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.
79. The second (fig. 2) has double eyes, c: the one, a, a wood-bud; the other a flower-bud.
80. The third (fig. 3) has triple eyes, d; two of them flower-buds, and a wood-bud, a, between them.
81. The fourth, the length of which varies from an inch and a quarter to about three inches, forms a little spur, which in growing displays a small cluster or boquet, composed of four flower-buds, and sometimes more (fig. 4, 5, g), in the midst of which is a pushing-eye, a. This kind is a fruit-branch properly so-called, for it produces with greater certainty the finest fruits. It is only found on well-established trees, and generally on the old wood. It appears to be the result of a wood-bud being prevented by the scarcity of sap from becoming a shoot. A deficiency in the flow of sap converts nearly all the wood-buds into flower-buds. (See fig. 5.) We call it cochonnet at Montreuil, and in other localities it receives the names of branche d bouquet and of bouquet de mai.
82. It must be understood that well-constituted fruit-branches have always wood-buds close to their bases. It is these eyes that afford the means of forming replacing or successional branches, the importance of which will be explained in pointing out the proceedings by which their development is induced.
83. The fruit-branches, almost invariably push as many shoots as they have eyes. Whence it follows, that, with this natural disposition, a tree would very soon have nothing but fruit-branches, the terminal of which would be the only wood-bud. Shoots having no wood-buds on their lower parts, and which, consequently, can not be properly shortened, would elongate more or less; but all below each year's terminal shoot would become entirely naked branches, ultimately bearing only at their extremities a small wood-shoot. Besides the disagreeable appearance which a Peach tree in that state would present, its produce would be small, and its life would be shortened. We must, therefore, prevent such bad consequences by judicious pruning.
84. This consists in operating so as to cause the sap to flow with greater force into the lower part of each fruit-branch, in order that the eyes there situated, and more especially the lowest one, may not die off in consequence of the sap being drawn up to the top of the branch. Such might be the case if the shoot were left entire; and it might likewise occur even if pruned, if we did not watch the growth of the terminal and of all the wood-buds situated above the one nearest to its base, so that the development of the latter, which is most important, may not be arrested. The whole art, then, in pruning the fruit-bearing shoots, consists in encouraging the eyes at their bases, in order that they may be in a state to develop themselves. To attain this, every fruit-shoot is pruned, for the first time, to a length proportionate to its strength, and to the place it occupies; that is to say, as many fruit-buds are left on it as it can support without being exhausted. The cut is made above and near to a pushing-eye, which becomes the terminal. The effect of all pruning being to improve the parts beneath, all the wood-buds and fruit-buds that are allowed to remain, uniformly open.
The growth of the young shoots is conducted so as to always encourage that of the lowest one; all those that are useless are pruned off', and we check, by pinching, if they are growing too luxuriantly, those intended to be preserved; and lastly, the shoot which has been selected to become, at the following pruning, the successional one, is maintained in a proper degree of vigor.
85. The following year the whole of the former year's fruit-branch is cut off above the shoot encouraged at its base, which now becomes a fruit-branch, bearing fruit in its turn; and is pruned so as to encourage, as before said, the development of one or two shoots at its base, one of which is to become its succes-sional shoot. The same operation is performed year after year. For the better understanding of this see fig. 9. The branch a, at first pruned at c, has borne two fruits at o, o, and has made the shoot seen from c to a; at the same time it has produced the shoot b, which has now become a successional fruit-branch; and with this view the branch a is pruned at d, immediately above the insertion of the old fruit-branch, and this successional shoot at o, above the double eye i, which will bear fruit, as well as the two single eyes lower down the shoot, viz., k, l. At m and n are seen two wood-eyes, one or other of which, in growing, will supply the successional shoot in the following year.
86. Such is the general principle, the object of which is to concentrate the sap in the lower eyes, and thus prevent them from dying off; for, in that case, we would be obliged to cut off the branch that had fruited, as it only wastes the sap, without having, at the same time, any means of replacing the said branch; and thus a gap would be produced at the place it occupied. Nevertheless, this too absolute principle must receive some modifications which will be adverted to when explaining the rules applicable to each of the four sorts of fruit-branches which exist on the Peach tree.
Fruit-branches with Single Eyes (fig. 1.) This sort is the worst and especially so when, as frequently happens, there is no wood-eye at its base, from which we might hope to obtain a successional shoot When this is the case, the generality of good cultivators are of opinion that it should be cut out. I am only of that opinion when it is not required for covering the branch, but when it serves to fill up a blank it should be preserved. It is left entire, because it possesses no wood-buds except the terminal one; and this, by drawing the sap towards it, allows of the setting of two or three fruits, which may be left upon it, taking care to pinch off the superabundant flower-buds. It must be nailed so as to give it as much liberty as possible, in order that it may gain strength; and when its terminal shoot has grown sufficiently to establish the flow of sap, its herbaceous extremity is pinched off with the view of concentrating the sap, and exciting it to seek a fresh outlet By this means we can sometimes cause a wood-eye to spring from the lower part of such a branch.