This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V18", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
It will no doubt be a matter of interest, if not of surprise, to most readers of the Monthly, to learn of the amount of Plum-tree planting that has been done in Ohio within the past few years. If there has been anything like the same amount done in other States, it is pretty certain that our city markets will, in a very few years, be abundantly supplied with Plums, in spite of the persistent opposition of the curculio.
In the Report of our State Horticultural Society for 1872, some account was given of the orchards of about 8,000 Plum trees, part of them in bearing, near Chillicothe, and from what we then learned we supposed there were about 7,000 trees in orchards elsewhere in the State, of Damson, Chickasaw, Lombard, and other varieties, only one-fourth or one-third of them of bearing age. The Report for 1874 gave an account of an orchard of 5,000 trees of Lombard and other varieties, 2,000 of them in bearing, and very successful, in Huron Co. That year we learned of quite extensive planting, and that there were probably in all about 50,000 trees in orchards in the State.
Last spring the planting was still more active, and was only checked by the scarcity and high prices of trees. By recent correspondence, I find that about 50,000 Plum trees were set last spring, and that the estimates for the previous two years were below the reality; so that there are now not less than 125,000 Plum trees set in orchard form in the State; and from present indications, at least 30,000 more will be planted the coming spring!
' Of the present orchards, Hamilton county (in the south-west), has the largest amount - about 50,000 trees - of these 30,000 are in the single township of Columbia. They are mostly of the blue Damson, and have commenced to bear. There are also orchards of Wild Goose, Lombard and finer varieties in that and other townships. The adjoining county of Clermont is reported as having 15,000 or more trees, mostly Wild Goose, Chickasaw and Damsons. In Ross county the planting has now extended to about 35,000; full three-fourths of these are of the Shropshire Damson, which is found best of all, for distant markets. The trees are grown very rapidly and cheaply in home nurseries, by budding on seedling peach roots, and transplanting the next year as with peaches. They are found to grow and bear well, especially on good dry loamy soils, having a friable subsoil. Some of the planters say they prefer the Peach root to the Plum, as producing more thrifty trees. I think the question of their durability has not yet been sufficiently tested.
Of course these trees can be grown for one-half the cost of those on Plum roots.
Huron county has about 10,000 trees, mostly of Lombard and other large kinds. The first planted trees of Lombard were injured by overbearing, four or five years after planting, when they gave over a bushel each of fruit that sold for $6 per bushel.
In Warren county the Shakers and others have orchards of a good variety of the Chickasaw plum. It is a native of the south-west, and similar to the Wild Goose, but smaller. It is much used for cooking and canning, and escapes the curculio better than the finer sorts. There are said to be 5,000 or more trees of this and other sorts in the county. Then there are at least ten counties that I have not-named, having an average of 1000 trees each; so that the aggregate for the State is not less than 125,000.
Fighting the Curculio has not as yet been found necessary for the Damson, Wild Goose and Chickasaw orchards. The trees are naturally inclined to bear too full, and where there are many in bearing the insects do not seem to be sufficiently numerous to cause more of the fruit to drop than ought to come off. It may be that as the trees grow older the insects will increase so as to make jarring or other means of defence necessary. Lombard and finer varieties are protected by jarring and the use of "Catchers" on the the well-known principle of Dr. Hull and others, of which I need not now speak.