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.
We are pleased to learn from the Boston Herald that tree planting in Massachusetts is progressing. " A few farmers in Nantucket and Cape Cod began about thirty years ago raising forests in this manner, and their plantations are now, perhaps, in many respects the most interesting examples of successful arboriculture which can be seen in the United States. They only planted the seeds of one of our native trees, the common pitch pine (Pinus rigida). This is one of the least valuable of our trees, but there is a handsome profit to be made in planting it on waste and unproductive lands, irrespective of the shelter and protection which even a small grove of pine trees is capable of affording. The seed of the pitch pine is easily procurable. It is cheap, and possessed of such vitality that the farmer planting it in the sand, even of Cape Cod, can be sure of his crop. At different times about ten thousand acres on Cape Cod, principally in or near the town of Orleans, have been planted with the seeds of this tree, while in Nantucket something like seven hundred acres were planted between 1850 and 1855. The land on which the Nantucket plantations were made, was worth, at the time of planting, $I an acre.
Land of the same sort can be bought for the same price now, although the planted land has long been assessed at $8 per acre, and finds a ready sale at $15 or more an acre. The land first planted, thirty years ago, will cut from fifteen to twenty cords of firewood to the acre, worth at least S3 a cord on the stump. This wood is not of the best quality, and from good land the yield per acre would be ridiculously small.
"In order to test the possibility of growing cheaply some of the more valuable pines from seed in this way, a series of experiments were undertaken two years ago, under the direction of Prof. Sargent, of the Harvard Arboretum, by Mr. Henry G. Russell, on his estate at East Greenwich, R. I. Four plots, each one acre in extent, were laid out; in shallow furrows, four feet apart, were run both ways, and at their intersection the seeds were planted in the most careful manner possible, special pains having been taken to procure the best seed which could be found in this country or Europe".
The kinds sown were the White, Austrian, Cor-sicati and Scotch. This seed sowing where the trees were to grow was not a success, as very few seeds came to be trees. But though not a success, the experiments are extremely useful as showing what may not be done. There is the fact that pines do well in Massachusetts soil. All that is to be learnt is how to raise them cheaply and successfully, so that the crop will be as certain as corn and not too costly at the outset.
" Mr. Russell's example is worthy of more general imitation. By devoting his time, his land and his money to experiments of this nature, he is doing much to make tree-planting easy and profitable for the next generation. His experimental plantings already cover more than a hundred acres, and are being constantly and rapidly extended. Having failed in raising pines cheaply from seed, he is now engaged in trying a similar experiment with the Ailanthus. If he can demonstrate that it is practicable to cover his sandy shore with this valuable tree, at a cost of not more than a dollar or two an acre, he will have introduced a new era into New England tree-planting, which will add much to its agricultural prosperity".