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 24 of 31)
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less in England, but greatly improved by our warm sum-
mers. Productive. Season, rather early or medium, or
two weeks after mid-summer. It is disseminated in this
country under various erroneous names.
1 te Blotch-leaved Roman differs only in the yellow spot or
stain of its leaves.

Section III. Small.

AJ>cfgjer. (3yn. Alberge.) Small, roundish, slightly com-
jjifcssed, deep yellow, flesh reddish, firm, with a rather
biibk flavor ; stone compressed. Rather late. Leaves
with stipules. For preserving.

Red Mctculine. (Syn. Early Masculine, Brown Masculine,
Abricotin, Abricot Precoce, Abricotier Hatif.) Small,
nearly round, suture distinct ; bright yellow, with deep
orange cheek and red spots ; flesh yellow, slightly musky,
sub-acid ; stone thick, obtuse at ends. Flowers rather
small. Very early or about mid-summer. Hardy, for an
apricot. Valuable only for its earliness.

White Masculine. (Syn. White Apricot, Early White Mas-
culine, Abricot Blanc.) Small, roundish, nearly white,
rarely a faint reddish cheek, rather downy ; flesh white,
delicate, a little fibrous, adhering to the stone. Closely
resembles the Red Masculine, except in color and being
rather better, and four or five days later.



CHAPTER VI.



THE PLUM.



RAISING THE YOUNG TREES. The plum is propagated by
budding or grafting on seedling plums. For this purpose,
the stones of such varieties should be chosen, as are of large
and thrifty growth ; and they are to be treated in planting
precisely as directed for the peach, with additional care to
prevent the drying of the stones, which much sooner takes

Elace in consequence of their smaller size and thinner shell.
f not cracked, a part only will vegetate the first year,
although many may be made to open by the repeated action
of freezing and thawing.

On light or unfavorable soils, most of the common varie-
ties produce feeble and slowly growing seedlings ; an excel-
lent substitute will be found in the larger sorts of the wild
plum, sometimes known as the Canada plum, (Pru'tius
Americana.} Those varieties which are found to outgrow
this stock, should be worked at the surface of the ground,
and when transplanted the place of union should be set a
few inches lower.

Grafting, to succeed best, should be done quite early in
spring, before the buds have commenced swelling ; and bud-
ding mnst be performed while the stocks are at the period
of their most vigorous growth, provided sufficiently matured
buds can be procured, which is usually soon after mid-sum-
mer. If deferred, the bark will not peel freely, and the
buds will not adhere.

For dwarfs, seedlings of the Mirabelle plum are chiefly
used for stocks.

On light soils, the peach has been occasionally used as
stocks for plum trees. A very few varieties take readily and
grow freely, and large healthy trees have in some instances
been produced; but the great uncertainty which attends its



THE PLUM. 315

use, and the failure with most varieties, indicate the pro-
priety of the rejection of the peach for this purpose.

The time required to attain a sufficient" size for the or-
chard, varies much with different sorts. The Imperial Gage,
the Washington, Huling's Superb, and others, grow rapidly,
and usually produce good trees in two years from the graft
or bud ; while such slow-growing plums as the Primordian,
Green Gage, and Red Diaper, require a much longer period.

Soil. The best soil, usually, is a strong, rich, moderately
moist, clayey loam. On many light soils the tree grows
with less vigor, independently of which the crop is more fre-
quently destroyed by the curculio, a pervious soil affording
a more ready place of shelter for the young insects, on their
escape from the fallen fruit. A few varieties are well adapt-
ed to rather dry as well as light lands.

One. of the. best manures for the plum, as well as for the
quince, is common salt. For large-sized trees, half a peck
may be applied annually early in spring ; spread to a dis-
tance round each tree quite as far as the extent of the
branches ; smaller trees should receive a proportionate quan-
tity, or just enough to cover the ground equally thick. This
application has been found to add to the thriftiness of the
tree, to lessen the tendency to leaf-blight, and in some in-
stances it has contributed to the repulsion of the curculio.

In planting orchards, a suitable distance is one rod apart,
giving 160 to the acre. The ground should be manured
and kept well cultivated, as the plum, especially when
young, is very sensitive to the effects of the weeds and
grass of neglected culture.

DISEASES AND ENEMIES.

The chief are the curculio, and the black excrescences on
the limbs.

