This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Cultivators of fruit, perhaps more than any other class of husbandmen, are subject to more drawbacks and embarrassments than patience can often endure without grumbling, and they are always glad to hear a suggestion which may, " within the prospect of belief," be a remedy for any slight malady. That which has led me to this communication, and which does very materially affect the culture of one of our most staple fruits, is the " apple-tree borer," which, instead of decreasing with the advancement and demand of this important fruit, seems to evade even the most scrupulous ingenuity of those who give him battle. I have been thinking of a remedy which I am quite sanguine in the belief may be effectual, and once done is done, and needs no more anxiety; the simplicity of the thing, as well as its economy, will make it a good experiment for those who wish to try one. If I correctly understand the nature of this pest, it is a merged moth (not very unlike the one which infests the currant), which deposits her eggs under the coarse, dead bark of the tree at its collar, near the ground, and the larvae, hatched from these eggs, when sufficiently developed, commence the boring. Instinct has perhaps instructed the moth that several advantages are secured in commencing so near the ground.
One may be the softness and succulency of the wood at that point during the growing season; another, she provides for her young a place secure from storms, wind, and weather; or, the peculiar habits of the moth may be, to fly near the ground, and never ascend as high as the branches. Well, whatever it is, we know that this is the place that the insect commences to depredate, and, in viewing these peculiarities, I am of opinion that something like the following would be attended with fair results as a remedy: -
Prepare some boxes - say one foot or more in diameter, and eighteen or twenty inches high (without bottom) - to be placed 'around the foot of the tree; the ground should be removed, so as to allow it to rest within an inch, at least, of the roots (old trees, particularly). This box to be filled with ashes. I would not try this upon young trees whose fibres had not extended more than three or four feet from the trunk, though, even then, I doubt if it would be injudicious. The result of this, I think, would be plain and effectual. The borer certainly wouldn't bore into the box, and the strong alkali would prevent his undermining; nor do I think he would commence on top. Now, Mr. Horticulturist, if you can believe with me that the borer will give up this "post of entre" as impregnable (and I hope many will practically prove it this season) then I will be confirmed in my hope that the enemy is conquered; but if, as a last or final resort, the branches and trunk are resorted to, I fear we will have to hang our harps on the willows.
Mr. Longworth's remarks in regard to paving for the curculio, I deem well worthy of special attention. If by paving with brick we can once more enjoy the Green Gages, Washingtons, and Jeffersons, of ten years ago, then, I say, pave. One mustn't pave one, two, or three trees in a whole plum yard, and then condemn the system because it is not effectual, for any man of reasonable mind knows that the curculio has wings, and can communicate with the whole yard in this way. I think that it is herein that failures have occurred, and we hear it said: " 'Tis no use to pave; I've tried it" Some persons say: "It's too expensive." I'll prove that it is not. Twelve feet around a common-sized tree, I think, would be sufficient, and it would take some six hundred and forty bricks of the usual size to do it, which, at $5 per thousand, would be $3 25, and say 75 cents for laying.
Cost of one tree, $4. Now, a reasonable crop of Green Gages, from a fall-grown tree, would be about two bushels. These, at the Montreal market, I have sold at $8 per bushel; they would perhaps bring more at New York or Philadelphia. Well, there is $10 net profit, after paying and marketing, picking and packing! Who says it won't pay to pave?
Another subject I may speak of, which will perhaps suit some one, in regard to trees received from a nursery in a shrivelled and dry condition, which I have seen tried on President Wheeler's grounds, Burlington, Vt., with success. It is simply to place a barrel (without bottom) around the tree, and fill up with tar or sawdust; this, with a good mulching, will seldom fall to bring vitality to light, if it exists at all.