This section is from the book "The Gardener V3", 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.
This variety of Nut is not grown very extensively in Britain for its fruiting qualities. It is, however, pretty generally grown as an ornamental tree. It is very pretty and very graceful, especially when in flower in spring, but does not form either so handsome or so picturesque a tree as the common Horse-Chestnut. The propagation of the Spanish Chestnut is generally accomplished by sowing seeds, and by grafting or budding, where it is wanted to perpetuate any given variety. "Where seed is sown, the best time to do so is in October or November, sowing in drills 3 or 4 inches deep, 2 feet apart, and 6 inches seed from seed. At the end of the first year the young trees will be fit to transplant into nursery-lines 3 feet apart, and 2 feet plant from plant, where they may be nursed for a year or two, after which they may be planted into their permanent places, either in the field, the forest, or the outskirts of the garden. If trees are wanted for their fruit, it is best to have them either grafted or budded, the former being perhaps the best method to adopt. If the scions are taken from old fruit-bearing trees, and grafted in any of the ordinary methods upon a seedling of two or three years old, the probability is that the young tree will produce flowers the succeeding year.
If the seedling has been well attended to, having its tap-root cut back when it was transplanted, and if afterwards the tree be regularly attended to by having a biennial root-pruning, there will be little danger in having a regular flowering-plant every year after grafting.
The soil which best suits the Chestnut is a light yet moderately rich sandy loam, ■with a thoroughly dry subsoil. A w5t soil, however, is more injurious to its well-being than any particular soil. For while it will live and look well in almost any soil which is dry, it will only linger out an ignoble existence if placed in a wet and cold position. As has already been hinted, there is no position in the garden suited for its cultivation, on account of the size to which it attains. It is therefore better suited for planting about the garden boundary or on the open pleasure-ground, where it proves an interesting object of admiration. The pruning of the Chestnut has perhaps received less attention than any other of our hardy fruits, yet we are inclined to think with Mr M'Intosh, that if it is to be grown for its fruit, it must at least receive as much attention as any other of our hardy fruits - "root-pruning, combined with grafting and budding, would have the effect of bringing them into a much earlier habit of fruit-bearing, and limit their size to that of an ordinary Apple-tree." The fruit is not fit for use until it has fallen from the tree of its own accord, when it may be separated from the husk and laid away in a cool dry fruit-room until required for use.
James M 'Millan.
(To be continued).