Without any question, the apple is far and away the most valuable
fruit, both because of its greater scope of usefulness and its longer
season--the last of the winter's Russets are still juicy and firm
when the first Early Harvests and Red Astrachans are tempting the
"young idea" to experiment with colic. Plant but a small
proportion of early varieties, for the late ones are better. Out
of a dozen trees, I would put in one early, three fall, and the
rest winter sorts.
Among the summer apples are several deserving special mention:
Yellow Transparent is the earliest. It is an old favorite and one
of the most easily grown of all apples. Its color is indicated by
the name, and it is a fair eating-apple and a very good cooker.
Red Astrachan, another first early, is not quite so good for cooking,
but is a delicious eating-apple of good size. An apple of more recent
introduction and extremely hardy (hailing first from Russia), and
already replacing the above sorts, is Livland (Livland Raspberry).
The tree is of good form, very vigorous and healthy. The fruit is
ready almost as soon as Yellow Transparent, and is of much better
quality for eating. In appearance it is exceptionally handsome,
being of good size, regular form and having those beautiful red
shades found almost exclusively in the later apples. The flesh is
quality is fully up to its appearance. The white, crisp-breaking
flesh, most aromatic, deliciously sub-acid, makes it ideal for eating.
A neighbor of mine sold $406 worth of fruit from twenty trees to
one dealer. For such a splendid apple McIntosh is remarkably hardy
and vigorous, succeeding over a very wide territory, and climate
severe enough to kill many of the other newer varieties. The Fameuse
(widely known as the Snow) is an excellent variety for northern
sections. It resembles the McIntosh, which some claim to be derived
from it. Fall Pippin, Pound Sweet and Twenty Ounce, are other popular
In the winter section, Baldwin, which is too well known to need
describing, is the leading commercial variety in many apple districts,
and it is a good variety for home growing on account of its hardiness
and good cooking and keeping qualities; but for the home orchard,
it is far surpassed in quality by several others. In northern sections,
down to the corn line, Northern Spy is a great favorite. It is a
large, roundish apple, with thin, tender, glossy skin, light to
deep carmine over light yellow, and an excellent keeper. In sections
to which it is adapted it is a particularly vigorous, compact, upright
grower. Jonathan is another splendid sort, with a wider range of
conditions favorable for growth. It is, however, not a strong-growing
tree and is somewhat uncertain in maturing its fruit, which is a
bright, clear red of distinctive flavor. It likes a soil with more
clay than do most apples. In the Middle West and Middle South, Grimes
(Golden) has made a great local reputation in many sections, although
in others it has not done well at all.
The Spitzenberg (Esopus) is very near the top of the list of all
late eating-apples, being at its prime about December. It is another
handsome yellow-covered red apple, with flesh slightly yellowish,
but very good to the taste. The tree, unfortunately, is not a robust
grower, being especially weak in its earlier stages, but with good
cultivation it will not fail to reward the grower for any extra
care it may have required.
These, and the other notable varieties, which there is not room
here to describe, make up the following list, from which the planter
should select according to locality:
Earliest or Summer: - Early Harvest, Yellow Transparent, Red
Astrachan, Benoni (new), Chenango, Sweet Bough, Williams' Favorite,
Early Strawberry, Livland Raspberry.
Early Autumn: - Alexander, Duchess, Porter, Gravenstein, McIntosh
Late Autumn: - Jefferies, Fameuse (Snow), Maiden's Blush,
Wealthy, Fall Pippin, Pound Sweet, Twenty Ounce, Cox Orange,
Winter: - Baldwin, Rhode Island Greening, Northwestern Greening,
Jonathan, Northern Spy, Yellow, Swaar, Delicious, Wagener, King,
Esopus, Spitzenberg, Yellow Bellflower, Winter Banana, Seek-no-further,
Talman Sweet, Roxbury Russett, King David, Stayman's Winesap, Wolf
Pears are more particular than apples in the matter of being
adapted to sections and soils. Submit your list to your State Experiment
before ordering trees. Many of the standard sorts may be had where
a low-growing, spreading tree is desired (for instance, quince-stock
pears might be used to change places with the plums). Varieties
suitable for this method are listed below. They are given approximately
in the order of the ripening:
Wilder: Early August, medium in size, light yellow, excellent quality.
Does not rot at the core, as so many early pears are liable to do.
Margaret: Oblong, greenish, yellow to dull red.
Clapp Favorite: Very large, yellow pear. A great bearer and good
keeper--where the children cannot get at it.
Howell: A little later than the foregoing; large, bright yellow,
strong-growing tree and big bearer.
