Thomas W. (Thomas Warren) Field.

Pear culture. A manual for the propagation, planting, cultivation, and management of the pear tree. With descriptions and illustrations of the most productive of the finer varieties and selections of kinds most profitably grown for market online

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Online LibraryThomas W. (Thomas Warren) FieldPear culture. A manual for the propagation, planting, cultivation, and management of the pear tree. With descriptions and illustrations of the most productive of the finer varieties and selections of kinds most profitably grown for market → online text (page 7 of 18)
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The true quincunx arrangement is formed by plac-
ing the trees at equal distances from each other in
every direction, and when the distance proposed is ten
feet, it will be necessary that the rows should be laid
out at eight feet eight inches apart, and the trees
planted ten feet apart in the rows, as represented in
Fig. 32. By this arrangement, each tree occupies the
centre of a hexagon of equal sides, and is consequently
equidistant from all the adjacent trees exactly ten
feet separating each tree in the plot from its neighbors.
By this method, 563 trees maybe planted on an acre,
as we gain space for three additional rows.

For a pear garden, I have found ten feet to be an
ample distance ; and for planting an acre, would recom-


mend that the eleven trees at each end of the plot,
and one entire row of twenty-three trees, should be
omitted in planting, and that the space occupied by
the row be divided on each side of the plot, so as to
leave a clear unoccupied space of five feet around it.
Five hundred trees will thus find ample room upon an
acre ; and may yield their fruit to one generation before
they will give evidence of being crowded.

A plan very frequently adopted is, the planting in
borders on either side of a path and around garden
squares. The borders should be deeply tilled and
rich, and the trees may be planted quite closely.

A beautiful effect may be produced by preparing,
on each side of a path, a border of not less than
twenty-five feet wide, in which are to be planted fruit-
trees, in a form to produce the eifect of the sides of
an amphitheatre. In the side of the border farthest
from the path, are to be planted the most vigorous
varieties of pear trees, on their own roots. Next, and
at a distance of not more six feet, should be planted
a row of less thrifty kinds, on quince roots. Each
succeeding row should be composed of varieties less
vigorous in their growth than the preceding, until
the front row is reached, which should be planted with
dwarf apples.

The outside row may be planted with the Vicar of
Winkfield and St. Michael Archange the second with
Bartlett on pear, and Urbaniste on quince stocks,
the third with Duchesse and Louise Bonne de Jersey
on quince, and the fourth with Flemish Beauty and
Winter Nelis on quince.



No part of fruit culture has attracted more attention,
and elicited more speculation, than this". In one point
all are agreed, that, with few exceptions, fruit-trees
should never be planted deeper than they grew in the
nursery. The part of the tree called the collar, where
the bark of the roots meets that of the trunk, the natural
position of which is a little below the surface of the
ground, marks the limit to which it should be usually
buried. Although the earth may be temporarily
heaped higher than this, around a tree just planted,
yet it should generally be removed soon after growth

A Mr. Comstock created some sensation, not long
since, by his claim to have discovered the grand secret
of successful fruit culture. He acquired some money,
and a sort of fame, by lectures upon what he termed
the science of Terra-culture or, cultivation with-
out disturbing the rootlets which till the soil. His
theory was, that a tree planted below its natural
depth threw out a new stratum of roots, by which the
equilibrium was lost, and it became thenceforth a
maimed tree, incapable of producing its maximum
of fruit. But his theory was only a repetition of
the old story of human error a part taken for the

In planting in a dry and deeply pulverized soil,
the pear tree may with safety be placed lower than
its original position. According to my own expe-
rience, it is quite essential to success, after removing
a pear tree from a heavy to a light soil, that it be


planted one or two inches deeper than originally

But in wet or compact soils, or on those composed
in great part of organic matter, like the Western prai-
ries, a preferable plan is, to ridge up the soil six or
eight inches high, by backfurrowing, and in the em-
bankment plant the trees. Some persons have prac-
ticed with success, on wet or clay soils, a plan of plant-
ing on the surface of the ground, and covering the
roots, by heaping up a mound of earth much wider
than the space occupied by them. This may serve
temporarily ; but the plan is a mere shift to escape the
labor and expense of draining, and permanently im-
proving the soil.

