The garden should contain at least six pear trees. If well cared for, they will bear fruit during a long lifetime. The early kinds ripen in August and the late varieties will keep well into the winter, so that pears can be had from your own garden for quite half the year.
Not long ago a lady showed me in her garden a pear tree thirteen years old, of the Kieffer variety, that had never received any particular care or attention beyond pruning; yet it had always borne abundantly, and this year yielded ten bushels of fine fruit.
Pear trees will thrive on clayey soil and require but little fertilizer. Stable manures, nitrates and bone meal, all of which are valuable for other fruits, tend to produce pear blight, which declares itself by the blackened condition of the leaves. The only cure for this pear blight is in the removal of the affected branch at once when the trouble appears. Branches should always be sawed from a tree, never chopped, and the surface where the limb has been sawed off should be given, immediately, a coat of thick paint. A little wood ashes and some superphosphate of lime may be dug into the ground around pear trees in the Spring, and will give sufficient stimulus. Whenever wood ashes are used, do not let them come in contact with the trunk of the tree, lest they burn the wood.
Cedar tree transplanted from the woods September twentieth.
There are two varieties of pears, standard and dwarf. The former should be planted twenty feet apart; the dwarf varieties ten feet. Dwarf pears are generally grafted on quince roots, and, like all grafted stock, should be planted deeply, the graft being set quite four inches below the top of the ground. The trees should be examined carefully in the Spring for borers, and the soil over the roots kept loose and free from weeds and grass.
The following are excellent varieties of Pears: Wilder Early and Manning's Elizabeth, which ripen in August; Bartlett and Flemish Beauty, in September; Duchesse d'Angouleme, Louise Bonne of Jersey, and Seckel, in October; Anjou, Easter Beurre, and Josephine of Malines, very late varieties. The last three should be gathered in October, and will keep in a cool, dry place until January or February.
Peaches to do well in orchards should be on high ground; they seem to prefer a hillside. When grown in a protected situation, the buds swell early in the spring and are often destroyed by late frosts. Peach trees will not be hurt by a low temperature in Winter unless the weather is also damp or foggy, but late Spring frosts are certain to do them great damage. In a garden they should, if possible, be planted where they will be sheltered from the west and south by buildings, evergreens or hedges, that they may not start too early in the Spring.
The peach is not a long-lived tree and has several serious enemies. The first of these is San Jose scale, which, being contagious, should be preventable, if the owner upon discovering it would promptly take up the tree or plant and burn it, root and branch, and then at once spray the remaining trees with the lime, salt and sulphur spray recommended by the United States Agricultural Department and generally used by fruit growers. This disease should be treated in the same manner as the Board of Health proceeds in cases of contagion, the spraying corresponding to the fumigation of a dwelling. Yellows is another contagious disease, which is recognized by the ripening of the fruit long before its due time, by the red spots on the peaches extending from the skin well into the fruit, and also by the tufts of yellowish leaves which form upon the branches. Trees so affected should be burned at once. Curculio also attacks the peach, and can be destroyed by jarring the tree and burning the insects and infected fruit in the same manner as described for the treatment of cherry trees. The borers, or grubs, must also be dug or cut out from the trunk of the tree just below the ground every Spring and Fall.
Peach trees are usually sent out from the nurseries when one year old, and should be cut back when planted so that they look like little switches. But their growth is rapid and in four years they will bear a crop.
In a garden, the trees may be set from twelve to sixteen feet apart. Generally after eight or ten years, and sometimes sooner, the old trees are uprooted and new ones planted in other ground. There are instances of older orchards or of older single trees in gardens, but these are rare. A late Spring frost, dry weather after the fruit has formed and many other causes may prevent the trees from bearing, and they rarely bear on succeeding years. Of all the fruits in the garden, you must count least upon the peaches, they are so shy and uncertain. But when they do bear, the fruit is delicious and you are well rewarded for all the pruning and cultivation and care.
Every year in March, the trees must be pruned and sprayed with the Bordeaux, and again sprayed after the blossoms have fallen, and a third time after the young fruit has formed if there are any signs of fungus diseases.
Wood ashes and muriate of potash are considered by many to be the best fertilizers for peach trees. Barnyard manure and bone meal are also excellent. The fertilizers should be dug into the ground around the trees early in the Spring. If muriate of potash is used, from two to three pounds for a full-grown tree is the usual quantity. The advantage of potash over other fertilizers is in the color it imparts to the fruit. The same quantity of bone meal or wood ashes could be used, if preferred. Half the quantity of fertilizer used for grown trees other fruit trees, and some nitrate of soda and bone meal dug about them in the Spring. The best varieties are Rea's Mammoth, and Apple.
The few fruit trees grown in a garden are more likely to be free from disease than where they are grown by thousands in great orchards. Careful cultivation, with prevention by spraying and cutting, and a sharp lookout for borers and insects, will reward the gardener with beautiful trees and excellent crops of fruit to delight family and friends. A man can easily spray all the trees in a home garden in a forenoon, and the other necessary work in caring for them takes but a short time. I have often thought that if we had room for but six trees, one of them would be an apple tree, one a red cherry, and the others would be a locust, a catalpa, a white pine, and a hemlock spruce. The four deciduous trees would give us blossoms in May and June, with cool shade throughout the Summer; then there would be cherries in June and apples in October, and always, but particularly in Winter, the two sturdy evergreens would be a daily joy.
Tall pointed cedars in the Lily garden July twenty-third.