This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Reading in your January number that you recently saw some walnut logs in Indiana that had been sold for one hundred dollars, called to mind that when I was a boy ten years old, living with an uncle in Illinois, that in the year 1849, I picked a walnut out of the edge of the ground near the house, which had just began to sprout, and with childish curiosity planted it to see if it would grow. In a fortnight it came up, and I drove some small stakes around it to keep the chickens from scratching it up, then called my aged grandmother's attention to it and told her I was going to raise some walnuts some time. She replied that I was a foolish boy, and that I had better have planted a peach or an apple tree, as there were thousands of walnuts growing all over the woods; which at that day was true, but they are all gone now. Notwithstanding her reproof I nursed and cultivated my little walnut carefully two or three years, or as long as I lived with my uncle, and after I left his home it received the best of attention on my account; but in the course of time he disposed of the farm, and the new owners moved the house away, and chopped down an elm, a wild cherry and a mulberry tree that stood a few feet from the walnut; but as my walnut had begun bearing good-sized crops of walnuts it was spared.
This was about the year 1858. Every few years since that time 1 have been on this farm, and with pleasure have noticed the rapid growth of my tree. The fences of the farm have been so changed that the tree now stands in the middle of a twenty-acre field usually planted in corn or sown in wheat.
In the spring of 1879, when it was thirty years old, I was visiting my old friend and schoolmate of my boyhood, Joseph N. McKee, who now owns the farm, and I called his attention to my old friend, the walnut, and bade him spare it on my account, as I wanted to see, if I lived to be an old man, how large it would grow. We measured it, and were astonished to find the circumference was five feet and three inches, one foot above the ground. This farm is three miles south of Edwardsville, Madison County, Illinois. Jos. N. McKee, the owner, values it now at $125 per acre; but if ten acres of it had been planted in walnuts at the time this was planted, the ten acres would be worth probably three or four times as much as the whole farm, which contains eighty acres.
[Exact figures like these are always acceptable. But those going into the forestry business have to consider that what one tree does on an acre of ground is but little guide to what fifty trees would do on the same acre, - or what one tree on one acre, helped by the culture we give corn or grain, would do, as against fifty left as a forest to struggle along as best they may on the same acre. We have also to remember, that in corn or wheat we have always some profit every year, and this has to be computed with compound interest as against the trees which for so many years have brought in nothing, Fifty trees will not grow as fast as one, as already noted; but if they did, it might perhaps be a question whether $6,000 could not be had in thirty years from the same land, if we charge interest on crops and the value of the land against the trees and in favor of the farm crops. We do not know that the result would be against the trees. We only say that it is such questions as these that have to be considered in discussing profitable forestry. - Ed. G. M.]