I planted a plum tree today. It stopped raining for a while this afternoon so I got 20 more mole hills raked over and re-seeded, tidied up a bit here and there and got that tree in the ground.
I picked it up in the supermarket of all places. It was a small bare rooted tree in a large plastic bag with a cardboard label amongst all the other fruit trees, standing upright in a large cardboard display box. This was the only plum tree in the box and only cost me £4.99. The other trees were pear, apple and sweet cherry and I'm not interested in acquiring any of those at the moment.
I have been thinking about a plum tree for a number of years. I had been thinking about what variety of plum would work best for us. Should I get a dark one like damson (makes great jam) or a green gage. What I really wanted were the sort of plums that our neighbours had when we lived in Bismarck. They had a whole hedge of plums and we could just help ourselves to the plums on our side. They were small yellow plums with a reddish blush if my memory serves me correctly. They could have been wild plums for all I know but they were sweet and delicious.
With the memory of those great plums as a guide, I went for the Victoria Plum. A delicious, hardy and good all round plum. I've planted it just in front of the chicken run. The chickens may benefit from a windfall plum or two in the years to come and when the tree gets large enough, some shade.
I expect that this bargain plum tree is on semi-dwarfing root stock because I can see that there has been a graft, but there is no information as to what size tree I can expect. Well, we'll see won't we.
This plum tree will be self-fertile but that doesn't mean that it doesn't need some help from the bees and there in lies a bit of a worry.Remember when we had a bee swarm last spring when I had that terrible cold? We had our plummer friend over the other night to fix an airlock in hot water and I asked him how the bees were getting on. He told us that the bees that they collected from us, died just after Christmas. In fact, 10 out of 12 of his hives have died this winter. It's been a hard year for bees. With colony collapse disorder running riot and varroa mite weaking the bees, there is an agricultural crisis looming. I have always had loads of bees in my flowers each year. A friend of mine and I sat with our mugs of tea and inspected the flowers last year and saw that we had a couple varieties of hoverfly, (that look like bees) honey bees and bumble bees. With last year being so wet, and this year being even wetter, I fear for the bees. Not many are surviving the winter. Now that I think about it, we didn't even have much of a wasp problem last year which is nice, but unusual. It could end up that nobody has any bees. How would crops get pollinated? Can you imagine a world without fruit?
If you're the praying sort, say a prayer for the bees and the people who do research on bees that they find an answer to this very big problem.