MEDLAR

Though the medlar has never been really popular in this country, it has been grown for many hundreds of years. Chaucer and Shakespeare both refer to the fruits, though in somewhat disparaging fashion. Medlars are still known only to the few. They do not usually flourish in the north of England or in Scotland.

Cultivation:

Medlars are happiest on moist soils. They do not object to some shade. An established tree is a singularly handsome object on any large lawn. The large white flowers appear singly in May and June and the foliage assumes russet tints in autumn. Medlars are grown as bushes, pyramids or standards, though nurserymen only propagate in limited numbers, on account of lack of demand. Bushes or pyramids may be planted as two- or three-year-olds and standards at three or four years of age.

No special feeding programme is needed, but a thick layer of well-rotted manure, peat, compost, or similar bulky organic material, is helpful in dry summers.

In early years pruning is similar to pruning of apples. Pruning of older trees merely consists of removing old and overcrowded wood in early winter to keep the centre of the tree open.

How to Pick Medlars:

Medlars are best gathered in November, not earlier, whenever the weather is dry. Some gardeners allow the fruits to fall to the ground before gathering. Medlars are ready to eat about three weeks later, when they will have just started to decay. They were at one time popular in combination with vintage port.

Choice of Varieties:

Nottingham or Narrow-leaved Dutch, Dutch Giant or Monstrous and Royal are three good varieties. Dutch Giant may be picked at the end of October and will often keep in storage until mid-December. The seedless medlar is of little value.

Pests and Diseases:

Medlars are seldom attacked by pests and diseases. When trouble occurs, the particular pest or disease will usually be one shared with the apple. The same control measures will, of course, apply.

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