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The Works of E.P. Roe

VOLUME SEVENTEEN

SUCCESS WITH SMALL FRUITS

ILLUSTRATED

1881




I Dedicate this Book

TO

MR. CHARLES DOWNING

A Neighbor, Friend, and Horticulturist

FROM WHOM I SHALL ESTEEM IT A PRIVILEGE TO LEARN IN COMING YEARS AS I
HAVE IN THE PAST




PREFACE


A book should be judged somewhat in view of what it attempts. One of
the chief objects of this little volume is to lure men and women back
to their original calling, that of gardening. I am decidedly under the
impression that Eve helped Adam, especially as the sun declined. I am
sure that they had small fruits for breakfast, dinner and supper, and
would not be at all surprised if they ate some between meals. Even we
poor mortals who have sinned more than once, and must give our minds to
the effort not to appear unnatural in many hideous styles of dress, can
fare as well. The Adams and Eves of every generation can have an Eden
if they wish. Indeed, I know of many instances in which Eve creates a
beautiful and fruitful garden without any help from Adam.

The theologians show that we have inherited much evil from our first
parents, but, in the general disposition to have a garden, can we not
recognize a redeeming ancestral trait? I would like to contribute my
little share toward increasing this tendency, believing that as
humanity goes back to its first occupation it may also acquire some of
the primal gardener's characteristics before he listened to temptation
and ceased to be even a gentleman. When he brutally blamed the woman,
it was time he was turned out of Eden. All the best things of the
garden suggest refinement and courtesy. Nature might have contented
herself with producing seeds only, but she accompanies the prosaic
action with fragrant flowers and delicious fruit. It would be well to
remember this in the ordinary courtesies of life.

Moreover, since the fruit-garden and farm do not develop in a
straightforward, matter-of-fact way, why should I write about them
after the formal and terse fashion of a manual or scientific treatise?
The most productive varieties of fruit blossom and have some foliage
which may not be very beautiful, any more than the departures from
practical prose in this book are interesting; but, as a leafless plant
or bush, laden with fruit, would appear gaunt and naked, so, to the
writer, a book about them without any attempt at foliage and flowers
would seem unnatural. The modern chronicler has transformed history
into a fascinating story. Even science is now taught through the charms
of fiction. Shall this department of knowledge, so generally useful, be
left only to technical prose? Why should we not have a class of books
as practical as the gardens, fields, and crops, concerning which they
are written, and at the same time having much of the light, shade,
color, and life of the out-of-door world? I merely claim that I have
made an attempt in the right direction, but, like an unskillful artist,
may have so confused my lights, shades, and mixed my colors so badly,
that my pictures resemble a strawberry-bed in which the weeds have the
better of the fruit.

Liberal outlines of this work appeared in "Scribner's Magazine," but
the larger scope afforded by the book has enabled me to treat many
subjects for which there was no space in the magazine, and also to give
my views more fully concerning topics only touched upon in the serial.
As the fruits described are being improved, so in the future other and
more skillful horticulturists will develop the literature relating to
them into its true proportions.

I am greatly indebted to the instruction received at various times from
those venerable fathers and authorities on all questions relating to
Eden-like pursuits--Mr. Chas. Downing of Newburg, and Hon. Marshall P.
Wilder of Boston, Mr. J. J. Thomas, Dr. Geo. Thurber; to such valuable
works as those of A. S. Fuller, A. J. Downing, P. Barry, J. M. Merrick,
Jr.; and some English authors; to the live horticultural journals in
the East, West, and South; and, last but not least, to many plain,
practical fruit-growers who are as well informed and sensible as they
are modest in expressing their opinions.

CORNWALL-ON-THE-HUDSON, NEW YORK.



PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION


On page 315 of this volume will be found the following words: "To
attempt to describe all the strawberries that have been named would be
a task almost as interminable as useless. This whole question of
varieties presents a different phase every four or five years.
Therefore I treat the subject in my final chapter in order that I may
give revision, as often as there shall be occasion for it, without
disturbing the body of the book. A few years since certain varieties
were making almost as great a sensation as the Sharpless. They are now
regarded as little better than weeds in most localities." Now that my
publishers ask me to attempt this work of revision, I find that I
shrink from it, for reasons natural and cogent to my mind. Possibly the
reader may see them in the same light. The principles of cultivation,
treatment of soils, fertilizing, etc., remain much the same; My words
relating to these topics were penned when knowledge--the result of many
years of practical experience--was fresh in memory. Subsequent
observation has confirmed the views I then held, and, what is of far
more weight in my estimation, they have been endorsed by the best and
most thoroughly informed horticulturists in the land. I wrote what I
then thought was true; I now read what has been declared true by
highest authorities. I have more confidence in their judgment than in
my own, and, having been so fortunate as to gain their approval, I fear
to meddle with a record which, in a sense, has become theirs as well as
mine. Therefore I have decided to leave the body of the book untouched.

When I read the lists of varieties I found many that have become
obsolete, many that were never worthy of a name. Should I revise these
lists, as I fully expected to do, from time to time? At present I have
concluded that I will not, for the following reasons:

When, between six and seven years ago, I wrote the descriptions of the
various kinds of fruit then in vogue, I naturally and inevitably
reflected the small-fruit world as it then existed. The picture may
have been imperfect and distorted, but I gave it as I saw it. With all
its faults I would like to keep that picture for future reference. The
time may come when none of the varieties then so highly praised and
valued will be found in our fields or gardens. For that very reason I
should like to look back to some fixed and objective point which would
enable me to estimate the mutations which had occurred. Originators of
new varieties are apt to speak too confidently and exultantly of their
novelties; purchasers are prone to expect too much of them. Both might
obtain useful lessons by turning to a record of equally lauded
novelties of other days. Therefore I would like to leave that sketch of
varieties as seen in 1880 unaltered. To change the figure, the record
may become a landmark, enabling us to estimate future progress more
accurately. Should the book still meet with the favor which has been
accorded to it in the past, there can be frequent revisions of the
supplemental lists which are now given. Although no longer engaged in
the business of raising and selling plants, I have not lost my interest
in the plants themselves. I hope to obtain much of my recreation in
testing the new varieties offered from year to year. In engaging in
such pursuits even the most cynical cannot suspect any other purpose
than that of observing impartially the behavior of the varieties on
trial.

I will maintain my grasp on the button-hole of the reader only long
enough to state once more a pet theory--one which I hope for leisure to
test at some future time. Far be it from me to decry the disposition to
raise new seedling varieties; by this course substantial progress has
been and will be made. But there is another method of advance which may
promise even better results.

In many of the catalogues of to-day we find many of the fine old
varieties spoken of as enfeebled and fallen from their first estate.
This is why they decline in popular favor and pass into oblivion.
Little wonder that these varieties have become enfeebled, when we
remember how ninety-nine hundredths of the plants are propagated. I
will briefly apply my theory to one of the oldest kinds still in
existence--Wilson's Albany. If I should set out a bed of Wilson's this
spring, I would eventually discover a plant that surpassed the others
in vigor and productiveness--one that to a greater degree than the
others exhibited the true characteristics of the variety. I should then
clear away all the other plants near it and let this one plant
propagate itself, until there were enough runners for another bed. From
this a second selection of the best and most characteristic plants
would be made and treated in like manner. It appears to me reasonable
and in accordance with nature that, by this careful and continued
selection, an old variety could be brought to a point of excellence far
surpassing its pristine condition, and that the higher and better
strain would become fixed and uniform, unless it was again treated with
the neglect which formerly caused the deterioration. By this method of
selection and careful propagation the primal vigor shown by the
varieties which justly become popular may be but the starting-point on
a career of well-doing that can scarcely be limited. Is it asked, "Why
is not this done by plant-growers?" You, my dear reader, may be one of
the reasons. You may be ready to expend even a dollar a plant for some
untested and possibly valueless novelty, and yet be unwilling to give a
dollar a hundred for the best standard variety in existence. If I had
Wilsons propagated as I have described, and asked ten dollars a
thousand for them, nine out of ten would write back that they could buy
the variety for two dollars per thousand. So they could; and they,
could also buy horses at ten dollars each, and no one could deny that
they were horses. One of the chief incentives of nurserymen to send out
novelties is that they may have some plants for sale on which they can
make a profit. When the people are educated up to the point of paying
for quality in plants and trees as they are in respect to livestock,
there will be careful and capable men ready to supply the demand.

Beginning on page 349, the reader will find supplemental bits of
varieties which have appeared to me worthy of mention at the present
time. I may have erred in my selection of the newer candidates for
favor, and have given some unwarranted impressions in regard to them.
Let the reader remember the opinion of a veteran fruit-grower. "No
true, accurate knowledge of a variety can be had," he said, "until it
has been at least ten years in general cultivation."

I will now take my leave, in the hope that when I have something
further to say, I shall not be unwelcome.
                                             E. P. R.

    CORNWALL-ON-THE-HUDSON, N. Y.
          _January 16,1886._




CONTENTS


CHAPTER

I. PRELIMINARY PARLEY

II. THE FRUIT GARDEN

III. SMALL FRUIT FARMING AND ITS PROFITS

IV. STRAWBERRIES: THE FIVE SPECIES AND THEIR HISTORY

V. IDEAL STRAWBERRIES VERSUS THOSE OF THE FIELD AND MARKET

VI. CHOICE OF SOIL AND LOCATION

VII. PREPARING AND ENRICHING THE SOIL

VIII. PREPARATION OF SOIL BY DRAINAGE

IX. THE PREPARATION OF SOILS COMPARATIVELY UNFAVORABLE--CLAY, SAND, ETC

X. COMMERCIAL AND SPECIAL FERTILIZERS

XI. OBTAINING PLANTS AND IMPROVING OUR STOCK

XII. WHEN SHALL WE PLANT?

XIII. WHAT SHALL WE PLANT? VARIETIES, THEIR CHARACTER AND ADAPTATION TO
SOILS

XIV. SETTING OUT PLANTS

XV. CULTIVATION

XVI. A SOUTHERN STRAWBERRY FARM, AND METHODS OF CULTURE IN THE SOUTH

XVII. FORCING STRAWBERRIES UNDER GLASS

XVIII. ORIGINATING NEW VARIETIES--HYBRIDIZATION

XIX. RASPBERRIES--SPECIES, HISTORY, PROPAGATION, ETC

XX. RASPBERRIES--PRUNING--STAKING--MULCHING--WINTER PROTECTION, ETC

XXI. RASPBERRIES--VARIETIES OF THE FOREIGN AND NATIVE SPECIES

XXII. RUBUS OCCIDENTALS--BLACK-CAP AND PURPLE-CANE RASPBERRIES

XXIII. THE RASPBERRIES OF THE FUTURE

XXIV. BLACKBERRIES--VARIETIES, CULTIVATION, ETC.

XXV. CURRANTS--CHOICE OF SOIL, CULTIVATION, PRUNING, ETC.

XXVI. CURRANTS, CONTINUED--PROPAGATION, VARIETIES

XXVII. GOOSEBERRIES

XXVIII. DISEASES AND INSECT ENEMIES OF SMALL FRUITS

XXIX. PICKING AND MARKETING

XXX. IRRIGATION

XXXI. SUGGESTIVE EXPERIENCES FROM WIDELY SEPARATED LOCALITIES

XXXII. A FEW RULES AND MAXIMS

XXXIII. VARIETIES OF STRAWBERRIES

XXXIV. VARIETIES OF OTHER SMALL FRUITS

XXXV. CLOSING WORDS

APPENDIX

INDEX




CHAPTER I

PRELIMINARY PARLEY


In the ages that were somewhat shadowed, to say the least, when Nature
indulged her own wild moods in man and the world he trampled on rather
than cultivated, there was a class who in their dreams and futile
efforts became the unconscious prophets of our own time--the
Alchemists. For centuries they believed they could transmute base
metals into gold and silver. Modern knowledge enables us to work
changes more beneficial than the alchemist ever dreamed of; and it
shall be my aim to make one of these secrets as open as the sunlight in
the fields and gardens wherein the beautiful mutations occur. To turn
iron into gold would be a prosaic, barren process that might result in
trouble to all concerned, but to transform heavy black earth and
insipid rain-water into edible rubies, with celestial perfume and
ambrosial flavor, is indeed an art that appeals to the entire race, and
enlists that imperious nether organ which has never lost its power over
heart or brain. As long, therefore, as humanity's mouth waters at the
thought of morsels more delicious even than "sin under the tongue," I
am sure of an audience when I discourse of strawberries and their
kindred fruits. If apples led to the loss of Paradise, the reader will
find described hereafter a list of fruits that will enable him to
reconstruct a bit of Eden, even if the "Fall and all our woe" have left
him possessed of merely a city yard. But land in the country, breezy
hillsides, moist, sheltered valleys, sunny plains--what opportunities
for the divinest form of alchemy are here afforded to hundreds of
thousands!

Many think of the soil only in connection with the sad words of the
burial service--"Earth to earth, ashes to ashes." Let us, while we may,
gain more cheerful associations with our kindred dust. For a time it
can be earth to strawberry blossoms, ashes to bright red berries, and
their color will get into our cheeks and their rich subacid juices into
our insipid lives, constituting a mental, moral, and physical
alterative that will so change us that we shall believe in evolution
and imagine ourselves fit for a higher state of existence. One may
delve in the earth so long as to lose all dread at the thought of
sleeping in it at last; and the luscious fruits and bright-hued flowers
that come out of it, in a way no one can find out, may teach our own
resurrection more effectually than do the learned theologians.

We naturally feel that some good saints in the flesh, even though they
are "pillars of the church," need more than a "sea-change" before they
can become proper citizens of "Jerusalem the Golden;" but having
compared a raspberry bush, bending gracefully under its delicious
burden, with the insignificant seed from which it grew, we are ready to
believe in all possibilities of good. Thus we may gather more than
berries from our fruit-gardens. Nature hangs thoughts and suggestions
on every spray, and blackberry bushes give many an impressive scratch
to teach us that good and evil are very near together in this world,
and that we must be careful, while seeking the one, to avoid the other.
In every field of life those who seek the fruit too rashly are almost
sure to have a thorny experience, and to learn that prickings are
provided for those who have no consciences.

He who sees in the world around him only what strikes the eye lives in
a poor, half-furnished house; he who obtains from his garden only what
he can eat gathers but a meagre crop. If I find something besides
berries on my vines, I shall pick it if so inclined. The scientific
treatise, or precise manual, may break up the well-rooted friendship of
plants, and compel them to take leave of each other, after the
arbitrary fashion of methodical minds, but I must talk about them very
much as nature has taught me, since, in respect to out-of-door life, my
education was acquired almost wholly in the old-fashioned way at the
venerable "dame's school." Nay more, I claim that I have warrant to
gather from my horticultural texts more than can be sent to the dining
table or commission merchant. Such a matter-of-fact plant as the
currant makes some attempt to embroider its humble life with ornament,
and in April the bees will prove to you that honey may be gathered even
from a gooseberry bush. Indeed, gooseberries are like some ladies that
we all know. In their young and blossoming days they are sweet and
pink-hued, and then they grow acid, pale, and hard; but in the ripening
experience of later life they become sweet again and tender. Before
they drop from their places the bees come back for honey, and find it.

In brief, I propose to take the reader on a quiet and extended ramble
among the small fruits. It is much the same as if I said, "Let us go
a-strawberrying together," and we talked as we went over hill and
through dale in a style somewhat in harmony with our wanderings. Very
many, no doubt, will glance at these introductory words, and decline to
go with me, correctly feeling that they can find better company. Other
busy, practical souls will prefer a more compact, straightforward
treatise, that is like a lesson in a class-room, rather than a stroll
in the fields, or a tour among the fruit farms, and while sorry to lose
their company, I have no occasion to find fault.

I assure those, however, who, after this preliminary parley, decide to
go further, that I will do my best to make our excursion pleasant, and
to cause as little weariness as is possible, if we are to return with
full baskets. I shall not follow the example of some thrifty people who
invite one to go "a-berrying," but lead away from fruitful nooks,
proposing to visit them alone by stealth. All the secrets I know shall
become open ones. I shall conduct the reader to all the "good places,"
and name the good things I have discovered in half a lifetime of
research. I would, therefore, modestly hint to the practical reader--to
whom "time is money," who has an eye to the fruit only, and with whom
the question of outlay and return is ever uppermost--that he may, after
all, find it to his advantage to go with us. While we stop to gather a
flower, listen to a brook or bird, or go out of our way occasionally to
get a view, he can jog on, meeting us at every point where we "mean
business." These points shall occur so often that he will not lose as
much time as he imagines, and I think he will find my business talks
business-like--quite as practical as he desires.

To come down to the plainest of plain prose, I am not a theorist on
these subjects, nor do I dabble in small fruits as a rich and fanciful
amateur, to whom it is a matter of indifference whether his
strawberries cost five cents or a dollar a quart. As a farmer, milk
must be less expensive than champagne. I could not afford a fruit farm
at all if it did not more than pay its way, and in order to win the
confidence of the "solid men," who want no "gush" or side sentiment,
even though nature suggests some warrant for it, I will give a bit of
personal experience. Five years since, I bought a farm of twenty-three
acres that for several years had been rented, depleted, and suffered
to run wild. Thickets of brushwood extended from the fences well into
the fields, and in a notable instance across the entire place. One
portion was so stony that it could not be plowed; another so wet and
sour that even grass would not grow upon it; a third portion was not
only swampy, but liable to be overwhelmed with stones and gravel twice
a year by the sudden rising of a mountain stream. There was no fruit on
the place except apples and a very few pears and grapes. Nearly all of
the land, as I found it, was too impoverished to produce a decent crop
of strawberries. The location of the place, moreover, made it very
expensive--it cost $19,000; and yet during the third year of occupancy
the income from this place approached very nearly to the outlay, and in
1878, during which my most expensive improvements were made, in the way
of draining, taking out stones, etc., the income paid for these
improvements, for current expenses, and gave a surplus of over $1,800.
In 1879, the net income was considerably larger. In order that these
statements may not mislead any one, I will add that in my judgment only
the combined business of plants and fruit would warrant such expenses
as I have incurred. My farm is almost in the midst of a village, and
the buildings upon it greatly increased its cost. Those who propose to
raise and sell fruit only should not burden themselves with high-priced
land. Farms, even on the Hudson, can be bought at quite moderate prices
at a mile or more away from centres, and yet within easy reach of
landings and railroad depots.

Mr. Charles Downing, whose opinions on all horticultural questions are
so justly valued, remarked to me that no other fruit was so affected by
varying soils and climates as the strawberry. I have come to the
conclusion that soil, locality, and climate make such vast differences
that unless these variations are carefully studied and indicated, books
will mislead more people than they help. A man may write a treatise
admirably adapted to his own farm; but if one living a thousand, a
hundred, or even one mile away, followed the same method, he might
almost utterly fail. While certain general and foundation principles
apply to the cultivation of each genus of fruit, important
modifications and, in some instances, almost radical changes of method
must be made in view of the varied conditions in which it is grown.

It is even more important to know what varieties are best adapted to
different localities and soils. While no experienced and candid
authority will speak confidently and precisely on this point, much very
useful information and suggestion may be given by one who, instead of
theorizing, observes, questions, and records facts as they are. The
most profitable strawberry of the far South will produce scarcely any
fruit in the North, although the plant grows well; and some of our best
raspberries cannot even exist in a hot climate or upon very light
soils. In the preparation of this book it has been my aim to study
these conditions, that I might give advice useful in Florida and
Canada, New York and California, as well as at Cornwall. I have
maintained an extensive correspondence with practical fruit growers in
all sections, and have read with care contributions to the
horticultural press from widely separated localities. Not content with
this, I have visited in person the great fruit-growing centres of New
Jersey, Norfolk and Richmond, Va.; Charleston, S. C.; Augusta and
Savannah, Ga,; and several points in Florida. Thus, from actual
observation and full, free conversation, I have familiarized myself
with both the Northern and Southern aspects of this industry, while my
correspondence from the far West, Southwest, and California will, I
hope, enable me to aid the novice in those regions also.

I know in advance that my book will contain many and varied faults, but
I intend that it shall be an expression of honest opinion. I do not
like "foxy grapes" nor foxy words about them.




CHAPTER II

THE FRUIT GARDEN


_Raison d'etre_

Small fruits, to people who live in the country, are like
heaven--objects of universal desire and very general neglect. Indeed,
in a land so peculiarly adapted to their cultivation, it is difficult
to account for this neglect if you admit the premise that Americans are
civilized and intellectual. It is the trait of a savage and inferior
race to devour with immense gusto a delicious morsel, and then trust
to luck for another. People who would turn away from a dish of
"Monarch" strawberries, with their plump pink cheeks powdered with
sugar, or from a plate of melting raspberries and cream, would be
regarded as so eccentric as to suggest an asylum; but the number of
professedly intelligent and moral folk who ignore the simple means of
enjoying the ambrosial viands daily, for weeks together, is so large as
to shake one's confidence in human nature. A well-maintained fruit
garden is a comparatively rare adjunct of even stylish and pretentious
homes. In June, of all months, in sultry July and August, there arises
from innumerable country breakfast tables the pungent odor of a meat
into which the devils went but out of which there is no proof they ever
came. From the garden under the windows might have been gathered fruits
whose aroma would have tempted spirits of the air. The cabbage-patch
may be seen afar, but too often the strawberry-bed even if it exists is
hidden by weeds, and the later small fruits struggle for bare life in
some neglected corner. Indeed, an excursion into certain parts of Hew
England might suggest that many of its thrifty citizens would not have
been content in Eden until they had put its best land into onions and
tobacco. Through the superb scenery of Vermont there flows a river
whose name, one might think, would secure an unfailing tide from the
eyes of the inhabitants. The Alpine strawberry grows wild in all that
region, but the puritan smacked his lips over another gift of nature
and named the romantic stream in its honor. To account for certain
tastes or tendencies, mankind must certainly have fallen a little way,
or, if Mr. Darwin's view is correct, and we are on a slight up-grade, a
dreadful hitch and tendency to backslide has been apparent at a certain
point ever since the Hebrews sighed for the "leeks and onions of Egypt."


Of course, there is little hope for the rural soul that "loathes" the
light manna of small fruits. We must leave it to evolution for another
cycle or two. But, as already indicated, we believe that humanity in
the main has reached a point where its internal organs highly approve
of the delicious group of fruits that strayed out of Paradise, and have
not yet lost themselves among the "thorns and thistles." Indeed, modern
skill--the alchemy of our age--has wrought such wonders that Eden is
possible again to all who will take the trouble to form Eden-like
tastes and capacities.

The number who are doing this is increasing every year, The large
demand for literature relating to out-of-door life, horticultural
journals, like the fruits of which they treat, flourishing in regions
new and remote, are proof of this. The business of supplying
fruit-trees, plants, and even flowers, is becoming a vast industry. I
have been informed that one enterprising firm annually spends thousands
in advertising roses only.

But while we welcome the evidences that so many are ceasing to be
bucolic heathen, much observation has shown that the need of further
enlightenment is large indeed. It is depressing to think of the number
of homes about which fruits are conspicuous only by their
absence--homes of every class, from the laborer's cottage and pioneer's
cabin to the suburban palace. Living without books and pictures is only
a little worse than living in the country without fruits and flowers.
We must respect to some extent the old ascetics, who, in obedience to
mistaken ideas of duty, deprived themselves of the good things God
provided, even while we recognize the stupidity of such a course.
Little children are rarely so lacking in sense as to try to please
their father by contemptuously turning away from his best gifts, or by
treating them with indifference. Why do millions live in the country,
year after year, raising weeds and brambles, or a few coarse
vegetables, when the choicest fruits would grow almost as readily? They
can plead no perverted sense of duty.

It is a question hard to answer. Some, perhaps, have the delusion that
fine small fruits are as difficult to raise as orchids. They class them
with hot-house grapes. Others think they need so little attention that
they can stick a few plants in hard, poor ground and leave them to
their fate. One might as well try to raise canary-birds and kittens
together as strawberries and weeds. There is a large class who believe
in small fruits, and know their value. They enjoy them amazingly at a
friend's table, and even buy some when they are cheap., A little
greater outlay and a little intelligent effort would give them an
abundant supply from their own grounds. In a vague way they are aware
of this, and reproach themselves for their negligence, but time passes
and there is no change for the better. Why? I don't know. There are men
who rarely kiss their wives and children. For them the birds sing
unheeded and even unheard; flowers become mere objects, and sunsets
suggest only "quitting time." In theory they believe in all these
things. What can be said of them save that they simply jog on to-day as
they did yesterday, ever dimly hoping at some time or other "to live up
to their privileges"? But they usually go on from bad to worse, until,
like their neglected strawberry-beds, they are "turned under."

In cities not a hundred miles from my farm there are abodes of wealth
with spacious grounds, where, in many instances, scarcely any place is
found for small fruits. "It is cheaper and easier to buy them," it is
said. This is a sorry proof of civilization. There is no economy in the
barbaric splendor of brass buttons and livery, but merely a little
trouble (I doubt about money) is saved on the choicest luxuries of the
year. The idea of going out of their rural paradises to buy half-stale
fruit! But this class is largely at the mercy of the "hired man," or
his more disagreeable development, the pretentious smatterer, who, so
far from possessing the knowledge that the English, Scotch, or German
gardeners acquire in their long, thorough training, is a compound of
ignorance and prejudice. To hide his barrenness of mind he gives his
soul to rare plants, clipped lawns, but stints the family in all things
save his impudence. If he tells his obsequious employers that it is
easier and cheaper to buy their fruit than to raise it, of course there
is naught to do but go to the market and pick up what they can; and yet
Dr. Thurber says, with a vast deal of force, that "the unfortunate
people who buy their fruit do not know what a strawberry is."

In all truth and soberness it is a marvel and a shame that so many sane
people who profess to have passed beyond the habits of the wilderness
will not give the attention required by these unexacting fruits. The
man who has learned to write his name can learn to raise them
successfully. The ladies who know how to keep their homes neat through
the labors of their "intelligent help," could also learn to manage a
fruit garden even though employing the stupidest oaf that ever
blundered through life. The method is this: First learn how yourself,
and then let your laborer thoroughly understand that he gets no wages
unless he does as he is told. In the complicated details of a plant
farm there is much that needs constant supervision, but the work of an
ordinary fruit garden is, in the main, straightforward and simple. The
expenditure of a little time, money, and, above all things, of
seasonable labor, is so abundantly repaid that one would think that
bare self-interest would solve invariably the simple problem of supply.

As mere articles of food, these fruits are exceedingly valuable. They
are capable of sustaining severe and continued labor. For months
together we might become almost independent of butcher and doctor if we
made our places produce all that nature permits. Purple grapes will
hide unsightly buildings; currants, raspberries, and blackberries will
grow along the fences and in the corners that are left to burdocks and
brambles. I have known invalids to improve from the first day that
berries were brought to the table, and thousands would exchange their
sallow complexions, sick headaches, and general ennui for a breezy
interest in life and its abounding pleasures, if they would only take
nature's palpable hint, and enjoy the seasonable food she provides.
Belles can find better cosmetics in the fruit garden than on their
toilet tables, and she who paints her cheeks with the pure, healthful
blood that is made from nature's choicest gifts, and the exercise of
gathering them, can give her lover a kiss that will make him wish for
another.

The famous Dr. Hosack, of New York City, who attended Alexander
Hamilton after he received his fatal wound from Burr, was an enthusiast
on the subject of fruits. It was his custom to terminate his spring
course of lectures with a strawberry festival. "I must let the class
see," he said, "that we are practical as well as theoretical. Linnaeus
cured his gout and protracted his life by eating strawberries."

"They are a dear article," a friend remarked, "to gratify the appetites
of so many."

"Yes, indeed," replied the doctor, "but from our present mode of
culture they will become cheap."

It is hard to realize how scarce this fruit was sixty or seventy years
ago, but the prediction of the sagacious physician has been verified
even beyond his imagination. Strawberries are raised almost as
abundantly as potatoes, and for a month or more can be eaten as a cheap
and wholesome food by all classes, even the poorest. By a proper
selection of varieties we, in our home, feast upon them six weeks
together, and so might the majority of those whose happy lot is cast in
the country. The small area of a city yard planted with a few choice
kinds will often yield surprising returns under sensible culture.

If we cultivate these beautiful and delicious fruits we always have the
power of giving pleasure to others, and he's a churl and she a pale
reflection of Xantippe who does not covet this power. The faces of our
guests brighten as they snuff from afar the delicate aroma. Our vines
can furnish gifts that our friends will ever welcome; and by means of
their products we can pay homage to genius that will be far more
grateful than commonplace compliments. I have seen a letter from the
Hon. Wm. C. Bryant, which is a rich return for the few strawberries
that were sent to him, and the thought that they gave him pleasure
gives the donor far more. They are a gift that one can bestow and
another take without involving any compromise on either side, since
they belong to the same category as smiles, kind words, and the
universal freemasonry of friendship. Faces grow radiant over a basket
of fruit or flowers that would darken with anger at other gifts.

If, in the circle of our acquaintance, there are those shut up to the
weariness and heavy atmosphere of a sick-room, in no way can we send a
ray of sunlight athwart their pallid faces more effectually than by
placing a basket of fragrant fruit on the table beside them. Even
though the physician may render it "forbidden fruit," their eyes will
feast upon it, and the aroma will teach them that the world is not
passing on, unheeding and uncaring whether they live or die.

The Fruit and Flower Mission of New York is engaged in a beautiful and
most useful charity. Into tenement-houses and the hot close wards of
city hospitals, true sisters of mercy of the one Catholic church of
love and kindness carry the fragrant emblems of an Eden that was lost,
but may be regained even by those who have wandered farthest from its
beauty and purity. Men and women, with faces seemingly hardened and
grown rigid under the impress of vice, that but too correctly reveal
the coarse and brutal nature within, often become wistful and tender
over some simple flower or luscious fruit that recalls earlier and
happier days. These are gifts which offend no prejudices, and
inevitably suggest that which is good, sweet, wholesome and pure. For a
moment, at least, and perhaps forever, they may lead stained and
debased creatures to turn their faces heavenward. There are little
suffering children also in the hospitals; there are exiles from country
homes and country life in the city who have been swept down not by evil
but the dark tides of disaster, poverty, and disease, and to such it is
a privilege as well as a pleasure to send gifts that will tend to
revive hope and courage. That we may often avail ourselves of these
gracious opportunities of giving the equivalent of a "cup of cold
water," we should plant fruits and flowers in abundance.

One of the sad features of our time is the tendency of young people to
leave their country homes. And too often one does not need to look far
for the reason. Life at the farm-house sinks into deep ruts, and
becomes weary plodding. There are too many "one-ideaed" farmers and
farms. It is corn, potatoes, wheat, butter, or milk. The staple
production absorbs all thought and everything else is neglected. Nature
demands that young people should have variety, and furnishes it in
abundance. The stolid farmer too often ignores nature and the cravings
of youth, and insists on the heavy monotonous work of his specialty,
early and late, the year around, and then wonders why in his declining
years there are no strong young hands to lighten his toil. The boy who
might have lived a sturdy, healthful, independent life among his native
hills is a bleached and sallow youth measuring ribbons and calicoes
behind a city counter. The girl who might have been the mistress of a
tree-shadowed country house disappears under much darker shadows in
town. But for their early home life, so meagre and devoid of interest,
they might have breathed pure air all their days.

Not the least among the means of making a home attractive would be a
well-maintained fruit garden. The heart and the stomach have been found
nearer together by the metaphysicians than the physiologists, and if
the "house-mother," as the Germans say, beamed often at her children
over a great dish of berries flanked by a pitcher of unskimmed milk,
not only good blood and good feeling would be developed, but something
that the poets call "early ties."

There is one form of gambling or speculation that, within proper
limits, is entirely innocent and healthful--the raising of new seedling
fruits and the testing of new varieties. In these pursuits the elements
of chance, skill, and judgment enter so evenly that they are an
unfailing source of pleasurable excitement. The catalogues of plant,
tree, and seed dealers abound in novelties. The majority of them cannot
endure the test of being grown by the side of our well-known standard
kinds, but now and then an exceedingly valuable variety, remarkable for
certain qualities or peculiarly adapted to special localities and uses,
is developed. There is not only an unfailing pleasure in making these
discoveries, but often a large profit. If, three or four years ago, a
country boy had bought a dozen Sharpless strawberry plants, and
propagated from them, he might now obtain several hundred dollars from
their increased numbers. Time only can show whether this novelty will
become a standard variety, but at present the plants are in great
demand.

The young people of a country home may become deeply interested in
originating new seedlings. A thousand strawberry seeds will produce a
thousand new kinds, and, although the prospects are that none of them
will equal those now in favor, something very fine and superior may be
obtained. Be this as it may, if these simple natural interests prevent
boys and girls from being drawn into the maelstrom of city life until
character is formed, each plant will have a value beyond silver or gold.

One of the supreme rewards of human endeavor is a true home, and surely
it is as stupid as it is wrong to neglect some of the simplest and yet
most effectual means of securing this crown of earthly life. A home is
the product of many and varied causes, but I have yet to see the man
who will deny that delicious small fruits for eight months of the year,
and the richer pleasure even of cultivating and gathering them, may
become one of the chief contributions to this result. I use the words
"eight months" advisedly, for even now, January 29, we are enjoying
grapes that were buried in the ground last October. I suppose my
children are very material and unlike the good little people who do not
live long, but they place a white mark against the days on which we
unearth a jar of grapes.




CHAPTER III

SMALL FRUIT FARMING AND ITS PROFITS


A farm without a fruit garden may justly be regarded as proof of a low
state of civilization in the farmer. No country home should be without
such simple means of health and happiness. For obvious reasons,
however, there is not, and never can be, the same room for fruit
raising as there is for grain, grass, and stock farming. Nevertheless,
the opportunities to engage with profit in this industry on a large
scale are increasing every year. From being a luxury of a few, the
small fruits have become an article of daily food to the million. Even
the country village must have its supply, and the number of crates that
are shipped from New York city to neighboring towns is astonishingly
large. As an illustration of the rapidly enlarging demand for these
fruits, let us consider the experience of one Western city, Cincinnati.
Mr. W. H. Corbly, who is there regarded as one of the best informed on
these subjects, has gathered the following statistics: "In 1835 it was
regarded as a most wonderful thing that 100 bushels of strawberries
could be disposed of on the Cincinnati market in one day, and was
commented on as a great event. A close estimate shows that during the
summer of 1879 eighty to eighty-five thousand bushels of strawberries
were sold in Cincinnati. Of course, a large part of these berries were
shipped away, but it is estimated that nearly one half were consumed
here. About the year 1838 the cultivation of black raspberries was
commenced in this county by James Gallagher and F. A. McCormick of
Salem, Anderson township. The first year, Gallagher's largest shipment
in one day was six bushels, and McCormick's four. When they were placed
on the market, McCormick sold out at 6 1/4 cents per quart, and
Gallagher held off till McCormick had sold out, when he put his on sale
and obtained 8 1/8 cents per quart, and the demand was fully supplied.
It is estimated that the crop for the year 1879, handled in Cincinnati,
amounted to from seventy-five thousand to eighty thousand bushels--the
crop being a fairly good one--selling at an average of about two
dollars per bushel." It has been stated in "The Country Gentleman" that
about $5,000,000 worth of small fruits were sold in Michigan in one
year; and the same authority estimates that $25,000,000 worth are
consumed annually in New York city. In the future it would seem that
this demand would increase even more rapidly; for in every
fruit-growing region immense canning establishments are coming into
existence, to which the markets of the world are open. Therefore, in
addition to the thousands already embarked in this industry, still
larger numbers will engage in it during the next few years.

Those who now for the first time are turning their attention toward
this occupation may be divided mainly into two classes. The first
consists of established farmers, who, finding markets within their
reach, extend their patches of raspberries, currants, or strawberries
to such a degree that they have a surplus to sell. To the extent that
such sales are remunerative, they increase the area of fruits, until in
many instances they become virtually fruit farmers. More often a few
acres are devoted to horticulture, and the rest of the farm is carried
on in the old way.

The second class is made up chiefly of those who are unfamiliar with
the soil and its culture--mechanics, professional men, who hope to
regain health by coming back to nature, and citizens whose ill-success
or instincts suggest country life and labors. From both these classes,
and especially from the latter, I receive very many letters, containing
all kinds of questions. The chief burden on most minds, however, is
summed up in the words, "Do small fruits pay?" To meet the needs of
these two classes is one of the great aims of this work; and it is my
most earnest wish not to mislead by high-colored pictures.

Small fruits pay many people well; and unless location, soil, or
climate is hopelessly against one, the degree of profit will depend
chiefly upon his skill, judgment and industry. The raising of small
fruits is like other callings, in which some are getting rich, more
earning a fair livelihood, and not a few failing. It is a business in
which there is an abundance of sharp, keen competition; and ignorance,
poor judgment, and shiftless, idle ways will be as fatal as in the
workshop, store, or office.

Innumerable failures result from inexperience. I will give one extreme
example, which may serve to illustrate, the sanguine mental condition
of many who read of large returns in fruit culture. A young man who had
inherited a few hundred dollars wrote me that he could hire a piece of
land for a certain amount, and he wished to invest the balance--every
cent--in plants, thus leaving himself no capital with which to continue
operations, but expecting that a speedy crop would lift him at once
into a prosperous career. I wrote that under the circumstances I could
not supply him--that it would be about the same as robbery to do so;
and advised him to spend several years with a practical and successful
fruit grower and learn the business.

Most people enter upon this calling in the form of a wedge; but only
too many commence at the blunt end, investing largely at once in
everything, and therefore their business soon tapers down to nothing.
The wise begin at the point of the wedge and develop their calling
naturally, healthfully--learning, by experience and careful
observation, how to grow fruits profitably, and which kinds pay the
best. There ought also to be considerable capital to start with, and an
absence of the crushing burden of interest money. No fruits yield any
returns before the second or third year; and there are often
Unfavorable seasons and glutted markets. Nature's prizes are won by
patient, persistent industry, and not by Wall Street sleight of hand.

Location is very important. A fancy store, however well-furnished,
would be a ruinous investment at a country crossroad. The fruit farm
must be situated where there is quick and cheap access to good markets,
and often the very best market may be found at a neighboring village,
summer resort, or canning establishment. Enterprise and industry,
however, seem to surmount all obstacles. The Rev. Mr. Knox shipped his
famous "700" strawberries (afterward known to be the Jucunda, a foreign
variety) from Pittsburgh to New York, securing large returns; and, take
the country over, the most successful fruit farms seem to be located
where live men live and work. Still, if one were about to purchase,
sound judgment would suggest a very careful choice of locality with
speedy access to good markets. Mr. J. J. Thomas, editor of "The Country
Gentleman," in a paper upon the Outlook of  Fruit Culture, read before
the Western N. Y. Horticultural Society, laid down three essentials to
success: 1. Locality--a region found by experience to be adapted to
fruit growing. 2. Wise selection of varieties of each kind. 3. Care and
culture of these varieties. He certainly is excellent authority.

These obvious considerations, and the facts that have been instanced,
make it clear that brains must unite with labor and capital. Above all,
however, there must be trained, practical skill. Those succeed who
learn how; and to add a little deftness to unskilled hands is the
object of every succeeding page. At the same time, I frankly admit that
nothing can take the place of experience. I once asked an eminent
physician if a careful reading of the best medical text-books and
thorough knowledge of the materia medica could take the place of daily
study of actual disease and fit a man for practice, and he emphatically
answered, "No!" It is equally true that an intelligent man can
familiarize himself with every horticultural writer from the classic
age to our own and yet be outstripped in success by an ignorant Irish
laborer who has learned the little he knows in the school of
experience. The probabilities are, however, that the laborer will
remain such all his days, while the thoughtful, reading man, who is too
sensible to be carried away by theories, and who supplements his
science with experience, may enrich not only himself but the world.

Still, there is no doubt that the chances of success are largely in
favor of the class I first named,--the farmers who turn their attention
in part or wholly toward fruit growing. They are accustomed to hard
out-of-door work and the general principles of agriculture. The first
is always essential to success; and a good farmer can soon become
equally skillful in the care of fruits if he gives his mind to their
culture. The heavy, stupid, prejudiced plodder who thinks a thing is
right solely because his grandfather did it, is a bucolic monster that
is receding so fast into remote wilds before the horticultural press
that he scarcely need be taken into account. Therefore, the citizen or
professional man inclined to engage in fruit farming should remember
that he must compete with the hardy, intelligent sons of the soil, who
in most instances are crowning their practical experience with careful
reading. I do not say this to discourage any one, but only to secure a
thoughtful and adequate consideration of the subject before the small
accumulations of years are embarked in what may be a very doubtful
venture. Many have been misled to heavy loss by enthusiastic works on
horticulture; I wish my little book to lead only to success.

If white-handed, hollow-chested professional men anxious to acquire
money, muscle, and health by fruit raising,--if citizens disgusted with
pavements and crowds are willing to take counsel of common-sense and
learn the business practically and thoroughly, why should they not
succeed? But let no one imagine that horticulture is the final resort
of ignorance, indolence, or incapacity, physical or mental. Impostors
palm themselves off on the world daily; a credulous public takes
poisonous nostrums by the ton and butt; but Nature recognizes error
every time, and quietly thwarts those who try to wrong her, either
wilfully or blunderingly.

Mr. Peter Henderson, who has been engaged practically in vegetable
gardening for over a quarter of a century, states, as a result of his
experience, that capital, at the rate of $300 per acre, is required in
starting a "truck farm," and that the great majority fail who make the
attempt with less means. In my opinion, the fruit farmer would require
capital in like proportion; for, while many of the small fruits can be
grown with less preparation of soil and outlay in manure, the returns
come more slowly, since, with the exception of strawberries, none of
them yield a full crop until the third or fourth year. I advise most
urgently against the incurring of heavy debts. Better begin with three
acres than thirty, or three hundred, from which a large sum of interest
money must be obtained before a penny can be used for other purposes.
Anything can be raised from a farm easier than a mortgage.

Success depends very largely, also, on the character of the soil. If it
is so high and dry as to suffer severely from drought two years out of
three, it cannot be made to pay except by irrigation; if so low as to
be wet, rather than moist, the prospects are but little better. Those
who are permanently settled must do their best with such land as they
have, and in a later chapter I shall suggest how differing soils should
be managed. To those who can still choose their location, I would
recommend a deep mellow loam, with a rather compact subsoil,--moist,
but capable of thorough drainage. Diversity of soil and exposure offer
peculiar advantages also. Some fruits thrive best in a stiff clay,
others in sandy upland. Early varieties ripen earlier on a sunny slope,
while a late kind is rendered later on a northern hillside, or in the
partial shade of a grove. In treating each fruit and variety, I shall
try to indicate the soils and exposures to which they are best adapted.

_Profits_.--The reader will naturally wish for some definite statements
of the profits of fruit farming; but I almost hesitate to comply with
this desire. A gentleman wrote to me that he sold from an acre of
Cuthbert raspberries $800 worth of fruit. In view of this fact, not a
few will sit down and begin to figure,--"If one acre yielded $800, ten
acres would produce $8,000; twenty acres $16,000," etc. Multitudes have
been led into trouble by this kind of reasoning. The capacity of an
engine with a given motor power can be measured, and certain and
unvarying results predicted; but who can measure the resources of an
acre through varying seasons and under differing culture, or foretell
the price of the crops? In estimating future profits, we can only
approximate; and the following records are given merely to show what
results have been secured, and therefore may be obtained again, and
even surpassed. "The Country Gentleman" gives a well-authenticated
instance of a fruit grower who "received more than $2,000 from three
acres of strawberries." In contrast, however, it could be shown that
many fields have not paid expenses. I once had such an experience. The
market was "glutted," and the variety yielded berries so small and poor
that they did not average five cents per quart. Occasionally we hear of
immense shipments from the South being thrown into the dock.


Mr. William Parry, a veteran fruit grower in New Jersey, states the
truth I wish to convey very clearly, and gives a fair mean between
these two extremes:

"YIELD AND PROFIT

"There are so many circumstances connected with strawberry growing,
such as varieties, soil, climate, location, markets, and the skill and
management of the grower, that the results of a few cases cannot be
relied on for general rules.

"We have grown over two hundred bushels per acre here, and realized
upward of six hundred dollars per acre for the crop; but that is much
above the general average. Having kept a careful record, for fourteen
years past, of the yield per acre and price per quart at which our
strawberries have been sold, we find the average to be about 2,500
quarts per acre, and the price eleven cents per quart in market, giving
the following results:

    "Commissions, 10 per cent                 $27.50
     Picking 2,500 quarts, at 2c. per quart    50.00
     Manure                                    17.50
     Use of baskets                            10.00
     Cultivation, etc                          25.00
     Net profits per acre                     145.00

    "Gross proceeds, 2,500 quarts at 11e     $275.00"

In the year 1876 the same gentleman had ten acres of Brandywine
raspberries that yielded about eighty-two bushels to the acre, giving a
clear profit of $280, or of $2,800 for the entire area. This crop, so
far from being the average, was awarded a premium as the most
profitable that year in the section.

J. R. Gaston & Sons, of Normal, Ill., have given the following record
of a plantation of Snyder blackberries: "We commenced to pick a field
of seven acres July 12th, and finished picking August 22. The total
amount gathered was 43,575 quarts, equal to 1,361 bushels and 22
quarts. The average price was eight cents per quart, making the gross
proceeds equal to $3,486. We paid for picking $435.75. The cost of
trimming and cultivating was about $400; cost of boxes, crates, and
marketing was $1,307.25, leaving a net profit of $1,343."

A gentleman in Ulster Co., N.Y., stated that 200 bushes of the Cherry
currant yielded him in one season 1,000 lbs. of fruit, which was sold
at an average of eight cents per pound. His gross receipts were $80
from one-fourteenth of an acre, and at the same ratio an acre would
have yielded $1,120. Is this an average yield? So far from it, there
are many acres of currants and gooseberries that do not pay expenses.
Thus it can be seen that the scale ranges from marvellous prizes down
to blanks and heavy losses; but the drawing is not a game of chance,
but usually the result of skill and industry, or their reverse.

I might have given many examples of large, and even enormously large,
profits obtained under exceptional circumstances; but they tend to
mislead. I write for those whose hearts prompt them to co-work with
nature, and who are most happy when doing her bidding in the breezy
fields and gardens, content with fair rewards, instead of being
consumed by the gambler's greed for unearned gold. At the same time, I
am decidedly in favor of high culture, and the most generous enriching
of the soil; convinced that fruit growers and farmers in general would
make far more money if they spent upon one acre what they usually
expend on three. In a later chapter will be found an instance of an
expenditure of $350 per acre on strawberry land, and the net profits
obtained were proportionately large.




CHAPTER IV

STRAWBERRIES: THE FIVE SPECIES AND THEIR HISTORY


The conscientious Diedrich Knickerbocker, that venerated historian from
whom all good citizens of New York obtain the first impressions of
their ancestry, felt that he had no right to chronicle the vicissitudes
of Manhattan Island until he had first accounted for the universe of
which it is a part. Equally with the important bit of land named, the
strawberry belongs to the existing cosmos, and might be traced back to
"old chaos." I hasten to re-assure the dismayed reader. I shall not
presume to follow one who could illumine his page with genius, and
whose extensive learning enabled him to account for the universe not
merely in one but in half a dozen ways.

It is the tendency of the present age to ask what is, not what has been
or shall be. And yet, on the part of some, as they deliberately enjoy a
saucer of strawberries and cream,--it is a pleasure that we prolong for
obvious reasons,--a languid curiosity may arise as to the origin and
history of so delicious a fruit. I suppose Mr. Darwin would say, "it
was evolved." But some specimens between our lips suggest that a Geneva
watch could put itself together quite as readily. At the same time, it
must be said that our "rude forefathers" did not eat Monarch or Charles
Downing strawberries. In few fruits, probably, have there been such
vast changes or improvements as in this. Therefore, I shall answer
briefly and as well as I can, in view of the meagre data and
conflicting opinions of the authorities, the curiosity, that I have
imagined on some faces. Those who care only for the strawberry of
to-day can easily skip a few pages.

If there were as much doubt about a crop of this fruit as concerning
the origin of its name, the outlook would be dismal, indeed. In old
Saxon, the word was streawberige or streowberrie; and was so named,
says one authority, "from the straw-like stems of the plant, or from
the berries lying strewn upon the ground." Another authority tells us:
"It is an old English practice" (let us hope a modern one also) "to lay
straw between the rows to preserve the fruit from rotting on the wet
ground, from which the name has been supposed to be derived; although
more probably it is from the wandering habit of the plant, straw being
a corruption of the Anglo-Saxon strae, from which we have the English
verb stray." Again tradition asserts that in the olden times children
strung the berries on straws for sale, and hence the name. Several
other causes have been suggested, but I forbear. I have never known,
however, a person to decline the fruit on the ground of this obscurity
and doubt. (Controversialists and sceptics please take note.)

That the strawberry should belong to the rose family, and that its
botanical name should be fragaria, from the Latin fragro, to smell
sweetly, will seem both natural and appropriate.

While for his knowledge of the plant I refer the reader to every
hillside and field (would that I might say, to every garden!), there is
a peculiarity in the production of the fruit which should not pass
unnoted. Strictly speaking, the small seeds scattered over the surface
of the berry are the fruit, and it is to perfect these seeds that the
plants blossom, the stamens scatter, and the pistils receive the pollen
on the convex receptacle, which, as the seeds ripen, greatly enlarges,
and becomes the pulpy and delicious mass that is popularly regarded as
the fruit. So far from being the fruit, it is only "the much altered
end of the stem" that sustains the fruit or seeds; and so it becomes a
beautiful illustration of a kindly, genuine courtesy, which renders an
ordinary service with so much grace and graciousness that we dwell on
the manner with far more pleasure than on the service itself. The
innumerable varieties of strawberries that are now in existence appear,
either in their character or origin, to belong to five great and quite
distinct species. The first, and for a long time the only one of which
we have any record, is the Fragaria vesca, or the "Alpine" strawberry.
It is one of the most widely spread fruits of the world, for it grows,
and for centuries has grown, wild throughout Northern and Central
Europe and Asia, following the mountains far to the south; and on this
continent, from time immemorial, the Indian children have gathered it,
from the Northern Atlantic to the Pacific. In England this species
exhibits some variation from the Alpine type, and was called by our
ancestors the Wood strawberry. The chief difference between the two is
in the form of the fruit, the Wood varieties being round and the Alpine
conical. They are also subdivided into white and red, annual and
monthly varieties, and those that produce no runners, which are known
to-day as Bush Alpines.

[Illustration: SEEDS AND PULP OF THE STRAWBERRY]

The Alpine, as we find it growing wild, was the strawberry of the
ancients. It is to it that the suggestive lines of Virgil refer:--

   "Ye boys that gather flowers and strawberries,
     Lo, hid within the grass an adder lies."

There is no proof, I believe, that the strawberry was cultivated during
any of the earlier civilizations. Some who wrote most explicitly
concerning the fruit culture of their time do not mention it; and
Virgil, Ovid, and Pliny name it but casually, and with no reference to
its cultivation. It may appear a little strange that the luxurious
Romans, who fed on nightingales' tongues, peacocks' brains, and scoured
earth and air for delicacies, should have given but little attention to
this fruit. Possibly they early learned the fact that this species is
essentially a wildling, and like the trailing arbutus, thrives best in
its natural haunts. The best that grew could be gathered from
mountain-slopes and in the crevices of rocks. Moreover, those old
revellers became too wicked and sensual to relish Alpine strawberries.

Its congener, the Wood strawberry, was the burden of one of the London
street cries four hundred years ago; and to-day the same cry, in some
language or other, echoes around the northern hemisphere as one of the
inevitable and welcome sounds of spring and early summer.

But few, perhaps, associate this lovely little fruit, that is almost as
delicate and shy as the anemone, with tragedy; and yet its chief
poetical associations are among the darkest and saddest that can be
imagined. Shakespeare's mention of the strawberry in the play of
Richard III. was an unconscious but remarkable illustration of the
second line already quoted from Virgil:--

     "Lo, hid within the grass an adder lies."

The bit of history which is the occasion of this allusion is given in
the quaint old English of Sir Thomas More, who thus describes the
entrance to the Council of the terrible "Protector," from whom nothing
good or sacred could be protected. He came "fyrste about IX of the
clocke, saluting them curtesly, and excusing himself that he had been
from them so long, saieing merily that he had been a slepe that day.
And after a little talking with them he said unto the bishop of Elye,
my lord, You have very good strawberries at your gardayne in Holberne,
I require you let us have a messe of them." He who has raised fine
fruit will know how eagerly the flattered bishop obeyed. According to
the poet, the dissembler also leaves the apartment, with his
unscrupulous ally, Buckingham.

   "Where is my lord protector? I have sent
    For these strawberries,"

said the Bishop of Ely, re-entering.

Lord Hastings looks around with an air of general congratulation, and
remarks:--

   "His grace looks cheerfully and smooth this morning;
    There's some conceit or other likes him well."

The serpent is hidden, but very near. A moment later, Gloster enters,
black as night, hisses his monstrous charge, and before noon of that
same day poor Hastings is a headless corpse.

Far more sad and pitiful are the scenes recalled by the words of the
fiendish Iago,--type for all time of those who transmute love into
jealousy:--

        "Tell me but this--
    Have you not sometimes seen a handkerchief,
    Spotted with strawberries, in your wife's hand?"
    "I gave her such a one; 'twas my first gift."

was the answer of a man whom the world will never forgive, in spite of
his immeasurable remorse.

From the poet Spenser we learn that to go a-strawberrying was one of
the earliest pastimes of the English people. In the "Faerie Queen" we
find these lines:--

   "One day, as they all three together went
        To the green wood to gather strawberries,
    There chaunst to them a dangerous accident."

Very old, too is the following nursery rhyme, which, nevertheless,
suggests the true habitat of the F. vesca species:--

   "The man of the wilderness asked me
    How many strawberries grew in the sea;
    I answered him, as I thought good,
    'As many red herrings as grew in the wood.'"

The ambrosial combination of strawberries and cream was first named by
Sir Philip Sidney. Old Thomas Tusser, of the 16th century, in his work,
"Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry united to as many of Good
Housewifery," turns the strawberry question over to his wife, and
doubtless it was in better hands than his, if his methods of culture
were as rude as his poetry:--

   "Wife, into the garden, and set me a plot
    With strawberry roots, of the best to be got;
    Such, growing abroad, among thorns in the wood,
    Well chosen and picked prove excellent good."

Who "Dr. Boteler" was, or what he did, is unknown, but he made a
sententious remark which led Izaak Walton to give him immortality in
his work, "The Compleat Angler." "Indeed, my good schollar," the serene
Izaak writes, "we may say of angling as Dr. Boteler said of
strawberries, 'Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but
doubtless God never did;' and so if I might be judge, God never did
make a more calm, quiet, innocent recreation than angling." If this was
true of the wild Wood strawberry, how much more so of many of our
aromatic rubies of to-day.


John Parkinson, the apothecary-gardener of London, whose quaint work
was published in 1629, is not so enthusiastic. He says of the wild
strawberry: "It may be eaten or chewed in the mouth without any manner
of offense; it is no great bearer, but those it doth beare are set at
the toppes of the stalks, close together, pleasant to behold, and fit
for a gentlewoman to wear on her arme, &c., as a raritie instead of a
flower."

In England, the strawberry leaf is part of the insignia of high rank,
since it appears in the coronets of a duke, marquis, and earl. "He
aspires to the strawberry leaves" is a well-known phrase abroad, and
the idea occurs several times in the novels of Disraeli, the present
British Premier. Thackeray, in his "Book of Snobs," writes: "The
strawberry leaves on her chariot panels are engraved on her ladyship's
heart."

After all, perhaps it is not strange that the Alpine species should be
allied to some dark memories, for it was the only kind known when the
age was darkened by passion and crime.

The one other allusion to the strawberry in Shakespeare is peculiarly
appropriate to the species under consideration. In the play of Henry
V., an earlier Bishop of Ely says:--

   "The strawberry grows underneath the nettle,
    And wholesome berries thrive and ripen best
    Neighbored by fruit of baser quality."

And this, probably, is still true, for the Alpine and Wood strawberries
tend to reproduce themselves with such unvarying exactness that
cultivation makes but little difference.

All these allusions apply to the F. vesca or Alpine species, and little
advance was made in strawberry culture in Europe until after the
introduction of other species more capable of variation and
improvement. Still, attempts were made from time to time. As the Alpine
differed somewhat from the Wood strawberry, they were brought to
England about 200 years later than the tragedy of Lord Hastings' death,
which has been referred to.

In connection with the White and Red Wood and Alpine strawberries, we
find in 1623 the name of the "Hautbois" or Haarbeer strawberry, the
Fragaria elatior of the botanists. This second species, a native of
Germany, resembles the Alpine in some respects, but is a larger and
stockier plant. Like the Fragaria vesca, its fruit-stalks are erect and
longer than the leaves, but the latter are larger than the foliage of
the Alpine, and are covered with short hairs, both on the upper and
under surface, which give them a rough appearance. As far as I can
learn, this species still further resembles the Alpines in possessing
little capability of improvement and variation. Even at this late day
the various named kinds are said to differ from each other but
slightly. There is a very marked contrast, however, between the fruit
of the Hautbois and Alpine species, for the former has a peculiar musky
flavor which has never found much favor in this country. It is,
therefore, a comparatively rare fruit in our gardens, nor do we find
much said of it in the past.

There is scarcely any record of progress until after the introduction
of the two great American species. It is true that in 1660 a fruit
grower at Montreuil, France, is "said to have produced a new variety
from the seed of the Wood strawberry," which was called the "Cappron,"
and afterward the "Fressant." It was named as a distinct variety one
hundred years later, but it may be doubted whether it differed greatly
from its parent. Be this as it may, it is said to be the first improved
variety of which there is any record.

Early in the 17th century, intercourse with this continent led to the
introduction of the most valuable species in existence, the "Virginian"
strawberry (Fragaria Virginiana), which grows wild from the Arctic
regions to Florida, and westward to the Rocky Mountains. It is first
named in the catalogue of Jean Robin, botanist to Louis XIII., in 1624.
During the first century of its career in England, it was not
appreciated, but as its wonderful capacity for variation and
improvement--in which it formed so marked a contrast to the Wood
strawberry--was discovered, it began to receive the attention it
deserved. English gardeners learned the fact, of which we are making so
much to-day, that by simply sowing its seeds, new and possibly better
varieties could be produced. From that time and forward, the tendency
has increased to originate, name and send out innumerable seedlings,
the majority of which soon pass into oblivion, while a few survive and
become popular, usually in proportion to their merit.

The Fragaria Virginiana, therefore, the common wild strawberry that is
found in all parts of North America east of the Rocky Mountains, is the
parent of nine-tenths of the varieties grown in our gardens; and its
improved descendants furnish nearly all of the strawberries of our
markets. As we have seen, the Fragaria vesca, or the Alpine species of
Europe, is substantially the same to-day as it was a thousand years
ago. But the capacity of the Virginian strawberry for change and
improvement is shown by those great landmarks in the American culture
of this fruit,--the production of Hovey's Seedling by C. M. Hovey, of
Cambridge, Mass., forty-five years since; of the Wilson's Albany
Seedling, originated by John Wilson, of Albany, N. Y., about
twenty-five years ago, and, in our own time, of the superb varieties,
Monarch of the West, Seth Boyden, Charles Downing, and Sharpless.

As in the Alpine species there are two distinct strains,--the Alpine of
the Continent, and the Wood strawberry of England,--so in the wild
Virginian species there are two branches of the family,--the Eastern
and the Western. The differences are so marked that some writers have
asserted that there are two species; but we have the authority of
Professor Gray for saying that the Western, or Fragaria Illincensis, is
"perhaps" a distinct species, and he classifies it as only a very
marked variety.

There are but two more species of the strawberry genus. Of the first of
these, the Fragaria Indica, or "Indian" strawberry, there is little to
say. It is a native of Northern India, and differs so much from the
other species that it was formerly named as a distinct genus. It has
yellow flowers, and is a showy house-plant, especially for
window-baskets, but the fruit is dry and tasteless. It is said by
Professor Gray to have escaped cultivation and become wild in some
localities of this country.

Fragaria Chilensis is the last great species or subdivision that we now
have to consider. Like the F. Virginiana, it is a native of the
American continent, and yet we have learned to associate it almost
wholly with Europe. It grows wild on the Pacific slope, from Oregon to
Chili, creeping higher and higher up the mountains as its habitat
approaches the equator. "It is a large, robust species, with very firm,
thick leaflets, soft and silky on the under side." The flowers are
larger than in the other species; the fruit, also, in its native
condition, averages much larger, stands erect instead of hanging,
ripens late, is rose-colored, firm and sweet in flesh, and does not
require as much heat to develop its saccharine constituents; but it
lacks the peculiar sprightliness and aroma of the Virginia strawberry.
It has become, however, the favorite stock of the European gardeners,
and seems better adapted to transatlantic climate and soil than to
ours. The first mention of the Fragaria Chilensis, or South American
strawberry, says Mr. Fuller, "is by M. Frezier, who, in 1716, in his
journey to the South Sea, found it at the foot of the Cordillera
mountains near Quito, and carried it home to Marseilles, France." At
that time it was called the Chili strawberry, and the Spaniards said
that they brought it from Mexico.

From Mr. W. Collett Sandars, an English antiquarian, I learned that
seven plants were shipped from Chili and were kept alive during the
voyage by water which M. Frezier saved from his allowance, much limited
owing to a shortness of supply. He gave two of the plants to M. de
Jessieu, "who cultivated them with fair success in the royal gardens."
In 1727, the Chili strawberry was introduced to England, but not being
understood it did not win much favor.

Mr. Fuller further states: "We do not learn from any of the old French
works that new varieties were raised from the Chili strawberry for at
least fifty years after its introduction." Duchesne, in 1766, says that
"Miller considered its cultivation abandoned in England on account of
its sterility. The importations from other portions of South America
appeared to have met with better success; and, early in the present
century, new varieties of the F. Chilensis, as well as of the
Virginiana, became quite abundant in England and on the Continent."

If we may judge from the characteristics of the varieties imported to
this country of late years, the South American species has taken the
lead decidedly abroad, and has become the parent stock from which
foreign culturists, in the main, are seeking to develop the ideal
strawberry. But in all its transformations, and after all the attempts
to infuse into it the sturdier life of the Virginian strawberry, it
still remembers its birthplace, and falters and often dies in the
severe cold of our winters, or, what is still worse, the heat and
drought of our summers. As a species, it requires the high and careful
culture that they are able and willing to give it in Europe. The
majority of imported varieties have failed in the United States, but a
few have become justly popular in regions where they can be grown. The
Triomphe de Gand may be given as an example, and were I restricted to
one variety I should take this. The Jucunda, also, is one of the most
superb berries in existence; and can be grown with great profit in many
localities.

Thus the two great species which to-day are furnishing ninety-nine
hundredths of the strawberries of commerce and of the garden, both in
this country and abroad, came from America, the Fragaria Chilensis
reaching our Eastern States by the way of Europe, and in the form of
the improved and cultivated varieties that have won a name abroad. We
are crossing the importations with our own native stock. President
Wilder's superb seedling, which has received his name, is an example of
this blending process. This berry is a child of the La Constante and
Hovey's Seedling, and, therefore, in this one beautiful and most
delicious variety we have united the characteristics of the two chief
strawberry species of the world, the F. Virginiana and F. Chilensis.

It will be seen that the great law of race extends even to strawberry
plants. As in the most refined and cultivated peoples there is a strain
of the old native stock, which ever remains, a source of weakness or
strength, and will surely show itself in certain emergencies, so the
superb new varieties of strawberries, the latest products of
horticultural skill, speedily indicate in the rough-and-tumble of
ordinary culture whether they have derived their life from the hardy F.
Virginiana or the tender and fastidious F. Chilensis. The Monarch of
the West and the Jucunda are the patricians of the garden, and on the
heavy portions of my land at Cornwall I can scarcely say to which I
give the preference. But the Monarch is Anglo-Saxon and the Jucunda is
of a Latin race; or to drop metaphor, the former comes of a species
that can adapt itself to conditions extremely varied, and even very
unfavorable, and the latter cannot.




