The Quince Orchard is home to Polly the drake, Amelia Cordelia, Daisy, Ta Dah and Loveheart the Indian Runner ducks. Their bath water emptied daily waters the trees and their droppings break down to feed the soil. Our small flock of Orpingtons live in our Back Orchard, sometimes we swap the ducks to the Back Orchard & the hens to the Quince Orchard, they enjoy the change of scenery and pick at slugs & bugs the other flock may not like as much.
Head of pest control the poultry keep all the bugs and slugs at bay.
We don't use any chemicals, herbicides or pesticides.
The ducks also share the Quince Orchard with Liliana's eight guinea pigs whose hutches are moved around the orchard several times a day. The guinea pigs are constantly grazing instead of having to regularly mow the grass, it only sees the lawn mower a couple of times a year. Saving on time, petrol, lawn mower maintenance, the guinea pigs fertilise the soil with their droppings, better for the environment and the guinea pigs are such sweet animals to care for .
When we first shifted to Fairy Wren Cottage Michael couldn't break the ground with a crowbar, only scrappy weeds grew in the Quince Orchard, now thanks to this system with the ducks, hens & guinea pigs the orchard is abundant & thriving.
The Quince Orchard here at Fairy Wren Cottage is organic and grown using Permaculture Principles.
It is a young orchard planted only six years ago by Michael, Liliana and myself. The trees are 7,8 & 9 yrs old.
We have 22 quince trees in the Quince Orchard plus 5 more quince trees growing in our food hedges or Back Orchard. When they are in full blossom and there is a gentle Spring breeze the garden smells divine, just like roasting quinces!
We grow 5 different Quince varieties:
Champion, Smyrna, Fullers, Van de Man & Pineapple. Each being that little bit different from each other.
There is a brief description and photos taken this 2019 harvest that may help guide you in learning a little more about the humble quince.
Ripens: March-April, mid season variety
Cooks to dark red flesh, lovely big pear shaped quince
Originally from the USA.
Ripens: Mid-Late April
Very yellow flesh with no grit.
Sweet guava fruity like aroma.
Cooks to a pale pink.
Originally from New Jersey USA about 1860
Best for Jam, breaks down with long cooking, pale rosy pink.
Fruity pineapple aroma, comes through in the taste when cooked.
Originally from California USA about 1900.
Ripens: Early April
Very aromatic & firm when cooked.
Roasted flesh turns a lovely dark red, with stands rigours of slow cooking
Skin lighter lemon in colour (although I can find this hard to tell !) large pear shape
Originally from Turkey.
My research notes say popular with chefs!
Van De Man
Squat, rounder much smaller quince and noticeably different to the other varieties we grow.
Cooks to a pale orange colour (not like the pale pink).
No grit & lovely spicy flavour.
Springtime in the Quince Orchard, the Fairy Wrens & Silvereyes flit from branch to branch, the Thrike Shrush is heard singing its beautiful song from the tops of the trees and you can just smell the Quince blossom.
The quince flower petals are the softest pink and the creamiest white, to some they look like tiny ballet dresses the fairies have washed and hung upside down to dry on the branches. Enchantingly beautiful Springtime in the Quince Orchard is looked forward to all year.
The Quince Blossom photographed is taken in the Spring of 2018 to try and help show the slight differences between the Quince varieties.
Quinces are available for sale during the harvesting season March through to late April. We deliberately hand pick what is actually ripe during those weeks instead of marking the calendar & picking everything at once that may not be quite ready. It is such a slow process growing this fruit from seeing it bud & flower right through to the fruit setting & ripening, we are mindful not to rush the final stages. We are generous when weighing quinces for orders, there is the Contacts Page on this website or @fairywrencottage on Instagram if you would like to be in touch.