Monday, January 24, 2011

The Fog and The Quince Tree.

While the week-end was beautiful, sunny and dry, today started with a thick blanket of fog.

Droplets on the Fig tree branches.

Foggy Morning.

                                                       Water collects on Laurel leaves from the Fog.

We spent most of the week-end finishing digging in the future vegetable garden and going to nurseries to find a Quince Tree.  This was not easy. But it's easier than trying to find the fruit for sale at the markets in the fall. I can't really explain this actually. Quinces are a very very popular fruit in so many cultures ( from Asia to Spain... Membrillo anyone?), are so incredibly easy to grow and taste so heavenly that I can't quite explain why they are not more popular in the States. Maybe because for most varieties it has to be cooked before you can eat it?

 The Quince, Cydonia oblonga, is related to Pears and Apples and when ripe is yellow with a white-gray fuzz all over that needs to be wiped before cooking. The trees are extremely beautiful in any season: superb blossoms in Spring, the leaves in Summer are a medium green with fine white-gray hairs or depending on the variety, a dark smooth green, making a great contrast with the multitude of yellow pear shaped fruits hanging heavily from the branches. In winter the gnarly silhouette of the tree makes for an interesting focal point in the garden.
The quince probably originated in Iran thousands of years ago. It is now widely cultivated in all the Mediterranean basin and in Asia as well as South America. There are many varieties of Quince Fruit Trees ( not to be confused with the flowering quince tree Chaenomeles); mine is the "Smyrna', is self fruiting (and heavily at that) and could be as high as 20 feet if we let it. But we won't... we'll pruning at a height of 10 to 12 feet so that the fruit is easy to pick and , considering its location, does not put too much shade in the vegetable garden.
Growing a Quince tree is very easy: they have shallow roots and will grow in almost any soil, including clay like mine.

                                                 The Shallow Roots of a Smyrna Quince tree.

They thrive in moist soil and a warm site and benefit from fertilizing from Spring to Summer with a Seaweed solution. Few pests and diseases bother them except maybe fireblight ( they are related to Apples and Pears ). If your tree is affected, cut off the branches at least 12 inches below the signs of disease. And plant them where they'll get plenty of air circulation.

I'll post pictures of our tree as the months go by... and I'll also write of the many many recipes using quinces.

Did you know that you can even use the seeds as a remedy for coughs, including pneumonia?

What's not to love? Maybe I should dedicate my tree to the Goddess of Love like the Ancients did.

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