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Lectures on Fruit Culture.…

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Lectures on Fruit Culture. BY MR. J. L. PICKARD. The sixth lecture was given on Friday evening when Mr. D. C. Roberts, the Mayor, presided over a good audience. In the course of his opening remarks he said that he was glad1 the gardening peopte of the neighbourhood were taking such a .keen interest in this course of lectures. There were, he said, two great reasons why cottagers and gardeners should make the best use of the lectures. The first was the special advantages which Aber- ystwyth offered as 3, remunerative market, for fruit and other garden produce. During the summer tb«re is a large influx of visitors into the town who r-eqaire a large quantity of fruit and vegetables, and who are prepared to pay a good price for them p if the quality is only good enough. There appeared to him no reason why all the necessary produce should not be grown in the immediate neighbour- hood unfortunately it is not so. grown, and we have to depend upon our friends the foreigner to sHpply the deficiency. The second reason why more Interest should be shown in gardening was, that, owing to the splendid climate of this district garden prdv.cc could be grown very successfully. The College, he said, had recently added gardening as a special department of the agricultural work of the institution and he strongly urged the people of Llanbadarn and all the surrounding villages as well as those further away in the county of Car- diganshire and in the other five counties (Merion- ethshire, Montgomeryshire, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Radnorshire) affiliated with the College to apply to the Registrar of the College, or to the clerk of their respective counties for a course of lectures on fruit growing or any other branch of gardening. Mr. Pickard would then be sent to give the lectures, and assist them by his advice and experience in getting the best possible return from their gardens. In conclusion he urged those who had gardens to make the best possible use of them, by making use of the best materials, by growing the most profitable crops, and by making a. special effort to make the best use of those who had special experience or special knowledge of the crop." they wished to grow (applause). Mr. Pickard said that we have previously con- sidered the preparation of the ground, the prepara- tion of the tree, and the process of planting, and now it is necessary to consider the routine work of cultivation. There is very little use in adopting special methods of propagation and planting if the tree." are afterwards left to take their chance. "Nature lu-i'self leaves nothing to chance, but pro- vides for every contingency. Wherever there is a poisonous plant there also will be found the antidote growing side by side with it. Green peas and mint arc intimately associated in their habitalt. Where the vine flourishes the cork tree flourishes al,i-in order to supply corks for the wine bottles. And where tart apples are plentiful apple tarts are abundant. We are so accustomed to this befcerieient providence of nature that we get to m«.ke a selection of the plants we wish to grow, then stick them into the ground and leave them to mat-ur(--or chance. This should not be. Even the meanest of our plants require unremitting care and attention if we are to enjoy them to the full, ami this is especially true of all our fruits. Unless every detail is rationally attended to something is sure to go wrong, and it is easier to prevent these defects than it is to remedy them after they are developed. One of the things that calls for a special amount of intelligent care is pruning. Some- times our trees are growing too energetically; they produce more wood than can be ripened; our first impulse is to cut away some of the branches and ■horten the remainder because we think there are too many on the tree. Now a moments reflection will show us that it is wrong to begin with the branches to stop this energy. Where trees are making too much top growth it argues that they have too much root energy, that thick roots have developed and found their way into the subsoil where they find too much moisture and too much nitrogen, and we can only prevent this excessive growth by cutting off some of the roots. Fruit 9 treea are only too often completely ruined by injudicious pruning. Long thick growths are cut 'hack year after year with the result that the trees become like thick-set hedges, a dense mass of youmj shoots that are totally useless for fruit pro- duction. Young trees that are planted in rich genial soil are very liable to make excessive top growth. Directly this tendency exhibits itself we ought to lift the trees, cut off all the long roots, arm replant exactly in the same way that we should do with trees purchased from the nursery. Trees of a weakly growths or those bearing a heavy crop of fruit should not be lifted. In the latter case the ffruit crop is a sufficient check in most cases, but where the crop is only light, or where there is no fruit, at all it is generally advisable to root prune -young trees every second or third year. The effect of root pruning is to diminish the energy of the tree and bring it into bearing sooner than it would be under ordinary conditions. If the trees are too big TO lift. then we may chop off some of the roots