John Jacobs Thomas.

The American fruit culturist, containing directions for the propagation and culture of fruit trees, in the nursery, orchard, and garden, with descriptions of the principal American and foreign varieties, cultivated in the United States online

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Online LibraryJohn Jacobs ThomasThe American fruit culturist, containing directions for the propagation and culture of fruit trees, in the nursery, orchard, and garden, with descriptions of the principal American and foreign varieties, cultivated in the United States → online text (page 21 of 31)
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form. Manure or compost should be applied late in autumn,
and salt in spring.

ENEMIES.

The quince is frequently attacked by the blight, causing
the death of the ends of the branches, and sometimes spread-
ing and destroying the tree. The remedy is the immediate
and constant excision of the injured parts, and burning
them.

The borer sometimes proves a formidable enemy. It is
the larva of an insect which attacks the wood of the trunk near
the surface of the ground, and works inwards, usually up-
wards, but sometimes downwards, to a distance of several
inches into the wood, during the summer season.

As the borer frequently destroys the tree, various means
of prevention have been resorted to. The remedies de-
scribed for the apple-borer are found useful. When the insect
has once obtained possession, the best method appears to be
direct attack. Scrape the soil from the trunk, and cut with
a knife lengthwise, and not across the bark and wood, till
the insects are found. Repeat the operation once a week
for several times, as a part escape the first examination.
Then cover the wounded parts with a mixture of warm tar
with ochre or brick-dust. It is a great saving of labor to
arrest early their progress ; hence trees should be examined
frequently. They may sometimes be extracted by a flexi-
ble barbed wire, when cutting out would too much muti-
late the tree.




THE QUINCE. 275

VARIETIES.

ORANGE OR APPLE QUINCE. (Syn. Angers.) Large, some sub-
varieties quite large,
roundish, somewhat ir-
regular, with a small
and very short neck at
the base ; surface of a
fine golden color ; flesh
firm, stewing rather
tender, of excellent fla-
vor. Ripens soon after
mid-autumn. Leaves
_ oval. Tree productive,

Fig. 227. Orange Quince. Fig. 228. Pear Quince, if Well Cultivated.

This is the most common sort, and by continual propagation
of seedlings, several sub-varieties have been produced,
varying slightly in coarseness or firmness of texture, size
and form. The largest sometimes weigh a pound. It
strikes freely from cuttings, and forms the best stocks for
the pear.

Pear Qui?ice. (Syn. Oblong or Pyriform Quince.) Size
medium or rather large, pyriform, body roundish-oblong,
neck about one-half or one-third the length of the body;
skin rather dull rich yellow; flesh firm, tough, dry, with
a high flavor, stewing less tender than the Orange quince.
Ripens late in autumn, and hence adapted to distant
marketing. Leaves oblong-ovate. A moderate bearer.

Portugal Quince. Quite large, oblong-pyriform, largest at
the middle and tapering to each end; yellow; flesh more
juicy, and less harsh than the other varieties. Stews well,
and becomes a fine purple or deep crimson -. hen cooked.
Leaves broad, cordate, downy, larger than those of the com-
mon quince, and growth stronger. The fruit is rather su-
perior in quality, but the value of the variety is much les-
sened by its unproductiveness. It does not strike readily
fro:n cuttings. The common or Orange quince is often
sold as the Portugal.

The Japan and Chinese quinces are cultivated mci'rly as
ornamental shrubs.



CHAPTER IV.



THE PEACH.



- THE PEACH, the most delicious fruit, when in perfection,
of our climate, succeeds in favorable localities, from Maine
to the Gulf of Mexico. In the more northern regions, the
ripening of the earlier varieties commences only a few
weeks before the close of the summer months ; in the ex-
treme south, well matured peaches are obtained nearly as
early as cherries and strawberries at the north.

The trees are more tender and of shorter duration than
most fruit trees of temperate climates. In some localities,
they bear only two or three good crops, and then decline or
perish. On favorable soils, they continue for twenty or
thirty years. In western New- York, trees have in rare in-
stances borne fruit for forty or fifty years. In France, ac-
cording to authentic testimony, peach trees which have been
annually and freely pruned, have lived to an age of one hun-
dred years ; and there is no doubt that on favorable soils,
and by a regular shortening-in pruning, most of our orchards
would endure much longer than the ordinary period.

