A plum job I hate

It’s that time of year again, the time when I have to do something that goes against every thread, every iota of my being. So reluctant am I to approach this task that I have to do it in stages, over several days, to make the pain that little bit easier to bear. But it’s not just time to try to get a press pass out of the RHS for the Hampton Court Flower Show – a disheartening process that involves having to prove you are a real journalist and not just a tryhard hack imposter desperate to travel all the way across London so they can stand in a muddy field, drink warm Pimms and then buy some plants that will get squashed in the train on the way home.

No, it’s also time to thin your plums. I love plum trees – their weeping habit and their pretty early white blossom, but most of all the lush melt in the mouth that reminds me of my country childhood when we would ransack my farmer dad’s plum orchards, then get freaked out by the jelly stuff we sometimes found inside. What is that stuff by the way?

In my little London garden my Victoria tree is a gem, though so very generous with itself that I have to thin it ruthlessly in July. It’s really worth doing this because otherwise the tree will exhaust itself and you’ll end up with nothing to pick next year. The heavy crop can also break the branches. Thin the plums so that you end up with a pair of fruits every  15-16cm or six inches (approximately a hand’s breadth). It’s devastating I know, but well worth it, even if you do get left with this dispiriting handful…


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