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Full text of "Pleasant talk about fruits, flowers and farming"

Glass. 
Book_ 



COPYRIGHT DEPOSIT 



PLEA>SAIsT TALK 



FRUITS. FLOWERS AND FARMING 



HENKV WAKI) BEECHEll. 



A/.ir EDITION, 

WITH AUJ^ITIONAL MATIKK lUoM liKCENT WRITINGS. 
rrilMsHKI) AM) rNlTI;I.IsHEI>. 




1 *--/-«» ^ , 



NEW YORK: 4 
J. li. FORD AND COMPANY 

1874. 



Entered aecording to Act of Congress, in the ypAv 1873, 

BY .1. B. FORU AND COMPANY, 
in the Office of the ljb)anan ot Congress, .ft Witsliinglxm. 






University Prkss; Wkixh, Bicfiow. & Co., 
C \mui!1ix;h. 



i 



PREFA/rORY. 



Thk Pret;u;c lo the Hrst ('(lition of this vohiine, which 
follows these few w»)rils, will give some idea of the hook's 
uii'^iii. Miuh of vlu- iimtei-i:il is of oiily jcissinij,' importance, 
:m<l is retaimnl now rather from retrospective interest. A 
eonsiderahle a<Milion has heen made, however, consisting 
of articles conM'ihnted to Mr. IJoiiiier's iVew York Ledger^ 
hearing npon rural affiiirs, and also an unjiublished address 
upon Tht Apple. This was delivered at lona Island, on 
a fiiir summer day, when Indies and gentlemen, several 
score, — editors, pomologists, singers, preachei's, poets, antl 
inventors, — gatliered nnder Dr. C. W. Grant's hosj»ital)le 
trees, — for the house was too small to hold them, — to eat 
apples and pears, to discuss grapes solid ajid liquid, and to 
listen to the veneral)le poet, Mr. Bryant, to Horace Greeley, 
to Charles Downing, and to notable songsters, Avhose \\'ar- 
hles put the bii-ds to envious silence, — at any rate, so the 
compliments ran at the time. 

The address liad better luck at lona than its great subject 
did in Paradise ; though it will never give rise to such a 
literature of results. 

H. W. BEECHER. 

Bbooklyn, Febi-uary, 1874. 



PEEFAOE 



TO THE FIRST EDITION. 



No one of our readers will be half so curious to know 
what this book contains as the author himself For it is 
more than twelve years since these pieces were begun, and 
it is more than ten years since we have looked at them. 
The publishers have taken the trouble to dig them out from 
what we supposed to be their lasting burial-place, in the 
columns of the Western Farmer and Gardener, and they 
have gone through the press without our own revision. 

It is now twenty years since we settled at Indianapohs, the 
capital of Indiana, a place then of four, and now of twenty- 
Jive thousand inhabitants. At that time, and for years 
afterward, there was not, within our knowledge, any other 
than political newspapers in the State — no educational 
journals, no agricultural or family papers. The Indiana 
Journal at length proposed to introduce an agricultural 
department, the matter of which should every month 
be printed, in magazine form, under the title, Indiana' 
Farmer and Gardener, which was afterward changed to 
the more comprehensive title, Western Farmer and Gardener. 



VI PEBFATOBT. 

It may be of some service to the young, as showing how 
valuable the fragments of time may become, if mention is 
made of the way in which we became prepared to edit this 
journal. 

The continued taxation of daily preaching, extending 
through months, and once through eighteen consecutive 
months, without the exception of a single day, began to 
wear upon the nerves, and made it necessary for us to seek 
some relaxation. Accordingly we used, after each week- 
night's preaching, to drive the sermon out of our heads 
by some alterative reading. 

In the State Library were Loudon's works — his encyclo- 
pedias of Horticulture, of Agriculture, and of Architecture. 
We fell upon them, and, for years, almost monopoUzed them. 

In our little one-story cottage, after the day's work was 
done, we pored over these monuments of an almost incredi- 
ble industry, and read, we suppose, not only every line, but 
much of it many times over ; until, at length, we had a 
topographical knowledge of many of the fine Enghsh estates 
quite as intimate, we dare say, as was possessed by many 
of their truant owners. There was something exceedingly 
pleasant, and is yet, in the studying over mere catalogues 
of flowers, trees, fruits, etc. 

A seedsman's list, a nurseryman's catalogue, are more 
fascinating to us than any story. In this way, through 
several years, we gradually accumulated materials and 
became familiar with facts and prmciples, which paved the 
way for our editorial labors. Lindley's Horticulture and 
Gray's Structural Botany came in as constant companions. 
And when, at length, through a friend's liberahty, we be- 



PREFATORY. Vll 

came the recipients of the London Gardemrh Chronicle, 
edited by Prof. Lindley, our treasures were inestimable. 
Many hundred times have we lain awake for hours, unable 
to throw off the excitement of preaching, and beguiling 
the time with imaginary visits to the Chiswick Garden, to 
the more than oriental magnificence of the Duke of Devon- 
shire's grounds at Chatsworth. We have had long discus- 
sions, in that Uttle bedroom at Indianapolis, with Yan 
Mons about pears, with Yibert about roses, with Thompson 
and Knight of fraits and theories of vegetable Ufe, and 
with Loudon about everything under the heavens in the 
horticultural world. 

This employment of waste hours not only answered a 
purpose of soothing excited nerves then, but brought us 
into such relations to the material world, that, we speak 
with enth'e moderation, when we say that all the estates 
of the richest duke in England could not have given us 
half the pleasure which we have derived from pastures, 
waysides, and unoccupied prairies. 

If, when the readers of this book shall have finished it, 
they shall say, that these papers, well enough for the cir- 
cumstances in which they originally appeared, have no such 
merit as to justify their repubhcation in a book form, we beg 
leave to tell them that their judgment is not original. It is 
just what we thought ourselves 1 But Publishers are wiUTul 
and must be obeyed 1 

Beookltn, June 1, 1859. 



oo]srTE]srTS 



Page 

Political Economy of the Apple 1 

A few Flowers easily raised 16 

Flower-Farming 21 

A Letter from the Farm 25 

The Cost of Flowers 28 

Haying 31 

TheTalue of Robins 3i 

Sounds of Trees 39 

Uuveiled Nonsense 43 

Natural Order of Flowers 46 

Roses 49 

Chestnuts 51 

Green Peas 55 

Hens 58 

Farming 60 

Gardening under Difficulties 63 

Corn 66 

Dandehons 69 

How to beautify Homes 72 

Birch and Aspen 75 

Autumn 73 

Plant Trees'. 81 

Farewell to " Summer Rest " 84 

Preliminary 87 

Our Creed 88 

Almanac for the Year 89 

Educated Farmers 9S 

An Acre of Words about Aker 101 

Farmer"? Library 105 

Nine 5Iistakes ]07 

Agricultural Societies 108 

Shiftless Tricks Ill 

Electro Culture 114 

Single-Crop Farming 117 

ImproTed Breefis of Hogs and Cattle. .. 119 

Absorbent Quahties of Flour 122 

Portrait of an Anti-Book Farmer 124 

Good Breeds of Cows 128 ! 

Cutting and curing Grass 131 1 



P.4GE 

Country and City 133 

Lime upon Wheat 134 

Culture of Hops 136 

White Clover 138 

Plowing Com 139 

Clean out your Cellars 142 

When is Haying orer ? 144 

Laying down Land to Grass 145 

Theorj- of Manure 149 

Fodder for Cattle 151 

The Science of Bad Butter 153 

Cincinnati , the Queen City 157 

Care of Anunals in Winter 161, 243 

Winter Nights for Reading 103 

Feathers 163 

Nail up your Bugs 165 

Ashes and their Use 163 

Hard Times 170 

Gypsum 171 

Acclimating a Plow 171 

Scour your Plows bright 173 

Plow tiU it is Dry and plow tiU it is Wet 174 

Stirring the foil 175 

Subsoil Plowing 176 

Fire-BUght and ^Tinter Killing 177 

Winter Talk 179 

" Shut your Mouth "' 181 

Spring Work on the Farm 182 

Spring Work in the Garden 185, 293 

Fall Work in the Garden 190 

Guarding Cherry-trees from Cold 191 

Shade Trees 192, K2 

A Plea for Health and Floriculture 195 

Keeping Young Pigs in Winter 198 

Sweet Potatoes 199 

Management of Bottom Lands 199 

CultiTation of Wheat 202 

Pleasures of Horticulture 214 

Practical Use of Leaves 215 



CONTENTS. 



Page 
Spring Work for Public-spirited Men . . 218 
Farmers and Farm Scenes in the West. 220 

Ornamental Shrubs 224 

Gooseberries 227 

Pulling off Potato Blossoms. 229 

Blading and topping Corn 230 

Maple-Sugar 231 

Lettuce 237 

Geological Definitions 238 

Draining Wet Lands 240 

O dear I shall we ever be done Lying ?. . 242 

Deep Planting 245 

Corn and Millet for Fodder 245 

Seed Saving 24G 

Rhubarb 248, 28G 

Peas 250 

Hot-beds 253 

Original Recipes 254 

Cooking Vegetables 25G 

Fanners, take a Hint 260 

Mi.xiug Paint and laying it on 262 

Garden Weeds 267 

Lucerne - 269 

Family Government 270 

List of Flowers, Seeds, and Fruits 271 

Garden Seeds 274 

Farmers' Gardens 277 

Early Days of Spring 279 

Parlor Flowers 280 

A Salt Recipe 281 

Culture of Celery 282 

Sun-flower Seed 290 

Rich and Poor Land 294 

Getting ready for Winter 295 

Esculent Vegetables 297 

Field Root Crops 303 

Cultivatiou of Fruit-trees 304 

A List of Choice Fruits 316 

The Nursery Business 319 

The Breeding of Fruits 322 

Pruning Orchards 327 

Slitting the Bark of Trees 330 

Downing's Fruits of America 332 

Letter from A. J. Downing 339 

Attention to Orchards 344 



Page 

Wine and Horticulture 346 

Do Varieties of Fruit run out? 349 

Strawberries 353, 359, 364 

Raspberries, Gooseberries, Currants 364 

Spring Work in the Orchard 367 

Grapes and Grape Vines 372, 373 

Autumnal Management of Fruit-trees. . 374 

Pears grafted upon the Apple Stock 376 

Seedlings from Budded Peaches 378 

Care of Peacli-trees 381 

Renovating Peach-trees 382 

An Apologue or Apple-logue 384 

Select List of Apples 385 

Origin of some Varieties of Fruit 401 

The Quince 403 

Cutting and keeping Grafts 404 

Frost Blight 405 

Seedling Fruits 407 

Time for Pruning 410 

Plums and their Enemies 413 

Root Grafting 417 

Blight and Insects 419 

Apples for Hogs 424 

The Flower Garden 425 

Preparation of Seed for Sowing 429 

Sowing Flower Seeds— Transplanting... 431 
Parlor Plants and Flowers in Winter. . . 432 

Protecting Plants in Winter 439 

To preserve Dahlia Roots 440 

Hedges 441 

Watering Trees, etc 443 

Labels for Trees 444 

Transplanting Evergreens 445 

I Flowers, Ladies, and Angels 446 

Horticultural Curiosities 447 

The Cora Crop 451 

Potato Crop 460 

Potting Garden Plants for Winter Use.. 468 

Mary Howitt's Use of Flowers 469 

What are Flowers good for ? 470 

The Blight in the Pear-tree 471 

Progress of Horticulture in Indiana 489 

Browne's Poultry Yard 495 

Close of the Year 497 



LATE PAPEES 



I. 

POLITICAL ECONOMY OF THE APPLE. 

[In the Hudson River, nearly opposite Peekskill, and in 
tlie very jaws of the "Race" (as the narrow passage through 
the Highlands is called), there is a small, rocky island, by 
the name of Iona. The name was borrowed from across 
the water, by Dr. C. W. Grant's father-in-law, who owned 
this gem, — for gem it was and is for those who love rocks, 
glades, fine old trees, and absolute seclusion. 

But who ever would have thought of such a place for 
vineyards? Yet, lona became the very Jerusalem of grape- 
vines. Dr. C. W. Grant, formerly of Newburgh, purchased 
the island, and, adopting the then new grape, — the Dela- 
ware, — commenced propagating it for commercial purposes. 
It may be fairly said that no man in Amei'ica ever gave to 
grape culture a greater impulse than Dr. Grant. Abundant 
sales at length brought in abundant revenues. But his ideas 
expanded with his means, and outran them. 

The island was to become another Paradise. Here the 
magnolia was to be propagated in such numbers that every 
man in America could have it in his yard, holding white 
cups filled with perfume to his windows. The rhododen- 
dron was to be sent forth to every farm. New grapes were 
originated. Every year developed its OAvn marvel. But 
whether it was pear, Downing's mulberry, grape, or orna- 
mental tree, the good democratic heart of Dr. Grant intended 



2 Pf.AIN AND PLEASANT TAMC 

no narrower field than the continent. Men were to be 
raised to a higher level by familiarity with better and better 
grapes. The taste was to be refined. Every creature under 
the western heavens was to sit under his own grape-vine, 
and not under one alone, but a whole vineyard of them. 

Health failed. Business got tangled. The kind doctor 
sold out. He is gone from his vineyards. The island re- 
mains. One of these days, in the hands of some one who 
unites taste and thrift with abundant means, it will become 
a marvel of beauty. 

But it will hardly have a pleasanter day than when, in 
1864, were gathered there two score or more of ladies and 
gentlemen, — not a few of them fiimous in art, in literature, in 
music, in pomology, and in sanguine plans of fruit culture, — 
for a good time. Among the contributions to the general 
amusement, I was appointed Orator to discourse upon The 
Apple, and the address was to have been published, together 
with minutes of the proceedings, other speeches, and various 
interesting matter. But years passed on without progress 
toward publication. What has become of other things I 
know not, but this apple-talk has been fished up and sa^'ed. 
I fear it will never again be as fresh or as powerful as in its 
first estate. For there now hangs upon my cellar wall a 
huge pan, lacking but a few inches of three feet in diameter, 
upon which the ladies who had heard the address established 
and ])erfected an apple-pie, — sent to me for New Year's Day 
of 1865, — of so rare a spirit that every one of the hundreds 
who tasted it declared it to be as good as it was large. 
Alas ! the pan remains, and the poetry which came singing 
its merits ; but the pie, — where is it ? So, too, the island of 
the Hudson stands secure ; but where are the joyous people 
that thronged it on that autumn day ?] 

THE ADDRESS. 

I am to discourse of the apple to an audience, many of 
whom know much more about it than I do, and all of them 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING, O 

full as much. It does not, on that account, follow that I 
should not speak. "What a terrible blow would fall upon all 
professions if a teacher should be forbidden to speak upon 
things of which he knew nothing, and to an audience who 
knew more about them than he ! One large part of the 
duty of a teacher is to remind his hearers of how much they 
know, and tempt them to a better use of their knowledge. 
Instruction is one thing, and important in its place ; but the 
inspiration of men to a good use of the things that they 
already know is far more needed. 

While the character of the ladies and gentlemen present 
makes it projier for me to hide, Avith due modestj^, my 
knowledge of the apple in the department of culture, there 
is what may be called the Political Economy of the Apple^ 
by which I mean the apple in its relation to domestic com- 
fort and commerce ; and on that subject I think I can speak, 
if not to edification, at least without fear of being tracked 
and cornered. 

The apple is, beyond all question, the American fruit. It 
stands absolutely alone and unapproachable, grapes not- 
withstanding. Originating in another hemisphere, neither 
in its own country, nor in any other to which it has been 
introduced, has it flourished as in America. It is conceded 
in Europe that, for size, soundness, flavor, and brilliancy 
of coloring, the American apple stands first, — a long way 
first. 

But it is American in another sense. This is a land in 
Avhich diflTusion is the great law. This arises from our insti- 
tutions, and from the character which they have imprinted 
upon our people. In Europe, certain classes, having by their 
intelligence and wealth and influence the power to attract 
all things to themselves, set the current from the center 
toward the surface. In America, the simple doctrines that 
the common people are the true source of political power, 
that the government is directly responsible to them, and 
therefore that moral culture, intelligence, and training in 



4 PLAlISr AND PLEASANT TALK 

politics are indispensable to the common people, on whom 
every state is to rest safely, have wrought out such results 
that in all departments of justice and truth, as much as in 
politics, there is a tendency toward the popularizing of every- 
thing, and learning, or art, or any department of culture, is 
made to feel the need of popularity ; a word which is very 
much despised by classicists, but which may be used in a 
sense so large as to make it respectable again. Things that 
reach after the universal, that include in them all men in 
their better and nobler nature, are in a proper sense pop- 
ular ; and in this country, amusement and refinement and 
wealth itself, first or last, are obliged to do homage to the 
common jjeople, and so to be joopw/ar. Nor is it otherwise 
in respect to horticulture. Of fruits, I think this, above all 
others, may be called the true democratic fruit. There is 
some democracy that I think must have sprung from the first 
apple. Of all fruits, no other can pretend to vie with the 
apple as the fruit of the common people. This arises from 
the nature of the tree and from the nature of the fruit. 

First, as to the tree. It is so easy of pi'opagation, that any 
man who is capable of learning how to raise a crop of corn 
can leai*n how to plant, graft or bud, transplant, and prune 
an apple-tree, — and then eat the apples. It is a thoroughly 
healthy and hardy tree ; and that under more conditions and 
under greater varieties of stress than perhaps any other tree. 
It is neither dainty nor dyspeptic. It can bear high feeding 
and put up with low feeding. It is not subject to gout and 
scrofula, as plums are ; to eruptions and ruptures, as the 
cherry is ; or to apoplexy, as the pear is. The apple-tree may 
be pampered, and may be rendered effeminate in a degree ; 
but this is by artificial perversion. It is naturally tough as 
an Indian, patient as an ox, and fruitful as the Jewish 
Rachel. The apple-tree is among trees what the cow is 
among domestic animals in northern zones, or what the camel 
of the Bedouin is. 

And, like all thoi'oughly good-natured, obliging, patient 



ABOUT FEUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 5 

things, it is homely. For beauty is generally unfavorable 
to good dispositions. (I am talking to the ladies now.) 
There seems to be some dissent ; but this is the orthodox 
view. It seems as if the e\dl incident to human nature had 
struck in, with handsome people, leaving the surface fair ; 
while the homely are so because the virtue within has i)urged 
and expelled the* evil, and driven it to the skin. Have you 
never seen a maiden that lovers avoided because she was 
not comely, who became, nevertheless, and perhaps on that 
account, the good angel of the house, the natural inter- 
cessor for afflicted children, the one to stay with the lonely 
when all the gay had gone a-gadding after pleasure, the soft- 
handed nurse, the story-teller and the book-reader to the 
whole brood of eager eyes and hungry ears in the nursery ; 
in short, the child's ideal of endless good-nature, self-sacri- 
fice, and intercessorship, the Virgin Mary of the household, — 
mother of God to their love, in that she brings down to them 
the brightest conceptions of what God may peradventure 
be ? And yet, such are stigmatized old maids, though more 
fruitful of everything that is good (except children) than all 
others. One fiult only do we find with them, — that they 
are in danger of perverting our taste, and leading us to call 
homeliness beautiful. All this digression, ladies and gentle- 
men, is on account of my dear Aunt Esther, Avho brouglit me 
up, — a woman so good and modest that she will spend ages 
in heaven wondering how it happened that she ever got 
there, and that the angels will always be wondering why 
she wns not there from all eternity. 

I have said, with some digressions, that the apple-tree is 
homely ; but it is also hardy, and not only in respect to 
climate. It is almost indifferent to soil and exposure. We 
should as soon think of coddling an oak-tree or a chest- 
nut ; Ave should as soon think of shielding from the winter 
white pine or hemlock, as an apple-tree. If there is a lot 
too steep for the plow or two rocky for tools, the farmer 
dedicates it to an apple orchard. Nor do the trees betray 



b PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

his trust. Yet, the apple loves the meadows. It will thrive 
in sandy loams, and adapt itself to the toughest clay. It 
■will bear as much dryness as a mullein stalk, and as much 
wet, almost, as a willow. In short, it is a genuine democrat. 
It can be poor, while it loves to be rich ; it can be plain, 
although it prefers to be ornate ; it can be neglected, 
notwithstanding it welcomes attention. But, whether 
neglected, abused, or abandoned, it is able to take care of 
itself, and to be fruitful of excellences. That is what I call 
being democratic. 

The apple-tree is the common people's tree, moreover, 
because it is the child of every latitude and every longitude on 
this continent. It will grow in Canada and Maine. It will 
thrive in Florida and Mexico. It does well on the Atlantic 
slope; and on the Pacific the apple is portentous. Newton 
sat in an orchard, and an ajDple, plumping down on his head, 
started a train of thought which opened the heavens to us. 
Had it been in California, the size of the apples there would 
have saved him the trouble of much thinking there- 
after, perhaps, opening the heavens to him, and not to us. 
Wherever Indian corn will grow, the apple will thrive; 
and wherever timothy-grass will ripen its seed, the apple 
will exist fruitfully. 

Nor is the tree unworthy of special mention on account 
of health and longevity. It is subject to fewer diseases than 
almost any tree of our country. The worms that infest it 
are more easily destroyed than those upon the currant or 
the rose. The leaf is subject to blight in so small a degree, 
that not one farmer in a hundred ever thinks of it. The 
trunk is seldom winter-killed. It never cracks. It has no 
trouble, as the cherry does, in unbuckling the old bark and 
getting rid of it. The borer is the only important enemy ; 
and even this is a trifle, if you compare the labor required 
to destroy it with the pains which men willingly take to 
secure a crop of potatoes. Acre for acre, an apple orchard 
will, on an average of years, i)roduce more than half as many 



AUOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 7 

bushels of fruit as a potato-field, — will it iiot ? And yet, 
in j)lowing and planting and after-plowing and hoeing and 
digging, the potato requires at least five times the annual 
labor which is needed by the apjjle. An acre of apj^le-trees 
can be kept clean of all enemies and diseases with half the 
labor of once hoeing a crop of potatoes. And if you have 
borers it is your own fault, and you ought to be bored ! 

The health of the apple-tree is so great that farmers never 
think of examining their orchards for disease, any more than 
they do cedar posts or chestnut rails. And the great lon- 
gevity of the apple-tree attests its good constitution. Two 
hundred years it sometimes reaches. I have a tree on my 
own place in Peekskill that cannot be less than that. Two 
ladies, one about eighty years of age, called upon us about 
three years ago, saying that they were brought up on that 
farm, and inquiring if the old apple-tree yet lived. They 
said that in their childhood it was called the old apple- 
tree^ and was then a patriarch. It must now be a Methu- 
selah. And, not to recur to it again, I may say that it is 
probably the largest recorded apple-tree of the world. I 
read in no work of any tree whose circumference is greater 
than twelve or thirteen feet. This morning I measured 
the Peekskill apple-tree, and found that six inches above the 
ground it was fourteen feet and six inches, and, at about 
four feet, or the spring of the limbs, fourteen feet and ten 
inches. I am sorry to add that the long-suffering old tree 
gives unmistakable signs of yielding to the infirmities of age. 
The fruit is sweet, but not especially valuable, except for 
stock. I do not expect to live to see any of my other trees 
attain to the size and age of this solitary lingerer of other 
centuries ! I cannot Itelp reverencing a tree whose leaves 
have trembled to the cannonading of the guns of our Revo- 
lution, which yielded fruit to Putnam's soldiers when that 
hill was a military post, and under whose shadow Washing- 
ton himself— without any stretch of probability — may have 
walked. 



PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

I ought not to omit the good properties of the apple-tree 
for fuel and cabinet-work. I have for five autumns kept up 
the bright fire required by the weather in an old-fashioned 
Franklin fireplace, using apple-wood, procured from old 
trees i^runed or cut up wholly ; and, when it is seasoned, I 
esteem it nearly as good as hickory, fully as good as maple, 
and far better than seasoned beech. I have also for ray best 
bureau one of apple-wood. It might be mistaken for cherry. 
It is fine-grained, very hard, solid as mahogany, and grows 
richer with every year of age. 

In Europe, the streets and roads are often shaded by fruit 
trees, the mulberry and the cherry being preferred. In some 
parts, the public are allowed to helj) themselves freely. 
When the fruit of any tree is to be reserved, a wisp of straw 
is placed around it, which suffices. Upright-growing apple- 
trees might be employed, with pears and cherries, in our 
streets and roads, and by their very number, and their abun- 
dance of fruit, might be taken away one motive of pilfering 
from juvenile hands. He must be a preordained thief who 
will go miles to steal that which he can get in broad day- 
light, without reproach, by his door. One way to stop 
stealing is to give folks enough without it. 

I have thus far spoken of the apple tree. I now pass to the 
fruit, — to the apple itself The question whether it sprang 
from the wild crab I do not regard as yet settled. It is not 
known from any historical evidence to have had that origin. 
You cannot prove that this, that, or the other man, of any 
age or nation, planted the seed and brought forward the 
fruit. Nor am I aware that any man has conducted experi- 
ments on it like those of Van Mons on the pear, or those 
which Dr. Grant has made on the grape that is cultivated in 
this country, to show that it sprang fi-om the wild grape of 
Europe. Until that is done, it will be only a theory, a 
probable fact, but not a fact proved. And, by the way, it 
might be worth some man's while, at his leisure, to take the 
seeds of the American wild grape, and see if, by any horti- 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 9 

cultural Sunday school, he can work them up into good 
Christian vines. 

The apple comes nearer to universal uses than any other 
fruit of the world. Is there another that has such a range 
of season ? It begins in July, and a good cellar brings the 
apple round into July again, yet unshi'unk, and in good 
flavor. It belts the year. What other fruit, except in the 
tropics, where there is no winter, and where there are suc- 
cessive growths, can do that ? 

It is a luxury, too. Kinds may be had so tender, so deli- 
cate, and, as Dr. Grant — the General Grant of the vineyards 
— would say, so refreshing^ that not the pear, even, would 
dare to vie with it, or hope to surpass it. The Vanderveer 
of the Hudson River, the Amei-ican Golden Russet, need not, 
in good seasons, well ripened, fear a regiment of pears in 
pomological convention, even in the city of Boston. It may 
not rival the melting qualities of the jDcach, eating which 
one knows not whether he is eating or drinking. But the 
peach is the fruit of a day, — ephemeral ; and it is doubtful 
whether one would carry through the year any such relish 
as is experienced for a few weeks. It is the peculiarity of 
the apple that it never wearies the taste. It is to fruit what 
wheaten bread is to grains. It is a life-long relish. You 
may be satisfied with apples, but never cloyed. Do you 
remember your boyhood feats? I was bi'ought up in a 
great old-fashioned house, Avith a cellar under every inch of 
it, through which an ox-cart might have been wheeled after 
all the bins were full. In this cellar, besides potatoes, beets, 
and turnips, were stored every year some hundred bushels 
of ap])les, — the Rhode Island Greening, the Roxbury Russet, 
the Rxisset round the Stem^ as it was called, and the Spitzen- 
berg; not daintily picked, but shaken down ; not in aristo- 
cratic barrels set up in rows, but ox-carts full ; not handled 
softly, but poured from baskets into great bins, as we poured 
potatoes into their resting-place. If they bruised and rot- 
ted, let them. We had enough and to spare. Two 



10 PLAIN AXD PLEASANT TALK 

seasons of picking over apj^les — a sort of grand assizes — 
put the matter all right. In all my boyhood I never 
dreamed of apples as things possible to be stolen. So abun- 
dant were they, so absolutely open to all comers, — who went 
down into the cellar by the inside stairs instead of the out- 
side steps, — that Ave should as soon have thought of being 
cautioned against taking turnips, or asking leave to take a 
potato. Apples were as common as aii\ And that was 
early in December and January; for I noticed that the sun 
was no more fond than I was of staying out a great while 
on those Litchfield hills, but ran in early to warm his fingers, 
as I did mine. When the day Avas done, and the candles 
were lighted, and the supper was out of the way, we all 
gathered about the great kitchen fire ; and soon after 
George or Henry had to go down for apples. Genei-ally it 
was Henry. A boy's hat is a universal instrument. It is a 
bat to smack butterflies Avith, a bag to fetch berries in, a 
basket for stones to pelt frogs withal, a measure to bring 
up apples in. And a big-headed boy's old felt hat Avas not 
stingy in its quantities; andAvhen its store ended, the errand 
could ahvays be repeated. To eat six, eight, and twelve 
apples in an evening was no great feat for a growing young 
lad, Avhose stomach Avas no more in danger of dyspepsia than 
the neighborhood mill, through Avhose body passed thou- 
sands of bushels of corn, leaving it no fatter at the end of 
the year than at the beginning. Cloyed Avith apples ? To 
eat an apple is toAvant to eat another. We tire of cherries, 
of peaches, of strawberries, of figs, of grapes, (I say it Avith 
reverence in this presence !) but never of apples. Nay, Avhen 
creature comforts fail, and the heart — hopeless voyager on 
the troubled sea of life — is sick, apples are comforters ; or, 
wherefore is it Avritten : — 

" As the apple-tree among tlie trees of the Avood, so is my 
beloved among the sons. I sat doAvn under his shadoAV Avith 
great delight, and his fruit Avas sAveet to my taste. He 
brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 11 

me Avas love. Stay me with flagons," — undoubtedly of 
cider ! — " comfort me with apples ; for I am sick of love." 

If this is the cure of love, we may the better understand 
why the popular instinct should have resorted to the apple- 
tree as a cure for ambition, singing, 

" We '11 hang Jeff Davis on a sour-apple tree." 

There is, in this toothsomeness of the apple, together with 
its utter harmlessness, a provision for nurses and mothers. 
There is a growing period when children are voracious. 
They must be filled ; and it is a matter of great account to 
know what to fill them with. If you give them but bread, 
that seems meager. Pies, cakes, and sweetmeats are mis- 
chievous ; and yet more so are candies and confections. 
Apples just hit the mark. They are more than a necessary 
of life, and less than a luxury. They stand just half-way 
between bread and cake, as wholesome as one and as good 
as the other. 

But noAv I enter iipon the realm of uses, culinary and 
domestic, where, were I an ancient poet, I should stop and 
invoke all the gods to my aid. But the gods ai*e all gone ; 
and next to them is that blessing of the world, the housewife. 
Her I invoke, and chiefly one who taught me, by her kitchen 
magic, to believe that the germ of civilization is in the art 
and science of the kitchen. Is there, among fruits, one 
other that has so wide a range, or a range so important, so 
exquisite, so wonderful, as the range of the apple in the 
kitchen ? 

First, consider it as a fruit-vegetable. It might with 
great advantage take its place upon the table as regularly 
as the potato or the onion. Far more odorous is the onion, 
but, I think, far more blessed is the apple. It is an admi- 
rable accompaniment of meat, wliich always craves a piquant 
acid for relish. And when meat is wanting, a scrap of pork 
in the frying-pan, with sliced apples, will serve the economic 
table almost as well as if it had been carved from a beef 
or cut from a sheep. 



12 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

"We do not use tlie apple enough in our cooking. As a 
fruit upon the table it may be used for breakfast, for supper, 
for dessert. Roasted apples ! Baked apples ! What visions 
come before my mind ! Not the baked apjjles of the modern 
stove, wliit'h lias humbled their glory. They are still worth 
eating, but they have lost the stature, the comeliness, and 
the romance of the old roasted apples, that were placed in 
due order between the huge andirons, and turned duly by 
the careful servant, drinking in heat on one side and oxygen 
on the other, and coming to a degree of luxurious nicety 
that will never be attained till we go back again to the old 
fire])lace. It was a real pleasure to be sick, — I mean on 
the hither border of sickness ; so that we might not go to 
school, and so that, while we took a little magnesia, we might 
feast on delicious roasted apples. And as for baked apples 
and milk, how can I adequately speak of that most excel- 
lent dish ! 

Then, again, the apple may be regarded as a confection, 
serving in the form of tarts, pies, — blessed be the unknown 
person who invented the apple-pie ! Did I know where the 
grave of that person was, raethinks I would make a devout 
pilgrimage thither, and rear a monument over it that should 
mark the spot to the latest generations. Of all pies, of every 
name, the apple-pie is easily the first and chief And Avhat 
shall I say of jellies, dumplings, puddings, and various pre- 
serves, that are made from the apple ? 

It might seem hard, in this enumeration of the many forms 
in which the apple is made to contribute to the benefit of 
mankind, not to notice that form in which it defies age, I 
refer to the dried apple. No festoons are more comely than 
were those half-circles that used to decorate the rafters of 
the old-fashioned kitchen. I confess that no dried fruit is 
worthy to be called fruit, whether it be huckleberry, or peach, 
or pear, or apple. Once dried, these things have lost the 
soul of their flavor ; and no coddling, no soaking, no experi- 
menting, will ever bring them back to what they were in 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 13 

their original fresli life. You cannot give youth to old age 
in apples any more than among men. And yet, a« a souve- 
nir^ as a sad remembrancer of days gone by, dried apples are 
very good. 

Next, we naturally consider the use of apples as food 
for stock, — for swine, fn- horses, and for cattle. This 
use of them is known ; but it seems to me that they 
are not thus employed near so much as their benefits 
would justify. 

Last of all, let me speak of cider ; for, although the days 
of temperance have banished cider from its former and 
almost universal position upon the farmer's table, it is creep- 
ing back again. Not daring to come in its own name, it 
comes in the name of a neighbor, and is called champagne. 
But whether it comes in one form or another, it still is 
savory of the orchard ; still it brings warmth to chilly veins; 
still it is a contribution to many a homely domestic festival. 
And though I cannot, as a temperance man, exhort you to 
make it, I must say, that if you will make it, you had better 
make it good ! 

But woe to him who takes another step in that direction! 
Cider-brandy is a national disgrace. How great is the calam- 
ity that impends over a community that makes cider-brandy 
may be known by the recent history of the Shenandoah 
valley; it being declared by several of the Richmond papers 
that the defeat of Early was owing to the abundance of 
apple-jack there. 

It only remains that I should say a single word on the 
subject of the apple as an article of commerce. Whether 
fresh or dried, it is still, in that relation, a matter of no small 
importance. The home market is enlarging every year; and 
as soon as the apple shall become so cheap that all men may 
have it no matter how poor they may be, the market must 
of necessity have become very much augmented. Many 
men suppose that as orchards increase and fruit multiplies 
the profits diminish. Such is not the fact. As the com- 



14 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

moner kinds multiply, and the common peoj^le learn to use 
them as daily food, the finer kinds will bear proportionally 
higher prices ; and cheapness is one of the steps to profit in 
all things that are consumed in the community. And I 
should be glad to see the day when, for a few pence, every 
drayman, every common laborer in every city, should be able 
to bring as much fruit to his house every day as his family 
could consume in that day. I should be glad to see in our 
cities, what is to be seen to some extent in the cities of 
Europe, the time when a penny or two will enable a man to 
bring home enough flowers to decorate his table of food 
twice a day. 

We have not merely in view the profits of raising fruit 
when we exhort you to bestow your attention on the apple 
more and more as an article of commerce; we have also 
in view the social influence which it may be made to exert. 
I hold that when in any respect you lift the common 
people up, whether by giving them a better dwelling, by 
placing within their reach better furniture, or by enabling 
them to furnish their table better, you are raising them to- 
ward self-respect ; you are raising them toward the higher 
positions in society. For, although all men should start with 
the democracy, all men have a right to stop with the aris- 
tocracy. Let all put their feet on the same level ; and then 
let them shoot as high as they please. Blessed is the man 
that knows how to overtop his neighbors by a fair devel- 
opment of skill and strength. And every single step of 
advance in general cultivation, even though it is brought 
about by so humble an instrumentality as the multiplication 
of fruit, or anything else that augments the range of healthful 
enjoyment among the common people, not only stimulates 
their moral growth, but, through that growth, gives the 
classes above them a better chance to groAv. One of the 
most efficient ways of elevating the whole community is to 
multiply the means of livelihood among the poorest and 
commonest. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWEKS AND FARMING. 15 

I will not finish my remarks with those elaborate statis- 
tics or with those admirable and eloquent periods with 
which I should be pleased to entertain you, for two reasons: 
fii'st, because I would not consume your time at so late an 
hour; and, secondly, because I have none of these things at 
hand! 



16 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 



II. 



A FEW FLOWERS EASILY RAISED. 

February 22c?, 1868. 

The love of flowers is steadily increasing among the com- 
mon people of America, and anything which shall increase 
the knowledge and skill of the plain people in the manage- 
ment of flowers will be a contribution to the ])ublic welfire. 

Those that are rich can command the services of expert 
gardeners, and need no advice from me. But there are 
thousands who have ground enough around their dwellings, 
and yet have little knowledge in the selection of plants and 
flowers, and little skill in the cultivation of them, to whom 
I may be of some service if I give such hints as have been 
derived chiefly from my own experience. 

Assuming, then, that my reader has given but little atten- 
tion to the cultivation of flowers, and that he needs to be 
told the simplest things, I would begin by recommending 
him to send for a catalogue of flowers to Mr. Vick, Roches- 
ter, K Y., or to Mr. B. K. Bliss, of Park Place, New York, 
or Mr. Thorburn, John Street, also New York ; not, as 
miglit at first be supposed, for the sake of the list of seeds, 
but because each catalogue contains brief directions how to 
prepare the ground, how to sow various kinds of seeds, etc., 
etc. With such hints as these catalogues afford, one can 
begin. The vei-y first step is to succeed the first year in 
admirably raising one or two things. If one undertakes 
too much before having practical experience he will fail, 
become disgusted, and give up the whole eff'ort at flowers in 
discouragement. But the exquisite delight of seeing a bed 
of flowers, of your own raising, and thoroughly good, will be 
apt to inspire a real ambition, and lay the foundation for 
future success with more difl!icult flowers. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 17 

I will suppose a young lady, who never has cultivated 
flowers, but who can afford to hire a man's services for one 
or two days in the spiing. She is to perform all the rest of 
the work herself. What shall she plant ? 

Morning-glories. If possible, select a place which the 
morning sun will not reach before nine or ten o'clock in the 
forenoon, in order to save the daily bloom from withering 
before you have had half enough enjoyment. Let the 
ground be made mellow, and enriched with black dirt from 
the woods, or with old and well-decayed barn-yard manure, 
or, if neither are convenient, with a pint of superphos- 
phate of lime to each square yard of ground, well mixed 
into the soil. This can now be bought in almost every 
large town, or the merchant who sells seeds will procure it 
for you. 

The common sorts of morning-glories, if combined, will 
answer well. But one who would do the best should have 
two beds, one of the Convolvulus, and the other of Ipomea. 
The difference is of importance only to a botanist. To the 
common eye the flowers are the same. Of Ipomeas there 
is a /)?<ce-colored one, which blossoms late in the afternoon, 
named Buona Nox ; a mazarine-hlue^ shading to red 
{Learii) ; a shy-hlue viith white edge, called in the catalogue 
— don't be afraid ! — Ipotnea hederacea superha grandi- 
flora, i. e. the superb great-flowering ivy-leaved Ipomea. 
And then there is a very fine variety of this same one, whose 
Latin name you will get by adding to the above the com- 
pound word Atro-violacea. One more name, viz. Ipomea 
limhata elegantissima. 

