Monday, October 08, 2007

Tai Haku and the quest for the Golden Apple

A temporary return to cooler climes as Papa Haku dropped me an email recently to share exciting news from the family garden. One of the last trees to go in our mini-arboretum (see others here) was one I'd wanted for a while: a Quince, Cydonia oblonga. Quince is a bit of a novelty fruit in the UK these days, rarely planted but as the wiki link above illustrates its beloved around the world and has historic significance as Greece's Golden Apple and honeymoon traditions. So two years ago we went with an American variety called "Meeches Prolific". Apparently some varieties from elsewhere in the world are bigger, more fragrant or tastier but as Papa Haku's photo illustrates Meeches is prolific!


Money may not grow on trees, delicious quinces do however!

There's been a lot of talk in the blogosphere and MSM recently about growing your own food and I'm delighted to see it; home grown veggies are awesome! But honestly they can be hard work. By contrast few things are easier than planting a small, pretty looking tree and having it dump a load of fruit on you once a year.

Here's a selection of this year's harvest back at home. The apples in the basket are a variety called Discovery, those on the grass are Blenheim and the ring of quinces are from our Meeches Prolific.


If you're gonna plant a tree you could do worse than going for a fruit tree - they tend to be fairly wildlife friendly (you know you're gonna have to share that delicious harvest with a few natural bandits right?) and rather pretty and the benefits are obvious. I've outlined some of my reasons for wanting a quince above but some more are to be found here (tasty reasons...mmm....quince and apple crumble) but my main advice would be go with something a bit different to supermarket fruit be it an unusual species like quince or medlar (of which perhaps more soon) or a different variety of a common fruit (perhaps a historic apple or local pear variety?). That way you get something a little bit different to inspire you (a change is as good as a rest). Don't worry about questions like "what am I gonna do with a tree full of quince?" Instead make sure you pick something different from friends and neighbours and ponder "what can I do with a quarter of a tree's worth of quince, 3 bags of pears from neighbour 1, 2 boxes of cherries from neighbour 2 and those lovely apples from best friend Y?" In addition to the fruit above and still on the tree in pic 1, Dad tells me he's given 20 quinces away already to happy and curious friends and neighbours. (Like their fruit, the trees themself make a long lasting and memorable gift if the person has room).


(close-up detail of the "bounty")

So with the tree planting season drawing near in temperate climes let me humbly recommend you find room for a fruit tree and this time next year the deliciousness could be dropping for you and your nearest and dearest.

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