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Lectures on Fruit Culture.…

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Lectures on Fruit Culture. BY MR. J. L. PICKARD. The seventh lecture of the course was given on Friday evening. Mr. Jones, Llanbadarn, presiding. Mr. Pickard, quoting from a time honoured dog- geret said, He who plants pears, plants for his heirs, And no doubt, he said, there has been a great deal of truth in the saying. Pears are even yet re- garded as a precarious crop to grow. But fortu- nately their habits and requirements are becoming better understood than they have been in the past. Thanks to the trials and experiments of a few enthusiastic fruit growers pears may now be as successfully grown as any other hardy fruit, by anyone who will adopt up-to-date methods of cultivation, and few fruits are better worth grow- ing than choice dessert pears, or would give a better return for the care they require in growing. Pears are not as a rule so hardy in their wood as apples are, they grow until late in the season, consequently the wood has great difficulty of ripening in the autumn, and added to this is the fact that they flower earlier in the spring than apples do, and are even more liable to be damaged by late frosts. This teaches one of the first prin- ciples of pear culture—to give them all the cosy iinoks and corners in the garden where they can have all the advantages of bright sunshine, and at the same time be sheltered from the cold piercing winds of early spring. This is all the more needful, as the pistil, the female portion of the flower, is more tender than is the case in apples, and is more liable to be rendered sterile by cold winds and frost. The pear is naturally a deep rooting tree. often in suitable soils sending its roots fully six feet into the ground. I y I When the roots are at this depth the gardener has naturally very little control over them. The roots are attracted to the water level of the soil, this level varies in different soils, but it may as a rule be taken as being about six feet below the surface. Where we are cultivating pears we have to fight against water by providing a counter attraction for them nearer the surface. T"'oo 1 "1 fears would DO even worse subjects tban apples to grow on their own roots, they are invariably grafted on other roots, except in cases where new varieties are wished for. In this case seed is sown, and when the seedlings are a year old they are grafted upon established stocks in order to bring them earlier into bearing than they would if left on their own roots. Although the pear unites readily with several stocks, yet in actual practice we are restricted to the use of two, the pear seed- ling. and the Quince. The pear seedling is perhaps the best to use on a deep, dry. stony ground, as the r; els have natnrally:a downward tendency, but if we do not particularly wish to plant for our heirs, then the Quince stock should invariably be chosen. We do not get such big trees, but they are un- doubtedly the best for general purposes. All the advantages can be claimed for them that were claimed for Paradise stocks for apples. As a rule pears grown on quince stocks are more luscious, finer. more marketable, and earlier than the same varieties grown on pear seedlings, besides coming into bearing much sooner. Nearly all varieties of pears graft readily upon the quince, yet many varieties do not do well upon it if only ordinary methods of grafting are adopted. Where the trees have to be purchased a clear knowledge of what is required in this respect is of the utmost importance to the purchaser. Few nurserymen, and still fewer professional gardeners give any attention to the problems involved in budding and grafting. It is, as a rule, sufficient for the nurseryman if he can supply healthy young trees in the varieties, and on the stocks as ordered the after success or failure op the trees is none of his business, while the gardener can always fall back upon the situation, or the soil, or the weather as being unsuitable, to account for his want of success. The loss is not his, but his employers, and so long as the employer fares no worse than his friends and neighbours he is not disposed to grumble much. The Cottager or Amateur, however, cannot afford to neglect these problems. His crops must pay, or they are useless to him. In purchasing pear trees it is not sufficient to have a guarantee that they are grafted on quince stocks; the manner in which they are grafted is of equal importance. We are using the quince stock because it has less vigorous roots than the pear seedling, conseqi-eatly it is less robust in its growth. Our object in using it is to dwarf the variety of pear we graft or bud upon it. Supposing, then, we insert a graft of a strong constitutioned variety of pear upon this atock, it would be apt to over-rule the stock by its robust growth, and either canker or be broken off by high winds. Budding, and most styles of graft- I y ing are done in the side of the tree, and not at the top where it has been headed down. This makes the scion more liable to be broken or otherwise impaired when it over-rules the stock. Purchasers should always insist upon being supplied with treen that have been cleft grafted. The operation is very simple, and can be easily performed by those who wish to try. Cut the top of the stock off to within a couple of inches of the ground, making a level (not slanting) cut. If the stock is of moderate size, the blade of the grafting knife is placed on the top of the stock and pressed down, so as to form a cleft. It is allowed to remain, acting as a wedge or lever to keep the cleft open while the scion is being irfcerted, after which it is withdrawn, and the elasticity of the stock closing together keeps the scion in its place. Tie firmly, and protect from the weather by means of a hand- ful of clay. Even after this precaution is taken, many varieties of pears prove a failure. The only certain way of securing success is by double graft- ing. If we attempt to grow that choice pear, Pitmastons Duchess, on the quince it would be more than likely to fail; so