Plant the seeds as soon as the frost is finally out of the 
ground. Let there be pales, or strings, or trellis, arranged 
for them to climb upon, and you will have all summer long, 
and till the frost kills them, a magnificent show of exquisite 
blossoms every morning; Sundays as well as week-days, for 
flowers wear their Sunday clothes all through the week. We 
have derived as much pleasure fi-om these morning-glories 



18 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

as from any one thing in our garden. They are healthy 
and hearty growers, not infested with insects, profuse in 
bloom, surpassing all blossoms in exquisite form and delicacy, 
and, Avhat is of prime importance, holding fortlj^ftlnFough the 
whole summer, Avhether hot or cold, Avet or dry.; 

The common morning-glory will sow itself, and \;ome up 
every year in the same place ; but the seed of the Ipomea 
must be saved and planted every spring anew. Now, let 
some sweet girl begin her flower-life with morning-glories — 
nothing else — the first year, and see if she will ever let a 
summer go by afterward without flowers ! 

A bed of China Aster, although blossoming for only a 
few weeks, may be had with so little trouble that one may 
well undertake it. Send for the best kind, say Truffanfs 
Giant Emperor, or his new Peony-flowered. Plant them 
in rows six inches apart, in a seed-bed. Keep them clean 
from all weeds. When grown from an inch to two inches 
high, transplant them to a jDrepared bed, placing them about 
fifteen inches apart each way. The ground should be rich, 
light, and gently hoed, at least once a week, to keep the 
surface open. If very large flowers are wanted, not more 
than three blooms should be allowed to one root. We prefer, 
however, to give the plant a rich soil and let it yield its 
flowers, large and small, to suit itself. The seed should be 
saved from the largest blossoms only. 

A particular favorite with us is the Petunia. If fine seed 
is secured, a bed of seedlings may be easily grown which 
will be splendid the whole summer long. The directions 
for the aster may be followed for Petunias, excejjt that the 
plants should stand ttoo feet apart. Select a place where 
they will have air and sun all day. They are generous, and 
will roll out billows of color through the whole summer, and 
even after the light early frosts have cut down many other 
things. 

There are two other beds on which we depend for color 
every summer, and could no more afford to miss than we 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 19 

could the sunsets, viz. Dwarf Convolvulus and Esch- 
scholtzia. A bed of Dicarf ov Convolvulus Jfmor, say six 
by twelve feet, will be an object of pleasure all summer long. 
They are to be planted where they are to stand, as they will 
not bear transplanting good-naturedly. Sow in rows eight 
inches apart, and when well up thin out, leaving the plants 
a foot apart. There are five or six varieties, and the mixed 
seed, from a reputable seedsman, should contain them all. 
No one will be walling to go without a bed of Dwarf Con- 
volvulus who has once seen how easily they are raised, 
and how splendid and long-continued is their blossom- 
ing. 

Manage the Eschscholtzia in almost exactly the same 
way. There are three shades of color, — ^pale yellow, 
bright yellow, and orange. The foliage is extremely deli- 
cate. The buds are veiy shapely, and the full bloom gives 
brilliancy to the whole region where the bed is planted. 
No one knows this flower who has not seen its effect in 
beds, or on long borders. In a similar way the Poppy 
should be raised. Get seed of the Carnation Poppy 
and the Peony-flowered Poppy. It will not bear trans- 
planting well. 

A bed of Portulacca will be so brilliant that it will almost 
put your eyes out when the sun shines ; and it is so easy to 
raise, that success is no credit. Prepare a bed, say four by 
six feet, or larger if you choose, and rake it off smoothly. 
The seeds are extremely minute. Take a pinch of them 
as if they were snuff, and then do by them what everybody 
ought to do by snuff, — sift them evenly all over the ground. 
Then just touch the ground with the tips of the rake-teeth, 
stirring it very lightly. Take a spade and spat the surface 
gently, so as to bring the soil home to the seed. Keep 
weeds away, and for the rest do nothing but enjoy the 
labor of your hands. It will come up of itself every year, 
and become a weed if you wish it to. 

There, we have mentioned enough flowers for a beginning. 



20 PLAIN AND PLEASAIJfT TALK 

They are all hardy, profuse bloomers, and, with the excep- 
tion of the aster, last all sumniei", and form masses of color 
which will charm the eye every time you look out of your 
window. A girl can do all that is to be done, except work- 
ing the ground, and even that ought not to be so hard as it 
would be to go without flowers. 



ABOUT FBUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. '21 

m. 

FLOWER-FARMING. 

February 29<A, 1868. 

I ACKNOWLEDGE the merits of ^ovfex-garde7iing, but a 
kind of necessity has compelled me to practice ^ovfer-f arm- 
ing. I do not live upon my little farm, on the Hudson, ex- 
cept for a few months in midsummer. To keep a professional 
gardener befits more ample means than mine. Yet I must 
have flowers ; I am as set and deteiinined to have flowers 
as my farmer, Mr. Turner, is to have vegetables ; and there 
is a friendly quarrel on hand all the season, a kind of border 
warfare, between flowers and vegetables, which shall have 
this spot, and which shall secure that nook ; whether in this 
southern slope it shall be onions or gladioluses ; whether a 
row of lettuce shall edge that patch, or of asters. I think, 
on a calm review, that I have rather gained on Mr. Turner. 
The fact is, I found that he had me at advantage, being 
always on the place, and having the whole spring to himself 
So I shrewdly tampered with the man himself, and before 
he knew what he was about, I had infected him with the 
flower mania (and this is a disorder which I have never 
known cured) ; so that I had an ally in the very enemy's 
camp. Indeed, I begin to fear that my manager will get 
ahead of me yet in skill and love of flowers ! 

I can see many and suflicient reasons for parterres of 
flowers, for borders of mixed plants, for clumps and ribbons ; 
but I can see no reason for supposing that flowers grow to 
advantage only in these formal methods. 

In a plantation of tomatoes, if every alternate plant in the 
outer row is a petunia you will find a charming efiect in the 
red fruit of the one and the profuse blossoming of the other ; 
and on these outer rows the tomatoes may be left to ripen 



Z'2 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

tor seed, as being more exposed to the sun, thus adding the 
beauty of their rich color. 

I do not know why a square plat of beets or onions may 
not be edged with asters, or with balsams. Sometimes I 
plant a few alternate rows of flowers with my root crops, 
and find that carrots and stocks, alternated, are admirable 
friends. When the main crops are in, there are always some 
outlying edges, some places about the walls, which would be 
surely filled in with cabbages, if I did not jump at the 
chance. I have great luck with tropealums, nasturtiums, 
and particularly with labias, which are as easy of culture, 
on a farm, as a bean. And I have a fancy that when one 
comes upon a heap of stones in a corner, covered over 
with all varieties of tropealum, he takes more pleasure 
in them than if found just where one would look for them, 
in a flower-bed. 

If I should lay down a rule, it would be that, in arable 
land, or in shrubbery and forest, no man should have to 
walk more than twenty paces to find a flower. If a lady 
should meet you on any acre on your farm, you ought to be 
able then and there to make up for her an acceptable 
bouquet. 

In an unexpected way, I am like to have my rule kept for 
me. For, in autumn, the stems and haulms of flowers go 
to the barn-yard and join all other stuflTfit for compost ; and 
when, in the spring, it is hauled out, I find, on every 23art of 
the farm, that stray seeds have shaken out, and sown them- 
selves, and produced volunteer flowers. Indeed, the primrose 
family are getting too familiar ; larkspurs are everywhere ; 
coreopsis glitters all over the fields ; poppies have turned 
vagrants; and the portulacca has fairly become a weed. 
Farms should be carried on for profit and pleasure ; and, as 
I fail in the former, I am determined to make up in the 
latter element. 

Now and then, on the outer row of Indian corn, a convol- 
vulus, climbing to the very top and full of blossoms, will 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 23 

cheat nothing and enrich the eye a great deal. There is 
always a spot or two, amidst field crops, where a Hicinus 
sanguineus (castor bean) will do bravely ; and I will afiirm 
that no fancier will be able to get past it without stopping 
to look at its generous palms. 

Where stone-walls prevail, what can be less expensive and 
what more beautiful than to cover them with the Chinese 
honeysuckles, with, now and then, the new and hardy 
golden-veined honeysuckle, with other hardy sorts, easily 
propagated ? There is also our own wild clematis, and to 
this may be joined, at little expense, several of the new 
varieties in this charming family, which may be obtained of 
nurserymen. 

If one has young evergreen trees, — say the Norway 
spruce, — a few of the finer kinds of morning-glory (Ipo- 
meas), planted near and suflTered to run up among the 
branches and peep out of the green openings, will have a 
beautiful eflfect all summer long, and the tree will sufier no 
harm, as it sometimes does when the bitter-sweet, the ampe- 
lopsis, and other woody vines, take possession of them. 

Stumps are not deemed ornamental, and yet I have seen 
them turned to an admirable account. If still standing on 
their own roots, but decayed at the core, let them be hol- 
lowed out, deeply as may be, filled with good soil, and 
flowers planted in them, nasturtiums or petunias or the 
linums or dwarf morning-glories. Stumps that have been 
pulled up by the roots, and rolled into a corner, may be 
dressed out with ferns, vines, and mosses, and a tasteful hand 
will array them in such beauty that the farmer will be re- 
luctant another season to give them up to the axe and the 
stove. 

Flowers peeping out of unlikely spots give a surprise of 
pleasure. Therefore stick in a flower just where it Avould 
not be expected. No matter if it " was never done before," 
or if " farmers don't do so in these parts," or if " flowers are 
a trouble, and don't bring any money." They bring what 



24 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

money often fails to bring, — refinement and pleasure. 
There is no use, my old friend under a rough coat, in mak- 
ing believe that you don't like flowers. I know that you 
do. Somewhere in you is a spot, if the rubbish can be 
cleared away, Avhich a flower always touches. There is no 
reason why rich gentlemen should own all the flowers. 
Hard-working farmers and mechanics have as much right to 
them as if they lived without working. 

What shall I say of the gladiolus? It is the flower for 
the million ! It is as easy to manage as a potato. It blos- 
soms long, and better if cut and carried into the house than 
if left out doors. Its vai'ieties of color are endless. It is 
healthy ; multiplies its conns rapidly, can be kept in winter 
in a common cellar, if dried ofl" a little first; and is calculated 
to return as much pleasure for a small outlay as any flower 
in vogue. A few dozen to start with will convince any man 
of the truth of my words. 

Let me dissuade you, my dear readers, from too great an 
addiction to mere profit. Don't wait for a regular garden 
of flowers, but stick them in, in nooks and corners, all about 
the homestead. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 25 



IV. 

A LETTER FROM THE FARM. 

Peekskill, May litk, 1868. 

My dear Mr. Bonner: You must expect no article 
from me this week. I am engaged. I was never more busy 
in ray life. Let me relate my occupations. At about half 
past three in the morning, I wake. The liglit is just com- 
ing. I do not care for that, as I do not propose to get up 
at such an hour. But the birds do care. They evidently 
wind up their singing apparatus over night. For, when the 
first bird breaks the silence, in an instant the rest go off, as 
if a spring had been touched which moved them all. Was 
ever such noise ! There are robins without count, wood- 
thrushes, orioles, sparrows, bobolinks, meadow-larks, blue- 
birds, yellow-birds, wrens, warblers, catbirds (as the North- 
ern mocking-bird is called), martins, twittering swallows. 
Think of the noise made by mixing all these bird-notes to- 
gether ! Add a rooster, and a solemn old crow to carry the 
bass. Then consider that of each kind there are scores, and 
of some kinds hundreds, within ear reach, and you will have 
some faint conception of the opening chant of the day. 

You may not believe that I wake so early. But I do. 
You may be still less inclined to believe that, after listening 
for ten minutes to this mixture, I again go to sleep. But I 
solemnly do. Nor do I think of getting up before six 
o'clock. Whether I should emerge even then, if it were 
not for the savory odor that begins to steal through my 
cottage, I cannot tell. After breakfast, there are so many 
things to be don^rst that I neglect them all. The morn- 
ing is so fine, the young leaves are so beautiful, the bloom 
on the orchards is so gorgeous, the sounds and sights are so 
many and so winning, that I am apt to sit down on the 

2 



26 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

veranda, for just a moment, and for just another, and for a 
series of them, until an hour goes by. Do not blame me ! 
Do not laugh at such farming and such a firmer. The soil 
overhead bears larger and better crops, for a sensible man, 
than does the soil under feet. There are blossoms in the 
clouds. There is fruit upon invisible trees, to those who 
know how to pluck it. 

But then sky-gazing and this dallying with the landscape 
will not do. What crowds of things require the eye and 
hand ! Flowers must be transj^lanted. Flower-seeds must 
be sown ; shrubs and trees pruned ; vines looked after ; 
a walk taken over the hill to see after some evergreens, 
with many pauses to gaze upon the landscape, and many 
birds watched as they are confidentially exhibiting their 
domestic traits before you. The kittens, too, at the barn, 
must be visited, the calf, the new cow. Then every gar- 
dener knows how much time is consumed in noticing the 
new plants; for instance, I have some eight new strawber- 
ries that need watching, each one purporting to be a world's 
wonder. I am quite anxious about eight or ten new kinds 
of clematis; two new species of honeysuckle; eight or ten 
new and rare evergreens ; and ever so many other things, — 
shrubs and flowers. What shall I say of the new peas, new 
beans, rare cucumbers, early melons, extraordinary pota- 
toes? 

Speaking of potatoes, do you know anything of the Early 
Rose? Let me tell you. One hundred bushels were sold 
this spring, to one man, for eighty dollars a bushel ! Since 
then, they have been selling by the pound, at the increasing 
prices of one, two, and three dollars a pound. It takes about 
three potatoes to make a pound. 

Now for a story — true, for I had it fl'om Timothy Tit- 
comb's lips. A friend sent him this potato, with injunctions 
to give it the utmost care. He j^lanted it m his garden, and 
when it ripened, last summer, not informed of its exceeding 
preciousness, he proceeded to eat. In a reasonable time he 



ABOUT FRUITS, FL0WEK8 AND FAKMLNG. 27 

consumed three barrels, which at the lowest price were 
worth about seven hundred dollars ! 

I have a very nice plat of these potatoes, and should like 
to sell them to you in advance. As an inducement, I offer 
mine at fifty dollars a bushel ! But this is confidential. I 
do not wish to be overrun with purchasers, scrambling for a 
chance ! 

Do you not see that it is impossible for me, amid such in- 
cessant and weighty cares, to compose an article ? The air 
is white with apple-blossoms ; the trees are all singing ; the 
steaming ground beseeches me to grant it a portion of 
flower-seeds ; by night the whippoorwills, and by day the 
wood-thrush and mocking-bird, fill my imagination with all 
sorts of fancies, and how can I write ? 



28 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 



THE COST OF FLOWERS. 

June l^.th, 1868. 

The charms of flowers have been sung ever since letters 
have existed. But in our day the passion for flowers has 
wonderfully increased, and the cultivation of them, which 
is a thing very diiferent from the sentiment of admiration, 
has become so common that it is considered as an evidence 
of bad taste for one having any ground not to have flowers 
about the dwelling-house. 

But how few who only receive flowers as gifts, or pur- 
chase them, know the pains and penalties of flower-raising 1 
It may be imagined that one has only to scratch open the 
ground, bury the seed, and then patiently wait for nature 
to do the rest. Listen ! First comes the seed-buying. We 
do not think seedsmen any less honest than other men. In- 
deed, the conduct of those with whom we have dealt for 
ten years past leads us to think that they are honorable and 
honest in intent. But that does not insure good seeds. 

They buy of other seedsmen, in foreign lands, who may 
not be honest, or are obliged to trust seed-raisers. And so it 
comes to pass that seeds, like thousands of other articles 
in this wicked and adulterous generation, are adulterated. 
Italian carnation seed come up miserable single pinks, of 
very poor colors ; balsams are not half so choice as is the 
price at which the seed is sold; not one in ten of this year's 
ipomea seed (convolvulus) will stir out of the ground, — 
and so of stock, sweet-william, etc. 

But, that past, and our seed well planted, there often 
comes a deluge, and washes the seed-beds to pieces, or a 
long wet spell rots the seed in the ground. 

At length we gather up what we can, and transplant the 



1 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 29 

remnant, and patiently wait for the flowers. But we are 
not the only ones waiting for them. A legion of various 
insects seem to think that all our flowers were planted for 
them. We have been often asked why were insects cre- 
ated ? If it is fair to say that the cause of their existence 
may be learned from the efiects which they produce, we 
boldly aver that they were made to humble man's arro- 
gance, and to teach him how much mightier is insect weak- 
ness than human power. A grasshopper is contemptible. 
The farmer can crush him at a step. But let the plague 
of grasshoppers be let loose, and all his fields be deluged 
with them ; and how easily do myriads of creatures that 
are individually weak overwhelm him and destroy all his 
labor ! 

We have a realizing sense of the unequal war which is 
waged between man and insects. It seems in late years as 
if horticulture might as well be abandoned. Cherries and 
plums go down before the curculio ; apples before the can- 
ker-worm, the tent-worm, and the apple- worm; currants 
before a worm peculiar to itself; melons before half a dozen 
kinds of enemies (not including rogiiish boys). 

Among flowers the destruction is equally great. As soon 
as the rose fairly shakes out its leaves it is attacked : one 
bug cuts circles out of the leaves, as if busy with a pair of 
scissors making diagrams ; then comes the thrip^ that can 
neither be caught, nor wet with soapsuds, nor dusted with 
lime, nor pinched with the fingers, — a nimble fellow, mi- 
nute as a speck of flour, but numerous as dust. Close upon 
its heels comes the slug, whose remorseless appetite leaves 
nothing behind it but the ribs and fi-ame of the leaf. Next 
come the rose-bugs proper, of a finer appetite, disdaining 
anything less delicate than rose-petals. Of these the num- 
ber is surpassing ; their devastation pitiable. There stand 
my bushes stripped of leaves and blighted in flowers. 

Of course there are remedies enough. One rose-bush 
may be treated with hand-picking, or pinching, or washes, 



30 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

but one or two hundred rose-bushes would require formida- 
ble engineering. 

Year by year the number of insects increases. New 
flowers come into the blighted circle. Aphides, grubs, 
worms, moles, flies — at the root, or on the top — resist your 
labor at every step. They never tire. They seem never 
to be full. They get up before you do, and eat on all night, 
after you are asleep. 

Well, we are born into a world which pays few premiums 
to lazy men. Whatever is worth having is worth working 
for. At any rate, Providence seems to design that no man 
shall gather who does not sow and tend. Of every lazy 
man it may well be said. What does he in this world ? This 
is a place for workers. " He that will not work shall not 
eat," is an inspired command. It is as true of the garden 
as of the field, of flowers as of fruit and grain. God sends 
millions of insects over all our gardens and flower-beds, 
saying, " We are sent to make you work." Every insect is 
some malignant enchanter, and every fair-faced flower, like 
a maiden lost in the wilderness, beseeches us to deliver it 
from its enemies ! 



/ 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 31 

VI. 

HAYING. 

July 2d, 1868. 

Alas for the poetry of farming! All the songs of milk- 
maids must be now listened for in the old English poets. 
The whetting of the mower's scythe is almost over — quite 
over on my farm! Instead of that, one hears the sharp 
rattle of the mower, and sees the driving-man quite at his 
ease riding round and round the meadow, for all the world 
as if he were out airing. Whereas, hei-etofore, two acres 
would be counted a large day's work, ten and twelve are 
easily accomplished now! 

Nor is the contrast less remarkable in all the after-work. 
When I was a boy, I was placed in line with all the men 
that could be mustered, to shake out the hay with forks ; 
and after a few hours, all hands were called to go over the 
ground and turn it. To do this rapidly, and yet so that 
the bottom side should really come to the top, was no small 
knack. Now, a tedder, with one man riding, will literally 
do the work of ten men, and do it far better than the most 
expert can. Have you ever seen a tedder? I have a per- 
fect one. The grass rolls up behind it and foams, I was going 
to say, like water behind the wheels of a steamer. The 
grass leaps up and whirls as if it were amazingly tickled 
with such dealings. The result is, that unless the grass is 
very heavy, and the weather very bad, you may cut your 
hay in the morning and get it into your barn before night, 
in far better condition than it used to be when it required 
never less than two, and generally a part of three days to 
cure it. 

But I have forgotten the horse-rake. Instead of the old- 
fashioned, long-handled rake, and the five or six men pull- 



32 PLAIIf AND PLEASANT TALK 

ing and hauling to get the grass into windrows, that same 
fellow, with that same horse, rides his luxurious rake, and in 
a fifth part of the time formerly required puts it into equally- 
good shape. Indeed, haying, if it has lost its poetry, has 
also lost its drudgery. A man can now manage a hundred 
acres of grass easier than he formerly could twenty. 

The only thing that remains to be made easy is pitching 
on and off the load. It is true that horse-forks have been 
invented, but I have never seen any that did their work 
well ; and in my barn, at any rate, the old work of pitching 
and mowing remains; and if you wish to know what fun 
is, get on to the mow, under the slate roof of my barn, on a 
hot day, and let Tim pitch off hay as he will if I give him 
the wink. You will have to step lively, and even then you 
will often be seen emerging fi'om heaps of hay thrown over 
you, like a rat from a bunch of oakura. And then it is so 
pleasant, when a man is all a^sweat, to have his shirt filled 
with hay-seed, each particular particle of which makes be- 
lieve that it is a flea, and wiggles and tickles upon every 
square inch of his skin, until he is half desperate. 

It is the 2d of July, and my grass is all cut, and the last 
load is rolling into the barn -while I write. How sweet 
it smells! How jolly the children are that have been 
mounted on the top of the load ! And their little scarlet 
jackets peep out from their nest while Tim stands guard 
and nurse. A child that has not ridden up from the mead- 
ow to the barn on a load of hay has yet to learn one of the 
luxuries of exultant childhood. What care they for jolts, 
when the v.'hole load is a vast and multiplex spring? The 
more the wagon jounces the better they like it! Then come 
the bars, leading into the lane with maple-trees on each side. 
The limbs reach down, and the green leaves kiss the children 
over and over again. So would I, if I were a green leaf, 
and not consider myself so green after all ! And so the 
load slowly rolls up the hill. There is no such thing as mo- 
mentum in an ox. He is always at a dead pull and at the 



I 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. OO 

very hardest. But the children like it. The slower they 
move the longer is the ride ! Let them take all the comfort 
they can. By and by they will be grown, and own fine car- 
riages, and roll in style through the streets. But there is 
many a fair face that rides in a silk-lined coach, with a sad 
heart, and would go back if she could, 0, how gladly, to 
her joyous ride on a load of hay! 



34 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

VIL 

THE VALUE OF ROBINS. 

October 10th. 

The game-law has relaxed its authority. The gun is set 
free. I hear it in the woods, in the fields, on the hills, 
Sundays and week-days, bang ! bang! bang! as if it could 
not express its joy, and even celebrating its own emancipa- 
tion. 

Well, let them fire, only so they keep off my hill. It is 
true that the birds have finished their service, and are now 
of little use, either as songsters or as worm-exterminators 
— more 's the pity ! But are their past services to be for- 
gotten ? 

Let me speak of the robin. 

He is an immense feeder, and omnivorous. Nothing seems 
to come amiss — fruit, worm, or seed. Glutton he is not, 
for he does not eat more than he really needs ; but he needs 
more than most birds of his size. 

It is a disputed question, among farmers, whether the 
robin is a profitable bird. Whether he does not damage 
the fi-uit crop out of all proportion to his services in the 
crusade against insects. I grieve to say, that my own 
household is divided, and that I am the only one that is 
openly and wholly a friend to the robin. He is an early 
riser, and no sooner has he sung his morning hymn than he 
begins breakfast. Now, in the month of June cherries 
ripen. I have a cherry orchard. When fully grown, there 
will be enough for robins and men. But at jiresent my 
trees are like precocious children ; they blossom enormously, 
but set little fruit. The question now is, Whose is that 
fruit? The people in the house declare that it belongs to 
us. The robins out of doors say little about it, but actions 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 35 

speak louder than words. Rising earlier than we do, they 
get their breakfast before the smoke rises from my chimneys. 
I Avill not permit them to be driven away, and still less to 
be shot. I plead their services. I recount their deeds of 
valor against insects ; their service of song. But it is all in 
vain. I am voted down. All manner of threats are thrown 
out by the boys, " if I would only let them." But I won't 
let them ! 

There are two distinct grounds on which these birds are to 
be preserved and encouraged. The first ground is the refin- 
ing pleasure which they give to every person of true suscep- 
tibility. Thousands there are who live in the country who 
will regard this as sheer sentimentality. They are robust 
people, who drive around all day with vigorous industry, 
and have always done so, until at length their very standard 
of manhood is made up of some kind of physical force. He 
is a man that can lift the largest weight, run the longest and 
fastest, cut the most grain, climb most lithely, wrestle the 
most dextrously. And if he can make a shrewd bargain, 
has an eye for the points in an ox or horse, has the knack 
of making money, and a good-natured way of pushing 
about among men, he is considered, and considers himself, 
to be a real up-and-down man ! 

But where are the finer traits ? God made blossom bulbs 
in every nature, and if men do not blossom they are deficient 
in the higher elements. 

To disregard qualities of beauty, in form, color, motion, 
and song, is so far to indicate a deformity of one's own na- 
ture. We never think one to be more manly who cares 
nothing for the unmarketable graces of the natural world, 
than he who makes them a part of his daily enjoyment. 

The argument is conclusive to a fine nature, when one 
says, " Birds are too beautiful to be killed." It may be re- 
plied that noxious insects and animals are beautiful, too, and 
yet are destroyed by the humane and refined, because they 
are mischievous. We admit the statement, and are willing 



36 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

to apply it to birds. When they are really destructive to 
crops, or Avhen they are, at proper seasons, needful for food, 
it is no inhumanity to take their lives. They must take 
their part and lot with the whole creation, which every- 
where eats and is eaten. 

But to return to our robin. There is no season of the 
year when the robin does not prevent more mischief than 
he accomplishes. He is an enormous eater, and, for the 
most part, he prefers a meat diet. No one who has not 
taken pains to observe and estimate can form any conception 
of the insects and worms devoured by the robin between 
March and August — that is, during the whole nesting pe- 
riod. One robin eats, in a single season, what, if built into 
a solid form, w^ould be more than a whole ox. Fruit is but 
a small part of his diet ; chen-ies, strawberries, and grapes, 
for a while, suffer from his depredations. Yet, if there were 
no birds these very things would suffer far more. Insects 
are more to be dreaded than birds. They elude our vigi- 
lance, they work secretly, they swarm in such numbers as to 
defy man's power. But birds keep them down. They de- 
stroy myriads of eggs, of grubs, of tender worms, and of 
fruit-loving insects. To destroy birds for the sake of saving 
fi'uit is like throwing down the fence about one's garden to 
keep the pigs out ! Even admit, as some do and we do not, 
that blackbirds and crows deserve to be shot for destroying 
the planter's seed. We claim that the robin does not be- 
long to their company. He preserves a hundred-fold more 
than he destroys. 

On every ground, then, of humanity, of good taste, and 
of thrift, robins should be spared. They are our best 
friends. They are, beyond all question, the finest song-bird 
of the temperate zone. They are a watch and guard against 
insect depredations in orchard and garden, and, with other 
birds, they make possible the raising of fruit, which, with- 
out them, it is no exaggeration to say, would be utterly im- 
possible. They are, next to the wren and sparrows, the 



I 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 37 

most companionable of birds, hovering about the dwellings 
of man, and following him, step by step, as he subdues the 
wilderness, and singing the song of triumph for the axe and 
the plow. 

One word as to the robin's song. Whoever has read Au- 
dubon's description of the wood-thrush's song, and the still 
more glowing account by a writer in the Atlantic Monthly 
of two or three years ago, will surely be disappointed on first 
hearing it. In any proper sense, it has no song, but only a 
few sweet sentences, which it utters in a sad and almost 
melancholy Avay, sitting solitary in some forest edge, or tree 
overhanging a brook. The bird is a recluse. So, one im- 
agines a tender-hearted woman, disapjjointed in love, yet 
not embittered, might sing from the casement of a nunnery 
a hymn of mingled resignation and regret. But, to com- 
pare this monosyllabic song of the wood-thrush to the rob- 
in's, is like comparing a ballad to an oratorio, or the tinkling 
of a guitar to the sweet tone of a piano-forte under the 
hands of some Perabo, 

The robin is an out-door bird. He lives in the sunshine. 
He attracts no sympathy by delicate ways. He is alto- 
gether robust, and full of dashing life. When twenty or 
thirty robins between three and four o'clock in a June 
morning ai'e at full voice, it would be no exaggeration to 
compare it to a rain of music. It is no dainty thrumming, 
— no parceling out of a sweet note or two, with more rests 
than notes. It is a musical rush, the exultation of a healthy, 
hearty bird, that sings by the half-hour, without jjause, and 
is ever ready to sing again. 

The evening song of the robin I most love to hear. 
Heard from the top of some orchard tree, or of some 
meadow maple, while his note has the fire and brilliancy of 
his morning song, there is in it a slight undertone of sad- 
ness. Indeed, this evening song seems to be a mate-call. 
For ten or fifteen minutes the bird will send out its mellow 
call over all the region, if peradventure the truant mother 



38 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

may come home. A slight impatience mixes witli its clos- 
ing notes. He flies to a neighboring tree, litters two or 
three sharp single notes, and then, beginning again, swells 
out his long call louder than before, warbling five to ten 
minutes. He pauses. No bird returns. He sits silent. 

Perhaps he remembers that there had been a little domes- 
tic quarrel during the day, and if his mate is dead, he may 
never be able to say to her, " I am sorry." A nest full of 
little birds needs the mother. The twilight is deepening. 
Once more, its brilliance now toned down by an unmistak- 
able sadness, he sends out far and near through the dew- 
damp air a song which is more a lamentation than a call. 
If there be no response, he flies silently away, and the air 
rests. 

But, sometimes, just as his song is ending, it breaks out 
into a sharp note of surprise. A flutter is heard, and two 
birds fly hastily away. The wanderer has come home 
again ! 

Can one, all summer long, follow birds with sympathy, 
and enter into their gentle life, throwing around it, by the 
imagination, the charm of the afiections, and then consent 
to their destruction as if they had been mere birds from a 
coop ? Shoot and eat my birds ? It is but a step this side 
of cannibalism. The next step beyond, and one would 
hanker after Jenny Lind or Miss Kellogg. 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWEKS AND FABMLNG. 39 

VIII. 
SOUNDS OF TREES. 

J^ily 2ith. 

The sounds and motions of trees constitute subtle but 
important elements of pleasure. It is not cpough that a 
tree have a comely form as a whole ; that it cast a dense 
shade in the sultry days of summer; that, perhaps, it yield 
a nut or fruit; and that, finally, when it gives up its life to 
the inevitable ax, its prostrate trunk shall furnish good 
timber. Besides these uses of bodily comfort and of econ- 
omy, a tree, like a rich-hearted person, has a hundred name- 
less Avays which we hardly stop to analyze, but which, were 
they suddenly taken away, we should miss. 

The murmuring of trees is profoundly affecting to a sen- 
sitive spirit. In some moods of imagination one cannot 
help feeling that trees have a low song, or a conversation 
of leaves. They whisper, or speak, or cry out, and even 
roar. No one knows this last quality so well as those who 
have been in old oak forests in a storm, with violent wind. 
A dense forest opposes such a resistance to the free passage 
of the air, that the soimd is much deadened. But in a park 
or oak-opening, where spaces are left for the motion of the 
air, and among open-branched trees, a storm moves with 
such power and majesty, that not even the battles of thun- 
der-clouds are more sublime, and, imder certain cii'cum- 
stances, it becomes terrific. At the beginning of the tem- 
pest, the trees sway and toss as if seeking to escape ; as the 
violence increases, the branches bounce back, the leaves, 
turning their white under sides to the light, fairly scream. 
The huge boughs creak and strain like a ship in a storm. 
Now and then some branches which have grown across 
each other are drawn back and forth, as if demons were 



40 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

scraping infernal bass-viols. Occasionally a branch breaks 
with a wild crash, or some infirm tree, caught unawares in 
a huge puff of the storm, goes down with crashing as it 
falls, and with a thunder-stroke when it reaches the ground. 
I would go farther to hear a storm-concert in an old forest, 
than any music that man ever made. No one who is famil- 
iar with forest sounds but is sure, when he hears Beetho- 
ven's music, that much of it was inspired by the sounds of 
winds among trees. 

There are milder joys, however, in tree converse. Only 
this morning I awakened to hear it rain. That steady splash 
of drops which a northeast wind brings on is not easily 
mistaken. I flatter myself that my ear is too well trained 
to all the ordinary sounds of nature to be easily deceived. 
I rise, and throw back the blinds, when lo ! not a drop is fall- 
ing. It is the wind in my maple-trees. I had thought of 
that, and listened with the most discriminating attention, 
and was sure that it was rain ! 

Twice in our life we lived in houses built on the edge 
of the original forests. These had been thinned out, and 
recesses opened up. It happened in both cases that an ash 
and a hickory had been left, which shot up, without side 
bi-anches, to a great height. The trunks were supple and 
tough. Whenever the winds moved gently, these long and 
lithe trees moved with singular grace and beauty. As there 
was no perceptible Avind along the ground, their movements 
seemed voluntary. And yet there was in it that kind of 
irresolution which one sees in sleep-walking. But as soon 
as the breath became a breeze, the wide circles through 
Avhieh these rooted gymnasts moved was wonderful. They 
seemed going forth in every direction, and yet surely and 
quickly sj^ringing back to position again. And in every 
motion, such was their elasticity, they manifested the ut- 
most grace. The sighing of winds in a pine forest has no 
parallel sound except upon the sea-shore. Of all sounds of 
leaves it is the sweetest and saddest, to certain moods of 
summer leisure. 



I 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AXD FARMING. 41 

The pine sings, like the poet, with no every-day voice, 
but in a tone apai*t from all common sounds. It has the 
power to change the associations, and to quicken the poetic 
sensibility, as no other singing tree can do. Every one 
should have this old hai-per, like a seer or a priest among 
trees, about his dwelling. Under an old pine would natu- 
rally be found the young maiden, whose new lover was far 
across the seas. In the sounds that would descend she 
could not fail to hear the voices of the sea, — the roar of 
winds, the plash of waves running in upon the shore. A 
young mothei*, whose first-born had returned to God who 
gave it, would go at twilight to the pines ; for, to her ear, 
the whole air must needs seem full of spirit voices. They 
would sing to her thoughts in just such sad strains as soothe 
sorrow. Nor would it be strange if, in the rise and fall of 
these sylvan syllables, she should imagine that she heard 
her babe again, calling to her from the air. 

Every country place should have that very coquette among 
trees, the aspen. It seems never to sleep. Its twinkling 
fingers are playing in the air at some arch fantasy almost 
without pause. If you sit at a window with a book, it will 
wink and blink, and beckon, and coax, till you cannot help 
speaking to it ! That must be a still day that does not see 
the aspen quiver! A single leaf sometimes will begin to 
wag, and not another on the whole tree will move. Some- 
times a hidden breath will catch at a lower branch, then, 
shifting, will leave that still, while it shakes a topmost twig. 
Though the air may move so gently that your cheek does 
not feel it, this sensitive tree will seem all a shiver, and turn 
its leaves upward with shuddering chill. It is the daintiest 
fairy of all the trees. One should have an aspen on every 
side of his house, that no window should be without a 
chance to look upon its nods and becks, and to rejoice in its 
innocent witcheries. I have seen such fair sprites, too, in 
human form. But one does not get off so easily, if he sports 
too much with them. The aspen leaf makes no wounds. 



42 PLAIN AND TLEASANT TALK 

Its frolics spin no silken threads which one cannot follow, 
and which will not break! 

The musical qualities of trees have not been considered 
enough, in planting around our dwellings. The great-leaved 
magnolias have no fine sound. Willows have but little. 
Cedars, yew-trees, and Lombardy poplars are almost silent. 
It is said that the Lombai-dy poplar is the male tree, the 
female having never come over. It is very likely. It is stiif 
enough to be an old bachelor. It spreads out no side 
branches. Its top dies early. It casts a penurious shadow. 

But my hand is tired. The winds move ; all the leaves 
call me. Let me go forth. 

This ocean above me is sure to cure trouble. The winds 
sound, the trees sing. My soul yearns. Its thoughts and 
moods below may roll like a disturbed sea ; but, drawn up 
into the heavenly air, like the waters of the sea, they forget 
their wrath, and descend again in gentle dews and nourish- 
ing rains. 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWERS AXD FARMING. 4o 

IX. 

UNVEILED NONSENSE. 

August 2Sth. 

My dear Mr. Bonner : Are you not a censor of all 
your contributors? Do you not read cautiously all matter 
sent to the Ledger^ to prevent the entrance thereinto of any 
injurious sentiments ? And yet you have allowed blasphemy 
in your columns? You have! Or else the Christian In- 
telligencer, the Dutch Reformed religious journal of New 
York, by one of its contributors, is greatly mistaken. An 
article appears there signed " Puritan," and entitled " Veiled 
Profanity." It begins with an extract from an article of 
one of your contributors : — 

" Henry Ward Beecher says, ' The only way to exterminate the 
Canada thistle is to plant it for a crop, and propose to make money 
out of it. Then worms will gnaw it, bugs will bite it, beetles will 
bore it, aphides will suck it, birds will peck it, heat will scorch it, 
rains will di'own it, and mildew and blight will cover it.' " 

And now guess, if you can, what harm lies couched in 
these words. Put on your spectacles. Nothing wrong, do 
you say ? O, but there is ! You, a Scotch-Irish Presby- 
terian, and can't see heresy ! Fie, for shame, to be beaten 
by a Dutchman ! Now, let our Intelligencer'' s man express 
himself. The italics are his, not mine : — 

" These bugs, beetles, aphides, heat, rain, and mUdew are the 
messengers of God. If they are sent, they are on an errand for 
God ! Now, if the above extract has a point, it is that when man- 
kind plant a crop of any kind of grain or seed, God takes a mali- 
cious pleasure in defeating such schemes." 

This is exquisite ! If mildew attacks my grape-vines, it 
is on an errand for God, and if I sprinkle it with sulphur 
as a remedy, I put brimstone into the very face of God's 



44 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

messenger ! When it rains — is not rain, too, GofPs mes- 
senger? — does "Puritan" dare to open a blasphemous 
umbrella, and push it up in the very face of this divine 
messenger? When a child is attacked by one of "God's 
messengers" — measles, canker-rash, dysentery, scarlet-fever 
— would it be a very great sin to send for a doctor on pur- 
pose that he might resist these divine messengers ? There 
are insects which attack men, against one of which we 
set up combs, and against another sulphur. "Nay," says 
Puritan. " If they are sent, they are on an errand for GocV 
" Puritan " goes on : — 

" Such a sentiment is far deeper in its tone than a mere murmur. 
Especially as Mr. Beecher's farm at Fishkill is well known to be 
cultivated with reference to making money." 

