It is rare to find in a garden all the conditions favorable for cultivating any type of fruit-bearing suitable for the climate of the place, so the choice can only be made between the most suitable species for environmental conditions, which can also vary significantly in the space of a few tens of meters. Land and situations: the ideal conditions consist of loose, fresh, deep, well-drained soils and on which vegetables have been grown for some years, so as to have a reserve of nutrients. A land sheltered from strong winds can prevent any damages and, in relation to freezing, it is better to use a slight slope that allows the cold air not to stagnate on the plants. It will also be good to avoid the shade and place the plants in full sun. The first thing to consider is the depth of the soil, that is the amount of exploitable soil that is located above the mother rock and that, usually, is greater in the valleys than on the sides or on the tops of the hills. Even in the flat areas, the depth varies considerably, from point to point, also due to the action of the man who acted on the ground for his purposes. Often, the subsoil is extracted and exposed to light and air for the first time: in this case, it requires to be treated with great care and abundantly fertilized. The clayey soils, moist and poorly aerated in winter, but dry and hard in summer, can give good results, provided that drainage is improved and abundant organic matter is provided. The use of protections, made with straw or other similar material, facilitates the drainage of water during the winter and, at the same time, maintains a good humidity even in the driest summers. In a completely different situation, there are gravely soils and those that contain abundant coarse sand: they are usually very poor and have no ability to retain water. For this reason, in summer they become dry causing the decay of the plants that come, in fact, to lack water, right in the period of fruiting, when they would need it most. This condition of rapid discharge of water occurs even during the wettest and most rainy winters; therefore, it is rare to intervene to facilitate drainage. On the contrary, it is good to add large amounts of organic matter and straw to these soils to reduce evaporation and, during the summer, when the rain is often insufficient, it is necessary to irrigate them properly. In addition, they, like chalky soils, need nutrient additions. The peaty soils are among the most unsuitable for the cultivation of fruit plants, excluding strawberries. In fact, they retain a large amount of water during the winter, but, following a very dry summer, due to the presence of peat, they hardly reabsorb humidity and the plants can, therefore, feel a considerable damage. The usable ground depth is just as important as the type. All fruit plants can produce a greater number of roots than is possible to imagine, both as regards anchoring to the substrate, and nourishment; consequently, the deeper the soil will be, the better will be the better conditions for vegetation. If the depth of the soil is less than 40 cm, special care must be taken as soon as the plants begin to take root; it will then be necessary to resort to fertilization and irrigation. A shallow ground, no more than 30-40 cm deep, can be good for strawberries: these, in fact, even if they have a root system that goes down very deep, are rarely grown on the same land for more than three consecutive years, and often even for less. There are also several ways to deepen some types of surface soils: in some cases, the parent rock can be crushed without being brought to the surface. This creates an overall deeper substrate that allows fertilizers and water to be better preserved and the air, essential for good growth, can easily penetrate the soil.
You have to be careful about the preparation of the soil because the plants can suffer and even die quickly if they are planted in recently prepared soils that are cold and wet: the previous production of a good quantity of vegetables can be an excellent condition, from the point physicochemical, for the cultivation of fruit plants, especially when organic fertilizers (eg manure) and other vegetable fertilizers have been added in abundance. If you plant strawberries, you do not need to resort to further fertilization. After harvesting the vegetables, you can not even work the land, apart from those indispensable operations to eliminate the weeds and residues of the previous crop; at this point both good physical conditions of the soil and an adequate depth of it are essential, and later, not later than the month of September, fertilization and irrigation will be carried out. When the trees are to be planted in a grassy ground, the plowing must be carried out in time so as to allow the soil to settle.
