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 Scotch and white pines have made shoots of four to six inches in length; the Corsican pine and Lawson's cypress a perfect failure. The Austrian pine and Norway spruce are variable. At each station some one or two varieties took the lead in vigor and adaptability to the location. At Wilson, the lowest in elevation of the three points, the Austrian pines are most successful, while maples are thrifty, and Osage orange quite as vigorous. The larches, where they were not planted too deep, have also done very well. Corn, also, shows 'good ears. At Ellis, the proprietor of the hotel treated us to a fine dinner. All the vegetables had been raised there in his own garden without irrigation (for there is no opportunity to secure water), and he proposes to; start a twenty acre farm, and grow corn and wheat; his bread was remarkable for its whiteness and sweetness. He has taken pains to keep a record of the rain stroms this summer, and handed a little card to us with the dates of rain, from March 25 to July 27, by which it appeared that rain fell on an average of once every three or four days, or three times in the last week in March, seven times in April, four times, in May, seven times in June, and four times in July. On the 1st of July there was hail, and all through the first week there were heavy dews.
These facts are very important, as in previous years rain had never been known here, while now, with the cultivation of the soil and the advent . of settlements, the rains were beginning to fall regularly, and in quantities sufficient to nourish growing crops.
Of the trees planted at Ellis, all have grown without irrigation, and received no water save from the showers of the sky. He has given away here and there along the road, 80 to 100 bushels of black walnuts, and says, as far as he has heard, every tree is living. The ailantus tree he esteems the most valuable of all trees. Forty-seven trees of this variety had been put out, and all were alive and healthy, exhibiting young shoots a foot long.
The experiments, in seeds were not quite as definite in results as from the transplanted trees, but gave great encouragement. This work was purposely done in any rude style, such as a farmer would ordinarily practice. The seeds were sown.broad-cast on the plowed ground, harrowed in slightly, and left to take care of themselves. Here, again, the ailantus takes the lead, and out-grows all competitors. The young plants stand more thickly together than they would if properly thinned for a perms* nent plantation, having grown in less than three months one to two inches in height, and having a rich, healthy color of foliage. The other seeds sown here and there had germinated in occasional spots, enough to show the possibility of growth, although many d6ubtless will not grow before next year. Almost all these trees would have done far better if they had been pruned back to one or two buds at time of planting. Likewise, if a coating of mulch, if nothing better than prairie hay, had been applied, the growth would have been double, but enough has been done to satisfy any sanguine man that tree culture upon the far Western prairies is no longer a doubt or conjecture, but has a reasonable prospect of success.
The solution of these experiments is calculated to have an important bearing, not only on the agriculture of those sections, but also the climate, and may be looked upon as one of the most important discoveries of modern times. At Denver, the people have exhibited commendable energy in setting out shade trees. The cottonwood is the universal favorite, and wherever it has received but the slightest irrigation it has done finely, growing with a vigor very remarkable, throwing up its long shoots of luxuriant green leaves 3 to 6 feet in a single season. Some trees, only four years planted, are 20 feet high and 4 inches in diameter. At Greeley, attempts at planting larches and evergreens have proved failures, principally from inexperience in handling and want of proper irrigation. The streets have been but very little planted with shade trees, although some have begun the good work. The people are now, however, better prepared and better informed hew to manage them, and will continue experiments until something definite is known. Maple has been the only street-tree planted, and although in some cases irrigated constantly, yet they look sickly and doubtful. Even the apple-trees in the nurseries are far more healthy.
In Nebraska there is a much more favorable climate for tree-culture, and the people are indulging in it freely. For 300 or 400 miles west of the Missouri River there are regular rains throughout the growing season, and every kind of tree appears to do well. In one county alone, it is said, over 3,000,000 trees have been planted this year, and it is estimated that out of the 60,000 new settlers that have come into the State within a year, fully one-half will plant trees largely. Near Omaha, Mr. Joel T. Griffith has forty acres of forest, black-walnut, cotton-wood, etc, which he planted in 1854 and 1858, fourteen years ago. The trees of the former are now bearing wagon-loads of nuts, and the cotton-woods are as big around as one can clasp with his arms. He has also 20,000 small maples, and cuts all the slats and fence-posts from his forest that he needs for his farm. Mr. Miller, of the Herald, has in the same vicinity 120 acres planted in black-walnut, about seven by eight feet, and forty acres in cotton-wood, eight feet apart.
He has also laid out a fine gracing pasture of 600 acres, which he will surround twenty feet deep with a cordon of trees as a windbreak, and here will introduce the blue grass, to give a permanent home grazing field for sheep and other stock.. Mr. Douglass advises him to put larch between ; also to put in some white ash. Mr. Miller estimates the cost of planting an hundred-acre tree-farm would be $4 per acre for plowing, |5 per acre for planting, and with cost of land about $12 to $16 per acre, In ten years they would be worth $100 to $500 per acre, At Grand Island, 163 miles west of Omaha, a farmer, William Stolley, has cotton-wood trees, ten years planted, now forty to sixty feet high, and one foot in diameter. Walnuts, twelve years from seed, planted six by six, and eight by eight, are now four to six inches in diameter, and have borne nuts for three years. He has ten acres in all. Every tree is successful, save that the black locust needs to be sheltered by the walnut, or else it will be broken with the winds.
He has a very curious group of trees called the Twelve Apostles, standing alone, fine, large trees of noble stature and girth, each with the name of an Apostle. A severe storm of thunder and lightning visited the locality one day, and after playing havoc in every direction demolished with a single stroke the one named Judas Iscariot, and to this day poor Judy is as remarkable a fall from grace as the older human ancestor in the land of Palestine. Upon the farm of Dr. Lowe, same county, the growth of cotton-wood in ten years is twenty five to forty feet high, two feet six inches in diameter, and the apple tree one foot six inches in diameter. Mr. S. T. Kelsey, of Pomona, Kan., who has tried all kinds, places first for his State the black-walnut, next the cotton-wood, and last the silver-maple; for evergreens, the Norway spruce, white, Austrian and Scotch pines, red cedar and Osage-orange. I have no doubt that throughout the vast country of 600 miles from the plains to the base of the Rocky Mountains, and from the north boundary of Nebraska to the southern one of the Indian territory, there can be grown on every variety of soil some one or more kinds of valuable timber trees; and the facts demonstrate that where trees are once planted, the climate gradually changes, and showers fall from the skies and water them where rains never were known before.
H. T. W.