Yes, we confess it. A " murmur " very imperfectly ex- 
presses our feelings as we dig at a Canada thistle, or squirt 
whale-oil soapsuds over a myriad of" Puritan's " divine mes- 
sengers, called aphides. A grumble would not be too strong 
a word to use on such occasions. Nay, the reverend gentle- 
man has been known to say, in a paroxysm of horticultural 
impiety, " I wish every rose-bug on the place was dead ! " 
which must seem to " Puritan " a piece of horrible de- 
pravity. 

I did not before know that I had a farm in Fishkill. My 
experience with the farm at Peekskill, " which is well known 
to be cultivated Avith reference to making money," is such, 
that if it be true that I own another farm at Fishkill, I 
shall consider myself on the straight road to the jDOor- 
house ! 

But there is more coming : — 

" The charge of the reverend gentleman amounts to this, — that 
whenever he attempts to raise a crop of wheat, corn, flax, or grass, 
God sends beetles, bugs, aphides, heat, rain, and mildew, to blast his 
designs. 

" This has the ring of Cain when his sacrifice was rejected. That 
primeval sinner vented his anger towards God on his holy brother. 
Mr. H. W. Beecher vents his ano;er towards the real cause of his 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWKKS AND FARMING. 45 

mildewed crops, by charging the innocent instruments in their Mak- 
er's hand. If this is not blasphemy in one as well informed as ISIr. 
Beecher is, we have read his words amiss. 

" PUKITAN." 

I may have been mistaken, but it has seemed to me that 
every crop that I have ever attempted to raise has had 
swarms of " messengers " sent upon it. But, until now, I 
never suspected that God sent them, in any other sense than 
that in which he sends diseases, famines, tyrants, literary 
" Puritans," and .all other evils which afflict humanity. 

But what is to be done about this matter? If it be "blas- 
phemy " to speak against bugs, it can be little short of sacri- 
lege to smash them. Here have I been, in the blindness of 
unrepented depravity, slaughtering millions of " the messen- 
gers of God " called aphides ! I have ruthlessly slain those 
other angelic "messengers" called mosquitoes, who came 
singing to me with misplaced confidence. I have even railed 
at fleas, and s})oken irreverently of gnats. I have gone fur- 
ther : on a sultry summer's day, after dinner, I have turned 
out of ray room every one of those " messengers of God " 
which wicked boys call flies — every one but one, I mean ; 
and, just as the sounds grew faint and sight dim, and I was 
sinking into that entrancing experience, the first virgin mo- 
ments of slumber, an affectionate fly settled on my nose, ran 
down to kiss my lips, and, like a traveler on a new conti- 
nent, set about exploring my whole face. Instead of greet- 
ing this " messenger " divine as " Puritan " would, I confess 
to a lively vexation. And if speaking of flies in a very 
disrespectful manner is blasphemous, I must confess to the 
charge ! 

But soberly, Mr. Bonner, is it not pitiable to have among 
us men pretending to intelligence, who bring religion into 
discredit by such hopeless stupidity ? 

In the velocipede rinks, besides those for speed, premiums 
are offered to the men who can ride the slowest. " Puritan " 
should enter himself If anybody can go slower, he must 
be a marvel of torpidity. 



46 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

X. 

NATURAL ORDER OF FLOWERS. 

May 7,1st. 

He must have an artist's eye for color and form who can 
aiTange a hundi-ed flowers as tastefully, in any other way, as 
by strolling through a garden, picking here one and there 
one, and adding them to the bouquet in the accidental 
order in which they chance to come. Thus we see every 
summer day the fair lady coming in from the breezy side-hill 
with gorgeous colors, and most witching efiects. If only 
she could be changed to alabaster, was ever a finer show of 
flowers in so fine a vase ? But instead, allowed to remain 
as they were gathered, the flowers are laid upon the table, 
divided and rearranged on some principle of taste, I know 
not what, but never regain that charming naturalness and 
grace which they first had. 

As to the bouquets put up for market, the less said about 
them the better. They are mere pillories in which, like 
innocent children put into the stocks, flowers are punished ! 
Squeezed, tied on sticks, formal and pedantic, the flowers 
lose their rare charms, their delicacy, their individuality, 
their exquisite variety of form, every element of floral beauty 
except color. They are used as mere pigments. They are 
poor studies in color. There are few who really know any- 
thing about flowers by their finer qualities. The elder Park 
— who committed the capital crime of leaving Brooklyn and 
going back to Scotland to live — loved flowers after the true 
sort. We remember one day going to his green-house in 
Amity Street, and after a world of talk about all sorts of 
things, and looking over all his azaleas, camellias, laurusti- 
nus, and what not, he drew us bashfully into a side apart- 
ment, and with the diffidence of a girl, said, pointing to an 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 47 

exquisite little fern hardly so large as our forefinger, grow- 
in «• in the border under some orange-plants, "There, I should 
not dare to tell anybody but you that I have taken more 
real pleasure in that one little thing than in all the whole 
establishment." We perfectly understood him. The fern 
was of the most delicate sort. It seemed to hover between 
form and spirit, — if there be such a thing as soul in plant- 
life. All around it were large and vigorous plants growing 
lush and stahvart. This dainty little fairy fern appealed to 
the child-loving side of human nature, to the unworldly 
and uncommercial faculties. We always respected Park 
the better for this weakness. No man can have such a sen- 
timent for flowers, who has not in him feelings as fresh and 
delicate as the flowers which he admires. 

But with what complacency can such a one look upon the 
merchandise of flowers which is exhibited at every party, 
every wedding, every vulgar jam of rich people, who tor- 
ment themselves through untimely hours for the sake of tor- 
menting their host? 

Look at the atrocious bridal bouquets ! The bride, the 
bridesmaids, come forth bearing each a huge melange of 
orange-blossoms and rosebuds, wedged together into a 
pyramidal wart of flowers ! If, instead, the bride were to 
issue forth bearing in her hand a sprig of orange-blossoms 
just as it grew, just as it was plucked from the branch, or 
two or three simple rosebuds on the one stem, loosely clus- 
tered, and with their own fi-esh green leaves, or a simple white 
lily, would not every one feel how suj^erior flowers were for 
such an occasion, in their own simplicity and individuality, 
than when, as generally happens, they are smothei-ed up 
in an artificial heap, in which all naturalness is utterly lost ? 

A single blossom of carnation with a geranium leaf; an 
exquisite safln-ano rosebud just beginning to 02:)en, with a 
fresh leaf from its own bush for company ; a stem of mign- 
onette, girt round with a dozen fragrant blue violets ; a long 
sprig of mauvandia-vine, with its charming blue bells, hang- 



48 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

ing from a tall wineglass, or carelessly trailing round it, — 
these, ancl such little things, confer a pleasure on those who 
have a sensitive eye for grace and simplicity, which nothing 
else can. 

We would not be understood as objecting to all masses 
of flowers, nor to large combinations. For coarser and 
more distant eflfects, they are j^ermissible. But even then, 
the more they can be made to have a loose, airy, open habit, 
the finer will be their eflTect. 

But first, simplicity, naturalness, singleness, and individ- 
ualism in flowers; afterward and inferior, though permis- 
sible, artificial structures and combinations. 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWEKS AND FAKMLNG. 49 

XI. 

ROSES. 

July Id. 

June is the paradise of roses. In this month they break 
forth into unparalleled sjjlendor. All Rosedom is out in 
holiday apparel ; and roses white and black, gi'een and pink, 
scarlet, crimson, and yellow, striped and mottled, double and 
single, in clusters and solitary, moss-roses, damask-roses. 
Noisette, perpetual, Bourbon, China, tea, musk, and all 
other tribes and names, hang in exuberant beauty. The air 
is full of their fragrance. The eye can turn nowhere that 
it is not attracted to a glowing bush of roses. At first one 
is exhilarated. He wanders from bush to bush and cuts the 
finest specimens, until there is no room or dish for more. 
So many roses, and so few to see them ! What would not 
people shut up in cities give to see such luxuriance of 
beauty ! How strange that those who have ground do not 
gather about them these favorites of every sense! The 
air and soil that nourish nettles and thistles, plantain and 
dock, would bring forth roses with equal kindness. There 
is enough ground wasted around country houses to furnish 
root-room for a hundred kinds of roses, without detriment 
either to fi'uit trees or ornamental shade trees. Men ad- 
mire them when they see them in a friend's house ; they are 
always pleased to receive a lapful as a present to their wife 
or mother or daughter; but it does not enter their head 
that they, too, might have roses to give away. 

Roses are easy of culture, easy of propagation, requiring 
almost as little care as dandelions or daisies. The wonder 
is that every other man is not an enthusiast, and in the 
month of June a gentle fanatic. Floral insanity is one of 
the most charming inflictions to which man is heir ! One 



60 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

never wishes to be cured, nor should any one wish to cure 
him. The garden is infectious. Flowers are " catching," or 
the love of them is. Men begin with one or two. In a few 
years they are struck through with floral zeal. Not bees 
are more sedulous in their researches into flowers than 
many a man is, and one finds, after the strife and heat and 
toil of his ambitious life, that there is more pure satisfac- 
tion in his garden than in all the other pursuits that prom- 
ise so much of pleasure and yield so little. 

It is pleasant to find in men whose hard and loveless 
side you see in society, so much that is gentle and beauty- 
loving in private. Hard capitalists, sharp politicians, grind- 
ing business men, will often be found, at home, in full sym- 
pathy with the gentlest aspects of nature. One is surprised 
to find how rich and sweet these monsters often turn out to 
be ! Here is the man whom you have for years heard de- 
scribed, in all the newspapers, as a spectacle of wickedness 
or a monument of folly. You are, by some convulsion of 
nature, thrown into his company, and travel for days with 
him. To your surprise his manners are gentle, his conver- 
sation pleasing, his attentions to all about him considerate. 
This must be artifice. It is a veil to hide that hideous heart 
of which you have heard so much. You watch and wait. 
But watching and waiting only satisfy you that this sup- 
posed monster is a kind man, with a world of sympathy for 
beautiful things. And when, in after-months, you have 
been at his summer-house, and know him in his vineyard and 
his garden, you smile at yourself that you were ever subject 
to that illusion which is so often raised about public men. 

A man is not always to be trusted because he loves fine 
horses, or because he follows the stream or hunts in the fields. 
But if a man that loves flowei-s, and loves them enough to 
labor for them, is not to be trusted, where in this wicked 
world shall we go for trust ? A man that carries a garden 
in his heart has got back again a part of the Eden from 
which our great forefather was expelled. 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 51 

XII. 

CHESTNUTS. 

July SOth. 

I FANCY that trees have dispositions. At any rate, they 
have those qualities which suggest dispositions to all who 
are in sympathy with nature, and who look upon facts as 
letters of an alphabet, by which one may spell out the hid- 
den meanings of things. Some trees, like the apple, suggest 
goodness and humility. They put on no airs. They do 
not exalt themselves. They are patient of climate, full of 
beauty in blossom, and, in autumn, beautiful in fruit. 

The oak, when well grown, has the beauty of rugged 
strength, and sometimes it has grandeur. Certain live-oak 
trees on Helena Island, near Beaufort, S. C, with long, 
pendant moss, like a Druid's beard, impressed us with a 
feeling of the sublime in vegetation which we never ex- 
perience in the presence of any other tree. Down on 
our backs we lay, and gazed up into their vast tops with 
a pleasure never since renewed. These were the types of 
patriarchal dignity. 

The American elm is the tree of grace and beauty. It is 
stately without stiffness. It carries itself up to such a 
height that its drooping boughs do not suggest feebleness, 
as the weeping-willow does. And yet, one never has the 
feeling of sympathy with it or of personal intercourse. One 
may sit under its branches, but no one ever sat on or among 
them. We admire, but do not sympathize. Still less did 
any one ever love a hickory-tree. They are beautiful and 
stately, but self-contained. When young, they are dandies; 
and when old, aristoci-ats. 

Not so the chestnut-tree. This darling old fellow is a 
very grandfather among trees. What a great, open bosom 



52 PLAIN AND PLEASAXT TALK 

it has ! Its boughs are arranged with express reference to 
ease in climbing. Nature was in a good mood when the 
chestnut-tree came forth. It is, when well grown, a stately 
tree, wide-spreading, and of great size. Even in the forest 
the chestnut is a noble tree. But one never sees its full 
development except when it has grown in the open iields. 
It then assumes immense 2)roportions. Having a tendency 
when cut down to send u\:> many shoots from the stump, 
old trees are often found with four or five trunks springing 
from the same root. In such cases, no other American tree 
covers so wide a space of ground. Not even the oak at- 
tains to greater size or longevity. The Tortworth chestnut, 
in England, is supposed to have been standing before the 
Conquest, 1066, and must be not far from a thousand years 
old. The longest known tree in America is the "Rice" 
chestnut, on the estate of Marshall I. Rice, at Newton 
Centre, Mass. It measures twenty-four feet and three 
tenths in circumference at the base, seventy-six feet in 
height, and spreads its limbs ninety-three feet. It is vigor- 
ous, and still bears enormous crops. This, however, is a 
mere stripling compared with the famous chestnut-tree of 
Mount ^tna, whose trunk measured about one hundred 
and sixty feet in circumference, or some fifty-three feet in 
diameter, and which could shelter a hundred horsemen be- 
neath its branches! But this tree, long hollow, is about 
giving up the ghost, even if it has not already done so, 
no doubt dying in the peaceful conscioiasness of having 
spent a virtuous life, and fed thousands of people with two 
thousand years' full of nuts ! 

There is living in vigor at Sancerre, in France, a tree 
which, at six feet from the ground, measures thirty feet in 
circumference. Michaux says that he measured several 
trees in the Carolina mountains of fifteen or sixteen feet in 
circumference ; which, if a boy is expected to climb them, is 
full large enough. 

A chestnut-tree in full bloom is a fine sight. It bios- 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 53 

sonis about the first of July, iu clusters of long, yellowish- 
white filaments, like a tuft of coarse wool-rolls. The whole 
top of the tree is silvered over. We have never seen them 
so finely in blossom as this year, and we foresee a grand 
harvest for the boys. O, those golden days of October! 
The thought of them brings back the days of boyhood, the 
brilliant foliage of the forest just putting on its regal gar- 
ments; the merry sport of squirrels racing on the ground 
(if one lies dead-still to watch), or scampering up the trunks, 
and leaping from tree to tree with chirk and bark, if dis- 
turbed. 

It was a great day when, with bag and basket, the whole 
family was summoned to go " a-chestnuting ! " There was 
frolic enough, and climbing enough, and shaking enough, 
and rattling nuts enough, and a sly kiss or two, — but never 
enough, — and lunch enough, and aj^petite enough. The 
silver brook on the hillside carried down, on its mur- 
muring current, the golden leaves which the ti'ees, with 
every j^ufF of wind, sent shimmering down through the air. 
Barefooted, as we were all summer long, the prickly chest- 
nut burs were too sharp for our little tough feet, and we 
were glad to pick our way cautiously under the trees. 

Long live the chestnut-tree, and the chestnut woods on 
the mountain-side, and the boys and girls who frolic under 
their boughs ! And long live the winter nights, with the 
homely fare of apples and nuts, and no stronger drink than 
cider ; and a merry crowd of boys and girls, with here and 
there the spectacled old folks ; all before a roaring hickory 
fire, in an old-fashioned fireplace, big as the western horizon 
with the sun going down in it, and with a roguish stick of 
chestnut wood in it, which opens such a fusillade of snaps 
and cracks as sets the girls to screaming, and throws out 
such mischievous coals upon the calico dresses, as obliges 
every humane boy to run to the relief of his sweetheart all 
on fire ! 

No doubt many an old gentleman will read this article 



54 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

with a face growing more and more full of smiles, and taking 
off his spectacles at the end, and, looking kindly over at his 
aged dame, will say, " Do you remember, Polly, when we 
were at Squire Judson's — " " Well, well, father, you are 
too old to be talking about such youthful follies." Never- 
theless, she smiles and looks kindly over at the old rogue 
who kissed her that night, proposed on the way home, and 
was married before Christmas. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWEKS AND FABMING. 55 

XIII. 

GREEN PEAS. 

August 20th. 
What a comfort is the consciousness of usefulness ! One 
may dig on his farm or delve in his library for weeks, with 
nothing to show for it, and with no murmuring applause. 
But let him once spread the table, put the jDOt to boiling, 
and set forth a meal; and the praise of housekeepers begins 
to ascend, sweet as frankincense or new-made apple-pies. 
But we are praise-proof in culinary matters. There are 
others around here that are liable to the puffing-up of van- 
ity, if their domestic performances are loudly applauded. 
But we, of the stronger sex, can hear our beefsteak com- 
mended without a wrinkle upon our tranquil humility. We 
can have our coffee criticised without a flush of indignation. 
Even our method of cooking vegetables may be underval- 
ued, without exciting us to controversy ; so tranquil is our 
soul, when once under the inspiration of the cuisine. But 
some there are who mingle praise with suggestion — a cup 
of criticism with sugar in it. Thus : — 

" We heartily thank him for his descriptions in ' Summer Dinners,' 
and would mildly suggest, if lie would add a pint of nice, thick cream 
to a quart of peas, taken from milk that has stood just six hours in a 
cool, airy, and clean cellar — said milk must be milk, to start with ; 
none of your blue, watery stuff, such as some cows are said to give, 
but rich, golden milk, caught in bright tin pails, so polished that 
they reflect the happy faces of all who wish to take a peep at them : 
— with such a dish, I think we could tempt — well, Henry Ward, to 
dine with us ; could n't we ? especially if we add an apple-pie made 
after a receipt you gave in the Ledger several years ago. 
" Yours, very respectfully, 

" Twenty-year-old Dot." 

If one wishes a new and composite dish, let the peas be 



56 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

smothered in cream. But, if one wishes joeas, pure and 
simple, in tlieir own flavor, — a flavor cliosen out of the 
whole vegetable realm, and not repeated in any other gi-ow- 
ing thing, — let him not, let her not, audaciously introduce 
any rival flavor. Peas are good ; cream is good ; peas and 
cream are good, — each in its own severalty. But let each 
one stand in its own name. Do not call peas and cream, 
peas. One's tenderest culinary susceptibility is touched, to 
be asked if he will take some green peas, and then to find 
himself eating peas and cream ! 

The English receipts recommend a sprig or two of mint 
to be thrown in while green peas are cooking. We do not 
challenge their right to do it. They may put in anise and 
cummin too, if they choose. But we do protest, in the 
name of kitchen literature, against calling such experimen- 
tal comj)ounds by the ever-dear name of "green peas." 

All smooth peas are tasteless compared with the wrinkled 
peas. It is proper that wrinkles should bring sweetness. 
The smooth-faced varieties are fairer to look uj^on. But 
they are not inwardly rich. That these should be flavored, 
enriched, and spiced with herbs, is not altogether against 
nature or analogy. 

Still, if on some bright summer day, soon after the twelve 
musical strokes on the village bell, we shall find ourselves 
the guest of the sprightly " Dot," we shall lay aside all pre- 
conceived notions and all prejudices ; and if it prove to be that 
peas absorb cream into their bosoms without losing their 
peahood — nay, if this wedding shall prove, as all true wed- 
dings should, that individuality is developed and established 
— we shall gladly repent, confess, and recant our foregoing 
protest. 

Another fair heart has suflered itself to fall into shocking 
doubts. 

" Dear Sir : It is with great pleasure that I read your weekly 
articles in the Ledger, and I have especially relished your ' Summer 
Dinner,' which was got up in such good style. But — and this is 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 57 

what is very important — did you have to ask your wife the differ- 
ent names of the vegetables, and how to cook them? Or do you 
believe in Mens Rights, and so know how to do your own cooking, 
seasoning, and eating ? " 

The fanrily should be sacred ! This attempt to pry into 
its secrets must not succeed. This question answered, the 
next one would be, whether we wrote our own articles for 
the Ledger, or whether some one dictated them to us? 
And then would come questions as to who wrote the ser- 
mons ? Then, when once the stream had broken over the 
bounds of proper privacy, it would rush through kitchen 
and pantry, closet and cupboard, cellar and attic, until the 
slime of curiosity would lie thick on all the sacred jDlaces of 
the household. 

" Ask our wife," forsooth ! We asked her once for all, 
some years ago, and the answer lasts, full and strong, until 
this day. 



58 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 



XIV. 

HENS. 

April 22d 

The day is bright and windy. The sky has sunk back to 
the uttermost, and the arch seems wonderfully deep above 
your head. Little cloud-ships go sailing about in the heav- 
. ens as busily as if they carried freight to long-expectant 
owners. It is a day for the country. The city palls on the 
jaded nerve. I long to hear the hens cackle. There are 
lively times now in barn and barn-yard, I '11 warrant you. 
If I were lying on the east veranda of a cottage that I wot 
of, I should see flocks of pure white Leghorns, wind-blown, 
shining in the sunlight, searching for a morsel in and out of 
the shrubbery, and hear the cocks crowing, and the hens 
crooning. The Leghorn, of true blood, leads the race of 
foAvls for continuous eggs, in season and out of season ; eggs 
large enough, of fine quality, and sprung from hens that 
never think of chickens. For a true Leghorn seldom wants 
to sit. They believe in division of labor. They provide 
eggs; others must hatch them. Other fowls may surpass 
them on the spit or gridiron, but, as egg-layers, they easily 
take the lead. They are hardy, handsome, and immensely 
productive. As it is just as easy to keep good fowls as poor 
ones, thrifty housekeepers should secure a good laying breed. 
Not every jDure white fowl is a Leghorn. There are many 
White Spanish sold as Leghorns. They may be known by 
their gray or peai*l-colored legs. The pure Leghorn has a 
yellow leg, a single comb, quite long and usually lapping 
down. This breed is M^ell known about New York, but no 
description of it can be found in English poultry-books. 
Indeed, we are informed that Tegetmayer, the standard au- 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 59 

thority, but recently knew anything about them, and then 
from a coop sent from New York. 

The Brahmas and Cochins have good quaUties. They are 
large, sA'^en huge. They are peaceable, and the Cochins do 
not scratch, — an important fact to all who have a garden, 
and who yet desire to let their poultry run at large. They 
are good layers, admirable mothers, and yield a fine carcass 
for the table, but the meat is not fine, though fairly good. 
But a more ungainly thing than buff Cochins the eye never 
saw. A flock of Leghorns is a delight to the eye. One is 
never tired of watching them. Their forms are symmet- 
rical, and every motion is graceful. But the huge poddy 
Cochins waddle before you like over-fat buffoons. They 
are grotesque, good-natured, clumsy, useful creatures ; but 
they have a great love of sitting. Every Cochin hen would 
love to bring out two broods in a season ; while the white 
Leghorns fill their nests with eggs, and then think their 
whole duty done. We keep Cochin hens to sit on Leghorn 
eggs. Better mothers cannot be. 

I hear my hens cackle! These bright spring days are 
passing, and the concert of the barn-yard is in full play, but 
I am tied up to the j^en ! Currant-bushes are pushing out 
their blossom-buds; rhubarb is showing its red knuckles 
above the ground; willows are pushing out their silky cat- 
kins; birds have come — everything has come but me! I 
cannot sprout yet. Patience! I shall be green enough in a 
few weeks. The city shall not always prevail. In due sea- 
son I shall go to grass. Already I smell it. The odor of 
new grass can be perceived but for a few days only in spring. 
It should be noticed then, for it is unlike any other perfume, 
and will be perceived no more until another year. How 
happy are they that dwell among open fields, — or how 
happy they might be if they but knew their privileges! 



60 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

XV. 

FARMING. 

May \Zth. 

If one wishes to make money out of the soil, upon an 
Eastern farm, he must live upon it, study it, watch it, calk 
and groove it so that no leak shall be possible, economize 
rigidly, work fearfully, sell the best, use the unsalable, — in 
short, he must be a drudge or a genius. Not a genius in 
literature or art, but in money-making. Only think how 
some old-fashioned New England ministers lived on a salary 
of four hundred dollars ; educated seven or eight children ; 
worked their farm during the week, and preached on Sun- 
day ; and died rich, that is, worth anywhere from fifty 
to a hundred thousand dollars, which, fifty years ago, was 
as much as two hundred and fifty thousand dollars are now ; 
for the purchasing power of gold and silver is steadily de- 
clining, and of course more of it is required for the same 
purposes. 

But only now and then did such a man and minister turn 
up ; and the general impression, even in his case, was, that 
the farm was better tilled than the parish. 

But the small farmers in the old States north of the Del- 
aware have a hard life. If they get on, it is by vigorous 
economy following excessive industry. There is a good 
deal of sentiment wasted on the delights of farming. But 
in New England, we suspect that for every farmer who 
lives in abundance or comparative ease, there are five, and 
perhaps ten, that fare coarsely, and ai'e not half as well 
clothed and housed as the average mechanic. First-rate 
farmers are few; third and fourth rate farmers are many, 
and a hard time they have. But as one goes westward, to 
better soil, larger farms, and more congenial climate, things 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 61 

change. Farmers are prosi^erous without such exacting 
toil. Their dwellings grow better, particularly in the 
northern parts of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and the great 
Northwest. If one has money and leisure, he may carry 
on a farm in the Eastern States with great enjoyment. 
That is as pleasant a way to spend money as can Avell be 
devised, not even excepting the management of fast horses 
and fast yachts ; for both of these deteriorate in the using, 
and some go under, while the farm steadily rises in value 
and force. But with the exception of the owners of un- 
commonly good land here and there, not much money is to 
be made at firming in the East. The farm is an institution 
designed to promote health and comfort in the expenditure 
of money. Money is the one manure which the farm 
greedily covets. 

We say these things, not to discourage farming, but to 
dissuade the annual host from going out to make their for- 
tunes on a farm, who, in five years, will come back stripped 
bare of everything but disgust — not of that. No man 
would think of going from the law, or from a store, into a 
mechanical trade without having served an apprenticeship, 
or having become in some way familiar with it. Lawyers 
do not set up at cabinet-making, nor go into steel works, 
nor set up for builders or painters. But when business is 
dull, and health delicate, many a professional man, many a 
clerk or unsuccessful merchant, concludes to buy a "snug 
farm," and retire from the cares of the town or city, to lead 
the joyous life of a farmer. He has no knowledge of 
farming; but it requires none! Farming is simple. You 
rise with the dewy morn ; you go forth to your prodigal 
acres ; you rest under the trees bending with fruit ; you eat 
from your bountiful table the food that sprung from your 
own soil, — and ever so nuich more romance of the same 
sort. 

Prosperous farming requires knowledge, tact at managing 
men, skill in laying out work, incessant industry, very close 



62 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

calculations, good judgment in buying, and a good capacity 
of selling. In short, the qualities which go to make u]) a 
good merchant, a good manufacturer, and a good scientist 
ought to be combined in a first-class farmer. There are 
more passable orators born every year than there are first- 
class farmers. If any one doubts the truth of these views, 
let him try a farm for a few years ! 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWEKS AND FAKMING. 63 



XVI. 
GARDENING UNDER DIFFICULTIES. 

It is not every one who can toss off his provocations 
Avith so good a grace as our correspondent, whose letter we 
insert: — 

New York, Apiil 19th. 

Dear Mr. Beecher : Suppose you were fond of flowers and 
shrubs, and that the plat of Mother Earth allotted you was at the 
back of your city house, say about seventeen feet square, — the most 
of it occupied by the space for drying clothes ; the rest a hard clayey 
soil, baked by the sun so quickly that you wish the Israelites might 
have had it to make brick, and one that no amount of foreign ad- 
mixture improves. 

Suppose the florist came every spring, hoed and raked, and dis- 
tributed roses, verbenas, geraniums, and the like, at regular inter- 
vals, also sticks, bare evidence of the burial-place of various cherished 
bulbs that never come up, but seem, hke your carnations, to disap- 
pear with the wheelbarrow. 

Suppose the occupants of the tenement-house close to your rear 
fence, — who always, in all the stories of the day, nurse a geranium in 
a cracked pot, — instead of thanking you for the pleasant sight under 
their windows, garnished your bed with egg-shells, old paper collars, 
rags, bones, empty spools, and other debris handy for the purpose. 

Suppose the nine thousand and ninety cats and their families 
roosted on the fence in the twilight, and tried their claws on your 
shrubs, and the softness of your soil generally, in the small hours of 
the night. 

Suppose, with the first green leaves, the worms came also, and the 
green Uce, and the ants, and made your bushes a sorrow and a vex- 
ation. 

Suppose the hoop of the laundress was over it all, so to speak, and 
the hose always burst when the weather was dry, and your watering- 
pot held about a teacupful. 



64 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

What would you do, Mr. Beecher? Would you give over the 
space to old shoes and ugliness, or would you fly in the face of mani- 
fest destiny and cultivate ? 

Dejectedly yours, 

Breeze. 

The very first thing to be done with a tenacious and ob- 
stinate day soil is to have it dug out and carted away 
bodily, and its place supplied with good fresh loam. This 
would be a serious job if there were several acres. But 
when there is but a plat of seventeen feet square, and the 
larger part of that reserved for laundry purposes, only bor- 
ders being used for flowers, the amount to be removed 
would be comparatively small, and the satisfaction would 
be ample repayment. Any one with a cart can carry off 
the clay, but not every one can get good soil. An honest 
florist or garden jobber could jDut you in the way of that. 

If you will have a garden, it is best to be your own 
gardener. Adam and Eve set the example. 

The cats may be managed in various ways. A black-and- 
tan terrier ke])t in the back yard has a wonderful influence 
on cats, arousing in them a strong local prejudice. If the 
boys in the neighborhood knew that a premium were offered 
for cat scalps, it would be found greatly to interest the cats. 
At any rate, their number would grow less. 

As to worms and aphides, no one is fit to own flowers 
who, in so small a space as seventeen feet square, cannot 
exterminate them, — worms by hand picking, and aphides by 
whale-oil soapsuds. A vigorous fidelity will in a short time 
put the last worm hors de combat. The Avhale-oil soap may 
be had at any large seed-store, — directions for use accom- 
panying the little jar. A tin garden syringe may be had 
at the same place, costing but little, lasting, with care, 
twenty years, and carrying the soapsuds like spray over 
every leaf and twig. 

We, too, in Brooklyn have lawn dresses with equatorial 
hoops, and yet manage to have many a charming patch of 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 65. 

flowers. But, of all things in this world, a garden needs 
the presence of its owner. If you do not love it enough to 
care for it as you would for a baby, better let it alone. 
Flowers know who love them. They will not be put off" 
with arm's-length cordiality. But, if you love them, you 
will easily overcome a hundred obstacles, and rejoice in 
your flowers all the more because they are the trojihies of 
your patience and industry. 



66 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

XVII. 

CORN. 

September 19th. 

We have artists who give themselves to specialties. One 
delights to know fruits. Another loves architecture, or 
landscape, or figures, or animals, or grasses and flowers. 
Now it has always seemed strange that the noblest of all 
grasses, maize, or Indian corn, has never found an enthusi- 
astic lover. It has been painted often, but never yet inter- 
preted. No one has done by it what has been done by the 
lily, the rose, the convolvulus. 

And yet, where shall we find any union of strength and 
grace more perfect among herbaceous plants? The jointed 
stem, robust and stiff, gives off at each articulation the most 
gracefully curved sword-leaves, which diminish in length as 
the plant goes up to its fimbriated top, forming a symmet- 
rical whole not to be equalled among field jolants. 

If one will wander along the edges of a cornfield, he will 
often see an exquisite picture, such as Nature loves to make. 
The wild convolvulus, which often fills the fence corners, has 
crept out of the grass into the furrow and twined around 
the corn, climbing to its very top, and, having power yet to 
grow, returns upon itself and fashions festoons of exquisite 
leaves and white blossoms, which hang down in every neg- 
ligent form of beauty. Other vines too, besides the convol- 
vulus, try their arts, and none fail ; but none succeed so 
charmingly as this queen of twining "\dnes. 

A specialist might devote himself to corn without fear of 
exhausting the subject. Of all the grains it is the true type 
of republicanism. It knows how to live in the community 
without losing its individuality. The smaller grains — 
wheat, barley, and such like — produce their efiects only in 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 67 

masses. Individual stalks are quite insignificant. It is 
the community, and not the individual, that is beautiful. 
But a field of corn does not swallow up in itself the stems 
which form its mass. Every plant yet retains it nobility. 
If corn is sown so thickly that it cannot find room for de- 
velopment, the whole degenerates into mere grass, and loses 
its proper force and beauty. But the husbandman has 
found out what rulers yet but slowly learn, and reluctantly, 
— that the force and beauty of the whole is to be sought in 
the development and strength of each single plant. Indi- 
viduality and community are not only compatible, but each 
is the indispensable factor of the other. 

Or, turn the subject in another light. Each stalk of corn 
is a fiither and mother. It does not live for itself When 
it hastens on in the hot days of July, it is not its own 
beauty that it seeks. It takes that on the way to a higher 
end. In the cool juices of that polished stem glows the 
sacred fire of parentage. The arched and rustling leaves 
borrow of the sun and air food for the coming brood. No 
sooner does the tassel break forth at the top, than out peer 
the infant ears nestling at the side of the noble stem. Nor 
does the parent blossom into its final beauty until the ex- 
quisite silk hangs from the nascent ears of corn to feed upon 
the parent's life, and in that find its own. 

No sooner do the new-born kernels swell, than the parent 
bequeaths itself and all its inward stores to its offspring. 
The long leaves swing idly in the air, as things that have 
nothing more to do. Every day the winds evoke a shriller 
sound from their motions. When the cob has covered 
itself wdth golden kernels, rich and ripe, the parent dies, — 
dies mourning sadly, shall we think? What though it shall 
live a hundred-fold in its children ? All memory or con- 
sciousness will be gone. It has spent its life and beauty for 
others. But how strong, how fresh, how full, how beautiful 
its life, while doing its appointed work ! How little does it 
really care to live when the end of living is accomplished ! 



68 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

It did the work at hand, and drew all its beauty from that 
doing, then took its place in the great economy of nature, 
falling back to nothing. 

With such thoughts men looked upon the fields thousands 
of years ago, and sighed, "As for man, his days are as 
grass : as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the 
wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof 
shall know it no more." 

It was thousands of years afterward that one said, " As we 
have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the 

image of the heavenly Death is swallowed up in 

victory." 

The grass of the field may image forth the secular side of 
huinan life, but it can go no further than the grave. Be- 
yond that it cannot point. Only one garden ever was 
that set forth the sure hope of immortality. " In the place 

where He was crucified, there was a garden There 

laid they Jesus." 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 69 

XVIII. 

DANDELIONS. 

June 8th. 

There are many charms connected with the ideal life of 
the tropics. The chief drawback is, that manhood deli- 
quesces and runs out under the equator. This is not paid 
for by luscious bananas, oranges, orchids, or ever-blooming 
vines and trees. Enjoyment palls when it flows unceasingly 
and without break. To live in summer forever, without 
one ungarlanded hour in the year, might, for aught we 
know, sate us with sweetness. 

The tropics were not made to live in all the year. They 
are a refuge for one or two months. After frost and snow 
have had their full meal, and the northern winds have by 
familiarity bred contempt and influenzas, it is a good thing 
to go to sleep on the good steamer Moro Castle, and wake 
up in Cuba, or Jamaica, or to go on through the Gulf of 
Mexico to the Magdalena valley in Northern South Amer- 
ica, which the painter Church once told me he regarded as 
the most perfect climate that he had ever found in all his 
travels. 

But as soon as the contrast is satisfied, we are sure that 
one in the tropics must long for the northern zones, north- 
ern fruits and northern flowers ; for calm days without pes- 
tilent insects ; for grass, and for dandelions ! 

Now I have got upon my real subject. The foregoing 
sentences were in the nature of a rhetorical introduction, — 
a sly and adroit way of getting people to listen to the 
praises of one of the brightest charms of our northern 
spring days. 

I am moved to celebrate this brilliant, and yet, I fear, not 
much-prized flower, from the glory of my morning view. 



70 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

Out of my back windows I look down on four or five grassy 
yards, all well kept and lying well open to the sun. Soon 
after the grass springs you may see such a gorgeous array 
of dandelions as might make a florist fairly envious ! They 
jut out from the edges of the walks, they crowd the narrow 
strips of grass at the lower end, they fairly jostle each other 
like a crowd pouring out of a jDublic hall, in their strife to 
get into the light and open their golden crowns to the 
sun. 

So brilliant are they and so hardy, that we are apt to 
miss the sentiment that lives in them. They are not of 
the flowers that impudently push themselves forward, 
demanding us to look at them whether we will or no. 
With all their amazing brilliancy, they are still coy love- 
flowers, that wait for the sun, as a bride for the bridegroom. 
For dandelions do not wake up in the morning before we 
do. They wait till the sun has long called them, and then 
they fling open their golden disks, and shine with a real de- 
light of existence, with a cheer and abundance which ought 
to strike joy into the "heart of a misanthrope. 

Soon after noon is at its highest, the dandelion, thinking 
that the world is bright enough, and that the sun can man- 
age the rest of the day, folds itself up, laces the golden 
filaments with the green lepals, and retires to meditation. 
Thus it plays courtier in the morning, and nun in the after- 
noon. 

But what a name ! Dens leonis ! or Dent-de-lion ! Or, 
if you fly to the systematic name, — the harsh Taraxaciiml 
Shall such a home-loving, radiant creature be called Dion^s 
Tooth, because some impertinent, prying botanist fancied 
that he had espied the shape of a lion's tooth in its minor 
forms ? 

Just as soon as we have got politics settled, business 
reformed, and human nature elevated, I am determined 
to form a society for the reformation of botanical names. 
Botany has been the Noah's Ark of pedants. Every absurd 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 71 

whim of every pragmatical professor has been turned into 
Greek or Latin, and hung about the neck of unhappy flow- 
er . One might as well hang a dictionary around a child's 
neck by way of ornament, as to imi^ose on flowers such out- 
rageous and outlandish names as now defend the science of 
botany from all approach, as a fort is defended by a line of 
chev aux-de-frise. 

But blessings on those cheery children of the sun ! They 
are born of brightness ; their whole life is like a smile of love. 
They are not a flower for the hand; they are not to be 
worn in the bosom. They do not love the house, or the 
pressure of a close bouquet. Their life is in the free open 
air. They shine out on you along your daily walk. They 
crowd your yard with golden coin, which, good for nothing 
in the market, may yet have the power to confer more en- 
joyment than could golden dollars or ducats. 

This is my annual tribute. To-day I look out of my 
window, and thank God for the gifts which he sends me by 
the hand of Dandelions ! Do they know my thoughts as I 
gaze on them ? Is there not some sympathy between things 
in nature Avhich wake up the soul to delight, and aid the 
soul thus aroused ? Behind signs and signals, back of all 
articulate utterance, may there not be a subtler relationship 
which will yet be discovered, as connecting the inward and 
the outward with a living relationship ? 



72 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

XIX. 

HOW TO BEAUTIFY HOMES. 

August 25fh. 

