WTHEN the fruit trees blossom in late April and early May, the whole country where we live becomes, from the many orchards on all sides, one great garden. The exquisite pink-tinged apple blossoms, the pale pink blooms of the peach, the masses of delicate color set in the tender green of budding leaves and fresh grass, all breathing the fragrance of the Spring, make the scene one of beauty indescribable. We can understand and sympathize with the Japanese in their love of the cherry, peach, and plum blossoms, and envy them the life that makes it possible to lay work aside for a time every day and flock to the gardens, where the cult of the fruit tree and the Wistaria, of Paeonies, Lilies, and Chrysantheipums have been brought to perfection, and where they may steep their senses in this beauty daily, from the time the early cherry blossoms come until the petals of the last Chrysanthemum have been borne away by the winds. But how few dwellers in our cities give thought to the wonderful beauty to be seen, just a little way out in the country, when the blossoms come in Spring! And even were time available, how few among the multitude would leave the asphalt for a day merely to gaze upon the fairy-like scene! To them, living is such a tread-mill of obligation and toil and work, that many go through life with unseeing eyes for the great beauties of Nature. From the days when the stern Pilgrims, hoe in hand and musket slung over the shoulder, wrested a scanty living from the wilderness, until to-day, when millionaires travel between their country places and Wall Street by automobile, swift yacht, or special train, reading the last edition of the newspaper en route, we have been so occupied in the pursuit of the practical, that as a people we have neglected the cultivation of the sense and love of beauty. That the whole population of a city should flock to gardens of cherry blooms, or have feasts at Wistaria time, is something we might possibly dream of, yet cannot comprehend. But success and consequent ease of life, with an ever-increasing class of nature lovers, and of those who appreciate the beauty of simplicity, are gradually leavening the multitude; and possibly within a few generations, our people may have the same love for beauty in form and color, in sunlight and shadow, in the bird on the wing, in the dwarf tree as well as the great pine, in the bud and seed pod, as well as in the perfect bloom, which now the Japanese possess in such perfection. Fruit trees are lovely not only when masses of bloom. Can anything be more beautiful than a fine apple tree laden with fruit, or a cherry tree when every twig is bending with the weight of glossy, red cherries, or a peach tree covered with peaches that make one's mouth water to look upon? Is there anything more ornamental than a crab apple tree with its brilliantly colored fruit; or a vine heavy with clusters of purple and red grapes; or currant bushes with their scarlet, gem-like berries?
The demand for good fruit has never been met with a sufficient supply, and there is always a ready market for any fine fruit raised beyond the requirements of home consumption.
I have always believed that a woman, thrown upon her own resources, could make a good living from a few acres of land, by the culture of asparagus, for which there is always a demand exceeding the supply, and of small fruits. If she had also a cellar where mushrooms could be raised, and would cultivate them, first in a small way, until she had gained the necessary knowledge and experience for their extensive culture, she would make a gratifying addition to her income.
All entrance to the Lily garden September eighteenth.
In this chapter, I would speak of fruits only for the small home garden, their larger cultivation in orchards being a subject by itself.
Fruits should never be grown on low, wet ground where water stands in Spring or Fall; in fact, they would quickly die in such a situation. The same soil and location that make a successful garden will also grow fruits successfully. Fruit trees will do better the first year on land that has been cultivated the previous season, but when they are to be planted in sod, the ground should first be plowed deeply, all stones removed and then well fertilized.
The tall or standard orchard tree is always the best to plant. The dwarf trees are all well enough where space is limited, but one fine tree of the standard varieties is better than six of the dwarf.
Nearly all fruit trees may be planted in the Fall, but it is better to set them out in the Spring as soon as the ground can be worked. Three-year-old trees are the best to plant, and the same care must be taken in planting fruit trees as with all other trees; the hole must be larger than the roots, all broken and injured roots should be cut off and the earth well packed down and made firm around them. After planting, all trees, bushes and grape-vines should be given a mulch about three or four inches deep of leaves, litter or old manure extending out for a foot beyond the space occupied by the roots. This keeps them moist and assists the tree in making new growth.