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If the enquiry is made what is the proper season for planting the olive, my answer will be, " where the soil is dry, at seed-time; where it is rich, in spring." The following is the advice given by Cato1 on the subject: "Begin pruning your olive-yard fifteen days before the vernal equinox; from that period for forty days will be a good time for doing so. In pruning, adopt the following rules: when the ground is extremely productive, remove all the dry branches or such as may have been broken by the wind; where it is not so prolific, you must cut away still more, then tie them well up, and remove all tangled branches, so as to lighten the roots. In autumn clear away the roots of the olive, and then manure them. The man who labours most assiduously and most earnestly will remove the very smallest fibres that are attached to the roots. If, however, he hoes negligently, the roots will soon appear again above ground, and become thicker than ever; the consequence of which will be, that the vigour of the tree will be expended in the roots."

We have already stated, when speaking on the subject of oil,2 what are the different varieties of the olive, in what kind of soil it ought to be planted, and what is the proper aspect for the olive-yard. Mago recommends that the olive should be planted on declivities and in dry spots, in an argillaceous soil, and between autumn and the winter equinox. If, on the other hand, the soil is thick, humid, or somewhat damp even, it ought to be planted between harvest and the winter solstice; advice, however, it should be remembered, applicable to Africa more particularly. At the present day, it is mostly the custom in Italy to plant the olive in spring, but if it is thought desirable to do so in the autumn as well, there are only four days in the forty between the equinox and the setting of the Vergiliæ that are unfavourable for planting it.3 It is a practice peculiar to Africa, to engraft the olive on the wild olive only, a tree which is made to be everlasting, as it were; for when it becomes old the best of the suckers are carefully trained for adoption by grafting, and in this way in another tree it grows young again; an operation which may be repeated continuously as often as needed; so much so, indeed, that the same olive-yard will last for ages.4 The wild olive also is propagated both by insertion and inoculation.

It is not advisable to plant the olive in a site where the quercus has been lately rooted up; for the earth-worms, known as "rauæ" which breed in the root of the quercus, are apt to get into that of the olive. It has been found, from practical experience, that it is not advisable to bury the cuttings in the ground nor yet to dry them before they are planted out. Experience has also taught us that it is the best plan to clean an old olive-yard every other year, between the vernal equinox and the rising of the Vergiliæ, and to lay moss about the roots; to dig holes also round the trees every year, just after the summer solstice, two cubits wide by a foot in depth, and to manure them every third year.

Mago, too, recommends that the almond should be planted between the setting of Arcturus5 and the winter solstice. All the varieties, however, of the pear, he says, should not be planted at the same time, as they do not all blossom together. Those with oblong or round fruit should be planted between the setting of the Vergiliæ and the winter solstice, and the other kinds in the middle of the winter, after the setting of the constellation of the Arrow,6 on a site that looks towards the east or north. The laurel should be planted between the setting of the Eagle and that of the Arrow; for we find that the proper time for planting is equally connected with the aspect of the heavenly bodies. For the most part it has been recommended that this should be done in spring and autumn; but there is another appropriate period also, though known to but few, about the rising of the Dog-star, namely; it is not, however, equally advantageous in all localities. Still, I ought not to omit making mention of it, as I am not setting forth the peculiar advantages of any one country in particular, but am enquiring into the operations of Nature taken as a whole.

In the region of Cyrenaica, the planting is generally done while the Etesian7 winds prevail, and the same is the case in Greece, and with the olive more particularly in Laconia. At this period, also, the vine is planted in the island of Cos; and in the rest of Greece they do not neglect to inoculate and graft, though they do not8 plant, their trees just then. The natural qualities, too, of the respective localities, exercise a very considerable influence in this respect; for in Egypt they plant in any month, as also in all other countries where summer rains do not prevail, India and Æthiopia, for instance. When trees are not planted in the spring they must be planted in autumn, as a matter of course.

