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her general progress of reproduction, Nature is ever inclined to make an exuberant return for an exuberant supply; thus giving to man the opportunity, by availing himself of this propensity, to increase and forward the most valuable qualities of those productions, which are more peculiarly adapted to his use and enjoyment.
But although we may, by occasionally exercising our controul over the sexual intercourse of vegetables, and by increasing, withholding, or diminishing a supply of food, induce them more readily to contribute to variety; and by confining a Tree within a convenient space, or generally by encouraging or obstructing particular habits, make it more conformable to our wants and pleasures ; we are not permitted to overstep the bounds prescribed by the laws of Nature with impunity; for whenever this is attempted, privation and disappointment must be the consequence; therefore, before we proceed to the arrangement of a system of management, it will be necessary to take a distinct view of the material parts of Plants, or at least in their most important divisions, and to consider their separate use and offices, and the laws by which they are governed.
The Root is the commencement and foundation
Roots are, notwithstanding, impatient of resistance, and at all times evince a partiality for that soil which is most accommodating, and run most evenly and luxuriantly where they meet with the least resistance and the greatest support.
The office of the Root is to collect and apply the food, which forms and determines the growth of the Plant and Tree; and the constitution and habit of the Roots determine those of the branches. If the Roots grow luxuriantly, the branches will also; and the reverse.
From hence it must be concluded, that in planting trees, two essential objects present themselves for our consideration : first, to ascertain the soil best adapted to afford a sufficient and accommodating body, bed, or space for the Roots to repose and range freely in, and induce and support such habits as are most desired; and next, that it contains or will admit the application of a supply of food, of a proper quality, and in due quantity. And to determine this, due attention must also be paid to the situation or elevation of the Roots, in comparison with the surface of the soil. In a deep tenacious soil or clay, Roots can only find a free passage through fissures or clefts which are formed by its occasional contraction. And as these openings are not very close together or numerous, the Roots do not divide much or become fibrous ; but those which strike into them, range wide and deep, and getting beyond the general influence of the sun and air, collect their food or sap from a
source ill adapted to fructification; and conse-
On the contrary, when a soil is light, porous,
It is remarked by Hitt on this part of the subject: “ I have made observations on the productions of most kinds of soil, and found the most healthy old Peach and Nectarine Trees growing on a brown-coloured loam, with a rock about a foot from the surface of the borders. From this I conclude, that it will be a good method to lay a floor of broad stones or planks under the Roots of Fruit Trees, where there is not a natural rock, which will prevent the Roots from sinking too much below the surface; for the tap or downright Roots
may produce vigorous shoots, yet they are but seldom well furnished with blossom-buds. When all the Roots of a Tree are near the surface of the borders, it blossoms best, being well furnished with small branches, which are not so subject to suffer by the honey-dews as thicker ones."
Mr. Knight, in his Treatise on the Apple and Pear, says, “ The strongest and most highly flavoured liquor which has hitherto been obtained from the Apple, is produced by a soil which consists of a shallow loam on a limestone basis."
Miller, speaking of Fruit Trees, says, “ And it sometimes happens that the Roots of Trees are buried too deep in the ground, which, in a cold or moist soil, is one of the greatest disadvantages that can attend tender Fruits ; for the sap, which is contained in the branches, being by the warmth of the air put strongly into motion early in the Spring, is exhausted in nourishing the blossoms, and a part of it perspired through the wood-branches, so that its strength is lost before the warmth can reach to the shoots, to put them into an equal motion in search of fresh nourishment to supply the expense of the branches, for want of which the blossoms fall off and decay. And the shoots seem to be at a stand until the further advance of the warmth do penetrate to the Roots, and set them in motion, when suddenly after, the Trees which before looked weak and decaying, do make prodigious progress in their shoots, and before the Summer is spent, are furnished with much stronger branches than those Trees which have the full advantage of sun and showers, and that are more fruitful and healthy; which must be certainly owing to the former observations, as also to their drawing in a great quantity of crude moisture, which, although productive of food, is yet unkindly for Fruit.”