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.
Our attention has been called to the following from the New York World:
"A lecture of Mr. B. G. Northrop, Secretary of the Connecticut Board of Education, on " Rural Improvement," has been published in pamphlet form, and deserves careful reading. An especially interesting portion of it, in view of the wholesale destruction of our forests year after year by fire and the dangers which are thus threatened, is that which deals with trees and tree-planting. Mr. Northrop urges importing and cultivating the European larch, which combines the three qualities of durability of timber, rapidity of growth and symmetry of form, and grows well in sterile soil and on exhausted hillsides, where it will crowd out useless stubble and undergrowth. Hardly any other tree is so valuable as the larch in fertilizing effects, since its foliage is peculiarly dense, and, being deposited annually, forms in time a rich vegetable mould from which excellent pasture will grow. By the planting of this tree waste lands abandoned now to hardhack, sumac and other worthless brush may be reclaimed. It attains maturity long before the oak, and serves well for nearly all the purposes of that sturdy and storied tree, and from a mercantile point of view is much more valuable, a larch thirty years old sometimes selling for $15, while oaks of the same age are not worth $3 each.
In Scotland, where the tree was first planted on the estates of the Duke of Athole, matured crops of larch of sixty-five years' standing have sold for from $750 to $2,000 per acre, when the land was originally worth but three or four dollars per acre. The extent to which tree-planting would be valuable in the reclamation of such regions as the sand-barrens of the Atlantic States, the shores of Florida, the Gulf coast and the eastern shores of Lake Michigan is indicated by Mr. Northrop in a quotation from Mr. George P. Marsh, who says that there is no question that the sand dunes of Denmark, which cover 160,000 acres, those of Prussia, extending over 110,000 acres, and in short the whole 7,000,000 acres of drifting sand in Europe, might for the most part be reclaimed by simple tree-planting. In France this work has been going on for some years and gives promise of great results".
We do not understand that Mr. Northrop's views in regard to the value of the larch is drawn from American experience. We have known of some cases where the larch has been raised and the timber seemed to be all that can be desired, but in other cases it has not proved to be as good as was expected. The larch is eminently a cool-country plant, and it is doubtful whether it will retain its value as a timber tree in hot ones. We should have more faith in White Pine than Larch as a profitable timber tree. Even in Scotland, referred to by Mr. Northrop, it is found that the larch is not as generally reliable as the quotation reference implies.
The point made about crowding out underbrush as a partial security against forest fires is a very good one. It is doubtful whether very serious fires would often occur, but for the accumulation of dead wood and withered leaves favored by undergrowth.