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A modern writer on “ Timber-trees and Fruits,” remarks that, " The facility of raising the peach from the stone has probably tended to its general diffusion throughout the world. This fruit has steadily followed the progress of civilization; and man, from China to Peru,' has surrounded himself with the luxury of this, and of the other stone-fruits, very soon after he has begun to taste the blessings of a settled life. There are still spots where ignorance prevents portions of the human race from enjoying the blessings which Providence has everywhere ordained for industry; and there are others where tyranny forbids the earth to be cultivated, and produce its fruits. The inhabitants of the Haouran, who are constantly wandering, to escape the dreadful exactions of some petty tyrant, have neither orchards nor fruit-trees, nor gardens, for the growth of vegetables. 'Shall we sow for strangers ?' was the affecting answer of one of them to Burckhardt.” “One of the greatest blessings," continues he, “ that can be conferred upon any rude people, (and it is a blessing which will bring knowledge, and virtue, and peace, in its train,) is to teach them how to cultivate those vegetable productions which constitute the best riches of mankind.” The traveller, Burchell, rendered such a service to the Bachapins, a tribe of the interior of southern Africa. He gave to their chief a bag of fresh peach-stones, in quantity about a quart; “nor did I fail,” says the benevolent visiter of these poor people, "to impress on his mind, a just idea of their value and nature, by telling him that they would produce trees which would continue every year to yield, without further trouble, abundance of large fruit of a more agreeable flavour than any which grew in the country of the Bachapins.”
The peach is in general cultivated as a fruit-tree, against walls, and in hothouses, in the middle and north of Europe, and as a standard tree, in the fields and gardens of the southern parts of that country, as well as in those of northern Africa, and many of the islands of the Mediterranean, and of the Atlantic Ocean. At Montreuil, in the neighbourhood of Paris, peaches are produced of the finest flavour, the excellence of which is attributed to the exclusive attention of the people to their culture; and a single tree there, sometimes covers a space of wall sixty feet in length. The peach also abounds in various countries of the east, including China, India, and Persia, where, according to Mr. Royle, it grows both wild and in a state of cultivation. On the Himalayas, it flourishes at elevations of five thousand to six thousand feet; and in Madeira and Teneriffe, which lie in about the same latitude, it brings forth fruit of the finest quality, and in the greatest abundance, at all points below the height of five thousand feet.
The peach was introduced into North America by the first European settlers, probably towards the close of the XVIth, or early in the XVIIth century, where it is cultivated in extensive plantations, which often grow with such luxuriance as to resemble forests of other trees. In New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and several other states, much attention is paid to its culture, and the fruit is of an excellent quality. It is no uncommon circumstance for a planter to possess a peach-orchard containing one thousand or more of standard trees. It is only in the middle states of the union where this fruit arrives at the greatest perfection. In favourable seasons, it matures in the open air, as far north as Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and the falls of Niagara; but its pulp is not so delicious as when grown some degrees farther south; it is also trained against walls at Montreal and Torento, in Canada, where, in some seasons, fruit of a fine quality is obtained. In the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida, the trees make much foliage and wood; still, if well cultivated and properly pruned, the fruit grows to a large size, and is juicy and well-flavoured. On the Mississippi, particularly in Louisiana, which lies in the same latitude as that part of Asia where this species is indigenous, it grows spontaneously, but is regarded as of foreign origin, having been introduced from Spain before that river was explored by the French. In the vicinity of Boston, Salem, New York, Philadelphia, and other populous cities of the United States, the peach is reared against walls and in hothouses, by numerous opulent citizens, and fruit of a large size and fine quality is produced. In some other parts of the American continent, it also readily grows, and in great abundance. Sir Francis Head, in his "Rough Notes," speaks in raptures of the beauty and luxuriance of this fruit, which was scattered over the corn-fields in the neighbourhood of Mendoza, on the east side of the Andes; and the same traveller noticed dried peaches used as an article of food on the more elevated parts of those mountains, to which they must have been carried from the plains below. On the banks of Rio de la Plata, from Montevideo to Buenos Ayres, we have seen peach-trees growing spontaneously, in the greatest perfection, and in such abundance as to form a considerable portion of the fuel of the provinces in which they grew. The fruit there is of a fine quality, large quantities of which are annually dried for domestic use, and the chief part of the remainder is consumed by cattle, or is suffered to decay-upon the ground.