The most extensive peach-growing regions are in New-
Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. Some orchards have con-
tained 20,000 trees, and hundreds of acres have been occu-
pied with the plantations of single proprietors. The north-
ern portions of Ohio and westerrn New- York, protected on
the north by Lakes Erie and Ontario, afford a very favor-
able climate for this fruit. But throughout the country at
large, the selection of proper localities would doubtless af-
ford good and regular crops, even in districts where its
culture is rarely attempted. The remarks on this subject
on p. 63 of this work, are particularly commended to the
attention of those who may, attempt the peach culture in se-
vere climates.



THE PEACH. 277

The destruction of the peach crop is caused in nearly all
cases by the intensely severe cold of winter. Vernal frosts,
to which its loss is often erroneously ascribed, very rarely
have any influence. If the fruit buds remain unswollen.
they will endure almost any degree of cold to which our
climate is liable.* But it often happens that we have a
few days of mild or warm weather late in autumn or during
winter. This is sufficient to swell them slightly, or to throw
moisture enough into them to render them tender ; and if
the thermometer should then sink several degrees below
zero, there is scarcely a chance for their escape. Their
condition may be ascertained within a few days by making
a cross cut with a knife through the fruit buds. If destroyed,
the centre will be dark brown; if uninjured, they will pre-
sent the fresh yellow-centre of sound buds.

PROPAGATION OF THE TREES.

The peach tree is of remarkably easy and rapid propaga-
tion. In rare instances, seedling trees have borne the second
year, or sixteen months from the planting of the stone.
'Stocks may be budded the first summer, affording trees five
or six feet high the second autumn. Transplanted the
second year from the bud, the trees with good cultivation,
usually come into bearing about the third year afterwards.

Some varieties reproduce the same from the stone with
slight variation, but the only certain way to perpetuate de-
licious sorts, is by budding. Grafting rarely succeeds.! For
directions see page 42 of this work. It often happens at the
north, that the severe frost of winter destroys the inserted
buds, which die and drop off, leaving the attached portion
of bark adhering fresh and green to the stock. This disas-
ter, which so often disappoints the hopes of the young cul-
tivator, is to be prevented by selecting buds from the largest
and thriftiest shoots. These usually possess sufficient vigor
to withstand severe frosts. The triple buds on the older and
more matured portions of the shoots of bearing trees, often
survive when the single buds above them perish; as maybe

* Peaches are successfully raised so far north that the thermometer usually falls
to 30 degrees below zero, by protecting them from the vicissitudes of the weather of
\vinier, by means of a good coating of evergreen boughs.

t At the south, where the warm and moist climate often approaches in character
that of a hot-house, grafts of the peach often do well, and even cuttings of the ap-
0'.e inserted in open ground frequently take ready root.



278 THE PEACH.

at once perceived by examining the shoots of bearing trees
late in spring.

When stocks are not budded till the second summer, it is
very important to cut them down the previous spring, and
suffer but one ascending sprout to grow, which will form a
fine thrifty shoot for the reception of the bud.

In raising stocks, select the seed of hardy and late varie-
ties. The stones are not injured if kept dry in a cellar till
winter. If they become water-soaked for a length of time,
they are spoiled. But soaking in water for a day or two,
and subsequent exposure to freezing, facilitates the crack-
ing of the stone. One of the best modes of treatment is to
keep the stones in a moist cellar till near spring, then to
soak them in tubs or barrels, till the shells are well swollen
with moisture. They are then placed in thin layers on the
surface of the ground, and exposed for two or three weeks
to the action of the frost, being protected from drying by a
covering of soil, leaf-mould or muck. About the time the
frost disappears from the ground, they are taken up and
cracked by hand, placing the stone on the end of a wooden
block, and striking a gentle blow on the side edge with a
hammer. The kernels are thus, taken out uninjured. They
are then planted one or two inches deep, (a. light thin soil
needing more depth than a heavy and moist one,) and if
they have been previously uninjured, nearly every one will
grow. Care is needed that the seeds do not become dried
nor mouldy before planting.

When it is intended for them to come up evenly, as they
are to remain in the nursery row, the most certain way to
avoid vacancies or failures, is to sprout them before plant-
ing. This is effected by mixing the kernels with sand and
leaf-mould, and spreading them in a thin bed in the sun.
When sprouted, a line or cord, permanently marked at equal
distances of eight inches with a touch of paint, is stretched
on the ground, and a sprouted kernel carefully inserted at
every mark of the line, by means of a transplanting trowel.
This insures great regularity in the rows. Accidental va-
cancies may be filled from a seed bed when the plants are
not more than two inches high. To prevent drying, the
sprouted seeds should be kept covered with a flake of wet
moss or a wet cloth, until deposited in the ground ; and if



THE PEACH. 279

the weather be dry, watering the ground may be requisite.

