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ment of our woodlands, and would tend to make “ useful land” of that which is now unused, and would also tend, in course of time, to establish forestry, an occupation among us, which will, by and by, give employment of a kind that does not now exist. A well-planned system of subsidies by gift of seedling trees, or tree seeds, would be a good way to secure further valuable educational results.
Reckless methods of cutting have done much to lessen the value and retard the growth of woodlands. Selling wood on the stump, without proper restriction as to the way the land should be left, is also injurious. The complete cutting off of a wood lot greatly delays or prevents early reseeding, and the renewal of the growth of wood. The influence of this Board should be thrown to secure the leaving of seed-bearing and young trees scattered over the land in the interest of the owner and the State; which should be done most particularly in the case of evergreen trees, that demand this course, where the planting of seedlings does not follow the cutting down of the mature trees.
The method of raising trees from seed, now used and recommended by Mr. Jackson Dawson, of the Arnold Arboretum, which is practical and easy, and which was lately given in the transactions of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, might also be reprinted in small pamphlet form for distribution; and farmers' clubs and similar organizations should be persuaded to put it into practical operation. Mr. Dawson has described his method as follows:
To those who might wish to plant an acre or so every year, and want no failures, I would recommend another system, which requires less space and labor, though possibly more attention ; but in the end any one could transplant the most difficult trees, such as oak, hickory or chestnut, with no loss. For want of a better name, I have called it the “ box system.” No doubt it has often been used, but I have not heard of any one using it largely except myself. By this method every root is preserved, and not even a fibre destroyed; there are few if any large tap roots to cut off, and, even if grown in the nursery afterwards, they lift with finer roots than the seedlings grown in the ordinary way; and, though they will not make so vigorous a growth the first year as they would in the open seed bed, at the end of the second year after transplanting they are ahead of those of the same age grown in the ordinary way, and with no failures. Nine years ago we transplanted from the seed boxes to a hill-side, in sod ground with no preparation except to turn over the sod with a spade where each tree was to go, some hundreds of oaks one year old; and to-day they are fine young trees, from six to nine feet high, well formed, and much more vigorous than those grown in the nursery, which have had a great amount of care and labor bestowed upon them. I believe that, if many of our early planters had used this system in growing oaks, hickories and other hard-wood trees, they would not have had so many failures to complain of.
In the first place, procure a lot of common boxes, such as may be had at any grocery store; any kind of boxes will do, though a uniform size is best, as they occupy less space in a six-foot frame, when packed away, than boxes of various sizes would. I usually get those that have contained canned goods or soap, as they are nearly equal in size, and with two cuts of a splitting-saw you have froin each box three flats, from three to four inches deep, which is . a good depth for any ordinary seed. With a half-inch auger bore three or four holes in the bottom of each box, for drainage. This will be sufficient for large-rooted plants, while the finer seeds will require to be well drained with broken pots, coarse siftings of peat, or any coarse material that will allow the moisture to pass off readily. As soon as the seeds are ripe, in the fall, get together a good pile of compost, made as follows: two parts rotten sod, one part peat and one of sand, and, if the seeds to be sown are oak, hickory, beech, chestnut or walnut, add a portion of good rotten manure. For such seeds as I have mentioned, fill your boxes two-thirds full of the compost, and press down firmly with a board or the band. Sow the seeds evenly, and press them down in the soil, covering them from half an inch to an inch in depth, according to their size. On one corner of each box smooth off a place with a plane or knife, rub over with white lead, and write the name of the seed and the date of sowing. This takes only a few minutes, and is of much value afterwards, especially where a great variety of seeds is sown. It is much better than labeling in the ordinary way, and there is no danger of the record being lost in moving the boxes from one position to the other. The finest seeds, such as maples, elms, birches, alders and others, should be covered, according to the size of the sceds, about their own diameter. After sowing, the seeds should have a good watering with a fine rose, to settle the soil. The boxes can then be piled four or five deep in a pit, the sashes placed in it, and at
the approach of cold weather they may be covered with meadow hay or leaves. This does not keep the boxes from freezing, but, when once frozen, it keeps them so until spring. If no pit is available, the boxes can be piled six or seven deep in a wellsheltered spot, covering the upper boxes with a few boards, the whole to be covered with leaves or other litter. In the case of all the seeds I have mentioned as taking one or more years to germinate, it is unnecessary to cover the boxes with litter ; but it is well to cover with boards, so that mice or squirrels may not get at the seed; and in many cases seed that has been so frozen will often come up the first season, which otherwise would not have come until the second.