No one needs to be told how much a house is adorned by 
vines / and yet many are averse to their liberal use from 
the impression that they make a house damp. It is true 
that they may, but it is not necessary that they should. 
Vines do not collect dampness. If any part of the house 
wall needs the sun to warm it, and is covered by a vine from 
its influence, it may favor dampness. But an ivy vine, on 
the other hand, is reputed to make a wall dry, and has 
sometimes been employed to correct the undue moisture to 
which certain portions of a dwelling are subject. A grape 
vine, trained upon slats, which shall have a few inches of 
air-space underneath it, will not injure the house. Upon 
porches, over trellises, vines may be trained with charming 
efiect, and without ofiending those Avho are superstitiously 
prejudiced against vines on the house. 

The kinds of vines must be left, in the case of thousands, 
to accident. Men that are obliged to count the very last 
penny in their expenses cannot send many orders to florists 
for beautiful things, but must take what they can get in 
their own neighborhood. "We will mention a few things 
now generally difiiised. 

The Glycine, or Wistaria, is one of the noblest. It will 
run a hundred feet or more, and grow in time to have a 
trunk like a small tree. Nothing can surpass it at its blos- 
soming period. It is like a vision of the garden of heaven. 
It may be raised by layers, but will be found somewhat 
slow in taking hold after transplantation. Its arms may be 
carried out in tier above tier to cover the whole side of the 
house, when economy of space is no object ; but where one 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOAVERS AND FARMING. 73 

desires to sjDare for other things, the Wistaria may be 
trained upon a corner, or along the eaves. 

There is nothing more beautiful in its summer greenness 
or gorgeous in its autumn reds and purples, than the Vir- 
ginia Ci-eeper — Am2)elopsis hederacea. There is a variety 
called Am2Delopsis Veitchii, or Veitch's, which is extremely 
beautiful. It clings to wood or brick with as much tenacity 
as the ivy. Its foliage is tine, and its habit fits it to fill 
small spaces. It is a plant that, having once owned, no 
one would part with. 

If one wishes a dense screen, there is no vine that grows 
more rapidly or that is more hardy than the Aristoloicha 
sipho, or Dutchman's pipe. One might as well attempt to 
look through a brick wall as through the opaque mass made 
by its enormous leaves. But its coarseness fits it chiefly for 
liiding ungainly things or shading from the light. 

The Trumpet Creeper is effective at a distance, but its 
coarseness excludes it from familiar nearness. 

Few people are aware of the vast improvements which 
have taken place in the Cletnatis. Every one knows the 
wild white clematis, which is beautiful in blossom, and 
almost as fine when its seeds are ripened. It abounds in 
our fields, and bears transplantation easily. The new kinds, 
or those comparatively new, deserve to be better known. 
Fortune's, Henderson's, Jackman's, the Prince of Wales, 
Standish's, together with Helena, Sophia, Lanuginosa, are 
obtainable at our first-class nurseries, and may be easily 
propagated. Besides these, there are every year new vari- 
eties introduced. There is no vine that we should spare 
with more reluctance. The sheets of gorgeous bloom, 
which, by judicious selection of kinds, Avill last from June 
to September, the perfect hardiness of the plant, and the 
ease with which it is trained, fit it eminently for small 
places and sunny spots. For it loves the full blaze, and 
will not flourish well even when planted with other vines 
that at all shade it. Indeed, to have the best effect of 



74 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

clematis, it should be trained in a clear and open space 
to a trellis of its own. 

But, of all vines, none is more popular, and deservedly 
so, than the honeysuckle. The kinds are numerous. But 
if but one can be had, let it be the Salleana, or Hall's 
Japan honeysuckle. It cannot be distinguished from the 
Brachypoda., in leaf or blossom ; but it excels that immeas- 
urably in the habit of blossoming all summer. The Flexu- 
oso, or Chinese, is fine, but we consider it second to Hall's, 
which ought to be better known and more widely diffused 
than it is. By planting it on open soil, without support, it 
spreads over the ground, and roots at every joint, so that 
hundreds of new plants may be gained every year. 

There is a beautiful golden honeysuckle — aurea reticu- 
lata. This ought not to be planted by the side of green- 
leaved varieties. It produces the effect of a diseased or 
weak branch, rather than of contrast and variety. But the 
golden-leaved, if planted by itself, and well grown, is gor- 
geous. It is perfectly hardy, and is of good growth and 
constitution. If one has a yard of ground, he may have a 
vine which will give unfeigned pleasure through the whole 
summer. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 75 

XX. 

BIRCH AND ASPEN. 

September 2Sth. 

Looking out from my window upon the dark sides of the 
mountains, upon the massive clouds, upon the wind-blown 
trees, I see my pet, the birch, all in a shiver with each blast. 
The American white birch has all the grace and delicacy of 
its European namesake, and, besides, a sensibility which it 
borrows from the aspen, or shares with it. 

One should have, on every side of a country house, a 
group of aspens and birches. Planted together, they will 
give you motion in charming variety. On other trees the 
leaves are so rigid in the stem, that a wind strong enough 
to set them in full activity is strong enough to set all the 
branches in motion. We recognize the force, and, in large 
trees, the grandeur of motion. When a strong wind moves 
the whole tree, it swings its great boughs hither and thither, 
all its leaves and twigs utter their voices, which in chorus 
often rise to a roar. Yet, though the whole tree is agitated, 
and seems convulsed, one sees that it is only upon the ex- 
terior ; while the top and sides are in full motion, the trunk 
stands firm, and seems motionless. Not till its very roots 
give way will it move, and then it does not bend, but goes 
down with stiff trunk. 

The elastic birch, with long and slender limbs, avoiding 
horizontal positions and aiming at the zenith, flexible to the 
last degree, moves in the wind with a grace and elasticity 
which has no i^arallel. 

The American aspen has a shivering leaf upon a rigid 
branch. It stands quite stifi* and motionless in bough, 
while its leaves are quivering and shivering in the most in- 
dustrious manner. Right over against the east door of the 



76 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

Twin Mountain House, New Hampshire, at a little distance, 
is a group of aspens, which are my perpetual delight. They 
are my wind-meters, or, rather, zephyr measurers. On a hot 
noon, when no air seems stirring, and the trees about them 
doze and slumber, like good men at church, these twinklers, 
like roguish boys, are dancing in an imaginary breeze, and 
playing with themselves, without a particle of wind, so far 
as I can perceive. Now a shiver runs over them from head 
to foot ; then the topmost leaves shake and swirl, while the 
bottom rests. Gradually the motion dies away all over, and 
the frolic ends. No, a single leaf begins to wag; it goes on 
in single blessedness, with accelerated pace, up and down, 
round and round, until, for the life of me, I cannot help 
bursting into a fit of laughter at this solitary dance. 

At times, in certain moods, one cannot help thinking that 
the aspen is striving to communicate something. It seems 
so sigh and pant. It supplicates as one that suiFers. Then, 
changing suddenly, it coaxes and winks and blinks at you as 
if it was only in fun. It will stand perfectly still a minute 
as if looking to see what you will do, and then a laughing 
ripple runs all over it. It frolics with the same tireless 
grace as a kitten. Indeed, it is a kind of compound kitten- 
tree, each particular leaf a kitten, all frolicking together ; 
though there is not one of them, if the rest won't play, that 
is not ready, kitten-like, as it were, to chase its own tail. 

Why have landscape gardeners done so little with birches 
and aspens? Maples, oaks, ashes, and evergreens are well; 
but in what other direction shall we look for such grace in 
form, such susceptibility to aerial influences, and such ex- 
quisite motion both of branch and leaf, as we find in the 
aspen and birch ? The birches grow rapidly, are extremely 
hardy, and will flourish upon poor soil, though loving a 
generous soil better. In ten years, with birch and aspen, 
one may rejoice in a thick grove. If the yellow locust be 
added to these, and the silver maple, one who plants at sixty 
may hope to see high over his head a respectable young 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 7< 

forest, dense ienough for shade and high enough to begin 
to comfort the imagination. 

Long live the aspen and the birch ! Only the young 
have just grounds for prejudice ; but even boys soon out- 
grow the birch, and watch its sinewy motion without a 
thought of moving too, in shivering accord. 



78 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 



XXL 

AUTUMN. 

November 2d. 

The summer is gone. The autumn is here. Not this 
year, as last, in the plenitude of color, but more soberly, 
frugally, and sedately. The autumn of 1871 was eminently 
a color season. Only once in three or four years does Na- 
ture make a full jjallet. Then the colors are pure, intense, 
tender, and fresh. Such was last year. The scarlets were 
brilliant, the orange was pure, the crocuses and yellows 
were clear and rich. But, as autumnal days steal upon us 
now, we see already that we shall have picture-forests of 
only second or third rate brilliancy. The hickories are of a 
rusty and spotted golden brown. The maples are fine, yet 
not exquisite. 

The sumach is always brilliant. So are some of the vines. 
The pepperidge-tree {JVj/ssa sylvatica) is very fine. If 
any one doubts it, let hiin go over to Prospect Park, in 
Brooklyn, not far from the stone cottage, on the south side, 
and he will have an opportunity to review his opinion, and 
to wonder why it is that one of the most magnificent 
color trees of the American forests is so little known or 
introduced into decorated grounds. It ranks among the 
very first in merit, and stands among the very last in 
use. 

By the way, the parks of New York and Brooklyn should 
be used for something else and more than mere walking and 
driving. They are the best schools that America possesses 
for the study of trees and shrubs. There are few things 
which our climate will allow to grow that may not be found 
here, under circumstances which tend to produce their most 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 79 

favorable development. Gentlemen who have country 
places may, by some little pains, here see just what things 
they need, how to combine them for the best effects, and 
how to provide for them soil and site. Once possessed, 
the love of trees becomes a passion, and inspires more 
pleasure than one can imagine who has never become an 
enthusiast in that direction. 

One may learn, particularly in the Brooklyn Park, the 
value of the new golden evergreens of various sorts. They 
are destined to work a revolution in yards and gardens. 
Some of the more choice ones are marvels of brilliancy, and 
carry their glowing yellows right through the winter. One 
may learn in these parks how to decorate rocks. There is 
many a place in the country abounding in outcropping 
ledges, huge bowlders, or jutting rocks, which the pro- 
prietor wishes he could dig out and cart away. But 
he is rich who has large rocks upon his grounds. If one 
will see what use can be made of them, what a frame 
they furnish for mosses, ferns, vines, and various elegant 
shrubs, he Avill cease foolishly spending money to get rid 
of that which many men would gladly spend money to 
obtain. 

It is a fortunate thing for our country that so much atten- 
tion is now paid to the planting of trees. We hope to see 
the day when no longer ninety-nine in every hundred that 
are planted in streets or yards shall be maples and elms. 
What a sight would be a road on which one could ride 
for a mile through an avenue of scarlet oaks, and then 
for a mile through stately avenue of tulip-trees, and then 
through lines of scarlet maples, pepperidge-trees, cyjiress, 
or long rows of gentlemanly walnut-trees! The time will 
come when, on the great roads, one may travel a whole day 
in the shade of stately trees. 

It is not enough to ])lant your own grounds. Every 
village should line its streets with shade trees. It is not 
enough to plant shade trees in the streets. They ought to 



80 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

outrun the town, and reach from village to village, until the 
whole region is filled with shadowed roads. In doing this, 
we ought to avoid the monotony of a few varieties end- 
lessly reproduced, and make a generous use of the noble 
sorts that are so abundantly scattered over our forests and 
iiekls. 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOM'EKS AND FARMING. 81 

XXII. 

PLANT TREES I 

April is the time for planting trees. Too much cannot 
be said to induce people to fill their villages, and the great 
roads between village and village, with fine shade trees, and 
private grounds with the choicer kinds. To write a gffod 
hymn or plant a good tree makes one a benefactor to his 
generation. 

It is hardly to be expected that the old men, hard-work- 
ing, and with enough to do at any rate, will trouble them- 
selves to plant trees along public roads. But we may hope 
for such service from enterprising young men, and even 
more from the public spirit of young women. Several 
instances have come to our knowledge in which women 
have formed associations for beautifying towns and villages 
by tree-planting, and in a few years have transformed the 
places. Nor is it unworthy of mention that this has been 
done by the influence of articles in the JVeto York Ledger. 
A tree-planting week might be made a festival week; or 
persons might agree to secure a given number during the 
season. 

And here it may be well to say, that, although spring and 
fall are the best seasons for transplanting, yet trees may be 
moved in any month in the year, — in the middle of August, 
if need be. A long row of maples, in Peekskill, were moved 
— in consequence of grading and fence-building — during 
the month of July, and only two of them experienced any 
permanent injury. 

But it should be borne in mind that only small trees 
should be removed in hot months, and after the foliage is 
expanded, unless one has a mind to go to gi-eat expense. 



82 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

But trees six or eight feet high, if taken with ample roots,, 
and especially if moved in damp or wet weather, may be 
safely transplanted in midsummer. Of course, it will re- 
quii-e twice the care and labor which the same tree would 
need in sjjring, to produce the same result. 

The three or four trees usually planted in grounds are 
maples, elms, horse-chestnuts, and locusts. These are very 
well. But there are many kinds of maple seldom seen 
that deserve a place ; such as the English field maple (Acer 
compestre), and notably the American red maple, called 
SAWimp maple (.4cer riihrum), the former for its finely cut 
leaves, and the latter for early blossoms and for the exquis- 
ite scarlet autumn hues of its leaves. 

The cut-leaf or fern-leaf white birch is now common in 
nurseries. It grows raj)idly, is extremely graceful, has 
leaves delicate as a fern, and in winter throws against the 
sky a tracery of twigs which is beautiful to look upon. It 
ought to be in every small collection. The liquidomen has 
a very beaiitiful leaf, star-like, and changes in autumn to a 
purplish bronze, quite distinct from all other leaves. If one 
can get the tiipelo, which abounds in New England, and 
may be found in some nurseries, he will secure a tree much 
neglected, but which ought to be universally difiiised. 

Few people know how beautiful is the sassafras-tree, 
when well grown. In the woods it is hardly more than a 
shrub, or sci-aAvny tree ; but when planted young in an open 
space, and in good soil, it has a peculiar beauty of its own 
which is not repeated in any other tree. 

Why are magnolias so seldom planted? They are as 
hardy as maples — some of them at least. The 31. consjnciia, 
the 31. soxdangiana., 31. glanca, and 31. tripetala are easily 
had, are fine all summer, and are the glory of the spring 
when their flowers expand. 

The American and the English beech, and also the pur- 
ple beech, should be more often planted. An old beech- 
tree, grown on good soil, in an open field, and not mutilated, 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 83 

has nothing to fear when standing among all the kings of 
trees. No trees that we saw in England impressed us as 
did the heeches at Warwick Castle. 

In street planting, and along roadsides, nothing could be 
finer than the tulip-tree, which grows rapidly, is clean, and 
bears fine blossoms in early summier. They should be trans- 
planted when small, as they easily die ofi* if moved when 
large. The same is true of chestnuts, walnuts, and pecan- 
nuts. 

Of evergreens I shall not speak, as they deserve a sepa- 
rate mention. But do not plant them in the city, nor in 
any close yard. They do not thrive, and become disfigure- 
ments rather than ornaments. 



84 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

XXIII. 

FAREWELL TO " SmiMER REST." 

In this bright October day I know, not what Eve felt in 
leaving Paradise, but what John Milton imagined that she 
felt. To be sure, I have no such garden as hers must have 
been, and besides, I leave at a different season of the year ; 
for she inquires feelingly, "Who now shall train these 
flowers?" whereas my flowers are so nearly spent that 
there is no need of training them. Tuberoses are gone, 
verbenas are gone, phloxes, common roses, and all the 
garden tribe, except scarlet sage, faithful marigolds, that 
never flinch to the last, and petunias, that are more graceful 
than they, and full as constant. Besides, there is the slow- 
footed chiysanthemum, too late for summer, often too late 
for autumn, — that never gets its Sunday jacket on until it 
is time to take it off again. But the amplitude of the floral 
harvest has been reaped. Now we only glean. Still one 
leaves a home of two months — summer months — not with- 
out a fluttering somewhere about the heart. The still 
days, the deep days, the mellow days, without taxation or 
excitement, are over. Now for the plunge and rush ! Now 
for men. Farewell, Nature ! 

Good by, top of the hill ! from which not a dwelling can 
be seen, only an horizon of mountains ; and where, so often, 
just after the sun sets, we have lingered alone, in the mys- 
tery and inexplicable delight of an evening solitary hour, 
lifted far above the surrounding earth, and almost as one 
suspended in the very ether. 

Good by, homely stone wall ! along which have grown 
so many weeds which we naughtily admired and cherished, 
contrary to good farming manners ; where so many shrubs, 
finding good soil, shot up into thickets laced with wild 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 85 

grape vines. Old tumble-down stone wall ! Every stone 
colored and built over with weather-stains of hard moss; 
stones covered with brilliant ampelopsis, with the three- 
leaved ivy, fair to see, foul to touch, and with the rampant 
bitter-sweet! Let no one despise a stone wall, nor judge 
of it only from the cow's point of view. It is the city of 
refuge to all the little fry. Squirrels run in and out, with 
saucy alertness, every summer's day. Hares and rabbits find 
it a bulwark. The hoary old fat woodchuck rejoices in it 
as in a fenced city. Birds, too, wrens and sparrows, creep 
in and out, like children playing bo-peep. On these sturdy 
stones have we sat hours and hours, asking no softer cush- 
ion, and desiring no finer spectacle than God sent down 
from the heavens, or displayed upon the earth. The winter 
will soon vault into my seat, and a Avhite shroud cover down 
the neglected old wall on the hill-top ! Good by ! 

Neither can a sensitive nature forget his summer com- 
panions, or stint them in their meed of praise and gratitude. 
Worms whose metamorphosis we have watched ; spiders 
wdiose webs glitter along the grass at morning 'and at 
evening, or mark out geometric figures among the trees, 
— spiders red, brown, black, green, gray, yellow, and speck- 
led ; soft-winged moths, gorgeous butterflies, steel-colored 
and shining black crickets, locusts, and grasshoppers, and 
all the rabble of creaking, singing, fiddling fellows besides, 
which swarm in air and earth, — we bid you all a hearty good- 
by. Sooth to say, we part from some of you without regret. 
But for the million we feel a true yearning, — so much have 
we watched your ways, so many hours has our soul been 
fed by you through our eyes. Ye are a part of the Great 
Father's family. 

O, how goodly a book is that which God has opened in 
this world ! Every day is a separate leaf, — nay, not leaf, but 
volume, with text and note and picture, with every dainty 
quip and quirk of graceful art, with stores of knowledge 
illimitable, if one will only humble himself to receive it ! 



86 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK ABOUT FRUITS, ETC. 

One should not willingly be ungrateful, even to the small- 
est creatures, or to inanimate objects, that have served his 
pleasure. And so, to reed and grass, bush and tree, stone 
and hill, brook and lake, all creej^ing things and all things 
that fly, to early birds and late chirping locusts, we wave 
our hand in grateful thanks ! 

But to that Providence over all, source of their joy and 
mine, what words can express what every manly heart 
must feel ? Only the life itself can give thanks for life ! 



PLEASANT TALK 



FRUIT, FLOWERS AID FARMING. 



PRELnnNARY. 



We understand very well that every region must fashion 
its system of agriculture upon the nature of its soil, its cli- 
mate, etc. The principles of agriculture may be ahke in 
every zone, hut the processes depend upon circumstances. 
It would be folly for a new country, without commerce, to 
imitate an old country with an active commerce ; it would 
be folly, where land is cheap, abundant, and naturally fer- 
tile, to adopt the habits of those who are stinted in lands, 
who have a redundant population, and who find a market 
for even the weeds which are indigenous to the soU. The 
husbandry of Holland is suited to a wet soil, and of Eng- 
land to a humid atmosphere and a very even annual tem- 
perature. But our soil is subject to extreme wet in spring 
and dryness in suinjner, to severe cold and intense heat. A 
farm whose bottom-lands are reinvigorated by yearly inun- 
dations, may thrive tinder an exacting husbandry that would 
exhaust an upland fai-m in a few years. Modes of agricul- 
ture must be suited to circumstances. Nevertheless, the 
experiments and discoveries and practices of every land are 
worth our careful attention. We do not import clothes — 



88 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

but we do cloth^ to be made up to suit our own habits and 
wants. 

The two extremes of husbandry are, the adoption of 
every novelty and every experiment indiscriminately, and 
the rejection of every new thing and every improvement, as 
indiscriminately. Wisdom consists in "proving all things 
and holding fast that which is good?'' "We do not advocate 
large outlays for expensive machines — for fancy cattle, for 
every new thing that turns up. But when, after full trial, 
it is ascertained what are the best farm horses, the best 
breed of cattle, the best milch cows, the most profitable 
breed of hogs and sheep, and the most skillful routine of 
cultivation, we think our farmers ought to profit by the 
knowledge. It is never a good economy to have poor 
things when you can just as well have the best. This, then, is 

OUR CREED. 

We believe in small farms and thorough cultivation. 

We believe that soil loves to eat, as well as its owner, 
and ought, therefore, to be manured. 

We believe in large crops which leave the land better 
than they found it — making both the farmer and the farm 
rich at once. 

We believe in going to the bottom of things and, there- 
fore, in deep plowing, and enough of it. All the better il 
with a sub-soil plow. 

We believe that every farm should own a good farmer. 

We believe that the best fertilizer of any soil, is a spirit 
of industry, enterprise, and intelligence — without this, lime 
and gypsum, bones and green manure, marl and guano wUl 
be of little use. 

We believe in good fences, good barns, good farmhouses, 
good stock, good orchards, and children enough to gather 
the fruit. 

We believe in a clean kitchen, a neat wife in it, a spin- 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMIISTG. 89 

ning-piano, a clean cui:)board, a clean dairy, and a clean con- 
science. 

We firmly disbelieve in farmers that will not improve ; 
in farms that grow j)oorer every year ; in starveling cattle ; 
in farmers' boys turning into clerks and merchants ; in 
farmers' daughters unwilling to work, and in all fanners 
ashamed of their vocation, or who drink whisky till honest 
people are ashamed of them. 



ALMANAC FOR THE YEAR. 

1. Work for January. — If you have done as you ought 
to have done, you have a snug ice-house, with double walls, 
the space between which is filled with non-conducting sub- 
stances, as pulverized charcoal, or dried saw-dust, or tan- 
bark, which are mentioned in the order of their value. Cut 
your blocks of ice of a size and shape with reference to 
close packing. Cover over thickly with clean straAV when 
the stock of ice is all in. Look out not to lose all your 
chance in waiting for a better one ; sometimes careful folks 
mean to have such glorious ice, that an open winter cheats 
them out of any at all. 

Warmth. — ^The best fire in winter is made up of exercise^ 
and the poorest, of whisky. He that keeps warm on liquor 
is like a man who puUs his house to pieces to feed the fire 
place. The prudent and temperate use of liquor is to let it 
alone. If you don't touch it, it certainly won't hurt you ; 
he that says there is no danger, boasts that he is something 
more than other men. 

The way to summer your cattle well is to whiter them 
well ; and half the secret of good wintering is to keep them 
warm. Animal heat is generated in proportion to the abun- 
dance and excellence of their food. Exposure to the cold 
air withdraws heat rapidly, and of course makes more food 



90 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

necessaiy to re-supply it, just as an open door makes it 
necessary to have more wood in the stove. If your stock 
run down in the winter and come out lean and feeble, all 
the summer will not fully bring them up again. 

2. Work fob February. — Get out rails, both for present 
use, and for the fence which you exjject to lay in March and 
Ajaril. Cut, haul and stack up near your house a good sup- 
ply oi fire-wood ; no matter if the forest is within ten rods 
of your door, your wife ought to have her wood chopped 
and dried ready for use. Look at every fence upon the 
place ; see if the corners of your rail fences are rotting 
down ; if some rails have not broken ; if pig-holes have not 
been made ; if boys and cattle have not thrown down top- 
rails ; and in short, put your fences into proper repair. 

Of course your tools will now be overhauled ; those 
with steel blades should be thoroughly cleansed when laid 
aside in the fall, and if you rub a little oil over them and 
hang them up, all the better. Rejiair all that are out of 
order. These things and all your ordinary work, may be 
done, and stUl leave you leisure for reading. You should 
have good books and good papers, and read them carefoUy 
for your own sake and for your children's. A man who 
brings up a family of ignorant children, cheats his children 
of their rights, and cheats his country of its rights ; it is 
therefore a crime. 

Garden Work. — If there be no snow on the ground, 
the gardens may be cleared of all rubbish, manure hauled 
and stacked carefully ; and if you have a clay soil, and can 
catch the ground without frost for a few days, it will mel- 
low and ameliorate it to spade it up, leaving it in lumps and 
heaps, through which the frost may thoroughly penetrate. 

It is time to prepare your hot-bed, if you design having 
early plants in your garden. 

3 . Work eor March. — Begin the year by thorough, deep 
plo^\"mg, where your fields are in good order for it. De- 
pend upon it, that deep plowing is the only good plowing. 



ABOUT FEUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 91 

Your first crop , generally, will tell you so. But if the sub- 
soil is such that the first crop is rather poor, a year's expo- 
sure of the land will ameliorate it so that your second 
crop wUl remunerate aU expenses of time and labor laid out 
in deep plowing. No farmer should be without a sub- 
soil plow who has got his lands clear of stumps and 
roots. 

Take especial care of cows now just coming in with calf. 
See that those which are heavy are carefully handled, well 
fed, and warmly sheltered. Mares with foal should be ten- 
derly used, exercised a httle, but not put to hard or strain- 
ing work. The condition of the mother will to a great 
extent determine the condition of the offsiwing. Cows, 
mares, sows, ewes, etc. etc., should be kept in a hearty con- 
dition, without being fat. 

Orchard. — Do not trouble your trees with premature 
pruning. Let the axe, and knife, and saw alone. Loosen 
the dirt or sod around and beneath your trees. The best 
manure for your trees is fresh mold, or forest soil and lime 
in the proportion of about one part to ten. Take soft soap, 
dilute it with urine, scrub your trees with it plentiftilly, 
having first scraped off all rough bark. If you would work 
easily always, never let your work drive you. 

4. Work for April. — Gather from your barn the loose 
hay seed, and sow it upon your wheat fields ; it will give 
good pasturage after harvest, and make fine stuff for plow- 
ing under. Push forward your plowing, but look well to 
the teams ; as cattle and horses are like men, unable in 
early spring to endure severe labor all at once. Tour 
spring wheat should be got in ; barley is a better crop, usu- 
ally, than rye. The middle and last of the month will keep 
you in the corn-field. Plow deep — plow thoroughly; 
and after planting, give the plow no rest, if you wish 
good corn. 

Young Animals. — You will now begin to have plenty of 
calves, colts, ijigs, and lambs. K you mean to have pro- 



92 PLAIX AND PLEASAKT TALK 

fitable pork, you ought to push your pigs from the birth. 
Look carefully after your lambs ; see that the mothers are 
well cared for ; have dry and warm jDens for any that are 
feeble. A little tenderness to the lambs will be well repaid 
by and by. 

Garden. — Your lettuce may be transplanted from the 
hot-bed the middle and last of this month. A foot apart 
is none too much, if you wish head-lettuce. Sow your 
main supplies of radishes, cabbage, tomatoes, etc. Get 
your pie-plant seed in early as possible ; also carrots, pars- 
nips, and salsify or oyster-plant. Prune your gooseberries, 
currants, and raspberry bushes. Grapes, which were not 
laid in last fall should be pruned and laid in early in March ; 
but if neglected then, let them be till the leaves are large 
as the palm of your hand. Look out or worms' nests, and 
destroy them promptly. 

5 . Work for Mat. — Your whole force will be required in 
this month. If the season has been late or wet, you still 
have your corn to plant. Pastures will be ready for your 
stock ; remember to salt your stock every week. Weeds 
will now do their best to take your crops. Your potato 
crop should be put in, as there will be little danger of frost. 
After the 15th, you may iDut out sweet potato slips. If 
you have not grass-land for pasturage, try for one season 
the system of soiling, i. e. keeping up your cattle in 
the yard or home-lot, and cutting green-fodder for them 
every day. An acre or two of corn, %oym broad-cast, or 
oats and millet, should be tried. Above all other things, if 
you have warm, deep sandy loam, put in an acre of lucerne. 

During the last of this month, and at the beginning of 
the next, pruning may be done. If the limbs be large, 
cover the stump with a coat of paint, wax, grafting clay, or 
anything that will exclude air and wet. 

The garden will require extra labor in all this month. 
After the 15th, tender bulbs and tubers may be planted, 
dahlias, amaryllises, tuberoses, etc. Peas will require brush; 



ABOUT FRUIIS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 93 

all your plants from the hot-bed should by this time be well 
a growing in open air. Roses will be showing their buds. 
If large roses of a favorite sort are required, more than half 
the buds should be taken off, and the whole strength of the 
plant be given to the remainder. The soil for this best of 
all flowers, cannot be too rich, nor too deep. 

6. Work for June. — May, June, and September are the 
dairy months. The best butter and the best cheese are 
usually made in these months. If you are not neat, you 
do not know how to make cheese or butter. Uncleanhness 
affects not only the looks, but the quality of butter. Broad, 
shallow glass pans are the best, but the most expensive. In 
these milk seldom turns sour in summer thunder-storms. 
Tin pans are good, but unless the dairy-woman is scrupu- 
lously neat, the seams will be filled with residuum of milk 
and become very foul, giving a flavor to each successive 
panful. The principal requisites for prime butter are, 
good cows, good pasture for them, clean pans, cool, airy 
cellars, clean churns. Let the cream be churned before it 
is sour or bitter ; and when the butter comes, at least three 
thorough workings will be necessary to drive out all the 
butter-milk. 

Garden. — Transplant flowers; destroy all weeds; get 
out cabbages; more lettuce; get ready celery trenches; 
layer favorite roses, vines, etc. ; examine and remove from 
the peach-tree root, the grub which is destroying them. 
Sow salt imder plum-trees — put on a coat two inches 
thick. 

Transplant flowers ; bud roses with fine kinds ; see that 
large plants are tied neatly to frames or stakes. Every 
morning examine your beds of cabbage, etc., for cut-worms, 
and destroy them if found; plant succession crops of peas, 
corn, radishes, lettuce, etc. 

7. Work for July. — Great difference of practice and 
opinion exists as to the methods and time of harvesting. 
Some cut their grass while the dew is on it; others cut it 



94 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

when perfectly dry, and say that if so cut it need not be 
spread, but will dry in the swath in one or two days. As 
to the time of cutting grass, we should avoid both ex- 
tremes of very early or very late. Just before the seed of 
timothy is ripe, is, upon the whole, the best time for this 
best of grasses for the scythe. Clover should be cut when 
in full blossom ; instead of spreading, the best farmers 
make it into small cocks and leave it there to cure, which it 
will do without shrivelling or losing its color. 

Garden Woek. — As soon as your roses are done bloom- 
ing, if you wish to increase them, take the young shoots, 
and about eight inches from the ground, cut, below an eye, 
half through, and then slit upward an inch or two through 
the pith ; put a bit of chip in to keep the slit open ; bend 
down the branch and cover the portion thus operated 
on with an inch or two of earth and put a brick upon 
it. It will soon send out roots, and by October may be 
separated from the parent plant. Quinces, gooseberries, and 
almost all shrubs which branch near the ground, may be 
propagated in this way. Still keep down weeds. Sow suc- 
cessive crops of corn, peas and salads, for fall use. Begin 
to gather such seeds as ripen early. Take up tuUps, hya- 
cinths, etc., as soon as the tops wither. 

8. Work fok August. — If during this hot month you will 
clear out fence corners, and cut off vexatious intruders, the 
sun will do all it can to help you kill them. If your wheat 
is troubled with the weevil, thrash it out and leave it in the 
chaff. It will raise a heat fatal to its enemy without injur- 
ing itself. Every farmer should have a little nursery row 
of apple, pear, peach and plums of his own raising. Plant 
the seed ; when a year old, transplant into rows eight inches 
apart in the row and two feet between the rows. During 
July, August, and Septembei-, you may bud them with 
choice sorts, remembering that a first-rate fruit will live just 
as easily as a worthless sort. This is a good month to sow 
down fallow fields to grass. Plough thoroughly — harrow 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS aJSTD FARMING, 95 

till the earth is fine ; be liberal of seed, and cover in with 
a harrow and not with a bush, which drags the seeds into 
heaps, 01 carries them in hollows. The early part of the 
month should be improved by aU who wish to put in a crop 
of buck-wheat or turnips. If your pastures are getting 
short, let your milch cows have something every night 
in the yard. Corn, sown broadcast, would now render 
aduiirable service. 

If you have neglected to raise your bulbs, lose no time 
now. Take cuttings from roses and put in small pots, uivert 
a glass over them ; in two or three weeks they will take 
root, and by the next spring make good plants. Gather 
flower seeds as soon as they ripen. 

9. Work for September. — You should finish seeding 
your wheat grounds in this month. If sown too early, it 
is liable to suffer from the fly ; if too late, from rust. Those 
who sow acres by the hundred, must sow early and late 
both. But moderate fields should be seeded by the mid- 
dle of this month. In preparuig the land, if the surface 
does not naturally drain itself, it should be so plowed as 
to turn the water into furrows between each land. Standing 
water, and, yet more, ice upon it, beiug fatal to it. See 
that your cattle are brought into good condition for winter- 
ing. Fall transplanting may be performed from the middle 
of this month ; take off every leaf — re-set, and stake. 

By the latter part of the month, or early iu October, 
according to the season, it will be necessary to raise and pot 
such plants as you intend to keep in the house ; to raise and 
place in a dry and frost-proof room your dahlias, tube- 
roses, amarylhs, tigridia, gladioli, and such other tender 
bulbs as you may have. Let your seed be gathered, 
carefiilly put away where it wiU contract no moisture. Go 
over your grounds and examine all your labels^ lest the 
storms which are approaching should destroy them. Sow 
in some wai'm and sheltered part of your garden, early in 
this month, for spring use, spinage, corn salad, lettuce, etc. 



96 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

As soon as the leaves fall, take cuttings from currant bushea 
and grapes, and plant them out in rows. They will start 
oiF and grow earlier by some six weeks, the next season. 
Fill in your celery trenches every ten days. 

10. WoKK FOE October. — Push forward your hogs as fast 
as possible. If they have had a good clover range in the 
summer, they will be ready to start off vigorously from the 
moment that you begin to put them ujDon corn. See that 
good paths are made in every direction from your house ; 
and be sure to have walks through your barn-yards raised 
so high as never to be muddy. Your cattle-yards should 
slope toward the centre in such a way that horses and cat- 
tle need not wade knee deep in going in and out. 

Frosts will now begin to strip your trees and stop the 
growth of garden shrubs, and all your preparations should 
be made for protecting tender trees and shrubs. For 
cherry and pear-trees, especially, you should provide good 
covering for their trunk, until they have grown quite large. 
A good bundle of corn-stalks set round the body so as to 
keep out the sun, but not the air, will answer every purpose. 
For beds of China and tea, and dwarf roses, we advise 
a covering of three inches of half-rotted manure. Cover 
this with leaves about six inches. Moss is better, if you 
will take the trouble to collect it ; an d straw will do if you 
have neither moss nor leaves. Half cover the part that 
remains exposed, with fine brush, or pine branches. For 
single plants, drive a stake by their side, and tie the plant 
to it ; wind loosely about it a wisp of straw or roll 
of bass matting, or cloth, so as to exclude the sun and 
not the air. The sun, and not the cold, usually destroys 
plants. 

11. Work for Novesiber. — ^During this month, if the 
ground is not locked by frost, jon may jilow stiff, tenacious 
clay soils to great advantage. By being broken up and 
subjected to the keen frosts, your soil will become mellow 
and tender. See that every provision is made for shelter* 



ABOTJT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 97 

ing your cattle and horses ; be sure that your sheep are not 
obliged to lie out in drenching rains. 

In the Garden see that your asparagus bed is dressed 
if neglected last month. House all your brush, poles, 
stakes, frames, etc., which wUl be fit for use another season. 
If your tulips, hyacinths, etc. have not been planted, you 
had better reserve them for spring, as they will be liable to 
rot in the ground if planted so late in the year. Cover with 
brush, or leaves, or straw, your lettuce, si^inage, and other 
salad plants designed for spring use. If tender plants, 
roses, vines, etc., have been left unprotected, cover as 
directed last month. If you have no cold frame for half- 
hardy plants, they may be laid in by the heels^ i. e., taken 
up, and the roots laid into a trench, the tops sloping at an 
angle of about twenty degrees, and then covered with earth. 
The soil should cover about half the stem. 

It is now a good season for cutting grafts. Take them 
from the outside of the middle of the tree ; let them be done 
up in small packages, and set up endwise in the cellar, and 
covered with about half-dry sand. Roots may be taken 
from pear and apple-trees, and packed in the same way for 
root-graftuig, 

12. December. — The year is about to close. Look back 
upon your toil. In what respect will your year's labor bear an 
approval when calmly exanjined ? Can you honestly acquit 
yourself of indolence and carelessness ? and as honestly take 
credit for enterprise, activity, and a desire for improve- 
ment ? Your barns are full — your granary is heavy with 
grain — the year's bounty has followed a year's labor, and if 
you have the heart of a man you will not forget the source 
whence your blessings have come, Tou have perhaps done 
well by your stock, and in so far as the body is concerned, 
for your children ; but what have you done for their educa- 
tion ? What have you done to promote popular education ? 
Are you doing anything to make your neighborhood bet- 
ter ? What good newspapers do you provide for your fam- 



98 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

ily ? Do you lay out as much money for books as you do 
for tobacco? In looking forward to the next year, you 
ought to mark out your personal course by good resolu- 
tions, and your business course by a definite plan of opera- 
tions. It would be well if a farmer should know before- 
hand everything he means to do ; and afterwards, if he has 
kept such an account that you can tell anything that you 
have done. 

Sleighing for the young and gay, and warm fire-sides for 
the aged, are what are now most thought of. Those who 
are best provided with the comforts of life should remem- 
ber theii* less favored brethren. 



EDUCATED FARMERS. 

It is time for those who do not believe ignorance to be a 
blessing, to move in behalf of common schools. Many 
teachers are not practised even in the rudiments of the 
spelling-book ; and as for reading, they stumble along the 
sentences, like a drunken man on a rough road. Their 
''''hand-write^'' as they felicitously style the hieroglyphics, 
would be a match for Champollion, even if he did decipher 
the Egyptian inscriptions. But a more detestable fact is, 
that sometimes their morals are bad ; they are intemperate, 
coarse, and ill-tempered ; and wholly unfit to inspire the 
minds of the pupils with one generous or pure sentiment. 
We do not mean to characterize the body of the com- 
mon schoolmasters by these remarks; but that any con- 
siderable portion of them should be such, is a disgraceful 
evidence of the low state of education. 

Farmers and mechanics ! this is a subject which comes 
home to you. Crafty pohticians are constantly calling you 
the hone and sinew of the land ; and you may depend upon 
it that you will never be anything else but bone and sinew 



ABOUT TEUITS, FLOWERS Alrt) FAEMING. 99 

mthout education. There is a law of God in this matter. 
That class of men who make the most and best use of their 
heads ^ will, in fact^ be the most influential, wUl stand high- 
est, whatever the theories and speeches may say. This is ft 
" nature of things " which cannot be dodged, nor got over. 
Whatever class bestow great pains upon the cultivation of 
their minds will stand high. If farmers and mechanics feel 
themselves to be as good as other people, it all may be true ; 
for goodness is one thing and intelligence is another. If 
they think that they have just as much mind as other 
classes, that may be true ; but can you use it as well? 