The curculio, represented in the annexed figure, (243,) is
*^ a small insect not more than a quarter of an inch
'J^^ long, of a dark brown color, the sheaths covering
Fir. 243 the ings slightly variegated with lighter colors,
thVbody resembling in size and appearance a ripe he:i;p
seed. It is distinguished by an elongation of the head, re-
sembling a conspicuous rostrum or beak projecting from the
front part of its thorax.




316 THE PLUM.

About the time the young fruit attains the size of a pea, the
curculio begins its work of destruction. It
makes a small crescent-shaped incision in
the young fruit, and lays its egg in the
opening. The presence of the egg may be
easily detected by these incisions upon the
surface ; the annexed figure, (^44,) repre-
sents one of these magnified twice in diame-
ter. The egg soon hatches into a small white larva, which
enters the body of the fruit and feeds upon it, causing,
usually, its premature fall to the ground.

The period at which the young fruit falls, after being
punctured, varies with its age at the time of the injury. The
earlier portions drop in about two weeks ; but if the stone
is hard when the egg is laid, the fruit remains till near the
usual period of ripening, sometimes presenting a fair and
smooth exterior, but spoiled by the worm within.

The insect, soon after the fall of the fruit, makes its way
into the earth, where it is supposed to remain till the fol-
lowing spring, when it is transformed into the perfect in-
sect or beetle, to lay its eggs and perpetuate its race. In-
stances, however, have occurred, where the transformation
has taken place within twenty days of the fall of the fruit.

The curculio travels by flying, but only during quite
warm weather, or at the heat of the day. The insects most-
ly confine themselves to certain trees, or to the same orchard.
But the fact that newly bearing and isolated orchards are
soon attacked, clearly shows that in occasional instances
they must travel considerable distances. Indeed, they have
been known to be wafted on the wind for a half mile or
more, the windward side of orchards being most infested,
immediately after strong winds from a thickly planted plum
neighborhood. In the cool of the morning, they are nearly
torpid, and can scarcely fly, and crawl but slowly ; hence,
at this time of the day they are most easily destroyed.

Their flight appears to be never more than a few feet
from the ground, and successful attempts have been made
to shut them out of fruit gardens by means of a tight board
fence, nine or ten feet high, entered by a tight gate.

The. remedies for the curculio are various. They are of
three distinct methods ; the first, repelling or excluding



THE PLUM.



317



them, as by a tight fence, or by a heap of fermenting ma-
nure ; the second, the direct and immediate destruction of
the insects while in the act of depositing their eggs; and
the third, the destruction of the young larva or worm in the
injured fruit to save the next season's crop.

1. It has been found that the effluvia from fermenting
manure effectually repels the curculio. Trees standing near
stable-cleanings usually bear full crops, and heaps of fer-
menting manure placed for this purpose beneath the trees,
have yielded the same successful result. But other offen-
sive substances, as strong tobacco water with whale-oil-soap,
applied so abundantly as to coat thickly the young fruit, has
not deterred them in their attacks. In addition to these
means, the frequent passing near trees planted by door-
paths and other frequented places, and the presence of swine
in orchards, doubtless contribute to some extent towards the
same end, by frightening the insects away.

2. Destruction of the insects while stinging the fruit is
thoroughly effectual, if vigorously and unremittingly ap-
plied. The best and indeed only practicable mode, is to
jar them from the tree upon white sheets spread beneath.
While lying upon the sheet they may not at the first glance
of an unpracticed eye be distinguished from the fallen,
withered blossoms ; but a moment's attention will quickly
remove this difficulty. If the sheets are stiffened by ireans

of a light frame, they
may be carried by a sin-
gle person and placed
readily beneath the tree.
A very large, coarsely
made umbrella, covered
with white muslin, with
a slit in one side, two-
thirds in to, receive^ the
trunk of the tree, has
been found very con-
venient for young or mo-
derate-sized trees, the
umbrella being spread
in an inverted position,
Fig. 345. as exhibited in the an-




318 THE PLUM.

nexed figure, C245,) and as soon as the insects are jarred
down upon it, it is half closed and shaken, when all its con-
tents roll to the centre and fall through a hole, three inches
in diameter, into a vessel of hot water carried for th:s pur-
pose. Such an umbrella may be procured at the manufac-
turers, six or seven feet in diameter, for about three dollars,
and will save a large amount of labor. Next to this in con-
venience, are double square frames covered with white mus-
lin, shutting together like the leaves of a book, and enable
the operator to throw all the fallen insects into hot water at
one movement of the hands.

