Thursday, July 2, 2015

Where the Green Things Are

Baby Green Gage Plums
The Green Gage Plum put on fruit for the first time this year.  These plums are supposed to be the best ever of the British/European plums but are rarely grown in the US, because of their unreliability.  Some years they fruit, sometimes they don't. Some trees never fruit. The internet is filled with dire predictions which, of course, I read right after I had ordered the trees.

I planted them in a sunny spot downhill from the compost pile, stacking the deck in their favor, I hoped. But a spot where they could be shade trees, privacy trees, if they never produced fruit.  And then I pruned out the central leader, opened them up (which is supposed to put energy into fruiting). Still, if they never fruited that was okay, I told them.  And I waited.  Five years. Then, this spring they were covered in blossoms. Sweet, white, clusters of flowers with long showy stamens. They were beautiful. And promising.  But every orchardist knows that blossoms do not always mean fruit. And I waited again.

The frost dates passed safely. The blossoms dropped as they should, and tiny little fruits began to form. And tiny little fruits began to drop off, coating the ground beneath the trees with undeveloped plums.  This happens.  It is supposed to happen.  The tree cannot bear the weight of too many fruit, it can't feed and ripen every blossom that was pollinated.  The weak ones are sacrificed, thinned, so that the tree can be healthy.

It's still okay, I told them, if you never produce ripe fruit. I would like to taste one, though. If you could make at least one for me. So I am waiting.

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