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Planting And Pruning

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

" The roots should never be exposed for any length of time to the sun and wind, and should always go into the soil wet. In the morning, we take up about the number of trees that can be planted before noon and prune the roots. These are placed on a sled or wagon and covered at once with straw, carpet, or burlap and water thrown over the entire bundle until thoroughly wet. Immediately after transplanting, the trees should be well mulched with hay, straw, manure, or any material not too coarse. This mulching is essential, no. matter whether the clean culture or the sod mulch system is to be followed. The mulch not only holds moisture around the roots, but keeps the soil loose and mellow. A good tree well planted and well mulched will make a surprising growth the first year. I have measured as much as 5 feet in our own orchard in soil considered poor.

Pruning is the one operation of the orchard most neglected or improperly done. The roots require little pruning, because 50 per cent or more of the root system is left in the soil, even with the most careful digging. All broken or mangled roots should be cut off smoothly back to solid wood, in order to give the wounds a chance to heal readily. A root much longer than the others may be cut back for the sake of symmetry and ease of transplanting.


After transplanting, the top is cut back to correspond to the loss of roots Otherwise the evaporation of moisture from the top may be more rapid than the broken roots can absorb water, and the tree suffer, if not die. With apple, pear, plum, and cherry from three to five branches should be selected from those on the tree as it comes from the nursery, to form the scaffold branches of the future top. These should be situated alternately along the trunk; never opposite each other, and should be cut back to spurs 5 to 10 inches in length, The others are removed entirely. Each of these spurs will throw out several branches the first sea-son, but the ends of the spurs will usually dry out and begin to decay.

" The second pruning is confined almost wholly to the removal of the dead tips of these branches or spurs. These are cut back to the base of the first new branches, and if the wood shows no decay the wound is left to heal. If, however, there are any signs of decaying wood, the cut is made at the base of the next branch and so on until solid wood is found. Otherwise the decay will run back into the main branches, or even to the trunk of the tree, and eventually cause its death. Every branch that does not mar the general form of the top is left on the little tree during the second season to bear leaves and manufacture plant food.

"Root growth depends upon the leaves just as much as branch and leaf growth depends upon the roots, and the root system, weakened by trans-planting, needs the stimulus of all the plant food possible in order to renew the parts destroyed. This renewed vigor immediately manifests itself in growth of top, and the less the equilibrium between root and top is disturbed, the greater will be the tendency to bear fruit so far as the pruning factor alone is concerned. Subsequent pruning should consist largely in thinning out the superfluous branches and wayward growth sufficient to admit proper amounts of air and sunshine. Many branches marked for removal the second or third season may very profitably be left until they have borne fruit for several years.

"Mice injuries are prevented by Meaning up all rubbish in which mice might breed and congregate, keeping the soil around the tree for 2 or 3 feet perfectly bare. Frequently a little mound of earth 6 or 8 inches high is piled and tramped solidly around the base of the tree. So far as rabbit injuries are concerned, the removal of all brush, briars, weeds, etc., in which rabbits are most likely to congregate has prevented any serious trouble with me."

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