Charles Frederick Holder.

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age, however, was so sparse that
acres were required to feed a sheep,
while a cow, if she procured a bounti-
ful supply of provision during the day,
might be regarded as having fairly
earned it by the exercise required to
obtain it.

This state of affairs continued down
to within twenty years ago. Around
Los Angeles the golden fruit was
clustered, and a few outside orange




groves proclaimed that the soil and
climate in that section, as to the re-
quirements of citrus and semi-tropical
fruit trees, could not be surpassed.
The climate and its delicious product,
however, in time asserted themselves,
and it is to them that not only the
beautiful city of Los Angeles, but the

on a scale that drove men wild with
excitement. They had found out
that with irrigation those dry, barren
lands could be converted into gardens
of Hesperides.

The first experiments in the serious
cultivation of citrus trees in I.-
Angeles County were attended with

:* 'fa


whole region of Southern California
owes its great prosperity. When the
secret of the soil's fertility — a secret
which nature had so long kept guarded
under the unattractive covering of
parched sage and grease bush — was
discovered and understood, the scene
was rapidly changed, and the rich
soil, riotous in the exuberance of de-
light at escape from the bondage of
aridity, burst out into productiveness

unexpected success. The young groves,
as soon as they came into bearing,
gave such magnificent fruits, and
were so enormously productive that
they captured the markets wherever
distributed, and brought golden re-
turns of from $200 to $1,200— and
even as much as $1,600 to the acre.
It is no wonder that men lost their
heads. One of the wildest " booms "
the world has ever seen was inaugur-



ated, and was naturally followed by a
collapse of corresponding intensity,
accompanied with dire results. But
the orange groves still bore their
fruit ; they still furnished money, and
the country quickly recovered from
the shock.

It was the orange, therefore, that
made the sunny south what it is to-
day. What was desert, is desert no
longer. A thousand crystal streams
flowing from lofty
mountains, or from
the bowels of the
earth, are diverted
and utilized, deck-
ing the land with
greenery, and in-
fusing life and
scattering wealth
around in a hun-
dred beautiful val-
leys. Great dams
have been built,
impounding vast
quantities of the
life-giving fluid.
For miles and miles
water is conveyed
in pipes and ditch-
es over foot-hills
and plains. This
water supply ' for
the foothills and
uplands is the new-
est and grandest
feature of all.

Formerly, it was
thought that only
the richest alluvial

soil of the valleys would produce
oranges. Modern experiment, good
"common sense," and better hor-
ticultural knowledge has led to the
irrigation and planting of the foot-
hills, and the result is proving a
grand success. In these localities the
best oranges of the future will be pro-
duced ; the crops will be full and
regular, and the trees, with proper
care and attention on the owner's part,
healthy and long-lived.

In explanation of this, it is well to

say that all around the valleys of this
State, on the coast as well as in the
interior, there is a warm belt, usually
frostless in winter, ranging from ioo
to i , 200 feet above the floors of the
valleys, and appropriately termed the
" thermal belt." These belts, ridges
and hills, in broad valleys of whatever
altitude, are California's best garden-
lands for fruit, both as to soil and cli-
mate, and naturally most highly prized.
Our common cit-
rus fruit trees and
1) us lies are all
broad-leaved ever-
greens, which are
injured by the cold
temperature if only
a dozen degrees
below the freezing
point. Therefore,
the growth of these
fruits in the open
ground is limited to
regions where the
cold of winter nev-
er registers lower
than twenty de-
grees above zero.
Injury from frost,
however, is greatly
dependent on the
conditions of the
atmosphere at the
time. If the tree
is wet, the weather
cloudy, and the
frost leaves the
tree — that is, thaws
while those condi-
tions remain —
neither tree nor fruit will be injured.
Indeed, it is not an uncommon sight to
see orange and lemon trees breaking
down with the weight of damp snow,
fruit and foliage, and yet the trees
come out uninjured by cold. Such a
sight could have been seen in Col.
Hooper's orange and lemon grove on
the east slope of Sonoma Mountain in
the winter of 89-90. Both the fruit
and tree, however, are often injured by
a light frost only a few degrees
below the freezing point, if suddenly