Soil and Situation. A sandy soil, rather poor than rich, appears to be the most favourable to the growth of good peaches; but land of moderate fertility produces the most abundant crops. This tree is also known to prosper on clayey, and calcareous loams, as well as on deep alluvial deposits. On very fertile soils, or those which have been made so by high manuring, it grows larger, and is more flourishing; but its fruit is of an inferior kind, often appearing as green as the leaves, even when ripe, and is much later than that grown on poorer soils. This defect, however, can be remedied in a measure, by depriving the tree of a portion of its foliage, after the fruit is set; but this practice is believed to shorten the life of the tree. In the middle and southern states of the union, elevated grounds, in the vicinity of water, are considered as the best for peach-trees, and the northern sides of hills as the most desirable sites; for they retard their vegetation and prevent the destructive effects of late vernal frosts; but a belt of forest is desirable on the north, to break off the cold winds. In corroboration of these views, we can aver from good authority, that the elevated tracts, not only lying along the shores of the Atlantic and the large bays adjacent thereto, but those on the borders of our western waters, are more favourable to the production of good peaches, than districts more inland. It has also been observed that peach-trees flourish in hedge-rows, and in most other places where their trunks are shaded, which preserves them from the effects of sudden transitions from heat to cold, and from cold to heat.
Propagation and Management. The peach-tree may be propagated from seeds, by grafting, or inoculation. The former mode is considered more certain, as to quickness of growth, and earlier profit, as well as economy, though it does not insure identity of species, except in a few cases; for it rarely occurs that the seeds of pomiferous fruits perpetuate the same characters and qualities. It appears, however, that the stones of the variety of peach, called “Eastburn's Choice,” which originated at Philadelphia about seventeen years ago, produce fruit possessing the same properties as those of the parent tree. In Delaware, where the peach arrives at a high degree of perfection, the trees are often raised from the stone, without either grafting or budding. The mode which has been adopted there for the last century, and which is applicable to this species of culture in the middle and southern states generally, is given at length, in the "Memoirs of the Philadelphia Society for promoting Agriculture;' and in substance is as follows:—The stones are usually cracked, with the kernels sometimes taken out, and planted two together, in hills with Indian corn, at about twenty or twenty-five feet apart, in squares. The corn is cultivated in the usual way, and the young trees grow with the crop, to a height of three or four feet the first season. Large orchards have thus been formed of fifty to one hundred acres at a comparatively small expense. The knife is seldom applied to standard trees, except in some instances where they have been headed down once when young, it having been found, that pruned trees, heavily laden with ice or fruit, are liable to be broken down; but when suffered to grow in a natural manner, the branches become multiplied, flexible, and tough; and often are so loaded with fruit, that its weight prostrates them to the ground unhurt. None break that are not pruned, and most of them recover their usual position when the fruit is detached. The crops are certain, abundant, and well-flavoured; and - the fruit is little inferior to that grown on grafted or pruned trees; although it varies much, in size, on the same tree. In three years after planting, the orchards come to bearing; and the trees have been known to endure fifty years. All animals are excluded, except swine, which are sometimes suffered to feed and root, at pleasure, at certain periods of the year, and doubtless, are instrumental in destroying insects and vermin, and in ameliorating the soil by turning and loosening the surface. The trees are so easily propagated and renewed, that the cutting down of a peach-orchard for a course of tillage, on ground improved by this means, is of no uncommon occurrence. To insure a constant supply of this fruit, it is deemed important that a new plantation should be in progress, while that in profit is bearing and declining, and that it should be located at a distance from it, in order to be out of the reach of infection.
