In the preliminary observations on the subjects already treated of, I am aware that it may appear to some that I have not sufficiently urged the importance of a judicious selection of situation, exposure, aspect, soil, etc. My object in not insisting on a strict attention to these important points was, because I know that, though good land is abundant in this extensive country, it is impossible for every one to choose for himself; and rather than any disadvantages in these respects should discourage proprietors of land from attempting to raise garden products, so necessary to the comfort and convenience of every family, I have endeavoured to show them how to use to advantage whatever land may surround their places of abode. As, however, some have a choice, it may be necessary to offer some farther remarks on the subject.
The situation of an Orchard or Fruit Garden should be one that has the advantage of a free circulation of air, and is exposed to the south, with a slight inclination to the east and southwest. When the situation is low and close, the trees are very liable to become mossy, which always injures them, by closing up the pores of the wood; they are also more liable to be affected by blight. Although having an orchard closely pent up by trees, etc, is injurious, nevertheless a screen of forest trees, at such a distance from the fruit trees as that the latter will not be shaded by them, is of very great service in protecting the trees in spring from severe cold winds.
A good strong loamy soil, not too retentive of moisture, to the depth of thirty inches, or three feet, is most suitable for an orchard. Great attention must be paid to the substratum, as the ground must be well drained; for if the top soil be ever so good, and the bottom wet, it is very rarely the case that, the trees prosper many years; they soon begin to be diseased go to decay. As it is so indispensably necessary to the success of fruit trees that the bottom should be dry, if it is not naturally so, it must be made so by judicious draining.
When it is necessary to make the bottom dry by draining, it must be done some time before the trees are planted. In performing this work, the ground must be trenched, and when the trench is open, stone, or brick-bats, etc, must be laid over the bottom to the thickness of six inches, a little coal ashes, or small gravel, must be sprinkled over the top of the stones, etc, and then the surface gently rolled. Drains may also be made in different directions, so that any excess of moisture can be taken entirely away from the ground.
It is well known to most cultivators, that exposure of soils to the atmosphere greatly improves them, as is experienced by ridging and trenching. Where the soil is stiff and stubborn, small gravel, sand, coal ashes, lime, light animal and vegetable manure, and other light composts, are very appropriate substances to be applied, and will, if carefully managed and well worked into the ground, soon bring it into a proper condition for most purposes.
Previous to laying out an orchard or fruit garden, the soil should be manured and pulverized to a great depth. It should be made sweet, that the nutriment which the roots receive may be wholesome; free, that they may be at full liberty to range in quest of it; and rich, that there may be no defect in food.
If orchards are made from meadows or pasture lands, the ground should be improved as much as possible by manuring, trenching, ploughing, etc. If this is not done to its full extent, it should be done in strips of at least six feet in width along where the fruit trees are to be planted, and at the time of planting let the holes be dug somewhat larger than is sufficient to admit the roots in their natural position, and of sufficient depth to allow of a foot of rich and well-pulverized mould to be thrown in before the trees are planted.
In transplanting trees, they should not be placed more than an inch or two deeper than they were in the nursery bed, and the earth intended for filling in should be enriched and well pulverized by mixing in some good old manure; and if any leaves, decayed brush, rotten wood, potato tops, or other refuse of a farm, are attainable, let such be used around the trees in filling, taking care that the best pulverized mould is admitted among the fine roots. The trees in planting should be kept at ease, and several times shaken, so as to cause an equal distribution of the finer particles of earth to be connected with the small fibres of the roots; and when completely levelled, let the ground be well trodden down and moderately watered, which should be repeated occasionally after spring planting, if the weather should prove dry.
As some difference of opinion exists among practical men as to the best time for planting fruit trees, the following extract from Mr. Prince's Treatise on Horticulture is submitted: