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Home Vegetable Gardening

A Complete & Practical Guide To The Planting & Care Of Vegetables, Fruits & Berries


Part Three: Fruits & Berries  Chapter 15:
The Varieties Of Pome And Stone Fruits


Many a home gardener who has succeeded well with vegetables is, for some reason or other, still fearsome about trying his hand at growing his own fruit. This is all a mistake; the initial expense is very slight and the same amount of care that is demanded by vegetables, if given to fruit,  will produce apples, peaches, pears and berries far superior to any  that can be bought, especially in flavor.

I know a doctor in New York, a specialist, who has attained prominence in his profession, and who makes a large income; he tells me that there is nothing in the city that hurts him so much as to have to pay whenever  he wants an apple. His boyhood home was on a Pennsylvania farm,  where apples were as free as water, and he cannot get over the idea of  their being one of Nature's gracious gifts, any more than he can overcome  his hankering for that crisp, juicy,  flavor of a good apple, which is not quite equaled by the taste of any other fruit.

And yet it is not the saving in expense, although that is considerable, that makes the strongest argument for growing one's own fruit. There are three other reasons, each of more importance.

First is quality. The commercial grower cannot afford to grow the very finest fruit. Many of the best varieties are not large enough yielders to be available for his use, and he cannot, on a large scale, so prune and care for his trees that the individual fruits receive the greatest possible amount of sunshine and thinning out  the personal care that is required for the very best quality.

Second, there is the beauty and the value that well kept fruit trees add to a place, no matter how small it is. An apple tree in full bloom is one of the most beautiful pictures that Nature ever paints; and if, through any train of circumstances, it ever becomes advisable to sell or rent the home, its desirability is greatly enhanced by the few trees necessary to furnish the loveliness of showering blossoms in spring, welcome shade in summer and an abundance of delicious fruits through autumn and winter. Then there is the fun of doing it of planting and caring for a few young trees, which will reward your labors, in a cumulative way, for many years to come.

But enough of reasons. If the call of the soil is in your veins, if your fingers (and your brain) in the springtime itch to have a part in earth's ever-wonderful renascence, if your lips part at the thought of the white, firm, toothsome flesh of a ripened-on-the-tree red apple then you must have a home orchard without delay.

And it is not a difficult task. Apples, pears and the stone fruits, fortunately, are not very particular about their soils. They take kindly to anything between a sandy soil so loose as to be almost shifting, and heavy clay. Even these soils can be made available, but of course not without more work. And you need little room to grow all the fruit your family can possibly eat.

Time was, when to speak of an apple tree brought to mind one of those old, moss-barked giants that served as a carriage shed and a summer dining-room, decorated with scythes and rope swings, requiring the services of a forty-foot ladder and a long-handled picker to gather the fruit. That day is gone. In its stead have come the low-headed standard and the dwarf forms. The new types came as new institutions usually do, under protest. The wise said they would never be practical the trees would not get large enough and tractors could not be driven under them.

But the facts remained that the low trees are more easily and thoroughly cared for; that they do not take up so much room; that they are less exposed to high winds, and such fruit as does fall is not injured; that the low limbs shelter the roots and conserve moisture; and, above all, that picking can be accomplished much more easily and with less injury to fine, well ripened fruit. The low-headed tree has come to stay.

If your space will allow, the low-headed standards will give you better satisfaction than the dwarfs. They are longer-lived, they are healthier, and they do not require nearly so much intensive culture. On the other hand, the dwarfs may be used where there is little or no room for the standards. If there is no other space available, they may be put in the vegetable or flower garden, and incidentally they are then sure of receiving some of that special care which they need in the way of fertilization and cultivation.

As I have said, any average soil will grow good fruit. A gravelly loam, with a gravel subsoil, is the ideal. Do not think from this, however, that all you have to do is buy a few trees from a nursery agent, stick them in the ground and from your negligence reap the rewards that follow only intelligent industry. The soil is but the raw material which work and care alone can transform, through the medium of the growing tree, into the desired result of a basement well stored each autumn with fruit.

Fruit trees have one big advantage over vegetables the ground can be prepared for them while they are growing. If the soil will grow a crop of clover it is already in good shape to furnish the trees with food at once. If not, manure or fertilizers may be applied, and clover or other green crops turned under during the first two or three years of the trees' growth, as will be described later.

The first thing to consider, when you have decided to plant, is the location you will give your trees. Plan to have pears, plums, cherries and peaches, as well as apples. For any of these the soil, of whatever nature, must be well drained. If not naturally, then tile or other artificial drainage must be provided. For only a few trees it would probably answer the purpose to dig out large holes and fill in a foot or eighteen inches at the bottom with small stone, covered with gravel or screened coal-cinders.

My own land has a gravelly subsoil and I have not had to drain. Then with the apples, and especially with the peaches, a too-sheltered slope to the south is likely to start the flower buds prematurely in spring, only to result in total crop loss from late frosts. The diagram on the next page suggests an arrangement which may be adapted to individual needs. One may see from it that the apples are placed to the north, where they will to some extent shelter the rest of the grounds; the peaches where they will not be coddled; the pears, which may be had upon quince stock, where they will not shade the vegetable garden; the cherries, which are the most ornamental, where they may lend a decorative effect.