CHAPTER V

IDEAL STEAWBERRIES VERSUS THOSE OF THE FIELD AND MARKET


There are certain strong, coarse-feeding vegetables, like corn and
potatoes, that can be grown on the half-subdued and comparatively poor
soil of the field; but no gardener would think of planting the finer
and more delicate sorts in such situations. There are but few who do
not know that they can raise cauliflowers and egg-plants only on deep,
rich land. The parallel holds good with this fruit. There are
strawberries that will grow almost anywhere, and under any
circumstances, and there is another class that demands the best ground
and culture. But from the soil of a good garden, with a little pains,
we can obtain the finest fruit in existence; and there is no occasion
to plant those kinds which are grown for market solely because they are
productive, and hard enough to endure carriage for a long distance. The
only transportation to be considered is from the garden to the table,
and therefore we can make table qualities our chief concern. If our
soil is light and sandy, we can raise successfully one class of choice,
high-flavored varieties; if heavy, another class. Many worry over a
forlorn, weedy bed of some inferior variety that scarcely gives a
week's supply, when, with no more trouble than is required to obtain a
crop of celery, large, delicious berries might be enjoyed daily, for
six weeks together, from twenty different kinds.

The strawberry of commerce is a much more difficult problem. The
present unsatisfactory condition of affairs was admirably expressed in
the following editorial in the "Evening Post" of June 12, 1876, from
the pen of the late William Cullen Bryant:--

STRAWBERRIES "In general, an improvement has been observed of late in
the quality of fruit. We have more and finer varieties of apple; the
pear is much better in general than it was ten years since; of the
grape there are many new and excellent varieties which the market knew
nothing of a few years ago, and there are some excellent varieties of
the raspberry lately introduced. But the strawberry has decidedly
deteriorated, and the result is owing to the general culture of
Wilson's Albany for the market. Wilson's Albany is a sour, crude berry,
which is not fully ripe when it is perfectly red, and even when
perfectly ripe is still too acid. When it first makes its appearance in
the market, it has an exceedingly harsh flavor and very little of the
agreeable aroma which distinguishes the finer kinds of the berry. If
not eaten very sparingly, it disagrees with the stomach, and you wake
with a colic the next morning. Before Wilson's strawberry came into
vogue there were many other kinds which were sweeter and of a more
agreeable flavor. But the Wilson is a hard berry, which bears
transportation well; it is exceedingly prolific and altogether
hardy,--qualities which give it great favor with the cultivator, but for
which the consumer suffers. The proper way of dealing in strawberries
is to fix the prices according to the quality of the sort. This is the
way they do in the markets of Paris. A poor sort, although the berry
may be large, is sold cheap; the more delicate kinds--the sweet, juicy,
and high-flavored--are disposed of at a higher price. Here the Wilson
should be sold the cheapest of all, while such as the Jucunda and the
President Wilder should bear a price corresponding to their excellence.
We hope, for our part, that the Wilsons will, as soon as their place
can be supplied by a better berry, be banished from the market. It can
surely be no difficult thing to obtain a sort by crossing, which shall
bear transportation equally well, and shall not deceive the purchaser
with the appearance of ripeness."

The reader will perceive that Mr. Bryant has portrayed both the evil
and the remedy. The public justly complains of the strawberry of
commerce, but it has not followed the suggestion in the editorial and
demanded a better article, even though it must be furnished at a higher
price.

In spite, however, of all that is said and written annually against the
Wilson, it still maintains its supremacy as the market berry. Those who
reside near the city and can make, to some extent, special arrangements
with enlightened customers, find other varieties more profitable, even
though the yield from them is less and some are lost from lack of
keeping qualities. But those who send from a considerable distance, and
must take their chances in the general market, persist in raising the
"sour, crude berry," which is red before it is ripe, and hard enough to
stand the rough usage which it is almost certain to receive from the
hands through which it passes. I do not expect to see the day when the
Wilson, or some berry like it, is not the staple supply of the market;
although I hope and think it will be improved upon. But let it be
understood generally that they are "Wilsons,"--the cheap vin ordinaire
of strawberries. Cities will ever be flooded with varieties that
anybody can grow under almost any kind of culture; and no doubt it is
better that there should be an abundance of such fruit rather than none
at all. But a delicately organized man, like Mr. Bryant, cannot eat
them; and those who have enjoyed the genuine strawberries of the garden
will not. The number of people, however, with the digestion of an
ostrich, is enormous, and in multitudes of homes Wilsons, even when
half-ripe, musty, and stale, are devoured with unalloyed delight, under
the illusion that they are strawberries.

If genuine strawberries are wanted, the purchaser must demand them, pay
for them, and refuse "sour, crude berries." The remedy is solely in the
hands of the consumers.

If people would pay no more for Seckel than for Choke pears, Choke
pears would be the only ones in market, for they can be furnished with
the least cost and trouble. It is the lack of discrimination that
leaves our markets so bare of fine-flavored fruit. What the grower and
the grocer are seeking is a hard berry, which, if not sold speedily,
will "keep over." Let citizens clearly recognize the truth,--that there
are superb, delicious berries, like the Triomphe, Monarch, Charles
Downing, Boyden, and many others, and insist on being supplied with
them, just as they insist on good butter and good meats, and the
problem is solved. The demand will create the supply; the fruit
merchant will write to his country correspondents: "You must send
fine-flavored berries. My trade will not take any others, and I can
return you more money for half the quantity of fruit if it is good."
The most stolid of growers would soon take such a hint. Moreover, let
the patrons of high-priced hotels and restaurants indignantly order
away "sour, crude berries," as they would any other inferior viand, and
caterers would then cease to palm off Wilsons for first-class
strawberries. If these suggestions were carried out generally, the
character of the New York strawberry market would speedily be changed.
It is my impression that, within a few years, only those who are able
to raise large, fine-flavored fruit will secure very profitable
returns. Moreover, we are in a transition state in respect to
varieties, and there are scores of new kinds just coming before the
public, of which wonderful things are claimed. I shall test nearly a
hundred of these during the coming season, but am satisfied in advance
that nine-tenths of them will be discarded within a brief period.
Indeed, I doubt whether the ideal strawberry, that shall concentrate
every excellence within its one juicy sphere, ever will be discovered
or originated. We shall always have to make a choice, as we do in
friends, for their several good qualities and their power to please our
individual tastes.

There is, however, one perfect strawberry in existence,--the strawberry
of memory,--the little wildlings that we gathered perhaps, with those
over whom the wild strawberry is now growing. We will admit no fault in
it, and although we may no longer seek for this favorite fruit of our
childhood, with the finest specimens of the garden before us we sigh
for those berries that grew on some far-off hillside in years still
farther away.




CHAPTER VI

CHOICE OF SOIL AND LOCATION


The choice that Tobias Hobson imposed on his patrons when he compelled
them to take "the horse nearest to the stable-door" or none at all, is
one that, in principle, we often have to make in selecting our
strawberry-ground. We must use such as we have, or raise no berries.
And yet it has been said that "with no other fruit do soil and locality
make so great differences." While I am inclined to think that this is
truer of the raspberry, it is also thoroughly established that location
and the native qualities of the soil are among the first and chief
considerations in working out the problem of success with strawberries.

Especially should such forethought be given in selecting a soil suited
to the varieties we wish to raise. D. Thurber, editor "American
Agriculturist," states this truth emphatically. In August, 1875, he
wrote: "All talk about strawberries must be with reference to
particular soils. As an illustration of this, there were exhibited in
our office windows several successive lots of the Monarch of the West,
which were immense as to size and wonderful as to productiveness. This
same Monarch behaved in so unkingly a manner on our grounds (very light
and sandy in their nature) that he would have been deposed had we not
seen these berries, for it was quite inferior to either Charles
Downing, Seth Boyden, or Kentucky."

It is a generally admitted fact that the very best soil, and the one
adapted to the largest number of varieties, is a deep sandy loam,
moist, but not wet in its natural state. All the kinds with which I am
acquainted will do well on such land if it is properly deepened and
enriched. Therefore, we should select such ground if we have it on our
places, and those proposing to buy land with a view to this industry
would do well to secure from the start one of the best conditions of
success.

It is of vital importance that our strawberry fields be near good
shipping facilities, and that there be sufficient population in the
immediate vicinity to furnish pickers in abundance. It will be far
better to pay a much higher price for land--even inferior land--near a
village and a railroad depot, than to attempt to grow these perishable
fruits in regions too remote. A water communication with market is, of
course, preferable to any other. Having considered the question of
harvesting and shipping to market, then obtain the moist, loamy land
described above, if possible.

Such ground will make just as generous and satisfactory returns in the
home garden, and by developing its best capabilities the amateur can
attain results that will delight his heart and amaze his neighbors.

Shall the fact that we have no such soil, and cannot obtain it,
discourage us? Not at all! There are choice varieties that will grow in
the extremes of sand or clay. More effort will be required, but skill
and information can still secure success; and advantages of location,
climate, and nearness to good markets may more than counterbalance
natural deficiencies in the land. Besides, there is almost as solid a
satisfaction in transforming a bit of the wilderness into a garden as
in reforming and educating a crude or evil specimen of humanity.
Therefore if one finds himself in an unfavorable climate, and shut up
to the choice of land the reverse of a deep, moist, sandy loam, let him
pit his brain and muscle against all obstacles.

If the question were asked, "Is there anything that comes from the
garden better liked than a dish of strawberries?" in nine instances out
of ten the answer would be, "Nothing," even though sour Wilsons were
grown; and yet, too often the bed is in a neglected corner and half
shaded by trees, while strong-growing vegetables occupy the moist, open
spaces. It is hardly rational to put the favorite of the garden where,
at best, a partial failure is certain. Let it be well understood that
strawberries cannot be made to do well on ground exhausted by the roots
and covered by the shade of trees.

On many farms and even in some gardens there are several varieties of
soil. Within the area of an acre I have a sandy loam, a gravelly
hillside, low, black, alluvial land, and a very stiff, cold, wet clay.
Such diversity does not often occur within so limited a space, but on
multitudes of places corresponding differences exist. In such
instances, conditions suited to every variety can be found, and reading
and experience will teach the cultivator to locate his several kinds
just where they will give the best results. Moreover, by placing early
kinds on warm, sunny slopes, and giving late varieties moist, heavy
land, and cool, northern exposures, the season of this delicious fruit
can be prolonged greatly. The advantage of a long-continued supply for
the family is obvious, but it is often even more important to those
whose income is dependent on this industry. It frequently occurs that
the market is "glutted" with berries for a brief time in the height of
the season. If the crop matures in the main at such a time, the one
chance of the year passes, leaving but a small margin of profit;
whereas, if the grower had prolonged his season, by a careful selection
of soils as well as of varieties, he might sell a large portion of his
fruit when it was scarce and high.

Climate is also a very important consideration, and enters largely into
the problem of success from Maine to Southern California. Each region
has its advantages and disadvantages, and these should be estimated
before the purchaser takes the final steps which commit him to a
locality and methods of culture which may not prove to his taste. In
the far North, sheltered situations and light, warm land should be
chosen for the main crop; but in our latitude, and southward, it should
always be our aim to avoid that hardness and dryness of soil that cut
short the crops and hopes of so many cultivators.




CHAPTER VII

PREPARING AND ENRICHING THE SOIL


Having from choice or necessity decided on the ground on which our
future strawberries are to grow, the next step is to prepare the soil.
The first and most natural question will be: What is the chief need of
this plant? Many prepare their ground in a vague, indefinite way. Let
us prepare for strawberries.

Whether it grows North or South, East or West, the strawberry plant is
the same, and has certain constitutional traits and requirements, which
should be thoroughly fixed in our minds. Modifications of treatment
made necessary by various soils and climates are then not only easily
learned but also easily understood.

When asked, on one occasion, what was the chief requirement in
successful strawberry culture, Hon. Marshall P. Wilder replied
substantially in the following piquant manner:--

"In the first place, the strawberry's chief need is a great deal of
water.

"In the second place, it needs more water.

"In the third place, I think I would give it a great deal more water."

The more extended and full my experience becomes, the less exaggeration
I find in his words. The following strong confirmation of President
Wilder's opinion may be found in Thompson's "Gardener's Assistant," a
standard English work:--

"Ground that is apt to get very dry from the effects of only ten days'
or a fortnight's drought is not suitable, on account of the enormous
quantity of water that will be necessary; and if once the plants begin
to flag for want of moisture, the crop is all but lost. A soil that is
naturally somewhat moist, but not too wet, answers well; and where the
land has admitted of irrigation, we have seen heavy crops produced
every year."

If this be true in England, with its humid climate, how much more
emphatically should we state the importance of this requirement in our
land of long droughts and scorching suns.

Moisture, then, is the strawberry's first and chief need. Without it,
the best fertilizers become injurious rather than helpful. Therefore,
in the preparation of the soil and its subsequent cultivation, there
should be a constant effort to secure and maintain moisture, and the
failure to do this is the chief cause of meagre crops. And yet, very
probably, the first step absolutely necessary to accomplish this will
be a thorough system of underdrainage. I have spent hundreds of dollars
in such labors, and it was as truly my object to enable the ground to
endure drought as to escape undue wetness. Let it be understood that it
is _moist_ and not _wet_ land that the strawberry requires. If water
stands or stagnates upon or a little below the surface, the soil
becomes sour, heavy, lifeless; and if clay is present, it will bake
like pottery in dry weather, and suggest the Slough of Despond in wet.
Disappointment, failure, and miasma are the certain products of such
unregenerate regions, but, as is often the case with repressed and
troublesome people, the evil traits of such soil result from a lack of
balance, and a perversion of what is good.

The underdrain restores the proper equilibrium; the brush-hook and axe
cut away the rank unwholesome growth which thrives best in abnormal
conditions. Sun, air, and purifying frosts mellow and sweeten the damp,
heavy malarious ground, as the plowshare lifts it out of its low
estate. A swamp, or any approach to one, is like a New York
tenement-house district, and requires analogous treatment.

If, however, we have mellow upland with natural drainage, let us first
put that in order that we may have a remunerative crop as soon as
possible. In suggesting, therefore, the best methods of preparing and
enriching the ground, I will begin by considering soils that are
already in the most favorable conditions, and that require the least
labor and outlay. Man received his most essential agricultural
instruction in the opening chapter of Genesis, wherein he is commanded
to "subdue the earth." Even the mellow western prairie is at first a
wild, untamed thing, that must be subdued. This is often a simple
process, and in our gardens and the greater part of many farms has
already been practically accomplished. Where the deep, moist loam, just
described, exists, the fortunate owner has only to turn it up to the
sun and give it a year of ordinary cultivation, taking from it, in the
process, some profitable hoed crop that will effectually kill the
grass, and his land is ready for strawberries. If his ground is in
condition to give a good crop of corn, it will also give a fair crop of
berries. If the garden is so far "subdued" as to yield kitchen
vegetables, the strawberry may be planted at once, with the prospect of
excellent returns, unless proper culture is neglected.

Should the reader be content with mediocrity, there is scarcely
anything to be said where the conditions are so favorable. But suppose
one is not content with mediocrity. Then this highly favored soil is
but the vantage-ground from which skill enters on a course of thorough
preparation and high culture. A man may plow, harrow, and set with
strawberries the land that was planted the previous year in corn, and
probably secure a remunerative return, with little more trouble or cost
than was expended on the corn. Or, he may select half the area that was
in corn, plow it deeply in October, and if he detects traces of the
white grub, cross-plow it again just as the ground is beginning to
freeze. Early in the spring he can cover the surface with some
fertilizer--there is nothing better than a rotted compost of muck and
barn-yard manure--at the proportion of forty or fifty tons to the acre.
Plow and cross-plow again, and in each instance let the first team be
followed by a subsoil or lifting plow, which stirs and loosens the
substratum without bringing it to the surface. The half of the field
prepared in such a thorough manner will probably yield three times the
amount of fruit that could be gathered from the whole area under
ordinary treatment; and if the right varieties are grown, and a good
market is within reach, the money received will be in a higher ratio.

The principle of generous and thorough preparation may be carried still
further in the garden, and its soil, already rich and mellow, may be
covered to the depth of several inches with well-rotted compost or any
form of barn-yard manure that is not too coarse and full of heat, and
this may be incorporated with the earth by trenching to the depth of
two feet. Of this be certain, the strawberry roots will go as deeply as
the soil is prepared and enriched for them, and the result in abundant
and enormous fruit will be commensurate. English gardeners advise
trenching even to the depth of three feet, where the ground permits it.

Few soils can be found so deep and rich by nature that they cannot be
improved by art; and the question for each to decide is, how far the
returns will compensate for extra preparation. Very often land for
strawberries receives but little more preparation than for wheat, and
such methods must pay or they would not be continued. Many who follow
these methods declare that they are the most profitable in the long
run. I doubt it.

If our market is one in which strawberries are sold simply as such,
without much regard to flavor or size, there is not the same inducement
to produce fine fruit. But even when quantity is the chief object,
deeply prepared and enriched land retains that essential moisture of
which we have spoken, and enables the plant not only to form, but also
to develop and mature, a great deal of fruit. In the majority of
markets, however, each year, size and beauty count for more, and these
qualities can be secured, even from a favorable soil, only after
thorough preparation and enriching. I find that every writer of
experience on this subject, both American and European, insists
vigorously on the value of such careful pulverization and deepening of
the soil.

Having thus considered the most favorable land in the best condition
possible, under ordinary cultivation, I shall now treat of that less
suitable, until we finally reach a soil too sterile and hopelessly bad
to repay cultivation.

I will speak first of this same deep, moist loam, in its unsubdued
condition; that is, in stiff sod, trees, or brush-wood. Of course, the
latter must be removed, and, as a rule, the crops on new land--which
has been undisturbed by the plow for a number of years and, perhaps,
never robbed of its original fertility--will amply repay for the extra
labor of clearing. Especially will this be the case if the brush and
rubbish are burned evenly over the surface. The finest of wild
strawberries are found where trees have been felled and the brush
burned; and the successful fruit grower is the one who makes the best
use of such hints from nature.

The field would look better and the cultivation be easier if all the
stumps could be removed before planting, but this might involve too
great preliminary expense, and I always counsel against debt except in
the direst necessity. A little brush burned on each stump will
effectually check new growth, and, in two or three years, these
unsightly objects will be so rotten that they can be pried out, and
easily turned into ashes, one of the best of fertilizers. In the
meantime, the native strength of the land will cause a growth which
will compensate for the partial lack of deep and thorough cultivation
which the stumps and roots prevent. Those who have travelled West and
South have seen fine crops of corn growing among the half-burned
stumps, and strawberries will do as well.

But where trees or brush have grown very thickly, the roots and stumps
must be eradicated. The thick growth on the sandy land of Florida is
grubbed out at the cost of about $30 per acre, and I know of a
gentleman who pays at the rate of $25 per acre in the vicinity of
Norfolk, Va. I doubt whether it can be done for less elsewhere.

In some regions they employ a stump extractor, a rude but strong
machine, worked by blocks and pulleys, with oxen as motor power. From
the "Farmer's Advocate" of London, Ont., I learn that an expert with
one of these machines, aided by five men and two yoke of oxen, was in
the habit of clearing fifty acres annually.

I have cleaned hedge-rows and stony spots on my place in the following
thorough manner: A man commences with pick and shovel on one side of
the land and turns it steadily and completely over by hand to the depth
of fourteen to eighteen inches, throwing on the surface behind him all
the roots, stumps and stones, and stopping occasionally to blast when
the rocks are too large to be pried out. This, of course, is expensive,
and cannot be largely indulged in; but, when accomplished, the work is
done for all time, and I have obtained at once by this method some
splendid soil, in which the plow sinks to the beam. A drought must be
severe, indeed, that can injure such land.

There is a great difference in men in the performance of this work. I
have one who, within a reasonable time, would trench a farm. Indeed, in
his power to obey the primal command to "subdue the earth," my man,
Abraham, is a hero--although, I imagine, he scarcely knows what the
word means and would as soon think of himself as a hippopotamus. His
fortunes would often seem as dark as himself to those who "take thought
for the morrow;" and that is saying much, for Abraham is "colored" as
far as man can be.

I doubt whether his foresight often reaches further than bedtime, and
to that hour he comes with an honest right to rest. He is a family man,
and has six or seven children, under eight years of age, whom he
shelters in a wretched little house that appears tired of standing up.
But to and from this abode Abraham passes daily, with a face as serene
as a May morning. In that weary old hovel I am satisfied that he and
his swarming little brood have found what no architect can build--a
home. Thither he carries his diurnal dollar, when he can get it, and on
it they all manage to live and grow fat. He loses time occasionally, it
is true, through illness, but no such trifling misfortune can induce
him, seemingly, to take a long, anxious look into the future. Only
once--it was last winter--have I seen him dismayed by the frowning
fates. The doctor thought his wife would die, and they had nothing to
eat in the house. When Abraham appeared before me at that time, "his
countenance was fallen," as the quaint, strong language of Scripture
expresses it. He made no complaints, however, and indulged in no
Byronic allusions to destiny. Indeed, he said very little, but merely
drooped and cowered, as if the wolf at the door and the shadow of death
within it were rather more than he could face at one and the same time.
It soon became evident, however, that his wife would "pull through," as
he said, and then the wolf didn't trouble him a mite. He installed
himself as cook, nurse, and house man-of-all-work, finding also
abundant leisure to smoke his pipe with infinite content. One morning
he was seen baking buckwheat cakes for the children; each one in turn
received an allowance on a tin plate, and squatted here and there on
the floor to devour it; and, from the master of ceremonies down, there
was not an indication that all was not just as it should be. A few days
later I met him coming back to his work with his pipe in the corner of
his mouth, and the old confident twinkle in his eye as he said,
"Mornin', Bossie." Now, Abraham carries his peculiar characteristics
into grubbing. If I should set him at a hundred-acre field full of
stumps and stones, and tell him to clear it to the depth of two feet,
he would begin without any apparent misgiving, and with no more thought
for the magnitude of his task than he has for the tangled and stubborn
mysteries of life in general, or the dubious question of "what shall be
on the morrow" in his own experience. He would see only the little
strip that he proposed to clear up that day, and would go to work in a
way all his own.

Although not talkative to other people, he is very social with himself,
and, in the early days of our acquaintance, I was constantly misled
into the belief that somebody was with him, and that he was a man of
words rather than work. As soon, however, as I reached a point from
which I could see him, there he would be, alone, bending to his task
with the steady persistence that makes his labor so effective; but, at
the same time, until he saw me he would continue discussing with equal
vigor whatever subject might be uppermost in his mind. I suppose he
scarcely ever takes out a stone or root without apostrophizing,
adjuring, and berating it in tones and vernacular so queer that one
might imagine he hoped to remove the refractory object by magic rather
than by muscle. When the sun is setting, however, and Abraham has
complacently advised himself, "Better quit, for de day's done gone, and
de ole woman is arter me, afeared I've kivered myself up a-grubbin',"
one thing is always evident--a great many stones and roots are
"unkivered," and Abraham has earned anew his right to the title of
champion grubber.

But, as most men handle the pick and shovel, the fruit grower must be
chary in his attempts to subdue the earth with those old-time
implements. It is too much like making war with the ancient Roman short
sword in an age of rifled guns. I agree with that practical
horticulturist, Peter Henderson, that there are no implements equal to
the plow and subsoiler, and, in our broad and half-occupied country, we
should be rather shy of land where these cannot be used.

The cultivator whose deep moist loam is covered by sod only, instead of
rocks, brush, and trees, may feel like congratulating himself on the
easy task before him; and, indeed, where the sod is light,
strawberries, and especially the larger small fruits, are often planted
on it at once with fair success. I do not recommend the practice; for,
unless the subsequent culture is very thorough and frequent, the grass
roots will continue to grow and may become so intertwined with those of
the strawberry that they cannot be separated. Corn is probably the best
hoed crop to precede the strawberry. Potatoes too closely resemble this
fruit in their demand for potash, and exhaust the soil of one of the
most needed elements. A dressing of wood ashes, however, will make good
the loss. Buckwheat is one of the most effective means of subduing and
cleaning land, and two crops can be plowed under in a single summer.
Last spring I had some very stiff marsh sod turned over and sown with
buckwheat, which, in our hurry, was not plowed under until considerable
of the seed ripened and fell. A second crop from this came up at once,
and was plowed under when coming into blossom, as the first should have
been. The straw, in its succulent state, decayed in a few days, and by
autumn my rough marsh sod was light, rich, and mellow as a garden,
ready for anything.

If it should happen that the land designed for strawberries was in
clover, it would make an admirable fertilizer if turned under while
still green, and I think its use for this purpose would pay better than
cutting it for hay, even though there is no better. Indeed, were I
about to put any sod land, that was not very stiff and unsubdued, into
small fruits, I would wait till whatever herbage covered the ground was
just coming into flower, and then turn it under. The earlier growth
that precedes the formation of seed does not tax the soil much, but
draws its substance largely from the atmosphere, and when returned to
the earth while full of juices, is valuable. In our latitude this can
usually be done by the middle of June, and if on this sod buckwheat is
sown at once, it will hasten the decay, loosen and lighten the soil in
its growth, and in a few weeks be ready itself to increase the
fertility of the field by being plowed under. In regions where farmyard
manure and other fertilizers are scarce and high, this plowing under of
green crops is one of the most effective ways both of enriching and
preparing the land; and if the reader has no severer labors to perform
than this, he may well congratulate himself.

But let him not be premature in his self-felicitation, for he may find
in his sod ground, especially if it be old meadow land, an obstacle
worse than stumps and stones--the Lachnosterna fusca.

This portentous name may well inspire dread, for the thing itself can
realize one's worst fears. The deep, moist loam which we are
considering is the favorite haunt of this hateful little monster, and
he who does not find it lying in wait when turning up land that has
been long in sod, may deem himself lucky. The reader need not draw a
sigh of relief when I tell him that I mean merely the "white grub," the
larva of the May-beetle or June-bug, that so disturbs our slumbers in
early summer by its sonorous hum and aimless bumping against the wall.
This white grub, which the farmers often call the "potato worm," is, in
this region, the strawberry's most formidable foe, and, by devouring
the roots, will often destroy acres of plants. If the plow turns up
these ugly customers in large numbers, the only recourse is to
cultivate the land with some other crop until they turn into beetles
and fly away. This enemy will receive fuller attention in a later
chapter.

It is said that this pest rarely lays its eggs in plowed land,
preferring sod ground, where its larvae will be protected from the
birds, and will find plenty of grass roots on which to feed. Nature
sees to it that white grubs are taken care of, but our Monarch
strawberries need our best skill and help in their unequal fight; and
if "Lachnos" and tribe should turn out in force, Alexander himself
would be vanquished.




CHAPTER VIII.

PREPARATION OF SOIL BY DRAINAGE


Excessive moisture will often prevent the immediate cultivation of our
ideal strawberry land. Its absence is fatal, its excess equally so. Let
me suggest some of the evil effects. Every one is aware that
climate--that is the average temperature of the atmosphere throughout
the year--has a most important influence on vegetation. But a great
many, I imagine, do not realize that there is an underground climate
also, and that it is scarcely less important that this should be
adapted to the roots than that the air should be tempered to the
foliage. Water-logged land is cold. The sun can bake, but not warm it
to any extent. Careful English experiments have proved that
well-drained land is from 10 to 20 degrees warmer than wet soils; and
Mr. Parkes has shown, in his "Essay on the Philosophy of Drainage,"
that in "draining the 'Red Moss' the thermometer in the drained land
rose in June to 66 degrees at seven inches below the surface, while in
the neighboring water-logged land it would never rise above 47
degrees--an enormous gain."

In his prize essay on drainage, Dr. Madden confirms the above, and
explains further, as follows: "An excess of water injures the soil by
diminishing its temperature in summer and increasing it in winter--a
transformation of nature most hurtful to perennials, because the vigor
of a plant in spring depends greatly on the lowness of temperature to
which it has been subjected during the winter (within certain limits,
of course), as the difference of temperature between winter and spring
is the exciting cause of the ascent of the sap." In other words, too
much water in the soil may cause no marked difference between the
underground climate of winter and spring.

Dr. Madden shows, moreover, that excess of water keeps out the air
essential not only in promoting chemical changes in the soil itself and
required by the plants, but also the air which is directly needed by
the roots. Sir H. Davy and others have proved that oxygen and carbonic
acid are absorbed by the roots as well as by the foliage, and these
gases can be brought to them by the air only.

Again, drainage alters the currents which occur in wet soil. In
undrained land, evaporation is constantly bringing up to the roots the
sour, exhausted water of the subsoil, which is an injury rather than a
benefit. On the other hand, the rain just fallen passes freely through
a drained soil, carrying directly to the roots fresh air and
stimulating gases.

Wet land also produces conditions which disable the foliage of plants
from absorbing carbonic acid, thus greatly decreasing its atmospheric
supply of food. Other reasons might be given, but the reader who is not
satisfied had better set out an acre of strawberries on water-logged
land. His empty pocket will out-argue all the books.

The construction of drains may be essential, for three causes: 1st.
Land that is dry enough naturally may lie so as to collect and hold
surface water, which, accumulating with every rain and snow storm, at
last renders the soil sour and unproductive. 2nd. Comparatively level
land, and even steep hillsides, may be so full of springs as to render
drains at short intervals necessary. 3rd. Streams, flowing perhaps from
distant sources, may find their natural channel across our grounds. If
these channels are obstructed or inadequate, we find our land falling
into the ways of an old soaker.

It should here be stated, however, that if we could cause streams to
overflow our land in a shallow, sluggish current, so that a sediment
would be left on the surface after a speedy subsidence, the result
would be in miniature like the overflow of the Nile in Egypt, most
beneficial, that is, if means for thorough subsequent drainage was
provided.

If there is an abundance of stone on one's place suitable for the
construction of drains, it can often be used to advantage, as I shall
show; but for all ordinary purposes of drainage, round tile with
collars are now recommended by the best authorities. It is said that
they are cheaper than stone, even where the latter is right at hand;
and the claim is reasonable, since, instead of the wide ditch required
by stone, a narrow cut will suffice for tile; thus a great saving is at
once effected in the cost of digging. Tile also can be laid rapidly,
and are not liable to become obstructed if properly protected at points
of discharge by gratings, so that vermin cannot enter. They should not
be laid near willow, elm, and other trees of like character, or else
the fibrous roots will penetrate and fill the channel. If one has a
large problem of drainage to solve, he should carefully read a work
like Geo. E. Waring's "Drainage for Profit and for Health;" and if the
slope or fall of some fields is very slight, say scarcely one foot in a
hundred, the services of an engineer should be employed and accurate
grades obtained. By a well-planned system, the cost of draining a place
can be greatly reduced, and the water made very useful.

On my place at Cornwall I found three acres of wet land, each in turn
illustrating one of the causes which make drainage necessary. I used
stone, because, in some instances, no other material would have
answered, in others partly because I was a novice in the science of
drainage, and partly because I had the stones on my place, and did not
know what else to do with them. I certainly could not cart them on my
neighbors' ground without having a surplus of hot as well as cold
water, so I concluded to bury them in the old-fashioned box-drains.
Indeed, I found rather peculiar and difficult problems of drainage, and
the history of their solution may contain useful hints to the reader.

In front of my house there is a low, level plot of land, containing
about three acres. Upon this the surface water ran from all sides, and
there was no outlet. The soil was, in consequence, sour, and in certain
spots only a wiry marsh grass would grow. And yet it required, but a
glance to see that a drain, which could carry off this surface water
immediately, would render it the best land on the place. I tried, in
vain, the experiment of digging a deep, wide ditch across the entire
tract, in hopes of finding a porous subsoil. Then I excavated great,
deep holes, but came to a blue clay that held water like rubber. The
porous subsoil, in which I knew the region abounded, and which makes
Cornwall exceptionally free from all miasmatic troubles, eluded our
spades like hidden treasures. I eventually found that I must obtain
permission of a neighbor to carry a drain across another farm to the
mountain stream that empties into the Hudson at Cornwall Landing. The
covered drain through the adjoining place was deep and expensive, but
the ditch across my land (marked A on the map) is a small one, walled
with stone on either side. It answers my purpose, however, giving me as
good strawberry land as I could wish. On both sides of this open ditch,
and at right angles with it, I had the ground plowed into beds 130 feet
long by 21 wide. The shallow depressions between these beds slope
gently toward the ditch, and thus, after every storm, the surface
water, which formerly often, covered the entire area, is at once
carried away. I think my simple, shallow, open drain is better than
tile in this instance.

[Illustration: Map showing experiments in the drainage of a strawberry
farm]

As may be seen from the map, my farm is peculiar in outline, and
resembles an extended city lot, being 2,550 feet long, and only 410
wide.

The house, as shown by the engraving, stands on quite an elevation, in
the rear of which the land descends into another swale or basin. The
drainage of this presented a still more difficult problem. Not only did
the surface water run into it, but in moist seasons the ground was full
of springs. The serious feature of the case was that there seemed to be
no available outlet in any direction. Unlike the mellow, sandy loam in
front of the house, the swale in the rear was of the stiffest kind of
clay--just the soil to retain and be spoiled by water. During the first
year of our residence here this region was sometimes a pond, sometimes
a quagmire, while again, under the summer sun, it baked into
earthenware. It was a doubtful question whether this stubborn acre
could be subdued, and yet its heavy clay gave me just the diversity of
soil I needed. Throughout the high gravelly knoll on which the house
stands, the natural drainage is perfect, and a sagacious neighbor
suggested that if I cut a ditch across the clayey swale into the gravel
of the knoll, the water would find a natural outlet and disappear.

The ditch was dug eight feet wide and five feet deep, for I decided to
utilize the surface of the drain as a road-bed. Passing out of the clay
and hard-pan, we came into the gravel, and it seemed porous enough to
carry off a fair-sized stream. I concluded that my difficult problem
had found a cheap and easy solution, and to make assurance doubly sure,
I directed the men to dig a deep pit and fill it with stones. When they
had gone about nine feet below the surface, I happened to be standing
on the brink of the excavation, watching the work. A laborer struck his
pick into the gravel, when a stream gushed out which in its sudden
abundance suggested that which flowed in the wilderness at the stroke
of Moss's rod. The problem was now complicated anew. So far from
finding an outlet, I had dug a well which the men could scarcely bail
out fast enough to permit of its being stoned up.

My neighbors remarked that my wide ditch reminded them of the Erie
canal, and my wife was in terror lest the children should be drowned in
it. Now something had to be done, and I called in the services of Mr.
Caldwell, city surveyor of Newburgh, and to his map I refer the reader
for a clearer understanding of my tasks.

Between the upper and lower swales, the ridge on which the house stands
slopes to its greatest depression along its western boundary, and I was
shown that if I would cut deep enough, the open drain in the lower
swale could receive and carry off the water from the upper basin. This
appeared Tobe the only resource, but with my limited means it was like
a ship-canal across the Isthmus of Panama. The old device of emptying
my drains into a hole that practically had no bottom, suggested itself
to me. It would be so much easier and cheaper that I resolved once more
to try it, though with hopes naturally dampened by my last moist
experience. I directed that the hole (marked B on the map) should be
oblong, and in the direct line of the ditch, so that if it failed of
its purpose it could become a part of the drain. Down we went into as
perfect sand and gravel as I ever saw, and the deeper we dug the dryer
it became. This time, in wounding old "Mother Earth," we did not cut a
vein, and there seemed a fair prospect of our creating a new one, for
into this receptacle I decided to turn my largest drain and all the
water that the stubborn acre persisted in keeping.

I therefore had a "box-drain" constructed along the western boundary of
the place (marked C) until it reached the lowest spot in the upper
swale. This drain was simply and rapidly constructed, in the following
manner: a ditch was first dug sufficiently deep and wide, and with, a
fall that carried off the water rapidly. In the bottom of this ditch
the men built two roughly faced walls, one foot high and eight inches
apart. Comparatively long, flat stones, that would reach from wall to
wall, were easily found, and thus we had a covered water-course, eight
by twelve inches, forming the common box-drain that will usually last a
lifetime.

The openings over the channel were carefully "chinked" in with small
stones and all covered with inverted sods, shavings, leaves, or
anything that prevented the loose soil from sifting or washing down
into the water-course.

At the upper end of the box-drain just described, a second and smaller
receptacle was dug (marked D), and from this was constructed another
box-drain (E), six inches square, across the low ground to the end of
the canal in which we had found the well (F). This would not only drain
a portion of the land but would also empty the big ditch (G), and
prevent the water of the well from rising above a certain point. This
kind of stone-work can be done rapidly; two men in two short winter
days built thirteen rods with a water-course six inches in the clear.

To the upper and further end of the canal (G), I constructed another
and cheaper style of drain. In the bottom of this ditch (H), two stones
were placed on their ends or edges and leaned together so as to form a
kind of arch, and then other stones were thrown over and around them
until they reached a point eighteen inches from the surface. Over these
stones, as over the box-drains also, was placed a covering of any
coarse litter to keep the earth from washing down; and then the
construction of one or two short side-drains, the refilling the ditches
and levelling the ground completed my task.

It will be remembered that this entire system of drainage ended in the
excavation (B) already described. The question was now whether such a
theory of drainage would "hold water." If it would, the hole I had dug
must not, and I waited to see. It promised well. Quite a steady stream
poured into it and disappeared. By and by there came a heavy March
storm. When I went out in the morning, everything was afloat. The big
canal and the well at its lower end were full to overflowing. The
stubborn acre was a quagmire, and alas! the excavation which I had
hoped would save so much trouble and expense was also full. I plodded
back under my umbrella with a brow as lowering as the sky. There seemed
nothing for it but to cut a "Dutch gap" that would make a like chasm in
my bank account. By noon it cleared off, and I went down to take a
melancholy survey of the huge amount of work that now seemed necessary,
when, to my great joy, the oblong cut, in which so many hopes had
seemingly been swamped, was entirely empty. From the box-drain a large
stream poured into it and went down--to China, for all that I knew. I
went in haste to the big canal and found it empty, and the well lowered
to the mouth of the drain. The stubborn acre was now under my thumb,
and I have kept it there ever since. During the past summer, I had upon
its wettest and stiffest portion two beds of Jucunda strawberries that
yielded at the rate of one hundred and ninety bushels to the acre. The
Jucunda strawberry is especially adapted to heavy land requiring
drainage, and I think an enterprising man in the vicinity of New York
might so unite them as to make a fortune. The hole was filled with
stones and now forms a part of my garden, and the canal answers for a
road-bed as at first intended. In the fortuitous well I have placed a
force-pump, around which are grown and watered my potted plants. The
theory of carrying drains into gravel does hold water, and sometimes
holes can be dug at a slight expense, that practically have no bottom.
I have no doubt that in this instance tile would have been better and
cheaper than the small stone drains that I have described.

In the rear of my place there was a third drainage problem very
different from either of the other two. My farm runs back to the rise
of the mountain, whose edge it skirts for some distance. It thus
receives at times much surface water. At the foot of the
mountain-slope, there are about three acres of low alluvial soil, that
was formerly covered with a coarse, useless herbage of the swamp.
Between the meadow and the slope of the mountain, "the town" built a
"boulevard" (marked II on the map), practically "cribbing" an acre or
two of land. Ahab, who needed Naboth's vineyard for public purposes, is
the spiritual father of all "town boards."

At the extreme end of the farm, and just beyond the alluvial ground,
was the channel of a brook (marked J). Its stony bed, through which
trickled a rill, had a very innocent aspect on the October day when we
looked the farm over and decided upon its purchase. The rill ran a
little way on my grounds, then crept under the fence and skirted my
western boundary for several hundred yards. On reaching a rise of land,
it re-entered my place and ran obliquely across it. It thus enclosed
three sides of the low, bushy meadow I have named. Its lower channel
across the place had been stoned up with the evident purpose of keeping
it within limits; but the three or four feet of space between the walls
had become obstructed by roots, bushes, vines and debris in general.
With the exception of the stony bed where it entered the farm, most of
its course was obscured by overhanging bushes and the sere, rank
herbage of autumn.

In a vague way I felt that eventually something would have to be done
to direct this little child of the mountain into proper ways, and to
subdue the spirit of the wilderness that it diffused on every side. I
had its lower channel across the place (K K) cleared out, thinking that
this might answer for the present; and the gurgle of the little
streamlet along the bottom of the ditch seemed a low laugh at the idea
of its ever filling the three square feet of space above it. Deceitful
little brook! Its innocent babble contained no suggestion of its hoarse
roar on a March day, the following spring, as it tore its way along,
scooping the stones and gravel from its upper bed and scattering them
far and wide over the alluvial meadow. Instead of a tiny rill, I found
that I would have to cope at times with a mountain torrent. At first,
the task was too heavy, and the fitful-tempered brook, and the
swamp-like region it encompassed, were left for years to their old wild
instincts. At last the increasing demands of my business made it
necessary to have more arable land, and I saw that, if I could keep it
from being overwhelmed with water and gravel, the alluvial meadow was
just the place for strawberries.

I commenced at the lowest point where it finally leaves my grounds, and
dug a canal (K K), twelve feet wide by four or five deep, across my
place, stoning up its walls on either side. An immense amount of earth
and gravel was thrown on the lower side so as to form a high, strong
embankment in addition to the channel. Then, where it entered the farm
above the meadow, I had a wide, deep ditch excavated, throwing all the
debris between it and the land I wished to shield. Throughout the low
meadow, two covered box-drains (L and M) were constructed so that the
plow could pass over them. On the side of the meadow next to the
boulevard and mountain, I had an open drain (N N) dug and filled with
stones even with the ground. It was designed to catch and carry off the
surface water, merely, from the long extent of mountain-slope that it
skirted. The system of ditches to protect and drain the partial swamp,
and also to manage the deceitful brook, was now finished, and I waited
for the results. During much of the summer there was not a drop of
water in the wide canal, save where a living spring trickled into it.
The ordinary fall rains could scarcely more than cover the broad,
pebbly bottom, and the unsophisticated laughed and said that I reminded
them of a general who trained a forty-pound gun on a belligerent mouse.
I remembered what I had seen, and bided my time.

But I did not have to wait till March. One November day it began to
rain, and it kept on. All the following night there was a steady rush
and roar of falling water. It was no ordinary pattering, but a gusty
outpouring from the "windows of heaven." The two swales in the front
and rear of the house became great muddy ponds, tawny as the "yellow
Tiber," and through intervals of the storm came the sullen roar of the
little brook that had been purring like a kitten all summer. Toward
night, Mature grew breathless and exhausted; there were sobbing gusts
of wind and sudden gushes of rain, that grew less and less frequent. It
was evident she would become quiet in the night and quite serene after
her long, tempestuous mood.

As the sun was setting I ventured out with much misgiving. The
deepening roar as I went down the lane increased my fears, but I was
fairly appalled by the wild torrent that cut off all approach to the
bridge. The water had not only filled the wide canal, but also, at a
point a little above the bridge, had broken over and washed away the
high embankment. I skirted along the tide until I reached the part of
the bank that still remained intact, and there beneath my feet rushed a
flood that would have instantly swept away horse and rider. Indeed,
quite a large tree had been torn up by its roots, and carried down
until it caught in the bridge, which would also have gone had not the
embankment above given way.

The lower part of the meadow was also under water. It had been plowed,
and therefore would wash readily. Would any soil be left? A few moments
of calm reflection, however, removed my fears. The treacherous brook
had not beguiled me during the summer into inadequate provision for
this unprecedented outbreak. I saw that my deep, wide cut had kept the
flood wholly from the upper part of the meadow, which contained a very
valuable bed of high-priced strawberry plants, and that the slowly
moving tide which covered the lower part was little more than backwater
and overflow. The wide ditches were carrying off swiftly and harmlessly
the great volume that, had not such channels been provided, would have
made my rich alluvial meadow little else than a stony, gravelly waste.
And the embankment had given way at a point too low down to permit much
damage.

The two swales in the front and rear of the house appeared like
mill-ponds. In the former instance, the water had backed up from the
mountain stream into which my drain emptied, and, therefore, it could
not pass off; and in the latter instance I could scarcely expect my
little underground channel to dispose at once of the torrents that for
forty hours had poured from the skies. I must give it at least a night
in which to catch up. And a busy night it put in, for by morning it had
conveyed to depths unknown the wide, discolored pond, that otherwise
would have smothered the plants it covered. As soon, also, as the
mountain stream fell below the mouth of the lower drain, it emptied at
once the water resting on the lower swale. Throughout the day came
successive tales of havoc and disaster, of dams scooped out, bridges
swept away, roads washed into stony gulches, and fields and gardens
overwhelmed with debris. The Idlewild brook, that the poet Willis made
so famous, seemed almost demoniac in its power and fury. Not content
with washing away dams, roads, and bridges, it swept a heavy wall
across a field as if the stones were pebbles.

My three diverse systems of drainage had thus practically stood the
severest test, perhaps, that will ever be put upon them, and my grounds
had not been damaged to any extent worth naming. The cost had been
considerable, but the injury caused by that one storm would have
amounted to a larger sum had there been no other channels for the water
than those provided by nature.

My readers will find, in many instances, that they have land which must
be or may be drained. If it can be done sufficiently, the very ideal
strawberry soil may be secured--moist and deep, but not wet.




CHAPTER IX

THE PREPARATION OF SOILS COMPARATIVELY UNFAVORABLE--CLAY, SAND, ETC.


We have now reached a point at which we must consider land which in its
essential character is unfavorable to strawberries, and yet which may
be the best to be had. The difficulties here are not merely accidental
or remediable, such as lack of depth or fertility, the presence of
stones or stumps, undue wetness of soil, etc. Any or all of these
obstacles may be found, but in addition there are evils inseparable
from the soil, and which cannot be wholly eradicated. The best we can
hope in such a case is to make up by art what is lacking in nature.

This divergence from the deep, moist sandy loam, the ideal strawberry
land, is usually toward a stiff, cold, stubborn clay, or toward a
droughty, leachy sand that retains neither fertility nor moisture. Of
course, these opposite soils require in most respects different
treatment.

We will consider first the less objectionable, that is, the heavy clay.
To call clay more favorable for strawberries than sandy land may seem
like heresy to many, for it is a popular impression that light soils
are the best. Experience and observation have, however, convinced me of
the contrary. With the clay you have a stable foundation. Your progress
may be slow, but it can be made sure. The character of a sandy
foundation was taught centuries ago. Moreover, all the fine
foreign-blooded varieties, as well as our best native ones, grow far
better on heavy land, and a soil largely mixed with clay gives a wider
range in the choice of varieties.

If I had my choice between a farm of cold, stiff clay or light, leachy
land, I would unhesitatingly take the former, and I would overcome its
native unfitness by the following methods: If at all inclined to be
wet, as would be natural from its tenacious texture, I should first
underdrain it thoroughly with tile. Then, if I found a fair amount of
vegetable matter, I would give it a dressing of air-slaked lime, and
plow it deeply late in the fall, leaving it unharrowed so as to expose
as much of the soil as possible to the action of frost. Early in the
spring, as soon as the ground was dry enough to work and all danger of
frost was over, I would harrow in buckwheat and plow it under as it
came into blossom; then sow a second crop and plow that under also. It
is the characteristic of buckwheat to lighten and clean land, and the
reader perceives that it should be our constant aim to impart lightness
and life to the heavy soil. Lime, in addition to its fertilizing
effects, acts chemically on the ground, producing the desired effect.
It may be objected that lime is not good for strawberries. That is true
if crude lime is applied directly to the plants, as we would ashes or
bone-dust; but when it is mixed with the soil for months, it is so
neutralized as to be helpful, and in the meantime its action on the
soil itself is of great value. It must be used for strawberries,
however, in more limited quantities than for many other crops, or else
more time must be given for it to become incorporated with the soil.

The coarse green straw of the buckwheat is useful by its mechanical
division of the heavy land, while at the same time its decomposition
fills the soil with ammonia and other gases vitally necessary to the
plant. A clay soil retains these gases with little waste. It is thus
capable of being enriched to almost any extent, and can be made a
storehouse of wealth.

Where it can be procured, there is no better fertilizer for clay land
than the product of the horse-stable, which, as a rule, can be plowed
under in its raw, unfermented state, its heat and action in decay
producing the best results. Of course, judgment and moderation must be
employed. The roots of a young, growing plant cannot feed in a mass of
fermenting manure, no matter what the soil may be. The point I wish to
make is that cold, heavy land is greatly benefited by having these
heating, gas-producing processes take place beneath its surface. After
they are over, the tall, rank foliage and enormous fruit of the Jucunda
strawberry (a variety that can scarcely grow at all in sand) will show
the capabilities of clay.

Heavy land is the favorite home of the grasses, and is usually covered
with a thick, tenacious sod. This, of course, must be thoroughly
subdued before strawberries are planted, or else you will have a
hay-field in spite of all you can do. The decay of this mass of roots,
however, furnishes just the food required, and a crop of buckwheat
greatly hastens decomposition, and adds its own bulk and fertility when
plowed under. I think it will scarcely ever pay to plant strawberries
directly on the sod of heavy land.

While buckwheat is a good green crop to plow under, if the cultivator
can wait for the more slowly maturing red-top clover, he will find it
_far better_, both to enrich and to lighten up his heavy soil; for it
is justly regarded as the best means of imparting the mellowness and
friability in which the roots of strawberries as well as all other
plants luxuriate.

There are, no doubt, soils fit for bricks and piping only, but in most
instances, by a judicious use of the means suggested, they can be made
to produce heavy and long-continued crops of the largest fruit.

These same principles apply to the small garden-plot as well as to the
acre. Instead of carting off weeds, old pea vines, etc., dig them under
evenly over the entire space, when possible. Enrich with warm, light
fertilizers, and if a good heavy coat of hot strawy manure is trenched
in the heaviest, stickiest clay, in October or November, strawberries
or anything else can be planted the following spring. The gardener, who
thus expends a little thought and farsighted labor will at last secure
results that will surpass his most sanguine hopes, and that, too, from
land that would otherwise be as hard as Pharaoh's heart.

Before passing from this soil to that of an opposite character, let me
add a few words of caution. Clay land should never be stirred when
either very wet or very dry, or else a lumpy condition results that
injures it for years. It should be plowed or dug only when it crumbles.
When the soil is sticky, or turns up in great hard lumps, let it alone.
The more haste the worst speed.

Again, the practice of fall plowing, so very beneficial in latitudes
where frosts are severe and long continued, is just the reverse in the
far South. There our snow is rain, and the upturned furrows are washed
down into a smooth, sticky mass by the winter storms. On steep
hillsides, much of the soil would ooze away with every rain, or slide
downhill en masse. In the South, therefore, unless a clay soil is to be
planted at once, it must not be disturbed in the fall, and it is well
if it can be protected by stubble or litter, which shields it from the
direct contact of the rain and from the sun's rays. But cow-peas, or
any other rank-growing green crop adapted to the locality, is as useful
to Southern clay as to Northern, and Southern fields might be enriched
rapidly, since their long season permits of plowing under several
growths.

Lime and potash in their various forms, in connection with green crops,
would give permanent fertility to every heavy acre of Southern land. In
my judgment, however, barnyard manure is not surpassed in value by any
other in any latitude. If one owned clay land from which he could not
secure good crops after the preparation that has been suggested, he had
better either turn it into a brick-yard or emigrate.

_Sandy Ground._--Suppose that, in contrast, our soil is a light sand.
In this case the question of cultivation is greatly simplified, but the
problem of obtaining a heavy crop is correspondingly difficult. The
plow and the cultivator run readily enough, and much less labor is
required to keep the weeds in subjection, but as a rule, light land
yields little fruit; and yet under favorable circumstances I have seen
magnificent crops of certain varieties growing on sand. If sufficient
moisture and fertility can be maintained, many of our best varieties
will thrive and produce abundantly; but to do this is the very pith of
our difficulty. Too often a sandy soil will not retain moisture and
manure. Such light land is generally very deficient in vegetable
matter; and therefore, whenever it is possible, I would turn under
green crops. If the soil could be made sufficiently fertile to produce
a heavy crop of clover, and this were plowed under in June, and then
buckwheat harrowed in and its rank growth turned under in August,
strawberries could be planted as soon as the heat of decay was over,
with excellent prospects of fine crops for the three succeeding years.
Did I propose to keep the land in strawberries, I would then give it
another year of clover and buckwheat, adding bone-dust, potash, and a
very little lime in some form. The green crop, when decayed, is lighter
than clay, and renders its tenacious texture more friable and porous;
it also benefits the sandy soil by supplying the absent humus, or
vegetable mould, which is essential to all plant life. This mould is
also cool and humid in its nature, and aids in retaining moisture.

With the exception of the constant effort to place green vegetable
matter under the surface, my treatment of sandy ground would be the
reverse of that described for clay. Before using the product of the
horse-stable, I would compost it with at least an equal bulk of leaves,
muck, sods, or even plain earth if nothing better could be found. A
compost of stable manure with clay would be most excellent. If
possible, I would not use any manure on light ground until all
fermentation was over, and then I would rather _harrow_ than plow it
in. This will leave it near the surface, and the rains will leach it
down to the roots--and below them, also--only too soon. Fertility
cannot be stored up in sand as in clay, and it should be our aim to
give our strawberries the food they need in a form that permits of its
immediate use. Therefore, in preparing such land, I would advise deep
plowing while it is moist, if possible, soon after a rain; then the
harrowing in of a liberal top-dressing of rotted compost, or of muck
sweetened by the action of frost and the fermentation of manure, or,
best of all, the product of the cow-stable. Decayed leaves, sods, and
wood-ashes also make excellent fertilizers.

In the garden, light soils can be given a much more stable and
productive character by covering them with clay to the depth of one or
two inches every fall, and then plowing it in. The winter's frost and
rains mix the two diverse soils, to their mutual benefit. Carting sand
on clay is rarely remunerative; the reverse is decidedly so, and
top-dressings of clay on light land are often more beneficial than
equal amounts of manure.

As practically employed, I regard quick, stimulating manures, like
aguno, very injurious to light soils. I believe them to be the curse of
the South. They are used "to make a crop," as it is termed; and they do
make it for a few years, but to the utter impoverishment of the land.
The soil becomes as exhausted as a man would be should he seek to labor
under the support of stimulants only. In both instances, an abundance
of food is needed. A quinine pill is not a dinner, and a dusting of
guano or phosphate cannot enrich the land.

And yet, by the aid of these stimulating commercial fertilizers, the
poorest and thinnest soil can be made to produce fine strawberries, if
sufficient moisture can be maintained. Just as a physician can rally an
exhausted man to a condition in which he can take and be strengthened
by food, so land, too poor and light to sprout a pea, can be stimulated
into producing a meagre green crop of some kind, which, plowed under,
will enable the land to produce a second and heavier burden. This, in
turn, placed in the soil, will begin to give a suggestion of fertility.
Thus, poor or exhausted soils can be made, by several years of skilful
management, to convalesce slowly into strength.

Whether such patient outlay of time and labor will pay on a continent
abounding in land naturally productive is a very dubious question.

Coarse, gravelly soils are usually even worse. If we must grow our
strawberries on them, give the same general treatment that I have just
suggested.

On some peat soils the strawberry thrives abundantly; on others it
burns and dwindles. Under such conditions I should experiment with
bone-dust, ashes, etc., until I found just what was lacking.

No written directions can take the place of common-sense, judgment,
and, above all, experience. Soils vary like individual character. I
have yet to learn of a system of rules that will teach us how to deal
with every man we meet. It is ever wise, however, to deal justly and
liberally. He that expects much from his land must give it much.

I have dwelt at length on the preparation and enrichment of the land,
since it is the cornerstone of all subsequent success. Let me close by
emphasizing again the principle which was made prominent at first.
Though we give our strawberry plants everything else they need, our
crop of fruit will yet be good or bad in the proportion that we are
able to maintain abundant moisture during the blossoming and fruiting
season. If provision can be made for irrigation, it may increase the
yield tenfold.




CHAPTER X

COMMERCIAL AND SPECIAL FERTILIZERS


In preparing and enriching the soil, and especially in subsequent
cultivation, concentrated fertilizers are very useful and often
essential. In dealing with this subject, however, I think we tread upon
uncertain ground. There is a great deal of apparent accuracy of figures
and analyses, carried carefully into decimals, but a wonderful deal of
vagueness, uncertainty, and contradiction in the experiences and minds
of cultivators.

It is well known that many commercial fertilizers are scandalously
adulterated, and those who have suffered from frauds are hostile to the
entire class. In their strong prejudice, they will neither discriminate
nor investigate. There are others who associate everything having a
chemical sound with "book farming," and therefore dismiss the whole
subject with a sniff of contempt. This clique of horticulturists is
rapidly diminishing, however, for the fruit grower who does not read is
like the lawyer who tries to practice with barely a knowledge of the
few laws revealed by a limited experience. In contrast, there are
others who read and theorize too exclusively, and are inclined to
assert that concentrated fertilizers supersede all others. They scout
the muck swamp, the compost heap, and even the barnyard, as
old-fashioned, cumbrous methods of bringing to the soil, in tons of
useless matter, the essentials which they can deliver in a few sacks or
barrels. On paper, they are scientific and accurate. The crop you wish
to raise has constituents in certain proportions. Supply these, they
say, and you have the chemical compound, or crop. A field or garden,
however, is not a sheet of blank paper, but a combination at which
nature has been at work, and left full of obscurities. The results
which the agricultural chemist predicted so confidently do not always
follow, as they ought. Nature is often very indifferent to learned
authorities.

There is yet another class--a large one, too--who regard these
fertilizers as they do the drugs of an apothecary. They occasionally
give their land a dose of them as they take medicine themselves, when
indisposed or imagining themselves so. In either case there is almost
entire ignorance of the nature of the compound or of definite reasons
for its usefulness. Both the man and the field were "run down," and
some one said that this, that, or the other thing was good. Therefore
it was tried. Such haphazard action is certainly not the surest method
of securing health or fertility.

In no other department of horticulture is there more room for
common-sense, accurate knowledge, skill, and good management, than in
the use of all kinds of fertilizers, and, in my judgment, close and
continued observation is worth volumes of theory. The proper enrichment
of the soil is the very cornerstone of success, and more fail at this
point than at any other. While I do not believe that accurate and
complete directions for the treatment of every soil can be written, it
is undoubtedly true that certain correct principles can be laid down,
and information, suggestion, and records of experience given which will
be very useful. With such data to start with, the intelligent
cultivator can work out the problem of success in the peculiar
conditions of his own farm or garden.

It must be true that land designed for strawberries requires those
constituents which are shown to compose the plant and fruit, and that
the presence of each one in the soil should be in proportion to the
demand for it. It is also equally plain that the supply of these
essential elements should be kept up in continued cultivation.
Therefore, the question naturally arises, what are strawberry plants
and fruit made of? Modern wine, we know, can be made without any grape
juice whatever, but as Nature compounds strawberries in the open
sunlight, instead of in back rooms and cellars, she insists on all the
proper ingredients before she will form the required combination.

"The Country Gentleman" gives a very interesting letter from Prof. S.
W. Johnson, of the Connecticut Experiment Station, containing the
following careful analysis made by J. Isidore Pierre, a French writer.
"Pierre," says the professor, "gives a statement of the composition,
exclusive of water, of the total yield per hectare of fruit, taken up
to June 30, and of leaves, stems and runners, taken up to the middle of
August. These results, calculated in pounds per acre, are the following
(the plants contained 62.3 per cent of water and fruit 90 per cent):

Composition of the water-free strawberry crop (except roots), at the
middle of August, in pounds per acre, according to Pierre:

                                          Plants    Fruits    Totals
Organic matter, exclusive of nitrogen     4268.4    1053.5    5321.9
Nitrogen                                    88.5      16.0     104.5
Silica, iron and manganese oxides           43.3   1.5/3.8      48.6
Phosphoric acid                             35.3       5.4      40.7
Lime                                       102.7       7.9     110.6
Magnesia                                    16.1        .7      16.8
Potash                                      89.1      19.7     108.8
Soda                                         6.4        .9       7.3
Other matters                              120.9       8.8     129.7

Dry substance                             4770.7    1118.2    5888.9"

These are the constituents that, to start with, must be in the soil,
and which must be kept there. This array of what to many are but
obscure chemicals need not cause misgivings, since in most instances
nature has stored them in the virgin soil in abundant proportions. Even
in well-worn, long cultivated fields, some of them may exist in
sufficient quantity. Therefore, buying a special fertilizer is often
like carrying coals to Newcastle. Useless expenditure may be incurred,
also, by supplying some, but not all, of the essential ingredients. A
farmer applied six hundred pounds of superphosphate to a plat of
corn-land, and three hundred pounds to an adjacent plat wherein the
conditions were the same. The yield of the first plat was scarcely in
excess of that of the second, and in neither case was there a
sufficient increase to repay for the fertilizer. It does not follow
that the man used an adulterated and worthless article. Analysis shows
that corn needs nitrogen and potash in large proportions; and if these
had been employed with the superphosphate, the result probably would
have been very different. Superphosphate contains nitrogen, but not in
sufficient degree. These considerations bring us to the sound
conclusion that in enriching our land it would be wise to use complete
fertilizers as far as possible; that is, manures containing all, or
nearly all, the essential ingredients of the strawberry plant and
fruit. If we could always know just what elements are lacking in our
soils, we could merely supply these; but frequent analyses are
expensive, and often misleading, at best. The safest plan is always to
keep within reach of the plants the food we know they require, and the
roots, with unerring instinct, will attend to the proportions. Hence
the value of barnyard manure in the estimation of plain common-sense. A
sensible writer has clearly shown that from twenty-three cows and five
horses, if proper absorbents are used, $5.87 worth of nitrogen, potash,
and phosphoric acid can be obtained every twenty-four hours, estimating
these vitally important elements of plant-food at their wholesale
valuation. In addition, there are the other constituents of the yard
manure which, if not so valuable, are still very useful. To permit the
waste of any fertilizer that can be saved or made upon our places, and
then buy the same thing with the chance of being cheated, is thus shown
to be wretched economy. Commercial fertilizers can never supersede the
compost heap, into which should go everything which will enable us to
place in the soil organic matter and the other elements that were given
in the analysis; and if all the sewage and waste of the dwelling and
the products of the stable, stys and poultry-house were well composted
with muck, sod, leaves, or even common earth, and used liberally,
magnificent and continued crops of strawberries could be raised from
nearly all soils.

In many instances, however, home-made composts are wholly inadequate to
supply the need, and stable manures are too costly or not to be
obtained. The fruit grower should then go to those manufacturers of
fertilizers who have the best reputation, and who give the best
guarantees against deception. There are perfectly honest dealers, and
it is by far the cheapest in the end to pay them their price for a
genuine article. If such concentrated agents are used in connection
with a green crop like clover, land can be made, and kept productive
continuously. In the use of commercial fertilizers, there should be a
constant and intelligent effort to keep up a supply of _all_ the
essential ingredients. Wood-ashes is a specific for strawberries. I
have never found any one thing so good, and yet it is substantially but
one thing, potash, and I should remember that the plant also requires
nitrogen, which guano, or some form of animal manure, would furnish;
lime, which is best applied to the strawberry in the form of bone meal,
etc. The essential phosphoric acid is furnished in bone meal, the
superphosphates, and also in wood-ashes. By referring to an analysis of
the ash of red clover, it will be found to contain nearly everything
that the strawberry requires.

The man who reads, observes, and experiments carefully, will find that
he can accomplish much with lime and salt. If one has land full of
vegetable or organic matter, an application of lime will render this
matter fit for plant food, and the lime itself, in the course of a year
or less, will be rendered harmless in the process. It also sweetens and
lightens heavy, sour land, and thus, _in time_ renders it better
adapted to the strawberry; but lime should not be applied directly, in
any considerable quantity, to strawberry plants, nor should it be used
on very light soils deficient in vegetable matter. The judicious use of
salt in _small_ quantities will, I think, prove very beneficial,
especially on light upland. It tends to prevent injury from drought,
and to clear the land of the larvae of insects. I am inclined to think
that much can be accomplished with this agent, and hope to make some
careful experiments with it. But it should be used very cautiously, or
it will check or destroy growth.

I have received a letter from Mr. J. H. Hale, of South Glastonbury,
Conn., that is such a clear and interesting record of experience on
this subject that I am led to give it almost entire:

"We have always used Peruvian guano, fish scrap, and ground bone to
some extent, but until the past five years have depended mainly upon
stable manure brought from New York city on boats, using about fifteen
cords per acre yearly, and always with satisfactory results, the only
objection being the expense. The price ranged from $8 to $12 per cord,
or on an average of $150 per acre; and in trying to reduce this expense
we commenced testing different fertilizers, planting, in 1874, one acre
of strawberries manured with two tons of fish scrap, at $20 per ton,
and one hundred bushels of unleached wood-ashes, at 30 cents per
bushel; making a total cost of $70. The result was a strong, rapid
growth of plants early in the summer, but in September and October they
began to show signs of not having plant food enough, and then we saw
our mistake in using fish in place of bone, or some other slow-acting
fertilizer that the plants could not have taken up so greedily early in
the summer, but would have had to feed on slowly all through the
season. The fruit crop the following year, as might have been expected,
was not a success, being only about half a crop. In 1875, we planted
another acre, using one ton of ground bone and one hundred bushels of
wood-ashes, at a total cost of $73; the result was a fine, even growth
of plants all through the season, and a perfect crop of fruit the
following year, fully equal to that on adjoining acres that had been
manured with stable manure at a cost of $150 per acre, to say nothing
of the carting of such a great bulk of manure. In the spring of 1876,
being so well pleased with the appearance of our one acre manured with
bone and ashes, we planned to fertilize all of our fruits in the same
way. Then the question arose, where were we to get the ashes? We could
buy enough for an acre or two, but not enough for our whole farm. What
were we to do? Potash we must have, as that is the leading element of
plant food required by small fruits of all kinds. We found we must look
to the German potash salts for what we wanted, and we therefore bought
several tons of High Grade (80 per cent) muriate of potash at $40 per
ton, using 1,000 pounds per acre, and one ton of bone at $35, making a
total cost of only $55 per acre. The plants did not grow quite as well
early in the season as those on the fields where ashes were used, but
later in the season they made a very fine growth, and at fruiting time,
in 1877, we harvested a full and abundant crop of strawberries and
raspberries. Since that time we have used nothing but ground bone and
muriate of potash to manure all of our berry fields with, and continue
to get fully as satisfactory results as in former years, when we
depended upon stable manure at more than double the cost per acre. Some
parties who have been looking into the matter suggest that possibly our
satisfactory results are owing not so much to the fertilizers as to the
liberal supply of stable manure used in former years. Yet the past
season we picked 143 bushels of Charles Downings per acre, from a field
manured with bone and potash, so poor and worn-out that two years
before it would only produce six bushels of rye per acre. That land had
no stable manure on it, and if it was not the bone and potash that
furnished food for the berries, we would like to know what it was. The
one mistake we have made is, I think, in not using six or eight hundred
pounds of fish scrap or guano, and only 1,500 pounds of bone. The fish
or guano, being such quick-acting fertilizers, would give the plants a
much better start early in the season than would be the case if only
the bone and potash were used. We shall try it the coming spring. In
applying the potash great care should be taken to have it thoroughly
incorporated with the soil, it being only about 55 per cent actual
potash; the balance, being largely composed of salt, would, of course,
kill the roots of young plants if brought directly in contact with
them. In fields where we have used the potash, we have been troubled
with white grubs only to a very limited extent, while portions of the
same field where stable manure had been used were badly infested with
them, and while I do not think salt will drive them ail out of the
soil, I do believe it will do so to some extent. Besides the
fertilizers I have named, we have in the past six years experimented in
a small way with many others. Among them Stockbridge's strawberry
manure and Mapes' fruit and vine manures, but have never had as good
returns for the money invested as from the bone and potash; and yet,
while they have proved of such great value to us, I would not advise
you or any one to give up stable manure for them if you can get it at
the same cost per acre, but if you cannot, then I say try bone dust and
potash in a small way, until you learn just what _your soil_ wants, and
then supply it, whether it be 500, 1,000, or 2,000 pounds per acre."

Mr. Hale adds:

"The most of our soil is a sandy loam. We have some heavy loam and a
few acres of clay gravel, and we have always had good results from the
use of bone and potash on all of these soils.

"We have never used lime on our berry fields at the time of planting,
and yet, as you know, all of our New England soils are deficient in
lime. We use some indirectly, as we grow clover to plow under, and
usually give at that time a good dressing of lime. As we try to have a
new clover field every year, we get all around the farm in six or eight
years, and we therefore get a dressing of lime all around once in that
time, and have never been able to see any ill effects from it. In fact,
we believe it a positive benefit in helping to keep down sorrel, if
nothing more."

There would be very few worn-out farms, or poverty-stricken farmers, if
all followed the example of the Hale brothers.

The value of potash and bone meal is thus clearly shown, but the latter
does not contain nitrogen in sufficient quantity. I think Mr. Hale is
correct in the opinion that he can secure better results by using at
the same time some nitrogenous manure, like fish scrap, guano, etc. If
he had heavy, cold, clay land to deal with, it is possible that he
might find the stable manure the cheapest and best in the long run,
even at its increased cost.

Mr. W. L. Ferris, of Poughkeepsie, writes to me that he has found great
advantage in the use of the Mapes & Stockbridge special fertilizers.
"My experience," he says, "is only as to strawberries, and on them I
would say that the result of applying equal values of manure--stable
and commercial--as to cost, would be from ten to twenty-five per cent
in favor of the commercial, as a stimulant to apply in the spring, or,
in small quantities, to plants first starting. This does not apply to
the first preparation of the ground. In this direction I propose to
experiment. I have heretofore applied fertilizers early in spring by
hand, distributing it along the rows."

Records of varying experiences, and the discussion of commercial
fertilizers, might be continued indefinitely, but enough has been said,
I think, to suggest to each cultivator unacquainted with the subject in
what directions he should seek success. If I were asked what is the one
special manure in which the strawberry especially delights, I should
answer unhesitatingly, the well decayed and composted production of the
cow-stable, and if the reader had seen Mr. Durand's beds of the Great
American variety in bearing, after being enriched with this material,
he would be well satisfied to use it when it could be obtained. The
vines of even this fastidious berry, that falters and fails in most
soils, averaged one foot in height, and were loaded with enormous
fruit. The subject may be summed up by an extract from a letter of Mr.
Alexander Hyde to the "New York Times":

"Nitrates, phosphates, and ammonia are good fertilizers, and just the
chemicals which most lands need, but plants require a good bed as well
as good food. The physical condition of the soil, as well as the
chemical, must receive attention; and we know of nothing superior to a
well-made compost for furnishing both the chemical and physical
conditions necessary for the development of our crops."




CHAPTER XI

OBTAINING PLANTS AND IMPROVING OUR STOCK


Having prepared and enriched our ground, we are ready for the plants.
They can often be obtained from a good neighbor whose beds we have
watched across the fence, and whose varieties we have sampled to our
satisfaction. But the most liberal neighbors may not be able to furnish
all we need, or the kinds we wish. Moreover, in private gardens, names
and varieties are usually in a sad tangle. We must go to the
nurseryman. At this point, perhaps, a brief appeal to the reader's
common-sense may save much subsequent loss and disappointment.

In most of our purchases, we see the article before we take it, and can
estimate its value. Just the reverse is usually true of plants. We
know--or believe--that certain varieties are valuable, and we order
them from a distance, paying in advance. When received, the most
experienced cannot be sure that the plants are true to the names they
bear. We must plant them in our carefully prepared land, expend upon
them money, labor, and, above all, months and years of our brief lives,
only to learn, perhaps, that the varieties are not what we ordered, and
that we have wasted everything on a worthless kind. The importance of
starting right, therefore, can scarcely be overestimated. It is always
best to buy of men who, in the main, grow their own stock, and
therefore know about it, and who have established a reputation for
integrity and accuracy. The itinerant agent flits from Maine to
California, and too often the marvellous portraits of fruits that he
exhibits do not even resemble the varieties whose names they bear. It
is best to buy of those who have a "local habitation and a name," and
then, if anything is wrong, one knows where to look for redress.

Even if one wishes to be accurate, it is difficult to know that one's
stock is absolutely pure and true to name. The evil of mixed plants is
more often perpetuated in the following innocent manner than by any
intentional deception: For instance, one buys from a trustworthy
source, as he supposes, a thousand "Monarch" strawberry plants, and
sets them out in the spring. All blossoms should be picked off the
first year, and, therefore, there can be no fruit as a test of purity
that season. But by fall there are many thousands of young plants. The
grower naturally says: "I bought these for the Monarch, therefore they
are Monarchs," and he sells many plants as such. When coming into fruit
the second summer, he finds, however, that not one in twenty is a
Monarch plant. As an honest man, he now digs them under in disgust; but
the mischief has already been done, and scattered throughout the
country are thousands of mixed plants which multiply with the vigor of
evil. Nurserymen should never take varieties for granted, no matter
where obtained. I endeavor so to train my eye that I can detect the
distinguishing marks even in the foliage and blossoms, and if anything
looks suspicious I root it out. The foliage of the Monarch of the West
is so distinct that if one learns to know it he can tell whether his
plants are mixed at a glance.

If possible, the nurseryman should start with plants that he knows to
be genuine, and propagate from them. Then, by constant and personal
vigilance, he can maintain a stock that will not be productive chiefly
of profanity when coming into fruit. This scrutiny of propagating beds
is a department that I shall never delegate to any one else.

It is not thrift to save in the first cost of plants, if thereby the
risk of obtaining poor, mixed varieties is increased. I do not care to
save five dollars to-day and lose fifty by the operation within a year.
A gentleman wrote to me, "I have been outrageously cheated in buying
plants." On the same page he asked me to furnish stock at rates as
absurdly low as those of the man who cheated him. If one insists on
having an article at far less than the cost of production, it is not
strange that he finds some who will "cheat him outrageously." I find it
by far the cheapest in the long run to go to the most trustworthy
sources, and pay the grower a price which enables him to give me just
what I want.

When plants are both fine and genuine they can still be spoiled, or, at
least, injured in transit from the ground where they grew. Dig so as to
save all the roots, shake these clean of earth, straighten them out,
and tie the plants into bundles of fifty. Pack in boxes, with the roots
down in moss and the tops exposed to the air. Do not press them in too
tightly or make them too wet, or else the plants become heated --a
process which speedily robs them of all vitality. In cool seasons, and
when the distance is not too great, plants can be shipped in barrels
thickly perforated with holes. The tops should be toward the sides and
the roots in the centre, down through which there should be a
circulation of air. In every case, envelop the roots in damp moss or
leaves--damp, but not wet. Plants can be sent by mail at the rate of
one cent per ounce, and those obtained in this way rarely fail in doing
well.

This fact should be carefully kept in mind by those residing long
distances from express offices, or the points from which they wish to
order their plants. Packages weighing four pounds and less can be sent
by mail and received with our letters, and by a little inquiry and
calculation it may be found the cheapest and most convenient way of
obtaining them. I find no difficulty in mailing all the small fruit
plants to every part of the continent.

The greater part of the counting and packing of plants should be done
in a cellar, or some place of low, even temperature, in order to
prevent the little fibrous roots, on which the future growth so greatly
depends, from becoming shrivelled. The best part of the roots are
extremely sensitive to sunlight or frost, and, worse than all, to a
cold, dry wind. Therefore, have the plants gathered up as fast as they
are dug and carried to a damp, cool room, where the temperature varies
but little. From such a place they can be packed and shipped with the
leisure that insures careful work.

After having obtained good, genuine plants to start with, we can
greatly improve our stock by a system of careful selection. This is a
truth of great importance, but so obvious that we need not dwell long
upon it. Let me illustrate what I mean by the course I propose to enter
upon during the coming season. In our beds of each variety there will
be a few plants that, for some reason, will surpass all the others in
vigor, productiveness, and especially in the manifestation of the
peculiar and distinguishing traits of the variety. I shall carefully
mark such plants, remove all others from their vicinity, and propagate
from them. Thus, in the course of two or three years, I shall renew my
entire stock of standard varieties from the very best and most
characteristic specimens of each kind. From this improved stock the
best types should be chosen again and again; and by this course I am
satisfied that a surprising degree of excellence can be attained. It is
on the same principle of careful breeding from blooded and perfect
animals. From very many localities come the complaint that Wilsons and
other fine old varieties are "running out." How can it be otherwise, in
view of the treatment they receive and the careless way in which they
are propagated? Even when unmixed, they are usually the enfeebled
children of degenerate parents. There is no variety in the country more
badly mixed than the Wilson; and the trouble often arises from wild
strawberries creeping in among them from the edges of the field. The
spurious plants are taken up with the others, and the mixture is
scattered up and down the land. The same is true with other varieties
that have long been in cultivation. Indeed, I have found mixtures in
new varieties obtained directly from the originators. Therefore the
need that the plant grower should give personal and unceasing vigilance
to the stock from which he propagates, and that those who take a pride
in improving their stock should often scan their beds narrowly.
Moreover, if a bed stands several years in the same place, new
seedlings may spring up, and thus create a mixture.




CHAPTER XII

WHEN SHALL WE PLANT?


Nature has endowed the strawberry-plant with the power of taking root
and growing readily at almost any season when young plants can be
obtained. My best success, however, has been in November and early
spring. The latter part of May and the month of June is the only time
at which I have not planted with satisfactory results. In Northern
latitudes, early spring is preferable, for at this season the ground is
moist, showers are abundant, and the impulse of growth is strong. The
weather is cool, also, and therefore the plants rarely heat or dry out
during transportation.

In the South, autumn is by far the best time to plant. When the young
plants are grown on the same place, they may be transferred to the
fruiting beds and fields any time between July and the middle of
November. The earlier they are set out, if they can be kept growing
during the remainder of the hot season, the larger will be the yield
the following spring. As a rule, plants, unless grown in pots, can not
be shipped from the North or South until cold weather. The forwarding
to the latitude of Richmond begins in September, and to points further
south in October and November; from Florida to Louisiana I hear of
almost unvarying success.

Of late years the practice of growing plants in pots and sending them
out as the florists do flowers has become very prevalent. These potted
plants can be set out in July, August and September, and the ball of
earth clinging to their roots prevents wilting, and, unless they are
neglected, insures their living. Pot-grown plants are readily obtained
by sinking two and a half or three inch pots up to their rims in the
propagating-beds, and filling them with rich earth mingled with old,
thoroughly rotted compost, leaf mould, decayed sods, etc., but never
with fresh, unfermented manure. I have found the admixture of a little
fine bone meal with the soil to be strong aid to vigorous growth. The
young runners are then so guided and held down by a small stone or lump
of earth that they will take root in the pots, indeed, quite large
plants, if still attached to thrifty runners, may be taken up, their
roots shortened to one-quarter of an inch, and these inserted in the
little pots, which will be speedily filled with a new growth of roots.
It is very important that abundant and continuous moisture should be
maintained. A hot wind or a scorching sun will dry out within a few
hours the small amount of earth the pots contain, and the plants thus
receive a check from which they may never recover. The amateur should
watch them closely, and the plant grower should employ a man with the
clear understanding that he would lose his position if he permitted
moisture to fail even for half a day.

In about two weeks, with good management, the plants will fill the pots
with roots, which so interlace as to hold the ball of earth compactly
together during transportation. This ball of earth with the roots,
separates readily from the pot, and the plant, thus sustained, could be
shipped around the world if kept from drying out and the foliage
protected from the effects of alternate heat and cold. The agricultural
editor of the "New York Weekly Times" writes me that the potted plants
are worth their increased cost, if for no other reason, because they
are so easily planted in hot weather.

The chief advantage of summer planting lies in the fact that we obtain
a good crop the following season, while plants set out in spring should
not be permitted to bear at all the same year. If we discover in May or
June that our supply is insufficient, or that some new varieties offer
us paradisiacal flavors, we can set out the plants in the summer or
autumn of the same year, and within eight or ten months gather the
fruits of our labors. If the season is somewhat showery, or if one is
willing to take the trouble to water and shade the young plants,
ordinary layers--that is, plants that have grown naturally in the open
ground--will answer almost as well as those that have been rooted in
pots. The fact that they do not cost half as much is also in their
favor.

The disposition to plant in summer or autumn is steadily increasing,
and the following reasons are good and substantial ones for the
practice. In our gardens and fields there are many crops that mature in
July, August, and September. The cultivation of these crops has
probably left the ground mellow, and in good condition for
strawberries. Instead of leaving this land idle, or a place for weeds
to grow and seed, it can be deeply forked or plowed, and enriched, as
has been explained. Even in July, potted plants may be bought, and
unless the ground is full of the larvae of the June beetle, or the
plants are treated with utter neglect, not one in a hundred will fail.
Say the plants cost us two and a half cents each by the time they are
planted, instead of one half to one cent as in the spring, is there not
a prospect of an equal or larger profit? A potted plant set out in
summer or early autumn, and allowed to make no runners, will yield at
least a pint of fruit; and usually these first berries are very large
and fine, bringing the best prices. Suppose, however, we are able to
obtain but ten cents a quart, you still have a margin of two and
one-half cents on each plant. Adding two cents to the cost of each
plant to cover the expense of cultivation, winter protection, spring
mulching, picking, etc., there still remains a profit of half a cent on
each plant. Supposing we have an acre containing 14,520 plants, our
estimate gives a profit of $72.60 for the first year. If we clear but a
quarter of a cent on each plant, we have a profit of $36.30. The
prospects are, however, that if we plant early in the summer, on rich
ground, and give good cultivation, our plants will yield more than a
pint each, and the fruit sell for more than ten cents a quart.

This estimate applies to the common market varieties raised with only
ordinary skill and success. Suppose, in contrast, one plants the large,
showy, high-flavored varieties, and is able to obtain from fifteen to
thirty cents per quart. The expenses in this case are no greater, while
the profits are very largely increased.

[Illustration: A Potted Plant]

Good potted plants can be bought for about $2.50 per 100, or $20 per
2,000. I do not think that they can be properly grown and sold at much
lower rates and afford a living profit. Freight and express charges are
a heavy item of expense, since the earth encasing the roots renders the
packages very heavy, and but comparatively few plants can be shipped in
one box. But, allowing for all expenses, I think it is evident that
people can obtain a fair profit from potted plants within eight or ten
months from the time of planting. Moreover, autumn-set plants start
with double vigor in early spring, and make a fine growth before the
hot, dry weather checks them; and the crop from them the second year
will be the very best that they are capable of producing. Two paying
crops are thus obtained within two years, and the cost of cultivation
the first year is slight, for the plants are set after the great
impulse of annual weed growth is past. With spring-set plants you get
but one crop in two years. The first year yields nothing unless plants
are sold, and yet the cultivation must be unceasing through May, June
and July, when Nature seems to give no little thought to the problem of
how many weeds can be grown to the square inch. If one wishes early
plants, he certainly should practice autumn planting, for a plant set
even in November will begin to make runners nearly a month earlier than
one set in spring.

Thus far we have looked at the subject from a business standpoint.

Those who wish plants for the home supply certainly should not hesitate
to furnish their gardens as early in the summer as possible. To wait
two years of our short lives for _strawberries_ because the plants are
a little cheaper in the spring is a phase of economy that suggests the
moon. Such self-denial in a good cause would be heroic.

If people will use a little forethought, they can practice summer and
autumn planting with double success, independently of the plant grower.
We have shown that there is no mystery in raising potted plants.
Moreover, in the hottest summers there are showery, cloudy days when
ordinary layer plants can be set with perfect safety. If the field or
garden bed is near where the layer plants are growing, the latter can
be taken up with earth clinging to their roots, and thus have all the
advantages of potted plants. Even under the Southern sun, hundreds of
acres are, in this manner, set annually in the vicinity of Charleston.

As the autumn grows cool and moist, layer plants can be obtained from a
distance and set out profitably in large quantities. The chief danger
in late planting results from the tendency of the plants to be thrown
out of the ground by the action of the frost, and a few varieties do
not seem sufficiently hardy to endure severe cold. I obviate this
difficulty by simply hoeing upon the plants two inches of earth, just
before the ground freezes in November or December. This winter covering
of soil enables me to plant with entire success at any time in the
fall--even late in November--instead of spring, when there is a rush of
work.

The earth is raked off the plants in March or April, as soon as severe
freezing weather is over; otherwise they would decay. Do not first put
manure on the plants and then cover with earth--cover with earth only.

Thus it will be seen that each period has its advantages, which will
vary with different seasons. If drought and heat come in early May,
spring-set plants may suffer badly. Again, periods in summer and autumn
may be so hot and dry that even potted plants can only be kept alive by
repeated waterings. My practice is to divide my plantings about equally
between summer, fall, and spring. I thus take no chances of failure.




CHAPTER XIII

WHAT SHALL WE PLANT?--VARIETIES, THEIR CHARACTER AND ADAPTATION TO SOILS


I have in my library an admirable little treatise written by the late
R. G. Pardee, and printed twenty-five years ago. While the greater part
of what he says, relating to the requirements of the plant and its
culture, is substantially correct, his somewhat extended list of
varieties is almost wholly obsolete. With the exception of Hovey's
Seedling, scarcely one can be found in a modern catalogue. Even
carefully prepared lists, made at a much later date, contain the names
of but few kinds now seen in the garden or market. I have before me the
catalogue of Prince & Co., published in 1865, and out of their list of
169 varieties but three are now in general cultivation, and the great
majority are utterly unknown. Thus it would seem that a catalogue soon
becomes historical, and that the kinds most heralded to-day may exist
only in name but a few hence. The reasons can readily be given. The
convex heart of every strawberry blossom will be found to consist of
pistils, and usually of stamens ranged around them. When both stamens
and pistils are found in the same blossom, as is the case with most
varieties, it is called a perfect flower, or staminate. In rare
instances, strawberry flowers are found which possess stamens without
pistils, and these are called male blossoms; far more often varieties
exist producing pistils only, and they are named pistillate kinds.
Either of the last two if left alone would be barren; the male flowers
are always so, but the pistillate or female flowers, if fertilized with
pollen from perfect-flowered plants, produce fruit. This fertilizing is
effected by the agency of the wind, or by insects seeking honey.

The ovule in the ovarium to which the stigma leads represents, at
maturity, a seed--the actual fruit of the strawberry--and within each
seed Nature, by a subtile process of her own, wraps up some of the
qualities of the plant that produced the seed, and some of the
qualities also of the plant from which came the pollen that impregnated
the ovule. This seed, planted, produces an entirely new variety, which,
as a rule, exhibits characteristics of both its parents, and traits,
also, of its grandparents and remote ancestors. The law of heredity is
the same as in cattle or the human race. Thus it may be seen that
millions of new varieties can be very easily obtained. A single
plant-grower often raises many thousands to which he never gives a
name, by reason of the fact--noted elsewhere than in the fruit
garden--that most of these new strawberries in no respect surpass or
even equal their parents. The great majority, after fruiting--which
they do when two years old--are thrown away. A new variety which is not
so good as the old ones from which it came should not be imposed upon
the public. But they often are, sometimes deliberately, but far more
often for other reasons; as, for instance, through the enthusiasm of
the possessor. It is _his_ seedling; therefore it is wonderful. He pets
it and gives it extra care, to which even very interior varieties
generously respond.

In the same old catalogue to which I have referred Prince & Co.
announce: "We now offer a few of our superior new seedlings, with
descriptions, and there is not an acid or inferior one among them.
There is not one of them that is not superior to all the seedlings
recently introduced." Not one of these thirty-five "superior
seedlings," to my knowledge, is now in cultivation. They have
disappeared in less than fifteen years; and yet I have no doubt that on
the grounds of Prince & Co. they gave remarkable promise.

Again, a fruit grower sends out second and third-rate kinds from
defective knowledge. He has not judiciously compared his petted
seedlings with the superb varieties already in existence. It is soon
discovered by general trial that the vaunted new-comers are not so good
as the old; and so they also cease to be cultivated, leaving only a
name.

The editor of the "Rural New Yorker" has adopted a course which would
be very useful indeed to the public, if it could be carried out in the
various fruit-growing centres of the country. He obtains a few plants
of every new variety offered for sale, and tests them side by side,
under precisely the same conditions, reporting the results in his
paper. Such records of experience are worth any amount of theory, or
the half-truths of those who are acquainted with but few vanities. I
tested fifty kinds last year in one specimen-bed. The plants were
treated precisely alike, and permitted to mature all their fruit, I
being well content to let eight or ten bushels go to waste in order to
see just what each variety could do. From such trial-beds the
comparative merits of each kind can be seen at a glance. Highly praised
new-comers, which are said to supersede everything, must show what they
are and can do beside the old standard varieties that won their laurels
years ago. I thus learn that but few can endure the test, and
occasionally I find an old kind sent out with a new name. When visiting
fruit farms in New Jersey last summer, I was urged to visit a small
place on which was growing a wonderful new berry. The moment I saw the
fruit and foliage, I recognized the Col. Cheney, forced into unusual
luxuriance by very favorable conditions. Other experienced growers,
whose attention I called to the distinguishing marks of this variety,
agreed with me at once; but the proprietor, who probably had never seen
the Cheney before and did not know where the plants came from, thought
it was a remarkable new variety, and as such it might have been
honestly sent out. Trial-beds at once detect the old kinds with new
names, and thus may save the public from a vast deal of imposition.

Such beds would also be of very great service in suggesting the
varieties that can be grown with profit in certain localities. While
the behavior of different kinds differs greatly in varying soils and
latitudes, there is no such arbitrary mystery in the matter as many
imagine. I am satisfied that the sorts which did best in my trial-bed
give the best promise of success wherever the soil and climate are
similar. In contrast, let a trial-bed be made on a light soil in
Delaware or Virginia, and 100 varieties be planted. Many that are
justly favorites in our locality would there shrivel and burn, proving
valueless; but those that did thrive and produce well, exhibiting a
power to endure a Southern sun, and to flourish in sand, should be the
choice for all that region. To the far South and North, and in the
extremes of the East and West, trial-beds would give still varying
results; but such results would apply to the soils and climate of the
region if proper culture were given. A horse can be mismanaged on a
Kentucky stock-farm, and there are those who would have ill luck with
strawberries in the Garden of Eden--they are so skilful and persist in
doing the wrong thing. It would well remunerate large planters to
maintain trial-beds of all the small fruits, and their neighbors could
afford to pay well for the privilege of visiting them and learning the
kinds adapted to their locality.

I think it may be laid down as a general truth, that those kinds which
do well on a light soil in one locality tend to do well on such soils
in all localities. The same principle applies to those requiring heavy
land. There will be exceptions, and but few of those containing foreign
blood will thrive in the far South.

In the brief limits of this chapter I shall merely offer suggestions
and the results of some experience, premising that I give but one man's
opinion, and that all have a right to differ from me. At the close of
this volume may be found more accurate descriptions of the varieties
that I have thought worth naming.

Among the innumerable candidates for favor, here and there one will
establish itself by persistent well-doing as a standard sort. We then
learn that some of these strawberry princes, like the Jucunda, Triomphe
de Gand, and President Wilder, flourish only in certain soils and
latitudes, while others, like the Charles Downing, Monarch of the West,
and Wilson, adapt themselves to almost every condition and locality.
Varieties of this class are superseded very slowly; but it would seem,
with the exception of Wilson's Albany, that the standards of one
generation have not been the favorites of the next. The demand of our
age is for large fruit The demand has created a supply, and the old
standard varieties have given way to a new class, of which the Monarch
and Seth Boyden are types. The latest of these new mammoth berries is
the Sharpless, originated by Mr. J. K. Sharpless, of Catawissa, Pa.;
which shows the progress made since horticulturists began to develop
the wild _F. Virginiana_ by crossing varieties and by cultivation.

The most accurate and extended list of varieties with which I am
acquainted is to be found in Downing's "Encyclopedia of Fruits and
Fruit Trees of America." It contains the names, with their synonymes,
and the descriptions of over 250 kinds, and to this I refer the reader.

The important question to most minds is not how many varieties exist,
but what kinds will give the best returns. If one possesses the deep,
rich, moist loam that has been described, almost any good variety will
yield a fair return, and the best can be made to give surprising
results. For table use and general cultivation, North and South, East
and West, I would recommend the Charles Downing, Monarch of the West,
Seth Boyden, Kentucky Seedling, Duchess, and Golden Defiance. These
varieties are all first-rate in quality, and they have shown a
wonderful adaptation to varied soils and climates. They have been
before the public a number of years, and have persistently proved their
excellence. Therefore, they are worthy of a place in every garden. With
these valuable varieties for our chief supply, we can try a score of
other desirable kinds, retaining such as prove to be adapted to our
taste and soil.

If our land is heavy, we can add to the above, in Northern latitudes,
Triomphe de Gand, Jucunda, President Wilder, Forest Rose, President
Lincoln, Sharpless, Pioneer, and Springdale.

If the soil is light, containing a large proportion of sand and gravel,
the Charles Downing, Kentucky Seedling, Monarch of the West, Duchess,
Cumberland Triumph, Miner's Prolific, Golden Defiance, and Sharpless
will be almost certain to yield a fine supply of large and delicious
berries, both North and South.

Let me here observe that varieties that do well on light soils also
thrive equally well and often better on heavy land. But the converse is
not true. The Jucunda, for instance, can scarcely be made to exist on
light land. In the South, it should be the constant aim to find
varieties whose foliage can endure the hot sun. I think that the
Sharpless, which is now producing a great sensation as well as mammoth
berries, will do well in most Southern localities. It maintained
throughout the entire summer the greenest and most vigorous foliage I
ever saw. Miner's Prolific, Golden Defiance, Early Hudson, and
Cumberland Triumph also appear to me peculiarly adapted to Southern
cultivation.

As we go north, the difficulties of choice are not so great. Coolness
and moisture agree with the strawberry plant. There the question of
hardiness is to be first considered. In regions, however, where the
snow falls early and covers the ground all winter, the strawberry is
not so exposed as with us, for our gardens are often bare in zero
weather. Usually, it is not the temperature of the air that injures a
dormant strawberry plant, but alternations of freezing and thawing. The
deep and unmelting snows often enable the horticulturist to raise
successfully in Canada tender fruits that would "winter-kill" much
further south. If abundant protection is therefore provided, either by
nature or by art, the people of the North can take their choice from
among the best. In the high latitudes, early kinds will be in request,
since the season of growth is brief. The best early berries are
Duchess, Bidwell, Pioneer, Early Hudson, Black Defiance, Duncan,
Durand's Beauty, and, earliest of all, Crystal City. The last-named
ripened first on my place in the summer of 1879, and although the fruit
is of medium size, and rather soft, I fear, the plant is so vigorous
and easily grown that I think it is worth general trial North and
South. I am informed that it promises to take the lead in Missouri.

MARKET STRAWBERRIES

Thus far I have named those kinds whose fine flavor and beauty entitle
them to a place in the home garden. But with a large class, market
qualities are more worthy of consideration; and this phase of the
question introduces us to some exceedingly popular varieties not yet
mentioned. The four great requirements of a market strawberry are
productiveness, size, a good, bright color, and--that it may endure
long carriage and rough handling--firmness. Because of the indifference
of the consumer, as explained in an earlier chapter, that which should
be the chief consideration--flavor--is scarcely taken into account. In
the present unenlightened condition of the public, one of the oldest
strawberries on the list--Wilson's Seedling--is more largely planted
than all other kinds together. It is so enormously productive, it
succeeds so well throughout the entire country, and is such an early
berry, that, with the addition of its fine carrying qualities, it
promises to be the great market berry for the next generation also. But
this variety is not at all adapted to thin, poor land, and is very
impatient of drought. In such conditions, the berries dwindle rapidly
in size, and even dry up on the vines. Where abundant fertility and
moisture can be maintained, the yield of a field of Wilsons is simply
marvellous. On a dry hillside close by, the crop from the same variety
may not pay for picking. Plantations of Wilsons should be renewed every
two years, since the plant speedily exhausts itself, producing smaller
berries with each successive season. The Wilson is perhaps the best
berry for preserving, since it is hard and its acid is rich and not
watery.

A rival of the Wilson has appeared within the last few years--the
Crescent Seedling, also an early berry, originated by Mr. Parmelee, of
New Haven, Conn. At first, it received unbounded praise; now, it gets
too much censure. It is a very distinct and remarkable variety, and,
like the Wilson, I think, will fill an important place in strawberry
culture. Its average size does not much exceed that of the Wilson; its
flavor, when fully ripe, is about equal in the estimation of those who
do not like acid fruit. In productiveness, on many soils, it will far
exceed any variety with which I am acquainted. It is just this capacity
for growing on thin, poor soils--anywhere and under any
circumstances--that gives to it its chief value. In hardiness and
vitality it is almost equal to the Canada thistle. The young plants are
small, and the foliage is slender and delicate; but they have the power
to live and multiply beyond that of any other variety I have seen. It
thrives under the suns of Georgia and Florida, and cares naught for the
cold of Canada; it practically extends the domain of the strawberry
over the continent, and renders the laziest man in the land, who has no
strawberries, without excuse. One of my beds yielded at the rate of 346
bushels to the acre, and the bright, handsome scarlet of the berries
caused them to sell for as much in the open market as varieties of far
better flavor. It is too soft for long carriage by rail. Those to whom
flavor and large size are the chief considerations will not plant it,
but those who have a near and not very fastidious market, that simply
demands quantity and fine appearance, will grow it both largely and
profitably. The stamens of the Crescent are so imperfectly developed
that every tenth row in the field should be Wilsons, or some other
early and perfect-flowered variety.

In the Champion, we have a late market berry that is steadily growing
in favor. On rich, moist land it is almost as productive as the
Crescent. The fruit averages much larger than the Wilson, while its
rich crimson color makes it very attractive in the baskets. The
berries, like the two kinds already named, turn red before they are
ripe, and in this immature condition their flavor is very poor, but
when fully ripe they are excellent. The transformation is almost as
great as in a persimmon. Under generous culture, the Champion yields
superb berries, that bring the best prices. It also does better than
most kinds under neglect and drought. It is too soft for long carriage,
and its blossoms are pistillate.

Within a few years, a new variety named Windsor Chief has been
disseminated, and the enormous yield of 17,000 quarts per acre has been
claimed for it. It is said to be a seedling of the Champion fertilized
with the Charles Downing variety. If there has been no mistake in this
history of its origin, it is a remarkable instance of the reproduction
of the traits of one parent only, for in no respect have I been able
thus far to see wherein it differs from the Champion.

The Captain Jack is another late variety, which is enormously
productive of medium-sized berries. It is a great favorite in Missouri
and some other regions. The berries carry well to market, but their
flavor is second-rate.

The good size, firmness, and lateness of the Glendale--a variety
recently introduced--will probably secure for it a future as a market
berry.

In the South, Neunan's Prolific, or the "Charleston Berry," as it is
usually called, is already the chief variety for shipping. It is an
aromatic berry, and very attractive as it appears in our markets in
March and April, but it is even harder and sourer than an unripe
Wilson. When fully matured on the vine it is grateful to those who like
an acid berry. Scarcely any other kind is planted around Charleston and
Savannah.

These six varieties, or others like them, will supply the first great
need of all large markets--quantity. With the exception of the last,
which is not productive in the North, and requires good treatment even
in the South, they yield largely under rough field culture. The fruit
can be sold very cheaply and yet give a fair profit. Only a limited
number of fancy berries can be sold at fancy prices, but thousands of
bushels can be disposed of at eight and ten cents per quart.

Still, I would advise any one who is supplying the market, thoroughly
to prepare and enrich an acre or more of moist but well drained land,
and plant some of the large, showy berries, like the Sharpless,
Monarch, and Seth Boyden. If he has heavy, rich soil, let him also try
the Jucunda, President Lincoln, and, especially, the Triomphe de Gand.
These varieties always have a ready sale, even when the market is
glutted with common fruit, and they often command very high prices.
When the soil suits them, they frequently yield crops that are not so
far below the Wilson in quantity. Fifty bushels of large, handsome
berries may bring as much, or more, than one hundred bushels of small
fruit, while the labor and expense of shipping and picking are reduced
one-half.

I suppose that Mr. E. W. Durand, of Irvington, N. J., obtains more
money from one acre of his highly cultivated strawberries than do many
growers from ten acres. Mr. H. Jerolaman, of Hilton, N. J., has given
me some accurate statistics that well illustrate my meaning. "My
yield," he writes, in 1877, "from one acre, planted chiefly with the
Seth Boyden, was 327 bushels 15 1/2 quarts, which were sold for
$1,386.21. A strict account was kept. Since that time I have been
experimenting with Mr. Durand's large berries, and have not done so
well. In 1878, I obtained $1,181 from one acre, one-half planted with
the Seth Boyden and the other with the Great American. The year of 1879
was my poorest. Nearly all my plants were Great American and Beauty,
and the yield was 121 bushels, selling for $728. The average cost per
acre, for growing, picking, marketing, and manure, is $350. I am not
satisfied but that I shall have to return to the old Seth Boyden in
order to keep taking the first State premiums, as I have done for the
past three years."

This record of experience shows what can be done with the choice
varieties if an appreciative market is within reach, and one will give
the high culture they demand. Last summer a neighbor of mine obtained
eighteen cents per quart for his Monarch strawberries, when Wilsons
brought but ten cents. At the same time, these superb rarities often do
not pay at all under poor field culture and in matted rows. We may also
note, in passing, how slowly fine old standard kinds, like the Boyden,
are superseded by new varieties.

I should not be at all surprised if the Charles Downing became one of
the most popular market strawberries of the future. It is already
taking the lead in many localities It is moderately firm--sufficiently
so, with a little extra care, to reach most markets in good condition.
It is more easily raised than the Wilson, and on thin, dry land is more
productive. A bed will last, if kept clean, four or five years instead
of two, and yield better the fifth year than the first. Although the
fruit is but of medium size, it is so fine in flavor that it has only
to be known to create a steady demand. The Kentucky Seedling is another
berry of the same class, and has the same general characteristics--with
this exception, that it is a very late berry, In flavor, it is melting
and delicious. It does well on almost any soil, even a light and sandy
one, and is usually very productive.

The best white strawberry I have ever seen is Lennig's White. When
exposed to the sun, it has a decided pink flush on one side. It is
beautiful and delicious, and so aromatic that a single berry will
perfume a large apartment. The fruit is exceedingly delicate, but the
plant is a shy bearer.

In the White and Bed Alpines, especially the ever-bearing varieties,
and in the Hautbois class, we have very distinct strawberries that are
well worthy of a place in the garden. From a commercial point of view,
they have no value. This may settle the question with some, but not a
few of us like to plant many things that are never to go to market.

In conclusion, if I were asked what is the most beautiful and delicious
strawberry in existence, I should name the President Wilder. Perfect in
flavor, form and beauty, it seems to unite in one exquisite compound
the best qualities of the two great strawberry species of the world,
the _F. Virginiana_ and the _F. Chilensis_. The only fault that I have
ever discovered is that, in many localities, it is not productive. No
more do diamonds lie around like cobblestones. It is, however, fairly
productive under good culture and on most soils, and yet it is possible
that not one in a hundred of the habitues of Delmonico's has ever
tasted it.




CHAPTER XIV

SETTING OUT PLANTS


We may secure good plants of the best varieties, but if we do not set
them out properly the chances are against our success, unless the
weather is very favorable. So much depends on a right start in life,
even in a strawberry bed. There are no abstruse difficulties in
properly imbedding a plant. One would think that if a workman gave five
minutes' thought and observation to the subject, he would know exactly
how to do it. If one used his head as well as his hands, it would be
perfectly obvious that a plant held (as in Figure _e_) with its roots
spread out so that the fresh, moist earth could come in contact with
each fibre, would stand a far better chance than one set out by any of
the other methods illustrated. And yet, in spite of all I can do or
say, I have never been able to prevent very many of my plants from
being set (as in Figure _a_) too deeply, so that the crown and tender
leaves were covered and smothered with earth; or (as in Figure _b_) not
deeply enough, thus leaving the roots exposed. Many others bury the
roots in a long, tangled bunch, as in Figure _c_. If one would observe
how a plant starts on its new career, he would see that the roots we
put in the ground are little more than a base of operations. All along
their length, and at their ends, little white rootlets start, if the
conditions are favorable, almost immediately. If the roots are huddled
together, so that only a few outside ones are in contact with the
life-giving soil, the conditions are of course most unfavorable. Again,
many planters are guilty of the folly illustrated in Figure _d_. They
hastily scoop out a shallow hole, in which the roots, which should be
down in the cool depths of the soil, curve like a half-circle toward or
to the very surface.

In the most favorable weather of early spring a plant is almost certain
to grow, no matter how greatly abused; but even then it does far better
if treated properly, while at other seasons nature cannot be stupidly
ignored. It is almost as easy to set out a plant correctly as otherwise.

[Illustration: WRONG METHODS OP PLANTING]

Let the excavation be made deep enough to put the roots, spread out
like a fan, down their whole length into the soil. Hold the plant with
the left hand, as in Figure _e_. First, half fill the hole with fine
rich earth with the right hand, and press it firmly against the roots;
next, fill it evenly, and then, with the thumb and finger of both
hands, put your whole weight on the soil on each side of the plant--as
close to it as possible--and press until the crown or point from which
the leaves start is just even with the surface.

If you can pull the plant up again by its leaves, it is not firm enough
in the ground. If a man uses brain and eye, he can learn to work very
rapidly. By one dexterous movement he scoops the excavation with a
trowel. By a second movement, he makes the earth firm against the lower
half of the roots. By a third movement, he fills the excavation and
settles the plant into its final position. One workman will often plant
twice as many as another, and not work any harder. Negro women at
Norfolk, Virginia, paid at fifty cents per day, will often set two or
three thousand. Many Northern laborers, who ask more than twice that
sum, will not set half as many plants. I have been told of one man,
however, who could set 1,000 per hour. I should examine his work
carefully, however, in the fear that it was not well done.

[Illustration: THE PROPER METHOD]

If the ground is so flat that water lies upon it in wet seasons, then
throw it up into beds with a plow, thus giving the plants a broad,
level surface on which to grow; for I think the best success will
generally be obtained with level culture, or as near an approach to it
as possible.

Always make it a point to plant in moist, freshly stirred earth. Never
let the roots come in contact with dry, lumpy soil. Never plant when
the ground is wet and sticky, unless it be at the beginning of a
rainstorm which bids fair to continue for some time. If sun or wind
strikes land which has been recently stirred while it is too wet, the
hardness of mortar results.

In spring it is best to shorten in the roots one-third. This promotes a
rapid growth of new rootlets, and therefore of the plants. In the
summer and fall the young plants are not so well furnished with roots,
and usually it is best to leave them uncut.

[Illustration: ROOT PRUNING]

It often happens that during long transportation the roots become sour,
black, and even a little mouldy. In this case, wash them in clean water
from which the chill has been taken. Trim carefully, taking off the
blackened, shrivelled ends. Sprinkle a couple of tablespoonfuls of fine
bone meal immediately about the plant after setting, and then water it.
If the weather is warm, soak the ground and keep it moist until there
is rain. Never let a plant falter or go back from lack of moisture.

How often should one water? Often enough to keep the ground _moist all
the time_, night and day. There is nothing mechanical in taking care of
a young plant any more than in the care of a baby. Simply give it what
it needs until it is able to take care of itself. The plant may require
a little watching and attention for a few days in warm weather. If an
opportune storm comes, the question of growth is settled favorably at
once; but if a "dry spell" ensues, be vigilant. At nine o'clock A.M.,
even well-watered plants may begin to wilt, showing that they require
shade, which may be supplied by inverted flower-pots, old
berry-baskets, shingles or boards. A handful of weeds, grass, or even
of dry earth, thrown on the crown of the plant in the morning, and
removed by five P.M., is preferable to nothing. Anything is better than
stolidly sticking a plant in the ground and leaving it alone just long
enough to die. Many, on the other hand, kill their plants with
kindness. They dose the young things with guano, unfermented manure,
and burn them up. Coolness, moisture, and shade are the conditions for
a new start in life.

As has been explained already, pot-grown plants, with a ball of earth
clinging to their roots, can be set out during the hot months with
great ease, and with little danger of loss. At the same time, let me
distinctly say that such plants require fair treatment. The ground
should be "firmed" around them just as strongly, and they should be so
well watched as to guard against the slightest wilting from heat and
drought.

In ordinary field culture, let the rows be three feet apart, and let
the plants stand one foot from each other in a row. At this distance,
14,520 are required for an acre. When land is scarce, the rows can be
two and a half feet from each other. In garden culture, where the plow
and cultivator will not be used, there should be two feet between the
rows, and the plants should be one foot apart as before. With this rule
in mind, any one can readily tell how many plants he will need for a
given area.




CHAPTER XV

CULTIVATION


The field for experiment in cultivation with different fertilizers,
soils, climates, and varieties is indeed a wide one, and yet for
practical purposes the question is simple enough.

There are three well-known systems of cultivation, each of which has
its advantages and disadvantages. The first is termed the "matted bed
system." Under this plan the ground between the rows is cultivated and
kept clean during the spring and early summer. As soon, however, as the
new runners begin to push out vigorously, cultivation ceases, or else,
with the more thorough, the cultivator is narrowed down till it stirs
scarcely more than a foot of surface, care being taken to go up one row
and down another, so as always to draw the runners one way. This
prevents them from being tangled up and broken off. By winter, the
entire ground is covered with plants, which are protected as will be
explained further on. In the spring the coarsest of the covering is
raked off, and between the rows is dug a space about a foot or eighteen
inches wide, which serves as a path for the pickers. This path is often
cheaply and quickly made by throwing two light furrows together with a
corn plow. Under this system, the first crop is usually the best, and
in strong lands adapted to grasses the beds often become so foul that
it does not pay to leave them to bear a second year. If so, they are
plowed under as soon as the fruit has been gathered. More often two
crops are taken, and then the land is put in some other crop for a year
or two before being planted with strawberries again. This rude,
inexpensive system is perhaps more followed than any other. It is best
adapted to light soils and cheap lands. Where an abundance of cool
fertilizers has been used, or the ground has been generously prepared
with green crops, plowed under, the yield is often large and
profitable. But as often it is quite the reverse, especially if the
season proves dry and hot. Usually, plants sodded together cannot
mature fine fruit, especially after they have exhausted half their
vitality in running. In clayey loams, the surface in the matted rows
becomes as hard as a brick. Light showers make little impression on it,
and the fruit often dries upon the vines. Remembering that the
strawberry's chief need is moisture, it will be seen that it can
scarcely be maintained in a hard-matted sod. Under this system the
fruit is small at best, and it all matures together. If adopted in the
garden, the family has but a few days of berries instead of a few
weeks. The marketman may find his whole crop ripening at a time of
over-supply, and his small berries may scarcely pay for picking. To
many of this class the cheapness of the system will so commend itself
that they will continue to practice it until some enterprising neighbor
teaches them better, by his larger cash returns. In the garden,
however, it is the most expensive method. When the plants are sodded
together, the hoe and fork cannot be used. The whole space must be
weeded by hand, and there are some pests whose roots interlace
horizontally above and below the ground, and which cannot be eradicated
from the matted rows. Too often, therefore, even in the neatest garden,
the strawberry bed is the place where vegetable evil triumphs.

There are modifications of this system that are seen to better
advantage on paper than in the field or garden. The one most often
described in print--I have never seen it working successfully--may be
termed the "renewal system." Instead of plowing the matted beds under,
after the first or second crop, the paths between the beds are enriched
and spaded or plowed. The old plants are allowed to fill these former
paths with new plants; which process being completed, the old matted
beds are turned under, and the new plants that have taken the places of
the paths bear the fruit of the coming year. But suppose the old beds
have within them sorrel, white clover, wire-grass, and a dozen other
perennial enemies, what practical man does not know that these pests
will fill the vacant spaces faster than can the strawberry plants?
There is no chance for cultivation by hoe or horse power. Only frequent
and laborious weedings by hand can prevent the evil, and this but
partially, for, as has been said, the roots of many weeds are out of
reach unless there is room for the fork, hoe, or cultivator to go
beneath them.

In direct contrast with the above is the "hill system." This, in brief,
may be suggested by saying that the strawberry plants are set out three
feet--more or less--apart, and treated like hills of corn, with the
exception that the ground is kept level, or should be. They are often
so arranged that the cultivator can pass between them each way, thus
obviating nearly all necessity for hand work. When carried out to such
an extent, I consider this plan more objectionable than the former,
especially at the North. In the first place, when the plants are so
distant from each other, much of the ground is left unoccupied and
unproductive. In the second place, the fruit grower is at the mercy of
the strawberry's worst enemy, the _Lachnosterna_, or white grub. Few
fields in our region are wholly free from them and a few of the
voracious pests would leave the ground bare, for they devour the roots
all summer long. In the third place, where so much of the ground is
unoccupied, the labor of mulching, so that the soil can be kept moist
and the fruit clean, is very great.

In small garden-plots, when the plants can be set only two feet apart
each way, the results of this system are often most admirable. The
entire spaces between them can be kept mellow and loose, and therefore
moist. There is room to dig out and eradicate the roots of the worst
weeds. By frequently raking the ground over, the annual weeds do not
get a chance to start. In the rich soil the plants make great, bushy
crowns that nearly touch each other, and as they begin to blossom, the
whole space between them can be mulched with straw, grass, etc. The
runners can easily be cut away when the plants are thus isolated. Where
there are not many white grubs in the soil, the hill system is well
adapted to meet garden culture, and the result, in a prolonged season
of large, beautiful fruit, will be most satisfactory. Moreover, the
berries, being exposed on all sides to the sun, will be of the best
flavor.

In the South, the hill system is the only one that can be adopted to
advantage. There the plants are set in the summer and autumn, and the
crop is taken from them the following spring. Therefore each plant must
be kept from running, and be stimulated to do its best within a given
space of time. In the South, however, the plants are set but one foot
apart in the rows, and thus little space is lost.

I am satisfied that the method best adapted to our Eastern and Western
conditions is what is termed the "narrow row system," believing that it
will give the greatest amount of fine fruit with the least degree of
trouble and expense. The plants are set one foot from each other in
line, and not allowed to make runners. In good soil, they will touch
each other after one year's growth, and make a continuous bushy row.
The spaces between the rows may be two and a half to three feet.
Through these spaces the cultivator can be run as often as you please,
and the ground can be thus kept clean, mellow, and moist. The soil can
be worked--not deeply, of course--within an inch or two of the plants,
and thus but little space is left for hand-weeding. I have found this
latter task best accomplished by a simple tool made of a fork-tine,
with a section of the top left attached thus: T. Old broken forks can
thus be utilized. This tool can be thrust deeply between the plants
without disturbing many roots, and the most stubborn weed can be pried
out. Under this system, the ground is occupied to the fullest extent
that is profitable. The berries are exposed to light and air on either
side, and mulch can be applied with the least degree of trouble. The
feeding-ground for the roots can be kept mellow by horse-power; if
irrigation is adopted, the spaces between the rows form the natural
channels for the water. Chief of all, it is the most successful way of
fighting the white grub. These enemies are not found scattered evenly
through the soil, but abound in patches. Here they can be dug out if
not too numerous, and the plants allowed to run and fill up the gaps.
To all intents and purposes, the narrow row system is hill culture with
the evils of the latter subtracted. Even where it is not carried out
accurately, and many plants take root in the rows, most of them will
become large, strong, and productive under the hasty culture which
destroys the greater number of the side-runners.

[Illustration: NARROW ROW AND HILL SYSTEMS]

Where this system is fairly tried, the improvement in the quality,
size, and, therefore, measuring bulk of the crop, is astonishing. This
is especially true of some varieties, like the Duchess, which, even in
a matted bed, tends to stool out into great bushy plants. Doctor
Thurber, editor of the "American Agriculturist," unhesitatingly
pronounced it the most productive and best early variety in my
specimen-bed, containing fifty different kinds. If given a chance to
develop its stooling-out qualities, it is able to compete even with the
Crescent and Wilson in productiveness. At the same time its fruit
becomes large, and as regular in shape as if turned with a lathe. Many
who have never tried this system would be surprised to find what a
change for the better it makes in the old popular kinds, like the
Charles Downing, Kentucky, and Wilson. The Golden Defiance also, which
is so vigorous in the matted beds that weeds stand but little chance
before it, almost doubles in size and productiveness if restricted to a
narrow row.

The following remarks will have reference to this system, as I consider
it the best. We will start with plants that have just been set out. If
fruit is our aim, we should remember that the first and strongest
impulse of each plant will be to propagate itself; but to the degree
that it does so it lessens its own vitality and power to produce
berries the following season. Therefore every runner that a plant makes
means so much less and so much smaller fruit from that plant. Remove
the runners as they appear, and the life of the plant goes to make
vigorous foliage and a correspondingly large fruit bud. The sap is
stored up as a miller collects and keeps for future use, the water of a
stream. Moreover, a plant thus curbed abounds in vitality and does not
throw down its burden of prematurely ripe fruit after a few hot days.
It works evenly and continuously, as strength only can, and leisurely
perfects the last berry on the vines. You will often find blossoms and
ripe fruit on the same plant--something rarely seen where the plants
are crowded and the soil dry. I have had rows of Tromphe de Gand in
bearing for seven weeks.

With these facts before us, the culture of strawberries is simple
enough. A few days after planting, as soon as it is evident that they
will live, stir the surface just about them _not more than half an inch
deep_. Insist on this; for most workmen will half hoe them out of the
ground. A fine-tooth rake is one of the best tools for stirring the
surface merely. After the plants become well rooted, keep the ground
mellow and clean as you would between any other hoed crop, using
horse-power as far as possible, since it is the cheapest and most
effective. If the plants have been set out in spring, take oft the
fruit buds as soon as they appear. Unless the plants are very strong
and are set out very early, fruiting the same year means feebleness and
often death. If berries are wanted within a year, the plants must be
set in summer or autumn. Then they can be permitted to bear all they
will the following season. A child with a pair of shears or a knife,
not too dull, can easily keep a large garden-plot free from runners,
unless there are long periods of neglect. Half an hour's work once a
week, in the cool of the evening, will be sufficient. A boy paid at the
rate of twenty-five cents a day can keep acres clipped if he tries.

If the ground were poor, or one were desirous of large fruit, it would
be well to give a liberal autumn top-dressing of fine compost or any
well-rotted fertilizer not containing crude lime. Bone-dust and
wood-ashes are excellent. Scatter this along the rows, and hoe it in
the last time they are cultivated in the fall. With the exception of
guano and other quick-acting stimulants, I believe in fall
top-dressing. The melting snows and March rains carry the fertilizing
properties down to the roots, which begin growing and feeding very
early in the spring. If compost or barnyard manure is used, it aids in
protecting the plants during the winter, warms and mellows the soil,
and starts them into a prompt, vigorous growth, thus enabling them to
store up sufficient vitality in the cool growing season to produce
large fruit in abundance. If top-dressings are applied in the spring,
and a dry period follows, they scarcely reach the roots in time to aid
in forming the fruit buds. The crop of the following year, however,
will be increased. Of course, it is far better to top-dress the rows in
spring than not at all. I only wish to suggest that usually the best
results are obtained by doing this work in the fall; and this would be
true especially of heavy soils.

When the ground begins to freeze, protect the plants for the winter by
covering the rows lightly with straw, leaves, or--better than all--with
light, strawy horse-manure, that has been piled up to heat and turned
over once or twice, so that in its violent fermentation all grass seeds
have been killed. Do not cover so heavily as to smother the plants, nor
so lightly that the wind and rains will dissipate the mulch. Your aim
is not to keep the plants from freezing, but from freezing and thawing
with every alternation of our variable winters and springs. On
ordinarily dry land two or three inches of light material is
sufficient. Moreover, the thawing out of the fruit beds or crown, under
the direct rays of the sun, injures them, I think. Most of the damage
is done in February and March. The good gardener watches his plants,
adds to the covering where it has been washed away or is insufficient,
and drains off puddles, which are soon fatal to all the plants beneath
them. Wet ground, moreover, heaves ten times as badly as that which is
dry. If one neglects to do these things, he may find half of the plants
thrown out of the ground, after a day or two of alternate freezing and
thawing. Good drainage alone, with three or four inches of covering of
light material, can prevent this, although some varieties, like the
Golden Defiance, seem to resist the heaving action of frost remarkably.
Never cover with hot, heavy manure, nor too deeply with leaves, as the
rains beat these down too flatly. Let the winter mulch not only coyer
the row, but reach a foot on either side.

Just before very cold weather begins--from the middle of November to
December 1st, in our latitude--we may, if we choose, cover our beds so
deeply with leaves, or litter of some kind, as to keep out the frost
completely. We thus may be able to dig plants on mild winter days and
early spring, in case we have orders from the far South. This heavy
covering should be lightened sufficiently early in the spring to
prevent smothering. Plants well protected have a fine green appearance
early in spring, and, even if no better, will give much better
satisfaction than those whose leaves are sere and black from frost.

As the weather begins to grow warm in March, push aside the covering a
little from the crown of the plants, so as to let in air. If early
fruit is desired, the mulch can be raked aside and the ground worked
between the rows, as soon as danger of severe frost is over. If late
fruit is wanted, let in air to the crown of the plants, but leave the
mulch on the ground, which is thus shielded from the sun, warm showers,
and the south wind, for two or three weeks.

I have now reached a point at which I differ from most horticultural
writers. As a rule, it is advised that there be no spring cultivation
of bearing plants. It has been said that merely pushing the winter
mulch aside sufficiently to let the new growth come through is all that
is needed. I admit that the results are often satisfactory under this
method, especially if there has been deep, thorough culture in the
fall, and if the mulch between and around the plants is very abundant.
At the same time, I have so often seen unsatisfactory results that I
take a decided stand in favor of spring cultivation if done properly
and _sufficiently early_. I think my reasons will commend themselves to
practical men. Even where the soil has been left mellow by fall
cultivation, the beating rains and the weight of melting snows pack the
earth. All loamy land settles and tends to grow hard after the frost
leaves it. While the mulch checks this tendency, it cannot wholly
prevent it. As a matter of fact, the spaces between the rows are seldom
thoroughly loosened late in the fall. The mulch too often is scattered
over a comparatively hard surface, which, by the following June has
become so solid as to suffer disastrously from drought in the
blossoming and bearing season. I have seen well-mulched fields with
their plants faltering and wilting, unable to mature the crop because
the ground had become so hard that an ordinary shower could make but
little impression. Moreover, even if kept moist by the mulch, land long
shielded from sun and air tends to become sour, heavy, and devoid of
that life which gives vitality and vigor to the plant. The winter mulch
need not be laboriously raked from the garden-bed or field, and then
carted back again. Begin on one side of a plantation and rake toward
the other, until three or four rows and the spaces between them are
bare; then fork the spaces, or run the cultivator--often the subsoil
plow--deeply through them, and then immediately, before the moist,
newly made surface dries, rake the winter mulch back into its place as
a summer mulch. Then take another strip and treat it in like manner,
until the generous impulse of spring air and sunshine has been given to
the soil of the entire plantation.

This spring cultivation should be done early--as soon as possible after
the ground is dry enough to work. The roots of a plant or tree should
never be seriously disturbed in the blossoming or bearing period; and
yet I would rather stir the _surface_, even when my beds were in full
bloom, than leave it hard, baked, and dry; for, heed this truth
well--unless a plant, from the time it blossoms until the fruit
matures, has an abundance of moisture, it will fail in almost the exact
proportion that moisture fails. A liberal summer mulch under and around
the plants not only keeps the fruit clean, but renders a watering much
more lasting, by shielding the soil from the sun. Never sprinkle the
plants a little in dry weather. If you water at all, _soak_ the ground
and _keep it moist all the time_ till the crop matures. Insufficient
watering will injure and perhaps destroy the best of beds. But this
subject and that of irrigation will be treated in a later chapter.

When prize berries are sought, enormous fruit can be obtained by the
use of liquid manure, but it should be applied with skill and judgment,
or else its very strength may dwarf the plants. In this case, also, all
the little green berries, save the three or four lowest ones, may be
picked from the fruit truss, and the force of the plant will be
expended in maturing a few mammoth specimens. Never seek to stimulate
with plaster or lime, directly. Other plants' meat is the strawberry's
poison in respect to the immediate action of these two agents. Horse
manure composted with muck, vegetable mould, wood-ashes, bone meal,
and, best of all, the product of the cow-stable, if thoroughly decayed
and incorporated with the soil, will probably give the largest
strawberries that can be grown, if steady moisture, but not wetness, is
maintained.

Many advise the mowing off of the old foliage after the fruit has been
gathered. I doubt the wisdom of this practice. The crowns of the plants
and the surface of the bed are laid open to the midsummer sun. The
foliage is needed to sustain or develop the roots. In the case of a few
petted and valuable plants, it might be well to take off some of the
old dying leaves, but it seems reasonable to think that the wholesale
destruction of healthful foliage must be a severe blow to the vitality
of the plants. Still, the beds should not be left to weeds and drought.
Neglect would be ungracious, indeed, just after receiving such
delicious gifts. I would advise that the coarsest of the mulch be raked
off and stored for winter covering, and then the remainder forked very
lightly or cultivated into the soil, as a fertilizer immediately after
a soaking rain, but not when the ground is dry. Do not disturb the
roots of a plant during a dry period. Many advise a liberal manuring
after the fruit is gathered. This is the English method, and is all
right in their humid climate, but dangerous in our land of hot suns and
long droughts. Dark-colored fertilizers absorb and intensify the heat.
A sprinkling of bone dust can be used to advantage as a summer
stimulant, and stronger manures, containing a larger per cent of
nitrogen, can be applied just before the late fall rains. A plant just
after bearing needs rest.

After fruiting, the foliage of some of our best kinds turns red and
seemingly burns and shrivels away. This is not necessarily a disease,
but merely the decay of old leaves which have fulfilled their mission.
From the crown a new and vigorous growth will eventually take their
place. When one is engaged in the nursery business, the young plants
form a crop far more valuable than the fruit. Therefore, every effort
is made to increase the number of runners rather than to destroy them.
Stimulating manures, which promote a growth of vines rather than of
fruit, are the most useful. The process of rooting is often greatly
hastened by layering; that is, by pressing the incipient plant forming
on the runner into the soil, and by laying on it a pebble or lump of
earth to keep it in its place. When a bed is closely covered with young
plants that have not taken root, a top-dressing of fine compost will
greatly hasten their development. Moisture is even more essential to
the nurseryman than to the fruit grower, and he needs it especially
during the hot months of July, August, and September, for it is then
that the new crop of plants is growing. Therefore, his need of damp but
well-drained ground; and if the means of irrigation are within his
reach, he may accomplish wonders, and can take two or three crops of
plants from the same area in one season.

While the growing of strawberry plants may be very profitable, it must
be expensive, since large areas must be laboriously weeded by hand
several times in the season. Instead of keeping the spaces between the
rows clear, for the use of horse-power, it is our aim to have them
covered as soon as possible with runners and young plants. The Golden
Defiance, Crescent Seedling and a few others will keep pace with most
weeds, and even master them; but nearly all varieties require much help
in the unequal fight, or our beds become melancholy examples of the
survival of the unfittest.




CHAPTER XVI

A SOUTHERN STRAWBERRY FARM, AND METHODS OF CULTURE IN THE SOUTH


Having treated of the planting of strawberries, their cultivation, and
kindred topics, in that great northern belt, of which a line drawn
through New York city may be regarded as the centre, I shall now
suggest characteristics in the culture of this fruit in southern
latitudes. We need not refer to the oldest inhabitant, since the
middle-aged remember when even the large cities of the North were
supplied from the fields in the suburbs, and the strawberry season in
town was identical with that of the surrounding country. But a
marvellous change has taken place, and berries from southern climes
appear in our markets soon after midwinter. This early supply is
becoming one of the chief industries of the South Atlantic coast, and
every year increases its magnitude. At one time, southern New Jersey
furnished the first berries, but Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia soon
began to compete. Norfolk early took the lead in this trade, and even
before the war was building up a fine business. That event cut off our
Southern supply, and for a few years June and strawberries again came
together. But after the welcome peace, many Southern fields grew red
once more, but not with blood, and thronged, but chiefly by women and
children. Soil, climate, and superb water communications speedily
restored to Norfolk the vantage which she will probably maintain; but
fleet steamers are giving more southern ports a chance. Charleston,
South Carolina, is second only in importance. In the spring of '79,
every week four steamers were loaded for New York, and strawberries
formed no insignificant proportion of the freight. Indeed, the supply
from Charleston was so large that the price in April scarcely repaid
the cost of some shipments. The proprietor of a commission house,
largely engaged in the Southern fruit trade, told me he thought that
about one third as many strawberries came from Charleston as from
Norfolk. From careful inquiries made on the ground, I am led to
believe--if it has not already attained this position--that Norfolk is
rapidly becoming the largest strawberry centre in the world, though
Charleston is unquestionably destined to become its chief rival in the
South. The latter city, however, has not been able to monopolize the
far Southern trade, and never have I seen a finer field of strawberries
than was shown me in the suburbs of Savannah. It consisted of a square
of four acres, set with Neunan's Prolific, the celebrated Charleston
berry.

And now Florida, with its unrivalled oranges, is beginning to furnish
tons of strawberries, that begin ripening in our midwinter; and, with
its quick, sandy soil and sunny skies, threatens to render the growing
of this fruit under glass unprofitable. I saw last winter, at Mandarin,
quite an extensive strawberry farm, under the care of Messrs. Bowen
Brothers, and was shown their skilful appliances for shipping the
fruit. At Jacksonville, also, Captain William James is succeeding
finely in the culture of some of our Northern varieties, the Seth
Boyden taking the lead.

I think I can better present the characteristics of strawberry culture
in the South by aiming to give a graphic picture of the scenes and life
on a single farm than is possible by general statements of what I have
witnessed here and there. I have therefore selected for description a
plantation at Norfolk, since this city is the centre of the largest
trade, and nearly midway in the Atlantic strawberry belt, I am also led
to make this choice because here is to be found, I believe, the largest
strawberry farm in the world, and its varied labors illustrate most of
the Southern aspects of the question.

