Fruit-Trees, are such as bear fruit, namely, Apple, Cherry, Pear-trees, etc. for the particular culture of which we refer to those articles. At present, we shall confine ourselves to remarks equally applicable to orchards, and to single trees.
While young, no trees should be suffered to bear a large quantity of fruit: and, if they abound with blossoms, the fruit should be gathered as soon as it is formed; leaving only half a dozen of the produce, to ascertain its size and quality. By this measure, the trees will not only produce larger and finer fruit, but, by being kept clear, the leading and collateral branches will every year become more vigorous. Nor ought any young plant, or newly-engrafted tree, to be permitted to run mop-headed, as it will make no progress, till each branch has acquired a determined leader: for, if the growth of a tree be prevented, it will be extremely difficult to throw such energy into the system, as to enable it to grow freely.
As long as fruit-trees continue in the nursery, it will be requisite to cut down the head, in order to give strength and symmetry to the stem : it will also be useful to shorten most of the grafts, lest they should be blown out by the wind : these operations likewise contribute to swell the buds.
The ingenious Mr. Bucknall particularly recommends, not to place the rows of trees in a situation either directly north or south, but rather inclining to the east, as the sun will then shine upon them in the early part of the day during the spring, and thus dissipate the vapours collected in the night ; which, if suffered to condense, will stint the fruit in the earlier stages of its growth. He farther observes, that if the shows (or, shades) be properly attended to, the trees being placed in this position, will be enabled to withstand the power of the winds; nor will they be affect-ed ed by blight. The show will also protect the fruit from the autumnal winds, by which half the crop of fruit is not unfrequently blown down, before it is ripe : and, as the heads are at that season of the year laden with fruit and leaves, many trees are torn up from the ground, or so lacerated as to be completely spoiled; a misfortune that might be effectually prevented by a proper disposition of the shades.
In the Transactions of the Economical Society of Leipzig, we meet with a communication from the Rev. Mr. Germershausen, on the means of promoting the growth of young fruit-trees, especially in grass land. This method simply consists in spreading flax-shows, or the refuse of flax, after it has been combed, on the soil contiguous to the trunks of the trees, as far as the roots extend ; by which means their size as well as their fertility is remarkably increased. He mentions an instance, where an old plum-tree which, being in a languishing state, in a grass-field, was treated in the manner above directed, and thus not only acquired a new bark, but produced larger, and better-tasted fruit: the young shoots also, which formerly grew up around the stem, were prevented from sprouting forth, because the refuse of the flax excluded the access of air to the trunk, and im parted additional nutriment to the roots. The leaves falling from the trees in autumn, may be substituted for the flax-shows, if these cannot be easily procured; but it will be necessary to dig: a small trench for the reception of the decayed leaves, and also to cover them with tiles, flat stones, or a log of wood, to prevent their dispersion by the wind. This precaution, however, is not required with the refuse of flax, which adheres so closely to the soil, as to withstand the most violent storm.
Although gardeners bestow the strictest attention on orchards, it sometimes happens that the bark of trees is stripped off by sheep, or by other accidents. In this case, it has been recommended by Mr. W. F'airman, of Miller's House, Lynsted, Kent, to take off the arms of such trees as are damaged; to cut slips of the rind, about two or three inches in width, and to place four or five of them perpendicularly round the naked part. The damaged rind is previously to be cleared away, the sound bark somewhat raised, and the slips inserted beneath it, to promote the Circulation of the sap. These dressings are next to be bound very tight with rope-yarn ; and a composition of loam and cow-dung, together with a small proportion of drift-sand, should be applied, over which some old sacking, or similar stuff, ought to be fastened. Mr. Fairman adds, that he made an experiment with this mode of treatment, in the spring of 1794, on some trees which had been much damaged by sheep, and that it Completely succeeded, the slips adhering closely, and being full of sap.
