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 9 of 31)
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continue growing a long time in an unproductive state.
Fruitfulness is caused in various ways. 1, By neglecting
cultivation, or suffering grass to grow under them, which
diminishes their growth. 2. Pruning the roots beneath the
surface, by cutting off a part of the larger ones, causing the
same result. 3. Ringing the branches, or removing a small
ring of bark round them, which prevents the fluids from


flowing back or downwards, and consequently induces their
accumulation, to the formation of flower buds. 4. Bending
the branches downwards, causing a similar accumulation with
a like result. 5. Grafting on dissimilar stocks, which pre-
vents a free flow of sap and juices at the point of junction.

1. Suffering grass to grow among trees, though benefi-
cial in some very rare instances, is not on the whole advi-
sable. The loss in the quality of the fruit is too great, and
is not balanced by the advantages. The complaint of un-
fruitfulness has been frequently applied to the pear ; but a
selection of those sorts which bear while yet very young,
entirely obviates the difficulty.

2. Pruning the roots. This has been tried to a very limited
extent only. Its utility may therefore be doubted under or-
dinary circumstances, for long continued practice. For
such varieties, however, as incline to unproductiveness, and
in the deep and highly manured soils of the most fertile gar-
dens, it has proved eminently successful. Its tendency is
to render trees more dwarfish, and for this reason it may be
used to advantage upon such varieties of the pear as cannot
be worked upon the quince, where the object is to produce
early fruitfulness in connection with diminutive growth. It
should be attempted, however, in no case, except in con-
nexion with a deep, rich soil, and with the best cultivation.

There is no doubt that it is better suited to a northern,
moist climate, such as that of England, than to the hotter
and drier portions of the United States. It is usually per-
formed with a spade, ground sharp, and thrust down through
the soil at a suitable distance from the tree.

3. Ringing the branches is effected by taking out a narrow
ring of bark, extending round the branch. By obstructing
the downward descent of the juices, and by their accu-
mulation above the ring, it not only causes fruitfulness, but
frequently alters the appearance and quality of the fruit.
In some cases, it has doubled the size ; in others it has
brightened the colors. In the Court Pendu apple, the colors
are changed from green and dull red, to brilliant yellow and
scarlet. But Lindley says, " If performed extensively upon
a tree, it is apt, if not to kill it, to render it incurably un-
healthy ; for if the rings are not sufficiently wide to cut off
all communication between the upper and lower lips of the


wound, they produce little effect, and if they are they are
difficult to heal. For these reasons, the operation is but
little employed."*

4. Binding the branches downwards, by changing their
natural position, as well as causing a partial obstruction
where bent, promotes their fruitfulness.

In all these modes, it must be remembered that the
desired result will not be produced at once, as the first year
is occupied in the formation of flower buds ; and the next
in their growth into fruit. ThJU delay, however, will not
take place, where the difficulty consists merely in the fruit
not setting, the buds being already formed.

5. The influence of the sto^k, when it differs in nature
from the graft, is often of importance. The more widely
they differ, the greater will be the effect. Thus, when
pears grow upon pears, the effect is the same as when not
grafted at all. But pears on quinces are attended with an
increase of fertility. Hence the adoption of the quince

These artificial modes of inducing fruitfulness are not to
be recommended for general practice, nor for orchard cul-
ture. It is true that trees will yield fruit sooner ; but heavy
crops from young growing trees are not often desirable.
Let them grow freely for a few years, and the amount ulti-
mately obtained will be the greater. Indeed, the period of
fruitfulness is often hastened by cultivation and retarded
by neglect. Except for the sake of experiment, the pre-
ceding modes are not to be applied until trees are large,
when good varieties will bear sufficiently without them.

* " Many years ago. 5 ' says David Thomas, " I had a tree of the Mammoth
Sweeting, which had two principal branches. It comes into bearing very tardily,
and I became impatient to see the fruit I therefore drew my knife and cut through
the bark transversely, forcing open the bark by straining the knife sideway-, as I drew
it along an inch or so at a time; so that when the ring round the branch was com-
pleted, it had a z gzag appearance. Observe, that no bark was cut out, though the
wood was scraped. This operation was very effectual however. The next season
that branch bore plentifully, while the other branch remained as unproductive as
before. Tiie cutting never appeared to injure the branch."



