Natural History (Rackham, Jones, & Eichholz)/Book 17
I. WE have now stated the nature of the trees that grow of their own accord on land and in the sea; and there remain those which owe what is more truly described as their formation than their birth to art and to the ingenious devices of mankind. But it is in place first to express surprise at the way in which the trees that, under the niggardly system that we have recorded, were held in common ownership by the wild animals, with man doing battle with them for the fruit that fell to the ground and also with the birds for that which still hung on the tree, have come to command such high prices as articles of luxurythe most famous instance, in my judgement, being the affair of Lucius Crassus and Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus. Crassus was one of the leading Roman orators; he owned a splendid mansion, but it was considerably surpassed by another that was also on the Palatine Hill, belonging to Quintus Catulus, the colleague of Gaius Marius in the defeats of the Cimbrians; while by far the finest house of that period was by universal agreement the one on the Viminal Hill owned by Gaius Aquilius, Knight of Rome, who was even more celebrated for this property than he was for his knowledge of civil law, although nevertheless in the case of Crassus his mansion was considered a reproach to him. Crassus and Domitius both belonged to families of high distinction, and they were colleagues as consuls and afterwards, in 92 B.C., as censors: owing to their dissimilarity of character their tenure of the censorship was filled with quarrels between them. On the occasion referred to, Gnaeus Domitius, being a man of hasty temper and moreover inflamed by that particularly sour kind of hatred which springs out of rivalry, gave Crassus a severe rebuke for living on so expensive a scale when holding the office of censor, and repeatedly declared that he would give a million sesterces for his mansion; and Crassus, who always had a ready wit and was good at clever repartees, replied that he accepted the bid, with the reservation of half a dozen trees. Domitius declined to buy the place even for a shilling without the timber. 'Well then,' said Crassus, 'tell me pray, Domitius, am I the one who is setting a bad example and who deserves a mark of censure from the very office which I am myself occupyingI, who live quite unpretentiously in the house that came to me by inheritance, or is it you, who price six trees at a million sesterces?' The trees referred to were nettle-trees, with an exuberance of spreading, shady branches; Caecina Largus, one of the great gentlemen of Rome, in our young days used frequently to point them out in the mansion, of which he was then the owner, and they lastedas we have already also spoken of the limits of longevity in treesdown to the Emperor Nero's conflagration, [AD 64] thanks to careful tendance still verdant and vigorous, had not the emperor mentioned hastened the death even of trees. And let nobody suppose that Crassus's mansion was in other respects a poor affair, and that it contained nothing beside trees to attract this provoking bid from Domitius; on the contrary, he had already erected for decorative purposes in the court of the mansion six pillars of marble from Mt. Hymettus, which in view of his aedileship he had imported to embellish the stage of the theatreand this although hitherto there were no marble pillars in any public place: of so recent a date is luxurious wealth! And at that date so much greater distinction was added to mansions by trees that Domitius actually would not keep to the price suggested by a quarrel without the timber in question being thrown in.
In former generations people even got their surnames from trees: for instance Frondicius, the soldier who performed such remarkable exploits against Hannibal, swimming across the Volturno with a screen of foliage on his head, and the Licinian family of the Stolonesstolo being the word for the useless suckers growing on the actual trees, on account of which the first Stolo received the name from his invention of a process of trimming vines. In early days trees even were protected by the law, and the Twelve Tables provided that anybody wrongfully felling another man's trees should be fined 25 asses for each tree. What are we to think? That people of old who rated even fruit-trees so highly believed that trees would rise to the value mentioned above? And in the matter of fruit-trees no less marvellous are many of those in the districts surrounding the city, the produce of which is every year knocked down to bids of 2000 sesterces per tree, a single tree yielding a larger return than farms used to do in old days. It was on this account that grafting, and the practice of adultery even by trees, was devised, so that not even fruit should grow for the poor. We will now therefore state in what manner it chiefly comes about that such a large revenue is derived from these trees, going on to set forth the genuine and perfect method of cultivation, and for that purpose we shall not treat of the commonly known facts and those which we observe to be established, but of uncertain and doubtful points on which practical conduct chiefly goes wrong; as it is not our plan to give careful attention to superfluities. But first of all we will speak about matters of climate and soil that concern all kinds of trees in common.
II. Trees are specially fond of a north-east aspect, wind in that quarter rendering their foliage denser and more abundant and their timber stronger. This is a point on which most people make a mistake, as the props in a vineyard ought not to be placed so as to shelter the stems from wind in that quarter, and this precaution should only be taken against a north wind. What is more, exposure to cold at the proper season contributes very greatly to the strength of the trees, and they bud best under those circumstances, as otherwise, if exposed to the caresses of the winds from the south-west, they languish, and especially when in blossom. In fact if the fall of the blossom is followed immediately by rain, the fruit is entirely ruinedso much so that almonds and pears lose their crop of fruit if the weather should be only cloudy or a south-west wind prevail. Rain at the rising of the Pleiades indeed is extremely unfavourable for the vine and the olive, because that is their fertilizing season; this is the four-day period that decides the fate of the olives, this is the critical point when a south wind brings the dirty clouds we spoke of. Also cereals ripen worse on days when the wind is in the south-west, though they ripen faster. Cold weather only does damage when it comes with northerly winds, or not at the proper seasons; indeed for a north-east wind to prevail in winter is most beneficial for all crops. But there is an obvious reason for desiring rain in that season, because it is natural for the trees when exhausted by bearing fruit and also by the loss of their leaves to be famished with hunger, and rain is a food for them. Consequently experience inspires the belief that a mild winter, causing the trees the moment they have finished bearing to conceive, that is to bud, again, this being followed by another exhausting period of blossoming, is an extremely detrimental thing. Indeed if several years in succession should take this course, even the trees themselves may die, since no one can doubt the punishment they suffer from putting forth their strength when in a hungry condition; consequently the poet who told us to pray for finer winters was not framing a litany for the benefit of trees. Nor yet is wet weather over midsummer good for vines. It has indeed been said, thanks to the fertility of a vivid imagination, that dust in winter makes more abundant harvests; but, quite apart from this, it is the prayer of trees and crops in common that snow may he a long time. The reason is not only because snow shuts in and imprisons the earth's breath when it is disappearing by evaporation, and drives it back into the roots of the vegetation to make strength, but because it also affords a gradual supply of moisture, and this moreover of a pure and extremely light quality, owing to the fact that rime is the foam of the waters of heaven. Consequently the moisture from snow, not inundating and drenching everything all at once, but shedding drops as from a breast in proportion to the thirst felt, nourishes all vegetation for the very reason that it does not deluge it. In this way the earth also is made to ferment, and is filled with her own substance, not exhausted by seeds sown in her trying to suck her milk, and when lapse of time has removed her covering she greets the mild hours with a smile. This is the method to make corn crops fatten most abundantlyexcept in countries where the atmosphere is always warm, for instance Egypt: for there the unvarying temperature and the mere force of habit produce the same effect as management produces elsewhere; and in any place it is of the greatest benefit for there to be nothing to cause harm. In the greater part of the world, when at the summons of heaven's indulgence the buds have hurried out too early, if cold weather follows they are shrivelled up. This is why late winters are injurious, even to forest trees as well, which actually suffer worse, because they are weighed down by their own shade, and because remedial measures cannot help them, to clothe the tender plants with wisps of straw not being possible in the case of forest trees. Consequently rain is favourable first at the period of the winter storms, and next with the wet weather coming before the budding period; and. a third season is when the trees are forming their fruit, though not at the first stage but when the growth has become strong and healthy. Trees that hold back their fruit later and need more prolonged nourishment also receive benefit from late rains, for instance the vine, the olive and the pomegranate. These rains, however, are required in a different manner for each kind of tree, as they come to maturity at different times; consequently you may see the same storm of rain causing damage to some trees and benefiting others even in the same class of trees, as for example among pears, winter varieties require rain on one day and early pears on another, although they all alike need a period of wintry weather before budding. The same cause that makes a north-west wind more beneficial than a south-west wind also renders inland regions superior to places on the coastthe reason being that they are usually coolerand mountain districts superior to plains, and rain in the night preferable to rain by day, vegetation getting more enjoyment from the water when the sun does not immediately make it evaporate.
Connected with this subject is also the theory of the situation for vineyards and trees what aspect they should face. Virgil condemned their being planted looking west, but some have preferred that aspect to an easterly position, while most authorities, I notice, approve the south; and I do not think that any hard and fast rule can be laid down on this pointskilled attention must be paid to the nature of the soil, the character of the locality and the features of the particular climate. In Africa for vineyards to face south is bad for the vine and also unhealthy for the grower, because the country itself lies under the southern quarter of the sky, and consequently he who there chooses a westerly or northern aspect for planting will achieve the best blending of soil with climate. When Virgil condemns a western aspect, there seems no doubt that lie condemns a northern aspect also, although in Italy below the Alps it has generally been experienced that no vineyards bear better than those so situated. The wind also forms a great consideration. In the province of Narbonne and in Liguria and part of Tuscany it is thought to be a mistake to plant vines in a position directly facing a west-north-west wind, but at the same time to be a wise arrangement to let them catch the wind from that quarter sideways, because it moderates the heat of summer in those regions, although it usually blows with such violence as to carry away the roofs of houses. Some people make the question of aspect depend on the nature of the soil, letting vines planted in dry situations face east and north and those in a damp one south. Moreover, they borrow rules from the vines themselves, by planting early varieties in cold situations, so that their ripening may come before the cold weather, and fruit-trees and vines that dislike dew, with an eastern aspect, so that the sun may carry off the moisture at once, but those that like dew, facing west or even north, so that they may enjoy it for a longer time. But the rest, virtually following Nature's system, have recommended that vines and trees should be placed so as to face north-east; and Democritus is of opinion that the fruit so grown also has more scent. We have dealt in Book Two with positions facing north-east and the other quarters, and we shall give more meteorological details in the next Book. In the meantime a clear test of the healthiness of the aspect seems to lie in the fact that trees facing south are always the first to shed their leaves. A similar influence also operates in maritime districts: sea breezes are injurious in some places, while at the same time in most places they encourage growth; and some plants like having a distant view of the sea but are not benefited by being moved nearer to its saline exhalations. A similar principle applies also to rivers and marshes: they shrivel up vegetation by their mists or else they serve to cool excessively hot districts. The trees that we have specified like shade and even cold. Consequently the best course is to rely on experiment.
III. It comes next after the heavens to give an account of the earth, a subject no easier to deal with, inasmuch as the same land is not as a rule suited for trees and for crops, and the black earth of the kind that exists in Campania is not the best soil for vines everywhere, nor is a soil that emits thin clouds of vapour, nor the red earth that many writers have praised. The chalky soil in the territory of Alba Pompeia and a clay soil are preferred to all the other kinds for vines, although they are very rich, a quality to which exception is made in the case of that class of plants. Conversely the white sand in the Ticino district, and the black sand found in many places, and likewise red sand, even when intermingled with rich soil, are unproductive. The signs adduced in judging soil are often misleading. A soil in which lofty trees do brilliantly is not invariably favourable except for Those trees: for what grows higher than a silver fir? yet what other tree could have lived in the same place? Nor do luxuriant pastures always indicate a rich soil: for what is more famous than the pastures of Germany? but immediately underneath a very thin skin of turf there is sand. And land where plants grow high is not always damp, any more, I protest, than soil that sticks to the fingers is always richa fact that is proved in the case of clay soils. In point of fact no soil when put back into the holes out of which it is dug completely fills them, so as to make it possible to detect a close soil and a loose soil in this manner; and all soil covers iron with rust. Nor can a heavy or a light soil be detected by a standard of weight, for what can be understood to be the standard weight of earth? Nor is alluvial soil deposited by rivers always to be recommended, seeing that some plants do not flourish in a damp situation; nor does that much praised alluvial soil prove in experience to be beneficial for a long period, except for a willow. One of the signs of a good soil is the thickness of the stalk in corn, which incidentally in the famous Leborine plain in Campania is so large that they use it as a substitute for wood; but this class of soil is everywhere hard to work, and owing to this difficulty of cultivation puts almost a heavier burden on the farmer because of its merits than it could possibly inflict by reason of defects. Also the soil designated glowing-coal earth appears to be improved by marl; and in fact tufa of a pliable consistency is actually held by the authorities to be a desideratum. For vines Virgil actually does not disapprove of a soil in which ferns grow; and many plants are improved by being entrusted to salt land, as they are better protected against damage from creatures breeding in the ground. Hillsides are not denuded of their soil by cultivation if the digging is done skilfully, and not all level ground gets less than the necessary amount of sun and air; and some varieties of vine, as we have said, draw nourishment from frosts and clouds. All matters contain some deeply hidden mysteries, which each person must use his own intelligence to penetrate. What of the fact that changes often occur even in things that have been investigated and ascertained long ago? In the district of Larisa in Thessaly the emptying of a lake has lowered the temperature of the district, and olives which used to grow there before have disappeared, occur before; while on the other hand the city of Aenos, since the river Maritza was brought near to it, has experienced an increase of warmth a and the district round Philippi altered its climate when its land under cultivation was drained. On the other hand on land belonging to Syracuse a farmer who was a newcomer to the district by removing the stones from the soil caused his crops to be ruined by mud, until he carried the stones back again. In Syria they use a light ploughshare that cuts a narrow furrow, because the subsoil is rock which causes the seeds to be scorched in summer.
Again, immoderate heat and cold have a similar effect in certain places. Thrace owes its fertility in corn to cold, Africa and Egypt to heat. There is one place in the island of Chalcia belonging to Rhodes which is so fertile that they reap barley sown at its proper time and after carrying it at once sow the field again and reap a second crop of barley with the other harvest. In the district of Venufrum a gravel soil is found to be most suitable for olives, but in Baetica very rich soil. The vines of Pucinum bare scorched on rock, whereas those of Caecubum grow in the damp ground of the Pontine Marshes. So much variety and diversity obtains in the evidence of experience and in soil. Vopiscus Caesar when appearing in a case before the Censors spoke of the plains of Rosia as 'the paps of Italy', where stakes left lying on the ground the day before were hidden with grass; but these plains are only valued for pasture. Nevertheless Nature did not wish that we should be uninstructed, and has caused errors to be fully admitted even where she had not given clear information as to the good points; and accordingly we will first speak about soil defects.