Fruit -trees, like the rest of the vegetable creation, are the prey of a variety of insects, of which few-are more destructive than those infesting apple, pear, cherry; oak, white-thorn, and similar trees. - They deposit their black eggs in clusters, resembling withered leaves, and which are twisted by a cobweb round the uppermost branches. These notorious insects are hatched in the spring, when they assume the form of very diminutive caterpillars, which destroy every thing before them, and rapidly propagate in the most unfavourable weather. They damage Oaks very materially; devour the white-thorn, and kill the plant: apples and pears, likewise, receive great injury. - The only remedy hitherto known of exterminating such noxious vermin, is to cut off all the twigs or shoots of every tree on which these nests of insects ap-pear; to collect them in a heap, and burn them as soon as the wea-ther will permit; for, where this necessary operation is deferred till the summer approaches, the insects increase prodigiously, and commit irreparable damage. - See Caterpillar and Insects.
The effects of frost are likewise often fatal, especially to the more tender fruit-trees. With a view to obviate such damage, dif-ferent methods have been suggested ; the most practicable of which we have noticed in the preceding article. We shall, however, add a few additional hints, in order that the reader may select such as are the most simple and least expensive.
In a communication from a Swedish agriculturist to a respecta-ble periodical work, published on the Continent, the following expedient is stated to have been successfully employed, to protect fruit-trees from the vernal frosts. As soon as the weather begins to grow Cold in autumn, large quantities of •water are to be poured on the trunks of such trees, so that they may receive an early impression of the cold. In the spring, snow is to be accumulated round their stems; which retards vegetation, and prevents them from blossoming too early. In consequence of this irrigation, the buds shoot forth at a period, when no apprehension need be entertained from the attacks of the frost that frequently happens during the nights of spring. - Such practice of watering the borders of trees, is said to increase the heat in them, by accelerating the motion of their juices, if the soil of such border, has been properly opened and prepared. It is farther recommended, to add one ounce of common salt to every gallon of water, where those borders are old, and have been impoverished by producing many successive crops ; or if they have been manured with dung not sufficiently putrified.
There is a method of making fruit grow, during winter: and though we are no advocates for premature productions, we have abstracted the following process for the satisfaction of the curious, from the 9th vol. of the Annual Register for 1763: Let the trees be taken up by the roots in the spring, at the time they are about to bud; carefully preserving some of their own soil among the roots. These are to be placed upright in a cellar till Michaelmas, when they are to• be put into vessels with the addition of fresh earth, and deposited in a stove or hot-house, being regularly moistened every morning with rain-water, in which sal-ammoniac has. been dissolved, in the proportion of one ounce to a quart. Tims, in the month of February, the fruit will appear. - The same method is applicable to rose-trees, and flowers: which last, when sown in pets at or before Michaelmas, and watered in a similar manner, will blow towards the end of December.
In order to ascertain when fruits, for instance, apples and pears, are sufficiently ripe to be gathered, it is requisite to attend to the colour of the skin inclosing the seeds. During their infant state, there is no cavity round the kernels, but they are in contact with the seed-vessel. In a subsequent period, when the fruit has exhausted the nutritious matter, the cells containing the seeds become hollow, and the latter assume a dark colour. This, Dr. Darwin observes, is the proper criterion by which to judge when such fruits should be gathered ; as it indicates that they will not continue to increase in size, but waste and become hollow.-, by absorbing the mucilaginous particles from the centre.
One of the most easy methods of preserving fruit, is that of de-positing it in ice-houses, where it may remain in a frozen state for a considerable time. And, if the fruit be afterwards gradually thaw-cd, by covering it with melted ice, or immersing it in cold spring-water, it will lose but little of its flavour, provided it be consumed on the same day. Fruit may also be preserved, by keeping it in pits, dug in a dry soil, or in dry cellars, or even in barns, if the temperature be between 32 and 48° of Fahrenheit's thermometer; that is, such as will neither induce frost, nor vegetation. These pits or magazines, however, ought to be covered with such materials as are calculated to repel heat, and to absorb any accidental putrid exhalations, and thus retard the progress of putrefaction. Hence Dr. Darwin recommends the fruit to be covered first with pulverized charcoal, one or two inches thick, over which is to be laid a stratum of saw-dust, and over the latter, a thick, impenetrable thatch of straw: thus, seeds and fruits may be stored up for ages, without vegetating or decaying. He likewise mentions another mode of preserving fruit, by heat. As fermentation will not commence in the heat of boiling water, or 212°; and, as that degree of temperature can be easily procured by steam, or by the vicinity of vessels containing boiling water, he is of opinion, that such fruits as are used for culinary purposes throughout the year, may be kept in a fresh state, by putting them into bottles, and exposing them to the wasted steam of engines; or, by immersing them in the hot water that flows from such steam when condensed; or, by placing the bottles near the boilers which are fixed beside kitchen fires.
