‘My First’ Quince Jelly & Japaneses Knotweed

I am unfortunate to have Japanese knotweed in my garden. It came unannounced under the wall from next door while I wasn’t looking and now it’s… well it’s there!

I can actually understand why the Victorians were so taken with it.

Picture courtesy of wikipedia

It IS statuesque, 7 maybe 8 foot tall, with strong freckled stems a bit reminiscent of rhubarb, large mid green oval to heart shaped leaves and panicles of tiny cream flowers – if only it didn’t fill a gardener’s heart with such sheer dread!

I have been fighting this weed for at least 3 years, trying to get rid of it without resorting to chemicals.  I ‘pull’ the stems in the hope of weakening it and to be fair it has not spread, but neither is it going!  I know I am going to have to use chemicals – and strong ones at that.

My ‘Grand Plan’ for the garden includes a large pond nosing into the area where the knotweed is, so I am going to need to eradicate before we start excavating.  Although, I have already warned OH that we may need to ‘skip’ all the earth removed as I cant risk spreading knotweed.  But that is for another day, month or even year most likely.

So where does the Quince come in? The knotweed is growing next to a large and rather straggly quince – I think it is the ‘common’ quince Cydonia oblonga – which I have neglected for the last few years pending the ‘Grand Plan’ remodel and the knotweed!  In order to pull all the knotweed stems I needed to cut back some of the quince and noticed quite a few of the little yellow/green fruits.  I began stuffing my pockets – and pretty soon had to go and get a small punnet , which I also filled.

This prompted me to find out more about the shrub and its’ fruit – I didn’t even know if they were ripe – they were sure hard!  The fruits are small and apple like, but NOW I know that this is probably because the shrub is in more shade than it would like, they should be larger if it is Cydonia.  The shade comes from the neighbour’s trees (the other side of the wall) which are quite big now and overhang somewhat; I shall be tackling these at some point.  I will definitely (this is a statement of intent and you are my witnesses) be giving the quince a little more of a haircut, plus a feed & mulch, in the hope that it flowers – and fruits- better next year.  I might even to be able to make a positive ID.

Having saved a precious punnet of fruits and having heard of (but never tried) quince jelly I searched the web for a recipe and found one at The Cottage Smallholder

I had no idea what to expect, and to be honest wasn’t too enamoured by the smell of the fruits cooking.  Now the second cooking phase is complete and it’s turned into a jam/jelly it actually tastes rather yummy. I was hoping I would have enough for 2 small jars – one to try and one for a pressy (optimist aren’t I) but I barely filled this one.  It may get opened tomorrow as OH is keen to try it too.

Next year I’ll definitely give it another go!

Now what shall I make with all those cooking apples………

A little more on knotweed: It can root deeper than it grows – up to 10ft, and even the tiniest bit of root/stem can regenerate into a new plant.  Dig it out with caution.  Do not transfer soil and do not compost any parts – I do not even put it in ‘the green bin’ as the council’s composting process is unlikely to kill it.  Best thing is to burn it if you can.  I have used the definitely dead stems to make insect houses, as they are hollow and brittle and can be broken into short lengths and bundled together – whether or not the insects use them I have no idea!

I shall be trying chemicals next year and will start with ordinary glyphosate which is as safe as any can be.  I’ll move up the ‘nasty’ scale if I have to.  Unless anyone can suggest an eco friendly alternative? Please?