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.
Chairman. At the East, good fruit maintains a high price, though the production is great Winter fruit, when imported here, becomes fall fruit. We can get varieties from the Southern States to keep up our supply.
Judge Daniels said we should endeavor to find out the best varieties of fruit for our climate. He had had ten years' experience in California; for the present should confine himself to the subject of managing trees. When trees are planted in the fall, he had found it beat not to cut the top at the time of planting, but to cut in the spring. He would not cut or pinch in the summer, when the sap is in full flow - decidedly not Those opposed to heading trees low, probably did not wish to prune or pick the fruit without climbing, or prevent weeds from growing, or protect the trees from sunblight. But different varieties may be treated differently. With apples the Jenneting and Alexander should be cut low, while the Bellflower and Esopue may grow more freely, as their limbs run horizontally. A low tree has a stiff stem, clean bark, and you can look over it better. The objection that you cannot plough under it has no weight, for there is no need to do so; it is not the place to plough, close to the tree, where the roots are near the surface; the fine fibres, which are the great supporters, are at a distance, and here trees should be irrigated, and not near the body of the tree.
Mr. Flint said that ashes applied to his trees saved them from the "curled leaf." The ashes were spaded in round the trees. As an example of the evil of training trees high, he mentioned the case of an extensive orchard of imported trees, planted five years ago. The trees were trimmed high, and had as yet produced no fruit of consequence, the dry rot being one evil. This result is equivalent to an immense loss, for if the trees had been properly managed they should have borne fruit enough this year to realize $30,000.
Mr. Osborne, of Napa, had tried ashes, but could not perceive that they had any effect.
Mr. Beach, as an experiment, applied a barrel of leached ashes to a single tree, and it grew, a third larger than others in consequence.
The Chairman said there was much complaint in regard to peach-trees being affected with the "curled leaf." He believed it was caused by cold winds.
Mr. Flint. It extends all over the Atlantic States and Europe, and the cause was generally considered to be unknown.
Mr. Beach had this season visited Gen. Sutter's place, and also been on Bear River. He had found that where an orchard was so situated that it did not receive the southeast winds, the trees were blighted. But there was nothing in these occurrences that need alarm any orchardist. We must expect some little drawbacks among our many advantages. On the 20th of January last the weather became quite warm; peach-trees started, and blossomed two weeks earlier than usual; this was followed by cold winds, and he had no doubt was the cause of the blight or "curled leaf".
Capt. Aram, of San Jose, said he had seen no blight on imported trees till this year, while California fruit had been affected every year. The varieties affected vary according to the seasons and locality. The Heath Cling failed in one locality and not in another. He agrees with other gentlemen as to the cause.
Mr. Yount, though an old resident, had not seen it till within a few years.
Judge Daniels said that Southern peaches start too early in the season, or before the atmosphere is prepared for them, when, becoming chilled by the cold winds, the sap bursts out, parasites gather, and the fruit all falls off. In May the tree will come out fresh again. We must get trees that are accustomed to shorter seasons, which do not start so soon, and will do much better. He had seen the "curl" in this State for ten years; when he first came into Santa Clara Valley from Sutter's Fort, he saw it.
The Chairman explained that when he spoke of obtaining varieties from the Southern States, he referred to apples.
Judge Daniels (in reply to the statement that winter apples became fall apples here, and would not keep) said the Chairman was probably not aware that they had a two-year-old Horticultural Society in Santa Clara County, and at the monthly exhibitions had exhibited fruit every month in the year. They had the Pearmain in winter, and the Bellflower in winter. Fruit would keep as well here as elsewhere, if properly put into barrels and taken care of. Mr. Osborne, of Napa, said some trees he imported from Boston had blighted, and he believed the cause to be frost after warm weather.
Chairman. How about alkaline soil?
Mr. Flint. Alkali is necessary.
Judge Daniels. Although alkali is an important element, you can have "too much of a good thing." A child would not live on beefsteak. We must plough deep; we should not put peaches on such soil. There is much yet to learn. He had observed that the peach does not curl, if sheltered by the oak.
Mr. Osborne, of Los Angeles, stated, in regard to alkali, that two years ago he purchased a small farm, being unacquainted with the nature of the soil. Not thinking of alkali, he put in a lot of fruit trees and roses; after which he learned that it was a strong alkali soil, and that his trees were probably lost. As a remedy he planted tobacco among the trees, which grew well, and he only lost about one-third of his cherry-trees, no pear, apple, or quince, and the roses run riot. He had not been troubled with the curled leaf, and observed that imported varieties had no curl. His locality had a southern exposure and gentle winds, being protected at the north and west. The curl seemed to be hereditary in California trees. He uses plenty of water.
Mr. Beach said two of his trees by the side of a water ditch were not affected by blight.
[If we are not mistaken, the above facts and other remarks were regarded by those present as showing pretty conclusively that water was a preventive of blight or curled leaf, and consequently trees irrigated freely would not be affected].
A. P. Smith, of Sacramento, was decidedly in favor of deep ploughing. In cultivating during the summer he was opposed to ploughing, as he was satisfied from experience, that only the top soil should be stirred; it was an injury to stir soil deep during dry weather. In regard to irrigation, he was satisfied of its utility, and that it was of great advantage in fruit growing, though of course fruit could be grown without it. But much care was requisite in regard to applying water at proper times, and there were many things to learn. When the peach has attained a small size, it remains comparatively stationary for a time, while the stone is forming, and the tree is apparently dormant If water is applied at this time, it starts a growth of wood, and the peaches all drop off. But after the formation of the stone, when the peaches again commence to grow, the trees may be irrigated with advantage.
A design is on foot to start a monthly publication, devoted to horticulture, mechanics, Ac., and if thirty men would advance $100 each for advertising, a fund would be raised sufficient to establish it on a permanent basis.
Several gentleman signified their willingness to subscribe, but some objected to do so unless the publication was in their own locality, and considerable discussion was had on the subject, a strictly horticultural production being mostly favored.
Mr. Osborne, of Los Angeles, said he had not seen anything published in relation to their great staple. There were many points on which they desired information. If one man could raise grapes earlier than his neighbors, they wished to know the plan; also'why one man could produce more wine than another. In regard to the importance of the vine product, he said they had a richer placer than the mines, though the land was only assessed at 12 1/2 cents the acre; but when properly brought into cultivation it would yield $60,000,000 annually.
Mr. Osborne was in favor of a Committee. The many cases he had seen of the same variety of fruit under different names proved the need of such a committee. In the Exhibition he found his old acquaintance, the Roxbury Russet, called by several names, and Duchesse d'Angouleme was called Dutch Pear.
Judge Daniels thought the number of the Committee should be one in every county, when a suitable person was found. A few of the Committee might be appointed now, and the balance at a subsequent time.
A motion to appoint a Committee on Nomenclature was then adopted, and the following gentlemen appointed on the Committee: -
Judge Daniels, of San Jose, Chairman; A. P. Smith, of Sacramento; Geo. H. Beach, of Marysville; Wm. H. Osborne, of Los Angeles.
The meeting then adjourned.