A quick and sudden jar is important, and may be given
by the stroke of a mallet, upon the short stump of one of the
smaller limbs, sawed off for this purpose, and which prevents
bruising the bark. Or a mallet may be thickly covered
with woolen cloth encased in India rubber, to prevent in-
jury to the tree; but the jar is less sudden in this case,
David Thomas, (who first proposed jarring down on sheets, ^
in a communication to the Genesee Farmer, in 1S32, says,
"Not three days ago, I saw that many of the plums were
punctured, and began to suspect that shaking the tree was
not sufficient. Under a tree in a remote part of a fruit
garden, having spread the sheets, I therefore made the fol-
lowing experiment : On shakimg it well, I caught five cur-
culios ; on jarring it with the hand, I caught twelve more;
an on striking the tree with a stone, eight more dropped on
the sheets. I was now convinced that I had been in an er-
ror; and calling in the necessary assistance, and using a
hammer to jar the tree violently, we caught in less than an
hour, more than two hundred and sixty of these insects."
With large trees, it may be necessary to shake each limb
separately, by means of a pole with the woolen and india-
rubber knob, already described, at its extremity.

The best time for this work is in the cool of the morning,
when the insects are partly torpid with cold, and drop quick-
ly. At mid-day they retain their hold more tenaciously, and
more quickly escape. ' The work should be commenced
very early in the season, as soon as the fruit begins to set,
or is not larger than a small pea. With properly stiffened
muslin frames, a few minutes are sufficient for many trees,



THE PLUM. 31

and labor equal in the aggregate to that of a single entire
day, may save large and valuable crops.

3. The third class of remedies includes the different means
of destroying the fallen fruit, as soon as it drops, and before
the larvae escape to the earth. One of these consists in
beating the ground smooth beneath the tree, sweeping up
the fallen fruit daily, and feeding it to hogs or otherwise
destroying it. Paving with brick, by preventing the en-
trance of the insects into the ground, effects the same
purpose. If the soil is hard clay, beating the surface,
renders it nearly as compact as a pavement. Hence, the
reason why the plum crop more frequently escapes in clayey
regions, than on lighter soils, where the insect makes its
way more easily into the earth.

But more effectual than the last, is the confinement of
swine beneath the trees. They immediately pick up and
destroy the punctured fruit, and by their constant presence,
serve to frighten away the insects from their work of de-
struction. Experience has thoroughly established the effi-
ciency of this method, where a sufficient number of swine has
been allowed the run of the orchard. Geese and hens are,
to a limited extent, useful in repelling or destroying the
curculio.

To apply this remedy most efficiently, all the trees of the
apricot, nectarine, and plum, should be planted apart from
the rest of the orchard, so that swine may be exclusively
confined among them, where they should be allowed to re-
main the whole season, except during the period of the
ripening of the fruit. It will be quite necessary, however,
to protect all the younger trees, by encasing them in board
boxes, or by tying round them a mass of sweet-briar limbs
or other densely prickly or thorny plant.

Dr. Kirtland'says, ""This insect, last season, [1848,
stroyed every plum on my farm, except the crop of one
in my swine lot ; that tree is bending under its load
fruit." A cultivator in western New-York, by the large
number of hogs kept in his plum yard, had abundant crops
for more than twenty successive years, while his neglectful
neighbors lost the greater part of theirs. It may, however,
happen, in thickly planted neighborhoods, that swine may
not prove a sufficient protection; but we know of no iu-



14*



Mimos

del
ie tree\
Dad of )



320 THE PLUM.

stance whatever, where abundant crops have not been ob-
tained by combining the two remedies of swine and jarring
down the insects.

The curculio appears to prefer the nectarine to all other
fruit for the lodgment of its eggs, and next to this the plum
and apricot. A large portion of the cherry crop is frequent-
ly more or less injured, and sometimes wholly destroyed ;
and for this reason it may usually be expedient to give it
the benefit of the protection of swine in the same enclosure
with other smooth stone fruit. The peach is sometimes at-
tacked, but only the very early nutmeg varieties wholly de-
stroyed. Some varieties of the apple are much stung, as
indicated by the crescent-shaped incisions : but the larvre
rarely reach so far as the core, and usually perish within the
flesh of the fruit.

Among the various remedies which have been tried and
proved partial or entire failures, may be mentioned the ap-
plication of salt to the ground, beneath the tree, and its di-
rect application to the fruit ; syringing tobacco water over
the fruit and leaves; hanging bottles of sweetened water
in the branches to catch the insects, and placing white-
washed boxes with water in the bottom during the night,
with a lamp within each, to decoy them ;* and inverting
the soil with a spade late in autumn, to expose them to the
frosts of winter.