with the spade. The simplest way is to dig a trench round the tree to a sufficient depth for the purpose then chop in an upward direction so that the point of the cuts may be on the upper side of the roots. This operation should be carried out before the leaves begin to fall, say about the end of August or early in September, there is then time for the roots ft heal before frost comes. In transplanting or root pruning we have three objects to be gained, namely, the regulation of energy, an increase of fibreous roots, and keeping the roots near the sur- face. Where we have long thick roots which runs deeply into the ground we shall get little or no fruit, especially upon young trees. This is owing to the fact that nitrogen, the stuff that looks after the wood and leaves, is soluble in the ground and is, by the action of rain, washed to a lower depth in the ground than is either potash or phos- pbatCt the substances whose functions are to look aftr the productions of flowers and fruit; there- fore our care should be to keep the roots where they will have the least difficulty in obtaining these fruit producing materials. Every actively growing piece of rootlet or fibre, small, is capable of taking up its full atoare of these food substances, so that if by good management we can get a mass of fibreous roots near the surface, and supply them with a sufficient quantity of suitable food, good and regular crops are sure to ensue, providing we do not spoil the •hariees by faulty or negligent pruning, and after a tree has been newly transplanted more than ordinary care is required in pruning the branches. In transplanting or root pruning we have taken off some of the roots and crippled their power for the time being of absorbing food, we have in fact diminished its income both from the air and from the soil, because a plant can only use carbon di- oxide from the air in proportion to the mineral matter absorbed from the soil. In a perfectly balanced tree every part gets its due proportion of income. If a certain branch gels 10 per cent of this income in a good year it would get the same proportion in a bad year. If we have a perfect tree manufacturing fifty pounds of fuod material, it will be equally distributed all wr the tree. A branch receives, say five pounds of this material, if by root pruning we reduce the treea income to thirty pounds, then the branch would only receive three pounds. If the branch has nine buds which would have to be nourished if allowed to grow, and if five pounds of food material was just sufficient to nourish them, then three pounds would be too little, so we must lighten the burden and reduce the necessary expenditure of pruning. If the branch does not receive ^uffifient support for its family of nine buds, then it becomes our business to relieve it of some amount of its responsibility by cutting away worm- of the buds. As in the domestic family circle, so in the family of the branch, the youngest ani weakest members ;tr(- the mother's favourites. If we do not cut these away we shall get the new branches growing on the weakest part of the old branch, while the older and better matured buds near the base of the old branch are left to starve, and consequently they CRT) not even attempt to grow. Any thin weak branches that are on the newly transplanted tree should be cut back to one or two buds, leaving from six to twelve buds on stronger branches, leaving most buds on the strongest branches. In the ordinary routine of pruning there are two things essential if the operation is to be properly ,Ione-a sharp knife, and a correct notion of what to clo with it. When a branch is cut off it must be e and clean, and always remember that many' of the diseases of the trees are caused by wounds. If It Haw is used it is best to go over the rough, edges with a knife afterwards in order to facilitate the process of healing. A very bad case, yet one 9 that often happens, is to let a branch fall when it is nearly sawn through and drag away a piece of the remaining branch. This should always be avoided. The prime considerations that should influence us in pruning are, first, directing the energies of the tree, and second, directing the position of the branches in order that we may get the-highest benefit from the influences of air and sunlight. If we are growing bush shaped trees we sflould endeavour to keep the centre open, and if pyramids then get, one upright main stem with brinches radiating from it at distances of eighteen inches* or so. Never begin to prune when you are preM.ed for time, or when the weather is very cold. or mistakes are sure to ensue. Look carefully round the tree and definitely decide what is to be beiV.iv a single cut is made. Then begin by removing any branches that are too near the ground, or are too overshaded to be fruitful. Next out away all branches that are interlacing or crossirsg each other, as the friction caused; by the wind -i- sure to damage tile bark wherever they touch. If it li thought th-it too much weod still remain. the shape of the tree can receive tlit-, next attention. If one side is heavier than ths other then cutaway one or two of the least desirable branches from the heavy side, and finish aS the operation by shortening the- new growths, always bearingmind the rule of pruning weak branches hard, and stronger branches slightly. We must be careful nat to get too much growth into the contre of the tree. If