THE more common tools needed, are the shovel, the spade,
and the hoe, for digging holes, transplanting, and cultivating
the ground. The rake is useful in mixing manures with
the soil for filling the remote parts or large holes.


The pruning-knife, fig. 47, is a large hooked knife, for

removing useless branches.
The pruning-saw is needed
in taking off larger limbs ;
[attached to a handle seve-
47. ral feet long, it will reach

those at a distance from the ground. The direction of the

teeth should be the re-
verse of the common
saw ; that is, they should

Fig. 48. point towards the ope-

rator, constituting what is called the draw-saw, fig. 48. Be-
ing thus only subject to a pulling strain, it does not require

so thick a blade as a
thrust-saw, with the
teeth in the usual way.
For this reason, it is
less liable to become
broken or twisted. The
Fig. 49. bow-saw, fig. 49, is a

light saw for cutting near the ground.

The pruning- chisel may differ but little from those of a

common carpenter, fixed
to the end of a long pole
or handle, for cutting off
small branches at a con-
siderable height. It is
placed against a limb, and the stroke of a mallet separates it.



Fig. 51.

Small shoots are removed by the hooked part, shown in fig. 50.
The budding-knife, fig. 51, should have a broad, flat blade,

the edge of which is to be
rounded outwards, for the
more ready incision of the
bark. The thin ivory blade
or haft at the extremity of
the handle, as the budding-knife is commonly made, may
be dispensed with in nearly all cases, the bud when set in,
lifting the bark as it slides downwards, more perfectly than
by any other mode, after the corners of the bark are lifted
with the point of the blade.

The grafting-tool (fig. 52) is useful in cleft-grafting

large apple trees. It
may be made of iron,
the edge set with steel.-
Fig. 52. It is used for splitting

the stock, after it is sawed off and pared. The part a should
be two inches broad with a sharp edge, which should curve
inwards, that the bark, in splitting, may be cut first, to give
it a smooth flat face. The wedge b opens the stock to
receive the graft. By the hook c it is hung on a twig
close at hand, when not in use. Grafting wedges for common
use, may be made by grinding down large cut nails.

The graf ting-shears i a recent invention, have effected a
great improvement in cleft-grafting, rendering the work
much more expeditious and perfect. They consist of a

short thin blade of
the best steel, a, fig;
53, two or three
inches long, set at
an angle of about a
hundred and twenty
degrees with the
handle b, which
moves it against a
concave bed in the wooden piece, c. The angle which the
blade and its bed form with the handles, imparts a sawing
motion to the knife, which renders it more effective. It
may be used on stocks an inch or an inch and a half in
diameter. Pressing the top of the stock from the operator
with one hand, it is cut off with remarkable ease by a single




stroke given to the shears with the other hand. Another
perpendicular stroke slits the stock for the graft, leaving a
perfectly smooth face cut for its reception. The expedition
and perfection of the work is thus greatly facilitated.

Small shears attached to a pole and worked by a cord,
(fig. 54,) are useful for cutting grafts on tall trees ; in
removing the eggs of caterpillars, (see
chapter on the apple ;) and in taking off fine
fruit to prevent bruising, by attaching a
basket to the pole immediately under the
shears. The blades of these shears, forming
an oblique angle with the shaft at a little dis-
tance above the pivot, make a draw-cut in-
stead of a crushing- cut , and are for this reason
more effective. Apples, and some of the
Fig. 54. harder fruits, may also be gathered with a
wooden hook in the end of a pole, to draw the fruit from
the branch, caught in a basket just underneath.

In using the long handled pruning-saw, the pruning-
chisel, the graft-cutter, or the fruit-gatherer, the operator
may stand on a ladder or high stool, as an additional assis-
tance in reaching the higher parts of the tree.

Self-sustaining fruit-ladders are very useful in gathering
fine fruit, to prevent mutilation and
bruising of the bark and branches.
Fig. 55, is one of small size and simple
construction, is easily carried in one
hand, and will raise one's feet a yard
or more from the ground. It consists of
a small piece of light plank at the
top, supported on legs not larger than
chair legs. Fig. 56, repre-
sents one from eight to twelve feet high,
the two single legs moving on joints, for
closing against the ladder in carrying, and
spreading like a tripod in setting up under
the tree.

