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Piecing It All Together
 
Inside cover of California Fruits and How to Grow Them
Inside cover of California Fruits and How to Grow Them

I pieced together my vision of what an orchard would look like from an array of sources. A book on the subject from 1900 described the ideal conditions, but I was wary of basing the scene on an ideal.

So I looked at photos, but never found the perfect one. One 1920s image that showed young trees in a field from ground level, with people in it, gave a sense of scale and layout. Another view of Watsonville from about the same era suggested that farmers did lay out their trees symmetrically. The text of J. C. Folger and S. M. Thomson, Commercial Apple Industry of North America, declared that “a large number of the present orchards were set out in the period between 1880 and 1900.” And as I knew that Watsonville got into apples in the 1890s, I thought that made using a later image as a source more appropriate. Between all the different materials, I cobbled together a sense of the ways that fruit trees were laid out. Taken together, it seemed as if orchardists actually did follow the ideal laid out in the “How To” books.
A young, well-pruned apple tree, 1900s
A young, well-pruned apple tree, 1900s
The ideal way to lay out an orchard
The ideal way to lay out an orchard
This diagram shows the ideal way to lay out an orchard. According to the text, most Californians used the rectangular system.
1920s orchard, laid out uniformly
1920s orchard, laid out uniformly
1920s Watsonville
1920s Watsonville
The trees are lined up in a row, and there’s interplanting between the ones in the front. Since the caption says this is a typical scene, it seems to confirm a vision of ordered orchards.
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