The home orchard, to give the very finest quality of fruit, must be
given careful and thorough cultivation. In the case of scattered trees,
where it is not practicable to use a horse, this can be given by
working a space four to six feet wide about each tree. Every spring the
soil should be loosened up, with the cultivator or fork, as the case
may be, and kept stirred during the early part of the summer. Unless
the soil is rich, a fertilizer, high in potash and not too high in
nitrogen, should be given in the spring. Manure and phosphate rock, as
suggested above, is as good as any. In case the foliage is not a deep
healthy green, apply a few handfuls of nitrate of soda, working it into
the soil just before a rain, around each tree.
About August 1st the cultivation should be discontinued, and some
"cover crop" sown. Buckwheat and crimson clover is a good combination;
as the former makes a rapid growth it will form, if rolled down just as
the apples are ripening, a soft cushion upon which the windfalls may
drop without injury, and will furnish enough protection to the crimson
clover to carry it through most winters, even in cold climates.
In addition to the filler crops, where the ground is to be cultivated
by horse, potatoes may be grown between the rows of trees; or fine
hills of melons or squash may be grown around scattered trees, thus,
incidentally, saving a great deal of space in the vegetable garden. Or
why not grow a few extra fancy strawberries in the well cultivated
spots about these trees? Neither they nor the trees want the ground too
rich, especially in nitrogen, and conditions suiting the one would be
just right for the others.
It may seem to the beginner that fruit-growing, with all these things
to keep in mind, is a difficult task. But it is not. I think I am
perfectly safe in saying that the rewards from nothing else he can
plant and care for are as certain, and surely none are more
satisfactory. If you cannot persuade yourself to try fruit on any
larger plan, at least order half a dozen dwarf trees (they will cost
about twenty cents apiece, and can be had by mail). They will prove
about the best paying investment you ever made.

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