(Photographed from nai:r .)



thawed out by a bright morning

Moist, rich valley lands are not fit
places in which to grow any fruit as a
business, for the very good reason
that they are much colder in winter
than the high lands surrounding
them, while in spring-time they are
subject to late frosts, which often de-
stroy all hopes of a fruit crop by kill-
ing the flowers. In such land, also,
fruit trees are more liable to injury
from insects and fungus diseases.
Many other good reasons exist which
convince the fruit-grower that such
low lands are not desirable for or-

With the orange the Mission Fath-
ers introduced the lemon, which
thrived with equal luxuriance. On
the low, rich soils, however, on which
they planted it, and with abundant
irrigation, the trees made succulent,
coarse, but tender growth, and their
fruit was overgrown with very thick
and bitter skins. There was no de-
mand for that kind of lemon.

Years of experience, and the plant-
ing of groves on higher, warmer,
lighter soils, have in a great measure
remedied these defects. Growers,
moreover, have gradually learned how
to cure the fruit for market. The
result is that the lemon, at the pres-
ent time, is the most popular of the
citrus fruits. It gives much greater
promise for future profit than the
orange, inasmuch as it has many
great commercial uses, which will
always ensure a demand for all sur-
plus ; while the orange will neces-
sarily remain simply an article of
luxury in the fruit form.

The only other citrus fruits of much
commercial value are the lime and
citron. The lime has hitherto been
but little planted in California, for
two reasons. It is more sensitive to
cold than either the orange or lemon,
and being produced abundantly down
the coast in Mexico, our markets are
supplied with it in such plenty and so
cheaply that there is little desire to
compete with Mexican growers. Now

that citrus fruits are being planted on
the warm uplands, the lime may pos-
sibly find an opening, especially as
hardier varieties are being found. The
extensive commercial uses for which
it is in demand may offer a further
inducement to engage in its culti Na-

On the warmer shores and islands
of the Mediterranean Sea, the citron
is extensively grown. It is a hand
some, smooth, glossy, lemon shaped,
yellow fruit, of from two to five pounds
weight, and is the production of a
small tree or bush highly ornamental
and quite hardy. It withstands B
lower degree of cold than either the
orange or lemon, and has, therefore,
a wider range throughout California.
In addition to its ornamental value as
a garden shrub, the citron has a com-
mercial value ; its rind, which is vcr\
thick, white, coarse and pithy, being
candied or preserved and largely used
throughout the civilized world. This
fruit may have a place on this coast in
the distant future. It is already re-
ceiving considerable attention ; but as
in the case of limes, figs, and dates,
the cost of labor throughout the world
must become more nearly equalized
before we can advantageously culti-
vate such fruits as these.

I have said that oranges are only
used as a choice, refreshing fruit.
This statement is not strictly true, and
is only applicable to this country. In
Europe and especially in England, the
orange is largely used, either alone or
mixed with the pulp of other fruits,
in the manufacture of jams, marma-
lades and jellies, and for iced dishes.
Such uses will be developed here in
time to an enormous extent. Many
tons of refuse oranges, which might
be converted into such delicacies now
go to waste.

Two other important facts bearing
on the culture of citrus fruits should
be mentioned. The first of these is
that like most other fruits of temperate
and semi-tropical nature, the nearer
they are grown to their northern
limit, the richer are their flavor and







aroma, and the more sterling
are their shipping and keeping
qualities. The second impor-
tant consideration is that like
the winter apple, it is not pos-
sible to grow citrus fruits to
perfection, or to keep the trees '
in health and vigor on this
coast, without an abundance
of good water with which to
irrigate. For this reason cit-
rus trees, like those of the
winter apple, have to grow and
mature their fruits in late sum-
mer and autumn, at which
season this climate does not
furnish sufficient moisture to
enable them to do this with-
out too great a strain on their
vitality. Hence the growth
and maturity of the fruit is
retarded ; it is small, insipid
and poor from being forced by
lack of moisture to mature in
mid-winter or later. For this

reason the citrus fruits of Florida, where
the rains are abundant in late summer and
autumn, are much earlier, more juicy and
of finer flavor, though less handsome than
most of our California fruit.

