« AnteriorContinuar »
rod, and the most of this in labor at odd times. This would make the hedging of the quarter-section farm cost, for twenty years, as follows:
The difference for the first twenty years is $120 per annum, and thus, instead of having $1,000 invested as original capital, we have but $420 in the hedge. It will require, at least, ten per cent. to keep the dead fence in repair, while $17 for each farm will keep the hedge nicely sheared. In one case we have a reliable hedge, and in the other an uncertain one of pine boards.
The following communication on the subject of Osage thorn hedges, received from Mr. J. W. Clarke, of Kingston, Greene Lake County, Wisconsin, is presented as the result of much thought and experiment, but not indorsed by the Department as infallible in all its positions:
THE OSAGE THORN. Though this thorn has been variously and extensively experimented with, probably through half a century of time, with a view to its adapt. ability to forming a live fence, its successful propagation and growth on a large scale by nurserymen is a work of but recent achievement. The urgent necessity of some hedging material, as a substitute for board fence, has also been deeply felt only within a few years, or since railroads have made such fearful inroads upon the limited timber sup. ply of the country. It is, however, a well established fact that the Osage thorn is quite as capable of being grown and trained, and of forming an effective live fence, in all but far northern States, as is the haw. thorn in the British Islands. Its adaptation to the general purposes of hedging being a settled fact, the following notes and suggestions will be directed to the practical bearings of the principles of growing, plans of arrangement, and the most suitable methods of training or directing the growth of the Osage thorn, as a hedging plant.
NURSERYMEN PROPAGATE IT WITH SUCCESS.
Of this there can be no doubt, as it is thus grown in Illinois to the extent of hundreds of acres, and on an amply successful scale in various other localities. It must be stated, however, that the quicks are grown too thick in the nursery row, in many instances. Close crowding here is not favorable to the best growth of roots, which is as essential to Osage thorn quicks as to apple stocks, and as necessary to their best subsequent growth in the hedge row. The plants are more healthy when first grown on high, or at least on well-drained ground; the whole extent of their wood growth being firmer, and, if sometimes not quite so large or rank, better adapted to bear the vicissitudes to which young hedges are usually exposed.
PREPARING GROUND FOR SETTING OUT HEDGES. Sod ground, designed for hedge sites, should be plowed six or seven inches deep, as early as the grass grows freely, in May, the year precedling the planting of the quicks. As soon as tlie sod is well rotteil, (lrag. and plow as many times as may be required thoroughly to pulverize the soil, and reduce it to such a conditiou of tiltlı as would be suitable for planting corn on oll ground, the strip of ground so treated being at least six yards in width. This should be done either in September or early in October; not later, as the important and necessary operation of ridging up the ground, as a foundation for a successful hedge, is required to be performed before severe freozing weather. The safest course is to ridge before the 10th of November.
The necessity for ridging arises from the generally observed fact, that the natural drainage of the larger portion of the vast prairies is poor and ineffective, the soil in many localities being so overcharged with moisture, particularly in rainy seasons, as to materially check the growth of farm crops; and, as is well understood, the yield of corn and small grain is much reduced from this cause. The same is true of considerable districts of several of the better timbered States, where other fencing material is growing scarce.
The width of ground plowed should not be less than eighteen or twenty feet, as a narrow space may cause considerable inconvenience, where the adjoining land is sod or in grass. The height of the ridges should be as great as can be made by twice plowing, or gathering up the soil. In spongy or low, wet places, three gatherings with the plow will not raise the ridge too high. The soil having been well pulverized • before ridging, may be harrowed once with a coarse harrow; but it need not be made smooth, as a harrowing just before plowing the furrow trenches, the succeeding spring, will be necessary to freshen and mellow the mold before other work is commenced. Among the advantages of ridging may be named the following:
First. The Osage quicks will be more likely to escape winter-killing, the exemption being due to the fact that the roots are above the level of saturation,
Second. Operations can be commenced and completed from ten days to two weeks earlier, in all localities where the natural drainage is inefficient, and Osage thorns can be set before the buds open.