A bitter soil is indicated by its black undergrown plants; shrivelled shoots indicate a cold soil, and drooping growths show a damp soil; red earth and damp clay are noted by the eyethey are very difficult to work, and liable to burden the rakes or ploughshares with huge clodsalthough what is an obstacle to working the soil is not also a handicap to its productivity; and similarly the eye can discern the opposite, an ash-coloured soil and a white sand; while a barren soil with its hard surface is easily detected by even a single stroke of a prong. Cato defines defects of soil briefly and in his customary style: 'Take care when the soil is rotten not to dent it either with a waggon or by driving cattle over it'. What do we infer from this designation to have been the thing that so much alarmed him that he almost prohibits even setting foot on it? Let us compare it with rottenness in wood, and we shall find that the faults of soil which he holds in such aversion consist in being dry, porous, rough, white, full of holes and like pumice-stone. He has said more by one striking word than could be fully recounted by any quantity of talk. For some soil exists which analysis of its vices shows to be not old in age, a term which conveys no meaning in the case of earth, but old in its own nature, and consequently infertile and powerless for every purpose. The same authority gives the view that the best land is that extending in a level plain from the base of a mountain range in a southerly direction, this being the conformation of the whole of Italy, and that the soil called 'dark' is 'tender'; consequently this will be the best land both for working and for the crops. We need only try to see the meaning of this remarkably significant expression 'tender', and we shall discover that the term comprises every desideratum. 'Tender' soil is soil of moderate richness, a soft and easily worked soil, neither damp nor parched; it is soil that shines behind the ploughshare, like the field which Homer, the fountainhead of all genius, has described as represented by a divine artist in a carving on a shield, and he has added the marvellous touch about the furrow showing black although the material used to represent it was gold; it is the soil that when freshly turned attracts the rascally birds which accompany the ploughshare and the tribe of crows which peck the very footprints of the ploughman.
In this place moreover may be quoted a dictum as to luxury that is also undoubtedly to the point. Cicero, that other luminary of learning, says 'Unguents with an earthy taste are better than those with the flavour of saffron'he preferred the word 'taste' to 'smell'. It is certainly the case that a soil which has a taste of perfume will be the best soil. And if we need an explanation as to what is the nature of this odour of the soil that is desiderated, it is that which often occurs even when the ground is not being turned up, just towards sunset, at the place where the ends of rainbows have come down to earth, and when the soil has been drenched with rain following a long period of drought. The earth then sends out that divine breath of hers, of quite incomparable sweetness, which she has conceived from the sun. This is the odour which ought to be emitted when the earth is turned up, and when found it will deceive no one; and the scent of the soil will be the best criterion of its quality. This is the kind of earth usually found in land newly ploughed where an old forest has been felled, earth that is unanimously spoken highly of. And in the matter of bearing cereals the same earth is understood to be more fertile the more often cultivation has been suspended and it has lain fallow; but this is not done in the case of vineyards, and consequently the greater care must be exercised in the selection of their site, so as not to justify the opinion of those who have formed the view that the land of Italy has by this time been exhausted. In other kinds of soil, it is true, ease of cultivation depends also on the weather, and some land cannot be ploughed after rain, as owing to excessive richness it becomes sticky; but on the other hand in the African district of Byzacium, that fertile plain which yields an increase of one hundred and fifty fold, land which in dry weather no bulls can plough, after a spell of rain we have seen being broken by a plough drawn by a wretched little donkey and an old woman at the other end of the yoke. The plan of improving one soil by means of another, as some prescribe, throwing a rich earth on the top of a poor one or a light porous soil on one that is moist and too lush, is an insane procedure: what can a man possibly hope for who farms land of that sort?
IV. There is another method, discovered by the provinces of Britain and those of Gaul, the method of feeding the earth by means of itself, and the kind of soil called marl: this is understood to contain a more closely packed quality of richness and a kind of earthy fatness, and growths corresponding to the glands in the body, in which a kernel of fat solidifies. This also has not been overlooked by the Greeksindeed what have they left untested? They give the name of leucargillum to a white clay that they use on the land at Megara, but only where the soil is damp and chilly. The other substance brings wealth to the provinces of Gaul and Britain, and may suitably receive a careful description.
There had previously been two kinds of marl, but recently with the progress of discoveries a larger number have begun to be worked: there is white marl, red marl, dove-coloured marl, argillaceous marl, tufa marl and sand marl. It has a twofold consistency, rough or greasy, each of which can be detected by its feel in the hand. Its use is correspondingly double, to feed cereals only or to feed pasture-land as well. Tufa marl nourishes grain, and white marl, if it is found where springs rise, has unlimited fertilizing properties, but it is rough to handle, and if it is scattered in excessive quantities it scorches up the soil. The next kind is the red marl, which is known as acaunumarga, consisting of stone mingled with a thin, sandy earth. The stone is crushed on the land itself, and in the earliest years of its employment the fragments make the cornstalks difficult to cut; however, as it is extremely light it can be carried for only half of the cost charged for the other varieties. It is scattered on the land thinly; it is thought to contain a mixture of salt. With both of these kinds a single scattering serves for fifty years to fertilize either crops or pasture.
Of the marls that are greasy to the touch the chief one is the white. It has several varieties, the most pungent being the one mentioned above. Another variety of white marl is the chalk used for cleaning silver; this is obtained from a considerable depth in the ground, usually from pits made 100 feet deep, with a narrow mouth but with the shaft expanding in the interior, as is the practice in mines. This chalk is chiefly used in Britain. Its effect lasts for 80 years, and there is no case of anybody having scattered it on the same land twice in his lifetime. A third kind intermixed with a greasy earth, and it is a more effective, white marl is called glisomorga; this is fullers' chalk more dressing for pasture than for corn, so that, when a crop of corn has been carried, before the next sowing a very abundant crop of hay can be cut, although while growing corn the land does not produce any other plant. Its effect lasts 30 years; but if it is scattered too thickly it chokes the soil just as Segni plaster does. For dove-coloured marl the Gallic provinces have a name in their own language, eglecopaia; it is taken up in blocks like stone, and is split by the action of sun and frost so as to form extremely thin plates. This kind of marl is equally beneficial for corn and grass. Farmers use sandy marl if no other is available; but they use it on damp soils even if another sort is available. The Ubii are the only race known to us who while cultivating extremely fertile land enrich it by digging up any sort of earth below three feet and throwing it on the land in a layer a foot thick; but the benefit of this top-dressing does not last longer than ten years. The Aedui and the Pictones have made their arable land extremely fertile by means of chalk, which is indeed also found most useful for olives and vines. But all marl should be thrown on the land after it has been ploughed, in order that its medicinal properties may be absorbed at once; and it requires a moderate amount of dung, as at first it is too rough and is not diffused into vegetation; otherwise whatever sort of marl is used it will injure the soil by its novelty, even with dung it does not promote fertility in the first year. It also makes a difference what sort of soil the marl is required for, as the dry kind is better for a damp soil and the greasy kind for a dry soil, while either sort suits land of medium quality, either chalk-marl or dove-marl.
V. Farmers north of the Po are so fond of employing ash that they prefer it to dung, and they burn stable dung, which is the lightest kind, in order to get the ash. Nevertheless they do not use both kinds of manure indifferently in the same field, and do not use ashes in plantations of shrubs, nor for some kinds of crops, as we shall explain later. Some are of the opinion that dust helps the growth of grapes, and they sprinkle it on the fruit when it is forming and scatter it on the roots of the vines and the trees. It is certainly the case that in the Province of Narbonne a wind from west-north-west ripens vintage grapes, and in that district dust contributes more than sunshine.
VI. There are several varieties of dung, and its actual employment dates a long way back; as far back as Homer an aged king in the poem is found thus enriching his land with his own hands. The invention of this procedure is traditionally ascribed to King Augeas in Greece, and its introduction in Italy to Hercules, though Italy has immortalized Stercutus son of Faunus on account of this invention. Marcus Varro gives the first rank to thrushes' droppings from aviaries, which he also extols for fodder of cattle and swine, declaring that no other fodder fattens them more quickly. If our ancestors had such large aviaries that they supplied manure for the fields, it is possible to be hopeful about our own morals! But Columella puts manure from dovecots first, and next manure from the poultry-yard, condemning the droppings of water birds entirely. The rest of the authorities advocate the residue of human banquets as one of the best manures, and some of them place even higher the residue of men's drink, with hair found in curriers shops soaked in it, while others recommend this liquor by itself, after water has been again mixed with it and even in larger quantity than when the wine is being drunk; the fact being that a larger amount of badness has to be overcome in the liquor when to the original poison of the wine the human factor has been added. These are contested questions; and they use man even for nourishing soil. Next to this kind of manure the dung of swine is highly commended Columella alone condemning it. Others recommend the dung of any quadruped that feeds on clover, but some prefer pigeons' droppings. Next comes the dung of goats, after that sheep's dung, then cow-dung and last of all that of beasts of burden.
These distinctions were recognized in early days, and at the same time I do not find modern rules for the use of dung, since in this matter also old times are more serviceable; and before now in some parts of the provinces there has been so large and valuable a supply of beasts that the practice has been seen of passing dung through a sieve, like flour, the stench and look of it being transformed by the action of time into something actually attractive. (It has lately been found that olives particularly thrive on ashes from a lime kiln.) To the rules given Varro adds the employment of the lightest kind of horse-dung for manuring cornfields, but for meadowland the heavier manure produced by feeding barley to horses, which produces an abundant growth of grass. Some people even prefer stable-manure to cow-dung and sheep's droppings to goat's, but they rate asses' dung above all other manures, because asses chew their fodder very slowly; but experience on the contrary pronounces against each of these. It is however universally agreed that no manure is more beneficial than a crop of lupiue turned in by the plough or with forks before the plants form pods, or else bundles of lupine after it has been cut, dug in round the roots of trees and vines; and in places where there are no cattle they believe in using the stubble itself or even bracken for manure.
Cato says: 'You can make manure of stable-litter, lupines, chaff, beanstalks and holm-oak or oak leaves. Pull up the dane-wort and hemlock out of the crop, and the high grass and sedge growing round osier beds; use this as litter for sheep, and rotten leaves for oxen.If a vine is making poor growth, make a bonfire of its shoots and plough in the ashes therefrom.' He also says: 'Where you are going to sow corn, give your sheep a free run on the land.'
VII. Moreover Cato also says that there are certain crops which themselves nourish the land: 'Cornland is manured by grain, lupine, beans and vetches'; just as on the contrary: 'Chick-pea, because it is pulled up by the roots and because it is salt, barley, fenugreek, bitter vetch,these all scorch up a cornland, as do all plants that are pulled up by the roots. Do not plant stone-fruit in cornland.'Virgil holds the opinion that cornland is also scorched by flax, oats and poppies.
VIII. They recommend making dung-heaps in the open air in a hole in the ground made so as to collect moisture, and covering the heaps with straw to prevent their drying up in the sun, after driving a hard-oak stake into the ground, which will keep snakes from breeding in the dung. It pays extremely well to throw the manure on the ground when a west wind is blowing and during a dry moon; most people misunderstand this and think that it should be done when the west wind is just setting in, and only in February, whereas most crops require manuring in other months also. Whatever time is chosen for the operation, care must be taken to do it when the wind is due west and the moon on the wane and accompanied by dry weather. Such precautions increase the fertilizing effect of manure to a surprising degree.
IX. Having begun by stating at considerable length the principles of climate and soil, we will now describe the trees that are produced by the care and skill of mankind. There are almost as many varieties of these as there are of those that grow wild, so bountifully have we repaid our debt of gratitude to Nature; for they are produced either from seed or from root-cuttings or by layering or tearing off a slip or from a cutting or by grafting in an incision in the trunk of a tree. As for the story that at Babylon they plant palm-leaves and produce a tree in that way, I am surprised that Trogus believed it. Some trees however can be grown by several of the above methods, and some by all of them.
X. And the majority of these methods were taught us by Nature herself, in particular that of sowing a seed, because when a seed fell from a tree and was received into the earth it came to life again. Indeed there are some trees that are not grown in any other way, for instance chestnuts and walnuts, with the exception, that is, of those intended for felling; but also some grown in other ways are grown from seed as well, though a different kind of seedfor instance vines and apples and pearsas with these a pip serves as a seed, and not the actual fruit, as in the case of the trees mentioned above. Also medlars can be grown from seed. All of these trees are slow in coming on, and liable to degenerate so as to have to be restored by grafting; and sometimes this happens even with chestnuts.
XI. Some trees on the other hand have the property of not degenerating at all in whatever way they are propagated, for instance cypresses, the palm and laurelsfor the laurel also can be propagated in a variety of ways. We have stated the various kinds of laurel. Of these the Augusta, the berry laurel and the laurustinus are propagated in a similar manner: their berries are picked in January, after they have been dried by a spell of north-east wind, and are spread out separately, so as not to ferment by lying in a heap; afterwards some people treat them with dung in preparation for sowing and soak them with urine, but others put them in running water in a wicker basket, and stamp on them till the skin is washed away, which otherwise is attacked by stagnant moisture and does not allow them to bear. They are planted in a freshly dug trench a hand's breadth deep, about twenty in a cluster; this is done in March. These laurels can also be propagated by layering, but the laurel worn in triumphal processions can only be grown from a cutting. Myrtles of all varieties are grown from berries in Campania, but at Rome by layering. Democritus tells us that the Taranto myrtle is also grown in another way: the berries are taken, and after being crushed lightly so as not to break the pips are mixed into a paste with water and this is pounded up and smeared on a rope, which is then put in the ground; from this, he says, will grow up a remarkably thick hedge, from which slips can be transplanted. They also grow brambles for hedges in the same way, by smearing a rope of rushes with blackberries. In case of scarcity, laurel and myrtle seeds are ready for transfer at the end of three years.
Among the trees that are grown from seed, Mago deals elaborately with those of the nut class. He says that the almond should be sown in soft clay soil with a south aspect, but that it also does well in hard warm ground, but in a rich or damp soil it dies or does not bear. He recommends choosing for sowing almonds shaped as much as possible like a sickle, and picked from a young tree, and says they should be soaked for three days in diluted manure, or else on the day before sowing in water sweetened with honey; and that they should be put in the ground with their point downward and with their sharp edge facing north-east; that they should be sown in groups of three, placed four inches apart from each other in a triangular formation; and that they should be watered every ten days, until they begin to swell. Walnuts are sown lying on their sides with the join of the shell downward; and pine-cones are planted in groups of about seven, contained in pots with a hole in the bottom, or else in the same way as a laurel that is being grown from berries. The citron is grown from pips and from layers, and the sorb from seed or from a cutting from the root or from a slip; but the citron needs a warm situation, whereas the sorb requires a cool and damp one.
XII. Nature has also taught the art of making nurseries, as from the roots of many trees there shoots up a teeming cluster of progeny, and the mother tree bears offspring destined to be killed by herself, inasmuch as her shadow stifles the disorderly throngas in the case of laurels, pomegranates, planes, cherries and plums; although with a few trees in this class, for instance elms and palms, the branches spare the young suckers. But young shoots of this nature are only produced by trees whose roots are led by their love of sun and rain to move about on the surface of the ground. All of these it is customary not to put in their own ground at once, but first to give them to a foster-mother and let them grow up in seed-plots, and then change their habitation again, this removal having a marvellously civilizing effect even on wild trees, whether it be the case that, like human beings, trees also have a nature that is greedy for novelty and travel, or whether on going away they leave their venom behind when the plant is torn up from the root, and like animals are tamed by handling.
