This section is from the book "Commercial Gardening Vol3", by John Weathers (the Editor). Also available from Amazon: Commercial Gardening, A Practical & Scientific Treatise For Market Gardeners.
Having secured capital, or arranged for its supply, whither shall the intending grower direct his steps in order to secure a suitable site? He will find certain districts where fruit growing seems more than a fashion, almost a craze, and he may reflect that something especially suitable must exist either in soil or climate, or both, to account for such aggregations of capital and cultivators interested in one form of production, and he may feel bound to follow the crowd. If he reflects further, however, he may come to the conclusion that an instinct which investing human nature shares in common with the monkey has quite as much likelihood of being the reason. One successful man is sufficient to account for a host of imitators who doubtless imagine his success due to some magic in the spot, and who probably themselves achieve success in so far as they are able to acquire like skill and emulate his energy and forethought.
There can be little doubt that fruit will thrive in many parts of the kingdom where its cultivation has not yet been attempted for commercial purposes.
Low-lying land, or land in the neighbourhood of marshes, should not be chosen, because it is in such places that spring frosts do most damage.
Two feet of sandy loam on a chalk subsoil has been described as the ideal land for fruit culture. It must be kept in mind that two results are sought in the planting of a fruit tree, viz. the growth of the tree and the production of fruit. It is possible to have the conditions so much in favour of the first that handsome trees only are the result; while if, on the other hand, the fruit-bearing qualities are encouraged too quickly, a fully developed plantation cannot be obtained.
The advancement of the science of agricultural chemistry now enables the grower, by means of analysis, to ascertain definitely what are the constituents, and in what proportions they exist, in any soil. Such an analysis should be obtained before deciding upon any site. The following analysis was given by Mr. C. W. Wise, in a paper read by him before the Royal Horticultural Society in 1895, as that of a soil (presumably at Toddington in Gloucestershire) in which he says: "Plums, Apples, Pears, Strawberries, Black and Red Currants, Raspberries and Gooseberries, all grow exceedingly well".
Silica or silicates insoluble in acids...
74.20 per cent.
Oxide of iron and alumina..
Magnesia ... ... ......
Potash ... ... ... ... ...
Carbonic acid ...... ......
Sulphuric acid ...
Organic matter and water of hydration
Including phosphoric acid, soluble in 1 per cent solution of citric acid (i.e. readily available phosphoric acid)
It is interesting to compare with the above the following analysis of soil, which is typical of a good deal of market-garden land in Middlesex, on a gravel subsoil, in which fruit of all kinds does well.