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The leaves are a little more pointed, but have the rich gloss, and deep green peculiar to the cultivated plant. They are, in truth, very beautiful. The fruit is 'not edible, but is large, showy, and very full of seeds. The oldest plants in Illinois are now in full bearing. Branches full of fruit were exhi ited at the recent State Fair, so that the necessity of importing seeds from Arkansas and Texas, will soon be abolished.
The merits of the Osage Orange as a hedge-plant, may be briefly summed up as follows:
1st. The seeds may be obtained in any desirable quantity, at a cost of ten to twenty dollars per bushel, and a bushel of seeds will produce from 80,000 to 120,000 plants.
2d. The seeds, when properly treated, are as certain to germinate as seed-corn.
3d. The young plants are rarely, if ever, attacked by insects, and will grow large enough in one season to plant out in hedge-rows.
4th. No plant bears removal better than the Osage Orange. Hence an even and uniform start in the hedge-row is attained without difficulty.
5th. The growth of the hedge where the land has been properly prepared and cultivated, is very rapid. A good fence, fit to line the public highway, is often obtained in two years and a half after planting.
6th. The wood is durable, as much so as cedar, and both the leaves and the wood are as yet free from the depredations of insects.
7th. When pruned, it will always throw out sprouts from the extreme points of the living wood.
8th. It never throws up any suckers from the roots, but always sprouts at or above the collar-of course it will never spread off on each side of the hedge-row, as many varieties of hedge-plants will do.'
9th. The spines are strong, durable, and very offensive to all domestic animals. Hence no animal familiar with its appearance will touch it.
10th. It will grow on any soil, where any description of timber
Regarding the culture of the plant itself for the purpose of hedging, the following rules and directions, laid down by practical farmers, and
evidently the fruit of much observation and experiment, should be ad. hered to.
Seed should only be procured from a responsible source, and great care should be taken in its selection. The most certain way of testing it is to take a tumbler and fill it two-thirds full of warm water, then put cotton enough into it to keep whatever seed you put on it just above the surface of the water; the cotton in this way will remain yet, and keep the seed moist, and yet the seed will get air, and if kept in a warm room it will soon vegetate. The water may have to be renewed several times during the process.
The best method of sprouting seed is as follows: Soak the seed in warm water at least for forty hours; (an entire week, if possible,) then put it in shallow boxes, not more than four or five inches deep. To every bushel of seed put one half bushel of sand, (smaller quantities in proportion), then mix it thoroughly, keep it in a warm place, and wet it as often as twice per day with warm water, and stir it thoroughly, as often as three times a day. A more frequent stirring would be better. The seed should be put to soak about the fifteenth or twentieth of April, at a temperature of from sixty-five to seventy degrees. Seed attended to as above described, and kept in a warm place, at a proper temperature, would sprout sufficiently in ten days to be put into the ground. It is necessary, however, to have the seed well separated before planting. Much care should be taken in the selection of a good piece of ground for the nursery, or place of planting the seed. The ground should be fresh, fertile, and free from the seed of weeds and grass. It should be mellow, not subject to bake, and rather inclined to be wet than otherwise. Good prairie, that has been broken the year previous, is undoubtedly preferable to any other ground. The ground should be well ploughed, harrowed, and rolled, if necessary. When the ground has been thus prepared and well pulverized, the most expeditious way of making the drills is to obtain a common wheat drill, and take out one-half of the planters. Have large points put upon those that are used in making the drills; the points or shovels upon the planters, about five inches in width, of the same shape as the common points. The drills made in this way will be sixteen inches apart, and by putting weights upon the drag bars, the drills can be made of sufficient size and depth. They will be regular, and it is
a very expeditious manner of making the drills. The seed must then be drilled in the above described drills or furrows, by hand, putting one quart to three or four square rods, which would amount to from one and a quarter to one and a half bushels per acre. The covering can best be done with light steel rakes. The hands engaged in covering should walk upon the side where the seed is covered; by so doing, they would draw all the earth one way, in filling up the drills and covering the seed. When the planting, as above described, has been finished, nothing more is necessary to be done until the plants begin to come up in sufficient numbers to indicate the situation of the drills. The
space between the drills should then be hoed, and the weeds and grass in the rows, among the plants, pulled out by hand. This process of hoeing the spaces between the rows, and weeding the rows, should be repeated as often as necessary to keep the weeds down, and the ground loose, and in good condition. If the soil is good, the sea son favorable, and the proper cultivation given them, they will be sufficiently large for transplanting the following spring.