XLII. Also Nature demonstrated another kind of propagation resembling the previous one, and suckers torn away from trees continued to live; in this procedure the slips are torn away with their haunch as well, and carry off with them some portion also from their mother's body with its fibrous substance. This is a method used in striking pomegranates, hazels, apples, sorbs, medlars, ash plants, figs, and above all vines; but the quince if struck in this way deteriorates in quality. From the same method a way was discovered of cutting off slips and planting these, a plan first adopted with elders, quinces and brambles, which were planted for the purpose of making a hedge, but later it was also introduced as a way of growing trees, for instance poplars, alders, and willow, which last is even planted with the cutting upside down. Suckers are planted out at once in the place chosen for them to occupy; however, before going on to other classes of plants it is desirable to speak of the management of a nursery.
XIV. For, with a view to a nursery it pays to chose soil of the highest quality, since it often comes about that a nurse is more ready to humour young things than a mother. Consequently the soil should be dry and sappy, and well worked with a double mattock so as to be hospitable to the new arrivals, and it should resemble as closely as possible the earth into which they are to be transplanted; and before all the plot must be cleared of stones, and fenced in well enough to protect it even from the inroads of poultry; and it should be as free from cracks as possible, so that the sun may not penetrate into it and scorch the roots. The seeds should be sown eighteen inches apart, as if the plants touch one another, besides other defects they get worm-eaten; and it pays to hoe them and weed them fairly often, and also to prune the seedlings themselves when they branch and accustom them to endure the knife. Cato also recommends erecting hurdles supported on forked sticks, the height of a man, to catch the sun, and thatching these with straw to keep off the cold; and he says that this is the method for rearing pear and apple seeds, and pine cones, and also cypresses, as even they can be grown from seed. Cypress seed consists of very small grains, some of them scarcely perceptible, and we must not remark on Nature's miracle of producing trees from so small seed when a grain of wheat or barley is so much larger, not to reckon a bean. What resemblance have apple seeds and pear seeds to their source of origin? To think that from these beginnings is born the timber that contemptuously rebuffs the axe, presses that are not overcome by immense weights, masts for sails, battering rams for demolishing towers and walls! Such is the force and such the potency of Nature. But the crowning marvel will be that there is something that derives its origin from a teardrop, as we shall mention in the proper place.
Well then, in the months that we have specified, the tiny seed-balls are gathered from the female cypressfor the male tree, as we have said, is barrenand are put to dry in the sun; and they burst open and emit their seed, which has a remarkable attraction for ants, a fact that actually increases the marvel, for the germ of such huge trees to be consumed for the food of such a small animal! The seed is sown in April, after the earth has been levelled by means of rollers or rammers; it is scattered thickly and a layer of earth a thumb deep is sprinkled upon it from sieves: it is not strong enough to rise up against a greater weight, and it twists back under the ground; on this account another method is merely to tread it into the earth. Every three days it is given a light watering, after sunset so as to soak in the moisture even, until the plants break out from the earth. They are transplanted after a year, when the seedling is nine inches long, regard being paid to the weather so that they may be planted under a bright sky and when there is no wind. And wonderful to say, on that day and that day only it is dangerous for them if there is the smallest sprinkle of rain or a breath of wind; whereas for the future the plants are continually safe and secure, and later on they have a dislike for humidity. Jujube-trees are also grown from seed sown in April. Tuber-apples are better grafted on the wild plum, the quince or the buckthorn bush, the last being a wild thorn. Any thorn also takes grafts of the sebesten-plum extremely well, and also takes the sorb-plum satisfactorily.
As for the recommendation to transfer plants from the nursery to some other place before they are planted out in the place assigned to them, I consider that this causes unnecessary trouble, albeit this process does guarantee the growth of leaves of a larger size.
XV. Elm-seed should be collected about the first of March, before the tree is clothed with foliage, when the seed is beginning to turn yellow. Then it should be left in the shade to dry for two days, and afterwards thickly sown in ground that has been broken up, and a layer of earth sifted fine in a sieve should be sprinkled on it, of the thickness recommended in the case of cypresses; and if no rain comes to your assistance, it must be watered. A year afterwards the plants should be removed from the rows of the beds to the elm-grounds and planted at a distance of a foot apart each way. Atinian elms it pays better to plant in autumn, because they are grown from cuttings, having no seed. For a grove in the neighbourhood of the city they should be transplanted when they are five years old, or, as some hold, when they have reached a height of twenty feet. They should be set in what is called a 'nine-square-foot' trench, 3 ft. deep and 3 ft. broad and even larger. When they have been planted, mounds 3 ft. high from the ground level should be heaped round themthe name for these mounds in Campania is 'little altars'. The spacing must be settled according to the nature of the place: in level country it is suitable to plant the young trees wider apart. It is also proper to plant out poplars and ashes earlier, because they bud more quicklythat is, planting should start on the 13th of February: these frees also growing from cuttings. In spacing out trees and plantations and planning vineyards the diagonal arrangement of rows is commonly adopted and is essential, being not only advantageous in allowing the passage of air, but also agreeable in appearance, as in whatever direction you look at the plantation a row of trees stretches out in a straight line. In the case of poplars the same method of growing them from seed is used as with elms, and also the same method of transplanting them from nurseries or forests.
XVI. It is consequently of the first importance for shoots to be transplanted into similar or better toil, and not moved from warm or early ripening positions into cold or backward ones, nor yet from the latter to the former either; and to dig the trenches some time in advanceif possible, long enough before to allow the holes to get covered over with thick turf. Mago advises a year in advance, so as to let the holes absorb the sunshine and rain, or, if circumstances do not allow of this, he recommends making fires in the middle of the holes two months before, and only planting the seedlings in the holes so prepared just after rain has fallen. He says that in a clay soil or a hard soil the pits should measure 4 ft. 6 in. each way, 3 or 4 inches more on sloping sites, and he prescribes their being dug like an oven, narrower at the orifice; in black earth he advises a hole 3 ft. 4 in. deep, in the form of a square of the same dimensions. The authorities agree that the holes ought not to be more than 24 ft. deep or 2 ft. wide, but nowhere less than 18 in. deep. Because of the fact that in damp pound one gets through to the neighbourhood of water, Cato advises that if the place is damp the holes should be a yard wide at the orifice and 16 inches wide at the bottom, and 4 ft. deep, and that they should be floored with stones, or, if stones are not available, with stakes of green willow, or, if these are also not available, with brushwood, so as to reduce their depth by six inches. To us, after what has been said as to the nature of trees, it appears proper to add that those which are fond of the surface of the ground, for instance the ash and the olive, must be sunk deeper in; these and similar trees should be sunk four feet down, but for the others a depth of three feet will be enough. And there is no harm in trimming the parts that have become exposed: 'Lop clear that root there,' said General Papirius Cursor when to intimidate the chief magistrate of Palestrina he ordered the lictor to draw his axe. Some persons recommend putting at the bottom a layer of potsherdsothers prefer round stonesin order to hold in the moisture and also let some through, thinking that flat stones do not act in the same way and prevent the root from reaching the earth. A middle course between the two opinions would be to pave the bottom with a layer of gravel.
Some people recommend transplanting a tree when it is not less than two years old and not more than three, others when it is large enough round to fill the Cato's view a is that it ought to be more than five inches thick. The same authority would not have omitted, if it were important, to recommend making a mark in the bark on the south side, so that when trees were transplanted they might be set in the same directions as regards the seasons as those to which they were accustomed, to prevent their north sides from being split if set facing the midday sun and their south sides from being nipped if facing the north wind. Some people also follow the contrary plan in the case of a vine or a fig, replanting them turned the other way round, from the view that this makes them grow thicker foliage and afford better shelter to their fruit and be less liable to lose it, and that a fig-tree so treated also becomes strong enough to be climbed. Most people only take care to make the wound left where the end of a branch has been lopped face south, not being aware that this exposes it to cracks caused by excessive heat; I should prefer to let a lopped end point somewhat east of south or somewhat west of south. It is equally little known that care should be taken not to let the roots become dry owing to delay in replanting, and not to dig up trees when the wind is in the north or in any quarter between north and southeast, or at all events not to leave the roots exposed to the wind in these quarters; such exposure causes trees to die without the growers knowing the cause. Cato disapproves of wind in any quarter and of rain also during all the time while transplantation is going on. It will be a good precaution against wind and rain to leave as much as possible of the earth in which the trees have been living clinging to their roots, and to bind them all round with turf, though for this purpose Cato directs conveying the trees to the fresh place in baskets, no doubt most useful advice; and moreover be thinks it satisfactory for the top layer of soil to be put at the bottom of the hole. Some writers say that with pomegranates to lay stones at the bottom of the hole will prevent the fruit from bursting open on the tree. It is better to plant the roots in a bent position; and it is essential for the tree itself to be so placed as to be exactly in the middle of the hole. It is said that if a fig-tree is planted stuck in a squillthis is a kind of bulbit bears fruit very quickly, and is not liable to attacks of worm, a defect from which all other kinds of fruit trees planted in a similar way are exempt. Who can doubt that great care ought to be taken with the fibres of the roots, so that they may appear to have been taken, not torn, out of the ground? On this account we omit the remaining rules that are admitted, for instance that the earth round the roots should be rammed tight with a light mallet, which Cato thinks of primary importance in this matter, also advising that a wound made on the trunk should be plastered over with dung and bandaged with leaves.
XVII. A part of this topic is the question of the spaces between the trees. Some people have advised planting pomegranates, myrtles, and laurels rather close together, only three yards apart, apples a little wider apart, pears still wider, and almonds and figs wider again; although this matter will best be decided by taking account of the length of the branches and the dimensions of the places concerned, as well as of the shadow of each particular tree, since these too must be considered: even large trees throw only small shadows when their branches curve round into a circular shape, as in the ease of apples and pears, whereas cherries and laurels throw exceptionally wide shadows.
XVIII. We turn now to certain special properties of the shade of different trees. That of walnut is heavy, and even causes headache in man and injury to anything planted in its vicinity; and that of the pine-tree also kills grass; but both the pine and the walnut withstand wind, as also their projecting branches shield them like penthouses. Very heavy raindrops fall from the pine oak and holm-oak, but none at all from the cypress, which throws a very small compact shadow around it; and fig-trees give only a light shadow, however much spread out, and consequently it is not necessary to make it a rule not to plant them between vines. Elms give a gentle shade which actually promotes the growth of any plants that it falls on, although Atticus holds the view that also the shade of elms is one of the most oppressive, nor do I doubt that it is so if they are allowed to shoot out into branches, although I do not think that the shade of the elm does any harm when the tree is kept within bounds. The shade of the plane also though dense is agreeable, as we may learn from the evidence of grass, which under no other tree covers the banks more luxuriantly. The poplar with its gaily quivering leaves gives no shade at all; the shade of the alder is dense but permits the growth of plants. The vine gives enough shade for itself, as its quivering foliage and constant tossing tempers the sunshine with shadow, while by the same means it affords shelter in a heavy shower of rain. Nearly all trees of which the leaves have long stalks afford only light shade.
Even this department of knowledge is not to be despised, nor put in the last class, inasmuch as to each kind of plant shade is either a nurse or else a stepmotherat all events for the shadow of a walnut tree or a stone pine or a spruce or a silver fir to touch any plant whatever is undoubtedly poison.
XIX. The question of raindrops falling from trees can be settled briefly. With all the trees which are so shielded by the spread of their foliage that the rainwater does not flow down over the tree itself the drip does cruel injury. Consequently in this enquiry it will make a great deal of difference over what space the soil in which we are going to plant causes the various trees to grow. In the first place, hillsides in themselves require smaller intervals between the trees. In places exposed to the wind, it pays to plant trees closer together, but nevertheless to give the olive very wide spacing, Cato's opinions for Italy being that olives should be planted 25 or at most 30 feet apart; but this varies with the nature of the sites. The olive is the largest of all the trees in Andalusia; in Africa, however, so it is statedthe guarantee for this statement will rest with the authorities who make itthere are a number of trees called 'thousand-pounders', from the weight of oil that they produce in a year's crop. Consequently Mago has prescribed a space of 75 feet all round, or in thin, hard soil exposed to the wind, 45 feet at least. Andalusia however reaps most abundant crops of corn grown between the olives. It will be agreed that it shows shameful ignorance to thin full-grown trees more than a proper amount and hasten them into old age, or to cut them down altogether, by doing which the persons who planted them frequently manifest their own incompetence. Nothing is more disgraceful for farmers than to do a thing and then have to be sorry for it, so that in fact it pays much better to err by leaving too much space between some trees are by nature slow growers, and in particular those that only grow from seed and that live a long time. Those on the other hand that are short-lived, for instance the fig, pomegranate, plum, apple, pear, myrtle and willow, grow quickly, and nevertheless they lead the way in producing their riches, for they begin to bear at three years old, making some show even before. Among these the pear is the slowest of all to bear, and the cypirus and the false cypirus bush the quickest, for this group flowers straight away and goes on to produce its seed. But all trees mature more quickly if the suckers are removed and the nourishing juices brought back into a single stem.
XXI. Nature has likewise also taught the art of reproducing from layers. Brambles curving over with their slender and also excessively long shoots plant their ends in the earth again and sprout afresh out of themselves, in a manner that would fill up the whole place if resistance were not offered by cultivation, so that it would be positively possible to imagine that mankind was created for the service of the earth. Thus a most evil and execrable circumstance has nevertheless taught the use of the layer and the quickset. Ivies also have the same property. Beside the vine, Cato gives instructions for layering the fig, olive, pomegranate, all kinds of apples, laurels, plums, myrtle, filberts and Palestrina nuts, and the plane.
There are two kinds of layer. A branch is bent down from the tree into a hole measuring four feet each way, and after two years is cut off at the bend, and three years later the growth is transplanted to another place; if it is desired to carry layers so struck a considerable distance, it is most suitable to plant them at once in baskets or earthenware pots, so that they may be carried to the fresh site in these. The other method is more elaborate; it is effected by inducing roots to grow on the tree itself by passing branches through earthenware pots or baskets and packing them round with earth, and so enticing roots to grow right among the fruit and at the ends of the branchesas branch-ends to form roots in this way are obtained at the top of the tree, by the daring device of creating another tree a long way off the groundand after the same interval of two years as in the previous method cutting off the layer and planting it together with the basket. Savine is grown from a layer and also from a slip; it is said that wine-lees or crushed brick from walls make it grow marvellously; and rosemary is reproduced by the same methods and also from a branch, since neither savine nor rosemary has a seed; the rhododendron is grown both by layering and from seed.
XXII. Nature has also taught the method of grafting by means of seed; a seed that has been hurriedly swallowed whole by a hungry bird and has become sodden by the warmth of its belly is deposited together with a fertilizing manure of dung in a soft bed in the fork of a tree, or else, as often happens, is carried by the wind into some crevice or other in the bark; a result of this we have seen a cherry tree growing on a willow, a plane on a laurel, a laurel on a cherry, and berries of different colours growing together. lit is also reported that the same thing may be caused by a jackdaw when it hides seeds in the holes that are its storehouses.