By planting the peach stones without cracking, a very
small portion will grow, and no regularity can be attained
in the rows.

If the soil is good, and the cultivator is passed between
the rows as often as once a fortnight, oftener is better,
the trees will be large enough to bud by the close of
summer.

In cases where the ground cannot be prepared early for
their reception, germination may be retarded by burying
the uncracked stones a foot or two beneath the surface, till
wanted.

The distances of the rows asunder should be about the
same as for apples and other trees in the nursery, or about
three and a half feet.

Plum stocks for the peach, slightly lessen the luxuriance
of growth, render the trees smaller, and increase their har-
diness for the extreme north by withholding the supply of
sap till later in spring, and earlier in autumn, and thus fa-
vor an early maturity of the young wood. Small dwarfs
are produced by budding on the Mirabelle, a diminutive va-
riety of the plum. The plum stock is also sometimes
employed to guard against the peach borer, a remedy often
unsuccessful, as that insect frequently attacks the peach
above the place of union.

Unlike most other fruit trees, the peach may be trans-
planted in the spring next after the insertion of the bud,
with scarcely a check in its growth.

ORCHARDS.

The selection of locality fcas been treated of; the soil is a
matter of importance. The following remarks of A. J.
DOWNING on this subject, accord with general experience:

" The very best soil for the peach is a rich, deep sandy
loam ; next to this, a strong mellow loam ; then a light,
thin, sandy soil, and the poorest, is a heavy, compact clay
soil. We are very well aware that the extensive and pro-
fitable appropriation of thousands of acres of the lightest
sandy soil in New-Jersey and Delaware, has led many to
believe that this is the best soil for the peach. But such is
not the fact, and the short duration of this tree in those dis-



280 THE PEACH.

tricts, is unquestionably owing to the rapidity with which
the soil is impoverished. We have, on the contrary, seen
much larger, finer, and richer flavored peaches produced for
a long time successively on mellow loam, containing but little
sand, than upon any other soil whatever."

In transplanting for an orchard, the practice of shorteni?ig-
in the shoots, described in the chapter on transplanting, should
be invariably attended to, as it is of the greatest importance
in the safe removal of peach trees. Trees two years from
the bud, where this practice is observed, will be found de-
cidedly better than those of one year only, for the regions of
the north. Fifteen to twenty feet apart is the common dis-
tance for orchards ; but as better crops and better fruit is
obtained where the heads are kept well shortened-in, and
consequently within less compass, a distance of twelve feet
only will be found sufficient. The best culture consisting in
the absence of all other crops on the ground, the nearerd is-
tance will be found the most profitable. A distance of
twelve feet apart will give more than three hundred trees
per acre ; fifteen feet less than two hundred ; and twenty
feet scarcely more than one hundred.

While the trees are small, the intermediate spaces be-
tween the rows may be cultivated with low hoed crops ; but
afterwards it will be found best to keep the ground perfect-
ly clean and mellow by plowing and harrowing. Where
soils are very shallow, top dressing with manure in autumn,
and frequent harrowing, have been found best ; the roots
being thus brought near the surface, deep plowing proves
injurious. But where soils are deep and fertile, plowing
may be occasionally resorted to without injury.

The principle on which rotation in crops is founded, dic-
tates that two crops of peach trees, whether in the nursery
or orchard, should riot be given successively on the same
piece of ground ; diminished growth in all such instances
being the result.

One of the best manures for the peach tree is ashes, whe-
ther fresh or leached; hence all composts with this constitu-
ent in large proportion, are eminently beneficial to peach
orchards. When applied alone, half a peck of fresh, and
half a bushel of leached ashes to each tree, is a suitable
quantity. For a useful mode of application, see remarks on
a future page under she head Peach-worm.



THE PEACH.



281



PRUNING.

No fruit tree needs a more regular and constant pruning
than the peach, and none more frequently meets with total
neglect. The young shoots, to live and flourish, need a
very full exposure to sun and air. But young peach trees,
if left to grow in their own way, become covered with a
dense profusion of leaves. These shade the interior, and as
a necessary consequence, the central shoots gradually perish,

and leave the bare
limbs. As the tree ad-
vances in growth, these
become long, naked
branches, with tufts of
leaves only at their ex-
treme ends, fig. 229.
These extremeties are
loaded with an overcrop
of fruit, diminished in
flavor by crowding, and
often breaking the tree
under their lever -like
weight. Trees wholly
neglected in pruning,

Fig. 229; usually become by this

process, of little value, after the lapse of some years.

