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.
I was much pleased with some remarks that have appeared of late in 'The Gardener ' on our supply and selection of fruit. For who would not like to see fruitful trees and a well filled fruit-room? Some years ago we got a lot of select free-bearing varieties from the nursery. They were clean and healthy; their roots were rather strong and naked. They were nursed for a few years in one of the quarters in the garden before planting out, because we considered it was the cheapest way of assisting the roots, our wish being to have a good supply of roots up to the surface before planting permanently. There were two lines of them, 4 feet apart, alongside the alley. The quarter was newly trenched, and the part they were to occupy was reduced a little, and a strong stake put in for each tree; 3 inches of: charred turf were spread over the surface, and a tree placed to each stake. The roots being spread equally out, 7 inches more of charred turf were put on, keeping up as many of the small roots as we could. The trees were made fast to the stakes, a good mulching of cow-manure was given, and the roots were kept from getting dry until the trees began to make their wood.
They were then well supplied with water, and had manure-water several times when the weather was wet during June and July. In October the mulching was removed, and we found the roots coming up beautifully. They then got a top-dressing of charred turf for the winter, and in Marelu they were again mulched with cow-manure for the summer and treated as before. By autumn they were matted to the surface of the turf, and the very mulching could not all be got away. The wood they had made wa3 short-jointed, well-ripened, and well set with fruit-buds.
We were so pleased with the result that all the young trees ever since, whether they may be for walls or orchard, are all mulched for the summer, and top-dressed in autumn.
"We have heard much about lifting and root-pruning: some are successful, while others are not. But such trees as are referred to above, with their roots matted to the surface, may be lifted and examined at any time with perfect safety. We consider the simple work of mulching in the spring and top-dressing in autumn to be of the greatest value for all kinds of fruit-trees.