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In transplanting from the nursery rows, after grafting, and especially if the trees are of some considerable size and large enough to set where they are to remain permanently, there is sure to be a loss of roots, and those that are preserved are likely to remain for a short time inactive and incapable of absorbing nutrients from the soil to which they are transferred, or until new rootlets are produced. Under these conditions we aim to favor the roots by removing or cutting back the greater part of the branches. No matter how carefully such trees are lifted and their roots protected during the operation of transplanting, it will check the growth, and the best and most practical restorative is severe pruning of the top, and every young shoot of the previous season's growth should be cut back to within three or four inches of its base. I am presuming that the trees have been grafted only one year, but if older, and the cions were set high enough to begin the formation of the head of the tree, then the entire young growth may be cut away and some of the older wood, but of course not below the graft. All broken roots must be cut off ; and the ends of the larger ones, roughly severed with the spade or other implements employed in digging, should have their wounds smoothed with a sharp knife.
Frequent transplanting and root-pruning young nursery stock tends to keep up a proper root system, and an abundance of small fibrous roots near the main stem, and trees so treated are worth much more, if to be transplanted later, than those left undisturbed; but while the latter may be twice the size of the former when of the same age, they are not worth half as much to the purchaser, or for transplanting in our own grounds.
Staking Transplanted Trees. This is always necessary for recently planted trees, if they are of any considerable size, or from six feet high and upwards. If not supported by stakes they are sure to be swayed about, if not thrown over, by strong winds in summer. A strong stake, two or three inches in diameter, would better be set at the time of planting the tree, thereby avoiding breaking off or crushing the roots, as frequently happens when stakes are driven down among them later in the season. Set the stakes or drive into the subsoil six inches from the stem, then use strips of cloth, sacks, carpet, or some similar material, for tying, because hard cord or twine will be very likely to cut through the tender bark from the constant swaying about of the stems. Wind the strips around the stem, and then cross between it and the stake once or twice, to prevent the tree from pressing against or coming in contact with the stake. Renew the stakes and tying materials, if necessary, until the trees become firmly established, and provided with lateral roots large enough to keep them in an upright position.
Mulching.--Placing a few forkfuls of coarse stable manure, half-rotted straw, leaves, or any similar material, on the surface about the stems of recently planted trees, will prove very beneficial, in not only keeping down the weeds, but aiding greatly in retaining moisture in the soil about the roots. The application of some such material as a mulch is all the more important with the chestnut, because these trees are always to be planted in a naturally dry and well drained soil.
Distance Between Trees.—How far apart chestnut trees should be planted will depend very much upon the species and varieties, some growing to immense trees, while others are only fair-sized shrubs at maturity. But for the larger-growing varieties, forty to fifty feet between the trees is none too much space, when planted for their nuts and not for timber. If set in a single row along the public highways, farm lanes or around the outbuildings, to serve as shade or ornament, and for their
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nats, then about forty feet will answer very well for the larger.growing species ; and I will add that, in my opinion, all the larger kinds of nut trees will give better returns if placed in such positions, than when set in orchards or in compact masses. When set in single rows or widely scattered, they are less liable to be attacked by insects and diseases, while they will still serve the double purpose of being both ornamental and useful. I must admit, however, that in my experimental grounds the trees are planted only twenty feet apart, but with the expectation of soon cutting out every alternate specimen.
Soil and Climate.-The chestnut thrives best in light, well-drained soils, and those containing a large proportion of sand or decomposed quartz, slate, or volcanic scoria ; but it is rarely found, nor does it succeed, in heavy clays, limestone soils, or on the rich western prairies, where we might think it would grow most lux. uriantly. That limestone soils are inimical to the chestnut has often been disputed, but my own observations, which have been somewhat extensive in years and range of country, rather confirm the impression that this tree avoids land containing any considerable percentage of lime. It is true that chestnut groves, and sometimes extensive forests, are found on hills and ridges overlying limestone, but a careful examination of the soil among the trees will show that it is a drift deposit containing little or no lime. Such groves can be found in all the southern tier of counties of New York, also among the hills of northern and western parts of New Jersey, and thence west and south along the Blue Ridge and Alleghany mountains to the Carolinas, and westward in Tennessee and Kentucky. The chestnut is sometimes found in New Jersey and other northern Atlantic States growing in considerable abundance near streams only a few feet above sea level, but when found in such
of country, "containing ahestnut gro
situations the subsoil is invariably sand, gravel or porous shale.
The range of climate in which the native sweet chestnut thrives is quite extensive, as it is found sparingly in Maine in latitude 44°, extending westward, but not very abundant on this line,—through New England and New York, crossing the Niagara river, skirting the north shore of Lake Erie in Canada, and thence into southern Michigan, but does not reach Illinois. From this line southward it increases in abundance in Virginia, western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee and Kentucky. But in following this tree southward we meet another indigenous species, widely known as the chinquapin (Castanea pumila). This species is indigenous to southern New Jersey, and sparingly in parts of Pennsylvania, becoming more plentiful as we proceed southward, the two species named overlapping and in part occcupying the same region; but the chinquapin extends further south, and also to the westward, near its northern limits crossing the Mississippi into southern Missouri, then extends south again, becoming quite abundant in Arkansas.
The European chestnut, in its many varieties, extends over about the same number of degrees of latitude in Europe as our species do here, although reaching a higher latitude in countries bordering on the Atlantic, as shown in the old chestnut trees of England. The Oriental chestnut has also a very wide range, but the limits are not so well known as those of the European and American species ; but a study of its geographical distribution is of considerable importance, now that we are importing these nuts for cultivation. The same is also true of the European varieties, and the cultivator who neglects to take this matter into consideration will fail to secure whatever advantages may have accrued from acclimation, an agency which, undoubtedly, has been active and continuous in modifying and changing the primary characteristics of these plants during unknown ages.
To more fully impress upon the reader the importance of care in the selection of materials to be employed in any pursuit with which he is not perfectly familiar, I am prompted to relate the story of my first personal experience in chestnut culture, as it may serve as a warning to others who may attempt to raise these nuts in a cold climate.
At the time of purchasing the farm which has been my home for the past thirty years, nut trees of various kinds were on my list of things wanted, and the chestnut occupied a leading position, probably because there were already many old and large native trees on the place. My first planting consisted of a number of imported seedlings, obtained from a well-known French nursery. The trees were three or four years old, very stocky and vigorous, and they made a good growth the first season; but the following winter the young shoots were all frozen down to old wood, with the exception of one tree, and thinking that this might prove hardy, cions were taken from it and set in thrifty sprouts growing in a grove near by. The cions made rapid growth, and from one of these I soon had a large tree, which remained in good health for twenty years, but during all that time it produced but one bur, containing two halfdeveloped nuts. Why it was unfruitful I do not pretend to know, but it was certainly not for want of company, for it had large native chestnut trees all about it, and these bearing heavy crops. The seedling trees planted in the orchard also failed to be fruitful, and were finally dug up and burned. Thus ended my first experiment in the cultivation of the European chestnut. Had my location been farther south and in a milder climate, the experiment might have ended differently, but I am relating ex