And now, having decided that we can and will grow good fruit, and having in mind suggestions that will enable us to go out tomorrow morning and, with an armful of stakes, mark out the locations, the next consideration should be the all-important question of what varieties are most successfully grown on the small place.

The following selections are made with the home fruit garden, not the commercial orchard, in mind. While they are all "tried and true" sorts, succeeding generally in the northeast, New England and western fruit sections, remember that fruits, as a rule, though not so particular as vegetables about soil, seem much more so about locality. I would suggest, therefore, submitting your list, before buying, to your State local Cooperative Extension Service. You are taxed for its support; get some direct result from it.

There they will be glad to advise you, and are in the best position to help you get started properly.

Above all, do not buy from the traveling nursery agent, with his grip full of wonderful lithographs of new and unheard-of novelties. Get the catalogs of several reliable nurseries, take standard varieties about which you know, and buy direct. Several years ago I had the opportunity to go carefully over one of the largest fruit nurseries in the country.

Every care and precaution was taken to grow fine, healthy, young trees. The president told me that they sold thousands every year to smaller concerns, to be resold again through field and local agents. Yet they do an enormous retail business themselves, and of course their own customers get the best trees.

The following are listed, as nearly as I can judge, in the order of their popularity, but as many of the best are not valuable commercially, they are little known. Whenever you find a particularly good apple or pear, try to trace it, and add it to your list.

Apples

Without any question, the apple is far and away the most valuable fruit, both because of its greater scope of usefulness and its longer season  the last of the winter's Russets are still juicy and firm when the first Early Harvests and Red Astrachans are tempting the "young idea" to experiment with colic. Plant but a small proportion of early varieties, for the late ones are better. Out of a dozen trees, I would put in one early, three fall, and the rest winter sorts.

Among the summer apples are several deserving special mention: Yellow Transparent is the earliest. It is an old favorite and one of the most easily grown of all apples. Its color is indicated by the name, and it is a fair eating-apple and a very good cooker.

Red Astrachan, another first early, is not quite so good for cooking, but is a delicious eating-apple of good size. An apple of more recent introduction and extremely hardy (hailing first from Russia), and already replacing the above sorts, is Livland (Livland Raspberry). The tree is of good form, very vigorous and healthy. The fruit is ready almost as soon as Yellow Transparent, and is of much better quality for eating. In appearance it is exceptionally handsome, being of good size, regular form and having those beautiful red shades found almost exclusively in the later apples. The flesh is quality is fully up to its appearance.

The white, crisp-breaking flesh, most aromatic, deliciously sub-acid, makes it ideal for eating. A neighbor of mine sold $406 worth of fruit from twenty trees to one dealer. For such a splendid apple McIntosh is remarkably hardy and vigorous, succeeding over a very wide territory, and climate severe enough to kill many of the other newer varieties. The Fameuse (widely known as the Snow) is an excellent variety for northern sections. It resembles the McIntosh, which some claim to be derived from it. Fall Pippin, Pound Sweet and Twenty Ounce, are other popular late autumns.

In the winter section, Baldwin, which is too well known to need describing, is the leading commercial variety in many apple districts, and it is a good variety for home growing on account of its hardiness and good cooking and keeping qualities; but for the home orchard, it is far surpassed in quality by several others. In northern sections, down to the corn line, Northern Spy is a great favorite. It is a large, roundish apple, with thin, tender, glossy skin, light to deep carmine over light yellow, and an excellent keeper. In sections to which it is adapted it is a particularly vigorous, compact, upright grower.

Jonathan is another splendid sort, with a wider range of conditions favorable for growth. It is, however, not a strong-growing tree and is somewhat uncertain in maturing its fruit, which is a bright, clear red of distinctive flavor. It likes a soil with more clay than do most apples. In the Middle West and Middle South, Grimes (Golden) has made a great local reputation in many sections, although in others it has not done well at all.

The Spitzenberg (Esopus) is very near the top of the list of all late eating-apples, being at its prime about December. It is another handsome yellow-covered red apple, with flesh slightly yellowish, but very good to the taste. The tree, unfortunately, is not a robust grower, being especially weak in its earlier stages, but with good cultivation it will not fail to reward the grower for any extra care it may have required.

These, and the other notable varieties, for which there is not room here to describe, make up the following list, from which the planter should select according to locality:

Earliest or Summer: Early Harvest, Yellow Transparent, Red Astrachan, Benoni (new), Chenango, Sweet Bough, Williams' Favorite, Early Strawberry, Livland Raspberry.

Early Autumn: Alexander, Duchess, Porter, Gravenstein, McIntosh Red.

Late Autumn: Jefferies, Fameuse (Snow), Maiden's Blush, Wealthy, Fall Pippin, Pound Sweet, Twenty Ounce, Cox Orange, Hubbardston.

