In a long series of chapters, attention has been given to the salient points of fruit cultivation, and it is hoped without any important omission. Yet the subject would be incomplete if no reference were made to gathering and storing fruit. It would he of very little avail to grow good fruit if it were spoiled after it left the tree. Now fruit is very easily spoiled, and the choicer it is the greater the danger of losing it. There ought not to be any great difficulty in learning to gather fruit properly, because the fruit tells its own story. If fruit is left on the tree until it is quite ripe it usually falls, because the point of attachment of the stalk changes its character, Therefore, this condition of the stalk is a good guide to the grower. If, on raising the fruit in such a way as to bring a firm yet gentle pressure to bear on the point of attachment, the end of the stalk parts from the spur, the fruit is ready to gather. If the slightest tug or twist is required it is not ready. This rule may be acted upon with all fruit until October. At that period doubts may arise. There will be late varieties of Pears, for example, that are quite hard and obviously unripe. Yet if left on the trees they would probably be injured by frost, and certainly they would not ripen there. Even in these cases it will usually be found that the fruit leaves the tree with only a gentle pressure on the end of the stalk. The rest is a question of storage. The Pears may shrivel or they may mature, according to their treatment. Large quantities of fruit fail to keep well on account of rough handling between tree and store. A bruise means decay, and one bad fruit may contaminate many good ones. Gathering is usually done with the hands direct, and there is no real excuse for bruising; it is only a question of putting the fruit into the basket instead of throwing it in. Various contrivances are brought into play to facilitate gathering fruit, particularly in the case of rather high trees. Unfortunately these sometimes take the shape of a hooked stick or something equally crude, which is only capable of dragging the fruit off. Gathering ought to mean rather more than this. A pouch formed of a piece of netting mounted on a rod answers very well, but where access to the fruit can be got the hands should be employed.

Fig. 103. A Useful Fruit Gatherer
Fig. 103. A Useful Fruit Gatherer

A, circular loop of stout wire: a, diameter of loop, 4 to 5 inches; b, straight ends about 3 inches long.

B, conical bag of netting or calico; c, handle; d, bag.