The folding-ladder may be closed toge-
ther with the facility of a pair of com-
passes ; it then becomes a round stick, easily
carried in one hand. It is made of strong
**' light wood, and its construction may be





readily understood by the annexed figure, (57,) representing
the ladder as open, as half closed, and as closely shut. An
enlarged longitudinal section shows the manner in which
the rounds lie in the grooves or concave beds in the sides or

styles ; above which is a
cross-section exhibiting the
semi-oval form of the styles.
The ends of the rounds turn
on iron pins, slightly riveted
outside. The rounds rest-
ing on shoulders, when the
ladder is opened, render the
whole stiff and firm. A lad-
der of this construction is
found very useful, not only
in fruit-houses, where a com-
mon ladder could not be
conveniently carried, but in
pruning standard trees, be-
Fig. 57. cause it can be thrust through

the branches like a round pole, without the least difficulty,
and when once there, it is easily opened.

The orchardist's hook consists of a light rod, with an iron

hook at one end, and a

&-^=^ piece of wood made to
t! =^ slide along it. In using it
the fruit-gatherer draw?

Fl - 58> down the end of a branch

with the hook, and fastens it by the sliding piece to another
branch below. The slider passes freely along the rod, but
ceases to slide by the friction of the side-strain whenever it
is in use, fig. 58.

TRELLIS, for grapes and espaliers. Cedar, or other du-
rable posts should be used, set four or eight feet apart. The
horizontal bars or strips should be let in the posts, and should
be from six to twelve inches apart.

NET SCREENS are useful in preventing the attack of birds
on rare and valuable fruits on young trees. The net should
be dipped in tan to prevent mildew when rolled up wet.

LABELS for standard trees are useful in retaining the
names of the varieties. Purchasers of trees usually neglect


the names, and the labels received with the trees being soon
lost, nothing more is thought of them till they begin to bear.
Curiosity is then excited to know the " new kinds." Con-
jecture is set on foot, and the greatest confusion follows.
Serious and innumerable mistakes are ma<j,e and perpetuated
in this way in all parts of the country.

Permanent labels are therefore important and necessary.
The simplest is made of a slip of wood, three inches long
and half an inch wide, suspended to the branch by a loop
of wire, of which copper is best, fig. 59. The name will
last three or four years, if written with
a pencil on a very thin coat of fresh
white paint. Better and more durable
labels are made of small pieces of sheet-
zinc, written upon with a mixture of two
parts (by weight) of verdegris, two of
sal-ammoniac, one of lamp-black, and
thirty of water. The ingredients are to
be mixed in a mortar with a small por-
tion of water art first, and the whole added
afterwards. Preserve the mixture in a
well corked bottle, shaking it repeatedly at first, and keep
the cork downwards to prevent the escape of ammonia, and
it will remain fit for use for years.

If the pieces of zinc are suspended by copper wire, it
should be firmly twisted round the zinc so as not to remain
loose (fig. 60,) or else the constant motion from wind, will
soon wear off the wire. The wire should be
nearly as large as a small knitting needle, to pre-
vent cracking off by long use. The loop should
be large, and pass round a side-shoot, instead of a
main branch to prevent the danger of cutting in
by the growth of the tree ; and should be attached
below a small fork, to prevent its blowing off the
end of the branch.

The wire may be wholly dispensed with by the
following contrivance : cut the zinc into long
triangular strips, half an inch wide and six to ten
inches long. Draw the narrow or slender end
Fig. so. roun< i the twig, bring it through a hole punched
mid-way between the ends, and clinch or twist it with the

Fig. 59.


fingers or a small pair of pinchers. These labels may be
cut and punched by a tinman at a cheap rate.

Sheet tin may be used instead of zinc, using a sharp awl
to write the name, and being particular to cut through the
tin coating. Oxidation soon renders the letters distinct.

Lead labels, (fig. 60,) stamped with type, and suspended
with copper wire, well twisted against the hole, to prevent
wearing by the motion of the wind, are very durable.
Fig. 61, shows the mode of stamping, by sliding the sheet

1 lead between two plates of iron,

H | a, b, screwed together, and setting



> / O ' ^ CJ

the types successively against the

upper plate, #, and stamping one at
a time. The letters are thus kept
in a straight line. The imprinted
end of the sheet lead is then cut off,
and forms the label.*

No person, who plants an orchard
or fruit garden, should depend

wholly on labels, which may be lost off, to distinguish the
names of his trees. The rows, and the kinds in each row,
should be registered in successive order, in a book kept for
the purpose. This will facilitate the replacement of any
lost label.

