Prunes are an ancient fruit, present in the wild in about 300 species, widespread throughout the northern hemisphere; the fruits commonly called plums come from various cultivars and hybrids of plants of the species prunus domestica, from which also apricots, almonds, cherries, peaches are obtained. Commonly called prunes are the varieties obtained from the hybridization of European species, from which firm and compact fruits are obtained, slightly oval, often purple or purple; from the species of Asian origin instead the plums have been obtained, almost spherical fruits, softer and more juicy than the plums. In reality hybrids over time have become so many that this distinction does not always make sense; in Italian, however, plums and plums are two terms that are practically equivalent.
The prunus domestica plant is generally a small tree, which does not exceed 3 meters in height, with deciduous, dark green leaves, often with the apex slightly rolled downwards, oval; the flowers bloom in spring, on some varieties even before the foliage arrives; plum blossoms are white, star-shaped, often in small bunches. The flowers are followed by fruits, which can be of various colors, from acid green to purple, passing through all the shades of yellow, pink and red, bearing witness to the many hybrids that took place over the centuries; again due to the uncertain origin of each hybrid, the ripening of the fruits takes place at different times depending on the variety, starting from late spring, for the earliest varieties, up to the late varieties that mature at the end of summer.
Plums have been grown for centuries to consume their fruits, raw, cooked, jam or dried. The fruits of the plum are in fact sweet and juicy, very refreshing, generally pleasing even to children.
They contain a good quantity of mineral salts, in particular potassium, and vitamins.
they also contain a good amount of fiber, especially when dried, becoming very useful in cases of minor constipation.
These fruits are also used to produce traditional liqueurs, such as the Alto Adige prune grappa, or the Slovenian slivoviz.
The prunus domestica plant is rather rustic and resistant and can be cultivated without particular problems even in compact and clay-rich soils, without however allowing the formation of water stagnations, as these can cause the onset of root rot. Since the plum plant It can be developed from different types of graft holders and easily adapts to different types of soil, which can be both basic and acidic. For the cultivation, the ideal substrate is composed of a soft soil, well supplied with organic substances.
Given the rustic nature of the plant, it is able to adapt to different exposures, even if, to obtain a good harvest, it is good to place it in a sunny position, where it can receive the sun's rays for most of the day. It can withstand rather high temperatures and even temperatures that can reach -15 ° C, during the period of vegetative rest. On the other hand, it does not like late frosts and cold during flowering, a factor that can seriously compromise the harvest. In the case of cultivation in areas subject to late frosts, it is good to choose plants that do not belong to early varieties.
Rootstocks and planting
Plums can be obtained through the use of different types of graft holders, which allow adaptation to soils with different characteristics. The most commonly used rootstocks are, usually, the franco, which is used for its rusticity, the San Giuliano, the Mirabolano and the Brompton. On the basis of the rootstock the plant will assume different growth and shape, influencing the type of cultivation. Grafting can be done in the summer period, in the month of August and the vegetative bud technique is used. The plants thus obtained are planted already in the following autumn period.
The plants to be used as rootstocks must be chosen among specimens of at least two years of age.
The plum tree, another name with which the prunus domestica plant is known, can be cured on the basis of different forms of farming ranging from palmette, in which the plants are arranged on the wall with rows of vines at about 5 meters from the another to the ipsilon breeding, in which the plants are placed at a shorter distance from each other, about one and a half meters, compared to the four in the palmette arrangement.
Plum - Prunus domestica: Plum tree
To obtain a good harvest it is essential to remember to respect the needs of the plant, both in terms of exposure and water supply. For this last aspect it is good to know that young plants need regular watering, remembering to avoid water stagnation that can be dangerous for the health and growth of the plant.
It is also important to provide a regular fertilizer that provides the plants with all the necessary nutrition; you can use organic or nitrogen based fertilizers.
Another operation to be planned to keep one's plants healthy is that of pruning, which allows the plant to be kept in the desired shape; It is good to remember to avoid intervening with too heavy cuts, to avoid that the plant suffers excessively. At the end of winter the damaged or dried branches must be eliminated and from the fifth year of growth, when the plant begins to present the first fruits, the pruning must be finalized to a good production of fruits, pruning the branches that make the crown too thick and thick.