• By A. C. Marshall, F.r.h.s.
Continued from. page 3687,Part 30
One of the principal points upon which fruit growers should set particular care is that of allowing their trees plenty of room in which to flourish. Overcrowding is a fault coo frequently found in present-day orchards, and though it may be profitable for a few seasons to have the young trees jostling cheek by jowl there will come a time when the penalty will have to be paid in weak, undersized fruit.
Pyramid and bush trees should be planted twelve feet apart; standard plums and damsons, fifteen feet apart; standard apples and pears, twenty feet apart. In cases where both a bottom crop and a top crop is expected-i.e., where other subjects are grown beneath the fruit trees-the distances should be slightly increased, and it must be borne in mind that apples and pears throw a heavier shade than plums.
Grass ought not to be allowed to grow round young fruit-trees till the third summer has passed. At first glance it would appear that the presence of turf could not seriously affect the growth of fruit-trees ; as a matter of fact, the grass forms an impenetrable pad through which rain can percolate only with difficulty, and in a dry summer the tree suffers seriously from lack of moisture.
Don't overprune, don't neglect to prune. Don't put much manure on the land for ordinary hardy fruits ; don't expect good fruit from stony, hungry land without a little manure. Don't grow any but market varieties of proven value ; don't rush after novelties till their selling value is known. Don't neglect packing precautions ; don't store fruit in a damp place. Don't let a newly planted tree bear more than a "taster" or two the first season. When planting, don't retain any jagged, splintered roots ; trim them off at the point where fractured.
How to Fell a Tree
In all fruit gardens there must frequently be occasion to fell an aged, decrepit tree that has been condemned because it has ceased to be profitable. Now, candidly, the felling of trees is not a lady's task, and it will be highly advisable to call in the assistance of the local handyman. In the majority of villages half-a-crown is the accepted charge for felling an average fruit-tree, the awkward, laborious cases being thrown into the balance with the simple ones. Thus, a man may have to work for six hours for his half-a-crown, or he may get up a tree with one heave of his shoulders. Where there are several trees to be "thrown," this is quite a fair arrangement, ' but when there are only one or two an equitable wage would be 6d. per hour.
As in everything else, there is a right way and a wrong way for bringing down an aged fruit-tree. The most apparent method is to take a saw and cut off the trunk near the ground, the tree falling automatically as the last fibres are severed. It is certainly a speedy plan for tree-felling, but unfortunately it overlooks the little matter of the stump, which is exceedingly difficult to dig out when minus the "upper storey."
The proper way of performing this mournful task is to use a spade and mattock, and
The condemned tree should be approached first with a spade. Round the bole a circle should be cut, and the earth removed with the spade. The circle need be no more than four feet in diameter, and its depth will depend entirely upon the individual nature of the tree. As the spade eats down into the soil, roots will be encountered, and these must be severed and broken away with the aid of the mattock. Work round and round the tree, chopping through the roots, and excavating the soil till the tree sways at a pull of the arms and then attach a length of rope at a point fairly high in the trunk.
Now, taking the end of the rope, the workman should tug slowly but strongly, aiming to "swing the tree backwards and forwards pendulum-like. If the tree does not give easily, more digging will be necessary, but it is more than probable that if the main surface roots have been broken it will come easily as the rope tightens and strains.
The whole point of this correct method is that the top hamper of the tree is used to drag the stump from the ground. It is another case of leverage coming to the rescue, and the stump itself may be easily removed from the trunk when once it is out of the ground. As for the hole that is left, a couple of wheelbarrows' full of soil should fill the cavity.
For the benefit of the beginner it may be well to mention that it is not advisable to plant a fruit-tree on the site vacated by a worn-out specimen, unless, of course, the soil can be made up with good rich loam, lime, and a little manure to freshen up the staple.