To avoid this unfavorable result, the shortening-in mode of
pruning has been very successfully adopted, which consists in
yearly cutting back the extremeties, so as to counteract the
spread of the limbs, and to lessen the weight of foliage.

The most easy, uniform, and
certain rule to follow, in adopt-
ing this system of pruning, is to
cut off, early in spring or in win-
ter, one-third to one-half of all
the shoots of the previous sum-
mer's growth. This thins the
crop of fruit, and greatly redu-
ces the amount of leaves ; and
while the fruit is lessened in
number, the amount is not di-
Fi a. 230. minished, and the flavor is im-





282 THE PEACH.

measurably improved. If this pruning is regularly and
annually performed, the head of the tree will be preserved
in an even, handsome, and compact shape, fig. 230, and in
a healthy arid vigorous condition ; and it will become rarely
necessary to shorten and thin out the limbs by cutting back
the larger side-branches.

The pruning may be performed with a heda^e or long-
handled shears, or with nearly equal convenience by means
of a light standing ladder and a common pruning knife.

Any cultivator who may doubt the value of shortening-in
the peach, need only to try the experiment for a few suc-
cessive years, on a tree standing side by side with one un-
pruned, to become fully convinced of its eminent advan-
tages.*

Training the peach against walls and buildings, so essen-
tial to the successful culture of the peach in England, is
rarely practiced in this country. It would doubtless hasten
the maturity of the crop ; but the warm exposure, would at
the same time, unless the branches were purposely protect-
ed, render the crop more liable to destruction by frost. Es-
palier training has been found to give excellent fruit, in
consequence of the thorough pruning and full exposure




Fig. 231 First year. Fig. 232 Second year. Fig. 233 Third year.

adopted in the management of the trees. Figs. 231, 232,
and 233, exhibit the fan training usually adopted in espalier
and wall training, in its sucessive stages.

To induce early bearing, shorten back one-third or one-
half the new shoots about midsummer, or a little sooner,
which, by lessening the growth of the leaves, tends to the
production of fruit buds.

* Such varieties are apt to overbear, and not come to perfection at the north, as
the Heath Cling, are thiuued of the crop iu the most easy and perfect manner by
cutting back the shoots.



THE PEACH. 283

DRYING AND PRESERVING.

Drying the fruit is usually performed most successfully
by artificial heat. Spent ovens on a small scale, and dry-
ing rooms, heated with stoves, fitted with shelves or draw-
ers, with lattice or lath bottoms, on a larger scale, are
most generally adopted. Drying in the open air, is suc-
cessful if the weather happens to be favorable ; but decay
and loss follows adverse weather. But the expense of arti-
ficial heat, and the failure from an unpropitious sky, may
both be avoided by planting for this purpose the earliest
ripening sorts, so that the whole work may be completed
during the hot, dry weather of summer, a month earlier
than the usual period.

Preserving the Fresh Fruit. In Baltimore, and some
other places, the preservation of the more delicate fruits,
as peaches, apricots, and strawberries, in hermetically
sealed tin canisters, is carried on on a large scale ; and the
fruit at mid-winter is almost as good as when gathered.
The process is the same, in principle, as that by which
fresh meats are preserved for sea stores. For the substance
of the following account of the process, the author is indebt-
ed to THOMAS S. PLEASANTS, of Petersburgh, Va.

The canisters should be perfectly air-tight, and the con-
tents heated throughout to the temperature of boiling water.
If the vessels are then hermetically sealed, it is impossible
for decomposition to take place, and therefore the most deli-
cate fruits may be preserved for an indefinite period.