XXIII. From this has been derived the process of inoculation, consisting in opening an eye in a tree by cutting away the bark with a tool resembling a shoemaker's punch and enclosing in it a seed that has been removed from another tree by means of the same tool. This was the method of inoculation used in old days in the case of figs and apples; but the method described by Virgil is to find a recess in a knot of bark burst open by a shoot and to enclose in this a bud obtained from another tree.
XXIV. And so far Nature has herself been our instructor; but grafting was taught us by Chance, another tutor and one who gives us perhaps more frequent lessons, and this was how he did it: a careful farmer, making a fence round his house to protect it, put under the posts a base made of ivy-wood, so as to prevent them from rotting; but the posts when nipped by the bite of the still living ivy created life of their own from another's vitality, and it was found that the trunk of a tree was serving instead of earth. Continuing, the surface of the wood is levelled off with a saw and the trunk smoothed with a pruning-knife. Afterwards there is a twofold method of procedure; and the first method consists of inserting the graft between the bark and the wood, as people in former days were afraid of making a cleft in the trunk; although subsequently they ventured to bore right into the middle and adopted the plan of forcing the graft into the pith itself inside it, inserting only one graft as the pith would not take more. But subsequently a more elaborate method is for as many as six grafts to be added to reinforce their liability to die and their number, a cleft being carefully made through the middle of the trunk and being kept open by means of a thin wedge until the graft, the end of which has been pared into a point, goes right down into the crack.
In this process a great many precautions have to be observed. First of all we must notice what kind of tree will stand grafting of this nature, and what tree it will take a graft from. Also the sap is variously distributed, and does not lie under the bark in the same parts with all trees: in vines and figs the middle is drier, and generation starts from the top, shoots for grafting being consequently taken from the top of the tree, whereas in olives the sap is round the middle and grafts are also taken from there, the tops being parched up. Grafts and trunk grow together most easily when they have the same kind of bark and when they flower at the same time, so that they have the affinity of the same season and a partnership of juices; whereas it is a slow business when there is incompatibility between dry tissues and damp ones, and between hard and soft barks. The other points to be observed are not to make the cleft at a knot, as the inhospitable hardness repudiates a newcomer; to make it at the shiniest place; not to make it much more than three inches long, nor on a slant, nor so as to be transparent. Virgil says that grafts must not be taken from the top, and it is certain that the slips should be obtained from the shoulders of the tree that look north-east, and from trees that are good bearers and from a young shoot, unless the tree on which they are to be grafted is an old one, as in that case the slip must be stouter. A further point is that slips that are going to be grafted must be pregnant, that is, swelling with bud-formations, and in expectation of giving birth in that year, and they must be at all events two years old, and not thinner than the little finger. But grafts are also inserted the other way round a when the intention is for them not to grow so long but to spread out. Before all things it will be serviceable for them to have buds and to be glossy, as nothing shabby or shrivelled anywhere will gratify one's hopes. The pith of the slip grafted should be put touching the place in the mother tree where the wood and the bark meet, for that is more satisfactory than to place it level with the bark outside. The process of giving a point to the slip for grafting must not strip the pith quite bare, but only make it visible through a narrow aperture; the point must slope off in an even wedge not more than three inches long, which is most easily achieved by dipping the slip in water when paring it. It must not be exposed to wind while it is being pointed. The bark must not be allowed to become separated from the wood in either the graft or the trunk. The graft must be pressed right down to where its bark begins, but it must not be forced out of shape while it is being pressed home, nor have its bark folded back in wrinkles. Consequently shoots dripping with sap should not be used for grafting, no more, I swear, than ones that are dry, because in the former case excess of moisture causes the bark to slip, while in the latter owing to defective vitality it makes no moisture and does not incorporate with the trunk. Moreover there is a religious rule that a graft must be inserted while the moon is waxing; and that both hands must be used in pressing it home; and apart from that, to use both hands at once in this job requires less effort, as it involves combining their forces. Grafts pressed in too forcibly are slower in bearing but last more stoutly, while the contrary procedure has the opposite results. The crack must not gape too wide and afford a loose hold, nor yet not wide enough, so as to squeeze the graft out or to kill it by pressure; special care must be taken to avoid the latter in the trunk of a tree that takes the graft with an excessively powerful hold. In order that a cleft may be left in the middle, some people make a line of cleavage in the trunk with a pruning-hook and bandage the actual edge of the incision with a withe, and afterwards force it apart with a wedge, the bandage keeping it from gaping open too freely. Some slips are grafted on plants in a seed-plot and then are transplanted on the same day. If a rather thick stock is used for grafting, it is better to insert it between the bark and the wood, after using a wedge, preferably of bone, to loosen the bark, so as not to break it. Cherry-trees have their inner rind removed before the incision is made. They are the only trees that are grafted even after midwinter. After the bark has been removed they have a layer of a sort of down, and if this gets a hold on the graft it makes it decay. The most effective way of tightening the bandage is by driving a wedge into it; it suits best to insert it as close to the ground as the formation of the tree and the knots allows. Grafts ought not to project to a length of more than six inches.
Cato a recommends making a mixture of pounded white clay or chalk and cow-dung and so working it to a sticky consistency, and putting this into the fissure and smearing it round it. From his remarks on the subject it is easily seen that at that period they used to insert the graft between the wood and the bark and not otherwise, nor used they to put the slips more than two inches in. He advises grafting pear and apples during the spring and fifty days after midsummer and after the vintage, but olives and figs only in the spring and when a cloudless moon is shining, and moreover in the afternoon and not if there is a south wind blowing. It is remarkable that he is not content to have safeguarded the graft in the manner described, and to have protected it against rain and frost by means of turf and soft bundles of split osiers, but he says it must be covered with a layer of bugloisa species of plantas well, and that this should be tied on with a layer of straw; whereas nowadays they think it is very adequately packed with a wrapping of mud and chaff, the graft projecting two inches from the bark.
Those who do their grafting in spring are pressed for time, as the buds are just shooting, except in the case of the olive, the eyes of which are pregnant for a very long time, and it has a very small amount of sap under the bark, which when too abundant is injurious to the grafts. But with pomegranates and the fig and other trees of a dry nature it is far from beneficial to put off grafting till a late season. A pear-tree however may be grafted when actually in blossom, and the process may be carried forward even into May. If however cuttings of fruit trees have to be brought from a considerable distance, it is believed that they best preserve their sap if they are inserted in a turnip, and it is best to store them near a stream or a pond, packed between two hollow tiles blocked up at each end with earth; but it is thought that vine-cuttings are best stored in dry ditches, under a covering of straw, with earth then piled over them so as to let their tops protrude.
XXV. Cato has three ways of grafting a vine: he advises cutting the stock short and splitting it through the pith, and then inserting into it the shoots after sharpening them at the end in the manner stated above, and making the cambium of the two meet; the second method is, in case the vines are contiguous with one another, to pare down on a slant the side of each that faces the other and to tie them together with the cambiums joined; and the third is to bore a slanting hole in the vine down to the pith and insert slips a couple of feet long, and to tie the graft in that position and cover it up with a plaster of pounded earth, with the shoots upright. Our generation has improved on this method, so as to employ a Gallic auger which makes a hole in the tree without scorching it, because all scorching weakens it, and to select a slip that is beginning to bud, and not to let it protrude from the stock by more than two eyes, ... of an elm ... tied on with a withe put two round ... on two sides with a knife, so that the slime which is the greatest enemy of vines may chiefly exude through them, and then when the whips have made two feet of growth, to cut the tie of the graft, allowing its growth to make thickness. They have fixed the time for grafting vines from the autumn equinox till the beginning of budding. Cultivated plants are grafted on roots of wild ones, which are of a closer texture, whereas if slips of cultivated plants arc grafted on the trunks of wild ones they degenerate to the wild variety. The rest depends on the weather: dry weather is most favourable for grafts, because a remedy for its ill effects is to place earthenware pots of ashes on the stock and let a small amount of water filter through the ashes; but grafting by inoculation likes a light fall of dew.
XXVI. Scutcheon grafting may itself also be thought to have sprung from grafting by inoculation, but it is most suited to a thick bark, such as that of fig-trees. The procedure is to prune all the branches so that they may not attract the sap, and then, at the most flourishing part of the tree and where it displays exceptional luxuriance, to remove a scutcheon, without allowing the knife to penetrate below the bark; and then to take a piece of bark of equal size from another tree, together with a protuberant bud, and press it into the place, fitting the join so closely that there is no room for a scar to form and a single substance is produced straight away, impervious to damp and to airthough all the same it is better to protect the splice by plastering it with mud and tying it with a bandage. People in favour of modern fashions make out that this kind of grafting was only recently invented, but it is found already in the old Greek writers and in Cato, who prescribed this method of grafting for the olive and the fig, in conformity with his invariable precision actually defining the proper measurement: he says that a piece of bark four inches long and three wide should be cut out with a knife, and so fitted to its place and smeared with that pounded mixture of his described above, in the same way as in grafting an apple. In the case of vines some people have combined with this kind of grafting the fissure method, removing a little square of bark on the side and then forcing in the shoot. We have seen beside the Falls of Tivoli a tree that has been grafted in all these ways and was laden with fruit of every kind, nuts on one branch, berries on another, while in other places hung grapes, pears, figs, pomegranates and various sorts of apples; but the tree did not live long. And nevertheless it is impossible for us by our experiments to attain to all the things found in Nature, as some cannot possibly come into existence except spontaneously, and these only occur in wild and uninhabited places. The tree most receptive of every kind of graft is believed to be the plane, and next to it the hard-oak, but both of these spoil the flavours of the fruit. Some trees, for instance the fig and the pomegranate, can be grafted in all the different methods, but the vine does not admit scutcheons, nor do trees that have a thin bark or one that peels off and cracks; nor do trees which are dry or contain only a little sap admit of inoculation. Inoculation is the most prolific of all methods of grafting, and grafting by scutcheon comes next, but both are very subject to displacement; and a graft that relies on the support of the bark only is very speedily dislodged by even a light breeze. Grafting by insertion is the firmest, and produces more fruit than a tree grown from planting.
We must not omit one extremely exceptional case. In the territory of Naples a Knight of Rome named Corellius, a native of Este, grafted a chestnut with a slip cut from the tree itself, and this is how the celebrated variety of chestnut tree named after him was produced. Subsequently his freedman Tereus grafted a Corellius chestnut again. The difference between the two varieties is this: the former is more prolific but the latter, the Tereus chestnut, of better quality.
XXVII. It is mere accident that by its own ingenuity has devised the remaining kinds of reproduction; it taught us to break off branches from trees and plant them because stakes driven into the earth had taken root. This method is used to grow many frees, especially the fig, which can be grown in all the other ways except from a cutting; the best plan indeed is to take a comparatively large branch and point it at the end like a stake and drive it deep into the earth, leaving a small head above ground and covering up even this with sand. Pomegranates also are grown from a branch, the passage into the hole having first been widened with stakes; and so also the myrtle; in all of these a branch is used that is three feet long and not so thick as a man s arm, and the bark is carefully preserved and the trunk sharpened to a point at the end.
XXVIII. The myrtle is grown from cuttings as well as in other ways, and that is the only way used for the mulberry, because superstitious fear of lightning forbids its being grafted on an elm. Consequently we must now speak about the planting of cuttings. In this care must be taken above all that the cuttings are made from trees that bear well, that they are not bent in shape nor scabbed or forked, that they are thick enough to fill the hand and not less than a foot long, that they are planted without injury to the bark and always with the cut end and the part that was nearest the root downward, and during the process of budding the plant is kept heaped over with earth until it attains strength.
XXIX. We shall best convey in Cato's own words the rules that he judged necessary to keep in looking after olives: 'Make the olive slips that you are going to plant in the hole a yard long, and handle them carefully so as not to damage the bark when cutting or trimming them. Make those you are going to plant in the nursery a foot long. Plant them thus: the place must be first dug over with a mattock and have the soil well loosened; when you put the slip in, press down the slip with your foot; if it does not go down far enough, drive it in with a mallet or a beetle, and be careful not to break the bark while you are driving it in. Do not make a hole beforehand with a dibble into which to put the slip: if you do not, it will live better. The slips do not mature till three years old, when the bark will turn. If you plant them in holes or in furrows, put them in groups of three and keep these apart. Cheek just by the eye that they do not project more than four fingers' breadth above the earth.In taking up an olive tree you should use great care and carry the roots with as much earth as possible; when you have well covered up the roots, tread them down well, so that nothing may injure them. If anyone asks what is the time for planting an olive, the answer is, where there is a dry soil, at seed-time, but where it is rich, in the spring.
XXX. Begin to prune an olive-yard a fortnight before the spring equinox; the six weeks from then onward will be the right time for pruning. Prune it in this way: in a really fertile place, remove all the parts that are dry and any branches broken by the wind; in a place that is not fertile, trim away more and reduce well and disentangle out and make the stocks smooth.In the autumn season turn up the earth round the olive-trees and add dung.The man who stirs over his olive-yard most often and deepest, will plough up the thinnest roots. If be ploughs badly, the roots will spread out on the top of the ground and will become thicker, and the strength of the olive-trees will go away into them.
We have already stated, in treating of olive-oil, what kinds of olive trees Cato tells us to plant and in what kind of soil, and what aspect he advises for olive-yards. Mago recommends that on sloping ground and in dry positions and in a clay soil they should be planted between autumn and the middle of winter, but in heavy or damp or watery soil between harvest and the middle of winterthough it must be understood that he gave this advice for Africa. Italy at any rate, at the present time, does its planting chiefly in spring, but if one chooses to plant in autumn as well, there are only four days of the forty between the equinox and the setting of the Pleiades on which it injures olives to be planted. It is peculiar to Africa that it grafts them on a wild olive, in a soft of everlasting sequence, as when they begin to get old the shoot next for engrafting is put in and so another young tree grows out of the same one and the process is repeated as often as is necessary, so that the same olive-yards go on for generations. The wild olive however is propagated both by grafting and by inoculation.
It is bad to plant an olive where an oak-tree has been dug up, because the worms called raucae breed in oak roots and go over to olives. It has been ascertained to pay better not to bury the cuttings in the ground or to dry them before they are planted. It has been found better for an old olive-yard to be raked over every other year between the spring equinox and the rising of the Pleiades, and also to have the moss scraped off the trees, but for them to be dug round every year just after midsummer with a hole a yard across and a foot deep, and to be manured with dung every third year.
