Quince

We don’t know the native region of the quince, but it is probably wild only in parts of Asia stretching to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkestan, Iran and Saudi Arabia. It has been cultivated in Mediterranean regions for millennia and has become naturalized in many parts; the fruit was highly regarded by the Greeks and Romans, and was the ‘golden apple’ that Paris awarded to Aphrodite as a symbol of love, marriage and fertility. It is still an important fruit crop in its native region and in South America (Argentina produces 20,000 tons annually). It was introduced to Britain at an early date (first accounts of its cultivation are from 1275) and was commonly grown in the 16th-18th centuries, when it was usually used for making quince marmalade. Its cultivation reached a peak here in the 18th & 19th centuries, then declined with the increase in popularity of other fruits.

Quinces have long been used as a herbal medicine, as an infusion to treat sore throat, diarrhea and hemorrhage of the bowel. It is effective against inflammation of the mucous membranes, intestines and stomach. They are also used in the cosmetic industry and for medicinal cosmetics. Long used in Chinese medicine, the stem bark is used as an astringent for ulcers, and the fruits used for their astringent and peptic qualities. The seeds, soaked or boiled in water, release the mucilage from the seed coat and make a jelly-like consistency, which has been used for sore throats and eye lotions. The fruits are so fragrant that a single fruit can fill a room with its rich fruity scent; in fact, quinces were once popular as room deodorizers. Quince leaves contain 11% tannin and can be used for tanning. Quinces are very widely used as pear rootstocks, and have been used this way since at least since the 14th century in France.

Quinces are generally hardy to zone 4-6 (-15 to -25°C) Quinces grow and fruit readily as far north as Canada with a sunny sheltered site. Almost any soil is suitable (a deep moist fertile loam is ideal), but shelter and sun are important; very alkaline soils usually cause chlorosis (a yellowing of the leaves). Trees do tolerate quite deep shade but are unlikely to produce a crop there. Quinces can be trained to a single trunk to make a small tree, or can be grown as a bush with multiple stems; be sure to space trees 15-20 feet apart. However, trees may only need staking for a few years and they can be trained into a lovely espalier as well.

Trees are self-fertile, and generally very reliable at producing a crop, but many expert growers believe that yields benefit from cross-fertilization. ‘Meeches Prolific’ and ‘Vrajna’ flower at the same time and cross pollinate well. Trees may need occasional moderate feeding, but in rich soils this may be very occasional or unnecessary. Initial pruning is needed, which consists of cutting back leaders by a third of the season’s growth to an outward bud, this is best done in the winter. Fruit is carried on spurs and on tips of the previous summer’s growth, and after that, almost no pruning is required; the most you should have to do is to remove any dead wood and keep the center of the tree open.

Quinces are generally free of pests and diseases. They can sometimes suffer from leaf blight which causes dark red spots on leaves, which turn yellow and fall early; and can spread to the fruits. In severe cases, rake up and compost or burn fallen leaves in autumn. Brown rot of fruit which can be controlled by removing mummified fruit in winter. Fireblight can be controlled by minimizing pruning and fertilizer use.

Most people prefer to eat quinces after cooking. They are delicious stewed, baked, made into fruit butter etc. - almost anything that can be done with apples can be done with quinces, and they need a similar length of cooking as apples; only add sugar after they become soft and start to change color. A single slice added to an apple pie is enough to add a subtle flavor. Quince flesh turns pink when cooked. The seeds are poisonous and need to be removed. Individual fruits can baked in halves,with the juice becoming a pink syrup in the dish.

Other recommendations are to add a few slices to roasting meats, or a little cooked quince to casseroles. Quinces contain high levels of pectin, which ensures that any jelly made with them in will set easily. Quince jelly is a popular recipe. Quince paste is still widely made in France (‘cotignac’) and Spain (‘membrilo’), while in Argentina and Chile a quince spread (‘dulce de membrilo’) is made. Wine and cider can be made from the fruit. To store fruit, lay them in a single layer, preferably not touching, on slats or straw-lined trays, and keep in a cool dry shed; they should store for 2-3 months. Don’t store them near apples or other fruit as these will gain a quincey flavor.

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To get rid of ants sprinkle diatomaceous earth around and in the ant beds. You can get it at most garden centers and it is harmless to humans and pets. It dehydrates and kills the ants.

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A rich soil is essential to the development of healthy tomatoes. You may elect to provide all nutrients with a mixture of compost/manure/blood meal. You must provide your tomatoes with the big three: nitrogen (good leaf and stem growth); phosphorus (photosynthesis, root development); and potassium (growth, disease resistance, carbon dioxide utilization).

In addition, a well conditioned garden will furnish the nine other nutrients tomatoes require: sulfur, calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, molybdenum, manganese, boron and chlorine.

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Some plants benefit the garden by fixing nitrogen, which enriches the soil. Peas, beans, clover and alfalfa are all legumes that fix nitrogen. When the crops are mature, you can rototill them back into the soil,adding what's called "green manure."

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Apple Maggot

The adult apple maggot is a fly, slightly smaller than a house fly, that lays tiny yellow eggs on developing fruit. The eggs hatch into white - to yellow larvae, that are a typical maggot with a narrow, pointed front end and a blunt, broad- rear end. Full grown larvae are only 1/4 to 3/8 inch long. Adult flies begin emerging in June from overwintering pupae in the soil, with the bulk of emergence occurring in late June. By the end of August, most adults have emerged, but some may still appear in September. Females deposit eggs just under the fruit skin and eggs hatch in 5-10 days. Larvae tunnel through the fruit flesh and mature after fruit fall. There is usually one generation per year but some areas may have a partial second generation. Pits and dimples form on the apple as a result of egg laying damage, leading to misshapen fruit. Larvae damage the flesh by leaving large brown trails allowing decay to occur. When numerous, the fruit grows extremely dimpled and gnarled, and the flesh is ruined. If you have only 1-2 trees and no other host trees are within 300 feet, removing apple maggot infested fruit that has fallen to the ground may help reduce next years' population. Red spheres covered with sticky material placed around the outside of the tree may help reduce apple maggot damage.

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Herbs

Lemon Verbena - grow in fertile, well trained soil in full sun, under plastic in temperate regions as the plants are frost shy; in warm gardens may be trained as a climber against a sunny wall. Sow seed in a cold frame in the early spring, or take cuttings in summer. Propagate every few years, as older plants become threadbare and more sensitive to cold. Also called sweet-scented verbena, herb luisa and Spanish thyme.

(Wild) Honeysuckle - grow in any good soil, in sun or shade, and train up walls or as standards on pillars. Sow seeds in autumn in pots (germination may be slow) or take cuttings in summer. Prune and mulch with compost in spring. Also called woodbine.

Purple Loosestrife - sow on surface of pots of moist compost and stand in trays of water until seedlings emerge; divide mature plants in spring or take cuttings in summer in a moist cold frame. Plant in damp soil in light shade, or full sun where the plant will flower best. Be careful that it does not choke out native plants when naturalized.

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Brandie

“In this light, my spirit saw through all things and into all creatures, and I recognized God in grass and plants.”

 

 
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