This indicates that our trees should have
a full supply of water for both their roots
and foliage during the dry period extending
from June to the advent of the winter rains,
their foliage being often sprayed with water
in the evenings. Nor should the trees be
grown on too rich a soil, but rather on a
light, loose, well-drained loam, which must
not be too highly stimulated with manure.
The almost pure sand of Florida, with plenty
of water, produces fine oranges, and would
produce much finer ones if given a constant
and right supply of w T ater. Now if we have
the water, we can give that constant regular



supply, and our climate is such that
we escape the damaging skin diseases
so prevalent in Florida and which
mars so much the beauty of her fruit.

Let us visit the northern part of
California and see what is going on
there in the way of citrus fruit culture.

orange trees laden with golden fruit,
already ripe, or nearly so. There are
no great orange groves, but we hear
men seriously discussing the planting
of such, and probably this would have
been done long ago but for lack of
water on suitable uplands for irrigation.


We will suppose the time to be early
December and that we are in San
Diego, where the oranges are just
beginning to show a tinge of gold on
the green. Taking the northern-
bound train, after a journey of 600
miles, we arrive at Redding, in Shasta
County. Here we find that we are
still in a citrus belt, the most northern
one. In nearly every garden we see

Again, we will suppose that instead
of going to Redding, we proceed t<>
San Francisco and travel up the coast
one hundred miles to Cloverdal-
little city on Russian River, thirty
miles distant from the Sonoma County
coast line. In the gardens there we
find many large orange trees which
have been maturing the finest class of
fruit for years ; and if we extend our



observations we shall find most beau-
tiful and thrifty young groves by the
acre. And so on northward as far as
Ukiah or even farther, there are thou-
sands of acres of first-class orange
land, blessed with a genial climate
and only lacking the application to

the orange planted for both ornament
and fruit.

If those who are not familiar with
the geography of the State of Cali-
fornia will consult the map, they will
observe that at about one-fourth of
the way it is cut in twain by a great



irrigating purposes of the water which
is everywhere abundant.

On our return to San Diego from
Redding and Ukiah we shall not fail
to notice that every mile of latitude
between these three points contains in
a superlative degree, as regards soil
and climate, the requisites for success-
ful orange culture. Even on the
floors of the great interior valleys — at
Fresno, Merced, Sacramento, Marys-
ville and Chico, and in coast valleys
at Santa Rosa and San Jose, we find

range of mountains lying north of its
southern boundary. In fact one might
start from the eastern line of the
State and travel westward nearly to
the Pacific Ocean, and at no place on
the journey be less than 3,000 feet
above sea level. This great dividing
range of mountains is traversed
through Tehachipi Pass by the
Southern Pacific Railroad.

Reaching the divide at this pass,
as we go northward we mark how the
railroad winds its sinuous way through



tunnels, along zig-zags, and often
overlooking itself, down into the head
of the great San Joaquin Valley, which
only a few years ago was an arid
desert, giving scanty forage to im-
mense herds of cattle for a few months
of the year. Now many thousands of
acres of it are gorgeous with green
and gold where irrigation has waved
its magic wand of productivity. Still
pursuing our way northward, we find
that the foothills on either hand, but
more especially those on the eastern
side, possess both soil and climate
most suitable for the cultivation of
citrus fruit trees. And so on up the
great Sacramento Valley to Redding.
Resting on the lower foothills on the
eastern side of that great inland basin
which extends from Redding to the
foot of Tehachapi Pass, we find
Visalia, surrounded by lands than
which none are richer. Though
young in fruit planting, Visalia and
its vicinity could get up a very respec-
table Citrus Fair with exhibits of her
own growing. Many miles still far-
ther south, we find Porterville, also in
her juvenile days of horticulture, but
fully able to hold her own at any
citrus show with fruits of unsurpass-
able beauty, size and quality.