The process of taking them up is as follows: A subsoil plough should be used to cut them off; the share of the plough should be steel, quite large, and as flat as possible; the depth of its running can be regulated by a wheel in front, at the end of the beam. Cutting them off in this way, the larger portion of them will remain standing in their place until they are gathered by hand. They should be cut off about eight or ten inches below the surface of the ground. They can then be gathered into bundles, and the roots covered to keep them moist, after which they can be taken out, assorted, tied up in bundles of fifty or a hundred, and the tops cut off upon a block with an axe, or hatchet. They are then ready for boxing and shipping. In boxing them, the boxes should not be too tight, for some air is necessary to prevent them from moulding. Small boxes, and those of moderate size, are best—say about eighteen or twenty inches wide, about the same depth, and three or three and a half feet long.
The plants may be packed in the most convenient way.
We now come to the setting of the hedge. The ground should be thoroughly broken up, to the depth of twelve or fourteen inches; the space broken at least ten feet wide, and the hedge set in the centre, would leave five feet to be cultivated upon each side. When a hedge
is to be set along an old fence-row, the fence ought to be moved the year previous, and the ground broken up and cultivated. It would then be in a better condition to receive the hedge. After the ground has been fully prepared, it is necessary to stake off the row, and draw a line to work by. The hole for inserting the plants should be made with a dibble, twelve inches in length, and three and a half inches in diameter at the top, having a wicket into which to insert a handle, with a pin at the top of the socket to bear the foot upon, in pressing it into the ground to make the holes; these holes should be about eight inches apart; the plants then to be put into the holes about an inch deeper than they were in the ground when in the nursery-the earth to be then well packed about the roots. Proper transplanting is one of the most important matters in getting the hedge properly started. Too much care cannot be taken in this particular. Afterwards comes the cultivating, hoeing, ploughing, &c. The soil on both sides of the hedge needs thorough cultivation, and the bedge row must be kept clean during the whole of the summer season. No stock should be allowed in the enclosure where the hedge is set until after harvest; and it is better to have none until fall. The summer's growth will by that time become hard, and will thenceforward protect itself.
The next spring, a year from the time the hedge was set out, it must be cut off at the surface of the ground, below all the buds, just at the top of the yellow root. The root will then swell.
up, out a number of strong shoots, just at the surface of the ground. It then needs to be thoroughly cultivated until about the middle of June, when it should have another cutting within two inches of the former one, and then cultivate as usual. By this process of cutting, is formed at once a strong and firm base; and if this process of cultivating thoroughly, and cutting down completely, is carried out systematically, success is certain. It is thought by some that it is necessary to cut down more than twice a year, but it is a mistake, for any one who has had any experience in matters of this kind, as one practical farmer assures us, will know that it is necessary to let a tree form a top to a certain extent, in order to obtain roots and trunk; and by keeping it trimmed too closely it will paralyze its growth. The following spring cut within three or four inches of the former cutting, and again in June
and put four or five inches above that, continuing the cultivation until it is four years old, and even after it has attained the size necessary to answer the purpose of a good fence, the ground alongside of it should be kept in good condition.
Many persons have supposed that the plant will not endure severe cold. It certainly has endured cold 35° below zero, and will undoubtedly meet the contingencies of hard winters; but like every thing else upon a farm, it ought never to be treated with neglect. The only difficulty is the first winter, on ground that cracks badly with frost. A sure remedy for this is to cover the ground close up on both sides with straw, in the fall. The straw need never be removed, as it keeps the ground moist, and the weeds from growing in the summer.
The fourth spring it may be cut six or seven inches above the former cutting. The following June eight inches higher, after which the latter part of the summer's growth will make it sufficient to answer the purpose of a good fence. After this, trimming once a year will be sufficient; this should be done in the latter part of the summer or fall, before the wood hardens. It will be found that much less trimming is necessary after the hedge is formed. The reason is very obvious, to wit: its manner of growing will cause each plant to spread and throw out a great number of branches, to be supplied with sap, and cause the former vigorous growth to be exhausted, so that it will then grow more slowly.
The first cutting, that of one year after the hedge has been set, can be best done with a pair of shears made for the purpose, and to be had at most hardware stores. The second cutting can be done with a short, heavy, briar scythe, hung upon a strong, stiff snathe. The second year's cutting can also be done with a scythe. The best way is to walk along the right side of the row, and cut half way, or to the centre of the row. When you get to the end of the row, turn around to the right, and come back upon the other side, cutting the other half in a similar manner. In so doing it can be cut of an oval shape. Then by taking a large cutter, such as are used for cutting up cornstalks-it should be kept very sharp-using the knife and cutter to trim the sides, and keep them in proper shape, at all times letting the lower branches extend out, in order that they may become strong, that the base may be wide. It should be at least four or five feet