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.
Should this take place, we have then a successional shoot to which the branch can be cut back at the summer-pruning if its fruits have dropped; or after they have been gathered, if they hold on.
88. If however this eye, of such great importance, be not formed, and it be impossible to suppress the branch without occasioning an ugly blank, it must then be preserved till the next pruning, cutting it back to the wood-bud nearest to the old wood, in order to again try, by checking the flow of sap, to produce a wood-bud still lower. If this were formed it would be needful to cut down on it immediately, if one or two fruits do not make it worth while to retard the operation till after they are gathered. At the same time the young shoot above must be checked by pinching, so that the one recently sprung from beneath run no risk of being impoverished. This mode of treatment is 80 much the more important in consequence of this kind of branches existing more especially on the lower parts of the tree, toward which we must lose no opportunity of inducing the flow of sap, which has always a comparatively strong upward tendency.
Branches with Double Eyes (fig. 2); and Third Sort. - Branches with Triple Eyes (fig. 3). These two kinds of branches, which are the most common on Peach trees, are both pruned in the same manner. The branch which has fruited is .cut down to the successional shoot; and the latter is pruned on a wood-bud, leaving it long enough to have a sufficient number of flowers. The shortening is made with the view of leaving on each bearing-branch only as many fruits as it can support without weakening itself, and also with that of concentrating the sap so as to favor the development of the buds, or young shoots at or near the base, one of which- becomes in turn a successional shoot at the following pruning.
90. In these, as in the preceding sort, it may happen that a fruit-branch, pruned the year before on a single wood-bud, may not have produced others at its base during the time of its growth. It must then be cut back to the wood-bud nearest to where it was pruned before. If a lower eye does push, it must be treated as directed (88).
91. The firuitrbranehes on the upper side generally become of a greater length than those on the under side, which tends to cause more difficulty in getting buds to push near the base. In this case, after having been pruned sufficiently long to preserve the fruits, they are trained as will be shown at 93. If an eye form at the base of any of them, it is well to encourage its growth by pinching and cutting off, or disbudding, all the young shoots above it, at the summer pruning. Without the precaution of pinching and disbudding, the upper shoots would absorb the sap, and the lowest one would become so impoverished as to be destitute of eyes at its base, and we should then be obliged to replace with a better constituted young shoot, further situated however from the main branch.
92. The flower-buds, on shoots from the upper sides of the branches, are very often found at a considerable distance from the base; and we are consequently obliged to leave the shoots much longer than would otherwise be proper, in order to have fruit. There is no objection to this, only it is advisable to take out the wood-eyes that are beneath the lowest flower-bud, with the exception, it must be well recollected, of at least two of the nearest to the base of the shoot. In this way there is no opposition to the development of the latter, either of which may replace the fruit-branch at the following pruning.
93. I have spoken of a particular mode of nailing a branch without a developed eye at its base so as to make it produce one, that being indispensable for the formation of a replacing shoot. It is done in the following way: - As soon as a fruit-branch of this description is pruned, it is nailed in winter to the wall, bringing it as close as we can, without breaking, to the branch on which it grows. It is well-known that every fruit-branch forms with the branch that bears it an angle more or less open; we must endeavor in this case to render the angle as acute as possible, and the extraordinary bend imposed on its lower parts, by this mode of nailing, compresses strongly the woody fibres of the base, and stretches the bark on the outside of the curve. The sap attempting to effect a passage through its proper vessels, which are now closely sqeezed together, often breaks through the bark and pushes the eye desired. This proceeding is, however, only applicable to branches one or two years old.
94. It is not absolutely necessary to wait till the usual time of pruning to cut back to their successional shoots those branches retained as fruiting-branches at the winter-pruning. There is always an advantage in doing so whenever we can, excepting when the successional is growing too vigorously, notwithstanding our endeavors to check it by close nailing and pinching off. During the summer-pruning, if we have time, we cut of all the branches on which the fruit has not set permanently; and, in general, it is well, after the fall of the leaves, to cut out all the useless wood; this leaves so much less to be done at the regular winter-pruning. By cutting off at this time the greater part of the branches that have borne fruit, we strengthen their successional shoots, and render available for the latter the portion of sap which the parts cut off would have appropriated: and there is always an advantage in not allowing the tree to nourish useless productions. This attention is especially necessary for the weaker branches.
Unfortunately, the cultivators and gardeners who have large gardens under their charge are, on account of their many occupations, unable to perform these various operations, which, although useful, are not absolutely indispensable.
Fruit-branches, the Buds of which consist of four or mors Flower-buds. It is called at Montreuil, cochonnet or bouquet de mat (Figs. 4, 5.) This sort of fruit-branch, or. spur, being only one and a. quarter to three inches in length, and most frequently forming a cluster (Fig. 5,) with a single pushing eye in the midst, which suffices for drawing- nourishment to the fruits, ought not therefore to be shortened. It is preserved, wherever it may be, in order to produce fruit As it forms almost exclusively on the old wood, we often find it in front of the principal branches; and when thus situated, it must necessarily be cut off after the fruit is gathered. With regard to those on the sides, they are then pruned to the lowest wood-bud; if there be none formed, and that the spur may still be useful, it is pruned to the wood-bud formed on the. last summer's shoot pushed by the terminal eye. We must endeavor, as much as possible, to retain one. or two flowers beneath this pruning. As soon as the operation is performed, the branch is nailed, as was said at 93; and sometimes a wood-bud, capable of replacing it at the following pruning, is produced at its base.
When they have eyes at their bases they are properly constituted, and are pruned as directed at 89.
96. Although I have hitherto, in conformity with the old belief, directed the fruit-branches always to be pruned on-.a wood-bud which was judged necessary to preserve a good state of vegetation, yet I am now able to affirm that a terminal wood-bud is not absolutely necessary for the growth and maturity of the fruit. Whence, it follows, that under certain circumstances, such as the necessity of prolonging a fruit-branch to a great length, in order to obtain a wood-bud, which after all is too high up, I prune above a flower-bud, without any bad consequences, provided that the base of the branch is sufficiently vigorous.
97. The tree must be completely unnailed before pruning, lest some of the branches be split or broken during the operation. The walls and trellises are inspected, the insects destroyed, and the whole made as clean as possible. The tree must not be unnailed till we are ready to begin pruning; and the principal branches must be trained in, and secured immediately after the operation is completed, lest they suffer from the effects of severe frosts, which often occur at that time of the year.
98. In pruning, I always commence with the fruit-branches, going along the principal branches, beginning with the highest of these and working downwards. This method has the advantage of enabling us to judge better of the strength of the upper fruit-branches, and of rendering it easier to balance them with those that are on the under side and at the bases of the principal branches, the fruit-branches growing there being always less vigorous than those on the upper sides and extremities.
After each fruit-branch has been pruned according to the principles I have laid down, I train in the principal branches of the tree, inclining each in the way it should go, and then only do I prune their extremities. By this mode of proceeding it is easier to judge of their relative length and strength, so as to act accordingly.