But to the rule generally established for the depth
of planting, there are two notable exceptions. First,
while the Peach, Cherry, Plum, and Apple, cannot be
planted much lower than the collar without injury, the
Quince, the Grape, and the Pear on quince roots, are,
from the structure of their bark and wood, capable of
adapting themselves to a depth of planting much lower.
Second, when the soils have been deeply trenched or
subsoiled, their level is much higher than in their
former state, and in compacting, they will sink away
from the roots planted in them, leaving the upper
ones exposed, unless the trees should be planted
deeper than grown in the nursery. Very fibrous-
rooted trees obtain a better hold of the soil, and are
carried down with it. In planting grounds deeply
prepared with pear trees, I have found those on the
quince stock, by their fibrous roots, able to main-
tain their relative position in the soil, while in its


compacting, the .trees on pear stock alternating with
the others, would be left two or three inches out
of the ground.


A reputation for bad management, and perhaps a
residence in a lunatic asylum, could not be more readily
obtained by a fanner, than to persistently practice the
growing of weeds and grass in his potato and corn-
fields, seeding down to grass the garden which he had
just planted with vegetables, or turning his cattle to
graze in his ripening grain.

Yet, scarcely one in a hundred farmers but per-
forms every one of these insane practices upon his
orchard and fruit grounds. Until within a very few
years, the orchard was quite as much relied upon for
pasturage and grain crops as the meadow and fallow.
Hundreds of thousands of trees have been planted in
ground cropped year after year with corn or wheat,
that have made no more growth in five years than
might have been produced in two. Nothing could be
less economical, even where only profit was desired.
No reason can be given why a field of corn and pota-
toes should be cultivated with plow and hoe, that
is not an equally powerful argument in favor of the
game treatment of young trees ; and there are many
reasons why the latter will not succeed with grass and
grain, when they would grow luxuriantly with root
crops. One of the principal arguments in favor of the
latter practice may suggest others to thinking observ-
ers. Vegetables grown for their roots derive the far
greater portion of their nutriment from the atmosphere,


through their broad or luxuriant foliage, while grasses
and grains take more largely from the soil. The latter
plants not only permeate the soil more completely
with their roots, but by their taller and denser growth,
prevent that free contact of the lower branches and
leaves with the atmosphere necessary for the absorp-
tion of nutritious gases, and the deposit of invigorat-
ing dews.

The experience of the best horticulturists confirms
the opinion that the cultivation of the ground, equal
to that usually bestowed upon corn and potatoes,
coupled with the avoidance of any grain crop, will
hasten the maturity and fruiting of the Pear, from six
to ten years. If the ground is root-cropped, the cul-
tivation for the roots will afford an excellent tillage
for the trees, which, for a few years, will but little
interfere with the growth of the former. The plowing
must be managed with some skill to avoid wounding
the trunk with the whiffletree, or cutting and exposing
the roots with the share, and the distance of plow
cultivation from the tree should be increased each
year, to avoid injury to the growing roots. On this
account, the surface near the tree should not be dis-
turbed more than two or three inches deep, after the
latter has acquired considerable size, and this opera-
tion should be performed with a digging-fork. Almost
every cultivator of trees has observed striking instances
of the difference in their growth, when cultivated or
neglected ; but the narrative of one may not be inap-
propriate. A few years since, a gentleman, having
planted a considerable number of pear and other fruit-
trees, devoted a portion of the ground occupied by


them to his vegetable garden, while the remainder
was retained as a lawn. The trees growing in the
trenched and cultivated garden are handsome pyra-
mids, ten feet high, and in bearing, while those in tiie
lawn, although with a space of two feet around them
cleared from grass, have not perceptibly increased for
six years.


