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.
[On a late visit to the country residence of H. H. Hunnewell, Esq., thirteen miles from Boston, on the 19th of July, we were handed a large plate of the most exquisite Stanwick Nectarines raised by his gardener, Mr. Harris. To say this fruit in perfection is excelled by no other now cultivated in America, is only its just praise. The following is Mr. Harris's account of his treatment of the tree. It seems so simple that no one need fail in pursuing it; every person with a peach-house or even a grapery may succeed. - Ed].
When yon visited the residence of H. H. Hunnewell, Esq., West Needham, Mass*, yon were gratified with a taste of the Stanwick Nectarine, a fruit unsurpassed by any other Nectarine, and one I have been exceedingly, fortunate In ripening to perfection.
In compliance with your wish, I Bend you my mode of treatment, which I hope will be an inducement for others to cultivate more extensively this most luscious fruit.
It appears from reports received from England that the Stanwick Nectarine, from some cause or other, has not given that general satisfaction we were led to suppose would have been the case from the encomiums bestowed upon its first introduction, and even in America it has turned out, comparatively. a failure by many who attempted its culture.
The two trees in Mr. Hunnewell's possession were obtained four years ago, from New York, and were planted in tubs containing one and a half bushel of earth each; the soil was composed of about equal, parts sandy loam and old hotbed manure; in this compost they grew rapidly, and in the succeeding spring each tree set about thirty nice fruit. On the first day of May, 1854, my engagement with Mr. Hunnewell commenced, and within one week from the above date every fruit fell off (the fruit were evidently undergoing the process of stoning, a critical period with all stone fruits); this misfortune I attributed entirely to the low temperature they were sometimes subjected to, the young man who had part charge of the house informing me the temperature inside was often as low as 40° at sunrise.
This disappointment made me determined if possible to ripen them another year; in order to do this I felt it was important to secure well ripened, short jointed wood; this I achieved to my entire satisfaction. On the 20th November, 1854, I put them inside the grapery, and withheld water from them until the 15th January, 1855; when I commenced starting them at a temperature of 40° to 45° at night, and 50° to 55° by day ysyringing them three or four times a day until the blossoms began to expand on the 5th of February; by this time the trees were really magnificent, being literally covered with large deep pink blossoms. I assisted their setting by the use of a camel's-hair pencil, and in about a fortnight, as soon as the blossoms began to decay, I had the satisfaction of seeing every shoot covered with embryo fruit I then increased the temperature to 45° to 50° by night, and 60° to 70° and even 80° in bright days, syringing them frequently; cautiously admitting air in cold weather, and giving the trees just sufficient water to keep them in a growing state.
Just previous to their stoning, or when the fruit are about the size of chestnuts, I thinned out the fruit, and left one, and sometimes as many as three, on each shoot When about the size of walnuts, or as soon as the stoning process is over, I commenced watering in earnest, giving each tree not less than eight gallons of water daily, with a moist temperature of 70° to 90° by day, and 55° to 60° by night Three or four times a week I watered them with a weak solution of guano, the quantity used about one ounce of guano to one gallon of water, always applying the liquids at about 65° - this I conceive of the first importance.
Under this treatment the fruit swelled with astonishing rapidity. As the fruit approached maturity, I ceased syringing altogether, and applied pure water only at the rate of five gallons daily, keeping the air as dry as possible, but admitting as much fresh air as circumstances would admit of. By the 4th July each tree bore thirty and forty large well ripened and highly colored fruit.
My success having surpassed my expectations, and being perfectly satisfied that the treatment adopted was such as the tree required, I have pursued the same course since, and this season I have been again successful; one tree producing nearly four dozen, and the other six dozen of the finest fruit imaginable, some specimens measuring 7 1/2 inches in circumference, and all beautifully colored, where not shaded by the foliage. Those persons who have tasted the fruit have expressed themselves in the strongest manner in its praise, and I believe it has been the general opinion that the flavor was superior to any other variety cultivated in this section of the country; indeed, coming up fully to the glowing descriptions given when it was first introduced into England.
There is an impression that this fruit is particularly liable to crack, but from my observation in its culture, I should not say it had any very strong tendency that way, though it is very likely to be the ease if. kept too damp or allowed to be wet in the last stage of its growth. I feel confident no one will be disappointed in this respect, if they follow strictly the treatment I have just indicated. West Needham, July 18,1856. '