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UNIVERSITY COLLEGEI OF WALES.1

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UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF WALES. LECTURES ON FRUIT CULTURE. On Friday evening the second lecture in this ieries was given in the College by Mr. J. L. Pick- j ard, Instructor in Horticulture. Mr. Colville, Fron- fraith, was elected to the chair, anci in his opening remarks he paid a high tribute to the careful and interesting" way in which the lecturer was pre- senting the subject of fruit growing to them. Mr. Pickard said that at the last lecture be had taken a cursory survey of the food materials re- quited by all fruit trees, and had briefly indicated the way in which they were made use of by the ptants. But now he said it was time to take a closer view of these materials in order to find out how far we could help our plants to make the best vlso of them. A soil bad two important services to perform for the plant; it had to hold it in position ia the ground, and it had to supply it with the food ingredients and water which were required. An ideal soil, then, would be one that was of sufficient, depth and sufficiently open to allow the roots to imm freely, but yet sufficiently tenacious to hold the tree firmly in position, and to allow a free cir- culation of water by capillary attraction it should JUNO contain a large amount of suitable plant food in such forms as the plants require it. Unfortun- ately, few such natural soils are to be found. The soils of our are either too shallow or too bky or too close and retentive to fulfil the first of the required conditions, and all soils are deficient in one or more of the food materials that are essential to the plants' growth. The latter defici- enoy we tried to remedy by applying manure, but we ought not to apply manure until we have used every effort we are capable of in ameliorating the mechanical condition of the soil. With this object in view it is necessary to dig the ground we intend deserting to fruit culture, and to dig it deeply. In fact, we should never proceed to plant fruit trees Without first trenching the ground on which they are to be planted to a depth of at least two feet. Ifc is not a wise plan, however, to bury the surface soil to this depth, as the subsoil is rarely of sofEciently good £ quality to make it desirable as a. finrface soil. A better plan would be to "bastard trench the ground. This is done by first opening a trench eighteen inches wide, and twelve inches deep, removing the soil to where it will be required for filling up at the finish, than break up the subsoil thoroughly, throw the next. eigh.een inches of surface soil on the top of ik and continue the operation right through the plot of land that is to be planted. Where land lias the slightest tendency to stickiness or sourness, as w usually the case in clayey soils, or soils that contain a lot of organic matter, it is a splendid practice to add a considerable quantity of burnt clay." Procure the stump of an old tree, and pile upon this all the primings, and brushwood, and garden refuse that can be collected, cover with a tin inch layer of clay or other soil and set fire to it. As the fire breaks through cover with more clay and keep it burning as long as possible. Hurnt clay is extremely useful under almost all conditions. All the plastic, sticky matter is burnt out of it, and it will not only run together again, but if applied at the rate of seven pounds per aquare yard of land, it will prevent the soil from running together and puddling in wet weather, am" from baking and cementing, and cracking in dry weather. But this by no means exhausts the virtues of burnt clav, it acts in a wonderful way in getting air into the soil, and air, as we have already seen, is required for the roots to breathe, ancito enter into the composition of the food stuffs already in the soil. If there is a dificient supply of air ::11 the soil then the food stuffs form into acids, as nitric acid, sulphuric acid. phosphoric acid, and so forth, and all these acids are sour and poisonous to our plants. On the other band when air is plentiful in the soil these substances combine with oxygen and form ates" as nitrates, .sulphates, phosphates, &c., and these are sweet and ja a suitable condition for the nutriment of the plants. Burnt clay also makes the land better ■drained, as it prevents the soil particles from sticking too closely together, and thus preventing tho free percolation of water through them, and a well drained soil is warmer than one saturated wth water. From tests that have been made it baa been found that after eight hour, of bright «<msbine soil was six degrees warmer at a depth of four inches than similar soil was in the same bed that bad not been mixed with burnt clay. This is a most important consideration, as a warm soil not only brings us increased crops, but gives us them of higher quality,, and of increased flavour and colour. Burnt clay increases the fibres of the roots, and so enables the plant to take up more food. In our last lecture it was pointed out that the chief of the food from the ground was taken up by the root hairs, now, side roots can carry root hairs, so we can greatly en- eourage growth if we can get the roots of our pt-.),tits to branch freely. By encouraging fibre we encourage the plants means of absorbing food from the soil. We want to get plenty of fibre as each root hair is capable of working independently of ltr. neighbours, so we see that the work the plant i; capable of doing depends largely upon the •amber of root hairs which it possesses. Suppos-1 ing; that under ordinary conditions a plant had five thousand met hairs; if by any means we could induce the plant to form fifty thousand root hairs it ought to grow ten times as rapidly, if food could oniy be given. Unfortunately we cannot get suit- able conditions