In setting potted plants out of doors, it is nearly always advisable to plunge them,--that is to set the pots into the earth,--unless the place is very wet. The pots are then watered by the rainfall, and demand little care. If the plants are to be returned to the house in the fall, they should not be allowed to root through the hole in the pot, and the rooting may be prevented by turning the pot around every few days. Large decorative plants may be made to look as if growing naturally in the lawn by sinking the pot or box just below the surface and rolling the sod over it, as suggested in Fig. 136. A space around and below the tub may be provided to insure drainage.
For the shifting of very large tub-plants, a box or tub with movable sides, as in Fig. 137, is handy and efficient. The plant-box recommended to parties who grew plants for exhibition at the World's Fair is shown in Fig. 138. It is made of strong boards or planks. At A is shown the inside of one of two opposite sections or sides, four feet wide at top, three feet wide at bottom, and three feet high. The cleats are two-by-four scantlings, through which holes are bored to admit the bolts with which the box is to be held together. B is an outside view of one of the alternating sections, three feet four inches wide at top, two feet four inches at bottom, and three feet deep. A one-by-six strip is nailed through the center to give strength. C is an end view of A, showing the bolts and also a two-by-four cleat to which the bottom is to be nailed. This box was used mostly for transporting large growing stock to the exposition, the stock having been dug from the open and the box secured around the ball of earth.
When to transplant.
In general, it is best to set hardy plants in the fall, particularly if the ground is fairly dry and the exposure is not too bleak. To this class belong most of the fruit trees and ornamental trees and shrubs; also hardy herbs, as columbines, peonies, lilies, bleeding-hearts, and the like. They should be planted as soon as they are thoroughly mature, so that the leaves begin to fall naturally. If any leaves remain on the tree or bush at planting time, strip them off, unless the plant is an evergreen. It is generally best not to cut back fall-planted trees to the full extent desired, but to shorten them three-fourths of the required amount in the fall, and take off the remaining fourth in the spring, so that no dead or dry tips are left on the plant. Evergreens, as pines and spruces, are not headed-in much, and usually not at all.
All tender and very small plants should be set in the spring, in which case very early planting is desirable; and spring planting is always to be advised when the ground is not thoroughly drained and well prepared.
Depth to transplant.
In well-compacted land, trees and shrubs should be set at about the same depth as they stood in the nursery, but if the land has been deeply trenched or if it is loose from other causes, the plants should be set deeper, because the earth will probably settle. The hole should be filled with fine surface earth. It is generally not advisable to place manure in the hole, but if it is used, it should be of small amount and very thoroughly mixed with the earth, else it will cause the soil to dry out. In lawns and other places where surface tillage cannot be given, a light mulch of litter or manure may be placed about the plants; but the earth-mulch (page 98), when it can be secured, is much the best conserver of moisture.
Making the rows straight.
In order to set trees in rows, it is necessary to use a garden line (Fig. 96), or to mark out the ground with some of the devices already described (Figs. 113-120); or in large areas, the place may be staked out. In planting orchards, the area is laid out (preferably by a surveyor) with two or more rows of stakes so placed that a man may sight from one fixed point to another. Two or three men work to best advantage in such planting.
There are various devices for locating the place of the stake after the stake has been removed and the hole dug, in case the area is not regularly staked out in such a way that sighting across the area may be employed. One of the simplest is shown in Fig. 139. It is a narrow and thin board with a notch in the center and a peg in either end, one of the pegs being stationary. The implement is so placed that the notch meets the stake, then one end of it is thrown out of the way until the hole is dug. When the implement is brought again to its original position, the notch mark's the place of the stake and the tree. Figure 140 is a device with a lid, in the end of which is a notch to mark the place of the stake. This lid is thrown back, as shown by the dotted lines, when the hole is being dug. Figure 141 shows a method of bringing trees in row by measuring from a line.
In the planting of any tree or bush, the roots should be cut back beyond all breaks and serious bruises, and fine earth should be thoroughly filled in and firmed about them, as in Fig. 142. No implement is so good as the fingers for working the soil about the roots. If the tree has many roots, work it up and down slightly several times during the filling of the hole, to settle the earth in place. When the earth is thrown in carelessly, the roots are jammed together, and often an empty place is left beneath the crown, as in Fig. 143, which causes the roots to dry out.
The marks on the tops of these trees in Figs. 142 and 143 show where the branches may be cut. See also Fig. 152. Figures 144 and 145 show the tops of trees after pruning. Strong branchy trees, as apples, pears, and ornamental trees, are usually headed back in this way, upon planting. If the tree has one straight leader and many or several slender branches (Fig. 146), it is usually pruned, as in Fig. 147, each branch being cut back to one or two buds. If there are no branches, or very few of them,--in which case there will be good buds upon the main stem,--the leader may be cut back a third or half its length, to a mere whip. Ornamental bushes with long tops are usually cut back a third or a half when set, as shown in Fig. 45.
Always leave a little of the small bud-making growth. The practice of cutting back shade trees to mere long clubs, or poles, with no small twigs, is to be discouraged. The tree in such case is obliged to force out adventitious buds from the old wood, and it may not have vigor enough to do this; and the process may be so long delayed as to allow the tree to be overtaken by drought before it gets a start.
Removing very large trees.