Lawyers, and physicians, and clergymen, and literary 
men, make the discipline of their intellect a constant study. 
They read more, think more, write more than the laboring 
classes. The diiference between the educated and unedu- 
cated portions of society is a real difference. Now a proud 
and lazy fellow, may rail and swear at this, and have his 
labor for his pains. There is only one way really to get over 
it, and that is to rear up a generation of well educated, 
thinking, reading farmers and mechanics. Your skill and 
industry are felt ; and they put you, in these respects, ahead 
of any other class. Just as soon as your heads are felt, as 
much as your hands are, that will bring you to the top. 

Many of our best farmers are men of great natural 
shrewdness ; but when they were young they " had no 
chance for learning." They feel the loss, and they are giv- 
ing their children the best education they can. Farmers' 
sons constitute three-fifths of the educated class. But the 
thing is, that they are not educated as farmers. When 
they begin to study they leave the farm. They do not ex- 
pect to return to it. The idea of sending a boy to the 
school, the academy, and the college, and then let him go 
back to farming, is regarded as a mere waste of time and 
money. You see how it is even among yourselves. If a 
boy has an education, you expect him to be a lawyer, or a 
doctor, or a preacher. You tacitly admit that a farmei 



100 PLAIN A.ND PLEASANT TALK 

does not need such an education ; and if you think so, ycni 
cannot blame others if they follow your example. 

There is no reason why men of the very highest educa- 
tion should not go to a farm for their living. If a son of 
mine were brought up on purpose to be a farmer, if that 
Avas the calling which he preferred, I still would educate 
him, if he had common sense to begin with. He would be 
as much better for it as a farmer, as he would as a lawyer. 
There is no reason why a thoroughly scientific education 
should not be given to every farmer and to every mechanic. 
A beginning must be made at the common school. Every 
neighborhood ought to have one. But they do not grow 
of themselves, like toad-stools. And no decent man will 
teach school on wages which a canal boy, or a hostler would 
turn up his nose at. You may as well put your money into 
the fire as to send it to a " make-believe " teacher — a great 
noodle-head, who teaches school because he is fit for nothing 
else ! Lay out to get a good teacher. Be willing to pay 
enough to make it worth while for " smart " men to become 
your teachers. And when your boys show an awakening 
taste for books, see that they have good histories, travels, 
and scientific tracts and treatises. Above all, do not let a 
boy get a notion that if he is educated, he must, of course, 
quit the farm. Let him get an education that he may makd 
a better farmer. I do not despair of yet seeing a genera- 
tion of honest politicians. Educated farmers and educated 
mechanics, who are in good circumstances, and do not need 
office for a support, nor make politics a trade, will stand 
the best chance for honesty. But the Lord deliver us from 
the political honesty of tenth-rate lawyers, vagabond doc- 
tors, bawUng preachers, and bankrupt clerks, turned into 
patriotic politicians ! 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWERS AJSTD FARMING. 101 

AN ACRE OF AVORDS ABOUT AKER. 

Our spelling acre according to Webster's former method* 
— dker^ has attracted no little attention, in a small way, both 
far and near. It is very difficult to fix on any rule for any- 
thing in our language. Etymology is chiefly useful in 
settling the primitive signification, and is, or ought to be, 
scarcely at all authoritative in orthography. Where two 
languages are very diiferent, it is absurd to attempt the 
forms of the one in the other. In respect to idioin^ no one 
dreams of transferi'ing it from one to another. Oftentimes 
it is equally absurd to transfer mere literation, as in the 
Greek-blooded word Phthisic for Tisic, or as Walker would 
have si^elled it. Phthisic^' ! Who rebels because demesne., 
as it is written in our best authors until within a little time, 
is now spelled domain f We see no reason why Anglicized 
words should, against all our notions of sound, retain a 
cumbrous foreign spelling. Words adopted into a lan- 
guage by the ear, which are spoken before they are 
written, generally conform, on being written, to our modes 
of spelling. But words introduced first by the eye, as they 
are written, for a long time wear the original spelling. 
Thus some foreign words are spelled by one method, and 
some by another. 

Custom is usually regarded as determinate, in the matter 
of spelling, pronunciation, idiom, purity, etc. But, in 
respect to spelling, custom is not long the same. If one 
will examine our literature from the time of Henry VIII., he 
will find a constant succession of changes in spelling, both 
for good and for bad. JThas been generally substituted for 
J^, as in JLyTcwyse, accordynge, heyng^ certayne. Sir 
Thomas More wrote Aym, thynges^ desyer^ m,yndes. Skel- 
ton, the Poet Laureat, has centencyously, dyd, advysynge 
hyll, etc., etc. 

* Two-volume edition, imperial octavo. 



102 . PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

There has, too, and wisely, been a constant tendency to 
drop all unsovnded letters. What earthly use is there of 
lugging along letters which are entirely mute ? In old but 
classic authors Ave have God^e dydc7e, nowe, whiche, pulle, 
beste, suche, couerte (court) beetwene, begunwe, etc. 

Within our own memory the final Jc is lopped off from 
words where it had a perfect sinecure, as in musicA;, etc. 
" KarCt hum it^'' does not look any more odd to our eyes 
than our spelling would have looked to those who wrote 
one hundred years ago. 

If it be asked why we do not spell every word by the 
same rule that we do some; we reply, that violent, and 
sudden changes in languages are impracticable y and as in 
everything else, are not desirable. We are glad to see 
spelling simplified, and shall move along just as fast as we 
can do it with a reasonable prospect of carrying the public. 

It is not a matter of conscience ; we have no necessity 
laid upon us to reform the language ; no call to be literal 
martyrs ; it is a matter of convenience and taste, to be done 
or omitted as one pleases. It would be more inconvenient 
to stand alone with all writers against us, for the sake of 
spelling consistently, than to spell fooUshly and super- 
fluously in conformity to inveterate practice. Therefore, 
for the sake of company, we still si3eU quite absurdly. 

It is called inconsistent/ and by men, too, who spell 
trough, cough, enough, though, through, bought, six dis- 
similar sounds (oM, ow, oo, o, uf, off), by the same com- 
bination of letters ! If consistency be the question, every 
English writer that ever lived, is a mere bundle of incon- 
sistencies. Every continental living language, and the dead 
classic languages, have thrown in their contributions, and 
our tongue comprises the scraps, odds and ends, of all 
lands, with all the diverse peculiarities of each language 
more or less retained. Under such circumstances, when no 
man writes a sentence without spelling inconsistently, it is 
quite ridiculous to oppose a simplification of spelling, be- 



ABOUT FEUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 103 

cause we cannot do, at once, what it is only practicable to 
do gradually. As fast as the public is able to bear it, we 
shall be glad to reduce all cumbrous siDclling to a consistent 
simplicity. 

An acquaintance declares, that the derivation of aker 
from the Latia and Greek, is " without the least foundation 
in the words as used in the Greek and Latin and in the Eng- 
lish, and built entirely on the resemblance of sounds," etc. 
The facts are the other way. In the Greek, and ia the 
Latin, it meant simply a field, an open, cultivated spot. 
Now, this was the meaning of the word in English, until it 
was by statutes limited to a particular quantity (31 Ed. III. ; 
5 Ed. I., 24 ; Henry VIII., as quoted by Webster) and this 
is the meaning yet, of the word in German {acker) Swedish 
{acJcer) Dutch {akJcer). There is, therefore, ample founda- 
tion ia the use of the word ; and the sound our friend 
gives up. 

In almost aU the languages of the Teutonic family, of 
which ours is one, the word is still sj)elled with k y and so it 
is in the Asiatic languages, fi-om which, probably, both the 
Teutonic and the Greek, alike borrowed it. 

The spelling acre, as also centre, theatre we, probably, 
derived from the French ; to which language we owe the 
emasculation of many a noble Saxon word. 

In the JSfeio ^England Farmer our orthographical sins are 
thus set in order before us : 

" The Western Farmer and Gardener, is an excellent 
journal — very. It has only one feature that we dislike, 
viz. — it spells acre a-k-e-r ! We are somewhat surprised 
at Bro. Beecher, who usually evinces such good taste, as 
weU as such good sense, should adopt such an ugly-looking 
substitute for an old word of so much better appearance, 
although supported in it by the prince of lexicogra- 
phers. 

" A-k-e-r I Wheugh ! Bro. editors, hoot at it till it 



104 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

shall become obselete. In Todd's, Johnson's, and Walkei's, 
and Worcester's dictionaries, fuel is spelled fewel, as the 
most correct way. This is odd enough and bad enough — 
but it is hardly so unsightly as a^er." 

Nothing becomes obsolete until it has been in vogue. 
But pass that : what a sight will the hooting confraternity 
present ! I imagine Maine Farmer Holmes — a plump, 
short, dapper gentleman, giving a long howl, that sounds 
so ludicrous, that he draws back from the open window to 
laugh. Our more sober Breck performs the euphonious 
duty with such conscientious heartiness, that up starts the 
man of Buckwheat from his (mis-spelled) Plor/^/mian's 
chair, as also does the Cultivator Cole — a trio not practiced 
to sing together. The uproar reaches Albany, and sur- 
prises him of the Cultivator, who hoots supplementary, 
with such voice as he happens, in his surprise, to have on 
hand. Next, toward the west. Dr. Lee shall give a scien- 
tific roar or hoot such as wUl make his laboratory jar again. 
Down across the lake the hooting (not hunting) chorus 
goes (what Avill the sailors think is to i^ay !) to Elliot of the 
yard-long-named Magazine, who, hoarse with lake fogs and 
winds, shall put in so bass a hoot, that "Wight and Wright 
of the Prairie Farmer will howl of mere fright, if for no- 
thing else. 

Audacious men ! we utterly defy you ! We shall pass 
by the whole crowing brood of Polands, Dorkings and 
what-not ; and raise a breed of genuine owls, to be our 
champions in this dire necessity. We say, peremj)torily, 
that we will not bet on any match between hooting birds 
and hooting editors. But our serious opinion is, that, in 
grave solemnity of looks, and in professional hootuig, a 
half dozen well-trained owls will beat the whole of you. 
However, we are open to conviction. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AXD FARMING. IQo 

FARMERS' LIBRARY. 

It is of the highest importance that farmers should pos- 
sess reading habits,' and that they should bring up their 
children to a love of books. Every farmer should have a 
library ; it may, at first, be small ; but it should be select. 
As soon as a farmer is beforehand enough to own an acre, 
he is prosperous enough to begin a library. It is said by 
many, books won't make money. Yes they will. To-be- 
sure, their best elFect is the production of intelligence in the 
reader ; but a man well informed in his own business is just 
the man to make money. Who ever thought of making 
money by buying grindstones and whetstones ? But they 
sharpen the scythe, and sickle, and the axe, and they pro- 
duce money. Books are grindstones and whetstones for a 
man's mind. 

Many are unwilling to buy a treatise upon the disease of 
the horse, although there are several which vf'AX preve^it most 
of the evils which affect this noble anunal. In the West, the 
horse is used, m town and country, by almost every man. 
But very few profess to know how he should be treated ! 
And, of those who think they are wise, how many have any 
knowledge except of a few nostrums for sickness? The 
horse, in man's service, is living in an entirely artificial 
state. He takes care of himself if left wild. But living in 
stables, laboring every month of the year in harness, and 
under the saddle, not selecting his own food, but fed at the 
will of his master, his own instincts become of little use, 
and he is dependent entirely on the mercy and knowledge 
of those whose slave he is. It ought not to be thought 
unreasonable to say that every man who is willing to own a 
horse, ought to be willing to know how to m,anage him, in 
the stable and out of it. There is no work in the English 
language containing more, or better instructions than* Stew- 

* A Treatise on the management of horses in relation to stabling, groom- 
ing, feeding, watering, and working : published by A. 0. Moore & Co., N. Y. 



106 PLAIN AND PLEAS AN! TALK 

art's Stable Economy. It should be read by the farmer ; and 
just as much by every man, of whatever calling, who uses a 
horse, or owns one. It is of standard authority in England. 
Mr. Stewart has long been a professor in veterinary institutes. 
Every man ought to know how to treat a sick horse. Sup- 
pose a horse to be taken sick on a journey ; most frequently 
the driver is the only one at hand' to prescribe. If you are 
at a tavern, of what use, generally speaking, are the brag- 
ging pretensions of those that crowd aromid you ? Stop- 
ping for a night at a wretched hole of a tavern, one of my 
horses, at night fell sick. I knew no more than a child 
what to do ; the landlord (ah me ! I shall never forget him !) 
was equally ignorant and much more indifferent. A big, 
braggmg, EugUsh booby was the only one pretending to 
know what to do ; and to him I yielded the animal. After 
sundry manipulations — punching him in the loins ; pulling 
at his ears, etc. — he rolled up a wad of hair from, his tail, 
and crammed it down the horse's throat! presuming, I 
suppose, that the hair would find its way back to the place 
it came from, and so pilot the disease out! I inwardly 
resolved never to go another journey until in possession 
of the best remedies for the attacks common to horses on 
the road. 



Peepaeing Cuttings in the Fall. — Cuttings of the 
currant, gooseberry, and grape are better if cut immedi- 
ately on the fall of the leaf, plunged into moist sand two- 
thirds of their length, and placed in a cellar. If nature is 
as propitious to others as she has been to us, the cuttings 
will be found in the spring with the granulations completed 
at the lower end, and the roots just ready to push ; and on 
being planted out, they grow off immediately, forming dur- 
ing the season well established plants. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AOSTD FARMING. 107 

NINE I^nSTAKES, 

Iisr so far as instruction is concerned, I esteem my mis- 
takes to be more valuable than my successful efforts. They 
excite to attention and investigation with great emphasis. 
I will record a few. 

1. One mistake, which I record once for all, as it will 
probably occur every year, has been the attempting of more 
than I could do well. The ardor of spring, in spite of expe- 
rience, lays out a larger garden, than can be well tended 
all summer. 

2. In selecting the largest lima beans for seed, I obtained 
most luxuriant vines, but fewer pods. If the season were 
longer these vines would ultimately be most profitable ; but 
their vigor gives a growth too rampant for our latitude. 
If planted for a screen, however, the rankest growers are 
the best. 

3. Of three successive plantings of corn, for table use, the 
first was the best, then the second, and the third very poor. 
I hoed and thinned the first planting myself, and thorough- 
ly ; the second, I left to a Dutchman, directing him how to 
do it ; the third, I left to him Avithout directions. 

4. I bought a stock of roses in the fall of the year. AU 
the loss of Avintering came on me. If purchased in the 
spring, the nurserymen loses, if there is loss. 

5. I planted the silver-leaved abele {Populus alba) in a 
rich sandy loam ; in which it made more wood than it could 
ripen. The tree was top-heavy, and required constant stak- 
ing. A poorer soil should have been selected. 

6. I planted abundantly of flower-seeds — just before a 
drought. I neither covered the earth with mats, nor 
watered it — supposing that the seeds would come up after 
the first rain. But, in a cheerless and barren garden, I 
have learned that heat will kill planted seeds, and that he 
who will be sure of flowers should not depend upon only 
one planting. 



108 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

V. In the fall of 1843, I took up the bulbs of tuberoses, 
and wintered them safely upon the top of book-cases in a 
warm study. Having a better and larger stock in 1844, I 
would fain be yet more careful, and packed them in dry 
sand, and put them in a closet beyond the reach of frost. 
On opening them in the spring all were rotted save about 
half a dozen. Hereafter, I shall try the book-case. 

8. We are told that glazed or painted flower-pots are not 
desirable, because, refusing a passage to superfluous moist- 
ure, they leave the roots to become sodden. In small 
stove-heated parlors, the evajDoration is so great that glazed 
or painted flower-pots are best, because the danger is of 
dryness rather than dampness in all plants growing in 
sandy loams or composts. 

9. I have resolved every summer for three years, to cut 
pea-brush during the winter and stack it in the shed; and 
every summer following, not having kept the vow, I have 
lacked pea-brush, being too busy to get it when it was 
needed, I have allowed the cx'op to suffer. 



AGRICULTURAL SOCIETIES. 

Many county societies were formed in 1836 and for some 
years flourished ; few of them, we believe, exist now. We 
hope that the day has come for them to revive ; and, that the 
experience of the past may not be lost, it is well to record 
the reasons why these county societies declined. 

1. Just after their birth, came on the fatal years of ficti- 
tious prosperity ; when every man expected a railroad on 
one side of his farm and a canal on the other — and when 
everybody was about to be exceedingly rich ; not by legiti- 
mate business ; not by producing wealth ; but by the rise 
of property. Now the wealth of a farming community is 
always to arise from the products of the farm. Whatever 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 109 

withdraws attention from assiduous cultivation, or plants 
the hope of gain in other sources than in the herds, the 
dairy, the grain and the grass field, will, eventually, insure 
disappointment and even poverty, as many of our farmers 
can testify. It would be difficult for those who had not 
seen it, to imagine the fervent, sanguine, exulting, state of 
mind with which the whole community, at the time we 
speak of, looked for the wealth. Farms were to quadruj)le 
in value ; pork was to be cashed at enormous prices ; grain 
and grass, stock and fruit, were to swell the golden tide ; 
and, for once, the world was to see great riches from little 
labor. Carelessness, waste, rashness, and incredible pre- 
sumption were the result. Societies for the promotion of a 
careful and patient cultivation of the soil could not long be 
thought worthy of attention in a community which ex- 
pected to be rich by a dexterous bargain, by one lucky spec- 
ulation, by town lots, and shares, and that mysterious hum- 
bug — the rise of property. 

2. Succeeding such days came the opposite extreme. 
Everybody w^as poor and expected to be poorer. There 
was no money and no market. Hogs were hardly salable, 
grain a drug, and aU produce unavailable. Nothing was 
brisk but debt and debt collecting. Men were discouraged. 
Said they, " if one can sell nothing, there is no use in rais- 
ing anythmg ; twenty bushels an acre is as good as forty, 
when one can't sell or use it." Schools languished, public 
spirit died, business was totally deranged, and agricultural 
societies became extinct with the downfall of other useful 
institutions. 

3. There were some things in the management of the 
societies which embarrassed them independently of these 
other causes. There was too much talk and pretension — 
wind work ; the offices were taken for the honor — patient 
endurance of drudgery, which somebody must bear, was 
shirked off". Men took Httle pains between the meetings ; 
everything was to be done at the time of meeting ; and, of 



110 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

course, half done. This led to dissatisfaction. The mis- 
takes of carelessness were attributed to partiality or preju- 
dice. Some dropped off; others relaxed; and, when the 
excitement was gone, few cared to take the dull but real 
and necessary business. 

4. Notwithstanding all these things, the county societies 
did a great deal of good. A skillful farmer told me, that 
in the county, where he resided, there was hardly a con- 
siderable farmer who did not try a few acres, at least, to 
see what he could do / and even many renters exhibited 
specimens of fine cultivation. More attention was paid 
to every part of the farm ; and, for a time, everything felt 
the impulse. 

A few words to those who may embark again in this good 
cause. 

1. It is best to begin as you can hold out. A great meet- 
ing, a vast roll of by-laws, a regiment of officers, a parade 
of speeches, these make a fine meeting, and that's all. Let 
a few stanch friends to improvement put their heads and 
hands together, without show or noise ; begin at the little 
end, and hold fast what is gained. 

2. In choosing officers, societies almost invariably steer 
upon one rock on which thousands have split. There is a 
desire to put great men into offices, to get their influence. 
In a mere public meeting of a day, this is well enough ; but 
in a society which is to exist by efficient labor, it is suicide. 
Such men like to be puffed and published as presidents, 
chairmen, etc., etc., but that ends the matter. They go 
away and are not seen again till the next annual meeting, 
when, lo ! a resurrection takes place ; and they flame again, 
a whole year's zeal exhibited in one day. It is best to 
select officers, who are well broken, of a good strain of 
blood, and who pull steadily, on hard ground, in the mud, 
over bridging, or upon turnpikes. In this way we may not 
have quite so large a show, but we shall have a steadily 
growing and efficient society. 



ADOUT FRUITS, B'LOWERS AJSTD FARMING. Ill 

3, In the award of premiums, more or less of dissatisfac- 
tion will always be felt. A man who has worked a whole 
year for a premium cannot be expected to lose it without 
some pain. Premiums should be awarded with great care, 
w itTi scrupulous impartiality, and every effort made by the 
leading, substantial farmers to soothe and keep down every- 
thing like bitterness and faction, in consequence of disap- 
pointment. 

4. It is indispensable that agricultural i^apers should go 
hand in hand with agricultural societies. We will venture 
to say, that no society will long exist prosperously, which 
does not have a reading membership ; and that a society 
can hardly fail to prosper if its members are regular readers 
of agricultural papers. 



SHIFTLESS TRICKS. 

To let the cattle fodder themselves at the stack ; they 
pull out and trample more than they eat. They eat tUl the 
edge of appetite is gone, and then daintily pick the choice 
parts ; the residue, being coarse and refuse, they wiU not 
afterwards touch. 

To sell half a stack of hay and leave the lower half open to 
rain and snow. In feeding out, a hay knife should be used 
on the stack ; in selling, either dispose of the whole, or re- 
move that which is left to a shed or barn. 

It is a shiftless trick to lie about stores and groceries, 
arguing with men that you have no time, in a new count ry^ 
for nice farming — ^for making good fences; for smooth 
meadows without a stumjD ; for draining Avet patches which 
disfigure fine fields. 

To raise your own frogs in your own yard ; to permit, 
year after year, a dirty, stinking, mantled puddle to stand 
before your fence in the street. 



112 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

To plant (.rchards, and allow your cattle to eat the treea 
up. When gnawed down, to save your money, by trying 
to nurse the stubs mto good trees, instead of getting fresh 
ones from the nursery. 

To allow an orchard to have blank spaces, where trpes 
have died, and when the living trees begin to bear, to wake 
up and put young whips in the vacant spots. 

It is very shiftless to build your barnyard so that every 
rain shall drain it ; to build your privy and dig your well 
close together ; to build a privy of more than seven feet 
square — some shiftless folks have it of the size of the whole 
yard ; to set it in the most exposed spot on the premises ; 
to set it at the very far end of the garden, for the pleasure 
of traversing mud-puddles and labyrinths of wet weeds 
in rainy days. 

It is a dirty trick to make bread without washing one's 
hands after cleaning fish or chickens; to use an apron for a 
handkerchief; to use a veteran handkerchief just fi-om the 
wars for an apron ; to use milk-pans alternately for wash- 
bowls and milk. To wash dishes and baby Unen in the same 
tub, either alternately or altogether ; to chew snuff while 
you are cooking, for sometimes food wUl chance to be too 
highly spiced. We have a distinct but unutterable remem- 
brance of a cud of tobacco in a dish of hashed pork — but 
it was before we were married ! 

A lady of our acquaintance, at a boarding-house, excited 
some fears among her friends, by foaming at the mouth, of 
madness. In eating a hash (made, doubtless, of every scrap 
from the table, not consumed the day before), she found 
herself blessed with a mouthful of hard soap, which only 
lathered the more, the more she washed at it. It is a filthy 
thing to comb one's hair in a small kitchen in the intervals 
of cooking the breakfast ; to use the bread trough for 
a cradle — a thiiig which we have undoubtedly seen ; 
to put trunks, boxes, baskets, with sundry other utensils, 
under the bed where you keep the cake for company ; we 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 113 

have seen a dexterous housewife whip the bed-spread aside, 
and bring forth, not what we feared, but a loaf-cake ! 

It is a dirty trick to wash children's eyes in the pudding- 
dish ; not that the sore eyes, but subsequent puddmgs, will 
not be benefited; to wipe dishes and spoons on a hand- 
towel ; to wrap warm bread in a dirty table-cloth ; to make 
and mold bread on a table imiocent of washing for weeks; 
to use dirty table-clothes for sheets, a practice of which we 
have had experimental knowledge, once at least in our lives. 

The standing plea of all slatterns and slovens is, thai 
" everybody must eat a peck of dirt before they die." j^ 
peck ? that Avould be a mercy, a mere mouthful, in com 
parison of cooked cart-loads of dirt which is to be eaten ii 
steamboats, canal-boats, taverns, mansions, huts and hovels. 

Tobacco Tricks. — It is a filthy trick to use it at all ; and 
it puts an end to all our aifected squeamishness at the 
Chinese taste, in eating i-ats, cats, and bii'd's nests. It is a 
filthy trick to let the exquisite juice of tobacco trickle 
down the corners of one's mouth ; ©r lie in splashes on one's 
coat, or bosom ; to squirt the juice all over a clean floor, 
or upon a carpet, or baptismally to sprinkle a proud 
pair of andirons the refulgent glory of the much-scouring 
housewife. It is a vile economy to lay up for re-mastica- 
tion a half-chewed cud ; to pocket a half-smoked cigar ; 
and finally to be-drench one's self with tobacco juice, to so 
be-smoke one's clothes that a man can be scented as far off 
as a whale-ship can be smelt at sea. 

It is a shiftless trick to snuff a candle with your fingers, 
or your wife's best scissors, to throw the snuff on the car- 
pet, or on the polished floor, and then to extinguish it by 
treading on it ! 

To .borrow a choice book; to read it with unwashed 
hands, that have been used in the charcoal bin, and finally 
to return it daubed on every leaf with nose-blood spots, 
tobacco spatter, and dirty finger-marks — this is a vile 
trick ! 



114 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

It is not altogether cleanly to use one's knife to scrape 
boots, to cut harness, to skin cats, to cut tobacco, and then 
to cut apples which other people are to eat. 

It is an unthrifty trick to bring in eggs from the barn in 
one's coat pocket, and then to sit down on them. 

It is a filthy trick to borrow of or lend for others' use, a 
tooth-brush, or a tooth-pick ; to pick one's teeth at table 
with a fork, or a jack-knife; to put your hat upon the din- 
ner table among the dishes; to spit generously into the fire, 
or at it, while the hearth is covered with food set to warm ; 
for sometimes a man hits what he don't aim at. 

It is an unmannerly trick to neglect the scraper outside 
the door, but to be scrupulous in cleaning your feet after 
you get inside, on the carpet, rug, or andirons; to bring 
your drenched umbrella into the entry, where a black 
puddle may leave to the houscwdfe melancholy evidence 
that you have been there. 

It is soul-trying for a neat dairy woman to see her " man " 
watering the horse out of her milk-bucket ; or filtering 
horse-medicine through her milk-strainer ; or feeding his 
hogs with her water-pail ; or, after barn-work, to set the 
well-bucket outside the curb and wash his hands out of it. 



ELECTRO-CULTURE. 

A FEW years ago, aU the world was agog about electri- 
city applied to vegetation. Sanguine persons grew red in 
the face with excitement, and enterprising schemers hoped 
to supersede all past processes of culture by this magical 
fluid. Things were to be made to grow not only as^fast as 
lightning but hy lightning. Those mischievous bolts which 
had played their dangerous pranks with chimneys, oaks, 
and towers, were to be regularly harnessed and set to 
work in the field like horses or oxen. Many of our readers 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWERS AKD FjVRanKG. 115 

will recollect how widely the agricultural papers copied the 
glowing accounts brought from over the • seas ; and 
nobody was afraid of anything except of not believing 
enough. 

Well, the lightning has been too smart for them ; and the 
whole pack which opened loud on the scent, are now heard 
just as loud on the back track. It usually takes two fool- 
ings to satisfy the public. They first swing to an extreme 
folly of injudicious admiration, and them vibrate to the op- 
posite extreme of disgust. Everybody was fever-hot with 
morus multicaulis ; and then they went into chills about it. 
Durham stock broiight almost their weight in silver at one 
time, and then could hardly be sold at butchers' prices. 
Berkshire hogs were all the rage, and now are in great and 
unmerited contempt. The guano fever sent hundreds of 
ships a-dung-hunting all over the earth : and lucky were 
they who espied a precious heap of excrement. How little 
did the penguins and sea gulls of the Pacific imagine, that 
their unconscious observance of the laws of nature 
was one day to figure so largely on the British Ex- 
change, and to raise such a bustle in chemical labor- 
atories ! 

We believed but few of these accounts of electricity, 
because we perceived nothing which could be regarded as 
settled. And now, we are far from sympathizing with the 
recantations and apostasies from the electric faith. Like 
all other things driven to extremes, we shall by and by see 
it settle upon a middle point. 

Editors are not without blame for these actions and re- 
actions. Many of our best agricu.ltural papers are coii- 
nected with agricultural warehouses which deal largely in 
all articles for which there is an agricultural demand. 
Without the slightest intention of deception, nay, with a 
desire to act cautiously, such pecuniary interest may sen 
Bibly affect the judgment of sanguine editors. But the 
wish to issue a spicy paper, full of life and surprise, inclines 



116 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

an editor to publish whatever is new, without a scrutiny of 
its truth. With a few honorable exceptions of standard 
periodicals, we scarcely take an agricultural paper which 
does not contain most absurd stories gravely indited with- 
out a Avord of comment. Now, it seems to us that agri- 
cultural papers ought not to be the common sewers of ncAvs, 
full of waste and refuse matter ; but registers of rigid facts 
and scientific expositors of the principles deducible from 
facts. Farmers are at fault also in the matter. An editor 
who depends for his support upon the proceeds of his 
paper, must be a man of rare independence if he can shield 
himself from the selfish influence of those who are his best 
supporters. Men that have a novelty, a new and precious 
jewel of a flower, a heavy stock of nursery commodities, or 
large herds of fancy stock, sheep or swine, can afibrd to 
circulate widely and praise any paper that will circulate 
widely and praise their special interest. A sanguine 
editor inditing a eulogistic article, with a red-hot specula- 
tor whispering at each ear, will be very likely to lead many 
simple farmers astray. Such articles, copied by newspapers, 
spread the infection beyond the circle of subscribers. Far- 
mers that take, and farmers that do not take the paper will 
be deceived. 

Now, let husbandmen give to their agricultural j^apers 
such a support as shall leave the editors free from tempta- 
tions to listen to interested persons ; let them contribute so 
freely of their observations that editors will not have to 
draw upon their imagination for facts, and the agricultural 
press will become sober, stable, accurate, and so, pro- 
fitable. 



ABOUT FEUITS, FLOWERS AND FAEMING. 117 

SINGLE-CROP FARMING. 

Ii is extensively the practice of large farmers, to put 
their whole force upon one staple article ; a style of farm- 
ing as foil of risk, as it would be to invest a whole fortune 
in one kind of property. At the South, we have cotton 
plantations ; nothing but cotton is raised. If the market 
and the season happen to be propitious, enormous profits 
are made. If markets, or the planting or picking season 
are adverse, the year is lost ; for it was staked on one 
article ; all the risks of the year, instead of being distributed, 
were concentrated. Another plantation cultivates sugar 
exclusively ; and the ambitious planter has his pockets full 
or empty, according to chances which he cannot foresee, 
calculate, or overrule. 

At the North, some farmers put in nothing but wheat ; 
others, nothing but corn. One relies on the hay crop ; 
another makes or loses a year's profits on cattle. In each 
case, if the staple raised happens to hit^ in every respect 
profits roll in hke a flood. But such operations leave no 
margin for those casualties, and annual changes, which are 
inevitable. 

Ireland, relying upon the potato as a support for a large 
mass of its poverty-stricken people, is visited with famine 
if this crop is shaken. The failure of the grain crop, in Eng- 
land, strikes panic into the whole nation. 

A perfect system of agricidture should have in itself, a 
balancing power. There should be such a distribution of 
crops that a firmer may have four or five chances instead 
of one. To be sure, a farmer cannot drive so large a bus- 
iness — cut such a swath — ^where five small or moderate 
operations take the place of a single great one. Five years 
of moderate profits are better than one gaining year, and 
four years to eat it up. A farmer has 160 acres — sixty are 
in wood : of the one hundred cleared acres, say twenty are 
used for home lots, pasture, corn, etc., and eighty are in 



118 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

wheat. The fall may be bad for planting, the sj)iing may 
be bad, the fly may take the crop or the rust may strike it ; 
escaping all these, the weevil may damage it ; and, after all 
this, it may not brmg a justifying price when got to mar- 
ket. Is it wise for a man to put his yearly support or gains 
upon one crop and that one crop dei^ending upon six or seven 
contingencies ? If there is a large crop and high prices, he 
makes largely. Eighty acres at thirty bushels the acre 
yields 2,400 bushels, worth, say, seventy cents, or |1,680 
gross receij)ts. Elated beyond measure, the lucky fellow 
buys some forty acres more of cleared land, reduces his 
pasture, shaves off a portion from his meadow, plants a few 
acres only of corn, and puts every inch he can command 
into wheat ; a good operation if he can find guaranty for 
as good seasons and as good market as before. But there 
are at least ten chances against for one in favor. 

A farm which depends for its profit on butter, cheese, 
fruit, timber, cattle, hogs, corn, wheat, potatoes, flax, etc., 
makes, perhaps, but a little on each crop ; but the rains 
that come in drops are useful, while those that come in tor- 
rents and raise fi-eshets, leave great mischief behind. 



Ticks on Sheep. — ^A clergyman, who was early in life a 
regular-built shei^herd, after the old-fashioned style, living 
with his flock, requests us to call the attention of all interested 
in sheep, to the prevention of ticks adopted " in the place 
he came from." A trough, large enough to hold a sheep, 
was filled with a decoction of tobacco ; as soon as the sheep 
are sheared, they are plunged all over in, except the nose 
and mouth (these organs being sacred to chewers and snuff- 
ers). The lambs are treated in the same way, and a world 
of trouble to the owner and yet more to the flock, is saved 
by this nauseous bath. 



AROUT FKUITS, FLOWEKS AXD FARMING. 119 

IMPROVED BREEDS OF HOGS AND CATTLE. 

No farmer ever owns a fine animal withrut being j)roud 
of it. Yet, the same man will have an inveterate prejudice 
against what are called improved breeds. The "fancy" 
prices which have been extravagantly j)aid, the miserable 
failure which some have made in attempting to stock their 
form with foreign breeds, together with a suspicion of 
whatever is new, and a lack of enterprise, have deterred 
many farmers from seeking a better stock than the common 
run. It is in this way that speculators, besides ruining 
themselves, which is of no great consequence, seriously 
retard the j^rogress of enlightened husbandry. 

Let us take a plain and practical view of the matter. 

1. Every^man who has had anything to do with cattle, 
horses and swine, knows very well what a difference there 
is between different animals, in respect to size, form, and 
aptitude to fatten. Among twenty steers there will be a few 
that without any reason that the owner can see, out-grow 
and out-fatten all the rest. A lot of fifty hogs gathered up 
from one neighborhood, will naturally divide itself into 
three sorts, those which fatten with remarkable rapidity 
and on little food; those that eat voraciously without 
taking on fat ; and those that lie between these two 
extremes and are not remarkable in one way or the other. 
Every man that buys a horse knows that some horses re- 
quire as much again food as others to keep them fat. 

2. It is equally true that these qualities can be trans- 
mitted, by careful breeding, from parent to offspring ; 
until the qualities hecome Jixed in the breed. A particular 
strain of blood, is then said to be established. By this pro- 
cess, English breeders of stock, with the greatest persever- 
ance and with admirable skill, have established several truly 
improved breeds. It is not mere beauty of form that has 
been gained, although this has been eminently attained ; 
but also all those qualities which make an ox valuable for 



120 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

tlie yoke or for the hnife ; all that makes a cow good at 
the pail and afterwards for the butcher ; all that makes a 
hog valuable in flesh and fat. It is a mistake to suppose 
that the improved breeds have been formed to please gen- 
tlemen farmers and ainateur fanciers. They have been per- 
fected with an eye mainly to %\\eiv prqfitahle^iess to the far- 
mer — the real farmer. Nor are they the stock for large 
farmers and rich proprietors alone. They are more 
peculiarly suited to farmers of small or moderate means 
than to any other ; a rich farmer can afford to keep poor 
stock, if anybody can ; but a small farmer is badly off indeed 
if the little that he has is poor. 

3. No class of farmers are more interested in having 
good stock of all kinds than western farmers. Pork and 
beef constitute, probably, three-fifths of their exports. It is 
of the last importance that they should jDOSsess animals from 
which can be made the utmost profit. It is as much more 
profitable for an Indiana farmer to drive the very be'fet cat- 
tle, as it is for a Massachusetts farmer. If improved breeds 
are found on the Mohawk to be vastly more profitable than 
common stock, they will be found to be just the same on the 
Wabash. 

It does not follow, either, because we have more corn 
than we can feed, or more grass and hay than can be used, 
that we can make up for inferior quality by the greater 
quantity of cattle kept. A western farmer may winter a 
hundred head of cattle without positive loss, when a New 
York farmer would sink money by it. But that is not the 
question. Suppose two herds, of a hundred each, of four 
year olds, preparing for the shambles. They eat the same 
amount of grain, and hay or grass. But when weighing- 
time comes, one herd averages a fourth heavier than the 
other, and this is clear profit. With no more food, and no 
more labor, and no longer time in fattening, they yield the 
owner a fourth more profit. 

Three men start a hundred hogs aj)iece for market. 



ABOUT FKIHTS, FLOWERS AND FAEMING. 121 

Tlie first lot is of the true land-shark breed, and will 
average, say one hundred and twenty-five pounds; the 
second lot are of a better breed, and will average two hun- 
dred pounds; the third hundred are of a choice breed and 
average three hundred pounds. If the market happen to 
be heavy, the first lot can hardly be sold ; the second lot 
sells moderately well, the third lot goes promptly and at a 
shade higher price. jSTow what is the difference of profit ? 
If pork is selling for two dollars the hundred, the first hun- 
dred hogs bring two hundred and fifty dollars. The second, 
four hundred dollars; and the third, six hundred dollars. 
That is, a difference of breeds makes a difference in profit, 
feedmg and labor being the same in both cases, between the 
first and last lot, of three hundred and fifty dollars. But it 
wall be more than this, for hogs averaging three hundred 
pounds will command twenty-five cents in the hundred more 
than those weighing a hundred and twenty-five pounds. The 
price which a farmer will get, then, for his hundred acres of 
corn, depends upon what his hogs can do for him. One sort 
of hogs can make up a fourth more fat than others, and ano- 
ther can make up still a fourth more than these. K you 
owned a mill, which of two millers would you choose — the 
one who could make forty pounds of flour to the bushel, 
or the one who could make forty-five — the quality being 
equally good ? Of two acres of land, which would you 
choose — the one which would yield fifteen bushels of 
wheat, or the one which, with the same cultivation, would 
yield thirty? Our farmers are willing enough to hunt 
for good lands ; but why, on the same reasons, should they 
not hunt for the best breeds of cows, cattle hogs, and 
horses? 

4. As to the different varieties which are cried up, we 
have no interest in urging one more than another upon the 
public. It is all one to us whether Hereford, Devon, or 
Durham, prevail ; Woburn, Byfield or Berkshire. All that 
v»/e ask is that farmers should aim to procure the best. Their 



122 PLAIN AISTD PLEASANT TALK 

own experience must determine -which that is. One kind 
will suit one range of land better than another. Beginning 
with moderation, a shrewd farmer will soon be able to tell 
whether any particular breed will suit his farm. 

