« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
unpromising varieties. The grapes are a little larger than those of the varieties above named.
It is to be hoped that the cultivation of the grape, certainly the most valuable of all fruits, will be extended more and more throughout the west and southwest of the United States; and it is beyond all doubt, that those who engage in this business will be amply rewarded.
GROWING OF TIMBER.
THERE is not so much wood in this State as there is in the Eastern States, and in some districts a scarcity of fuel, of fencing and building material, may be noticed. The prairies do not exhibit impenetrable forests, but are only interspersed with groves of limited extension. Upon first viewing the vast prairie-lands, it would seem that there must be something in the soil of the prairies which is hostile to the growth of trees, and yet a careful comparison would detect no difference in the qualities of the soil where timber grows, and where it grows not. The small groves at the head of streams, and along the river banks, were sufficient for the wants of the first settlers, but these were far from sufficient for fencing the vast prairies; and it was plain, that whatever should be used as a fencing material, must be grown upon the soil. The prairie is well supplied with all the elements necessary to the growth of the most gigantic trees.
The following varieties have been cultivated with success :
American White Pine, Yellow, or Pitch Pine, Hemlock,
Pinus Maritima Norway Spruce, Black Locust,
Yellow Poplar, (Tulip Tree.) American Chestnut, American Birch, Yellow Birch, Weeping Willow, Alanthus,
Osier Willow, Black Spruce,
American Larch, Black Birch.
All these trees have done well upon the prairie soil, and most of them grow with a vigor astounding to those who have only seen them upon the barren lands of their native localities. The prairie farmer, if he be a lover of beautiful trees, need not long be without them. He can surround his farm with a belt of evergreens, at a trifling expense; this will add greatly to its beauty and value. The nurseries in the West as well as in the East, can supply him with almost every variety of trees for his lawn, or his timber plantation.
While some counties of this State possess but few attractions for settlers, being destitute of timber, other districts, Marshall County, for example, afford a sufficiency of timber to meet the wants of new settled farmers, whom they therefore attract.
As a building material, the Locust deserves to be recommended for its durability; used for posts it will last from fifty to a hundred years.
The cultivation of timber on the prairies as a shelter, is highly important.
As very rapid growers, and of an immediate effect, the following varieties are recommended; they have been successfully cultivated :the Soft Maple, the Golden Willow, the Butternut, and the Black Walnut.
Such as wish to bave the very best kinds, should take Evergreens, of which the Norway Spruce, the Hemlock, and American Arbor, are the most desirable for screens.
The cultivation of the Locust, of which we 'spoke before, is performed as follows :—The seeds, if new, may be made to vegetate readily, by being placed in a vessel in which some hot water has been poured; the water is then turned off, and the seeds are mixed with a little sand, and placed in a box, in which condition they are to be exposed to the rains and frosts of the winter and spring. About the middle of April, sift the sand, and plant the seeds in a well-prepared soil, about one inch deep, in rows three or four feet apart, so as to admit the passage of the cultivator between them. By fall, if the trees are properly cultivated, they will be from three to five feet high. The following spring, prepare by ploughing and harrowing the ground well; lay off the ground with a plough in rows, six or eight feet apart. Dig the brier carefully, cut off at one-third or one-half their height from their tops, and lay them into the furrows, putting the roots of one close to the top of another, covering the roots eight inches deep, letting the tops gradually rise to within one inch of the surface. The first and second years the ground should be ploughed and kept clean from weeds, after which the ploughing may be discontinued.
The Willow Tree. Some people think, and they may perhaps not be wrong, that these trees are as profitable as plums, peaches, &c Willow wands have for some time been in fair demand, and our markets can by no means be sufficiently supplied from our home produce. The amount of wands annually imported from Germany and France, is variously stated to be from five to six millions of dollars worth.
It will be seen with regard to willow trees, that they readily grow in the vicinity of swamps or pools, or properly speaking, in places that can hardly be used for anything else.
The prairie soil must, to a certain extent, be very well adapted for willows, as there are many marshes or “sloughs" within the prairie region.
There is a variety called the “ Osier Willow,” which is used in the manufacturing of baskets, chairs, cradles, &c. The raw material for all this work is imported from Europe. The manufacture is mostly confined to foreigners. If our enterprising farmers would commence its culture they would find it very useful for many purposes. As the material for a hedge or fence, it could be used with advantage, by weaving together the stalks and branches.
Before concluding this chapter, it will not be amiss to make a few remarks about the right season for cutting timber. The method frequently pursued in woodlands, is to girdle or deaden the trees, in July or August, when the sap is up, and after a few years the decay in their limbs and body will be so great, that the trees can be cleared up, and the land put in corn. When girdled during the winter months, when the sap is down, the decay will not be half so rapid. Hickory and ash timber for wagon-work is generally cut in July, and left on the ground for use until winter. The peeling of timber designed for rails has sometimes been advocated, as improving the durability, but the durability may perhaps depend on the period at which the timber is cut; for it has been ascertained that timber cut towards the end of May, or at the beginning of June, is exempt from the worms, whether it be peeled or left with the bark on.
The first settlers of the country, who took good care to locate as near the groves as practicable, had no difficulty in enclosing their farms with the heavy worm-fence. But when the prairies became settled, rail-timber soon began to grow scarce and dear, and in many places it was plain there was not timber to be had for reconstructing the fences already built. The great and only remedy for this want of timber is now seen to be the formation of live hedges, in the place of rails or boards. And after a fair trial of various shrubs and trees, foreign and native, it is now universally conceded that the Maclura, or Osage Orange, is the best known plant for a living hedge on the prairies. This opinion is not founded upon mere theory, or partial experiments. Hedge planting has already become a regular branch of business.* The Maclura hedges which have been planted four years or more, have become a fixed, tangible, and well established reality. There is no mistake about their being respectable barriers against the intrusion of domestic animals of every kind. This wild orange, of which the hedges are made, is very similar in appearance to the orange of the tropics.
* Among the gentlemen whose business is Osage Orange planting, we note Messrs. McGrew, Leas & Co., of Kankakee City, and Messrs. W. A. Allender & Co., of Lawrence Co. The first named firm charges for plants of one and two years growth, from $2 to $3 per thousand, according to quality and amount. 100,000 plants to one order, boxed and delivered at railroad depot, for $2 per thousand, for those of one year; $2 50 per thousand, for two years old. The latter firm charges for setting, resetting, (if necessary) pruning, cultivating, and completing a perfect hedge, 60 cents per rod, payable in rates of 20 cents at the time of setting, and yearly 10 cents, the balance when completed. The farmer has to prepare the ground, to board hands while setting and attending the hedge, and to protect it from all damage by stock, of other injury.