Growing Damsons at the Allotment

Growing Damsons at the Allotment

Damsons are a form of plum but are a hardier plant that will have a better success rate of cropping than a plum tree in the wrong growing conditions. Damsons; with their tart flavour are more often used for cooking and wines than eaten fresh and raw.

You can choose dwarf varieties for containers or smaller spaces.

Damson plants are a hungry plant and like soil that is high in nitrogen and pH. You can add lime to poor or sandy soils. Damsons need moist but not water-logged soil and watered during dry spells until it is established.

Bareroot dormant plants can be planted during winter to early spring and container grown trees can be planted any time. You can choose to plant your Damson tree to be trained and pruned against a wall or to act as a hedge or windbreak in a sunny spot.

Protection may be required if you experience late frosts. Try to position your Damson tree in a sheltered area. Mulch around the base to retain moisture and supress the weeds.

When the fruits have formed during early summer, it may be worth thinning out young fruits, because as the fruits keep coming, the branches can break from the weight of a heavy glut. You may need to support the branches.

Any pruning should be done in spring for young trees once the buds have formed and during summer for more established trees. Also, protect smaller trees with netting from the birds and wildlife. 

Harvesting can be done several times; the fruits will feel soft when squeezed gently. Pick the Damsons and store carefully to avoid bruising and discard any damaged fruits.

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Growing Damsons in Summary

Planting Damsons

  • Plant dormant bareroot trees in winter to early spring
  • Plant container grown trees any time
  • Plant in a sunny spot with good pH levels

Growing Damsons

  • Water well until established, do not allow to get water-logged
  • Prune young trees in spring or summer for established trees 
  • Protect against frosts and birds

Harvesting Damsons

  • Pick young fruit to thin out or support branches
  • Pick ripened fruit over several times
  • Can be used in cooking and wine-making