Water is the first element for plant nutrition and, without an adequate quantity, both growth and crop can be affected unfavorably: the periods of greatest need are spring and summer. Deep soil will almost always have an appropriate reserve of water, while a shallow one will not be able to cope with the drier periods, and irrigation will have to be carried out. Freshly planted trees and shrubs will need help in almost all seasons and some protection by straw, or other similar materials, will decrease water losses by evaporation. The most critical months are spring, during which the flowers bloom, the fruits are formed, the leaves grow along with the new branches that develop very quickly: all this activity requires a great abundance of water. In areas of northern Italy (quite humid even in summer) it will be sufficient, throughout the season, to irrigate at the beginning of May, using about five liters of water per m2, and also make adequate protection with substance organic like, for example, straw; while, in the rest of the peninsula, with a distinctly Mediterranean climate, at least one other irrigation should be carried out during the summer months. Keep in mind that, before irrigating, you must remove the protection and remember to put a new one after distributing the water. To keep the plants healthy and in good production, many chemical elements usually contained in the soil are also indispensable: the most important among these is nitrogen, in addition to potassium, phosphorus, calcium, manganese and magnesium, as well as small amounts of boron and other elements. Most of the fruit trees give better results in acidic soils; but if this acidity becomes excessive then it must be corrected by the use of calcium hydrate in the dose of 240 g / m2, for one or two years. This treatment will be followed by a chemical analysis of the soil to determine the degree of acidity and the other most important characteristics. The organic substance can be presented in various forms: stable manure, organic compost, residues from beer processing, peat, other residues in general, none of which is really complete, but which, added to the ground, or used to protect it from evaporation, increase its general fertility and improve its conditions; however, their use should be limited to cases of actual necessity. Nowadays a wide range of artificial fertilizers is available which can give excellent results if used with common sense. It is advisable, when possible, to make or have specialized institutes analyze the soil, so that the most appropriate remedies can be adopted, especially after the examination of trees and shrubs (see Diseases from deficiencies, Plant nutrition, Fertilizers, Ground). Cultivation: Most fruit plants should be grown on soil without other vegetation and well prepared and worked. It is however possible, and sometimes even necessary, to grow grass around already established trees. This makes it easier and more enjoyable to reach the trees at any time of year, walking in the grass instead of on the clouds; you must then make at least one mowing during the summer because there is no danger of competition for the plants. In some cases, however, during the dry season, the grass, even if kept low, also enters into competition with the crops for water and nutrients, which must be supplied with a sufficient quantity, otherwise the plants will come to suffer. Fleshy fruits develop better on processed soils, but even in these the competition of bad herbs can be noticeable. At least the earth around young plants should be kept clear until they have taken root. Modern herbicides have facilitated the task of keeping the soil clear, however these products should be used with great caution and in very low doses due to their toxicity to animals, including humans, as well as to the danger that their prolonged use may lead to soil hysterization. Once the plant has been installed, the soil tillage must be rather superficial. In fact, if they are deep, they will certainly damage the roots and therefore diminish their ability to nourish the plant. Sometimes, however, such a form of root pruning can be useful, when for example the root system is too developed compared to the aerial part.