we want the trees to spread we.cut just above a. bud looking towards the outside. Dont cut too closely to the -)ud, or slope the cut too much or the bud will be weakened, but on the other baiid dont cut too far above the bud or a. snag will be left. which will die bac to the blld or perhaps farther. This hot oriy looks unsightly but it spoils tae shape of the tree. When a snag is left the primary bud grows at right angles to it, iastead of following the original direction of the branch as. it would do if no snag had been left.. Z, In the course of these lectures it has again and again been stated that r.aless the wood be thoroughly ripened and matured during the summer there can be no hope of fruit in the following year. But, even after getting thoroughly ripened wood it is by no means certain that a crop will follow. The production of fruit is a very complicated process: unless every detail be favourable the result will often be failure. Even after we have managed to g.et the control of the tree and its food supply into our hands, there are other influences that may step in and partially or wholly rob us of success. The present season furnishes, us with a good (or bad) example of this. In the early spring there were nearly everywhere splendid displays of blossom, the result of last year's favourable climatic conditions, yet plum crops are nearly a total failure this year, while both pears and apples are very scarce indeed. How often one hears the. expression: My trees wew white over with blossom, but the frost has killed it all. Frost, in this respect often receives blame for much more than it is responsible for. Very often the reason of a poor set" of fruit is that the flowers have not been fertilised. In late cold springs the flowers of apples and pears and plums open out before bees begin to work, when this happens there is nothing to carry the pollen from flower to flower. It will be well if we look into this matter rather closely as fertilization has an important bearing upon fruit cultivation. Flowers upon a plant are intended to sub.-erve the purposes of reproduction. If we carefully examine a flower of the apple tree we shall find that it consists of four whorls or series of organs. The two outer ones are merely 11 y coverings, while the two inner ones form th essen- tial organs. Commencing at. the exterior, the outer coat is known as the calyx, each division of which it is made up in a sepal. The next whorl is the corolla, and each seperate part of it a petal. These two whorls are not at all indispensable to the formation of fruit, indeed in some flowers they are altogether absent. It is the two inner, series of organs that arc- absolutely necessary for the produc- tion of fruit. The outermost whorl of the essential organs is the andreriicium—the male organs—con- sisting of several stamens, whilst ia the centre there is the pistil, -ar as it is technically called, the gynmciuni-tlie female portion of the flower. At the base of the pistil is the ovary, and before the ovary can produce seeds it must be fertilized, that it must be impregnated with the male clement pollen, and Nature has made very complete arrangements to secure this being done. The pollen ir. produced by the stamens. It is that yellow powdery stuff which is noticeable inside most flowers. If the pistil was ready to receive the pollon of its own flower at the time it was being shed, nearly all the flowers would be fertilized, and there would be need for us to trouble our heads about the matter. But as a rule it is not. The pollen of any particular flower is usually shed a day or two before the stigma, the extreme apex of the pistil is ready to receive it. Nature wishes each individual flower to be fertilized with some other flower, indeed many flowers are quite sterile to their own pollon. To secure this end, flowers are provided with a nectary or honey gland which bees and other insects visit in order to extract the honey. In their visits from flower to flower their wings and bodies get covered with pollen, some of this touches and adheres to such stigma as are ready to receive it, and thus that great object of nature, cross-fertilization is secured. If it happens to be cold wet weather just at the flowering period the bees stay at home, conse- quently there are no pollon distributors, and no fruit then frost receives the blame. Anything we can do to retard the flowering period will give the bees a better chance to work amongst the flowers when they do open. Root pruning delays this period, so also does mulching the trees heavily with rotten farm-yard manure if it is applied in February and allowed to remain until the fruit is set. It keeps the soil beneath it cold, and thus prevents the roots starting into action so early as they otherwise would do. It is a good plan to apply a dressing of lime after the mulch is removed, to prevent any sour effects from the use of the manure. Directly the embryo fruit begins to swell, the trees ought to have a dressing of Sulphate of Ammonia. Apply it at the rate of loz. to every square yard of land occupied by the roots. If the crop is a heavy one this dose may profitably be doubled, as it will make the tree work hard and swell up a heavy crop of perfectly formed fruits, if only we have previously supplied the requisite amount of potash and phosphate. These may be applied in the autumn, and should consist of 2 parts Kinit, 3 parts mineral