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.
Those who are unable or unwilling to bud their own trees, should be careful properly to select, or cause to be selected, in the nurseries, the sorts budded on the stocks best suited to their soil. As I have already said, the preference is usually given to those budded on Almond stocks, with the previously mentioned exception ous trees, with a clear and lively bark, and with a straight stem, properly furnished with eyes at its base. The size of the tree must not be too much regarded, for there are certain much esteemed kinds, which, though appearing less vigorous, are, notwithstanding, equally advantageous.
46. It is necessary to apply to a nurseryman worthy of confidence, whom we can trust in regard to the taking up of the young trees so as to preserve their roots, this being so important to their success. It is better to pay a trifle more per plant rather than run the risk of having trees with roots cut short and mutilated. We should also take care to have the trees planted as soon as possible after they are taken up; and if they have to come from a distance, it is necessary that they should be well packed, especially the roots, so that they may not be dried by the contact of the air.
47. Before giving the precautions which it is necessary to take in planting, it will be well to point out the aspects most suitable for the Peach. Although those I determine are specially applicable to the climate of Paris, it will be easy to modify them according as the locality may be more to the south or to the north, though the culture of the Peach extends but little to the north of the latitude of the capital. I shall also say a few words respecting the wall against which the Peach is trained, and, after having treated on these two subjects, I will return to the planting.
The Peach tree equally dislikes an aspect that is too hot or too cold ; and, although it may be cultivated against a south, and likewise against a north aspect, it is preferable to plant it against an east or west In this way, the same wall gives support to trees of which the produce on both sides is nearly equal. This is not the case with walls running east and west; on these the trees facing the south have too much heat, while those on the opposite side scarcely see the sun, and either ripen their fruit badly, or not at all. This consideration has determined the greater part of the inhabitants of Montreuil, Bagnolet, and other places, where the cultivation of the Peach is the principal source of employment, to build their walls to run nearly north and south, in order that the trees planted on the east side may enjoy the influence of the sun from his rising till 1 p. m.; and those on the west for the rest of the day. However, we plant the Peach against aspects less favorable than those just mentioned; for the ground does not always admit of placing the walls so as to afford the aspect we would wish.
Walls are occasionally to be seen which do not receive any sun till 10 a. m.; we, however, cover them with Peach trees, which become very fine; but they give great trouble in pruning, because their wood or pushing-eyes are frequently at the ends only of the fruit-branches, which must therefore be preserved entire if we wish to obtain fruit.
49. As regards the nature of the soil, the Peach is not so particular as some imagine. When well managed it grows anywhere, if the soil is only deep enough. Nevertheless its growth is much greater and more regular when planted in a light soil resting on a bottom of silicious pebbles among which the roots of the Almond find their way; it must also be one that does not retain the water so long as to prove hurtful to the roots when the summer is wet are already built, the aspects that they have must be made the best of. But when a new garden is made, it is well to bear in mind what I have said with regard to aspect, and consequently to lay out the kitchen-garden in the most suitable manner for building walls in the best direction for the trees.
51. When a Peach wall is built at Montreuil, it is 15f inches thick at its base, tapering to 11 3/4 at the top; and about ten feet high. The height is the most convenient for the square mode of training, that which I recommend. There is no objection to the walls being of a greater height. But experience has shown us that the height I have stated is sufficient; and it is prudent not to make an outlay too great in proportion to the produce which may reasonably be expected. The walls should be plastered on both sides an inch and a quarter thick, so as to admit of nails being driven in training. The walls should have a coping, which is made to project 5 1/4 inches for an east aspect, and 6 1/4 inches for the others. This projection is calculated for walls of ten feet high ; but it should be increased in the same proportion if that height be exceeded. It should also be increased by about two inches in walls having a trellis, in order to compensate for the thickness of the latter and its distance from the wall.
Copings have the advantage of moderating the flow of sap in all the points of the branches that are nailed immediately beneath them ; of preserving the Peach trees from drip ; and of protecting them to a certain extent from spring frosts which cut off the flower, the coping preventing the escape of heat by radiation.