If it is necessary to make deeper processes to break up the surface crust and eliminate weeds after harvesting, November is the most suitable month. In doing so, the land has the possibility to reorganize itself before the following spring. From March onwards, it will be sufficient to work a surface layer of two or three centimeters, to avoid the germination of unwanted plant seeds. Furthermore, the processed layer protects the underlying soil and reduces evaporation; instead deep plowing obtain the opposite effect, not to mention that any operation becomes necessary, the effect would be more rapid in the worked terrains. When the grass is left to grow around the plants, it will be better not to allow it to reach a height higher than 8-10 cm during the summer; the cut parts should then be left in place to decompose. It may be necessary to cut the grass several times between May and September, depending on rainfall. On light and superficial soils, a turf can make things worse by taking water to the cultivated plants, unless intense irrigation is done and at the same time effectively protecting the soil. On steeply inclined slopes the grass will help keep the soil stable, reducing soil erosion. It is important to completely eliminate the grass that grows around trees that, even if healthy, produce fruits in very low quantities; this operation will be carried out by working the soil. It will be good not to go deep down with the workings, since most of the roots are superficial and would therefore be easily damaged. Once the work is done, the fruit trees will respond well to fertilization, but after a year it may be necessary to repeat the above operations. Choice of plants: the soil is the basis of success for the growth of fruits, but soon after comes the choice of plants. No one would choose stunted plants, poor and with diseased leaves; but we must also pay attention to choose a species and a variety suitable for local conditions. It is appropriate to use plants produced in nurseries of proven seriousness in order to guarantee a healthy material. Over the years, many good varieties have disappeared or become very weak due to attacks by virus diseases. Since very few of the old varieties have proven resistant to these diseases, researchers have selected new resistant forms. Today, thanks to long studies and careful experiments, the health situation of fruit plants has greatly improved and those who buy them have excellent opportunities to buy healthy material. However, these plants can still be attacked by virus diseases and some of these, unfortunately, cannot be combated by ordinary means. Plants rendered immune
in relation to certain diseases they are stronger, more productive and their fruits are bigger than those of the unselected plants. The work, performed on some old varieties, has made them not only resistant, but some of their best characters have been enhanced, while some negative sides are often completely gone. In addition to increasing the choice of varieties, the researchers have also tried to breed smaller fruit trees, especially Meli, Peri, Susini and Ciliegi. In fact, if the dimensions are reduced, the plants can be more easily treated, the fruit harvest is much easier and ultimately they are ideal for the garden of modest dimensions.
Usually, the plants multiplied by cuttings, using branches of a year and cutting them into small pieces of 25 cm each, develop better, are more productive and are more adaptable to different types of soil. For these reasons, it is inadvisable to resort to plants coming directly from seed, and the system of the widespread gifts by cuttings has been established in a few years. As a base material, seedlings are used from which the cuttings are taken using the basal portion of the young stem. Both the size of future plants and the abundance and quality of the fruit will depend on the choice of material to be used for cuttings. It is therefore evident the importance of a very careful choice. The apple tree was the object of the most research. In the Experimental Station of East Malling, in England, a series of gifts of the Dolcigno, Paradiso and other still marked varieties were selected, the first two, by the initials EM, followed by a Roman numeral, the others by the initials MM, followed by a Roman or cardinal number. Among the best known is EM XII, very vigorous, EM IX, rather early in starting production, EM VII, of intermediate characteristics. Other known gifts are MM IX, MM II, MM 104, MM 111 and MM 24 which gives rise to trees of considerable size. As far as the plum tree is concerned, it has not yet been possible to select a series of small varieties, suitable for use in small gardens. Selection of varieties: the choice of varieties depends a lot on personal tastes, but a certain guide can be found in the consultation of specialized catalogs and books and on the advice of experts, even if amateurish, fruit growers. Today there are many varieties available, while some, once very used, has now practically disappeared. At commercial nurseries, you can find only those that meet a certain demand in the market and this for obvious reasons of economic convenience. Generally, the possibilities of choice for the garden are greater than for the orchard, since in the first case it is less tied to criteria of economic profit. It is evident that we can have better and more regular productions if we make a rigorous selection. This principle, always valid, becomes particularly in the case of fruit trees. Some varieties give good productions even when a single individual is bred and very far from others similar to him. In these cases, these are non-self-sterile plants, in which the pollen can fertilize the pistils produced on the same plant or on others of the same variety. Accurate scientific research has confirmed the experience of many gardeners and fruit growers, namely that it is not advisable to breed only one variety; keeping in mind this and other rules related to the possibilities of fertilization, many disappointments can be avoided. In general fruit trees can be divided into three groups: a) self-complying varieties (self-fertilizing), which give rise to a complete production of fruits with their own pollen; b) only partially self-compatible varieties, which give a partial production of fruit with their own pollen; c) self-incompatible varieties, which do not give rise to any production with their own pollen. Theoretically, only self-compatible varieties should be used, but since there are some that, although they do not have this characteristic, they have other excellent qualities, we must also provide a certain use of the latter. In case the self-fertilizing varieties are used for the production of pollen. With the help of many insects, especially bees, the pollen is transferred from plant to plant and from variety to variety when they are in full bloom; and so is the so-called cross-fertilization. This operation is crowned with success, ie fertilization with the consequent development of the fruit when the plants are close enough to each other and the weather conditions favor the activity of pollinating insects (called pollinating insects).