No process will more essentially aid in sustaining
the life of a tree, enabling it to resist the rude shock
of being torn from its native soil, and inducing vigor-
ous growth, than mulching, or covering the soil with
any waste or half-decayed vegetable material. The
half-rotted straw of the bottoms of stacks, leaves gath-
ered from the woods, the refuse clippings and tan-bark
from leather factories, are all of value for this purpose.
Covering the ground with these, three or four inches
deep, around the newly-planted trees, has the effect of
preserving a moist condition of the soil, and an even
temperature during the great heat of summer. A most
important element in the growth of plants is this pre-
servation of an equable temperature, as may be seen
in a cold vinery, where the range of the thermometer
scarcely varies ten degrees during day and night. The
mulching also protects the ground from excessive
evaporation ; so that, during long periods of drought,
the ground remains uniformly moist and light. To
the Pear this treatment is peculiarly grateful, for
there are few plants in which respiration goes on so
rapidly, and which require such constant supplies of
moisture. A curious and instructive experiment is
narrated. A pear tree was grown in a large tub until


it had obtained a vigorous condition, and when the
soil was in a comparatively low state of humidity,
the weight of the vessel with its earth and tree was

In a warm July day, a given weight of water was
supplied, and the earth protected from surface evapor-
ation by a cover. In forty hours, the whole was again
weighed, when it was found that seven gallons of
water had been thrown off by the leaves of the tree
or more than twice its own weight.

Prof. MAPES narrates an experiment which he
performed upon a pyramidal pear tree three years
planted, and seven feet high. A hole was dug
beneath one of the largest roots, which remaining
attached to the tree, and with all its spongioles as
nearly entire as possible, was placed in a pail of water,
and the whole carefully covered with a blanket. In
twenty-four hours the tree was found to have appro-
priated nearly two gallons of the water. No small
benefit derived from mulching, is owing to the fact
that trees so treated need no watering ; and the excuse
for the barbarous practice of frequently drenching
their delicate rootlets with cold water is removed.
Poorly-rooted trees, or such as have been exposed
before planting, or are quite withered and dry, or
indeed all plants which survive transplanting with
much difficulty, can in many instances be saved by
mulching deeply for five or six feet about the tree.
The loose texture of the mulch does not prevent
atmospheric contact with the soil, and being con-
stantly damp, both the mulch and the earth absorb
ammonia and carbonic acid vapor. Some varieties of


pear of great excellence, which crack badly, may be
ripened in perfection by mulching, as the cracking is
in some degree due to an .insufficient supply of sap.
The mulch not only acts as an absorbent of fertilizing
gases, but in time becomes itself a valuable manure.

There are, however, some counterbalancing disad-
vantages in mulching, which will confine its practice
to the single season of planting. The immense in-
crease of insects, which will propagate in its shelter
the ravages of mice that find beneath it security
from pursuit and the late growth of shoots which it
induces, liable to winter-blight, are some of the effects
of its continuance.

After much experiment, I am convinced that the
best mulch for any other than newly-planted trees is
a soil often stirred with the dew upon it.


A very convenient substitute for litter, and one
from which none of the evils noted will result, is an
early crop of some of the broad-leaved vegetables.
Turnips, beets, and potatoes, are valuable in the order
they are mentioned for this purpose, and would in
most cases repay the labor of cultivating the trees on
them. The first two have the additional advantage
of penetrating and loosening the soil without bruising
the roots of the trees ; and by the superior coolness of
their leaves to the night-air, condense the humidify
in currents of atmosphere passing over them, in the
shape of dew, which would Inive fallen upon the
plowed field or the dusty road ; and thus assist in
nourishing the feebler foliage of the newly-planted


trees. Notwithstanding all these devices for pre-
serving moisture in the earth, the golden rule of agri-
culture should be remembered. Soils disturbed when,
dry, or during the heat of the day, loose their moisture ;
but plowed or hoed in early morning, more moisture
is acquired.


That a Flemish Beauty or a Napoleon will be pro-
duced in perfection in one soil, while, a mile distant,
and in one of precisely similar appearance, they fail
to be anything more than second rate, is a mystery
that has hitherto mocked our investigation. It is
unfortunate that nostrums, based upon some degree
of knowledge of the necessities of the case, have been
palmed off upon the community, deterring many
persons from further investigation; still, when we
recollect what science has done for human develop-
ment, it may reasonably be expected to perform much
for vegetation.

