Damson trees

by Pippa Greenwood

This year, for the first time, our damson tree has cropped. This seems to have been the best year for growing stone fruit in ages - the crop is enormous.

Pippa GreenwoodAbout six years ago we planted a number of fruit trees in the field close to the house. We had great expectations, some of which were fulfilled almost immediately, while others were slower in coming (literally) to fruition.

This year, for the first time, our damson tree has cropped. This seems to have been the best year for growing stone fruit in ages - the crop is enormous. Just today we were harvesting damsons, filling trugs to the brim with soft, superbly tasty fruits. It was worth the wait - we collected several kilos of the best damsons I’ve ever tasted. We all ate far too many on the way back to the house.

The jam making, stewing and eating in the raw will happen tomorrow, but I’ve stored some in the freezer too. I'll use the frozen fruits when I make my first batch of damson gin. This is rather like making sloe gin, but requires a slightly less scary quantity of sugar. Meanwhile, the plum trees - some still laden with ripening fruits - have had to have yet more props installed beneath some of the weightier loads. I've never known a year like it. But that’s just one of the many great things about gardening: there's an element of control (or we like to think there is!) ... but in reality, the weather and Mother Nature have far greater influence than we do.

And while the stone fruits are doing so well, an awful lot of us have had almost non-existent crops on unusually miserable-looking squash plants. Shame the glut recipes are not a bit more interchangeable... ever tried damson soup, or roasted damson tart?

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Gardeners' World Web User 10/09/2009 at 16:53

Glad that there is hope for me. I got a two year old damson tree last year - and nothing happened. This year - nothing happened. Sure I got plenty of leaves but no blossom. Same with my golden gage and my standard dessert plum. (As you may gather I have a very new orchard). My apples and pears are fine and producing a few fruit. Even my cherries (one of them produced a (yes A) fruit (but it did drop off, lol). But your story has enforced one thing. If you are a gardener - don't be in a rush. Thanks for this blog.

Gardeners' World Web User 10/09/2009 at 17:24

Our damson tree has always had fruit, but we are always beaten to them just before they are ripe enough by the birds. This year we had a bumper crop and the birds didn't seem to be interested, unless they had pecked their way through so many they were full. We made delicious jam and did swaps for honey with our daughter as she keeps bees, so a fair exchange this year.

Gardeners' World Web User 10/09/2009 at 18:04


Gardeners' World Web User 10/09/2009 at 20:48

I too have had a bumper crop of plums this year even though my neighbour chopped half the tree mid summer! Last year lost the whole crop to a swarm of fruit flies or something! I got there first this time. Also managed to get some large storage jars from Asda for £1 each and had a go at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipe (in his River Cottage Handbook No 2) for plum jam with a twist of orange, cinnamon and a bit of stem ginger ... absolutely gorgeous. Planning to make these jars gifts for family and friends. I find it so satisfying being able to grow and eat your own.

Gardeners' World Web User 10/09/2009 at 20:48

I was lucky enough to be given Damsons from a friend they also had a glut of the fruits. the jam that I have made I am entering into the local Horti show this Saturday wish me luck!!!!!

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