Home Vegetable Gardening
A Complete & Practical Guide To
The Planting & Care Of Vegetables, Fruits &
Part Three: Fruits &
Berries — Chapter 15:
The Varieties Of Pome And Stone
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
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.
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
Time was, when to speak of an
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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
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:
Summer: Early Harvest, Yellow Transparent, Red
Astrachan, Benoni (new), Chenango, Sweet Bough, Williams'
Favorite, Early Strawberry, Livland Raspberry.
Autumn: Alexander, Duchess, Porter, Gravenstein,
Jefferies, Fameuse (Snow), Maiden's Blush, Wealthy, Fall
Pippin, Pound Sweet, Twenty Ounce, Cox Orange,
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 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:
Early August, medium in size, light yellow, excellent quality.
Does not rot at the core, as so many early pears are liable to
Oblong, greenish, yellow to dull red.
Favorite: Very large, yellow pear. A great bearer and
good keeper--where the children cannot get at it.
little later than the foregoing; large, bright yellow,
strong-growing tree and big bearer.
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.
Small in size, but renowned for exquisite flavor-being
probably the most universally admired of all.
Superfine: October, medium size, excellent
The best known of all pears, and a universal favorite.
Succeeds in nearly all sections.
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.
Lucrative: September to October.
Nelis: Medium size, but of excellent quality and the
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
Malines: Not a great yielder but of the very highest
quality, being of the finest texture and tempting aroma.
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."
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
The available plums are of
three classes — the natives, Europeans and Japans; the natives
are the longest-lived, hardier in tree and blossom, and
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.
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
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
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.