I'd love to carry on this family fruit tree that won't be around for too much longer. There's a variety of plum that my great grandfather brought over from Italy. I think it's called "Golden Drop". My grandfather has one (planted from a pit from my great grandfather's tree) in his yard. That property may not be in the family for much longer.
I was wondering what the best way to carry on that tree. (I love those plums). Some people have told me that I can "make a cutting", which I assume is like cutting off a branch and planting it, but this aparently involves "rootstocks", which I know nothing about.
Option Number two would be to grow fruit from the pits and eventually transplant them into the ground. How old would the seedlings have to be before it's a good idea to transplant into the earth? Would I have to keep it inside during the winter, or could it winter outside?
Any advice what so ever would be appreciated, as I know little about such things.
2) I'm considering buying some dwarf or mini dwarf fruit trees that could be planted in a pot. If I did this, how could I care for the soil? In my garden, I constantly am adding compost. Would I add organic fertilizer? Should I buy an organic potting mix? Would I keep this indoors during the winter or leave it out? What's the best course?
I have haven't had good results when trying to grow roots off of woody plant cuttings. Managed to do so on some lavender that I promptly killed off. I would start now with planting some pits and trying to take some cuttings now.Eventually you will get a new plant one way or the other but you have to expect some casualties.
Rootstocks are like the "base" of the tree. It's what you graft the cutting, bud, or scion onto. Depending on how the tree was originally propagated and the type it is, it may not be viable if you just plant the seed. I think it would be best trying both methods to be safe. Try googling a good rootstock for plums in your climate and graft onto that if you can obtain it. Although they focus on citrus and avocado, there are some good visuals explaining grafting at http://homeorchard.ucdavis.edu/8001.pdf
I would echo tranquil: get a bunch of rootstocks growing, or buy a bare root bundle of them this winter/early spring. ('bare root' is nice and cheap). For now, just prepare a nice place to plant them. Healthy soil is good, it's hard to reccomend what exactly without knowing your soil type.
Then, come february or so, take a couple hour grafting workshop somewhere in your community. Then you can take scion wood from the Golden Drop and graft it to your rootstock trees and set them out in the nursery. I'd say eventually you'd want to guild them, but for now keep them in a close spot you can keep an eye on to see if the grafts are taking. You don't want to be hunting them in a food forest just yet.
The great thing about rootstock is that you can pick rootstocks for your soil type. You can also play around with different sizes that you'd like the tree to be and see if you find a combo that works good for you.
It also doesn't hurt to start some from seed. The quality of the tree just may not be as robust.
If your tree is Coe's Golden Drop plum, it is believed to be a cross between a Green Gage and a White Magnum Bonum. This would lead one to suspect that what you got from seed might well be closer to one or other of the parents.
This plum is still available, and buying one might be another option for you.