Quince is a fruit that looks like an apple and pear combined. The fruit is good for making preserves as it has lots of naturally occurring pectin that makes jams and jellies set, though they are quite sour when eaten raw. The raw fruits do sweeten a little after a frost.
Quince trees are an attractive and useful addition to any garden, and will keep fruiting for many years. They are self-fertile, so you only need to plant one to produce fruit.
Quince trees usually come as rootstocks, where the tree has been grafted onto the roots of another. This helps to determine the eventual size of the mature tree. The information should be available on the plant label.
Quince trees are either bush trees that are approximately 10-11ft in height, or half standards that grow to approximately 11-15ft.
Planting Quince Trees
Quince trees prefer a fertile, free draining but moist soil. A sunny position means that the tree will produce sweeter fruit as it ripens.
Plant quince trees in the dormant season, from November to early spring.
Caring for Quince Trees
Apply an organic fertiliser in spring time, but make sure that it is low in nitrogen. Nitrogen encourages lots of foliage growth, rather than fruit production.
A mulch applied during spring will help to keep the moisture in the soil and prevent weeds.
Pruning Quince Trees
To keep your quince tree in good health, it just requires a little pruning in winter. Cut back any branches that are damaged or growing too close together. This helps to keep an open structure to the tree. Old branches should not be cut back by more than a quarter. Quince trees are also suited to be trained into fan shapes.
Harvesting and Storing Quince
Quinces ripen in October and November. They are a hard fruit when ripe, but do get softer after a frost. When a quince is a golden yellow colour all over, it is ready to be picked.
Store in a cool place, and they will keep for a few weeks. The fruit is very fragrant, so keep away from anything that you don’t want to smell or taste of quince.