27 April 2010

Plum trees, and others

They grow all around us. In season, there are trees full of little red plums, big round yellow plums, or smaller dark purple ones. Some of the plums (called prunes in French) are very sweet. Others are tart. Some are really juicy. Some are better for cooking than for eating right off the tree.

Out walking the dog the other afternoon, I passed by the tree that blew over in our late-February storm and got propped up again. It's on a strip of land just to the north of our property, at the edge of a big parcel of grapevines. That's when I realized that growing under that tree and the one next to it were at least two dozen smaller plum trees. They surely came up from pits that landed on the ground when ripe fruit fell there.

Fruit trees all around the vineyard are covered in
white blossoms now. This is a cherry tree.

These are big yellow plums that are sweet and juicy. They are delicious to eat just as they are when they are good and ripe, and they make good pies and jellies too. I'd love to have such a plum tree growing in our yard. Our own plum trees — the two that were uprooted in the storm a couple of months ago — produced medium-sized, greenish-purple plums that could also be sweet and juicy, but they would go over-ripe before you had time to pick them all. Wasps got more of them than we did. And some years they didn't bear at all.

Here are two photos of the new plum trees I've potted up.
There are two trees in the pot.

So what would you do in my place? What I did was this: I went out a few mornings ago and dug up one of the small trees growing under the yellow-plum trees. It's actually two trees growing together. I hope they aren't the kind of trees that need to be grafted — I see no evidence that the parent trees were.

I planted the two little trees in a pot to see if they would survive and, if they did, to keep them until we could figure out where to plant them in our yard. At first the leaves drooped noticeably, and I thought my experiment might be a failure. But after 36 hours, the trees perked back up, and now they look perfectly healthy.

A prunus tree in our back yard is covered in pink blossoms
right now,
but it's ornamental and doesn't bear fruit.

Looking around the yard for the ideal spot, I noticed that our fallen plum trees have also produced at least one baby tree. So when we cut our trees up for firewood this summer, we'll now have two new plum trees to plant in their place. One kind will produce yellow plums, and one purple.

And that is sans mentionner the little pruniers that I grew two years ago from the pits of tiny, tart red plums I picked up under a neighhbor's tree across the street. Those trees are doing very well where I planted them out back.

Two litttle trees that will produce loads of small, tart, red plums —
they had blossoms in March, so we may get fruit next month.

Why go buy trees when they are available all around? And when they are varieties that you know will grow strong and sturdy in the local soil, in this climate. Provided they don't need grafting to produce good fruit...

I also noticed that my favorite cherry tree, also out on the edge of the vineyard, has lots of little cherry trees coming up under it too. It produces sour cherries, good for pies and sauces. It's a rustic variety. Now I have to go dig one of those up, before somebody comes with a big mower or brush cutter and chops them all down.

Wild orchids are in bloom around the vineyard too.

By the way, two apricot pits that I planted in a pot back in November have come up now. I think they were pits from an abricotier that grows on the edge of the vineyard too. Or maybe they were from store-bought fruit that I found especially delicious. I planted both kinds. Other friends of ours have successfully grown productive apricot trees from pits.


  1. More jelly, jam, preserves, tarts, pies, sauces, and what else, in the future!

  2. I commented about bearing fruit trees on Walt's blog before reading yours. I hope all those baby trees grow with wonderful fruit on them. Home grown apricots are particularly delicious. (apparently you are not too far North to grow apricots).

  3. >>So what would you do in my place?
    Exactly what you did!

  4. I am enjoying your posts very much and your plum tree story. I wish I could grow them down here. You have plums and I have mangoes just coming in. BTW I really loved your post on your trip back to the Carolinas.

  5. I love flowering trees. It's too bad the flowers fall off so quickly. But then we get to eat the fruit.

  6. Pretty soon you'll need to change your home's name to Le Verger;-)

    Those yellow plums are the best I've ever tasted- you are doing the right thing by growing them in your garden.

  7. Hi Evelyn, those yellow plums were amazing last year, weren't they? and that was in early September. The little red plums ripen in June, and the purplish-green ones in July and August. So we have most of the summer covered.

    Islandgal246, thanks for the nice comment.

    Nadège, Walt read on the Internet that trees planted from fruit pits may not produce the same fruit as the parent plant, especially if celui-ci was grafted. I see no evidence that any of our trees were grafted. So they should be fine. I think they are rustic, not "improved," varieties.

    Chrisoup, next time you can come help me!

    CHM, yes, life in Saint-Aignan goes on. More of the good things.


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