The following mode of propagating the peach, may be relied on as the successful result of many years' experience. Although it is attended with some labour, and requires considerable attention, let it be remembered " that the price of good fruit was fixed by the Deity himself, when he created man, and placed him in the garden of Eden;" for, even at that early period, when the soil existed in its virgin purity, it was the condition that he should
" Dress the garden, and keep it," and we may venture to say, that since that time, the price has never been abated.
MANAGEMENT DURING THE FIRST YEAR.
The peach-stones, soon after they are extricated from the pulp, should be covered with earth to the depth of four inches, and remain in that condition till they are required for sowing, the following spring. Towards the end of March, or as soon as the ground is deprived of frost, let them be sown in good garden mould, two inches deep, and if possible, in the place where the trees are intended to stand. As soon as the young plants have risen high enough to throw out branches, which will usually take place by the first of July, the ground should be scraped over with a hoe, in order to destroy the weeds, and the side-shoots must be cut off near the main stem, care being observed not to injure the leaves which stand at the base of each shoot; for, on the preservation of these leaves, depend the health and vigorous growth of the young trees. On August 1st, or as soon as shoots of choice varieties, with good eyes of the current year, can be obtained, the trees should be budded or inoculated, within one inch, or even below the surface of the ground. The buds may be known to be ready for insertion, by the shield, or portion of the bark to which they are attached, easily parting with the wood. Let the shoots, from which the buds are to be procured for inoculation, be taken only from the outside branches of healthy and fruitful trees. The buds usually preferred, are those on the middle of young shoots, as they are not so liable to run to wood as those at the extremity, nor so apt to lie dormant as those at the lower end. Let the buds be collected in a cloudy day, or at an early or late hour of a fair one. When they are to be transported at a distance, they
may be packed in moistened moss; or if shortly to be used, they may be put into a vessel of water; though in general, they should be used as soon as possible after gathering. Before the buds are prepared, let the stock be made ready to receive them. At the part fixed on for inoculation, which should be smooth, and rather on the northerly side of the stock, make an incision about an inch and a half in length, with a sharp knife, quite through the bark, but not into the wood, in the form of a letter I, as denoted by (a), in the adjoining figure. This being done, proceed quickly and take off a bud by holding a shoot in one hand with the thickest end from you, and with the knife in the other hand, enter it about three-fourths of an inch below the bud, cutting nearly half way into the wood of the shoot, continuing it with one clean slanting cut, about three-fourths of an inch above the bud, sufficiently deep to take off part of the wood along with it, the whole to be about an inch and a half long, as represented by (6); then directly with the thumb and finger, or point of the knife, slip off the woody part remaining on the bud, and observe whether the eye or germ of the bud remains perfect; if not, and a little hole appears in that part, it is unfit for use, or, as the nurserymen say, “the bud has lost its root,” and another inust be prepared. This being done, place the back part of the bud or shield between your lips, and with the flat haft of the knife, or a piece of ivory or bone formed for the purpose, separate the bark of the stock (a) for the admission of the bud, which must be closely inserted between the wood and bark in the aperture (c.) Then cut off the top part of the shield containing the bud, even with the upper horizontal or cross-cut of the letter I, in order to let it completely into its place, and exactly join the upper edge of the shield with the bark of the upper transverse cut, so that the descending sap may immediately enter the back of the shield, and deposit granulated matter between it and the wood, so as to effect a living union. The parts are next to be immediately bound round with a water-proof bass ligature, or some substitute, as in (d), beginning a little below the incision, proceeding upwards closely round every part, except just over the eye of the bud, and sufficiently tight to keep the whole secure, and to exclude the air and moisture,
oss-cut apper edung sap, between
forming the operation, such buds as have united may be known by their fresh appearance, and in three weeks, all those which have succeeded, must have their ligatures loosened, and in a week or two more, entirely removed. In order to guard against the borer, (Ægeria,) let there be laid round each tree, in August, about a pint of coarse sand, so as to cover the roots and the tenderest part of the bark; and during the succeeding autumn, the same care should be observed, as in the early part of the season, to preserve the leaves.