The process is minutely as follows : Prepare the canis-
ters in the best manner, of good tin about seven or eight
inches in length, and four to four and a half in diameter.
Whatever be the size, they should be uniform, that they
may be heated alike. The fruit selected should be just
ripe and no more, free from specks or bruises. When the
canisters are filled, the tops are to be carefully soldered on,
leaving a hole in them about the size of a small pin for the
escape of the air. They are then to be set in a vessel of
water, to be kept boiling moderately, until the temperature
of the fruit is raised to that of the water. The way in
which this is ascertained, is to put a drop of water on the
pin-hole, which will continue to bubble as long as the air
escapes from the canister. When the internal temperature



284 THE PEACH.

is equal to that of the water, no more air will escape. The
water is then to be wiped off, and a drop of solder immedi-
ately put in its place. The boiling water should be raised
as near to the tops of the canisters as possible, so as not to
cover them. If the operation has been properly conducted,
the ends of the canisters will, after the cooling has taken
place, be depressed, in consequence of the external pressure
of the atmosphere. The degree of heat to which the fruit
is subjected does not cook it in the least. It is proper that
the canisters should be set in a cool place. The vessel in
which the water is to be kept boiling, must of course have
a level bottom ; and every one who is disposed to try the
experiment can devise one for himself. Doubtless a wooden
reservoir, heated by steam through a pipe from a .boiler,
would be convenient where the experiment is performed on
a large scale.

INSECTS AND DISEASES.

Peach trees are liable to injury and destruction from two
causes, the worm or borer, and the yellows.

The Peach-ivorm or borer, (^Egeria exitiosa,} cuts into the
bark (never into the wood,) just below the surface of the
ground, and if badly or wholly girdled, the tree languishes
or dies. Its presence is indicated by the exudation of gum
at the root, mixed with excrementitious matter resembling
saw dust. It is very easily destroyed by scraping away the
earth at the foot of the trunk, and following the worm to
the end of its hole with a knife, beneath the thin shell of
bark under cover of which it extends its depredations. If
an orchard is thus examined once in spring and once in
early summer, few will escape. But to exclude the insect,
as a means of prevention, heap round each tree half a peck
of air-slaked lime or ashes, in spring, allowing it to remain
till autumn, when, spread beneath the tree, it forms a good
manure. This remedy, in many cases, has proved quite
effectual. It will in all cases lessen the labor of examina-
tion with the knife.

"" The perfect insect of the peach worm, fig. 234, &, is a
four-winged moth, much resembling in form a wasp, but
totally distinct, and in its character and habits closely allied
to the butterfly and miller. It deposits from early in sum-



THE FEACH.



285



mer




autumn, at the foot of the tree, its exceedingly

minute, whitish eggs,
which soon hatch, and
the larvae or worms en-
ter the bark. The next
season they encase them"
selves in a saw-dust-like
cocoon, in their holes
under the bark; and
F ' i s- 234 - emerging in the perfect

insect, lay their eggs and perish. The perfect insect is very
rarely seen, but is easily obtained by enclosing the pupa,
fig. 234, b, c, which is readily obtained in summer at the
roots of neglected trees, beneath a glass, or in a gauze case.
As this insect confines itself to the bark, its destruction is
very easy. It rarely happens that trees are completely de-
stroyed by it, except they be small; death can only take
place when the tree is girdled. Timely care will prevent
this ; the evil in fact is only to be dreaded by negligent
cultivators.

The disease termed the yellows is truly formidable. It is
peculiar to the peach and nectarine. It has destroyed whole
orchards in portions of the country, and for a time induced
the entire abandonment of the peach culture in certain lo-
calities.

The cause of this malady has not been satisfactorily as-
certained. According to conjecture, it has arisen originally
from exhaustion by deteriorated soil, overbearing, and neg-
lected pruning and bad cultivation. But whatever may have
been its origin, it appears at present to be chiefly commu-
nicated from diseased trees. It is quickly induced by in-
serting the bud from an affected tree into a healthy stock.
It spreads by contact with diseased roots ; a knife used in
pruning the tree will infuse the poison if used on another.
It appears to be communicated without actual contact, the
healthy branches nearest a diseased tree being usually first
attacked. It is also probable that the stones from diseased
trees cause its development after a few years growth. Its
highly contagious nature is indicated by the equal facility
with which young and vigorous trees and old and feeble
ones may be inoculated by contact*



286 THE PEACH.

Its infallible indications, are, first, a premature ripening
of the, fruit, som: weeks earlier than usual accompanied
with a rather insipid flavor, and with purple dzscolora-
tions of the flesh. These usually occur the first season, and
on a part of the tree which h,;s been first inoculated with
the poison. The following season, numerous smaU, wiry



Online LibraryJohn Jacobs ThomasThe American fruit culturist, containing directions for the propagation and culture of fruit trees, in the nursery, orchard, and garden, with descriptions of the principal American and foreign varieties, cultivated in the United States → online text (page 21 of 31)