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- The Home Acre - 4/28 -


The ground should be thoroughly prepared for a hedge by deep plowing or by digging; the trees should be small, young, of even height and size, and they should be planted carefully in line, according to the directions already given for a single specimen; the ground on each side mulched and kept moist during the first summer. In the autumn, rake the mulch away and top-dress the soil on both sides for the space of two or three feet outward from the stems with well-decayed manure. This protects the roots and ensures a vigorous growth the coming season. Allow no weeds or even grass to encroach on the young hedge until it is strong and established. For the first year no trimming will be necessary beyond cutting back an occasional branch or top that is growing stronger than the others; and this should be done in early October. During the second season the plants should grow much more strongly; and now the shears are needed in summer. Some branches and top shoots will push far beyond the others. They should be cut back evenly, and in accordance with the shape the hedge is to take. The pyramidal form appears to me to be the one most in harmony with Nature. In October, the hedge should receive its final shearing for the year; and if there is an apparent deficiency of vigor, the ground on both sides should receive another top-dressing, after removing the summer mulch. As the hedge grows older and stronger, the principal shearing will be done in early summer, as this checks growth and causes the close, dense interlacing of branches and formation of foliage wherein the beauty and usefulness of the hedge consist.

CHAPTER II

FRUIT-TREES AND GRASS

It is a happy proof of our civilization that a dwelling-place, a shelter from sun and storm, does not constitute a home. Even the modest rooms of our mechanics are not furnished with useful articles merely; ornaments and pictures appear quite as indispensable. Out-of-doors the impulse to beautify is even stronger; and usually the purchaser's first effort is to make his place attractive by means of trees and shrubs that are more than useful--they are essential; because the refined tastes of men and women to-day demand them.

In the first chapter I endeavored to satisfy this demand in some degree, and now will ask the reader's attention to a few practical suggestions in regard to several of the fruits which best supply the family need. We shall find, however, that while Nature is prodigal in supplying what appeals to the palate and satisfies hunger, she is also like a graceful hostess who decks her banquet with all the beauty that she can possibly bestow upon it. We can imagine that the luscious fruits of the year might have been produced in a much more prosaic way. Indeed, we are at a loss to decide which we value the more, the apple-blossoms or the apples which follow. Nature is not content with bulk, flavor, and nutriment, but in the fruit itself so deftly pleases the eye with every trick of color and form that the hues and beauty of the flower are often surpassed. We look at a red-cheeked apple or purple cluster of grapes hesitatingly, and are loth to mar the exquisite shadings and perfect outlines of the vessel in which the rich juices are served. Therefore, in stocking the acre with fruit, the proprietor has not ceased to embellish it; and should he decide that fruit-trees must predominate over those grown for shade and ornament only, he can combine almost as much beauty as utility with his plan.

All the fruits may be set out both in the spring and the fall seasons; but in our latitude and northward, I should prefer early spring for strawberries and peaches.

By this time we may suppose that the owner of the acre has matured his plans, and marked out the spaces designed for the lawn, garden, fruit trees, vines, etc. Fruit trees, like shade trees, are not the growth of a summer. Therefore there is natural eagerness to have them in the ground as soon as possible, and they can usually be ordered from the same nursery, and at the same time with the ornamental stock. I shall speak first of apples, pears, and cherries, and I have been at some pains to secure the opinions of eminent horticulturists as to the best selections of these fruits for the home table, not for market. When there is a surplus, however, there will be no difficulty in disposing of the fine varieties named.

The Hon. Marshall P. Wilder, the veteran President of the American Pomological Society, writes as follows: "Herewith is the selection I have made for family use; but I could put in as many more in some of the classes which are just as desirable, or nearly so. These have been made with reference to covering the seasons. Apples--Red Astrakhan, Porter, Gravenstein, Rhode Island Greening, Baldwin, Roxbury Russet, and Sweet Bough for baking. Pears-- Clapp's Favorite (to be gathered August 20), Bartlett, Seckel, Sheldon, Beurre Bosc, Buerre d'Anjou, and Vicar of Winkfield for baking, etc. Cherries--Black Eagle, Black Tartarian, Downer, Windsor, Cumberland, and Red Jacket."

Mr. Wilder's honored name, like that of the late Charles Downing, is inseparably linked with American fruits, and the country owes these two men a debt of gratitude which never can be paid for their lifelong and intelligent efforts to guide the people wisely in the choice and culture of the very best varieties. A moment's thought will convince the reader that I am not giving too much space to this matter of selection. We are now dealing with questions which wide and varied experience can best answer. Men who give their lives to the cultivation and observation of fruits in all their myriad varieties acquire a knowledge which is almost invaluable. We cannot afford to put out trees, to give them good culture, and wait for years, only to learn that all our care has been bestowed on inferior or second-rate varieties. Life is too brief. We all feel that the best is good enough for us; and the best usually costs no more in money or time than do less desirable varieties. Therefore I seek to give on this important question of choice the opinions of some of the highest authorities in the land.

