The wide spaces - thirty to forty feet - between the small trees of apple or pear have tempted many to plant peaches, dwarf pears, or plums and cherries between the trees both ways, with the intention of taking them out when the permanent trees needed the whole space. But this is not satisfactory, as the double planting interferes with proper culture, the use of cover-crops, spraying, and all needed orchard care, and too often robs the permanent trees before the interspaces are cleared. A far better plan is to plant only one way with early bearing varieties of apple or dwarf pear, leaving open spaces north and south for air-circulation, culture, cover-crops, and spraying. At the north where the open spaces are narrowed the strawberry can be profitably grown in newly planted orchards. The partial protection from wind-sweep will benefit the plants, and the strawberry rows, with the winter covering of straw raked between the rows, make a good cover-crop in summer and a fair protection of the surface-roots in winter. After picking the second crop the turning under of the rows and the mulching adds needed humus to the soil and benefits the succeeding crop of strawberries as well as the orchard trees.
In peach-growing centres where the trees are properly pruned the usual distance apart is only fifteen feet each way. But farther north, where less cutting back and pruning is done, twenty feet apart is the usual distance. Where orchards of the duke and heart cherries are planted for profit in rows running north and south, twenty feet apart, with thirty-foot spaces between the rows, gives ample room. The Morello varieties are usually planted twenty feet apart both ways in relatively mild climates. In the prairie States the preferred plan is that of planting the Morello varieties and the native plums only twelve feet apart in rows running north and south, with spaces between the rows of not less than twenty feet. This plan gives the needed circulation between the rows and shades the stems and main limbs from the noonday sun in summer and to a great extent in winter. The spacing of other orchard fruits and the small fruits are given in connection with their discussion on future pages.
A little advance work in the way of setting a small stake where each tree is to stand will save much time and give straight rows in all directions. Prepare at a leisure time as many small stakes as there are trees to plant. The small stakes or pins can be split from sections of inch-board about fifteen inches long. Also secure, by purchase or borrowing, a surveyor's steel tape four rods long. With this chain set stakes that can be seen four rods apart across the orchard in a straight line by sighting. These sight-stakes can be set for all the rows at the same time. By stretching the steel tape from one stake to another the small stakes where the trees are to be set are stuck at proper distances apart as indicated by figures on the tape. To make quick work it is best to tie red yarn on the tape at the figures, giving equal spacing. When all the small stakes representing the trees are stuck, what is known as the "planting-board," as represented by Fig. 56, comes into use. The centre notch in the board is placed around the little stake and wooden pins are stuck through the holes at the ends. These pins remain in place as the board is taken forward until the work is completed. The board should not be less than nine feet long and the central notch should be exactly equidistant from the holes in the ends. When the holes are dug the stakes are taken up, but the pins remain as a guide in replacing the board on the same side of the tree or stake. If reversed on alternate rows it will make a crook in the rows.
Fig. 56. - Planting-board.