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 following is an extract from the Report of Mr. Coit to the American Pomological Society, and will be of interest to our readers. We paid Mr. Coit a visit last summer, and are enabled to state that his success is most decided. Nothing could be finer than the condition of his trees, except it be the quality of the fruit, which was large, handsome, well ripened, and of the highest flavor. Many specimens measured nine and ten inches in circumference. We expect to hear again from Mr. Coit on this subject. - Ed].
"Thomas Rivers, a nurseryman of extensive practice and experience, residing at Sawbridgeworth, England, (well known to our nurserymen,) first introduced to the public this new method of growing fruits, (I say that he was the first to introduce it as a system, with instructions to carry it out extensively.) He published in 1852 an unpretending work of a few sheets, which he called 'The Orchard House, or the Cultivation of Fruit-trees in Pots? This work fell into my hands some three or four years later; it was clear, practical, commending itself to my judgment, and I was led to put it in practice by having potted some twenty or more trees; but having then no special arrangement for their proper treatment, they were neglected, became diseased, and were finally abandoned. A year later, however, I took the matter in hand more thoroughly, and ordered a hundred four-teen-inch pots made expressly for the purpose, the bottom being pierced with large holes for the emission of roots; into these pots the trees were placed, consisting principally of peaches, with but few nectarines, plums, and apricots.
The results of the first year or two (having had disadvantages to contend with) I pass over, remarking only that for the two years preceding the present, the trees were well conducted for their health, form, and future usefulness, and gave, a part of them, a tolerable return of fruit.
"Having had occasion the past year to erect a forcing house specially for Muscat grapes, I concluded to extend the plan so as to embrace under the same roof a division for a peach house also. The plan adopted was substantially one of the largest class of span-roofed houses recommended by Rivers in the last edition of his ' Orchard House' The dimensions of my house are seventy-eight feet in length by twenty-five feet in width, standing north and south. I have only occasion to speak here of the section appropriated to the stone fruits, which is thirty-five feet in length by twenty-five feet in width, a glass partition dividing it from the grapery. The entire house is heated by Hitchings' apparatus, the peach division with two rows of four-inch pipe, and the grapery with four rows of the same; one boiler furnishing heat for the whole house, though by means of valves each division may be worked independently of the other.
"I now proceed, as was proposed, to show the result of the fruits grown in this house. It has been stated that the trees were in fourteen-inch pots, and three years set out. They were, besides, judiciously cut back, to give a compact, well-formed head. Rivers' instructions in this important particular having been followed from year to year, every tree had an abundance of fruit buds. The fire was lighted the middle of February, and the trees were brought from their winter quarters and placed in position - about sixty in number. Of these, forty-five were the large trees spoken of, and these would have been sufficient - just about the proper quantity to remain permanently; but having some smaller trees, but one year set out in boxes, these, to the extent of fifteen, were placed between the pots for a time. When the house became rather crowded with foliage, they were removed to give a more free circulation of air. The trees blossomed uniformly and profusely in April, and soon after set their fruit in much greater quantity than was necessary. The thinning process was commenced early, but was not concluded until the stoning was supposed to be over, and all fears from dropping were at an end. This remark as to the setting of the fruit applies more particularly to the peaches and nectarines.
The plums did not set quite so well, but yet ripened a fine crop, which remained for weeks ripe on the trees, and were most delicious in flavor. The apricots (three trees only in number) blossomed and set their fruit well, but nearly the whole dropped; they require even more air than the other trees.
"The peach-trees have maintained perfect health, the foliage fresh and vigorous, and they have ripened a large crop of fruit, averaging on the older trees about fifty, and on the smaller about a dozen specimens; the nectarines ripened from eighty to a hundred. They have been in eating about six weeks, and in the greatest abundance; for fifteen or twenty days, a peck to a half bushel might have been picked any day. With a somewhat different arrangement in bringing the trees at intervals into the forcing house, the season might be prolonged to three months, or a month longer than the present season.
"As to the size and flavor of the fruit, it has surpassed my best expectations. The Grosse Mignonne, Barrington, George IV., and Early Crawford have given rather the largest specimens, many having reached nine to nine and a half inches in circumference, and the size very uniform on the same tree. A portion of the peaches were removed to the open grounds about the middle of June, to see if they would be improved in quality, but the flavor generally of those ripened entirely within the house left little to be desired. It should be remarked, however, that the house (with large ventilation) was left, after May, open night and day.
"In Mr. Rivers' work referred to, there is no suggestion made of any use of the 'orchard house,'beyond that of getting a single crop of stone fruit from it in the course of the season; and to those who would confine themselves to a cold house, this is all that could be accomplished. Now I propose a modification of the plan, by which all the advantages of the ' orchard house' for stone fruits shall be preserved,, while a full crop of grapes may be obtained from the same house the same year. For this, however, the aid of forcing power will be necessary. I should proceed in the beginning just as it has been stated I have done the present season, by starting the potted trees in February by fire heat; early in June I should remove all into the open air, and convert the house forthwith into a retarding house for grapes, filling it with potted vines which had been prepared for the purpose.' This growing of grapes in pots is another experiment which has hardly been entered upon as yet, but is destined to very useful results not to be accomplished by vines in borders. It is not generally known that more grapes can be grown under a given amount of glass, from vines in pots two years old, than from vines in the border of twice that age, or in their best bearing condition.
In the house already described, thirty-five feet by twenty-five, but twenty-four vines in the border would find proper room, and these, when fully grown, would not (taking one year with another) give over twenty pounds of grapes to the vine, or five hundred pounds for the entire house; while in pots, three times the number of vines would be equally well accommodated, giving, on an average, ten pounds each, or seven hundred and fifty pounds. This is quite within Mr. Bright's estimate, who says, in his recent Work on the grape, that he can now double the quantity of grapes in pots that can be grown in the same space in borders; and 1 have myself, at this moment, Black Hamburgh vines in fourteen-inch pots, with twelve to fourteen pounds of fruit on them, averaging a pound and a half to the bunch, ripe on the vines for two months past. But to go back: I have supposed my house filled with vines and pots in June; in the autumn, as required, the fire would be lighted until the grapes were ripe, say in November. Now is perceived the advantage of this mode of culture.
The pots being under perfect control, may be removed to any dry, airy room, where, if there is the means of regulating properly the temperature, the fruit may remain in good condition on the vines through the winter; for myself, in this particular I am well prepared, having extensive front rooms specially constructed for the complete control of the temperature so far as the prolonged preservation of the fruit is required.
"One of the most important considerations in connection with the growing of stone fruits in pots under glass, is the entire protection afforded them from the attack of insects, and from diseases which render their cultivation in the open air precarious, if not impracticable. No atmospheric changes affect them, neither are they subject to yellows, or the curl of the leaf; and the constant course of syringing, which forms an indispensable part of their treatment, protects against the attacks of curculios, as well as of aphis, fretters, thrips, and worst of all, red spider".