Orchards are sometimes confined to the cultivation of apples, pears cherries, or other particular fruit, especially if they be situated in the vicinity of a town or city : more frequently, however, they are composed of all the trees before mentioned, with a double proportion of those bearing apples ; which-doubtless are the most plentiful and valuable fruit, that - may be easily preserved during the whole year,
The utility of a general orchard, both far domestic use and the sale of its productions, is evident to the most superficial observer, independently of the beautiful appearance it presents, from an early period in the spring to the late autumn ; we shall therefore state a few hints, from practical writers, and actual experience, on the proper manage ment of this most important department of economy.
I. Extent, Situation, and Soil.
The extent of an orchard should be proportioned to that of arable land, and the quantity of fruit required either for private use, or the supply of public markets ; so that the plantation may consist of from half an acre to 20 acres. As, however, there are many friends of horticulture, whose possessions confine them to a small compass ; and who, nevertheless, wish to practise this useful art on a Systematic plan ; We have subjoined, at the conclusion of these observations, a second Cut, in which the Proper place of each tree is accurately represented ; and the most valuable fruit-trees are distinctly pointed out.
The situation and aspect may vary according to circumstances, provided the soil be good. All low, damp, exposures, however, ought to be purposely avoided, as 110 fruit-trees will flourish there; nor can their productions be fine or well flavoured. A moderately low situation, therefore, is preferable to elevated lands, provided it be dry ; because it will thus be sheltered from the effects of tempestuous winds ; though a small declivity will be very desirable, especi-ally if its aspect incline towards the East, South-east, or to the South ; which situations are always more eligible than a western exposure. But a northern aspect ought by no means to be selected, unless it be well sheltered, or the ground be peculiarly favourable to the formation of an orchard.
With respect to the soil, any common field, or pasture, which produces abundant crops of corn, grass, or culinary vegetables, may be chosen for laying out an orchard. If it be of a rich loamy nature, it will be of great advantage ; though any soil of a good quality, may be prepared for the purpose; but, it must be neither too wet or heavy; nor too light or dry : it should be soft, easily worked, and have at least one spade deep of vegetable mould.
II. Preparation of the Land.
This primary object of horticulture, is usually effected by trenching, if the plantation be intended for private use. In the preparation of very extensive orchards, it will be advisable to plough the soil to a considerable depth; but the most eligible method is, to dig trenches, one or two spades deep, according to the nature of the ground, and six or eight feet wide in each row, where the trees are in future to be placed; especially if it be grassland, and intended to be kept in the sward; in which case the green-sods must be laid at the bottom of each trench ; because, when putrefied, they will afford an excellent manure. Should hops, or any other under-crop, be designed to be raised, it will be requisite to trench the whole of the ground; but, in either case, the spade must be carried to the depth of the natural soil.
The land, thus managed, ought likewise to be secured from the incursions of cattle, by means of a good ditch, and a well-planted hedge ; which should be trained towards the north, as high and as thick. as it can be carried. The plantation ought, also, to be screened on the east and west sides from the effects of boisterous winds, by means of shaws or shelters of Spanish chesnut, Scotch firs, ash, or other quick-growing trees.
Manure is likewise an object of the greatest importance : and, for this purpose, the sweepings of streets, those of cow and slaughterhouses, the emptying of drains and night-soil, are, in the opinion of Mr. BucKnall, eminently serviceable ; as they " are more disposed to facilitate the growth and health of fruit-trees, than the manure from the stable."
III. Method of Planting.
The best season for planting fruit-trees is in autumn, shortly after the leaves begin to fall; from the latter end of October till the commencement of December; though, if the weather continue open, or mild, it may be performed at any time between the months of October and March.
As many trees become diseased •with the moss, canker, etc. in consequence of an injudicious selection, Mr. B. directs them to be chosen the year before they are Intended to be planted. The orOne row of the tallest and Strongest standards is to be set on the three old sides; parallel to which, must be planted another row of the next free - growers : then, the trees are to be disposed in a similar manner, according to their. strength, gradually declining ehCardist, he observes, must be particularly careful to obtain young and healthy trees; for cankered plants emit a vapour which is very detrimental to such as are sound : he must, likewise, see them properly pruned in the nursery, so that all extraneous or rambling branches be closely taken off, and only three or four leading shoots be left to every head : thus managed, the trees will net require to be lopped for a considerable time; and, as they will have no wounds open in the year when transplanted, their growth will be greatly promoted.
