The fruit of the most commonly grown variety of the quince might be mistaken at first glance for a pear, of which the quince is a close relative. It is yellow when ripe, aromatic, and has a very distinctive flavour. Too bitter for eating raw or for cooking by itself, it is used for flavouring apple tarts and stewed apples – one quince (grated) to half a dozen apples – and for making jelly and jam. The fruit should be stored by itself.
The tree is grown as a standard (reaching about 12 ft. in height) and in pyramid and bush form. Varieties include Pear-shaped (most commonly grown), Portugal, Smyrna and Vranja.
Ready for Use.
November and onwards in store.
The quince is not over particular in the matter of soil, though if the ground is light it will need abundant watering in dry growing weather. The position should be dug 2 ft. deep, and light soil can be improved by the addition of some rotted manure or decayed material from the soft rubbish heap.
When and How to Plant.
Autumn is the best period for planting, soon after the leaves have fallen. Roots should be spread out in a wide planting hole, to the depth shown by the soil mark on the stem, covered with well-broken soil and left very firm in the ground. Standards should be about 12 ft. apart (and staked), bushes and pyramids about 8 ft. apart. Planting methods are fully explained in the section THE ABC OF PLANTING.
The quince is generally credited with being a moisture lover; it crops well if catered for adequately in this respect during spells of drought.
Fruit is produced on spurs, and pruning, in early winter, is on the same lines as explained under Pear. An established tree makes little demand on the grower’s time, all that is really necessary being the shortening or cutting out of crowded growths.
Increase is by budding or grafting, or by layers or cuttings. These operations are explained in the section How TO PROPAGATE FRUIT TREES AND BUSHES.
Gathering the Fruit.
There should be no hurry about this, the fruit being better left on the tree until November unless frosts occur before then. It should be picked on a dry day, to ripen in store.
Storing for Winter.
If quince fruits are stored in the same room or shed with any other kind of fruit the latter will acquire something of the flavour and aromatic quality of the quince – which is to be avoided. They should be stored alone, in any dark, frostproof quarters, where they will complete ripening and become yellow. They will keep for ten or twelve weeks.