This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
While the Editor was passing across the continent last year he visited the much talked of forest plantations of the Northern Pacific Railroad, and was amazed at what he saw. It was evidently the same old story. The "surplus stock" of some nursery had evidently been offered cheap, and planted cheaply, and as a consequence the people were telling strangers that it is no use to plant trees in Dakota. But it was evident from the green ash, ash-leaved maple, silver maple, and a few catalpas, planted and doing well near by, that trees would grow as well there as anywhere; yet here were thousands of common Silver Maples, set out the past season, either dead or sprouting miserably. Taking hold of one of these one-year-old dead seedlings, it came out of the ground as easy as it would from a pail of water. It appeared to have been set by a spade wedging a slit in the earth, and kicked by the heel, and this was "Forestry planting in Dakota!" No wonder they dried out in summer, when scarcely a root was in actual contact with the soil. It is amazing that railroad companies, which above all institutions are supposed to manage affairs with business shrewdness, should be led into an ignorant waste of money like this.
We do not know where these trees came from, or who was the contractor who had the matter in charge; but for the sake of successful forestry in the West, as well as in the whole country, we must protest against calling these "experiments in Forestry in Dakota."If the company will take intelligent planters, and pay them properly for good trees and good work, we feel sure from our actual observation, that forestry will be a success in Dakota.
We learn with great pleasure that the North Pacific R. R. Co. have seen the folly of cheap forest planting in cheap ways, and have entered into a contract with Douglas & Son for 1,740,800 trees, the coming spring. They are to be planted 4x4 feet. This is thick but is to allow for some loss, D. & Son guaranteeing a final growth of 2000 to the acre. It is a great task for one of Mr. Douglas' advanced years, and, let us hope, independent means; but when the proper time for a history of American Forestry shall be written, the practical efforts of Mr. Douglas to show what can be done even when he has little other incentive but to serve the great forestry cause, will entitle him to a high position among the apostles of tree planting.