This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Compared with the money returns derived from the sale of its fruit, the quince has received less attention and less extended cultivation than it deserves.*
No fruit-tree can be more easily grown, none come into bearing as soon, none are less subject to blight or decaying influences, and, so far as we have observed, no fruit crop pays as well, acre for acre, one year with another, as the quince. We have repeated records of over eight hundred dollars' worth of fruit being sold from an acre ; and as we write have before us one recording two hundred baskets of fruit as having been gathered from an acre of trees only four years planted. This last is certainly a large yield, but the owner gave to the land good, careful cultivation, and has realized full compensation therefor. In our own grounds we have trees three years out, from which we this year have gathered half a bushel of fruit that sold readily at four dollars a bushel. The quince can be grown in almost any soil, and while it succeeds admirably in deep, rich, moist, strong or rather heavy land, it also grows and fruits finely in light sandy soil, provided a plentiful supply of manure be applied annually. Young trees can be purchased at almost any nursery, and it can be readily grown from cuttings in the ordinary way of all outdoor hardy plants.
The planter will find, however, that the cheapest and best way is to buy good, strong, bushy plants about four feet high, as such plants will return in three years a crop sufficient to pay all past expenses. In planting an orchard, the usual distance has been twelve feet each way, but. we incline to the impression that eight by eight feet is better, and when the trees become too much interlocked cut out every other one. The receipts in the mean time will have more than paid cost; and if the trees are grown in the bush form, with two, three, or more main stems starting from one principal crown, they will soon occupy nearly the whole ground. While the trees are young, or so long as they can be worked among by horse power, the surface of the ground should be regularly and carefully cultivated at the depth of say three inches, applying salt and well rotted manure annually. In our common gardens one or two quinces are usually found, and they are generally planted in some by-way corner, never obtaining any attention, thought, or labor, except at the time of gathering the fruit; and because in such neglected manner they do not always produce fine golden fruit in abundance, too many are disposed to condemn it as an unprofitable tree.
Let the owners of all such trees hoe the ground clean of weeds and grass from beneath them, apply a liberal surface-dressing of well-rotted manure, cut away all the dead branches, and as the tree changes from mere life to full vigor and health they will change their opinion of its unprofitableness. In varieties there is something to choose, the orange or apple-shaped being most commonly grown, and counted best. Too often, however, seedlings of this variety have been grown and sold as the true orange, and hence we sometimes find trees that puzzle us terribly to decide the variety to which they belong, as although the quince when grown by itself will give plants from its seed more nearly alike the parent than any other fruit, yet they are rarely, if ever, identical. The true apple quince has rarely any bulge or knob at the stem, but is as represented in our outline.
Fig. 98. - Apple - shaped Quince.
* Is it not a little remarkable that one of our best pomologists and writers fails to name or describe the quince in a late edition of his work?
Fig. 99. - Angers Quince.
Seedlings from this variety produce occasional true-formed specimens scattered over the tree, while the majority of the fruit will have more or less of a neck or knob next the stem. The flesh of the Orange when fully ripe is of a pale orange yellow, and cooks quite tender. If gathered before ripe, it is rare that the best of housekeepers can make anything but hard preserves from it.
Rea's Seedling is something similar to the Orange, but almost always has the knob near the stem. It is claimed by good horticulturists to be larger and better than the Orange, but our experience has not been such as to induce us to prefer it.
The Portugal is a variety but little grown, we suppose because of two reasons, viz. - it matures early before really needed, and produces only moderate crops. It is one of the richest in color of flesh when cooked, becoming a purplish crimson, and cooking very tender. It is easily distinguished when in foliage by its very broad, large leaf.
Fig. 100. - Pear-shaped Quince.
The Angers Quince, so much used for stocks on which to work the pear, is in point of profitableness for market, in size of fruit and productiveness, fully equal to the Orange, but the flesh is a little harsher and more acid. It, however, cooks quite as tender, and will average larger in size.
Our outlines have been made from medium-sized, or rather small specimens, but proportioned to the varieties. The distinctive marks and forms in calyx, cores, seeds, etc., are shown, and need not be written.
The Pear-shaped, fig. 100, is perhaps more commonly found in small gardens than any other variety, we suppose for the reason that many persons imagine quinces all alike, their quality and appearance depending on soil, and so when fitting up a new home have procured a sprout or two from a neighbor free of cost. This variety is longer in form, and rarely colors as early or as brightly as either of the preceding. The calyx is set in a deep, narrow furrowed basin. The flesh is a deeper yellow than the Orange or Angers, but it is less tender, and unless very perfectly ripened does not cook tender. It is a good, upright grower, but not a good variety for one's own family use or profitable for market.
An Ohioan, who has three-fourths of an acre of quince orchard - from which last year he sold 300 bushels of first class fruit, spades the ground in spring and scatters a peck of coal ashes around each tree, also a quart of salt, and another quart when the quinces are half grown.