This section of the book is from the Guide To Hardy Fruits And Ornamentals book, by Thomas Joseph Dwyer, published in 1903.
We wish we were able to show clearly and plainly in this little work the absolute necessity of doing this important task at the right time and
at all times, in the best manner. Thorough tillage of the soil is bound to bring good results, and on this requisite depends the life and welfare of your trees. Clean and thorough cultivation means that you must keep your ground free of weeds at all times. It means more than this -- that you must destroy the weeds before you see them. If you do this you will always, during the growing season, have your ground loose and in perfect order for the welfare of your trees. We see no good or sufficient reason to go into any lengthy detail in this matter. The plow, cultivator and harrow are to be used, and when to use them must be determined by yourself. Keep your ground loose and free from weeds and you will be sure to give the proper cultivation. The entire ground in your young orchard should be kept plowed for the first five years. You can, of course, crop the ground between the rows with strawberries, or with low growing vegetables, such as potatoes, tomatoes, beets, carrots and beans. These are most suitable crops for the situation, but if you choose you can crop the ground with corn, wheat, rye and oats; but no matter what your crop may be don't plant within five feet of the trees. Where trees are planted in sod ground, on the lawn or in other places, the soil should be kept loose about them three to four feet in diameter. It is a comparatively small and inexpensive job to cultivate your fruit trees, providing you do the work in. a timely season. Don't let tufts of grass grow and develop around the trunk of the trees. We have proven conclusively and to our entire satisfaction after many years of experiments, that (excepting the peach tree) constant and persistent cultivation from year to year is detrimental to the welfare of all fruit trees. With this uninterrupted and continued tillage it is difficult to keep the trees under proper control; we are sure to stimulate them beyond their natural possibilities and as a consequence produce an excessive and inferior wood growth. Where we have such an over-abundance of wood growth the formation and development of the fruit buds is correspondingly retarded. Where there is such a superfluity of wood growth it must be removed each year by severe and necessarily injurious pruning, and this together with the bad results of overfeeding will in a few years exhaust the vitality of the trees. We have trees in our orchard at the present time dying and beyond hope from these causes. After your orchard has been tilled for five years it should be seeded down to grass for three or four years, then cultivated again as in the beginning. An alternating system of this kind judiciously prosecuted of cultivation and no cultivation will, we believe, prolong the life of the trees and one year with another give the most permanent and profitable results.