* It is sometimes a matter of convenience to mark the names on specimens of the
fruit itself. This is quickly and permanently done by tracing the name with a blunt
ttick, or a pencil, pressing hard enough to indent the surface, but not to tear the
skin. It succeeds best on pears, the writing soon changing color and becoming



IT is only by a uniform and definite use of terms, that
descriptions can be made intelligible to the reader. A full
explanation of these terms hence becomes a matter of im-
portance. Distinctive characters should be permanent, and
not liable to variation with a change of locality, soil, season,
or climate ; or, if variable, the nature of such variation
should be distinctly pointed out. To assist the cultivator
the more fully to understand written descriptions, the devo-
tion of a few pages to a clear explanation of the terms used
in this work, may prove useful.

/. Growth of the tree, shoots, and leaves.

The form of growth often affords a good distinctive cha-
racter of varieties, not liable to great variation. Young
trees, only a few years old, usually exhibit peculiarities of
growth more conspicuously, than old trees, of irregular
spreading branches. Hence, in all cases, where this cha-
racter is mentioned, it refers to young trees not more than
three or four years from the bud or graft, unless otherwise

1. Shoots are erect, when they rise nearly perpendicularly
from the main trunk or stem, as in the Early Strawberry
apple and Bartlett pear, fig. 62.

Diverging, when they deviate from the perpendicular at
an angle of about forty-five degrees, considerable variation
being found in the same tree ; as in the Domine and Ribston
Pippin, fig. 63.

Spreading, when they more nearly approach a horizontal
direction, as in most trees of the Rhode Island Greening,
fig. 64.

Drooping, when they fall below the horizontal, a form


which many spreading shoots assume, as they grow into the
large branches of older trees.

Ascending, when they curve upwards, as in the Graven-
stein apple, and small Red Siberian Crab, fig. 65. Erect
trees usually partake more or less of this quality, but the
Early Harvest is free from it.

Irregular, when they assume no very distinct growth,
but more or less a mixture of the preceding, as Black
Gilliflower r and Summer Bonchretien pear.

Straggling, similar to the next preceding, but with shoots
more slender and curved, as Winter Nelis and Black
Worcester pear, fig. 66.

Fig. 62. Fig. 63.

Fig. 64.

Shoots are straight, as in the Early Harvest and Northern
Spy apples; flexuous, or more or less deviating from a
straight line, as in the Swaar and Roxbury Russett. This
distinction is very apparent and uniform in young and very
thrifty trees, but not in older ones of feeble growth.

They are stout, as in the Red Astrachan ; slender, as in
the Jonathan apple, and Winter Nelis pear. .

Trees with erect straight shoots when young, usually
form more regular and compact heads in older trees ; and
those of a spreading habit, more irregular or drooping

Some trees which grow very rapidly when young, are
small when of full size, examples of which are found in
the Late Strawberry and Tallman Sweeting. Others at
first grow more slowly, but ultimately become large, as
Esopus Spitzenburgh. Some varieties, again, continue


to increase rapidly in size at all periods, as the Northern
Spy ; while others of feeble growth when small, never
attain much magnitude, as the Early Joe and Sine Qua

2. THE COLOR of the shoots varies greatly in the same
variety at different periods of the year, as well as with dif-
ferent degrees of exposure to the sun, and with a change
of soil, climate, and season. When fresh or very young,
all have a greenish color, but gradually assume various
shades of yellow, olive, brown, red, purple, and nearly
black, as the season advances, and as they become bare
and are exposed to the sun and weather. For this reason,
in describing the color, the terms must be relative, and can
only be correctly applied by a comparison at the time with
the color of other sorts. During winter, and early in the
spring, the shoots of most trees become so much darker
than at other times, that it is only practice and by placing
the different sorts side by side, that accuracy may be
attained. Skilful culturists will readily distinguish, by a
glance at the color of the shoots, many of the kinds they
cultivate ; but the peculiar cast is hard to describe in words,
in the same way that it is impossible to describe the hand-
writing of an individual, so as to be known from fifty
others, although many can, at a glance, know the pen-
manship of hundreds of different persons. A few of the
most strongly marked cases, however, present peculiarities
of color, which form useful points of distinction. No one,
for instance, could easily mistake the yellow shoots of the
Bartlett and Dix pears, for the dark brown or purple of the
Tyson and Forelle ; or the light greenish cast of the Bough
and Sine Qua Non apples, for the dark color of the Northern
Spy, or dark brown of the Baldwin ; nor the downy or
greyish appearance of the Ladies' Sweeting and Esopus
Spitzenburgh, for the clear shining brown of the Gravenstein
and Red Astrachan.*

