Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Planning to grow Damson Plums

Damson Plums Fermenting for Wine

Half the Damson plums I got in Charlottesville recently are now happily fermenting into wine, and the other half is in the freezer, awaiting one of my fermenting vessels to get emptied, to make a plum-grape mix that's a pseudo-port. (I have 2 tubs of raspberry and 1 peach working now, besides the plums.)

Since I had pitted the plums without heating them, I decided to save the pits and see if I can start a couple of plum trees. I don't know if these are a hybrid plum or not, so it will be 3-5 years before I will know what kind of plums I will get... if in fact, I can grow any from these pits.

The process is fairly simple. Scrub the pits of all flesh, and allow to dry at least overnight. (I air-dried mine 2 days on a cookie sheet; I hope they aren't too dry.) The pits must be thoroughly dry or they will mold, but not so dry they are dead! 

When they are dry, place the pits in a plastic bag and put them in the refrigerator. Mine went into the back of a vegetable drawer, but I also marked my calendar so I don't forget them next year. (Things get lost in our shared refrigerator.)

About 2 months before the end of winter, remove the pits and soak them several hours in clean, room temperature water. Place a few of them in a plastic baggie of potting medium that's slightly moist, and put them back in the refrigerator. In several weeks they should start showing roots. Don't bang them around in the refrigerator; handle them carefully, and maybe even put the baggie(s) in a plastic container with a lid as collision insurance.

When the roots are at least half an inch long, you can transfer them to small seedling pots indoors, until all danger of frost has passed. Keep them slightly moist but not drowning. To plant them outside, put the whole soil nugget ball about 4" deep in moist soil and in a sunny location. They should continue to sprout and you should see above-ground growth by mid-spring.

I read that germination rates for pits are iffy, so I plan to use many of my pits. If I'm lucky, I'll have a few to share.

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