Star plant - Plum tree

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Anyone who is harvesting the ripe fruits from their plum tree will agree with this week’s choice. The deep red fruits can be harvested from mid-summer to mid-autumn.

Those grown for cooking should be picked while still firm, while dessert varieties should be harvested when they are slightly soft and eaten within a few days of picking, as they don’t keep well.

Prunus domestica, giant prune, is a good variety and can be eaten fresh or used for cooking, bottling and jams. Plums thrive in deep, well-drained soil in warm, sheltered sites. Different cultivars should be planted together to ensure enough pollen is available, although there are self-fertile varieties including Victoria.

Good dessert varieties include the Edwards’ which produces large blue fruits with a succulent orange flesh, or Marjorie’s Seedling.

Trees should be planted in late autumn in a deep, well-prepared soil with loads of well-rotted organic matter. They need watering in dry weather or the fruits may drop.