Many a home gardener who has succeeded well with vegetables is, for
some reason or other, still fearsome about trying his hand at growing
his own fruit.
This is all a mistake; the initial expense is very slight (fruit trees
will cost but twenty-five to forty cents each, and the berry bushes
only about four cents each), and the same amount of care that is
demanded by vegetables, if given to fruit, will produce apples,
peaches, pears and berries far superior to any that can be bought,
especially in flavor.
I know a doctor in New York, a specialist, who has attained prominence
in his profession, and who makes a large income; he tells me that there
is nothing in the city that hurts him so much as to have to pay out a
nickel whenever he wants an apple. His boyhood home was on a
Pennsylvania farm, where apples were as free as water, and he cannot
get over the idea of their being one of Nature's gracious gifts, any
more than he can overcome his hankering for that crisp, juicy,
uncloying flavor of a good apple, which is not quite equaled by the
taste of any other fruit.
And yet it is not the saving in expense, although that is considerable,
that makes the strongest argument for growing one's own fruit. There
are three other reasons, each of more importance. First is quality. The
commercial grower cannot afford to grow the very finest fruit. Many of
the best varieties are not large enough yielders to be available for
his use, and he cannot, on a large scale, so prune and care for his
trees that the individual fruits receive the greatest possible amount
of sunshine and thinning out--the personal care that is required for
the very best quality. Second, there is the beauty and the value that
well kept fruit trees add to a place, no matter how small it is. An
apple tree in full bloom is one of the most beautiful pictures that
Nature ever paints; and if, through any train of circumstances, it ever
becomes advisable to sell or rent the home, its desirability is greatly
enhanced by the few trees necessary to furnish the loveliness of
showering blossoms in spring, welcome shade in summer and an abundance
of delicious fruits through autumn and winter. Then there is the fun of
doing it--of planting and caring for a few young trees, which will
reward your labors, in a cumulative way, for many years to come.
But enough of reasons. If the call of the soil is in your veins, if
your fingers (and your brain) in the springtime itch to have a part in
earth's ever-wonderful renascence, if your lips part at the thought of
the white, firm, toothsome flesh of a ripened-on-the-tree red apple--
then you must have a home orchard without delay.
And it is not a difficult task. Apples, pears and the stone fruits,
fortunately, are not very particular about their soils. They take
kindly to anything between a sandy soil so loose as to be almost
shifting, and heavy clay. Even these soils can be made available, but
of course not without more work. And you need little room to grow all
the fruit your family can possibly eat.
Time was, when to speak of an apple tree brought to mind one of those
old, moss-barked giants that served as a carriage shed and a summer
dining-room, decorated with scythes and rope swings, requiring the
services of a forty-foot ladder and a long-handled picker to gather the
fruit. That day is gone. In its stead have come the low-headed standard
and the dwarf forms. The new types came as new institutions usually do,
under protest. The wise said they would never be practical--the trees
would not get large enough and teams could not be driven under them.
But the facts remained that the low trees are more easily and
thoroughly cared for; that they do not take up so much room; that they
are less exposed to high winds, and such fruit as does fall is not
injured; that the low limbs shelter the roots and conserve moisture;
and, above all, that picking can be accomplished much more easily and
with less injury to fine, well ripened fruit. The low-headed tree has
come to stay.
If your space will allow, the low-headed standards will give you better
satisfaction than the dwarfs. They are longer-lived, they are
healthier, and they do not require nearly so much intensive culture. On
the other hand, the dwarfs may be used where there is little or no room
for the standards. If there is no other space available, they may be
put in the vegetable or flower garden, and incidentally they are then
sure of receiving some of that special care which they need in the way
of fertilization and cultivation.
As I have said, any average soil will grow good fruit. A gravelly loam,
with a gravel subsoil, is the ideal. Do not think from this, however,
that all you have to do is buy a few trees from a nursery agent, stick
them in the ground and from your negligence reap the rewards that
follow only intelligent industry. The soil is but the raw material
which work and care alone can transform, through the medium of the
growing tree, into the desired result of a cellar well stored each
autumn with fruit.
Fruit trees have one big advantage over vegetables--the ground can be
prepared for them while they are growing. If the soil will grow a crop
of clover it is already in good shape to furnish the trees with food at
once. If not, manure or fertilizers may be applied, and clover or other
green crops turned under during the first two or three years of the
trees' growth, as will be described later.
The first thing to consider, when you have decided to plant, is the
location you will give your trees. Plan to have pears, plums, cherries
and peaches, as well as apples. For any of these the soil, of whatever
nature, must be well drained. If not naturally, then tile or other
artificial drainage must be provided. For only a few trees it would
probably answer the purpose to dig out large holes and fill in a foot
or eighteen inches at the bottom with small stone, covered with gravel
or screened coal-cinders. My own land has a gravelly subsoil and I have
not had to drain. Then with the apples, and especially with the
peaches, a too-sheltered slope to the south is likely to start the
flower buds prematurely in spring, only to result in total crop loss
from late frosts. The diagram on the next page suggests an arrangement
which may be adapted to individual needs. One may see from it that the
apples are placed to the north, where they will to some extent shelter
the rest of the grounds; the peaches where they will not be coddled;
the pears, which may be had upon quince stock, where they will not
shade the vegetable garden; the cherries, which are the most
ornamental, where they may lend a decorative effect.
And now, having decided that we can--and will--grow good fruit, and
having in mind suggestions that will enable us to go out to-morrow
morning and, with an armful of stakes, mark out the locations, the next
consideration should be the all-important question of what varieties
are most successfully grown on the small place.
place.] [ED. Unable to recreate in text format.]
The following selections are made with the home fruit garden, not the
commercial orchard, in mind. While they are all "tried and true" sorts,
succeeding generally in the northeast, New England and western fruit
sections, remember that fruits, as a rule, though not so particular as
vegetables about soil, seem much more so about locality. I would
suggest, therefore, submitting your list, before buying, to your State
Experiment Station. You are taxed for its support; get some direct
result from it. There they will be glad to advise you, and are in the
best position to help you get started properly. Above all, do not buy
from the traveling nursery agent, with his grip full of wonderful
lithographs of new and unheard-of novelties. Get the catalogue of
several reliable nurseries, take standard varieties about which you
know, and buy direct. Several years ago I had the opportunity to go
carefully over one of the largest fruit nurseries in the country. Every
care and precaution was taken to grow fine, healthy, young trees. The
president told me that they sold thousands every year to smaller
concerns, to be resold again through field and local agents. Yet they
do an enormous retail business themselves, and of course their own
customers get the best trees.
The following are listed, as nearly as I can judge, in the order of
their popularity, but as many of the best are not valuable
commercially, they are little known. Whenever you find a particularly
good apple or pear, try to trace it, and add it to your list.

THE THEORY OF MANURING THE VEGETABLES AND THEIR SPECIAL NEEDS facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail