The Old Time Farm Magazines: Pears, Apples, Peaches, a Silverware Cabinet and Horse Care

Read articles from old farm magazines that give advice on growing fruit, taking care of animals and building home projects.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
January/February 1976
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From apple scald to market prices, these old-time farm magazines have tips for everyone.
PHOTO: FOTOLIA/XIANGDONG LI


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The following pages are taken from issues of New York Homestead, Inland Farmer, American Agriculturist, and New England Homestead dated 1883 to 1903. 

Pear Culture

G. F. Comings said: "We ought to enjoy this delicious fruit from August to February. There are thousands of acres in this and adjoining counties well adapted to pear culture that might be doubled in value in five years if set to pears. The ideal soil for pears is a black sand with dry sub-soil; next to this a clay loam; on any good corn soil they can be grown profitably. A northern slope is preferable to southern exposure. A clay soil should be thoroughly plowed and drained where necessary, and will bear much fertilizing ashes and bone meal being about the best thing to use." He recommended that trees be set eighteen feet apart each way, but the grower should be governed somewhat by the variety of fruit and soil. Large holes should be dug for the trees and some surface soil placed, at the bottom. For the first year or two it is a good thing to grow corn in the pear orchard as the shade afforded the tree will be beneficial. Currants are a desirable fruit crop to grow between the trees. It is a good plan to wrap young trees with building paper for the winter. Mr. Comings gave his views in regard to pruning and desirable varieties to plant, giving his preference to the Buerre de Anjou. He uses barrels and kegs for marketing the crop, and packed the fruit in two grades.

A Silverware Cabinet

By Pearl Howard Campbell  

Everyone, will admit that the old-fashioned silverware drawer piled full of plush lined boxes is a nuisance. It is almost impossible to keep it in order or to find things when one is in a hurry. Yet it has been difficult to get anything that will take its place. A young housekeeper has solved the problem in a very satisfactory way by a piece of furniture which she calls her silverware cabinet.

This cabinet stands on a shelf in the narrow passage way between her kitchen and dining room and was originally a thread case; such as merchants use for holding spools of cotton thread. But it has been so transformed, by the use of enamel and varnish which hide the unsightly letters that one would never dream of its former use. The drawers are lined with chamois. Through the center runs a tape which is tacked every half inch or so, leaving little spaces through which the handles of the spoons and forks are slipped.

The beauty of the cabinet is that it is only the work of a moment to put the silverware in place and as the drawers are shallow, one can tell at a glance just where everything is.

What the Advertisers Are Offering

Distributed through the pages of this number of Inland Farmer we note that advertisers in various lines of trade are making some attractive announcements — offers which are designed to appeal with special force at this season of the year to. farm folks. Knowing as we do that the advertisers using space in this paper are enterprising, dependable and reliable, we would kindly ask that special consideration be given them by the readers. Advertised articles are worth telling about, and worth buying — generally the best of the kind on the market. We hope our people will carefully read the interesting offers placed before them in our paper, and feel sure that inquiries and orders which are sent to any of these advertisers will be given prompt and satisfactory attention. It is a good idea when writing to mention that the offer which brought your reply was seen in the columns of Inland Farmer, by way of an introduction, which is desirable and serves a useful purpose.

Feeding Weak Colonies 

By O.J. Lowrey 

If colonies are short of feed in the spring and the apiarist has no honey to feed them, and sufficient honey is not being gathered by the bees to create rapid brood rearing, they can be fed thin sugar syrup. The best way to feed this is to fill brood combs, holding them at an angle of 46 degrees and slowly pouring the thin syrup on the comb until both sides are quite well filled. Set these filled combs next to the brood in the brood nest, or hive. If the colony is not strong care should be taken not to give the colony too large an entrance, for sometimes robber bees might overpower and rob the colony. If the feed if put in the hive toward night probably no robbing will be attempted.

Cheaper Apples 

We must expect cheaper apples. Cheaper apples will increase consumption. Present prices are abnormally high. They yield more than the ordinary manufacturers profits. For instance, there were many Virginia orchards which netted the owners twenty per cent, on a thousand dollars per acre, this season. Figuring the ground crops which they take for the land there, while the trees are young, those orchards have rarely cost the owners more than four hundred dollars per acre. They got over forty per cent on their investment. Growers must prepare for cheaper apples by better system and more up to date methods in production. If the average orchard were run like the modern factory, with an exact cost price system, apples could be profitably grown at one-half the present. prices. Location with references to climate, productiveness of soil and proximity to markets will have great bearing. When the price falls the orchardist who is badly located will be struck the hardest. To Illustrate, the Virginians claim that owing to their long growing season; short, mild winters; their consequent ability to get annual crops; and their proximity to the eastern markets; and their cheap labor, they can make a profit with apples at twenty five cents per bushel. This remains to be proved, however. Anyway, apple growers have no cause to worry until apples are sold from the fruit stands at less than a nickel apiece.