we usean intermediary graft, choosing some hardy and vigorous variety for this purpose Josephine d'Malines or Beurre de Amanlis being usually the best variety to choose. This, grafted close to the ground on the quince, will soon rise into a stem, and after a year's growth this is cut down and grafted with the desired tender habited variety, It would well repay the extra cost if all the trees grown were double grafted. Double grafting will ultimately have a great effect upon pear culture in gardens. It seems always to make healthy and prolific trees. Take for instance those well known eating pears. Jargonelle and Gansels. Bergamot when double grafted, the union is so perfect, and the trees thus formed so healthy and fruitful that an acre of them would be a little fortune to an allot- ment gardener in fact nearly all choice pears become most fertile when double grafted on the proper kinds of stocks. When this scientific method of cultivating pears is fully understood their cultivation will become a great deal more popular than it has been in the past. Pears like a fairly open and a fairly rich soil; they revel in a fibrous loam if only the roots are under control. Fatter the pear, fatter the soil, is a rough but good guide to their requirements. Little pears are not so particular, still it pays to look well after them. The pear tree is fond of a little body in the soil, providing it is kept sweet asil open by the use of burnt clay, and generally the finer the quality of pear, the more clay can it do with. In planting make the holes deeper than was recommended for apple, in other ways the same method should be adopted. A good propor- tion of leaf mould may be used, to which has been added one and a half ounces of sulphate of ammonia and four ounces of bone meal for each åmn. Sulphate of ammonia has a greater attrac- for pears than other roots when it is mixed with leaf mould and burnt soil it does not so readily change into nitrates as it would do in ordinary soil,-so it remains an exceedingly great attraction for a long ti'ne in keeping the roots near the sur- face. It ought to be applied twice yearly to the snriace of the soil and raked in amongst growing pwars the first, application early in March, and the second as soon as the pears are formed. It should nevnr be use! in the autumn, or applied at a hca-vier rate than one and a half ounces to the square yard. In adti i n to tne varieties already mentioned «'jmberl'«=s (•"•periments, and a wide personal experience a"nears to teach that Beurre Superfin, lfc>on de Cornice, and Beurre de Amanlis are three of the best quality and most prolific varieties to Rrow, thou ;h Bon Cretian, Marie Louise, Beurre de Aujjon, t!i.' 'alter for damp situations and West VaBs, as w»-;i as many other choice varieties do well when > :y have proper attention. Where there is n a much chance of attention after plaafang i, il(i be better to choose such varieties as- Cr3.wf Swans Egg, Hessle, and Comte de Tjerny. T L 'ter is a splendid variety and not ,y- s -,i >rlv well known. It is perfectly hardy and well ar y vhere, only if the soil is +hin aud t it shoul i be grown in no other way ttHn (ioul, i fte(i on tin quince. N'-arly v r one who has now a collection of pears won i to exchange some of them for other sorts, i .rtunatelv the operation of grafting is. remarkabl v imple and ea- v with pear trees, and by tli- in-c ion of a few grafts, properly dis- tributed, a -i .• and perfect bearing head may be i obtained in l > or three years. Instead therefore of digging ii- and throwing cut such varieties as do not- hW1 ,I)rl pears, and leaving undesirable Tacunnies v they stood, they are readily t very best. The first to do after having secured the scions, is t > prepare the tree for redrafting by trimming 1" branches and cutting out any not wanted wit hey happen to be too thick. Then oei them "f in March so as to form a regular pyramid, by leaving the bottom ones longest ar.i gradually tapering to the top. If the branches are small they may be whip grafted, but usually they will be much too large for this method and will require cleft or crown grafting. In three years they will be as abundant bearers and as perfect trees as those which have not been thus changed. We shall now be obliged to leave the subject of pears, in order to discuss other popular fruits before the course of lectures is completed, and must now turn our attention to plums. Plums will grow on a wider range of soil than almost any otheir fruit tree; in fact, where corn will grow, there will plums grow also and no tree lends itself so readily to the student in fruit culture as the plum, exhibiting as it does in a marked degree all the requirements and changes that take place in the formation of fruit from the realisation of the flower right on to the ripening of the fruit. These changes, which are characteristic of all fruits, ought to be thoroughly understood by all who wish to cultivate fruit successfully. So long as we remain in igiieffaiiee of what is going on inside a plant, we are forced to work blindly. It is quite true that experience has taught us some of the principles that govern plant life, but in recent years scientists haive made giant strides in dis- covering and giving us absolutely certain knowledge of some of most essential principles of horticulture and when we work according to the knowledge they have given us we work by the light of reason, and are much more likely to be successful than we should be if we continued creeping along in the darkness of uncertainty, or in total ignorance of the habits and requirements of the plants we are trving to grow. It will be remembered that before fruit can begin to grow pollen has to be conveyed from the stamens to the stigma, just at the time when it is receptive, that is, fully developed and covered with a gummy or viscid secretion, the use of which appears to be to retain the pollen when applied and to favour or promote the act of fertil- ization. The pollen throws out a tube which grows down through the pistil to the embryo seed which is contained in the ovary. We do not grow apples and plums for seed, but nature