The black excrescences on the shoots and limbs, fig. 246,
known as the black knot, black gum, and warts,
are variously supposed to be the \vork of an
insect, o-r the result of diseased sap or cells, or
regarded as a sort of vegetable ulcer. They
have been by some attributed to the curculio, an
opinion originating from the occasional detec-
tion of this insect within the pulpy excrescen-
ces, but entirely disproved by the facts that the
curculio has existed in vast numbers in neigh-
borhoods where the excrescences are unknown ;
and on the other hand, that the excrescences
Fig. '246. have lUined trees in places not infested
with the curculio; besides which, the most rigid search of
newly forming knots has failed to detect the-eggs or larvae

* Which, however, prove very efficient means of destroying- many other insects
injurious to fruits and fruit trees.




,
THE PLUM. . 321

of the curculio, which are only occasionally found when de-
posited at a later stage in the large pulpy swellings.

Others, with more plausibility, believe the disaster to re-
sult from the infusion of poison by the minute sting of an
insect, and which afterwards spreads over the tree by the
moving sap. But sufficient evidence has not been furnished
to establish this opinion, nor the insect in question detected.

Sufficient evidence appears to have been furnished, how-
ever, to prove that a tree, badly diseased, is infected through-
out with the poison ; as suckers from such a tree will always
sooner or later become affected. Buds from diseased trees,
placed in healthy stocks, soon exhibit the excrescences. But
seedlings or suckers from a healthy tree usually escape, un-
less in near proximity to unhealthy trees.

The remedy for this disease is certain and efficient, if
vigilantly applied. It consists in cutting off and burning
all the excrescences as soon after their first appearance as
practicable. As the poison spreads, it is- desirable to re-
move the wood of the branches some inches from the appa-
rently affected parts. If the tumors, however, break out on
the trunk or main limbs, it may be difficult to do this with-
out cutting away the whole tree. As much of the wood is
therefore to be cut out as may exhibit the least indication of
disease ; and the wound washed with a solution of copperas,
as recommended and successfully practiced by Downing, or
with strong brine, as found beneficial by Dr. Harris and
others. The only instances where the remedy has failed, is
where it has been but very partially applied, or where the
disease has been suffered to spread for a time unchecked.
The only way is to cut and continue cutting, so long as any
traces remain. This will be found to check, and by perse-
verance, to remove the disease. As a general but not uni-
versal rule, the yellow plums are not so liable to excrescen-
ces as purple varieties, unless surrounded by diseased trees.

The leaf-blight, or premature casting of the foliage, proves
in some seasons a serious disaster to the plum, as it checks
the growth of the shoots, and prevents the ripening of the
fruit. Occasionally it has been so severe as to spoil entirely
the value of the crop. No satisfactory cause has been as-
signed for ihis malady, other than the want of proper food
in the soil, and among the successful remedies noticed, is



322 THE PLUM.

the following, on the authority of F. R. Elliott, of Cleve-
land. "A small tree of the Imperial Ottoman, six feet
high, and an inch and a half in diameter. About this
I placed last winter nearly two bushels of leached wood
ashes, and this entire season, (1848,) the foliage has kept
full and of good color, while trees all around and within
twenty feet, have uniformly cast theirs." The use of salt
as a manure has to some extent, contributed to a similar re-
sult, in some cases quite successfully.

DRYING PRUNES.

An article of considerable commerce is furnished by the
French prunes, or dried plums, inported into this country
The abundant crops of the plum tree, in some parts ol
our country, may render it desirable that the best means
of drying should be known. By a selection of the rich
est varieties, there is no doubt that prunes superior to
those of foreign preparation might be easily obtained. The
following description of an oven purposely built for prunes,
and doubtless with some modifications, well adapted to the
drying of other fruits, is given in Liegel's Treatise, (Ger-
man,) as quoted in the Horticulturist. The amount of heat
obtained by a small quantity of fuel, commends it to tjie
particular attention of those engaged in drying fruit:

" Prunes, says Liegel, have become an important article
of commerce. In order to have them fair and glossy, they
must be suddenly cooled, when withdrawn from the oven.

"The country people in this part of Germany, prepare
their prunes by putting them into their bread ovens. I have
.put up, for my own use, a very conveniently arranged drying
apparatus, which, after the experience of many years, I am
induced to recommend ; and for the construction of which I
give the annexed drawing and explanatory description.

