About six hundred and fifty acres have been planted in this town. The price of pitch pine seed for the last few years has been one dollar and fifty cents per pound. Thirty years ago land in this town could be bought for twenty five cents per acre for tree-planting; now the same kind of barren land sells for two dollars per acre for tree-planting. I find the expense of planting the pines to be two dollars and twenty five cents per acre.
Large tracts of worn-out lands in this county, that were worth comparatively nothing, have been planted from the seed of the pitch-pine. These experiments have proved successful. I know of no way in which the light sandy lands in this section can be made so valuable as by planting them with the pitch-pine. Our experience proves that the cultivation of forest trees is feasible and profitable in New England seaport towns. In 1845 I planted in this town a ten-acre lot with pitch-pine seed, much as corn is planted, dropping three seeds in a hill and covering them with half an inch of soil. To-day many of these trees will girth more than a man's body. Hundreds of acres in this section are being planted annually.
The most profitable tree we have planted in this region is the white pine, with which about two hundred acres have been planted on old worn-out pasture and light sandy soil. The cost of planting, that is, setting out young trees twelve to eighteen inches high, is about eight dollars per acre. Properly set out, scarcely one in fifty will fail. There is in this vicinity an acre that was set out thirty five years ago, that has just yielded in cash for the wood and lumber, $350. On another acre, planted twenty-eight years ago, there is estimated to be from eighty to one hundred cords. These are unusual specimens, but fifty cords per acre in twenty-five years, is a low estimate on land natural to pine, and pine is the most valuable growth of wood in the Old Colony.
Forty years since, Hon. Morrill Allen, "the model farmer " of Plymouth county, planted white pines which grew rapidly, and have proved very valuable for the manufacture of wooden packing-boxes. His example has been followed to a limited extent. Every one believes in the profit of it, but we are in a well-wooded region, and when a lot is cut off it soon starts up again.
We have propagated the European larch for nearly twenty years. For a number of years, and until the financial collapse, we sowed over one thousand pounds of larch seeds annually, averaging five to seven thousand plants to the pound of seed. The larch grows finely and rapidly in the New England States, in northern Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. It grows nearly as fast, and makes more durable timber on poor lands than on very rich lands. There is no land so poor, except blowing sands, but that it will make a rapid growth after it is once fairly established. It is a tree adapted to a northern climate, and does not thrive in Kansas, southern Illinois, and south of Pennsylvania. We are growing the native cherry (Cerasus seratina) in large quantities, as it is healthy, transplants well, grows rapidly on land far from rich, and the timber is very valuable. We will send our catalogues, giving fuller information, to any party in Connecticut on application. The European larch should be planted as early as possible in the spring. It should never be planted on low wet ground. Set out early, no tree will bear transplanting better. Scotch pine and larch do well mixed. We recommend planting a few rows of the admixture on the margin of the plantation. When planted four feet by four, as we advise, they can be worked both ways with the cultivator for two or three years, when the branches will shade the ground so densely as to destroy the undergrowth. When the trees are received from the nursery, the boxes should be immediately unpacked and the roots dipped into puddle made of rich, mellow soil about the thickness of paint, and kept in a shaded place till ready to plant, but the tops should be kept dry. Set the trees a little deeper than they stood in the nursery. After treading the earth firmly about the roots, draw a little loose earth up to the trees to prevent the surface from baking.
Francis Skinner, Brookline, a Trustee of Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture. I will receive and transmit orders for any number of trees for plantations in Connecticut to Douglas & Sons, Waukegan, Illinois. By arrangement with them, such orders transmitted through you are subject to fifteen per cent. discount from the catalogue prices, and such orders can be transmitted up to April 1st, except for European larch, for which the closing time will be March 1st. We are filling our Massachusetts orders from Douglas & Sons in preference to importing from England, as they are cheaper when ordered in large quantities, and the chances of their success far greater. American white ash, one or two years old and about one foot high, are from $3 to $5.50 per thousand ; European larch from $4 to $8 per thousand. As this duty is undertaken solely from a desire to facilitate tree-planting, and not for the purpose of any personal gain, I cannot be held responsible in any way for the results.
The consumption of wood in this and surrounding towns has been very great in supplying charcoal to our numerous iron works. Some of the mountains have been stripped of their trees three times within the last century. The second growth was rapid. Each subsequent one has been less vigorous and less rapid. Other varieties, aided by artificial means, such as seeding, placing cuttings, or transplanting the young trees, might soon render our mountains valuable again for the production of forests. Our landowners have not paid sufficient attention to the propagation of trees. The denudation of the mountains in Salisbury have lessened our streams. In the season of rain there is a more rapid rise and a greater flood than formerly when the forests were standing and the foliage and falling limbs lay quietly covering the earth beneath. Many smaller streams which flowed continuously through the entire season forty or fifty years ago, fail altogether in the summer, and the larger ones are proportionately diminished. Your suggestions in regard to fertilizing our sandy plains are practical, and should be carried out.