grows them entirely for seed, so by being careful to see that the seeds have the best possible opportunities for fertilization we are repaid for our trouble by the fleshy sub- stances which cover the seeds. There are five distinct changes undergone in the production of fruit, each of which changes should be understood, and have the careful attention of the cultivator. Put briefly, they are, the process and act of fertilisation, the first swel- ling period, the stoning period, the second swelling period, and ripening. The pollen in the act of growing down the pistil stimulates the ovary and its surroundings to growth. This we termfthe first swelling period. When fruit begins to swell a lot of food is used up very rapidly, therefore we must see to it being supplied. If the crop be a heavy one we could with advantage give one and a half ounces of sulphate of ammonia, and the same quantity of mineral superphosphate to each square yard of land occupied by the roots. When plums have reached about half the size we expect them to grow they suddenly stop growing, and often a large proportion of them drop off. Exactly the same thing occurs in other fruits, but we are now taking plums as being typical of the rest. This is the stoning period, and a very critical period it is too. The stoppage of growth arises from several causes, each one of which ought to be understood and provided against by the cultivator. If the flower had not been properly fertilized, if there had only been just sufficient pollen to stimulate the swelling of the ovary without fertilizing the seed, then there would be no stone formed inside the fruit, it is therefore an abortive fruit and drops off the tree at this period. If the soil in which the tree is growing gets dry at this time there will not be sufficient food material held in solution in the soil for the sudden increase of work the plant has to do. There is an enormous waste of food in seed. but as we cannot get fruit without seeds we have to pro- vide for this waste by supplying sufficient food material, and seeing that it is in a suitable con- dition for absorption by the plants' roots. If we do not supply it, part of the substance of the tree gets used up. This weakens the tree, it gets into low water, and the swelling of the fruit comes to a standstill. This is very marked in the case of plums. Therefore having given the manures as recommended we ought to give the soil a thorough soaking of water. This would prevent any serious stoppage of swelling at the stoning period. At this time we must begin to think about our plums ripening; we want them to be as large and as heavy as we can possibly get them, and we have so far done our best to get them large, but we also want them highly coloured and deliciously flavoured, and worth the highest market prices. In order to secure this we must supply half-an-ounce of sulphate of iron and half-an-ounce of sulphate of potash to each yard of land, and water it well in, not later than the stoning period. We may then safely leave the rest to the sun and air,, knowing that we have done our best to- secure success. In a few rare cases it may be necessary to thin out the fruit a little if too many have set, but as a rule where we supply sufficient food and moisture the trees can carry heavy crops of fruit without injury to themselves. We have no really good dwarfing stocks for plums. They are usually grafted upon plum seedlings, though other stocks are occasionally used; amongst others the following may be named. The Myrobalan, which grows wild in this neighbourhood, the Muscle, the Mirabelle, the St. Julian and others. The St. Julian is by far the best for high class plums. It grows healthy trees, and we can, by good management, keep its roots fairly near the surface. The plum, like most of our common fruits, has been cultivated during a lengthy period, and has during that time given rise to numerous races and varieties. Thus we have at least a dozen well marked forms of the greengage, some large, others small, some highly coloured, others with transparent flesh, or subject to other variations; and these form a tolerably well marked and permanent race. The Damsons again are a distinct group, and the large fruited red or yellow Magnum Bonums are also distinct. We have a wide choice of varieties, amongst the ordinary plums. The Victoria is a general favourite, and deservedly so, still it is not the only good variety grown. The Czar is a splendid plum and not nearly sufficiently known. It is a very large early plum, ripening early in August; it is rich and good, and is very productive and will prove valuable to all planlers. Ponels Seedling, Black Diamonds, Sultan, Monarch, Early Rovers, and many others would prove highly remunerative in the small garden, if well grown. Both Greengages and Damsons are very variable in size and colour and quality. Gatheries Striped Gage, and the transparent Greengage being very beautiful and distinct forms of the one, while Crittendensprolific can, from personal acquaintance, be recommended as the very best of the Damsons. Its free bearing character, and its qualities as a fruit have been well attested. Coes golden drop is one of the most delicious flavoured plums grown. To have it in perfection however it should be grown against a south wall, as the more sun a tree gets, more sugar and fragrance is there in the fruit. All plums are exceedingly fond of a little lime in the soil in which they are grown, and it improves the quality of their fruit. Lime rubble may be used if available, but if quicklime be used apply it at the rate of a pound and a half to the square yard in ther autumn, and fork it lightly in. Pears and plums require as much care in planting and pruning and summer pinching as apples do, and the same general methods of cultivation should be adopted. A capital discussion followed the lecture, and a vote of thanks to Mr. Jones for presiding concluded the meeting. Mr. Pickard gave the following question to the members of the class—" Describe the process of planting a pear tree." There was again a good attendance.

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