(35) PROPAGATION AND CULTURE OF CONIFEROUS TREES
Coniferous trees ripen their seeds from October till January, and if the cones remain on the tree throughout the winter the seeds do not generally drop out till April or May; such as drop into favourable soil come up in five or six weeks. The cones should be collected immediately after they are ripe, and laid in a dry placer. The seeds are extracted by exposing the cones to the heat of the sun under glass, or by subjecting them to artificial heat before an open fire, or on a kiln. The seeds are sown in Aril, in soil dug over and finely raked; and then covered with a thin coating of soil. The beds, after the sowing is completed, should be shaded from the sun by branches of tree. In cold moist climates, such as that of Aberdeen, this shading may be dispensed with; but in the climate of London it is in most seasons necessary, and may be effected by mats, straw, or evergreens. For convenience, the seeds are generally sown in beds, a slight excavation being made by drawing some of the earth to the sides; and in order that the seeds may be evenly deposited on a somewhat firm surface, the bottom of this excavation is lightly rolled. After the seeds are scattered over the beds they are again rolled, and the covering of earth thrown over them. it is found that the rolling of the beds before and after sowing, by bringing the seeds into close contact with the soil, accelerates germination. The more tender pines are sown in pots or flat earthen pans, for the convenience of making them germinate under glass, and to facilitate future transplantation; but the process of sowing is exactly the same. The seedlings require nothing but the usual culture of the nursery for two summers; after which they should be transplanted where they are finally to remain; or they should be planted in the nursery in lines, or scattered over beds; in either case they should be 3 to 6 inches apart, according to their height and the length of the leaves. For the Scotch pine and spruce fir, which grow slowly when young, 3 inches are sufficient, for the larch, which grows rapidly, and for the pinaster, which has long leaves, 6 inches are required here the plants may remain two years, and afterwards be again transplanted; unless they are in the meantime removed to where they are to remain, which, to ensure good timber trees, should be done before young conifers exceed four years' growth.
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