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 a rule, it is not best to cultivate cherry trees, by which we mean stir the soil around the trunk and roots, the same as we are accustomed to do with other orchard crops. The reason is very simple. Cultivation is stimulation; this induces extra growth. This, in the cherry, results in the bursting of the bark and the oozing of the gum. When once this commences, we cannot long depend upon the good health or permanent livelihood of the tree.
We have seen so many instances lately where cherry trees planted in grass, and kept in grass, are so bright, and clean, and healthy, and vigorous, that we think it may be fairly set down as a rule, that for cherry trees, cultivation in grass is decidedly an excellent course The ground should not be stirred. No other crop or tree should be grown between, and the grass should be constantly mowed and left to rot upon the ground. No manure need be applied, save at the outset. All that the cherry tree needs is a good mulch for its roots, and something to prevent its too rapid succulent growth.
Almost any nurserymen now knows that young cherry orchards should be well mulched immediately after planting, and kept so. If not mulched during a long, hot, dry summer, fully one-half will dry up and die. Still another thing must be remembered by cultivation - never plant a cherry tree after the buds have started; in fact, never take up one unless for immediate transplanting. In our Southern border States, cherries might be made a good, healthy, profitable crop, and to those who do not care to plant an orchard exclusively into cherries, we think if they would plant a row in the grass border around the fences of their farm, they will find not the slightest trouble in successful culture.
Ex-Gov. Ross, of Seaford, Del., in a letter, a year ago, said that he never succeeded in cherry culture until he planted his trees in grass, and left them to take care of themselves.
We would not advise this policy for pear trees, and must not be understood as advising the grass theory for any other trees than cherries, and that, too, principally south of the latitude of New York.