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.
As the season arrived, a greater crop of peaches was found on trees than counted for by a majority of growers. In some sections the curl in spring seemed to check and destroy, and many concluded their crop as entirely lost, but after a time the trees recovered; and although drought has been severe in some locations, yet even there the late ripening sorts have given good, fair average crops. The very early sorts have not been as profitable this season as later ones, owing partially to the curl and partially to rot, which affected the fruit at about the period of maturity. Oldmixon Freestone, Crawford's Late, and Smock have all proved very profitable. Where the trees had plenty of moisture and good soil, Crawford's Early has done well; but its tendency to overbear, and thus give a small-sized fruit, makes it objectionable to some of the largest growers. Some trees that we saw of the Sturtevant had the fruit evenly distributed over them, and of good size; the President also, as a white flesh peach, we saw in several places quite equal in productiveness and size to Oldmixon Free, and more showy.
Messrs. Editors : I have a lawn on a sandy loam subsoil. This season it has burned out, and the grass has dried up, and the ground is filled with a coarse, wild, rank grass spreading a foot or more to each root. What shall I do with it ?
[Hake it over at once sharply with an iron rake, and remove as far as is possible all the wild grass, then apply bone meal ground fine at the rate of one ton to the acre, and salt at the rate of eight bushels to the acre, and plaster (gypsum) at the rate of two bushels to the acre; seed anew with red top and blue grass at the rate of four bushels to the acre; rake thoroughly, and roll several times, and especially after a rain. In spring we think your lawn will be all right again.
Wires in the Vineyard should be slackened as the weather grows cool. It should be done at the time of autumn pruning of the vines A little loosening now will save many a post from drawing and having to be re-set.
Editor's Table. 319
Pears gathered when nearly ripe, and laid away in shallow drawers, one tier of fruit only, with flannel blankets below and above, will ripen in a few days, and color finely, developing their character and quality in the best manner.
"When I came to this country, some twenty-five or thirty years since, the failure of a peach crop was the exception, not the rule. Now it is reversed, and I feel very much like cutting down my trees, or, at least, not planting any more .
Such is about the burden of remarks by many fruit-growers in different sections of our States, and, without presuming to assume that I know the cause, I feel that the peach is too good a fruit to be given up. and too profitable a crop, where successful, not to have many planters of it by the hundreds and thousands of trees. The record of successful fruiting, or rather of fruiting at all, the past season, covers a pretty large territory, but not at all such as it should; and many sections where, heretofore, in early days, peaches were counted as a sure annual crop, have this season produced but very few. In my section of countrv the peach blossomed abundantly, and set its fruit; but shortly after we had a cold wind for a day or two, and immediately thereafter the curl of leaf attacked nearly every tree. Many varieties, as Hale's Early, Early York, etc., all, in fact, of the white-fleshed peaches, were so injured, and the trees so long in regaining a new foliage, that their fruit mostly dropped before becoming half grown. Native seedlings also were as much affected as budded varieties, and only the strong, vigorous growing, yellow-fleshed sorts, such as Crawford's Early, Smock, etc., recovered in time to renew circulation and retain their fruit for maturing.
The size of the fruit was, of course, small, owing to the unprecedented drought.
Some sections of the New England States have this year produced a better crop of peaches than for four or five years past, while from the South - Delaware, etc. - the New York market was abundantly supplied ; but either from the excess of rains on the Atlantic coast this season, or some other cause, the size and quality of the fruit may be said to have been poor. New Jersey, a State from which usually large quantities of fine peaches are sent to market, this season gave very few really good fruits, except some of the late ripening yellow varieties. Westward, in Ohio, while, as I have said, the crop in the northern part of the State was pretty much destroyed by the curl and long drought, the high or hill lands of many sections in the southern central part gave large crops and very much of fine fruit, although the drought measurably affected its size. Farther on, in Illinois and Missouri, peaches were abundant, and many of them very fine, while the crop at St. Joseph and along the shore of Lake Michigan was perhaps quite sufficiently abundant to be satisfactory.
These statements, while showing the peach a paying crop in certain locations, when reconsidered, and the extent of orchards and gardens estimated - where trees are plenty, but no fruit - presents a very poor show for the peach as a fruit for general cultivation, which it has ever been considered. Why this failure from year to year, now, in sections where once the peach was a sure annual crop, becomes a question of great importance to fruit - growers and the people at large, and should have careful attention and examination.
The loss of the forest, and consequent change of climate of many sections, is doubtless one of the causes of failure; but this is perceptible in the buds which are destroyed by cold; but when the buds are apparently uninjured, why is it that after blooming we yet get no fruit ? May it not be that while the bud retains sufficient vitality to enable it to bloom, yet the extremes of cold have so much injured the wood, as well as bud, that death ensues ero full health of the tree, from renewed sap, is reached ? May we not prevent the curl, as well as the destructive agency of late spring frosts, by keeping small fires of some old litter burning at the windward side of our trees during, say, a period of four weeks from the time of blooming? Will it not pay in small grounds to have our trees worked on the plum stock and trained by summer pruning, so as to create a more firm and hard wood to the peach, induce earlier ripening of the wood, and thus, perhaps, a greater amount of vitality in the bud, enabling it better to endure severe cold ? Annual shortening or pruning of the peach, as originally taught by Downing, is a rare feature found in peach-tree growing; but if this were pursued from the first year, would it not give more strength and endurance, by reason of condensing the sap.
If the tree be grown on the peach root, would not pruning away all the leaves and wood that are found immature - say about the 1st of October or just before severe frosts occur - serve to make the tree better capable of resisting climatic or other injury ? The introduction of dwarf growing varieties may possibly be found valuable as pet trees for small gardens of amateurs, but they will never serve to fill the mouths of the hundreds of thousands of people in our cities; nor have I any great faith in the trailing system of growing, because I fear its practice will not give fruit enough to supply the masses at a price which they can afford to pay.