This section is from the book "Commercial Gardening Vol3", by John Weathers (the Editor). Also available from Amazon: Commercial Gardening, A Practical & Scientific Treatise For Market Gardeners.
This is nothing more than the Wild Apple, the parent from which, through careful selection and patient observation and application of the beneficent laws of the Creator, all our many varieties of Apple have come. The characteristics of Apples worked on this stock (fig. 324), allowing for the divergences of individual characteristics, are strong, thick roots delving deep in the soil, producing vigorous, often luxurious, growth. The commencing of fruit-bearing is sometimes deferred until the tree has attained a considerable age; in the case of the "Duchess Favourite" it may be twenty years, and in the case of the " Blenheim Orange" more. The Crab is the only stock for half-standards and orchard standards.
This is often erroneously bracketed with the Crab, as being synonymous with it; but frequently it is obtained by sowing the pips from apples used in cider-making, and may possess the characteristics of widely differing parents. These may suit the variety worked on them, or they may not.
The first trees on this stock (fig. 325) were imported from France, but the French Paradise stock has proved too shortlived, and the planting of Apples worked on it may have led to some wholesale condemnations of the stock generally which are certainly not justified. There is an English variety which is sturdy and longlived. The advantages of Apple trees worked on the Paradise stock are: No tap roots, but roots of a fibrous nature that remain near the surface, and admit of more control by the cultivator; short, jointed growth that allows of closer planting; and, finally, quicker development of bearing capacity, often five years earlier than the same variety on the Crab.
The Doucin Or Dutch Possesses similar characteristics to the Paradise, only with more vigour of growth. This is an advantage with some varieties, as, for instance, "Early Victoria" and "Stirling Castle", which will crop so furiously on the Paradise as to leave no spare energy to grow a tree. It is important to remember that when planting trees on the Paradise or the Doucin stock, the place where the scion was put on to the stock should be below the level of the soil, and it should not be forgotten that the soil, after the planting, will settle considerably.
It will be apparent at once that if Dwarf Apples only are planted, the fruit will be more easily gathered, and it will be there to gather sooner. Insect and fungoid pests, also, will be more easily detected and dealt with. The initial outlay will be greater, because the trees cost more, and it will take more of them to the acre.
Fig. 324. - Wild Crab Apple Stock.
Fig. 325. - Paradise Stock.
An additional method, with much to recommend it, is to plant the Plums by themselves, 15 ft. apart, and bushes under, with Strawberries between, and the Apples and Pears in separate sections, Dwarfs with cordons up the middle and Strawberries under. It must be borne in mind that when planting a block of one kind of fruit tree it is not wise to plant all of one variety together. More fruit and a better quality will be produced if the advantages of cross fertilization are secured by planting no two adjoining rows of the same variety.
The best age for planting half-standards and dwarfs is two years, for bushes two or three years. Raspberries are, of course, always canes of one summer's growth.
The cost of making a plantation will depend upon (a) the expense of preparation, approximate figures of which have already been given; (6) the cost of the trees, which will vary according to variety from 50s. to 70s. per 100 for half-standards, about 150s. per 100 for standards, 60s. to 85s. per 100 for dwarfs, 80s. to 100s. per 1000 for bushes, and 20s. per 1000 for Raspberries; (c) planting, which will cost 1. 6d. to 2s. per dozen for the trees, 3s. per 100 for the bushes, and 10 per 1000 for the Strawberries. Before planting, all broken roots should be cut with a clean sloping cut, and care should be taken that the soil is shaken well in among the rootlets, which should be trained carefully out from the stock as centre. To make a hole, stick the tree up in the middle, flop shovelfuls of earth lumpy and unbroken on, and then jump on it, is not the way to plant a fruit tree.
Whether to prune back the top before planting or not is a question on which opinion is divided. Each plan has able advocates, and each side can point to flourishing plantations as proof of success. There seems much force, however, in the argument of one side to the controversy, that when you have harassed a tree by uprooting him he does not want at the same time the additional handicap of amputations at the other end, and it will be found to answer well to leave top pruning until the first winter after planting, when the shoots can be cut hard back, always to an outside bud, with the assurance that they will throw out good strong frame-making growths in the ensuing summer. (See figs. 326 and 327.)
When pruning a young tree, it must not be forgotten that the shoots now so slender will one day be main branches, and will want room to develop. It will therefore not be wise to leave them as thick as the stakes of a basket. If there are a few short thorny growths on the stem, don't cut them off the first year; by leaving them they will assist the development of the bark. Half-standard trees, as a rule, do not want staking, but better stake than allow them to be bent or broken by winds.
If you stake, tie some sacking or strawband round the tree stem to prevent it rubbing against the stake, bearing in mind that the most virulent of the pests that bother a fruit grower find an entrance through wounds in the bark, and have no other means of entrance. As the stem will increase in diameter as the tree grows, it will be necessary to attend to all bands tied round the trees every winter.