A Favorable Notice.—Its Remunerative Returns.—Manner of Setting Out and Caring For.—Benefits of Cutting Back.—Ground Suited to its Growth.—A Difficulty of its Raising.—Manner of Sowing its Seed—Winter Preservation of Plants—Time to Transplant.—A Release from a Difficulty.—Chestnut-planting in Nevada and Productiveness—Growth of the Chestnut in North Carolina, and its Great Growth in Europe.—An Old Tree and its Productive Bearing.—Uses of Chestnut Wood.—Its Durability.—The Chincapin.— Where Found.— Quality of its Fruit.— Durability of Wood.— Its Growth Influenced by Climate.
A beautiful tree and a favorite with nearly every one. A lot planted in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, eleven years ago, are now making a better return than the same number of acres in orchard. At Des Moines chestnut-trees four years old from the seed have borne fruit. They should be set out four thousand to the acre, and gradually thinned, as they increase in size, to three hundred to the acre. They will then be twelve feet apart. A grove of chestnuts may be cut down at twelve or fifteen years of age, and in twelve years will be ready for another cutting. The growth of the sprouts will be more rapid than the original growth of the tree. The stumps should be cut low and covered with a thin layer of earth. Side-hills and rocky land are the best for chestnut cultivation. The great difficulty in growing this tree is to get it started properly. Care must be taken to keep the seed from rotting or moulding. The seed should be kept through the winter in sand, dampened and placed in a cool cellar. In the spring plant the chestnuts in rows three feet apart, and drop the nuts like potatoes, six inches apart, covering them with only half an inch of soil. In the fall, before frost, cover the young shoots with a litter of straw six inches deep. They should be transplanted when one year old. This tree has always been considered hard to raise, but it has been because it has not been understood. Treated in the way I describe, twelve chestnuts will raise eleven trees.
In Nevada, California, the proprietor of some public gardens obtained from France some of the finest specimens of chestnuts, and planted them on his place, in 1872. In 1882 the trees bore fruit, and they are described the past year as being heavily loaded with fruit, and the nuts were the largest ever seen. The burs contained from three to seven large-sized nuts, some of them exceeding in size a large plum. The climate is admirably adapted to it. In North Carolina we have trees that at six feet from the ground measure from fifteen to sixteen feet in circumference. But we read of trees in Europe that far exceed our chestnuts of North Carolina in size, viz.: The great chestnut grove of Mount Etna, one tree of which is one hundred and sixty feet in circumference. Michaux describes one growing near Sancerre, in France, which at six feet from the ground is thirty feet in circumference. Six hundred years ago it was called the Great Chestnut, and, although it is believed to be more than one thousand years old, its trunk is still sound and its branches annually laden with fruit. The principal use of the wood of the chestnut is for the inside work of cars and for cabinet-ware; although the grain is coarse, yet, when oiled and varnished, it makes quite a presentable appearance. It is used for making fences, and rails made of this wood have been known to last fifty years.