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Trees, planting and staking it ft
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Not very long ago, there was in a certain horticultural paper a notice, "Never stake a tree;" which, in my opinion, deserves to be quoted at par with the famous system of "puddling;" that is, making a liquid puddle in the hole in which the tree is to be planted, and sticking the tree therein.
Can people be serious in advocating such a system? I always thought that the preparation of soil or earth, in about the way used by " puddlers," belonged more to the brickmaker's or pottery line of business than to gardening; although sometimes a gardener may have to perform the operation with clay and water, to mend an oven or a flue in a greenhouse: but no one can seriously believe in planting trees on that principle.
In dry weather, trees may be planted with success after having had their roots placed in a puddle: but the holes will have to be filled with a soil rather dry than too wet; and, even then, watering ought to be done with some care, so as not to consolidate the soil.
Puddling is an operation under which the natural mixture of the soil will and must be altogether changed, by depositing at the bottom the heavy parts, leaving the rich or lighter parts on the surface, where they will be of
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very little or no use at all to the roots; and these will find below, in the heavy and hard stuff, a very poor fare.
But to come to the theme of " staking." I have supposed, from long practice and experience, — and facts prove themselves, — that staking trees is far more successful than the many systems of planting without stakes.
I do not pretend that staking need be employed on every occasion. Young trees, shrubs, small evergreens, and, generally, plants of which the tops are not out of proportion to the roots, or on which the wind has no power, do not require staking; but, even in these cases, it may be of advantage.
In growing small, young plants, the foliage of which often bends the leaves downwards by its weight, the staking and tying-up of the leaves will straighten the cells, the sap will circulate more freely, and the plants will grow twice as much in one season. This is even so with weepingplants. It would seem as if tying them up would bring them out of their natural growth, and check them: but this is not so; experience will prove the contrary.
In planting tall-shafted trees, such as avenue-trees, lawn-trees, and tall standard trees for orchards, staking is of the highest importance: without it, by chance, a plantation of such trees may succeed; with staking, it must succeed; but the staking must be done in the right way.
Suppose an avenue or an orchard to be planted where taste and order require the trees to grow up simultaneously, of the same size, shape, and regularity. If, during two, three, and four years, there are some trees to be replaced, those that succeed the first year will grow over those that will be replaced the second or third year; and how will the last ones be able, between their already stout mates, to attain the same vigor?
The development of the young fibrous roots is essential to the growth of the tree. A tree with a tall shaft may be planted with the greatest care; the ground may be trodden down hard; the surface around the tree may be covered with mulching or with heavy stones: all this will not prevent the wind from acting on the tree as a lever, and shaking it to the very roots.
This power of the wind will be the stronger when the tree begins to show its foliage; which is also the time when the young, delicate, fibrous roots begin to start. A strong blow comes, and bends the tree: the big old roots will bend with it, notwithstanding the heavy stones and the mulching; and the young fibres, already striking into the earth, will be broken off.
The consequence will be, that the sap will be interrupted in its circulation, the foliage will be without supply, and the tree will have to wait for the second sap in August or September, or perhaps until the next spring, and have, meanwhile, plenty of time to dry up altogether.
To prevent this, staking is the radical remedy; but, as already said, it must be done in the right way, or better not at all.
Procure, first, good straight stakes, pointed at one end, about eighteen inches or two feet taller than the trees to be planted, measured from the roots to the top. Open the holes the required width and depth, and drive the stakes directly down in the subsoil some eight to twelve inches, at about two or three inches in the rear of the line on which the trees have to stand, and at regular distances from each other.
Root-prune the tree, so as to remove carefully with a sharp knife all parts that have been bruised.
In digging up trees during the fall where the soil is very hard, the strong roots are generally cut with the spade, and the fibrous roots are mostly pulled. In this way, it often happens that the small roots seem very sound. In examining closely such small roots, it will be found, that, although apparently sound, the wood inside is torn in pieces, with vacancies of sometimes a quarter of an inch. If so, they are good for nothing, and should be pruned off.
The top must be pruned also; and the more of the last year's limbs reduced or cut back to three or four buds, the better. Small limbs that may happen to be along the shaft may be reduced to one or two inches, an<f left as spurs.
Once prepared, the tree must be brought as near the stake as possible by introducing the stake somewhere between two roots. In staking after planting, you can never bring the stake near enough to the tree without bruising the roots.
The hole being filled, the tree must be tied in a very loose manner, permitting it to sink down along the stake gradually with the removed earth.
This precaution is the more necessary, as, by fastening the tree directly after planting, the ground will settle right and left of the roots; and the tree, not giving way, remains hanging; and the earth will sink from underneath the roots, and leave them bare. Rot, insects, and mushrooms will soon breed in these hollows, and destroy the tree.
The final tying must be done only after the ground is fairly settled, and then should be done in preference with osiers, in two or three places, — one near the ground; the second near the top; and the third, required only on tall standards, at about half the distance between the first two.
As a protection against the rubbing of the tree against the stake, some straw, moss,- or rags may be introduced between the stake and the tree, on the ties, or between them.
Trees grown up in nurseries, being generally close together, have their shafts shaved, and therefore the bark is fleshy and soft. In removing such trees, they lose part of their roots, and, by this, part of the supply of the sap circulating through the cells of the bark.
Besides this, the tree is generally removed from a shaded place to ah open one, where it will be exposed to the sun, the wind, and the frost.
This altogether cannot but shrink the bark, and often to such a degree, that, when the sap begins to flow, it finds the cells dried up.
The tree is soon, as it is vulgarly called, "hide-bound." To prevent this, I have used very often the system of wrapping the shaft from root to top, either with straw, or old slips of carpet or sacking, tied every six or eight inches.
This arrangement will keep the shaft moist for some time after every . rain, make the bark more spongy, and prevent the sun and frost from having such an injurious influence on it.
It may be said that such a wrapping of the shaft will afford a retreat for insects injurious to trees. This seems plausible enough: but it is proved, that, in thrifty trees, the strong growth will soon counterbalance any injury such insects may do; for insects generally collect on poor-growing trees, sick from quite different reasons, on which they will find mosses and cracks in the bark.
The second year, the wrapping is to be removed; and insects that may have gathered on it will be removed with it.
There is much more danger in regard to insects from the use of heavy mulching around the trees: there they will find an undisturbed retreat, from which they climb up to feed upon the young leaves.