|Citrus from my yard, before|
citrus greening moved in.
Correspondence by a 19th century writer named Mrs. Leora B. Robinson of Orlando dispels any notion of past practices being narrowly defined. She comes across as plain-speaking and straightforward in the concise guidebook she wrote for Florida newcomers in 1884. Living in Florida consists of letters Leora wrote for a Kentucky publication, Home and Farm, in response to readers' questions. And they had questions aplenty, particularly about the gold rush so peculiar to the Sunshine State: orange fever.
|Everybody wanted to get rich quickly with|
an orange grove. This one belonged to
Count Frederick deBary. Credit:
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory
- Orange trees do best on low ground.
- Orange trees die on low ground.
- Land that is too high is as bad as land that is too low.
- Don't use budded trees; always used seedlings.
- Never use seedlings.
- Don't transplant nursery-grown budded trees into your grove.
- Do transplant nursery-grown budded trees.
- Shaddock is the best rootstock.
- Sweet orange is the best rootstock.
- Grapefruit is the best rootstock.
- Lemon is the best rootstock.
- Don't plow the grove.
- The more the grove is plowed, the better.
- Don't plow in summer.
- Only plow in summer.
- Plant trees densely - no more than 15 feet apart.
- Plant trees 20-, 30-, even 40-feet apart.
Leora overflowed with practical common sense, some of it derived from the groves she managed for others. One of her takeaways from the conflicting advice was this: "You can hardly make a mistake." And if one did? There were other ways to make a living in pioneer Florida. She suggested the homesteader "... plant arrow-root, raise melons, split rails at $1 per hundred, build cabins for your neighbors at $1.50 per day, raise chickens, catch fish and eat them, make fertilizers, shoot alligators on Lake Kissimmee and sell their hides .." For a person willing work, Florida was a paradise in more ways than one.