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THE GENERAL MODE
RAISING AND MANAGING
FRUIT TREES OF THE NURSERYMEN.
In the removal or transplantation of Trees, gardeners and nurserymen are generally very careless and inattentive in taking them up, and care not how much the roots are broken or lessened in number, provided they have enough left to keep the tree alive: the consequence is, that although the branches left on may remain alive, there is so great a deficiency of sap, from the loss of roots, that the vessels cannot be filled the following spring; therefore they contract and become inflexible, and after one or two seasons are incapable of extension ; so that when in the course of time the roots are restored, and the sap supplied in the usual quantity, it is, from being restricted in its former course, impelled through the nearest vertical and accommodating buds that offer.
Hence it will be seen, that in almost all trees trained in the common way, the first branches
1 which were trained in, and are the most horizontal, are the smallest and weakest, and in consequence incapable of bringing fruit to perfection; and as these occupy the best part of the wall, the strongest and most luxuriant shoots, by being trained erect, quickly grow out of bounds, and are annually cut away.
Thus the strength of the tree is wasted, and the continued efforts of Nature to produce fruit, in proportion to the age and capacity of the roots, is obstructed, instead of being forwarded and assisted.
It is this effect that induced the practice of heading back young trees, on transplanting; and under such circumstances it is certainly a proper and necessary method.
Trees that are not headed back, after the usual mode of transplantation, such, for instance, as halftrained and full-trained trees from the nurserymen, are found to throw out their strongest shoots immediately about the stem or trunk; and notwithstanding these are removed, this and every other attempt to force the sap into the old branches is vain, -- its nature will remain the same; and a vigorous head cannot be restored, but by a removal of the old branches.
This shows the impropriety of the common practice of heading back and training trees in the nursery ground.
As it is a general custom for those who plant fruit trees to rely on the nurseryman for the pro
duction of their plants, it becomes an object of the greatest importance to enquire how far their general practice is adapted to public utility. And I feel no hesitation in stating, that this business is conducted upon such imperfect principles, that it is almost impossible to find one plant in twenty that is worth transplanting.
It is obvious, that unless the original plan or foundation be good, a perfect superstructure cannot be raised.
From the deformity and disorder produced in the nursery ground, almost all our gardens and orchards exhibit in their trees a complete contrast to the beautiful simplicity and bountiful produce provided for by Nature.
Before, therefore, any thing like perfection can be attained by the gardener, a reformation must take place in the practice of the nurserymen.
The first operations of the nurseryman I will consider to be the transplanting his stocks for engrafting and budding; and in performing this, his only object is, that they grow and produce some kindly luxuriant branches ; but as to how or where, or in what manner, either these or the roots may grow, he is perfectly indifferent.
Whether the bud or graft produces one or more shoots it matters not; the whole are cut off short, or, as it is termed, headed back, the following winter; and such as accidentally produce four or five branches, so placed as to be fastened, to form a flat side, are fixed to stakes or a wall, in the form
they are usually trained, and as if further to insure premature old age, decrepitude, and deformity, they are afterwards several times taken up and transplanted in the same careless manner.
The roots are broken or cut off at random, and generally either diminished more than one half, or they are doubled back and distorted, and if there be enough left to keep the plant alive, it is thought quite sufficient; and by these means the appearance of blossoms and fruit being prematurely produced, those stinted and deformed plants are sold as half, or full-trained trees for four times the price of others; and when sold, they are again taken up, and the roots treated and diminished in the same careless manner.
Miller, Forsyth, Knight, and others, uniformly direct that trees from the nursery ground be cut down, or headed back, to two or three eyes, the next spring after planting; and, with such plants as are here described, there cannot be a better mode of treatment, but this is evidently losing time, and wasting its produce.
Whenever the roots of a tree are diminished on transplantation, the supply of sap must be proportionally lessened; for if the branches of a tree, under such circumstances, are left at full length, the sap-vessels, for want of a due quantity to distend them, become bark-bound and inflexible; and when the roots are restored, and furnish a luxuriant quantity of sap, this, from being obstructed in its former channels, forms new ones through the buds
that offer the most perpendicular position next the stem or trunk; and although these shoots may be rubbed off, still they form again in the same place, and it will be in vain to attempt supporting the original branches.
A regular head cannot be formed, but by a removal of the entire old one; and frequently the vessels of the trunk itself become so fixed and stubborn in the bark, and particularly in standards, as to force the sap out into luxuriant branches near the root.
It has often been made a question, and a subject for argument, whether it is better to transplant from a rich to a poor soil, or the reverse; but as the transplanting from a rich to a poor soil, even were the roots entire, must cause the bark or sapvessels to contract, for want of the usual supply of food, and be productive of the same consequences as curtailing the root, the doubt is easily solved.
It may further be remarked, that however diminutive a plant may be from poverty, provided the vessels have always been free from contraction, they will readily expand through all the usual channels, and receive and regularly dispose of every additional supply of sap, however great it