Mago also tells us to plant almonds between the rising of Arcturus and the shortest day, and not to plant all kinds of pears at the same time, as they do not blossom at the same time either; he says that those with oblong or round fruit should be planted between the setting of the Pleiades and the shortest day, but the remaining kinds in midwinter after the setting of the Arrow, with an eastern or northerly aspect; and a laurel between the setting of the Eagle and the setting of the Arrow. For the rule as to the time for planting and that for grafting are connected: the authorities have decided that for the greater part grafting should be done in spring and autumn, but there is also another suitable season, about the rising of the Dog-star, known to fewer people because it is understood not to be equally advantageous for all localities, but as we are enquiring into the proper method not for a particular region but for the whole of nature we must not omit it. In the district of Cyrene they plant when the yearly winds are blowing, as they also do in Greece, and particularly the olive in Laconia. The island of Cos also plants vines at that season, but the rest of the farmers in Greece, though they do not hesitate to inoculate and to graft trees at that season, do not plant trees then. And the natural qualities of the localities carry very great weight in this matter; for in Egypt they plant in every month, and so in every country that has a summer rainfall, but in India and Ethiopia trees are necessarily planted later, in autumn. Consequently there are three regular periods for germination, spring and the rise of the Dog-star and that of Arcturus. For in fact not only do animals possess a strong appetite for copulation, but the earth and all vegetable growths have a much greater desire, the indulgence of which at the proper season is of the greatest importance for conception, and peculiarly so in the case of grafts, as both graft and stock share a mutual eagerness to unite. Those who approve of spring for grafting begin it immediately after the equinox, stating that the buds are just coming out, which facilitates the joining of the barks; but those who prefer autumn begin at the rising of Arcturus, because the grafts at once so to speak take root and are prepared when they reach springtime, and do not have their strength taken away immediately by budding. Some kinds of trees however have a fixed time of year everywhere, for instance cherries and almonds, which have to be planted or grafted about midwinter; but as to the greater number of trees the lie of the land will make the best decision, as cold and damp lands must be planted in spring, but dry and warm sites in autumn. The system general in Italy at all events assigns the times for planting in the following manner: for a mulberry from February 13 to the spring equinox; for a pear the autumn, provided it is not less than a fortnight before the shortest day; for summer apples and quinces, and also sorbs and plums, from midwinter to February 13; for the Greek carob and for peaches, right through autumn till midwinter; for the nuts, walnut and pine-cone and filbert and almond and chestnut, from March 1 to March 15; for the willow and broom about March 1. The broom is grown from seed in dry places and the willow from a slip in damp localities, as we have stated.
There is moreover a new method of graftingso that I may not wittingly pass over anything that I have anywhere discovereddevised by Columella, as he himself states, for the purpose of effecting a union even between trees of different natures and not easily combined, for example figs and olives. He gives instructions to plant a fig-tree near to an olive, with not too wide a space between for the fig at full spread to touch a branch of the olive, the most supple and pliant branch possible being chosen, and all the time during the process it must be trained by practice in curving; and afterwards, when the fig has gained full strength, which he says is a matter of three or at most five years, the top of it is cut off and the branch of the olive is itself also pruned and with its head shaved to a point in the way that has been stated is inserted in the shank of the fig, after having been secured with ties to prevent its escaping because of the bend in it. In this way, he says, by a sort of combination of layering and grafting, in three years the branch shared between the two mother trees grows together, and in the fourth year it is cut away and belongs entirely to the tree that has adopted it; this method however is not yet generally known, or at all events I have not yet obtained a complete account of it.
XXXI. For the rest, the same account that has been given above about warm and cold and damp and dry substances has also demonstrated the method of trenching. In watery soils it will be suitable to make trenches neither broad nor deep, but the contrary in warm and dry ground, so that they may receive and retain water as much as possible. This is the method used in cultivating old trees as well, as in very warm localities growers heap earth over the roots in summer and cover them up, to prevent the heat of the sun from parching them. In other places they turn up the earth round them and give access to the air, but also in winter pile up earth to protect them from frost; whereas growers in hot climates open up the roots in winter and try to obtain moisture for the thirsty trees. Everywhere the rule is to dig a circular trench three feet in circumference round the tree, though this is not done in meadowland because the roots, owing to their love of sun and moisture, wander about on the surface of the groundAnd let these be our general observations in regard to planting and grafting trees for fruit.
XXXII. It remains to give an account of those which are grown as supports for other trees, particularly for vines, and which are felled for timber. Among these the first place is taken by willows, which arc planted in a damp place, but in a hole dug two and a half feet deep, a truncheon or rod 18 inches long being used, the stouter the more serviceable. They should be set six feet apart. When three years old they are lopped off two feet from the ground to make them spread out wide and to enable them to be cut back without using ladders; for the willow is the more productive the nearer it is to the ground. It is advised that these frees also should be dug round every year, in April. This is the mode of cultivating the osier willow. The stake willow is grown both from a rod and from a truncheon, in a hole of the same depth. It is proper to cut rods from it in about three years; but these also fill up the place of trees that are growing old, by means of a layered new growth cut off after a year. A single acre of osier-willow will supply enough for 25 acres of vineyard. The white poplar is also grown for the same purpose, the hole being two feet deep and the cutting eighteen inches long and left two days to dry; the truncheons are planted one foot nine inches apart and a layer of earth a yard deep is thrown on the top of them.
XXXIII. The reed likes an even moister soil than osiers do. It is planted by putting the bulb of the root, which others call the 'eye' in a hole nine inches deep, two feet six inches apart; and it renews itself of its own accord when an old reed-bed has been rooted up, a method that has been found to pay better than thinning out, as used to be done previously, because the roots get twisted up together and are hilled by their mutual inroads. The time to plant is before the eyes of the reeds swell up, which is before the first of March. It goes on growing till midwinter, and stops when it is beginning to get hard, which is the indication that it is ready for cutting; though it is thought that the reed also requires digging round as often as the vine does. It is also planted in a horizontal position, not buried deep in the ground, and as many shoots spring up as there are eyes. It is also grown by being planted out in a hole a foot deep, with two eyes buried so that the third knot is just touching the earth, and with the head bent down so as not to hold the dew. It is cut when the moon is on the wane. For propping vines a reed dried in smoke is more serviceable than one still green.
XXXIV. The chestnut-tree is preferred to all other props because of the ease with which it is worked its obstinate durability, and because when cut it nuts again even more abundantly than the willow. It asks for a light yet not sandy soil, and especially a damp gravel or glowing-coal earth or even a powdery tufa, and it will grow in a site however shady, and facing north and extremely cold, or even in one on a slope; but at the same time it refuses dry gravel, red earth, chalk, and all rich fertile soils. We have said that it is grown from the nut, but it will only grow from very large ones, and only when they are planted five in a heap together. The soil underneath must be kept broken up from November to February, when the nuts detach themselves and fall from the tree and sprout in the ground underneath it. They should be planted in a hole measuring nine inches each way, with spaces of a foot between them. After two years they are transferred from this seed-plot to another and replanted two feet apart. People also grow them from a layer, which indeed is easier in their case than with any other tree: for the root is bared and the layer laid in the trench at full length, and then it throws out a new shoot from the top left above the earth and another from the root. When transplanted however it does not know how to make itself at home and dreads the novelty for almost two years, but afterwards it puts out shoots. Consequently plantations felled for timber are replenished by sowing nuts rather than by planting quicksets. The mode of cultivation is not different from that used for the trees a mentioned above: it is by loosening the soil and pruning the lower part for the next two years. For the rest the tree looks after itself, as its shadow kills off superfluous suckers. It is lopped before the end of the sixth year. The props provided by one acre are enough for twenty acres of vines, as they even grow forked in two from the root, and they last till after the next lopping of the plantation they come from.
The sessile-fruited oak is grown in a similar way, though later by three years in lopping, and less difficult to propagate in whatever soil it is sown; this is done in spring, with an acorn (but only a sessile-oak is grown from one) in a hole nine inches deep, with two foot spaces between the plants; the ground is lightly hoed four times a year. A sessile-oak grown as a prop is least liable to rot, and it makes new shoots when lopped most of any timber. Timber trees in addition to those we have mentioned are the ash, laurel, peach, hazel, apple, but these shoot more slowly and when fixed in the ground scarcely stand the action of the soil, not to mention the damp. The elder, on the contrary, which is very strong timber for a stake, is grown from cuttings like the poplar. About the cypress we have already said enough.
XXXV. And now that a preliminary account has been given of what may be called the rigging that supports the vines, it remains to give a particularly careful description of the nature of the vines themselves.
The shoots of the vine, and of certain other trees that have a somewhat spongy inner substance, have stalks with knotted joints that make divisions across the pith. The actual lengths of cane are short, and get shorter towards the top, and they close up their pieces between the knots with joints at each end. The pith, or what is really the life-giving soul of the tree, stretches forward filling up the length in front of it, so long as the knots are open, with a tube that allows a passage; but when they have become solidified and prevent passage, the pith is thrown back and bursts out at its lowest part close to the previous knot with a series of alternate lateral forks, as has been stated in the case of the reed and of the giant fennel; with these the swelling from the bottom knot can be observed on the right and that at the next one on the left, and so on alternately. In the case of a vine, when this swelling makes a knob at the knot it is called a `germ', but before it makes a knob, in the hollow part it is called an 'eye' and at the actual top a 'germ'. This is the way in which the main shoots, side-shoots, grapes, leaves and tendrils are formed; and it is a remarkable fact that those growing on the right-hand side are the stronger.
Consequently when these slips are planted it is necessary to cut the knots in them across the middle, without letting the pith run out. And in the case of a fig nine-inch slips are planted in holes made in the ground with pegs, in such a way as to have the parts that were nearest to the tree sunk into the earth and two eyes projecting above the surface (the term 'eyes' in slips of trees properly denotes the points from which they send out shoots). It is because of this that even when bedded out the slips occasionally produce in the same year the fruit they were going to bear on the tree if they have been planted at the proper time when pregnant, and give birth in their other position to the progeny they had begun to conceive. Fig-trees struck in this way are easily transplanted two years later, as this tree in compensation for the rapidity with which it grows old is endowed with the property of coming to maturity very rapidly.
Vines give more numerous kinds of shoots for planting. The first point is that none of these are used for planting except useless growths lopped off for brush-wood, whereas any branch that bore fruit last time is pruned away. It used to be the custom to plant the shoot with a knob of the hard wood on each side of it, and this explains why it is still called a 'mallet-shoot'; but afterwards the practice began of pulling it off with its own heel, as is done in the case of the fig; and there is no kind of slip that grows better. A third kind has been added that strikes even quicker, which has the heel removed; these slips are called 'arrows' when they are twisted before being set out, 'three-bud slips' when they are cut off and set without being twisted. By this method several can be obtained from the same shoot. To plant from young leafy shoots is unproductive, and a slip for planting must only be taken from a shoot that has already borne fruit. A shoot that has few knots in it is deemed unlikely to bear, whereas a crowd of buds is a sign of fertility. Some people say that only shoots that have flowered should be planted. It does not pay so well to plant arrow-slips, because anything that is twisted easily gets broken in being moved. Shoots chosen for planting should be not less than a foot long, with five or six knots; that length of shoot will not possibly have less than three buds. It pays best to plant them on the same day as they are cut off, or if a considerable postponement cannot be avoided, to keep them well protected, as we have instructed, or at all events to be careful not to lay them down on the surface of the earth and let them be dried up by the sun and nipped by wind or frost. Shoots that have been left too long in a dry place should be soaked in water for several days to restore their freshness.
The soil whether in a nursery or a vineyard should be exposed to the sun and should he as soft as possible, and it should be tinned over with a two-pronged fork three feet down, and thrown back with a two-spit spade or mattock to swell naturally in ridges four feet high, so that each trench goes down two feet; and when dug the earth must be cleaned of weeds and spread out, so that no part may be left uncultivated, and it must be levelled accurately by measurement: unequal ridges show that the ground has been badly dug. The part of the ground lying between the banks must also be measured. Shoots are planted either in a hole or in a longer trench, and the finest possible layer of earth is heaped over them, although in a thin soil this is of no use unless a layer of richer soil is spread underneath. The earth should cover up not fewer than two buds and should just touch the third; it must be pressed down to the same level and compacted with the dibble; in the nursery plot there should be spaces eighteen inches broad and six inches longways between every two settings; and the mallet-shoots so planted should after two years be cut back to their bottom knot, if the knot itself is spared. From this point they throw out the substance of eyes, with which at the end of three years the quickset is planted.
There is also a luxury method of growing vinesto tie four mallet-shoots together at the bottom with a tight string and so pass them through the shank bones of an ox or else through earthenware pipes, and then bury them in the earth, leaving two buds protruding. This makes the shoots grow into one, and when they have been cut back they throw out a new shoot. Afterwards the pipe is broken and the root is left free to acquire strength and the vine bears grapes on all its constituent shoots. Under another method recently discovered a mallet-shoot is split down the middle and after the pith has been scraped out the actual lengths of stalk are tied together, every precaution being taken to avoid hurting the buds. The mallet-shoot is then planted in a mixture of earth and dung, and when it begins to throw out stalks, it is cut down and dug round several times. Columella guarantees that a vine so grown will bear grapes with no stones in them, although it is extremely surprising that the planted slips themselves will live after being deprived of their pith.
I think I ought not to omit to mention that trees will grow even from slips that have no joint in them; for instance box-trees come up if planted with five or six extremely slender slips tied together. It was formerly the practice to break off these slips from a box tree that had not been pruned, as it was believed that otherwise they would not live; but experience has done away with that notion.
After the management of the nursery follows the arrangement of the vineyards. These are of five kindswith the branches spreading about on the ground, or with the vine standing up of its own accord, or else with a stay but without a cross-bar, or propped with a single cross-bar, or trellised with four bars in a rectangle. It will be understood that the same system that belongs to a propped vine is that of one in which the vine is left to stand by itself without a stay, for this is only done when there is a shortage of props. A vineyard with the single cross-bar is arranged in a straight row which is called a canterius; this is better for wine, as the vine so grown does not overshadow itself and is ripened by constant sunshine, and is more exposed to currents of air and so gets rid of dew more quickly, and also is easier for trimming and for harrowing the soil and all operations; and above all it sheds its blossoms in a more beneficial manner. The crossbar is macin of a stake or a reed, or else of a rope of hair or hemp, as in Spain and at Brindisi. More wine is produced by a rectangle-frame vineyard (the name is taken from the rectangular openings in the roofs of the courts of houses); this is divided into compartments of four by the same number of cross-bars. The method of growing vines with this frame will be described, and the same account will hold good in the case of every sort of frame, the only difference being that in this case it is more complicated.
There are in fact three ways of planting a vine; the best is to use ground that has been dug over, the next best to plant in a furrow, and the last to plant in a hole. The method of digging over has been described; for a furrow a spade's breadth is enough, and for holes the breadth of a yard each way. In each method the depth must be a yard, and consequently the vine transplanted must be not less than a yard long, even so allowing two buds to be above the surface. It is essential to soften the earth by making very small furrows at the bottom of the hole and to mix dung with it. Sloping ground requires deeper holes, with their edges on the lower side banked up as well. Some of these holes will be made longer, so as to take two vines at opposite ends, and these will be called beds. The root of the vine should be in the middle of the hole, but the slip itself, bedded in firm soil, should be pointing due east, and at first it should be given supports made of reed. Vineyards should be bisected by a main path running east and west, six yards wide so as to allow the passage of carts going in opposite directions; and they should be intersected by other cross-paths ten feet wide running through the middle of each acre, or, if the vineyard is a specially large one, it should have a main cross-path north and south as many feet wide as the one east and west, but always be divided up by fifth-row cross-pathsthat is, so that each square of vines may be enclosed by every stay. Where the soil is heavy it should only be planted after being dug over several times, and only quickset should be planted, but in a thin, loose soil even a mallet-shoot may be set in a hole or a furrow. On hillsides it is better to drive furrows across the slope than to dig up the soil, so that the falling away of earth may be held up by the cross-banks formed by the furrows. In rainy conditions or dry soil when the weather is wet mallet-shoots are best planted in autumn, unless the character of the particular area requires otherwise: a dry and hot soil will call for autumn planting, but a damp and cold soil will need it as late as the end of spring. It is no good planting a quickset either in dry soil, nor is it much use to plant a mallet-shoot in dry soils either, except after rain, but in well watered soils a vine may properly be planted even when it is producing leaves, and right on to midsummer, as is the practice in Spain. It is most advantageous if there is no wind on the day for planting, and though many growers like a south wind, Cato disapproves of this.