If it is remembered, that it is a great thing in an
experiment to have Nature upon one's side^ the ana-
lysis of the Pear will suggest the course our invest-
igation should take.

It is not unfrequent that trees exhibiting every
quality requisite for fruiting fail for many years to
produce a single pear, when the application of a bushel
of lime, a dressing of wood-ashes, a small quantity of
bone-meal, or of iron filings, or refuse sand from the
foundry, has brought them into immediate fruitfulness.
I have seen some very surprising effects of some of
these materials, in the vigorous growth and fruiting


of trees hitherto barren. It should be understood,
that a tree can no more grow, and produce fruit,
when one of its elements is lacking, though all the
others are present, than a house can be built, when
all its materials, except the nails, have been obtained.

Mr. DOWNING was of the opinion, that bones finely
ground and mixed with wood-ashes, would prevent
the leaf-rust ; and several nurserymen who have used
the compost seem to adopt the same belief.

Mr. BAHKY very tersely and happily remarks :
"Bone-dust, blacksmiths' cinders, muck-lime, wood-
ashes, and half a dozen other things, have been recom-
mended to be compounded, in pecks and half-pecks,
all with a view to remedy the rust, or leaf-blight, that
no man can say originates in any defect of the soil."
But the failure of specific manures to produce certain
results, for which no rationale founded in natural
science could be given, ought not to deter us from
investigation in a philosophical manner. Some simple
facts illustrative of the value of scientific knowledge
in the management of the Pear may be stated. On
a plot of rich ground, where blight had year after
year affected, the Pear, its farther ravages were pre-
vented by a large application of lime ; this was
accounted for by the destructive action of the lime
upon the excessive organic matter of the soil, thus
inducing a more stocky and well ripened growth.
Dr. N. R. TEFT, of Onondaga, so changed the appear-
ance, in shape and size, of the fruit borne on a Yir-
galieu pear tree by a very large application of leached
ashes, that specimens of it received the premium from
the American Institute as the boat new table-pear.


Some remarkably fine Bartletts, and handsome
specimens of other varieties, having attracted atten-
tion, they were found to have been raised by a black-
smith of ISTewtown, Long Island, from trees that
received the refuse of his forge.

At the Exhibition of the Massachusetts Horticultural
Society, 185T, which was pronounced by Europeans
superior in its show of pears to any which could be
made in Europe, the collection of Mr. BACON was
awarded the highest premium for the ten best varieties.
These pears, the most beautiful in color, regular in
shape, and the largest in size of their respective vari-
eties, were grown over a salt marsh which had been
filled three or four feet. I ascertained, on inquiry, that
several other gardens, which occupied similar posi-
tions, were remarkable for the fine pears grown upon
them. The Napoleon, Soldat Laboureur, and other
new varieties, that have generally proved but second-
rate, have been produced of the very highest quality,
when the trees had been liberally treated to super-
phosphate of lime.

Dr. LINDLEY, author of a treatise on "Vegetable
Physiology," and a nurseryman of great experience in
England, strongly recommends the use of superphos-
phate of lime for newly-planted trees, as it excites the
rapid formation of fibrous roots, and thus provides for
supplying the great waste of fluids, which is carried
on with such rapidity from the leaves and branches.

These facts, even if they teach us nothing positive,
certainly indicate the direction in which our invest-
igations should be pursued.



The cause of the want of vigor, slow growth, often
of entire cessation of increase in pear trees of con-
siderable size, is generally the exhaustion of the soil
within the range of their roots ; the whole energy of
the trees being devoted to sustaining the fruit buds and
spurs, no wood growth can be made while this exhaust-
ive fruit production proceeds. There is also an entire
suspension of the absorptive and perspiratory func-
tions of the bark caused by the incrustation of dead
bark, moss, and fungi that cover the tree. The aged
roots have lost their radicles, and do not possess the
power to push out spongioles into new and unex-
hausted soil.