Winter: Baldwin, Rhode Island Greening, Northwestern Greening, Jonathan, Northern Spy, Yellow, Swaar, Delicious, Wagener, King, Esopus, Spitzenberg, Yellow Bellflower, Winter Banana, Seek-no-further, Talman Sweet, Roxbury Russett, King David, Stayman's Winesap, Wolf River.

Pears

Pears are more particular than apples in the matter of being adapted to sections and soils. Submit your list to your local Cooperative Extension Service before ordering trees.

Many of the standard sorts may be had where a low-growing, spreading tree is desired (for instance, quince-stock pears might be used to change places with the plums).

Varieties suitable for this method are listed below. They are given approximately in the order of the ripening:

Wilder: Early August, medium in size, light yellow, excellent quality. Does not rot at the core, as so many early pears are liable to do.

Margaret: Oblong, greenish, yellow to dull red.

Clapp Favorite: Very large, yellow pear. A great bearer and good keeper--where the children cannot get at it.

Howell: A little later than the foregoing; large, bright yellow, strong-growing tree and big bearer.

Duchesse d'Angouleme: Large greenish yellow, sometimes reaching huge size; will average better than three-quarters of a pound. The quality, despite its size, is splendid.

Seckel: Small in size, but renowned for exquisite flavor-being probably the most universally admired of all.

Beurre Superfine: October, medium size, excellent quality.

Bartlett: The best known of all pears, and a universal favorite. Succeeds in nearly all sections.

Anjou: One of the best keepers, and very productive. One of the best in flavor, rich and vinous.

For trees of the standard type the following are worthy of note:

Congress (Souvenir du C.): A very large summer sort. Handsome.

Belle Lucrative: September to October.

Winter Nelis: Medium size, but of excellent quality and the longest keeper.

Kieffer: Very popular for its productiveness, strength of growth and exceptional quality of fruit for canning and preserving. Large fruit, if kept thinned. Should have a place in every home garden.

Josephine de Malines: Not a great yielder but of the very highest quality, being of the finest texture and tempting aroma.

Peaches

Success with peaches also will depend largely upon getting varieties adapted to climate. The white-fleshed type is the hardiest and best for eating; and the free-stones are for most purposes, especially in the home garden, more desirable than the "clings."

Greensboro is the best early variety. Crawford is a universal favorite and goes well over a wide range of soil and climate. Champion is one of the best quality peaches and exceptionally hardy. Elberta, Ray, and Hague are other excellent sorts. Mayflower is the earliest sort yet introduced.

Plums

The available plums are of three classes the natives, Europeans and Japans; the natives are the longest-lived, hardier in tree and blossom, and heavier bearers.

The best early is Milton; brilliant red, yellow and juicy flesh. Wildgoose and Whitaker are good seconds. Mrs. Cleveland is a later and larger sort, of finer quality. Three late-ripening plums of the finest quality, but not such prolific yielders, are Wayland, Benson and Reed, and where there is room for only a few trees, these will be best.

They will need one tree of Newman or Prairie Flower with them to assure setting of the fruit. Of the Europeans, use Reine Claude (the best), Bradshaw or Shropshire. Damson is also good. The Japanese varieties should go on high ground and be thinned, especially during their first years. My first experience with Japanese plums convinced me that I had solved the plum problem; they bore loads of fruit, and were free from disease.

That was five years ago. Last spring the last one was cut and burned. Had they been planted at the top of a small hill, instead of at the bottom, as they were, and restricted in their bearing, I know from later experience that they would still be producing fruit. The most satisfactory varieties of the Japanese type are Abundance and Red June. Burbank is also highly recommended.

Cherries

Cherries have one advantage over the other fruits  they give quicker returns. But, as far as my experience goes, they are not as long-lived. The sour type is hardier, at least north of New Jersey, than the sweet. It will probably pay to try a few of the new and highly recommended varieties. Of the established sorts Early Richmond is a good early, to be followed by Montmorency and English Morello. Windsor is a good sweet cherry, as are also Black Tartarian, Sox, Wood and Yellow Spanish.

All the varieties mentioned above are proved sorts. But the lists are  being added to constantly, and where there is a novelty strongly recommended by a reliable nurseryman it will often pay to try it out  on a very small scale at first.

Table of Contents


Part One

1) Introduction

2) Why You Should Garden

3) Requisites Of The Home Vegetable Garden

4) The Planting Plan

5) Implements And Their Uses

6) Manures, Fertilizers And Mulching

7) The Soil And Its Preparation

 

Part  Two  Vegetables

8) Starting The Plants

9) Sowing And Planting

10) The Cultivation Of Vegetables

11) The Vegetables And Their Special Needs

12) Best Varieties Of The Garden Vegetables

13) Insects And Disease, And Methods Of Fighting Them

14) Harvesting And Storing

 

Part  Three  Fruits & Berries

15) The Varieties Of Pome And Stone Fruits

16) Planting; Cultivation; Filler Crops

17) Pruning, Spraying, Harvesting

18) Berries And Small Fruits

19) A Calendar Of Operations

20) Conclusion


Go To Part 3-16: Planting; Cultivation; Filler Crops

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