Medlar & Quince

A interesting piece on BBC Countryfile promoting Medlars and the ‘Jelly’, so I guessed now is a good time for a brief pointer towards a few of the different cultivars (of which there are quite a few).

Most Medlars are grafted onto Quince A rootstock ,which produces a tree of 10-12 ft in 10 yrs ( depending on soil type). The habit of a Medlar tree is erratic in branching and fascinating to see as a mature specimen,branches head off in all directions adding to the architectural shape.They do not suffer from diseases and have splendid autumn foliage.

Breda Giant- Larger more spreading habit,good sized fruits

Royal- Some say the fruits of this one can be eaten fresh, be brave !

Nottingham- Smaller tree with a semi weeping habit.

Stoneless- Compact and very prolific.


A graceful tree with attractive long lasting fruits ,aromatic and versatile in the kitchen.The only disease problem may be Quince leaf blight, a fungal infection like black spot, copper or bordeaux spray will control this quite easily but do clear up any dropped leaves.

Aromatnya- Smaller fruits, round very productive from a young age.

Champion- Pear shaped fruit, heavy crops,pink when cooked. Particularly good in the North.

Lescovacz ( Siberian Gold)- Very large fruit,pink when cooked. Prefers a pollinator.

Meeches Prolific- Highly recommended for flavour,pear shaped,early season.

Portugal- Smaller, pear shaped fruit, requires a sheltered spot.

Vranja- Well known as a standard amongst ‘Quinces’

Reas Mammoth- Large velvety leaves with roundish  fruit . A commercial orchard variety from New York.

Isfahan- Ancient and revered , from the city of the same name.

Bad ideas for this weekend

I had a phone call today from  a customer ,who with saw and secateurs at the ready, was under the impression that this was a wise day to start pruning the fruit trees in his garden.I suggested a few frivolous reasons as to why this may be a daft idea,unperturbed, the client wished to continue so I had to explain more emphatically that pruning now will do no good at all and may cause damage by letting in the “Big Freeze’ (or normal cold ) thus causing the demise of said trees.Suitably re-educated and promising  to spend the remainder of the day sharpening the tools and preparing some disinfectant to use with them for when the warm spell returns (any remaining time before dark would be used to actually read up on how to do the job).

Grape Expectations.

Years 1 & 2

I did mention a few weeks ago that I would run through grapevine pruning so here goes;

First you need to work out  what type of vine you have , ‘normal’ dessert grapes for walls and greenhouses can be pruned on a rod and spur system (this I will run through in the next post so as not to confuse). Seedless grapes and those used for wine will benefit from a cane replacement method,often called ‘Guyot‘ pruning.

There is a video of Guyot pruning lower down ( now higher up ) on this page,it will help to watch it ! The method is a lot simpler than it sounds and much more efficient as removal of the older canes also takes away diseases and pests.Save the wood for the next summer barbecue.

The sketch above shows fairly clearly where to prune in yr 1, followed by the 3 vertical rods that grow during the subsequent summer,then you can see where to tie down the 2 outer rods- but prune the centre one to allow re growth the next season.

The sketch below shows how the vine will grow next !

Guyot yr 2 +

In the centre are 3 new replacement rods-all trained vertically this year,2 of these will be laid down and tied in to replace the existing horizontals in autumn.

The outer vertical rods will hold the crop.

The central vertical will be used to create 3 new replacements for the following year as in the top sketch.

I hope this will make the system clear- if not email me and I can edit this to get it right !

Flying Figs (to Japan)

Here we go again and I do not mean to sound ungrateful, but root washing 2500 Fig Trees this week, however small, is a tedious job in anyones book. Luckily, Cherry, Chrissy and my wife Debbie will do most of the wet bit and my job is to count, pack into boxes and speak nicely to the man from Defra doing the plant passport inspection.Counting is very important as wrong numbers will not be allowed,no long numbers ! All compost  has to come off leaving nothing but gleaming white roots, how the poor things survive is a miracle, mind you at least they do not Methyl Bromide them as happens to the ones we send ‘Down under’.

Lifting fruit trees is our other major task, many are grown in containers but all the soft fruit, currants and raspberries are grown in the ground , its just more economic.