Useful information

Blackthorn, or prickly plum

Wild thorn (Prunus spinosa)

Turn - this name will definitely not make your mouth sweeter - "Sour!", Many will say and will be absolutely right. Among other things, wild blackthorn also gives small fruits, which will not be so easy to collect, because its shoots have very unpleasant thorns. Sometimes the blackthorn in a neglected state forms such thickets that it is simply impossible for either man or animals to pass through them.

However, you shouldn't think that the turn has no demand at all. It turns out that it was introduced into culture quite a long time ago and was cultivated and used for food back in the days of Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece. The thing is that blackthorn plants have significant winter hardiness and drought resistance, they can grow anywhere on the site and literally on any soil, except perhaps swampy.

The turn is a member of the Rosaceae family (Rosaceae) and a kind of Plum (Prunus), the most widespread wild species of the genus. This is not an exaggeration at all, the blackthorn grows in most of the central zone of Russia, as well as in Siberia and the Volga region. If you visit the Caucasus, you can see vast natural plantings of culture there too. The blackthorn usually captures (there is no other way to say) the outskirts of the forest, hollows, slopes of any steepness and exposure, where it actively grows, forming impassable thickets.

 

Wild turn

Wild blackthorn, or prickly plum (Prunusspinosa) - This is a perennial and highly branched shrub, reaching 4 meters in height, but it all depends on the soil. So, on poor substrates, its height sometimes does not exceed one meter, but on nutritious ones, with plenty of moisture, it can easily exceed the mark of five meters.

The blackthorn can be safely attributed to plants, whose root system is able to strengthen the soil, because it is powerful, as evidenced by the sometimes very abundant root growth, which turns the blackthorn into an almost indestructible weed-invader, with which only ash-leaved maple or American maple can compete.

The first flowers on blackthorn plants usually appear when the leaves are just emerging from the buds, so the plant looks very decorative. The thorn crop ripens in early autumn, and the fruits hang for a long time without crumbling. The culture has outstanding self-fertility, so you simply won't be able to see a plant without a harvest.

 

Wild thorn (Prunus spinosa), mass floweringWild thorn (Prunus spinosa), flowers

Blackthorn fruit

Blackthorn fruits, containing, in addition to vitamins, microelements, sugars (up to 7.4%), organic acids (2%), pectin (2%), and also a significant amount of tannins (about 1%), are a good astringent, like bird cherry, which normalizes the functioning of the stomach and intestines.

Among other things, the blackthorn is an interesting tool in the hands of a breeder, because it can easily be pollinated with, say, cherry plum, plum and even apricot. As a result of such experimental crosses, plants are obtained that are resistant to low negative temperatures and the absence of moisture in the summer. This, by the way, was guided by Ivan Vladimirovich Michurin when using this culture as a paternal form in order to obtain a home plum resistant to low negative temperatures.

Blackthorn as rootstock

Now the wild blackthorn is often used in the northern regions, where thermophilic varieties of apricot, homemade plum and, of course, peach are grafted onto its seedlings. As a result, plants are obtained that have low growth activity, do not give growth (or a small amount of it), winter-hardy and drought-resistant.

By the way, breeding work with the thorn culture itself is not standing still either, already now it is possible to acquire varietal forms that form massive fruits, not as tart as those of a wild plant, and located on long stalks on moderately ringed shoots.

 

Blackthorn planting material

If you decide to place a blackthorn on your site, then choose and purchase seedlings of this culture in your region.You should not go south and plant local varieties if you live in the northern region and, on the contrary, you should not choose northern varieties, if you are a resident of warm regions, nothing will come of this idea. Remember that not only winter hardiness and drought resistance are important for the ripening of blackthorn fruits, but also the duration of the warm period, the amount of precipitation, the absence of thaws in the middle of winter, and so on.

 

Turner varieties

Of the old varieties already tested by gardeners, one can name such as Dessert sloe, Large-fruited sloe, Super-abundant sloe and Sweet sloe.

Thorn FreehandDessert sloe
Blackthorn Large-fruited, floweringBlackthorn Large-fruited, fruiting

Of the new products, this is, of course, the turn Tsaregradsky - a tree about 4 meters high, on which fruits weighing about 10 g are formed, ripening around the end of September. This variety is surprisingly resistant to pruning, its shoots grow quickly, and the cuts in just a few seasons are completely tightened, of course, provided they are isolated with garden varnish or garden paint. The taste of the fruit is typical for blackthorn - tart-sweet.