Feeds for Bone and Muscle  

While corn is the best fat producer, young growing pigs to thrive best must have other foods for making bone and muscle

How to Prune and Plant Peach Trees

Peach trees differ from all other trees in the matter of pruning required at planting. Every branch must be cut off close to the body, and the body must be cut back leaving only a stick or stub 15 to 18 inches above the roots, which should have all broken or bruised pieces cut off. When thus trimmed plant in good, mellow soil, about two inches deeper than it had been when growing in nursery rows.

When growth begins, sprouts will come out all along up the body. All of these should be rubbed off, except three or four near the top that must be allowed to grow to form the main branches of the future tree. By proper selection of what sprouts to reserve, the tree may be formed of any desired style of head; these new branches will grow from three to five feet the first season and to make a much stronger and better formed tree than could have been possible had not the tog been all cut away when planted. Don't fail to cut off the entire top when planting, says J. H. Hale, the peach authority, to which I heartily agree.

Preparations for an Apple Orchard

By S.A. Beach 

When an apple orchard is planted, the ground should be in a high state of cultivation and not allowed to deteriorate. To accomplish this, corn may be planted in the spring. Shallow cultivation should be followed and at last working, sow cowpeas or crimson clover before the harrow or cultivator. I would not advise the sowing of small grain in an orchard of any kind. In breaking up the land in an apple orchard, I would plow as it there were no trees present, that is, divide the or chard Into such sections as seem most advantageous, and avoid dead furrows between the rows. By plowing in this way, the laud is kept level and not worked Into ridges or gullies. Ease the breaking plow out of the ground, so that no dirt will stick to the tree. Care should be taken not to injure the surface roots by plowing. If cowpeas are sown, a disk or cutaway harrow should be run over them after the vines are dead from frost, and clover should succeed them the following spring. In breaking up land and harrowing with two horses, I would not use the double or singletree or even the trace chains. It is Impossible to take such an outfit in the orchard and work without injury to trees.

Caring for Horses in Winter

By John Bennett   

I have had considerable experience with horses during my lifetime, and have learned that most horses would rather be out of doors nearly all the time, even in winter. I have a team of small mares, which have little to do in the winter. They are used, chiefly for driving, and in addition to going to town several times a week, they take us 3 1/2 miles to church. All this is done over bad roads, either muddy or rough. Around the church is a row of hitching posts to which the horses are tied during the services. Our horses are always blanketed. In spite of this care the animals suffered considerably during the hour and a half they were compelled to stand In the cold. I finally secured the right to build a stable, or rather a box stall, about 10 feet square, in which I put my team, and closed the door during the cold weather. The siding was shiplap and the shed was quite comfortable. I do not worry about the team now. During the summer they stand in the shed with the doors open. The ventilation is good and the animals are much more comfortable than under the trees. The whole thing only cost me $13, and is an immense amount of satisfaction.

The evening before Thanksgiving of this year the slight drizzle turned to a driving snow, I put up the cows carefully, and turned the horses into the pasture. I placed feed in their manger and bedded the box stall, as I never tie my horses. I thought they would come home to get out of the storm but they did not. In fact, I have found that during the winter the animals remain out of doors nearly all the time, except in the very severest weather: They come to the straw stack and eat holes into it and lie down on the dry straw out of the wind. Sometimes they go to the stable, but not very often. They are always in good flesh and seem perfectly contented.

Increasing Population 

When the census man tells us about the increased number of young trees which are coming on, we will reply, look at the increased number of mouths to feed. It is pretty safe to predict that the ratio of increase in planting will not equal the ratio of increase in population. As a matter of fact, the ratio of increase in population will doubtless be greater than that of production, during the next ten years.

Preventing Scald Is Easy 

Apple scald of green and ripe fruit in storage can be entirely and easily prevented by an occasional renewal of the air of the storage room, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Apples are living organisms which breathe and, like other living things, have ventilation requirements which, if not met, lead to smothering. Accumulations of carbon dioxide (carbonic acid gas) produced by the apples in storage, the lack of air movement in the storage room, and the depositing of moisture on the fruit are all declared to be factors that may play a part in the production of scald. Experiments indicate that high humidities may be maintained in storage without the development of scald, and prove conclusively that an occasional renewal of the air of the storage room will completely prevent the disease. Scalded fruit is more mealy and poorer in flavor than unscalded. Scald, in addition to rendering the fruit unsightly and reducing its market value, renders the apples extremely susceptible.


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