The results may be poor in the case of cold and very humid weather when even the self-fertilizing varieties can give mediocre results. Finally, it should be recalled that cross-pollination is beneficial for the production of fruits of all varieties. When you want to use this type of fertilization, you have to be careful that the chosen plants bloom at the same time. But with certain plants, such as Susini and Ciliegi, in addition to adopting this precaution, we must also be careful to choose very carefully the varieties to be associated, so that fertilization is possible. As already mentioned, whatever variety is chosen as pollinating, it is essential to ensure, in addition to the fact that it flourishes regularly every year, also that its flowering period overlaps for several days to that of the other varieties used. Cherry tree. The varieties of sweet fruit C. are self-sterile and cross-pollination can produce valuable crops only if a careful selection of the varieties to be used has been made, given that if they belong to the same group they can not fertilize one with the other. other. Also in the case of C. it is important to ensure that the associated plants have an equal flowering period. The many varieties of C. cultivated are divided into four groups according to the type of fruit, namely: a) Duracine: Corniola, Bella of Pistoia, Turca, Durona of Verona, Bigarreau Moreau, Precoce Burlat; b) Tenerinas: Precoce della Marca, Queen of the market, Mora di Vignola, Goriziana, Moretta, Precoce of Bolzano, Caccianese, Acquaviva; c) Visciolone: Early English, Regina Ortensia, Bella by Chatenay; d) Marasche: Northern Agriotta, Short-stemmed Agriotta, Amarena di Pescara.
Strawberry. The cultivated F. produce much larger and showy fruits, even if less valuable as a flavor than those of F. wild (Fragaria vesca), common in our woods. The varieties grown all come from two American species: Fragaria chiloensis and Fragaria virginiana. There are uniform varieties that bear fruit in a single age, and F. re-fitting or re-flowering, which instead fructify during the whole good season; the latter isn’t very widespread in Italy because they should have some crops in the middle of summer, at a time that is not very favorable for drought and high temperatures. The F. adapts to the most diverse environments, however, in areas with a drought climate during the summer, irrigation is necessary. Most varieties are self-fertilizing.
Some varieties do not produce any fruit when they are self-fertilized, while others, in favorable conditions, have a good production. Crops are best when cross-pollination can be achieved. There are not a few varieties of common use that give rather poor results as self-pollinators (triploid varieties), but most of them are diploid, that is with a normal number of chromosomes, and then the pollination takes place very well. It is important that there are at least two diploid varieties in a plant unless the pollinating agent is already sufficiently self-fertilizing by itself. We must therefore always be careful that the flowering periods of the different varieties coincide at least in part. Winter temperatures and planting locations can influence (but relatively) the flowering period. The table varieties, which most interest those who breed the M for their own pleasure, are divided, according to the age of ripening of the fruits, into three groups namely: a) summer (from July to September), such as the Astracan white and red and Yellow transparent; b) autumn (from September to mid-December), such as Gravenstein, Delicious, Renetta of Canada, King David; c) winter (from mid-December to May), such as Limoncella, white Rosemary, Wagener. However. P. varieties today available on the market are less fertile than the previous ones. Most of them are self-sterile and for fructification must be in association with suitable pollinator varieties. It is not rare parthenocarpy, ie fruiting not preceded by fertilization, in which case the fruit does not contain any seed. Depending on the ripening period of the fruits, there are varieties: a) summer, such as the Citron des Carmes, the Incrocio Morettini 113, the Precoce of Trévoux, the Coscia, the precocious William; b) autumn, such as B. Hardy, the Duchess of Angourème, the Kaiser, the Curate; e) winter, like the Passa Colmar, the Passa Crassana, the Decana in winter, the Spina Carpi. Peach. Most varieties are autofecondanti, with few exceptions, like Hale, which produces pollen very poor quality. It is a plant that requires a lot of heat and a remarkable brightness. Some var. also like Beautiful early Rome, the Golden East, the Mayflower and other, they have a physiological need for low winter temperatures. In northern Italy, it is preferable to have exposure to the south, while, in the southern part of the peninsula, where the climate is drier, for which it is also necessary to irrigate, one must choose an exposure mainly towards the north. Sometimes, it may be advisable to plant different varieties together, each with different temperature requirements, even if modest, in order to avoid the total loss of the harvest, if during the blooming there is a period of unfavorable temperatures for a given variety.