A few more novelties - variety Zagorsk, the early ripeness period (the middle of the first autumn month), on the plants of which fruits with a thick rich-blue waxy bloom are formed, when ripe from the first gust of wind, they crumble together. The variety is good in that it is almost not affected by aphids, from which the tops of the shoots of such cultivars as Thorn is super-abundant and Thorn sweet suffer greatly.

Tern Zagorskiy, floweringTern Zagorskiy, fruiting

Valdai Is also a fairly new turn with a late ripeness. Its fruits are interesting in that they are almost black and very large, weighing about 9-12 g.

All these varieties of blackthorn can be easily propagated by vegetative methods - with the help of root suckers, rooting of green cuttings in a greenhouse, spring grafting with cuttings (copulation) and budding.

If there are thickets of thorns in your region, then it is quite acceptable to try out the method of I.V. Michurina - wander through them, choose a plant with the most massive and sweetest fruits, propagate it. The chosen plant or purchased seedling will definitely reward you with good yields and ... additional difficulties in the form of active growth. But if, when planting a plant on a site, you overlay its root system with sheets of iron or a special mesh-root limiter, stepping back about 15-20 cm from the trunk, then there will most likely not be an unpleasant surprise.

Planting a turn

By the way, when planting a turnip, which it is desirable to produce in the spring, it is advisable to add 1.5-2 kg of humus, 150-200 g of wood ash and 15-20 g of complex fertilizer to the planting pits (optimally - nitroammophoska).

 

Further care

Post-plant care of turnip plants consists in periodic watering, loosening the soil in the near-trunk strip, removing weeds, applying fertilizers and pruning.

Lighting... The blackthorn does not require special attention to itself, it can grow well even in conditions of slight shading (but it can stretch out there), however, it will not leave feeding without attention - it will respond well to them by increasing the yield by 20-30%.

Top dressing it is better to do it three times - in spring, under each tree, you can add a tablespoon of nitroammophoska to the well-hewn soil in advance; the second feeding is desirable after flowering, adding under each plant a teaspoon of potassium sulfate and superphosphate (even better - a tablespoon of potassium monophosphate), and the third feeding should be done after harvest, adding 300 g of wood ash for each plant.

Watering it is appropriate to produce in extreme heat and drought, pouring a bucket of water under each plant in the evening. In addition, the blackthorn needs sufficient moisture in the first half of the season, during flowering and during the growth of the ovary and the beginning of fruit ripening. About a couple of weeks before harvesting the fruits, watering should be stopped, otherwise excess moisture can cause cracking of the skin on the fruits, but if there is a lot of heat and there is no rain, then watering should be done in the same volume, otherwise the fruits may turn out to be small and tart.

Pruning... Starting from the 5-6th year of life, the thorns in early spring (March) need to be pruned, carrying out a sanitary cleaning of the crown, as well as cutting out all the shoots that thicken it, in particular those that grow deeper into the crown.

Harvest

The most pleasant time is harvesting, it is advisable to harvest the blackthorn on time, not allowing the fruits to overripe. The fact is that only the wild turner does not crumble the fruits. As for the cultivated blackthorn, its ripe fruits can be on the ground from a gust of wind, heavy rain or under the influence of sudden changes in day and night temperatures.

Sloe is used for making delicious pies and dumplings, drinks and canning.

Recipes with thorns:

  • Open yeast dough pie with thorns
  • Homemade sloe kvass
  • Dumplings with thorns
  • Shortcrust pastry pie with thorns
  • Health drink "Honey berry"
  • Pickled sloe
  • Blackthorn compote

Blackthorn hedge

The blackthorn is also quite suitable for "building" a hedge, and it can be made as a single-row, leaving 0.6-0.8 m between the seedlings, and two- and three-row, with a distance between the rows of 2 m. The main thing is immediately after planting a live hedges to carry out strong pruning, leaving only 15-20 cm of growth above the soil, such pruning will stimulate active growth and branching. The next season, pruning must be repeated, removing all weak shoots, and then only trimming the branches growing upward, maintaining the optimal plant height for you.

Photos provided by the author