These conditions suggest at once the remedy. A
trench should be dug around the tree, at about as many
feet distant from it as there are inches in the diameter
of the trunk, though rarely farther than six or eight
feet. This trench should be at least two or three feet
wide, and as deep as the roots penetrate, the latter
being pruned off with a smooth cut. The sods around
the trees should be pared off to the depth of four or
five inches, and mixed with manure to fill the trench,
and a good generous compost of new earth and barn-
yard manure should be put around the tree in place
of the sods removed. The old and feeble branches
having only fruit spurs, should be shortened in such a
manner as to form a handsome top. The rough fun-
gus bark should be gently scraped away, care being
taken not to expose the vital bark beneath. A better
method is to wash with strong soap-suds or potash


water ; the old bark will be loosened and pushed off
by the new formation of bark beneath.

If the tree is of an inferior or wild variety, the
smaller branches may be filled with grafts, of which a
large number should be set, in order not to prune the
tree too severely, and also to furnish it as soon as pos-
sible with new respiratory organs.


It is a very common result of grafting large trees,
that after producing an apparently vigorous growth
for two or three years, they exhibit tokens of disease,
and finally die.

There is little doubt that this is the result of too
great an interference with the structure of the tree, by
cutting away nearly all the top in a single season, for
the purpose of grafting. The roots prepared by a
vigorous top, with an abundance of rich condensed
sap, are, in their turn, ready to offer a copious supply
to the top, for elaboration, and oxygenizing by the

Thrown back or suspended in the structure of the
tree by this severe pruning, the sap becomes condensed
by evaporation, and remains clogging and suffocating
the vital energies of the tree, which makes strenuous
efforts to supply itself with the organs of respiration.

The true method of grafting trees more than five or
six years old is, to remove not more than one-third to
one-half of the top in one season, and set a very large
number of grafts in the limbs, or to dig a trench about
the tree, and thus shorten the roots to prevent too large
a supply of sap.



THE office of the Quince, in its association with the
pear tree, does not seem to have been generally con-
sidered. It is the only one of our fruit-trees which is
readily propagated from layers or cuttings. Of one
thousand cuttings of other species of fruit-trees,
planted in the ordinary manner, but a very few
would strike root, while of the same number of the
Quince, but very few would fail to grow. The por-
tion o quince on a quince-rooted pear tree, which
has hitherto served as trunk, will, if covered with soil,
in a few days, throw out rootlets, and thenceforth per-
form the office of root to the tree it supports. It seems
therefore, incredible, that with these facts in view,
intelligent cultivators should have failed to provide
the conditions for the Quince to fulfill its office.

By planting so deeply that the Quince is entirely
beneath the ground, all the objections to its use in
propagating the Pear are overcome. The principal
of these objections are : First, that the Pear grown on
the Quince is short-lived. Second, that the trees often
break at the junction, from imperfect union. Third,
they are always of small size. Fourth, that the Peai
( 122 )


outgrows the Quince, and produces a deformity. All
these difficulties have been remedied, or avoided
altogether, by planting so deeply that the Quince is
entirely beneath the ground, for the office of the Quince
is entirely as a root, and never as a trunk.


The introduction of new plants, or of novel modes
of cultivating old ones, is always attended with many
failures, arising from insufficient knowledge of the
conditions necessary to the success of the experiments.

The value of the Quince as a stock for the Pear has
been a subject of much dispute ; but candid observers,
aiming only at the exact truth, have settled into the
conviction, that its failure for this purpose has pro-
ceeded in every instance from some neglect of the
necessary conditions of its growth. The causes of
failure may be summed up as follows :

First In the heat of the first demand for pear trees
upon quince stocks, many thousands of the common
or Portugal Quince were used. This variety is entirely
unfitted for this purpose, by its slow growth, and
slight assimilation with the Pear, and the small size it

Second All the varieties of pear were at first indis-
criminately grown on the Quince, without regard to
their fitness. But it is now well ascertained that only
a limited number of our finer pears are entirely
adapted to the Quince.

Third The office of the Quince in the double tree
being wholly mistaken, it was planted as it stood in
f he nursery, often with the junction of the two species


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Online LibraryThomas W. (Thomas Warren) FieldPear culture. A manual for the propagation, planting, cultivation, and management of the pear tree. With descriptions and illustrations of the most productive of the finer varieties and selections of kinds most profitably grown for market → online text (page 7 of 18)