apricot or plum

lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)April 22, 2005

Quite a few years ago when I worked another job, my boss brought in bags and bags of what she called "plums" from a tree in her yard and I made killer jam from them. They were about 2-3 inches in diameter, had a small pit, smooth yellow skins and yellow flesh. They were completely yellow. I haven't seen anything in the plum tree varieties that resembles them. She must have brought in three shopping bags full and she said that was only a small percentage. Any ideas what it could have been? I'm looking for a plum for my yard. The only thing is, I only have room for one tree, so I'm limited to my plum varieties. I have to go with a self polinating type.

Another option is dwarf apricot. I'm not a big fresh apricot fan, but I love the jam and dried fruit. Would one small apricot tree provide enough fruit for a batch of jam? Do either apricots or plums have nice smelling flowers? How about form, is one any better than the other? How about foliage wise? My current boss has a small fruit orchard and he said that apricots have been among his hardiest trees. Any imput would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

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chaman(z7MD)

Apricots are winter hardy in Maryland. I had planted two dwarf kind of apricot plants last summer in the pot and left it in the back yard during the winter.Recently, I saw some leaves on both plants.
Marylnd winter is cold enough with plenty of frost and snow to kill the plants if they are not winter hardy.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2005 at 5:48PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Why not try a 3, 4 or 5 fruit type dwarf tree. Right now, all of the grafts of my 4 fruit are in bloom with two plum types being the first to open, then the peach, and then the apricot . I could have had a nectarine as well, but the trees had failed with the nectarine graft at the nursery, so I planted a dwarf nectarine tree in another location in my yard instead. This should hopefully be the first year I will see and be able to eat some of the fruits, provided the animals dont get them first.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2005 at 1:30PM
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greenwitch(Sz19 SoCal)

There are a few yellow plums, have a look at some of the websites online like Dave Wilson Nursery, Trees of Antiquity, Bay Laurel Nursery just to narrow down the choices (and get acquainted with the possibilities). Then check out a supplier in your area (maybe have a look at Cummins Nursery's website) to see what's available without having to ship it across the continent.
Good luck, not that you need it, I doubt you can make a "mistake" as they're all good in their own way. You can plant several in hole to try different kinds too (see backyard orchard culture on the DWN website).

    Bookmark   April 25, 2005 at 12:07AM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

"Shiro" is a popular yellow plum that seems to be planted alot. The fruit really are neon yellow!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2005 at 2:22PM
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greenwitch(Sz19 SoCal)

Regarding fragrant flowers, there is a white apricot, Canada White Blenheim, that has showy, fragrant flowers and is a late bloomer. It's self-sterile and needs another later bloomer to pollinate it (Chinese Mormon, Stark Sweetheart were recommended by Andy Mariani). It happens to be a particularly delicious apricot too! Dave Wilson Nursery carries it.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2005 at 11:30AM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

I don't think Chinese apricot is adapted to Pennsylvania, and I would check out other apricot (or plum) varieties with the USDA extension locally before planting one as my main stone fruit. I like to plant trees close together and keep them small, for greater variety. I have peaches and nectarines planted four in a hole, 2 feet apart. I have rows of plums and pluots 2 1/2 to 5 feet apart against a fence or free-standing, and apricots, plus more nectarines, 5 feet apart.

Trees planted in a triangle 18 inches to 2 feet apart are also nice. You may have room for more than one tree if you keep them little. You could make different varieties of jam. Think of the possibilities of you had three trees with more than one variety of fruit grafted to them.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2005 at 10:28PM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

Good points Carolyn. And thanks for the links Greenwitch. I definately need to plant my trees close together and keep them pruned down, that's why I'm so awash in a fog about what to do, I know nothing about dwarf fruit trees, although I did read quite a bit about it on that link to Dave Wilson's Nursery above. My yard is postage size, I can only plant four trees, and I've already decided on japanese maple and "dwarf" birch for two of them. When I say "trees" for my yard, "tree-like bushes" is really more apropo, since I live in a row house with a yard wedged between neighbors, and also with electric lines overhead. I'm leaning towards cherry for the third tree. I'm interested in the bush cherries and the bush apricots, but have found paltry little in the way of information on them. I found a Web site with some fruit tree varieties recommended for PA, and not a bush variety among them, or much of anything dwarf really. Seemed like the page was geared more towards commercial or large lot applications. I have thought about a mixed fruit tree, something grafted, but darn it, it just seems so weird to me, I'm kind of a natural type person. I get the feeling that with my gardening style, the "survival of the fittest" mode, such a plant wouldn't survive. I could be wrong. I may experiment with manchurian apricot or wild plum. Any way you slice it I probably won't get enough fruit for a whole jam batch, just something to supplement. I'm even toying with the idea of ditching the last fruit tree and substituting fragrant bushes for ouside my kitchen window/back door, with perhaps some type of berries planted underneath, like currents, raspberries or blueberries. Unfortunately I don't like blackberries, I don't like the pith in the middle.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2005 at 10:44AM
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greenwitch(Sz19 SoCal)