" The vault or exterior of the oven, four and a half feet
long, is surrounded by a brick wall one foot thick, so that
the whole stove, abed, (see figs. 247 and 248,) is exactly
six feet every way; the front wall, ?z, being only half a foot
in thickness. At the top, the vault is arched over with six
inches of brick work at the crown of the arch. The flues
* a, are about fourteen inches square. The hurdles or trays
TO m, for containing the prunes, rest upon shelves fixed



THE PLUM.



323




upon two bearers. It would be better if they rested upon
rollers, so as to admit of their being pushed in, and drawn
out, with greater ease. These lines of trays are placed at

a distance of six inches
from the furnace, so as to
keep the fruit from too
great a heat ; they may
be made entirely of wood,
but it will be better if the
bottoms are of open-work,
like sieves. Their weight
is such that they may be
easily managed by a wo-
man ; but in preparing,
prunes on a large scale,
let them be made of great-
er length and breadth, so
as to just come within the
strength of a more robust
Fi ' 247 - person.

" The wooden frame, h h, is that on which the two doors
are hung. The door, g, which covers the arch, (and which

is represented in the cut
as open and fastened up,)
shuts up the front of the
upper part of the oven.
In the middle of this up-
per door or flap, is a
round vent hole, for the
escape of the moist va-
por. Jf t is an iron dam-
per or slide, to be placed
in the flue at Z /, in order
to regulate the heat.

" A thousand fully ripe
Quetsches, (prune plums)
make about ten pounds




Fig. 248.



of dried prunes.

"Plums of different
kinds may be dried, either whole, or deprived of their skins
and stones. In the latter case, they are styled prunelles.



524 THE PLUM.

When the White Perdrigons are used for this purpose, they
are merely stoned, without skinning; the latter, from the
delicacy of their skins, not being deemed necessary.

"For prunellvs, perfectly ripe and sweet plums are. to be
taken, and suffered to wilt a little in the open air, in order
o facilitate stripping off' the peel. A better and more ex-
peditious way is to pour hot water over them, and suffer
them to steam a few moments.

" The stone is pressed out at the stem end. In the ctry-_
ing ovens, these prunes must be very carefully and gradu-
ally dried. They may also be dried, but not so easily, in
the sun."



VARIETIES.

SYNOPSIS OF ARRANGEMENT.

DIVISION I. GREEN, WHITE, OR YELLOW.

CLASS I. FLESH NEARLY FREE FROM THE STONE.
Section I. Fruit large.
Section II. Fruit of medium size.
Section III. Fruit small.

CLASS II. FLESH ADHERING TO THE STONE.
Section I. Fruit large.
Section II. Fruit medium in size.
Section III. Fruit small.

DIVISION II. RED, PURPLE, OR BLUE.

CLASS I. FLESH NEARLY FREE FROM THE STONE.
Section I. Fruit large.
Section II. Fruit medium in size.
Section III. Fruit small.

CLASS II. FLESH ADHERING TO THE STONE.
Section I. Fruit large.
Section II. Fruit medium in size.
Section III. Fruit small.



THE PLUM. 325



DIVISION I. GREEN, WHITE, OR YELLOW.

CLASS I. FLESH NEARLY FREE FROM THE STONE.
Section I. Fruit large.

Ghiston's Early. Large, oval, clear yellow, bloom light ;
flesh yellow, of pleasant flavor. Resembles, considerably,
the Yellow Egg plum, but the flesh is free from the stone.
Rather early, or a fortnight before the first of autumn.

IMPERIAL GAGE. (Syn. Flushing Gage, Prince's Imperial
Gage, White Gage, of Boston.) Fruit rather large, oval,
suture distinct ; stalk three-fourths of an inch long, slight-
ly hairy, evenly sunk; surface green, slightly tinged yel-
low, with marbled green stripes ; bloom copious, white ;
flesh greenish, juicy, melting, rich, sometimes adhering,
but usually nearly free from the oval, pointed stone. Ri-
pens first of autumn. Very productive. Shoots lonjr,
upright, vigorous, slightly downy ; leaves with a slight
shade of blue. Often insipid on heavy soils. A single
tree, near Boston, yielded fifty dollars of fruit in one year.

JEFFERSON. Large, oval, base slightly narrowed, su-
ture slight ; greenish yellow, becoming golden yellow,



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 24 of 31)