Quince tree with fruitOur dwarf fruit trees have been rather disappointing. We knew it would take a few seasons before they began to bear but in the four years since planting they have been reluctant to so much as flower, except for the quince. That tree has consistently delighted us with a multitude of pink blooms that then crushingly disappointed us as they fruitlessly dropped away. The local pollinators, including the very local honeybees, seemingly had better places to work and could not be bothered with our favorite fruit.

Raw, even when fully ripe, it is hard and has a somewhat astringent taste, not entirely unpleasant but definitely one that needs acquiring. But after being cut, cored, and slowly oven-poached in simple syrup for hours upon hours the hard white flesh turns soft and rosy and acquires an aroma hinting at all manner of added spices. But it is just fruit and sugar and low heat working the miracle. Caterpillar becoming butterfly is a less impressive transformation.

quinceThis year some garage archaeology had uncovered a thirty-year old bottle of some kind of commercial bee attractant left over from gardening at a previous residence. It had not been opened for decades but surely the seal could not be that tight? We found that it still smelled vaguely lemony so when the quince blossoms opened this spring, we mixed a diluted solution and sprayed them. And, lo, when the blossoms dropped away a handful left behind some little swellings that grew into fruits like the one at left. We had successfully cozened our reluctant pollinators.

Plum curculioUnfortunately the other side of that lovely fruit looks rather like this other, higher in the tree. quincewithholesIndeed all of our half a dozen fruits show this kind of insect damage, the dastardly work of the plum curculio. There is nothing to do this year except hope that some fruits will have enough unruined parts to be worth processing. Next year we should spray against this fiend once the blossoms fall but we are not entirely comfortable doing so, especially with the hives so near. We have the winter to fret over a solution.

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