Sunday, March 06, 2011

Another Plum Tree!

It was not a surprise, but it was wonderful that I could convince my husband and the kids to go pick up another plum tree this afternoon.  I had my "landscaper" (who cuts my lawn, and does the occasional projects for me around the yard) dig a big hole just before Winter hit.  But his idea of digging was to clear the layer of grass and soil, and leave a shallow "hole" of our near-undiggable clay.  I suppose he would have used the excuse that he didn't want to leave a hole for the Winter.

It was me who came along after that, and actually dug and loosened up about 12" of the clay, and laid a load of grass clippings on top, to provide some organic material, before the Winter hit.  Today, it was my husband who climbed in and dug a real proper hole.

Planting a fruit tree
It seems the grass clippings had some effect, since there were lots of worms in the top foot or so, which actually resembled something like soil.  He removed that to the side of the hole.  Below that it was grey clay.  Thick, mucky, and non-draining.  My husband removed a few wheelbarrows full of clay (dumping them just outside our fence, in the "abyss"), and mixed back the top layer of soil, with two large bags of planting soil (100 l or 4 cu ft each).  I also poured in bonemeal.  We had enough to plant the tree, but could use a couple more bags, to fill it up to the surface properly.
Newly planted Methley plum tree

Enough about the dirt.  What type of plum did we plant?  It was a tough decision.  I already have an Italian plum which is very tasty and sweet even when a bit firm.  It has started to bear a good amount of fruit these past two years, for fresh eating.  I wanted another plum which would also be good for eating, but also for making juice.

I phoned Triple Tree Nursery in Maple Ridge, where I have bought nearly all our fruit trees, and asked about their plum varieties.  Their European plums included the Italian, Yellow Egg, Damson (not really for fresh eating), Toka and Superior.  Their Japanese plums included Santa Rosa, Beauty, Shiro (Yellow), Methley and Satsuma.  For flavour, Shiro and Methley were recommended.

Since then I read up on the various plum varieties, and the ones which emerged as the top choices were:

Methley (Japanese) - Red skin with dark red juicy flesh, early bearing, self-fertile, mild and sweet flavour, attractive and vigorous tree.
Green Gage (European) - Flavour was described as "exquisite", and my mom remembers her uncle (?) having this plum tree, green colour even when ripe.
Satsuma (Japanese) - Red with deep red flesh, semi freestone, good flavour.

I was really intrigued by the Green Gage, and might have tried it, except perhaps for some random notes on the internet from people who had bought some and were looking for recipes for them.  It made me wonder, if they are so exquisitely flavoured, why would they not simply eat them, and not be looking for recipes?  Not to mention, the photos of them really didn't do much for me.

So in the end, I decided on the Methley, for the dark colour (I like that in a plum, and it would be great for the juice!), hopefully the flavour, that it is an early bearer, and I hear that the Japanese trees tend to bear their first crop at an earlier age than the Europeans.  The Methley trees available at Triple Tree (they are bare root, not potted up yet, so a great time to buy them!) looked pretty good, too.  So the Methley joins our collection of one dozen young fruit trees.
Methley plum from Marshalls Seed Co
The photo is courtesy of Marshalls Seed Co in the UK.  In a couple of years, I hope to be sharing my own photos.  :-)


Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

You can never have too many plum trees. :))

rohrerbot said...

Great choice!!! Fruit trees are wonderful!!! Each offers something different to the yard.

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