for this rapid increase of desirable 10.wth—because it is not desirable to get eight or ten feet of sappy, unripened growth on our trees each year—but it is a well attested fact that the gardener gets the most and the best fruit who gets tSe most root fibre on his trees. To sum up the virtues of burnt clay then in the garden? First and foremost, it is cheap; it costs nothing nay, it gets rid of a lot of undesirable rubbish out of the garden that would otherwise occupy valuable- space, or would cost something to remove, It gets **ore air into the soil than can be got in by almost any other means. It neutralises the sour tendencies of the soil, and prevents sourness. It drains the land and makes it warmer than it other- wise would be. And it increases fibre and root hairs, and enables the plant to take up more food from the soil. It also acts most beneficially upon the capillary conditions of a soil. Although burnt clay possesses so many virtues we must not be led into thinking that it is the only thing required by our fruit trees. It is per- fectly true that it acts in a wonderful way in in- creasing roots, yet it contains very little that is tuseful in pushing them on after they are formed. This we have to supply in the form of manure of some sort or other, and this brings us to the con- sideration of what manure or manures is of the mm service to us. A manure to be perfect must contain three substances, namely nitrogen, phos- phoric acid, and potash, in something like equal proportions. If any one of the substances is en- tirely absent the plant can make no use of the others, no matter how abundantly they are present in the soil, and if any one of the substances is prewent in unsufficient quantities for the plants see-4ils, they will only make a miserable effort to OW. In illustration of this the lecturer exhibited a series of parsnips which bad been purposely grown with different manures in the College grounds, under Professor Middleton's directions. The object lesson was certainly a convincing one ao (-.be plants exhibited a striking degree of differ- ence. One, a fine healthy vigorous plant had been grown with a complete manure, one without -potash, one without phosphate, one without nitro- gen, and one wiihout any added manure. The one tfiat had received a complete manure was much larger than all the others put together, while the one without potash was as small and as miserable- looking as the one that had received nothing, although the former had been supplied with an aimadance of nitrogen and phosphate. Mr. Pickard, in continuing, said that as practi o.al-and sensible people they were desirous of leav- ing nothing undone to gain success, therefore he proposed going rather fully into the subject of manures as he was afraid that gardeners did not gtre it the serious attention it deserved. Many people, he said. regarded farmyard manure as Hie only natural manure to use, and he was bound to add that most people thought far too much of it Although it would be extremely foolish for us to discard it from our gardens, yet it is almost equally foolish ;to regard it as the only natural manure we had available. Farmyard manure is -reliable from the fact that it contains all the ■eoesaary food materials of a plant, yet they are p-eserit in very small quantities indeed. A ton of •wifti manure contains roughly twelve pounds of ■itrog-en, six pounds of phosphoric acid, and four Iud half to six pounds of potash, and this is all the, food material we get when we purchase a ton «f manure. But let us look at some other sub- afcan.>? A ton of Sulphate of Amonia contains &,a much nitro'jrcn as fifj y tons of farmyard manure. (>*■: ton of Mineral Superphosphate contains as ] much phosphoric acid as is found in sixty-four ioas of fari: y rd manure, and one ton of Kainitcon- tfw rw pot a.-11 equal seventy tons of farmyard »iii;ure, and all these are just as natural manures nu farm yard manure is natural. Farmyard manure o in, and often does improve the texture of a soil, indffpently of its- manurial properties, as for instance wh'n we add rotten manure to dry, acid, sandy a ;il it assists in retaining moisture, but if we were r,o add sfch manure to an already wet, cold soil, it wc.jd make it still wetter and colder, and this vouhi act injuriously upon our fruit trees. If we n-s»" t' at all we must use it only for special pur- poses, and then use it in such a way that we may get' the greatest amount of benefit from its cue. and supply our fruit trees with ftxtti material in a more concentrated, and re tdily available form. Many respect- "C" cmd old established firms sell compounded inpt ures and advertise them largely under the title of So and So's special or artificial manures. While these were no doubt excellent for many purposes, yet if we examine at all closely into the matter—which, as intelligent people we are bound to do-we shall at once see that they are not suitable for all cases. Take apple trees as a case in point, and especially young apple trees. The first tree in the row may be making a too luxuriant growth of new wood, a growth that we cannot hope to ripen no matter how favourable the season may be; the second tree may have made very little or no growth at all, while the third one may be loaded with apples which we wish to feed up rapidly. Now it is obvious that here the same mixture of manurial ingredients cannot advantage- ously be supplied to these three trees. The first one is already growing too fast, so we apply phos- phate to make its growth sturdier, and harder, and riper; for the second tree we want a manure that will stimulate its activity and make it produce more wood and more leaves, so we apply an active nitrogenous manure. We want to produce two totally different effects in the two trees, therefore we have to use two totally different manural ingredients. For the third tree we want a manure that will act