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.
THE most successful apple orchard in the Eastern States owes its success entirely to the application, yearly, of liberal quantities of lime broadcast over the land. Very few farmers seem to realize the benefit of such a course, yet here are results not to be overlooked. The trees are large, handsome, thrifty, free from disease, productive, yielding crops every year. The fruit is of large size and handsome in appearance, and sells at remarkably good prices, being in great demand for shipping to England. The sales are uniformly made at rates of $6 per barrel, while common fruit rarely ever reaches above S3. An intelligent writer in the Western Rural remarks that the trees require lime as a necessity for building up their trunks and branches, and in the formation of their foliage and fruit. It may be applied at any time, but late in the fall or early in the spring, is the most suitable period. It should be put on in the shape of dry dust, and be spread evenly over the surface, and harrowed in. You may give a good dressing; there is no fear that you will apply a large quantity. A bushel to the square rod may be safely applied, but a peck or even a quart will be bettor than none at all.
Wood or peat ashes are excellent manure; they should be spread evenly over the surface, and should not come in contact with the trunks of the trees for fear of damaging the bark. Lime from well-burned limestone is the best for your purpose. It should be slacked by pouring water upon it, and when it has crumbled into dust, it should be applied before it becomes heavy and damp by extracting moisture from the atmosphere. If a comparatively small quantity of lime is mixed with muck or rich soil of any kind, allowed to remain in the heap for a considerable time, and then applied to the orchard, etc., it will be more beneficial than a muoh larger quantity used without mixing.