The reader may imagine himself joining our little party on a lovely
afternoon about the middle of May. We took one of the fine, stanch
steamers of the Old Dominion line at three P.M., and soon were
enjoying, with a pleasure that never palls, the sail from the city to
the sea. Our artistic leader, whose eye and taste were to illumine and
cast a glamour over my otherwise matter-of-fact text, was all aglow
with the varied beauties of the scene, and he faced the prospect beyond
the "Hook" with no more misgivings than if it were a "painted ocean."
But there are occasions when the most heroic courage is of no avail.

Only in the peace and beauty that crowned the closing hours of the day
as we steamed past Fortress Monroe and up the Elizabeth river, did the
prosaic fade out of the hours just past, and now before us was the
"sunny South" and strawberries and cream.

In the night there was a steady downfall of rain, but sunshine came
with the morning, and we found that the spring we had left at the North
was summer here, and saw that the season was moving forward with
quickened and elastic tread. Before the day grew warm we started from
our hotel at Norfolk for the strawberry plantation, rattling and
bouncing past comfortable and substantial homes, over a pavement that
surpassed even the ups and downs of fortune. Here and there, surrounded
by a high brick wall, would be seen a fine old mansion, embowered in a
wealth of shrubbery and foliage that gave, even in the midst of the
city, a suburban seclusion. The honeysuckle and roses are at home in
Norfolk, and their exquisite perfume floated to us across the high
garden fences. Thank Heaven! some of the best things in the world
cannot be walled in. St. Paul's Church and quaint old burying-ground,
shadowed by trees, festooned with vines, and gemmed with flowers,
seemed so beautiful, as we passed, that we thought its influence on the
secular material life of the people must be almost as good through the
busy week as on the Sabbath.

The houses soon grew scattering, and the wide, level, open country
stretched away before us, its monotony broken here and there by groves
of pine. The shell road ceased and our wheels now passed through many
deep puddles, which in Virginia seem sacred, since they are preserved
year after year in exactly the same places. A more varied class of
vehicles than we met from time to time would scarcely be seen on any
other road in the country. There were stylish city carriages and
buggies, grocer and express wagons, great lumbering market trucks laden
with barrels of early cabbages, spring wagons, drawn by mules, piled up
with crates from many a strawberry field in the interior, and so, on
the descending scale, till we reach the two-wheeled, primitive carts
drawn by cows--all converging toward some Northern steamer, whose
capacious maw was ready to receive the produce of the country. We had
not proceeded very far before we saw in the distance a pretty cottage,
sheltered by a group of tall, primeval pines, and on the right of it a
large barn-like building, with a dwelling, office, smithy, sheds, etc.,
grouped about it. A previous visit enabled me to point out the cottage
as the home of the proprietor, and to explain that the seeming barn was
a strawberry crate manufactory. As was the case on large plantations in
the olden time, almost everything required in the business is made on
the place, and nearly every mechanical trade has a representative in
Mr. Young's employ.

As we drove up under the pines, the proprietor of the farm welcomed us
with a cordial hospitality, which he may have acquired in part from his
residence in the South. On the porch stood a slender lady, whose
girlish grace and delicate beauty at once captivated the artists of our
party.

There was the farm we had come to see, stretching away before us in
hundreds of green, level acres. As we drove to a distant field in which
the pickers were then engaged, we could see the ripening berries with
one side blushing toward the sun. Passing a screen of pines, we came
out into a field containing thirteen acres of Wilson strawberries, and
then more fully began to realize the magnitude of the business.
Scattered over the wide area, in what seemed inextricable confusion to
our uninitiated eyes, were hundreds of men, women, and children of all
ages and shades of color, and from the field at large came a softened
din of voices, above the monotony of which arose here and there
snatches of song, laughter mellowed by distance, and occasionally the
loud, sharp orders of the overseers, who stalked hither and thither,
wherever their "little brief authority" was most in requisition.

We soon noted that the confusion was more apparent than real, and that
each picker was given a row over which he--or, more often, she--bent
with busy fingers until it was finished. At central points crates were
piled up, and men known as "buyers" received the round quart baskets
from the trays of the pickers, while wide platform carts, drawn by
mules, were bringing empty crates and carrying away those that had been
filled.

Along the road that skirted the field, and against a pretty background
of half-grown pines, motley forms and groups were moving to and fro,
some seeking the "buyers" with full trays, others returning to their
stations in the field with a new supply of empty baskets. Some of the
pickers were drifting away to other fields, a few seeking work late in
the day; more, bargaining with the itinerant venders of pies, made to
last all summer if not sold, gingerbread, "pones," and other
nondescript edibles, at which an ostrich would hesitate in
well-grounded fear of indigestion, but for which sable and semi-sable
pickers exchange their berry tickets and pennies as eagerly as we buy
Vienna rolls. Two or three barouches and buggies that had brought
visitors were mingled with the mule-carts; and grouped together for a
moment might be seen elegantly attired ladies from New York, slender
mulatto girls, clad in a single tattered, gown which scantily covered
their bare ankles and feet, and stout, shiny negro women, their waists
tied with a string to prevent their flowing drapery from impeding their
work. Flitting to and fro were numberless colored children,
bare-headed, bare-legged, and often, with not a little of their sleek
bodies gleaming through the innumerable rents of their garments, their
eyes glittering like black beads, and their white teeth showing on the
slightest provocation to mirth. Indeed, the majority of the young men
and women were chattering and laughing much of the time, and only those
well in the shadow of age worked on in a stolid, plodding manner.
Mingled indiscriminately with the colored people were not a few white
women and children, and occasionally a white man. As a rule, these were
better dressed, the white girls wearing sun-bonnets of portentous size,
whose cavernous depths would make a search for beauty on the part of
our artist a rather close and embarrassing scrutiny. The colored women
as often wore a man's hat as any other, and occasionally enlivened the
field with a red bandana. Over all the stooping, moving, oddly
apparelled forms, a June-like sun was shining with summer warmth.
Beyond the field a branch of Tanner's Creek shimmered in the light,
tall pines sighed in the breeze on the right, and from the copse-wood
at their feet quails were calling, their mellow whistle blending with
the notes of a wild Methodist air. In the distance rose the spires of
Norfolk, completing a picture whose interest and charm I have but
faintly suggested.

Several of the overseers are negroes, and we were hardly on the ground
before one of these men, in the performance of his duty, shouted in a
stentorian voice:

"Heah, you! Git up dar, you long man, off'n yer knees. What yo' mashin'
down a half-acre o' berries fer?"

Mr. Sheppard was quick to see a good subject, and almost in a flash he
had the man posed and motionless in his attitude of authority, and
under his rapid strokes Jackson won fame and eminence, going to his
work a little later the hero of the field. The overseer's task is a
difficult one, for the pickers least given to prayer are oftenest on
their knees, crushing the strawberries, and whether they are "long" or
short, much fruit is destroyed. North and South, the effort to keep
those we employ off the berries must be constant, especially as a long,
hot day is waning. Indeed, one can scarcely blame them for "lopping
down," for it would be inquisitorial torture to most of us to stoop
upon our feet through a summer day. Picking strawberries, as a steady
business, is wofully prosaic.

While the sun had been shining so brightly there had been an occasional
heavy jar and rumble of thunder, and now the western sky was black.
Gradually the pickers had disappeared from the Wilson field, and we at
last followed them, warned by an occasional drop of rain to seek the
vicinity of the house. Having reached the grassy slope beneath the
pines in the rear of the dwelling, we turned to note the pretty scene.
A branch of Tanner's Creek came up almost to our feet, and on either
side of it stretched away long rows of strawberries as far as the eye
could reach. Toward these the throng of pickers now drifted, "seeking
fresh fields and pastures new." The motley crowd was streaming down on
either side of the creek, while across a little causeway came a counter
current, the majority of them having trays full of berries. The buyers,
like the traders with the nomad Indians, open traffic anywhere, and at
the shortest notice. A mule-cart was stopped, a few empty crates taken
off and placed under the pines at our feet, and soon the grass was
covered with full quart baskets, for which the pickers received tickets
and then passed on, or, as was often the case, threw themselves down in
the shade. The itinerant venders came flocking in like so many
buzzards. There was at once chaffering and chaffing, eating and
drinking. All were merry. Looking on the groups before us, one would
imagine that the sky was serene. And yet, frowning upon this scene of
careless security, this improvident disregard of a swiftly coming
emergency, was one of the blackest of clouds. Every moment the thunder
was jarring and rolling nearer, and yet this jolly people, who "take no
thought," heeded not the warning. Even the buyers and packers seemed
infected with a like spirit, and were leisurely packing in crates the
baskets of berries scattered on the grass, when suddenly Mr. Young,
with his fleet, black horse, came flying down upon us. Standing up in
his buggy, he gave a dozen rapid orders, like an officer on the field
in a critical moment. The women, who had been lounging with their hands
on their hips, shuffled off with their trays; half-burned pipes are
hastily emptied; gingerbread and like delicacies are stuffed into
capacious mouths, since hands must be employed at once. Packers, mules,
everybody, everything, are put upon the double-quick to prepare for the
shower. It is too late, however, for down come the huge drops as they
can fall only in the South. The landscape grows obscure, the forms of
the pickers in the distance become dim and misty, and when at last it
lightens up a little, they have disappeared from the fields. There they
go, streaming and dripping toward the barns and sheds, looking as
bedraggled as a flock of black Spanish fowls. Such of the mule-drivers
as have been caught, now that they are in for it, drive leisurely by
with the heavy crates that they should have gathered up more promptly.

The cloud did not prove a passing one, and the rain fell so long and
copiously that further picking for the day was abandoned. Some jogged
off to the city, at a pace that nothing but a fiery storm could have
quickened. A hundred or two remained under the sheds, singing and
laughing. Men and women, and many bright young negro girls, too,
lighted their pipes and waited till they could gather at the "paying
booth," near the entrance of the farm, after the rain was over. This
booth was a small shop, extemporized of rough boards by an enterprising
grocer of the city. One side was open, like the counter of a
restaurant, and within, upon the grass, as yet untrodden, were barrels
and boxes containing the edible enormities which seem indigenous to the
semi-grocery and eating-house. In most respects the place resembled the
sutler's stand of our army days. There was a small window on one end of
the booth, and at this sat the grocer, metamorphosed into a paymaster,
with a huge bag of coin, which he rapidly exchanged for the strawberry
tickets. Our last glimpse of the pickers, who had streamed out of the
city in the gray dawn, left them in a long line, close as herrings in a
box, pressing toward the window, from which came faintly the chink of
silver.

As night at last closed about us, we realized the difference between a
strawberry farm and a strawberry bed, or "patch," as country people
say. Here was a large and well-developed business, which proved the
presence of no small degree of brain power and energy; and our thoughts
naturally turned to the proprietor and the methods by which he achieved
success.

J. E. Young, Jr., is a veteran in strawberry culture, although but
twenty-nine years of age. Mr. Young, Sr., was a Presbyterian clergyman
who always had a leaning toward man's primal calling. When his son was
a little boy, he was preaching at Plattsburgh, New York, and to his
labors in the spiritual vineyard joined the care of a garden that was
the pride of the town. Mr. Young, Jr., admits that he hated weeding and
working among strawberries as much as any other boy, until he was given
a share in the crop, and permitted to send a few crates to Montreal. He
had seen but nine years when he shipped his first berries to market,
and every summer since, from several widely separated localities and
with many and varied experiences, he has sent to Northern cities
increasing quantities of his favorite fruit. When but fifteen years of
age he had the entire charge, during the long season, of three hundred
"hands," and the large majority of them were Irish women and children.
After considerable experience in strawberry farming in northern and
southern New York and in New Jersey, his father induced him to settle
at Norfolk, Virginia, and hither he came about ten years ago. Now he
has under his control a farm of 440 acres, 150 of which are to-day
covered with bearing strawberry plants. In addition, he has set out
this spring over two million more plants, which will occupy another
hundred acres, so that in 1880 he will have 250 acres that must be
picked over almost daily.

Mr. Young prefers spring planting in operations upon a large scale.
Such a choice is very natural in this latitude, for they can begin
setting the first of February and continue until the middle of April.
Therefore, nine-tenths of the plants grown in this region are set out
in spring. But at Charleston and further south, they reverse this
practice, and, with few exceptions, plant in the summer and fall,
beginning as early as July on some places, and continuing well into
December.

I must also state that the finest new plantation that I saw on Mr.
Young's place was a field of Seth Boydens set out in September.

This fact proves that he could follow the system of autumn planting
successfully, and I am inclined to think that he will regard this
method with constantly increasing favor. As an instance proving the
adaptation to this latitude of the fall system of planting, I may state
that 96,000 plants were sent to a gentleman at Richmond, in October,
1877, and when I visited his place, the following spring, there was
scarcely a break in the long rows, and nearly fruit enough, I think, to
pay for the plants. From his Seth Boydens, set out last September, Mr.
Young will certainly pick enough berries to pay expenses thus far; and
at the same time, the plants are already four times the size of any set
out this spring. As the country about Norfolk is level, with spots
where the water would stand in very wet weather, Mr. Young has it
thrown up into slightly raised beds two and a half feet wide. This is
done by plows, after the ground has been thoroughly prepared and
levelled by a heavy, fine-toothed harrow. These ridges are but four or
five inches high, and are smoothed off by an implement made for the
purpose. Upon these beds, quite near the edges, the plants are set in
rows twenty inches apart, while the depressed space between the beds is
twenty-seven inches wide. This space is also designed for the paths.
The rows and the proper distances for the plants are designated by a
"marker," an implement consisting of several wheels fastened to a frame
and drawn by hand. On the rim of these wheels are two knobs shaped like
an acorn. Each wheel marks a continuous line on the soft earth, and
with each revolution the knobs make two slight but distinct depressions
twelve inches apart; or, if the variety to be planted is a vigorous
grower, he uses another set of wheels that indent the ground every
fifteen inches. A plant is dropped at each indentation, and a gang of
colored women follow with trowels, and by two or three quick, dexterous
movements, imbed the roots firmly in the soil. Some become so quick and
skilful as to be able to set out six or seven thousand a day, while
four or five thousand is the average. With his trained band of twenty
women, Mr. Young calls the setting of a hundred thousand plants a good
day's work.

In April commences the long campaign against the weeds, which advance
like successive armies. No sooner is one growth slain than a different
and perhaps more pestiferous class rises in its place--the worst of the
Philistines being nut-grass, quack-grass, and--direst foe of
all--wire-grass.

This labor is reduced to its minimum by mule cultivation, and Mr. Young
has on his farm a style of cultivator that is peculiarly adapted to the
work. As this is his own invention, I will not describe it, but merely
state that it enables him to work very close to the rows, and to stir
the soil deeply without moving it or covering the plants. These
cultivators are followed by women, with light, sharp hoes, who cut away
the few weeds left between the plants. They handle these tools so
deftly that scarcely any weeding is left to be done by hand; for, by a
rapid encircling stroke, they cut within a half-inch of the plant. For
several years past, I have urged upon Mr. Young the advantage of the
narrow row system, and his own experience has led him to adopt it. He
is now able to keep his immense farm free of weeds chiefly by mule
labor, whereas, in his old system of matted row culture it was
impossible to keep down the grass, or prevent the ground from becoming
hard and dry. He now restricts his plants to hills or "stools," from
twelve to fifteen inches apart. The runners are cut from time to time
with shoe-knives, the left hand gathering them up by a single rapid
movement, and the right hand severing them by a stroke. One woman will,
by this method, clip the runners from several acres during the growing
season. To keep his farm in order, Mr. Young must employ seventy-five
hands through the summer. The average wages for women is fifty cents,
and for men seventy-five to ninety cents. In the item of cheap labor
the South has the advantage of the North.

With the advent of autumn, the onslaught of weeds gradually ceases, and
there is some respite in the labors of a Virginia strawberry farm.

At Charleston and further south, this respite is brief, for the winters
there are so mild that certain kinds of weeds will grow all the time,
and early in February they must begin to cultivate the ground and mulch
the plants for bearing.

Bordering on Mr. Young's farm, and further up the creek, there are
hundreds of acres of salt meadows. From these he has cut, in the autumn
and early winter, two hundred tons of hay, and with his lighter floats
it down to his wharf. In December, acre after acre is covered until all
the plants are quite hidden from view. In the spring, this winter mulch
is left upon the ground as the summer mulch, the new growth in most
instances pushing its way through it readily. When it is too thick to
permit this, it is pushed aside from the crowns of the plants.

Thus far he has given the bearing fields no spring culture, adopting
the common theory that the ground around the plants must not be
disturbed at this season. I advocate the opposite view, and believe in
_early_ spring culture, as I have already explained; and I think his
experience this year will lead him to give my method a trial in 1880.
The latter part of April and early May was very dry at Norfolk, and the
ground between the bearing plants became parched, hard, and in many
instances full of weeds that had been developing through the long, mild
spring of this region. Now I am satisfied that if he, and all others in
this region who adopt the narrow row system, would loosen the ground
deeply with a subsoil plow _early_ in the season, before the plants had
made any growth, and then stir and pulverize all the surface between
the plants in the rows, they would increase the size and quantity of
the berries at least one-third, and in many instances double the crop.
It would require a very severe drought, indeed, to injure plants thus
treated, and it is well known, also, that a porous, mellow soil will
best endure too frequent rains. I have sometimes thought that light and
air are as indispensable to the roots of plants as to the foliage.

The winter mulch need not prevent this spring culture. Let the men
begin on one side of a field, and rake inward until half a dozen rows
are uncovered. Down through these the subsoil plow and the cultivator
can pass. Then the hay can be raked back again as the summer mulch, and
a new space cleared, until the whole field is cultivated and the mulch
left as it was before.

Now, however, it is not a surface like hard-pan that is covered, but a
mellow soil in which the roots can luxuriate.

Mr. Young uses fertilizers, especially those containing ammonia, only
to a limited extent, believing that while they undoubtedly increase the
size of the fruit, they also render it soft and unfit for long
carriage, and promote an undue growth of vine. This theory is true, to
a certain extent, but I think the compensating benefits of fertilizers
of almost any kind far outweigh the disadvantages. At his distance from
the market, firmness in the berry is essential, but I think he will
find this quality is dependent more upon the weather and the variety
than upon the fertilizer. Of course, over-stimulation by hot manures
will always produce an unwholesome, perishable growth, but a good coat
of well-rotted compost scattered down the rows, just before they
receive their fall or spring culture, would be exceedingly beneficial
in nine cases out of ten. I most heartily agree with him, however, that
all fertilizers containing potash are peculiarly adapted to the
strawberry.

Having considered his methods of planting and culture, we now return
again to the culminating period in which the hopes and labors of the
year are rewarded or disappointed. When we awoke the morning following
our arrival, we found the landscape obscured by a dense fog. Through
this, in dim, uncertain outline, throngs of pickers were streaming out
from the city to Mr. Young's place and the strawberry farms beyond. The
broad fields seemed all the more vast from the obscurity, and the
stooping forms of the fruit-gatherers took on odd and fantastic shapes
in the silvery mist.

But while we drank our coffee the sun sipped these morning vapors, and
when we stepped out under the pines, the day was hourly growing
brighter and warmer. The balmy, fragrant air, the meadow larks singing
in the distance, the cheery voices of the pickers in an adjacent field,
would tempt gloom itself to forget its care and stroll away through the
sunlight. The pickers were beginning to take possession of a field
containing thirty acres of Triomphe de Gands, and we followed them, and
there lighted on one of the oddest characters on the plantation--"Sam
Jubilee," the "row-man," black as night, short, stout, and profane. It
is Sam's business to give each picker a row of berries, and he carries
a brass-headed cane as the baton of authority. As we came up, he was
whirling a glazed hat of portentous size in one hand and gesticulating
so wildly with his cane that one might think he was in convulsions of
rage, but we soon learned that this was "his way."

"Heah, you, dah!" he vociferated, to the slouching, leisurely pickers
that were drifting after him, "what's de matter wid yer j'ints? Step
along lively, or by--" and then came a volley of the most outlandish
oaths ever uttered by a human tongue.

"Don't swear so, Sam," said Mr. Young.

"Can't help it, sah. Dey makes me swar. Feels as if I could bust inter
ten thousand emptins, dey's so agerwatin. Heah, my sister, take dat
row. You, gemlin" (to a white man), "take dat. Heah, chile, step in dar
an' pick right smart, or I'll warm yer!"

Sam "brothers and sisters" the motley crowd he domineers like a colored
preacher, but I fear he is not "in good and regular standing" in any
church in Norfolk.

"He can give out rows more rapidly and systematically than any man I
ever had," said Mr. Young; and we soon observed that wherever Jubilee
led, with his stentorian voice and emphatic gestures, there was life
and movement. Thus we learned that although there might be 1,500 people
in the fields, there was no haphazard picking. Each one would be
assigned a row, which could not be left until all the ripe berries on
it were gathered.

Passing to and fro across the fields are the two chief overseers of the
farm, Harrison and Peters, both apparently full-blooded negroes, but in
the vernacular of the South, "right smart men." They have been with Mr.
Young eight or ten years, and were promoted and maintain their position
solely on the ground of ability and faithfulness. They go rapidly from
one to another, noting whether they are picking the rows clean. They
also take from each tray a basket at random, and empty it into another,
thus discovering who are gathering green or imperfect berries. If the
fruit falls much below the accepted standard, the baskets are
confiscated and no tickets given for them, and if the picker continues
careless he is sent out of the field.

Mr. Young says that he has never found any white overseers who could
equal these men; and through the long year they drive on the work with
tireless energy.

Indeed, Peters often has much ado to keep his energy under control. A
powerful engine cannot always be safe, and Peters slipped his bands one
day to his cost. A woman would not obey him, and he threatened her with
a pistol. Instead of obeying, she started to run. He fired and wounded
her twice, and then tried to get off on the lame excuse that he did not
know the pistol was loaded. The trouble was that he was overloaded. But
his offence resulted more from these characteristics than from innate
ugliness of temper. To make the business of the huge farm go has become
his controlling passion; and he chafes at an obstacle like an
obstructed torrent.

Harrison, his associate overseer, unites more discretion with his
force, and he gave us an example of this fact. As we were strolling
about, we found, seated at the end of the strawberry rows, a group
consisting of two young women and two children, with a colored man
standing near. They had been picking in partnership, we were informed
by one of the young women, who was smoking a pipe, and who replied to
our questions, scarcely taking the trouble to look up. She was about
half white, and her face was singularly expressive of sensuousness and
indolent recklessness.

"This man is your husband?" I suggested.

"No, he's only my brudder. My ole man is pickin' on anoder farm," she
drawled out, between the whiffs of her pipe.

"I should think you and your husband would work together," I ventured.

"We doesn't. He goes about his business and I goes about mine," she
remarked, with languid complacency.

Here is a character, I thought, as we passed on--the very embodiment of
a certain kind of wilfulness. She would not resist or chafe at
authority, but, with an easy, good-natured, don't-care expression,
would do as she pleased, "though the heavens fell." A little later
there was a heavy rumble of thunder in the west, and we met again the
young woman whose marital relations resembled those of many of her
fashionable sisters at the North. She was leading her small band from
the field. The prospective shower was her excuse for going, but
laziness the undoubted cause. Harrison, like a vigilant watch-dog,
spied them and blustered up, never for a moment doubting that she would
yield to his authority.

But he had met his match. She merely looked at him with her slow,
quiet, indolent smile, in which there was not the faintest trace of
irresolution or fear, and he knew that the moment he stepped out of the
way, she would pass on. His loud expostulations and threats soon
ceased. What could he do with that laughing woman, who no doubt had
been a slave, but was now emancipated a trifle too completely? He might
as well try to stop a sluggish tide with his hands. It would ooze away
from him inevitably. The instincts of this people are quick. Harrison
knew he was defeated, and his only anxiety now was to retreat in a way
that would save appearances.

"I'se a-gwine home, M's'r Harrison," she said quietly. "You don't catch
us gittin' wet ag'in."

"Oh, well, if you is 'fraid ob gittin' wet, s'pose I'll habe to let you
off jus' dis once," he began, pompously; and here, fortunately, he saw
a man leaving the field in the distance. There was a subject with which
he could deal, and a line of retreat open at the same time; and away he
went, therefore, vociferating all the more loudly that he might cover
his discomfiture. The woman smiled a little more complacently and went
on, with her old easy, don't-care swing, as she undoubtedly will,
whithersoever her inclinations lead, to the end of her life. To
crystallize such wayward, human atoms into proper forms, and make them
useful, is a problem that would puzzle wiser heads than that of the
overseer.

I think, however, that not only Harrison and Peters, but all who have
charge of working people, rely too much on driving, and too little on
encouraging and coaxing. An incident which occurred may illustrate this
truth. My companion, Mr. Drake, soon mastered one of the labors of a
strawberry farm--the gathering of the fruit--and out of the plenitude
of his benevolence essayed to teach a little sable how he could pick to
better advantage.

"Put your basket down, sonny," he said. "Now you have two hands to work
with instead of one--so, don't you see?"

"Dat's mighty good in you, Mas'r," said a woman near. "Lor bress you!
de people 'ud jess jump over derselves tryin' to do the work if dey got
sich good words, but de oberseer's so cross dat we gits 'umptuous and
don't keer."

Still, to the majority, the strawberry season brings the halcyon days
of the year. They look forward to it and enjoy it as a prolonged
picnic, in which business and pleasure are equally combined. They are
essentially gregarious, and this industry brings many together during
the long bright days. The light work leaves their tongues free, and
families and neighbors pick together with a ceaseless chatter, a
running fire of rude, broad pleasantry, intermingled occasionally with
a windy war of words in a jargon that becomes all the more uncouth from
anger, but which rarely ends in blows.

We were continually impressed by their courage, buoyancy, animal
spirits, or whatever it is that enables them to face their uncertain
future so unconcernedly. Multitudes live like the birds, not knowing
where their next year's nest will be, or how to-morrow's food will
come. It _has_ come, thus far, and this fact seems enough. In many
instances, however, their humble fortunes are built on the very best
foundations.

"What can you do after the berry season is over?" we asked a woman who
had but one arm.

"I kin do what any other woman kin do," she said, straightening herself
up. "I kin bake, cook, wash, iron, scrub--"

"That will do," I cried. "You are better off than most of us, for the
world will always need and pay for your accomplishments."

The story of her life was a simple one. She did not remember when she
lost her arm, but only knew that it had been burned off. When scarcely
more than an infant, she had been left alone in the little cabin by the
slave mother, who probably was toiling in the tobacco field. There was
a fire on the hearth--the rest can be imagined only too vividly. She is
fighting out the battle of life, however, more successfully with her
one hand than are multitudes of men with two. She is stout and cheery,
and can "take keer of herself and children," she said.

Scattered here and there over the fields might be seen two heads that
would keep in rather close juxtaposition up and down the long rows.

"Dey's pairin' off," was the explanation.

"You keep de tickets," said a buxom young woman to her mate, as he was
about to take her tray, as well as his own, to the buyers.

"You are in partnership," I remarked.

"Yes, we is," she replied, with a conscious laugh.

"You are related, I suppose?"

"Well, not 'zackly--dat is--we's partners."

"How about this partnership business--does it not last sometimes after
the strawberry season is over?"

"Oh, Lor' yes! Heaps on 'em gits fallen in love; den dey gits
a-marryin' arter de pickin' time is done gone by."

"Now I see what your partnership means."

"Yah, yah, yah! You sees a heap more dan I's told you!" But her partner
grinned most approvingly. We were afterward informed that there was no
end to the love-making among the strawberry rows.

There are from fifty to one hundred and fifty pickers in a squad, and
these are in charge of subordinate overseers, who are continually
moving around among them, on the watch for delinquencies of all kinds.
Some of these minor potentates are white and some black. As a rule, Mr.
Young gives the blacks the preference and on strictly business
principles, too. "The colored men have more snap, and can get more work
out of their own people," he says. By means of these sub-overseers,
large numbers can be transferred from one part of the farm to another
without confusion.

Fortunes are never made in gathering strawberries, and yet there seems
no dearth of pickers. The multitude of men, women, and children that
streams out into the country every morning is surprisingly large. Five
or six thousand bushels a day are often gathered in the vicinity of
Norfolk, and the pickers rarely average over a bushel each. "Right
smart hands," who have the good hap to be given full rows, will
occasionally pick two bushels; but about thirty quarts per day is the
usual amount, while not a few of the lazy and feeble bring in only
eight or ten.

As has been already suggested, the pickers are followed by the buyers
and packers, and to these men, at central points in the fields, the
mule-carts bring empty crates. The pickers carry little trays
containing six baskets, each holding a quart. As fast as they fill
these, they flock in to the buyers. If a trayful, or six good quarts,
are offered, the buyer gives the picker a yellow ticket, worth twelve
cents. When less than six baskets are brought, each basket is paid for
with a green ticket, worth two cents. These two tickets are eventually
exchanged for a white fifty-cent ticket, which is cashed at the
paying-booth after the day's work is over. The pickers, therefore,
receive two cents for every quart of good, salable berries. If green,
muddy, or decayed berries are brought in, they are thrown away or
confiscated, and incorrigibly careless pickers are driven off the
place. Every morning the buyers take out as many tickets of these three
values as they think they can use, and are charged with the same by the
book-keeper. Their voucher for all they pay out is another ticket, on
which is printed "forty-five quarts," or just a crateful. Only Mr.
Young and one other person have a right to give out the last-named
tickets, and by night each buyer must have enough of them to balance
the other tickets with which he was charged in the morning. Thus
thousands of dollars change hands through the medium of four kinds of
tickets not over an inch, square, and by means of them the financial
part of gathering the crop is managed.

In previous years these tickets were received the same as money by any
of the shops in the city, and on one occasion were counterfeited. Mr.
Young now has his own printing-office, and gets them up in a way not
easily imitated, nor does he issue them until just as the fruit begins
to ripen. He has, moreover, given authority to one man only to cash
these tickets. Thus there is little chance for rascality.

He also requires that no ticket shall be cashed until the fields have
all been picked over. Were it not for this regulation, the lazy and the
"bummers" would earn enough merely to buy a few drinks, then slink off.
Now they must remain until all are through before they can get a cent.
Peters and Harrison see to it that none are lying around in the shade,
and thus, through the compulsion of system, many, no doubt, are
surprised to find themselves at work for the greater part of the day.

And yet neither system nor Peters, with even his sanguinary reputation,
is able alone to control the hordes employed. Of course the very dregs
of the population are largely represented. Many go out on a "lark," not
a few to steal, and some with the basest purposes. Walking continually
back and forth through the fields, therefore, are two duly authorized
constables and their presence only prevents a great deal of crime.
Moreover, according to Virginian law, every landholder has the right to
arrest thieves and trespassers. Up to the time of our visit, five
persons had been arrested, and the fact that they were all white does
not speak very well for our color. The law of the state requires that
they shall be punished by so many lashes, according to the gravity of
the offence, and by imprisonment. The whipping-post is one of the
institutions, and man or woman, white or black, against whom the crime
of stealing is proved, is stripped to the waist and lashed upon the
bare back. Such ignominious punishment may prevent theft, but it must
tend to destroy every vestige of self-respect and pride in criminals,
and render them hopelessly reckless. Therefore, it should cease at once.

It must be admitted, however, that very little lawlessness was
apparent. In no instance have I received a rude word while travelling
in the South, while, on the other hand, the courtesy and kindness were
almost unstinted.

The negroes about Norfolk certainly do not wear an intimidated or
"bull-dozed" air.

"Git off my row, dar, or I'll bust yo' head open," shouted a tall,
strapping colored girl to a white man, and he got off her row with
alacrity.

Mr. Young says that the negro laborers are easily managed, and will
endure a great deal of severity if you deal "squarely" with them; but
if you wrong them out of even five cents, they will never forget it.
What's more, every citizen of "Blackville" will be informed of the
fact, for what one knows they all seem to know very soon.

We were not long in learning to regard the strawberry farm as a little
world within itself. It would be difficult to make the reader
understand its life and "go" at certain hours of the day. Scores are
coming and going; hundreds dot the fields; carts piled up with crates
are moving hither and thither. At the same time the regular toil of
cultivation is maintained. Back and forth between the young plants
mules are drawing cultivators, and following these come a score or two
women with light, sharp hoes. From the great crate manufactory is heard
the whir of machinery and the click of hammers; at intervals the smithy
sends forth its metallic voice, while from one centre of toil and
interest to another the proprietor whisks in his open buggy at a speed
that often seems perilous.

After all, Mr. Young's most efficient aid in his business was his
father (recently deceased). It gave me pleasure to note the frequency
and deference with which the senior's judgment wa& consulted, and I
also observed that wherever the old gentleman's umbrella was seen in
the field, all went well.

At four or five in the afternoon, the whole area would be picked over.
The fields would be left to meadow-larks and quails, whose liquid notes
well replaced the songs and cries of the pickers. Here and there a
mule-cart would come straggling in. By night, all signs of life were
concentrated around the barns and paying booth; but even from these one
after another would drift away to the city, till at last scarcely a
vestige of the hurry and business of the day would be left. The deep
hush and quiet that settled down on the scene was all the more
delightful from contrast. To listen to the evening wind among the
pines, to watch the sun drop below the spires of Norfolk, and see the
long shadows creep toward us; to let our thoughts flit whither they
would, like the birds about us, was all the occupation we craved at
this hour. Were we younger and more romantic, we might select this
witching time for a visit to an ancient grave in one of the strawberry
fields.

A mossy, horizontal slab marks the spot, and beneath it reposes the
dust of a young English officer. One bright June day--so the legend is
told--one hundred and sixteen years ago, this man, in the early summer
of his life, was killed in a duel.

Lingering here, through the twilight, until the landscape grows as
obscure as this rash youth's history, what fancies some might weave. As
the cause of the tragedy, one would scarcely fail to see among the
shadows the dim form and features of some old-time belle, whose smiles
had kindled the fierce passion that was here quenched, more than a
century since. Did she marry the rival, of surer aim and cooler head
and heart, or did she haunt this place with regretful tears? Did she
become a stout, prosaic woman, and end her days in whist and all the
ancient proprieties, or fade into a remorseful wraith that still haunts
her unfortunate lover's grave? One shivers, and grows superstitious.
The light twinkling from the windows of the cottage under the pines
becomes very attractive. As we fall asleep after such a visit, we like
to think of the meadow-larks singing on the mossy tombstone in the
morning.

Daring a rainy day, when driven from the field, we found plenty to
interest us in the printing-office, smithy, and especially in the huge
crate manufactory. Here were piled up coils of baskets that suggested
strawberries for a million supper-tables. Hour after hour the
mule-power engine drove saws, with teeth sharper than those of time,
through the pine boards that soon became crates for the round quart
baskets. These crates were painted green, marked with Mr. Young's name,
and piled to the lofty, cobwebbed ceiling.

But Saturday is the culminating period of the week. The huge plantation
has been gone over closely and carefully, for the morrow is Sunday, on
which day the birds are the only pickers. Around the office, crate
manufactory, and paying booth were gathered over a thousand people--a
motley and variegated crowd, that the South only can produce. The odd
and often coarse jargon, the infinite variety in appearance and
character, suggested again that humanity is a very tangled problem. The
shrewdness and accuracy, however, with which the most ignorant count
their tickets and reckon their dues on their fingers, is a trait
characteristic of all, and, having received the few shillings, which
mean a luxurious Sunday, they trudge off to town, chattering volubly,
whether any one listens or not.

But many can not resist the rollicking music back of the paying booth.
Three sable musicians form the orchestra, and from a bass viol, fiddle
and fife they extract melody that, with all its short-coming, would
make a deacon wish to dance. Any one, white or black, can purchase the
privilege of keeping step to the music for two cents, or one strawberry
ticket. Business was superb, and every shade of color and character was
represented. In the vernacular of the farm, the mulatto girls are
called "strawberry blondes," and one that would have attracted
attention anywhere was led out by a droll, full-blooded negro, who
would have made the fortune of a minstrel troupe. She was tall and
willowy. A profusion of dark hair curled about an oval face, not too
dark to prevent a faint color of the strawberry from glowing in her
cheeks. She wore neither hat nor shoes, but was as unembarrassed,
apparently, in her one close-fitting garment, as could be any ballroom
belle dressed in the latest mode. Another blonde, who sported torn
slippers and white stockings, was in danger of being spoiled by much
attention. As a rule, however, bare feet were nothing against a "lady"
in the estimation of the young men. At any rate, all who could spare a
berry ticket speedily found a partner, and, as we rode away from the
farm, the last sounds were those of music and merriment, and our last
glimpse was of the throng of dancers on the green.

The confused uproar and rush of business around the Old Dominion
steamship made a marked contrast. To the ample wharves every species of
vehicle had been coming all day, while all kinds of craft, from a skiff
to a large two-masted schooner, waiting their turn to discharge their
freight of berry crates and garden produce, reached half across the
Elizabeth river. The rumble of the trucks was almost like the roar of
thunder, as scores of negroes hustled crates, barrels and boxes aboard.
Most of the time they were on a good round trot, and one had to pick
his way with care; for, apparently, the truck was as thoughtful as the
trundler.

As the long twilight fades utterly into night, the last crate is
aboard. The dusky forms of the stevedores are seen in an old
pontoon-shaped boat on their way to Portsmouth, but their outlines, and
the melody of their rude song, are soon lost in the distance. The ship,
that has become like a huge section of Washington Market, casts off her
lines, and away we steam, diffusing on the night air the fragrance of a
thousand acres, more or less, of strawberries.

It was late in the night that followed the next day before we reached
New York, but on the great covered wharf, to which was given a noonday
glare by electric light, there was no suggestion of the darkness and
rain without. Various numbers, prominent on the sides of the building,
indicated the lines of transit and the commission houses to which the
immense, indiscriminate cargo was assigned. With a heavy jar and rumble
that would not cease till the ship was empty, a throng of white
laborers wheel each package to its proper place. Mr. Young's crates
soon grew into what seemed, in the distance, a good-sized mound. The
number above them stood for Eldridge & Carpenter, West Washington
Market. Thither we followed them the next morning, but found that the
most of them had already been scattered throughout the city, and
realized that the berries we had seen a few hours before on the
strawberry farm were even then on uptown breakfast-tables.




CHAPTER XVII

FORCING STRAWBERRIES UNDER GLASS


Trained gardeners need no instruction from me on this topic. There may
be those, however, who have never given the subject attention, and who
would be glad to learn some of the first principles of success in
forcing this fruit for market; while a still larger number, having
small conservatories and warm south windows, would be pleased to see a
few strawberries blossoming and ripening, as an earnest of the coming
June. There are no greater difficulties in the way than in having
flowers, for it is merely a question of doing the right thing at the
right time. I do not believe in a system of minute, arbitrary
directions, so much as in the clear statement of a few general
principles that will suggest what ought to be done. The strawberry
plant has the same character indoors as out, and this fact alone, in
view of what has been written, should suggest moisture, coolness,
light, and air. I shall endeavor to present, however, each successive
step.

First, prepare a compost of thoroughly rotted sods and the cleanings of
the cow-stable, in the proportion of three parts sod-mould to one of
manure. In the place of sods, decayed leaves, muck, sweetened by a
year's exposure to air and frost, or any good, rich loam will answer.
With this compost, made fine and clean by passing it through a coarse
sieve, fill in June, and not later than July, as many three-inch pots
as you desire; then sink them to their rims along the sides of the rows
from which you propose to obtain winter-bearing plants. Varieties best
adapted for forcing are those of a low, stocky growth, bearing perfect
flowers and sweet or high-flavored berries. I should say the Triomphe
de Gand was the best, and I observe that it and the La Constante, which
it closely resembles, are highly recommended abroad. The bush Alpines
are said to do finely, and I should think the Black Defiance would
answer well. Mr. Henderson speaks highly of the Champion, which,
however, must be grown with a perfect-flowered kind, since it is a
pistillate. From the parent row, guide the first runners so that they
will take root in the pots. Let each runner form but a single, strong
plant, which it will do in about two weeks, filling the pot with roots.
Then these plants, with their accompanying balls of earth interlaced
with roots, are ready to be shifted into pots of from six to eight
inches in diameter, which also should be filled with the compost
already described.

These larger pots should have three or four pieces of broken pottery in
the bottom for drainage. One plant to each pot is sufficient, and the
soil should be pressed firmly about the roots. The methods of growers
now differ somewhat, but all agree in seeking to promote a continuous
and healthy growth. It may be necessary to place the pots in a
half-shady position for a few days, till the effects of shifting are
over, and the roots have taken hold of the new soil. Then they should
stand in an open, airy position, close together, where they can receive
daily attention. Some recommend that they stand on boards, flagging, or
bricks, or a layer of coal ashes, since earth-worms are thus kept out;
others sink them in cold frames, where they can be protected somewhat
from excessive heat and drenching storms; while others, still, sink the
pots in the open ground, where it is convenient to care for and water
them. It is obvious that moisture must be steadily and continuously
maintained, and the plants be made to do their best until about the
first of October. After this, they should be watered very
sparingly--barely kept moist--since it is now our aim to ripen the
foliage and roots and induce a season of rest. At the same time, they
should not be permitted to dry out. About the first of November, an old
hot-bed pit can be filled with dry leaves and the pots plunged in them,
close together, up to their rims, and, as the season grows colder, the
tops can be covered, so as to prevent the earth in the pots from
freezing. The top of the pit can be covered with boards to keep out the
wet, but not so tightly as to exclude the air. Our aim is to keep the
plants dormant, and yet a little above freezing, and barely moist
enough to prevent the slightest shrivelling. Since it requires from ten
to fourteen weeks to mature the fruit under glass, it would be well to
subject some of the plants to heat early in October, so as to have ripe
berries at the holidays. They can thereafter be taken from the storage
place every two or three weeks, so as to secure a succession. By this
course, also, if a mishap befalls one lot of plants, there still remain
several chances for winter fruit.

In the forcing process, follow nature. The plants do not start suddenly
in spring, but gradually awaken into life. The weather, also, is
comparatively cool when they are blossoming. If these hints are not
taken in the green-house, there may be much promise but little fruit.
If the heat is turned on too rapidly when the plants begin to bloom,
the calyx and corolla will probably develop properly, but the stamens
will be destitute of pollen, while the pistils, the most complicated
part of the flower, and that which requires the longest time for
perfect formation, become "a mere tuft of abortions, incapable of
quickening, and shrivelling into pitch-black threads as soon as fully
in contact with the air." Let the conditions within-doors accord as far
as possible with those under the open sky. The roots require coolness,
continuous and evenly maintained moisture. One check from over-dryness
may cause serious and lasting injury. The foliage needs air and light
in abundance. Therefore the pots should be on shelves close to the
glass; otherwise the leaf and fruit stalks will be drawn and spindling.
If the pot can be shaded while the plant is in full light, all the
better. When first introduced, the temperature should not exceed 45
degrees or 50 degrees. Air must be freely admitted at all times, though
much less will suffice, of course, in cold than in warm weather. Watch
the foliage, and if it begins to grow long and without substance, give
more air and less heat. An average of 55 degrees to 70 degrees by day
may be allowed, and from 45 degrees to 50 degrees by night.

When the flower buds begin to open, the forcing must be conducted more
slowly and evenly, so as to give the delicate organs time to perfect;
but after the fruit is set, the heat can be increased till it
occasionally reaches 75 degrees at midday. After the fruit begins to
color, give less water--barely sufficient to prevent any check in
growth, and the fruit will be sweeter and ripen faster. The upper
blossoms may be pinched off, so as to throw the whole strength of the
plant into the lower berries. Keep off all runners; syringe the plants
if infested with the red spider, and if the aphis appears, fumigate him
with tobacco.

The plants that have fruited need not be thrown away as useless. If
they are turned out of the pots into rich, moist soil, in April, and
the runners are kept off all summer, they will make large, bushy
stools, which will give a fine crop in autumn.

The amateur, with a small conservatory or south window, by
approximating as far as possible to the conditions named, can achieve a
fair success. I have had plants do moderately well by merely digging
them from the beds late in the fall, with considerable rich earth
clinging to their roots, and then potting with more rich soil, and
forcing them at once. Of course, fine results cannot be expected from
such careless work, but _some_ strawberries can be raised with very
little trouble. If one, however, wished to go into the business on a
large and scientific scale, I would recommend a straw berry-house,
designed by Mr. William Ingram, gardener at Belvoir Castle. A figure of
the structure may be seen on page 74 in Mr. Fuller's valuable work,
"The Small Fruit Culturist." On the same principles that we have been
describing, the ripening of strawberries can be hastened by the use of
hot beds, cold frames, and ordinary sash.

During the Christmas holidays strawberries sell readily at from $4 to
$8 per quart, and handsome fruit brings high prices till March; but the
profit of raising them under glass threatens to diminish in future
years, since Florida berries begin to arrive freely even in February.
There are those who now seem to be doing well in the business of
forcing, if we may judge from the jealousy with which they guard the
open secrets of their calling from their neighbors.

A rough and ready method of forcing is to dig up clumps of plants
during a mild spell in winter or early spring, put them in boxes or
pots of rich earth, and take them into the green-house. Considerable
fruit is sometimes ripened in this way.

An English writer says: "We find forced strawberries mentioned as being
served at an installation dinner, April 23d, 1667; but the idea had
already occurred to the great Lord Bacon, who writes, 'As we have
housed the exotics of hot countries, so we may house our natives to
forward them, and thus have violets, strawberries, and pease all
winter.'"




CHAPTER XVIII

ORIGINATING NEW VARIETIES--HYBRIDIZATION


This chapter introduces us to great diversities of opinion, and to
still greater differences in experience; and I fear that I shall leave
the subject as indefinite as I find it. The scientist best versed in
botany and the laws of heredity can here find a field that would tax
his best skill for a lifetime, and yet a child may amuse himself with
raising new kinds; and it would not be impossible that, through some
lucky combination of nature, the latter might produce a variety that
would surpass the results of the learned man's labor. As in most other
activities of life, however, the probabilities are on the side of skill
and continuous effort.

We have already shown that all the seeds of the _F. Virginiana_ and _F.
Chilensis may_ produce a new variety. These seedlings often closely
resemble the parent or parents, and sometimes are practically identical
with one of them; more often they present distinct differences. It is
wholly impossible to predict the character of seedlings as they usually
are produced. If we could obtain pure specimens of the two great
species, and cross them, the element of chance would not enter into the
result so largely as must be the case when seed is gathered in our
gardens. The pedigrees of but few varieties are known, and in many
instances the two great races are so mingled that we can only guess
which element predominates, by the behavior and appearance of the
plants. The kinds with which we start are hybrids, and, as Mr. A. S.
Fuller sagaciously remarks, "Hybridizing, or crossing hybrids, is only
mixing together two compounds, the exact proportions of neither being
known." Therefore, the inevitable element of chance. Disagreeable
traits and shiftless ways of strawberry grandparents and
great-grandparents may develop themselves in a seedling produced by the
union of two first-class varieties. At the same time it is possible
that fine ancestral qualities may also assert themselves. The chance
seedling, which comes up in a garden where good varieties have been
raised, may prove a prize. The Forest Rose was found growing in a
vineyard. If we propose to raise seedlings, however, we will, of
course, select seeds from the best fruit of fine varieties, even in our
first and most rudimental efforts. Before making any serious or
prolonged attempt to originate new varieties, it would be well to
familiarize ourselves with certain principles, and gather experience
from the successes and failures of others. We have seen that the _F.
Virginiana_ is the native species of the eastern section of our
continent, and that its vigor and hardiness best adapt it to our
extremes of climate. It were best to start, therefore, with the most
vigorous strains and varieties of this hardy species. It is true that
fine results can be obtained from crossing varieties of the _F.
Chilensis_ with our native species--the President Wilder proves
this--but few of such products are adapted to the country at large, and
they will be almost sure to falter on light soils. We will achieve our
best success in developing our native species. By observation, careful
reading of the horticultural journals, and by correspondence, the
propagator can learn what varieties show vigor and productiveness
throughout a wide range of country, and in great diversities of soil
and climate. These sturdy kinds, that seem bent on doing well
everywhere, should be the robust forefathers of the strawberries of the
future. Starting with these, we are already well on the way toward the
excellence we hope to attain. The pith of our difficulty now is to make
any further advance. How can we surpass that superb group of berries
that prove their excellence year after year?

As Mr. Durand well puts it, new varieties, to be of value, should
produce berries that "measure from four to eight inches in
circumference, of good form, color and flavor; very large specimens are
not expected to be perfect in form, yet those of medium size should
always be. The calyx should never be imbedded in the flesh, which
should be sufficiently firm to carry well, and withstand all changes of
our variable climate. The texture should be fine, flesh rich, with a
moderate amount of acid--no more than just sufficient to make it
palatable with sugar as a table berry. The plant should be hardy,
vigorous, large, and strong; of great endurance as to climatic change,
and able to stand any amount of manure of the right kind. It should be
a prolific bearer, with stalks of sufficient length to keep the fruit
out of the dirt, and bear its berries of nearly uniform size to the
end. Any serious departure from such necessary qualities would be fatal
to any new variety."

What is the use of spending time on varieties that do not possess these
good qualities, or many of them, so pre-eminently that they supersede
those already in our gardens? Shall I root out the Charles Downing,
Seth Boyden, and Monarch, and replace them with inferior kinds because
they are new? That is what we have been doing too extensively. But if,
in very truth, varieties can be originated that do surpass the best we
now have, then both common-sense and self-interest should lead to their
general cultivation. I believe that honest and intelligent effort can
secure a continued advance in excellence which will probably be slow,
but may be sure.

The public, however, will suffer many disappointments, and every year
will buy thousands of some extravagantly praised and high-priced new
variety, in hope of obtaining the ideal strawberry; and they so often
get a good thing among the blanks that they seem disposed to continue
indefinitely this mild form of speculation. In the final result merit
asserts itself, and there is a survival of the fittest. The process of
winnowing the wheat from the chaff is a costly one to many, however, I
have paid hundreds of dollars for varieties that I now regard as little
better than weeds. From thorough knowledge of the best kinds already in
cultivation, the propagator should not impose any second-rate kind on
the public. And yet the public, or the law which the public sustains,
renders this duty difficult. If a man invents a peculiar nutmeg-grater,
his patent protects him; but if he discovers, or originates, a fruit
that enriches the world, any one who can get it, by fair means or foul,
may propagate and sell to all. To reap any advantages, the originator
must put his seedling, which may have cost him years of effort, into
the market before it is fully and widely tested. If he sends it for
trial to other localities, there is much danger of its falling into
improper hands. The variety may do splendidly in its native garden, and
yet not be adapted to general cultivation. This fact, which might have
been learned by trial throughout the country before being sent out, if
there was protective law, is learned afterward, to the cost of the
majority who buy. In view of the above considerations, it is doubtful
whether the pecuniary reward will often repay for the time, trouble,
and expense which is usually required to produce a variety worthy of
general introduction. Other motives than money must actuate. As Mr.
Durand once said, when so perplexed by the difficulties and
complications of his labor, and so disheartened by the results that he
was inclined to throw down the burden, "There is a fascination that
binds me still." In other words, he was engaged in one of the divinest
forms of alchemy.

Having procured the vigorous stock from which we hope to obtain still
stronger and more productive varieties, we may go to work several ways.
We may plant our choice varieties in close proximity, and let the bees
and summer gales do the hybridizing. It will be remembered that the
organs of procreation in the perfect strawberry blossom are the pistils
on the convex receptacle and the encircling stamens. The anthers of the
latter produce a golden powder, so light that it will float on a summer
breeze, and so fine that insects dust themselves with it and carry it
long distances. When this dust, which is called pollen, comes in
contact with the stigma of a pistil, it imparts the power of
development both to the seed and that which sustains it--the receptacle
which is eventually transformed into the juicy pulp. If the pistils are
not fertilized, there will be no strawberries, as well as no seeds.
Perfect-flowering varieties, therefore, are self-fertilizing. There are
stamens and pistils in the same flower, and the pollen from the former
impregnates the latter. In view of this fact, the probabilities are all
against success in obtaining an improved variety. While the pollen
_may_ pass from one perfect-flowering kind to another, and produce a
seed which will give a new combination, the chances of
self-fertilization, and that, in consequence, the seeds will produce
degenerate and somewhat varying counterparts of the parent, are so
great that it is a waste of time to plant them. There is little to be
hoped, therefore, from the seed of perfect-flowering kinds left to
nature's influences.

In this country, we have pistillate varieties, or those that are wholly
destitute of stamens. Mr. Fuller says that, for some reason, they do
not originate abroad. It is obvious that, with these pistillates, we
can attain a direct cross with some staminate or perfect-flowering
variety; but if our pistillates grow openly in the garden, near several
staminates, the seeds sown may have been fertilized by the poorest of
them, or by pollen from wild strawberries, brought by the wind or
insects. It is all haphazard work, and we can only guess at the
parentage of the seedlings. There is no skilful combination of good
qualities, such as the stock farmer makes when he mingles good blood.
Gathering the seed, therefore, in our gardens, even under the most
favorable auspices, is the veriest game of hazard, with nearly all the
chances against us; and yet superb varieties are occasionally procured
in this way. Indeed, as we have seen, they sometimes come up
themselves, and assert their merit wholly unaided. By such methods,
however, the propagator has not one chance in thousands, as much
experience shows.

We are, therefore, led to isolate our plants, and to seek intelligently
and definitely to unite the good qualities of two distinct varieties.
If they have no pistillate plants abroad, they must remove all the
stamens from some perfect flower before they are sufficiently developed
to shed their pollen, and then fertilize the pistils with the stamens
of the other variety whose qualities they wish to enter into the
combination. There is no need of our doing this, for it involves much
trouble and care at best, and then we are always haunted by the fear
that the stamens were not removed in time, or so completely as to
prevent self-fertilization. With such pistillate varieties as the
Golden Defiance, Champion, Spring-dale, and Crescent, we have as robust
motherhood as we require.

In order to present to the reader the most approved systems of
hybridization, I will give the methods of two gentlemen who are among
the best known in relation to this subject.

The late Mr. Seth Boyden won world-wide celebrity by his success, and
the berry named after him will perpetuate his memory for many years to
come. When grown under the proper conditions, it presents a type of
excellence still unsurpassed.

Mr. Boyden's neighbor, Mr. Ogden Brown, of Hilton, N. J., writes to me
as follows:

"My method of raising seedlings is the one practiced by Mr. Boyden. In
August I set the plants from which I wish to secure new combinations in
a plot of ground the size of my glass frame, and in early spring set
the frame over them, so that the plants may blossom before any others.
Thus, no mixture from the pollen of outside plants can take place, for
none are in bloom save those in the frame. The plants within the frame
are two or three pistillate plants, all of one good variety like the
Champion; and three or four superior, perfect-flowering kinds, any one
of which, I think, will make a good combination with the pistillate
variety. The seeds from the pistillate only are used, and when the
fruit is ripened, these seeds are slightly dried and placed between two
pieces of ice for about two weeks. I then put them in pure sand,
wrapped up in a wet rag, and keep them sufficiently near the fire to
preserve constant warmth until the germs are ready to burst forth. I
then sow the seeds in a bed of finely riddled rich earth, and cover
with boards about six inches from the soil. This is to prevent the sun
from drying the ground. Plants thus raised will be sufficiently large
to set in the fruiting-bed in September. In the fifteen years that I
was acquainted with Mr. Boyden, I never knew him to fail in raising
fruit from these plants the following summer. I do not know that Mr.
Boyden's method has been improved upon."

Mr. J. M. Merrick, Jr., recommends this same isolation of the
pistillate plant under glass.

It should be distinctly understood that while several perfect-flowering
plants may be placed under the sash with a pistillate, the pollen of
only one of these can fertilize a pistil. Mixing pollen from different
kinds will never produce in a seedling the qualities of three or more
varieties. The seedling is the product of two kinds only. Inclosing the
plants in a frame ensures that all the pistils are fertilized by one or
the other of the perfect-flowered varieties that are so fine as to
promise a better combination of excellence than yet exists. The
appearance of the seedling will probably show which of the kinds formed
the combination, but often there would be uncertainty on this point, I
think.

Mr. E. W. Durand, who sent out the Black Defiance, Great American,
Beauty, Pioneer, and several others, claims that the "true method is to
propagate by pairs, each parent possessing certain distinctive
features." "My course," he writes, in a paper read before the N. J.
State Horticultural Society, "is to select my pistillates after years
of trial, subject them to severe tests, and place alongside of each
such a staminate as I think will harmonize and produce a certain
desired effect. Another pistillate plant, of the same variety, is
placed far away from the last, with a different staminate, and so on,
till I exhaust the staminates or perfect-flowering kinds that I wish to
test with that pistillate variety. Of late years, I have used but two
or three kinds of pistillate plants, and they are a combination of
excellence. I never show them to my most intimate friends, and the
public know nothing about them. The years of trial and experiment
necessary to produce such plants must necessarily discourage a
beginner; yet it is the only course that will lead to success."

I think that Mr. Durand takes too gloomy a view of the subject, and I
can see no reason why any one starting with such pistillates as the
Golden Defiance, Champion, and others, may not originate a variety
superior to any now in existence. At the same time, I must caution
against over-sanguine hopes. Mr. Durand states the interesting fact
that he generally produces 3,000 new varieties annually, and including
the year 1876, he had already originated about 50,000 seedlings. While
some of these have already secured great celebrity, like the Great
American, I do not know of one that promises to maintain a continued
and national popularity. I regard his old Black Defiance and the later
Pioneer as his best seedlings, so far as I have seen them. Very many
others do not have even his success. We may have to experiment for
years before we obtain a seedling worth preserving; nevertheless, in
the heart of each propagator lurks the hope that he may draw the prize
of prizes.

I will close this chapter with a few simple and practical suggestions.
It is not necessary to place the seeds in ice. They may be sown in
July, in rich soil, rendered fine and mellow, and in a half-shady
position; and the surface should be kept moist by watering, and a
sprinkling of a little very fine compost, that will prevent the ground
from baking. Some of the seeds will germinate that season, more will
come up the following spring. Or, they may be started in a cold frame
under glass, and hastened in their growth so that good-sized plants are
ready for the fruiting-bed by September. Mr. Durand plants his seed in
the spring, and the seedlings bear the following year. The plants
should be set eighteen inches apart each way in the fruiting-bed. When
they blossom, note and mark all the pistillates as such. Those that
grow feebly, and whose foliage scalds or burns in the sun, root out at
once. The Spartan law of death to the feeble and deformed should be
rigorously enforced in the fruit garden. The first year of fruiting
will satisfy you that the majority of seedlings are to be thrown away.
Those that give special promise should be lifted with a large ball of
earth, and planted where they may be kept pure from mixture, and given
further trial. Remember that a seedling may do better the first year
than ever after, and that only a continued and varied trial can prove
its worth. All runners should be kept off, unless the ground is
infested with grubs, and there is danger of losing a promising variety
of which we have but one specimen. If so fortunate as to raise superior
seedlings, test them side by side, and under the same conditions with
the best kinds in existence, before calling to them public attention.
Try them, also, in light and heavy soils; and, if possible, send them
to trusted friends who will subject them to varied climates in widely
separated localities. If, however, you find them vigorous and
productive on the light, poor soil of your own place, you may hope much
for them elsewhere. No berry will be generally popular that requires
much petting. I only state this as a fact. In my opinion, some
varieties are so superb in size and flavor that they deserve high
culture, and well repay it.

It is a question whether, except for the purposes of propagation,
pistillate varieties should be preserved and sent out. Mr. Fuller and
others take ground against them, and their views are entitled to great
respect, but with such kinds as the Golden Defiance and Champion in my
garden, I am not prepared to condemn them. One objection urged against
them is that many purchase a single variety, and, should it prove a
pistillate, they would have no fruit. They would not deserve any, if
they gave the subject so little attention. Every fruit catalogue states
which are pistillates, and their need of a perfect-flowering kind near
them. Again, it is urged that this necessary proximity of two kinds
leads to mixtures. It need not, and, with the plant grower, can only
result from gross carelessness. The different beds may be yards apart.
In order to secure thorough fertilization, it is not at all necessary
to plant so near that the two kinds can run together. In a large field
of pistillates, every tenth row should be of a staminate, blossoming at
the same time with the pistillate. The Kentucky seedling is a
first-class staminate, but it should not be used to fertilize the
Crescent, since the latter would almost be out of bloom before the
former began to blossom. Plant early pistillates with early staminates,
and late with late.

Many ask me: "Do strawberries mix by being planted near each other?"
They mix only by running together, so that you can scarcely distinguish
the two kinds; but a Wilson plant will produce Wilson runners to the
end of time; and were one plant surrounded by a million other
varieties, it would still maintain the Wilson characteristics. It is
through the seeds, and seeds only, that one variety has any appreciable
effect upon another. Many have confused ideas on this point.

A man brought to the Centennial Exhibition, at Philadelphia, a pot of
strawberries that attracted great attention, for the fruit was
magnificent. I suggested to him that it resembled the Jucunda, and he
said that it was a cross between that berry and the Seth Boyden. This
was a combination that promised so well that I went twenty miles, on a
very hot day, to see his bed, and found that the crossing was simply
the interlacing of the runners of the two distinct varieties, and that
I could tell the intermingled Jucunda and Boyden plants apart at a
glance. Such crossing would make no marked change in varieties if
continued for centuries.

The enemies and diseases of the strawberry will be grouped in a general
chapter on these subjects.




CHAPTER XIX

RASPBERRIES--SPECIES, HISTORY, PROPAGATION, ETC.


I have given the greater part of this volume to the subject of
strawberries, not only because it is the most popular fruit, but also
for the reason that the principles of thorough preparation of the soil,
drainage, culture, etc., apply equally to the other small fruits. Those
who have followed me carefully thus far can soon master the conditions
of success which apply to the fruits still to be treated. I shall now
consider a fruit which is only second in value, and, by many, even
preferred to all the others.

Like the strawberry, the raspberry is well connected, since it, also,
belongs to the Rose family. It has a perennial root, producing biennial
woody stems that reach a height of from three to six feet. Varieties,
however, differ greatly in this respect. Usually, the stems or canes do
not bear until the second year, and that season ends their life, their
place being taken by a new growth from the root. The flowers are white
or red, very unobtrusive, and rich in sweetness. The discriminating
bees forsake most other flowers while the raspberry blossoms last. The
pistils on the convex receptacle mature into a collection of small
drupes, or stone fruits, of the same character as the cherry, plum,
etc., and the seeds within the drupes are miniature pits. These drupes
adhere together, forming round or conical caps, which will drop from
the receptacle when over-ripe. I have seen the ground covered with the
fruit of certain varieties, when picking has been delayed.

All peoples seem to have had a feeling sense of the spines, or thorns
of this plant, as may be gathered from its name in different languages;
the Italian term is _Raspo_, the Scotch _Raspis_, and the German
_Kratsberre_, or Scratchberry.

The Greeks traced the raspberry to Mount Ida, and the original bush may
have grown in the shadowy glade where the "Shepherd Alexandre," _alias_
Paris, son of Priam, King of Troy, gave his fateful decision in favor
of Venus. Juno and Minerva undoubtedly beguiled the time, while the
favored goddess presented her claims, by eating the fruit, and perhaps
enhanced their competitive beauty by touching their cheeks with an
occasional berry. At any rate, the raspberry of the ancients is _Rubus
Idoeus_.

The elder Pliny, who wrote not far from 45 A.D., states that the Greeks
distinguished the raspberry bramble by the term "_Idoea_," and, like so
many other Grecian ideas, it has found increasing favor ever since. Mr.
A. S. Fuller, one of the best-read authorities on these subjects,
writes that "Paladius, a Roman agricultural author who flourished in
the fourth century, mentions the raspberry as one of the cultivated
fruits of his time." It thus appears that it was promoted to the garden
long before the strawberry was so honored.

While it is true that the raspberry in various forms is found wild
throughout the continent, and that the ancient gardeners in most
instances obtained their supply of plants in the adjacent fields or
forests, the late Mr. A. J. Downing is of the opinion that the
large-fruited varieties are descendants of the "Mount Ida Bramble," and
from that locality were introduced into the gardens of southern Europe.

In America, two well-known and distinct species are enriching our
gardens and gracing our tables with their healthful fruit. We will
first name _R. Strigosus_, or the wild red raspberry, almost as dear to
our memory as the wild strawberry. It grows best along the edge of
woodlands and in half-shadowy places that seem equally adapted to
lovers' rambles.

Nature, too, in a kindly mood, seems to have scattered the seeds of
this fruit along the roadside, thus fringing the highway in dusty, hot
July with ambrosial food. Professor Gray thus describes the native red
species: "_R. Strigosus_, Wild Bed E. Common, especially North; from
two to three feet high; the upright stems, stalks, etc., beset with
copious bristles, and some of them becoming weak prickles, also
glandular; leaflets oblong-ovate, pointed, cut-serrate, white-downy
beneath, the lateral ones (either one or two pairs) not stalked; petals
as long as the sepals; fruit light-red, tender and watery, but high
flavored, ripening all summer."

