Planting And Pruning
The apple tree that you grafted should be set out in the spring. Dig a
hole three or four feet in diameter where you wish the tree to grow.
Place the tree in the hole and be very careful to preserve all the fine
roots. Spread the roots out fully, water them, and pack fine, rich soil
firmly about them. Place stakes about the young tree to protect it from
injury. If the spot selected is in a windy location, incline the tree
slightly toward the prevailing wind.
Present shape comes from pruning]
You must prune the tree as it grows. The object of pruning is to give
the tree proper shape and to promote fruit-bearing. If the bud at the
end of the main shoot grows, you will have a tall, cone-shaped tree. If,
however, the end of the young tree be cut or "headed back" to the lines
shown in Fig. 72, the buds below this point will be forced to grow and
make a tree like that shown in Fig. 73. The proper height of heading for
different fruits varies. For the apple tree a height of two or three
feet is best.
Cutting an end bud of a shoot or branch always sends the nourishment and
growth into the side buds. Trimming or pinching off the side buds throws
the growth into the end bud. You can therefore cause your tree to take
almost any shape you desire. The difference between the trees shown in
Figs. 73 and 74 is entirely the result of pruning. Fig. 74 illustrates
in general a correctly shaped tree. It is evenly balanced, admits light
freely, and yet has enough foliage to prevent sun-scald. Figs. 75 and 76
show the effect of wisely thinning the branches.
The best time to prune is either in the winter or before the buds start
in the spring. Winter pruning tends to favor wood-production, while
summer pruning lessens wood-production and induces fruitage.
Each particular kind of fruit requires special pruning; for example, the
peach should be made to assume the shape illustrated in Fig. 77. This is
done by successive trimmings, following the plan illustrated in Figs.
71, 78, 79. You will gain several advantages from these trimmings.
First, nourishment will be forced into the peach bud that you set on
your stock. This will secure a vigorous growth of the scion. By a second
trimming take off the "heel" (Fig. 78, _h_) close to the tree, and thus
prevent decay at this point. One year after budding you should reduce
the tree to a "whip," as in Fig. 79, by trimming at the dotted line in
Fig. 78. This establishes the "head" of the tree, which in the case of
the peach should be very low,--about sixteen inches from the ground,--in
order that a low foliage may lessen the danger of sun-scald to the main
Cut off heel, _h_]
In pruning never leave a stump such as is shown in Fig. 78, _h_. Such a
stump, having no source of nourishment, will heal very slowly and with
great danger of decay. If this heel is cleanly cut on the line _ch_
(Fig. 78), the wound will heal rapidly and with little danger of decay.
Leaving such a stump endangers the soundness of the whole tree. Fig. 80
shows the results of good and poor pruning on a large tree. When large
limbs are removed it is best to paint the cut surface. The paint will
ward off fungous disease and thus keep the tree from rotting where it
Pruning that leaves large limbs branching, as in Fig. 74, _a_, is not to
be recommended, since the limbs when loaded with fruit or when beaten by
heavy winds are liable to break. Decay is apt to set in at the point of
breakage. The entrance of decay-fungi through some such wound or through
a tiny crevice at such a crotch is the beginning of the end of many a
Sometimes a tree will go too much to wood and too little to fruit. This
often happens in rich soil and may be remedied by another kind of
pruning known as _root-pruning_. This consists in cutting off a few of
the roots in order to limit the food supply of the plant. You ought to
learn more about root-pruning, however, before you attempt it.
Refuses to Heal--Heals promptly]
How is a peach tree made? First, the blossom appears. Then pollination
and fertilization occur. The fruit ripens. The pit, or seed, is saved.
In the spring of the next year the seed is planted. The young tree,
known as the stock, comes up quickly. In August of that year a bud of
the variety which is wanted is inserted in the little stock, near the
ground. One year later, in the spring, the stock is cut off just above
the bud. The bud throws out a shoot, which grows to a height of about
six feet, and in the fall this little peach tree is sold as a
one-year-old tree. However, as is seen, the root is two years old.
How is an apple tree made? The seeds are saved in the fall of one year
and planted the following year. The seedlings of the apple do not grow
so rapidly as those of the peach. At the end of the year they are taken
up and sorted, and in the following spring they are planted. In July or
August they are budded. In the spring of the next year the stock is cut
off above the bud, and the bud-shoot grows three or four feet. One year
later the shoot branches and the top begins to form; and in the fall of
the following year the tree may be sold as a two-year-old, although most
persons prefer to buy it a year later as a three-year-old. In some parts
of the country, particularly in the West, the little seedling is grafted
in the second winter, in a grafting room, and the young grafts are set
in the nursery row in the spring to complete their growth.
The planting in the orchard of the young peach and the young apple tree
is done in practically the same way. After the hole for the tree has
been dug and after proper soil has been provided, the roots should be
spread and the soil carefully packed around them.
Do you know any trees in your neighborhood that bear both wild and
budded or grafted fruit? What are the chief varieties of apples
grown in your neighborhood? grapes? currants? plums? cherries?
figs? What is a good apple tree worth? Is there any land near by
that could support a tree and is not now doing so? Examine several
orchards and see whether the trees have the proper shape. Do you
see any evidence of poor pruning? Do you find any heels? Can you
see any place where heels have resulted in rotten or hollow trees?
How could you have prevented this? Has the removal of branches ever
resulted in serious decay? How is this to be prevented?
If your home is not well stocked with all the principal kinds of
fruit, do you not want to propagate and attend to some of each
kind? You will be surprised to find how quickly trees will bear and
how soon you will be eating fruit from your own planting. Growing
your own trees will make you feel proud of your skill.