QUINCE

This fruit was the ‘golden apple’ of classical times but was apparently only introduced to Britain towards the end of the 16th century. The Victorians believed no apple tart was complete without a quince, but note that these fruits must never be stored with apples or pears. The strong quince aroma invariably affects the flavour of any other fruits in the same room. Quinces should be used more widely for jam making and jellies. Quince cheese is popular in Spain.

Cultivation:

Quinces dislike very light, dry soils and are happiest planted alongside a stream or pond. Where this is impossible, regular and heavy crops can be expected after about 6 years if the soil is warm, fairly rich and capable of retaining moisture. Quinces are occasionally planted at the corner of a lawn. Some protection from cold winds is advisable and planting in exposed situations should be avoided. Either bushes or standards may be grown. Bushes should be 2 or 3 years old, and standards 3 or 4 years of age. Quinces are ideal for small gardens as they do not usually exceed 10 ft. in height.

In early years prune as for pears. In subsequent years remove any superfluous branches to prevent overcrowding and keep the centre of the tree reasonably open.

Quinces can also be trained on a sunny wall in the same way as the japonicas, cydonias, or Japanese quinces, which are ornamental deciduous shrubs flowering in late winter or early spring. See CHAENO-MELES (the correct name).

How to Pick Quinces:

Quinces should not be picked until the middle of October unless severe frosts seem likely. The fruits are decidedly aromatic when ready to gather. The best plan is to employ oiled wraps and store the quinces in boxes filled with bran, sawdust or straw — damp straw must be avoided, as it imparts a somewhat musty flavour. They are ready to eat from 6 to 8 weeks later, although the rather acid flavour is not to everyone’s taste.

Recommended Varieties:

Bereczki: an introduction from Yugoslavia. Crops well and the large pear-shaped fruits are of excellent quality. Comes into bearing on very young trees.

Common or Apple-shaped Quince: possibly the heaviest cropper. Excellent for stewing.

Portugal Quince: large, pear-shaped fruits. Not so heavy a cropper as the • common quince, but keeps rather longer.

Insect Pests and Fungus Diseases:

Quinces are liable to attack by various pests of the apple and pear, such as codling moth and certain caterpillars. Control measures are the same. Leaf blight is the only disease of importance, although usually more troublesome in America than in this country. It can be very serious, as uncontrolled attacks may provide an entry for brown rot. It is easily identified by the round, brownish-red spots on foliage and fruits. To control the fungus, spray with Bordeaux mixture or a proprietary copper fungicide at the same time as peaches are treated against peach leaf curl — see PEACH.

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