This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In answer to J. A. McK., page 82 March number, he is at least twenty years behind on the budding business if 2000 is a hard days work; it is not at all difficult to find men here who can bud 3000, 4000 and some few 5000 in ten hours when everything is in proper condition. We think we have brought the raising of Peach trees as near perfection as possible; still in twenty years hence we may be completely outdone. I will endeavor to give the information asked. Our first effort is to have fine thrifty seedlings not too large but to stand regularly in the row from three to four inches apart, rows four to four and a half feet. We commence as early in August as possible, generally the first week have the branches and leaves all cleaned off for six inches up the trees. Clean out all clods, weeds, etc., so that there will be nothing in the way of the workmen; the buds are cut the night before they are wanted and spread out on grass, well wet, with leaves on. Then early in the morning the leaves are cut closely to the eyes of the bud; the buds are kept in a wet cloth in the shade at the nursery.
The budder wraps up in a cloth enough sticks or limbs to bud several hundred and carries them tied fast to his waistband by his side; he takes out a stick holds it in his left hand, with lower end from him, and places his knife - which may be any kind with a blade pretty thin and of good quality, - about half an inch below the bud; then with a drawing cut - gradually deeper - cut about as far above the bud; cut about half way through a medium sized stick, not so deep in a larger one. Take out the knife and cut crosswise of the limb, just through the bark, about half an inch above the bud, making a stout bud about one inch long; place the point of the knife within one or two inches of the ground on the seedling, making a cut upwards just through the bark about one inch long; then make a cut at the top of it crosswise making a T shaped cut after it is done. In making the cross cut, the knife has to have a certain twist which throws open the bark enough to admit the point of the bud without the aid of bone or quill.
Now take hold of the bud, cut on the limb with thumb and fore finger of the right hand and twist it sideways and it will come off", leaving the wood cut with it on the limb; then thrust the lower point of the bud in the cut in the seedling fully half way in; then with thumb-nail, or side of the thumb, push down, so that the bud just fits in the stock. We tie with bass matting, cut about one foot long and in strips quarter of an inch wide, making three or four wraps and tie in a single knot in front of the bud. The ties have to be loosened in ten days to two weeks, according to the growth of the tree. They are slit by the knife about half way up of the mat, directly back of the bud. It does not injure the tree by the knife cutting through the bark. After this there is nothing needed until the next spring, when the tops are cut off close above the bud, any time after March 1st until the buds begin to grow. Now this is our mode, but it depends a great deal on the performer, who must strain every nerve and guard against every false motion, making as few as possible to do the work.
It takes time and experience to get so that one can set 5000 buds properly.