Plum. While there are numerous varieties of S. fecundable with their own pollen, others, even valuable ones, are self-sterile. It is appropriate course ensure pollination in an orchard, planting a variety least also known as self-fertile. The varieties of S. can be classified according to the degree of self-sterility and the period of maturation. Below are the lists of the most used varieties in our country, divided according to the criteria described above: a) self-sterile: Burbank, Santarosa, Shiro, America, Combination, Heron, unfavorable temperatures for a given variety.
While there are numerous varieties of S. fecundable with their own pollen, others, even valuable ones, are self-sterile. It is appropriate course ensure pollination in an orchard, planting a variety least also known as self-fertile. The varieties of S. can be classified according to the degree of self-sterility and the period of maturation. Below are the lists of the most used varieties in our country, divided according to the criteria described above: a) self-sterile: Burbank, Santarosa, Shiro, America, Combination, Heron, Ogden, Oberdan, Satsuma; b) self-nutrition in different grades: Chalco, Giant, Mirabolano, Santarosa, Burbank; c) early: Ruth Gerstetter, Florentia, Methley, Morettini 355, Shiro; d) late: Stanley, Prugna d’Este 707, Giant, Queen Victoria, Prugna d’Italia. The earliest varieties can be successfully used in areas with a more benign climate. In the northern part of the peninsula, on the other hand, and generally in areas less favored by the climate, and where fructification is therefore later, the less early ripening varieties can be successfully used. Protection of fruit plants. Attacks of insects or due to other less abundant causes, on many plants. But they become dangerous only when the plants are attacked in a massive way so as to suffer obvious damage. The fight against these unwanted guests is made more difficult by the fact that they perform their cycle even at the expense of spontaneous plants. When the land for the plantation is prepared, it is necessary to give a careful look to identify any harmful presences such as the larvae of Beetle, which eat the roots of the young plants. We must also pay attention to the old stumps that can house the fungus Armillaria mellea (Chiodino), which can then spread into the ground and attack and kill the roots. Both numerous perennials, and several annual cycle weeds, can act as hosts for a large number of diseases and certain virosis can be transmitted in this way and attack fruit trees. Having a soil free from pests is essential to obtain a satisfactory health situation, at the time of plant growth and crop of the product. There are various types of fungicides and insecticides on the market that can be injured in the soil, but their use is limited to really serious cases. Even if the plants are planted perfectly healthy and the soil is in good sanitary conditions, it is not at all difficult for the parasites to attack sooner or later. Most of them appear when the plants are growing and emitting new branches, leaves, flowers and fruits. Among the insects the most harmful are the aphids, which include many sucking lymph species, and the larval stages of other insect families, which during this period of their lives, when they are commonly called caterpillars, have a great appetite and devour any substance vegetable. The aphids attack the plants throughout the good season and spend the winter as eggs, nestled in some sheltered spot of a tree or a shrub. Aphids can increase rapidly and cause serious damage that occurs in the presence of twisted twigs, curled leaves, flowers and badly reduced and poor fruit. Especially in drought periods it is necessary to constantly watch to intervene at the right time with suitable products, always choosing the less toxic for the other animals and plants. The caterpillars of various species can winter, not infrequently, even at a certain distance from the fruit trees, and then move and attack their favorite parts, from spring to late. The red spider is a parasite that can seriously damage during the summer. trees. The adults suck the sap from the leaves that become bronze and in case of a severe attack can cause reddening of