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- Success With Small Fruits - 30/57 -


premium, and Mr. Charles Downing said it was the finest red raspberry he had ever seen. The veteran horticulturist, Mr. Wm. Parry, who has had between forty and fifty years of experience in small fruits, visited my place that summer. The bushes he saw had never received any protection, and had already been three weeks in bearing, but they were still full of fruit. After picking several berries that measured plump three inches in circumference, he said, quietly, "Put me down for 500 plants." In no other way could he have stated his favorable opinion more emphatically. It was as delicious as it was large and beautiful, and surely I was reasonable in expecting for it a brilliant future. In my faith I planted it largely myself, expecting to make it my main dependence as a market berry. But in August of that year many of the canes lost their foliage. Those that thus suffered were not entirely hardy the following winter. It was eventually made clear that it belonged to the tender _Rubus Idoeua_ class, and, therefore, was not adapted to general cultivation, especially on light soils, and under sunny skies. As I have shown, its start was so full of vigor and promise that it won the favor and confidence of the horticultural veterans; but it suddenly manifested lack of stamina and sturdy persistence in well-doing. And this is just the trouble which every experienced propagator dreads. Only after years of test and trial in many localities can he be assured that his seedling may become a standard variety.

If this chance seedling, the Pride of the Hudson, is given a moist soil in some half-shady location, it will yield fruit that will delight the amateur's heart, but, like Brinkle's Orange, which it resembles in flavor, only amateurs will give it the petting it requires.

As suggested when treating the strawberry, so in seeking to originate new varieties of raspberries, our aim should be to develop our hardy native species, the _R. Strigosus_, and if we employ the _R. Idoeus_ class for parentage on one side, seek its most vigorous representatives, such as the Belle de Fontenay and Franconia.

CHOICE OF LAND--ITS PREPARATION--PLANTING

All that has been said about the thorough preparation of the soil for strawberries, by drainage, deep plowing, trenching, etc., applies to raspberries, but differences should be noted in respect to fertilizers. Land can scarcely be made too rich for any variety of strawberries, but certain strong-growing raspberries, like the Cuthbert, Herstine, and Turner, should not be over-fertilized. Some kinds demand good, clean culture, rather than a richness that would cause too great a growth of cane and foliage. In contrast, the feebler growing kinds, like the Brandywine, and most of the foreign varieties, require abundance of manure. Muck, sweetened by lime and frost is one of the simplest and best; but anything will answer that is not too full of heat and ferment. Like the strawberry, the raspberry needs cool manures that have "staying" qualities. Unlike the former fruit, however, the raspberry does well in partial shade, such as that furnished by the northern side of a fence, hedge, etc., by a pear or even apple orchard, if the trees still permit wide intervals of open sky. The red varieties, especially those of the foreign types much prefer moist, heavy soils; but the black-caps do quite as well on light ground, if moisture can be maintained. The latter, also, can be grown farther south than any other species, but below the latitude of New York, those containing foreign elements begin to fail rapidly, until, at last, a point is reached where even the most vigorous native red varieties refuse to live. If the climate, however, is tempered by height above the sea, as in the mountains of Georgia, they will thrive abundantly.

[Illustration: SPRING AND FALL PLANTS]

I prefer fall planting for raspberries, especially in southern latitudes, for these reasons: At the points where the roots branch (see Fig. A) are buds which make the future stems or canes. In the fall, these are dormant, small, and not easily broken off, as in Fig. B; but they start early in spring, and if planting is delayed, these become so long and brittle that the utmost care can scarcely save them, If rubbed off, the development of good bearing canes is often deferred a year, although the plants may live and fill the ground with roots. The more growth a raspberry plant has made when set out in spring, the greater the probability that it will receive a check, from which it will never recover.

[Illustration: WINTER PROTECTION OF NEWLY SET PLANTS]

I have often planted in May and June, successfully, by taking up the young suckers when from six inches to a foot high, and setting them where they are to grow. Immediately on taking them up, I cut them back so that only one or two laches of the green cane is left, and thus the roots are not taxed to sustain wood and foliage beyond their power. This can often be done to advantage, when the plants are on one's own place, and in moist, cloudy weather. My preference, however, is to plant the latter part of October and through November, in well- prepared and enriched land. The holes are made quite deep and large, and the bottom filled with good surface soil. If possible, before planting, plow and cross-plow deeply, and have a subsoiler follow in each furrow. It should be remembered that we are preparing for a crop which may occupy the land for ten or fifteen years, and plants will suffer from every drought if set immediately on a hard subsoil. On heavy land, I set the plants one inch deeper than they were before; on light soils two or three inches deeper. I cut the canes off six inches above the surface (see Fig. C); for leaving long canes is often ruinous, and a plant is frequently two or three years in recovering from the strain of trying to produce fruit the first year. The whole strength of the roots should go toward producing bearing canes for the season following; and to stimulate such growth, I throw directly on the hill one or two shovelfuls of finely rotted compost and then mound the earth over the hill until the cane is wholly covered (as in Fig. D). This prevents all injury from the winter's cold. When severe frosts are over, the mound is levelled down again. Under this system, I rarely lose plants, and usually find that double growth is made compared with those set _late_ in spring. I have always succeeded well, however, in _early_ spring planting; and well to the north, this is, perhaps, the safer season. With the exception of mounding the earth over the hill, plant in March or April as I have already directed.