Before we conclude this article, we shall briefly observe, 1. That the cutting and pruning of young fruit-trees retard their bearing; though such necessary operations contribute to the richness ana flavour of the fruit, as well as to the beauty or the tree. 2. That those plants which produce kernels, yield fruit later, but in greater abundance than stone-fruit trees : the time for bearing required by the former being upon an everage five years. 3. That stone-fruit, figs, and grapes, generally yield abundantly at the expiration of three or four years; bear full crops in the fifth and sixth years ; and, if judiciously managed, will continue to produce forseveral seasons. 4. That the fruit of wall-trees, in general, attains to maturity sooner than that growing on standards ; and the fruit on the latter, earlier than that produced by dwarfs. 5. That the produce of all wall-trees, which are planted in the south and east quarters, ripens generally about the. same period ; though that growing in a southern exposure is often earlier than the fruit in the east; while that towards the west is later than either of the former, by eight or ten days; and that exposed to the north, by fifteen or twenty days. Lastly, as the freezing winds of this country proceed from the north-east, we shall, under the head of Orchards, give more particular directions relative to the most proper situation of fruit-trees, and illustrate this interesting branch of husbandry by an appropriate en-graving. - See also Engrafting, Plantation, Pruning, etc.
Among the various distinct publications which have appeared on this subject, the following are allowed to possess considerable merit: "A Treatise on Fruit-trees," etc. by Thomas.Hitt; 8vo.2dedi. 5s. 3d. Robinson, 1768 ; - and "The British Fruit Gardener, and Art of Pruning," etc. by Thomas AbercrombLe ; 8vo. 4s. bound, Colours from Fruits. - The red juices of currants, mulberries, elder-berries, black-cherries, and other fruit, impart their tinging particles to water, but more completely to rectified spirit ; and the tincture acquires a brighter colour. The red watery solutions, as well as the juices, are sometimes rendered dull, and sometimes more lively, by means of acids; they generally acquire a purplish hue, by the addition of alkalies. The greater part of the colours of these juices is perishable, though they strongly resist fermentation, and continue almost unchanged, when the liquor is converted into wine. If the juice be thinly spread upon other bodies, exsiccated, and exposed to the air, the colour speedily decays ; the bright red fades sooner than any other; but the dark dull red obtained from the juice of the black-cherry, is of considerable durability. - The ripe berries of the buck-thorn tinge paper of a green colour : when green, those berries afford a yellow, and if ripe, a purplish pigment. There are besides a great variety of other fruits, both wild and cultivated, which impart different colours, and which are noticed in their alphabetical series.
As we treat of the general properties, as well as the relative salubrity of fruit, under the individual heads of shrubs and trees, we shall, in this place, only add, that the injudicious practice of promiscuously allowing it, whether ripe or unripe, to children and infants, is very reprehensible. On account of its acidity, they are not able to bear it in excess ; and their digestive powers become too frequently impaired at the expence of other secretions ; such as insensible perspiration, and the discharges by stool, both of which are thus un-unnaturally promoted, - All fruit given to young people, ought to be perfectly ripe: mothers and nurses should likewise bestow especial attention on the cleanliness of the peels, or shells, which, as they generally pass through different hands, or may have been stored in improper places, require to be previously wiped or washed.
Fruit-Trees. - In this article we have stated a few circumstances, the knowledge of which may serve to ascertain the maturity of fruit, and consequently the proper time for gathering it. - The following directions for picking, preserving, and packing it tor ca riage, we insert on the authority of Mr. Forsyth.
All apples, pears, etc. ought to be carefully gathered by hand, and laid in baskets containing dried grass, to present them from being bruised; and, if they fall spontaneously, some dry barley-straw or pease-haulm, should be prepared for their reception on the ground : in the latter instance, the fruit ought to be separated from, and sent to the table before that which is collected by hand ; and such, as may be accidentally bruised, ought to be reserved for culinary purposes ; because it cannot be long kept in a sound state.