There are three stated periods, then, for germination;9 spring, the rising of the Dog-star, and that of Arcturus. And, indeed, it is not the animated beings only that are ardent for the propagation of their species, for this desire is manifested in even a greater degree by the earth and all its vegetable productions; to employ this tendency at the proper moment is the most advantageous method of ensuring an abundant increase. These moments, too, are of peculiar importance in relation to the process of grafting, as it is then that the two productions manifest a mutual desire of uniting. Those who prefer the spring for grafting commence operations immediately after the vernal equinox, reckoning on the fact that then the buds are just coming out, a thing that greatly facilitates the union of the barks. On the other hand, those who prefer the autumn graft immediately after the rising of Arcturus, because then the graft at once takes root in some degree, and becomes seasoned for spring, so as not to exhaust its strength all at once in the process of germination. However, there are certain fixed periods of the year, in all cases, for certain trees; thus, the cherry, for instance, and the almond, are either planted or grafted about the winter solstice. For many trees the nature of the locality will be the best guide; thus, where the soil is cold and moist it is best to plant in spring, and where it is dry and hot, in autumn.

Taking Italy in general, the proper periods for these operations may be thus distributed:—The mulberry is planted at any time between the ides of February10 and the vernal equinox; the pear, in the autumn, but not beyond the fifteenth day before the winter solstice; the summer apples, the quince, the sorb, and the plum, between mid-winter and the ides of February: the Greek carob11 and the peach, at any time in autumn before the winter solstice; the various nuts, such as the walnut, pine, filbert, almond, and chesnut, between the calends of March12 and the ides of that month;13 the willow and the broom about the calends of March. The broom is grown from seed, and in a dry soil, the willow from plants, in a damp locality, as already stated on former occasions.14

(19.) That I may omit nothing to my knowledge of the facts that I have anywhere been able to ascertain, I shall here add a new method of grafting, which has been discovered by Columella,15 as he asserts, by the aid of which trees even of a heterogeneous or dissociable nature may be made to unite; such, for instance, as the fig and the olive. In accordance with this plan, he recommends that a fig-tree should be planted near an olive, at a distance sufficiently near to admit of the fig being touched by a branch of the olive when extended to its full length; as supple and pliant a one as possible being selected for' the purpose, and due care being taken all the time to render it seasoned by keeping it constantly on the stretch. After this, when the fig has gained sufficient vigour, a thing that generally happens at the end of three or five years at most, the top of it is cut off, the end of the olive branch being also cut to a point in the manner already stated.16 This point is then to be inserted in the trunk of the fig, and made secure with cords, lest, being bent, it should happen to rebound: in this way we find the method of propagating by layers combined with that of grafting. This union between the two parent trees is allowed to continue for three years, and then in the fourth the branch is cut away and left entirely upon the tree that has so adopted it. This method however, is not at present universally known, at all events, so far as I have been able to ascertain.

1 De Re Rust. 44. The rules here given are still very generally observed.

2 B. xv. c. 6.

3 See c. 2 of this Book, and B. xviii. c. 69.

4 The olive is an extremely long-lived tree; it has been known to live as long as nine or ten centuries. A fragment of the bark, with a little wood attached, if put in the ground, will throw out roots and spring up. Hence it is not to be wondered at, that the ancients looked upon it as immortal.

5 B. xviii. c. 74.

6 B. xviii. c. 74.

7 B. ii. c. 47, and B. xviii. c. 68,

8 There is a contradiction here; a few lines above, he says that they do plant their trees in Greece at this period. He may possibly mean "sow."

9 See B. xvi. c. 41. The rules here laid down by Pliny are, as Fee remarks, much too rigorous, and must be modified according to extraneous circumstances.

10 13th of February.

11 B. xv. c 26.

12 1st of March.

13 15th of March.

14 B. xvi. cc. 30, 46, 67, and 78.

15 De Re Rust. B. v. c. 11. A very absurd and useless method, Fée remarks.

16 In c. 24 of this Book.

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    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), O´LEA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), CYRENA´ICA
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