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As the pedigree and the quality of the stock you plant will have a
great deal to do with the success or failure of your adventure in
orcharding, even on a very small scale, it is important to get the best
trees you can, anywhere, at any price. But do not jump to the
conclusion that the most costly trees will be the best. From reliable
nurserymen, selling direct by mail, you can get good trees at very
reasonable prices.

As a general thing you will succeed best if you have nothing to do with
the perennial "tree agent." He may represent a good firm; you may get
your trees on time; he may have a novelty as good as the standard
sorts; but you are taking three very great chances in assuming so. But,
leaving these questions aside, there is no particular reason why you
should help pay his traveling expenses and the printing bills for his
lithographs ("made from actual photographs" or "painted from nature,"
of course!) when you can get the best trees to be had,
direct from the soil in which they are grown, at the
lowest prices, by ordering through the mail. Or,
better still, if the nursery is not too far away, take
half a day off and select them in person. If you
want to help the agent along present him with the
amount of his commission, but get your trees direct
from some large reliable nursery.

Well grown nursery stock will stand much abuse,
but it will not be at all improved by it. Do not
let yours stand around in the sun and wind, waiting
until you get a chance to set it out. As soon as you
get it home from the express office, unpack it and
"heel it in," in moist, but not wet, ground; if under
a shed, so much the better. Dig out a narrow trench
and pack it in as thick as it will go, at an angle of
forty-five degrees to the natural position when
growing. So stored, it will keep a long time in
cold weather, only be careful that no rats, mice, or
rabbits reach it.

Do not, however, depend upon this knowledge to
the extent of letting all your preparations for planting
go until your stock is on hand. Be ready to
set it the day it arrives, if possible.


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.


Standard apple trees, fully grown, will require thirty to forty-five
feet of space between them each way. It takes, however, ten or twelve
years after the trees are set before all of this space is needed. A
system of "fillers," or inter-planting, has come into use as a result
of this, which will give at least one hundred per cent, more fruit for
the first ten years. Small-growing standards, standard varieties on
dwarf stock, and also peaches, are used for this purpose in commercial
orchards. But the principle may be applied with equally good results to
the home orchard, or even to the planting of a few scattered trees. The
standard dwarfs give good satisfaction as permanent fillers. Where
space is very limited, or the fruit must go into the garden, they may
be used in place of the standard sorts altogether. The dwarf trees are,
as a rule, not so long-lived as the standards, and to do their best,
need more care in fertilizing and manuring; but the fruit is just as
good; just as much, or more, can be grown on the same area; and the
trees come into bearing two to three years sooner. They cost less to
begin with and are also easier to care for, in spraying and pruning and
in picking the fruit.


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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