super, and i part baking soda. Allow four ounces of the mix- ture per square yard and work it into the upper- most three inches of soil. When trees are allowed to carry a heavy crop of fruit without an adequate amount of manure, the food material of the tree itself is drawn upon, with the result that the tree is weakened, and will be totally unable to bear fruit the following year. This is one great reason why so many trees only carry a crop once every two or three years. And now as to the best varieties of apples to grow. There are so many excellent varieties in cultivation that it is much easier to name a hun- dred of the best than it is to reduce the selection to a dozen or two. The following are, however, given with the confidence resulting from long and intimate experience amongst large and varied col- lections. For kitchen use Peasgood's Nonsuch must take first place in that it is the largest and brightest and best shaped of them all. Lord Gros- venor and Lord Suffield may be bracketed together for cropping and earliness and usefulness, with a preference for the former in that it is not so subject to canker. Lane's, Prince Albert is a splendid variety in all situations, and the same may be said about Cox's Pomona, and that splendid, apple, Annie Elizabeth. Lord Derby and Warners King are two heavy apples and enormous croppers, but they are rather too coarse for exhibition. A better apple for this purpose would be Bismark these together with Court Pendu Plat, Loddington Pippin, and Tylers Kernel for keeping aples would make up a profitable collection, while for dessert the following is an extremely choice selection: Cox's Orange Pippin, Worcestershire Pearmain, Glad. stone Cockle Pippin, Irish Peach, Devonshire Quar- renden, Eve, Lady Sudeley, Fearns Pippin, Ribston Pippin, Beauty of Bath, Egremont Russet, and King of the Pippins. An important principle in fruit growing that we must not overlook is summer-pinching. We have already talked about it, but the fact must be emphasised that the operation is of very little service unless it is performed at the proper time. Probably not one professional gardener in every hundred is aware of the fact that these buds have to be formed during the month of June. They of course know that if there are no fruit buds in the autumn there will be no fruit in the following summer, but few indeed realise that they must be formed so early in the year as June. If there are no fruit buds formed during this month there can be no hope of fruit in the following year. They are first formed as leaf buds, but if they receive an I adequate amount of sunshine and air in this month these leaf buds are fed up and changed into flower buds. The food that would otherwise have been spent in elongating a useless part of the branch will, if early summer pinching is adopted be stored up in the bud and in the branch near the bud, ready for the trees supreme effort in carrying a heavy crop of fruit. Thus it follows that however genial a spring may be, there will no blossom if sunshine and air had not free access to the branch during the preceding June, and if there be no blossom there will be no apples in the summer. When there are apples in August and September it is certain that they owe their origin to the sun- shine of the June thirteen or fourteen months before. When this fact becomes realised summer pinching will be a great deal more practiced by gardeners than it has been in the past. Although the future flower buds are formed in June, and the storing up of food in our trees ought to be encouraged to begin early in the month, yet the work has by no means been finished then. July and August are two of the hottest months of the year, indeed the three months form one period, a period of heat, sunshine and rain, during which vegetation is more actively at work than at any other time. Then it puts on its maturity, its man- hood, its womanhood. In April and May it was youth, courtship and marriage, the flowers were the bridal vestments, but in July and August the children are to bring up, and what a mighty labour it is. Who has not in these latter days of August stood amazed before a laden tree, with the fruit hanging down the branches to the ground, and more amazed still when after slight reflection it is realised that the load has been fabricated by the leaves under the influence of the sun and rain of the past three months. Ought we to grudge the slight amount of care and trouble, and attention that is necessary in assisting nature to give us bountifully of her best. Ought, we not rather to use the best efforts of our observation and intelligence in assisting the I mighty forces that are pit work for our benefit. The forces of sunshine, of rain, of air all combine to make our small gardens not only a source of j- profit, but also if we well it,. sue of the most j satisfying pleasures ef our life: Mr. Weller proposed, and-Mr. Askew seconded a wte of thanks to the Chairman for presiding, and in reptying the mayor yhat although he kncw ?ery little about apples^yet lIc had learnt sufficient while listening to this most interesting lecture to know that there was a great deal to be Itarnf bv those who intended to intelligently take ap fruit growing, and he again urged' thm-e outs-Mo the immediate neighbourhood* to apply to the- College hn Mr. Pickards service-, in their own-villages.

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