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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 84

Soil, Etc

Soil, Etc.

Mulberry trees will grow nearly anywhere except in damp, wet soil. Deep, light, rich or sandy soil from which there is natural drainage is the best. The climate does not seem to affect them much. They are found at Christiania, Norway, with a mean temperature per annum of 41° Fahr., as well as at Canton with a mean temperature of 74° Fahr. In very rich soil the trees will thrive remarkably well, but the leaves contain a minor quantity of nutritive elements. Exposure to page 5 the sun and air benefits them. It has been shown that the leaves of mulberry trees grown in the shade contain as much as 25 per cent. more water than those exposed to the sun. Leaves of middle-aged and old trees contain more nourishment than those of young ones under ten years old. Unless the trees are pruned the leaves get smaller every year, and the trees often die. A fact not generally known is, that the roots of mulberry trees grow nearly straight down instead of spreading horizontally. Thus farmers are enabled to grow cereals and root crops in the same field where mulberrry trees stand. This, however, only applies to standard trees at least 10ft. to 12ft. high.

Extended experiments have lately been made in the United States about the value of the Osage orange, and they appear to have been entirely successful. The raiser says, "Very generally used as a hedge-plant in those sections of the country which are particularly adapted to silk culture, its leaves may at once be obtained without any special investment of capital. Indeed, as the hedges need trimming, the cutting-off the new year's growth is a saving rather than an expenditure. Those who use this plant must, however, bear in mind that the shoots from a hedgerow become very vigorous and succulent by the time the worms are in the last age. These more milky terminal leaves should be thrown aside and not used, as they are apt to induce flaccidity and other diseases. In avoiding these more tender leaves and using only the older and firmer ones consists the whole secret of the successful rearing of silkworms on this plant, and if care be taken in this respect there will be no appreciable difference in the silk crop from Osage orange as compared with that from mulberry. The thorns of the Osage make it somewhat difficult to pick its leaves, and I should not advise its cultivation merely as silkworm food. Every year's experience with the Osage confirms all that I have said of its value as silkworm food. Silk which I have had reeled from a race of worms fed on it now for eleven consecutive years is of the very best quality.