52. As the west and south aspects are those from which the rains are most to be feared, and which are liable to the strongest action of the sun on the shoots and young leaves of the Peach tree affected by hoar frosts, we augment by means of straw mats the good effects which result from the copings. It is for this reason, that beneath the copings of walls with these two aspects we fasten supports in the walls about three feet four inches apart. These supports must be two feet long exclusive of the part fastened in the wall. Straw mats of this width are fastened on these supports, when the state of the weather renders them necessary.
53. In the gardens of private individuals, it is the custom to cover the wall with a trellis of laths, the intervals of which are nine inches and a half by eight inches and a half. This method is advantageous where plaster is scarce, but not so convenient for training as the naked wall. On this account we do not use trellises at Montreuil, although the keeping the walls in repair and the nails and sheds are not less expensive than the trellis. Trellises are also made of iron wire, which answer very well as substitutes for those made of wood; but they require some care to be taken in tying the shoots* to them, which will be noticed when treating of that operation.
54. For a new plantation, we lay out a border at the foot of the wall five feet six inches to six feet six inches in breadth according to our space. A good quantity of well-rotted dung is laid on ; the ground is trenched to the depth of eighteen inches or two feet, and the soil must be well broken and equally mixed with the dung throughout Many are in the habit of digging the holes three weeks or a month before planting. I never practise this myself, and I advise no one else to do so. The season for planting is commonly attended with sudden cold rains, which sometimes fill the holes, rendering the earth so wet and cold as to prove injurious to the roots; but such is not the case when the holes are made at the time of planting.
Everything being prepared we plant in the course of November. The soil of the border having been newly worked, it is sufficient in good light soils to make holes one foot square [better two feet square] and two feet deep; but when the soil is of a clayey or damp nature, the holes must be two feet square and three feet deep, and the earth before being filled in must be rendered light by mixture with good garden mold. This method is to be preferred to that of planting in March, which has the great inconvenience of causing a loss of valuable time to the tree, which, when planted in November, is ready to vegetate the first fine weather in spring; but when planting is deferred till March the vegetation of the tree is often retarded by the drying winds so prevalent at that season. The plants called eighteen-months are preferred for planting. They are so called from having been eighteen months budded, or nearly so long. Trees which have been thirty months budded, and which have been cut back upon a lower eye, and of which the roots are much larger and less fibrous than the former, are not so good; still, in some particular cases, they are not to be rejected; for instance, they often take root better in new ground.
66. While the holes are being dug, the roots are trimmed, that is, their bruised extremities are cut with a sharp pruning-knife, and so as that the cut surfaces may rest upon the earth when the tree is planted. At the same time, its head is taken off at from eight to nine inches above the bud to allow of planting it with a sufficient inclination, so that the stem may touch the wall; while the roots are so far from the foot of the latter as not to be cramped in growing by the foundations. See fig. 6, which represents the tree before being planted. It is headed back at the point a.
57. The tree is fixed in its place at six and a quarter inches from the wall, and not deeper in the earth than it was before. It is so placed that the eyes a and b of the bud may be at each side, and not before and behind, without heeding the position of the original bud. It is of little moment whether the latter be turned one way or the other, provided the eyes be properly placed. For the formation of a fine tree in a short time, this precaution is of greater importance than most people suppose. Gardeners usually plant their trees with the budded part in front, without paying the least attention to the position of the eyes. The following spring, when the tree shoots, they are astonished to see the greater number of trees thus planted with eyes before and behind; while those planted as I have directed have their eyes well placed, one on each side. When the tree is in the proper position the roots are carefully spread out, and then covered over to the height I have directed, or at least in such a way that the bud, 6, may be kept out of the earth.
58. A space of twenty-six feet is left between those Peach trees intended to be trained in the square form. When a Peach and a Pear are to be planted alternately, there should then be a distance of thirty-nine feet between them. The intermediate spaces may be usefully employed by planting between each Peach and Pear tree a young tree, which can be brought up till three years old, and which may be employed to make a fresh plantation, producing a crop in a short time.
(To be continued).