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.
"F. A. M.," Pottsville, Pa., writes : "I live in the country on account of delicate health, and among other things I have been giving much time and study to the cultivation of fruit. I have planted an orchard of nearly 300 pear trees, of fifteen leading varieties. This fall my trees are dying off in a very strange way. The leaves turn black, the trunks become black spotted and die. Some trees which were green and fresh in the morning were black at night. I have also lost two apricots, several Green and Imperial gages in the same way. Is this blight ? Trees planted four and five years appear most affected. The ' Bartletts' and ' Clapp's Favorite' appear the hardiest. The trunks of many of my trees are very rough and scaly. I have given my trees great attention ; have washed every spring and fall with whale oil soap and then whitewashed; have sprayed poisonous liquids among the branches to kill insects ; have dug up the trees carefully spring and fall; given them manure ; have applied carbonate of lime, and also fresh caustic lime, and I am now at a loss to know what to do. I also put around my trees iron filings. I have read all the papers and can get no satisfactory information. I have thought of applying salt and coal ashes.
Would not these (or the salt alone) have a tendency to correct blight ? If thee can tell me what to do I shall be greatly obliged. I feel greatly annoyed to see my beautiful five-year old trees dying off. Thee may be able to appreciate the situation. Could thee also recommend any work that would help me, or give me general information upon the cultivation of fruit trees?"
[This is one of those cases such as a physician would want to see before prescribing for the disease or disorder. On the face of it we should be inclined to say that the trees were injured by cultivation; that is to say, the extraordinary good care which has been given to the trees has really been very bad care.
It is more than likely that if the orchard had been sown with grass as soon as the trees were fairly established, borers kept out of the trees, and a good surface dressing of manure given every other year to the trees, this cry for help would not have come to us. It is too late to put a half sick tree into grass with any hope of recovery. - Ed. G. M].