Planting can be done in either spring or fall. As a general rule, north
of Philadelphia and St. Louis, spring planting will be best; south of
that, fall planting. Where there is apt to be severe freezing,
"heaving," caused by the alternate freezing
and thawing; injury to the
newly set roots from too severe cold; and, in some western sections,
"sun-scald" of the bark, are three injuries which may result. If trees
are planted in the fall in cold sections, a low mound of earth, six to
twelve inches high, should be left during the winter about each, and
leveled down in the spring. If set in the spring, where hot, dry
weather is apt to follow, they should be thoroughly mulched with
litter, straw or coarse manure, to preserve moisture--care being taken,
however, against field mice and other rodents.
The trees may either be set in their permanent positions as soon as
bought, or grown in "nursery rows" by the purchaser for one or two
years after being purchased. In the former case, it will be the best
policy to get the strongest, straightest two-year stock you can find,
even if they cost ten or fifteen cents apiece more than the "mediums."
The former method is the usual one, but the latter has so many
advantages that I give it the emphasis of a separate paragraph, and
urge every prospective planter to consider it carefully.
In the first place, then, you get your trees a little cheaper. If you
purchase for nursery row planting, six-foot to seven-foot two-year-old
apple trees, of the standard sorts, should cost you about thirty cents
each; one-year "buds," six feet and branched, five to ten cents less.
This gain, however, is not an important one--there are four others,
each of which makes it worth while to give the method a trial. First,
the trees being all together, and in a convenient place, the chances
are a hundred to one that you will give them better attention in the
way of spraying, pruning and cultivating--all extremely important in
the first year's growth. Second, with the year gained for extra
preparation of the soil where they are to be placed permanently, you
can make conditions just right for them to take hold at once and thrive
as they could not do otherwise. Third, the shock of transplanting will
be much less than when they are shipped from a distance--they will have
made an additional growth of dense, short roots and they will have
become acclimated. Fourth, you will not have wasted space and time with
any backward black sheep among the lot, as these should be discarded at
the second planting. And then there is one further reason,
psychological perhaps, but none the less important; you will watch
these little trees, which are largely the result of your own labor and
care, when set in their permanent positions, much more carefully than
you would those direct from the nursery. I know, both from experience
and observation, how many thrifty young trees in the home orchard are
done to an untimely death by children, careless workmen, and other
So if you can put a twelve-month curb on your impatience, get one-year
trees and set them out in a straight row right in your vegetable garden
where they will take up very little room. Keep them cultivated just as
thoroughly as the rest of your growing things. Melons, or beans, or
almost any low-growing vegetable can be grown close beside them.
If you want your garden to pay for your whole lot of fruit trees this
season dig up a hole about three feet in diameter wherever a tree is to
"go permanently." Cut the sod up fine and work in four or five good
forkfuls of well rotted manure, and on these places, when it is warm
enough, plant a hill of lima pole-beans-the new sort named Giant-podded
Pole Lima is the best I have yet seen. Place a stout pole, eight to ten
feet high, firmly in each hole. Good lima beans are always in demand,
and bring high prices.
Let us suppose that your trees are at hand, either direct from the
nursery or growing in the garden. You have selected, if possible, a
moist, gravelly loam on a slope or slight elevation, where it is
naturally and perfectly drained. Good soil drainage is imperative.
Coarse gravel in the bottom of the planting hole will help out
temporarily. If the land is in clover sod, it will have the ideal
preparation, especially if you can grow a patch of potatoes or corn on
it one year, while your trees are getting further growth. In such land
the holes will not have to be prepared. If, however, you are not
fortunate enough to be able to devote such a space to fruit trees, and
in order to have them at all must place them along your wall or
scattered through the grounds, you can still give them an excellent
start by enriching the soil in spots beforehand, as suggested above in
growing lima beans. In the event of finding even this last way
inapplicable to your land, the following method will make success
certain: Dig out holes three to six feet in diameter (if the soil is
very hard, the larger dimension), and twelve to eighteen inches deep.
Mix thoroughly with the excavated soil a good barrowful of the oldest,
finest manure you can get, combined with about one-fourth or one-fifth
its weight of South Carolina rock (or acid phosphate, if you cannot get
the rock). It is a good plan to compost the manure and rock in advance,
or use the rock as an absorbent in the stable. Fill in the hole again,
leaving room in the center to set the tree without bending or cramping
any roots. Where any of these are injured or bruised, cut them off
clean at the injured spot with a sharp knife. Shorten any that are long
and straggling about one-third to one-half their length. Properly grown
stock should not be in any such condition.
Remember that a well planted tree will give more fruit in the first ten
years than three trees carelessly put in. Get the tree so that it will
be one to three inches deeper in the soil than when growing in the nursery.
Work the soil in firmly about the roots with the fingers or a blunt wooden
"tamper"; do not be afraid to use your feet. When the roots are well
covered, firm the tree in by putting all your weight upon the soil
around it. See that it is planted straight, and if the "whip," or small
trunk, is not straight stake it, and tie it with rye straw, raffia or
strips of old cloth-never string or wire. If the soil is very dry, water
the root copiously while planting until the soil is about half filled in,
never on the surface, as that is likely to cause a crust to form and
keep out the air so necessary to healthy growth.
Prune back the "leader" of the tree-the top above the first lateral
branches, about one-half. Peach trees should be cut back more severely.
Further information in regard to pruning, and the different needs of
the various fruits in regard to this important matter, will be given in
the next chapter.
Previous: PLANTING: CULTIVATION: FILLER CROPS
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