Friday, January 21, 2005

Growing fruit cont'd: Plums

We are trying to grow Stanley plums like the ones we had when we were living in a rented home in the Pacific Northwest. The straggly tree was in a shady neglected yard right next to the garage as if someone had thrown a pit there. But the fruit were large, juicy and delicious. The Stanley plum tree we have now is tall and leggy having grown from 5 feet to 15 feet in 3 years but almost zero fruit. Last year it managed to produce 2 or 3 fruit but only one actually ripened to a reddish purple color then fell off. It was only the size of an unhulled almond. I've seen cherries that were bigger. Although in full sun for most of the day the tree is leggy and grows mostly straight up. I'll try a mild girdling this year to see if that will spark some fruit production.

I also bought a Santa Rosa plum but it died almost immediately after planting despite it's robust appearance. I replanted the hole it came out of with another plum - I can't remember the name - which turned out to be a wonderful tree with an abundance of very good fruit. In its second year it has produced about 25 plums which I stupidly left on the tree too long so the catbirds got about half of the crop despite some bird netting - actually fine deer fencing material I had left over.

We have two other plums that have not produced any fruit. They are suposedly Santa Rosa but they looked more like peach trees when they first started growing and not like the Santa Rosa that died. These were purchased from the Arbor Day Society. The trees were really more like twigs when they arrived, a single stem completely branchless, only about a foot in height, sent bare root in a plastic bag with nothing to hold moisture to the roots. I didn't think they would grow but they are hardy plants, one being trasplanted twice and heavily cropped by deer yet keeps on growing. The other is in a more sheltered location and despite being almost ripped out of the ground by our hyperactive dog, is almost 8 feet tall...but no fruit.

So I guess one out of four ain't bad. I'm still hoping.


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