Third. The roots of young quicks will strike down obliquely in ridged ground, instead of extending out horizontally just beneath the surface soil, and attain a growth corresponding with the increase of available soil.
Fourth. The young plants make a more uniform growth when ridged, in consequence of the more uniform condition of the soil as to moisture, and will generally be exempt from the gaps and thin places, resulting from partial winter-killing. · Fifth. When a ridge is properly prepared for thorn quieks, the roots of the hedge-row will form a more fibrous growth, which will be made chiefly in central parts of the ridge soil, instead of the roots growing long and straggling. If, in the course of years, however, straggling roots should be found to require pruning at a distance of eight or ten feet from the lielge-row, they will present less obstruction on a ridge than when grown upon level ground.
Sixth. When a bedge becomes strong enough to turn stock, it is desirable to check its growth, which can be done by cutting off the ends of the roots on the sides of the ridge with a pruning plow, or with il revolv
ing coiter, without endangering the life of the thorns, the large amount. of root-growth in the deeper, central parts of the ridge being sufficient for the plant.
Seventh. A ridge eighteen to twenty-four inches above the level will add thirty to forty per cent. to the effective height of the hedge; and, in combination with the latter, will form a barrier that will turn stock, thus constituting an effective fence from one to two years sooner than when planted on low, level ground; and, at the same time, equally contributing toward the effectiveness of the hedge in its incidental capacity as a wind-break.
A plow colter, such as is used for cutting off the extremities of apple tree roots to induce early bearing, may serve a similar purpose in pruning hedge roots when extending beyond their prescribed limits.
Figure 1 represents a young, unlaid, double hedge-row, set in land relatively low. Figure 2, a similar hedge, set in a ridge two feet above the level of the adjoining land. These sketches afford an illustration of the difference, in extent and character of root growth, between young hedges set on the deep soil of ridges specially made for them, and those set on level ground, with their roots near a wet subsoil, as seen in Fig. ure 1.
TROMING OR DWARFING.
As in the case of shortening back to induce the growth of fruit spurs in the apple tree, the effect of trimming Osage thorn hedge is to cause some thickening at the bottom, but the growth is chiefly in the upper part of the branches, or in the emission of numerous small side shoots, or lateral branches. Inexperienced writers recommend this mode of training to produce thick-bottomed, permanent growth. Thick side growth may, for a limited time, result from such management; as repeated cutting back leaves the plants, in their struggle for existence, the only alternative of the slow, feeble, lateral growth, to be seen in hedges that are not allowed to extend their growth vertically. Lowtrained hedges may be necessary where land is limited in area, and high in price, as in case of gardens, small lawns, and other ornamental grounds; but in such situations plants of less vigorous growth than the Osage thorn would seem to be more suitable, for the reason that evergreen or shrubs may be formed, trimmed, and low-trained a long time without pleaching. With the vigorously growing Osage thoin, how ever, the case is different. Various plans of training were adopted, such as cutting off each row of two-rowed hedges alternately, also cutting out alteruate thorns close to the ground, to induce a thick growth of young wood in the lower portions of the hedge; but the result of such training was not sufficiently satisfactory to secure its continuance. Hedges formed thus, principally of vertically growing stems, were found quite weak in comparison with pleached fences, the latter proving to be much more effective for the purpose of a farm fence.
Within a few years past an aggregate of scores of miles of young Osage thorns in hedge-rows has been more or less injured by winterkilling on the lower lands of the west; and cutting back to force lateral growth and thickening at the bottom of the plants was probably the inciting cause of much of this great destruction and consequent disappointment.
In many of these instances the hedge rows were not well rooted, the subsoil, and even the upper soil, being too wet and cold to admit of either ample or well-ripened root growth. Well-ripened wood is as necessary for