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. Unioersitp College. . ABERYSTWYTH.


Unioersitp College. ABERYSTWYTH. Lectures on Fruit Culture. BY MR. J. L. PICKARD. The ninth lecture was given on Friday evening before a capital audience. The chair was taken by Rev. George Eyre Evans, l'anybryn. Mr. Pickard said that Gooseberries were perhaps more generally known than any other variety of of small fruit. In allotments and cottage gardens where fruit is grown at all, gooseberries are almost certain to be represented, and if well managed they are. both a useful and profitable crop to grow. But in far too many cases the trees grown are either too old to bear good crops, or are of inferior varieties, or have been too badly managed to make them desir- able occupants of the garden. Young gooseberry trees may either be purchased from the local nursery man, or propagated by the grower himself. If cuttings of good varieties can be obtained the latter method is to be preferred, as there is not only an added pleasure in growing trees of ones own production, but better opportuni- ties are given of training the young trees in the earlier stages of their growth. The nurseryman is interested in getting his trees as large as he can in the shortest possible time, and the prices they realise do not repay him sufficiently to give the necessary attention to pruning and training that the young trees ought to receive. The result is tliat tht branches are overcrowded and too weak to produce first class fruit, and no amount of after attention will entirely remedy this early neglect. Gooseberry trees are most easily propagated from cuttings, and this is the method most generally adopted for their propagation. They are seldom grown in other than bush form, though they are both ornamental and fruitful when grown as espal- iers or in grid iron form and trained to wires or they may be confined to single stems, or trained in fan shape. In the two latter ways they are very suitable for training on walls. Trees so trained have two distinctly practical advantages the fruit is easily gathered, and the trees are more easily pruned. It is necessary to decide what form of trees are required before the cuttings are struck in the autumn, as those that are required for espaliers, &c., require rather different treatment to others that are intended for bushes. The shoots selected for cuttings should be firm, straight, clean C, shortjointed, as thick as a lead pencil, and about fifteen inches long when the top has been taken off. It is always advisable to cut two or three inches off the end of the cuttings as the buds are not so strong and well developed as those lower down the branch, and if left to form branches they would only result in failure. Prepare the cuttings by making a clean cut at the base, straight across and just below a leaf joint. Carefully re- move, with the point of a knife, all the buds and spines from the lower part of the cutting, leaving only three, or at the most four buds at the top. If tne buds are not removed from the lower part of the cuttings they will grow as suckers after the plant has become established. The result of this is a confusion of growths which cannot be con- verted into a satisfactory fruitful bush by any amount of after pruning. If the buds have been -properly removed it will insure a clear stem of several inches above the ground, a thing most desirable, if not imperative, in gooseberry trees. If it is intended to train the trees as cordens, i.e. with one upright stem, the buds should only be removed from that part of the cutting that will be inserted in the soil; if for espaliers, that is two or more horizontal stems, then only two buds should be left at about twelve inches from the ground. If for grid iron, or fan shape then five buds may be left. The cuttings, which should be taken in November, should be planted in lines, fifteen inches apart, and six inches apart in the lines. They should be planted firmly, and about five inches deep; this will leave several inches of clear stem between the ground and the lowest bud. The soil in which the cuttings are inserted should be of a sandy open nature, and free from stagnant water. If it is heavy it should be opened by the addition of burnt clay, old li-iie rubble, or burnt garden refuse. No manure should be added at tl- stnge. Care must be taken during the following spring and summer to keep the land perfectly free from weeds, by keeping the spaces between the rows of cuttings constantly stirred with the hoe to the depth of an inch or so. This admits air, and assists in pre- venting the loss of moisture by evaporation. If the operation of propagation has4 been "successfully accomplished the plants will be ready for the first attentions in training in July. All shoots that have made nine leaves or more should have their growing points pinched out, and if there are any side shoots growing from the main shoots, they Should have the points pinched out after making four leaves. This throws all the energy of the plant into ripening and strengthening the