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beyond the "memory of man.”* It is to be regretted, however, that the trees bearing this excellent variety of fruit, in many parts of the country, begin to manifest symptoms of decline; and it is believed by many, that the period has arrived, in which nature is to terminate their existence, and like their parent stock, are about to pass into decrepitude and final decay.
As the longevity of the apple-tree is comparatively limited, which is obvious from the perishable nature of its wood, there are but few very aged individuals to be met with, either in Europe or in America. The oldest trees of which we have received any account, are said to be growing near Plymouth, in Massachusetts, and are represented as being upwards of two centuries old. An ancient tree of the “Pearmain” variety also stands on the Charter Oak place, in Hartford, Connecticut, which was brought from England by Mr. George Wyllys, previous to the year 1645, and consequently must be more than two hundred years of age. Its trunk, though much decayed, still sends forth several thrifty boughs, which annually produce from two to three pecks of excellent fruit.
On the authority of Dr. James Mease, of Philadelphia, there is a mammoth appletree at Romney, in Virginia, which grew spontaneously from seed, and is estimated to be fifty years old. It has attained a height of forty-five feet, with a trunk more than a yard in diameter, and a spread of branches of fifty-five feet. It is said to be in a flourishing condition, and continues to increase in size. In 1835, it produced one hundred and eighty bushels of large fruit, besides four or five bushels left under its boughs as damaged, and several bushels, which, it was calculated, had been taken by visitors, in the course of the season; so that the total produce, in the opinion of Dr. Mease, amounted to nearly two hundred bushels.
The greatest quantity of fruit borne on a single tree, in England, in one year, that we have heard of, is recorded in Dodsley's Annual Register," for 1777. It grew in the orchard of Mr. Hackman, of Littlefield, in Sussex, and produced seventy-four bushels of fruit, which, on being weighed, was found to average fourteen pounds to each peck, and consequently the total product of the tree was nearly two tons.
The largest recorded apple-tree in Britain, is at Herbert's farm, near Hereford, which, in 1836, was forty-eight feet in height, with a trunk five feet in diameter, and a spread of branches of forty-eight feet.
Legendary and Mythological Allusions. The apple-tree, so singularly connected with the first transgression and fall of man, the fruit of which, as has long been supposed was eaten by Eve in Paradise, is distinguished alike in the mythologies of the Greeks, Scandinavians, and the Druids. The golden fruits of the Hesperides, which it was one of the labours of Hercules to procure, in spite of the sleepless dragon which guarded them, were believed by the pagans to be apples. Hercules was worshipped by the Thebans under the name of Melius; and apples were offered at his altars. The origin of this custom was the circumstance of the river Asopus having, on one occasion, overflowed its banks to such an extent, as to render it impossible to bring a sheep across it which was to be sacrificed to Hercules; when some youths, recollecting that an apple bore the same name as a sheep in Greek, (melon,) offered an apple, with four little sticks stuck in it, to resemble legs, as a substitute for a sheep; and after that period, the pagans always considered the apple as especially devoted to Hercules. In the Scandinavian “Edda," we are told that the goddess Iduna had the care of apples which had the power of conferring immortality; and which were consequently reserved for the gods, who ate of them when they began to feel themselves growing old. The evil spirit Loke took away Iduna and her apple-tree, and hid them in a forest, where they could not be found by the gods. In consequence of this malicious theft, everything went wrong in the world. The gods became old and infirm; and, enfeebled both in body and in mind, no longer paid the same attention to the affairs of the earth; and men, having no one to look after them, fell into evil courses, and became the prey of the evil spirit. At length the gods, finding matters getting worse and worse every day, roused their last remains of vigour, and combining together, forced Loke to restore the tree.
* On the estate of Mr. Gardner G. Howland, at Flushing, there are several old trees of this description which bear abundantly every other year, and are supposed to be one hundred years of age.
