I remember my mother always used to make damson jam in autumn. Although the taste was delicious my lingering memory was that occasionally there was a stone left in the jar that used to end up on my toast, or worst still cracking my teeth. Damsons don’t seem to be grown very much in Inishowen but I’m sure that our climate would be ideal for them to flourish. Damsons are members of the plum family and like rich, rather wet soil. They can also tolerate strong, cold winds. Damsons are older than the domestic plum and come from Eastern Europe and the western fringes of Asia and were also grown in the Middle East. They were then bought to Italy 2,000 years ago from Damascus, hence the name. They are not difficult to grow. Unlike an apple or a pear they will come true from a stone, so the type you plant is the type that grows. You will have to wait about fifteen years before it bears fruit though. You can speed things up a bit by buying a tree that is established. There are also varieties on the market that have been grafted onto rootstocks to control the growth. “Pixy” is a rootstock to use if small trees are required and “St. Julian A” would be for larger specimens. The largest of the lot is the “Brompton” which can be very vigorous. Size doesn’t always matter though as you can get a good yield off the smallest of trees.