branches that remain, giving them a sound constitution for future fruit bearing. In the case of upright cordons only one main branch must be allowed to grow all other shoots that are formed ought to be pinched when they have made four leaves, these will then form fruiting spurs for the following year. For the other methods of training the main branches will require some support to which they can be tied in the desired shape; this is easily supplied by means of a few stakes and pieces of wire. At the end of the first year each rooted plant should be transplanted into nursery beds; land which has been cleared of late potatoes is suitable for this purpose. The plants will now require a space of two feet between each other. Before planting see that every broken root, and every strong root is carefully cut beyond the broken part. This encourages the formation of fibreous roots, and reduces the risk of the roots being attacked by mold and disease. They must in no case be planted deeper than they were previous to removal; if the roots have been chiefly formed at the base of the cutting they ought not to be planted so deeply as they were. A safe and advisable rule is to have the uppermost roots within two inches of the surface of the ground. In planting, spread out and pack every root carefully in tine soil and press it tirnU-yaoout. them by lightly treading, but not ramming hard as is sometimes advised. If a surface dressing of some such manure as peat. moss litter, or short stable manure can be given at once it will be very bene- ficial. Spread it two or three inches thick, a foot further than the roots extend. At this time any weak thin shoots that have been formed subsequent to the summer pinching should be cut off, shorten- ing the branch to the topmost dormant bud. Our young trees will now, if they have been well managed, be furnished with three main branches, in addition to several short ones which are in- tended for fruit spurs. During the following summer each of the main branches should be allowed to form three more, making nine in all. All other shoots that appear must have their points pinched out after they have made four leaves, and the main branches should be stopped during June then by the end of the second year from taking the cuttings we shall have a stock of clean, well ripened, sturdy trees ready to plant into their permanent quarters. If there is no vacant wall space on which to train the upright cordens, a fence can be easily made with a few stakes and wire, and more fine fruit can be obtained from a given space of ground tham any other way. The trees should be planted from nine inches to a foot apart. The chief points in their cultivation is to pinch all side shoots as they are formed in early summer, to mulch the roots with good manure, and to take off all the small badly shaped fruit as soon as it is large enough for cooking purposes, leaving only I y the largest fruit to ripen. Trained in this way they are easily protected from birds, and the fruit receives a larger amount of sunshine and air than it would if grown on bushes. Pruning gooseberry trees is seldom a pleasant employment; still it has to be done, and there are right ways and wrong ways of doing it. The task is much easier when commenced and carried through in the right way. The wrong method is frequently the most difficult of execution, and the most harmful to the tree, and its owner, and his pocket. The right way to proceed is first of all to cut away all branches that a,re too near the ground. They seldom bear any fine fruit, and they prevent a free circulation of air through the tree. Then remove all branches that touch or are crossing each other, and such as are overcrowding the tree. It will now be found that the trees do uot look so formidable, that the task of pruning is reduced in dimensions and difficulty, and that little more remains to be done. Of conrsc, if summer pinching has been adopted and intelligently carried out, there will be none of this rough pruning to do. What little pruning remaining to be done now consists in thinning out young shoots to four or five inches apart, cutting off the shoots at six to nine inches from their base, and catting the side shoots to within half an inch of their base to form spurs. This kind of pruning practically ensures heavy crops of fruit every year, and the fruit is gathered with little trouble or injury. Summer pinching is invaluable for goose- berry trees. The work is done at a time of the year when it can be carried out with comfort; the trees are directly benefited, and it saves much unpleasant work in winter. The trees require a iicavy mulching of farm yard manure each winter; it is best applied directly the pruning is finished in December or January then in April give one oz. of mineral superphosphate, half an oz. of sulphate of ammonia, and one oz. of Kainit, or four ozs. of wood ashes in place or Kainit, to each tree, scatter- L g on the farmyard manure, and either watering or allowing it to be washed in with the rain. latter case it would be well to mix it with ———————————— the manure by the aid of a, hoe or rake. Gooseberry I trees so treated become heavily laden- with fruit each year, provided the soi3 is good, and; the roots near the surface of the grouod are not mutilated with the spade- Whinham's Industry, Lancashire Lad, White- smith, and Warrington Red are good sorts for cottagers to grow for cooking asd preserving. For eating ripe early Sulphur and Red Champagne are two of the best; while Berry's Early Kent is one of the heaviest and most profitable croppers in cul- tivation. Red and white currants are not as a. rme so valuable a crop to grow as either gooseberries or black currants, still where room permits it is highly advisable to grow a few bushes of each variety. Their fruits make splendid jelly, and they are of great value when mixed with rasps- or other fruit for jam making or cooking purposes. The cultivation of white and red currants is practically the same, and they may be dealt with as one. The black currant is, however, of a totally different habit, and must be dealfe with and managed differently if success is to be assured. Currant trees are best propagated from cuttings in precisely the same way as was recommended for gooseberry trees choosing straight, clear. shoots of the current year's growth, about fifteen, inches long, and the thickness of a lead pencil. These shoots should in all cases be chosen from the top of the bush, where they have had the best ad- vantages of sun and air to ripen them. Unripe wood would give us young trees with a weak constitution, and we have no right to look for a high standard of success if we do not start with the healthiest and most vigorous trees it is possible to obtain. Red and white currants should have all the eyes rubbed out, with the exception of three or four at the top as in the case of gooseberries, and like them they ought to be ready for planting in their permenant quarters at the end of the second year. During this first two years of their life they ought to receive very special care in training, for if they are neglected in their earlier stages of their growth no after care can make them into the clean, shapely fruit bearing bashes we desire to grow. Red currants always bear their fruit on spurs that form at the base of all shoots that can be induced to grow from the main branches, therefore, in training the young trees care should be taken to leave the branches at such distances apart that they may have the full ad- vantages of sun and air. A well shaped currant bush will have seven to nine main branches. These are better when of nearly equal length and strength, and they will radiate from the main stem at about six inches from the ground, and equal distances apart from each other. The side shoots should never be allowed to become of undue length, but regularly pinched in summer in order that the summer sun and air may convert the useless and sappy wood into ripe fruitful wood. When the leaves have fallen in the autumn all side shoots should be shortened to within half-an-inch of the main branches to form compact fruit spurs, at the same time shortening the leading growths to within six or nine inches of. last years wood. This severe pruning will need to be carried out each winter, and the operation will be as rapid as it is simple. When the trees are managed in this way in respect to summer and winter pruning, and kept well manured in the way suggested for gooseberries, the branches are annually clothed inYlense masses of fruit. Where the garden adjoins the dwelling house of the owner, red currants could advantage- ously be trained in grid-iron form and grown up at the sides of the house. This would not only in many cases improve the appearance of the house, but would utilise what often otherwise would be wasted space, in the production of a useful and accommodating crop. For training in grid-iron shape the cutting must have all the eyes moved with the exception of two at the top, these to be at opposite sides of the shoot, and about nine inches above the surface of the ground. When the buds begin to grow, the shoots must be trained in an horizontal direction. This is best by attaching a five feet length of wire to a few stakes nine. inches high, the cutting to occupy a position at the centre of the wire, and the two shoots tied down to it in opposite directions. When the young shoots have reached the end of a wire they should be turned in an upward direction to form the outer branches of the grid-iron. Allow other four branches to grow from the two horizontal ones at a foot apart from each other, pinching back all other shoots to within four leaves of the main branch, and prune closer in winter as is done in the case of bushes. Currants so grown are easily protected by netting from birds, and it will hang until Christmas in a fresh and exceedingly luscious condition if the aspect is either north-west, north, or north-east. There is nothing extraordinary in having red currant tart to dinner on Christmas day, the fruit being gathered direct from the tree. Red and white currants are provided