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ITS CULTURE IN CALIFORNIA.
A FEW OBSERVATIONS TO BEGIN WITH.
There is that about the cultivation of the orange which attracts people. Call it a glamour or what you will, the fact remains that many who have hardly given a second thought to horticulture their lives long, seeing the orange tree, fall beneath its spell, and become henceforth its most ardent devotees;—toiling for it, spending their money for it, waiting long and patiently for it, and even undergoing privations that they may possess it. I do not know that this subtle influence is capable of analysis; I only know that it exists. But sometimes in thinking upon this subject the fancy has struck me that the orange tree knows very well how to gauge a man—has the faculty, so to speak, of approaching him on every side at once.
Is he a lover of the beautiful? Then he must be delighted with its trim body and symmetrical branches; its dark evergreen foliage, with the yellowish new growth peeping out a-top; its bloom that rivals the tuberose in delicacy and fragrance; its fruit like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
Has he a fancy for out-door life? The tree invites him to share with it the fresh air and sunshine.
Does he possess the true horticultural instinct?—does he like to see things grow and make them grow? The orange rewards him doubly for every attention he bestows.
Does his grosser nature crave the good things of this world? No fruit is more luscious.
And finally, is there, underlying the poetry, the industry, the skill, the appetite of the man, a shade—just a shade—of cupidity? There the orange tree touches hiin again.
You see it has measured him very accurately; it knows his strong points and his weak points; it averages him and takes him for what he is worth. His own wife couldn't have done the thing better.
In most parts of the United States the tendency of population is toward the city. Not only does the farmer's boy leave the country to seek out the coveted clerkship, but the farmer himself, arrived at a comfortable affluence, is often disposed to move into town, either on the pretext of giving the children a better schooling, or that he may engage in trade, or because the farm labors and cares are too arduous for his years. In California the movement is in the opposite direction. People go from the city to the country. Our fruit colonies are filled up with retired professional and business men. In some instances they are men that have adopted farming as a sanitary measure; but again, many are to be fonnd in their very prime and vigor who lead this life purely as a matter of choice. Some of them, possessed of wealth, education and refinement, seek the country for the delights nowhere else to be found, surrounding themselves there with all the elegancies of a city home. And if upon occasion the rich man choose to pull off his coat and bear the brunt of toil, who shall say that he will not enjoy his dinner the better and sleep the sounder o' nights thereafter?
The field proves inviting to people of all ,classes and conditions. The young man, Just starting out to make his way in the world, cultivates his trees and vines alongside the superannuated minister; and across the way is the farm of a lady who quit school-teaching because she tired of its drudgery. Many men who continue in business or professional practice in town have their villas in the suburbs, or their country homes of easy access, where they live beneath their own vine and fig tree, and cultivate their own orange. And if long-time residents are thus drawn away from the city, attracted by the -charm of out-door life and the pleasure
of horticulture in this semi-tropical climate, what wonder that many who come from the snow-bound East and North are captivated and impelled in the same direction!
Orange culture must continue as it has begun, an industry suited to the most intelligent and refined people. It is better adapted to small farms than large. It produces better results under the eye and hand of the master than when delegated to hired labor. As it requires both skill and industry, it gives healthful occupation to the mind as well as the body. While the growing of an orange orchard involves something of an investment, supplemented by several years of waiting, and no small amount of labor and care, the reward at last is ample. If one elect to bridge over the waiting and work by purchasing a grove already in bearing, ho will have to pay pretty good wages to the man that built the bridge.
A RETROSPECT, AND A QUESTION ANSWERED.