When all the fruit is collected, it should be conveyed to the storeroom ; laid gently in small heaps, on dried grass; and their tops be covered with short grass, in order to sweat. Here it may remain for about a fortnight; during which time each apple, pear, etc. must be occasionally wiped with a dry woollen cloth, and those exposed on the surface should be placed towards the middle of the heap. At the end of this period, all watery ingredients that may have been imbibed during a wet season, will be evaporated : the heaps should then be uncovered, and each article carefully wiped ; separating those which may be injured, or unfit lor keeping. - During this process of sweating, the windows of the storeroom, excepting in wet or foggy weather, ought to be continually open, in order to discharge the moisture perspiring from the fruit.
The usual method of storing apples, pears, etc. consists in laying them on clean wheaten straw ; but, in this case, it will be neces-sary to examine them frequently, and to remove such as begin to decay ; because the straw, by absorbing moisture, will become so tainted, as to communicate an unpleasant flavour.
Another mode of preserving fruit, is that of depositing it on shelves made of well-seasoned white deal, and covered with coarse thin canvas, on which the articles are to be laid, after being wiped perfectly dry : a piece of linen cloth, or thin flannel, or whitish-brown paper, must then be placed on the top, with a view to exclude the air, and to guard against the injurious effects of frost. Farther, it should be turned several times during the winter ; because the more tender and delicate kinds are apt to decay on the lower side, if they remain long in a quiescent state ; even though they may have been completely sound, when first selected for that purpose.
In the vicinity of the metropolis, where fruit is kept in store-houses for supplying the markets, it is generally packed in soft paper, disposed at the bottoms and around the edges of baskets or hampers : a layer of fruit is then put in, and covered with sheets of paper; after which successive strata of fruit and paper are placed regularly, till the vessel be full. The top is then provided with three or four double folds of paper, both to exclude the air and frost. Every sort is arranged in distinct baskets, to which labels are affixed, containing the name of the fruit, and the period when it will be fit for use.
The best mode of preserving fruit, however, in the opinion of Mr. Fobsyth, is that of packing it in glazed earthen jars, which ought to be kept in dry apartments. For this purpose, apples and pears are to be wrapped separately in soft paper, and laid at the bottom of the vessel on a thin stratum of well-dried bran : alternate layers of bran and fruit are then to follow, till the jar be filled; when it should be gently shaken, in order to settle its contents. Every vacancy must now be supplied with bran, covered with paper, and the whole secured from air and moisture by a piece of bladder, over which the cover of the vessel must be carefully fitted.
With respect to the packing of fruit, which is to be conveyed to a considerable distance, there cannot be taken too great precaution. Boxes should, therefore, be made of strong deal, and of various sizes, in proportion to the quantity they are designed to contain : these will be proper for melons wrapped simply in paper; and also for pears, peaches, nectarines, plums, and grapes, being enveloped first in vine-leaves, and then in paper; but for cherries, and currants, flat tin boxes will be required. - If the fruits last mentioned are to be carried, successive layers of fine long moss, and cherries, ought to be arranged, till the box be full; so that, when- the lid is closed, they may be in no danger of being injured by friction. For transporting melons, etc. similar strata of dried moss, and short, soft, dry grass are to be formed, in which the fruit is to be stored according to the manner above directed ; being selected as nearly of the same size as possible: care also must be taken to place the largest at the bottom, and to fill up every interstice. - For the sake of farther security, each box ought to be provided with a strong lock and two keys ; so that the persons packing and unpacking the fruit, may be re spectively in the possession of one. The. moss and grass should al'ways be returned in the boxes ; and, with a little addition, they will serve, the whole season, provided such materials be shaken up, and well aired, after each journey ; in order that they may remain sweet. Lastly, it will be necessary to cord these boxes firmly, with a view to prevent any accidents that may arise, during their conveyance. If this method be carefully pursued, it will certainly be attended with success ; for, Mr. Forsyth observes, that fruit thus managed, may be sent with perfect safety, either by coaches or waggons, to the remotest part of the kingdom.