Plums are known for a unique group of phytonutrient phenols called neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acid. These phenols help prevent oxidative damage to fats all over the body. They also disarm the free radical superoxide, which is highly reactive and can cause major damage to cells all over the body. Plums increase the absorption of iron, the mineral needed to form hemoglobin, which transports oxygen to every cell. Plums offer a nice dose of dietary fiber to promote healthy digestion. They are also a good source of vitamins A and B2, which contribute to vision, blood vessel health and metabolism of lipids, carbohydrates and sugars for energy.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
Vitamins – C, A, B2 (Riboflavin)
Minerals – Potassium and others in trace amounts
Eating fruits and vegetables high in vitamins C and A has been linked to lower risk of atherosclerosis, heart disease, stroke, asthma, colon cancer, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
How to Grow
Plums come in many different sizes, shapes, colors and flavors. There’s a type right for everyone. Some trees grow nearly 20 feet tall. You can also find dwarfs growing as small as 6 feet. You can let them be, with minimal pruning, or train them to grow as fans or pyramids. You can decide on the tree shape, how much fruit to harvest and how much area to devote to it. Plums like deep, heavier loam soils that have good drainage and a pH near 6.5. Plant plum trees in spring. Dig a deep hole and amend the soil with plenty of organic matter (compost, planting mix or a combination of nutrient rich organic matter with fertilizer). Drive a support down into the hole. When placing the tree into the hole, line up the soil line on the tree with the ground surface. Fill in the hole with the amended soil, pack it down and mulch around the trunk with a thick layer to conserve moisture and deter grass and weeds. Attach the support with a tree collar that will not erode the tree, making it prey to silver leaf disease. With standard cultivars, leave at least 20 feet between trees. With dwarf varieties, 12 feet is enough. Keep the soil moist but not water logged. It takes 3-4 years after planting to bear fruit. Each spring, reapply planting mix to the soil and mulch over the area of root growth with well -aged compost to provide all the macro- and micronutrients needed. Thin small fruits to about 2 inches apart and 4 inches between large ones. During growing season, prune off extra thick growth that blocks sunlight from the interior so fruits can properly ripen. Over winter, prune off old wood to stimulate new growth. Harvest plums for cooking just before they soften. Or pick them off as they soften.
Pests attacking plums are plum sawfly, wasps, red spider mite, aphids and birds. Deter aphids with a strong stream of water or by planting French marigolds to attract their predators, ladybugs and hoverflies. See Apricots for spider mites, sawflies and birds. If wasps become a problem, put something sweet in a jar (beer, juice, cider) and cover it with a film. Put a small hole in the cover and hang it from the tree. Wasps will be attracted, crawl inside the jar and get trapped.
When watering, do it long enough for water to penetrate to the root level. Otherwise the roots will try to grow toward the surface for hydration. Also, never prune plums during the winter, as the wounds will remain open and susceptible to silver leaf.