This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
The gathering and storing of fruits is often attended with much anxiety, it being of great moment to have them dry and free from injury when taken under cover. Very late kinds should not be gathered too soon; shrivelling would then take place. When the seeds begin to assume a black colour, it is a sign the trees have done their work for the fruit. This applies to Apples and Pears. They also break off freely from the trees. They ought to be handled carefully, and laid out on shelves, clean and dry, and plenty of air admitted to the structure till "sweating" is over; then a close dark atmosphere suits them well. In large old barns they may be seen stored in this district as one would Potatoes; and they evidently keep well in such quarters. To keep frost from them it is well to throw dry straw over the stores; but there is not much fear of their requiring such protection during October. Now is a good time to prepare for planting fruit-trees. It is well to consider what purpose the trees are ultimately to serve. Orchard-trees under which sheep and cattle are to graze should be on high stems, and the bark protected.
Some rub them with a mixture of lime and tar; but though recognising the use of lime by itself as a wash to cleanse trees, we would prefer three or four stakes placed round the stems, lashed together at the top by a piece of wire. Bush and pyramid trees are most suitable for gardens and private orchards; and, preparing for all and sundry, we would trench the ground all over, and place brick-rubbish below each tree. Firm planting, secure staking, and careful mulching, are matters of no small importance to begin with. Strong loam, well drained, on a slope to the south, is the most favourable condition for the trees that we know of. A quantity of free healthy loam placed with the roots of each tree as the work of planting goes on, gives a favourable start to the trees. Transplanting, lifting, or root-pruning should be done as early as possible before the cold weather sets in. The same remarks apply to bush fruits of all kinds. They mostly require manure in liberal quantities, especially good mulching.
A stock of Currants (black, red, and white) should be grown in the shade of a wall or hedge, to give late supplies.
Apricots, Peaches, and Plums should be well kept up above surfaces where they are flat; these all do well with careful lifting (replanting the roots out flatly). When they are again placed in the soil the fibres should be retained with the greatest care, cutting off clean any injured roots, or any which are long and naked. In flat orchards channels should he made to take off the surface-water as quickly as possible. Though orchards are to be met with in fruit-growing districts in every position, aspect, and elevation, and growing as if to shut out the horizon, it is worth the trouble to give them a fair amount of attention as to thinning their centres, proper aspects, keeping the bark free from moss, and preventing them from growing the one into the other, as is too frequently the case in favoured districts where nature is allowed to do as she pleases, and then is grumbled at when the trees grow out of bearing by neglect of the most ordinary attention, Where trees are cankering and showing each year numbers of dead and dying shoots, the cause may be found in the soil; deep down the roots will have grown into sour unhealthy subsoil, and are there decaying like their top: prevention at planting time to send the roots horizontally would save much trouble and loss.
Choose kinds of fruits well known in the district for their hardiness and free-bearing quality. Among Pears we mostly find (they are with us this year extra good) Louise Bon of Jersey, Marie Louise, Pitmaston Duchess, Thompson's, Glout Morceau, Jersey Gratioli. Apples, such as Stirling Castle, Lord Suffield, Eclinville, Wellington, Keswick Codlin, Irish Peach. Plums in abundance were Green Gage, Blue Gage, Jefferson, Kirke's, Victoria, Coe's Golden Drop, Diamond, and Peach Plum. Peaches on open walls are and were Early Rivers, Hale's Early (both very useful), Bellegarde, Crimson Gillande, Royal George, Violette Hative. The foregoing are among the hardiest of their kind, and may often be seen plentiful in exposed positions when many other kinds are scarce. All late and sappy growths on wall-trees should be removed or shortened, and every means taken to assist the maturation of the wood. Shoots should be thin, and not platted one over the other; this applies particularly to Figs. These always do well when spurs are short, natural, and close to the walls. Strawberries should already be trimmed and manured, either by spreading rotten manure on the surface or by slightly forking it in. The roots need not be disturbed. Young plants may be put in reserve beds till wanted.
In the orchard-house every attention should be given to ripening of wood without disturbing the foliage, which are maturing the permanent fruit-buds; late growths may be removed. Trees, whether dwarf bushes, tall standards, or trained to trellis-work, which are continuing to grow late, and showing absence of ripening their wood, should be carefully examined at the roots to see the cause; naked tap-roots going straight down may be found and may be removed; over-doses of manure-water may have done mischief, which will necessitate regulating at the roots; removal of mulching and surface-soil may be of service in hastening the ripening of wood. A dry current of air is indispensable to the wellbeing of trees at this season. Where ripe Peaches of the Late Admirable and Solway kinds are still hanging, and are wanted to ripen, dryness and abundance of air will aid them; but where hot-water pipes are at command, they will push forward ripening of wood or fruit. Trees beginning to shed their leaves of the Standard class, planted out, which are growing one-sided to the sun, may be lifted and replanted, placing the thin bare side next the south; they are very manageable under such a practice, and can be kept as fruitful dwarfs many years, and bear immense crops of fine fruit, and can be helped greatly by liquid manure.