A blustering wind has been blowing wet and cold for the past two days. In other years, this really messes up the fall harvest of wild plums because the delicate new blossoms get zapped. Not this year. The plum blossoms are far enough along, so the fruit is probably set. We should have a good harvest of wild plums this fall.
Last week the blossoming plum thickets looked like snow banks, as you see in the picture at the top of this page. But, it also seemed like every small clump and even the isolated plants put out their white flowers. You can see that in the photos just above this paragraph.
We have a family story about Grandpa’s method of “picking” plums. He stretched a canvas over a wagon box and drove the team of horses into the thicket. Then he shook the trees so the ripe plums fell into the wagon. It was a fast and easy way to get lots of plums with a minimum of effort. I pick them individually and slowly by hand. There’s also a story about people from town coming out to the farm to go “pluming”. These stories are from more than a hundred years ago.
Mom always made wild plum jam with her mother’s recipe that included anise seed. Mom’s childhood farm was on the banks of Plum Creek near Walnut Grove, MN (just like the book, really). Margaret also followed that recipe until last year when she left out the anise and made jelly. The grandkids loved it, she prefers it, so that will be the new tradition. This collage shows last year’s jelly canning enterprise and the single jar is the only one left. The jars of the old anise jam used to age/rot in the back of the cupboard. The new jelly has disappeared.
And, it’s not just the wild plums. The last old apple tree in the backyard up at the old house had an explosion of blossoms last week. I’ve read someplace that dying, stressed trees will send out excessive crops of seeds. That’s probably what’s happening with this old tree. It maybe doesn’t have much time left. The green blossoms shown above are gooseberry bushes. Margaret has not yet committed to making gooseberry jelly or jam, but I’m working on her. Maybe it’ll become a new tradition?