On taking up the fruit-trees, the roots should be preserved of a convenient length, in consequence of which they will incline to grow in a horizontal direction, and be more immediately influenced by the sun: their sap will become richer, and produce the sweetest and most beautiful fruit.
In arranging the trees, Mr. Buck-nall directs them to be planted conformably to the mode represented in the following Cut:
One row of the tallest and strongest standards is to he set on the three cold sides; parallel to which, must be planted another row of the next free - growers: then, the trees are to be disposed in a similar manner, according to their strength, gradually declining in size, to the centre. Each standard is to be placed 33 feet asunder, between which two dwarf-trees should be planted; all of them being so pruned, that each row will, at the expiration of thirteen years, form an actual hedge of fruit. The intermediate spaces may be filled with hops, which should be removed, accordingly as the trees advance in growth.
Farther, the rows of trees ought to incline to a point of the compass towards the east; because the sun will shine upon them early in the forenoon, and thus dissipate the vapours, which arise during the vernal nights, and stunt the fruit in the earlier stages of its growth.
Having given this general outline relative to the planting of orchards, we should consider our work deficient on a subject of such importance, if we neglected the opportunity of communicating a more complete and systematic in-introduction to horticulture, with which we have been favoured by Mr. Christ, an eminent and practical German writer. In order to enhance the value of this essay, we have procured the subjoined Cut, which represents a design for an orchard occupying two acres of ground (Rhenish measure), that is, 19 roods in length, according to the horizontal rows ; and 17 roods in breadth, conformably to the perpendicular lines.
In an extensive orchard, the proprietor will find it more advantageous to place the fruit-trees at a considerable distance ; as, by such management, he will be enabled to train a greater variety of useful plants beneath and between those of a larger size. But, in a limited space of ground, such as that exhibited in the preceding Cut, the primary object will be to make the most economical use of the allotted ground, and to procure the greatest possible variety of fruit-bearing trees. Next, he will endeavour to arrange them so that they may stand in symmetrical order, and exhibit a pleasing sight. For this purpose, the arrangement here proposed, in an irregular square, will be found the most convenient and agreeable to the laws of vegetation. Thus, the eye, wherever it turns, not only perceives a straight line, and uniform groves, but the plan itself is likewise the most consist-ent; because each tree is planted, in a certain space, at the greatest possible distance from the other ; and is in this manner less cumber-some to its neighbour, than it would be in a rectangular square. Hence the proper and most profitable disposition will be that of allowing three rods interval between standards, in the horizontal rows from east to west; and two and a half rods in the perpendicular lines from south to north. This space, however, would, after some time, become too narrow ; one tree would impede the growth of another, and, by obstructing the air as well as the rays of the sun, prevent the ripening of fruit ; if the trees were indiscriminately planted in the spots which are marked on the plan. To obviate such inconvenience, it should be understood to be a fundamental rule, that each fruit-tree must he provided with a neighbour which is of a different growth. It will, therefore,be requisite to make such a choice of the various kinds and species of trees, that one of a vigorous growth, with a spreading crown or top, should stand next to another that expands with less luxuriance, and has fewer or lower branches. This arrangement may be the more, easily accomplished, as every zealous friend of horticulture will naturally wish to possess., in his collection, at least one, or a few trees, of every valuable kind of fruit. And, in order to facilitate such choice, we have subjoined a catalogue of the principal sorts of fruit-trees.
But, though the soil and space for standards, according to our plan, be rather sparingly a'lotted, yet there would remain a considerable piece of ground between them unemployed, for 15 or 20 years, while they are young and growing: hence it will be advisable to plant and train between every two standards, in the horizontal rows, a small or dwarf tree, with a limited top or crown ; bearing early and abundant fruit, till the stems have attained so large a size, and such spreading branches, as to overshadow and stifle their useful, but diminutive neighbours. Thus, the latter must, according to circumstances, yield the room they occupy, to the former ; and, after having amply repaid the trouble of rearing them, and their proportion of ground-rent, they may still, with proper exertion, be transplanted to another situation.
Among all fruit-trees, there are none better calculated for intermediate plantation between standards, than the yellow mirabelle, and the golden pippin. The former is of tolerably quick growth, may be managed and pruned at pleasure, and generally bears fruit in the second year after having been transplanted : its abundant plums are of great value, both for home consumption and for sale, when in a dried state.—The golden pippin maintains the same rank among ap-ple-trees, as the mirabelle among the plum-kind : its growth is moderate ; the fruit plentiful and delicious, containing a sharp aromatic juice, and a tender pulp;—-it may be preserved longer than six months.