CULTIVATION

In cultivation, keep the ground level; do not let it become banked up against the hills, as is often the case, especially with those tender varieties that are covered with earth every winter. Keep the surface clean and mellow by the use of the cultivator and hoe. With the exception of from four to six canes in the hill, treat all suckers as weeds, cutting them down while they are little, before they have sucked half the life out of the bearing hill. Put a shovelful or two of good compost--any fertilizer is better than none--around the hills or along the rows, late in the fall, and work it lightly in with a fork if there is time. The autumn and winter rains will carry it down to the roots, giving almost double vigor and fruitfulness the following season. If the top-dressing is neglected in the autumn, be sure to give it as early in the spring as possible, and work it down toward the roots. Bone-dust, ashes, poudrette, barnyard manure, and muck with lime can be used alternate years, so as to give variety of plant food, and a plantation thus sustained can be kept twenty years or more; but under the usual culture, vigor begins to fail after the eighth or tenth season. The first tendency of most varieties of newly set red raspberries is to sucker immoderately; but this gradually declines, even with the most rampant, and under good culture the fruiting qualities improve.

In dry weather the fork should not be used during the growing or bearing season. The turning down of a stratum of dry, hot soil next to the roots must cause a sudden check and injury from which only a soaking rain can bring full relief. But in moist weather, and periods preceding and following the blossoming and fruiting season, I have often used the fork to advantage, especially if there is a sod of short, succulent weeds to be turned under as a green crop. If the ground between the hills was stirred frequently with an iron garden- rake, the weeds would not have a chance to start. This is by far the best and cheapest way of maintaining our part in the unceasing conflict with vegetable evil. An Irish bull hits the truth exactly: the best way to fight weeds is to have none to fight; and raking the ground over on a sunny day, about once a week, destroys them when they are as yet but germinating seeds. At the same time it opens the pores of the earth, as a physiologist might express himself. Unfailing moisture is maintained, air, light, and heat are introduced to the roots in accordance with Nature's taste, and the whole strength of the mellow soil goes to produce only that which is useful. But this teaching is like the familiar and sound advice, "Form no bad habits." We do form them; the weeds do get the start of us; and therefore, as a practical fact, the old moral and physical struggle must go on until the end of time.

CHAPTER XX

RASPBERRIES--PRUNING--STAKING--MULCHING--WINTER PROTECTION, ETC.

Usually, there is no pruning either in the field or the garden beyond the cutting out of the old canes and the shortening in of the new growth. There is a difference of opinion as to whether the old canes should be cut out immediately after fruiting, or left to natural decay, and removed the following fall or spring. I prefer the former course. It certainly is neater, and I think I have seen increased growth in the young canes, for which more room is made, and to whose support the roots can give their whole strength. The new growth can make foliage fast enough to develop the roots; still, I have not experimented carefully, and so cannot speak accurately. We see summer pruning often advocated on paper, but I have rarely met it in practice. If carefully done at the proper season, however, much can be accomplished by it in the way of making strong, stocky plants, capable of standing alone--plants full of lateral branches, like little trees, that will be loaded with fruit. But this summer pinching back must be commenced early, while the new, succulent growth is under full headway, and continued through the busiest season, when strawberries are ripe and harvest is beginning. It should not be done after the cane has practically made its growth, or else the buds that ought to remain dormant until the following season are started into a late and feeble growth that does not ripen before the advent of early frosts. Few have time for pruning in May or June. If they have, let them try it by all means, especially on the black-cap species. It does not require so much time as it does prompt action at the proper period of growth. In the garden, summer pinching can transform a raspberry bush into an ornamental shrub as beautiful as useful. It is much better adapted to the hardier varieties than to those that must be bent down and covered with earth. With the _R. Occidentalis_ species, summer pinching would always pay well. The best I can do, usually, with the red varieties, is to prune in November and March; it should be done before the buds develop. Unless early fruit is wanted, I believe in cutting back heroically. Nature once gave me a very useful hint. One very cold winter, a row of Clarke raspberries was left unprotected.


Success With Small Fruits - 30/57

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