The Apple is undoubtedly the most useful of fruits, hardy or otherwise, and is appreciated by old and young, rich and poor, alike. Not very many years ago our supplies were home-grown; but, like beef and bread, we are now indebted, to a great extent, to America for a very large quantity of the finest Apples. It is alleged that there are sufficient Apples to spare in the United States and Canada to fully supply this country, and of better quality than we are able to produce even in our best fruit-growing districts. And yet we feel confident that, on suitable soils, and in favourable localities, Apple-growing will be a paying occupation for a long while to come. Unless prices are to be remunerative, growers in America will not care about supplying us; and we may take some comfort from the fact that if land is cheaper there, labour is cheaper here. Of course they have the advantage in the matter of climate; but this only applies to the growing of fine kinds - for there are many square miles, altogether, in this country where Apples may be grown, with as certain a chance of a crop as in America, if quantities of trustworthy hinds are grown.

This means, that if we will retreat at those parts of the line where we are beaten, and concentrate our forces where we are able to hold our own, the day, so far, may yet be ours. It is of no use our trying to compete with the Americans in the production of the finest dessert Apples, for there our climate fails us. We may grow fine Apples as heretofore, but we must admit the fact at once that we can never do so remuneratively - at least, with our present varieties - for our fine kinds are not to be depended on for a crop; and unless we are to have kinds which are certain croppers, we may as well give in at once. Kitchen Apples will always be needed, and in increasing quantities too; for people of all grades are awaking to the fact that fruits are necessaries of life, and not merely luxuries, as they have been hitherto regarded.

With such facts as these before our eyes, we do not think we would do right if we advised the amateur grower, who may know nothing at all of the subject, to buy and plant fine sorts in a small garden. We have seen this done, and seen the bitter disappointment when, after years of spending and hoping, the result was bare trees year after year.

This is addressed to those who plant that they may reap; who prefer crops with something like regularity - even although the quality is not the very best - rather than a few very fine fruits now and again at intervals of years. Possibly others may go in for quality and risk the chance of a crop. We will endeavour to meet the requirements of all parties, but we add again - it is cheaper to buy the finest Apples; while, under certain conditions, it is cheaper to produce ordinary kinds than to buy them.


We think that soil is the most important thing to consider in the planting of Apple-trees. Climate is no doubt an important factor in the production of first-class crops, but there are not many districts south of the Grampians where the climate is so bad that fine crops of Apples may not be produced if the soil is a proper one. Now we wish to impress our readers with this fact, for this is where the majority of inexperienced persons err : it is useless to plant orchard-trees on land where the farmer fears to allow his plough to penetrate more than 5 inches; and yet we could name places where such a thing has been done. We know that ninety-nine out of every hundred of cottage and villa gardeners have no power to help themselves in this matter, - they must "take the ford as they find it." When the soil is extremely thin, only dwarf trees should be grown, although dwarfs may be grown on any soil. Our best orchards everywhere are on deep heavy land; and unless the soil is, or can be made, 2 feet deep at the very least, and 3 feet if possible, we would not advise the planting of what are known as Standards. Yet no trees give less trouble and yield more in the long run.

If the soil is light and deep it will do very well for the same purpose, and road-scrapings or clayey soil will do it much good. Heavy soil may be improved by the opposite treatment. Road-scrapings from off sandy roads will do much good, and such is generally more attainable by the grower on a small scale than light loam or sandy soil, although these should be secured if they are to be obtained. Ashes (screened), sand, leaf-mould, peat, and other suchlike substances are also valuable. Drainage is also necessary; for no fruit-tree will thrive where the soil is saturated with water.

In preparing the ground for the reception of the trees, it should be trenched to its full depth, but only the best soil thrown on the top. The bottom should be dug over (or picked if need be), so that the air and rain may penetrate and escape freely. Between the three upper layers of earth, layers of manure should be placed - thick or thin as the land is poor or rich - and a dressing of lime, unless the soil is on chalk or limestone, over the surface. This operation may be done during winter. The season following we would take a crop of Potatoes off the ground, and work the ground properly. The result will be a well-prepared soil, on which the trees will be sure to grow if they are healthy when planted, and properly taken care of afterwards. Of course, if the trees are to be dotted about in the vegetable-garden, the whole garden need not be trenched; nor will it be necessary to wait a year on the ground preparing. When the ground is in good condition, and properly drained, the trees may be at once planted.

When the land is once properly prepared, the operation of planting is the same in all cases.


In gardens, Apple and other fruit trees are planted along the sides of the walks, and against the walls. If no other place is available, then these are the best places. Standards should be planted not nearer to the walk than 5 feet, and not nearer each other in the rows than 20 feet, or else in a few years nothing will grow between them. "We don't recommend such trees for small gardens at all; for a very few trees would swallow up the whole space and leave room for nothing else in a short time. Trees of this kind are only suitable for large gardens. Indeed we do not recommend the planting of trees at all in gardens which are to be annually cropped with vegetables. It is bad for the vegetables, and it is bad for the trees. We recommend that such trees - and indeed all fruit-trees - should be planted by themselves. We don't care although only half-a-dozen trees are to be planted - we say, plant them by themselves. If there is over an eighth of an acre available for the purpose, make an orchard. If there is no other place, plant dwarfs in a quarter by themselves in the vegetable garden. In preparing soil for dwarfs it does not need to be so deeply dug - otherwise the preparation is the same.

For dwarf trees, 12 inches of good soil will do; and we have seen good results with only 6.