The second great American species, _R. Occidentals_, will be described
hereafter. Since this book is not designed to teach botany, I shall not
refer to the other species--_R. Triflorus, R. Odoratus, R. Nutkanno_,
etc.--which are of no practical value, and, for the present, will
confine myself to the propagation and cultivation of _R. Idoeus_ and
_R. Strigosus_, and their seedlings.

PROPAGATION

Usually, varieties of these two species throw up suckers from the roots
in sufficient abundance for all practical purposes, and these young
canes from between the hills or rows are, in most instances, the plants
of commerce, and the means of extending our plantations. But where a
variety is scarce, or the purpose is to increase it rapidly, we can dig
out the many interlacing roots that fill the soil between the hills,
cut them into two-inch pieces, and each may be developed within a year
into a good plant. Fall is the best season for making root cuttings,
and it can be continued as late as the frost permits. My method is to
store the roots in a cellar, and cut them from time to time, after
out-of-door work is over. I have holes bored in the bottom of a box to
ensure drainage, spread over it two inches of moist (not wet) earth,
then an inch layer of the root cuttings, a thin layer of earth again,
then cuttings until the box is full. If the cellar is cool and free
from frost, the cuttings may be kept there until spring; or the boxes
containing them can be buried so deeply on a dry knoll in a garden as
to be below frost. Leaves piled above them ensure safety. Make sure
that the boxes are buried where no water can collect either on or
beneath the surface. Before new roots can be made by a cutting, a
whitish excrescence appears at both its ends, called the callus, and
from this the rootlets start out. This essential process goes on
throughout the winter, and therefore the advantage of making cuttings
in the fall. Occasionally, in the fall, we may obtain a variety that we
are anxious to increase, in which case some of the roots may be taken
off for cuttings before setting out the plants.

These little root-slips may be sown, as one would sow peas, early in
the spring as soon as the ground is dry enough to work. A plot of rich,
moist land should be chosen, and the soil made mellow and fine, as if
for seed; drills should then be opened eighteen inches apart, two
inches deep on heavy land, and three inches deep on light. The cuttings
must now be dropped three inches from each other in the little furrows,
the ground levelled over them and firmed, which is best done by walking
on a board laid on the covered drill, or else by the use of a garden
roller. If the entire cutting-bed were well sprinkled with fine
compost, and then covered so lightly--from one quarter to half an
inch--with a mulch of straw that the shoots could come through it
without hindrance, scarcely a cutting would fail. Unfailing moisture,
without wetness, is what a cutting requires.

Roots may be divided into half-inch bits, if forced under glass, and in
this way nurserymen often speedily provide themselves with large stocks
of very scarce varieties. The cuttings are placed in boxes of sand
until the callus forms, and little buds appear on the surface of the
roots, for which processes about five weeks are required. They are then
sown in shallow boxes containing about three inches of soil, formed of
equal parts of sand and decayed leaves, and subjected to the heat of
the green-house. When they have formed plants from three to five inches
high, they may be potted, if very valuable; or, if the weather is warm
enough, they can be transplanted at once into the open nursery-bed, as
one would a strawberry plant. I have set out many thousands in this
way, only aiming to keep a little earth clinging to the roots as I took
them from the shallow box. Plants grown from cuttings are usually
regarded as the best; but if a sucker plant is taken up with fibrous
roots, 1 should regard it as equally good.

If we wish to try our fortune in originating new varieties, we gather
the largest and earliest berries, dry them, and plant the seeds the
following spring; or we may separate the seeds from the pulp by
expressing it and mixing them with dry sand, until they are in a
condition to be sown evenly in a sheltered place at once. As with
strawberries, they should be raked lightly into moist, rich soil, the
surface of which should not be allowed to become dry and hard. The
probabilities are that they will germinate early in the spring and
produce canes strong enough to bear the second year. If the seed is
from a kind that can not endure frost, the young plant should receive
thorough winter protection. There is nothing better than a covering of
earth. In the spring of the second year, cut the young plant down to
the ground, and it will send up a strong, vigorous cane, whose
appearance and fruit will give a fair suggestion of its value the third
year. Do not be sure of a prize, even though the berries are superb and
the new variety starts off most vigorously. Let me give a bit of
experience. In a fine old garden, located in the centre of the city of
Newburgh, N. Y., my attention was attracted by the fruit of a raspberry
bush whose roots were so interlaced with those of a grapevine that they
could not be separated. It scarcely seemed to have a fair chance to
live at all, and yet it was loaded with the largest and most delicious
red raspberries that I had then ever seen. It was evidently a chance,
and very distinct seedling. I obtained from Mr. T. H. Roe, the
proprietor of the garden, permission to propagate the variety, and in
the autumn removed a number of the canes to my place at Cornwall. My
first object was to learn whether it was hardy, and therefore not the
slightest protection was given the canes at Newburgh, nor even to those
removed to my own place, some of which were left four feet high for the
sake of this test. The winter that followed was one of the severest
known; the mercury sank to 30 degrees below zero, but not a plant at
either locality was injured; and in the old garden a cane fourteen feet
long, that rested on the grape-arbor, was alive to the tip, and in July
was loaded with the most beautiful fruit I had ever seen. It was
un-injured by the test of another winter, and all who saw and tasted
the fruit were enthusiastic in its praise. The Massachusetts
Horticultural Society awarded it their first premium, and Mr. Charles
Downing said it was the finest red raspberry he had ever seen. The
veteran horticulturist, Mr. Wm. Parry, who has had between forty and
fifty years of experience in small fruits, visited my place that
summer. The bushes he saw had never received any protection, and had
already been three weeks in bearing, but they were still full of fruit.
After picking several berries that measured plump three inches in
circumference, he said, quietly, "Put me down for 500 plants." In no
other way could he have stated his favorable opinion more emphatically.
It was as delicious as it was large and beautiful, and surely I was
reasonable in expecting for it a brilliant future. In my faith I
planted it largely myself, expecting to make it my main dependence as a
market berry. But in August of that year many of the canes lost their
foliage. Those that thus suffered were not entirely hardy the following
winter. It was eventually made clear that it belonged to the tender
_Rubus Idoeua_ class, and, therefore, was not adapted to general
cultivation, especially on light soils, and under sunny skies. As I
have shown, its start was so full of vigor and promise that it won the
favor and confidence of the horticultural veterans; but it suddenly
manifested lack of stamina and sturdy persistence in well-doing. And
this is just the trouble which every experienced propagator dreads.
Only after years of test and trial in many localities can he be assured
that his seedling may become a standard variety.

If this chance seedling, the Pride of the Hudson, is given a moist soil
in some half-shady location, it will yield fruit that will delight the
amateur's heart, but, like Brinkle's Orange, which it resembles in
flavor, only amateurs will give it the petting it requires.

As suggested when treating the strawberry, so in seeking to originate
new varieties of raspberries, our aim should be to develop our hardy
native species, the _R. Strigosus_, and if we employ the _R. Idoeus_
class for parentage on one side, seek its most vigorous
representatives, such as the Belle de Fontenay and Franconia.

CHOICE OF LAND--ITS PREPARATION--PLANTING

All that has been said about the thorough preparation of the soil for
strawberries, by drainage, deep plowing, trenching, etc., applies to
raspberries, but differences should be noted in respect to fertilizers.
Land can scarcely be made too rich for any variety of strawberries, but
certain strong-growing raspberries, like the Cuthbert, Herstine, and
Turner, should not be over-fertilized. Some kinds demand good, clean
culture, rather than a richness that would cause too great a growth of
cane and foliage. In contrast, the feebler growing kinds, like the
Brandywine, and most of the foreign varieties, require abundance of
manure. Muck, sweetened by lime and frost is one of the simplest and
best; but anything will answer that is not too full of heat and
ferment. Like the strawberry, the raspberry needs cool manures that
have "staying" qualities. Unlike the former fruit, however, the
raspberry does well in partial shade, such as that furnished by the
northern side of a fence, hedge, etc., by a pear or even apple orchard,
if the trees still permit wide intervals of open sky. The red
varieties, especially those of the foreign types much prefer moist,
heavy soils; but the black-caps do quite as well on light ground, if
moisture can be maintained. The latter, also, can be grown farther
south than any other species, but below the latitude of New York, those
containing foreign elements begin to fail rapidly, until, at last, a
point is reached where even the most vigorous native red varieties
refuse to live. If the climate, however, is tempered by height above
the sea, as in the mountains of Georgia, they will thrive abundantly.

[Illustration: SPRING AND FALL PLANTS]

I prefer fall planting for raspberries, especially in southern
latitudes, for these reasons: At the points where the roots branch (see
Fig. A) are buds which make the future stems or canes. In the fall,
these are dormant, small, and not easily broken off, as in Fig. B; but
they start early in spring, and if planting is delayed, these become so
long and brittle that the utmost care can scarcely save them, If rubbed
off, the development of good bearing canes is often deferred a year,
although the plants may live and fill the ground with roots. The more
growth a raspberry plant has made when set out in spring, the greater
the probability that it will receive a check, from which it will never
recover.

[Illustration: WINTER PROTECTION OF NEWLY SET PLANTS]

I have often planted in May and June, successfully, by taking up the
young suckers when from six inches to a foot high, and setting them
where they are to grow. Immediately on taking them up, I cut them back
so that only one or two laches of the green cane is left, and thus the
roots are not taxed to sustain wood and foliage beyond their power.
This can often be done to advantage, when the plants are on one's own
place, and in moist, cloudy weather. My preference, however, is to
plant the latter part of October and through November, in well-prepared
and enriched land. The holes are made quite deep and large, and the
bottom filled with good surface soil. If possible, before planting,
plow and cross-plow deeply, and have a subsoiler follow in each furrow.
It should be remembered that we are preparing for a crop which may
occupy the land for ten or fifteen years, and plants will suffer from
every drought if set immediately on a hard subsoil. On heavy land, I
set the plants one inch deeper than they were before; on light soils
two or three inches deeper. I cut the canes off six inches above the
surface (see Fig. C); for leaving long canes is often ruinous, and a
plant is frequently two or three years in recovering from the strain of
trying to produce fruit the first year. The whole strength of the roots
should go toward producing bearing canes for the season following; and
to stimulate such growth, I throw directly on the hill one or two
shovelfuls of finely rotted compost and then mound the earth over the
hill until the cane is wholly covered (as in Fig. D). This prevents all
injury from the winter's cold. When severe frosts are over, the mound
is levelled down again. Under this system, I rarely lose plants, and
usually find that double growth is made compared with those set _late_
in spring. I have always succeeded well, however, in _early_ spring
planting; and well to the north, this is, perhaps, the safer season.
With the exception of mounding the earth over the hill, plant in March
or April as I have already directed.

CULTIVATION

In cultivation, keep the ground level; do not let it become banked up
against the hills, as is often the case, especially with those tender
varieties that are covered with earth every winter. Keep the surface
clean and mellow by the use of the cultivator and hoe. With the
exception of from four to six canes in the hill, treat all suckers as
weeds, cutting them down while they are little, before they have sucked
half the life out of the bearing hill. Put a shovelful or two of good
compost--any fertilizer is better than none--around the hills or along
the rows, late in the fall, and work it lightly in with a fork if there
is time. The autumn and winter rains will carry it down to the roots,
giving almost double vigor and fruitfulness the following season. If
the top-dressing is neglected in the autumn, be sure to give it as
early in the spring as possible, and work it down toward the roots.
Bone-dust, ashes, poudrette, barnyard manure, and muck with lime can be
used alternate years, so as to give variety of plant food, and a
plantation thus sustained can be kept twenty years or more; but under
the usual culture, vigor begins to fail after the eighth or tenth
season. The first tendency of most varieties of newly set red
raspberries is to sucker immoderately; but this gradually declines,
even with the most rampant, and under good culture the fruiting
qualities improve.

In dry weather the fork should not be used during the growing or
bearing season. The turning down of a stratum of dry, hot soil next to
the roots must cause a sudden check and injury from which only a
soaking rain can bring full relief. But in moist weather, and periods
preceding and following the blossoming and fruiting season, I have
often used the fork to advantage, especially if there is a sod of
short, succulent weeds to be turned under as a green crop. If the
ground between the hills was stirred frequently with an iron
garden-rake, the weeds would not have a chance to start. This is by far
the best and cheapest way of maintaining our part in the unceasing
conflict with vegetable evil. An Irish bull hits the truth exactly: the
best way to fight weeds is to have none to fight; and raking the ground
over on a sunny day, about once a week, destroys them when they are as
yet but germinating seeds. At the same time it opens the pores of the
earth, as a physiologist might express himself. Unfailing moisture is
maintained, air, light, and heat are introduced to the roots in
accordance with Nature's taste, and the whole strength of the mellow
soil goes to produce only that which is useful. But this teaching is
like the familiar and sound advice, "Form no bad habits." We do form
them; the weeds do get the start of us; and therefore, as a practical
fact, the old moral and physical struggle must go on until the end of
time.




CHAPTER XX

RASPBERRIES--PRUNING--STAKING--MULCHING--WINTER PROTECTION, ETC.


Usually, there is no pruning either in the field or the garden beyond
the cutting out of the old canes and the shortening in of the new
growth. There is a difference of opinion as to whether the old canes
should be cut out immediately after fruiting, or left to natural decay,
and removed the following fall or spring. I prefer the former course.
It certainly is neater, and I think I have seen increased growth in the
young canes, for which more room is made, and to whose support the
roots can give their whole strength. The new growth can make foliage
fast enough to develop the roots; still, I have not experimented
carefully, and so cannot speak accurately. We see summer pruning often
advocated on paper, but I have rarely met it in practice. If carefully
done at the proper season, however, much can be accomplished by it in
the way of making strong, stocky plants, capable of standing
alone--plants full of lateral branches, like little trees, that will be
loaded with fruit. But this summer pinching back must be commenced
early, while the new, succulent growth is under full headway, and
continued through the busiest season, when strawberries are ripe and
harvest is beginning. It should not be done after the cane has
practically made its growth, or else the buds that ought to remain
dormant until the following season are started into a late and feeble
growth that does not ripen before the advent of early frosts. Few have
time for pruning in May or June. If they have, let them try it by all
means, especially on the black-cap species. It does not require so much
time as it does prompt action at the proper period of growth. In the
garden, summer pinching can transform a raspberry bush into an
ornamental shrub as beautiful as useful. It is much better adapted to
the hardier varieties than to those that must be bent down and covered
with earth. With the _R. Occidentalis_ species, summer pinching would
always pay well. The best I can do, usually, with the red varieties, is
to prune in November and March; it should be done before the buds
develop. Unless early fruit is wanted, I believe in cutting back
heroically. Nature once gave me a very useful hint. One very cold
winter, a row of Clarke raspberries was left unprotected. The canes
were four or five feet high, but were killed down to the snow-level, or
within eighteen inches of the ground; but from what was left uninjured,
we had as many and far finer berries than were gathered from other rows
where the canes had been left their full length and protected by a
covering of earth. The fruit was later, however. I would remind careful
observers of the raspberry how often buds on canes that have been
broken off or cut away back develop into long sprays, enormously
fruitful of the largest berries. I have counted fifty, and even eighty,
berries on a branch that had grown from a single bud within one or two
feet of the ground. These lower buds often do not start at all when the
canes are left their full, or nearly their full length. In the latter
case the fruit ripens much earlier and more together; and since an
early crop, though inferior in quality and quantity, may be more
valuable than a late one, the fruit grower often objects to pruning.
But in the garden, while the canes of some early kinds are left their
full length, I would recommend that others, especially those of the
later varieties, be cut back one-half. Even for market purposes I
believe that the superb fruit resulting from such pruning would bring
more money in most instances. At any rate, the season of bearing would
be greatly prolonged.

_Mulching_ on a large scale would not pay in most localities. In
regions where salt hay, flags, etc., can be cut in abundance, or where
straw is so plenty as to be of little value, it no doubt could be
applied profitably. On Staten Island I have seen large patches mulched
with salt hay. The canes were unstaked, and many of them bent over on
the clean hay with their burden of fruit. When there are no stakes or
other support used, the berries certainly should be kept from contact
with the soil. The chief advantage of the mulch, however, is in the
preservation of moisture. When it is given freely, all the fruit
perfects, and in a much longer succession. The weeds and suckers are
kept down, and the patch has a neat appearance. Moreover, mulching
prevents the foliage from burning, and enables the gardener to grow
successfully the finer varieties further to the south and on light
soils. In keeping down the weeds through the long summer, a mulch of
leaves, straw, or any coarse litter, is often far less costly than
would be the labor required.

_Staking_ raspberries is undoubtedly the best, simplest, and cheapest
method of supporting the canes of most varieties and in most
localities. I agree with the view taken by Mr. A. S. Fuller. "Chestnut
stakes," he writes, "five feet long and two or three inches in
diameter, made from large trees, cost me less than two cents each, and
my location is within twenty miles of New York City, where timber of
all kinds commands a large price. I can not afford to grow raspberries
without staking, because every stake will save on an average ten cents'
worth of fruit, and, in many instances, three times that amount." Of
course, split chestnut stakes look the neatest and last the longest;
but a raspberry bush is not fastidious, and I utilize old bean-poles,
limbs of trees--anything that keeps the canes from sprawling in the
dirt with their delicate fruit. Thus, in many instances, the stakes
will cost little more than a boy's labor in preparing them, and they
can be of various lengths, according to the height of our canes. As
they become too much decayed for further use, they make a cheery blaze
on the hearth during the early autumn evenings. There are stocky
growing varieties, like the Cuthbert, Turner, Herstine and others, that
by summer pruning or vigorous cutting back would be self-supporting, if
not too much exposed to high winds. The question is a very practical
one, and should be decided largely by experience and the grower's
locality. There are fields and regions in which gales, and especially
thunder-gusts, would prostrate into the dirt the stoutest bushes that
could be formed by summer pruning, breaking down canes heavy with green
and ripe fruit. In saving a penny stake, a bit of string, and the
moment required for tying, one might be made to feel, after a July
storm, that he had been too thrifty. As far as my experience and
observation go, I would either stake _all_ my bushes that stood
separately and singly, or else would grow them in a loose, continuous,
bushy row, and keep the fruit clean by some kind of mulch. Splashed,
muddy berries are not fit either to eat or to sell.

[Illustration: a. Canes snugly tied. b. Canes improperly tied. RIGHT
AND WRONG WAYS OF TYING CANES]

In many localities, however, stakes are dispensed with. In the garden,
wires, fastened to posts, are occasionally stretched along the rows,
and the canes tied to these. The method in this section, however, is to
insert stakes firmly in the hill, by means of a pointed crowbar, and
the canes are tied to them as early in spring as possible. Unless
watched, the boys who do the tying persist in leaving the upper cords
of the canes loose. These unsupported ends, when weighted with fruit
and foliage, break, of course. The canes should be snugly tied their
whole length. If bushes made stocky by summer pruning are supported,
let the stake be inserted on the side opposite that from which heavy
winds are expected.

WINTER PROTECTION--TAKING UP PLANTS FOR SPRING USE--STORING THEM

Nearly all foreign varieties and their seedlings need winter
protection, or are the better for it, north of the latitude of New York
City. Many of the hardier kinds, like the Herstine and Clarke, will
usually survive if bent over and kept close to the earth by the weight
of poles or a shovelful or two of soil; but all of the Antwerp class
need to be entirely covered.

To many, this winter covering is a great bugbear, even when only a
small patch in the garden is involved. There is a constant demand for
"perfectly hardy" varieties. It should be remembered that many of the
best kinds are not hardy at all, and that perhaps none are "perfectly
hardy." The Turner has never been injured on my place, and the Cuthbert
is rarely hurt; but occasionally they are partially killed, more by
alternations of freezing and thawing than by steady cold. What are
termed "open winters" are often the most destructive. I find that it
pays to cover all those kinds that are liable to injury, and, as the
varieties are described, this need will be distinctly stated. The
difficulties of covering are chiefly imaginary, and it can be done by
the acre at comparatively slight cost The vast crops of the Hudson
River Antwerp were raised from fields covered every fall. In the
garden, I do not consider the labor worth naming in comparison with the
advantages secured. Those who find time to carefully cover their
cabbages and gather turnips should not talk of the trouble of
protecting a row of delicious Herstine raspberries. Still, Nature is
very indulgent to the lazy, and has given us as fine a raspberry as the
Cuthbert, which thus far, with but few exceptions, has endured our
Northern winters. In November, I have the labor of covering performed
in the following simple way: B is a hill with canes untrimmed. C, the
canes have been shortened one-third--my rule in pruning. After
trimming, the canes are ready to be laid down, and they should all be
bent one way. To turn them _sharply_ over and cover them with earth
would cause many of the stronger ones to break just above the root; so
I have a shovelful of soil thrown on one side of the hill, as in Fig.
C, and the canes bent over this little mound. They thus describe a
curve, instead of lying at right angles on the surface, with a weight
of earth upon them. A boy holds the cane down, while a man on either
side of the row rapidly shovels the earth upon them. If the work is to
be done on a large scale, one or two shovelfuls will pin the canes to
the earth, and then, by throwing a furrow over them on both sides with
a plow, the labor is soon accomplished. It will be necessary to follow
the plow with a shovel, and increase the covering here and there. In
spring, as soon as hard frosts are over--the first week in April, in
our latitude, usually--begin at the end of the row toward which the
canes were bent, and with a fork throw and push the earth aside and
gently lift the canes out of the soil, taking pains to level the ground
thoroughly, and not leave it heaped up against the hills. This should
not be done when the earth is wet and sticky. Keep off the ground at
such times, unless the season is growing so late that there is danger
of the canes decaying if not exposed to the air. The sooner they are
staked and tied up after uncovering, the better.

[Illustration: PRUNING AND LAYING DOWN CANES]

For market or other purposes, we may wish a number of young plants, in
which case there is much room for good sense in taking them up. Many
lay hold upon the canes  and pull so hastily that little save sticks
comes out. A gardener wants fibrous roots rather than top; therefore,
send the spade down under the roots and pry them out. Suckers and
root-cutting plants can be dug in October, after the wood has fairly
ripened, but be careful to leave no foliage on the canes that are taken
up before the leaves fall, for they rapidly drain the vitality of the
plants. It is best to cut the canes down to within a foot of the
surface before digging. I prefer taking up all plants for sale or use
in the latter part of October and November, and those not set out or
disposed of are stored closely in trenches, with the roots a foot or
more below the surface. By thus burying them deeply and by leaving on
them a heavy covering of leaves, they are kept in a dormant state quite
late in spring, and so can be handled without breaking off the buds
which make the future canes. But, as we have already said, the earlier
they are planted after the frost is out, the better.




CHAPTER XXI

RASPBERRIES--VARIETIES OF THE FOREIGN AND NATIVE SPECIES


This chapter will treat first of the imported kinds, which usually are
more or less tender, and then, by way of contrast, of the hardy
varieties of our native _R. Strigosus_.

I shall speak of those only that are now in general cultivation, naming
a few, also, whose popularity in the past has been so great as to
entitle them to mention.

As was true of strawberries, so also varieties of raspberries that won
name and fame abroad were imported, and a few of them have adapted
themselves so well to American soil and climate as to have become
standards of excellence. Among the best-known of these formerly was the
Red Antwerp of England. Few old-fashioned gardens were without it at
one time, but it is fast giving way to newer and more popular
varieties. The canes are vigorous, stocky, and tall; spines light-red,
numerous, and rather strong. Winter protection is always needed. The
berries are large and very obtuse, conical, dark-red, large-grained,
and covered with a thick bloom, very juicy, and exceedingly soft--too
much so for market purposes. They made a dainty dish for home use,
however, and our grandmothers, when maidens, gathered them in the
lengthening summer shadows.

The Hudson River Antwerp, the most celebrated foreign berry in America,
is quite distinct from the above, although belonging to the same
family. It is shorter and more slender in its growth, quite free from
spines, and its canes are of a peculiar mouse-color. Its fruit is even
larger, but firm, decidedly conical, not very bright when fully ripe,
and rather dry, but sweet and agreeable in flavor. Mr. Downing says
that its origin is unknown, and that it was brought to this country by
the late Mr. Briggs, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y. "As this gentleman was
leaving England" (thus the story is told, Mr. Downing writes to me),
"he visited a friend to say good-by, and solicited this new raspberry.
Since he was leaving the country, and could cause no injury to the sale
of plants, his friend gave him a few in parting, although three guineas
had been refused for a single plant hitherto, in the careful effort to
secure a large stock before putting the variety on the market." Its
name suggests Belgium as its original home.

This Antwerp continues long in bearing, and the berries begin to ripen
early. The good carrying qualities of the fruit, combined with great
productiveness, made it at one time the most profitable market berry in
this section; but its culture was chiefly confined to a narrow strip on
the west shore of the Hudson, extending from Cornwall to Kingston. For
some obscure reasons, it did not thrive in other localities, and now it
appears to be failing fast in its favorite haunt. A disease called the
"curl-leaf" is destroying some of the oldest and largest plantations,
and the growers are looking about for hardier and more vigorous
varieties. But in its palmy days, and even still, the Hudson River
Antwerp was one of the great productions of the country, sending barges
and steamers nightly to New York laden with ruby cones, whose aroma was
often very distinct on the windward shore while the boats were passing.
This enormous business had in part a chance and curious origin, and a
very small beginning; while the celebrated variety itself, which
eventually covered so many hundreds of acres on the west bank of the
Hudson, may be traced back through two lines of ancestry. An English
gardener, who probably obtained the plants from Mr. Briggs, gave some
of them to a Mr. Samuel Barnes, who resided in Westchester County. From
him, Mr. Thos. H. Burling, of New Rochelle, N.Y., secured an abundant
supply for his home garden. Here its value was observed by Mr.
Nathaniel Hallock, who transferred some of the canes to his place at
Milton, N. Y. From his garden they spread over many fields besides his
own.

In respect to the other line of ancestry of this historical berry, I am
indebted for the following facts to Mr. W. C. Young, of Marlboro', N.
Y.: Many years ago a bundle of raspberry plants was left at a
meat-market in Poughkeepsie, and Mr. Watters, the proprietor of the
place, kept them several days, expecting that they would be called for.
As they remained upon his hands, he planted them in his garden, where,
like genuine worth, they soon asserted their superiority. Mr. Edward
Young, of Marlboro', a relative of Mr. Watters, received a present of a
few roots, which supplied his family with the largest and most
beautiful berries he had ever seen. Good propagates itself as well as
evil if given a chance, and Mr. Young soon had far more fruit than was
needed by his family, and he resolved to try the fortunes of his
favorite in New York market. "For this purpose," his son writes, "my
father procured imported fancy willow baskets, holding about one pint
each, and carefully packed these in crates made for the purpose. This
mode proved a success, both in carrying them securely and in making
them very attractive. The putting up such a fine variety of fruit in
this way gave it notoriety at once, and it brought at first as much as
one dollar per quart. My father was so well satisfied with his
experiment that he advised his sons, Alexander, Edward and myself, to
extend the culture of this variety largely. We entered into the
business, and, pursuing it with diligence, were well compensated. Our
success made others desirous of engaging in it, and so it spread out
into its large dimensions." Mr. Alexander Young estimates that in the
year 1858 1,000,000 pint baskets, or about 14,700 bushels, were shipped
from Marlboro'; but adds that "since 1860 it has decreased as fast.
From present appearances, the variety must become extinct, and I fear
will never have its equal." Milton, Cornwall, New burgh, and other
points competed in the profitable industry, and now, with Marlboro',
are replacing the failing variety with other kinds more vigorous in
growth, but thus far inferior in quality.

That the great industry is not falling off is shown by the following
statement, taken from the New York "Tribune" in the summer of 1779:
"The village of Highland, opposite Poughkeepsie, runs a berry boat
daily to New York, and the large night steamers are now taking out
immense loads of raspberries from the river towns every evening, having
at times nearly 2,000 bushels on board."

From as careful a computation as I have been able to make, through the
courtesy of the officers of the large Kingston boats the "Baldwin" and
"Cornell," I am led to believe that these two steamers unitedly carried
to the city over twenty thousand bushels of berries that same year. The
magnitude of this industry on the Hudson will be still better realized
when it is remembered that several other freight boats divide this
traffic with the Kingston steamers.

When we consider what a delicate and perishable fruit this is, it can
be understood that gathering and packing it properly is no bagatelle.
Sometimes you will find the fruit grower's family in the field, from
the matron down to the little ones that cannot reach the highest
berries. But the home force is wholly insufficient, and any one who
will pick--man, woman or child--is employed. Therefore, drifting
through the river towns during June and July, are found specimens
almost as picturesque, if not so highly colored, as those we saw at
Norfolk--poor whites from the back country and mountains; people from
the cities on a humble "lark," who cannot afford to rusticate at a
hotel; semi-tramps, who have not attained to the final stage of
aristocratic idleness, wherein the offer of work is an insult which
they resent by burning a barn. Rude shanties, with bunks, are fitted up
to give all the shelter they require. Here they lead a gypsy life,
quite as much to their taste as camping in the Adirondacks, cooking and
smoking through the June twilight, and as oblivious of the exquisite
scenery about them as the onion-eating peasants of Italy; but when
picking the fruit on a sunny slope, and half-hidden by the raspberry
bushes, Nature blends them with the scene so deftly that even they
become picturesque.

The little round "thirds," as they are termed, into which the berries
are gathered, are carried out of the sunlight to sheds and barns; the
packer receives them, giving tickets in exchange, and then, too often
with the deliberation and ease induced by the summer heat, packs them
in crates. As a result, there is frequently a hurry-scurry later in the
day to get the berries off in time.

The Fastollf, Northumberland Fillbasket, and Knevett's Giant are fine
old English varieties that are found in private gardens, but have never
made their way into general favor.

The Franconia is now the best foreign variety we have. It was
introduced from Paris by Mr. S. G. Perkins, of Boston, about
thirty-seven years ago, and is a large, obtuse, conical berry, firm,
thus carrying well to market, and although a little sour, its acid is
of a rich, sprightly character. It is raised largely in Western New
York, and in northern latitudes is one of the most profitable.

It is almost hardy in the vicinity of Rochester, receiving by some
growers no winter protection. Its lack of hardiness with us, and
further southward, is due to its tendency--common to nearly all foreign
berries--to lose its foliage in August. I am inclined to think that it
would prove one of the most profitable in Canada, and that if it were
simply pinned down to the surface of the ground, and thus kept under
the deep snows, it would rarely suffer from the cold. It should be
distinctly understood that the climate of Canada, if winter protection
is given--indeed, I may say, without protection--is far better adapted
to tender raspberries than that of New Jersey, Virginia, or even
Pennsylvania.

The long continuance of the Franconia in bearing is one of its best
qualities. We usually enjoy its fruit for six weeks together. Its
almost globular shape is in contrast with another excellent French
variety, the Belle de Fontenay, a large, long, conical, but somewhat
irregular-shaped berry of very superior flavor. Mr. Fuller says that it
is entirely hardy. It survives the winter without protection on my
grounds. The canes are very stocky and strong, and unless growing
thickly together are branching. Its most marked characteristic,
however, is a second crop in autumn, produced on the tips of the new
canes. If the canes of the previous year are cut even with the ground
early in spring, the new growth gives a very abundant autumn crop of
berries, which, although much inclined to crumble in picking, and to be
irregular in shape, have still the rare flavor of a delicious fruit
long out of season. It certainly is the best of the fall-bearing kinds,
and deserves a place in every garden. There are more profitable market
varieties, however; but, if the suckers are vigorously destroyed, and
the bearing canes cut well back, the fruit is often very large,
abundant, and attractive, bringing the highest prices. As a plantation
grows older, the tendency to sucker immoderately decreases, and the
fruit improves.

The Belle de Pallua and Hornet are also French varieties that in some
sections yield fine fruit, but are too uncertain to become favorites in
our country.

I have a few canes of a French variety that Mr. Downing imported a
number of years since, and of which the name has been lost. It
certainly is the finest raspberry I have ever seen, and I am testing
its adaptation to various soils.

Having named the best-known foreign varieties, I will now turn to _R.
Strigosus_, or our native species, which is scattered almost everywhere
throughout the North. In its favorite haunts by roadside hedge and open
glade in the forest, a bush is occasionally found producing such fine
fruit that the delighted discoverer marks it, and in the autumn
transfers it to his garden. As a result, a new variety is often
heralded throughout the land. A few of these wildings have become
widely popular, and among them the Brandywine probably has had the most
noted career.

Mr. William Parry, of New Jersey, who has been largely interested in
this variety, writes to me as follows:

"I have never been able to trace the origin of this berry. It attracted
attention some eight or ten years since in the Wilmington market, and
was for a time called the 'Wilmington.'"

Subsequently Mr. Edward Tatnall, of that city, undertook to introduce
it by the name of Susqueco, the Indian name for the Brandywine. It soon
became the principal raspberry grown along the Brandywine Creek, and as
the market-men would persist in calling it after its chief haunt, it
will probably bear the historical name until it passes wholly out of
favor. Its popularity is already on the wane, because of its dry
texture and insipid flavor, but its bright color, good size, and
especially its firmness and remarkable carrying qualities, will ever
lead to its ready sale in the market. It is not a tall, vigorous
grower, except in very rich land. The young canes are usually small,
slender, of a pale red color, and have but few spines. Like nearly all
the _R. Strigosus_ species, it tends to sucker immoderately. If this
disposition is rigorously checked by hoe and cultivator, it is
productive; otherwise, the bearing canes are choked and rendered
comparatively unfruitful. This variety is waning before the Cuthbert--a
larger and much better berry.

The Turner is another of this class, and, in Mr. Charles Downing's
opinion, is the best of them. It was introduced by Professor J. B.
Turner, of Illinois, and is a great favorite in many parts of the West.
It has behaved well on my place for several years, and I am steadily
increasing my stock of it. I regard it as the hardiest raspberry in
cultivation, and a winter must be severe, indeed, that injures it. Like
the Crescent Seedling strawberry, it will grow anywhere, and under
almost any conditions. The laziest man on the continent can have its
fruit in abundance, if he can muster sufficient spirit to put out a few
roots, and hoe out all the suckers except five or six in the hill. It
is early, and in flavor surpasses all of its class; the fruit is only
moderately firm. Plant a few in some out-of-the-way place, and it will
give the largest return for the least amount of labor of any kind with
which I am acquainted. The canes are very vigorous, of a golden
reddish-brown, like mahogany, over which spreads in many places a
purple bloom, like that on a grape, and which rubs off at the touch. It
is almost free from spines, and so closely resembles the Southern
Thornless in all respects that I cannot distinguish between them.

The Turner is a fine example of the result of persistent well-doing.
After having been treated slightingly and written down at the East for
ten years or more, it is now steadily winning its way toward the front
rank. Mr. A. S. Fuller, who has tried most of the older varieties, says
that he keeps a patch of it for his own use, because it gives so much
good fruit with so little trouble.

I shall give its origin in Professor Turner's own words, as far as
possible:

"Soon after I came to Illinois, in 1833, I obtained, through a friend
from the East, some raspberries sold to me as the 'Red Antwerp.' I do
not know or believe that there was at that time any other red raspberry
within one hundred miles of this place. Indeed, I have never seen a
native wild red raspberry in the State, though it may be there are
some. I found the Antwerp would not stand our climate, but by extreme
care I protected it one winter, and it bore some fruit. I conceived the
idea of amusing my leisure hours from college duty by raising new
seedling raspberries, strawberries, etc., that would be adapted to the
climate of the State. I had only a small garden spot, no particular
knowledge of the business, and no interest in it outside of the public
good. I read upon the subject, as far as I then could, and planted and
nursed my seedlings. Out of hundreds or thousands sown, I got one good
early strawberry, which had a local run for a time; one fair
blackberry, but no grapes or raspberries that seemed worth anything.
The seeds of the raspberries were sown in a bed back of my house, and
the shoots reserved were all nurtured on the same bed. After I supposed
them to be a failure, I set out an arbor vitae hedge directly across
the raspberry bed, making some effort to destroy the canes so that the
little cedars might grow. Sometimes, when they were in the way of the
cedars they were hoed out. If any of them bore berries, the fowls
doubtless destroyed them, or the children ate them before they ripened,
until the cedars got so high as to give them protection. Then the
children found the ripe fruit, and reported it to me. I have not the
least doubt but this raspberry came from a seed of the plants obtained
from the East as the Red Antwerp. The original canes may have been
false to name, or a mixture of the true and false. Whatever they were,
they bore good, red berries, which I supposed to be Antwerps; but the
canes were so tender as to be worthless. It is wholly impossible that
the new variety should have come from any other seed than that sown by
me where the vitae hedge now stands."

This letter is very interesting in showing how curiously some of our
best varieties originate. Moreover, it suggests a dilemma. How is it
possible that an Antwerp--one of the most tender varieties--could have
been the parent of the hardiest known raspberry? How could a sort
having every characteristic of our native _R. Strigosus_ spring direct
from _R. Idoeus_?

I have been familiar with the Antwerps all my life, and can see no
trace of them in this hardy berry. Mr. A. S. Fuller writes to me, "The
Turner is a true native--_R. Strigosus_;" and Mr. Charles Downing holds
the same opinion. Hence I am led to believe that there was a native
variety among the plants the professor obtained from the East, or that
a seed of a native was dropped among the cedars by a bird, or brought
thither in the roots of the cedars. Be this as it may, Professor
Turner's good motives have been rewarded and he has given the public an
excellent raspberry.

In connection with this subject, Mr. Fuller added the following fact,
which opens to the amateur a very interesting field for experiment: "If
there is any doubt in regard to such matters, raise a few seedlings of
the variety, and if it is a cross or hybrid, a part of the seedlings
will revert back to each parent, or so near them that there will be no
difficulty in determining that there was a mixture of blood. If all our
so-called hybrid fruits were thus tested, we would then know more of
their true parentage." In the sunny laboratory of the garden,
therefore, Nature's chemistry will resolve these juicy compounds back
into their original constituents.

The Highland Hardy, or Native, also belongs to this species, and is
quite a favorite still in some localities; but it has had its day, I
think. Its extreme earliness has made it profitable in some regions;
but its softness, small size and wretched flavor should banish it from
cultivation as soon as possible.

There are others, like the Thwack, Pearl, and Bristol; they are but
second rate, being inferior in most regions to the Brandywine, which
they resemble.

In my opinion, the chief value of _R. Strigosus_ is to be found in two
facts. In the first place, they endure the severe Northern winters,
and--what is of far more consequence--their best representatives thrive
in light soils, and their tough foliage does not burn under the hot
sun. It thus becomes the one species of _red_ raspberry that can be
raised successfully in the South, and from it, as a hardy stock, we
should seek to develop the raspberries of the future.




CHAPTER XXII

RUBUS OCCIDENTALIS--BLACK-CAP AND PURPLE CANE RASPBERRIES


We now turn to the other great American species--_Rubus Occidentalis_--the
well-known black-cap, or thimble berry, that is found along
almost every roadside and fence in the land. There are few little
people who have not stained their lips and fingers, not to mention
their clothes, with this homely favorite. I can recall the days when,
to the horror of the laundress, I filled my pockets with the juicy
caps. It is scarcely necessary to recall its long, rambling, purple
shoots, its light-green foliage, silvery on the under side, its sharp
and abundant spines, from which we have received many a vicious
scratch. Its cultivation is so simple that it may be suggested in a few
sentences. It does not produce suckers, like _R. Strigosus_, but the
tips of the drooping branches root themselves in the soil during August
and September, forming young plants. These, planted, produce a vigorous
bush the first year that bears the second season, and then dies down to
the perennial root, as is the case with all raspberries. Usually, the
tips of the _young_ canes will take root, if left to themselves, unless
whipped about by the wind. If new plants in abundance are desired, it
is best to assist Nature, however, by placing a little earth on the tip
just after it begins to enlarge slightly, thus showing it is ready to
take root. This labor is quickly performed by throwing a handful or two
of earth on the tips with a trowel. The tips do not all mature for
propagation at one time; therefore, it is well to go over the
plantation every two weeks after the middle of August and cover lightly
with earth only such as are enlarged. If covered before this sign of
readiness appears, the tip merely decays. If a variety is very scarce,
we may cover not only the tips, but also much of the cane, lightly--an
inch or two--with earth, and each bud will eventually make a plant.
This should not be done, however, until the wood is well ripened, say
about the first of October. Throw a few leaves over such layered canes
in November, and divide the buds and roots into separate plants early
in spring. They will probably be so small as to need a year in the
nursery row. Sometimes, after the first tip is rooted, buds a little
above it will push into shoots which also will root themselves with
slight assistance, and thus the number of new plants is greatly
increased. Spring is by far the best time, at the North, for planting
these rooted tips; but it should be done as early as possible, before
the bud has started into its brittle, succulent growth. At the South,
November is probably the best season for planting. It is a species that
adapts itself to most soils, even the lightest, and endures much
neglect. At the same time, it responds generously to good culture and
rigorous pruning, and if moisture is abundant the yield is simply
enormous. It not only thrives far to the north, but can also be grown
further south than any other class of raspberries.

In planting, spread out the roots and let them go down their full
length, but do not put over an inch or two of soil on the bud from
which the new canes are to spring. Press the earth firmly _around_ this
bud, but _not on_ it. Let the rows be six feet apart, and the plants
three feet from each other in the row; at this distance, 2,400 will be
required for an acre. Summer pinching back will transform these
sprawling, drooping canes into compact, stocky bushes, or ornamental
shrubs that in sheltered locations will be self-supporting. Clean
culture, and, as the plantation grows older, higher stimulation,
greatly enhance success. After the plants begin to show signs of age
and feebleness, it is best to set out young plants on new ground.

The varieties of this species are almost innumerable, since seedlings
come up by the million every year; but the differences between the
majority of them are usually very slight. There are four kinds,
however, that have won honorable distinction and just popularity. The
earliest of these is Davidson's Thornless, said to have originated in
the garden of Mrs. Mercy Davidson, Towanda, Erie Co., N.Y. It is
nothing like so vigorous a grower as the other three varieties; but the
sweetness of the fruit and the freedom from thorns make it desirable
for the home garden. Unless high culture or moist soil is given, I do
not recommend it for market.

Next in order of ripening is the Doolittle, or American Improved, found
growing wild, about thirty-five years since, by Leander Joslyn, of
Phelps, Ontario Co., N.Y., and introduced by Mr. H. H. Doolittle. This,
hitherto, has been the most popular of all the species, and thousands
of bushels are annually raised for market. The plant is exceedingly
vigorous, producing strong, branching canes that literally cover
themselves with fruit. I have seen long rows fairly black with caps.
Perhaps it should be stated that the thorns are vigorous also.

Latest in ripening is the Mammoth Cluster, or McCormick, which, thus
far, has been my favorite. It is even more vigorous than the preceding,
but not so briery or branching. The fruit is produced usually in a
thick cluster or bunch at the end of the branch, and they ripen more
together than the other kinds. The caps, too, are much larger, more
juicy and fine-flavored. One is less conscious of the seeds. Between
the thumb and finger you can often gather a handful from a single
spray, it is so prodigiously productive. Thus far it has been
unsurpassed, either for home use or market; but now it is encountering
a rival in the Gregg, a new variety that is attracting much attention.
Its history, as far as I have been able to learn it, is as follows:

In the latter part of June, 1866, this black raspberry was found
growing wild in a ravine on the Gregg farm, which is located in Ohio
Co., Indiana. The original bush "was bending under the weight of
colossal-sized clusters. It was then a single clump, surrounded by a
few young plants growing from its tips. Before introducing it to the
public, we gave it a most thorough and complete trial. We have put it
on the tables of some of the most prominent horticultural societies,
and by each it has been voted the highest rank in their fruit lists. At
the Centennial Exposition, at Philadelphia, in competition with all the
prominent varieties in the world, it was ranked highest by the judges.
During eleven years of observation it has survived the coldest winters,
and never failed to yield an abundant crop. It is a vigorous, rapid
grower, producing strong, well-matured canes by fall. The fruit is
beautiful in appearance, delicious, possessing excellent shipping and
keeping qualities."

The above is a mild and condensed statement of its claims, as set forth
by Messrs. R. & P. Gregg, proprietors of the Gregg farm, and I believe
these gentlemen have given a correct account of their experience. As
the result of much inquiry, it would appear that this variety is also
doing well throughout the country at large.

Mr. N. Ohmer, who has been most prominent in introducing the Gregg,
gives the following account of his first acquaintance with it: "At a
meeting of the Indiana State Horticultural Society, held at
Indianapolis, a gentleman asked for the privilege of making some
remarks about a new black raspberry that he was cultivating. Being
pretty long-winded, as most lawyers are, he spoke so long, and said so
much in favor of his berry, that no one believed him, and were glad
when he got through. The summer following, I chanced to call on the
Secretary of the Indiana State Board of Agriculture, in the Capitol
building, and was surprised to see on his table about half a peck of
berries and an armful of canes loaded with the largest, handsomest, and
best black raspberries I had ever seen. Mr. Herron, the Secretary,
informed me that they were grown by Messrs. R. & P. Gregg. I obtained
two hundred plants, a few of which bore fruit so fine, the following
season, that all who saw it wanted plants." It was learned that Mr.
Gregg was the lawyer who was thought "long-winded," and many who then
yawned have since thought, no doubt, that they might have listened with
much profit, for the demand for the plants has become greater than the
supply. Only time can show whether the Gregg is to supersede the
Mammoth Cluster. I observe that veteran fruit growers are very
conservative, and by no means hasty to give a newcomer the place that a
fine old variety has won by years of excellence in nearly all
diversities of soil and climate. The Gregg certainly promises
remarkably well, and Mr. Thomas Meehan, editor of the "Gardener's
Monthly," who is well known to be exceedingly careful and conscientious
in indorsing new fruits, writes: "We believe this variety is generally
larger than any other of its kind yet known."

There are many other candidates for favor, but thus far they are
untried, or have not proved themselves equal to the kinds I have named.

Quite a distinct branch of _R. Occidentalis_ is the Purple Cane
family--so named, I think, from the purple cane raspberry that was so
well known in old gardens a few years ago, but since it has been
superseded by better kinds is now fast passing out of cultivation. It
almost took care of itself in our home garden for forty years or more,
and its soft, small berries would melt in one's mouth. Its canes were
smooth and its fruit of a dusky-red color. In other respects, it
resembles the black-cap tribe.

The Catawissa, found growing in a Pennsylvania graveyard, is another
berry of this class, which produces a second crop in autumn. It is
tender in the Northern States, and has never become popular.

The Philadelphia is the best known of the class, and at one time was
immensely popular. Its canes are smooth, stout, erect in growth, and
enormously productive of medium-sized, round, dusky-red berries of very
poor flavor. It throve so well on the light soils about Philadelphia,
that it was heralded to the skies, and the plants sold at one time as
high as $40 per 100, but the inferior flavor and unattractive
appearance of the fruit caused it to decline steadily in favor, and now
it has but few friends. Unlike others of its class, it does not root
from the tips, but propagates itself by suckers, producing them
sparingly, however. When it was in such great demand, the nurserymen
increased it by root cuttings, forced under glass.




CHAPTER XXIII

THE RASPBERRIES OF THE FUTURE


We now come to a class that are destined, I think, to be the
raspberries of the future, or, at least, a type of them. I refer to the
seedlings of the three original species that have been described. As a
rule (having exceptions of course), these native seedling varieties are
comparatively hardy, and adapted to the climate of America. This
adaptation applies to the South in the proportion that they possess the
qualities of the _Rubus Strigosus_ or _Occidentalis_. To the degree
that the foreign element of _R. Idoeus_ exists, they will, with a few
exceptions, require winter protection, and will be unable to thrive in
light soils and under hot suns. Forgetfulness of this principle is
often the cause of much misapprehension and undiscriminating censure. I
have known certain New Jersey fruit growers to condemn a variety
unsparingly. Would it not be more sensible to say it belongs to the _R.
Idoeus_ class, and, therefore, is not adapted to our climate and light
soil, but in higher latitudes and on heavy land it may prove one of the
best?

It should here be premised that these seedlings originated in this
country. Perhaps they are the product solely of our native species, or
they may result from crossing varieties of _R. Idoeus_, in which case
they will exhibit the characteristics of the foreign species; or,
finally, from the foreign and our native species may be produced a
hybrid that will combine traits of each line of its lineage. A
conspicuous example of the second statement may be seen in Brinkle's
Orange, originated by Dr. Brinkle many years ago. It is essentially an
Antwerp in character, and yet it is more vigorous, and adapted to a
wider range of country than the Antwerp. The berry is of a beautiful
buff color, and its delicious flavor is the accepted standard of
excellence. At the same time, it is well known that it will not thrive
under hot suns or upon light land. It can be raised south of New York
only in cool, moist soils, and in half-shady locations; but at the
North, where the conditions of growth are favorable, it produces strong
branching canes, covered with white spines, and is exceedingly
productive of large, light-colored berries that melt on the tongue.
There is the same difference between it and the Brandywine that exists
between Stowell's Evergreen and flint field corn. It invariably
requires winter protection.

The Pride of the Hudson possesses the same general character as the
Orange, and approaches it very nearly in excellence. It certainly is
the largest, most beautiful red raspberry now before the public; but in
its later development it has shown such sensitiveness to both heat and
cold that I cannot recommend it for general cultivation. Give it a
moist soil and a half-shady location, such as may be  found on the
northern side of a fence or hedge, and it will become the pride of any
northern garden; but in the South, and on light soils, it can scarcely
live. It should have winter protection.

In contrast with these native berries of foreign parentage, we have the
Herstine; Mr. B. K. Bliss, the well-known seedsman of New York City,
kindly furnishes me the following facts of its history: "About ten
years since I was invited, with several gentlemen (mostly
horticulturists), to visit the late Mr. Herstine, at Philadelphia. We
were to examine a lot of seedling raspberries, and select names for
those that we thought worthy of general cultivation. We found quite a
company there from the vicinity of Philadelphia and from Washington,
while New York was represented by such eminent authorities as Dr.
Thurber and A. S. Fuller. The raspberry bushes were completely loaded
with large fine fruit--the finest I ever saw. Each variety was
carefully examined, and the guests voted as to which, in his opinion,
was the best. The Herstine stood first and the Saunders second. Mr.
Herstine explained that they were raised from the Allen raspberry,
which had been planted in alternate rows with the Philadelphia." This
parentage would make it a hybrid of the _R. Strigosus_ and the purple
cane branch of the _R. Occidentalis_ species; but the plant and fruit
indicate the presence, also, of the _R. Ideous_ element. After several
years' experience on my own place, I regard it as the best early
raspberry in existence. The berry is large, obtusely conical, bright
red, and delicious in flavor. It is scarcely firm enough for market
where it must be sent any great distance, but if picked promptly after
it reddens, and packed in a cool, airy place, it carries well and
brings good prices. The canes are strong, red, stocky, and covered with
spines. They are but half-hardy, and I think it is best to cover them
before the first of December, in our latitude. The canes of the
Saunders, also sent out by Mr. Herstine, are much darker in color, and
not so vigorous, but sufficiently so. The berries are large, ripen
later, are more globular, and are of the same excellent quality. It
deserves greater popularity than it has received. It is, also, only
half-hardy.

In the Clarke, we undoubtedly have a variety containing considerable of
the _R. Idoeus_ element. The berries are often very large, bright
crimson, conical, with large, hairy grains. Occasionally, the fruit on
my vines was very imperfect, and crumbled badly in picking. I found
that by cutting the canes rigorously back--even one-half--I obtained
much larger and more perfect berries, and in increased quantities. The
canes are very strong, upright growers, ending usually in a thick tuft
of foliage, rather than in long, drooping tips. It was originated by
Mr. E. E. Clarke, of New Haven, Conn., and is but half-hardy.

In the New Rochelle, we have a hybrid of the black-cap and red
raspberry, the _R. Occidentalis_ element predominating, and manifesting
itself in the stocky and branching character of the canes, and in the
fact that they propagate themselves by tips, and not suckers. The New
Rochelle, originated by Mr. E. W. Carpenter, of Rye, N.Y., is perhaps
the best of this class. It is very vigorous, hardy, and enormously
productive, and the fruit is of good size. I do not like its sharp
acid, however, and its dun or dusky-brown color will probably prevent
it from becoming a favorite in market, since bright-hued berries are
justly much preferred.

But Mr. Carpenter has sent out another seedling which, I think, is
destined to have a brilliant future--the Caroline, It is thought to be
a cross between the Catawissa and Brinkle's Orange. The canes are
perfectly hardy, very strong, vigorous, branching, light-red, with a
lighter bloom upon them here and there. It suckers freely, and also
propagates itself sparingly from the tips. The fruit is exceedingly
abundant and is a round cap of a beautiful buff color, almost equalling
Brinkle's Orange in flavor. I think it will grow anywhere, and thus
will find a place in innumerable gardens where the Orange does not
thrive. At the same time, it is good enough for any garden.

The Ganargua was said to be a hybrid, but Mr. J. J.  Thomas writes to
me: "I have never been able to discover proof that it is one. I think
it all _R. Occidentalis_--a variety."

The Reliance, a seedling of the Philadelphia, but far superior to it,
is doing remarkably well on my place, and I hear favorable accounts
from other localities.

There are many others that are either old and passing into obscurity or
else so new and dubious in character that limited space forbids their
mention. We will close this sketch of varieties with the Cuthbert,
which that experienced and careful horticulturist, Dr. Hexamer, calls
the "best raspberry now in existence."

This is a chance seedling, which the late Thomas Cuthbert found in his
garden, at Riverdale, N.Y. His son has kindly furnished the following
facts:

"The raspberry in question was discovered by my father about eleven
years ago in the garden of our country seat at Riverdale-on-the-Hudson.
It is probably a seedling of the Hudson River Antwerp, as it was found
growing near the edge of a patch of that variety, but its great vigor
of growth and the size and quality of the fruit marked it at once as a
new and distinct kind. Its canes were carefully separated from the
others and a small plantation made of them. The next year, and from
time to time since, plants were given to our friends in various parts
of the State for trial. Without exception, their reports have been
favorable, particular mention having been made of their unusual vigor
of growth, their hardiness, and the firmness and good keeping qualities
of the fruit. The first year or so we gave the canes winter protection,
but finding that it was unnecessary, we have discontinued it, and I
have never heard of the canes being winter-killed."

From other sources I learn that Mr. Cuthbert made an arrangement with a
nurseryman by the name of Thompson, to propagate and send out the
variety. This gentleman dying soon after, the stock came into the
possession of Mr. H. J. Corson, of Staten Island, N.Y., and by him and
Mr. I. J. Simonson, a florist, the plants have been sent out to
different parts of the country. This dissemination was very limited,
and was characterized by an almost utter absence of heralding and
extravagant praise. The berry has literally made its way on its own
merits. Dr. Hexamer remarked to me that he had had it for years, and
had wondered why its merits were so overlooked. My attention was called
to it in the summer of 1878, and I took pains to see it in several
localities. The large size of the berries, their firmness and fine
flavor, convinced me that it was very valuable, and the fact that I
found it flourishing luxuriantly on New Jersey sand, and maintaining a
perfectly healthful foliage under an August sun, led me to believe that
we had at last found a first-class variety that would thrive on light
soils and under hot suns.

The late W. C. Bryant, the poet, himself well versed in horticulture,
closed a letter to me with the following words:

"It has always seemed to me a scandal to our horticulture that in a
region where the raspberry grows wild, we should not have a sort that
would resist both the winter cold and summer heat, and produce
abundantly."

After another year of observation and of much correspondence, extending
even to California, I am convinced that the Cuthbert does "resist both
the winter cold and summer heat, and produce abundantly," far better
than any other raspberry that equals it in size and flavor. The canes
are strong, upright, branching, if space permits, reddish-brown, spines
abundant, but not very long and harsh. It is a rampant grower on good
soil, but the foliage, so far from being rank and large, is delicate,
and the under side of the leaves has a light, silvery hue. After once
getting hold of the soil, it suckers immoderately, but is no worse in
this respect than other vigorous varieties; and this tendency rapidly
declines after the second year. Is it perfectly hardy? No; and I do not
know of a single good raspberry that is; except, perhaps, the Turner,
which, however, is inferior to the Cuthbert. I have seen the latter
badly winter-killed, but it had stood eight years on the same ground
without injury before. Then, because of a rank growth late in the
season, that especial patch was hit hard, while other fields, but a few
miles away, were unharmed. If planted on well-drained soil, where the
wood could ripen well, I think it would be injured very rarely, if
ever; but I have no faith in talk about "perfectly hardy raspberries."
Those who observe closely will often find our hardy native species
killed to the ground, and I think many varieties suffer more from the
mild, variable winters of the Middle States than from the steady cold
and snowy winters of the North. Moreover, any variety that has not the
power of maintaining a healthy foliage through the hot season will
usually be too feeble to resist the winter following. The question of
hardiness can often be settled better in August than in January. One of
the most hopeful features of the Cuthbert, therefore, is its tough,
sun-enduring foliage, which enables the wood to ripen perfectly. It has
never received winter protection thus far, either in this region or in
Michigan, where it is largely raised, but it may be found necessary to
shield it somewhat in some localities. It is both absurd and dishonest
to claim perfection for a fruit, and the Cuthbert, especially as it
grows older and loses something of its pristine vigor, will, probably,
like all other varieties, develop faults and weaknesses. We cannot too
much deprecate the arrogant spirit often manifested in introducing new
fruits. Interested parties insist on boundless praise, and if their
advice were followed, the fine old standards would be plowed out to
make room for a newcomer that often proves, on trial, little better
than a weed. The Cuthbert is not exactly a novelty. Through the gifts
of the originator, and sales running through several years, it has
become widely scattered, and has proved a success in every instance, as
far as I can learn. I show my faith in it by my works, for I am setting
it out more largely than all other kinds together, even going so far as
to rent land for the purpose. I am satisfied, from frequent inquiries
in Washington Market, that it will take the lead of all others, and it
is so firm that it can be shipped by rail, like a Wilson strawberry.

In Delaware and Southern New Jersey, a variety named "Queen of the
Market" is being largely set out. I have this variety in my
specimen-bed, side by side with plants that came from Thomas Cuthbert's
garden, and am almost satisfied that they are identical, and that Queen
of the Market is but a synonym of the Cuthbert. I have placed the canes
and spines of each under a powerful microscope and can detect no
differences, and the fruit also appeared so much alike that I could not
see wherein it varied. Plants of this variety were sent to Delaware
some years since as they were to Michigan and California, and, wherever
tested, they seem to win strong and immediate favor. Its chief fault in
this locality is its lateness.




CHAPTER XXIV

BLACKBERRIES--VARIETIES, CULTIVATION, ETC.


The small-fruit branch of the rose family is assuredly entitled to
respect when it is remembered that the blackberry is the blackest sheep
in it. Unlike the raspberry, the drupes cling to the receptacle, which
falls off with them when mature, and forms the hard, disagreeable core
when the berry is black, but often only half ripe. The bush is, in
truth, what the ancients called it--a bramble, and one of our Highland
wildcats could scarcely scratch more viciously than it, if treated too
familiarly; but, with judicious respect and good management, it will
yield large and beautiful berries.

It would seem that Nature had given her mind more to blackberries than
to strawberries, for, instead of merely five, she has scattered about
150 species up and down the globe. To describe all these would be a
thorny experience indeed, robbing the reader of his patience as
completely as he would be bereft of his clothing should he literally
attempt to go through them all. Therefore, I shall give Professor
Gray's description of the two species which have furnished our few
really good varieties, and dismiss with mere mention a few other
species.

"_Rubus Villosus_, High Blackberry. Everywhere along thickets,
fence-rows, etc., and several varieties cultivated; stems one to six
feet high, furrowed; prickles strong and hooked; leaflets three to
five, ovate or lance-ovate, pointed, their lower surface and stalks
hairy and glandular, the middle one long-stalked and sometimes
heart-shaped; flowers racemed, rather large, with short bracts; fruit
oblong or cylindrical.

"_R. Canadensis_, Low Blackberry or Dewberry. Rocky and sandy soil;
long trailing, slightly prickly, smooth or smoothish, and with three to
seven smaller leaflets than in the foregoing, the racemes of flowers
with more leaf-like bracts, the fruit of fewer grains and ripening
earlier."

The _R. Cuneifolius_, or Sand Blackberry, is common in the sandy ground
and barrens from New Jersey southward; the _R. Trivialis_, Southern Low
Blackberry, is found in light soils from Virginia southward; the _R.
Hispidus_ is a Running Swamp Blackberry whose long, slender stems creep
through low, damp woods and marshes; the _R. Spectabilis_ produces
purple solitary flowers, and grows on the banks of the Columbia River
in the far Northwest. Whatever improvements may originate from these
species in the future, they have not as yet, to my knowledge, given us
any fine cultivated variety.

_R, fruticosus_ is the best-known European species, but neither has it,
as far as I can discover, been the source of any varieties worthy of
favor. It is said to have a peculiar flavor, that produces satiety at
once. The blackberry, therefore, is exceptional, in that we have no
fine foreign varieties, and Mr. Fuller writes that he cannot find "any
practical information in regard to their culture in any European work
on gardening."

The "bramble" is quite fully treated in Mr. R. Thompson's valuable
English work, but I find little to interest the American reader. He
suggests that the several native species that he describes are capable
of great improvement, but I cannot learn that such effort has ever been
made successfully. I do not know of any reason why our fine varieties
will not thrive abroad, under conditions that accord with their nature.

In America there are innumerable varieties, since Nature produces wild
seedlings on every hillside, and not a few seeds have been planted by
horticulturists in the hope of originating a prize berry. Nature
appears to have had the better fortune, thus far, for our best
varieties are chance seedlings, found growing wild.

It is not so many years since the blackberry was regarded as merely a
bramble in this country, as it now is abroad, and people were content
with such fruit as the woods and fields furnished. Even still, in some
localities, this supply is so abundant as to make the culture of the
blackberry unprofitable. But, a number of years since, Mr. Lewis A.
Seacor led to better things, by observing on the roadside, in the town
of New Rochelle, Westchester County, New York, a bush flourishing where
Nature had planted it. This variety took kindly to civilization, and
has done more to introduce this fruit to the garden than all other
kinds together. Mr. Donald GK Mitchell, in his breezy out-of-door book,
"My Farm at Edgewood," gives its characteristics so admirably that I am
tempted to quote him:

"The New Rochelle or Lawton Blackberry has been despitefully spoken of
by many; first, because the market fruit is generally bad, being
plucked before it is fully ripened; and next, because, in rich, clayey
grounds, the briers, unless severely cut back, grow into a tangled,
unapproachable forest, with all the juices exhausted in wood. But upon
a soil moderately rich, a little gravelly and warm, protected from
winds, served with occasional top-dressings and good hoeings, the
Lawton bears magnificent burdens. Even then, if you wish to enjoy the
richness of the fruit, you must not be hasty to pluck it. When the
children say, with a shout, 'The blackberries are ripe!' I know they
are black only, and I can wait. When the children report, 'The birds
are eating the berries!' I know I can wait. But when they say, 'The
bees are on the berries!' I know they are at their ripest. Then, with
baskets, we sally out; I taking the middle rank, and the children the
outer spray of boughs. Even now we gather those only which drop at the
touch; these, in a brimming saucer, with golden Alderney cream and a
_soupcon_ of powdered sugar, are Olympian nectar; they melt before the
tongue can measure their full soundness, and seem to be mere bloated
bubbles of forest honey."

Notwithstanding this eloquent plea and truthful statement, the Lawton
is decidedly on the wane. It is so liable to be winter-killed, even
with best of care, and its fruit is go unpalatable, in its half-ripe
condition, that it has given place to a more successful rival, the
Kittatinny--discovered in Warren County, K. J., growing in a forest
near the mountains, whose Indian name has become a household word from
association with this most delicious fruit. Mr. Wolverton, in finding
it, has done more for the world than if he had opened a gold mine.
Under good culture, the fruit is very large; sweet, rich, and melting,
when fully ripe, but rather sour and hard when immature. It reaches its
best condition if allowed to ripen fully on the vines; but the majority
of pickers use their hands only, and no more think of making nice
discriminations than of questioning nature according to the Baconian
method. They gather all that are black, or nearly so; but if this
half-ripe fruit is allowed to stand in some cool, dry place for about
twelve hours, Kittatinny berries may be had possessing nearly all their
luscious qualities. The plant is an upright and very vigorous grower,
exceedingly productive if soil and culture are suitable. Its leaves are
long-pointed, "finely and unevenly serrate." The season of fruiting is
medium, continuing from four to six weeks, if moisture is maintained.
Both of these varieties are derived from the _Rubus villosus_ species.

