The Victoria Plum was delivered this week, and today we went down to the plot to plant it. Plum trees need warmth and sun, so we’ve planted it in the sunniest part of the plot, on the edge of where we plan to lay a second patio (because we need the sun, too).
The soil was already well dug over, and we incorporated some manure that had been rotting down through the summer. We added some blood, fish and bone as a slow-release fertiliser. Plum trees need to be supported with a stake for the first 4-5 years of their life. The stake should be 15cm (6in) or so from the main stem. The trunk of the plum was tied to the stake using one of those special rubber ties you can get from B&Q or a garden centre (don’t use wire or anything which could cut into the tree trunk). We’ll need to check the tie for the first couple of years to ensure that growth of the tree trunk has not caused it to become too tight.
Because plum trees have lots of roots near the surface, they will often produce lots of of suckers (mini-trees) for 3 metres (9 foot) around the trunk. Regular cutting of these suckers will keep them under control. A more permanent way is to gently dig away the soil to the point where the sucker joins the main root system. Simply pull the sucker away from the root. This will slow down the production of suckers considerably.
We’ll need to add another application of slow-release fertiliser around the tree in February and mulch with well-rotted manure in the spring. For the first three years we need to keep the ground around the tree free of any grass or other plants so it doesn’t suffer from competition. We’ll need to keep it well-watered if there’s a dry spell.
That’s something to bear in mind – this autumn has been quite dry and warmer than average. We’re still piucking the odd strawberry and raspberry on the plot.
In two year’s time, we hope….