Only four inches of snow fell a a couple of weeks ago but I decided anyway to go outside and mulch. And shovel snow. And shovel snow and mulch.
What I was trying to do, besides clear snow from the driveway, the paths, and the doorway to the greenhouse, was to create a microclimate. A microclimate is a small area where the climate is slightly different from the general climate.
One group of plants in need of this special treatment are my maypops, Passiflora incarnata. Yes, Passiflora genus is that of passionflower, and maypop is a hardy species of passionflower, native to eastern U.S.. It bears the same breathtaking flowers, whose intricate arrangement of flower parts was used by Christian missionaries to teach native Americans about the “passion” of Christ, as the tropical species. And, like the tropical species, flowers are followed by egg-shaped fruits filled with air and seeds around …
“A crabby looking, brownish green truncated little spheroid of unsympathetic appearance.” That’s how a British writer of almost 75 years ago described one of my favorite fruits, medlar (Mespilus germanica). True, the fruit is no beauty to some eyes. To me, the fruit has an authentic, old-fashioned, unvarnished look to it, like that of a small, russeted apple whose calyx end (opposite the stem) is flared open.
Medlars, ready for harvest
Medlar is truly an old-fashioned fruit, whose popularity peaked in the Middle Ages. Chaucer mentioned it, indecorously referring to it as “open arse.” Even Shakespeare got his digs in, more discretely call it “open et cetera.” This past season was a good season for fruits, including medlar. Yesterday, I harvested the crop from the leafless tree. But no, I couldn’t yet sink my teeth into one. Besides its odd appearance, medlar has one …
Popcorn Gets Bigger, But Medlar Is Still Ugly (Not To Me)
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about increasing the poppability of my home-grown popcorn by exposing the kernels to the vapor of a saturated salt solution. Pennsylvania Dutch Butter Flavored popcorn, a variety that usually pops fairly well, popped to 1/3 greater volume. This week Pink Pearl, a variety that’s not usually a very good popper, underwent testing. The result: No effect of the treatment; both the treated and untreated batches popped pretty well. Was it the change in the weather, stronger hints of spring? Perhaps. (Previously, I pointed out how cold weather outside turns indoor air drier, perhaps too dry for good popcorn popping.) At any rate, Pink Pearl was tasty.
Medlar Teaches How To Prune A Fruit Plant
The weather change also had the effect of drawing me outdoors more — for pruning. Looking at my medlar …
Today’s fruit du jour is medlar (Mespilus germanica), one of the most-disgusting-looking fruits you could imagine. Don’t stop reading! Medlar was a popular fruit in the Middle Ages, and with good reason. Charlemagne was so taken by this fruit that he decreed that it be planted in every town he conquered. Medlar needs some contemporary pr.
Let’s get those bad looks out of the way. Picture a small apple with a rough, russeted skin and the calyx end — the end opposite the stem — flared open. Not very pretty, eh? That homely appearance gave rise to
some not-so-complimentary nicknames. “Open-arse” fruit, for example, by Chaucer. Or, from Shakespeare, more discretely, “open-etcetera.”
Ugliness, for medlars, is not just skin deep. When harvested, which was a few weeks ago here, the fruits are white and rock hard within, and not ready for …