March 1st. Cut off the tree in a slanting direction, about five inches above the point of inoculation; and let about a quart of the same kind of sand be placed round the root of the tree, as in the summer preceding. July 1st. Clear the ground of weeds, and treat the shoot from the inoculated bud precisely as the original stock was the first year, with the same care to preserve the leaf at the base of each side-shoot, taking off from time to time, as they put forth, all the side-shoots except four, until the tree rises to a height of about four feet. August 1st. Add a small quantity of sand to the roots, as in the season before, in order to prevent the fly, (Ægeria,) from depositing her eggs.
March 1st. Add more sand to the roots of the tree, and wash clean its trunk with soap-suds or lye. May 15th, or as soon as the heavy rains of spring have ceased, cut off in an oblique direction the central shoot of each tree, and leave the four lateral ones, reserved the year before, to remain for permanent branches. Loosen the ground with a strong fork, so as to admit the air without disturbing the roots, and keep the surface clear of weeds during the season. August 1st. Wash the trunk of the tree with soap-suds or lye, as in the spring before. Loosen the sand about its roots, and add more, in order to guard against the fly.
FOURTH YEAR AND SUBSEQUENT TREATMENT.
March 1st. Wash clean the body and forks of each tree with soap-suds, lye, or old urine. May 15th. Fork up the ground, and keep its surface free from weeds. August 1st. Wash the trunk and branches as in the spring before; and from this time forward, no other care will be required than to repeat these operations, to prune off all superfluous and dead branches, and to guard against the ravages of insects.
The propagation of the peach-tree by grafting has not very generally been practised, owing to the exudation of the gum at the wounded parts, and the jagging of the bark when the cleft mode is adopted. The latter defect, however, may be effectually obviated by cutting through the bark with a sharp instrument, on each side of the stock, in the direction of the cleft intended to be opened. This will render the bark smooth, and enable it to meet the scion with as perfect contact as in grafting other kinds of fruit. This mode of propagation will often save a year's growth in a tree, particularly if the budding failed the autumn before; for the scions may be inserted in the roots any time from December till May, ana may be brought from a distance, and used with success, at a period, too, when the cultivator is less busy than at the proper season of budding.
Insects, Accidents, foc. The most destructive insect which attacks the peachtree, is a species of borer, (Ægeria exitiosa, denoted in the adjoining figure,) first scientifically described by Mr. Say, in the third and volume of the " Journal of the Academy of Sciences, of Philadelphia," and subsequently in his “American Entomology." A history of this insect is also given by Dr. T. W. Harris, in the fifth volume of the “New England Farmer," and in his “ Report on the Insects of Massachusetts injurious to Vegetation.” No notice appears to have been taken of the pernicious effects of this borer before about the year 1766, when it was observed by the late Judge Peters, that, in the neighbourhood of Philadelphia, the peach-trees began, nearly at once, to fail, and finally perished. Whether their decay was caused by the borer, then undiscovered, we are at a loss to know. Many theories were advanced with regard to the nature of the evil, and that offered by Judge Peters, although among the first, perhaps was not the least rational. It was his opinion that trees, like animals, have inherent diseases, or a susceptibility to receive those peculiar to their species, and that of the peach seemed most subject to this tendency. Insects, he conceived, were the cause of many injuries to trees, but were most frequently met with in morbid parts, feculent or putrefying from previous malady, and were effects rather than causes. The borer, however, was not discovered until several years afterwards, when it was first noticed near Philadelphia, and was observed