The space between every two vines in a soil of medium density should be five feet, and in a rich soil four feet at least, and in a thin soil eight feet at mostgrowers in Umbria and Marsia leave a space of up to twenty feet to allow of ploughing between the rows, in the case of the vineyards for which the local name is `ridged fields'; vines should be planted further apart in a rainy and misty district but closer together in a dry one. Elaborate economy has discovered a way of saving space, when planting a vineyard on ground that has been well dug over, by making a nursery-bed at the same time, so that while the quickset is planted in the place it is to occupy, the mallet-shoot is also planted, so that it may be transplanted between the vines as well as between the rows of props; this plan gives about 16,000 quick-sets in an acre of ground, while it makes a difference of two years' fruit, as a planted quickset bears two years later than a transplanted mallet-shoot.
A quickset placed in a vineyard after two years is cut back right down to the ground, leaving only one eye above the surface; a stake is fixed close to the plant, and dung is added. In the following year also it is again lopped in a similar way, and it acquires and fosters within it sufficient strength to bear the burden of reproduction. Otherwise in its hurry to bear it would shoot up slim and meagre like a bulrush and unless it were restrained with the pinning described would spend itself entirely on growth. No tree sprouts more eagerly than the vine, and unless its strength is kept for bearing, it turns entirely into growth.
The best props for vine are those of which we have spoken, or else stakes from hard-oak and olive or if they are not available, props obtained from the juniper, cypress, laburnum or elder. Staves of all other kinds must be cut back every year. For the cross-bar, reeds tied together in bundles are best for the growth of the vine, and they last five years. When shorter branches are tied together with brush-wood so as to make a sort of rope, the arcades made of them are called rope-trellises.
In its third year a vine sends out a quick-growing strong sprig (which in time becomes a tree); and this leaps up to the cross-bar. Thereupon some growers 'blind' it by removing the eyes with a pruning-knife turned upward, with the object of making it grow longera most damaging practice, as the tree's habit of putting out shoots is more profitable, and it is better to trim off leafy shoots from the plant tied to the cross-bar to the point where it is decided to let it make strength. Some people forbid touching it in the year after it is transplanted, and do not allow it to be trimmed with a pruning-knife till after 5 years, but then advise cutting it back to three buds. Others prune it back even the next year, but so as to let it add three or four new joints every year, and finally bring it up to the level of the cross-bar in the fourth year. Both methods make the tree slow to fruit, and also shrivelled and knotty, with the growth natural to dwarfs. But it is best for the mother to be strong and for the new growth to strike out boldly. Also there is no safety in a shoot covered with scarsthat idea is a great mistake, due to inexperience: any growth of that sort arises from a blow, it is not due to the mother vine. She should possess her full strength while the new shoot is growing sturdy, and she will welcome her yearly progeny with her whole substance when it is permitted to be born: Nature engenders nothing piecemeal. When the new growth has become strong enough it will have to be put in position on a cross-bar at once, but if it is still rather weak it must be pruned back and put in a sheltered position directly under the bar. It is the strength of the stem and not its age that decides; it is rash to put a vine under control before it has reached the thickness of one's thumb. In the following year one branch or two according to the strength of the parent vine should be brought on, and the same shoots must be nursed in the following year also if lack of strength makes this necessary, and only in the third year should two more be added; nor should more than four branches ever be allowed to growin short no indulgence should be shown, and fertility should always be kept in check. Also Nature is such that she wants to produce offspring more than she wants to liveall that is subtracted from a plant's wood is added to the fruit; the vine on the contrary prefers its own growth to the production of fruit, because fruit is a perishable article; thus it luxuriates ruinously, and does not fill itself out but exhausts itself.
The nature of the soil will also provide advice: in a thin soil, even if the vine possesses strength, it must be pruned back and kept within the cross-bar, so that all its young growth may shoot underneath the bar. The gaps between will have to be very small, so that the vine may just touch the bar and hope to grasp it but not actually do so, and consequently may not recline upon it and spread itself out luxuriously. This restriction must be so carefully managed that the vine may still want to grow rather than to bear.
The main branch should have two or three buds below the cross-bar from which wood may be produced, and then it should be stretched out along the bar and tied to it, so as to be held up by it, not to hang down from it, and then after the third bud it should be fastened more tightly to it by means of a tie, because that also has the effect of restraining the outgrowth of the wood and causing a more abundant outburst of shoots short of the tie; but it is forbidden to tie the end of the main branch. The nature of the vine is that the part hanging down or bound with a ligature yields fruit, and most of all the actual curve of the branch, but that which is short of the ligature makes wood, I suppose because the vital spirit and the pith mentioned above meets an obstacle. The woody shoot so produced will bear fruit in the following year. Thus there are two kinds of main branches; the shoot which comes out of the hard timber and promises wood for the next year is called a leafy shoot a or else when it is above the scar a fruit-bearing shoot, whereas the other kind of shoot that springs from a year-old branch is always a fruit-bearer. There is also left underneath the cross-bar a shoot called the keeperthis is a young branch, not longer than three buds, which will provide wood next year if the vine's luxurious growth has used itself upand another shoot next to it, the size of a wart, called the pilferer, is also left, in case the keeper-shoot should fail.
A vine called on to produce fruit before it completes seven years from being planted as a slip turns into a rush-like growth and dies. Nor is it thought proper to allow an old main branch to shoot out to a great length and as far as a fourth prop, like the old growths called by some 'snake-branches' and by others 'cables', so as to make what are named male growths'. When a vine has become hard, it is very bad to bring it across on a trellis. When a vine is four years old the main branches themselves also are twisted over, and each throws out one growth of wood, first one and then the next ones, and the earlier shoots are pruned away. It is always better to leave a keeper-shoot, but this should be one next the vine, and not longer than the length that was stated; and if the main branches shoot too luxuriantly, to twist them back, so that the vine may produce only four growths of wood, or even only two if it is trained on a single cross-bar.
If the vine is to be trained by itself without a prop, at the beginning it will want some sort of support until it learns to stand and to rise up straight, while in all other respects it will need the same treatment from the start, except that it will need to have the pruned stumps distributed by pruning in a regular cluster all round, so that the fruit may not overload one side of the tree. Incidentally, the fruit weighing down the bough will prevent it from shooting right up high. With this vine a height of above a yard begins to bend over, but all the others start bending at five feet, only the height must not be allowed to exceed the average height of a man. Growers also put low cages round the vines that spread out on the ground, to restrict their spread, with trenches made round them, so that the straggling branches may not meet each other and fight; and the greater part of the world lets its vintage grapes lie on the ground in this manner, inasmuch as this custom prevails both in Africa and in Egypt and Syria and the whole of Asia and at many places in Europe. In these vineyards therefore the vine ought to be kept down close to the ground, nourishment being given to the root in the same way and at the same time as in the case of a vine trained on a cross-bar, care being always taken to leave merely the pruned stumps, with three buds on each in fertile land and two where the soil is thinner, and it pays better to have many of them than to have long ones. The properties of soil that we have spoken of will make themselves felt more powerfully the nearer the bunches of grapes are to the ground.
It pays best to keep the different kinds of vine separate and plant each plot with only one sort, for a mixture of different varieties spoils the flavour even in the wine and not only in the must; or if they are mixed, it is essential not to combine any but those that ripen at the same time. The richer the soil and the more level the ground the greater the height of the cross-bars required, and high crossbars also suit land liable to dew and fog and where there is comparatively little wind, whereas lower bars suit thin, dry and parched land and places exposed to the wind. The cross-bars should be tied to the prop as tightly as possible, but the vine should be kept together with an easy tie. We stated what kinds of vines should be grown and in what sort of soil and with what aspect when we were enumerating the natures of the various vines and wines.
The remaining points connected with the cultivation of the vine are vehemently debated. The majority of writers recommend digging over the vineyard after every fall of dew throughout the whole of the summer, but others forbid this while the vines are in bud, because the eyes get knocked off or rubbed by the drag of people going between the rows, and for this reason it is necessary to keep away all cattle, but especially sheep, as their fleeces most easily remove buds; they also say that raking does harm while bunches of grapes are forming; that it is enough for a vineyard to be dug over three times in a year, between the spring equinox and the rising of the Pleiades, at the rise of the Dog-star, and when the grapes are turning black. Some people give the following rules: to dig over an old vineyard once between vintage and midwinter (though others think it is enough to loosen the soil round the roots and manure it), a second time after April 13 but before the vines bud, that is before May 10, and then before the vine begins to blossom, and after it has shed its blossom, and when the bunch is changing colour; but more expert growers declare that if the ground is dug more often than necessary the grapes become so thin-skinned that they burst. It is agreed that when vineyards are dug it should be done before the hottest part of the day, and likewise that a mud-like wet soil ought not to be either ploughed or dug; and that the dust raised by digging is beneficial to the vine as a protection against sun and fog.
It is agreed that the spring trimming of foliage should take place within ten days from May 15, at all events before the vine begins to blossom, and that it should be done below the level of the cross-bar. As to the subsequent trimming opinions vary: some people think that it should take place when the vine has shed its blossom, others when the grapes are just beginning to ripen. But on this point the instructions of Cato shall decide; for we also have to describe the proper method of pruning.
This is set about directly after the vintage when the warmth of the weather allows; but even in warm weather on natural principles it never ought to be done before the rise of the Eagle, as we shall show when dealing with astronomical considerations in the following volume, nor yet when the wind is in the westinasmuch as excessive haste involves a double possibility of error. If a late snap of wintry weather should nip the vines while still suffering from wounds inflicted by recent treatment, it is certain that their buds will be benumbed by the cold and the wounds will open, and the eyes, owing to the juice dripping from them, will be nipped by the inclemency of the weather; for who does not know that frost makes them brittle? All this depends on calculations regarding labour on large estates, not on the legitimate acceleration of Nature's processes. Given suitable weather, the earlier vines are pruned, the larger amount of wood they make, and the later they are pruned, the more abundant supply of fruit. Consequently it will be proper to prune meagre vines earlier and strong ones last; and always to make the cut on a slant, so that rain may fall off easily, and turned towards the ground, with the lightest possible scar, using a pruning-knife with a well sharpened edge and giving a smooth cut; but always to prune between two buds, so as not to wound the eyes in the part of the shoot cut back. They think it a sign of damage for this to be black, and that it should be cut back till one comes to the sound part, since useful wood will not shoot from a bad stock. If a meagre vine has not got suitable branches, it is a very good plan to cut it back to the ground and get it to put out new branches, and in trimming it pays not to remove the shoots growing with a cluster of grapes, for that dislodges the grapes also, except in a newly planted vine. Shoots springing on the side of the branch and not from an eye are judged to be of no use, since moreover a bunch of grapes that springs from a hard branch is so stiff that the bunch can only be removed with a knife. Some people consider that it pays better for a prop to be set between two vines, and that method does make it easier to turn up the earth round them, and it is better for a vine on a single cross-bar, provided, that is, that the trellis itself is a strong one and the locality is not exposed to high winds. In the case of a vine supported by four cross-rails the stay ought to be as close as possible to the load, although to avoid interfering with digging over the soil it ought to be 18 inches away, not more; but they advise digging over before pruning.
The following are the instructions given by Cato on the whole subject of vine growing: 'Make the vine grow as high as possible, and tie it up well, only not binding it too tight. Treat it in the following manner: turn over the earth round the base of the vines during seed-time; after pruning a vine dig round it and begin to plough; drive continuous furrows to and fro; plant layers of young vines as soon as possible, and then harrow the ground. Prune old vines as little as possible; preferably, if necessary, layer them on the ground and cut off the layers two years later. The time for cutting back a young vine will be when it has gained strength. If a vineyard has become bare of vines, make furrows between the vines and plant a quickset in each; prevent any shade from falling on the furrows, and dig them over frequently. Plant ocinuma clover in an old vineyard if the soil is meagreforbear to sow anything that makes seedand put dung, chaff and grape husks or something of that sort round the feet. When a vine begins to show leaves, trim it. Fasten young vines with several ties, so that the stems may not get broken; and as soon as a vine begins to run out into a rod, tie down its young shoots lightly and stretch them out so as to be in the right position. When the grapes begin to become mottled, tie up the vines below. One season for grafting a vine is during spring, and another when the bunch blossoms: the latter is the best. If you want to transplant an old vine, you will only be able to do so if it is of the thickness of an arm. First prune it; do not leave more than two buds on the stem. Dig it well up from the roots, and be careful not to injure the roots. Place it in the hole or furrow just as it was before, and cover it up and tread it down well; and set up the vine and tie it and bend it over in the same direction as it was before; and dig the ground frequently.Ocinum, which Cato recommends planting in a vineyard, was the old name for a fodder-plant capable of standing shade, and refers to its rapid growth.
There follows the method of growing vines on a tree, which was condemned in a remarkable way by Saserna the elder and by his son, but highly spoken of by Scrofathese are the oldest writers on agriculture after Cato, and are very great authorities; and even Scrofa only allows it in Italy, although so long a period of time gives the verdict that high-class wines can only be produced from vines on trees, and that even so the choicer wines are made from the grapes at the top of the trees, while those lowest down give a large quantity: so beneficial is the effect of height. It is on this principle also that trees are selected: first of all the elm (excepting the Atinian variety because it has too many leaves), then the black poplar, for the same reason, it having less dense foliage; also the ash and the fig are not despised by most growers, and even the olive if it has not shady branches. The planting and cultivation of these trees has been abundantly treated. It is prohibited to touch them with the pruning-knife before they are three years old; alternate branches are kept, they are pruned every other year, and in their sixth year they are wedded to the vines. Italy north of the Po beside the trees mentioned above plants its vineyards with cornel, guelder rose, lime, maple, rowan, hornbeam, and oak, but the Venezia uses willow because of the dampness of the soil. Also the elm is lopped of its top and has its middle branches spread out on three levels, no tree as a rule being left more than twenty feet high. On hills and in dry lands the stages of the elms are spread out at a height of eight feet, and on plains and in damp localities at twelve feet.