At Merced, far out on the plain,
we find thriving orange trees, and
thence deduce our estimate of the
great capabilities of her warm foothill
slopes to the east. North of Sacra-
mento lies the oldest developed por-
tion of the interior, and here we are
constantly reminded of the golden
days of '49, and the few following
years, when thousands from every
portion of the globe were busy wash-
ing from the river sands and gravel
the yellow gold. A few of those
engaged in that mad struggle for
wealth bought oranges at fabulous
prices, and having cooled their fevered
palates with the juicy fruit, planted
the seeds, and settling down, carefully
watched over them until they grew
into trees and bore bounteous crops.
The trees themselves were beautiful
and their fruit was a rare luxury.
Vol. IV— 24

The example set by those pioneers
was followed, with the result that
to-day there is scarcely a homestead
from Sacramento to Redding, or on
the mountain slopes to the east, that
has not the orange tree among its
arboreal treasures. At Mary svi lie,
Smartsville, Oroville, Chico and Red
Bluff, we find them freely planted in
door-yards for shade and ornament,
glowing throughout the first half of
winter with their golden globes and
making the air redolent in early
spring with sweetest perfumes from
their bridal blossoms.

In Marysville, hundreds of orange
trees can be seen growing and fruiting
in dooryards, under all degrees 1 f
neglect, and without either cultivation
or irrigation ; and Marysville is not
only on the lower floor but in the
very trough of the valley. For all
that, the trees sustain but little injury
from frost either there or at Chio>.
which is also very low. Even in the
remarkably cold winter of 1887-88 ;
the injury inflicted was slight, and at
Oroville, higher up on the foothills it
was very much less.

These old pioneer orange trees, and
especially the success of those at
Oroville, were the influencing car
which induced many persons to plant
orange groves in that vicinity with a
view to producing marketable crops.
A water supply for irrigation was ob-
tained, and the beautiful young groves
of Thermalito, Palermo, Smartsville.
etc., proclaim the success of the

Such is a slight sketch of the citrus
fruit culture of the past. It gives the
reader some idea of the immense area
in the State whereon the trees can be
successfully cultivated, and of the soil,
elevation and climate most suitable for
their healthy growth. It is generally
known that the planting has been
enormous, and that Southern California
has for the last few years been market-
ing thousands of carloads of the fruit,
and this with only about one-fourth
cf her trees as yet in full bearing.

Without entering into a description



of the method of propagating the
young trees in the nursery, we may
make the general statement that the
plants now usually offered for sale by
the nurserymen are from one to two
years old, produced from grafts or
buds set in orange seedlings, two or
three years old. The young trees are
nearly all grown with from two to
four feet of smooth straight stem,
with a little broom-shaped top of
branchlets. The tallest of such trees
are those which the average man calls
for, and for which he will pay the
highest price, in defiance of the advice
of all the best and most successful
horticultural experts of the world.
The nurserymen must grow such trees
as lie can sell, although from those
high-headed ones which he produces,
it is impossible to grow a vigorous,
healthy, fruitful and long-lived or-
chard unless the planter cuts them
back as soon as planted to within one
foot of the ground. The right way to
grow young citrus trees of all species
is to cause them to form branches from
the ground. The reasons will be
given farther on.

The planting of an orange or lemon
grove may be conducted exactly in the
same way as that of other orchard
fruits. The first thing, of course, is
to select the right soil and climate ;
which being done the land is plowed
as deeply as possible — not less, than
ten inches deep, while sixteen or even
twenty inches would be better. On
deep, loose, sandy loams, without
hard-pan or bed rock, deep plowing is
not necessary, but on such soils as are
fine-grained, close and retentive of
water, it is most necessary. The
ground is then laid off in rows, form-
ing squares, the sides of which are
twenty feet apart ; holes, not quite so
deep as the ground was plowed, being
dug at the corners, and w 7 ide enough
to take in the roots when spread
out. Having packed the soil very
firmly among and over the roots, the
surface should be covered with mellow
unpacked soil. The roots of the
young trees should never be allowed

to become dry in the least degree, or
be exposed to sun, heat or frost while
out of the ground.*

When our little trees are planted,
or while planting them, if they are
tall, with straight, branchless, leafless
steins, we cut them back — behead
them in fact — to a height of only one
foot from the ground, and make them
start anew. It will be much better,
however, if we can find trees rightly
grown ; that is, with branches from
the ground up. In this case the lower
branches are shortened to from two to
four inches in length ; those above are
left somewhat longer, while the leader
or center shoot should have a length of
about a foot. During the first season
the young trees are left to grow at
random ; thorough cultivation, how-
ever, and as much water as needed,
being given them.

