This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V22", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
As the Monthly is the best medium through which to reach our eastern nurserymen, you will please allow me room to find a little fault and offer a few suggestions.
It is a fact well known that about nine-tenths of the standard pear trees planted in the West are grown in New York and Pennsylvania. These trees are grown according to their best judgment, judgments rendered by their ancestors in the faderland generations ago, and have been passed from father to son, and neighbor to neighbor, until it now would be considered sacrilege to depart from them. Our objection is to the height of the top and the size of the tree.
A No. 1 standard pear tree as sent out by these nurserymen is 6 to 8 feet high, 3 to 5 years old, and branched about 5 feet from the ground. Now, Mr. Editor, if I was called upon to tell you what sort of a tree is most worthless in every State west of Ohio, I would hardly change the above description.
A No. 1 standard pear for the West should be 3 to 5 feet high, 2 to 3 years old, and branched 1 to 2 feet from the ground. The tops must come down as we go west, and for central and western Kansas six inches to a foot is high enough.
High tops cause the death of more trees than everything else combined, and it does appear to me that we are now using enough pear trees to make it pardonable if we ask you to raise a tree suited to our climate, and as you may think peculiar wants.
Among my earliest recollections, which date back to 1830 to 183 >, I remember the old leaning, high-topped pear trees in New Jersey, many of them mere shells from the rotting away of the south sides.
These things caused no thought and no comment. They had been planted by our grandfather, who knew it would not do to have the limbs interfere with the horses' hames.
After living over twenty years in Illinois, and seeing the advantage of low-topped trees, I returned to the scenes of my childhood. These old trees were gone, compelled to succumb to the folly of the nurseryman who trimmed them. The thriftiest, and in many cases the only trees left in thse venerable orchards, were the ones that chanced to have the lowest tops. The above applies to all fruit trees. But as we are able to raise everything except pears, as well or better than they can, I confine my remarks to that only for the present.
Now, Mr. Meehan, I hope your nurserymen will not get angry at me for hinting that they, their fathers and mine, have made mistakes, but will go to work and raise us some nice little low-topped trees.