This section is from "Scientific American Supplement Volumes 275, 286, 288, 299, 303, 312, 315, 324, 344 and 358". Also available from Amazon: Scientific American Reference Book.
By N. ROBERTSON, Government Grounds, Ottawa.
A great deal has been written and said about tree planting. Some advise one way, some another. I will give you my method, with which I have been very successful, and, as it differs somewhat from the usual mode, may be interesting to some of your readers. I go into the woods, select a place where it is thick with strong, young, healthy, rapid growing trees. I commence by making a trench across so as I will get as many as I want. I may have to destroy some until I get a right start. I then undermine, taking out the trees as I advance; this gives me a chance not to destroy the roots. I care nothing about the top, because I cut them into what is called poles eight or ten feet long. Sometimes I draw them out by hitching a team when I can get them so far excavated that I can turn them down enough to hitch above where I intend to cut them off; by this method I often get almost the entire root. I have three particular points in this; good root, a stem without any blemish, and a rapid growing tree. This is seldom to be got where most people recommend trees to be taken from--isolated ones on the outside of the woods; they are generally scraggy and stunted; and to get their roots you would have to follow along way to get at the fibers on their points, without which they will have a hard struggle to live. Another point recommended is to plant so that the tree will stand in the direction it was before being moved; that I never think about, but always study to have the longest and most roots on the side where the wind will be strongest, which is generally the west, on an open exposure.
For years I was much against this system of cutting trees into poles, and fought hard against one of the most successful tree planters in Canada about this pole business. I have trees planted under the system described that have many strong shoots six and eight feet long--hard maple, elm, etc., under the most unfavorable circumstances. In planting, be particular to have the hole into which you plant much larger than your roots; and be sure you draw out all your roots to their length before you put on your soil; clean away all the black, leafy soil about them, for if that is left, and gets once dry, you will not easily wet it again. Break down the edges of your holes as you progress, not to leave them as if they were confined in a flower pot; and when finished, put around them a good heavy mulch, I do not care what of--sawdust, manure, or straw. This last you can keep by throwing a few spadefuls of soil over; let it pass out over the edges of your holes at least one foot.
I have no doubt that the best time to plant is the fall, as, if left till spring, the trees are too far advanced before the frost is put of the ground; and by fall planting the soil gets settled about the roots, and they go on with the season.
Trees cut like poles have another great advantage. For the first season they require no stakes to guard against the wind shaking them, which is a necessity with a top; for depend upon it, if your tree is allowed to sway with the wind, your roots will take very little hold that season, and may die, often the second year, from this very cause.
All who try this system will find out that they will get a much prettier headed tree, and much sooner see a tree of beauty than by any other, as, when your roots have plenty of fibrous roots, and are in vigorous health, three years will give you nice trees.--The Canadian Horticulturist.