We jDresume that all farmers work for the sake of profit : 
we urge an improvement of stock simply on the ground of 
its profitableness. 



ABSORBENT QUALITIES OF FLOUR. 

It has long been known that flour gains in Aveight on 
being made up into bread. The English act of Parliament 
allowed 280 lbs. (a sack) of flour to make 320 lbs. of bread. 
But in fact it makes a much greater weight than this. The 
average per cent, of water, in English flour, naturally, 
according to Johnson, is 15 per cent. But good English 
and French wheat bread, according to the same author, con- 
tains 44 per cent, of water ; i. e, twenty-eight j^ounds are 
absorbed in making. By this estimate, 280 lbs. would gain 
nearly seventy-four pounds, while the act of Parliament 
allows on\j forty pounds. 

It is understood that American wheat absorbs more water 
than English ; and that United States southern wheat, absorbs 
more than northern. It is also true that good wheat gains 
more in baking than poor wheat, and old flour, more than 
new. It is not good because it takes up water ; but good 
flour has that property, and poor has not ; and absorption is, 
therefore, an evidence of quality. 

This absorption of water is in part mechanical and in 
part chemical. The difference between these may be illus- 
trated ; a bushel measure of shelled corn will admit a great 
quantity of water into its open spaces ; it stands betioeen the 
kernels. Wlien water is thrown upon lime, it does not 



ABOUT FKITITS, FLOWEES AND FARMIIS^G. 123 

exist between the particles, but combines with them. Flour 
absorbs water in both ways. 

Absorption, mechanically, depends upon the coarseness of 
flour, either from the character of its growth, or from the 
manner of its grinding. The want of light and heat, in 
imfavorable climates, or in bad seasons, induces sluggish and 
imperfect action. The juices are but partially digested and 
assimilated. Many vegetable constituents exist, in conse- 
quence, in smaller quantities, or in a crude state. In such 
cases the texture is porous and spongy. Grinding breaks 
down the organized form without altering the essential 
nature of the texture. 

It would seem, if this be true, that grain ripened under 
unfavorable influences would absorb less rather than more 
water, since the watery particles, from the want of rapid 
digestion and excretion, remain in the grain. But after 
grain is cut, and put to dry, a literal evaporation takes 
place ; the water is, in a measure, exhaled. 

We are not to suppose that a mechanical absorption pre- 
dominates. By far the greatest proportion of water is sup- 
posed to combitie with the ingredients of the flour — starch, 
gluten, etc., — chemically. And as flour is rich in starch and 
gluten, it will have the power of taking water into com- 
bination. It has been supposed that the absorbing jjower 
of flour depended mainly upon its gluten. But Johnson 
holds the position in doubt. Whereas, Webster (of Eng- 
land) states that it is with the starch, principally, that water 
combines. The per cent, of starch, sugar, and gluten, etc., 
in wheat, depends on the soil and climate ; — on the soil, 
because it must derive from it, originally, the elements of 
its existence ; on cHmate, because these elements require a 
certain temperature and quantity of light for their perfect 
elaboration. It is on this account, that the wheat of 
southern Europe is better than that of England ; that that 
of Egypt is superior to the Italian. In each case there is a 
superiority of climate which produces the most perfect ela- 
boration of all the elements of wheat. 



124 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

PORTRAIT OF AN ANTI-BOOK-FARMER. 

Whenever our anti-book-farmers can show us better 
crops at a less expense, better flocks, and better farms, and 
better owners on them, than book-farmers can, we shall 
become converts to their doctrines. But, as yet, we cannot 
see how intelligence in a farmer, should injure his crops. 
Nor what difference it makes whether a farmer gets his 
ideas from a sheet of paper, or from a neighbor's mouth, or 
from his own experience, so that he only gets good, practi- 
cal, soxmd ideas. A farmer never objects to receive politi- 
cal information from newspapers ; he is quite willing to 
learn the state of markets from newspapers, and as willing 
to gain religious notions from reading, and historical know- 
ledge, and all sorts of information except that which relates 
to his business. He will go over and hear a neighbor tell 
Low he prepares his wheat-lands, how he selects and puts 
in his seed, how he deals with his grounds in spring, in har- 
vest and after harvest-time; but if that neighbor should 
write it all down carefully and put it into paper, it's all 
poison ! it's book-farming ! 

" Strange such a difference there should be 
'Twixt tweedledum, and tweedledee." 

If I raise a head of lettuce surpassing all that has been 
seen hereabouts, every good farmer that loves a salad would 
send for a little seed, and ask, as he took it, " How do you 
contrive to raise such monstrous heads ? you must have 
some secret about it." But if my way were written down 
and printed, he would not touch it. " Poh, it's bookish !" 

Now let us inquire in what States land is the best man- 
aged, yields the most with the least cost, where are the 
best sheep, the best cattle, the best hogs, the best wheat ? 
It will be found to be in those States having the most agii- 
cultural societies and the most widely-disseminated agriculr 
tural papers. 



ABOUT FEUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 125 

What is there in agriculture that requires a man to be 
Ignorant if he -will be skillful? Or why may every other 
class of men learn by reading except the farmer ? Mecha- 
nics have their journals ; commercial men have their 
papers ; religious men, theirs ; politicians, theirs ; there are 
magazines and journals for the arts, for science, for educa- 
tion, and why not for that grand pursuit on which all these 
stand? We really could never understand why farmers 
should not wish to have their vocation on a level with 
others ; why they should feel proud to have no paper, while 
every other pursuit is fond of having one. 

Those who are prejudiced against book-farming are 
either good farmers, misinformed of the design of agricul- 
tural papers, or poor farmers who only treat this subject as 
they do all others, with blundering ignorance. First, the 
good farmers ; there are in every county many industrious, 
hard-working men, who know that they cannot afford to 
risk anything upon wild experiments. They have a growing 
family to suj^port, taxes to pay, lands perhaps on which 
purchase money is due, or they are straining every nerve to 
make their crops build a barn, that the barn may hold their 
crops. They suppose an agricultural paper to be stuffed 
full of wild fancies, expensive experiments, big stories made 
up by men who know of no farming except parlor-farming. 
They would, doubtless, be surprised to learn that ninety- 
nine parts in a hundred of the contents of agricultural 
papers are written by hard-working lyractical farmers! 
that the editor's business is not to foist absurd stories upon 
credulous readers, but to sift stories, to scrutinize accounts, 
to obtain whatever has been abundantly proved to be fact, 
and to reject all that is suspected to be mere fanciful theory. 
Such papers are designed to prevent imposition ; to kill off 
pretenders by exposing them ; to search out from practical 
men whatever they have found out, and to publish it for the 
benefit of their brethren all over the Union; to spread 
before the laboring classes such sound, well-approved scien- 



126 PLAIIf A'N'D PLEASANT TAIK 

tific knowledge as shall throw light upon every operation 
of the farm, the orchard and the garden. 

The other class who rail at book-farming ought to be 
excused, for they do not treat book-forming any worse than 
they do their own farming ; indeed, not half so bad. They 
rate the paper with their tongue ; but cruelly abuse their 
ground, for twelve months in the year with both hands. I 
will draw the portrait of a genuine anti-book-farmer of this 
last sort. 

He plows three inches deep lest he should turn uj) the 
poison that, in his estimation, lies below ; his wheat-land is 
plowed so as to keep as much Avater on it as possible ; he 
sows tAvo bushels to the acre and reaps ten, so that it takes 
a fifth of his crop to seed his ground ; his corn-land has 
never any help from him, but bears just what it i^leases, 
Avhich is from thirty to thirty-five bushels by measurement, 
though he brags that it is fifty or sixty. His hogs, if not 
remarkable for fattening qualities, would beat old Eclipse 
at a quarter-race ; and were the man not prejudiced against 
deep plowing, his hogs would work his grounds better Avith 
their prodigious snouts than he does with his jack-knife- 
plow. His meadow-lands yield him from three-quarters 
of a ton to a whole ton of hay, which is regularly spoiled 
in curing, regularly left out for a month, very irregularly 
stacked up, and left for the cattle to pull out at their pleas- 
ure, and half-eat and half-trample underfoot. His horses 
would excite the avarice of an anatomist in search of osteo- 
logical specimens, and returning from their range of pasture 
they are walking herbariums, bearing specimens in their 
mane and tail of every weed that bears a bur or cockle. 
But oh, the coavs ! If held up in a bright day to the sun, 
don't you think they would be semi-transparent ? But he 
tells us that good milkers are always poor ! His cows get 
what Providence sends them, and very little beside, except 
in winter, then they have a half-peck of corn on ears a foot 
long thrown to them, and they afford lively spectacles of 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 127 

animated corn and cob-crushers — never mind, they yield, 
on an average, three quarts of milk a-day ! and that milk 
yields varieties of butter quite astonishing. 

His farm never grows any better, in many respects it gets 
annually worse. After ten years' work on a good soil, while 
his neighbors have grown rich, he is just where he started, 
only his house is dirtier, his fences more tottering, his soil 
poorer, his pride and his ignorance greater. And when, at 
last, he sells out to a Pennsylvanian that reads the Farmers' 
Cabinet, or to some New Yorker with his Cultivator packed 
up carefully as if it were gold, or to a Yankee with his New 
England Farmer, he goes off to Missouri, thanking Heaven 
that he's not a book-farmer ! 

Unquestionably, there are two sides to this question, and 
both of them extremes, and therefore both of them deficient 
in science and in common sense. If men were made accord- 
ing to our notions, there should not be a silly one alive ; 
but it is otherwise ordered, and there is no department of 
human life in which we do not find weak and foolish men. 
This is true of farming as much as of any other calling. 
But no one dreams of setting down the Avocation of agri- 
culture because, like every other, it has its j^roportion of 
stupid men. 

Why then should agricultural loriters, as a class, be sum- 
marily rejected because some of them are visionary? Are 
we not to be allowed our share of fools as well as every 
other department of life ? We insist on our rights. 

A book or a paper never proposes to take the place of a 
farmer's judgment. Not to read at all is bad enough ; out 
to read, and swallow everything without reflection, or dis- 
crimination, this is even worse. Such a one is not a book- 
headed but a block-headed farmer. Papers are designed 
to assist. Those who read them must select, modify, and 
act according to their own native judgment. So used 
papers answer a double purpose ; they convey a great 
amount of valuable practical information, and then they stir 



128 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

up the reader to habits of thouglit ; they make him more 
mquisitive, more observing, more reasoning, and, therefore, 
more reasonable. 

Now, as to the contents of agricultural papers, whose 
fault is it if they are not practical? Who are the prac- 
tical men? who are daily conversant with just the things a 
cultivator most needs to know? who is stumbling upon 
difficulties, or discovei*ing some escape from them ? who is 
it that knows so much about gardens, orchards, farms, 
cattle, grains and grasses ? Why, the very men who wonH 
lorite a word for the paper that they read^ and then com- 
plain that there is nothing practical in it. Yes there is. 
There is practical evidence that men are more willing to be 
helped than to help others ; and also that men sometimes 
blame others for things of which they themselves are 
chiefly blameworthy. 



GOOD BREEDS OF COWS. 

There is hardly one thing which conduces more to the 
comfort of a family than a good cow. A family well sup- 
plied with rich milk twice a day cannot have poor fare ; for, 
besides the use of pure milk by itself, there is no article, 
except flour, which enters into so many forms of cooking. 
Next in importance to the family, are the relations of the 
cow to the dairy ; we say next to the family, for it is more 
important that there should be good cows for private fami- 
lies than that dairies should have them. All the dairy 
herds might be destroyed, and if each famUy has its cow, 
the loss would be bearable. But take from families their 
one cow, and all the dairies in the land could not compen- 
sate. 

The question of a good breed of milch cows is important, 
then, to the whole community ; to the dairymen of course ; 



ABOUT." FKUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 129 

but yet more to the families of laborers, mechanics, mer- 
chants, etc. 

Everybody knows that it costs no more to keep a good 
cow than a j^oor one. But what is the use in talking so 
when good ones are not to be had ? or to be had only at a 
price which not one in fifty can afford ? But so far as we are 
concerned, and so far as ninety-nine in a hundred are con- 
cerned, of what use are these accounts except to make us 
dissatisfied with our poor old cow without enabling us to 
get a better ? It was all right to publish them, but the 
sight of such facts reminded us of the low estate of our milk 
cows, and of the woeful carelessness of farmers about im- 
proving their stock. 

It is high time that farmers should endeavor to pro- 
cure a good milk breed. It is well known that horses and 
oxen are almost bred to order ; if a fore shoulder is too 
slight, a breeder crosses so that in the next generation it 
comes out right ; if the animal is too small he is enlarged ; 
if too large he is condensed ; if the back is too long, the 
leg too heavy, the muscle too spare, the head heavily or 
clumsily put on, the breeder has skill, in a great measure, 
to remedy the evils. Why then should it not be thought 
both possible and worth while to breed for good milking 
properties ? 

The least trouble, not the best stock, seems to be the 
question with most. The discouragement of debt, the low 
prices of all farm products, the habits of arrant carelessness 
which naturally belong to large farms, of rich lands, re- 
moved from a ready market, and on which there is more 
than enough for home use, and much waste of the surplus 
because a poor sale for it ; these things are the causes why 
but little attention is paid to good stock. To be sure, in 
speculating times, large prices have been paid for animals 
of repute. And now, if fancy prices could be realized, 
there are thousands who would beg, borrow, or steal enough 
to rush madly into the raising of improved bi3eds Even 



130 PLAHSr AKD PLEASANT TALK 

from such extravagance much collateral advantage results. 
Many, doubtless, are disappointed, as they expected angelic 
cattle, and got nothing but flesh and blood ; those who are 
the most furious in one extreme, revolt to the other, and 
are as careless and neglectful this year, as they were cattle- 
mad the last year. But, some good, notwithstanding, re- 
mains. Good breeds have been brought in. Good blood 
will run longer in good stock, than perseverance, often, will 
in their owners. Here and there a man holds on. His 
stock improves. His neighbor's herds are gradually 
leavened. By and by particular counties grow famous for 
their fine stock. The farmers feel some jaride in it; and 
now the thing begins to work rightly. When once the 
best stock, of any kind, is a matter of hearty personal pride 
with the farmer, over and above the mere price of them in 
mai'ket, then there will be constant and solid improve- 
ment. 

These remarks, applying to stock generally, are peculiarly 
applicable to the subject of milch cows with which we set 
out. 



Dahlias. — It is necessary to give your plants a strong 
support, for, in good seasons, they grow so thriftily, that 
rains and winds break down the branches even when the 
main stalk is strongly staked. Those who are willing to be 
at the trouble, should put three stakes so as to leave the 
stem in the middle. Take a pliant Avithe, or small hoop, and 
encircle the stakes at the top, the middle, and also about a 
foot fi'om the ground. In this way the branches will lean 
on the hoops, and not be liable to split oif ; a few weeks' 
groAVth Avill cover and conceal the stakes and hoops, leav- 
ing to the eye only a mass of foliage, apparently, self-sus- 
tained. 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWEKS AND FARMING. 131 

CUTTING AND CURING GRASS. 

The question ■when grass ouglit to be cut, it seems to us, 
is to be answered by the purposes to which we mean to 
put it. 

Do we wish it for the seed, or for the stem ? Are we 
anxious to obtain the ^I'eatest weight from an acre ? or are 
we desirous of gaining the largest amovmt with the least 
exhaustion of the soil ? 

1. If one, regardless of soil, wishes the greatest weight 
to an acre, let the grass ripen. It mil have become per- 
fectly developed ; its juices will have perfected the solid 
matter, and less loss will ensue in curing. But the stem 
will be comparatively hard, and without nutriment. 

2. Do we desire, without particular regard to economy, 
the most nutricious food for animals ? The grass should 
ripen and only the upper part of the stem and the head 
should be fed out ; for, while the buts will be hard and 
juiceless, the grain and husk and neighboring parts ^\\\ 
have received, in a concentrated form, the height of the 
plant's juices. Chemistry has recently shown that plants 
prepare in themselves, the fatty matter which is afterward 
laid on the bones of the cattle. This fatty substance lies 
not in the gram, but the husk. 

Johnston, the agricultural chemist, says : " This fact of 
the existence of more fat in the husk than in the inner part 
of the grain, explains what often seems inexphcable to the 
practical man, why bran, namely, which appears to contain 
little or no nourishing substance, should yet fatten pigs and 
other full grown animals when fed to them in sufficient 
quantity, along with their other food." K, for example, a 
horse is to be trained, it has long been the practice (though 
hitherto the reason was not understood) to give the racers, 
the hunter, etc., only the top joint and head of hay. 
Now the principle on which a trauied horse is fed, is to give 
the most solid nourishment in the most compact form — 



132 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

throwing as little uunuti-icious food as possible into the 
stomach consistently with a proper distension of it. 

This fact also explains the value of old hay which has 
been well cured and well kept. It is known that freshly 
gathered nuts are not so oily as those which are old. All 
seeds perfect their oil after being thoroughly ripened by 
keeping. The seed of old hay will be richer in fatty matter, 
then, than new. 

3. The most palatable hay for cattle is that which is cut 
before it ripens its seed. If the farmer has enough grain to 
feed with, he can afford to cut his grass early. Its want of 
nutriment will be made np by feeding grain, and his stock 
will relish their food better than if it had grown hard with 
age before cutting. 

4. £ut for general purposes, grass should be cut when 
just out of flower. This is a compromise betw^een the two 
extremes. It combines the two advantages of juiciness of 
stem and richness of grain more nearly than any other. 
The stem will be cut w^hile yet in juice, and the seed will 
continue to fill and ripen after it has been cut. This is 
w^ell known in respect to wheat, and the best farmers cut it 
before it is dead ripe. 

The want of barns to store it, the want of markets in 
which to sell it, the want of jDrofit in raising it, and lastly, 
the want of thrift in making it, has caused thousands of 
tons of hay to be most wretchedly put up — curing as it is 
sarcastically called ; cured, probably, on the principle of 
the following story : A physician in England went out with 
the gamekeeper to hunt ; covey after covey was started, 
into which the doctor fired with a strange want of pro- 
fessional skill, without killing anything. The gamekeeper 
at length lost patience, and snatching the gun, said : 
" Let me take it, I'll doctor them." 
" What do you mean, sir, by doctoring them ?" 
" Why, kill them, to be sure." 
Thus, we think, grass is too often doctored. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWEKS AND FAUMING. 133 

COUNTRY AND CITY. 

A WORTHY friend recently said to me : "A gentlemen of 
observation from one of our principal cities of the West, 
stated to me, that in point of fact, almost all the leading 
men of the cities were from the country, and had been 
raised farmers' sons. The reasons seemed to me quite 
obvious. The vigorous health, patient industry, thorough 
economy, and hard thinking necessary to success, are the 
product of the country and but seldom of the town or city. 
A large part of the best merit and talent of the country 
doubtless remains upon and adorns our farms. Another 
portion is drawn by a spiiit for enterprise of a different 
kiad to our towns. When they enter they find an active 
competition that brings out their best efforts. Success on 
their part takes away the necessity of effort on the part of 
their children ; and the next result is, that their children 
become reduced in means and merit, and every element of 
success, and are di-iven to some refuge in vice or petty em- 
ployment. It is therefore the duty of the man who has 
been successful in town, to retire to the country again that 
his children, who are to succeed him, may partake, as far as 
possible, of his advantages." 

The facts stated we believe are undoubted ; the business 
men — merchants, lawyers, physicians, and clergymen of 
large cities are, to a large degree, drawn fi-om the country. 
And there is a system of circulation^ if the facts could be 
well made out, worth attention. In travelling, one day last 
year, tlie rain drove us into a country tavern, where a fat 
man of some fifty years of age was waiting to entertain us 
with a dish of philosophy (of which, considering our accom- 
modations, we had special need). But we were led to 
notice one part of his remarks : " You see, sir, everything 
comes round in about four generations. First comes the 
enterprising and hard-workmg fellow who gets the money ; 
then his chUdreu begin to live in style ; but their parents' 



134 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

example and stamina keep them pretty well up ; but their 
children begin to run down ; in their hands the property is 
wasted and they die poor ; and the fourth race begin in pov- 
erty, and work upward agam." Now, if our fat and some- 
what dogmatical friend has reasoned aright, there is a de- 
generating and rejuvenating process going on in society, 
having a period of about four or five years. We give the 
theory for what it may be worth. 



LIME UPON WPIEAT. 

Lime is used either to j)repare the seed for germination, 
or to prepare the soil for the better growth of the seed. 
This latter operation it does, either by adding itself as a 
new mgredient, or by acting chemically upon the ingre- 
dients already in the soil. 

When lime is applied to the seed (the seed being moist) 
the oxygen of the water, combining with carbon of the 
seed, forms carbonic acid ; which, having a powerful affin- 
ity for lime, imites with it, forming a carbonate of lime. 
The escape of a portion of its carbon constitutes the natu- 
ral preparation of a seed for growth ; but why, chemists 
have not been able to explain. 

Air-slaked lime, is lime which has combined with carbonic 
acid existing in the atmosphere. Unburnt limestone is a 
carbonate of lime ; air-slaked lime is the same, and they do 
not materially differ. Air-slaked lime, having no longer an 
affinity for carbonic acid, withdraws none from the grain to 
which it may be applied ; and in nothing helps the germi- 
nating process. Our readers will therefore see the rea^ 
son why wheat does not sprout any quicker when it is 
limed, than when it is not. Precisely the same thing 
is true of other substances applied to grams. Magnesia, 
existing naturally as a carbonate, like lime, has its carbonic 



ABOUT TKUITS, FLOWERS AND FAKMING. 135 

acid expelled by strong heat, and in that state applied to 
seeds, will assist the germination. If exposed to the air it 
attracts carbonic acid and becomes again a carbonate, and 
useless to seeds. 

Where lime is employed upon the soil, it is either as a 
mere article of vegetable food, or, as a chemical agent, to 
change the condition of other ingredients of the soil. All 
good soils contain lime ; of ninety-four different cultivated 
soils in Rhode Island, analyzed by Professor C T. Jackson, 
eighty-nine contained lime. Ruffin, in his essay on calcare- 
ous manures, says, after a large induction of fact, "that all 
soils naturally poor, are certainly destitute of calcareous 
earth." When there exists in the soil, already, enough lime 
for the wants of vegetation, the addition of more mil pro- 
duce no effect upon the crop. New lauds, and old land not 
run down, and naturally rich in lime, may require none. 
But lime is applied not alone as food directly offered to 
vegetation, but to act upon and change the soil itself. 

It neutralizes free acids which exist in the soil. This is 
done with quick-lime or air-slaked ; the first combining 
directly with the acid — the second by liberating its carbonic 
acid and then combining with the acid of the soil, leaving 
the carbonic acid to be food for plants. It is very well 
known by those accustomed to use peaty substances for 
manures, and meadow mud, that they will rather injure than 
benefit soils, until their acid has been neutralized. 

Lime decomposes vegetable fibre, and reduces tough lig- 
neous substances, to a consideration in which they can be 
approj^riated by plants. For this purpose quick-lime should 
be used and may be applied at the rate of from twenty to 
thirty bushels t . the acre. 

Lime enters mto combination with sand or silex, forming 
a substance different from either of them. Even strona: 
clays will be foimd to contain much silex ; and lime, by com- 
bining with it, makes the soil friable or crumbling. 



136 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 



CULTURE OF HOPS. 



We shall state such facts as are within our reach, ami 
leave each one to make his own calculations. 

The Hop Plant. — The hop belongs to the natural order, 
Urticeae, or the nettle and hemp family. Its root is peren- 
nial ; its stem annual, twining to the height of from fifteen 
to twenty feet. They bear male and female flowers on 
different plants, and the female is the only one used for 
planting. 

Soil. — ^Rich, friable clay, and hearty loams, and vege- 
table molds are the best soils. A wet subsoil is fatal to their 
health. Any rich, light, dry (but not droughty) soU suits 
them. A large crop may be obtained from our rich allu- 
vions, or bottom lands ; but although uplands yield a less 
crop, the quality is regarded as decidedly superior. A wet 
clay subsoil is not good. 

Planting. — Plants are set out in rows six to eight feet 
apart and six to eight feet from hill to hill in the row. 
Rooted plants, but more frequently cuttings from old 
plants are employed ; five or six being planted to the hill. 
Poles from fifteen to twenty feet in length are placed to 
each hill. In England from three to six and even eight are 
placed to each hill. But three is about the average number. 

Harvest. — No crop is more variable than this ; the yield 
per acre ranging accordiag to the season from 300 to 2,000 
lbs. On rich bottom lands 2,000 lbs. may be not unfre- 
quently raised ; but on an average, from 700 to 1,000 lbs. 
may be reckoned. 

The plants bloom in July and are ready for harvest by 
the first of September. It is necessary t gather them 
promptly, as they soon deteriorate if allowed to remain 
after they are ripe. As soon as gathered they are kiln- 
dried, then placed from ten days to two weeks to cool, and, 
finally, they are baled for market. 

General Considerations, — A plantation will last in full 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWEKS A.XU FARMING. 137 

vigoi for ten years, and then will decline, but gradually, for 
ten raore, when it is to be broken up. Fifteen years, per- 
haps, is the average duration of the hop plantations. They 
exhaust the soil, withdrawing much and returning little to 
it. Hops vary exceedingly in price in different years, not 
only on account of the varying supply arising from the 
uncertainty of yield, but from the quality of the article 
in different years. The average price in the United States 
is not far from sixteen cents per pound. Sometimes they 
rise to thirty, forty, and even fifty cents per pound. 

From the moment of sj^routing, in the spring, until the 
hop is ready for the kiln, they are liable to disaster from 
insects or disease. Nowhere has more experience been had 
in their cultivation than in England. Brown says, " they 
are exposed to more diseases than any other plant with 
which we are acquainted, and the trade offers greater room 
for speculation than any other exercised within the British 
dominions." Parkinson, with a quaint play upon the word 
hop, says, " the hop is said to be a plant very properly 
named, as there is never any certamty in cultivating it." 

If the crop is to be planted largely, it would seem 
plain, from the foregoing, that one should have capital 
enough to be able to bear some losses, at least, at first. For 
ordinary cultivators, if the experiment is to be made, it 
would be better to begin with a small plantation at first, 
embarking more largely as knowledge and skill increase, 
and as experience determines its profitableness. 



Grape Vines should be trimmed before the sap begins 
to rise, else they will bleed, to their great injury. If it be 
neglected till the sap is in motion, let the cultivator wait 
till the leaves are about the size of a dollar ; then cutting 
may be performed without injury. 



138 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK. 



WHITE CLOVER. 



We are inclined to suppose that the excellences of white 
clover have not been enough esteemed among our farmers; 
indeed, they have adopted a few grasses as special favorites 
upon whom all favors are lavished, Ana the rest are totally 
or very nearly rejected. 

In regions where dairies abound, and where, therefore, 
the subject of pasturage is of vital interest, those grasses 
are sown which spring early in the year and continue late ; 
which grow quickly, abundantly, and shoot again rapidly 
after being cropped ; which are nutritious ; which tend to 
produce milk, and impart to it high flavor. If any one 
grass possessed all these properties, it would be perfect; 
and, for pastures, all others might be rejected. As it is, 
several grasses must conspire to form a sward possessed of 
these diverse excellences. In this joint result white clover 
bears no mean place. It is, on congenial soils, of vigorous 
growth, eminently conducive to the production of milk, 
and milk of fine flavor. These are its peculiar virtues* 
Besides these, it possesses in common with other pasture 
l^lants, hardiness, tenacity of life, nutritiousness for beef- 
cattle. Thaer, the most eminent practical, and scientific 
cultivator of his day, says : " It is certainly the most gene- 
rally approved of all plants that are cidtivated for this 
(pasture) purpose.''^ Sinclair, whose authority in grasses 
will not be disputed, says . " nor does it form a good pas- 
ture when sown by itself . . but, combined with other 
grasses, it is a valuable plant." Great quantities of seed 
are annually so^v^l in England by the best farmers. Fessen- 
den, of New England, says, " it does not contain as much 
nutritive matter as red clover ; yet its value as a pasture- 
grass is universally admittedy This is the experience of 
Germany, England, and New England. Has experience 
determined that these good qualities are suppressed in 
western pastures ? Or is there such a prejudice against it 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 139 

on account of its prying, intrusive disposition in arable 
lands, that our farmers are unwilling to give it a chance ? 



PLOWING CORN. 

Many farmers, because their fathers did so before them, 
plow their corn lands very shallow before planting; but 
make up for it in deep plowing while dressing the corn- 
crop. Why is corn plowed at all ? 

1 . To DESTROY Weeds. — In this climate if a plow is not 
kept lively in the early part of the season, weeds will com- 
pletely take the crop. The soil is like a table full of food. 
Every man who sits down to it makes it less. Every weed 
eats uj) a part of the soil, and takes away, needlessly, so 
much from the corn. But it is not merely the nutritive 
ingredients which are extracted — but what, on some soils, 
in some seasons, is even worse — weeds drink up the moist- 
ure. There are many soils which could afford to lose much 
mineral and vegetable substance without lessening the sup- 
ply for corn ; but, in this climate, in ordinary seasons, no 
soil can afford to squander its moisture. 

But a corn crop is often put in to act as a cleanser of the 
soil when it has become foul. This end can only be 
answered by a rigid persecution and destruction of the 
weeds throughout the whole growing season. Some 
farmers, strangely enough, will deal thoroughly with their 
fields, but allow the edges and fence rows to swarm with 
weeds that luxuriate and ripen seed which the winds 
scatter all over the field. This is as if a man should busy 
himself all day long, in driving hogs out of his field, but 
leave all the holes open where they broke in. The soil 
should be thoroughly worked. 

2. To PREVENT Dryness. — Nothing is wider of the truth, 
than letting corn alone in dry weather for fear of " firmg " 



140 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

it. If the plow begins early, and is kept going, no dvoughl 
likely to occur in our climate can do much injury ; espe- 
cially if the ground has been broken up deep before plant- 
ing. 

Where the atmosphere is very dry, very hot and windy, 
the evaporation of moisture from the plant, and from the 
surface of the soil, is excessive. A hill of corn will exhale 
many pounds of moisture in a day. There is no remedy 
for excessive exhalation from plants ; but this renders it yet 
more necessary that a supply should be kept up at the 
roots. If the soil therefore, is permitted to evaporate from 
its surface, the double draught upon its moisture — through 
the plant, and from the surface — will soon exhaust its 
water. 

Everybody knows that if a board or cloth be put upon 
the ground, in dry weather, the earth under it vsdll remain 
moist — its aqueous particles being checked in their pass- 
age upward. If a shovelful of fine manure be laid in a 
heap upon a spot of ground, the same eifect will be pro- 
duced. Gardeners are accustomed to cover the earth about 
shrubs with an inch or two of fine sand ; experience teach- 
ing them that it preserves the moisture of the soil. Now, 
if the soil, instead of being covered Avith sand, or light 
manure, be itself pulverized, the same effect wUl be pro- 
duced — and for reasons which will appear. When the soil 
is compact the moisture ascends from particle to particle 
without obstruction. Every crevice which separates the 
particles of earth, checks the passage of the moisture. 
This may be more readily seen in an analogous case — the 
transmission of heat. Take two nail-rods, lay the end of 
one in the fire ; divide the other into inch pieces and lay 
them in a row from the fire, each piece touching the other. 
The transmission of heat in the rod made up of pieces will 
be checked at each point of division, while the uncut rod 
will heat rapidly. On this principle, an iron chain two feet 
long, with one end thrust into fire, will not transmit heat 



ABOUT TRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 141 

through its length near so soon as a solid bar of the same 
length. 

If this reasoning be true, and experience bears it out, the 
plow should be kept running in dry times to save a crop 
from drought. But if the farmer has neglected his corn, 
waiting for rain, and begins to plow after his ground is 
very diy, and plows deep, hredking the roots of his corn, 
the crop will be " fired ;" for, in this case, besides the 
evaporation from the leaves and the dryness of the soil, he 
commences breaking the roots by which the crop drinks 
what little water there may be left for it. Of course it 
despairs when it is attacked on one side by the heat, and 
on the other by the foolish farmer, and underneath by a 
treacherously dry soil. Begin, then, early, and plow often, 
and you may defy dry summers and cram your crib with 
hearty crops of corn. 

Breaking the Roots. — Many farmers study to break 
the roots of their corn. Wfe have heard them boast of ripping 
them up with a big plow till they clogged it up like bimdlea 
of yarn. It is done by some because others do it ; those 
who attempt to reason, say, that if a root be broken it 
immediately puts out many more fi'om the point of break- 
age ; and the practice of root-pruning fruit-trees is cited, 
to show that the fruitfulness of a plant is increased by 
reducing the root and checking the growth of the wood. 
It is not true that the fruitfulness of a tree is increased by 
root-pruning, but, it is made to yield its fruit earlier. It is 
a device to bring trees rapidly into bearing. A pear-tree 
(grafted) requires from five to eight years before it is 
matured enough to commence bearing. By mutilation of 
root, bending of branches, or by a poor gravelly soil, the 
tree is partially forbidden to grow, and obliged to ripen its 
wood and fit it for fruit-bearmg. But had it grown to its 
natural size, it would then have borne even more fruit than 
when dwarfed. 

No such practice is required upon annual plants, whose 



142 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

ripening is not delayed through years, but "which come up 
and ripen and die within the limits of a single season. 
They need no artificial treatment to accelerate the fruiting, 
because it ordinarily makes no difierence whether the corn 
crop comes in September or October. It is better to select 
varieties of corn which ripen within the limits of the season 
natural to the region where it is planted. Then there wiU 
be no occasion to break roots, or to apply any other arti- 
ficial and violent process to accelerate maturation. 



CLEAN OUT YOUR CELLARS. 

I SPEAK to those who have cellars. If not already done, 
thoroughly purge this subterranean story of your house. 
Every decayed onion, cabbage stump, potato vine or tuber, 
turnip, parsnip, carrot, and all the dirt they have made, all 
straw and rubbish, rake them up and out with them. The 
cellar is no place for them at any time of year. If you still 
retain a few potatoes for table use, let them be picked over 
and all decayed ones removed. One of the best housewives 
of our acquaintance, greeted us not long since, with an invi- 
tation to come and see her cellar : " I have swept down 
every cobweb, whitewashed the walls, swept up the floor, 
and sowed it with salt." Decayed vegetable matter is a 
fertile cause of disease, and there is enough of it out of 
doors, in this country, without heaping it up m the cellar 
for the special purpose, it would almost seem, of breeding 
fevers. Whitewash the walls, for lime purifies as well as 
beautifies. Rake down the cobwebs, they are the infallible 
marks of a slattern. Every spider that is allowed to peer 
out of his corner in a house, up-stairs or down, undisturbed, 
pomts his long black leg in thanksgiving at the house- 
wife, " Hurra for folks that are not too particular." Old 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AIO) FARMING. 143 

legends represent witches as addicted to riding brooms, I 
wish that many women would get bewitched enough to do 
this, something more than they do. Down cellar, then, 
with your broom. Look now ; the window is perfectly 
covered ; there is a great sprawling gaunt spider in the 
corner and half a dozen empty bugs hung ujd like scalps to 
commemorate his triumphs ; next to him is a great over- 
swollen potbellied fellow — ^for all the world he looks like a 
huge glutton ; then there is a sharp, nimble, enterprising 
spider, below him, who has just opened an office and 
is keen for business, prejDaring to inherit, like many other 
fellows, his neighbor's custom, who, having got rich frau- 
dulently, will soon burst ; there, too, are several pale and 
shadowy spiders, who look as if the cobwebs had kept 
them from the light until they had become quite sallow and 
emaciated ; then there are several little round, shining-black, 
pestilent fellows, whose legs are so long in proportion to 
their bodies, that they make one think of a little potato 
with yard-long sprouts all over it, I say nothing of crab- 
spiders on the window-sill, who, like metaphysicians, run 
backward just as easy as forwards. Just look, too, my dear 
madam, at the various patterns of their webs. Here is one 
from point to point resembling a sheet-like shelf of dusty 
cotton, and running like a tunnel, into a knot hole, where 
stands the venomous old fellow waiting for flies, like a usu- 
rer waiting for customers. Another corner is filled up with 
a web like a skein of tangled silk ; then there is a beautiful 
wheel, worked more beautifully than any lace-work, while 
there are a multitude of base and lazy little spiders who, 
like many of their betters, live on other folk's webs. Well, 
we have talked long enough ; dash your brush into that 
spider-village, give it a dextrous twirl, and with the whole 
population on the end of it, run to the door and crush them ! 
So much for spiders. 

As to salt ; the only advantage of salt in a cellar, that 
occurs to us, is its efiect in destroying snails, bugs, and that 



144 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

fungus vegetation called mold. It will do this. But it 
attracts moisture from the atmosi^here and renders a cellar 
damp. If your cellar is very dry and sandy, you may use 
salt without detriment. But if too damp it will make the 
matter worse. 



WHEN IS HAYING OVER? 

In a trip through the country last summer we saw seve- 
ral fields of timothy, out of blossom, which had become diy, 
seedy, and snufi'-colored. Haying was not over, it seems. 
Cattle that had been hardened to eat iron-weed stems, jimp- 
sum stalks, and packing straw, would probably be willing to 
eat this hay. 

We saw another sight. Hay which had been cut and 
partly cured, was cocked up and had been left, probably for 
a week or two already ; and, doubtless, was to stand thus 
much longer, for there is a fashion with some to let their 
hay lie about the field in little three-feet cocks, until it is 
convenient to haul it to the stack. This may be in August, 
or September, and sometimes we have seen a farmer (so 
called) with a little sled and rope hauling his hay in Octo- 
ber. Now, hay thus served is good for nothing but for 
litter. The bottom of each little heap molds ; the sides are, 
by sun and rain, spoiled, and the little wad in the middle 
does not, after subtracting the sides and bottom, amount to 
much. 

I'll venture my head that these are not " book farmers." 
I have no doubt that "book farmers " do some foolish things, 
but farmers without books do a great many more. No 
book former, none but a farmer utterly svithout books, 
would think of leaving his hay in cocks for six weeks or two 
months. We see enough of such hay offered for sale every 
winter, of a dingy, lack-lustre, straw-colored look, without 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS A?fD FARMING. 145 

fragrance, or odor of any sort except a faint smell of old 
wood, or more pungent odor of mold. 

We say, in conclusion, grass should not be left so long 
that it will be already dry and cured before it is cut ; and, 
after grass is once down, it is not to be treated like flax, and 
left to bleach and rot, but should be got in as soon as pos- 
sible. Farmers whose hay is on the stack or in the mow 
may laugh at this article ; those whose hay is not stacked or 
in the barn had better do something besides laugh. 



LAYING DOWN LAND TO GRASS. 

We shall speak of the kinds and quality of seed, and of 
the time and manner of putting them in. 

We think our farmers err in not sowing enough kinds of 
seed together. 

