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 repeatedly shown that if forest culture were carried on as a business, there is nothing that would be more profitable when well managed. It would not pay when bungled any more than any other. To merely plant a lot of trees and wait till they are saw-logs will never do, except for one who is willing to die for his country, or merely desires to preserve her in the dim future from becoming an " arid waste." Forestry, when conducted as it might be, ought to be able to pay all expenses in a few years after planting, and at least in ten years bring in a very handsome profit on the whole capital expended.
We are very glad to see that this making of forestry a sound business occupation is progressing. Mr. Richard S. Fay, has been doing a little towards it, of which we find the following account, by Prof. Sargent, in the Massachusetts Ploughman:
" The readers of the Ploughman are familiar with the experiment, which was made some thirty years ago by Mr. Richard S. Fay, in planting a portion of his estate near Lynn, in Essex county, with European Larch and other forest trees. Up to a year ago the thinnings from this plantation had yielded some seven hundred cords of fire wood, besides a very large amount of fencing material. The thinning has been continued during the past winter, and has produced:
175 cords of fire wood, sold at an average of $5.50,
500 Larch posts, 25 cts.,
51 Larch Telegraph poles, $1.00, .
100 Larch Railroad sleepers, 50 cts., .
These figures represent the thinning of a single season, which will be continued for many years to an equal or greater extent; they seem to make very clear Mr. Fay's wisdom in employing agriculturally worthless land in the only way in which it could possibly have been made to yield any return whatever. It ought to be a part of the regular Spring work of every farmer, having suitable land, to plant annually a few hundred or a few thousand forest trees, according to the size of his farm and the extent of his means. The cost of the trees and of planting them is comparatively small, while profits, although slowly realized, are in the end, all things considered, enormous.
For planting on much of the waste land of this State, no tree can be more safely employed than the European Larch, as Mr. Fay's plantations of this tree shows us. The Larch, however, must be transplanted very early in the Spring or it will not survive the operation".
This is only a beginning, and when the business is better understood a much better showing, and before thirty years, could be made. The Larch was evidently chosen at a time when it was thought very important that Scotch forestry should be the model for American forestry, and not that America required distinctively American treatment. The Larch is profitable, but it is far less profitable than many other kinds of trees would be. It may also be noted that those who are going into timber culture must remember that some of Mr. Fay's figures are high. It is chiefly because railroad sleepers are fifty cents each that the railroads are anxious to have more timber planted. They will not, nor ought they to bring fifty cents each, when the most judicious kinds planted in a judicious place shall come into market.
But we do not care to be critical in this place. Mr. Fay and Prof. Sargent too, deserve much praise, for what they have done and are doing in encouraging forestry, to make criticism pleasant. And yet it is very important that in an interest like forestxy, where, if the planter blunders, he is eternally lost, he should start in a faith that will produce the best of works.