Did you try the sour plums at the Foodival?
‘These sour plums are known as shazifim yerakim in Israel, gojeh sabz in Iran, jarareng in Lebanon, erik in Turkey, and janarek in Jordan.’
These plums were saved after pruning the Greengage trees that grow in the tooting community garden as part of a pruning workshop. They were not ripe for eating but nothing goes to waste so Charles experimented with pickling the plums. They were certainly delightful at the Foodival. Something Unique.
Once we knew which trees were remaining then we needed to prune them to provide space for air and better light to help them be healthy trees. Ideally this would be a vase shape but our particular trees are grown from ‘suckers’ – that is a self propagating system connected to the main tree.
While we all wanted to get going with the variety of exciting tools they had brought along it was important that first we decided what the aims of the pruning were. The trees have been allowed to grow a bit wild which makes them great as a habitat but the pruning would help to promote tree health and improved crop. The aims are not complementary and that made it difficult in the beginning to decide on a strategy.
This is often something that we can struggle with any of our gardening aims. Balancing the needs of nature and the needs of humans are not always compatible and these decisions are hard. Particularly as a group who may have divergent views, or feel they do not know enough to choose a course of action. In the end we were able to agree a compromise with half reserved for habitat with some pruning for health and the other half would be cut back quite dramatically to get to a spacing that would promote fewer but stronger and more productive trees.
There was also time to look at the Victoria plum and identify branches that we could prune to promote healthy and strong growth for the tree.
While there were many people helping the plums are close together and it wasn’t practical to prune more than two trees in the area at a time. So there is still more work to do but we now have a strategy that should be maintainable in the future.
It was a fantastic learning experience and if you have fruit trees in your own garden then check out https://www.theorchardproject.org.uk/about-us/ for more advice and opportunities for you to learn about caring for your fruit trees.
Maybe you’re inspired to start a new orchard? This year our friend Martin Cobley has helped establish the first Community Orchard in Wandsworth Borough. Congratulations! If you want to visit, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org