with a double set of roots, surface and anchor roots, there- fore care should be taken in preparing the ground for them. They delight in a free, rich, open soil, and they are fond of lime. It is a good plan to allow each tree a little lime every two years; it stimulates the growth, keeps the ground sweet, and assists in keeping down obnoxious grubs and other pests. The spade should never be used near the fruit trees we are discussing after they are planted any manure that is used should be applied at to the surface, and if it is objectionable to the sight it might be lightly covered with fresh soil. It should not be put on in such quantities as to risk excluding air from the roots, as air in the soil is just as necessary for fine crops of fruit as manure is. Potash is required in large quantities: this can be very well supplied in the form of wood ashes, and dug in at the time of planting. The black currant is everywhere a prime favour- ite, and we are not likely to suffer from an over- production of it at present. Not only is it one of the most popular fruits for jams, tarts, and puddings, but in cases of cold and illness it is most useful medicinally. Plentiful as they are in some years, and badly as they are usually grown, they always meet a ready sale at good prices. Cuttings such as are advised for red currants and goose- berries should be chosen, but it is unadvisable to remove any of the lower buds, because in this case we wish to encourage from the production of young growths from below the soil as black currant bears mostly upon well matured wood of the previous years growth. It is a fatal mistake to prune black currants in the same way as red currants are pruned; in a very few years the wood would be- come hard and knotty, the fruit would be small and sour, and finally- the trees would cease bearing altogether at the time when they ought to be giving us their heaviest crops of rich, ripe fruit. The secret of success then in the culture of black currants being the annual production of young wood and the removal of old and exhausted wood, it is obvious that proper pruning will entirely consist of judiciously making room for young wood by thinning out the old. Leave the young shoots five or six inches apart, and new branches from below the soil are to be encouraged, because they are renewing the tree constantly. If the young branches come up from the ground too thickly they ought to be pulled up, not cut off, when quite young in order that those remaining may have room to mature. The im- portance of obtaining thoroughly ripened wood cannot be over-estimated for the profitable pro- duction of fruit crops. Pruning is also an im- portant detail in fruit culture; if the main branches of gooseberry and currant bushes are too close together, producing a thicket of growths, and the canes of rasps crush against each other in the summer, no one has a right to expect good crops. The evil of over-crowding must be prevented by taking the ends off side shoots before mid-summer down to four or five leaves from the base, so that the sun and air can act on those leaves also young suckers should be drawn from raspberries and black currants till those that remain stand clear of each other, the leaves scarcely touching; then fruitfulness will be induced. Black currant growths must not be cut back like those of red and white currants, but simply thinned like rasberries, to let the sun shine amongst and between the growths. Another very important matter in obtaining heavy crops of fruit is manuring. If the same plant be grown year after year in the same soil it gradually impovrishes the ground. Heavy dress- ings of farmyard manure are essential to bush fruic growing in addition to the special manures already recommended, not only as a valuable source of plant food, but for conserving moisture in the soil. The condition of the mannre is also important. Many gardeners delight in manure that is in such a state of decomposition that it can be carved into slices with the spade. This is the worst possible condition it can be in for mulching fruit bushes or strawberries. It makes and keeps the soil colder than it otherwise would be,—and one of the objects in applying manure ought to be to raise the temperature of the soil,—and much of the nitrogen it contained, its most valuable in- gredients; is volatised and lost. The manure ought to be fairly fresh, at the most not more than half rotted, and contain a fair amount of straw or other litter. This, in the process of decomposition raises the temperature of the soil, and further, the nitrogen it contains is washed down to the plants roots as it is released from the other constituents of the manure. A good selection of varieties of currants would be :—Red—Red Dutch, Raby Castle, and Victoria. White—White Transparent, and White Dutch. Black—Lees Prolific, Ismays Prolific, Baldwins, and Black Naples. The last lecture of the course will be given next Friday evening, when "pests and diseases of fruit trees will be the subject.

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