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no one need do without fruit, even on the lowest prairie. If no other alternative is presented but to plant on low prairie, or not at all, prepare the ground by throwing up into ridges for the tree-rows; then, with proper selection of sorts, and wisdom to know when to cultivate and when not to cultivate, you need not despair of raising fruit, particularly if you protect your orchard with belts of evergreen or other trees. This protection by surrounding timber is one reason of success in the timbered portions, as the forest-trees left standing serve to protect the orchard from the force of the winds.
The exposure of the land is of importance in selecting a site. That which lies to the north is regarded as most favorable. Southern exposures are objectionable, as they are more readily affected by the rays of the sun, causing the blossoms to open earlier in spring, and thus to suffer more from spring frosts. When the blossom-buds are frozen, those which lie directly to the sun, as in a southern or eastern exposure, are suddenly thawed and killed; whilst those on the north side of a hill thaw gradually, and remain uninjured.
The frequent thawing of the bark of the bodies and limbs of trees during winter and early spring is a prolific source of injury; and, in this respect, ground which lies to the south, or a little west of south, is the worst, and north best.
To any who purpose settling in the North-west, or, having done so already, are postponing indefinitely the planting of an orchard, we would say, Plant at once; plant for the health and enjoyment of your family; plant for market. Do not plant Eastern favorites; but inquire of your neighbors what kinds have succeeded well in your locality; post yourself up as to planting and cultivation; and you will find your money and labor very soon making handsome returns. If you want to raise fruit as a business, there are, in this region, hundreds of acres — which can be bought at a nominal price — of good orchard-lands. A very small capital, with a moderate allowance of labor and brains, will make a pleasant and comfortable living. C. C. Miller.
Are not horticulturists to blame, that, while Nature has spread out over our wide extent of territory such a variety of fruits in their wild state, they have not devoted more attention to their improvement and cultivation? The fruits of our forest open a wide field, asking their attention. Is the native crab less likely to produce a new race of apples than the foreign wild crab, from which it is said all our luscious apples have sprung? I have seen accidental sports from it that were four times as large as they grow ordinarily, and vastly improved in flavor. The peach is said to have been improved from the bitter almond, which is not only bitter and unpalatable, but is poisonous. Is it not possible that the black walnut (Juglans nigra) may yet produce a fruit superior in size and equal in flavor to the peach? The butternut (y. cinerea) and hickory-nut (Carya alba) may also be the parents of similar fruits.
As Utopian as this seems, it is not inconsistent with the theory of Van Mons, who devoted a long life to the amelioration of fruits. His theory, as stated by Downing, is, that "all fine fruits are artificial products; the aim of Nature, in a wild state, being only a healthy, vigorous state of the tree, and perfect seeds for continuing the species. It is the object of culture, therefore, to subdue or enfeeble this excess of vegetation, to lessen the coarseness of the tree, to diminish the size of the seeds, and to refine the quality and increase the size of the flesh or pulp."
There is scarcely any variety of wild fruit but what sports, or varies, from its natural state. It is only necessary, according to Van Mons, to take advantage of that state of variation to attain our object. He paid no attention to the quality of the fruit, so that it was in a state of variation; for "seeds taken from recent variations of bad fruit, and reproduced uninterruptedly for several generations, will certainly produce good fruit."
It is not my object now to give minutely the whole of his theory, but only to throw out such hints as may induce our horticulturists to take some steps towards domesticating our wild fruits, which will also lead them to investigate and study this theory.
The foreign plum has almost ceased to be planted, on account of disease, and the ravages of the curculio. The foreign or cultivated cherry is unsuited to our climate or soil; while we have the wild plum sporting in nearly every shape, size, and color, and the wild cherry doing the same thing, as if calling to us to rescue them from their savage state, and make civilized fruits of them. The foreign raspberry is tender and uncertain, while the native is hardy and prolific. The cultivated gooseberry is also a foreigner, unsuited to the United States in its finest varieties; while our native species is entirely neglected. The strawberry is an exception, and at the same time an example of what may be done with our native fruits. The most popular varieties are improvements on our native species.
There are other fruits besides these to which we should turn our attention, — the persimmon, the red haw, the black haw, cranberry, whortleberry, and a number of others, which, if taken in charge by our horticulturists, there is no doubt might each be made something of.
The blackberry, in spite of all this neglect, has forced itself into notice. The Lavvton, Dorchester, Kittatinny, and Wilson's Early, have compelled us to take them up, but owe none of their fine qualities to our care or industry. I have also a variety, an accidental seedling, which I think an improvement on all of them. I herewith send you a drawing of a bunch of the fruit. It is nearly as large as the Lawton, a week or -ten days earlier, and the most beautiful fruit I ever saw. It is first green, then white, then a light clear pink, then a beautiful glossy translucent claret color when it is fully ripe. If left on the bush until it is over-ripe, it assumes a glossy purple color, which fades out as the berry dries up, and becomes a dead yellow or brownish hue, like dried apples. It is delicious in flavor, perfectly sweet, with no trace of acidity. The juice is nearly as transparent and limpid as water, and, with one-half the sugar required for other blackberries, makes a sweet wine, better than nine-tenths of the grape-wine. It is very productive. The bushes grow erect, stout, and stocky, branch well, and are of a light-green color.
It originated here, and I have had it in cultivation about seven years. If accident accomplishes such results, what may we not expect, when, by careful cultivation and reproduction, we reach perfection?
I have not room, without making this article longer than I intended or you may desire, to say all I wish; but, with your permission, I will finish at another time. D. L. Adair.
Hawssville, Kv., Jaouary, 1867. .
CULTURE OF THE GRAPE IN CITIES.
Having in the March number shown some of the advantages possessed by city lots in the cultivation of the grape, and sketched out a mode by which a few vines may be grown upon a trellis of very small dimensions, it was suggested that the plan, with some modification of detail, was applicable to spaces of greater extent.
The writer now proceeds to develop this branch of the subject, and to show how a dozen vines may be planted in a border thirty feet long, and from two to five feet wide, and trained to cover a trellis of equal length. Having put the ground in complete order, as previously suggested, and procured a supply of first-class vines, beginning at, say, the left-hand end, measure off two and a half feet, and plant a vine; and so proceed with the twelve, preserving an equal distance from vine to vine. These vines, arranged in four courses, are in due season to occupy portions of the trellis ten feet in length by two feet in height. The first and second seasons, their progress will be leisurely; and not until the third year can they take possession, even in part, of their destined spaces on the trellis, or give an earnest of the good things in store; nor, with all due regard to the anxious expectancy of the owner, can they under five years be judiciously permitted to assume their full proportions. But all these points, as well as the preparation of the border and the culture of the vines, have been discussed in the previous article, and need not be treated again.
The vines having been planted as directed, let us now turn to the illustration, and see how they are to be trained.
Vines numbered two, six, and ten, it will be seen, occupy the lowest course on the trellis. They grow perpendicularly from the ground, and divide, at the height of a foot, into what are sometimes inaccurately called bearing-arms, as these arms bear only the young canes on which the fruit is grown, and which are to be cut back every winter. About ten buds are the due allowance for each arm when fully developed; and these buds should severally expand into sturdy canes, attaining, unless pinched in, a height of five or ten feet, and yielding about three bunches of fruit each.