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Friday, February 26, 2016


PLUM FRUIT (Google photo)

PLUM FLOWERS (Google photo)


Friday, 8:30 AM.  20  degrees F at the ferry dock and on the back porch.  Wind SW, mostly calm with moderate gusts.  It is a bit chilly out this morning.  The sky is overcast but clearing, and the hills of the iron ranges can be seen in the east and south.  The humidity is 86% and the barometer falling, now at 30.18", predicting snow showers Sunday and Monday.  The average high for this date is 34, the low 8.  There is quite a bit of open water in the channel now on each side of the ferry path.
   We had a surprise visitor this morning, a ruffed grouse that was attracted to the sunflower seeds on the ground under the bird feeder.  I was not able to get a photo, even though it hung around for quite a while.
   There are between 19 and 40 species of plum, depending upon the expert, and many are not found in the wild, having been domesticated for thousands of years.  Plums, of the subgenus Prunus and the genus  Prunus, are members of the rose family, as are apples, pears and cherries.  Plums are a northern hemisphere plant, and possibly the oldest domesticated fruit.  China is the  largest grower of plums by far.
   Plum species range in height and spread from medium sized trees (European species)  to large shrubs (North American species) and the fruits of each are quite unique in color, size, and taste.  Plums are used for preserves, as fresh fruit, juice and of course are dried as prunes.  Plum brandy is wickedly potent (see my posts regarding Slivovitz, the traditional Balkan liquor.
   There are probably as many variations in plum tree pruning as there are species and varieties, but the basics will suffice for most of us: prune out dead and diseased wood, crossing branches and sucker wood; head back new growth to keep the tree balanced and short enough to pick the fruit; maintain as much healthy two year and older wood as possible, and prune to allow sunlight to reach ripening fruit.
   When you are done pruning have a nip of plum brandy.  Especially if it is a damp and chilly day.

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