3. THE BUDS sometimes afford distinct characteristics. As
examples, the large, compact, and projecting buds of the
summer Bonchretien, always contrast strongly with the
smaller, more rounded, and softer buds of the Madeleine.

* Nearly all shoots are more or less downy at first, but the down disappears as
hey grow older. Hence the term must be used relatively. Iu plums, the smooth, or
lowny shoots, afford in most cases good distinctive points.




Buds are large on the Swaar and Golden Sweet ; small on
the Tallman Sweeting and Rhode Island Greening.

4. THE LEAVES in a large number of instances, are of use
in distinguishing different varieties. $

They are even, (not wrinkled,) as in the Bartlett pear and
Baldwin apple, fig. 67.

Fig. 67. Fig. 68 Fig. 69.

Fig. 70.

Fig. 71.

Waved, as in the Tallman Sweeting, and Beurre d'Au-
malis pear, fig. 68.

Wrinkled, when the waves are shorter and more irregu-
lar, as in Green Sweet, fig. 69.

Flat, as in the Madeleine and Skinless pears, fig. 70.
Folded and recurved, as in the Easter Beurre and Bon-
chretien Fondante, fig. 71.

Large and wide as in the Red Astrachan and Huling's

Narrow, as in Dyer apple, and Van Mons Leon le Clerc

Erect, as in Early Strawberry, fig. 72.

Droopi?ig, as in Dominie, fig. 73. But
these two last are indistinct characters,
and only to be resorted to in a few very
-remarkable instances, as most leaves are
"erect on new shoots, and become spread-
ing or drooping as they grow older.

The color of the leaves may sometimes
assist in description, as light green in the
Yellow Bellflower and Rambo ; deep green,
as in the Rhode Island Greening ; and blueish green, as in
Peck's Pleasant.

The serratures, or saw-teeth markings on the margins of
leaves, are characteristics of importance, in many varieties
of the apple, and on the peach they are so well defined as



to form a basis of the classification of varieties. The latter
will be found particularly described in the separate chapter
on the peach.

Leaves of apples are,

Serrate, or cut with teeth like those of a saw.

Sharply serrate, when every serrature ends in a sharp
point, as in the Fall Pippin, fig. 74.

Doubly serrate, when the serratures themselves are again
minutely serrated, as in the Vandevere and Drap d'Or,
fig. 75.

Coarsely serrate, as in the Swaar.

71 Sharply Serrate. 75 Doubly Serrate. 76 Crenate.

Crenate, when the teeth are rounded, as in the Esopus
Spitzenburgh, fig. 76.

Obtusely crenate, when the teeth are unusually rounded,
as in the Bough.

Finely crenate, when the teeth are small, as in summer

When the serratures are partly rounded, and irregularly



by the

Fig. 77.

great difference

and rather deeply cut, they become toothed, as in Ladies'
Sweeting, fig-. 77.

Many varieties present inter-
mediate degrees, as,

Serrate-crenate, partaking some-
what of both, as Jersey Sweeting,
Summer Rose.

Crenate-toothed, as in Bevan's

Serrate, slightly approaching
toothed, as in Rambo.

FLOWERS. In apples, pears,
cherries, and most other kinds,
but little difference exists in the
flowers. In the peach and nec-
tarine, however, an important
division in classification is made
between those with large and

small pefals; one class, including the Early Ann, Grosse
Mignonne, and others, having large showy flowers ; and
another class, comprising Early Crawford, George IV., and
many more, having flowers with small narrow petals.


In the following pages, the base of a fruit or any other
part or production of a tree, is the portion towards the branch
or root. This is in accordance with the language univer-
sally adopted in describing plants. It has, however, been
more or less departed from in the common language used to
describe fruits, and especially so as applicable to the pear.
This deviation from scientific accuracy tends to confusion,
and if simplicity of expression is sought, ambiguity must

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 9 of 31)