lpinkmountain, you can cram ALOT more than you think in your postage stamp size yard, you just haven't modified your visions yet, having not seen such a thing but many others have preceded you and been successful. Someone put a link to a guy who has 93 dwarf apple trees (and some blueberry shrubs) in his standard size suburban backyard, I was told of a man who had 75 various cultivars grafted to the same tree, there are people writing books about forest farming, using layers from root crops to small & larger shrubs, vines and small to larger trees (understory and canopy). Just keep researching and convince yourself this is possible and believe me you will find ways in your own yard once your imagination is inspired. Good luck.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2005 at 2:50PM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

Yes I am doing the forest farm concept. I have most of the areas figured out, it's just this last area that is giving me fits. It's a little square outside my kitchen window and next to my back door, the entrance I use every day. So I kinda want something that smells good. I don't like the smell of cherry blossoms. I think I am realizing that I'll need to maybe try a few things there since I'm not going with the standard landscaping type plants.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2005 at 9:47PM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

If you want fragrance, you might think about clove currant (including large-fruited 'Crandall'; Briar Rose if you're brave (smells like apples when it rains, but very thorny and suckers), or well-mannered Akebia vines. Some crabapples are fragrant.

For giving special flavor to jams, try one of the stronger black currants, like Consort. Gives jam, especially raspberry or peach/raspberry, a wonderful 'wild' flavor. You may be able to use some rose hips for jam, also.

If you can find a good, adapted apricot or plum, I believe they are worth the space. If you're into jam, you might consider the European Damson or Mirabelle types as well as Japanese plums. Might be a little easier to grow in your area.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 12:53PM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

Or maybe a flowering quince or two would work for you.

Here is a link that might be useful: flowering quince thread

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 12:36AM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

You said that you were considering a cherry for one of your spots. But commercial growers can pick cherries ripe, which is harder to do with plums or apricots. So you might pick plum or apricot for the place you wanted the cherry. That would leave the spot by your kitchen for fragrant plants. With a little help from Raintree and One Green World, here is a list of fragrant edibles to start with:

FRAGRANT FLOWERS
Akebia (Purple Rose and Shiro Bana for fruit)
Apple
Arctic Kiwi
Crabapple
Crandall clove currant
Elderberry
Magnolia Vine
Passiflora (incarnata for fruit, or 'Incense' in a protected spot)
Quince
Roses (including Rugosa)
Winter Honeysuckle

FRAGRANT FOLIAGE and/or FRUIT
Black Currant (nice in jam with dark plums as well as raspberries)
Magnolia Vine
Quince/Flowering Quince
Rosa Eglanteria (maybe in a container?)

Well, I guess I am about out of ideas for now. Good luck deciding.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 10:09AM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

Thank you, thank you for all the feedback. I'm still hemming and hawing about this area. You're right about wanting to grow something that I can't get easily commercially, that's why I was going with tart cherries, plus I'm trying to mimic my north country roots. My yard is TINY and has harsh conditions, I can't grow Passionflower, and kiwi and rugosa roses are too rowdy. If apples weren't so common I'd plant them in a heartbeat just for the scent, and I could do them espalier for a screen. I have a crab out front. I'm not familiar with Magnolia vine, but apparently it is an herbal medicine. Do the flowers smell good? I'm much more into eating than tinctures. I'm not crazy about the taste of elderberry, (too seedy and I'm not into making wine), or the looks of it in a small yard, but the flowers sure are lovely, we'll see. And I'm considering currents too. I think what I'm going to do is lay out the other beds and then tackle this last one so I can see what will look good. Since I missed the spring fruit tree planting I have until fall to decide. Whatever I go with, it will have to be a tiny dwarf version.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 10:45AM
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