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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/12

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

so that we can not adopt their methods without modification, yet certain great principles and facts have been established which are as applicable to use here as they are there.

The first, the fundamental point in tree-planting on a large scale, that is, in planting what may be called a forest, is to consider the trees as a Crop, like any other crop, only this requires a much longer time than ordinary crops to come to maturity. This will at once put the subject to many if not to most persons in a new aspect. Accepting the idea that trees are to be planted like corn or wheat, as a crop, there follows at once the necessity of care and cultivation and the consideration that these are the conditions of success. We do not expect to harvest an ordinary crop, and one that will yield a satisfactory pecuniary return, without having bestowed upon it care and labor. No more should we look for success in the larger growths of the forest without a corresponding culture. And when we come to look upon the growth of a forest in this light we shall easily, almost inevitably, regard our ordinary native forests, where the trees are simply suffered to grow up in complete neglect, exposed to injury from the intrusions of cattle and from other causes, as at best only a partial utilization of the fields which Nature has provided for our comfort and profit. It is true that trees will grow and come to maturity in rough places and on poor soils, where nothing else will grow or where the cultivation of other crops is impracticable and unprofitable. It is true also that the growth of these great forest-crops, instead of impoverishing, enriches the soil. Hence there is no use of our poor and what we call waste lands, which abound more or less everywhere, at once so economical and profitable as to devote them to the growth of trees. Left to themselves, as our forests and woodlands generally are, they are remunerative. But they might be made much more remunerative. They would be, if, instead of regarding them as one of the accidental products of Nature, we were to regard them as one of our staple crops, something to be managed and cared for by us.

The proper care of a tree-crop, as of any crop, requires its protection from injury. But we have left our forests unfenced, or, if we have inclosed them, it has been not so much for the sake of excluding destructive animals from them as for the purpose of making them pasture-grounds for our cattle, where they have been free to range and feed upon whatever might please their taste. The tender buds, the green and succulent shoots, the young trees sprouted in Nature's seed-bed and started for the growth of a century, perhaps more, we have put at the disposal of the teeth and horns and trampling hoofs of cat-tie. This has been regarded as a cheap way of feeding these animals. But there is no fodder for cattle so expensive as forest-fodder. Grass is cheaper than trees. Sir John Sinclair, in his "Code of Agriculture," says: "A landlord had better admit his cattle into his wheat-field than among his underwood. In the one case they only injure the crop of