The branching of the trunk should face south, and the boughs should spread up from the fork like fingers on the hand, and also have their shaggy growth of thin twigs shaved off, so as not to give too much shade. The proper space between the trees, if the soil is to be ploughed, is forty feet behind and in front and twenty at the sides, but if it is not to be ploughed, twenty feet every way. Growers often grow ten vines against each tree, great fault being found with a farmer who trains less than three on each. It damages any but strong trees to wed vines to them, as the rapid growth of the vines kills them off. It is essential to plant the vines in a trench three feet deep, with a space of a foot between them and the tree; this saves the need of a mallet-shoot and of turning over the ground and the expense of digging, inasmuch as this method of using a tree has the special advantage that for the same ground to carry corn actually benefits the vines, and moreover that the height of the vine looks after itself, and does not make it necessary, as in a vineyard, to guard it with a wall or hedge, or at all events by going to the expense of ditches, so as to protect it from injury by animals.
In growing vines on a tree the only method used among those already described is that of quicksets or of layers; and of layering there are two varieties, as we have said: that of using baskets projecting from the actual staging of the tree, the most approved method, as it is safest from cattle, and the other one by bending down a vine or a main branch at the side of its own tree or round the nearest to it not occupied. It is recommended that the part of the parent tree above the ground should be scraped, to prevent it from making shoots; and not less than four buds are covered up in the ground so as to take root, while two are left above ground on the head. A vine grown on a tree is set in a trench four feet long, three broad and two and a half deep. After a year a cut is made in the layer down to the cambium, so that it may gradually get used to its roots, and the stem is pruned back at its end down to two buds from the ground; and at the end of two years the layer is completely cut off from the stock and is put back deeper into the ground, so that it may not shoot from the place where it was cut off. As for a quickset, it should be removed immediately after the vintage.
A plan has recently been invented of planting a snake-branch near the treethat is our name for a veteran main branch that has grown hard with many years' service. The quickest plan in the case of a vine is to cut this old branch off as long as possible and scrape the bark off three-quarters of its length, down to the point to which it is to be buried in the groundfor this reason it is also called a scraped shootand then to press it down in the furrow, with the remaining part standing straight up against the tree. If the vine be meagre or the soil thin, it is customary to cut down the plant as close to the round as possible, until the root gets strong, and likewise not to plant it when there is dew on it, nor in a place exposed to a north wind; the vines themselves ought to face north-east, but their young shoots should have a southerly aspect.
There must be no hurry to prune a young vine, but at first the growth should be collected together into circular shapes, and no pruning should be applied except to a strong plant, a vine trained on a tree being about a year later in bearing fruit than one trained on a cross-bar. Some people forbid pruning altogether until the vine equals the tree in height. At the first pruning it should be cut back six feet from the ground, a shoot being left below and encouraged to grow by bending over the wood. It should have three buds and not more left when it has been pruned. In the following year the branches sent out from these should be spread out on the lowest stages of the trees and allowed to climb to the next higher level every year, one hard growth being always left at each stage, and one growing shoot left to mount up as high as it pleases. In addition, all the whips that have borne fruit last time should. be cut back by pruning, and fresh shoots should have their tendrils cut away all round and be spread out on the stages. Our Italian method of pruning drapes the tree with tresses of vines festooned along the branches and clothes the tresses themselves with bunches of grapes, but the Gallic method spreads out into growths passing from tree to tree, while the method used on the Aemilian Road spreads over supports consisting of Atinian elms, twining round them but avoiding their foliage.
An ignorant way of some growers is to suspend the vine by means of a tie beneath a bough of the tree, a damaging procedure which stifles it, as it ought to be held back with an osier withe, not tied tightly (indeed even people who have plenty of willows prefer to do it with a tie softer than the one which these supply, namely with the plant which the Sicilians call by the Greek name 'vine-tie', while the whole of Greece uses rush, galingale and sedge); also it ought to be released from its tie for some days and allowed to stray about and spread in disorder and lie down on the ground which it has been gazing at all the year through; for just as draft cattle when unyoked and dogs after a run like to roll on the ground, so even the vines' loins like a stretch when released; also the tree itself enjoys being relieved of the continual weight, like a man recovering his breath, and there is nothing in Nature's handiwork that does not desire some alternations of holiday, after the pattern of the days and nights. On this account pruning the vines directly after vintage and when they are still weary from producing fruit is disapproved of. When they have been pruned they must be tied to the tree again in another place, for unquestionably they feel annoyance at the marks made round them by the tie.
The cross-shoots of the Gallic method of growingtwo from each side if the pair of vines are forty feet apart, but four if twentywhen they meet are intertwined with each other and tied together in a single cluster, during the process being stiffened with the aid of wooden rods where they fail, or if the shoots themselves are too short to allow of this, they are stretched out to reach an unoccupied tree by means of a hook tied to them. lit used to be the custom to prune these cross-shoots every two years, as they make too heavy a weight when they grow old; but it is better to give them time to make a 'scraped' shoot, if their thickness is sufficient; otherwise it pays to supply nourishment to the knobs of the snake-branch about to form.
There is still one other method intermediate between this one and propagation by layeringthat of throwing down the whole vine on the earth and splitting it with wedges, and leading the shoots from a single vine into several trenches, reinforcing the slenderness of each shoot by tying it to a rod, and not lopping off the branches which run out from the sides. A farmer at Novara, not content with a multitude of shoots carried from tree to tree nor with an abundance of branches, also twines the main branches round forked props set in the ground; and thus beside the faults of the soil the wines are also made harsh by the method of cultivation. Another mistake is made with the vines near the city of La Riccia, which are pruned every other year, not because that is beneficial for a vine but because owing to the low price at which the wine sells the expenses might exceed the return. In the Casigliano district they follow an intermediate compromise, and by the plan of pruning away only the decayed parts of the vine and those beginning to wither, and leaving the rest to bear grapes relieved of superfluous weight, the scantiness of the injury inflicted serves instead of all nutriment; but except in a rich soil this method of cultivation degenerates into a wild vine.
The trees for training vines on require the ground to be ploughed as deep as possible, although the system of growing corn there does not need this. It is not customary for them to be trimmed of leaves, and this economizes labour. They are pruned together with the vine, light being let through the density of branches that are superfluous and consume nutriment. We have given the rule against leaving lopped ends facing north or south, and it is better not to let them face west either, as wounds facing in those directions too suffer for a long time and heal with difficulty, because of undergoing excessive cold or heat; there is not the same freedom as in the ease of the vine, since trees have fixed aspects, but it is easier to hide away the wounds of a vine and twist them in any direction you like. In pruning trees cup-like hollows should be made with a mouth sloping downwards, to prevent water from lodging in them.
XXXVI. Props should be placed against a vine which it may catch hold of and climb up if they are taller than it is. It is said that espaliers for vines of high quality should be cut about March l9th-23rd, and, if it is intended to keep the grapes for raisins, when the moon is on the wane, but that those cut between the old moon and the new are immune from all kinds of insects. Another theory holds the opinion that vines should be pruned by night at full moon when the moon is in the Lion or Scorpion or Archer or Bull; and in general that they should be planted when the moon is at full, or at all events is waxing. In Italy a gang of ten farmhands is enough for a hundred acres of vineyard.
XXXVII. And having treated of the planting and cultivation of trees with sufficient fullness, since we have said enough about palms and tree-medick among foreign trees, in order that nothing may be lacking a statement must be given of the other natural features of great importance in relation to all these matters. For even trees are liable to attacks of diseasesince what created object is exempt from these evils? But forest trees at all events are said not to have any deadly diseases and only to be liable to damage by hail when they are budding or in flower, and also to be nipped by heat or exceptionally cold wind coming out of season, for cold weather in its proper season actually does them good, as we have stated. 'What then?' it will be said. 'Does not frost kill even vines?' Well, that is how a fault of soil is detected, because it only happens on chilly ground. And consequently we approve of cold in winter time that is due to the climate and not to the soil. And it is not the weakest trees that are endangered by frost, but the largest ones, and when they are thus attacked it is their tops that dry away first, because the sap has been congealed and has not been able to get there.
Some diseases are common to all trees and some are peculiar to special kinds. Common to all are damage by worms and star-blight and pain in the limbs, resulting in debility of the various partsmaladies sharing even their names with those of mankind: we certainly speak of trees being mutilated and having the eyes of their buds burnt out and many misfortunes of a kind resembling our own. Accordingly they suffer both from hunger and from indigestion, maladies due to the amount of moisture in them, and some even from obesity, for instance all which produce resin owing to excessive fatness are converted into torch-wood, and when the roots also have begun to get fat, die like animals from excessive adipose deposit; and sometimes also they die of epidemics prevailing in certain classes of tree, just as among mankind diseases sometimes attack the slaves and sometimes the urban or the rural lower classes.
Particular trees are attacked by worm in a greater or smaller degree, but nearly all are liable, and birds detect worm-eaten wood by the hollow sound when they tap the bark. Nowadays indeed even this has begun to be classed as a luxury, and specially large wood-maggots found in oak-woodthe name for these is cossesfigure in the menu as a special delicacy, and actually even these creatures are fed with flour to fatten them for the table. The trees most liable to be worm-eaten are pears, apples, and figs; those that have a bitter taste and a scent are less liable. Of the maggots found in fig-trees some breed in the trees themselves, but others are produced by the insect called in Greek the horned insect; all of them however assume the shape of that insect, and emit a little buzzing sound. Also the service-tree is infected with red, hairy caterpillars, which eventually kill it; and the medlar as well is liable to the same disease when it grows old.
Star-blight depends entirely on the heavens, and consequently we must include among these causes of injury hail and carbuncle-blight, and also damage due to frost. The former when the plants are tempted by the warmth of spring to venture to burst out settles on them while they are fairly soft and scorches the milky eyes of the buds, the part which in the flower is called the carbuncle. Frost is of a more damaging nature, because when it has fallen it settles down and freezes, and is not dispelled even by any slight breeze, because it only occurs when the air is motionless and calm. A peculiarity however of star-blight at the rising of the Dog-star is a parching heat, when grafts and saplings die, especially figs and vines.
The olive besides suffering from worm, to which it is as liable as is the fig, is also affected by wart, or, as some prefer to call it, fungus or 'platter'; this is a scorch caused by the sun. Cato states that red scale is also injurious to the olive. Excessive fertility also usually injures vines and olive. Scab is common to all trees. Eruption and epidermic growths on the bark called 'snails' are maladies peculiar to figs, and that not in all districtsfor some diseases belong to particular localities.
But just as man is subject to affliction of the sinews, so also is a tree, and in two ways, as is the case with man: for the force of the disease either attacks its feet, that is the roots, or its knuckles, that is the fingers of the top branches, which project farthest from the whole body; with the Greeks there are special names for each of these diseases. Consequently they turn black, and first there is pain all over and then the parts mentioned also become emaciated and brittle, and lastly comes wasting consumption and death, the sap not entering or not permeating the parts affected. Figs are extremely liable to this disease, but the wild fig is immune from all the maladies we have so far specified. Scab is caused by gentle falls of dew occurring after the rising of the Pleiades; for if the dew has been more copious it gives the tree a good drenching, and does not streak it with scab, although the green figs fall off; but if there has been excessive rain a fig-tree is liable to another malady due to dampness of the roots.
In addition to worm-disease and star-blight vines suffer from a disease of the joints that is peculiar to them; it is due to three causesfirst, loss of buds owing to stormy weather, second, as noted by Theophrastus, pruning done with an upward cut, and third, damage caused by lack of skill in their cultivation; for all injuries to which vines are liable are felt in their joints. One kind of star-blight is dew-disease, when the grapevines shed their blossoms, or when the grapes shrivel up into a hard lump before they grow big. Vines are also sickly when they have been nipped by cold, the eyes being injured by frostbite after the branches have been pruned. This also happens owing to unseasonable hot weather, since everything depends on measure and on a fixed proportion. Defects may also be caused by the fault of the vine-dressers, when the vines are tied too tight, as has been said, or else when the digger trenching round them has injured them with a damaging blow, or even when a careless person ploughing underneath them has displaced the roots or scaled the bark off the trunk; also a contusion may be caused by pruning with too blunt a knife. All of these causes make it more difficult for a vine to bear cold or hot weather, since every harmful influence from outside makes its way into the sore. But the most delicate of all trees is the apple, and particularly any kind that bears sweet fruit. With some trees weakness causes barrenness but does not kill them, as is the case with a pine or a palm if you lop off their top, as they cease to bear but do not die. Sometimes also the fruit by itself is attacked by disease but not the tree, if there has been a lack of rain or of warm weather or wind at the times when they are needed, or if on the contrary they have been too plentiful, for the fruit falls off or deteriorates. The worst among all kinds of damage is when a vine or olive has been struck by heavy rain when shedding its blossom, as the fruit is washed off at the same time.
Heavy rain also breeds caterpillars, noxious creatures that gnaw away the foliage of olives, and others the flower too, as at Miletus, and leave the half-eaten tree shamefully disfigured. This pestilence is bred by damp sticky heat; and another one due to the same cause occurs if too keen a sun follows, and burns in the damage done by the damp and so alters its nature. There is in addition a malady peculiar to olives and vines, called cobweb, when the fruit gets wrapped up in a soft of webbing which stifles it. There are also certain currents of air which are specially blighting to olives, though they dry up other fruit as well. As to worm, in some trees even the fruits of themselves suffer from itapples, pears, medlars and pomegranates; but in the case of the olive an attack of worm has a twofold result, inasmuch as if they breed under the skin they destroy the fruit, while if they have been in the actual stone, gnawing it away, they make the fruit larger. Rain following the rising of Arcturus prevents their breeding; and also if this rain is accompanied by a south wind it breeds worms in overripe olives as well, which are then particularly liable to fall off when ripening. This happens particularly with olives in damp localities, making them very unattractive even if they do not drop off. There is also a kind of gnat troublesome to some fruits, for instance acorns and figs, which appears to be bred from the sweet juice a secreted underneath the bark at that season; and indeed these trees are usually sickly.
Some influences of seasons or localities cannot properly be called diseases, since they cause instantaneous death, for instance when a tree is attacked by wasting or blast, or by the effect of a special wind prevailing in a particular district, like the sirocco in Apulia or the Olympias wind in Euboea, which if it blows about midwinter shrivels up trees with dry cold so that no amount of subsequent sunshine can revive them. This kind of blight infests narrow valleys and trees growing by rivers, and particularly vines, olive and figs; and when this has occurred, it is at once detected at the budding season, though rather later in the case of olives. But it is a sign of recovery in all of them if they lose their leaves; failing that, the trees which one would suppose to have been strong enough to resist the attack die. Sometimes however the leaves dry on the tree and then come to life again. Other trees in the northern countries like the province of Pontus and Thrace suffer from cold or frost if they go on for six weeks after midwinter without a break; but both in that region and in the remaining parts of the world, a heavy frost coming immediately after the trees have produced their fruit kills them even in a few days.