The objects to be secured are very early grass in the 
spring, a heavy body of hay, a rapid after-growth, and the 
greatest amount which the soil can yield. No one grass can 
be found capable of meeting all these ends. Some are very 
early, but not heavy enough or sufficiently nutritious for the 
main crop ; others are admirable for hay, but do not start 
readily again after cutting. By judiciously mixing different 
sorts of grasses, any one of these objects may be secured 
and the meadow be admii-able both for the scythe and for 
pasturage. Nor can the soil be made to yield all of which 
it is capable in any other way ; for a square foot of ground 
may be able to sustain but a certain number of roots of any 
one kind of grass, and yet many support, in addition, as 
much more of another kind, since different species of grass 
draw their nourishment from different portions of the soil — 
the fibrous-rooted grasses from the surface, and tap-rooted 
plants from the lower strata of the soil, while broad-leaved 
vegetation, as clovers, lucerne, etc., draw very much of 



146 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

their support from the air. Indeed, this is the lessou 
which Nature teaches us, for a dozen kinds of grass may 
oftentimes be found growing wild on a single square foot. 

The English farmer sows from four to seven or eight 
kinds of grass-seed, and sometimes as high as twelve or 
fourteen, each one of which is destmed to answer some 
special end, and the whole taken together constitute as it 
were, a perfect grass. 

We subjoin the quantity and kind of seed per acre re- 
commended by English authorities, that our readers may 
have an idea of the English method, and derive such benefit 
from it as their circumstances will admit of; 

Smooth-stalked poa, 8 quarts. 

Rough-stalked poa, 8 " 

Meadow fescue, , 12 " 

Meadow fox-tail, 8 " 

Crested dog's-tail, 6 " 

Rib-grass, 4 " 

Timothy-grass, 4 " 

Yellow oat-grass, 4 " 

Perennial rye-grass, 12 " 

Cock's foot, 4 " 

Yarrow, 4 " 

Sweet-scented Ternal, 2 " 

White clover, 6 lbs. 

Cow-grass, 4 " 

and annual meadow-grass. 

These seeds may, for the most part, be had of eastern 
dealers, though not probably in the West. 

With blue grass we should join orchard grass, say a 
bushel to the acre — white clover five pounds, red clover 
ten pounds, and sweet-scented vernal {anthoxantTium odo- 
ratum) say three pounds. 

This last grass is remarkably early in the spring, and 
peculiarly fragrant ; indeed, it is supposed that the famous 
spring butter of Philadelphia derives its peculiar flavor from 
this grass, and we should include it in every mixture to be 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 



147 



sown for pasturage. The orchard grass is one of our most 
valuable ; for hay it may be inferior to timothy ; but it is 
decidedly superior to it for pasturage. Colonel Powell, of 
Pennsylvania, after growing it ten years, declares that it 
produces more pasturage than any cultivated grass he has 
even seen in America. It should be spread on a floor and 
sprmkled with water a day or two before sowing, it being 
very light, not weighing more than twelve or fourteen 
pounds to the bushel. 

The following table exhibits the quantity of seed, by 
weighty and also on the three kinds of soil : 

FOR PERMANENT PASTURE, PER IMPERIAL ACRE. 



Perennial rye-grass . . 

Meadow fox-tail 

Timothy-grass 

Meadow fescue 


Light Soil. 


AlEoinM Soil. 


Heavt Soil. 


With a 
crop. 


Without a 
crop. 


With a 
crop. 


Without a 
crop. 


With a 
crop. 


Without a 
crop. 


lbs. 
12 
li 

2* 
5 

5 

u 


lbs. 
24 
2i 

4 

8 

It 
8 

2* 
2i 
2i 


lbs. 

13 
2 
li 
2* 
3i 
1* 
li 
5 
1* 
1* 
li 


lbs. 

24 
4 
8 
4 
6i 
8i 
Si 
8 

2i 
2i 
2i 


lbs. 

12 
8i 
8i 
2i 
2i 
Si 

5 
li 
li 
li 


lbs. 
24 

6i 

5i 

4 

4 

6i 

1 
2i 
2i 
2i 


Rough-stalked poa. . . 
Smooth-stalked poa. . 
White clover 


Hop-clover, or trefoil 
Cow-grass 


S8i 


60i 


84 


63i 


86i 


66 



There is a very great difierence of opinion respecting the 
quantity of seed to be sown to an acre. There can be no 
doubt that the question is to be settled by the character 
of the soil and climate. In soils and under circumstances 
where every seed will vegetate and grow off with unob- 
structed vigor, less seed is needed than where a part will 
be taken by frosts, a part by drenching rains which are not 
well drained off, and a part by severe drought. Every 
former must employ his best judgment in this matter ; but, 



148 PLAIN Al?rD PLEASANT TALK 

it is better to err on the side of too much than of too little 
seed. 

Time of Seeding. — We cannot pretend to decide be- 
tween the conflicting opinions on this subject. The positive- 
ness of those who prefer spring-sowing is only to be 
equalled by that of those who prefer fall-planting. Young 
says of the month of August, " this is the best season of the 
whole year for laying down land to grass, and no other is 
admissible for it on strong, wet, or heavy soils." This, 
however, is said of humid England. But if the character 
of the season toward the close of summer favors, there can 
be no doubt that fall-sowing will advance the crop very 
early the next year, in all soils where it is not liable to be 
thrown out by the frosts. If the winter proves severe, it 
will be prudent to add an additional quantity of seed in the 
spring. It is objected to spring sowings, that the grass is 
grown in the shade during the early part of the summer, 
and is, of course, tender^ so that when the grain is cut, it 
is enfeebled by the powerful heat, to which, then, it be- 
comes exposed. On the whole, we are inclined to prefer 
the month of Sej^tember, if the season favors, to any other 
for sowing grass seed. Since writing these lines, one of our 
best farmers informs us that he prefers August to any other 
month. 

Method of Sowing. — ^The ground should be very tho. 
roughly prepared by deep and fine plowing, and the want 
of labor in this respect is want of economy. 

If the soil is naturally wed drained, no further provision 
against wet will be required. But if it be flat, it may be 
well to lay it off into lands, strike a furrow through the 
centre, and then turn the fiirrows toward the outer on 
each side. This will give a slight elevation at the middle 
and a drain between each land sufficient to answer the pur- 
pose of moderate surface draining. The seed should be sown 
with the greatest evenness possible. The English farmer pre- 
fei's to sow some of the kinds separately on this account ; for 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 149 

although he has to sow the whole ground several times 
over, experience has taught him, as it will us, that that is 
the cheapest which is . clone the best. Let it be covered in 
well Avith a harrow, and not with a bush, which last leaves 
the soil dead, and tends to drag the seed into patches and 
hollows. As a general rule, grass seed may be planted as 
deeply as grain. Farmers lose much more seed from shal- 
low than from deep planting. For although shallow-planted 
seed vegetates sooner, they are more liable to be winter- 
killed, or to perish by drought than those which are deeply 
covered. 



THEORY OF MANURE. 

It is very well known that a young orchard will not, usu- 
ally, flourish on the site of an old one ; for the older trees 
are supposed to have withdrawn from the soil certain ele- 
ments necessary to their growth ; and as necessary to the 
growth of the young tree, should it be planted there. 
There is no "like" or "dislike" of the soil to the tree ; it 
is a plain case of starvation. The tree needs, and the soil 
oannot suj^ply certain elements of its wood. 

But if, after a plant has abstracted from the soil certain 
ingredients, the whole plant is decomposed and returned to 
the earth, the soil repossesses itself of the lost elements, and 
is ready to yield them up again to a plant of the same kind. 
If the straw of wheat be burned upon the field, annually, the 
soil would yield fine crops for a thousand successive years, 
that is so far as the straw is concerned. But if the grain 
is removed, and nothing resupplies the drain of phosphates 
Avhich it makes from the soil, the soil will in due time, 
according to the original quantities in the soil, cease to 
yield grain., although the straw may be admirable. But if 
both straw and kernel were every year burned upon the 



150 PLAIX AND PLEASANT TALK 

field, as gi-ass and its seed is upon the prairies, wheat would 
grow for a thousand years in succession. The same is true 
of corn, of potatoes, and of any annual crop. When the 
annual growth is restored to the soil, it is repossessed of all 
its treasure which had been loaned for a season. If a part 
of the crop is removed, the soil is poorer by just so much 
as the portion removed contained within it of the elements 
neces sary to that crop, and it must be restored artificially, 
i. e. by manuring ; or by allowing the earth to prepare 
(by disintegration or decomposition of its minerals) a new 
supply ; i. e. by fallowing. A forest will grow for ages on 
the same spot, for it returns annually its leaves, and, grad- 
ually, by force of accidents and the elements, its twigs, 
branches, trunks, etc., to the soil again. But let the whole 
product be gradually removed, and the soil would soon be 
unable to supply the trees their nourishment, except in cases 
where the soil was very rich in the materials of growth. 
The forests of Germany, like our mines, are under the man- 
agement of the government. It was customary, for a time, 
to allow the peasants the use of the twigs and smaller 
branches y but analysis has shown that in these, especially, 
resides the large proportion of potash entering into the 
composition of trees ; the annual removal of it debilitated 
the trees to an extent that obliged the Conservators to 
change their mode of proceeding. 

On the other hand, in one of Mr. Horsford's letters from 
Germany, we have the question of growing plants upon 
their own ashes, brought, by the ablest chemist of the age, 
directly to the test of experiment. 

" In the spring preceding my arrival in Giessen, Professor 
Liebig planted some grape scions under the windows of the 
laboratory. He fed them, if I may use such an expression, 
upon the ashes of the grape vine — or upon the proper inor- 
ganic food of the grape, as shown by analyses of its ashes. 
The growth has been enormous, and several of the vines 
bore large clusters of grapes in the course of the season. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AISTD FARMING. 151 

Indeed, I know not but all, as my attention was drawTi to 
them particularly only since the fruit has been gathered. 
The soil otherwise is little better than a pavement — a kmd 
of fine gravel, in which scarcely anythuig takes root. 

" I was shown pots of wheat, in different stages of their 
growth, that had been fed variously — some upon the inor- 
ganic matters they needed, according to the analyses of 
their ashes — others had- merely shared the tribute of the 
general soil. The results in numbers I don't yet know. In 
appearance, no one could be at a loss to judge of what might 
be expected," 

The fact that depopulated forest-grounds change the 
character of their growth, is quite familiar to all ; and the 
reasons of it have been variously debated. 



FODDER FOR CATTLE. 

Although the practice of soiling cattle, i. e. of cutting 
their food daily and feeding it to them in a green state, 
would be profitable to many small farmers, it is especially 
to be recommended to those living in towns, where pastur- 
age is distant and expensive. Where an immediate supply 
is required, corn may be sown broadcast, and cut as wanted, 
until it begins to tassel, when all should be cut and cured, 
and the ground sown again, and a third time in the same 
summer. 

But if half that is said of lucerne is true, and we see no 
reason to doubt it, it is valuable far above all other kinds 
of green fodder. It starts very early in spring ; may be 
cut four times in a summer, yielding from four to nine tons 
to the acre, acccording to the condition of the land. It is 
much relished by cattle, imparts no bad flavor to milk, is a 
very fattening food, and one sowing will last ten years. 



152 PLAIN AND PLEASAJN'T TALK 

One acre is sufficient for four or five cows. It may be sown 
in drills, if the land is foul, and kejit clean by hoeing, the 
first year ; but on clean ground it may be sown broadcast. 
It is hardy imder the infliction of severe frosts ; and sur- 
passes all grasses in endurance of drought, its enormously 
land roots afibrding it moisture fi-om a great depth. An 
English writer says, its roots have been found from ten 
to fourteen feet below the surface ; and an American writer 
says, that it made, on his land, roots three feet long the first 
summer. 

Where it is sown broadcast, it is difficult to get it through 
the first year. But if sown in drills ten inches apart, and 
hoed once or twice, it may be cut twice or thrice the first 
season, and be entirely established before winter. 

A light, sandy soil is the best ; it should not be put upon 
heavy and non-friable soils, though it will flourish on even 
these, when fully established. Ten pounds of seed to the 
acre is enough, if drilled ; fifteen pounds, if sown broad- 
cast. 

The only reason, that we can imagine, why this plant 
should not be extensively cultivated, is, the disrelish which 
our farmers too often have to any crop requiring much care. 
To slash along with a plow is all well enough ; but to hoe 
and weed is rather tedious. But these operations are 
required only during the first part of the first year. 



Camphoe for Flowers. — ^Two or three drops of a satu- 
rated solution of camphor in alcohol, put iiito half an ounce 
of soft water, forms a mixture which will revive flowers 
that have begun to droop and wilt, and give them freshness 
for a long time. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 153 

THE SCIENCE OF BAD BUTTER. 

We once took occasion to give our opinion of the but- 
ter which was largely brought to our market. The article 
was deemed severe ; but if they who think so had eaten of 
the butter they would have regarded that as the more pun- 
gent of the two. We have w^aited a year ; and are now 
prepared more fully to testify against that utter abomina- 
tion, slanderously called butter, so unrighteously exchanged 
in our mai'ket for good money. Far the most part, the 
cream is totally depraved at the start, and churning, work- 
ing, and packing are only the successive steps of an evU 
education by which bad inclinations are developed into 
overt wickedness. We determined to keep an eye upon 
the matter ; and now give, from life, the natural history of 
the butter sold. 

Before doing this, we will express an opinion of what is 
good butter. 

Good butter is made of sweet cream, with perfect neat- 
ness ; is of a high color, perfectly sweet, free from butter- 
milk, and possesses a fine grass flavor. 

Tolerable butter^ diflers from this only in not having a 
fine flavor. It is devoid of all unpleasant taste, but has not 
a high relish. 

Whatever is less than this is bad butter ; the catalogue is 
long and the descending scale is marked with more varie- 
ties than one may imagine. 

Variety 1. Butter-milk; Butter. — ^This has not been 
well worked, and has the taste of fresh buttermilk. It 
is not very disagreeable to such as love fresh buttermilk ; 
but as it is a flavor not expected in good butter, it is usually 
disagreeable. 

Variety 2. Strong Butter. — This is one step farther 
along, and the buttermilk is changing and beginning to as- 
sert its right to predominate over the butteraceous flavor j 



154 PLAEN AND PLEASANT TALK 

yet it may be eaten with some pleasure if done rapidly, 
accompanied with very good bread. 

Variety 3. Feowy or frowsy Butter, — ^This is a second 
degree of strength attained by the buttermilk. It has 
become pungent, and too disagreeable for any but absent- 
minded eaters. 

Variety 4. Rancid Butter. — This is the putrescent stage. 
No description will convey, to those who have not tasted it, 
an idea of its unearthly flavor ; while those who have, will 
hardly thank us for stirring up such awful remembrances by 
any description. 

Variety 5. Btiter Butter. — Bitterness is, for the most 
part, incident to winter-butter. When one has but little 
cream and is long in collecting enough for the churn, he 
will be very apt to have bitter butter. 

Variety 6. Musty Butter. — In summer, especially in 
damp, unventilated cellars, cream will gather mold ; When- 
ever this appears, the pigs should be set to churn it. But 
instead, if but just touched, it is quickly churned ; or, if 
much molded, it is slightly skimmed, as if the flavor of 
mold, which has struck through the whole mass, could be 
removed by taking ofi" the colored portion ! The peculiar 
taste arising from this affection of the milk, blessed be the 
man who needs to be told it ! 

Variety V. Sour-milk Butter. — This is made from milk 
which has been allowed to sour, the milk and cream being 
churned up together. The flavor is that of greasy, sour 
milk. 

Variety 8. Vinegar Butter. — There are some who 
imaginf Lhat all milk should be soured before it is fit to 
churn. When, in cool weather, it delays to change, they 
expedite the matter by some acid — usually vinegar. The 
butter strongly retains the flavor thereof 

Variety 9. Cheesy Butter. — Cream comes quicker by 
being heated. If sour cream be heated, it is very apt to 



ABOUT FBUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 155 

separate and dej)osit a whey : if this is strained into the 
churn with the cream, the butter will have a strong cheesy 
flavor. 

Variety 10. Granulated Butter. — ^When, in winter, 
sweet cream is over-heated, preparatory to churning, it pro- 
duces butter full of grams, as if there were meal in it. 

Variety 11. — In this we will comprise the two opposite 
kinds — too salt and unsalted butter. "We have seen butter 
exposed for sale with such masses of salt in it that one is 
tempted to believe that it was put in as a make-weight. 
When the salt is coarse, the operation of eating this butter 
affords those who have good teeth, a pleasing variety of 
grinding. 

Variety 12. Lard Butter. — When lard is cheap and 
abundant, and butter rather dear, it is thought profitable to 
combine the two. 

Variety 13. Mixed Butter. — When the shrewd house- 
wife has several separate churnings of butter on hand, some 
of which would hardly be able to go alone, she puts them 
together, and those who buy, find out that " Union is 
strength!'''' Such butter is pleasingly marbled; dumps of 
white, of yelloAV, and of dingy butter melting into each 
other, until the whole is ring-streaked and speckled. 

Variety J 4. Compound Butter. — By compound butter 
we mean that which has received conti'ibutions from things 
animate and inanimate ; feathers, hairs, rags of cloth, 
threads, specks, chips, straws, seeds ; in short, everything 
is at one time or another to be found in it, going to pro- 
duce the three successive degrees of dirty, filthy, nasty. 

Variety 15. Tough Butter. — ^When butter is worked too 
long after the expulsion of buttermilk, it assumes a gluey, 
putty-like consistence, and is tough when eaten. But, oh 
blessed fault ! we would go ten miles to pay our admiring 
respects to that much-to-be-praised dairy-maid whose zeal 
leads her to work her butter too much ! We doubt, how- 
ever, if a pound of such butter was ever seen in this place. 



156 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

Besides all these, Avbose history we have correctly traced ; 
besides bvitter tasting of turpentine from being made in 
pine churns ; butter bent on travelling, in hot weather ; 
butter dotted, like cloves on a boiled ham, with flies, which 
Solomon assures us causeth the ointment to stink ; besides 
butter in rusty tin pans, and in dirty swaddlmg clothes ; 
besides butter made of milk drawn from a dirty cow, by a 
dirtier hand, into a yet dirtier pail, and churned in a churn 
the dirtiest of all ; besides all these sub-varieties, there are 
several others with which we have formed an acquaintance, 
but found ourselves baffled at analysis. We could not even 
guess the cause of their peculiarities. Oh Dr. Liebig ! how 
we have longed for your skill in analytic chemistry ! What 
consternation would we speedily send among the slatternly 
butter-makers, revealing the mysteries of their dirty doings 
with more than mesmeric facility ! 

And now, what on earth is the reason that good butter is 
so great a rarity? Is it a hereditary curse in some 
families ? or is it a punishment sent upon us for our iU- 
deserts? A few good butter-makers in every neighborhood 
aiu a standing proof that it is nothing but bad housewifery; 
mere sheer carelessness which turns the luxury of the churn 
into an utterly nauseating abomination. 

Select cows for quality and not for quantity of milk ; 
give them sweet and sufficient pasturage ; keep clean your- 
self ; milk into a clean pail; strain into clean pans — (pans 
scalded, scoured, and sunned, and if tin, ^dth every particle 
of milk rubbed out of the seams.) While it is yet sweet, 
churn it ; if it delays to come, add a little saleratus ; work it 
thoroughly, three times, salting it at the second working ; 
put it into a cool place, and then, when, with a conscience 
as clean and sweet as your butter, you have dispatched your 
tempting rolls to market, you may sit down and thank God 
that you are an honest woman ! 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. I57 

CINCINNATI, THE QUEEN CITY. 

Whatever may have been the squealing celebrity of 
Porkopolis, Cincinnati seems destined to merge the glory 
of that name in the more agreeable title, City of Vineyards. 
That she is the Queen City none denies. But on account 
of what single excellence, it might be difficult, for some, to 
say. A queen of slaughter-pens might be a hearty buxom 
lass, but, withal, not exactly the personage for which 
knights (Sancho always excepted) love to break lances. A 
queen of foundries and stithies, she might be, and not neces- 
sarily, on that account, a ruddy brunette ; inasmuch as Sir 
Vulcan was, once before, the husband of Venus — queen of 
beauty. A blushing queen of strawberry beds would be 
quite romantic ; but yet more appropriate if her jurisdic- 
tion were extended over vines and purple clusters and vine- 
yards and orchards. But whether it be pork, or iron, or 
gardens, or vineyards, or observatories, Ciucinnatiis acknow- 
ledged on all hands to be the Queen City. 

Leaving her commercial glories out of view, we think 
Cincinnati has done more for horticulture than any Ameri- 
can city, taking into the account her recent origin and her 
means. In all other cities horticulture has been the child 
of wealth and leisure. It has followed commercial or manu- 
facturing prosperity. But in this city, it began with them 
and kept pace with them; so that one wonders which most 
to admire, the thrift of industry and skill, or the elegant 
taste which is so generally evinced in the cultivation of 
fruit, and shrub and flower. 

The first volume of the Transactions of the Cincinnati 
Horticultural Society, is eminently worthy of that enter- 
prising corporation. 

The thoughts of several principal friends of horticulture 
seem much directed to the subject of vine culture, and the 
manufacture of wine. There are more than eighty-three vine- 
yards in the vicinity of the city containing not far from 400 



158 PLAIlSr AND PLEASANT TALK 

acres of land! From 114 acres during the season of 1845i 
more than 23,000 gallons of wine were manufactured, and 
there was not more than half a crop obtained in that sea- 
son. The average yield of wine per acre, for five years 
in succession, is stated to be from 450 to 500 gallons per 
annum. 

Many think the culture of the grape will be the finishing 
stroke to the temperance enterprise ; aifordmg a whole- 
some beverage from our hills in place of " corn juice " from 
our bottoms, and beer from our hop and barley fields. 

The arguments urged by some with great sincerity, 
are the often-quoted facts, that the inhabitants of wine- 
making countries are favorably distinguished for temper- 
ance ; and that a palatable and wholesome beverage — pure 
wine — would supersede the use of violent liquors. If we 
thought that our people would become temperate upon 
such conditions, we should be glad to see a vineyard on 
every hillside, and a wine-vat to every farmhouse. But 
there is no reason to expect any such result. Vineyards in 
Europe exist among a quiet, comparatively unenterprising 
peasantry. They have been trained to moderation ; neces- 
sity has made them temperate in all things — in food, in 
dress, in expense, and in drink. The jDopular habits are not 
so excitable as with us; business runs in quiet streams, 
and politics are unknown. With us, business is boisterous, 
pleasure obstreperous, and politics outrageous. Our peo- 
ple are anything but quiet ; they are hot, hot in tongue and 
blood. It is wide enough of the mark to suppose that the 
same cause existing among two entirely dissimilar people, 
would, of course, produce the same results. We might as 
well say that vineyards would make om- people eat less meat, 
less corn and pork, because the residents of wine districts 
were known to be addicted to a vegetable diet. The pro- 
bable consequences of abundant cheap wine must be 
judged, not by what would happen in France, among 
abstemious peasants, nor on the Rhine, among economical 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWERS AND PAEMING. 159 

and sober Germans ; but by the tastes, habits, and tenden- 
cies of our own people. In this land everything tends to 
excitement. Men live upon a higher key, and live faster 
and live much more full of exhilaration than the same 
Classes do in foreign lands. Our people drink not for the 
taste but for the excitement of liquor ; and, so that wine, 
beer, or whisky will bring them up to the right key, the 
question of wholesomeness is quite unimportant. Our peo- 
ple are free and therefore have a right to live in the viola- 
tion of natural laws ; and a right, constantly exercised, of 
having fevers on account of surfeitings, and of dying early 
and by thousands by reasons of gross excesses. 

Pleasures and business are esteemed by the volume o^ 
blood which they can drive, the pulse they can raise, 
the heat of excitement which they can produce. So long 
as affairs are fresh and piquant they are stimulants enough. 
But in the inequalities and intervals and fatigues of life, 
something else is required to hold the sj)irits up to the high 
level upon which everything proceeds. As soon as a man 
resorts to alcoholic stimulants to do this, he has embarked 
upon a course where all experience shows that he 
will drink deeper and deeper to final downright intem- 
perance. 

Some people think that cheap and wholesome beverage for 
the " masses," for laboring people, is desirable. "While it 
may be well enough for every gentleman of leisure, it is to be 
the poor man's special blessing, saving him from the swill 
of the brewery and the fire of the still. Facts will stand 
on the side of the reverse reasoning. If wine is to be 
harmless at all, it will be with men who are not prone to 
enterprising heats; but given to the relishful pleasure of 
sipping just for the delicate flavors, for the aroma, for the 
fine bouquet of wine — men who need to have their blood 
up, and kept up, and resort to wine to supply the. flagging 
stimulus of affairs ; such men will not drink for the flavor, 
but for the feelinar. 



160 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

It is for the sake of being roused ; it is to be stimulated ; 
it is, in plain language, to have the first exhilarations of 
drunkenness that laboring men drink, will drink, and have 
always drank cider, beer, wine, and brandy. The result of 
aflfording wine in abundance to such i)eople as ours, will be 
to prepare them for a stronger drink just as soon as wine, 
by frequent use, is no longer stimulating enough. Wine 
will play jackal to brandy for the rich, and to whisky for the 
poor. W^e have some facts on hand touching this popular 
wine-drinkingj which, if necessary, we shall employ at 
another time. Meanwhile, we are glad to see grape-cul- 
ture spreading for the production of table-grapes ; for the 
manufacture of wine, in so far as a supply of pure wine is 
needed for medicinal purposes. Further than that, we are 
opposed to wine-making. And as to cheating whisky out 
of its authority over " the dear people " by the blandish- 
ments of hock and champagne, or redeeming our barley 
and cornfields from the abominable persecutions of the 
bre^A^-tub and the still, by the conservative energy or evan- 
gelizations of grape juice, we shall believe it when we see 
it ; and we shall just as soon expect to see fire putting out 
fire and frost melting ice, as one degree of alcoholic stimu- 
lus curing a higher one. 



To PRESERVE Garden Sticks. — It is desirable when 
one has prepared good sticks for supportmg carnations, 
roses, dahlias, etc., to preserve them from year to year. The 
following preparation will make them last a man's lifetime : 
When they are freshly made, allow them to become tho- 
roughly dry; then soak them in linseed oil for some time, say 
two or three days. When taken out let them stand to dry 
till the oil is perfectly soaked in ; then paint with two coats 
of verdigris paint. N"o wet can then penetrate. 



ABOUT FKLITS, FLOWERS AND FARMIXG. 161 

CARE OF ANIMALS IN WINTER. 

TuE wisest man has said that "the righteous man regard- 
eth the life of his beast ; but the tender mercies of the 
wicked are cruel." If any one is at a loss to know the 
meaning of the latter part, he cannot have made good use 
of his eyes. Lean cattle, leaner horses, anatomical speci- 
mens of cows, half fed, dirty, drenched by every rain, and 
pierced by every winter wind, these are an excellent com- 
ment on the passage. 

It is time for every merciful man to make provision for 
every diimb animal which is dependent upon him. 

Cows should be provided with a comfortable stable at 
night. No feeding will be a substitute for good shelter. 
Both the quantity and quality of the milk will depend upon 
bodily comfort in respect to warmth and nutritious food. 
Such as are becoming heavy with calf should be specially 
cared for. Many farmers let their cows shift for themselves 
as soon as their milk dries away. But the health of the 
coming calf and the ability of the cow to supply it, and her 
owner, copiously with milk depend on the condition in 
which she is kept during the period of gestation. 

Cattle should have a good shed provided for them, under 
which they may be dry and sheltered from winds. It is the 
curse of ^s'estern farming that cattle and fodder are so plenty 
that it is hardly a loss to waste both. 

Where the amount of stock is too great for comfortable 
home-quarters, and they are wintered in a stock field, there 
should be places of resort for them, so high as to remain 
dry, well turfed with blue-grass, and sheltered with cheap 
sheds, or by belts of forest. 

Sheep should receive special attention. They abhor \ret. 
They should be permitted to keep their fleece dry, and to 
eat their food in a dry stable. The flock should be sorted. 
The bucks and wethers by themselves, the ewes by them- 
selves ; lambs and weak sheep in another division ; and a 



162 PLAIN AND PLKASANT TALK 

fourth comj)aitment should never be wanting for the sick, 
where they may be nursed and medically treated. 

Horses are more apt to be taken care of than cattle. 
But even they are often more indebted for existence to a 
stubborn tenacity of life, than to the care of their keepers. 
The horse is a more damty feeder than ruminating animals. 
He should be supj)lied with a better article of hay ; his 
grain should never be dirty or musty. 

Hardy farm-horses may even rough out the winter with- 
out blanketing or any other care than is necessary to sup- 
ply good food and enough of it. But carriage horses, and 
those highly prized for the saddle — aristocratic horses — 
should be more carefully groomed. It is not wise to blan- 
ket a horse at all, unless it can be always done. If he is 
liable to change hands ; to be oif on journeys under cir- 
cumstances in which he cannot be blanketed at night, it will 
be better not to begin it. 

Winter is a good time to kill oif spirited horses. They 
are easily run down by a smashing sleigh-ride pace. Boys 
and girls, buzzing in a double sleigh like a hive of bees, 
think that the horses enjoy themselves, at the exhilarating 
pace of six or eight miles an hour, as much as they do.- 
But this is not ordinarily the worst of it. The horse stands 
out, after a trip of ten or fifteen miles, at a post for an hour 
or two until thoroughly chilled ; then home he races, and 
goes into the stable, steammg wath sweat, to stand without 
blankets all night. Horses catch cold as much as men do. 
And a horse-cold is just as bad as a human cold. As there 
has been some difficulty, in the construction of fannmg mills, 
to gain a strong enough current of wind, we would advise 
the builders of them to study the construction of a good 
stable. 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWERS AXD FARMING. 1(J3 

WINTER NIGHTS FOR READING. 

As the winter is a season of comparative leisure, it is the 
time for farmers to study. It is a good time for them to 
make themselves acquainted with the nature of soils, of 
manures, of vegetable organization — or structural botany. 
Farmers are liable to rely wholly upon their own experi- 
ence, and to despise science. Book-men are apt to rely on 
scientific theories, and nothing upon practice. If these 
two tendencies would only court and marry each other, 
what a hopeful family would they rear ! How nice it would 
look to see in the pajDers : 

Married. — By Philosophical Wisdom, Esq., Mr. Prac- 
tical Experience, to Miss Sober Science. [We will stand 
godfather to all the children.] 



FEATHERS. 



The quality of feathers depends on their strength, elasti- 
city and cleanness ; and these, again, depend upon the condi- 
tion of the bird, its health, food, and the time of plucking 
its feathers. Down is the term applied to under-feachers — 
most abundant in water fowl, and in those especially which 
live in cold latitudes, being designed to protect them from 
wet and cold. The eider-down, from the eider-duck, is of 
the most repute. It is brought from extreme northern 
latitudes, and is used for coverings to beds, rather than for 
beds themselves, as, by being slept upon, it loses its elasti- 
city. 

Poultry feathers^ as those of turkeys, ducks, and chick- 
ens, if assorted and the coarse ones rejected, afford very 
good beds ; but they are not so elastic as -geese-feathers. 



164 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

Everybody knows tliat live geese-feathers are the 
best. Every one does not think of the reason ; which, 
as it is the key to the art of having good feathers, we 
shall proponnvl. 

So long as a bird is alive, the feathers are as much an 
object of nutrition as the flesh, the bones, or any other 
part of the body. 

When dead, put them into hot water to make the feathers 
come easy. In pulling, take out large handfuls at a time, 
so as to have scraj^s of meat and shreds of skin adhere 
to the quill; let them lie for several days in wet heaps 
to ferment a little. Then dry them suddenly by violent 
heat, cram them into the bed-tick, and jump on, and if you 
have not an odorous bed, and, in a month or two, a bedful 
of visitors seeking food, then there is no truth in the laws 
of nature. 

The care of beds is not understood, often, by even good 
housewives. When a bed is freshly made it often smells 
strong. Constant airing, will, if the feathers are good, and 
only new, remove the scent. 

A bed in constant use should be invariably beaten and 
shaken up daily, to enable the feathers to retain their elasti- 
city. 

It should lie after it is shaken up, for two or three hours 
a day, in a well ventilated room. The human body is con- 
stantly giving oif a perspiration; and at night more than 
usual, from the relaxed condition of the skin. The bed 
will become foul from this cause if not well aired. If the 
bed is in a room which cannot be spared for such a length 
of time, it should be put out to air two full days in the 
Aveek. 

In airing beds, the sun should never shine directly upon 
them. It is a^>, not heat, that they need. We have seen 
beds lying on a roof where the direct and reflected rays of 
the sun had full power, and the feathers, without doubt, 
were stewing., and the oil in the quill becoming rancid ; so 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 165 

that the bed smells worse after its roasting than before. 
Always air beds in the shade, and, if possible, in cool and 
windy days. And now, if any of our attentive housewife- 
readers, and we have not a few, are disposed to reward us 
for all this advice, let them give us a bed to sleep on, when 
we next visit them, made of growing feathers, fi'om live 
and healthy geese, carefully picked, well cured, daily shaken 
up and thoroughly aired ; and if we do not dream that the 
owner is an angel, it will be because we are too much occu- 
pied in sound sleeping. 



NAIL UP YOUR BUGS. 

" The words of the wise are as goads and as nails fastened by raastera 
of assemblies." — Solomon. 

After a great pother about canker worms, peach-tree 
worms, and other audacious robber- worms ; after smoke, 
salt, tar, and tansy, bands of wool, cups of oU, lime, ashes, 
and surgery have been set forth as remedies, to the confu- 
sion of those who have tried them bootlessly, it now appears 
that we are about to 7iail the rascals. The Boston Cultivor 
tor, contains an article " On Destroying Insects on Trees," 
from which we quote : 

" I did not intend to give it publicity until I had fully 
tested it, but as the ravages are very extensive in the West, 
I cannot delay giving you the experiment, hoping that 
some of your western readers may now give it a fair trial 
and report the result. I will give one case which may 
ij.duce the experiment wherever the evil is felt. In conver- 
sation with a friend in Newburyport, Dr. Watson, last 
fall, I mentioned the experiment; he invited me to his 
garden, where last year a fruit-tree was infested with the 



166 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

nests of caterpillar or canker-worms, as were his neighbors' 
trees ; he showed me a board nailed for convenience of a 
clothes-line upon one of the large limbs of the tree ; he said 
he noticed a little while afterward that the nests on that limb 
dried up, and the worms disappeared, though the cause did 
not then occur to him though apparent as it will be to any 
scientific mind. 

"Drive carefully well home, so that the bark will heal 
over a, few headless cast ii'on nails, say some six or eight, 
size and number according to the size of the tree, in a ring 
around its body, a foot or two above the ground. The 
oxidation of the iron by the sap, will evolve ammonia, 
which vdU, of course, with the rising sap, impregnate every 
part of the foliage, and prove to the delicate palate of 
the patient, a nostrum, which wiU soon become, as in 
many cases of larger animals, the real panacea for the ills of 
life, via Tomb, I think if the ladies should drive some 
small iron brads into some limbs of any plant infested with 
any insect, they would find it a good and safe remedy, and 
I imagine in any case, instead of injury, the ammonia will be 
found particularly invigorating. Let it be tried upon a 
limb of any tree, where there is a vigorous nest of cater- 
pillars, and watch it for a week or ten days, and I think the 
result win pay for the nails." 

Let our farmers take their hammers and nails and start 
for the orchard ; if they see a bug on the tree, drive a nail, 
and he is a bug no more ! If they see a worm, in with 
a nail, and the "ammonia evolved" will finish his 
functions ! 

The Southern Planter is out with a backer to the Boston 
Cultivator : 

" A singular fact, and one worthy of being recorded, was 
mentioned to us a few days smce by Mr. Alexander Duke, 
of Albemarle. He stated that whilst on a visit to a neigh- 
bor, his attention was called to a large peach orchard, every 
tree in which had been totally destroyed by the ravages of 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 167 

the worm, with the excei^tion c f three, and these three were 
probably the most thrifty and flourishing peacli-trees he ever 
saw. The only cause of their superiority known to his host, 
was an experiment made in consecjuence of observing that 
those parts of worm-eaten timber into which nails had been 
driven, were generally sound ; when his trees were about 
a year old he had selected three of them and driven a 
tenpenny nail through the body, as near the ground as pos- 
sible ; whilst the balance of his orchard has gradually failed, 
and finally yielded entirely to the ravages of the worms, 
these three trees, selected at random, treated precisely m 
the same manner, with the exception of the nailing, had 
always been vigorous and healthy, furnishing him at that 
very period with the greatest profusion of the most 
luscious fruit. It is supposed that the salts of iron afforded 
by the nail are offensive to the worm, whilst they are harm- 
less, or perhaps even beneficial to the tree." 

We do not wish to interrupt any experiments which the 
enterprising may choose to make. To be sure we regard 
the facts with some incredulity, and the chemical explana- 
tions with something of the mirthful superadded to imbelief. 
But if nails are an antidote to worms — a real vermifuge — 
let them be administered, whatever may be the explana- 
tions; whether they are an electric battery, giving the 
insects a httle domestic, vegetable hghtning, or whether 
they afford " salts of iron " to physic them, or " evolve 
ammonia " in such potent, pmigent strength that vermicular 
nostrils are unable to endure it ! 

While one is fairly engaged in a campaign of experi- 
ments, we heartily hope that war will be cai-ried to the very 
territory of ignorance, and we will propound several other 
important questions of fact and theory, which, if settled, 
will crown somebody's brow with laurels. 

It is said that hanging a scythe in a j^lum-tree, or an iron 
hoop, or horse shoes, will insure a crop of plums. This 
ought to be investigated. 



168 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

It is said that pear-trees that are unfruitful, may be made 
to bear, by digging under them, cutting the tap root, and 
burjong a black cat there. We do not know as it makes 
any diiference as to the sex of the cat, though we should, 
if trying it, rather prefer the male cat. 

Lastly, that we may contribute our mite to the advance- 
ment of science, we will state that, in our youth, we were 
informed, that, if we would go into the wood-house once a 
day and rub our hands with a chip, without thinhing of red 
fux''s tail, the warts would all go off. We have no doubt 
that it would have been successful, but every time we tried 
the experiment, whisk came the red fox's tail into our head 
and spoilt the whole affair. But might this not cure warts 
on trees ? 



ASHES AND TPIEIR USE. 

Some soils contain already the chemical ingredients which 
wood ashes supply. If lime be applied to^a calcareous soil, 
it will do no good ; there was no want of lime there before ; 
if potash be added to a soil already abounding in it, no 
effect will be seen in the crops. Ashes contain Hme and 
potash (phosphate of lime and silicate of potash). If a 
soil is naturally rich in these, the addition of ashes would 
be useless. Such cases show the true benefits of a really 
scientific knowledge of soils and manures. Every plant that 
grows takes out of the soil certain quaUties. Wheat, amono- 
other things, extracts largely of its potash; Indian corn 
abstracts but little ; potatoes extract phosphate of mao-- 
nesia, etc. A chemist would say, at once, apply that kind 
of manure which is I'ich in the peculiar property extracted 
by your wheat, corn, or potatoes ! What manure is that 
Here again science must help. It analyzes manures — ogives 
the farmer the choice among them. The soil being known, 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWEKS AND FARMING. 169 

the properties required by different crops being known — 
the farmer aiDplies that manure which contains what the soil 
lacks. Exj^eriments have seemed to show, that, for purposes 
of tillage, leached ashes are just as good as the unleached. 
So that housewives may have all the use of their ashes for 
soap, and then employ them in the garden. Leached ashes 
become better by being exposed for some time in the air 
absorbing from the atmosphere fertilizing quaUties (car- 
bonic acid ?) 