Duchesse d'Angouleme: Large greenish yellow, sometimes reaching
size; will average better than three-quarters of a pound. The quality,
despite its size, is splendid.
Seckel: Small in size, but renowned for exquisite flavor--being
probably the most universally admired of all.
Beurre Superfine: October, medium size, excellent quality.
Bartlett: The best known of all pears, and a universal favorite.
Succeeds in nearly all sections.
Anjou: One of the best keepers, and very productive. One of the
flavor, rich and vinous.
For trees of the standard type the following are worthy of note:
Congress (Souvenir du C.): A very large summer sort. Handsome.
Belle Lucrative: September to October.
Winter Nelis: Medium size, but of excellent quality and the longest
Kieffer: Very popular for its productiveness, strength of growth
exceptional quality of fruit for canning and preserving. Large fruit,
if kept thinned. Should have a place in every home garden.
Josephine de Malines: Not a great yielder but
of the very highest quality, being of the finest texture
and tempting aroma.
Success with peaches also will depend largely upon getting varieties
adapted to climate. The white-fleshed type is the hardiest and best
for eating; and the free-stones are for most purposes, especially
in the home garden, more desirable than the "clings."
Greensboro is the best early variety. Crawford is a universal favorite
and goes well over a wide range of soil and climate. Champion is
the best quality peaches and exceptionally hardy. Elberta, Ray,
Hague are other excellent sorts. Mayflower is the earliest sort
The available plums are of three classes--the natives, Europeans
and Japans; the natives are the longest-lived, hardier in tree and
blossom, and heavier bearers.
The best early is Milton; brilliant red, yellow and juicy flesh.
Wildgoose and Whitaker are good seconds. Mrs. Cleveland is a later
larger sort, of finer quality. Three late-ripening plums of the
quality, but not such prolific yielders, are Wayland, Benson and
and where there is room for only a few trees, these will be best.
will need one tree of Newman or Prairie Flower with them to assure
setting of the fruit. Of the Europeans, use Reine Claude (the best),
Bradshaw or Shropshire. Damson is also good. The Japanese varieties
should go on high ground and be thinned, especially during their
years. My first experience with Japanese plums convinced me that
solved the plum problem; they bore loads of fruit, and were free
disease. That was five years ago. Last spring the last one was cut
burned. Had they been planted at the top of a small hill, instead
the bottom, as they were, and restricted in their bearing, I know
later experience that they would still be producing fruit. The most
satisfactory varieties of the Japanese type are Abundance and Red
Burbank is also highly recommended,
Cherries have one advantage over the other fruits--they give
quicker returns. But, as far as my experience goes, they are not
as long-lived. The sour type is hardier, at least north of New Jersey,
than the sweet. It will probably pay to try a few of the new and
highly recommended varieties. Of the established sorts Early Richmond
is a good early, to be followed by Montmorency and English Morello.
Windsor is a good sweet cherry, as are also Black Tartarian, Sox,
Wood and Yellow Spanish.
All the varieties mentioned above are proved
sorts. But the lists are being added to constantly,
and where there is a novelty strongly recommended
by a reliable nurseryman it will often pay to try
it out--on a very small scale at first.
Planting can be done in either spring or fall. As a general
rule, north of Philadelphia and St. Louis, spring planting will
be best; south of that, fall planting. Where there is apt to be
severe freezing, "heaving," caused by the alternate freezing
and thawing; injury to the newly set roots from too severe cold;
and, in some western sections, "sun-scald" of the bark,
are three injuries which may result. If trees are planted in the
fall in cold sections, a low mound of earth, six to twelve inches
high, should be left during the winter about each, and leveled down
in the spring. If set in the spring, where hot, dry weather is apt
to follow, they should be thoroughly mulched with litter, straw
or coarse manure, to preserve moisture--care being taken, however,
against field mice and other rodents.
The trees may either be set in their permanent positions as soon
bought, or grown in "nursery rows" by the purchaser for
one or two
years after being purchased. In the former case, it will be the
policy to get the strongest, straightest two-year stock you can
even if they cost ten or fifteen cents apiece more than the "mediums."
The former method is the usual one, but the latter has so many
advantages that I give it the emphasis of a separate paragraph,
urge every prospective planter to consider it carefully.
In the first place, then, you get your trees a little cheaper.
purchase for nursery row planting, six-foot to seven-foot two-year-old
apple trees, of the standard sorts, should cost you about thirty
each; one-year "buds," six feet and branched, five to
ten cents less.