Mr. A. S. Fuller is not only a well-known horticultural author, but has also had the widest experience in the culture and observation of fruit. He prefaces his opinion with the following words: "How much and how often we horticulturists have been puzzled with questions like yours! If we made no progress, were always of the same mind, and if seasons never changed, then perhaps there would be little difficulty in deciding which of the varieties of the different kinds of fruit were really the best. But seasons, our tastes, and even the varieties sometimes change; and our preferences and opinions must vary accordingly. Apples-- Early Harvest, Fall Pippins, Spitzenburgh, Rhode Island Greening, Autumn Sweet Bough, and Talman's Sweet. Cherries--Early Purple Guigne, Bigarreau of Mezel, Black Eagle, Coe's Transparent, Governor Wood, and Belle Magnifique."

The choice of Mr. E. S. Carmen, editor of the "Rural New Yorker:" "Apples--Early Harvest, Gravenstein, Jefferis, Baldwin, Mother, Spitzenburgh. Pears--Seckel, Tyson, Clapp's Favorite, Bartlett, Beurre d'Anjou, and Dana's Hovey. Cherries--Black Tartarian, Coe's Transparent, Governor Wood, Mezel, Napoleon Bigarreau."

The authorities appear to differ. And so they would in regard to any locality; but it should be remembered that President Wilder advises for the latitude of Massachusetts, Messrs. Fuller and Carmen for that of New Jersey. I will give now the selection of the eminent horticulturist Mr. P. O. Berckmans for the latitude of Georgia: "Cherries (this is not a good cherry-producing region, but I name the following as the best in order of merit)--Buttners, Governor Wood, Belle de Choisy, Early Richmond, and May Duke. Pears (in order of maturity)--Clapp's Favorite, Seckel, Duchesse, Beurre Superfine, Leconte, Winter Nellis, or Glout. Morceau. Apples--Early Harvest, Red June, Carter's Blue, Stevenson's Winter, Shockley, Buncombe, Carolina Greening."

He who makes his choice from these selections will not meet with much disappointment. I am aware, however, that the enjoyment of fruit depends much upon the taste of the individual; and who has a better right to gratify his taste than the man who buys, sets out, and cares for the trees? Some familiar kind not in favor with the fruit critics, an old variety that has become a dear memory of boyhood, may be the best one of all for him--perhaps for the reason that it recalls the loved faces that gathered about the wide, quaint fireplace of his childhood's home.

It is also a well-recognized fact that certain varieties of fruit appear to be peculiarly adapted to certain localities. Because a man has made a good selection on general principles, he need not be restricted to this choice. He will soon find his trees growing lustily and making large branching heads. Each branch can be made to produce a different kind of apple or pear, and the kindred varieties of cherries will succeed on the same tree. For instance, one may be visiting a neighbor who gives him some fruit that is unusually delicious, or that manifest great adaptation to the locality. As a rule the neighbor will gladly give scions which, grafted upon the trees of the Home Acre, will soon begin to yield the coveted variety. This opportunity to grow different kinds of fruit on one tree imparts a new and delightful interest to the orchard. The proprietor can always be on the lookout for something new and fine, and the few moments required in grafting or budding make it his. The operation is so simple and easy that he can learn to perform it himself, and there are always plenty of adepts in the rural vicinage to give him his initial lesson. While he will keep the standard kinds for his main supply, he can gratify his taste and eye with some pretty innovations. I know of an apple- tree which bears over a hundred varieties. A branch, for instance, is producing Yellow Bell-flowers. At a certain point in its growth where it has the diameter of a man's thumb it may be grafted with the Red Baldwin. When the scion has grown for two or three years, its leading shoots can be grafted with the Roxbury Russet, and eventually the terminal bough of this growth with the Early Harvest. Thus may be presented the interesting spectacle of one limb of a tree yielding four very distinct kinds of apples.

In the limited area of an acre there is usually not very much range in soil and locality. The owner must make the best of what he has bought, and remedy unfavorable conditions, if they exist, by skill. It should be remembered that peaty, cold, damp, spongy soils are unfit for fruit-trees of any kind. We can scarcely imagine, however, that one would buy land for a home containing much soil of this nature. A sandy loam, with a subsoil that dries out so quickly that it can be worked after a heavy rain, is the best for nearly all the fruit-trees, especially for cherries and peaches. Therefore in selecting the ground, be sure it is well drained.


The Home Acre - 4/28

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