In contrast is the next-best known sort, Wilson's Early--having many of
the characteristics of the Dewberry, or running blackberry, and,
therefore, representing the second species described, _R. Canadensis_.
Whether it is merely a sport from this species, or a hybrid between it
and the first-named or high blackberry, cannot be accurately known, I
imagine; for it also was found growing wild by Mr. John Wilson, of
Burlington, N. J. Under high culture, and with increasing age, the
plants become quite erect and stocky growers, but the ends of the cane
are drooping. Frequently, they trail along the ground, and root at the
tips, like the common Dewberry; and they rarely grow so stocky but that
they can be bent over and covered with earth or litter, as is the case
with the tender raspberries. It is well that this is possible, for it
has so little power of resisting frost that a winter of ordinary
severity kills the canes in the latitude of New York. I have always
covered mine, and thus secured, at slight expense, a sure and abundant
crop. The fruit is earlier than the Kittatinny, and tends to ripen
altogether in about ten days. These advantages, with its large size and
firmness, make it a valuable market berry in New Jersey, where hundreds
of acres of it have been planted, and where it is still very popular.
Throughout the North and West, it has been found too tender for
cultivation, unless protected. In flavor, it is inferior to the
Kittatinny or Snyder.

For many years, the great desideratum has been a perfectly hardy
blackberry, and this want has at last been met in part by the Snyder, a
Western variety that seems able to endure, without the slightest
injury, the extremes of temperature common in the Northwestern States.
From Nebraska eastward, I have followed its history, and have never
heard of its being injured by frost. It originated on, or in the
vicinity of, Mr. Snyder's farm, near La Porte, Ind., about 1851, and is
an upright, exceedingly vigorous, and stocky grower, a true child of
the _R. vittosus_. Its one fault is that it is not quite large enough
to compete with those already described. On moist land, with judicious
pruning, it could be made to approach them very nearly, however, while
its earliness, hardiness, fine flavor, and ability to grow and yield
abundantly almost anywhere, will lead to an increasing popularity. For
home use, size is not so important as flavor and certainty of a crop.
It is also more nearly ripe when first black than any other kind that I
have seen; its thorns are straight, and therefore less vicious. I find
that it is growing steadily in favor; and where the Kittatinny is
winter-killed, this hardy new variety leaves little cause for repining.

There are several kinds that are passing out of cultivation, and not a
few new candidates for favor; but the claims of superiority are as yet
too doubtful to be recognized. Mr. James Wilson, of West Point, N. Y.,
found some magnificent wild berries growing on Crow Nest Mountain. The
bush that bore them is now in my garden, and if it should produce fruit
having a flavor equal to Rodman Drake's poem, Mr. Wilson has, then,
found something more real than a "Culprit Fay." Occasionally, a
thornless blackberry is heralded, and not a few have reason to recall
the "Hoosac," which was generally found, I think, about as free from
fruit as thorns. We have, also, the horticultural paradox of white
blackberries, in the "Crystal," introduced by Mr. John B. Orange, of
Albion, Illinois, and some others. They have little value, save as
curiosities.

PROPAGATION, CULTURE, ETC.

In most instances I think more difficulty would be found in making a
blackberry die than live. A plant set out in fall or early spring will
thrive if given the ghost of a chance. Late spring planting, however,
often fails if subjected to heat and drought while in the green,
succulent condition of early growth. Like the raspberry, the blackberry
should be set, if possible, while in a dormant condition. If planted
late, shade should be given and moisture maintained until danger of
wilting and shrivelling is past. I advise decidedly against late spring
plantings on a large scale, but in early spring planting I have rarely
lost a plant. Almost all that has been said concerning the planting and
propagation of raspberries applies to this fruit. Set the plants two or
three inches deeper than they were before. With the exception of the
early Wilson, all speedily propagate themselves by suckers, and this
variety can be increased readily by root cuttings. Indeed, better
plants are usually obtained from all varieties by sowing slips of the
root, as has already been explained in the paper on raspberries.

The treatment of the blackberry can best be indicated by merely noting
wherein its requirements differ from the last-named and kindred fruit.
For instance, it does best on light soils and in sunny exposures. The
partial shade, and moist, heavy land in which the raspberry luxuriates
would produce a rank growth of canes that winter would generally find
unripened, and unable to endure the frost. Warm, well-drained, but not
dry land, therefore, is the best. On hard, dry ground, the fruit often
never matures, but becomes mere collections of seeds. Therefore the
need in the preparation of the soil of deep plowing, and the thorough
loosening, if possible, of the subsoil with the lifting plow. Any one
who has traced blackberry roots in light soils will seek to give them
foraging-room. Neither does this fruit require the fertility needed in
most instances by the raspberry. It inclines to grow too rankly at
best, and demands mellowness rather than richness of soil.

More room should also be given to the blackberry than to the raspberry.
The rows should be six feet apart in the garden and eight feet in field
culture, and the plants set three feet apart in the rows. At this
distance, 1,815 are required for an acre, if one plant only is placed
in a hill. Since these plants are usually cheap, if one is small or
unprovided with good roots, it is well to plant two. If the ground is
not very fertile, it is well to give the young plants a good start by
scattering a liberal quantity of muck compost down the furrow in which
they are planted. This ensures the most vigorous growth of young canes
in the rows rather than in the intervening spaces. As generally grown,
they require support, and may be staked as raspberries. Very often,
cheap post-and-wire trellises are employed, and answer excellently.
Under this system they can be grown in a continuous and bushy row, with
care against over-crowding.

The ideal treatment of the blackberry is management rather than
culture. More can be done with the thumb and finger at the right time
than with the most savage pruning-shears after a year of neglect. In
May and June the perennial roots send up vigorous shoots that grow with
amazing rapidity, until from five to ten feet high. Very often, this
summer growth is so brittle and heavy with foliage, that thunder-gusts
break them off from the parent stem just beneath the ground, and the
bearing cane of the coming year is lost. These and the following
considerations show the need of summer pruning. Tall, overgrown canes
are much more liable to be injured by frost. They need high and
expensive supports. Such branchless canes are by no means so productive
as those which are made to throw out low and lateral shoots. They can
always be made to do this by a timely pinch that takes off the terminal
bud of the cane. This stops its upward growth, and the buds beneath it,
which otherwise might remain dormant, are immediately forced to become
side branches near the ground, where the snow may cover them, and over
which, in the garden, straw or other light litter may be thrown, on the
approach of winter. It thus is seen that by early summer pinching the
blackberry may be compelled to become as low and bushy a shrub as we
desire, and is made stocky and self-supporting at the same time.
Usually it is not well to let the bushes grow over four feet high; and
in regions where they winter-kill badly, I would keep them under three
feet, so that the snow might be a protection. It should be remembered
that the Kittatinny is so nearly hardy that in almost all instances a
very slight covering saves it. The suckers that come up thickly between
the rows can be cut away while small with the least possible trouble;
but leave the patch or field to its own wild impulses for a year or so,
and you may find a "slip of wilderness" in the midst of your garden
that will require not a little strength and patience to subdue. By far
the best weapon for such a battle, and the best implement also for
cutting out the old wood, is a pair of long-handled shears.




CHAPTER XXV

CURRANTS--CHOICE OF SOIL, CULTIVATION, PRUNING, ETC.


They wore "curns" in our early boyhood, and "curns" they are still in
the rural vernacular of many regions. In old English they were
"corrans," because the people associated them with the raisins of the
small Zante grape, once imported so exclusively from Corinth as to
acquire the name of that city.

Under the tribe _Grossulariae_ of the Saxifrage family we find the
_Ribes_ containing many species of currants and gooseberries; but, in
accordance with the scope of this book, we shall quote from Professor
Gray (whose arrangement we follow) only those that furnish the currants
of cultivation.

"_Ribes rubrum_, red currant, cultivated from Europe, also wild on our
northern border, with straggling or reclining stems, somewhat
heart-shaped, moderately three to five lobed leaves, the lobes roundish
and drooping racemes from lateral buds distinct from the leaf buds;
edible berries red, or a white variety."

This is the parent of our cultivated red and white varieties. Currants
are comparatively new-comers in the garden. When the Greek and Roman
writers were carefully noting and naming the fruits of their time, the
_Ribes_ tribe was as wild as any of the hordes of the far North, in
whose dim, cold, damp woods and bogs it then flourished, but, like
other Northern tribes, it is making great improvement under the genial
influences of civilization and culture.

Until within a century or two, gardeners who cultivated currants at all
were content with wild specimens from the woods. The exceedingly small,
acid fruit of these wildings was not calculated to inspire enthusiasm;
but a people possessing the surer qualities of patience and
perseverance determined to develop them, and, as a result, we have the
old Bed and White Dutch varieties, as yet unsurpassed for the table. In
the Victoria, Cherry, and White Grape, we have decided advances in
size, but not in flavor.

CHOICE AND PREPARATION OF SOIL

The secret of success in the culture of currants is suggested by the
fact that nature has planted nearly every species of the _Ribes_ in
cold, damp, northern exposures. Throughout the woods and bogs of the
Northern Hemisphere is found the scraggy, untamed, hurdy stock from
which has been developed the superb White Grape. As with people, so
with plants: development does not eradicate constitutional traits and
tendencies. Beneath all is the craving for the primeval conditions of
life, and the best success with the currant and gooseberry will
assuredly be obtained by those who can give them a reasonable approach
to the soil, climate, and culture suggested by their damp, cold, native
haunts. As with the strawberry, then, the first requisite is, not
wetness, but abundant and continuous moisture. Soils naturally
deficient in this, and which cannot be made drought-resisting by deep
plowing and cultivation, are not adapted to the currant. Because this
fruit is found wild in bogs, it does not follow that it can be grown
successfully in undrained swamps. It will do better in such places than
on dry, gravelly knolls, or on thin, light soils; but our fine
civilized varieties need civilized conditions. The well-drained swamp
may become the very best of currant fields; and damp, heavy land, that
is capable of deep, thorough cultivation, should be selected if
possible. When such is not to be had, then, by deep plowing,
subsoiling, by abundant mulch around the plants throughout the summer,
and by occasional waterings in the garden, counteracting the effects of
lightness and dryness of soil, skill can go far in making good nature's
deficiencies.

Next to depth of soil and moisture, the currant requires fertility. It
is justly called one of the "gross feeders," and is not particular as
to the quality of its food, so that it is abundant. I would still
suggest, however, that it be fed according to its nature with heavy
composts, in which muck, leaf-mould, and the cleanings of the
cow-stable are largely present. Wood-ashes and bone-meal are also most
excellent. If stable or other light manures must be used, I would
suggest that they be scattered liberally on the surface in the fall or
early spring and gradually worked in by cultivation. Thus used, their
light heating qualities will do no harm, and they will keep the surface
mellow and, therefore, moist.

The shadowy, Northern haunts of the wild currant also suggest that it
will falter and fail under the Southern sun; and this is true, As we
pass down through the Middle States, we find it difficult to make
thrive even the hardy White and Bed Dutch varieties, and a point is at
last reached when the bushes lose their leaves in the hot season, and
die. From the latitude of New York south, therefore, increasing effort
should be made to supply the currants' constitutional need, by giving
partial shade among pear or widely set apple-trees, or, better still,
by planting on the northern side of fences, buildings, etc. By giving a
cool, half-shady exposure in moist land, the culture of the currant can
be extended far to the south, especially in the high mountain regions.
Even well to the north it is unprofitable when grown on light, thin,
poor land, unless given liberal, skilful culture.

PLANTING, CULTIVATION AND PRUNING

I regard autumn as the best season for planting currants, but have
succeeded nearly as well in early spring. If kept moist, there is
little danger of the plants dying at any time, but those set in the
fall or early spring make, the first year, a much larger growth than
those planted when the buds have developed into leaves. Since they
start so early, they should be set in the spring as soon as the ground
is dry enough to work, and in the autumn, any time after the leaves
fall or the wood is ripe. The plants of commerce are one, two and three
years old, though not very many of the last are sold. I would as soon
have one-year plants, if well rooted, as any, since they are cheaper
and more certain to make strong, vigorous bushes, if given generous
treatment in the open field, than if left crowded too long in nursery
rows. For the garden, where fruit is desired as soon as possible, two
and three year old plants are preferable. After planting, cut the young
bushes back one-half or two-thirds, so as to ensure new and vigorous
growth.

In field culture, I recommend that the rows be five feet apart, and the
plants four feet from each other in the row. In this case 2,178 plants
are required for an acre. If it is designed to cultivate them both
ways, let the plants be set at right angles five feet apart, an acre
now requiring 1,742 plants. Sink them two or three inches deeper than
they stood in the nursery rows, and although in preparation the ground
was well enriched, a shovel of compost around the young plant gives it
a fine send-off, and hastens the development of a profitable bush. In
the field and for market, I would urge that currants be grown
invariably in bush, rather than in tree form. English writers, and some
here who follow them, recommend the latter method; but it is not
adapted to our climate, and to such limited attention as we can afford
to give. The borers, moreover, having but a single stem to work upon,
would soon cause many vacancies in the rows.

Currants are grown for market with large and increasing profits;
indeed, there is scarcely a fruit that now pays better.

Mr. John S. Collins, of Moorestown, N. J., by the following ingenious,
yet simple, invention, is able to drive through his currant and
raspberry fields without injuring the plants.

"An ordinary cart is changed by putting in an axle fifteen inches
longer than usual, the wheels thus making a track six feet and eight
inches wide. The shafts and body of the cart are put just as close to
one wheel as possible, so that the horse and the wheel will pass as
near together, and as near in a line, as practicable. The axle of the
other wheel being long, and bowing up several inches higher than
ordinary in the middle, it passes over a row of bushes with little or
no damage. Thus, fertilizers can be carried to all parts of the field."

Of course, it would not do to drive through bushes laden with fruit;
but after they were picked, such a vehicle could cause but little
injury.

In the garden and for home use there is the widest latitude. We may
content ourselves, as many do, with a few old Red Dutch bushes that for
a generation have struggled with grass and burdocks. We may do a little
better, and set out plants in ordinary garden soil, but forget for
years to give a particle of food to the starving bushes, remarking
annually, with increasing emphasis, that they must be "running out."
Few plants of the garden need high feeding more, and no others are more
generally starved. I will guarantee that there are successful farmers
who no more think of manuring a currant bush than of feeding crows.
This fruit will live, no matter how we abuse it, but there are scarcely
any that respond more quickly to generous treatment; and in the garden
where it is not necessary to keep such a single eye to the margin of
profit, many beautiful and interesting things can be done with the
currant. The majority will be satisfied with large, vigorous bushes,
well enriched, mulched and skilfully pruned. If we choose, however, we
may train them into pretty little trees, umbrella, globe, or pyramid in
shape, according to our fancy, and by watchfulness and the use of
ashes, keep away the borers. In one instance I found a few vigorous
shoots that had made a growth of nearly three feet in a single season.
With the exception of the terminal bud and three or four just below it,
I disbudded these shoots carefully, imbedded the lower ends six inches
in moist soil as one would an ordinary cutting, and they speedily took
root and developed into little trees. Much taller and more ornamental
currant and gooseberry trees can be obtained by grafting any variety we
wish on the Missouri species (_Ribes aureum_). These can be made pretty
and useful ornaments of the lawn, as well as of the garden. Instead,
therefore, of weed-choked, sprawling, unsightly objects, currant bushes
can be made things of beauty, as well as of sterling worth.

The cultivation of the currant is very simple. As early in the spring
as the ground is dry enough, it should be thoroughly stirred by plow or
cultivator, and all perennial weeds and grasses just around the bushes
taken out with pronged hoes or forks. If a liberal top-dressing of
compost or some other fertilizer was not given in the autumn, which is
the best time to apply it, let it be spread over the roots (not up
against the stems) before the first spring cultivation. While the
bushes are still young, they can be cultivated and kept clean, like any
hoed crop; but after they come into bearing--say the third summer --a
different course must be adopted. If the ground is kept mellow and bare
under the bushes, the fruit will be so splashed with earth as to be
unsalable, and washed fruit is scarcely fit for the table. We very
properly wish it with just the bloom and coloring which Nature is a
month or more in elaborating. Muddy or rinsed fruit suggests the sty,
not a dining-room. A mulch of leaves, straw, evergreen boughs--anything
that will keep the ground clean--applied immediately after the early
spring culture, is the best and most obvious way of preserving the
fruit; and this method also secures all the good results which have
been shown to follow mulching. Where it is not convenient to mulch, I
would suggest that the ground be left undisturbed after the first
thorough culture, until the fruit is gathered. The weeds that grow in
the interval may be mowed, and allowed to fall under the bushes. By the
end of June, the soil will have become so fixed that, with a partial
sod of weeds, the fruit may hang over, or even rest upon it, without
being splashed by the heavy rains then prevalent. This course is not so
neat as clean cultivation or mulching. Few fruit growers, however, can
afford to make appearances the first consideration. I have heard of
oats being sown among the bushes to keep the fruit clean, but their
growth must check the best development of the fruit quite as much as
the natural crop of weeds. It would be better to give clean culture,
and grow rye, or any early maturing green crop, somewhere else, and
when the fruit begins to turn, spread this material under the bushes.
On many places, the mowings of weedy, swampy places would be found
sufficient for the purpose. After the fruit is gathered, start the
cultivator and hoe at once, so as to secure vigorous foliage and
healthful growth throughout the entire summer.

Pruning may be done any time after the leaves fall, and success depends
upon its judicious and rigorous performance. The English gardeners have
recognized this fact, and they have as minute and careful a system as
we apply to the grape. These formal and rather arbitrary methods can
scarcely be followed practically in our hurried American life. It seems
to me that I can do no better than to lay down some sound and general
principles and leave their working out to the judgment of the grower.
In most instances, I imagine, our best gardeners rarely trim two bushes
exactly alike, but deal with each according to its vigor and natural
tendencies; for a currant bush has not a little individuality.

A young bush needs cutting back like a young grapevine, and for the
same reason. A grapevine left to itself would soon become a mass of
tangled wood yielding but little fruit, and that of inferior quality.
In like manner nature, uncurbed, gives us a great, straggling bush that
is choked and rendered barren by its own luxuriance. Air and light are
essential, and the knife must make spaces for them. Cutting back and
shortening branches develops fruit buds. Otherwise, we have long,
unproductive reaches of wood. This is especially true of the Cherry and
other varieties resembling it. The judicious use of the knife, kept up
from year to year, will almost double their productiveness. Again, too
much very young and too much old wood are causes of unfruitfulness. The
skilful culturist seeks to produce and preserve many points of
branching and short spurs, for it is here that the little fruit buds
cluster thickly. When a branch is becoming black and feeble from age,
cut it back to the root, that space may be given for younger growth.
From six to twelve bearing stems, from three to five feet high, with
their shortened branches and fruit spurs, may be allowed to grow from
the roots, according to the vigor of the plant and the space allotted
to it. Usually, too many suckers start in the spring. Unless the crop
of young wood is valuable for propagation, all except such as are
needed to renew the bush should be cut out as early as possible, before
they have injured the forming crop. In England, great attention is paid
to summer pruning, and here much might be accomplished by it if we had,
or would take, the time.




CHAPTER XXVI

CURRANTS, CONTINUED--PROPAGATION, VARIETIES


Pruning naturally leads to the subject of propagation, for much of that
which is cut away, so far from being useless, is often of great value
to the nurseryman; and there are few who grow this fruit for market who
could not turn many an honest penny if they would take the refuse young
wood of the previous summer's growth and develop it into salable
bushes. In most instances a market would be found in their own
neighborhood. Nothing is easier than success in raising young currant
bushes, except failure. If cuttings are treated in accordance with
their demand for moisture and coolness, they grow with almost
certainty; if subjected to heat and drought, they usually soon become
dry sticks. The very best course is to make and plant our cuttings in
September or very early in October--just as soon as the leaves fall or
will rub off readily. As is true of a root-slip, so also the wood
cutting must make a callus at its base before there can be growth. From
this the roots start out. Therefore, the earlier in the fall that
cuttings are made, the more time for the formation of this callus.
Often, autumn-planted cuttings are well rooted before winter, and have
just that much start over those that must begin life in the spring. Six
inches is the average length. See Figures A, B and C. Let the cuttings
be sunk in deep, rich, moist, but thoroughly well-drained soil, so
deeply as to leave but two or three buds above the ground. In the
garden, where the design is to raise a few fine bushes for home use
merely, let the rows be two feet apart and the cuttings six inches
apart in the row. In raising them by the thousand for market, we must
economize space and labor; and therefore one of the best methods, after
rendering the ground mellow and smooth, is to stretch a line across the
plat or field; then, beginning on one side of the line, to strike a
spade into the soil its full depth, press it forward and draw it out.
This leaves a slight opening, of the width and depth of the spade, and
a boy following inserts in this three cuttings, one in the middle and
one at each end. The man then steps back and drives the spade down
again about four inches in  the rear of the first opening, and, as he
presses his spade forward to make a second, he closes up the first
opening, pressing--indeed, almost pinching--the earth around the three
slips that have just been thrust down, until but one or two buds are
above the surface. We thus have a row of cuttings, three abreast, and
about three inches apart, across the entire field. A space of three
feet is left for cultivation, and then we plant, as before, another
triple row. These thick rows should be taken up the following fall,
when the largest may be sold; or planted where they are to fruit, and
the smaller ones replanted in nursery rows. When land is abundant the
cuttings may be sunk in single rows, with sufficient space between for
horse cultivation, and allowed to mature into two-year-old plants
without removal. If these are not planted or sold, they should be cut
back rigorously before making the third year's growth.

[Illustration: CURRANT CUTTINGS AND CALLUS]

In moist land, cuttings can be made to grow even if set out late in the
spring, especially if top-dressed and mulched; but if they are to be
started on high, dry land, they should be out sufficiently early in the
autumn to become rooted before winter. If our land is of a nature that
tends to throw roots out of the ground--and moist, heavy land has this
tendency--it may be best to bury the cuttings in bundles, tied up with
fine wire, on a dry knoll, below the action of the frost, and set them
out early--_as early as possible_--in the spring. At any season the
rows of cuttings should be well top-dressed with fine manure, and if
planted in autumn, they should be so well covered with straw, leaves,
or some litter, as not to suffer or be thrown out in freezing and
thawing weather. I manage to get half my cuttings out in the fall, and
half in early spring.

In the greenhouse, and even out-of-doors, under very favorable
circumstances, plants may be grown from single buds; and green wood
also propagates readily under glass. A vigorous young plant, with roots
attached, may often be obtained by breaking off the suckers that start
beneath the surface around the stems; and, by layering or bending
bushes over and throwing dirt upon them, new plants are readily made
also; but more shapely, and usually more vigorous, bushes are obtained
by simple cuttings, as I have described.

When it is designed to grow a cutting in a tree form, all the buds but
two or three at the top should be carefully removed.

If we wish to try our fortune in raising new varieties, we must sow
seeds of the very best specimens we can find, gathered when perfectly
ripe. These seeds should never be kept where it is hot or very dry, and
should be soaked for a day or two in tepid water before planting. Sow
early in spring, quarter of an inch deep, in fine rich soil, which must
continually be kept moist, but never wet. Top-dressings of very fine,
light manure would keep the surface from baking, thus giving the seeds
a chance to germinate. Tolerate no weeds. Remove the seedlings in the
fall to rows three feet apart, and the plants two feet distant in the
row. There they may stand until their comparative value can be
determined.

VARIETIES

Black currants form quite a distinct class in appearance and flavor,
and are not as popular with us as in England. They are stronger and
coarser-growing plants than the red and white species, and do not
require as high culture. They can be grown to advantage in tree form,
as they are quite exempt from insect enemies. The tent caterpillar is
the only one that I have seen injuring them. They also require much
less pruning, since the best fruit is borne on the young wood of the
previous year's growth. If they are grown as bushes, they need more
room--six feet apart each way--and the knife need be used only to
secure good form and space for air and light. Two native
species--_Ribes floridum_ and _Ribes aureum_--are cultivated to some
extent (for description see "Gray's Botany"). Although these species
and their varieties are of little value, Mr. Fuller thinks that they
might become the parents of far better kinds than we now have, since
they are strong growers, and their fruit is naturally of better flavor
than that of the European black currant. _Ribes aureum_ is largely
cultivated as an ornamental shrub, and its spicy-scented, bright yellow
flowers of early spring are among my pleasantest memories. As has
already been explained, we can make miniature trees of our white and
red currants, by grafting them on its strong, erect-growing stems.
_Ribes nigrum_ is the European species, and is found wild throughout
the northern part of the Eastern Hemisphere. Mr. Fuller writes that the
inhabitants of Siberia make a beverage from its dried leaves which is
said closely to resemble green tea. Black Naples is the finest variety
of this species. Charles Downing says of it: "Its berries often measure
nearly three-quarters of an inch in diameter. Its leaves and blossoms
appear earlier than those of the common, or English Black, but the
fruit is later, and the clusters as well as the berries are larger and
more numerous." Lee's Prolific is said by some to be a slight
improvement on the above; by others it is thought to be very similar.

Of red currants, the old Red Dutch is the most prominent. It is the
currant of memory. From it was made the wine which our mothers and
grandmothers felt that they could offer with perfect propriety to the
minister. There are rural homes to-day in which the impression still
lingers that it is a kind of temperance drink. From it is usually made
the currant jelly without which no lady would think of keeping house in
the country. One of the gravest questions in domestic economy is
whether the jelly will "jell." Often it does not, and cannot be made
to. The cause of its lamentable perversity is this: The currants have
been left until over-ripe before picking, or they have been picked wet,
just after rain. Gather them when dry, and as soon as possible after
they have turned red, and I am informed by the highest domestic
authority (my wife) that there will be no difficulty.

In flavor, the Red Dutch is unequalled by any other red currant. It is
also a variety that can scarcely be killed by abuse and neglect, and it
responds so generously to high culture and rigorous pruning that it is
an open question whether it cannot be made, after all, the most
profitable for market, since it is so much more productive than the
larger varieties, and can be made to approach them so nearly in size.
Indeed, not a few are annually sold for Cherry currants.

The White Dutch is similar to the Red in the growth and character of
the bush. The clusters, however, are a little shorter, and the fruit a
little larger and sweeter, and is of a fine yellowish-white color, with
a veined, translucent skin.

The White Grape is an advance in size upon the last-named, and of
marvellous productiveness and beauty. It is not as vigorous as the
White Dutch, and is more spreading in its mode of growth, requiring
careful pruning to make a shapely bush. The fruit, also, is not spread
so evenly over the wood, but is produced more in bunches. In flavor, it
is one of the very best.

Dana's Transparent, and other white varieties, do not vary materially
from either the White Grape or Dutch.

The great market currant is the Cherry. In the "Canadian
Horticulturist" for September, 1878, I find the following:

"The history of this handsome currant is not without interest. Monsieur
Adrienne Seneclause, a distinguished horticulturist in France, received
it from Italy among a lot of other currants. He noticed the
extraordinary size of the fruit, and gave it, in consequence, the name
it yet bears. In the year 1843 it was fruited in the nursery of the
Museum of Natural History, and figured from these samples in the
'Annales de Flore et de Pomone' for February, 1848. Dr. William W.
Valk, of Flushing, Long Island, N. Y., introduced it to the notice of
American fruit growers in 1846, having imported some of the plants in
the spring of that year."

This variety is now very widely disseminated, and its culture is
apparently becoming increasingly profitable every year. Two essentials
are requisite to success with it--high manuring and skilful pruning. It
has the tendency to produce long branches, on which there are but few
buds. Rigorous cutting back, so as to cause branching joints and fruit
spurs, should be practiced annually. The foliage is strong and coarse,
and the fruit much more acid than the Dutch family; but size and beauty
carry the market, and the Cherry can be made, by high culture, very
large and beautiful.

Versailles, or _La Versaillaise_, is a figurative bone of contention.
The horticultural doctors disagree so decidedly that the rest of us
can, without presumption, think for ourselves. Mr. A. S. Fuller has
probably given the subject more attention than any one else, and he
asserts, without any hesitancy, that this so-called variety is
identical with the Cherry. Mr. Fuller is certainly entitled to his
opinion, for he obtained plants of the Cherry and Versailles from all
the leading nurserymen in America, and imported them from the standard
nurseries abroad, not only once, but repeatedly, yet could never get
two distinct varieties. The writer in the "Canadian Horticulturist"
also states in regard to the Versailles:

"Some pains were taken to obtain this variety on different occasions,
and from the most reliable sources, so that there might be no mistake
as to the correctness of the name; but after many years of trial we are
unable to perceive any decided variation, either in the quality of the
fruit, the length of the bunch, or the habit of the plant, from the
Cherry currant."

I must admit that I am inclined to take the same view; for, during
several years, I have looked in vain for two distinct varieties. I have
carefully kept the two kinds separate, but find in each case the same
stout, stocky, short-jointed, erect shoots that are often devoid of
buds, and tend to become naked with age, and the same dark green,
thick, bluntly and coarsely serrated foliage. Mr. Downing thinks the
difference lies in the fact that, while the Versailles strain produces
many short bunches like the Cherry, it also frequently bears clusters,
and that such long, tapering clusters are never formed on the Cherry.
This is the only difference, I think, if any exists; but in no instance
have I been able to find this distinction well defined and sustained by
the bearing plantations that I have seen. Mr. Downing, however, has had
tenfold more experience than I have, and his opinions are entitled to
corresponding weight.

That this class is much inclined to "sport," I think all will admit.
One bush in a row may be loaded with fruit year after year, and the
next one be comparatively barren. The clusters on one bush may be short
and characteristic of the Cherry, while a neighboring bush in the same
patch may show a tendency to mingle some long clusters with the short
ones; and young bushes grown from the same plant will show these
variations. I am satisfied that distinct and much improved strains
could be developed by propagating from bushes producing the best and
most abundant fruit, and that a variety having the characteristics of
the Ideal Versailles could be developed. The importance of this careful
selection in propagation can scarcely be overestimated, and the fruit
grower who followed it up for a few years might almost double the
productiveness and quality of many of his varieties.

Victoria (known also as May's Victoria, and having a half-dozen other
synonymes) is a distinct variety, whose great value consists in its
lengthening out the currant season two or three weeks after the
above-named kinds have matured. The fruit is also large--between the
Red Dutch and Cherry in size--exceedingly abundant, and although rather
acid, of good flavor when fully ripe. The clusters are very long--from
five to seven inches--tapering, and the berries are bright red. If it
is grown in some moist, cool, half-shady location, the bunches will
hang on the bushes very late in the season. In many localities it is
found very profitable, since it need not be sold until the others are
out of the market. The young branches are rather slender, but the plant
itself is vigorous, and can be grown at less expense than the Cherry.

There are many other named varieties, but in the majority of instances
the distinctions between them are slight, and as they are waning before
the finer varieties that I have described, I shall not attempt to
lighten the shadows that are gathering around them. The future promises
more than the past, and I think that, before many years pass, some fine
new kinds will be introduced.

The enemies and diseases of the currant will be treated in a later
chapter.




CHAPTER XXVII

GOOSEBERRIES


I have treated the currant very fully, not only because it is the more
popular fruit in this country, but also because the greater part of my
suggestions under that heading applies equally to this branch of the
_Ribes_ tribe. Possessing the same general characteristics, it should
be treated on the same principles that were seen to be applicable to
the currant. It flourishes best in the same cool exposures, and is the
better for partial shade. Even in the south of England the more
tender-skinned varieties often scald in the sun. However, I would
recommend the shade of a fence or a northern hillside, rather than
overhanging branches of trees. A rich soil, especially one that is deep
and moist but not wet, is equally requisite, and the rigorous annual
pruning is even more essential. As the wood becomes old and black, it
should be cut out altogether. Fruit buds and spurs are produced on wood
two or more years old, and cutting back causes these, but they must not
be allowed to become too crowded. To no fruit are air and light more
essential.

We have in this country two very distinct classes of gooseberries-the
first of foreign origin, and the second consisting of our native
species. Gray thus describes _Ribes Grossularia_, garden or English
gooseberry: "Cultivated from Europe for the well-known fruit; thorny
and prickly, with small, obtuse, three to five lobed leaves, green
flowers, one to three on short pedicels, bell-shaped calyx, and large
berry."

This native of northern Europe and the forests of the British Islands
has been developed into the superb varieties which have been famous so
long in England, but which we are able to grow with very partial
success. It remembers its birthplace even more strongly than the
currant, and the almost invariable mildew of our gardens is the sign of
its homesickness. The cool, moist climate of England just suits it, and
it is the pride of the gardens of Lancashire to surpass the world in
the development of large specimens. Mr. Downing writes:

"We are indebted to the Lancashire weavers, who seem to have taken it
up as a hobby, for nearly all the surprisingly large sorts of modern
date. Their annual shows exhibit this fruit in its greatest perfection,
and a gooseberry book is published in Manchester every year, giving a
list of all the prize sorts, etc."

The extraordinary pains taken is suggested by the following quotation
from the "Encyclopaedia of Gardening":

"To effect this increased size, every stimulant is applied that their
ingenuity can suggest. They not only annually manure the soil richly,
but also surround the plants with trenches of manure for the
extremities of the roots to strike into, and form round the stem of
each plant a basin, to be mulched, or manured, or watered, as may
become necessary. When a root has extended too far from the stem, it is
uncovered, and all the strongest leaders are shortened back nearly
one-half of their length, and covered with fresh, marly loam, well
manured. The effect of this pruning is to increase the number of fibres
and spongioles, which form rapidly on the shortened roots, and strike
out in all directions among the fresh, newly stirred loam, in search of
nutriment."

This is carrying culture to an extreme rarely, if ever, seen in
America. The annual referred to above recorded one hundred and
fifty-five gooseberry exhibitions in 1863.

The number of varieties is almost endless, and more than seven hundred
prize sorts are named in Lindley's "Guide to the Orchard"; but not one
of them, I fear, can be grown in this country, except under favorable
conditions and with extra care. Even after supplying such conditions,
they will often mildew in spite of our best efforts. Again, in some
localities, and for obscure causes, they will thrive and continue for
years quite free from this chief enemy of the foreign gooseberry.
Repeated applications of the flowers of sulphur over the bushes, from
the time the fruit sets until it is ripe, are probably the best
preventive. Thorough mulching, rigorous pruning, and high culture are
also to be recommended. Those who garden for pleasure would do well to
try some of these fine foreigners.

The following are some that Mr. Downing and others have recommended:

I. Red Varieties: British Crown, Top Sawyer, Roaring Lion, Lancashire
Lad, Crown Bob.

II. White: Cheshire Lass, White Lion, Whitesmith, White Honey.

III. Green: Laurel, Heart of Oak, Jolly Angler, Jolly Tar.

IV. Yellow: Golden Fleece, Bunker Hill, Conqueror, etc.

If but two or three foreign berries are to be chosen, I would recommend
Crown Bob, Bearing Lion, and Whitesmith.

I am sorry to say that seedlings of these foreign varieties have the
same tendency to mildew shown by their parents. The Late Emerald was
originated in the old garden at Newburgh, and is a sad example of this
fact. For many years it thrived in its birthplace without a trace of
mildew, but on my own place it has behaved so badly that I do not
recommend it. Were it not for this fault, I should grow no other
variety.

In view of this inveterate evil, mildew, which is so seldom escaped and
so difficult to overcome, we must turn to the second great class, our
native species, since they are adapted to our climate. Of these there
are several species, of which the following are the most prominent:

_Ribes speciosum_, showy, flowering gooseberry of California,
cultivated for ornament, especially in England, and likely to succeed
in the southern Middle States. It is trained like a climber; has small,
shining leaves, very handsome flowers resembling those of a fuchsia,
berry prickly, and few-seeded.

_R. rotundifolium_, more common in the West, is often downy-leaved;
peduncles slender; the slender stamens and two-parted style longer than
the narrow calyx; berry smooth.

_R. cynosbati_ is found in the rocky woods of the North, is
downy-leaved, with slender peduncle, stamens and undivided style not
exceeding the broad calyx; large berry, usually prickly.

_R. lacustre_, Lake or Swamp Gooseberry, with the prickly stems of the
gooseberry, but with a raceme of flowers like those of a currant; found
in the cold bogs and wet woods of the North; small, bristly berries, of
unpleasant flavor.

Last, but by no means the least, is the _Ribes hirtellum_, "commonest
in our Eastern States, seldom downy, with very short thorns or none,
very short peduncles, stamens and two-cleft style scarcely longer than
the bell-shaped calyx; and the smooth berry is purple, small and
sweet." (Gray.) This is the parent of the most widely known of our
native varieties, the Houghton Seedling, named from its originator,
Abel Houghton, of Lynn, Massachusetts. The bush is a vigorous grower,
that will thrive, with decent culture, on any moderately good soil, and
is very rarely injured by mildew. At the same time it improves greatly
under high culture and pruning. The bush has a slender and even weeping
habit of growth, and can be propagated readily by cuttings. From the
Houghton have been grown two seedlings that now are justly the most
popular.

The first and best of these is the Downing, originated by Mr. Charles
Downing of Newburgh. It is an "upright, vigorous-growing plant, very
productive. Fruit somewhat larger than the Houghton, roundish-oval,
whitish-green, with the rib veins distinct. Skin smooth. Flesh rather
soft, juicy." I consider this the best and most profitable variety that
can be generally grown in this country. In flavor, it is excellent. I
have had good success with this whenever I have given it fair culture.
It does not propagate readily from cuttings, and therefore I increase
it usually by layering.

The second seedling is Smith's Improved, a comparatively new variety
that is winning favor. It more closely resembles the Houghton in its
habit of growth than the Downing, and yet is more vigorous and upright
than its parent. The fruit is considerably larger than the Houghton,
oval, light green, with a bloom, moderately firm, sweet and good.

Mountain Seedling, originating with the Shakers at Lebanon, New York,
is the largest of the American varieties, but for some reason it does
not gain in popularity.

Cluster, or American Red, is a variety of unknown origin. The ancestral
bush may have been found in the woods. The fruit is scarcely as large
as that of the Houghton, is darker in color when fully ripe, hangs long
on the bush, and is sweet and good. Mr. P. Barry says that it never
mildews. Therefore, it should be made one of the parents of new
varieties, for in this direction lies the future of this fruit in
America.

In support of this opinion, I am led to quote the following letter,
recently received:

"I write to call your attention to a native variety of gooseberry, of
which you make no mention in your 'Scribner Papers,' growing in great
abundance in the Sierra Nevada, at an elevation of from 2,000 to 3,000
feet, often in the most exposed places, generally on northern slopes.
Thinking it may not have come to your knowledge, I will describe it.
The bush is of stiff, erect habit, two to three feet high, a stocky
grower and an abundant bearer. The berries vary from one-half to one
and one-quarter inches in diameter, are covered with innumerable
thorns, scarcely less savage in the green state than those on an
ordinary wild bush of this country. When cooked, the prickles soften
down to the same consistence as the skin, which is rather thick. When
ripe, they are easily peeled, and well repay the trouble, the spines
being then much less obdurate than when green. The mature fruit is of a
deep, dull, coppery red color, and in flavor is equal, if not superior,
to any of the _red_ varieties which I have eaten in England. I have
often wondered whether cultivation might not remove the spines from the
berries, or, that failing, whether a seedling could not be raised from
them which would give us a berry far more reliable than any good
gooseberry we now have. The scorching sun of the long, dry season of
California seemed to have no effect on the foliage, and is five years'
experience I never found a mildewed berry.

"The berry is _round_, like the red English berries, instead of
ellipsoid, like their white or golden ones.

"There is also another variety, hairy instead of spiny, about the size
of your picture of the Downing; bush not so free a grower, rarely
reaching two feet, and the berry, to my taste, much inferior. Tastes,
however, differ, and it may be the more promising fruit.

"Both varieties are common throughout the eastern end of El Dorado,
Placer, and Nevada counties."

The first-named, or thorny gooseberry, probably belongs to the _Ribes
cynosbati_, and the latter to the _R. rotundifolium_. The writer is
correct in thinking that, if such gooseberries are growing wild,
cultivation and selection could secure vast improvements. When we
remember that English gardeners started with a native species inferior
to ours, we are led to believe that effort and skill like theirs will
here be rewarded by kinds as superb, and as perfectly adapted to our
climate.




CHAPTER XXVIII

DISEASES AND INSECT ENEMIES OF SMALL FRUITS


Nature is very impartial. It is evidently her intention that we shall
enjoy all the fruits for which we are willing to pay her price, in
work, care, or skill, but she seems equally bent on supplying the
hateful white grub with strawberry roots, and currant worms with
succulent foliage. Indeed, it might even appear that she had a leaning
toward her small children, no matter how pestiferous they are. At any
rate, under the present order of things, lordly man is often their
servant, and they reap the reward of his labors.

Did not Nature stumble a little when man fell? She manages to keep on
the right side of the poets and painters, for it would seem that they
see her only when in moods that are smiling, serious, or grand. The
scientist, too, she beguiles, by showing under the microscope how
exquisitely she has fashioned some little embodiment of evil that may
be the terror of a province, or the scourge of a continent. While the
learned man is explaining how wonderfully its minute organs are formed,
for mastication, assimilation, procreation, etc., practical people, who
have their bread to earn, are impatiently wishing that the whole genus
was under their heels, confident that the organs would become still
more minute.

The horticulturist should be cast in heroic mold, for he not only must
bear his part in the fight with moral wrong, like other men, but must
also cope with vegetable and insect evil. Weeds, bugs, worms, what
hateful little vices many of them seem in nature! I do not wish to be
thought indiscriminate. Many insects are harmless and beautiful; and,
if harmless, no one can object if they are not pretty. Not a few are
very useful, as, for instance, the little parasite of the cabbage worm.
There is need of a general and unremitting crusade against our insect
enemies; but it should be a discriminating war, for it is downright
cruelty to kill a harmless creature, however small. Still, there are
many pests that, like certain forms of evil, will destroy if not
destroyed; and they have brought disaster and financial ruin to
multitudes.

Mark Tapley hit upon the true philosophy of life, and it is usually
possible to take a cheerful view of everything; such a view I suggest
to the reader, in regard to the pests of the garden that often lead us
into sympathy with the man who wished that there was "a form of sound
words in the Prayer-Book which might be used in cases of great
provocation." Under the present order of things, skills, industry, and
prompt, vigilant action are rewarded. Humanity's besetting sin is
laziness; but weeds and insects for months together make this vice
wellnigh impossible, save to those who are so unfortunate as to live on
the industry of others. Therefore, though our fruits often suffer, men
are developed, and made more patient, energetic, resolute,
persevering--in brief, more manly. Put the average man into a garden
where there were no vegetable diseases, insects, and weeds to cope
with, and he himself would become a weed. Moreover, it would seem that
in those regions where Nature hinders men as much as she helps them,
they are all the better for their difficulties, and their gardens also.
Such skill and energy are developed that not only are the horticultural
enemies vanquished, but they are often made the means of a richer and a
fuller success.

In a valuable paper read before the New Jersey State Horticultural
Society, and recently published in the "American Entomologist," Mr. A.
S. Fuller makes the following useful suggestions:

"Insects and diseases are frequently so closely united, or so dependent
upon each other, that the naturalist often finds it difficult to
determine to which the fruit grower should attribute his losses. Some
species of insects attack only diseased or dead plants; others only the
living and healthy. If a plant shows signs of failing, we are inclined
to speak of it as being diseased, whether the failure is caused by a
lack of some element in the soil, attacks of parasitic fungi, or
noxious insects. The loss is the same in the end, whether from one or
all of these enemies combined.

"There are two practical methods of combating insect enemies and
diseases of plants; one is to so carefully cultivate and stimulate the
growth of the plants that they may possess the power of resisting
attack; the other is to make war directly upon them by artificial
means. Of course, the first method is most applicable or practicable
against the more minute species, such as the plant-lice, rust, smut,
and mildew. I do not recommend forcing plants to extremes, in order to
enable them to resist their enemies, as this might work an irreparable
injury; but the condition to be aimed at should be a healthy, vigorous
growth; for anything beyond this is more the sign of weakness than
strength.

"The half-starved, overworked and uncared-for horse is sure, sooner or
later, to become the prey of various kinds of internal and external
parasites, which are thrown off, or successfully resisted in their
attacks, by the healthy, vigorous, and well-fed animal; and the same
principle holds good all through the animal and vegetable
kingdoms--whether the subject be a man, horse, sturdy oak, or delicate
strawberry plant. Not that all diseases are due to loss of vigor
through starvation and neglect; but that a large number of them are is
well known."

STRAWBERRIES

We all have seen these principles verified. In the Great American
strawberry, I think, we have an example of feebleness resulting from
over-stimulation. The Wilson Seedling, that, in the local vernacular,
is sometimes said to be "running out," is, in contrast, the consequence
of starvation, neglect, and long-continued propagation from poor, mixed
stock. Feebleness can scarcely be called a disease, and yet it is best
counteracted by the tonic treatment suggested by Mr. Fuller.

In loose, light soils, the Aphis, or Green Fly, often penetrates to the
roots of strawberry plants in immense numbers, and they suck away life
or vitality. The tonic of wood-ashes scattered over the rows will
usually destroy the pests. Refuse from the tobacco-factory is also
recommended.

I think that wood-ashes and bone-dust are excellent preventives of
burning or sun-scalding. They give the plants such vigor that they are
able to resist sudden or great climatic changes, from heat to cold, or
from drought to moisture.

Many varieties are enfeebled by their disposition to run profusely.
Kerr's Prolific, for example, will speedily sod the ground with small,
puny plants, whose foliage will burn so badly that the fruit can
scarcely mature. Set out these small plants, and give the tonic
treatment of cutting off all runners, and large, bushy stools, with
vigorous foliage and superb fruit, will result. Indeed, next to
fertilizers and moisture, there is nothing that so enhances the vigor
and productiveness of a plant as clipping the runners as fast as they
appear. The uncurbed habit of running depletes almost like disease; and
but few varieties will make large fruit buds and runners at the same
time.

In close, wet weather the fruit and leaf stalks will sometimes suffer
from mildew; and occasionally a microscopic fungus, known as the
strawberry brand, will attack the foliage. I have also seen, in a few
instances, a disease that resembled the curl-leaf in raspberries. The
plants were dwarfed, foliage wrinkled and rusty, and fruit misshapen,
like small, gnarly apples. In all such instances I believe in tonic
treatment, of wood-ashes, bone-dust, guano, and fertilizers of like
nature, used with care. Plants do not need over-doses or over-feeding
any more than we do ourselves. When a few plants are diseased, I
believe in rigorously rooting them out and burning them. If a field is
affected, as soon as possible turn the plants under, and renovate the
land with clover, buckwheat, a light dressing of lime, and thorough
exposure to the air, light, and frost. By such methods, and a wise
selection of fertilizers, I believe that strawberries can be raised on
the same ground for centuries. My plants have always been exceptionally
free from all kinds of disease or rust, and I attribute it to the
liberal use of wood-ashes.

But there is one enemy that inspires me with fear and unmingled
disgust. It is the type of a certain phase of character in society most
difficult to deal with, and which the mantle of charity is rarely broad
enough to cover--the stupidly and stolidly malignant, who have just
sense enough to do a great deal of mischief, and to keep it hidden
until too late for remedy. Science has dignified the detestable thing
with a sonorous name, as usual--the _Lachnosterna Fusca_, already
referred to. It does not deserve even its name in the common
vernacular--White Grub; for its white is of a dingy hue, and its head
dark, like its deeds. Has it a redeeming trait? "Give the de'il his
due," says the proverb. The best I can say of the white grub is that
crows, and an odorous animal I forbear to name, are very fond of it,
This fact, I think, is its sole virtue, its one entry on the credit
side; but there is a long, dark score against it. Of its havoc on the
lawn and farm I will not speak, since it is sufficient for our purposes
to state that it is the strawberry's worst foe.

The best method of circumventing the "varmint" is to learn its ways;
and therefore I shall outline its history, beginning at a period in its
being when stupidity predominates over its evil-that is, when it is the
May beetle or June bug, that blunders and bumps around in utter
disregard of itself and every one else. In this stage it is like the
awkward village loafer, quiet by day, but active and obtrusive in the
early evening. It dislikes honest sunshine, but is attracted by
artificial light, at which it precipitates itself with the same lack of
sense and reason that marks the loafer's gravitation toward a lighted
groggery. Moreover, in the beetle phase, it is sure to appear at the
most inopportune times and unsuitable places, creating the inevitable
commotion which the blunder and tactless are born to make. As it whisks
aimlessly around, it may hit the clergyman's nose in the most pathetic
sentence of his sermon, or drop into the soprano's mouth at the supreme
climax of her trill. Satan himself could scarcely produce a more
complete absence of devotion than is often caused by these brainless
creatures.

Because quiet by day, they are not out of mischief, as defoliated trees
often prove. As midsummer approaches, they die off; but never until
each female beetle has put into the ground about two hundred eggs,
which never fail to hatch. The first year, the grubs are little, and,
while they do all the harm they can, the small roots they destroy are
not seriously missed by the plants. The second year, their ability
keeps pace with their disposition, and they occasionally destroy
strawberries by the acre. More often, certain patches of a field or
garden are infested, and sometimes will be kept bare of plants in spite
of all one can do. Too often, the presence of the grub is learned only
after the mischief is complete. You may have petted a strawberry plant
for a year, and after it has developed into noble proportions, and
awakened the best expectations from its load of immature fruit, you
will, perhaps, find it wilting some morning. You then learn, for the
first time, that this insidious enemy has been at work for days, and
that not a root is left. An inch or two beneath the dying plant, the
grub lies gorged and quiet in the early morning; but if undisturbed it
soon seeks the next-best plant it can find, and it is so voracious that
it is hard to compute the number it can destroy throughout the long
season in which it works.

Having made its full growth in the spring of the third year, this grub
passes into the chrysalis state, and in May or June comes out a perfect
insect or beetle. It is "one, two, three, and out."

While there are beetles every year, there is, in every locality, a
special crop every third year; in other words, if we observe beetles in
great numbers during the coming May and June, we may expect them again
in like quantities three years after; and every second year from such
super-abundance they will be very destructive in all those fields
throughout the locality wherein the eggs were laid.

REMEDIES

When once our soil is full of them, scarcely any remedy is possible
that year. Surface applications that would kill the grubs would also
kill the plants. Where they are few and scattering, they can be dug out
and killed. Sometimes boys are paid so much a pint. When seeing a
wilting plant, it would scarcely be human nature not to dig out the
pest and grind it under our heel. Prevention of the evil is usually our
best hope. Mr. Downing writes to me: "I believe that if you would use
refuse salt three or four years in succession, at the rate of five or
six bushels to the acre, the grubs would not trouble you much. Salt
will not kill the full-grown larvae, but those in a very young state."
The reader will remember a statement in Mr. Hale's letter on commercial
fertilizers confirmatory of this view.

Experiments in this direction should be carefully made, since, in one
instance that I am aware of, a fruit grower remarked, "I do not know
whether the salt killed the grubs, but I know it killed my plants." It
is my purpose, however, to try this agent very thoroughly. There is
danger of our being misled in our estimate of the value of remedies,
from forgetfulness of the habits of the insect. We find our ground full
of larvae one year, and apply some cure or preventive. The following
spring, the larvae become beetles and fly away, and, even if they fill
the same ground with eggs again, the grubs are too small to be noticed
that year; and therefore we may claim that our remedy is effectual,
when there may have been no effect from it whatever.

One of the best preventives is to keep the soil under cultivation, for
this beetle rarely lays its eggs in loose soil, preferring old meadows
and moist, loamy, sodded land; the larvae are equally fond of grass
roots. This is one of the reasons why a year or two of cultivation must
often precede the planting of strawberries. When this fruit is grown in
matted beds, they afford as attractive a place for the deposit of eggs
as grass land; and this is another fact in favor of the narrow-row
system and thorough cultivation.

Mr. Caywood, a nurseryman, says that he has prevented the approach of
the grub by mixing a teaspoonful of sulphur in the soil just beneath a
plant, when setting it out. Mr. Peter B. Mead recommends the pomace of
the castor bean spread on the surface around the plants. I have never
tried these preventives. One thing certainly might be done;
exterminating war might be waged on the beetles. In the morning they
are sluggish and easily caught; and in the evening we can treat them as
whiskey venders do the loafers--burn them up. "Every female beetle
killed heads off 200 grubs." If one could discover a complete remedy
for this pest, he would deserve a statue in bronze. Mr. Fuller had a
domesticated crow that would eat a hundred of these grubs daily. "When
domesticated," he adds, "the crow forgets the tricks of his wild
nature, and, not being a timid bird, he is not frightened by hoe or
spade, but when the earth is turned over, is generally there to see and
do his duty."

A fruit grower writes to Professor C. V. Riley: "I inclose specimens of
a terrible pest on my strawberry vines. The leaves are almost entirely
destroyed. I must fight them some way, or else give up the fruit
entirely," etc. In a letter to the "New York Tribune," Professor Riley
replied:

"The insect referred to is the Strawberry Worm (_Emphytus maculatus_),
the larva of a saw-fly, which is of quite frequent occurrence in the
West. I quote the following account of it from my Ninth Report:

"'Early in the spring numerous flies may be seen hanging to and flying
about the vines in fields which have been previously affected. They are
dull and inactive in the cool of the morning and evening, and at these
hours are seldom noticed. They are of a pitchy black color, with two
rows of large, transverse, dull, whitish spots upon the abdomen. The
female, with the saw-like instrument peculiar to the insects of this
family, deposits her eggs, by a most curious and interesting process,
in the stems of the plants, clinging the while to the hairy substance
by which these stems are covered.

"'The eggs are white, opaque, and 0.03 of an inch long, and may be
readily perceived upon splitting the stalk, though the outside orifice
at which they were introduced is scarcely visible. They soon increase
somewhat in bulk, causing a swelling of the stalk, and hatch in two
weeks--more or less, according to the temperature; and during the early
part of May the worms attract attention by the innumerable small holes
they make in the leaves. Their colors are dirty yellow and gray-green,
and when not feeding, they rest on the under side of the leaf, curled
up in a spiral manner, the tail occupying the centre, and fall to the
ground at the slightest disturbance. After changing their skin four
times they become fully grown, when they measure about three-fourths of
an inch.

"'At this season they descend into the ground, and form a weak cocoon
of earth, the inside being made smooth by a sort of gum. In this they
soon change to pupae, from which are produced a second breed of flies
by the end of June and beginning of July. Under the influence of July
weather, the whole process of egg depositing, etc., is rapidly
repeated, and the second brood of worms descend into the earth during
the fore part of August, and form their cocoons; in which they remain
in the caterpillar state through the fall, winter, and early spring
months, till the middle of April following, when they become pupae and
flies again, as related.

"'The remedy is the same as that employed against the currant worm,
which belongs to the same family. It consists of white hellebore, used
either in powder or liquid.'"

I think that tobacco dust or a strong decoction from the stems would
prove effective, also.

I have never had any experience with this worm, but have read of
instances in which fields had been entirely cleared of the pest by
young chickens and turkeys.

The common little flea-beetle has often caused great injury to my
recently planted beds. I once paid nearly $100 for a new, high-priced
variety, and before I was aware of it every plant had been devoured.
They rarely injure large, fully matured plants, but are often very
destructive to those recently planted, especially if set during the
summer. You can not catch them; for, as your hand approaches a leaf on
which they cluster, they scatter with a sudden bound, and are at once
lost to view, so nearly do they resemble the color of the ground.
Slight dustings of dry wood-ashes impede their feeding somewhat; but I
think we must cope with this insect as we do with the Colorado or
potato beetle. It must be poisoned. Paris green, of course, will finish
them speedily, but such a deadly poison must be used with great care,
and if there is any green or ripe fruit on the vines, not used at all.
Hellebore, London purple, tobacco dust, may destroy them; and when
little chickens can be employed, they are a sure remedy.

"Black eyes," or the receptacle turning black, is caused by light
frosts, to which the open flowers are very susceptible. If one's
strawberry bed were in bloom, and there was a prospect of a frosty
night, I think the blossoms could be saved by covering the bed with
four or five inches of straw or hay, and raking it off again as soon as
the temperature rose sufficiently high in the morning.

Without doubt, new diseases and enemies to the strawberry will be
developed in the future, and as they come we must experiment till we
find some means of mastering them.

RASPBERRIES AND BLACKBERRIES

These two fruits are so near akin that they are subject to the attacks
of the same diseases and enemies. The most fatal scourge of red
raspberries that I have seen is what is called at Marlboro' the
curl-leaf; and, if unchecked, it will eventually banish the famous
Hudson River Antwerp from cultivation. As yet, no remedy has been found
for it that I am aware of. I believe it to be contagious, and would
advise that the plants be dug out and burned immediately, and that
plantations of strong, healthy plants be made on new land that has
never been in raspberries. I also suggest the free use of wood-ashes
and well-decayed compost. As far as my experience goes, this disease is
confined to foreign varieties, and almost wholly, as yet, to the
Antwerps.

Mr. Fuller, in the paper already named, describes a disease among
blackberries that resembles the raspberry curl-leaf so closely that it
may be identical, and spring from the same cause.

"Some ten years ago, the cultivators of the blackberry in various parts
of New Jersey noticed that the ends of the young, growing canes, in
summer, would occasionally curl, twist about, and often assume a
singular, fasciated form, resulting in an entire check to their growth.
The leaves on these infested shoots did not die and fall off, but
merely curled up, sometimes assuming a deeper green than the healthy
leaves on the same stalk. At the approach of winter, the infested
leaves remained firmly attached to the diseased stems; and all through
the cold weather, and far into the spring, these leaf-laden and
diseased stems were a conspicuous object in many of the blackberry
plantations of this State.

"If the infested shoots are examined in summer, thousands of minute
insects, of a pale yellow color, and covered with a powdery exudation,
will be found sucking the juices of the succulent stem and leaves,
causing the crimping, curling, and twisting of these parts as described.

"This parasite resembles somewhat an ordinary greenfly (_Aphis_) or
plant louse; but, according to the observations of Professor Riley, it
belongs to the closely allied Flea-lice family (_Psyllidae_),
distinguished from the plant-lice by a different veining of the wings,
and by the antennae being knobbed at the tip, like those of the
butterfly, the knob usually terminating in two bristles. These insects
jump as briskly as a flea, from which characteristic they derive their
scientific name. The particular species in question was called by
Professor Riley the 'Bramble-Flea-louse (_Psylla rubi_ [Footnote: "It
can not be distinguished from _Psylla tripunctata_, Fitch (Catalogue of
Homoptera, etc.), and, what is most singular, the same species is very
common on pine-trees all over the eastern part of the continent, from
Florida to Canada."]),' in the American Entomologist (Vol. I., p. 225).
It has increased rapidly during the past half-dozen years or more, and
unless fruit-growers make a more vigorous fight than they have yet
done, it will soon get the mastery of many blackberry plantations. The
only practical method as yet discovered for checking the ravages of
this insect is to cut off the ends of the infested canes and burn them.
This operation should always be performed either in the morning or
during cool, wet weather, else many of the insects will escape; and at
all times the severed shoots should be immediately dropped into bags,
and in them carried to the place where they are to be burned, and there
emptied into the fire. If every one having blackberry bushes in their
gardens would practice this method of destruction, this pest would soon
cease to do much harm."

There are species of borers and gall insects that attack these two
fruits, but as yet they have not become formidable. All infested canes
should be cut out and burned with their contents, or else the pests may
so increase as to cause much injury.

The larvae of the _Selandria rubi_, an insect nearly related to the
imported currant worm, and known as the raspberry saw-fly, is
destructive in some regions. It is semi-transparent, and so like the
foliage in color that it could scarcely be detected, did not the
ragged, perforated leaves indicate both its presence and its mischief.
This worm measures half an inch in length, when fully developed. It has
two black eyes, like spots, upon a green head, and usually a slightly
fuzzy body. The remedies recommended are the same as those used against
the currant worm. I have had no experience with this pest.

The Orange-rust (_Uredo rubrum_) is one of the worst of foes to both
the blackberry and raspberry--the _Rubus occidentalis_, or black-cap
family, suffering the most, usually. I have seen fields of the Early
Wilson and Kittatinny blackberries in New Jersey that presented a
melancholy appearance. It is believed to be very contagious, and it can
be spread by both trimmer and pickers. Mr. Chas. A. Green, of Monroe
County, N. Y., writes: "The end plant of a row in my garden was
affected, and I let it remain, as an experiment. In three years, nearly
every plant in the row was more or less diseased. We have tried picking
the leaves and cutting back the canes, without relief, and have found
that the only safe method is to dig out and destroy all affected plants
without delay." Mr. Fuller says that "application of lime, salt, or
some similar substance, may check the disease; but I know of no remedy
except that of rooting up every affected plant, and burning it." Mr.
Downing recommends the same course. It is one of those evils that
should be stamped out at once. If a plantation were generally affected
with this yellow symbol of contagion, it would be well to destroy all
the plants, and, obtaining new, healthful stock from a distance, start
again on different grounds. Should the snowy tree-cricket become very
abundant, it might cause much injury, chiefly by cutting off the
leaves, as the ordinary cut-worm serves the stem of a young plant.

CURRANTS AND GOOSEBERRIES

We have not only imported our best currants from Europe, but also their
worst enemies. The most formidable of these is popularly known as the
currant worm. Robert Thompson, the English authority, thus describes
it: "The magpie moth (_Abraxas grossulariata_) deposits its eggs upon
the foliage, and from them is hatched a slightly hairy cream-colored
caterpillar, spotted with black, and marked with orange along the
sides, and which forms a loop in walking. It feeds upon the leaves,
devouring all but the petiole, and often entirely defoliating both
gooseberry and currant bushes. It changes into a pupa in May or June,
and in about three weeks afterward, the perfect insect makes its
appearance." Very naturally, this currant worm made its debut near
Rochester, N. Y., a great fruit centre, receiving annually large
importations of plants. Its first appearance was in 1857.

In England, the caterpillar of the _Phalaena vanaria_, a similar
insect, is often destructive. Whether it has appeared among us yet, I
am not informed. They fight it abroad as they do the ordinary worm.

The gooseberry and currant saw-fly (_Nematus ribesii_), another
pestiferous foreigner, has made its appearance in some localities.

We have, besides, a native saw-fly (_Pristiphera grossulariae_), which
resembles its European congener, and emulates it in mischief. The larva
of this fly feeds upon both, the currant and the gooseberry, but
prefers the latter.

Nature is liberal, and has given us, in addition, a native gooseberry
span-worm, the larva of a small moth. These several worms, unchecked,
would soon render the culture of the currant and gooseberry impossible
in the regions where they abounded; and, at first, horticulturists were
almost in despair, for the pests seemed proof against the usual
insecticides and means of destruction. It was eventually discovered
that powdered white hellebore was a specific remedy. Usually, it is
applied unmixed with other substances; and pains should be taken to get
a genuine article, or else it will not destroy the worms.

Mr. H. T. Jones, of Rochester, recommends the following:

"To one pailful of wood-ashes, add one quart each of white hellebore
and flowers of sulphur; mix thoroughly; apply by sifting on the bushes
while the dew is on them. I used nothing else on my plantation of over
two acres last season, and want nothing better; but it must be used
_daily_ as long as any worms are seen."

I have heard that, if applied in a liquid form, a heaping
table-spoonful of hellebore to a gallon of water is a good proportion.

At the meeting of the New Jersey Historical Society, it was stated by
good authorities, as the result of actual experience, that tobacco-dust
would kill the worms as readily as hellebore. I hope this is true,
since the latter is expensive when applied on a large scale, and the
tobacco-dust can be bought at from two dollars to three dollars per
barrel. I shall try it next year.

I also quote the following from a recent editorial by Mr. Fuller, in
the New York "Weekly Sun:"

"White hellebore has long been considered one of the most efficacious
of all poisons for the imported currant worm, but a New Jersey
fruit-grower of considerable experience informed us not long ago that
he had found strong tobacco water quite as good as the hellebore, and
it was also soon washed off by heavy rains, whereby the fruit was not
rendered unfit for use, as when other and more virulent poisons are
employed. To make a strong solution, put a half-bushel or bushel of
tobacco stems, or even the leaves, into a cask or barrel, and press
down and hold in place with a stone or other weight; then pour on hot
water enough to cover the tobacco, and leave it for a few days to
steep. After steeping, the cask may be filled up with warm or cold
water, and the solution is ready for use. If a half-pound or pound of
crude potash is added, or a quart or two of soft soap is stirred in,
the solution will be much improved, especially in its destructive
properties. After using the first liquid, the barrels may be filled
again with water, and left to steep a few days longer than the first
time, or some fresh tobacco may be added, to give the solution the
required strength. Tobacco water is certainly a cheap insecticide, and
will frequently be found quite as efficacious as those that are more
costly and troublesome to apply."

