The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Wild plum tree fruit?

wild plum tree end of the line

This wild plum tree was here before we moved in.

Year after year we kept checking for yummy plums and found none.

2012 is the year we decided to give up and make room for something new.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Do y'all have other fruit or nut trees on your property that were there before you moved in? I ask because we have lots of apple trees (and possibly other fruit) that were planted for the deer originally (so I've been told), and I wonder what type of work it will take to revive them (not sure if they even need reviving in the first place). Have you been able to salvage any other existing fruit trees?

Our existing trees probably won't affect what we decide to plant in the future, but I figure additional cross pollination couldn't hurt.

~ Mitsy

Comment by mountainstead [] Tue Feb 21 18:22:40 2012

The only cultivated fruit tree on our property when we arrived was a huge, ailing apple tree near the old house. We tried to bring it back to life by cutting off the dead wood, but it was just too far gone, and fell over one day.

Depending on what kind of apple trees yours are and how old they are, you might decide to prune them back into shape, or just leave them alone and see what they do. I've read that it can be a multi-year affair to start shaping a tree that hasn't been pruned in several years --- you don't want to cut off so much at once that the tree gets shocked.

If the trees were planted for deer, they might just be seedlings, with fruits that aren't worth eating fresh. In that case, you might just leave the trees alone and either graze your pigs underneath to take advantage of the bounty, or collect them for cider.

Comment by anna Tue Feb 21 18:30:14 2012
Years ago, when I was about 10 years old,my family moved to a new house. On the back side of the property someone had planted plum trees. It was apparent that they were already severely neglected. We had no idea on how to bring these plants back from the brink, so we didn't bother. Oddly our plums never stopped producing. We always had an excess of plums (and bees!) But the fruit itself was barely passable as edible. I'm sure that at one time they were probably quite nice- but I have a feeling that the lack of care severly impacted the quality of the fruit. I always thought it was quite sad that these trees (if only we would have known how!) couldn't have been saved. But I wonder if the effort would have been worth it? Once severly neglected- can one really revive a fruit tree and expect to once again have quality fruit?
Comment by MamaHomesteader Wed Feb 22 00:26:27 2012

MamaHomesteader --- The thing about plums and fruit quality is that there are a few species of wild plums that are found in our area. Wild fruits tend to be a lot less flavorful than cultivated fruits, so if your plum trees were wild, they probably aren't going to taste like much. Our plum tree did actually fruit a few years ago, but the fruits were so awful that I didn't even give Mark one to taste. (I'm the biggest fruitaholic in the family, so if I don't like a subprime fruit, I know Mark won't.)

A neglected plum of a cultivated variety might be a different matter. Its fruits should still taste good, just be fewer and smaller if the tree was neglected.

Comment by anna Wed Feb 22 08:03:56 2012
We inherited some elderly, very large apple trees with our property. The county agent told us to cut out half of the top to revive them. We never cut back that much (plus we'd have needed a bucket truck!) but they did perk up with a good pruning out of dead wood, watersprouts, and sections that were really thick. The idea is to get sun to every branch. And by perk up I mean they produced more - the apples already tasted good, so I don't know if taste would be improved by a big pruning job.
Comment by De Wed Feb 22 08:26:33 2012
It looks like a blackthorn to me, they look like they could be apples or plums, then don't produce anything. I babied one for 4 years, til I found it was an invasive species. is the trunk wood (inside) a yellow color? the roots are a BEAR to dig out.
Comment by Elizabeth Fri Mar 30 19:11:43 2012

Elizabeth --- Interesting. I just assumed this tree was a wild plum. (Why? I'm not quite sure. I've never keyed one out. Maybe someone told me that's what it was?)

It does look a lot like a blackthorn now that you mention it, which could explain why the fruit was awful tasting. I'll have to key out any sprouts that come up to be sure. The inner bark has dried out, so I'm not sure about the original color.

Comment by anna Sat Mar 31 10:36:21 2012

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