In the following spring, just before
growth starts, we prune again. We
find that our little trees have grown a
shoot, or several shoots, at the extrem-
ity of each branch where it was cut
1 Kick. Beginning with the lowest one,
if it has made more than two shoots
we prune all but one, cutting the low-
er one of these back to three inches,
the next to six, and so on up ; cutting
the shoots of each successive branch
a little longer than those immediately
below, so that when we reach the
shoots on the upper lateral branches
we may cut the lower shoot back to
ten inches, and the upper one to twenty
inches — the main upright central
shoot being also cut back to twenty
inches, and so on each succeeding

This is all the pruning the trees will
need. Any other pruning, except the
shortening back to from two to four
inches any shoots that have made a
vigorous growth on the inside of the

*I am not writing for criticism, but simply giving
the facts of modern expert horticulture— the experi-
ences of the best, practical and most observing men.
Therefore, wherever my statements differ from old
modes, they approach nearer to the right method.
This account is modern orcharding intensified. With
this explanation, proofs, and facts may be left out.
The man who plants an orchard and follows exactly
the plan given here, will have the best orchard possi-
ble in every particular.



head of the tree is harmful. On no
account should either twig or branch
be ever cut clean out. Any other
pruning than this has a tendency to
spoil both trees and plan. This sys-
tem builds up a tree that comes quick-
ly into bearing, supplies it with vigor
and enables it to hold up a great load
of fruit without the branches bending
or breaking. Nor will the latter curve
down so as to be in the way of the
plowman, who can cultivate without
obstruction up to the boles. A tree
submitted to this process will bear fine
fruit and foliage all through its head.
Its fruit is near the ground and easily
gathered, while the operation of spray-
ing is readily performed if needed.
When the tree thus pruned has nearly
reached the height and spread we wish
it to attain, we cut back and thin out
the outer and upper growth. It was
said that twenty feet apart each way
would give ample room, and so it does,
for trees trained in this way. When
they have reached the size of fourteen
feet diameter through the head and
the same in height, they are about as
large as they should ever be allowed
to be, and should be held to that size
by cutting back and thinning out the
surface of their heads from the out-
side inwards and from above down-
wards. They should be thinned
enough on the outside to admit plenty
of light and air into the center of
their heads. If such thinning is
sufficiently done, fine fruit and foliage
will constantly be found throughout
the whole head even to the very

The great exhibition of Citrus Fruits
in Northern California at the Pavilion
of the Mechanics' Institute, San Fran-
cisco, in January and February last,
was a surprise to many, and proved
conclusively that not only can these
fruits be grown in commercial quanti-
ties over a great area of the northern
three-fourths of California, but also
that they possess as fine quality and
beauty as are to be found in such
fruits grown in any part of the

The writer has attended five of these
great Citrus Fruit Shows in the north-
ern part of the State, three in the
southern portion, two at New Orleans,
one at Mobile, and one in Florida
hibiting the Atlantic Coast fruits ;
and can say, without fear of contra-
diction by experts, that the Northern
California fruits in the linesof size and
beauty are the peer of any grown —
fully equalling those of Southern Cali-
fornia in these points. They are not
quite so choice in flavor and thin:
of skin as the best Florida fruits ; but
in cleanness of color are superior to

In order that an approximate idea
may be formed of the importance of
this industry and the progress that it
is making in Southern California, it
will be necessary to introduce a few

For the season of 1890-91 the ship-
ments amounted to 2,849 carloads,
divided as follows :


San Bernardino County 1.705

Los Angeles " 781

Orange " 307

Ventura " 33

San Diego " 23

Total.. 2,849

The crop for the season 1891-92 fell
short of the expectations, there being
every promise of an output of from

Online LibraryCharles Frederick HolderThe Californian (Volume 4) → online text (page 47 of 120)