Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Planting - | - Setting and Cultivation


Standard apple trees, fully grown, will require thirty to forty-five feet of space between them each way. It takes, however, ten or twelve years after the trees are set before all of this space is needed. A system of "fillers," or inter-planting, has come into use as a result of this, which will give at least one hundred per cent, more fruit for the first ten years. Small-growing standards, standard varieties on dwarf stock, and also peaches, are used for this purpose in commercial orchards. But the principle may be applied with equally good results to the home orchard, or even to the planting of a few scattered trees. The standard dwarfs give good satisfaction as permanent fillers. Where space is very limited, or the fruit must go into the garden, they may be used in place of the standard sorts altogether. The dwarf trees are, as a rule, not so long-lived as the standards, and to do their best, need more care in fertilizing and manuring; but the fruit is just as good; just as much, or more, can be grown on the same area; and the trees come into bearing two to three years sooner. They cost less to begin with and are also easier to care for, in spraying and pruning and in picking the fruit.


The home orchard, to give the very finest quality of fruit, must be given careful and thorough cultivation. In the case of scattered trees, where it is not practicable to use a horse, this can be given by working a space four to six feet wide about each tree. Every spring the soil should be loosened up, with the cultivator or fork, as the case may be, and kept stirred during the early part of the summer. Unless the soil is rich, a fertilizer, high in potassium and not too high in nitrogen, should be given in the spring. Manure and phosphate rock, as
suggested above, is as good as any. In case the foliage is not a deep healthy green, apply a few handfuls of nitrate of soda, working it into the soil just before a rain, around each tree.

About August 1st the cultivation should be discontinued, and some "cover crop" sown. Buckwheat and crimson clover is a good combination; as the former makes a rapid growth it will form, if rolled down just as
the apples are ripening, a soft cushion upon which the windfalls may drop without injury, and will furnish enough protection to the crimson clover to carry it through most winters, even in cold climates.

In addition to the filler crops, where the ground is to be cultivated by tractor, potatoes may be grown between the rows of trees; or fine hills of melons or squash may be grown around scattered trees, thus,
incidentally, saving a great deal of space in the vegetable garden. Or why not grow a few extra fancy strawberries in the well cultivated spots about these trees? Neither they nor the trees want the ground too
rich, especially in nitrogen, and conditions suiting the one would be just right for the others.

It may seem to the beginner that fruit-growing, with all these things to keep in mind, is a difficult task. But it is not. I think I am perfectly safe in saying that the rewards from nothing else he can plant and care for are as certain, and surely none are more satisfactory. If you cannot persuade yourself to try fruit on any larger plan, at least order half a dozen dwarf trees (they will cost about twenty cents apiece, and can be had by mail). They will prove about the best paying investment you ever made.

Imageon top right by: xedos4 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net