Meet Mr Billington, my wonderful plum tree. (Or maybe it’s Mrs Billington?) Either way, this tree is having a great summer. We have an amazing abundance of plums right now. We have so many plums that the birds can’t eat them all.
Mr Billington is a mere six years old.
I planted the tree in the winter of 2008, the year after we moved to Hamilton. It has repaid the small investment (it cost $29.99 from Wairere Nursery in Gordonton) in amazing ways. It’s a great example of how rewarding it can be to plant fruit trees in home gardens.
When I planted Mr Billington, I also planted a Black Doris plum tree, which turns out to have been a great choice, because Black Doris is the pollinator for Billington plums. I also planted two apple trees - a Cox’s Orange and an Oratia Beauty (aka Gravenstein), and a Conference pear tree.
Anyway, now I know heaps more than I did about fruit trees, thanks to this great little eBook: “How to Plant a Fruit Tree: A Guide for Organic Gardeners”. This book contains just about everything I wish I’d known when I planted the fruit trees in my garden. You can buy it on Amazon for $NZ3.85.
Full disclosure: I am the co-author - or more accurately, I’m the editor. The knowledge and experience comes from my co-author, Clare Jackson of Green Footprint. You don’t need a Kindle to read it - it’s designed to be read on a home computer or iPad, etc. It actually works better on other devices because Kindles don’t handle colour photos. This is our second eBook. We've also published "Growing Great Seedlings - A Guide for Home Gardeners", which you can also buy on Amazon.
When we lived in Auckland we used to have a plum tree, which seemed healthy but never produced any plums. I eventually chopped it down. I wish I’d understood about pollination in those days. That poor tree probably just didn’t have a compatible pollinator anywhere near.
Anyway, we now have the very enjoyable challenge of deciding what to do with all these plums. My husband Matthew is brewing two bucket loads of plum wine. I’ve made two batches of plum chutney, one batch of plum jam, some delicious plum jelly with agar-agar (half of which made a great sorbet), and plum and ginger soda pop using water kefir grains. I’ve also dried some in the dehydrator, which produced beautiful purply-red sour prunes. But it took the best part of 24 hours, so I’m not sure it’s a great use of time and energy.
And of course we’re sharing them around with friends who don’t have plum trees. I remember what it was like.