A gentleman from Erie, Pa., writes to me that he has used this remedy
for years, with complete success.

Mr. J. McK. Beattie, of Pictou, Nova Scotia, has written to me of a
still simpler method:

"I notice in the April number of 'Scribner's Monthly' that you intend
to use tobacco-dust to destroy the currant worms. It will prove
effectual; but as I can give you a far more simple plan, I take the
liberty of writing. It is one which I have proved for the past seven
years, and never have known it to fail wherever tried.

"After digging about my bushes, and manuring in the spring, I cover the
earth around the bushes with tobacco stems, and place a handful in the
middle of the bush, and the work is done for the season. I found that
when using the dust I had to renew it after every heavy rain, whereas
the stems did not need renewing, unless it was a very wet season, and
then, if any worms appeared, a handful of fresh stems scattered through
the bushes made them disappear.

"The stems have several advantages: they are cheaper than dust; they
serve as a mulch to keep the ground off the fruit; and when dug in
about the bush, they make an excellent manure. I think if you once gave
them a fair trial you would never be tempted to try any other method.

"Last year stems were very scarce here, and I could not get enough to
mulch all my bushes, so I only put a generous handful in the centre of
a good many bushes, and they were not troubled; but I would not like to
recommend that plan until I experimented further."

For the past two years the worm has attacked my bushes savagely; but,
as I am very fond of currants, and relish white, powdered sugar more
than hellebore, I fought the pests successfully by hand-picking. I kept
a boy, at moderate wages, whose business it was to kill insects and
worms. He had a lively time of it occasionally, for Nature sometimes
appeared to take sides with the pests.

The cautious use of lime and salt around and under the bushes might
prove beneficial, since the worm descends into the soil before changing
into a pupa.

The current and gooseberry are also infested with several species of
plant-lice. A gentleman whose bushes were attacked by lice and the
currant worm at the same time, wrote to the "Country Gentleman" that he
destroyed both by a strong decoction of white hellebore, applied from a
fine rose-sprinkling can. The bushes were turned back and forth, so as
to get the solution on the under side of the leaves. The writer
concludes:

"The decoction of hellebore must be strong to be effectual. I make it
as follows: To a gallon of boiling water add a tablespoonful of
pulverized hellebore. After standing fifteen or twenty minutes, add
three gallons of common soapsuds. When cool, apply with a sprinkler, I
do not know that there is any virtue in the soapsuds, excepting it
makes the solution stick to the leaves."

There are three species of currant borers with unpronounceable names.
Their presence is shown by yellow foliage and withering fruit in
summer, and by brown, shrivelled branches in winter. Cutting out and
burning is the only remedy. Usually, a vigorous bush will outgrow the
attacks of this enemy; and good cultivation gives vigor, and also
disturbs and brings to the surface the worms that have entered the soil
to undergo their transformation. From first to last, tonic treatment
supplements and renders more effective our direct efforts to destroy
diseases and enemies.

Most earnestly would I urge caution in using all virulent poisons like
Paris green, London purple, hellebore, etc.

Whenever it is possible to substitute a less poisonous substance, do so
by all means. Some good people regard tobacco as the bane of banes; but
to many it does not cause the feeling of repugnance and fear inspired
by hellebore and more poisonous insecticides. Let all such articles be
kept under lock and key; and one person should have charge of their
use, and be held responsible for them. Moreover, any watering-can used
with Paris green and like substances should be marked with the word
_Poison_, in large letters. If insecticides are used in the form of a
powder, great care should be exercised to keep it from falling on other
vegetation or fruit that might be eaten by man or beast. I have known
of pigs and horses dying from eating herbage on which Paris green had
blown from a potato field. London purple, which, as a cheaper and
equally effective article, is taking the place of Paris green, must be
used with the same caution, since it is a compound of arsenic, and
equally poisonous.

It is my wish and intention to experiment carefully with the various
means and methods of coping with the diseases and enemies of small
fruits, and to give this chapter frequent revisions.




CHAPTER XXIX

PICKING AND MARKETING


In the proceedings of the New Jersey State Horticultural Society, I
find the following interesting paper from the pen of Mr. C. W. Idell, a
commission merchant, whose intelligent interest in fruits extends
beyond their current price. He gives so graphic a picture of the
diminutive beginning of small fruit growing and marketing, that I am
led to quote freely:

"About the earliest knowledge I could obtain of the strawberry in our
State is that it first grew wild in many regions, particularly in the
county of Bergen. The negroes were the first to pick this fruit for the
New York market, and invented those quaint old-fashioned splint
baskets, with handles, that were and are still in use in that county.
These berries were taken to New York, the baskets being strung on
poles, and thus peddled through the city. I would state, for the
benefit of those who have not seen these baskets, that it was the
intention of the original makers of them to have them contain a
half-pint each, but soon they became so reduced in size that each buyer
was compelled to guess at the contents of those he bought.

"Just when cultivated berries made their appearance, I am unable to
say, but I am inclined to think they were derived from seedlings of the
wild fruit. From the information I have gathered, I think that the
cultivation of the fruit for the market originated in the vicinity of
Hackensack, Bergen county, and from there spread over the State. As
there were no railroads in that section at that early date, all the
berries had to be carted to New York in wagons, crossing the Hudson at
Hoboken. Quite recently I met with Mr. Andrew M. Hopper, of Pascack,
who gave me several interesting points from his early recollections.

"Mr. Hopper said: 'I am sixty-five years old, and can well remember
picking berries for my father, when a boy ten years of age. At that
time we had no crates as we have now, but packed them in large baskets
that we called hampers.

"'Our only shipping point to New York was Piermont, on the Hudson, New
York State, a distance of about eight miles.

"'At this point there was a line of sloops that sailed semi-weekly,
when wind and tide permitted. In those days there were no commission
merchants in New York that dealt in berries, and each farmer was
compelled to go with and sell his own fruit. The fare on these vessels
was one shilling for a round trip, board not included; and as it
sometimes required two days to reach the city, each farmer provided a
lunch for himself before starting from home, as well as provender for
his team, which was left at the landing to await his return. The usual
fee for caring for the team while they were gone was twenty-five cents.'

"The Hautbois was the first named variety he could remember, which was
introduced among them in 1835. In about 1840 the Scotch Runner was
introduced at Hackensack. It was a valuable variety for the growers, as
it was hardy, a good bearer, and the fruit grew unusually large for
that period. An incident connected with the introduction of this
variety is worth mentioning, showing the eagerness of the cultivators
to procure the plants.

"A gentleman living at 'Old Bridge,' which is a few miles above
Hackensack, secured quite a number of plants and set them out in his
garden for the purpose of propagating them, so that he could in due
time plant a large patch of them. The vines being in great demand, his
neighbors insisted upon his selling them; but this proposition he
positively refused, and the consequence was that, one night, some
person entered his garden and stole every plant he had. At this period
and up to the introduction of the Wilson, all strawberries in that
section were picked and marketed without the hulls.

"For a long time I have been trying to find out the originator of the
quart-berry-box and crate, and, thinking Mr. Hopper might possess some
knowledge on this point, I inquired of him. He replied: 'I know nothing
about the quart box, for I never used them, but I do about the crate.

"'In 1840 I made the first crate ever used in our section, if not in
the State, and I will tell you how I came to do it. In those days I
raised large quantities of apricots, and marketed them in such baskets
as we happened to have. In the year named my fruit was very large and
finely colored, and knowing they would be damaged by carting in the
usual way, I had a number of small baskets made, and then I constructed
a crate to fit them. The next day after I made them, Gen. Acker, who
was an old fruit grower, called on me, admired the arrangement, and
suggested that they would answer to pack berries in, and requested me
to make two for him, which I did. From these the use of them became
general.'

"The cases referred to were skeleton cases, some with and others
without lids, each grower making them to suit his own convenience for
handling; but they generally contained from one to two hundred baskets
each. The number of baskets in each was marked either on the lid or
slat."

From the above quotation, the reader can realize what vast changes have
taken place within the last fifty years. A few sable pedlers, with
little baskets strung on poles, form a decided contrast with a
Charleston steamer, bringing in one trip North far more strawberries,
in patent refrigerators, than were then sold in a year; or with an Old
Dominion steamship, discharging six thousand bushels as a single item
of cargo. Ninety-four car-loads of strawberries have passed over the
Delaware railroad in one day. According to one computation already
given, New York consumes $25,000,000 worth of small fruits annually. If
the business has grown to such proportions within the last
half-century, may we not expect even greater increase in the future?
The appliances for preserving fruit, and for transporting it quickly
and safely, become more perfect every year. Thus a market is created in
vast regions which, though populous, are not adapted to the raising of
fruit.

The modern conditions of marketing fruit are just the reverse of those
described by Mr. Idell. Then the berries, both in size and quantity,
were small; but the labor and difficulty in reaching the consumer were
immense. Now, strawberries that in size resemble tomatoes can be
forwarded by the ship and car load, with brief printed labels, and the
commission merchant sells for his correspondent, who may reside
hundreds of miles away, and for years never follow his fruits to their
market. Our chief ground for solicitude is success in finding a
commission house able to dispose of our fruit promptly at current
rates, and sufficiently honest to make exact returns at the end of each
week. There are many who do this, and not a few who do not. If one has
not satisfactory business acquaintance in the city, I suggest that they
learn from their neighbors who have been in the habit of shipping
produce, the names of merchants that uniformly have made the best
returns. Moreover, it is often well, if one has considerable fruit, to
ship to two or more parties, and compare prices. The homely proverb
hinting that it is not wise to put all our eggs in one basket, is sound.

FRUIT PACKAGES

My experience and observation have led me to market my strawberries in
square quart baskets, and round pints, and raspberries in half-pints;
although pints answer equally well for a firm raspberry, like the
Cuthbert or Brandywine.

If I were shipping long distances, I would prefer baskets of which, the
round Beecher quarts and pints are the types. Such packages occupy too
much space, however, to be forwarded in refrigerators. I think berries
remain in good condition longer in this circular, open basket than in
any other. Of the crate, it is sufficient to say that it should be
light, strong, and so constructed as to permit free circulation of air.
Few of the square "quart baskets" hold a quart. Indeed, there are but
few honest baskets in the market; and the fact has come to be so well
recognized that they are now sold by the "basket," the majority being
aware that they are simply packages of fruit. I think there should be a
change in this respect, and that the several packages should hold a
full quart, pint, etc. Square quarts fill a crate compactly, requiring
the least amount of space; there is no chance for the baskets to upset,
and when the crate is opened there is a continuous surface of fruit,
which is very attractive. Very large, showy strawberries appear best,
however, in round baskets. If my market were a near one, I would plan
to dispose of the bulk of my crop in round pints, since they could be
used for strawberries, the firmer raspberries, and blackberries. Thus
one stock and style of baskets would last throughout the whole season.

A little good taste bestowed upon the appearance of a fruit package
often adds several cents per pound or quart to the price received, and
thus it comes that the brand of certain growers is sought after in the
market. A few green leaves, judiciously placed, cost nothing, but may
catch the eye and secure a fancy price.

After much inquiry in the market, however, I am led to the conclusion
that the size, quality, and appearance of the fruit count for far more
than ail other considerations combined.

The old Marlboro' thirds, still largely in use on the Hudson, should be
superseded as soon as possible by baskets that permit circulation of
air. We should use boxes cheap enough to be given away with the fruit.
There is a box of this kind, called the "Sunnyside fruit-box," which
can be obtained for about $10 per 1,000. The purchaser sees a pretty
box of fruit at a shop, buys and takes it with him, and is at no
trouble to return the box. The present frequent practice of pouring the
fruit into brown-paper bags is villanous.

Mr. J. T. Budd, of Wilmington, Del., in a sensible letter, gives
several excellent reasons why it would be better, and, in the end,
cheaper, to use such cheap crates and baskets that one could afford to
let them go with the fruit. The expenses of transportation would thus
be reduced, and the prices of the berries enhanced, not only because
the purchaser would not have the trouble of returning packages, but
chiefly for the reason that the fruit would always appear in fresh, new
baskets, instead of those soiled, and often musty, from long use. Mr.
Budd shows that, in Delaware, crates and baskets could be made
sufficiently cheap for this practice.

PICKING

Having procured the baskets which suit us best, the next thing is to
fill them properly, and get them into market looking fresh and
attractive. It is just at this point that very many wrong themselves,
or permit themselves to be wronged, The time is past when all
strawberries will sell as such, at so much per quart. Appearance often
doubles the price, or makes it difficult to sell the fruit at all.
Soiled, muddy berries, even though large, will fetch but wretched
prices; therefore the importance of mulching. The fruit may be in
beautiful condition upon the vines and yet be spoiled by careless
picking. The work is often performed by children, or by those who have
had no experience, or who, from inherent shiftlessness, do everything
in the worst possible way, I have seen beautiful berries that in their
brief transit through grimy hands lost half their value. Many pickers
will lay hold of the soft berry itself and pinch it as they pull it
off; then, instead of dropping it into the basket, they will hold it in
the hand as they pick others, and as the hand grows fuller, will
squeeze them tighter, and when, at last, the half-crushed handful is
dropped into the basket, the berries are almost ruined for market
purposes. Not for $10 per day would I permit such a person to pick for
me, for he not only takes fifty per cent from the price of the fruit,
but gives my brand a bad reputation. If possible, the grower should
carefully select his pickers, and have them subscribe to a few plain
rules, like the following:

1. Each berry must be picked with the thumb and forefinger nails, and
not held in the hand, but dropped into the basket at once.

2. No green, decayed, or muddy berries will be received.

3. There must be no getting down upon all fours in the beds, thus
crushing both green and ripe fruit.

4. There must be no "topping off" with large berries, but the fruit
must be equally good all through the basket.

In the early pickings of Wilsons, when many of the berries are of good
size, and of all the large, choice kinds, it is best to make two
grades, putting the large and small by themselves, and keeping
varieties separate. A small frame, with short legs at the corners, and
a handle, is a convenient appliance to hold six or more baskets while
picking. Give to each picker two sets of baskets, one for the small and
one for the large berries, and pay equally for both, or perhaps a
little more for the small ones, so that there may be no motive to
thwart your purpose; one and a half to two cents per quart is the usual
price. Have two styles of tickets, red and blue, for instance; the red
having a higher value and being given to those who bring the berries to
the place of packing in good order, according to rule; let the baskets
not picked in conformity to the rules be receipted for with the blue
tickets. Receiving many of the latter soon becomes a kind of disgrace,
and thus you appeal to the principle of self-respect as well as
self-interest. Get rid of those who persist in careless picking as soon
as possible. Insist that the baskets be full and rounded up, and the
fruit equal in quality down to the bottom. As far as possible, let the
hulls be down out of sight, and only the fruit showing. If you have
berries that are extra fine, it will pay you to pick and pack them
yourself, or have some one to do it who can be depended upon. Do not
pick the fruit, if you can help it, when it is wet with dew or rain;
still, there are times when this must be done to save it. Never let the
baskets or crates stand long in the sun and wind, as the berries so
treated soon become dull and faded. As soon as a crate is filled, put
it under cover in a cool place till shipped to market. As far as
possible, insist upon careful, gentle handling.

Raspberries should be treated with even greater care than strawberries,
since they are softer and more perishable. They should never be put
into anything larger than a pint basket, while thirds of a quart and
half-pints are much better. Round half-pints seem to be coming into
favor. There is a wide, shallow basket made in Rochester, that some
growers think highly of. With most varieties of raspberries, if any
considerable number are placed together they soon become a soft, mouldy
mass. The ideal raspberry basket, therefore, is small, open, and
shallow; and the crates should permit free circulation. Pick the fruit
when dry, and as soon as it is ripe, as over-ripe berries decay
quickly. Keep varieties by themselves. Mr. Parry says that raspberries
will pay at ten cents per quart, but the margin of profit will be
small. They usually sell at much higher figures. Black-caps of late
years have scarcely brought paying prices in New York market. The
following statement shows what a difference variety, and therefore
quality, makes in the same market. On the 7th day of July, 1871,
raspberries were sold at wholesale, in Philadelphia, as follows, viz.:

Black-cap ....................5 cents per quart. Philadelphia
................ 8          " Pearl ...................    16
" Susqueco, or Brandywine .... 30          " Hornet
..................... 60          "

Blackberries sell well in both quart and pint baskets, but if one is
sending a long distance, pints will carry the fruit in better
condition. One of the best methods of shipping currants is to have
tills, or shallow boxes, two or three in number, fitting in one's berry
crates, which can thus be made to serve a double purpose. Mark on these
tills the net weight of the fruit. For large, Cherry currants, quart
and verbena baskets are often used. Many like a long market basket,
holding about twenty-five pounds, while those who raise grapes often
make the same shallow boxes answer for both.

Gooseberries are shipped in all kinds of packages, from barrels to
quart boxes. I prefer a crate with tills, for both gooseberries and
currants. These two fruits, especially the latter, are becoming
increasingly profitable every year. In summing up, it may be briefly
stated that with all fruits, and in all the large markets, beauty,
size, and good keeping qualities are the points which are chiefly
considered. Very few know much about the names of varieties, but
eagerly purchase that which appears the most attractive. The grower who
can make his crates of berries, when opened, look better than others
near, will always receive good prices. If he tops off poor fruit with
large berries, he will scarcely find a market eventually. If he always
fills his baskets _well_ and _honestly_, and gives good weight, taking
pains to make his packages appear attractive, his fruit will soon be in
much demand and spoken for in advance.




CHAPTER XXX

IRRIGATION


This is a topic on which a book might be written. The reader will draw
a sigh of relief, however, on learning that I shall content myself with
giving a few facts and suggestions, since I am well aware that, in
spite of its title, this chapter will be dry to many.

The first rays that fall from the lamp of history reveal vast systems
of irrigation in full operation. In many parts of the globe artificial
watering is absolutely essential, and there are few agricultural
regions which might not be rendered far more productive if the supply
of moisture could be regulated in accordance with the needs of each
crop. The question, as we shall consider it, is a practical one. In
California and other sections, the land _must_ be irrigated; here, and
wherever the rainfall is more equally distributed throughout the year,
we _can_ water if we find the practice remunerative. The increased
yield from the proper application of water is often marvellous. Mr.
James Neilson, in a paper read before the New Jersey State Board of
Agriculture, gives some interesting facts observed abroad. In regions
along the Cavour Canal, the people were able to mow in one season six
heavy burdens of grass, and in the vicinity of Edinburgh, by the use of
sewage water, five or six crops of grass annually. In Belgium, "sandy,
barren land (resembling the pine barrens of New Jersey) was put into
profitable cultivation when it could be irrigated." The plain of
Gennevilliers, near Paris, seemed utterly worthless for cultivation. It
consisted almost wholly of coarse gravel, and bore no rent. No land
owner would make any effort to use water, so the city of Paris bought
about twenty-five acres and turned upon it part of the sewage. It now
rents for nearly $50 per acre, with sewage supplied. In parts of Spain,
land is worth $2,500 irrigated, and but $125 without the privilege of
water. The enormous and long-continued crops of strawberries raised in
California prove that water is equally effective in our new land, where
the climate is similar, as in the older countries. Will irrigation pay
in our latitude, where we hope for seasonable rains? I think that in
many sections it will, and occasionally I hear of remarkable results
obtained by the free use of water. In one instance a gravelly hillside,
almost worthless for ordinary cultivation, became the wonder of the
neighborhood, so large were the crops of strawberries secured by
irrigation.

Mr. Chas. W. Garfield, Secretary of the Michigan State Pomological
Society, gives an interesting account of his visit to Mr. Dunkley, a
successful gardener, at Kalamazoo: "A force," he writes, "were picking
strawberries from rows of vigorous plants, and as we opened the vines
in advance of the pickers, a more delightful strawberry prospect we had
never seen. The varieties were Monarch, Seneca Chief, and Wilson, and
under the system of irrigation employed they were just prime for
market, after all the other berries in the vicinity had ripened and
were gone. Very remunerative prices were thus secured. His vines were
vigorous and independent of the rains. Every berry that set reached
perfection in size and form." The abundant moisture greatly increases
the size of the fruit, but retards the ripening. When the fruit has
reached the proper stage for maturity, the water is withheld, and then
the berries ripen fast, but in their perfect development are firm, and
are shielded from the sun by the luxuriant foliage. "We water," said
Mr. Dunkley, "only to supplement the rain. If the season is wet, we
employ our artificial system but little, or not at all, and in such
seasons get no profit from our investments; but generally, sometime
during a season there is a drought that shortens some crop; then we
irrigate, and have the advantage of neighboring gardeners." This
statement suggests the practical question, Do droughts or dry seasons
occur with sufficient frequency to warrant the outlay required for
irrigation? In a very interesting paper read before the Massachusetts
Horticultural Society, Mr. W. D. Philbrick gives much information on
the subject of artificial watering, and its need in our latitude and
section, and I quote from him freely:

"The amount of water required will depend largely on the rainfall,
velocity of the wind, atmospheric humidity, soil, etc. A loose, sandy
soil will require much more water than a retentive clay. In general,
however, it may be assumed that in the warm, growing months of May,
June, July, August and September, most vegetation requires an inch in
depth over the entire surface of the land every five days. This is, of
course, only an _average_. This quantity, estimated as needed by our
gardens, would be equivalent to six inches per month of rainfall. If we
compare this amount with the actual rainfall, we shall arrive at an
idea of what is to be supplied artificially.

"The rainfall at Boston for the past six years (to 1878), for the five
growing months named, varies from a maximum of 10.5 inches, in August,
1872, to a minimum of 0.65 inch, in June, 1873. During these six years
there was not a single season when we did not suffer more or less from
drought during some portion of the summer. Twenty-one of the thirty
months in question had less rainfall than six inches per month, and the
average of these twenty-one months was about 3.02 inches per month, or
only about half of what was needed. Some of the protracted seasons of
drought were almost entirely rainless for six weeks, during which the
weather was excessively hot and windy, and vegetation suffered
extremely in consequence."

Mr. Philbrick estimates that 27,000 gallons, or 108 tons, of water are
needed per acre at each watering, which, in a dry period, should be
repeated every five days. This enormous quantity leads him to suggest
that--

"before embarking in an enterprise of irrigation, it would be best to
make sure that the source can be depended upon for a sufficient supply
of water in the driest seasons; for it is precisely at such times that
the most water is needed. Ordinary springs and wells, therefore, are
entirely inadequate to furnish water for anything more than a small
patch or garden. The only sources to be depended upon for large areas
are unfailing streams, lakes, and ponds. There are few gardens so
favorably situated that the water can be drawn from canals and ditches
directly from some pond or stream. When this can be done it is by far
the cheapest method; and it is in this way that the extensive
irrigating works of Lombardy, Spain, France, California, and Colorado
are constructed. Where this system is adopted, considerable expense is
required to grade the land into inclined beds, so as to distribute the
water easily and evenly; but, once done, the water is applied at a very
trifling cost--so cheaply that it is used for farm crops in Lombardy
and the South of France."

In most instances, however, our land is so located that we cannot
irrigate it by a natural flow and fall of water. In this case, it may
be distributed by water-carts and by hand. This can be done only on a
very small scale. The cost in time and labor would be much too great
for profitable returns, and the ground would be so beaten and trampled
as to cause much injury. Such methods may answer very well for small
and well-mulched fruit gardens, making the home supply certain and
large, but it is inadequate from a business point of view. Distributing
water through pipes laid underground, beneath the plow, does not work
well at all, practically, and is not in accordance with nature. Most of
the water is wasted.

Mr. Phil brick continues:

"The only method of distributing water much used in gardens where
pumping is practiced is the system of iron pipes laid underground, with
hydrants distant 200 feet asunder, from which the water is distributed
by 100 feet of India rubber hose. This is also the plan adopted by
gardeners who make use of the public water supply."

When practicable, such iron pipes should be carried along ridges and
headlands, so as to let the water flow where we wish it by gravity as
far as possible.

"Where the water has to be distributed by hose and sprinkler it will be
found good economy to use a powerful pump, that will give a head of at
least thirty feet, and to use for distribution pipes of not less than
one and a half inches in diameter; provided, of course, that any
considerable area--an acre or more--is to be watered. Thus, for
example, we will suppose that it is required to water five acres of
land, and that we have near by a never-failing pond or river; we can
locate a steam pump near the river, and, while at work watering, we
load the safety-valve upon the delivering water pipe at fifteen pounds
per square inch, which corresponds to a head of about thirty feet of
water. We have 300 feet of iron pipe, two inches in diameter, and 100
feet of India rubber hose, one and a half inches in diameter, for the
delivery of the water. This apparatus would be capable of delivering 45
gallons per minute, or 27,000 gallons per day of ten hours--enough for
the thorough wetting of one acre per day, or every acre of the five
once in five days; by running nights, ten acres could be watered.

"When only a limited area is to be watered--less than an acre--the
wind-mill furnishes a cheaper source of power than the steam pump. To
make it available, large storage of water must be provided at a high
level, so that the mill may work during stormy weather and store the
water until needed. A wind-mill, costing with pump and tank about $500,
will furnish water enough for one or two acres of land, provided
storage can be provided for 200,000 gallons of water. To provide this
storage might cost as much as a steam pump. Where elevated reservoirs
can easily be made, and the amount of water needed is not over 10,000
gallons daily, the wind-mill is, without doubt, cheaper power than
steam."

Mr. Philbrick shows conclusively that where a gardener pays at the rate
of twenty-five cents per 1,000 gallons, or even much less, only crops
approaching $1,000 per acre in value will warrant the outlay. When land
can be easily graded, and irrigated through canals and ditches, the
yearly cost has been reduced, in some cases, as low as from one to
three dollars per acre per year.

"Wherever drainage is not perfect, it must be made so before irrigation
can be safely practiced; otherwise, if a heavy fall of rain should
occur just after application of water, the plants might suffer
seriously from being too wet."

In the discussion which followed the reading of this paper, Mr. John B.
Moore said, among other things: "No crop takes the moisture out of the
soil more quickly than strawberries, and, for these and other crops
which soon suffer from dryness, he lets the water run down the rows all
night from half a dozen large pipes."

Hon. Marshall T. Wilder then remarked that "the secret how Mr. Moore
produced his large strawberries had now come out."

(In a letter recently received, Mr. Moore further states: "In the
garden, I have had the best results where I have let the water run out
of open hose between the rows of raspberries, strawberries, etc.,
always making it a rule to wet the ground thoroughly, and then stop,
and not apply any more until there is good evidence of the soil needing
it again. A constant drizzle is detrimental to vegetation.")

Mr. W. C. Strong said that the "even distribution of water was very
important; otherwise, the ground became sodden in places, and other
parts received no benefit. He thought that considerable part of the
benefit of irrigation arose from showering the foliage, especially at
night, as in a green-house."

Mr. Philbrick said that he applied water in sunshine sometimes, but
that in general he did not like to do so. (I would caution the reader
to be very careful about wetting foliage under a hot sun, as it often
causes both leaves and fruit to scald. I once lost a crop of
gooseberries through a midday shower, followed by a hot afternoon.)

Mr. E. P. Richardson had found a hose perforated with holes an eighth
of an inch in diameter, and about three or four inches apart, very
convenient for applying water. It can be laid anywhere, in a straight
or crooked line, and under plants whose leaves are injured by watering
in the bright sun. Such a hose may be left for hours without attention.

In the garden at Kalamazoo already referred to, the water was obtained
by damming up a spring. "The water was conveyed in a wooden conduit,
made of two-inch plank, and rendered water-tight by coal tar." The
whole apparatus was very inexpensive, and proves that in many instances
the ingenious and enterprising horticulturist can work out a simple
system of his own that, at slight cost, will answer his purpose.

This chapter aims at little more than to put the reader on the right
track for further investigation, and to suggest a few of the first
principles and requirements of irrigation. The great majority have
little realization of the amount of water required, and very often much
loss is incurred and injury caused by attempting artificial watering
with an insufficient supply. Mr. Dunkley, at Kalamazoo, started with a
wind-mill, but found it wholly inadequate. Partial watering is worse
than useless. By liberal mulching, very much less water is required,
and much longer intervals between irrigation may elapse.

If one designs to undertake irrigation upon a large scale, he should
employ the services of an expert, and "make haste slowly." At the same
time, many fruit farms are so located, or might be, that the laborer
with a pick and shovel could solve the problem of an abundant supply of
water.

When unfailing moisture can be maintained, and plants are not permitted
to bear in June, nor to make runners, almost a full crop may be
obtained in the autumn.




CHAPTER XXXI

SUGGESTIVE EXPERIENCES FROM WIDELY SEPARATED LOCALITIES


It is often said that there is no teaching like experience, and in view
of this sound principle I am led to quote from a few of the letters
that I have received. These statements, from successful and intelligent
cultivators, throw side lights on the preceding pages from various
standpoints. I would advise the reader to note carefully the adaptation
of different varieties to different parts of the country. As we have
just been discussing the subject of irrigation, I will first quote from
California letters, since they touch on this topic.

From Mr. James Shinn's interesting communication, I take the following
facts:

"NILES, ALAMEDA CO., CAL.

"The greater part of the strawberries consumed in San Francisco are
grown in the neighborhood of San Jose, some fifty miles south of the
city. We are situated about halfway between, in the great valley that
borders the bay of San Francisco. We have occupied this place over
twenty years, and have made observations upon the culture of small
fruits, and have always grown more or less ourselves. While, therefore,
I do not claim to be authority on the points you inquire about, I feel
pretty safe in mentioning one or two things in this connection, that I
can hardly be mistaken about!

"_First_--Those who plant extensively for market make it a _sine qua
non_ to have at hand plenty of water; except in very favored
localities, they can't be grown to profit without this essential. I
know that the plants are planted on each side of a small ridge,
previously thrown up for the purpose. The vines along the ridge stand
twelve to fifteen inches apart. The space between the ridges allows
three and a half feet for cultivation and water. The water is allowed
to run between these ridges, and, of course, wets the roots
effectually. It will be perceived that the ground must be nearly level.
I cannot tell how often these rows are watered, but frequently. The
proper season for planting is as early in the winter as the ground can
be put in order--from November 1st, all winter--the earlier the better.
If planted early, a fair crop of berries may be expected the next
summer. For many years the Longwood's Prolific and Peabody Seedling
were the varieties generally grown. Recently some other varieties have
been introduced, but are mostly confined to the hands of amateurs. The
Monarch of the West has, however, certainly secured a strong foothold
among the large growers. This berry commanded a much larger price in
the market than the old varieties. I just remark respecting irrigation
that, of course, as you will see, the object of planting upon ridges is
to place the vines so high that when the water is let in, the berries
will be above its reach. Nearly all our large growers let their fields
to Chinamen, who do all the work, boarding themselves, for half the net
proceeds.

"SAN JOSE, CAL.

"In answer to your letter, asking about irrigation, I would state that
in the first place we grade the land, after first plowing and harrowing
it. We do not like to do too much grading. If the land is very uneven,
we make the rows conform to it, bringing the water on the highest
portions, and cutting escape ditches through the low parts, so that the
water can run off readily. The rows are made three feet apart, and
every alternate row is shovelled or plowed out to make a shallow ditch
about three or four inches deep. Soil is thrown on or between the
alternate rows, making the ground look like small beds. The plants are
set in rows about six inches from the edge of the ditches. We are now
ready for the water, which is nearly all taken from artesian wells. The
first year, the plants do not require so much moisture; but the second
year, we water about once a week. We keep all runners cut off.
"J. H. Ogier."

"Brown's Valley, Yuba Co., Cal.

"My business is raising strawberries and blackberries for market, which
is eleven miles distant, and I send all my fruit by stage. I have
experimented with all leading varieties, since Orange Judd introduced
the _Agriculturist_, but succeed best with Triomphe de Gand,
Longworth's Prolific, Jucunda, and Colonel Cheney. The latter is rather
soft to carry so far to market. I commence sending to market about the
middle of April. About the middle of June the Triomphe begins to ripen
a second crop. Last year they were the largest and finest berries I
ever saw. In September the Jucunda bears a third crop. Prom May until
October we depend entirely on irrigation. Our soil is red, stiff, and
heavy. I use abundantly well-rotted stable manure and barnyard compost.
I prepare by deep plowing, and then harrowing. I then go over the
ground for the plants with Hexamer's pronged hoe, making the soil very
fine. I set the plants two feet apart each way, and where each one is
to grow, I work in a large shovelful of manure deeply and thoroughly. I
give blackberries the same mode of culture, setting them three feet by
eight. No winter protection is needed. In ordinary seasons, there are a
few strawberries all winter long. Strawberries and blackberries are
very productive, and enormous in size, but currants, gooseberries, and
red raspberries do not succeed in this region, the long and intensely
hot and dry season being unfavorable.                      John Palmer."

"NEW CASTLE, CAL.

"The President Wilder is the finest flavored berry we have ever tasted,
and it is the most attractive in color of all. The Jucunda does not do
well on our light soil. The Monarch is splendid. We grow raspberries
quite extensively, our climate and location being better adapted to
them, perhaps, than any other part of California. The earliest berry
with us is the Red Antwerp (probably the English). It is a week earlier
than the Franconia. The Herstine is a fine berry every way, except as
regards firmness. The cap varieties are inferior in flavor here.
                                C. M. SILVA & SON"

From other sources I learn that the Triomphe de Gand and Seth Boyden
are among the chief favorites in California.

Mr. Felix Gillet, Nevada City, Cal., author of an excellent little
treatise on the culture of the strawberry in his region, says: "The row
and hill system is certainly the best of all, especially to raise
large, fine fruit. The rows should be two feet apart, or thirty-six
inches, if irrigating by running water in each row as it is done in
California. The plants should be set, the large-growing sorts two feet
from each other in the row, the smaller ones from twelve to eighteen
inches."

"AUSTIN, TEXAS

"I put in water-works, and it is the best investment I ever made. I
supply Austin with vegetables the whole year round. It was very dry
last year, but I loaded three wagons with vegetables every day. We
watered twenty acres regularly, and will water thirty this year. I am
making a large reservoir on a hill, which will be supplied from a large
well through a six-inch pipe. I use Knowles's steam pump, 30
horse-power, capable of pumping 750,000 gallons daily. Of strawberries,
the Kentucky Seedling can stand the most heat and drought. Crescent
Seedling looks well here, also the Forest Rose. Raspberries, currants,
and gooseberries cannot be raised. We plant strawberries one foot apart
in the row, and the rows are three feet apart We mulch early in spring,
and cultivate by horse-power after the bearing season is over. I regard
cow manure, leaf mould, and bone flour as the best fertilizers. I
consider fall, October or November, as the best time for planting.

                                  "WILLIAM RADAM."

"PALESTINE, TEXAS.

"The Charles Downing, Seth Boyden, and President Wilder have done well.
The Charles Downing has flourished as though native and to the manner
born. The Kentucky has done remarkably well; the Wilson not so well.
Raspberries, on the whole, have done well, but currants and
gooseberries will not survive. The strawberries have done better than I
hoped. I have always looked upon the strawberry as a semi-aquatic
plant, and this view has been strengthened by an account of a wonderful
crop produced in this region by abundant and systematic watering. The
great difficulty against which we have to contend is the prolonged
summer, when, for weeks, the thermometer ranges from 90 degrees to 95
degrees in the shade. To this must be added spells of dry weather,
lasting sometimes for six or eight consecutive weeks in July, August,
and September.

                                   "D. S. H. SMITH."

"NEW ORLEANS, LA.

"Experienced cultivators prepare for strawberries by thorough plowing
and subsoiling. We cultivate by subsoil plow, cultivator, and hoe, with
no stones to impede our work. The bearing season lasts about 90 days. I
have had two full crops in the same season. The best time to plant is,
1st, in August; 2d, in December. The Wilson and Charles Downing do
well. The black-cap raspberries succeed: the red raspberries are thus
far a failure. Blackberries do very well.
    D. M. WIGGINS, _Agricultural editor_, 'N. 0. Times.'"

Mr. H. W. Lamb, of Colorado Springs, writes me that strawberries and
the hardy red raspberries do well in his section. They regard sheep
manure as one of the best fertilizers. Dr. Samuel Hape, of Atlanta,
Ga., writes: "In reply to your favor, I would say that strawberries and
blackberries do splendidly here, raspberries moderately, and currants
and gooseberries as exceptions; grapes finely.

"Our soils are mostly loam, with some sand, and a clay subsoil. Bottom
lands have the usual deposits of muck and partially decomposed
vegetable matter. The damp, rich soil, of course, suits strawberries
and blackberries; though the latter grow wild to such perfection, and
in such abundance, as to do away with cultivation almost entirely. The
red raspberry does not succeed very well as a rule. While damp,
under-drained soil and sandy loam are best for strawberries, the dry
uplands have almost invariably produced well. As to fertilizers,
well-decomposed stable manure and bone meal have done the best with us.

"No winter protection is needed. The fall, with us, is the best season
to transplant strawberries, by all odds--as soon as the September rains
set in. DR. SAMUEL HAPE."

"JACKSONVILLE, FLA., Dec. 23, 1878.

"With pleasure, I answer your questions to the best of my ability. 1.
What varieties of small fruits do best in your locality? Strawberries
and blackberries do well, but owing to the abundance of wild fruit,
late and early, the blackberry is not cultivated largely. No other
small fruits have been fairly tried. The general opinion is that our
warm weather lasts too long for the raspberry, gooseberry, and currant.
I have given the raspberry a trial, and cannot recommend it. 2. What
soils are best adapted to them? We have two soils on which the
strawberry thrives, the low hummock bordering on the river. It is rich
in vegetable and mineral matter--clay from two to four feet under
surface. The next is our pine land; soil light, and of grayish color,
nearly devoid of vegetable matter, but largely supplied with lime and
potash. Strawberries and blackberries do well on this soil. We have
what is termed high hummock. It is a yellow loam, with clay, varying
from two to six feet from surface. The orange, peach, grape, fig,
quince and plum do well on this soil. 3. What is your mode of culture?
For strawberries, I lay off beds, slightly raised, 8 feet wide. On each
bed I put four rows of plants, running the full length of beds. For
Wilsons, rows 18 inches, and 12 inches between plants; Charles Downing,
and Seth Boyden, 18 by 18 inches. Cover all the space with pine-needles
by the time warm weather sets in, and shade their fruit from the hot
sun. I cultivate with a small hand cultivator, partly invented by
myself, and by hoeing. 4. What fertilizer do you consider most
efficient? A compost of stable manure, muck, and potash. 5. What winter
protection do you give, if any? None needed. For summer protection,
pine straw between plants; this answers a double purpose--to keep the
fruit clean, also to protect the plants in warm, dry weather, and
retain moisture. 6. Do you consider spring or fall the best season for
planting in your locality? If I have home-grown plants, I prefer
planting from last of August to first of December. Northern plants,
unless grown in pots, do best if obtained in November or December. I
will add here, for your information, Wilson's Albany is very shy of
making runners for the first year or two after coming from the North.
Seth Boyden and Charles Downing take possession of the ground after
fruiting is over. WILLIAM JAMES."

Mr. P. J. Berkmans, the well-known horticulturist of Augusta, Ga.,
informed me that the Kentucky, Charles Downing, and Crescent endured
the southern sun well, and that the Captain Jack and Sharpless were
fine with them; all the purple cane and black-cap raspberries did well,
but none of the foreign kinds thrived. Mr. Berkmans remarked that, even
after ten years of bearing, he hesitated to express a positive opinion
concerning a fruit, so great are the differences caused by location and
soil. It is your young men that have been two or three years in the
business, who have positive opinions on every subject.

In the suburbs of Savannah, Ga., I found three-quarters of an acre of
strawberries that had yielded a clear profit of $800 in one season. The
preparation and culture for this profitable crop were as follows: A
good coat of manure was spread early in spring and plowed under.
Cow-peas were then sown and plowed under in August, when another coat
of manure was harrowed in. Planting was commenced August 10, and the
plants set fourteen inches from each other, in beds with alleys
between, twenty-eight inches wide. They were worked with a cultivator,
mulched with pine straw in January, and stimulated from time to time
with liquid manure. The fact that they secured a good home market
accounts, in part, for the large profit.

Through the courtesy of Captain Sigwald, himself a successful
horticulturist, I was able to visit many strawberry plantations in the
vicinity of Charleston, S. C., and will give a few statistics from one
of the most nourishing. The plants were vigorous, and the long rows
clean and free from runners. The best plants had been set out in the
preceding September. The force employed to set five and a half acres
was: five hands taking up the plants with a large patent transplanter,
that brought away a ball of earth with the roots; five more laborers
"toting," or carrying on hand-barrows, the plants from the propagating
bed to the fruiting field, and four planting. The expense of planting
was $15 per acre. Prom the five and a half acres, there were shipped to
New York 15,200 quarts, on which the freight, at fifteen cents per
quart, amounted to $2,280. Commission on sales was $413--leaving a
balance of only $1,670, and out of this all other expenses had to come.
Thus it way be seen that the expense of marketing the crop was greater
than the expense of growing it and the net profit combined--a condition
of things that should not last. The freight has been reduced to ten
cents per quart this year, I understand.

The Monarch seems peculiarly adapted to East Tennessee, and Mr. Ed. S.
Sheppard, who first introduced them, found a sensation resulting that
in its proportions resembled the mammoth berry.

The Crystal City and Captain Jack are favorite varieties in Missouri.

For the latitude and climate of New York, and westward, much suggestion
has been given already.

Mr. J. T. Lovett, of Little Silver, N. J., gives the following list as
the best selection for their light sandy soils:

FOR THE HOME GARDEN

_Strawberries_

French's Seedling--best early crop.

Charles Downing--best medium, or main crop.

Kentucky--best late.

_Red Raspberries_

Herstine--best early.[Footnote: "Requires winter protection to ensure a
crop."]

Turner--best entirely hardy early.

Cuthbert--best medium and late.

_Black-cap Raspberries_

Doolittle's Improved--best early.

Mammoth Cluster--best medium and late.

_Mammoth Blackberries_

Wilson's Early--best early.

Kittatinny--best main crop.

_Currants_

Cherry--best red.

Red Dutch--best for culinary purposes.

White Grape--best white.

Victoria--best late.

Black Naples--best black.

_Gooseberries_

Downing

FOR MARKET--OF VALUE IN THE ORDER NAMED

_Strawberries_

Wilson's Albany, } Captain Jack,    } For shipment.

Crescent Seedling, } Charles Downing,   } For near market. Downer's
Prolific, }

_Red Raspberries_

Cuthbert.

Brandywine.

_Black-cap Raspberries_

Mammoth Cluster.

Doolittle's Improved.

_Blackberries_

Kittatinny.

Wilson's early. [Footnote: "In former years this was the most
profitable of all sorts, but latterly it is so frequently injured by
winter, and so generally attacked by disease or insects throughout the
State, as to render it uncertain."]

_Currants_

Cherry.

Red Dutch.

Black Naples.

_Gooseberries_

Downing.

Houghton Seedling.

In the Sixth Annual Report of the New Jersey State Board of
Agriculture, I find the following interesting statement from the
well-known horticulturist, Mr. P. T. Quinn.

"ONE ACRE OP STRAWBEREIES.

"NEWARK, October, 1878.

"The following are the methods of culture and the products of one acre
of strawberries, grown on my farm near Newark, during the season of
1878. The ground on which these strawberries were grown was planted
with Early Rose potatoes and heavily manured in the spring of 1877.
These potatoes were dug and marketed during the last week in July and
first week in August of the same year. The ground was at once cleared
off, plowed and harrowed smoothly. Furrows were then opened four or
five inches deep and two and a half feet apart. Between the 15th and
22d of August, 1877, the strawberry plants were set in these furrows
from fifteen to eighteen inches apart, without any manure being added.
Some plants died here and there, but the bulk of those set out made a
strong growth before cold weather. They were kept free from weeds by
running a cultivator twice between the rows and hoeing twice. This
treatment kept the ground absolutely free from weeds. In the middle of
December, the plants were covered over with a compost of the sweepings
of the vegetable and fish markets, with some horse manure mixed through
it. The whole was thoroughly decayed and light in character. About the
middle of April, 1878, the coarsest part of this mulch was raked off
the strawberry plants, and left in the spaces between the rows, the
finer portion being left among the plants. To the coarse part raked off
was added salt hay, pressed under the leaves of the plants on either
side of the rows, enough being added to keep the soil around the plants
moist and the fruit free from grit. There was no disturbance of the
soil in any way in the spring, beyond the cutting off at the surface of
a few straggling weeds that started up here and there.

"The varieties grown upon this acre were Charles Downing and Green
Prolific, and the yield was five thousand four hundred and eighty-seven
(5,487) quarts. The gross receipts from this acre of berries was seven
hundred and ninety-five dollars and sixty-one cents ($795.61).
Deducting the commissions and picking the fruit, the net returns were
$620.60."

Messrs. Gibson and Bennett, of New Jersey, stated before the Western
New York Horticultural Society, that they "liked the bedding system,
say four-row beds, with plants one foot apart each way and two-feet
walks between the beds. We fertilize with fine horse manure, spreading
it heavily and plowing it under. We start plants in pots and transfer
them to the beds in September, the earlier the better. These potted
plants form fine large crowns ready for the finest fruit. The beds are
covered with manure January 1. The fruit is picked the following June,
and the beds then plowed under at once and planted with other crops."

By this system, it will be seen that the plants occupy the ground but
about ten months, and little or no cultivation is given. It is
practically the same method as that employed around Charleston, S. C.,
and, I am inclined to think, could often be practiced at the North with
great profit. In contrast, Mr. J. K. Sharpless said, on the same
occasion, "We grow in the hill system, and expect the plants to last
four or five years;" adding, "My experience teaches me that
strawberries should not be cultivated deeply until their season of rest
is over, say the last of August." I think this view sound.

Mr. E. B. Underhill, of Poughkeepsie, N. Y., said that he "valued the
Golden Defiance for late fruit. The Glendale is more vigorous. I think
highly of the Champion and Kentucky. The Duncan is our best early of
those well tested. As the mid-market in this section will probably be
glutted with Crescents, I shall take great pains with the Cumberland
Triumph, which, picked in pints (on account of its softness), will
yield almost as well, and bring more dollars than any sort I have
tested yet."

From Mr. Frank S. Alling I learn that all the small fruits succeed
finely on the shores of Puget Sound, Washington Territory.

I will close this chapter of experiences with a very interesting letter
from the Rev. Mr. A. A. Von Iffland, of Quebec, who gives an admirable
statement of the conditions of success in the latitude of Northern
Canada. It will be seen that his light, warm soil makes a difference of
several degrees of latitude in his favor.

"My soil is of a light gravelly nature, with a subsoil of coarse sand.
It requires annual applications of large quantities of manure to bring
about the best results, but _then_ yields generous returns. It is warm
and quick, and so porous that it can be worked almost immediately after
the heaviest showers. Plants form roots in the soil with marvellous
rapidity. All kinds of vegetables can be successfully cultivated.
Potatoes, tomatoes, squash, corn, carrots, parsnips, melons, cucumbers,
beans, and peas are grown to perfection. Of course, it is liable to
suffer severely in a drought--an evil which I find is best obviated by
plenty of barnyard manure and cultivation. The climate is doubtless
severe, and the winters long, but the abundance of snow affords the
best kind of protection and is of the greatest possible advantage in
the culture of small fruits. Winter sets in with us sometimes as early
as the first of November, sometimes not till the middle of December,
and the snow has not disappeared from the vicinity of the fences till
the last week in April. The average depth of snow is 4 1/2 half feet,
and we have cold spells of three or four days at a time, when the glass
varies between 20 and 30 degrees below zero.

"STRAWBERRIES

"I think that all the varieties which are cultivated in the United
States can be cultivated here under the same conditions of soil. I grow
successfully the Colonel Cheney, Triomphe de Gand, Wilson, Charles
Downing, Nicanor, Green Prolific, Monarch of the West, Seth Boyden, but
have discarded Jucunda and Kentucky. I have the greatest success with
the Cheney, Charles Downing, Wilson, and Triomphe, in the order
written. I plant both in fall and spring, but prefer fall setting when
it can be done early and you have good plants.

"I used to strike plants in three-inch pots, but have abandoned that
plan, and instead, lay the runners as early as I can get them (from 1st
to 20th July), and when well rooted, set them out, with a ball of
earth, from 15th to 20th August. If the season is at all moist, so that
the young plants make good progress before the frosts set in (about
middle of October), I get a good crop (half a full crop) the following
summer. From plants set in the spring, I take no fruit. With this
exception, fall and spring settings are treated alike. As the
cultivation is all done by hand, I have found that planting in beds of
three rows each combines the greatest advantages. The rows are 15
inches apart, and the plants 18 inches apart in the row--in the
quincunx form; each bed is separated from the rest by a path 80 inches
wide. I need not say that the soil has been previously well
enriched--with compost, generally, and well-decomposed manure. In fact,
as I usually plant on soil from which a crop of potatoes has been
removed, the ground has received two applications the year the plants
are set. As the Colonel Cheney is my favorite, in order to fertilize
it, I plant alternate beds of some good staminate variety, Charles
Downing, Triomphe, or Wilson. The cultivation of the young plants the
first season consists in cutting off any runners that may form, and
keeping them clear of weeds. When well established, the beds are
top-dressed with an inch or two of old manure; this feeds the plants,
keeps the soil about the roots moist, and acts as a mulch when the
fruit sets, and yields the following summer. The following spring and
summer, nothing is done to these beds till after fruiting, except to
hoe out the weeds. After fruiting, a thorough weeding is effected, and
the runners are cut every three weeks; and before the frosts set in,
the beds are given a top-dressing of old manure. After the second crop
of fruit is taken off, they are weeded, and the runners are allowed to
strike. The third spring, wood-ashes are applied; and after fruiting
the plants are turned under. No winter protection is given to the
plants, unless you except the top-dressing of manures; but this is
sometimes not applied till spring, and I observe no appreciable
difference between the plants with and those without it. What I do
observe is that an early winter, and plenty of snow, kills fewer plants
than a winter in which the snowfalls have been delayed till after
frosts and rains.

"Strawberries begin to ripen with us about the 28th of June, and
raspberries about the 15th of July. With the above treatment, I have
grown Wilsons and Cheneys at the rate of 11,000 quarts, or 344 bushels,
to the acre.

"RASPBERRIES

"I prefer fall planting, which may be done as late as they can be put
in. I have set them the last day of October, without losing one. I
plant them four feet apart, but five would be better, and tie the
canes, when grown, to stakes four and a half feet high.[Footnote: "The
following fall, of course; when planted, the canes are cut back, so as
to be only six inches above ground."] Sometimes I have laid them down,
and sometimes have tied up the young canes to the stakes in the fall,
and I find but little difference. They always bear, and are never
winter-killed.

"As to blackberries, I have but little experience. That blackberries
will succeed here, some canes I saw 15th August, in a friend's garden,
some two miles from my house, afford ample proof. They were loaded with
clusters of magnificent, large, luscious fruit, and were equally
prolific last year. My friend told me he was obliged to give them. very
warm protection--literally bury them in straw and earth.

"Red and black currants grow well with us, under ordinary treatment.
Gooseberries, however, are liable to mildew; that is, the English
varieties. The native hybrids, of course, are safe enough. Still, under
some conditions, I have seen the English varieties without a touch of
mildew. My English varieties mildewed badly this summer, and the man
from whom I got them says that he has never seen it in his garden, not
far from me. I went to see his bushes, and there was not a sign of
mildew affecting his gooseberries, which were very large and fine."




CHAPTER XXXII

A FEW RULES AND MAXIMS


Suggestive experiences and the methods of successful men are usually
far more helpful than a system of rules. Nevertheless, I have thought
that some concise maxims and formulas would be of use to those not yet
well versed in the labors of a fruit farm. Such rules, also, may be of
service to the unfortunates who are dependent on the "hired man," since
they can be copied and given to this minister of destiny whose hands
work out our weal or woe so largely. There are two types of workmen
that are incorrigible. The one slashes away with his haphazard hoe,
while he looks and talks in another direction. His tongue, at least, is
rarely idle, and his curiosity awakes when he does. If any one or
anything goes by, he must watch it while in sight and then comment and
expectorate. He is not only versed in all the coarse gossip concerning
his neighbors, but also can talk by the hour of the short-comings of
even their horses and dogs. The virtues of man or beast, however, make
but little impression on what answers in his organism for a mind. That
which is good, wholesome, and refined interests him no more than
strawberries would a buzzard. To the degree that he is active, he
usually makes havoc. The weeds do not suffer seriously from his
efforts, but if you have a few choice plants, a single specimen or two
of something unpurchasable and rare, or a seedling that you dream may
have a future, the probabilities are that, unless watched and warned,
he will extirpate them utterly. It rarely happens that you can teach
this type of man better things. The leopard may change his spots and
the Ethiopian his skin, but this man--though resembling both outwardly,
through his uncleanliness--never changes. His blunders, garrulity, and
brainless labor, however, would transform Izaak Walton himself into a
dragon of irritability. The effort to reform such a man would be
heroic, indeed, but let those who enter upon such a task give their
whole souls to it, and not attempt gardening at the same time--unless
the garden is maintained for the sake of the man, and they, in their
zeal, approach Titania in her midsummer-night's madness, when she bade
her attendant fairies to "feed" the "translated" weaver--

    "With apricocks and dewberries,
     With purple grapes, green figs, and mulberries."

This degenerate descendant of Bottom, however, needs no such
considerate attention; he will help himself to the choicest and rarest.

Scarcely better than the type portrayed above is the deliberate
workman, who can soon show you how easy it is to spend two dollars in
order to make one. His wages--the one thing he is prompt about--will
leave little margin of profit on the berries that he has packed,
although, by reason of his ancient pipe, they may outrank all the fruit
in the market. This man never walks nor runs, no matter how great the
emergency and press of work; he merely jogs around, and picks a
raspberry as he would pry out a bowlder. He does his work fairly well,
usually; but the fact that it would require a hundred such men to care
for a small place causes not the slightest solicitude. He would smoke
just as stolidly and complacently after bringing wreck and ruin to a
dozen employers.

Men of these types are as disastrous on a fruit farm as the
_Lachnosterna_ or currant worm. Unless the reader has far more native
goodness and acquired grace than the writer, he had better dismiss them
speedily, or his feelings may resemble those that Sam Jubilee described
on previously. I have given two extreme examples, but there are also
gradations of these characters, who had better find employment from
those requiring "hands" only. Successful work on a fruit farm, or in a
garden, requires a quick brain, a keen eye, a brisk step and a deft
hand. Many of its labors are light, and no profit can follow unless
they are performed with despatch, at the right time and in the right
way.

The majority of those we employ wish to do right and to give
satisfaction. They are not only willing but are glad to learn; and
while only actual and long-continued experience can make a thorough
gardener, perhaps the following rules, maxims, and principles,
embodying the experience of others, may be of service to beginners,
giving them a start in the right direction:

1. Never put off till spring work that might be done in the fall.
Spring is always too short for the labor it brings, even when not wet
and late.

2. Plow in the fall all heavy, loamy land that you intend to plant in
spring. This exposes it to the action of frost, and if done late, tends
to destroy insects and their larvae. Do not plow sand in the fall
unless there is upon it sod, stubble, etc., that is to decay.

3. Top-dress very light land with an inch or two of clay or heavy loam
in November, and let the winter frosts and rains blend the two diverse
soils to their mutual advantage. Harrowing in fertilizers on light
ground is better than plowing them in.

4. In the fall top-dress all the small fruits with compost, bone-dust
or other fertilizers that have staying powers, spreading it along close
to the rows and over the roots, and working it into the soil lightly by
cultivation. This gives everything a vigorous start in the spring.

5. If possible, take out before winter all perennial weeds--sorrel,
white clover, etc.--but do not greatly disturb the roots of
strawberries, just on the approach of winter.

6. In most localities and soils, raspberries, currants, gooseberries,
and blackberries do better if planted any time after they drop their
foliage in the fall. Such planting can be continued even into the
winter, on mild, still days, when frost is neither in the air nor soil.
Frozen earth should never come in contact with roots. I plant
strawberries, also, all through the autumn, even into December; and
before the ground freezes, hoe upon them one or two inches of soil,
raking it off as soon as freezing weather is over in the spring.

7. The earlier plants are set out in spring, the better, if the ground
and weather are suitable. It is usually best to wait till the danger of
severe frost is over. Do not plant when the ground is wet and sticky,
or dry and lumpy, at any season, if it can be helped. Do not plant in a
high, hot or cold wind. Make the most of mild, still, and cloudy days.
If plants can be set before a storm or shower, much is gained; but this
is not essential if roots are imbedded their whole length in moist (not
wet) earth, and the soil made very firm, around them. Plantings may be
made in very dry weather if the land is forked or plowed late in the
afternoon, and the plants set immediately in the fresh, moist earth.
Keep the roots from contact with unfermented manure.

8. In handling plants at any time, _never_ let the _little_ rootlets
dry and shrivel. Keep them from sun, frost, and wind. If the roots of
plants received in boxes are frozen, let them thaw out in a cellar
undisturbed. If roots are black, shrivelled, or musty from long
transportation, wash them in clean water, and, in the case of
strawberries, shorten them one-third, and then plant at once in moist
soil.

9. In cultivating strawberry plants recently set, stir the surface
merely, with a rake, _not over half an inch deep_.

10. Never disturb roots by working among them in dry weather. At such
times, stir the _surface only, and often_.

11. If you water at all, water thoroughly, and keep the soil moist till
rain comes; otherwise watering is an injury.

12. The easiest and cheapest way to keep a garden clean is to rake the
ground over once a week on sunny days. This method destroys the weeds
when they are just appearing, and maintains moisture.

18. Pick fruit, if possible, when it is dry, and before it is
over-ripe. Do not leave it in the sun or wind, but take it at once to
coolness and shade. Pack carefully and honestly. A quart of small,
decayed, green, or muddy berries scattered through a crate of fine
fruit may reduce its price one half.

14. Mulch everything you can. Save all the leaves and litter that can
be gathered on the place, and apply it around the plants only when the
ground is moist. _Dry_ ground covered with mulch may be kept dry all
summer.

15. Practice summer pinching and pruning only when plants are in their
spring and early summer growth, and not after the wood begins to ripen.
If delayed till then, wait till the plant is dormant in the fall.

16. Sandy or gravelly land can usually be worked immediately after
rain; but if heavy land is plowed or cultivated when wet, or so dry as
to break up in lumps, it is injured.

17. Watch all crops daily. Plants are living things, and need
attention. Diseases, insects, drought, or wet may destroy them in a few
days, or even hours, if left uncared for.

18. If you cultivate strawberries in the spring, do the work _very
early_--as soon as the ground is dry enough to work. After the fruit
buds show themselves, stir the ground with a rake or hoe only, and
never more than an inch deep. I advocate early spring cultivation, and
then the immediate application of the mulch.

19. Just as the ground begins to freeze, in the fall or early winter,
cover strawberry plants with some light material that will prevent
alternate freezing and thawing during the winter. Never use heavy,
unfermented manure for this purpose. Leaves, straw, salt, hay, _light_
stable manure, or any old litter from the garden, answer.

20. In setting raspberry plants, or any fruit, never set in hard,
unprepared soil. Do not stick them in little, shallow holes, nor in
deep, narrow ones, wherein the roots are all huddled together; make the
holes large and deep, either with the plow or spade, fill the bottom
partly with fine, rich, moist, surface soil, free from lumps and
manure, and _spread_ the roots out on this, then fill in with very fine
pulverized earth, setting the plant, in light land, one or two inches
deeper than it grew naturally; and in heavy land at the same depth. If
manure is used, spread it on the surface, _around_, not up against, the
stem of the plant.

21. Both for the sake of economy and thoroughness, use the plow and
cultivator rather than fork and hoe, whenever it is possible. Ground
can be laid out with a view to this rule.

22. In cultivating crops among trees, use short whiffle-trees, with the
traces so fastened as to prevent the young trees from being scratched
and wounded.

23. Save, with scrupulous economy, all wood-ashes, soap-suds, and all
articles having fertilizing qualities. A compost heap is like a
sixpenny savings bank. Small and frequent additions soon make a large
aggregate. The fruit-grower and his land usually grow rich together,
and in the same proportion.

24. Once more I repeat--in handling and setting out plants, _never_ let
the roots shrivel and dry out. After plants and cuttings are in the
ground, never leave them just long enough to dry out and die. Keep them
moist--not wet and sodden, but _moist_ all the time. In setting out
plants, especially strawberries, spread out the roots, and make the
ground _very firm_ about them. In trenching stock, put the roots down
deeply, and cover well half-way up the stems. The gardener who fails to
carry out the principles under this number has not learned the letter A
of his business.

Mr. William Parry gives the following rule for ascertaining the number
of plants required for one acre of land, which contains 43,560 square
feet:

"Multiply the distance in feet between the rows by the distance the
plants are set apart in the row, and their product will be the number
of square feet for each plant or hill, which, divided into the number
of feet in an acre, will show how many plants or hills the acre will
contain, thus:

"Blackberries . . . 8 feet by 3  == 24)43,560( 1,815 plants.
Raspberries   . . . 7     "   3  == 21)43,560( 2,074 plants.
Strawberries  . . . 5     "   1  ==  5)43,560( 8,712 plants.
Strawberries  . . . 3     "  16" ==  4)43,560(10,890 plants."

The same rule can be applied to all other plants or trees.

I would suggest that fruit-growers take much pains to secure
trustworthy pickers. Careless, slovenly gathering of the fruit may rob
it of half its value. It often is necessary for those who live remote
from villages to provide quarters for their pickers. Usually, the
better the quarters, the better the class that can be obtained to do
the work.




CHAPTER XXXIII

VARIETIES OF STRAWBERRIES


To attempt to describe all the strawberries that have been named would
be a task almost as interminable as useless. This whole question of
varieties presents a different phase every four or five years.
Therefore I treat the subject in my final chapter, in order that I may
give revision as often as there shall be occasion for it, without
disturbing the body of the book. A few years since, certain varieties
were making almost as great a sensation as the Sharpless. They are now
regarded as little better than weeds, in most localities. Thus the need
of frequent revision is clearly indicated. In chapter thirteen I have
spoken of those varieties that have become so well established as to be
regarded as standards, or which are so promising and popular as to
deserve especial mention. More precise and technical descriptions will
now be given. I shall not copy old catalogues, or name those kinds that
have passed wholly out of cultivation. Such descriptions would have no
practical value, and the strawberry antiquarian can find them in the
older works on this subject. Neither shall I name many foreign kinds,
as the majority of them have little value this side of the Atlantic.
Soil, climate, locality, and other reasons, cause such great
differences in opinion in regard to varieties that I expect exceptions
to be taken to every description. Many of the new sorts that I am
testing have not, as yet, proved themselves worthy of mention.

_Agriculturist._--Originated with the late Mr. Seth Boyden, of Newark,
N. J. Through the courtesy of an old friend of Mr. Boyden, I am able to
give his description of his own berry, copied from his diary by a
member of his family:

"No. 10.--Name, Agriculturist. A cross between No. 5 and Peabody's
Georgia; a hardy, tall grower, with much foliage and few runners;
berries very large, broad shoulders, slightly necked, often flat, and
some coxcombed or double, high crimson color to the centre, very firm,
and high-flavored. A staminate variety."

(No. 5 is the Green Prolific.) The Agriculturist was once very popular,
and is still raised quite largely in some localities, but is fast
giving way to new varieties. It is peculiarly adapted to light soils,
but on my place has scalded and "dampened off" badly. It seemingly has
had its day.

_Boyden's_ No. 30 (_Seth Boyden_).--I again let Mr. Boyden describe his
own seedling:

"Plant above medium size; round leaf, deep green; bears the summer heat
well; berries necked, rather long, large; abundance of seed; dark red;
has buds, blossoms, and ripe berries on the same peduncle; is of the
Agriculturist family, and an eccentric plant. Perfect flower."

From the reference above, I gather that No. 5, or Green Prolific, is
one of the parents of this famous berry. Mr. Boyden speaks of some of
his other seedlings more favorably than of this--another instance of
the truth that men do not always form the most correct judgments of
their own children. No. 30 will perpetuate Mr. Boyden's name through
many coming years, and all who have eaten this superb berry have reason
to bless his memory. No. 5 and No. 10 are rapidly disappearing from our
gardens. The Boyden (as it should be named) is one of the largest and
sweetest berries in cultivation--too sweet for my taste. It responds
nobly to high culture, but it is impatient of neglect and light, dry
soils. It is one of the best market berries, and although not hard, is
firm and dry, and thus is well adapted for shipping. It is one of the
few fancy berries that will endure long transportation by rail. As I
have stated, Mr. Jerolemon has raised 327 bushels of this variety on an
acre, and received for the same $1,386. Give it moist soil and cut the
runners.

_Bidwell._--Foliage light green, plant very vigorous; truss 3 to 5
inches high; berry very conical, bright scarlet, with a neck highly
glazed, glossy; flesh firm, pink; calyx close; season very early.