The Druids paid particular reverence to the apple-tree, because the mistletoe was supposed to grow only on it and the oak; and also on account of the great usefulness of the fruit. In consequence of this feeling, the apple was cultivated in Britain from the earliest ages of which we have any record; and Glastonbury, as has already been observed, was distinguished by the title of “ Avellonia," or the apple orchard, previous to the arrival of the Romans. Many old rites and ceremonies are therefore connected with this tree, some of which are practised in the orchard districts even at the present day. Apple-trees were sprinkled with a libation of cider and toast, for a fruitful crop, on Twelfth eve or Christmas day; and new apples were blessed by the priest on St. James' day, July 25th. Divinations were also practised with the pairing and seeds. Tossing an apple to a girl was a token of love. As a symbol of Venus, it is modern. The custom of bobbing for apples on All-Hallow E’en and on All Saint's day, which was formerly common over all England, is still practised in some parts of Ireland. Throwing up little apples, and catching them on the points of knives, were favourite accomplishments of the Troubadours.
Soil and Situation. The apple-tree, to attain its greatest perfection and productiveness, requires a soil more or less calcareous, or one that rests upon strata abounding in marls, marly clays, or calcareous sandstone. It has been observed that the best apple orchards in England, are situated on the marls of the old red sandstone of Herefordshire; and those of the new red sandstone, the marly clays of the lias, and the calcareous and often marly beds of the inferior oolite, in the counties of Worcester, Gloucester, Somerset, and Devon. It has also been observed in Ireland, that the apple-tree flourishes best on limestone gravel; and in Scotland, that the few orchards which exist in that country, are to be found on soils more or less calcareous. On the continent of Europe, the two districts most famous for the apple, are Normandy and the vale of Stutgard, in both of which, the soil is well known to abound in lime or marl. It has also been observed, that early fruits attain their greatest perfection in light, moderately rich, sandy soils; and that the late fruits succeed best when planted in a soil that is strong and clayey. Trees will sometimes grow luxuriantly on deep gravels and grauwacke slate, without bearing apples. It has been found by experience that the above-named principles will hold good in the various parts of the United States. Within the last few years, much light has been thrown upon the adaptation of soils to particular plants, and it is now regarded as an established fact, that the apple-tree requires alkaline and probably earthy bases, as an indispensable condition to the perfection of its fruit. It has been shown by several enlightened chemists that the acids generated in plants are always in union with alkaline or earthy bases, and cannot be produced without their presence, that all deciduous trees require a considerable portion of potash for the elaboration of the juices in their leaves, and that they are prosperous or otherwise, in proportion to the scarcity or abundance of that substance in the soil. It is well known that all clays contain potash, and that marls are principally composed of clay and carbonate of lime, and also contain potash, besides sulphate and phosphate of lime. Hence the presence of alkaline and earthy bases, particularly potash and lime, affords a satisfactory solution of the adaptation of marly soils to the production of apples, even without taking into account the part which phosphate and sulphate of lime play in their formation.*
* See Journ. Roy. Agr. Soc. of England, vol. iv., p. 380.
With regard to the aspect best adapted to orchards, the surface, in general, should be more or less undulating, and at the same time, sheltered from the extremes of heat and cold; and it has often been remarked, that abrupt acclivities, which are too steep for tillage by the plough, or for the pasturage of heavy cattle, have been more certain in the production of fruit. Very open, or very elevated, exposed situations, as well as the bottoms of deep-sunk valleys, are alike unfavourable to the perfection of orchards. The former, from the low temperature and the violence of the winds, and the latter, from the liability to cold fogs and late vernal frosts, at the time the trees are in blossom, often, in one fatal night, utterly destroy the husbandman's hopes. A severe frost in early autumn, in a single night, may prove equally fatal to the tender flower-buds, in the latter situation, or, if not fatal, sufficiently injurious to impair their vitality, and render them unfit to withstand the cold of the ensuing winter; and, should they escape and put forth the following spring, the fruit will be knotty, blotched, and unfair. In planting an orchard, therefore, in Britain, or in the northern parts of AngloAmerica, the site should not be chosen
“In lowly vale, fast by a river side,' nor, on the contrary, at an elevation too much exposed, but on moderately sheltered southern slopes, and where choice will further permit, inclining rather to the east than to the west. Planting the rows in a northerly and southerly direction, is thought to be advantageous, in order that the trees may derive the greatest benefit from the sun. But in the middle and western sections of the United States, more especially if the locality be in the region of large bodies of water, a northern exposure has proved to be decidedly more certain in producing fruit, than slopes inclining towards the south.
