenous, but imported.

With the world becoming more mobile, diseases and insects are spreading more rapidly. Lanternfly, Marssonina leaf blotch, and HLB are some of the latest to make it here.

I suspect there will eventually be so many disease/insect pests it will be impossible to grow fruit without spraying (in all parts of the U.S.) or some form of GMOs.


I studied an online transcription a few years ago to see if I could find any reference to Ralls Genet apple. Here is a link that will take you to a searchable version of his “Farm Book” and "Garden Book’

I visited his Popular Forest plantation for the first time yesterday.


Fireblight is also indigenous to North America. It’s believed to have been introduced to Europe from the US only in the mid 20th century.

You were near Lynchburg - I am about 30 minutes away from his home. Ironically I have never been to it (it was being remodeled for years it seemed). How did you like it?

Thanks for that correction Stan. I had read accounts when fireblight first hit the Hudson valley (around 1800) and completely wiped out the pear orchards there. I had assumed that was when it was introduced to the U.S.

But you’re right it was already in the U.S. before that, and was finally exported to Europe 150 years later.

Jefferson’s second home was not as grand as expected. After Monticello,it was a let down

Have you checked out any of the orchards north of you in Nelson county?

I have bought Peaches at Saunders Brothers (they are big into growing Peaches). I am unsure if they offer tours of the orchard.

I have been to Albermarle CiderWorks which obviously focuses on cider thus apple trees. The Ciderworks has a very nice restaurant where they serve cider. They usually have entertainment there on the weekends in the fall. They also sell dormant bare root trees starting in November and have a nice selection of apple trees. I bought a Black Heart Cherry from them last year. I have not toured there orchard.

Alcohol production has become big business in Nelson County and many of the apple orchards support different breweries/distilleries. Beer/Cider/liquor/wine are produced at local facilities, almost all have restaurants. They have a local music fest that attracts a huge crowd and big name rock bans see - . Drumhellers Orchard is one of the older orchards in the area. They do rides through there property on an open wagon towed by a tractor in the fall.

Given the proximity to Charlottesville (and the wealth that exists there) and the popularity of custom brewed alcohol most of the orchards/restaurants cater to upper class clientele and are priced accordingly,

This is a really good read:

I own and have read through Founding Gardeners. It has some good content.

For sure! We spent the last 2 days checking out most of the orchards on the Blue Ridge Fruit Loop ( We tasted some overpriced wine and sampled some $50 scotch. Checked out most of the large and small orchards and bought 5 gallons of excellent cider at Morris Orchards for a good price. We did not have enough time to see everything and never make it to Albemarle county . A place called Democracy Vineyards was closed when we passed which I understand is the orchard where Ginger Gold originated in Lovingston


Jefferson got lucky that a few of the varieties he had, including Oldmixon Free and Indian Free, were somewhat disease resistant.


He sure grew stuff for a long time, I wonder if he ever ordered anything from Franchi seed company in Italy? The company started in 1783. A very interesting company too, the original family still owns it. I remember getting tomato seeds from them, and the packet had about 60 seeds. About 5 times more than what you get here.


Have you seen the book “Fruits and Fruit Trees of Monticello” ? It talks a lot about peaches and a little about insects

I have not read the book … :slight_smile:

Its a worthwhile book and much easier than looking for information in Jefferson’s Farm or Garden book