This section is from the book "The Gardener V2", 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.
In the south of England orchards are on the increase, showing they do not seem to fear the importation of foreign fruits, as some would endeavour to make us believe. Of course it requires years of waiting before an orchard of Cherries or Apples, etc. etc, is remunerative, and bush-fruit coming in so much sooner helps to pay at a much earlier period. We know a neighbourhood where the soil is not suited for growing bush-fruit. In these orchards, were they to dig the soil over in winter, letting it remain as thrown from the spade, it would only be so many hard lumps during summer, almost like so many old brickbats. There the orchards are all in grass, and are mostly of Apple and Plum trees. These do not generally produce such well-grown trees as the freer soil. In many districts in the south of England there is scarcely a set of farm-buildings without its orchard, to both shelter the premises and yield remunerative crops of fruit; and almost all cottages and hamlets are embosomed amongst orchards, and those who are not themselves fruiterers or market-gardeners often sell their crops of fruit by public auction. These sales may embrace all, or nearly all, the orchards within two or three miles square of a district, more or less according to arrangements.
Of course the orchards and the nature of their productions are well advertised for a few weeks before the sale, so that intending purchasers may have an opportunity of visiting them to form an opinion of what the crops may be worth. The sale takes place at some convenient central place. Prices vary considerably: in some cases we have wondered how they could pay the purchasers, from the very high price given by them for the crop of fruit, - sometimes £40 an acre for Cherry and Gooseberry orchards, besides all attendant expenses of gathering and sending to market, which may be about a quarter more; but of course few, as a general rule, come up to this figure. This has been obtained this season in a few cases only - while, as was the case last year, few if any reached more than one-half so much; and of course where they are in grass they are proportionably less. G. D.