Will it pay to raise oranges? Yes, and no. It will pay to raise good fruit; it will mot pay to raise poor. Simple as this proposition appears when reduced to print, it has taken a good many of us here in California a long time to find it out. While experience has already demonstrated that this survival of the fittest is inevitable, we will yet be compelled to acknowledge that it is reasonable and just. The time was, and not so long ago either, when many of our people rushed into orange growing as they would have rushed into a speculation in stocks. Carried away by the prospect of great rewards, they engaged in the industry Iblindly and recklessly;—planted orchards in localities not at all suited to them; planted scrubby or infested trees; planted beyond their means; planted without a knowledge of orange growing, and sometimes with no natural taste for horticul
ture; planted, planted, planted anywhere, anyhow, anything, if only they might possess themselves of an orange grove.
Taking advantage of this furor, the few nurserymen that carried citrus stocks put their prices up to a dollar or two a tree, sold out, got rich. Then the frenzy of speculation extended to the propagation of orange seeds for relays of nurseries, and a wider extension of plantations. Nursery projects were inaugurated, ranging through every degree from the hundred-acre joint stock enterprise to the row of oyster cans which materfamilias established in the back yard to augment the family income. From this planting came trees that were good, bad and indifferent, of course, but the average was, if possible, worse than the preceding supply. And When this heterogeneous stock was fairly on the market,—then the deluge; or rather, the contrary.
The dry season of 1876-7 came on, followed by the wave of hard times which swept across the country. People who had planted on insufficient capital were the first to feel the pressure. Many were obliged to surrender their places. Jointstock nursery projects failed. Some nurserymen sold out, or were closed out, and left the country. Thus the furor of orange planting received a check. Nursery stock being of slow sale, began to fall under the operation of the law of the survival of the fittest. Most of the orange orchards already planted were too valuable to be abandoned, no matter what the fate of the planter might be, so somebody stepped in to carry them forward. Thus it was that, through all the times of depression and discouragement, the industry itself went steadily and surely forward. The unprecedented frosts which occurred in the winter of 1879-80, gave a rude awakening to some people who planted in low, cold places. Not only was the nursery stock frosted to the ground, but in many instances five and six-year-old trees were destroyed. The devastation among lemons and limes was even greater than among oranges. These frosts demonstrated that there were certain localities in this country not at all adapted to orange culture. Some people, a little more fortunate in their locations, managed to weather through the cold year, and even two or three cold years afterwards, but for them there still remained a rude awakening when they found that their trees, having reached the bearing age, were capable of producing only an inferior quality of fruit.
The season of 1882-3 was the most depressing for the orange industry that we
have ever known. The trees set unusually full, and this alone had a tendency to dwarf the fruit and detract from its good qualities. Then there were late frosts so severe that some of the fruit was nipped, and its juices injured or totally destroyed. When the market opened the weather was cold and rainy, and people were in no mood for eating sour fruit. Prices went down. Some producers and dealers who shipped inferior oranges, in spite of tho unfavorable outlook, found that they had their trouble for their pains and a freight bill to settle besides. Then it was that some superficial people began to inquire, "Will orange growing pay?" "Have n't we been deluded all this time in thinking it a remunerative industry?"
Those who got started right; who planted on high, warm, mellow soils; who took good care of their trees, and followed orange growing as an industry, not a speculation, are the ones who suffered no loss through the time of depression, and who are now firmly grounded in the belief that orange growing pays. Last season while the average oranges of the lower valley were going at a dollar a box, and a slow sale at that; while many trees hung full of little fruit, not salable at any price, I talked with an orange grower of Pasadena, who was sending off his large, luscious Washington or Riverside Navels, and realizing therefor $3.50 to $4 a box,— "And if I had a hundred thousand boxes," he said, "I could sell every one of them at these prices. Will orange growing pay? Well, I rather think it will. It is to-day the best enterprise a man can engage in."
ANTIQUITY OP THE CITRUS FAMILY.
are only to be found in treasured collections. From this work I am able to glean some curious facts, as well as some very ingenious and erudite surmises about the earliest record of the citrus family. Galleseo holds that the lemon and or
Over fifty years ago Gallesio wrote, in French, a learned work on "Citrus Culture," which, in more recent times, the Horticultural Society of Florida translated and published in English. Both original and translation are now out of print, and