· Propagation and Management. The Pyrus malus, and all its varieties, may be propagated from seeds, by grafting, or inoculation, and by cuttings and layers. It is a prevailing opinion in England, that the hardiest and best stocks are those which are raised from the seeds of the wild crab, (P. m. acerba,) and Mr. Knight recommends that the pips should be taken from the fruit before it is pressed. The mode practised in the Goldworth nursery, where fruit-tree stocks are raised on a more extensive scale than anywhere else in Britain, is to gather the crabs when they are fully ripe, and to lay them either in a heap to rot, or to pass them between two fluted rollers, and then to press out the juice, which is thus converted into an inferior kind of cider, and afterwards to separate the seeds from the pomace by maceration in water, and sifting. It is the opinion of many persons, both in Europe and in America, that it is of little consequence whether. they are particular in the selection of seeds for sowing, from the fact that the fruit of trees raised from pips of the same apple differ both from the parent tree and from each other. But let it be considered that, when these variations take place, they may not always tend to deteriorate the fruit, but may often result in an exchange of one good quality for another, or may perhaps even exhibit improvements in the qualities. For instance, we may, at least, expect to obtain early fruit from the seeds of that which is early, and from those of late fruit the reverse; and by parity of reason, from sweet or sour, from juicy or dry fruit, we may also expect to obtain seedlings that will, in a considerable degree, correspond to their origin—a result, which it may often be an object for the cultivator to secure. Indeed, if it be true, that it is of " little consequence” what kind of pips we employ, there certainly can be no detriment in sowing seeds of good fruit; and this, we conceive, will be a sufficient hint for the prudent nurseryman to observe. The pomace, therefore, should be obtained from the apples of healthy and vigor. ous trees, and should be thickly strewed, and covered with earth, in shallow trenches about eighteen inches apart, so as to admit of the young plants being
well hoed and weeded by hand in the following summer. Immediately after the fall of the leaf, in the ensuing autumn, the strongest and the most vigorous plants may be drawn, and planted in rows eighteen inches apart, and the same distance from each other, in a soil previously trenched, manured, and cultivated for garden produce. The remaining plants should be similarly managed in the following year. During their second and third year's growth, the ground should be kept perfectly free from weeds by repeated hoeings, and the plants would be greatly benefitted by a light forking between the rows. No knise should be allowed to touch them in this stage, unless it be to shorten an over-rampant shoot, which may be making too strong a diversion from the stem, and not even then, if it be more than a foot from the ground, particularly when it is intended to graft the stem; for every twig and every leaf contributes to the growth of the root and stem. When the stems of the plants have acquired half an inch or more in diameter, at a foot from the ground, the head should be cut off, and the operation of grafting or inoculation performed.