quickly on the leaves, as the leaves have ail the food to prepare for the apples, we want one also that will increase the size of the apples, and one that will improve the quality of their colour and flavour. Those of you who have followed carefully what has already been said upon these points will remember that nitrogen looks after the leaves, phosphate looks after the size of the fruit, and potash looks after its colour and quality, therefore both science and common sense teaches us tc use a complete manure in this case. Further than this, advertised compounded manures always cost a great deal more than the materials of which they are composed can be purchased for, so we will endeavour to find out what are the best materials to purchase for manurial purposes. We will take the nitrogenous manures first, as they are the most expensive and perhaps, as a general rule. the most important. The most typical form we find it is as saltpetre, this is. how- ever, too expensive to use as a general manure, but it might be used sometimes in finishing chrysan- themums or other favourite flowers for exhibition. Sulphate of ammonia stands easily first in value among the more ordinarily used nitrogenous manures in that it contains more nitrogen than any of the others. It takes about a month to get into work, and it requires the presence of lime in the soil, as it combines with lime to form nitrate of lirae, in which state it is taken up and used by the plant. This process of combining with lime prevents the nitrogen from being washed out of the ground so quickly as it is in some other forms. It has a special action on fruit trees if applied as soon, as the fruit is formed in that it quickens the circulation of the sap, and prevents the trees from being unduly weakened through carrying a heavy crop of fruit. Nitrate of soda. a kind of saltpetre, stands next in value, indeed some authorities regard it as the most valuable nitrogenous manure for some pur- poses. It is certainly the best tonic for sickly leaves, providing the roots are healthy. But then it is a waste of time and money to apply any description of manure to sickly roots. It is a far more sensible plan to find out the cause ot the sickness and remedy it rather than aggravate the evil by injudicious manuring. Nitrate of soda acts in a hurry, and is the best medicine to apply in an emergency, such as would happen if the leaves get damaged by frost or by any other means. It is very liable to get washed out of the ground, so it is inadvisable to apply much at once. Little and often is a good rule to keep in mind, besides, if we apply too much at once we are liable to damage the leaves by making them grow too quickly. Rape dust is a valuable source of nitrogen, though its slowness in action is often against it, but for strawberries and fruit in general it is a very valuable manure, as it never disagrees with any plant, and it is quite incapable of doing any harm in the soil. Phosphoric acid is chiefly applied as broken up bones, as mineral superphosphate, or as basic slag. These substances are applied to prevent the leaves keeping the food after it is manufactured. Bone meal is the simpliest and safest form in which phosphate can be used. It acts slowly and safely,, and lasts for a long time in the soil; this, however, is not always desirable, we often want a manure to act at once, and for this reason mineral super- phosphate is more useful than bone meal. Its most useful part dissolves easily in water and is rapidly available for the plants use; and this is a great advantage where we are anxious for quick returns. Great care should be taken in using it. not to allow any of it to touch any living part of the plant as it burns every part that it touches. It is always as well to take this precaution with every special manure we use. Basic slag is rapidly growing in favour as a phosphate manure, but it is perhaps better suited to the farm than the garden as it acts best on clayey or peaty or wet soils that are poor in lime. It can however be used to advantage on fruit trees providing nothing better is on hand. Turning now to potash, the substance that takes such a fatherly interest in the formation of all new parts of a plant, and that looks after the manu- facture of starch, we have a choice amongst sulphate of potash, murriate of potash, kainet, and wood ashes, and of these the two latter are best for our purpose. Potash is found very largely in the new twigs and young branches of trees and plants so we should carefully collect all the prun- ings, hedge clippings and such like material, and burn it. This however should be saved for our more delicate plants as there is no danger of harm from its use. In general practice we have to stick to the use of kainit as it is rarely that we can get sufficient woods ashes for all our plants. Kainet is readily soluable in soil and it need not be applied very long before the plants require it. Neither phosphates nor potash are so liable to be washed out of the soil as nitrogen is, so we need not be quite so particular about the time of application providing we supply sufficient to keep the plants in the plants in the highest possible state of healthy vigour. We will however talk about the quantities to be used and the method of their application when we come to discuss the various kinds of fruit trees that have to be dealt with. Several questions were put to the lecturer, and were answered in a careful and interesting way, and at the close a class was formed of those who intend going in for examination at the end of the lectures. Mr. Pickard gave them the following question to answer before the next lecture, Explain the effects produced by burnt clay on a wet, cold, clayey soil." A cordial vote of thanks was accorded to Mr. Pickard, and to Mr. Colville for presiding.

WIT AND WISDOM.

PENCADER.

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