Very large trees can often be moved with safety. It is essential that the transplanting be done when the trees are perfectly dormant,--winter being preferable,--that a large mass of earth and roots be taken with the tree, and that the top be vigorously cut back. Large trees are often moved in winter on a stone-boat, by securing a large ball of earth frozen about the roots. This frozen ball is secured by digging about the tree for several days in succession, so that the freezing progresses with the excavation. A good device for moving such trees is shown in Fig. 148. The trunk of the tree is securely wrapped with burlaps or other soft material, and a ring or chain is then secured about it. A long pole, _b,_ is run over the truck of a wagon and the end of it is secured to the chain or ring upon the tree. This pole is a lever for raising the tree out of the ground. A team is hitched at _a,_ and a man holds the pole _b._
Other and more elaborate devices are in use, but this explains the idea and is therefore sufficient for the present purpose; for when a person desires to remove a very large tree he should secure the services of an expert.
The following more explicit directions for moving large trees are by Edward Hicks, who has had much experience in the business, and who made this report to the press a few years ago: "In moving large trees, say those ten to twelve inches in diameter and twenty-five to thirty feet high, it is well to prepare them by trimming and cutting or sawing off the roots at a proper distance from the trunks, say six to eight feet, in June. The cut roots heal over and send out fibrous roots, which should not be injured more than is necessary in moving the trees next fall or spring. Young, thrifty maples and elms, originally from the nursery, do not need such preparation nearly as much as other and older trees. In moving a tree, we begin by digging a wide trench six to eight feet from it, leaving all possible roots fast to it. By digging under the tree in the wide trench, and working the soil out of the roots by means of round or dull-pointed sticks, the soil falls into the cavity made under the tree. Three or four men in as many hours could get so much of the soil away from the roots that it would be safe to attach a rope and tackle to the upper part of the trunk and to some adjoining post or tree for the purpose of pulling the tree over. A good quantity of bagging must be put around the tree under the rope to prevent injury, and care should be taken that the pulling of the rope does not split off or break a limb. A team is hitched to the end of the draft rope, and slowly driven in the proper direction to pull the tree over. If the tree does not readily tip over, dig under and cut off any fast root. While it is tipped over, work out more of the soil with the sticks. Now pass a large rope, double, around a few large roots close to the tree, leaving the ends of the rope turned up by the trunk to be used in lifting the tree at the proper time. Tip the tree in the opposite direction and put another large rope around the large roots close to the trunk; remove more soil and see that no roots are fast to the ground. Four guy-ropes attached to the upper parts of the tree, as shown in the cut (Fig. 149), should be put on properly and used to prevent the tree from tipping over too far as well as to keep it upright. A good deal of the soil can be put back in the hole without covering the roots to get it out of the way of the machine. The latter can now be placed about the tree by removing the front part, fastened by four bolts, placing the frame with the hind wheels around the tree and replacing the front parts. Two timbers, three-by-nine inches, and twenty feet long, are now placed on the ground under the hind wheels, and in front of them, parallel to each other for the purpose of keeping the hind wheels up out of the big hole when drawing the tree away; and they are also used while backing the hind wheels across the new hole in which the tree is to be planted. The machine (Figs. 149, 150) consists of a hind axle twelve feet long, and broad-tired wheels. The frame is made of spruce three-by-eight inches and twenty feet long. The braces are three-by-five inches and ten feet long, and upright three-by-nine inches and three feet high; these are bolted to the hind axle and main frame. The front axle has a set of blocks bolted together and of sufficient height to support the front end of the frame. Into the top timbers, three-by-six inches, hollows are cut at the proper distances to receive the ends of two locust rollers. A windlass or winch is put at each end of the frame, by which trees can easily and steadily be lifted and lowered, the large double ropes passing over the rollers to the windlasses. A locust boom is put across the machine under the frame and above the braces; iron pins hold it in place. The side guy-ropes are made fast to the ends of this boom. The other guy-ropes are made fast to the front and rear parts of the machine. Four rope loops are made fast inside of the frame, and are so placed that by passing a rope around the trunk of the tree and through the loops two or three times, a rope ring is made around the tree that will keep the trunk in the middle of the frame and not allow it to hit either the edges or the rollers--a very necessary safeguard. As the tree is slowly lifted by the windlasses, the guy-ropes are loosened, as needed. The tree will pass obstructions, such as trees by the roadside, but in doing so it is better to lean the tree backward. When the tree has arrived at its new place, the two timbers are placed along the opposite edges of the hole so that the hind wheels can be backed over it. The tree is then lowered to the proper depth, and made plumb by the guy-ropes, and good, mellow soil is thrown in and packed well into all the cavities under the roots. When the hole is half filled, several barrels of water should be poured in; this will wash the soil into the cavities under the center of the tree much better. When the water has settled away, fill in and pack the soil till the hole is little more than full. Leave a depression, so that all the rain that may fall will be retained. The tree should now be judiciously trimmed and the machine removed. Five men can take up, move, and plant a tree in a day, if the distance is short and the digging not too hard. The tree should be properly wired to stakes to prevent the wind from blowing it over. The front part of the machine is a part of our platform spring market-wagon, while the hind wheels are from a wood-axle wagon. A tree ten inches in diameter, with some dirt adhering to its roots, will weigh a ton or more."