As soon as the weather is settled, which is usually about the middle of April, choose a well-sheltered spot, level, and handy to water. If the aspect can be an eastern or south-eastern one, I like it better, as they get the early morning sun, but not the scorching sun at noonday. Place all the boxes containing the nuts, acorns and other large seeds together, in beds of three boxes wide. This will make it very compact, and much easier to care for them than if the boxes containing seeds of the same class are scattered about. The only attention these will require is to keep them well watered and free from weeds; but for such seeds as maple, ash, elm and others of like nature, it would be well to cover the boxes with lath screens until they have made the second or third rough leaf, when they might be gradually hardened off, and finally exposed fully to air and light. If a few sashes could be spread to protect all delicate growing seeds, it would be of great advantage, and as soon as well up they could be treated the same as the others.
The use of lath screens on seed beds saves a great amount of labor in watering, and, if the plants are neglected for an hour or so, the results are not so disastrous as when the young seedlings are fully exposed to the sun. Any boxes of seeds that do not come up before the last of June will hardly appear that year, but will require to be kept moist, the same as the growing plants. I usually place all such boxes together in a shady spot, and cover them to the depth of an inch or more with sphagnum (a kind of moss), and, by giving them a good watering once or twice a week, they are carried safely through the summer. At the approach of cold weather they are gathered together, piled five or six deep, as before, and covered for the winter. When spring comes on they will need to be treated as seed that has just been sown. For the finer seeds, such as azalea, rhododendron, kalmia and others, a special treatment is required, which I will speak of later.
In the fall of the first year the boxes of young trees may be gathered together and wintered in a deep pit or frame, and slightly covered with meadow hay. If no frame is available, three or four inches of pine needles or leaves may be placed over the boxes, and they may then be left until spring; but on no account should the boxes be left without any protection, as the young seedlings will then suffer very much in so little depth of soil.
All seedling trees can be transplanted when very young, as easily as cabbages or tomatoes, if taken as good care of, and many of them are benefited by the operation. We transplant thousands of them every year, with but little loss. The best time is when they are making their first or second rough leaf.
In the spring of the second year all the young seedlings should be transplanted from the seed boxes to the nursery beds, or the larger ones planted where they are to remain; and for chestnuts, hickories and oaks, I believe it is best to plant them from the seed box to the field where they are to remain. If planted in nursery beds or rows, the treatment will be the same as I have spoken of under the head of treatment in nurseries.
The boxes I have mentioned are usually from fourteen to sixteen inches square, and will hold from one hundred to one hundred and twenty-five oaks, hickories, chestnuts or beeches, one hundred and seventy-five to two hundred ashes or maples, two hundred and fifty birches or elms, and so on, according to the growth of the plants. Where a greenhouse can be used for this purpose, with frames to harden off the young seedlings, much better results can be obtained and many of the finer seeds can be grown, which it is next to impossible to grow in large quantities out of doors.
In conclusion, I would say that, while I have not mentioned every tree by itself, the general principles are the same for all ; that, as a rule, the soil should be of the best description, and sheltered ; that all seeds should be covered only a little, if any, deeper than the diameter of the seed; but they should be kept clean from weeds, the watering well looked to, and the shading, in the case of the finer seeds, be carefully attended to. They should be protected the first season, and in the end will well repay all the care and attention that have been bestowed upon them; and any one owning a few acres of land, who will plant a few boxes of chestnut, black-walnut, beech, oak, hickory, or other hard-wood trees, that are usually considered so difficult to transplant, after growing them one year in the boxes and transplanting the following spring where they are to remain, will be astonished to see how much land can be covered in a few years with healthy young growths of hard wood, with very little trouble or expense. In New England, as well as in other parts of our country, we have too many acres lying idle, which it would be more profitable to plant with trees than anything else.
Mr. Dawson ends by commending the idea of clothing the unused and unwisely cultivated land with trees.
While in attendance upon the joint meeting of the American Economic and Forestry Associations at Washington, on December 30 last, I introduced the subject of the woodlands of this State; and the act of 1882 (chapter 255, Public Statutes, sections 1-5) was referred to, which gives this Board power to act as a board of forestry. The public reservation of forest land in the city of Lynn was referred to in words of high praise, and the question arose as to whether such reservation was taken under the act just referred to. Such is not the case, but the Lynn reservation is held by that city, and not held by her under that act.
It was then suggested that said act be so altered, or a new act passed, giving this Board the power to take stump land or waste land at a low valuation; the title rest in the State ; this Board to act as a board of forestry without pay, and to employ a trained forester to have full charge of the property when held in sufficient quantity.
In the older countries the government finds it not only necessary but profitable to own and manage forest land; and in Europe many nations have their system of forestry schools, and forest workmen who are organized very much like a military corps.
We have this precedent to follow, and it may be advisable to suggest that the Legislature consider this subject in its several phases. But the power to take the land, and raise the money to pay for it, would have to be given. After the land was secured, it should early yield enough to pay for its management, and later yield an income to the State, and form a sinking fund to eventually extinguish any bonds which might have been issued to raise money for payment . As the land would probably be taken in the poorer part of the State, it would probably be advisable to give a bonus to the towns in which it was situated, or to continue an annual payment to the towns, equivalent to the amount of tax raised on said lands at the time of this taking. When build