Kinds of damage due to injury done by man have effects proportionate to their violence. Pitch, oil and grease are particularly detrimental to young trees. To strip off the bark all round trees kills them, except in the case of the cork tree, which is actually benefited by this treatment, because the bark thickening stifles and suffocates the tree; nor does it do any harm to purslane if care is taken not to cut into the body of the plant as well. Beside this, the cherry, the vine and the lime shed some bark, though not the layer next to the body which is essential to life, but the layer that is forced outward as another forms underneath it. The bark of some trees, for instance planes, is fissured by nature. That of the lime after it is stripped grows again almost in its entirety. Consequently with trees the bark of which forms a sear, the sears are treated with mud and dung, and sometimes they do the tree good, if the stripping is not followed by a period of exceptionally cold or hot weather. But some trees, for instance hard oaks and common oaks, die, but rather slowly, under this treatment. The time of year also matters; for instance if a fir or a pine is stripped of its bark while the sun is passing through the Bull or the Twins, when they are budding, they die at once, whereas if they undergo the same injury in winter they endure it longer; and similarly the holm-oak, the hard oak and the common oak. If only a narrow band of bark is removed, it causes no harm, as with the trees above mentioned, although with weaker trees at all events and in a thin soil to remove the bark even from only one part kills the tree. A similar effect is also produced by lopping the top of a spruce, prickly cedar or cypress, for to remove the top or to scorch it with fire is fatal to these trees; and the effect of being gnawn by animals is also similar. Indeed, according to Varro, as we have stated, an olive goes barren if merely licked by a she-goat. Certain trees die of this injury, but some only deteriorate, for instance almonds, the fruit of which is changed from sweet to bitter, but others are actually improved, for instance the pear called the Phocian pear in Chios. For we have mentioned trees that are actually benefited by having the top lopped off. Most trees die also when the trunk is split, excepting the vine, apple, fig and pomegranates, and some merely from a wound, though the pine and all the resinous trees despise this injury. For a tree to die when its roots are cut off is not at all surprising; most trees die even when deprived not of all their roots but of the largest ones or those among them that are essential to life.
Trees kill one another by their shade or the thickness of their foliage and by robbing each other nutriment; they are also killed by ivy binding them round, and mistletoe does them no good, and cytisus kills them, and they are killed by the plant called halimon by the Greeks. The nature of some plants though not actually deadly is injurious owing to its blend of scents or of juicefor instance the radish and the laurel are harmful to the vine; for the vine can be inferred to possess a sense of smell, and to be affected by odours in a marvellous degree, and consequently when an evil-smelling plant is near it to turn away and withdraw, and to avoid an unfriendly tang. This supplied Androcydes with an antidote against intoxication, for which he recommended chewing a radish. The vine also abhors cabbage and all sorts of garden vegetables, as well as hazel, and these unless a long way off make it ailing and sickly; indeed nitre and alum and warm seawater and the pods of beans or bitter vetch are to a vine the direst poisons.
XXXVIII. Among the maladies of trees it is in place to speak also of prodigies. We find that figs have grown underneath the leaves of the tree, a vine and a pomegranate have borne fruit on their trunk, not on a shoot or a branch, a vine has borne grapes without having any leaves, and also olives have lost their leaves while the fruit remained on the tree. There are also marvels connected with accident: an olive has come to life again after being completely burnt up, also fig-trees in Boeotia gnawed down by locusts have budded afresh. Trees also change their colour and turn from black to white, not always with portentous meaning, but chiefly those that grow from seed; and the white poplar turns into a black poplar. Some people also think that the service-tree goes barren if transplanted to warmer localities. But it is a portent when sour fruits grow on sweet fruit-trees and sweet on sour, and figs on a wild fig-tree or the contrary, and it is a serious manifestation when trees turn into other trees of an inferior kind, from an olive into a wild olive or from a white grape or green fig into a black grape or a black fig, or as when a plane-tree at Laodicea changed into an olive on the arrival of Xerxes. Not to launch out into an absolutely boundless subject, the volume by Aristander teems with portents of this nature in Greece, as do the Notes of Gaius Epidius in our own country, including cases of trees that talked. An alarming portent occurred a little before the civil wars of Pompey the Great, when a tree in the territory of Cumae sank into the ground leaving a few branches projecting; and a statement was found in the Sibylline Books that this portended a slaughter of human beings, and that the nearer to the city the portent had occurred the greater the slaughter would be.
Another class of portent is when trees grow in the wrong places, as on the heads of statues or on altars, and when different kinds of trees grow on trees themselves. At Cyzicus before the siege a fig-tree grew on a laurel; and similarly at Tralles about the time of Caesar's civil wars a palm grew up on the pedestal of the dictator's statue. Moreover at Rome during the war with Perseus a palm-tree grew up on the altar of Jove on the Capitol, portending victory and triumphal processions; and after this tree had been brought down by storms, a fig-tree sprang up in the same place, this occurring during the censorship of Marcus Messala and Gaius Cassius, a period which according to so weighty an authority as Piso dates the overthrow of the sense of honour. A portent that will eclipse all those ever heard of occurred in our own day in the territory of the Marrucini, at the fall of the emperor Nero: an olive grove belonging to a leading member of the equestrian order named Vettius Marcellus bodily crossed the public highway, and the crops growing on the other side passed over in the opposite direction to take the place of the olive grove.
XXXIX. Now that we have set out the diseases of trees it is suitable also to state the remedies for them. Some of these are common to all trees and some peculiar to some of them. Remedies common to all are loosening the soil, banking it up, admitting air to the roots or covering them up, making a channel to give them water or to drain it away, dung refreshing them with its juice, pruning to relieve them of weight, also letting out the sap like a surgical blood-letting, scraping a ring of bark, stretching out the vine-sprays and checking the shoots, trimming off and as it were polishing up the buds if they have been shrivelled and roughened by cold weather. Some trees like these treatments more and others less, for example the cypress scorns both water and dung and hates being dug round and pruned and all kinds of nursing, in fact irrigation kills it, whereas it is exceptionally nourishing for vines and pomegranates. In the case of the fig irrigation nourishes the tree itself but makes the fruit decay. Almond-trees lose their blossom if the ground round them is made clean by being dug over. Also trees that have been grafted must not be dug round before they are strong and begin to bear fruit. Most trees however want to have their burdensome and superfluous growth pruned away, just as we have our nails and hair cut. Old trees are cut down entirely and spring up again from some sucker, but they will not all do this but only those whose nature we have stated to allow of it.
XL. Irrigation is good for trees in the heat of summer but bad for them in winter; in the autumn its effect varies and depends on the nature of the soil, inasmuch as in the Spanish provinces the vintager picks the grapes when the ground is under water, whereas in the greater part of the world it pays to drain off the rain water even in autumn. Irrigation is most beneficial about the rising of the Dog-star, and even then not too much of it, because it hurts the roots when they are soaked to the point of intoxication. The age of the tree also controls the due amount; young saplings are not so thirsty. But those that require most watering are those that have been used to it, whereas those which have sprung up in dry places only need a bare minimum of moisture.
XLI. The harsher vines need to be watered, at all events in the Fabii district of the territory of Sulmo in Italy, where they irrigate even the plough-land; and it is a remarkable fact that in that part of the country water kills herbaceous plants but nourishes corn, and irrigation takes the place of a hoe for weeding. In the same district they irrigate the land round the vines at midwinter to prevent their suffering from cold, the more so if snow is lying or there is a frost; this process is there called 'warming' the vines, owing to the remarkable influence of the sun on the river, which in summer is almost unbearably cold.
XLII. We shall point out the remedies for glowing-coal-blight and mildew in the next Book. In the meantime the list of remedies includes a sort of scarification. The bark when rendered meagre by disease shrinks up and exerts an undue amount of compression on the vital parts of the tree; for this the vine-dressers holding a pruning knife with a very sharp edge in both hands press it into the trunk and make long incisions downwards, and as it were loosen its skin. It proves that this treatment has been beneficial if the scars widen out and fill up with new wood growing between their edges;
XLIII. and to a large extent the medical treatment of trees resembles that of human beings, as the bones of trees also are treated by perforation. Bitter almonds are made into sweet ones if the stem of the tree has the earth dug away round it and a ring of holes pierced in it at the bottom, and then the gum exuding is wiped off. Also elms can be relieved of useless sap by having holes pierced in them above the level of the earth right into the cambium when they are getting old, or when they are observed to be receiving excessive nourishment. The sap is also discharged from the bark of figs when swollen by means of light cuts made on a slant; this treatment prevents the fruit from falling off. Fruit-trees that make buds but produce no fruit are treated by making a cleft in the root and inserting a stone in it, and this makes them bear; and the same result is produced in almonds by driving in a wedge of hard oak, and in pears and service-berries by means of a wedge of stone pine, and covering up the hole with ashes and earth. It also pays to cut round the roots of vines and figs when over-luxuriant and to put ashes on the cut parts. Late figs are produced if those of the first crop are picked off the tree still unripe, when they are a little larger than a bean, as a second crop grows which ripens later. Also fig-trees are made stronger and more productive if the tips of all the branches are docked when they begin to make foliage. The object of the process that employs the gall-insect from the wild fig is to ripen the fruit.
XLIV. In the gall-insect process it is clear that the unripe figs give birth to gnats, since when these have flown away the fruit is found not to contain any seeds, which have obviously turned into the gnats; these are so eager to escape that most of them leave a foot or part of a wing behind them in forcing their way out. There is also another kind of gnat with a Greek name meaning 'sting-fly'; these resemble drone bees in their sloth and malice, and also in killing the genuine and serviceable insects; for the sting-flies kill the real gnats and themselves die with them. The seeds of figs are also infested by moths, a remedy against them being to bury a slip of mastich upside down in the same hole. But the way to make fig-trees bear very large crops is to dilute red earth with the lees from an olive-press, mix dung with it, and pour the mixture on the roots of the trees when they are beginning to make leaves. Of wild figs the black ones and those growing in rocky places are the most highly spoken of, because they contain the largest number of grains; the best times for the actual process of transference of the gall-insect from the wild fig is said to be just after rain has fallen.
XLV. But it is of the first importance to avoid allowing our remedies to produce other defects, which results from using remedial processes to excess or at the wrong time. To prune away branches is beneficial for trees, but to slaughter them every year without respite is extremely unprofitable. A vine only requires a yearly trimming, but myrtles, pomegranates and olives one every other year, because they produce shoots with great rapidity. All other trees should be trimmed less frequently, and none in autumn; and they must not even have their trunks scraped except in spring. Pruning must not be assault and battery: every part of the tree that is not actually superfluous is conducive to its vitality.
XLVI. A similar method belongs to dung. Trees delight in it, but care must be taken not to apply it while the sun is hot, or while it is too fresh, or stronger than is necessary. Swine dung burns the vines unless used at intervals of five years, except if it is diluted by being drenched with water; and so will manure made from tanners refuse unless water is mixed with it, and also if it is used too plentifully: the proper amount is considered to be three modii for every ten square feet. Anyhow that will be decided by the nature of the soil.
XLVII. Pigeon and swine manure are also used for dressing wounds in trees. If pomegranates produce sour fruit, it is advised to dig round the roots and apply swine's dung; then in that year the fruit will have a flavour of wine, but next year it will be sweet. Others are of opinion that pomegranates should be watered four times a year with human urine mixed with water, an amphora to each tree, or that the ends of the branches should be sprinkled with silphium diluted with wine; and that if the fruit splits on the tree, its stalk should be twisted; and that figs in any case should have dregs of olive oil poured on them, and other trees when ailing wine-lees, or else lupines should be sown round their roots. It is also good for the fruit to pour round the tree water in which lupines have been boiled. Figs are liable to fall off when it thunders at the Feast of Vulcan; a remedy is to have the ground round the trees covered with barley straw in advance. Cherries are brought on and made to ripen by applying lime to the roots; but with cherries also, as with all it is better to thin the crop, in order to make the fruit left on grow bigger.
Some trees are improved by severe treatment or stimulated by a pungent applicationfor instance the palm and the mastich, which get nutriment from salt water. Ashes also have the effect of salt, but it acts more gently; consequently they are sprinkled on figs and on rue, to prevent their getting maggotty or rotting at the roots. It is also advised to pour salt water on the roots of vines if they are too full of moisture, but if their fruit falls off, to sprinkle ashes with vinegar and smear them on the vines themselves, or ashes with sandarach if the grapes rot; but if the vines do not bear, to sprinkle and smear them with ashes mixed with strong vinegar; and if they do not ripen their fruit but let it dry up first, the vines should be lopped down to the roots and the wound and fibres of the wood drenched with strong vinegar and stale urine and covered up with the mud so produced, and repeatedly dug round. If olives give too little promise of fruit, growers bare their roots and expose them to the winter cold, and the trees profit by this drastic treatment. All these methods depend on the state of the weather in each year and sometimes are required later and sometimes more speedily. Also fire is beneficial for some plants, for instance reeds, which when burnt off grow up again thicker and more pliable. Cato moreover gives prescriptions for certain medicaments, also specifying quantityfor the roots of the bigger trees an amphora, for those of the smaller ones half that measure of olive-lees and water in equal amounts, and his instructions are first to dig round the roots and then to pour the liquid on them gradually. In the ease of an olive it should be used more copiously, straw having first been put round the stem, and the same with a fig; with a fig, especially in spring, earth should be heaped up round the roots, and this will ensure that the unripe fruit will not fall off and the tree will bear a larger crop and will not develop roughness of the bark. In a similar manner to prevent a vine from breeding leaf-rolling caterpillar he advises boiling down two gallons of lees of olive-oil to the thickness of honey, and boiling it again mixed with a third part of bitumen and a fourth part of sulphur, this second boiling being done in the open air because the mixture may catch fire indoors; and he says this preparation is to be smeared round the bases and under the arms of the vines, and that will prevent caterpillar. Some growers are content with submitting the vines for three days on end to the smoke from this concoction boiled to the windward of them. Most people think there is as much food value for the plants in urine as Cato assigns to wine-lees, provided it is mixed with an equal quantity of water, because it is injurious if used by itself. Some give the name of the 'fly' to a creature that gnaws away the young grapes; to prevent this they wipe the pruning-knives on a beaver skin after they have been sharpened and then use them for pruning, or smear them with bear's blood after pruning. Ants also are pests to trees; these are kept away by smearing the trunks with a mixture of red earth and tar, and also people get the ants to collect in one place by hanging up a fish close by, or they smear the roots of the tree with lupin pounded with oil. Many people kill ants and also moles with the dregs of olive oil, and to protect the tops of the trees against caterpillars and pests productive of decay they advise touching them with the gall of a green lizard, but as a protection against caterpillars in particular they say that a woman just beginning her monthly courses should walk round each of the trees with bare feet and her girdle undone. Also to prevent any creature from injuring the foliage by noxious nibbling they recommend sprinkling the leaves with cow-dung mixed with water every time there is a shower of rain, as the rain smears the poison of the mixture over the tree: so remarkable are some of the devices invented by human skill, inasmuch as most people believe that hailstorms can be averted by means of a charm, the words of which I would not for my own part venture seriously to introduce into my book, although Cato has published the words of a charm for sprained limbs which have to be bandaged to reed splints. The same author has allowed the felling of consecrated trees and groves after a preliminary sacrifice has been performed, the ritual of which and the accompanying prayer he has reported in the same volume.