Not yet fully tested, but giving remarkable promise. It has seemed to
me to be the best of the new early berries. Staminate.

_Beauty._--Plant fairly vigorous, leaf crinkled; truss 4 to 6 inches
high; berry obtusely conical; long, glazed neck; crimson, 3 to 6 inches
in circumference; flesh light pink; flavor excellent; calyx spreading;
season early--a very fine and beautiful variety for the amateur and
fancy market. It requires petting, and repays it. It makes very few
runners. It originated with Mr. E. W. Durand, of Irvington, N. J.
Staminate.

_Black Defiance._--Plant vigorous, if the soil suits it; foliage dark
green, low, bushy; downy leaf-stalk; truss low; 2 1/2 to 4 inches;
berry very dark crimson; very obtuse conical, often round and
irregular; early, flesh dark crimson, flavor sprightly, high, and rich;
moderately productive; calyx spreading; inclined to stool; its runners
bear fruit in September. It is one of the best varieties originated by
Mr. Durand, who has given me the following history: "It is a seedling
of Boyden's Green Prolific, impregnated by the Triomphe de Gand. The
seed was planted in 1860. The berry was exceedingly tart when first
red, and was on that account pronounced worthless by competent judges
(so considered). Having but limited experience at the time, I threw it
aside, but afterward retained five plants to finish a row of trial
seedlings. Eventually it was shown at the exhibition of the New Jersey
Agricultural Society, and was awarded the first prize as the best new
seedling, by such competent judges as A. S. Fuller, Dr. Thurber, and
Chas. Downing." From that day to this all lovers of good fruit have
indorsed their opinion. It is firm, and can be shipped long distances.
Staminate.

_Black Giant._--Said to be a decided improvement on the above, and to
have the same general characteristics; but not yet tested by general
cultivation.

_Black Prince._--An old and once popular English variety, one of Keen's
seedlings, now rarely grown in this country.

_Brilliant._--Originated with W. B. Storer, of Akron, Ohio, who
describes it as "a large conical berry; color a dark, glossy red, and
deep red all through; flavor rich. Plant very hardy and prolific."

_British Queen._--One of Myatt's seedlings, of which Mr. J. M. Merrick
writes: "It is perhaps the most famous berry ever raised in England,
where it is a favorite for market." Unfortunately, it does not come to
full perfection here, and is not only tender but very capricious in
choice of soils. It is the parent of many excellent kinds. The fruit is
of the largest size and highest flavor. Staminate.

_Brooklyn Scarlet._--One of the best-flavored berries, but too soft,
except for home use. Originated with Mr. A. S. Fuller. Staminate.

_Boston Pine._--Once a favorite in the vicinity of Boston, and largely
used to fertilize Hovey's Seedling. But few are raised now, to my
knowledge. Fruit quite large; slightly conical; deep, glossy crimson;
rather firm; juicy, and of good flavor. The plant requires hill culture
in rich soil. Staminate.

_Burr's New Pine._--A medium-sized, roundish berry; scarlet in the sun;
pale in the shade; juicy, sweet, aromatic, early, very soft. Pistillate.

_Belle._--One of Mr. J. B. Moore's seedlings. New. I give an extract
from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society's report: "The Belle, we
think, is the largest strawberry ever exhibited on our tables." As yet,
not generally tested.

_Captain Jack_.--Plant moderately vigorous; leaf-stalk smooth, wiry;
very dark green foliage, which in many regions is inclined to burn;
truss 5 to 7 inches; recumbent; very much branched, with from 12 to 18
berries; berry light scarlet, round, fair size and uniform; flesh pink,
moderately firm; flavor poor; calyx close; season late; very
productive; flowers grow above the leaves; the fruit endures
transportation remarkably well; staminate. Originated with Mr. S.
Miller, of Bluffton, Mo., and is a seedling of the Wilson.

_Charles Downing_.--Plant very vigorous; foliage light green; tall and
slender; leaf-stalk downy; truss 6 to 7 inches, slender, drooping; 8 to
10 berries, which are scarlet, with a pale cheek--crimson when fully
ripe; berry round to obtuse conical; regular, the first slightly
ridged; somewhat soft; flesh juicy, light pink; flavor very fine; size
3 to 5 inches in circumference; calyx spreading and recurved; season
medium; very productive.

This is one of the best family varieties, and is planted every year
more largely for market. With care, it endures transportation very
well, and those who once taste it ask for it again. There are few, if
any other, varieties that do so well throughout the country at large.
Originated with Mr. J. S. Downer, Fairview, Ky. Staminate.

_Champion_.--Plant vigorous; foliage dark green; leafstalk downy; truss
5 to 6 inches, branched; berry dark crimson, round; flesh rather soft,
crimson; flavor very good when fully ripe, but poor when it first turns
red; size 2 1/2 to 5 inches; calyx recurved; season medium to late;
exceedingly productive. One of the best and most profitable for near
market. Originated with Dr. J. C. Neff, Carlisle, Pa. Pistillate.

_Caroline_.--Plant a moderate grower; foliage light green; leaf-stalk
somewhat downy; truss 4 to 5 inches; berry bright scarlet, with a
varnished appearance; bulky, conical; flesh scarlet; flavor good; size
3 to 4 inches; calyx spreading; season medium. Originated with J. B.
Moore, Concord, Mass. Staminate.

_Crescent Seedling_.--Plant vigorous, tall, with dark green and very
slender foliage; leaf-stalk rather smooth; truss 6 to 8 inches, well
branched; bearing 12 to 18 berries; bright scarlet berry, round to
conical, with a peculiar depression near the apex; large ones somewhat
irregular; size 2 to 4 inches; flesh scarlet; flavor not good, unless
grown on light land and the berry ripens in the sun; calyx recurved.
Soft for long carriage; but its bright color and fair size, under good
culture, cause it to sell readily in near markets. I think the public
will demand better-flavored berries. It certainly should. There are few
weeds that can compete with the Crescent in vigorous growth. It does
well in the hot climate of the South. Indeed, there are few soils so
poor and dry that it cannot thrive upon them; and, at the same time,
under high culture, with runners cut, it improves wonderfully. It has
yielded at the rate of 15,000 quarts to the acre. Originated with Mr.
William Parmelee, of New Haven, Conn., in 1870. Pistillate, or nearly
so.

_Centennial Favorite_.--Plant vigorous, tall, with light green foliage;
truss 3 to 7 inches, much branched; berry dark scarlet, round to flat,
inclined to have a neck, 2 to 4 inches; smooth and glossy in
appearance, uniform in size, flesh dark scarlet; flavor fine; calyx
spreading; season medium to late; moderately productive. Originated
with Mr. E. W. Durand, Irvington, N. J. Pistillate.

_Cinderella_.-Plant very vigorous, with light green foliage;
leaf-stalks soft, downy; truss 4 to 6 inches; berry conical, sometimes
necked, bright scarlet, glossy; flesh moderately firm, light pink;
flavor fair, but not high; size 3 to 5 inches; season early to medium;
calyx spreading.

The young plants are not very productive, but I think they would
improve greatly in this respect if the runners were cut, and that they
would bear better the second year. The berry is almost as beautiful and
attractive as the Jucanda, which it resembles somewhat; and it can be
grown on light soils, where the Jucunda cannot thrive. Originated with
Mr. Oscar Felton, of New Jersey, 1878. Staminate.

_Continental_.--Plant vigorous; leaf-stalk smooth; truss 5 to 7 inches,
well branched, bearing 12 to 18 berries; berry dark crimson, obtusely
conical; flesh firm, scarlet; flavor good; calyx recurving; season
late; moderately productive, and, under hill culture, very prolific.
Originated with Mr. Oscar Felton. Staminate.

When visiting Mr. Felton, I saw several other seedlings of great
promise, which I hope he will send out at an early date.

_Colonel Cheney_.--Plant low, spreading, vigorous, with light green
foliage; leaf-stalk downy; truss 3 to 5 inches, low, branching; berry
light scarlet, long, conical, necked; large ones very irregular; flesh
pink, watery, soft; the core tends to pull out with the hull; flavor
poor; calyx spreading; season medium to late; very productive, and Mr.
A. M. Purdy, editor "Small Fruit Recorder," writes to me that for near
markets it is still grown with great profit in western New York.
Pistillate.

_Crimson Cone_.--(Scotch Runner or Pine-apple). About fourteen years
ago, according to Mr. Fuller, there were more acres of this
old-fashioned variety cultivated for the New York market than of all
other kinds together. They were also called "Hackensacks," and were
brought in the small, handled baskets already described, and were
hulled as they were picked--their long neck making this an easy task.
They are small, regular, conical, firm, with a rich, sprightly, acid
flavor. It is not a pistillate, as many claim, Mr. Fuller asserts, but
a spurious variety, largely mixed with it, is a pistillate. It is one
of the historical strawberries, but it has had its day. In size and
flavor it is a near approach to the wild berry.

_Cumberland Triumph_.--Plant vigorous, with dark green foliage;
leaf-stalk smooth; truss 6 to 7 inches; well branched; berry round and
very uniform in shape, pale scarlet; flesh light pink, soft; very
large; size 3 to 6 inches; calyx close; season early to medium.

One of the best for family use. Under high culture, it is superb.
Originated with Mr. Amos Miller, of Carlisle, Pa. Staminate.

_Damask Beauty._--Foliage very dark green; leaf-stalk downy; truss low,
2 1/2 to 4 inches, berry very light scarlet obtusely conical; size 2 to
4 inches; flesh soft, juicy, pink; flavor fine; calyx close; season
early.

A very distinct variety, and interesting to an amateur, but of no great
value. Staminate.

_Duchesse._--Plant vigorous, tall; leaves dark green; leaf-stalk and
midrib very downy; truss 7 inches; recumbent, well branched, 6 to 8
berries that hold out well in size; berry round, bulky, very uniform,
moderately firm; bright scarlet; flesh pink, juicy; flavor fine; size 3
to 4 inches; season very early, but continuing quite long. Inclined to
stool, or make large plants from a single root; enormously productive;
from 50 to 200 berries to a plant, in hill culture. I regard it as the
best early standard berry, and have always found it one of the most
profitable for market. Originated with Mr. D. H. Barnes, of
Poughkeepsie, N. Y, Staminate.

_Duncan._--Plant vigorous; foliage light green; leaf-stalk downy; truss
5 to 7 inches; berry scarlet, round to oval, often decidedly conical;
large ones irregular, and cox-combed, flesh pink, not very firm; flavor
very good; calyx close to spreading; a productive, fine variety, that,
I am inclined to think, has not been appreciated. Originated by Mr. J.
G. Lucas, of Ulster Co., N. Y. Staminate.

_Doctor Nicaise._--A French variety; enormously large; soft; not
productive; and on my grounds wretched in flavor.

_Downer's Prolific._--A light scarlet berry; medium to large; oval,
roundish, soft; acid, but of good flavor, and perfumed like the wild
berry. Plant very vigorous and capable of enduring much neglect;
profitable for home use and near market. Originated with Mr. J. S.
Downer, of Kentucky. Staminate.

_Dr. Warder._--Plant tall, moderately vigorous; foliage light green;
leaf-stalk downy; truss 7 to 9 inches, branched, full of
different-sized berries; berry long, conical, well shouldered, crimson,
firm; flesh pink; flavor good; size 4 to 6 inches; calyx close; season
very late; burns badly, needs to be in shade. Staminate.

A superb variety if it did not lose its foliage.

_Early Hudson._--Plant very vigorous, with light green foliage;
leaf-stalk downy; truss 4 to 5 inches, strong, well branched; berry
crimson, flattish-round; when large, somewhat irregular; flesh crimson,
juicy, soft; size 3 to 5 inches; season very early; very productive.
One of the best for family use, and very productive and fine, with
runners cut. Pistillate.

_Eliza._--Plant moderately vigorous; dark green; leaf-stalk downy;
truss 3 to 5 inches, stout, branched; berry light scarlet, round to
conical, necked, large ones irregular and coxcombed; flesh firm, white;
flavor excellent; calyx close; season late; moderately productive. One
of the best foreign varieties. Staminate.

_Early Adela._--Not worth growing on my grounds.

_French's Seedling._--Plant vigorous, with light green foliage;
leaf-stalk downy; truss 5 to 7 inches; berry round, scarlet; size
medium; seeds deep-pitted; flesh pink, soft; flavor good; calyx
spreading; season early; moderately productive. Found growing wild in a
meadow, near Morristown, N. J.

_Forest Rose._--Plant moderately vigorous; foliage light green; truss 3
to 5 inches, branching; berry bright scarlet, large, and the first
somewhat irregular, 4 to 6 inches; flesh light pink; flavor very fine;
calyx spreading and recurving; season early.

One of the best where it can be grown, but in some regions the foliage
burns. Discovered growing in a vineyard, by Mr. Fetters, of Lancaster,
Ohio. Staminate.

_Frontenac._--Foliage light green; plant moderately vigorous;
leaf-stalk wiry; truss 5 inches, 6 to 8 berries; berry bright scarlet,
roundish and slightly irregular; size 2 to 3 inches; flesh pink, solid;
season late; moderately productive; the foliage is inclined to burn.

_ Glendale._--This variety is now greatly praised as a market berry.
Dr. Thurber and I examined it together, and agreed that its flavor was
only second-rate; but, as we have already seen, the public does not
discriminate very nicely on this point. It averages large, sometimes
exceeding six inches in circumference. It is long, conical, uniform in
shape, necked. The first berries are often ridged somewhat, but I have
never seen it flat or coxcombed. It has a very large calyx, is light
scarlet in flesh and color, very firm, and therefore will probably keep
and ship well, the large calyx aiding in this respect also. The plant
is vigorous and makes a long runner before the new plant forms. Leaves
large and dark green; leaf-stalk downy; truss 4 to 6 inches; season
very late. Found, by Mr. W. B. Storer, growing wild in Glendale
Cemetery, Akron, O., in 1871. Staminate. I think this berry has a
future as a market variety.

_Green Prolific._---One of the late Mr. Seth Boyden's noted varieties,
and a parent of far better berries than itself. I quote again from Mr.
Boyden's diary: "No. 5; a cross with Hovey's Seedling and Kitley's
Goliath; a large plant, and seldom injured by summer heat; very
luxuriant grower and bearer; berries above medium size and of good
quality. A pistillate."

This berry was once very popular, but has been superseded. The fruit is
very soft, and second-rate in flavor. The plant is so vigorous and
hardy that, in combination with a fine staminate, it might be the
parent of superior new varieties.

_General Sherman._--New. Described as "large, conical, regular,
brilliant scarlet; quality good; productive; early."

_Great American._--Plant but moderately vigorous; foliage dark green;
leaf-stalks downy; truss 4 to 7 inches; berry dark crimson, round to
conical; under poor culture, 2 to 3 inches in size, but sometimes very
large, 10 to 12 inches; flesh pink; flavor only fair; season late;
unproductive, unless just suited in soil and treatment. In most
localities, the foliage burns or scalds in the sun, and also seems just
adapted to the taste of the flea-beetle and other insects. Originated
with Mr. E. W. Durand, and under his exceedingly high culture and
skilful management it yielded immense crops of enormous berries that
sold as high as a dollar per quart; but throughout the country at
large, with a few exceptions, it seems to have been a melancholy
failure From this variety was produced a berry measuring over fourteen
inches in circumference--probably the largest strawberry ever grown.
Staminate.

_Golden Defiance._--Plant tall, very vigorous, somewhat slender, light
green; leaf-stalk moderately downy; truss 5 to 7 inches, 12 to 20
berries, well clustered--all the berries developing to a good size;
berry dark scarlet, obtusely conical, smooth, sometimes necked, very
uniform, 3 to 5 inches; flesh scarlet, quite firm, juicy; flavor very
fine; calyx spreading and recurving; season late.

For three successive years this has been the best late berry on my
place, and one of the most beautiful. Unless it changes its character,
it will win its way to the front rank in popularity. If its runners are
cut, it is exceedingly productive of fruit that is as fine-flavored as
showy. Pistillate. Originated with Mr. Amos Miller, of Pennsylvania.

_Glossy Gone._--One of Mr. E. W. Durand's seedlings. A pretty berry,
with a varnished appearance, but neither productive nor vigorous on my
grounds, thus far. New.

_Helen._--New. Plant tall, vigorous, with dark green foliage, very
downy; truss 5 to 7 inches, branched; berry light scarlet, flat,
conical; flesh white, firm; flavor fine; calyx close; season late. I
fear the foliage is inclined to burn badly. Staminate.

_Hervey Davis._-New Plant tall, rather vigorous, with light green
foliage; leaf-stalk smooth, except when young; truss 5 to 6 inches;
berry bright scarlet, shouldered, obtusely conical, glossy; flesh very
light pink, firm; flavor good; calyx close; season medium; productive.
It has seemed to me the most promising of Mr. J. B. Moore's seedlings.
The berry resembles the Jucunda somewhat. Staminate.

_Hovey's Seedling._--One of the most famous of the historical berries,
and still raised quite largely around Boston. It was originated by Mr.
C. M. Hovey, and was first fruited in 1835. Its introduction made a
great sensation in the fruit world, and the fact of its being a
pistillate gave rise to no end of discussion. Many who first bought it
set it out by itself, and of course it bore no fruit; therefore they
condemned it. When its need of fertilization was understood, many used
wild plants from the woods for this purpose, and then found it to be
the largest and most productive strawberry in cultivation at that
period. Such large crops were often raised that the theory was advanced
by many that pistillates as a class would be more productive than
staminates, and horticulturists became as controversial as the most
zealous of theologians. The berry and the vexed questions that it
raised have both ceased to occupy general attention, but many of the
new varieties heralded to-day are not equal to this old-fashioned sort.
Mr. Downing thus describes it: "The vines are vigorous and hardy,
producing moderately large crops, and the fruit is always of the
largest size and finely flavored; the leaves are large, rather light
green, and the fruit-stalks long and erect; fruit roundish-oval and
slightly conical, deep shining, scarlet, seeds slightly imbedded; flesh
firm; season about medium."

_Huddleston's Favorite._--New. Thus described by E. Y. Teas, of
Dunreith, Ind.: "A vigorous grower, with large, glossy foliage, that
stands the sun well; berries of the largest size, round, with small
calyx, of a bright, glossy, crimson color, ripening evenly, firm, with
a rich, spicy flavor; late; very beautiful in appearance."

_Jucunda._--A slow rather than feeble grower, on heavy soils; light
green foliage; leaf-stalk smooth; truss 5 to 7 inches; berry
high-shouldered, conical, of a bright, glossy crimson, very showy;
flesh scarlet, firm; flavor fair and good when fully ripe; calyx close;
season late.

I am indebted to Dr. Hexamer for the following history: "The late Rev.
Mr. J. Knox, of Pittsburgh, told me that in a bed of what he received
as Bonte de St. Julien, he found a number of plants that seemed to him
a new variety. Supposing them to be a new and very desirable seedling,
he separated them from the others and propagated them under the name of
'700.' Before he offered them for sale he discovered that they were
identical with the Jucunda, and when they were brought out, in 1865, it
was under the true name, Jucunda (Knox's 700)." One authority states
that it originated in England, with a Mr. Salter; another says that it
was imported from Belgium. This is of little consequence compared with
the fact that it is the finest foreign berry we have, on _heavy_ soils.
I do not recommend it for light land, unless the runners are cut and
high culture is given. Mr. M. Crawford, of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, makes
the interesting statement that Mr. Knox "sold over two hundred bushels
of this variety in one day, at $16 per bushel." It has always been one
of the most profitable on my heavy land. The young plants are small and
feeble. Staminate.

_Kentucky Seedling._--Plant tall, vigorous, but slender and apt to
fall; light green foliage; truss 8 to 10 inches, with 8 to 10 berries;
berry scarlet, conical, high-shouldered, somewhat flattened at the tip,
regular in shape and uniform in size, a little rough, knobby, with
seeds set in deep pits; flesh but moderately firm, and very white;
flavor of the best; calyx spreading and recurving; season late and
long-continued; very productive--one of the very best; size 3 to 4 1/2
inches. It succeeds well on light soils and under the Southern sun, and
improves wonderfully under hill culture. Staminate. Originated by Mr.
J. S. Downer, of Kentucky.

_Lady of the Lake._--Plant tall, vigorous, dark green foliage;
leaf-stalk downy; truss 7 to 8 inches; berry crimson, conical necked;
flesh pink, firm; flavor good, but rather dry; size moderate; calyx
spreading; season medium; productive. Staminate.

It has been, and is still, a favorite with the market-men around
Boston. Originated by a Mr. Scott, in Brighton, Mass.

_La Constant._--One of the most beautiful of the foreign berries; flesh
rosy white, sweet, juicy, very firm, and of exquisite flavor. The
plants are dwarf and compact, and they require the highest culture.
Even then the crop is uncertain; for the variety, like high-born
beauty, is very capricious; but its smiles, in the way of fruit, are
such as to delight the most fastidious of amateurs. Originated by De
Jonghe. Staminate. It is one of the favorite varieties abroad for
forcing.

_Lady's Finger._--An old variety, now not often seen. Conical, and very
elongated, and of a brilliant, dark scarlet color. It was once popular,
but has been superseded.

_Lennig's White_ (White Pine-apple).--This is not strictly a white
berry, for it has a delicate flush if exposed to the sun. The flesh is
pure white, juicy, melting, sweet and delicious in flavor, and so
aromatic that one berry will perfume a large apartment. The plant is
vigorous and hardy, but a shy bearer. Hill culture and clipped runners
are essential to fruit, but, for a connoisseur's table, a quart is
worth a bushel of some varieties. It is the best white variety, and
evidently a seedling of the _F. Chilensis._ It originated in the garden
of Mr. Lennig, of Germantown, Pa. Staminate.

_Laurel Leaf._--New. Plant moderately vigorous; foliage dark green;
leaf-stalk quite smooth; truss 3 to 5 inches, low, stocky; berry very
light scarlet; round to conical, short neck; flesh soft, light pink;
size moderate; flavor good; calyx close. Originated with Mr. A. N.
Jones, Le Roy, N. Y. Staminate.

_Longworth's Prolific._--An old variety, that is passing out of
cultivation; still grown quite extensively in California. It is a
large, roundish-oval berry of good flavor. The plant is said to be
vigorous and productive. Originated on the grounds of the late Mr. N.
Longworth of Cincinnati.

_Longfellow._--New. Described as very large, elongated, conical,
occasionally irregular; color dark red, glossy and beautiful; flesh
firm, sweet, and rich; plant vigorous with dark green, healthy foliage,
not liable to burn in the sun; very productive, continuing long in
bearing, and of large size to the last. Originated with Mr. A. D. Webb,
Bowling Green, Ky.

_Marvin._-This new berry is already exciting much attention, and I am
glad that I can give a description from so careful and eminent a
horticulturist as Mr. T. T. Lyon, President Michigan State Pomological
Society: "From notes taken at the ripening of the fruit: 'Plant
vigorous, very stocky, of rather low growth, bearing a fine crop for
young plants; foliage nearly round, thick in substance, flat or cupped;
serratures broad and shallow; fruit large to very large, longish
conical; large specimens often coxcombed; bright crimson; began to
color June 16, and the first ripe berries were gathered on the 20th;
stems of medium height--strong; flesh light crimson; whitish at the
centre, firm and juicy; flavor high, rich, fine, with a very pleasant
aroma; seeds prominent; greenish brown. We regard this as a highly
promising, very large, late variety, and especially so for market
purposes. Staminate.'"

Originated with Mr. Harry Marvin, Ovid, Mich., and said to be from the
Wilson and Jucunda--an excellent parentage.

_Miner's Great Prolific._--Plant vigorous; leaves light green, smooth;
leaf-stalk downy; truss six inches, well branched, slender, drooping;
berry deep crimson, round and bulky, regular shouldered; tip green when
half-ripe; flesh pink, moderately firm; flavor good; calyx spreading;
size four to five inches; season medium to late. The berry holds out
well in size, and resembles the Charles Downing somewhat, but averages
larger. It has seemed to me as promising a new variety as the
Sharpless. I believe it has a long future. Originated with late T. B.
Miner in 1877. Staminate.

_Monarch of the West._--Plant very vigorous; leaves light, when young,
and later of a golden green, somewhat smooth; truss six inches; four to
eight berries; berry often of a carpet-bag shape, square shouldered,
and sometimes coxcombed, large, magnificent; pale scarlet; flesh light
pink, tender; flavor very fine; calyx spreading and recurving; tip of
berry green when not fully ripe, but it colors evenly if given time.
When flavor is the gauge of excellence in the market, this famous berry
will be in the front rank. Its color and softness are against it, but
its superb size, deliciousness and aroma should make it eagerly sought
after by all who want a genuine strawberry. In the open market, it
already often brings double the price of Wilsons. In the home garden,
it has few equals. With some exceptions, it does well from Maine to
California. The narrow row culture greatly increases its size and
productiveness. I have had many crates picked in which there were few
berries that did not average five inches in circumference. Mr. Jesse
Brady, of Plano, Illinois, gives me the following history: "The Monarch
was raised by me in 1867, from one of a number of seedlings, grown
previously, and crossed with Boyden's Green Prolific. The said seedling
was never introduced to the public. I raised fourteen, and cultivated
three of them several years. They were produced from an English berry,
name unknown to me."

_Martha._--A fine, large berry, but, as I have seen it, the foliage
burns so badly that I think it will pass out of cultivation unless it
improves in this respect. Staminate.

_Neunan's Prolific_ (Charleston Berry).--Foliage tall, slender, dark
green; fruit-stalk tall; berries light scarlet, inclined to have a neck
at the North, not so much so at the South. First berries large,
obtusely conical; the latter and smaller berries becoming round; calyx
very large and drooping over the berry; exceedingly firm--hard,
indeed--and sour when first red; but growing richer and better in
flavor in full maturity; usually a vigorous grower. It was originated
by a Mr. Neunan, of Charleston, S. C., and scarcely any other variety
is grown in that great strawberry centre.

_Napoleon III._--A very large foreign berry, often flattened and
coxcombed. I found that its foliage burned so badly I could not grow
it. Mr. P. Barry describes the plant as "rarely vigorous, and bearing
only a few large, beautiful berries."

_New Jersey Scarlet._--An old-fashioned market berry that succeeded
well on the light soils of New Jersey. Once popular, but not much grown
now, I think. Mr. Downing describes it as medium in size, conical, with
a neck; light, clear scarlet; moderately firm, juicy, sprightly.
Staminate.

_Nicanor._--A seeding of the Triomphe de Gand, that originated on the
grounds of Messrs. Ellwanger & Barry, and is described by Mr. Barry as
"hardy, vigorous, productive, early, and continuing in bearing a long
time; fruit moderately large; uniform, roundish, conical; bright
scarlet; flesh reddish, rather firm, juicy, sweet; of fine flavor." I
found that it required heavy soil, high culture, with clipped runners,
to produce, on my place, fruit large enough to be of value. The fruit
ripened very early and was of excellent flavor. Staminate.

_New Dominion._--Described by Mr. Crawford, as "very large, roundish,
uniform in size and shape; bright red; glossy, firm, of good flavor,
and productive; season medium." I have seen it looking poorly on light
soil. Originated with Mr. C. N. Biggar, on the battlefield of Lundy's
Lane.

_Oliver Goldsmith._--New; a very vigorous grower, bearing a long,
conical berry with a glazed neck. Untested, but very promising.
Staminate.

_President Lincoln._--Plant moderately vigorous; foliage light green;
truss 5 to 6 inches, strong; berry crimson, conical; often long with a
neck; the first large berries are coxcombed and very irregular; flesh
firm, scarlet; flavor of the very best; size 3 to 6 inches; calyx close
to spreading. One of the best varieties for an amateur. Among them
often, without any apparent cause, are found small bushy plants with
smaller leaves, and berries full of "fingers and toes." These should be
pulled out. The variety evidently contains much foreign blood, but is
one of the best of the class. The berries almost rival the Sharpless in
size, and are better in flavor, but the plant is not so good a grower.
Specimens have been picked measuring over eleven inches in
circumference. It is said to have originated with a Mr. Smith, of New
York City, in 1875. Staminate.

_President Wilder._--In the estimation of many good judges, this is the
most beautiful and best-flavored strawberry in existence--an opinion in
which I coincide. It has always done well with me, and I have seen it
thriving in many localities. It is so fine, however, that it deserves
all the attention that it requires. It is a hybrid of the La Constant
and Hovey's Seedling, and unites the good qualities of both, having
much the appearance of the beautiful foreign berry, and the hardy,
sun-resisting foliage of Hovey's Seedling. It has a suggestion of the
musky, Hautbois flavor, when fully ripe, and is of a bright scarlet
color, deepening into crimson in maturity. Flesh quite firm, rosy
white, juicy, very rich and delicious. The berry is diamond-shaped,
obtusely conical, very regular and uniform; seeds yellow and near the
surface. The plant is low, compact, rather dwarf, the young plants
quite small, but the foliage endures the sun well, even in the far
South. The plants are more productive the second year of bearing than
in the first. Young plants often do not form fruit buds. Mr. Merrick
states that it "originated with President Wilder, in 1861, and was
selected as the best result obtained from many thousand seedlings in
thirty years of continual experimenting." Staminate.

_Pioneer._--Plant vigorous; foliage light green, tall; leaf-stalk
downy; truss 5 to 7 inches; berry scarlet, necked, dry, sweet,
perfumed; flesh pink, only moderately firm; flavor of the best; calyx
close to spreading; season early. This seems to me the best of all Mr.
Durand's new varieties that I have seen, and it is very good indeed.
The foliage dies down during the winter, but the root sends up a new,
strong growth, which, I fear, will burn in the South and on light
soils. Staminate.

_Prouty's Seedling._--Plant not very vigorous; leaf-stalk very smooth;
truss 3 to 5 inches; berry bright scarlet, glossy, very long conical;
flesh pink, firm; flavor fair; calyx close. Very productive, but the
plant does not seem vigorous enough to mature the enormous quantity of
fruit that forms. With high culture on heavy soil, I think it might be
made very profitable. Staminate.

_Panic._--Mr. W. H. Coleman, of Geneva, writes me that this variety
promises remarkably well in his region, but on my ground it burns so
badly as to be valueless. It is a long, conical berry, very firm and of
good flavor. Staminate.

_Red Jacket._--Early, high-flavored, with a rich subacid, suggesting
the wild berry in taste and aroma; of good size, round, dark crimson.
Plant vigorous; a promising new variety. Staminate.

_Russell's Advance._--A fine-flavored, early variety, but the plant
proves not sufficiently vigorous and productive to compete with other
early berries already described. Staminate.

_Russell's Prolific._--A fine, large berry, deservedly popular a few
years since. It has yielded splendid fruit on my grounds, but it seems
to have proved so uncertain over the country at large as to have passed
out of general favor. It is rather soft for market and not
high-flavored enough for a first-class berry. Pistillate.

_Romeyn's Seedling._--I cannot distinguish it from the Triomphe de
Gand. Staminate.

_Sharpless._--A very strong, upright grower, with large, crinkled
foliage; truss 5 to 8 inches, strong branched; 6 to 10 large berries
often on each; berry carpet-bag in shape, and often very irregular and
flattened, but growing more uniform as they diminish in size; light red
and glossy, 5 to 7 inches; flesh firm, light pink; flavor fine, sweet,
perfumed; calyx recurving; season medium. One of the very best if it
proves sufficiently productive over the country at large.

Mr. J. K. Sharpless kindly writes me: "I have been much interested in
growing strawberries for the last fifteen years, and after being
disappointed in many of the new and highly praised varieties, the idea
occurred to me that a seedling originating in our own soil and climate
might prove more hardy and long-lived. Having saved a fine berry of
each of the following varieties--the Wilson, Colonel Cheney, Jucunda,
and Charles Downing--I planted their seeds in a box in March, 1872. The
box was kept in the house (probably by a warm south window), and in May
I set from this box about 100 plants in the garden, giving partial
shade and frequently watering, By fall, nearly all were fine plants. I
then took them up and set them out in a row one foot apart, protecting
them slightly during the winter, and the next season nearly all bore
some fruit, the Sharpless four or five fine berries. It was the most
interesting employment of my life to grow and watch those seedlings.
Some of the others bore fine, large berries, but I eventually came to
the conclusion that the Sharpless was the only one worthy of
cultivation." I am inclined to think that the Jucunda and Colonel
Cheney formed the combination producing this berry. It is now in
enormous demand, and if it gives satisfaction throughout the country
generally, its popularity will continue. It is peculiarly adapted to
hill culture, and the plant is so vigorous that it would develop into
quite a bush on rich, moist land, with its runners clipped. Staminate.

_Seneca Chief._--Plant vigorous and productive; large, downy leaf;
truss low; berry bright scarlet, glossy, occasionally a little
wedge-shaped; round to conical, shouldered; flesh firm, pink; seeds
yellow and brown; flavor fine, rich subacid; season medium; size 3 to 5
inches; calyx close; a fine berry, originated by Messrs. Hunt & Foote,
Waterloo, N. Y. Staminate.

_Seneca Queen._--Plant vigorous, foliage dark green; leaf-stalk
moderately downy; truss 3 to 5 inches; berry dark crimson, round; flesh
red; flavor fair; size 3 to 5 inches; calyx close; season medium;
productive; a promising variety. Staminate.

_Springdale._--Plant low, stocky; leaf-stalk downy; leaf broad and
smooth; truss 3 to 4 inches; berry bright scarlet, round, broader than
long, 3 to 5 inches; flesh light pink, juicy, rather soft; flavor very
good; calyx close; season early to medium. Originated by Amos Miller,
of Pennsylvania. Pistillate.

_Sucker State._--Plant seems vigorous; foliage dark green; leaf-stalk
downy; berry light scarlet; flesh pink, juicy, firm. A new and
promising variety. Staminate.

_Stirling._--Only moderately vigorous; foliage low, light green;
leaf-stalk downy; truss 3 to 5 inches, well branched; berry crimson,
ovate, very uniform, somewhat necked; moderate-sized, 2 to 3 inches;
flesh pink, very firm; flavor of the best; calyx close to spreading;
season medium to late. The foliage burns so badly in most localities
that this variety will pass out of cultivation. Pistillate.

_Triomphe de Gand._--Plant light green; leaf-stalk and blade unusually
smooth, truss 4 to 5 inches, berry, the average ones, round to conical,
large ones irregular and coxcombed; light scarlet; glossy; flesh pink,
juicy, and solid; flavor of the best; calyx close; size 3 1/2 to 5
inches; season long; rather feeble grower, and comes slowly to
maturity. Admirably adapted to the narrow row system, and on heavy
soils can be kept in bearing five or six years, if the runners are cut
regularly. If I were restricted to one strawberry on a heavy, loamy
soil, the Triomphe would be my choice, since, on moist land with high
culture, it will continue six weeks in bearing, giving delicious fruit.
When well grown, it commands the highest price in market. It is
probably the best foreign variety we have, and is peculiarly adapted to
forcing. It is said to be a Belgian variety. Staminate. The
old-fashioned belief that strawberries thrived best on light soils
caused this superb berry to be discarded; but it was introduced again
by Mr. Knox, who proved, by a very profitable experience, that heavy
land is the best for many of our finest varieties.

_Triple Crown_.--Plant tall, slender; foliage light green; leaf-stalk
wiry, smooth; truss 5 to 6 inches; berry dark crimson, conical; when
large, irregular, with a glazed neck; flesh crimson, remarkably firm;
flavor rich and fine; size 3 to 4 inches; season medium; very
productive. One of the best, and I think the firmest strawberry in
existence. I may be mistaken, but I think this berry will become
exceedingly popular when it becomes better known. I am testing it on
various soils. For canning and shipping qualities, it has no equal, and
though so exceedingly firm, is still rich and juicy when fully ripe.
Originated by Mr. Wm. Hunt, of Waterloo, N. Y. Staminate.

_Warren_.--Described as very large, roundish, conical; very regular in
shape and size; color dark red, ripening evenly; flesh firm and of good
quality. Plant a luxuriant grower and a good bearer. New and untested.
Originated by Mr. A. S. Webb, Bowling Green, Ky.

_Wilding_.--Plant tall, vigorous; foliage dark green; leaf-stalk downy;
truss 6 to 8 inches; well branched; 10 to 12 berries; ripe fruit and
blossoms on the same stalk; berry crimson, high-shouldered, round to
conical; size 3 to 5 inches; flesh moderately firm, pink; flavor good.
New and very promising. Originated by Mr. A. N. Jones, Le Roy, N. Y.
Staminate.

_Wielandy_.--Plant vigorous, with dark green, very glossy foliage;
leaf-stalk downy; truss low; berry bright scarlet, round to conical;
flesh pink, soft; flavor fine; size 2 to 3 inches; season medium. New
and untested, but of good promise for the home garden. Staminate.

_Windsor Chief._--Said to have been originated by Mr. C. A. Gardner, of
Eaton County, Michigan, and to be a cross between the Champion and
Charles Downing. The plants that I obtained from Mr. Gardner resemble
the Champion so closely, both in foliage and fruit, that I cannot yet
distinguish between the mother and daughter. This year I shall fruit
both in perfection, and fear that I shall have to record a distinction
without a difference. I hope I may be mistaken. All that is claimed for
the Windsor Chief is true if it is as good as the Champion, a variety
that I have ever found one of the most profitable on my place.
Pistillate.

ALPINE STRAWBERKIES

_Alpines, White and Red._--These are the _Fragaria Vesca_, the
strawberries of the ancients, and well worthy of a place in our gardens
to-day. As I have already stated, they are one of the most widely
spread fruits in the world; for while they take their name from the
Alps, there are few mountains, where the temperature is sufficiently
cool, on which they are not found, either in this country or abroad. In
the high latitudes they descend into the fields, and grow wild
everywhere. The berries are conical, medium to small in size, and the
fruit-stalks rise above the leaves. In flavor they are good, very
delicate, but not rich. The plants are very hardy, and moderately
productive. Grown from the seed they reproduce themselves with almost
unvarying similarity, but the young seedlings produce larger berries
than the older plants. The foliage of the White variety is of a lighter
green than that of the Red, but in other respects there are no material
differences, except in the color.

_White and Red Monthly Alpines._--Varieties similar to the above, with
the exception that they bear continuously through the summer and fall,
if moisture is maintained and high culture given. If much fruit is
desired, all runners should be cut, and the ground made rich. We are
often misled by synonymes of these old varieties, as, for instance, Des
Quatre Saisons, Mexican Everbearing, Gallande, etc. They are all said
to be identical with the common monthly Alpines.

_White and Red Bush Alpines_.--A distinct class that produces no
runners, but are propagated by dividing the roots. In other respects
the plant and fruit are similar to the common Alpines. No matter how
small the division, if a little root is attached, it will grow readily.
They make pretty and useful edgings for garden walks, and with good
culture bear considerable fruit, especially in the cool, moist months
of autumn. Because, throwing out no runners, they give very little
trouble, and I have ever found them the most satisfactory of the
monthly strawberries. I see no reason why a good demand for them, as a
fancy fruit, could not be created. Be this as it may, there are many
who are sufficiently civilized to consider the home market first; and a
dainty dish of strawberries on an October evening, and a wood-fire
blazing on the hearth, form a combination that might reconcile
misanthropy to the "ills of life." Mr. Downing states that the Bush
Alpines were first brought to this country by the late Andrew
Parmentier, of Brooklyn.

_Wood Strawberries, White and Red_.--These are the English phases of
the Alpine, or _F. Vesca_ species. Their fruit is not so conical as the
Alpine of the Continent, or our own land, but is "roundish ovate." They
are said to be rather more productive, but I doubt whether they differ
materially from the other Alpines, except in form. They are the
strawberries that our British forefathers ate, and are the same that
the Bishop of Ely brought to the bloody Protector from his "gardayne in
Holberne."

_Montreuil_.--Said to be an improved variety of the Alpines.

_Green Alpine_ (Green Pine or Wood, _Fraisier Vert_).--"This variety
was, by some, supposed to be a distinct species, but the appearance of
the plant and fruit shows it to be a true Alpine. Berry small,
roundish, depressed, greenish brown; flesh green, with a somewhat musky
flavor." (Fuller.) Mr. Downing says the berry is tinged with reddish
brown on the sunny side at maturity, and that it has a peculiar, rich,
pine-apple flavor.

Under the head of Alpines, one finds in the catalogues a bewildering
array of names, especially in those printed abroad; but I am quite well
satisfied that if all these named varieties were placed in a trial bed,
and treated precisely alike, the differences between them, in most
instances, would be found slight indeed, too slight to warrant a name
and separate existence.

HAUTBOIS STRAWBERRIES--FRAGARIA ELATIOR

As far as I can learn, this class was more raised in former years than
at present, both here and abroad. At any rate, the musky flavor of the
"Hoboys" (as the term was often spelled in rural regions) has not won
favor, and I rarely meet with them in cultivation. They are well worth
a little space in the garden, however, and are well suited to some
tastes. _Belle de Bordelaise_ is said to be the best variety. The berry
is described by Mr. Fuller, as "roundish oval, dark, brownish purple;
flesh white, juicy, sweet, with a strong, musky flavor."

_Common Hautbois._--Fruit medium in size, reddish green, musky. The
fruit-stalks rise above the leaves--hence the term _Hautbois_, or high
wood. Not worthy of cultivation.

_Prolific Hautbois_--(Double bearing, and having many other
synonymes).--Mr. Downing speaks highly of this variety, saying that it
is distinguished by its "strong habit, and very large and usually
perfect flowers borne high above the leaves. The fruit is very large
and fine; dark colored, with a peculiarly rich, slightly musky flavor."
Productive.

_Royal Hautbois._--Said to be one of the largest, most vigorous, and
productive of this class.

Mr. Merrick writes that the _Hautbois_ strawberries find few admirers
in the vicinity of Boston, and seem equally neglected abroad.

I am gathering these and the Alpines into trial-beds, and thus hope to
learn more accurately their differences, characteristics and
comparative values.

_Chili_ strawberries are now rarely met with in cultivation. Mr.
Merrick writes of them: "Although some of them are extolled for amateur
culture, they are of little value. They are large, coarse, very apt to
be hollow, with soft, poor-flavored flesh. They have been so thoroughly
intermingled with other species that it is difficult to say of certain
named kinds that they are or are not partly Chilis." True Chili,
Wilmot's Superb, and the Yellow Chili are named as the best of the
class.

There are very many other named strawberries that I might describe, and
a few of them may become popular. Some that I have named are scarcely
worth the space, and will soon be forgotten. In my next revision, I
expect to drop not a few of them. It should be our constant aim to
shorten our catalogues of fruits rather than lengthen them, to the
bewilderment and loss of all save the plant grower. The Duchess, for
instance, is a first-class early berry. All others having the same
general characteristics and adapted to the same soils, but which are
inferior to it, should be discarded. What is the use of raising second,
third, and fourth rate berries of the same class? Where distinctions
are so slight as to puzzle an expert, they should be ignored, and the
best variety of the class preserved.

I refer those readers who would like to see a list of almost every
strawberry named in modern times, native and foreign,

to Mr. J. M. Merrick's work, "The Strawberry and its Culture."




CHAPTER XXXIV

VARIETIES OF OTHER SMALL FRUITS


I have already written so fully of the leading and profitable varieties
of raspberries, blackberries, currants, and gooseberries, that little
more remains to be said; since, for reasons previously given, I do not
care to go into long descriptions of obsolete varieties, nor of those
so new and untested as to be unknown quantities in value. I am putting
everything thought worthy of test in trial-beds, and hope eventually to
write accurately concerning them.

RASPBERRIES

_Rubus Idceus and Rubus Strigosus_

_Arnold's Orange_.--Canes strong, branching, yellowish brown, almost
smooth, and producing but few suckers. Fruit large, somewhat shorter
than Brinkle's Orange, and of a darker orange color; rich in flavor,
Originated with Mr. Charles Arnold, Paris, Ontario, C. W.

_Antwerp_ (English).--See page 202.

_Antwerp_ (Hudson Biver).--See pages 202-205.

_Antwerp_ (Yellow--White Antwerp).--A tender variety that needs winter
protection, good culture, and vigorous pruning; otherwise, the berries
are imperfect and crumble badly in picking. The fruit is exceedingly
delicate and soft, and must be picked as soon as ripe or it cannot be
handled. It is much surpassed by Brinkle's Orange. The canes are
vigorous and the variety is easily grown. _Brinkle's Orange_.--For
description, see page 218.

_Belle de Fontenay_.--See page 207.

_Brandywine._--See page 208.

_Belle de Palnau._--A French variety, that thrives in some localities.
Canes are strong, vigorous, upright, covered with short, purplish
spines, which are more numerous near the ground; berry large, obtuse
conical, bright crimson; firm for so juicy and fine-flavored a berry;
grains large. The berries were often imperfect on my place.

_Catawissa._--See page 216. This variety is well spoken of by some good
authorities. The fact that it bears in autumn should give it some
consideration.

_Clarke._--See page 220.

_Caroline._--See page 221.

_Cuthbert._--See pages 221-225.

_Franconia._--See page 206.

_Fastollf._--"An English variety of high reputation. It derived its
name from having originated near the ruins of an old castle, so called,
in Great Yarmouth. Canes strong, rather erect, branching; light
yellowish brown, with few strong bristles; fruit very large, obtuse or
roundish conical, bright, purplish red, rich and highly flavored,
slightly adhering to the germ in picking." (Downing.)

_French._--(Vice-President French).--Originated with Dr. Brinkle.
"Canes strong, upright, spines short and stout; fruit medium to large,
roundish, rich, bright crimson, large grains, sweet and very good."
(Barry.) It is foreign in its parentage, and uncertain in many
localities.

_Herstine._--See pages 219, 220.

_Hornet._--"Raised by Souchet, near Paris. Very productive. Canes very
strong, vigorous, upright spines, purplish, rather stout, and numerous
at the base; fruit very large, conical, often irregular, grains large,
quite hairy, compact, crimson; flesh rather firm, juicy, sweet and
good, separates freely." (Downing.) This variety appears to vary
greatly with locality.

_Kirtland._--(Cincinnati Red.)--One of the native varieties once grown
largely, but now superseded. Fruit medium in size, obtuse conical,
soft, and not very high-flavored.

_Knevett's Giant._--Berry large, round, light crimson, adheres too
firmly to the core, and often crumbles in picking, but is juicy and
good. The canes are very strong and productive; spines purplish, short,
scattering. An English variety.

_Merveille de Quatre Saisons._--A French variety. This and the Belle de
Fontenay are almost as hardy as any of our native kinds, and thus they
form exceptions to the foreign sorts, which are usually tender. Good
results might be secured by crossing them with our best native kinds.
The canes of this variety must be cut to the ground in spring if much
autumn fruit is desired. It is not equal to the Belle de Fontenay, to
which class it belongs.

_Naomi._--Identical with Franconia.

_Northumberland Fillbasket._--An old-fashioned English variety,
sometimes found in the garden of an amateur.

_Pride of the Hudson._--See pages 190, 219.

_Pearl, Bristol, Thwack._--Native varieties that resemble the
Brandywine, but are not equal to it in most localities. They are
passing out of cultivation.

_Reliance._--A seedling of the Philadelphia, but judging from one
year's test, much superior to it, and worthy of cultivation in those
regions where the finer varieties cannot thrive. It is hardy, and will
do well on light soils.

_Saunders._--See page 220.

_Rubus Occidentalis_

For descriptions of _Davison's Thornless, Doolittle, or American
Improved, Mammoth Cluster,_ and _Gregg,_ see Chapter XXII.

_American Black._--Common black-cap raspberry, found wild throughout
the United States. Too well known to need description.

_American White-Cap_ (Yellow-Cap, Golden-Cap).--"Also scattered widely
throughout the country, but not common. Those who discover it often
imagine that they have found something new and rare. Berries slightly
oval, grains larger than those of the black-cap, yellow, with a white
bloom. The canes are light yellow, strong, stocky, with but few spines.
Propagated from the tips. It might become the parent of very fine
varieties." (Fuller.)

_Miami Black-Cap._--A vigorous, productive variety, found growing near
the Miami River, in Ohio. The fruit approaches a brownish red in color,
and is not equal to the Mammoth Cluster in value.

_Philadelphia._--See page 220.

_Seneca Black-Cap._--Raised by Mr. Dell, of Seneca County, N.Y. The
fruit is between the Doolittle and Mammoth Cluster in size, and is
later than the former; not so black, having a shade of purple, and is
juicy, sweet, and good.

_Lum's Everbearing, and Ohio Everbearing Black Raspberries._--Varieties
that resemble each other. If a good autumn crop is desired, cut away
the canes in the spring, so as to secure a strong early growth of new
wood, on which the fruit is to be borne.

 _Golden Thornless._--A large variety of the American White-Cap,
introduced by Purdy & Johnson, Palmyra, N.Y.

_Florence._--A variety resembling the above.

_Ganargua and New Rochelle._--See pages 220, 221.

BLACKBERRIES

In Chapter xxiv. I have described those varieties that have proved
worthy of general cultivation. The Dorchester winter-killed so badly on
my place, and the fruit was so inferior to that of the Kittatinny in
size, that I discarded it. It is good in flavor. The Missouri Mammoth
is tender and often not productive. There are new varieties that
promise well, as Taylor's Prolific, Ancient Briton, Knox, Warren,
Wachusett Thornless, Cro' Nest and several others. I am testing them,
and do not care to express any opinion as yet, or write descriptions
that would probably need considerable revision within six months.

CURRANTS AND GOOSEBERRIES

In chapters xxvi. and xxvii. may be found a description of those
distinct varieties that are of chief value in this country. I find no
good reason why I should fill pages with descriptions of varieties that
are rarely cultivated, and which might well give place to better kinds.
Eventually, I shall give the results gathered from my trial-beds, in
which I am placing all the new and old varieties said to be worthy of
cultivation.




CHAPTER XXXV

CLOSING WORDS


Our ramble among the small fruits is over. To such readers as have not
grown weary and left my company long since, I will say but few words in
parting.

In the preceding pages I have tried to take from our practical and
often laborious calling its dull, commonplace, and prosaic aspects. It
should be our constant aim to lift life above mere plodding drudgery.
It is our great good fortune to co-work with Nature, and usually among
her loveliest scenes. Is it not well to "look up to the hills"
occasionally, from whence may come "help" toward a truer, larger
manhood, and then, instead of going home to the heavy, indigestible
supper too often spread for those who are weary and feverish from the
long, hot day, would it not be better to gather some sprays of the
fruit whose mild subacid is just what the material man requires in
mid-summer sultriness? The horticulturist may thrive if he will, in
body and soul; for Nature, at each season, furnishes just such supplies
as are best adapted to his need. She will develop every good quality he
possesses, especially his patience.

As we have passed from one fruit to another, I have expressed my own
views frankly; at the same time, I think the reader will remember that
I have taken no little pains to give the opinions of others. Dogmatism
in pomology is as objectionable as in theology. I shall be glad to have
my errors pointed out, and will hasten to correct them.

As a part of this book appeared as a serial in "Scribner's Magazine," I
was encouraged by words of approval from many of the best horticultural
authorities. I shall not deny that I was very glad to receive such
favorable opinions, for I had much and just doubt of my ability to
satisfy those who have made these subjects a lifelong study, and to
whom, in fact, I am largely indebted for the little I do know. Still
more am I pleased by assurances that I have turned the thoughts of many
toward the garden--a place that is naturally, and, I think, correctly,
associated with man's primal and happiest condition. We must recognize,
however, the sad change in the gardening as well as gardeners of our
degenerate world. In worm and insect, blight and mildew, in heat,
frost, drought and storm, in weeds so innumerable that we are tempted
to believe that Nature has a leaning toward total depravity, we have
much to contend with; and in the ignorant, careless, and often
dishonest laborer, who slashes away at random, we find our chief
obstacle to success. In spite of all these drawbacks, the _work_ of the
garden is the _play_ and _pleasure_ that never palls, and which the
oldest and wisest never outgrow. I have delayed my departure too long,
and, since I cannot place a basket of President Wilder Strawberries on
the tables of my readers, I will leave with them the best possible
substitute, the exquisite poem of H. H.:

MY STRAWBERRY

    O marvel, fruit of fruits, I pause
    To reckon thee. I ask what cause
    Set free so much of red from heats
    At core of earth, and mixed such sweets
    With sour and spice; what was that strength
    Which, out of darkness, length by length,
    Spun all thy shining threads of vine,
    Netting the fields in bond as thine;
    I see thy tendrils drink by sips
    From grass and clover's smiling lips;
    I hear thy roots dig down for wells,
    Tapping the meadow's hidden cells;
    Whole generations of green things,
    Descended from long lines of springs,
    I see make room for thee to bide,
    A quite comrade by their side;
    I see the creeping peoples go
    Mysterious journeys to and fro;
    Treading to right and left of thee,
    Doing thee homage wonderingly.
    I see the wild bees as they fare
    Thy cups of honey drink, but spare;
    I mark thee bathe, and bathe again,
    In sweet, uncalendared spring rain.
    I watch how all May has of sun
    Makes haste to have thy ripeness done,
    While all her nights let dews escape
    To set and cool thy perfect shape.
    Ah, fruit of fruits, no more I pause
    To dream and seek thy hidden laws!
    I stretch my hand, and dare to taste
    In instant of delicious waste
    On single feast, all things that went
    To make the empire thou hast spent.




APPENDIX

NEW VARIETIES


NEW STRAWBERRIES

_The Jewell._--I quote the following description by the originators:
"This new variety was raised from seed by P.M. Augur & Sons, in 1880,
and is one of a lot of seedlings produced from one quart of Jersey
Queen and one quart of Prince of Berries (the seed being sown together
and taken from exhibition berries). The Jewell is the finest growing
variety we have ever seen, producing an abundance of very large,
high-colored fruit, of fine quality. Season medium, color bright red,
changing to crimson when very ripe; flower pistillate; enormously
productive; berry very solid and firm, promising to become the great
market strawberry. The plant is robust and vigorous, and has never
shown any signs of rust or blight." It has received the following high
praise from Hon. Marshall P. Wilder: "The large size, good form, bright
color and remarkable solidity and productiveness will make it a
permanent variety for years to come."

_Parry._--"All things considered, this surpasses any novelty that has
appeared for many years. Fruit extra large, firm, handsome, and good;
plant vigorous and productive, We can recommend it both for market and
the home garden. Early to medium."--J.T. Lovett. This is high praise of
a fruit produced by a rival fruit-grower, and does credit to the
fairness of the writer. The Parry strawberry was produced from seed of
the Jersey Queen, planted in the summer of 1880 by Mr. William Parry,
the veteran fruit-grower of New Jersey. He thus describes it. "Plant a
rank, vigorous grower, clean foliage, and very productive. Berries
large, obtuse conical, bright glossy scarlet, firm, and of the best
quality, ripening all over at once. Blossoms perfect."

Dr. F.M. Hexamer, editor "American Garden," also speaks highly of it,
as follows "The Parry has proved quite satisfactory on my grounds. The
plants are very vigorous, healthy, have wintered well, and have yielded
an abundant crop of large, handsome berries." It is also strongly
praised by many other authorities, and has received many premiums.

_Jersey Queen._--The plant is strong, stocky, and vigorous, but only
moderately productive; the fruit large and beautiful. It must have high
culture, and not be allowed to run, or it is not satisfactory.
Pistillate.

_Henderson._--Said to be moderately vigorous, producing handsome fruit
of exquisite flavor. Early and perfect in flower. Not yet generally
tested, but probably one of the best for amateurs.

_Daniel Boone._--"Produces good crops; fruit of large size, attractive
in appearance, medium quality, rather soft, and late in ripening; plant
hardy and vigorous."--Charles A. Green. Further south and on light
soils the foliage is said to blight. Pistillate.

_Dollar._--"For beauty, firmness, and high quality has but few equals,
but the foliage blights so badly at Monmouth as to greatly impair its
value. However, it blossoms and fruits quite profusely in the autumn,
giving us strawberries when other patches are bare of fruit. Perfect in
flower."--J. T. Lovett. If the tendency to autumn bearing is so great
as to enable us to secure a fair crop of berries in late summer and
fall this variety is a valuable acquisition. I shall certainly give it
a fair trial. Further north and on heavier soils the foliage may be
entirely healthy.

_Cornelia._--Highly praised by some, and declared to be unproductive by
others. It undoubtedly requires high culture and runners clipped. With
such treatment it promises to be one of the best _late_ berries.
Pistillate.

_Crystal City._-Said to have been found growing wild in Missouri. I
have fruited it for years, and have ever found it the earliest and one
of the most delicious of berries. It is not valuable for market, but
for home use, if the runners are clipped, it yields a fair crop of
berries, with the genuine wild flavor.

_May King._--Described as almost identical with the old Crescent, with
the advantage that the flower is perfect.

_Garretson._--Much is claimed for this variety. As its chief virtue it
is declared to maintain a uniform size and regular form throughout a
long picking season. It has been awarded several flattering premiums.
Pistillate.

_Old Ironclad._--One of the best early berries, produced on an
exceedingly vigorous plant that is said to be more productive on the
second and third years of bearing than on the first. The fruit, not the
plant, closely resembles the Wilson. Perfect flower.

_Vineland._-Said to be an improvement on the Kentucky, which it
resembles. Perfect flower.

_Indiana._--Also said to be an improvement on the Charles Downing. If
it is we all want it, but we have tried improvements on the fine old
standards before. Perfect flower.

_Hart's Minnesota._--"I know of no variety that responds more readily
to good culture than this. Under neglect the berries are small, but of
a bright scarlet color, quite firm and very good. With high culture it
is very large, attractive, and holds its size remarkably well. Perfect
flower."--M. Crawford.

_Jumbo._--Another name for the old Cumberland Triumph.

_Prince of Berries._--Originated by Mr. E. W, Durand, and, like nearly
all the varieties sent out by him, requiring very high culture. The
fruit is large, meaty, and firm in flesh, of excellent flavor, and
possessing a fine aroma. It is a berry for the amateur to pet and enjoy
upon his table, but not adapted to ordinary culture. Perfect flower.

_Manchester._--Pistillate. "The Manchester has been a favorite with us,
but, like most varieties, has its defects. It is deficient in flavor,
is too light in color, is subject to leaf blight, and is exceedingly
soft. It is necessary to pick every day in order to get it into market
in good condition. We were pushed hard the past season, and did not
pick the Manchester every day. The berries left the farm in apparently
good condition, but our men reported that they melted on hot days like
so much butter. They were often obliged to throw them away, from the
fact that they were too soft to be sold. This softness, however, might
have been obviated in a measure by picking more frequently. It is very
productive, and the berries are of large size."--Charles A. Green. The
words quoted above embody my own experience with this variety.

_James Vick._--Should have been a better berry to bear so honored a
name.

After a thorough test I have discarded it. Nevertheless, in some
localities it has proved a valuable market berry. Perfect flower.

Many others might be named, but, as far as I can learn, they have but
short careers before them. If by well-doing they win their way to the
front we shall all be glad to recognize their merits. The _Jessie_, and
_Crawfard's No. 6_ promise to claim considerable attention in the
future.

NEW RASPBERRIES

_Golden Queen._--This new variety has a curious history. Apparently it
is simply an albino of the Cuthbert, for to all intents and purposes it
is this favorite berry with the exception of its color. Mr. Ezra
Stokes, of New Jersey, found the parent bush growing in a twelve-acre
field of Cuthberts, but is unable to say whether it is a sport or a
seedling. At all events, it was taken up and propagated, and the result
apparently is a fixed and valuable variety for home use. I doubt
whether a white raspberry will ever find much favor in market--not, at
least, until the people are sufficiently civilized to buy white grape
currants. In color it is said to be a beautiful yellow; in flavor,
hardiness, and vigor it is declared to be superior to its parent, which
it nevertheless closely resembles.

_Rancocas._--Another raspberry of New Jersey origin. It was found
growing wild. Its discoverer claims that it has a sturdy upright
growth, with a tendency to make branches like a miniature tree. These
branches load themselves with red berries, which ripen early and nearly
all together. Hardiness and other good qualities are claimed for it by
the discoverer, who is the originator of the Hansel. If it is no better
than this variety it is not destined to long-continued popularity in
regions where better fruit can be grown.

_Hansel._--Red. A variety of the wild or native type which in my
grounds so closely resembled the Highland Hardy that, apart from its
quality of earliness, I do not regard it of value. It is not by any
means identical with the Highland Hardy; but, having picked berries of
both varieties at the same time, I could not tell them apart, either in
appearance or flavor. Such berries are better than none at all, and may
be grown by those who can raise no better. It is also claimed that
earliness in ripening, and hardiness of plants made the variety
profitable; and this, no doubt, is true in some localities.

_Marlboro._--A large, showy, good-flavored, red raspberry that was
originated by Mr. A. J. Caywood, of Marlboro, N. Y. It has done well on
my grounds, and promises finely as a market berry, as its earliness,
bright color, firmness, and tendency to ripen its fruit rapidly and all
together give the grower a chance to gather and sell his crop within a
short period. I do not advise any one to grow only this variety, either
for market or home use, for the reason that it gives too short a
season. Employed to secure a succession of fruit, it is an excellent
variety. I doubt whether the canes will prove hardy throughout any wide
extent of country, for it evidently contains foreign blood. I think it
well worth protection, however, if, in some regions, experience proves
it to be not entirely hardy.

BLACK-CAPS

Of the newer black-cap varieties the _Souhegan_ is the best that I have
seen or have heard spoken of. I think it may be regarded as the best
early type of this class of berries. The fruit is of good size and
flavor, moderately firm, and wonderfully abundant. For vigor,
hardiness, and freedom from disease I do not know that it is surpassed
by any other kind.

The _Tyler_ in my grounds resembled the Souhegan so closely that I do
not think that a distinction between them is worth maintaining.

The _Centennial_ promised wonderfully well at first on my place, but
after two or three years developed a feebleness and tendency to disease
which led me to discard it.

The _Ohio_ is said to be the most valuable of all for drying purposes,
for the reason that it is very firm, and retains its flavor and form
better than any of the others. It has been stated that but two and a
half to three quarts of fresh berries will make a pound of dried fruit.
I think it would be well for those who are far from market to
experiment with this variety. If it is equal to the claims made for it,
it can be made very profitable.

The _Nemaha_ originated with Ex-Governor Furnas, of Nebraska. Charles
A. Green says of this variety: "The season for ripening with the Nemaha
is a trifle later than the Gregg. The berries are equally large, of
better quality, equally productive and vigorous, and by far more hardy.
This point of hardiness of the Nemaha, it is hoped, will make it the
leading late variety, giving it preference over the Gregg." I have
fruited it alongside of the Gregg on my grounds, but have failed to
note any difference in fruit, cane, or season of ripening.

The _Chapman, Hopkins,_ and others have been introduced, but I fail to
see why they should take the place of the fine old standard varieties
already described. For either market or home use the Souhegan (early)
and Gregg (late) leave little else to be desired.

BLACKBERRIES

Of the blackberries recently introduced, _Wilson Junior_ without doubt
produces the largest and finest fruit, and in this respect is probably
unsurpassed by any variety now in existence. But it is a child of the
old Wilson's Early, and I do not believe it will prove hardy north of
New Jersey. It resembles its well-known parent, but the fruit is
earlier, finer, and larger, fit for use as soon as black, and
sufficiently firm to carry well to market. Those who have tested it
affirm that, although it yields enormously, it has not failed to
perfect its crop. I should give it winter protection in this latitude.

The _Early Harvest_ is said to be the best very early blackberry yet
introduced. Mr. J. T. Lovett describes it as "first-class in every
respect, perfecting its entire crop before any other blackberry can be
gathered," and as "wonderfully prolific," It is of medium size, of good
flavor, and so firm that it carries to market in excellent condition.
In hardiness it is said to be second only to the Snyder and Taylor.

_Taylor's Prolific_ is a variety that I was testing when this book was
written. It has fulfilled its promise. The plants have proved hardy
with me, the fruit of medium size, unusually fine-flavored, and very
abundant.

In the West Mr. M. Crawford speaks of the _Stone_ and especially of the
_Agawam_ as the hardiest of all the varieties that he had tested. They
were comparatively uninjured when nearly all the others were killed to
the ground.

There are other kinds which are good, but since they do not equal the
varieties already named in this volume, I see no reason for keeping
them before the public.

The _Industry_ gooseberry has been introduced by Ellwanger and Barry,
of Rochester, N.Y., who think it will "revolutionize gooseberry culture
in this country." It is an English variety, but has succeeded so well
in this country that it has been propagated and disseminated. It
remains to be seen whether it will continue to retain its vigor and
health in our climate. It is said to be unequalled for size, of fine
flavor, very productive, and showing no signs of mildew.





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Ronald Hunter
           
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