In order to insure the most desirable sorts by means of grafts, the trees from which they are intended to be taken, should be carefully inspected and marked, in the autumn previous, or at the time the fruit is in the greatest perfection. A month or six weeks before the season of grafting arrives, cut your scions, and keep them buried, at length, in dry earth or clay, out of the reach of moisture and frost, until required for use, in order that the stocks may advance over them in forwardness of vegetation. Select your scions from the outside branches of healthy trees, just in their prime, or at full bearing, about midway in their heads, and rather on their sunny sides, where the juices of the wood have been properly digested by sun and air. If the trees from which they are to be taken be young and vigorous, let the shoots consist of the last summer's growth; but if the trees be old or sickly, take them from the most healthful branches in the centre of their tops, or what is still better, the young shoots which spring from their trunks near the ground. Grafting may also be performed with the shoots of the current vear, as well as with those of several years' growth. The proper time for grafting, is when the sap of the stocks is in brisk motion, which occurs in deciduous trees a few weeks before they put forth their leaves; but re-productive evergreens may be grafted during summer as well as spring. After making choice of the proper season, and all things are in readiness, let the operation of grafting be performed as quickly as possible. For dwarf trees, head down the stocks to within a few inches of the ground, or even below the surface. For standard trees, or those designed to attain their full height, engraft on vigorous branches, situated about midway in their summits, and well exposed to the sun and air. Ordinarily, the scions may be from one fourth of an inch to one inch in diameter; but, if necessity requires, they may be much larger or smaller. The middle portion of the scion is best; but where there is a scarcity, both the top and bottom oparts may be used. Take off a little of the lower end of the scion first, and then cut it of such a length as to leave from two to five eyes or buds for the production of new shoots, always taking care to cut off the top in a slanting direction. Two eyes will be sufficient for a standard tree, but four or five are better for dwarfs which are intended to be trained. Let the stocks and scions, if possible, be of the same thickness, in order that the inner barks of both will exactly unite and facilitate the flow of the sap, the immediate object being to bring the bark and young wood of both, into close and permanent contact, by which means the vessels of the one, will be enabled to communicate with those of the other. This operation is effected by several different methods, each of which have their advocates, and are adopted in various countries, according to the preference or caprice of the nurserymen. The modes which appear to be most generally approved of, in grafting young apple stocks, are what are called “Whip,” or “Splice-grast
in performed by When Graftin
ing" for scions less than a half of an inch in diameter, and "saddle-grafting": for those which are larger. Grafting upon old stocks and full-grown trees is usually performed by what is termed cleft-grafting.
In whip-grafting, cut the stock (a) with a sharp knife, in an oblique direction' without starting or bruising the bark, and the scion (6) in like manner of a corresponding angle. And then, with as little delay as possible, place the inner barks of the stock and scion in perfect contact, at least on one side, and bind them fast together with a riband of bass or guana, as indicated at (c.) In this part of the process, take particular pains and see that the junction of the two barks is not in the least displaced. To protect the grafted parts from drought, air, and moisture, a layer of green cow-dung and fresh loam, well mixed in equal proportions, should be applied, with a trowel or spatula, one inch thick on every side, and a little above and below the union of the stock and the scion. A mixture of three parts fine clay, and one part fresh horse-droppings, well incorporated together, may also be applied with success. A bandage of moss or tow is sometimes wound round the clay or mixture, to prevent it from cracking by the heat of the sun, and from washing away by rains. In making the incision in the side of the stock which is to receive the scion, the knife ought, if possible, to be entered at the base of a bud, and pass upwards. The reason of this is, that the vital principle is more powerful there; and that the germs, both of buds and roots, are, in most plants, confined to the joints of the stems; though in some, as in several varieties of the elm, they appear to be distributed equally over every part of the stem and roots.
In performing saddle-grafting, cut, with a sharp drawing-knife or other instrument, the stock (d) so as to leave the top in the form of a wedge. Split the lower end of the scion (e) and pare each side of the cleft, so as to fit, when seated, exactly on the top of the stock, with the inner barks of both in perfect contact. And then, with a bass riband, bind the parts strongly together, as at (f.) and perform the operation of claying as in the preceding method. In three months or more after grafting, remove the clay, and partially loosen the bass ribands which are bound round the grafts, in order that the scions may have more room to expand. In a few weeks more, when the parts have been partially inured to the air, and when there is no danger of the scion being blown off by the winds, the whole of