the fruits. The massive infestations of these tiny animals, easily recognizable by their size and bright red color, can be combated by spraying the plants with appropriate chemicals. But the worst enemies of fruit trees are the molds, which during the summer can cover the leaves, the fruits and the young twigs with a dense white-greyish felt. These diseases, like many others, continue to infest the same guests year after year; and once they have become established it becomes rather difficult to be right. Mushrooms of the genus Botrytis produce a gray mold that attacks the fleshy fruits, seriously ruining them at harvest time. Other species spoil the already harvested apples and pears and, in case of severe attack, can also cause cancers on the woody parts. The list of these enemies of fruit plants could be very long.
Fortunately, however, there are means of struggle that, if used appropriately and carefully, prove to be effective in the control of almost all diseases (see for more detailed information in this regard the individual items related to the various species of pests). Then there are some good rules that, used in the garden, especially during the winter, season of vegetative rest, can be very effective to keep the enemies of our plants at bay. In fact, many of these (the animal enemies are considered here) spend the winter on the trees in the egg, larva or adult stage. A first recommendation consists of burning all the parts removed with pruning and all the more or less large fragments of bark that are detached from the plant. The cancerous parts must be cleaned up by eliminating all the diseased wood and therefore it is necessary to carry on the wound of the brushes with substances that favor the cicatrization. We should also eliminate the weed grass around the base of the plants. It will also be useful to make rings at a certain height around the tree trunk in autumn, with greasy and sticky substances, to trap the adults of some species of harmful butterflies when they climb on the tree to lay their eggs. It is, therefore, necessary to always collect and destroy the fruit that is sick or infested with parasites. Leaves fall to the ground can be diseases carriers and keep pests alive, from autumn to the following spring; it is, therefore, advisable to pick them up carefully and burn them. It may also be appropriate to use mineral oils, preferably light and therefore derived from petroleum; besides having a good ovicidal function, they also eliminate the adults of many species of insects and are also effective against some plant pests. In order to protect oneself from damage caused by small mammals like rats, rats, and other rodents, it is advisable to use repellent substances which, on the products to be defended, keep away unwanted guests, both to the taste and to the smell. Instead, the need to defend and protect the birds that frequent the gardens will not be recommended enough. Cincie, robins, blackcaps, woodpeckers, blackbirds, finches, etc. they devour a lot of harmful insects and are one of the main weapons that nature gives us to defend our crops for free. Unfortunately, in our country, these nice and helpful guests who decorate the gardens, with their voice, their liveliness and their grace, are massacred in millions thanks to an anachronistic hunting law, still in force today despite the efforts of many protectionist organizations, with guns and nets, since the end of August, when many still have babies in their nest, until the last day of March, when almost everyone has already started breeding the first brood, so the killing an adult leads to the destruction of an entire brood. The survivors are then decimated by the increasingly widespread use that today is made of chemicals for agriculture, especially insecticides and herbicides, in many cases areas subject to spring frosts. Preservation of fruits. Often, since gardeners usually grow fruit trees mainly for pleasure, it happens that more fruit is produced than needed. Ripe fruits can be preserved in various ways; so the fleshy ones, with or without central hazel, lend themselves well to being canned, bottled or kept at very low temperatures. Apples and pears can be stored for weeks and even months, in a cool environment.