Guide to Growing Plums
Guide to Growing Plums
This fruit succeeds best on fairly rich soils supplied with lime and not subject to waterlogging in winter. The best time for planting is in early November, but the work can be continued at any time until March, provided the weather is open.
Choose a site that is not exposed to wind, as bees and other pollinating insects will not work the trees when there are cold winds blowing. Birds unfortunately can be a problem, ruining the crop by stripping the trees of fruit buds; this is an especial hazard if there are woods nearby. Half-standard and bush forms of training are to be preferred for the open garden and it is worth while growing especially good varieties as fan-trained specimens against walls. Half-standards should be planted 18ft. apart and bushes 15ft. apart.
Plant in that has previously been manured, and thereafter mulch each spring, and feed with a well-balanced general fertiliser in February. Plums are inclined to throw suckers, and these should be pulled off at the roots. They are more surface-rooting than apples or pears, and so it is never wise to carry out deep cultivation around established trees. Thin plums to 2in. apart when they have finished stoning, doing it over a period of about a week; this also helps to check the biennial bearing for which plums are notorious.
The pruning of plums grown in the open should be very light, this being carried out in late summer after the crop has been picked. Cut out some of the side shoots completely each year and just lightly tip back vertical shoots. Cut out more wood before a heavy year for fruiting and prune lightly before an off year; and keep the trees well manured. This will help to ensure regular annual cropping.
Fan-trained trees must be pruned more drastically. Unwanted side shoots can be cut back to within two dormant buds of the main branches, but where possible young laterals should be trained in at practically full length.
Increase by budding oron to rootstocks such as Common Mussel or Common Plum for moderate-sized trees; Pershore, for small trees, particularly if the variety is naturally strong growing and space is limited; Brompton for varieties which lack vigour and where the soil is poor.
Varieties available include: Rivers’ Early Prolific, culinary, late July (partially self-fertile, makes very good jam and is very suitable for). Early Laxton, dessert, late July (partially self-fertile, good flavour). Czar, culinary, early August (self-fertile, good for small gardens, except that it is liable to be attacked by Silver Leaf). Early Transparent Gage, dessert, mid-August (self-fertile). Victoria, dessert and culinary, mid to late August (self-fertile, inclined to contract Silver Leaf Disease). Pershore (Yellow Egg), culinary, late August (self-fertile, makes good jam, as well as cooking well). Monarch, culinary, end of September (self-fertile).