This gain, however, is not an important one--there are four others,
each of which makes it worth while to give the method a trial. First,
the trees being all together, and in a convenient place, the chances
are a hundred to one that you will give them better attention in
way of spraying, pruning and cultivating--all extremely important
the first year's growth. Second, with the year gained for extra
preparation of the soil where they are to be placed permanently,
can make conditions just right for them to take hold at once and
as they could not do otherwise. Third, the shock of transplanting
be much less than when they are shipped from a distance--they will
made an additional growth of dense, short roots and they will have
become acclimated. Fourth, you will not have wasted space and time
any backward black sheep among the lot, as these should be discarded
the second planting. And then there is one further reason,
psychological perhaps, but none the less important; you will watch
these little trees, which are largely the result of your own labor
care, when set in their permanent positions, much more carefully
you would those direct from the nursery. I know, both from experience
and observation, how many thrifty young trees in the home orchard
done to an untimely death by children, careless workmen, and other
So if you can put a twelve-month curb on your impatience, get one-year
trees and set them out in a straight row right in your vegetable
where they will take up very little room. Keep them cultivated just
thoroughly as the rest of your growing things. Melons, or beans,
almost any low-growing vegetable can be grown close beside them.
If you want your garden to pay for your whole lot of fruit trees
season dig up a hole about three feet in diameter wherever a tree
"go permanently." Cut the sod up fine and work in four
or five good
forkfuls of well rotted manure, and on these places, when it is
enough, plant a hill of lima pole-beans-the new sort named Giant-podded
Pole Lima is the best I have yet seen. Place a stout pole, eight
feet high, firmly in each hole. Good lima beans are always in demand,
and bring high prices.
Let us suppose that your trees are at hand, either direct from
nursery or growing in the garden. You have selected, if possible,
moist, gravelly loam on a slope or slight elevation, where it is
naturally and perfectly drained. Good soil drainage is imperative.
Coarse gravel in the bottom of the planting hole will help out
temporarily. If the land is in clover sod, it will have the ideal
preparation, especially if you can grow a patch of potatoes or corn
it one year, while your trees are getting further growth. In such
the holes will not have to be prepared. If, however, you are not
fortunate enough to be able to devote such a space to fruit trees,
in order to have them at all must place them along your wall or
scattered through the grounds, you can still give them an excellent
start by enriching the soil in spots beforehand, as suggested above
growing lima beans. In the event of finding even this last way
inapplicable to your land, the following method will make success
certain: Dig out holes three to six feet in diameter (if the soil
very hard, the larger dimension), and twelve to eighteen inches
Mix thoroughly with the excavated soil a good barrowful of the oldest,
finest manure you can get, combined with about one-fourth or one-fifth
its weight of South Carolina rock (or acid phosphate, if you cannot
the rock). It is a good plan to compost the manure and rock in advance,
or use the rock as an absorbent in the stable. Fill in the hole
leaving room in the center to set the tree without bending or cramping
any roots. Where any of these are injured or bruised, cut them off
clean at the injured spot with a sharp knife. Shorten any that are
and straggling about one-third to one-half their length. Properly
stock should not be in any such condition.
Remember that a well planted tree will give more fruit in the first
years than three trees carelessly put in. Get the tree so that it
be one to three inches deeper in the soil than when growing in the
Work the soil in firmly about the roots with the fingers or a blunt
"tamper"; do not be afraid to use your feet. When the
roots are well
covered, firm the tree in by putting all your weight upon the soil
around it. See that it is planted straight, and if the "whip,"
trunk, is not straight stake it, and tie it with rye straw, raffia
strips of old cloth-never string or wire. If the soil is very dry,
the root copiously while planting until the soil is about half filled
never on the surface, as that is likely to cause a crust to form
keep out the air so necessary to healthy growth.
Prune back the "leader" of the tree-the top above the
branches, about one-half. Peach trees should be cut back more severely.
Further information in regard to pruning, and the different needs
the various fruits in regard to this important matter, will be given
the next chapter.
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 potash 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
About August 1st the cultivation should be discontinued, and some
"cover crop" sown. Buckwheat and crimson clover is a good
as the former makes a rapid growth it will form, if rolled down
the apples are ripening, a soft cushion upon which the windfalls
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 horse, 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.
why not grow a few extra fancy strawberries in the well cultivated
spots about these trees? Neither they nor the trees want the ground
rich, especially in nitrogen, and conditions suiting the one would
just right for the others.
It may seem to the beginner that fruit-growing, with all these
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
about twenty cents apiece, and can be had by mail). They will prove
about the best paying investment you ever made.