This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V20", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
We have before us an account of a California invention, a transplanter " patent rights in every State for sale." The inventor says:
"Some three years ago I commenced to set out some 200 acres of Eucalyptus trees. I raised the plants and put them in boxes 20x24, setting them two inches apart - the usual plan. To set them out in the field, and not irrigate, and do the work rapidly, was the question. The result was this transplanter. With it, one man will take the boxes of plants and set out 600 to 1, 000 trees per day, nine feet apart. I set out over 100, 000 plants, and not one plant in 100 will die from transplanting".
The way it is done is thus described: "The transplanter is first used to cut a hole in the ground or in a box of dirt, where you want to set the plant. Next the transplanter is set down over the plant so that the top of the plant runs up inside of the inside cylinder. The outer cylinder then pressed down into the ground, giving it a slight rotary motion, until you have cut to the depth desired, generally two or four inches. In pressing down on the handles, care must be taken to keep the hands off from the inside cylinder, which must be left loose so as to move freely. The rotary motion gives a sharp drawing cut. After cutting down around the plant to the depth desired, lift the transplanter out of the ground. It will bring up the plant with a solid plug of earth inside the cylinder. Now put the transplanter containing the plant into the hole in the ground (or box) first cut. Set it down to the bottom of the hole so that the bottom of the plug of earth rests on the bottom of the hole; place the two thumbs on top of the inside cylinder, retaining the hold on the handles with the fingers, and close the hand, thus drawing up the outside cylinder while the inside cylinder thus holds the plug of dirt in the hole.
The plug of dirt is thus forced out of the transplanter as the wad is forced out of a pop-gun. When this is done, the plant with a solid plug of earth will be left in a hole surrounded by unmoved dirt. Pour a trifle of water around the plant, which runs loose earth into the little crevices around the plug, and the work is completed. After a few experiments the work can be performed with great rapidity".
Plants two inches apart, and boxes twenty by twenty-four gives us one hundred plants to the box, ten boxes to a day's work. These plants are set out nine feet apart on a piece of ground, say near two miles long. The boxes must be set down to begin with, one about every one thousand feet apart to be ready for the " transplanter." Going to set the boxes would, in this part of the world, use up a good hour, even with the help of a horse and wagon, and some little time to put the wagon away. Then when we begin to use the box, and set the plant nine feet off, and the next one eighteen feet and the next twenty-seven, we have to run back and forth to the box a considerable number of times, or else pick up that box every time and chuck it nine feet, besides hauling our " transplanter " along. At any rate, it is safe to say that the time spent in connecting the box of plants with each hole is equivalent to lifting the box, carrying it nine feet and putting it down again. We will give half a minute for this, though it is doubtful whether this could be continuously done at this rate, but if it could it takes nine hours for the one thousand trees.
Then for making the hole, ejecting the dirt, boring for the plant in the box, replacing it in the hole, treading it in, to say nothing of "pouring a trifle of water about it, " will at least occupy a minute to each plant, and we have seventeen hours more. These figures, and they will be conceded to be very under-rate for the work done, will give us some idea of the great length of a day in California. They have the great Pears, the mammoth trees, and there is no reason why not the huge day for the huge Eucalyptus.