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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 84

Raising Mulberry Trees

Raising Mulberry Trees.

From Seed.—Plants raised from seed turn out more vigorous than from cuttings or layers.

page 6

Where fruit-bearing trees are available collect the berries crush, dry, and put through a fine sieve. Keep the seed in a safe place, as rats and mice are very fond of it. If fruit-bearing trees are not available, apply to a nurseryman, but always ask for Morus alba (white). Seed from old trees is preferable.

Sow in the early spring in deep, rich, light, soil, if possible in a sheltered place. If in an open place, stick branches of ti-tree or other scrub in the ground, to protect the seedlings from the fierce rays of the sun in the late spring. Towards autumn the branches may be removed. Sow in rows Gin. apart, about ½in. deep. Cover, rake, and beat gently with the hack of a spade. If the seed is soaked in water for two or three days before sowing the seedlings should make their appearance in about three weeks; at the end of the first year they should be about 12in. high.

Some time during the first winter they are lifted from the seed-bed and planted into nursery rows about 18in. apart, and the young plants about 9in. apart. Before planting, cut them back to about 4in., and when planting cover the roots about the same depth as they occupied in the seed-bed.

If the seedlings are left without cutting back they will produce too many branches, making it more difficult to train them into proper shape later on, when they are set out into permanent position. If only two or three eyes are allowed to grow, these will in time become strong, sound branches, giving a better opportunity, the following season, of raising a well-built tree. This method is somewhat slow, but raisers will find it to their advantage to raise high-stemmed trees, because the older the tree gets the more leaves it will yield, until as much as lewt may be got from one tree. This does not apply to Multicaulis, it being a shrub. During the growing season keep free from weeds.

At the end of the second season the young trees should be about 3ft. or 4ft. high. At Home the seedlings leave the nursery after the third year; in the northern part of New Zealand they may be set out after two years—that is, in the spring of the third year. Never transplant without pruning off all jagged ends of the roots.

When planting out in permanent positions plant them the page 7 same depth as they were in the nursery bed. If intended to raise dwarfs, 10ft. apart, if standards, 15ft.

Dwarfed trees are preferred by many people because it is easier to gather the leaves, but of course they do not yield the same quantity as full-grown high-stemmed trees.

Trees should be pruned every year; the best time is after the silkworm season is over, or in spring, when the leaves make their appearance and the silkworm eggs are hatched, so as to be able to use the leaves on the cut-off twigs for food.

In pruning train the head in the shape of a cup, causing the branches to come out horizontally from the stem, so as to give space in the centre for free admission of light and air. It will also facilitate the gathering of leaves.

Grafting.—Some people have found it advantageous to graft the white on to the black mulberry, the latter being hardier.

Layering.—Mulberry trees can very easily be propagated by this method, which requires no further explanation. Hedges may be formed in this way.

Cuttings.—Plant cuttings in rows 4in. apart, in well-dug ground. They should be about 9in. long, with two or three eyes at the top of each cutting. The rest of the eyes are rubbed off. Bury them about Gin. in the ground. The second season treat them like seedlings.

The height of the tree and its shape are easily regulated by pruning, and upon this process depends not only the vigorous growth of the tree, but also the ease with which the leaves may be gathered when wanted. All dead twigs should be removed, and the limbs kept as smooth as possible.

The best times for planting are the months of July and August.