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.
Dear Sir - All facts tending to the improvement of practical results in the processes of gardening, are what are sought for by the readers of the Horticulturist, etc. And although much creeps into our magazines that is desultory, and of accidental origin, oft-times misleading the anxious inquirer, to the neglect of sound practical and philosophical operations, yet it is to them reference must be had, if we would keep up with the spirit of the age, and reap the advantages that are daily being developed in this subject.
Heretofore, we have been but copyists - of great schools we admit - but whose chief greatness lay in the adaptation of their genius to the peculiarities of the climate they originated in. Their processes in the acclimation of plants - the art of propagating. - systems of pruning, and the routine of tree and vegetable culture, has attained the acme of perfection, which we, having reference only to the details, have closely followed; any innovation from those standard authorities being looked upon as doubtful, if not altogether futile in purpose.
That the spirit of horticulture has received an impetus with its kindred sciences, needs no demonstration here. The nation is alive to the subject, and throughout our land the features of embellished nature are beginning to attract the eye of the traveler, and delight the lover of rural refinement.
The peculiarities of climate, superinduce specific methods, whether in reference to animate or inanimate things. Thus we find animals of a colder or higher country, cannot be safely treated in their accustomed method, when transferred to a hotter country, or to lower grounds.
The same facts apply to plants under similar removal. Even on the same isothermal line do we find promiment deviations. The quality of constitution is inherent in all organised beings; and in no wise is that feature of life less marked in the vegetable than in the animal kingdom. Hence the treatment of hybrid and cross-bred varieties of plants, cannot be successfully attained in these varied localities, without modified adaptedness to constitution and habit. Herein, then, lies the great study of horticulture. The analytical structure of soils for specific purposes - the altitude, aspect and position, for one class - dryness or moisture for another - the nature and effect of special manures, in ameliorating what are termed worn out soils - the peculiar effects of climate and hybridization upon vitality and longevity - specific analysis of the various trees composing che circle of hardy fruit culture - and last, though not least, a strict inquiry into the habits of all those insects depredatory upon fruits and trees.
My design in this paper is not to inflict upon you an elaborate essay upon these subjects, but to simply make known the results of some few practical results on the subject of mulching trees - a practice which I believe will be found indispensably necessary to the successful growth of many plants, and especially those of large fleshed varieties; such plants are usually loose in their tissues, making growth rapidly during the rainy season. This seadesirable length or thickness, by hitching the first loop to the axle of a grindstone or other crank, and feeding as in making common rope. And inch and a half for large, and an inch in thickness for small trees, are the sizes I find most suitable. They are put on the trees by beginning with a half-hitch at the bottom and winding upward, merely tight enough to hold their position. These ropes, by shading the bark from a scorching sun - keep the sap cool and healthful, without depriving it of the necessary circulation of air. Of a row of standard pear trees planted in the early spring, those thus treated are at this time full three weeks in advance of others not rope-wound. Of cherries, the rope-wound trees are fresher and fuller of foliage, with fruit in abundance now swelling, while those not wound have made but little growth, and have not set a fruit.
The same difference is observable on the plum and peach. I am thus far, fully persuaded of its salutary influence, and that it will effectually check the bursting of the bark, and the guming of stone fruits, from which they rarely long survive. This experiment has been successively made for many seasons, the present embracing more than a hundred trees. I would add, also, the roots of all are mulched with spent tan, to a circumference at least equal with the top.