How to Grow Greengages – A Guide to Growing Greengages
Greengages are a small, round, yellow-green and deliciously sweet type of plum.They were introduced into Britain from France by Sir William Gage in the 1720s. Greengages are also known as Reine Claudes from the name of the original French cultivar.
Being a plum, cultivation of gages is exactly the same.
- Plant bare-rooted stock in November–December, during the dormant period.
- Container grown trees can be planted at any time of the year.
- Harvest August–September.
- Position in a sheltered, sunny spot and plant into well-drained, fertile soil. Drive a stake into the planting hole before placing the tree, to avoid root damage. Keep free from weeds and water regularly.
- As the fruit begins to form usually in mid-May, thin by removing any damaged or diseased looking fruit, allowing sufficient space for each fruit to grow to full size without touching a neighbour. Check again for overcrowding after a further month or so. If you don’t thin, the weight of the fruit can damage the branches, encouraging diseases such as silver leaf.
- Prune in late spring or early summer.
- Plums have reputation for irregular fruiting, for two reasons. The early flowering varieties are susceptible to frost and will need protecting with fleece if frost threatens while they’re in blossom. When they fruit successfully, greengages are so prolific that the tree is exhausted and doesn’t have energy for a crop the following year.
- The fruits will be ready between August and October, depending upon the variety and the weather
Pests and Problems with Greengages
- Wasps are attracted to gages. Try hanging wasp traps in late June to catch the scouting wasps.
- Caterpillars of the codling moth and the plum fruit moth can damage the fruit. Traps are available containing a pheromone that attracts the male moths, preventing breeding.
The sweet flavour and translucent nature of the flesh makes greengages an ideal fruit for eating fresh or made into summer desserts instead of plums.
They are excellent bottled and can be made into a lovely jam but probably best bottled or frozen to use in desserts.