So valuable are ashes regarded in Europe, that they are 
frequently hauled by farmers from twenty miles' distance — 
and on Long Island they bring eight cents a bushel. 

The ashes of different kinds of wood are of very unequal 
value — that of the oak the least, and that of beech the 
most valuable. The latter wood constitutes two-thirds of 
the fire-wood of this region, and the ashes are therefore the 
very best. 

A coat of ashes may be laid, in the spring, over the whole 
garden and sj)aded in with the barnyard manure. 

They may be dug in about gooseberry and currant 
bushes. 

They are excellent about the trunks of fruit-trees, spread- 
ing the old each year, and renewing the deposit. 

They may be thualy spread over the grass-plat ia the 
dooryard, as they will give vigor and deeper color and 
strength to the grass. 

We have usually added about one shovelful of ashes to 
every twenty in making a compost for flowers, roses, shrubs, 
etc. 

Ashes are peculiarly good for all kinds of melon, squash, 
and cucumber vines. This is well known to those who 
raise watermelons on burnt fields, on old charcoal pits, etc. 
We have seen statements of cucumbers being planted 
upon a peck of pure, leached ashes, in a hole in the ground, 
and thriving with great vigor. The ashes of vines show a 
great amount of potash ; and as wood ashes afford this sub- 



170 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

stance abundantly, its use would seem to be indicated by 
theory as well as confirmed by experiment. 

Lastly, whenever ground is liable to suffer severely from 
drought, we would advise a liberal use of ashes and salt. 



HARD TIMES. 

What are called hard times produce very different 
effects on different individuals. Some are made more 
industrious, and some more indolent ; some grow frugal 
and careful, others careless and desperate; some never 
appear so honest as when brought to the innch^ but many 
men seem honest until they are brought to the trial, and 
then give way. Hard times are gradually passing away. 
As a community, are we better or worse off than before ? 
A few particulars may help us to form some judgment. 

Fewer goods are bought at the store, and more are man- 
ufactured at home ; spinning-wheels and looms have 
renewed their youth — and so have our mothers, who, after 
a long disuse, may now be seen working as merrily at them, 
as they used to do when they spun and wove their wedding 
fiirnishings — although they have not now any such rosy 
hope to quicken their aged fingers. Men have been 
obliged to rely more upon their own ingenuity — for want 
of money to pay the carpenter, the blacksmith, the shoe- 
maker, etc. Old clothes, old tools have been made to serve 
an additional campaign. 

The leisure of dull times has been improved exteiteively 
in setting out orchards, and we hope this practice will be 
continued in busy times. No one has, during the pressure^ 
suffered for food, raiment, or shelter. Indeed, it is supposed 
that not a pound less of sugar, tea and coffee, has been used 
by tne farmers than hitherto. Probably the quantity has 
increased. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 171 

Debts have been gradually contracted or discharged. 
Men have seen the end of speculations to be sudden disaster 
— and (of all things on earth) speculation-farming has 
received its reward. Men contented with small gains — in- 
dustrious, frugal, and prudent men — have suffered almost 
nothing. 



Gypsum. — " Time and practice " have ascertained the 
circumstances under which gypsiun should be applied. As 
a reason why, after repeated applications, it no longer 
benefits, Prof. Liebig says, " when we increase the crop of 
hay in a meadow by means of gypsum, we remove a greater 
quantity of potash with the hay, than can, under ordinary 
circumstances, be restored. Hence it happens that, after 
the lapse of several years, the crops of grass on lands 
manured with gypsum, diminish, owing to the deficiency of 
potash." In such a case, if spent ashes were employed either 
in connection or alternately with gypsum — potash would be 
resupplied ft-om the ashes. 



ACCLIMATING A PLOW. 

The other day we were riding past a large farm, and 
were much gratified at a device of the owner for the preser- 
vation of his tools. A good plow, apparently new in the 
spring, had been left in one corner of the field, standing in 
the furrow, just where, four months before, the boy had 
finished his stmt. Probably the timber needed seasoning — 
it was certainly getting it. Perhaps it was left out for 
acclimation. May-be the farmer left it there to save time 
in the hurry of the spring-work, in dragging it from the 



172 PLAIN AJND PLEASANT TALK 

shed. Perhaps he covered the share to keep it from the 
elements, and save it from rusting. Or, again, perhaps he 
is troubled with neighbors that borrow, and had left it where 
it Tv^ould be convenient for them. He might, at least, have 
built a little shed over it. Can any one tell what a farmer 
leaves a plow out a whole season for ? It is barely possible 
that he was an Irishman, and had planted for a spring crop 
of plows. 

After we got to sleep that night, we dreamed a dream. 
We went into that man's bam ; boards were kicked off, 
pai'titions were half broken down, racks broken, floor a foot 
deep with manure, hay trampled under foot and wasted, 
grain squandered. The wagon had not been hauled under 
the shed, though it was raining. The harness was scattered 
about — hames in one place, the breeching in another — the 
lines were used for halters. We went to the house. A 
shed stood hard by, in which a family wagon was kept for 
wife and daughters to go to town in. The hens had appro- 
priated it as a roost, and however plain it was once, it was 
ornamented now, inside and out. (Here, by the way, let it 
be remembered that hen-dung is the best manure for melons, 
squashes, cucumbers, etc.) We peeped into the smoke- 
house, but of all the " fixings " that 'we ever saw ! A Chinese 
Museum is nothing to it. Onions, soap-grease, squashes, 
hogs' bristles, soap, old iron, kettles, a broken spinning- 
wheel, a churn, a grindstone, bacon, hams, washing tubs, a 
barrel of salt, bones with the meat half cut off, scraps of 
leather, dirty bags, a chest of Indian meal, old boots, 
smoked sausao^es, the ashes and brands that remained since 
the last " smoke," stumps of brooms, half a barrel of rotten 
apples, together with rats, bacon bugs, earwigs, sowbugs, 
and other vermin which collect in damp dirt. We started 
for the house ; the window near the door had twelve lights, 
two of wood, two of hats, four of paper, one of a bunch of 
rags, one of a pillow, and the rest of glass. Under it 
stood several cooking pots, and several that were not for 



ABOUT FEUITS, FLOWERS AND PAKMING. 173 

cooking. As we were meditating whether to enter, such a 
squall arose from a quarrelling man and woman, that we 
awoke — and lo ! it was a dream. So that the man who left 
his plow out all the season, may live in the neatest house in 
the county, for all that we know ; only, was it not strange 
that we should have dreamed all this from just seeing a 
plow left out in the furrow. 



SCOUR YOUR PLOWS BRIGHT! 

Farmees may be surprised to know that their crops will 
depend a good deal on the color of the plows ! yet so it is. 
Bright plows are found to produce much better crops than 
any other. It may be electricity, or magic for aught we 
know ; we merely state the fact, leaving others to account 
for it. But very much depends upon the manner of doing 
it, for merely scrubbing it by hand with emery or sand is 
not the thing — it 9nus6 be scoured hy the soil. It is found 
that the subsoil scours it better for wheat, than the tojD soil 
— for a plow kept bright by very deep plowing affords bet- 
ter wheat than a plow brightened by the surface of the soil. 
It is the same with corn. In respect to this last crop, if you 
will keep your plow bright as a mirror until the corn is in 
the milk, you will find that it wUl have a wonderful effect. 
We appeal to every good farmer if he ever knew a rusty plow 
to be accompanied with good crops ? Iron rust on a plow- 
share is poisonous to corn. 

A young farmer of about twenty years of age said to us 
the other day : " If anybody wants me, he must come to 
my corn-field ; I live there — I am at it all the time — I have 
harrowed my corn once, plowed five times, and gone over 
it with the hoe once." " Yes," said his old father, who 
seemed, justly, quite proud of his son — " keep your plows 



174 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

agoing if you want to fetch corn. I never let the ground 
settle on the top ; if it is beaten down by rain, or begins to 
look a kind of rusty on the surface, I pitch into it, and keep 
it as mealy as flour. The fact is our farmers raise more coi*n 
than they can tend, they can't go over the corn more than 
once or twice, and that'll never do, and I guess I'U show 

old Billy R that it's so." 

Some ambitious farmers are pleased to " lay by" the corn 
very early ; but it is not wise ; for the grass is always more 
forward to grow about this season than any other ; and the 
ground will become very foul where corn is too early laid 
by, and, what is more to the purpose, a great deal of the 
nourishment of a crop is derived from the air and dew con- 
veyed to the roots. This can be done only when the surface 
is kept thoroughly open. 



PLOW TILL IT IS DRY, AND PLOW TILL IT IS WET. 

Speaking of corn, a very intelligent gentleman remarked : 

" Well, by a five minutes' talk, I made Mr. produce 

the best crop he ever had on a certain field." He was look- 
mg over the fence where his corn was, at a flat field, upon 
furrows full of water ; as I came by he said : " "Well, I shall 
never get a crop ofi" this j^iece of land ; it's going just as it 
always does when I plant here." I told him of an old man 
in Indiana, who was a good farmer, to whom I once said 
when at his house one morning : 

"Deafenbaugh, how is it that you always have good com 
when no one else gets a half crop ?" 

" TF7jy," said he, '■'"when it is loet I plow it till it is dry^ 
and lohen it is dry Iploto it till it is wetP 

The man to whom I told this anecdote, says our inform* 
ant, tried the practice, and gained a fine crop. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FAEMIISG. 175 

Now the principle is good. Our Dutch friend would not, 
we suppose, plow a stiff day in a wet condition, unless, pos- 
sibly, to strike a channel through the middle between rows. 
But the gist of the story lies in this — constant cultivation. 
Stir, stir^ stib the ground. 



STIRRING THE SOIL. 

Xext to deep plowing Ave should urge the advantage of 
continually stirring the surface of the soil. 

It produces Cleanliness, — Weeds in a growing crop 
are witnesses which no good farmer can afford to have testi- 
fying against him. When seed is sown broad-cast, weeding 
cannot be performed. In Europe, where labor is cheap and 
children plenty, acres of wheat and such-like crops are 
weeded by hand. Our only chance is to clear out every 
field, to be sown broad-cast, by a thorough previous culture. 
In all crops which are drilled, or planted in rows, the hoe, or 
plow, or cultivator, should be kept in lively use through 
the season. This practice should begin early, that weeds 
and grass may not get a start, for often, if they do, it is 
nearly unpossible to keep them down, especially if the 
season is a wet one. 

But there are yet some important reasons for constantly 
stirring the soil among growing crops. No matter how 
thoroughly the earth was pulverized when the seed was 
put m, one or two rains will, except in very sandy loam, 
beat it down compactly. This crust is injurious in prevent- 
ing the ingress of moisture. But that which is the most 
material of all is, that it excludes the air. It is well known 
that the air affords much nourishment to vegetation ; but, 
perhaps, it is not as well known, that it supplies it hy the 
root as well as by the leaf. If any one wishes to try the 



176 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

experiment, and we have done it time and again, let two 
patches in a garden be treated in all respects alike, except 
in this — let one be hoed or raked every two or three days 
and the other not at all, or but once in the season. 

The result will satisfy any man better than a paper argu- 
ment. Indeed, we have found it impossible (in a garden) 
to perfect some vegetables without constantly Stirling tlie 
soil. 

While these advantages are gained, it is not to be for- 
gotten that, in dry seasons, a thorough pulverization of the 
surface, will prevent the evaporation of the moisture in tlie 
earth and prevent deleterious effects of the drought. 



SUBSOIL PLO\^^NG. 

One of the great improvements of the age is the adoption 
in husbandry of the subsoil plow; or, as it is called in Eng- 
land, Deanstonizing system^ from Mr. Smith, of Dean- 
stone^ who first brought the imj)lement into general notice. 
They are designed to follow in the furrow of a common 
plow, and pulverize without bringing up the soil for eight or 
ten inches deeper. In ordinary soils two yoke of oxen will 
work it with ease, plowing from an acre to an acre and a 
quarter a day. 

The use of this plow will renovate old bottom-lands, the 
surface of which has been exhausted by shallow ploA^nng 
and continual cropping. It brings up from below fresh 
material, which the atmosphere speedily prepares for crops. 

Old fields, a long time in grass, are very much benefited. 

Constant plowing at about the same depth will often 
form a hard under-floor by the action of the plow, through 
which neither roots nor rain can well penetrate ; subsoiling 
will relieve a field thus conditioned. 

Soils lying upon clay or hard compact gravel are opened 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWKKS AND FARMING. 177 

and remarkably improved by the process. The wet, level, 
beech-lands would be greatly benefited by deep plowing 
in the fall of the year^ subjecting the earth, to a consider- 
able depth, to the action of the frosts, rains, etc., and giving 
a downward drain for superfluous moisture. 

Although we have incidentally alluded to the benefits of 
subsoiling, they deserve a separate and individual enume- 
ration. 

1. In very deep molds or loams it brings up a supply of 
soil which has not been exhausted by the roots. 

2. In soils whose fertility is dependent upon the constant 
decomposition of mineral substances, subsoil plowing is 
advantageous by bringing up the disintegrated particles 
of rock, and exposing them to a more rajjid change by con- 
tact with atmospheric agents. 

3. Subsoiling guards both against too much and too little 
moisture in the soil. If there is more water than the soil 
can absorb, it sinks through the pulverized imder-soil. If 
summer droughts exhaust the moisture of the surface they 
cannot reach the subsoil, which afibrds abundant pasture to 
the roots. 



FIRE-BLIGHT AND WINTER KILLING. 

These are two entirely difierent processes. The Fire 
might (of the middle and western States), is a disease of 
the circulatory system, induced by a freezing of the sap 
while the tree is in a growing and excitable state. It 
always must occur before the leaves are shed in the autumn- 
Winter-killing is of two kinds — resulting from severe cold, 
and from untimely heat. The loss of tender shrubs, roses, 
etc., at least, before they are fully established, and of half- 
hardy fruit-trees, is occasioned by the winter sun shining 
warmly upon them while frozen, and suddenly thawing 



178 PLAIN AND PLKASAJNT TALK 

them. The pomt of death is usually near the surface of the 
ground, where the under-ground bark and ujiper bark 
come together. Whole orchards are destroyed in this 
way ; and, if examined, the bark may be found sprung off 
from the wood. This may occur at any time during the 
winter. 

We are in doubt whether the winter-stored sap exists in 
a state to be affected by the expansion of the freezing fluids 
of the tree. If the expansion of congelation did produce 
the effect, it should have been more general, for there are 
fluids in every part of the trunk — all congeal or expand — 
and the bursting of the trunk in one place would not 
relieve the contiguous portions. We should expect, if this 
were the cause, that the tree would explode, rather than 
split. Capt. Bach, when wintering near Great Slave Lake, 
about 63° north latitude, experienced a cold of 70° below 
zero. Nor could any fire raise it in the house more than 
12° above zero. Mathematical instrument cases, and boxes 
of seasoned fir, split in pieces by the cold. Could it have 
been the sap in seasoned fir xoood which split them by its 
expansion in congealing ? 

We quote a paragraph from Loudon — " The history of 
frosts furnishes very extraordinary facts. The trees are 
often scorched and burnt up, as with the most excessive 
heat, in consequence of the separation of the water from 
the air, which is therefore very drying. In the great frost 
in 1683, the trunks of oak, ash, Avalnut, and other trees, 
were miserably split and cleft, so that they might be seen 
through, and the cracks often attended with dreadful noises 
like the explosion of fire-arms." 

We don't exactly know whether to take the first part as 
Loudon's explanation of the facts in the second. 

There can be no doubt that the nature of the summer's 
growth, very much determines the power of a tree to resist 
the severity of winter. When there is but an imperfect 
ripening in a cold and backward season, the tissues formed 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 179 

will be feeble, and the juices stored in tliem thin. Now 
the power to resist cold, among other things, is in propor- 
tion to the viscidity of the fluids in a i:»lant. 

It is highly desirable that the chemical researches which 
have revolutionized the art of cultivation, should be pushed 
into the inorhid anatomy of vegetation. A close, exact 
analysis of all the substances in an injured condition, will- 
save a vast deal of bootless ingenuity and fanciful specu- 
lation. 



WINTER TALK. 

Do not be tempted by fine weather to haul out manure 
— it will be half wasted by lying in small heaps over the 
field ; to spread it will be worse yet ; manure should lie in 
a stack, as little exposed to the weather as possible. 

Look to your fences ; see that they are in complete order 
and leave nothing of this to consume yoitr time in the 
spring when you will need all your force for other work. 
It is well to haul all the rails you will need for the year. 
The timber avUI last longer cut now. Do not leave rails or 
sticks of timber lying where you cleave them, on the damp 
ground, they will decay more in six months there, than in 
eighteen when properly cared for. Put two raUs down and 
lay the rest across them so as to have a circulation of air 
beneath. If you have five or ten acres of deadening wliich 
you mean to clear up and put to corn, you may as well 
roll the logs now. Every good farmer should study 
through the winter to make his spring work as light as 
possible. Whatever can be done now do not fail to do 
it ; you will have enough to do when spring opens ; and 
perhaps the season may be one which will crowd your work 
into a week or two. If you have young fruit-trees, or a lit^ 



180 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

tie home-nursery, look out for rabbits. They usually depre- 
date just after a light fall of snow. 

Overhaul all your plows, carts, shovels, hoes, etc., and 
put everythhig in complete readiness. 

While you are moving about and repairing holes in the 
fence, putting on a rail here, a stake yonder, a rider in 
another place, you may inquire of yourself whether your 
character is not in some need of repairs ? Perhaps you are 
very careless and extravagant — the fence needs rails there ; 
perhaps you are lazy — in that case the fence corners may 
be said to be full of brambles and weeds, and must be 
cleared out ; perhaps you are a violent, passionate man — 
you need a stake and rider on that spot. And lastly, per- 
haps you are not temperate., if so, your fence is all going 
doT\ai and will soon have gaps enough to let in all the hogs 
of indolence, vice, and crime : and they make a large drove 
and fatten fast. Now is a good time to plan how to get 
out of debt. Don't be ashamed to save in little things., 
nor to earn small gains : '•'•Many a tnickle makes a muchleP 
But set it down, to begin with, that no savmg is made by 
cheating yourself out of a good newspaper. No man reads 
a good paper a year, without saving by it. Suppose you 
put in your wheat a little better for something you see 
written by a good farmer and get five bushels more to the 
acre. One acre pays for a year's paper. One recipe, a 
hint which betters any crop, pays for the paper fourfold. 
Intelligent boys work better, plan better, earn and save 
better ; and reading a good paper makes them intelligent. 
Besides, suppose you took a good paper a year, and found 
nothing new during all that time (an incredible supposi- 
tion !), yet every two weeks it comes to jog your memory 
about things which you may forget, but ought not to forget. 
It steps in and asks whether that little store bill is paid ? 
Whether that loan drawing a fatal six., seven or tenx>er cent 
(poison! poison! deadly poison!) is being melted doAvn? 
whether the children are going to school? whether the 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMIXG. 181 

tools are all right ? the fences snug ? whether economy, and 
industry, and sound morals (the best crop one can put in), 
are flourishing ? It will look at your orchard — peep over 
into your garden, pry into the dairy — nay, into the cup- 
board and bureau, and even into your pocket. Now, if you 
are a tnan willing to learn, it will give you hints enough 
in a year to pay ten times over for your paper. 



"SHUT YOUR MOUTH." 

We heard a lad, in anger, use this expression to another. 
It was not very bad advice, though given somewhat roughly. 

When we hear some of our mincing misses singing, now 
away up, and now away down, tossing their heads and roll- 
ing their eyes, we think. Well, miss, if you knew what folks 
thought of you, you'd shut your inoutTi. 

We have seen many men ruined because they did not know 
how to shut their mouth when tempted to say " Yes," to a 
bad business. 

When we see a man standing before the bar just ready to 
drink, we think. Ah ! you fine fellow, if you will not keep 
your mouth shut before that bar, you will, by and by, find 
yourself before a Bar where it will be shut tight enough. 

When we hear a fine lady scolding till every room rings ; 
or tattling from house to house — or scandal-mongering, we 
think, Ah, you lady, with aU your schooling, you never 
learned to shut your mouth. 



1S2 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

SPRIXG WORK ON THE FARM. 

Thoroughly overhaul your tools; let plows be sharp 
ened ; repair their stocks if anywhere staited or weakened ; 
look after the chains, the swingletrees, the yokes for youi 
oxen, or the harness for your horses. Don't have any 
straps to replace, or harness to tie up mth tow strings after 
you get into the fields, and when time is precious. Now is 

THE TIME TO SAVE TIME, BY GEITING READY. Old rUSty 

buckles will give way the moment the plow strikes a root ; 
stitches which have been longing for some time to fall out 
iind part, will be likely to do it when you have the least 
time to mend them. Then we shall hear talk ; you'll be 
cursing the old horse or the old rickety harness, and declar- 
ing that your " luck is always on the wrong side ;" and 
you may depend upon it, that it always will be, so long as 
you are not more careful. Good luck is a wary old fish 
which nibbles at everybody's hook, but the shrewd and 
skillful angler only catches it. 

The opening of spring is usually debilitating both to man 
and beast. Your horses cannot stand hard usage at once ; 
some of them will need physic — all of them should be put 
to work carefully ; mcrease their task gradually ; favor 
them, and you will get abundantly paid for it before their 
summer's Avork is done. 

A good farmer may be known by the way he manages 
his spring work. Consider how much there is of it. 
Cows are calving ; mares foaling ; young heifers for the 
first time to be broken to milking ; all the tools to be 
got ready ; the ground to be broken up and seeded ; 
the orchards to be set ; or old ones to be attended to ; 
a garden to be made ; and a hundred other things to do. 
Now here is a chance for good management, and a yet bet- 
ter chance for bad management. There is as much skill in 
" laying out " a season's work for the farmer, as there is in 
" laying out " a frame for a house or barn. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 183 

Bethink you of all the mistakes you made last season ; 
if you made any good hits, improA'e upon them this year. 
Every farmer should resolve to do all things as well as he 
did the last year, and sotne things a great deal better. 

While everything is merry, birds singing, bees at work, 
cattle frisky, and the whole animated world is joyous, do 
but search and see if, among all beasts, birds, or bugs, you 
can find one that needs whisky to do its spring or summer 
work on ? 

Look again ; seeds are sprouting ; trees budding ; flowers 
peeping out from warm nooks. Everything grows in 
spring-time. Youth is spring-time, habits are sprouting, 
dispositions are putting out their leaves, opinions are form- 
ing, prejudices are getting root. Now take at least as 
good care of your children as you do of your farm. If you 
don't want to use the land you let it alone, ^cndi weeds grow; 
but when you wish to improve a piece, you turn the natural 
weeds under, and sow the right seed, and tend the crop. 
I have heard good kind of folks object to much " bringing 
up^' of their boys. They guessed the lads would come out 
about right. You break a colt, and break a steer, and 
break a heifer, and break a soil, and if you won't break 
your children, they will be very likely to break you — heart 
and pocket. 

Fermenting manures should not be hauled or spread 
until you are ready to plow them under. [If you spread 
manure on meadows it should be fine, and well rotted, and 
let ashes be liberally mixed with it.] If you let manure lie 
a week or ten days exposed in the fields to the air, it will 
waste one half of " its sweetness on the desert air." Let 
the i^low follow the cart as fast as possible, and the gases 
generated by your manure will then be taken up by the soil, 
and held in store for your grain. 

Deep Plowing. — ^There may be some rare cases where, 
for special reasons, shallow plowing is advisable. But the 
standing rule upon the farm should be deep plowing. A 



184 PLAIN AND PLKASANT TALK 

good farmer reiuarked the other day to us, " One of my 
neighbors who is always talking of deep plowing was at it 
last summer, and I followed in the furrow, and his depth 
did not average more than four inches ; he did not measure 
on the land side but on the mold-board side." The rea- 
sons are very strong for deep plowing. 

1 . When crop after crop is taken off the first four or five 
inches 6f top earth, it tends speedily to rob it of all ma- 
terials required by grass or grain. Every blade taken from 
the soil, takes off some portion of that soil with it. 

2. Deep plowing brings up from beneath a greater 
amount of earth, which, when subjected to the frosts, the 
atmosphere, and the action of the plow, becomes fit for 
vegetation. 

3. Summer droughts seldom injure deeply-plowed soils; 
certainly not to that degree that they do shallow soils. 
The roots penetrate the mellow mould to a greater depth, 
and draw thence moisture when the top is as dry as ashes. 
Will not some one who is curious in such matters try two 
acres side by side plowed shallow and deep, respectively, 
and give us the history of their crop? 

Quantity of Seed. — It has been often said that Ameri- 
can husbandry was unfavorably peculiar in stinginess of 
seed-sowing. It is certain that very much greater quan- 
tities are employed in Great Britain and on the Continent 
than with us, and that much greater crops are obtained ])er 
acre. In part the crop is owing to a superior cultivation ; 
but those who have carefully studied the subject affirm that, 
in part, it is attributable to the use of much greater quan- 
tities of seed. We give a table showing the average quan- 
tity of seed per acre for different grains, in England, Ger- 
many, and the United States. The table was formed m 
that manufactory of so many valuable articles, the Albany 
Cultivator. It must be remembered that the average crop 
is not the average of the best farming States, but of the 
whole United States. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 



185 





GE8MANT. 1 


ENGLAND. 


UNITED STATES. 


Seed per acre— Product. 


Seed per acre— Product. 


Seed per acre— Product. 


Wheat, 


2i bushels. 


25 bushels. 


^ to 8i bu.! 28 bushels. 


1 to U bush IS bushels. 


Rye, 


2 


25 


2to2i "125 


ItoH ■' 15 


BarUy, 


2} " 


85 


2i to 4 " 36 " 


Hto2 " 125 


Oats, 


2 to 4 " 


40 " 


4 to 7 " ! 32 


2 to 3 " 85 


Millet, 


7 quarts. 


85 






Peas, 


2t bushels. 2G " 


8 to Si " 30 to 40 bu. 


2to2i " 25 


Corn, 


20 quarts. 


36 




20 to 30 qts. ' 80 " 


Turnips, 




80 to 85 tons 


1 to 2 pints. 80 to 85 tons 


1 to 2 lbs. 1 20 tons. 


Buckwheat, 


1 bushel. 


27 bushels. 


1 to 1^ bush 26 bushels. 


16 to 20 qts 15 to 30 bu. 


Clover, 


34 pounds. 




14 to IS lbs. 


5 to 10 lbs. . 


Flax, 


2 to 8 bush. 


10 bu. seed. 


2 to 3 bush. 10 bu. seed. 


Ito Hbush 8 to 12 bush 


Hemp, 


2ito3 " 


650 pounds. 


3 " 550 pounds. 


lito2t " ."iOO pounds. 


Potatoes, 


5 


300 bushels. 


8 to 12 " 250 bushels. 


8 to 20 " ,1 75 bushels 



SPRING WOEK IN THE GARDEN. 

When spring comes, everybody begins to think of the 
garden. A little of the experience of one who has learned 
some by making many mistakes will do you no harm. 

Too jrucH Work laid out. — When the winter lets us 
out, and we are exhilarated with fresh air, singing birds, 
bland weather, and newly-springing vegetation, our ambi- 
tion is apt to lay out too much icorJc. We began with an 
acre, in garden ; we could not afford to hire help except for 
a few days ; and we were ambitious to do things as they 
ought to be done. By reference to a Garden Journal 
(every man should keep one), we find that we planted in 
1840, sixteen kinds of peas; seventeen kinds of beans; seven 
kinds of corn ; six kinds of squash ; eight kinds of cabbage ; 
seven kinds of lettuce ; eight sorts of cucumber, and seve7i 
of turnips — seventy-six varieties of only eight vegetables ! 
Besides, we had fruit-trees to transplant in spring — flowers 
to nurture, and all the etceteras of a large garden. Al- 
though we worked faithfully, early and late, through the 
whole season, the weeds beat us fairly ; and every day or 
two some lazy loon, who had not turned two spadefuls of 
earth during the season, would lounge along and look over, 
and seeing the condition of things, would very quietly say : 



18G PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

" Why, I heard so much about your garden — whew ! what 
regiments of weeds you keep. I say, neighbor, do you boil 
that parslei/ for greens ?" It nettled us, and we sweat at the 
hoe and spado all the harder, but in vain ; for we had laid 
out more than could be well done. Nobody asked how 
much we had done — they looked only at what we had not 
done. To be sure so many sorts were planted only to test 
their qualities ; but the laying out of so large a work in 
spring is not wise. A half well done is better than a whole 
half done. Remember there is a Jidy as well as an April ; 
and laT/ out in April as you can hold out in July and Au- 
gust. We have profited by our own mistakes and have no 
objections that others should do it. 

Vegetable Garden. — Before you meddle with the garden, 
do two things : first inspect your seeds, assort them, reject- 
ing the shrunk, the mildewed, the sprouted, and, generally, 
the discolored. Buy early, such as you need to jDurchase. 
Do not wait till the minute of planting before you get your 
seeds. Second, make up your mind beforehand just what 
you mean to do in your garden for the season. 

Preparation. — Haul your manure and stack it in a 
corner ; do not s^^read it till the day that you are ready to 
turn it under ; cut your pea-brush and put it under shelter ; 
inspect your bean-poles and procure such as are necessary to 
replace the rotten or broken ones ; inspect every panel 
of the garden fence ; one rail lost, may ruin, in a night, two 
months' labor, and more temper and grace than you can 
afford to spare m a whole year. Clean up all the stubble, 
haulm, straw, leaves, refuse brush, sticks and rubbish of 
every sort, and cast it out, or burn it and distribute the 
ashes. If you intend to do your work in the best manner, 
see that you have the sorts of manure that you may need 
through the season : ashes, fine old barn-yard manure, 
green long manure, leaf-mold from the wood, top-soil 
from pastures, etc., etc. Every florist understands the use 
of these. 



ABOUT FEUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 187 

Coarse manure may be put uj)on your pie-plant bed, as 
a strong and succulent leaf-stalk is desirable. Let it be 
thoroughly forked, gently near the stools and deeply 
between the rows. 

With an iron-toothed rake go over your old strawberry 
beds that are matted together, and rake them severely. 
Strawberries that have been kept in hills and cleanly tended 
should be manured between the rows and gently spaded or 
forked. 

Early Sowings. — Tomatoes, egg-plant, early cucumbers, 
cabbage, cauliflowers, broccoli, lettuce, melons, celery for 
an early crop, should have been, before this, well advanced 
in a hot-bed. If not, no time is to be lost ; and if a first 
sowing is well along, a second sowing should be made. 

You cannot get too early into the ground after the frost 
is out and the wet a little dried, onions for seed or a crop, 
lettuce, radishes, peas, spinage, parsnip, early cabbage, 
and small salads. 

Asparagus. — The beds should be attended to; remove 
all weeds and old stalks ; give a liberal quantity of salt to 
the bed — if you have old brine, or can get fish brine at the 
stores, that is better than dry salt. Asparagus is a marine 
plant, growing upon sandy beaches along the sea coast, and 
is therefore benefited by salt, to which, in its habitat, it was 
accustomed. Put about three or four inches of old, thor- 
oughly rotted manure upon the bed ; fork it in gently, so as 
not to wound the crowns of the plant. Directions for form- 
ing beds belong to a later period in the season. 

Onions. — Should be sown or set eaiiy. 

If you prefer seed, sow, across beds four feet wide, in 
drills eight inches apart ; young gardeners are apt to be- 
grudge room — give it freely to everything, and it will repay 
you ; when they come up, thin out to one for every inch ; 
as you wish young and tender onions for your table, draw 
these, leaving, at least, one every five inches in the row. It 
your soil is deep and very rich, onions can be grown in one 



188 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

season from the seed as well as from the set — we trj it 
almost every year and never fail^ although told a hundred 
times : " You could do that in the old States, but it won't 
do out here." It had to do, and did do, and always will do, 
where there is no lazy men about ; but nothing ever does 
well in a slack and lazy man's garden ; plants have an invet- 
erate prejudice against such, and won't grow ; but he is a 
darling favorite among weeds. 

The white or silver skin, and the yellow Portugal have 
been favorite kinds with us to raise from seed. They are 
tender, mild flavored, but do not keep as well as the Red. 
Strong onions always heep better than mild ones. 

If you prefer top-onion sets, or sets of any other kind, 
plant them out at the same distances, viz. eight inches be- 
tween the row and five or six between the sets. Inexpe- 
rienced gardeners are afraid that little sets no bigger than 
a pea, will not do well. It is a mistake — they will make 
large onions ; put them all in, if they are sound. Plant the 
sets so that the top shall just appear above the surface. 

If yoii plant out old onions for seed., let them be at least 
a foot apart and stake them when they begin to blossom. 
If you plant the top-onion for sets you need not stake them, 
for they cannot shed out their seed if they fall over. It is 
not generally known that the same onions may be kept for 
seed for many years. 

Transplanting, — All fruit-trees, most kinds of shade 
trees, shrubs, hardy roses, honeysuckles, pinks, lilacs, peonies, 
etc, may be raised, divided, and transplanted in April un- 
less your soil is very wet. All hardy plants may be safely 
transplanted just as soon as the ground is dry enough to 
crumble freely — and not till then. In planting out shrubs, 
remember that they will grow ; if you put them near to- 
gether, for the sake of present efiect, in a year or two they 
will be crowded. We set at ample distances and fill up the 
spaces with lilies, peonies, phlox, gladiolus, and herbaceous 
plants which are easily removed. 



.4.BOU1 FKUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 189 

Flower Garden. — Remove the covering from your bulb- 
beds ; as soon as the earth is dry enough to crumble, with a 
small hoe cai'efully mellow the earth betioeen the rows of 
bulbs, and work it loose with your hands, in the row itself. 
Leave the surface convex, that superfluous rain may flow ofi". 
Transjjlant roses that are to be moved. Divide the roots 
of such lilies, peonies, irises, etc., as are propagated by divi- 
sion, and replant. 

As fast as the soil allows, spade up your borders, and 
flower compai'tments, giving first a good coating of very 
fine, old, pulverized manure. 

If you have hot-beds you may bring forward most of your 
annuals, so as to turn them out into the open beds as soon 
as frosts cease. 

But defer sowing in the open air until the first of April ; 
and then, sparingly ; sow again the middle of April, and on 
the first of May. Only thus, will you be sure of a supply. 
If you gain more than you need by three sowings, should 
all succeed, you have friends and neighbors enough, if you 
are a reasonably decent man, who will be glad to receive 
the surplus. 

Manure. — Corn and potatoes will bear green and unfer- 
mented manure. But all ordinary garden vegetables require 
thoroughly rotted manure. If the soil is sandy, leached 
ashes may be applied with great profit at the rate of seventy 
or eighty bushels the acre. The soil is made more reten- 
tive of moisture, and valuable ingredients are secured to it. 
Salt may be used with great advantage on all garden soils, 
but especially upon light and sandy ones. Thus treated, 
soils will resist summer droughts and be moist when other- 
wise they would sufier. Salt has also a good efiect in 
destroying vermin, and it adds very valuable chemical in- 
gredients to the soil. Soapsuds should be carefully saved 
and poured about currants, gooseberries and fruit-trees. 
Charcoal, pulverized, is exceUent, as it absorbs ammonia 
from the atmosphere, or from any body containing it, and 



190 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

yields it to the plants. Let a barrel be set near the bouse 
filled with powdered charcoal. Empty into it all the cham- 
ber-ley. The ammonia will be taken up by the charcoal, and 
the barrel will be without any offensive smell. But as soon 
as the charcoal is saturated, it will begin to give out the 
peculiar odor of urine. Let the charcoal then be mixed 
with about five times its bulk of fresh earth and weU worked 
together, and it will afford a very powerful manure for vege- 
tables and flowers. In Europe, where manure is precious, 
it is estimated that the excrementitious matter, slops, suds, 
scraps, etc., of a family, will supply one acre, for each mem- 
ber, with manure.* There are few famiHes whose offal 
would not afford abundant material for enriching the gar- 
den, and with substances peculiarly fitted for flowers, fruits, 
and esculent roots. 



FALL WORK IN THE GARDEN. 

Planting seeds may be performed for very early spring 
use. Lettuce, spinage, and radishes, may be sown in a shel- 
tered spot, and they will come forward ten days or a fortnight 
earlier than those which shall have been sown in spring. 

Clearing up the garden should be thoroughly performed. 
Let pea-brush be removed, bean poles and flower stakes be 
collected and put under shelter. Collect all refuse vines, 
hauhu, stems and stalks and wheel them to a corner to rot, 
or to be ready for use in covering flower-beds. Let the 
alleys be hoed out for the last time, and it wiU be as good 
as one hoeing in the spring, when they will probably be too 
wet to hoe. Gravel may now be laid in the walks ; if ashes 
are to be spread, it may be done in autumn, and save time ir 
the spring. 

* See note, p. 98, Colraan's Tour, 2d part, where is given an estimate 
by a distinguished agricultural chemist, Mr. Haywood. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 191 

All tender plants are to be removed or secured by covering. 

The best covering to secure the earth from frost, that w( 
know of, is a layer of leaves, say three inches thick v/hen 
well packed down, and iqyon them two or three inches of 
chip dirt, with the coarsest part on top. We have had the 
soil unfrozen in severe winters when so covered. In this 
manner, tuberoses, gladiolus, dahlias, tiger flowers, etc., may 
be kept out through the winter. The gladiolus thus treated 
makes splendid tufts of blossoms. It may be prudent to 
try only a few at first, and adventure more as experience 
gives confidence. 

Celery which is to be left in the trenches should first be 
well covered with straw, and then boards should be placed 
upon the top in such a manner as to shed the rain. Great 
quantities of wet rot it when it is not growing ; and freez- 
ing and thawing in the light destroys it. 

If portions of the garden have been infested with cut- 
worms, etc., let it be spaded and thrown up loosely just be- 
fore freezing weather. A clay soil will be ameliorated by 
frosts, if treated in the same way. A light, loose soil, should 
not be worked in the fall. 



GUARDING CHERRY-TREES FROM COLD. 

This tree is peculiarly liable while young, but more espe- 
cially when coming into bearing, to be roughly handled by 
our winters. The bark at the surface of the ground splits, and 
often the trunk, enfeebling the tree and sometimes destroy- 
ing it. The evil does not result from the cold, but from the 
action of bright suns upon the frozen trunk. Let those hav- 
ing valuable young trees, prepare them for winter by giv- 
ing a cheap covermg to the trunks, so that the sun shall not 
strike them. This may be done by tying about them bass 
matting, long straw, corn-stalks, or any similar protection. 



192 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 



SHADE-TREES. 



We believe that no man ever walked under the magnifi- 
cent elms upon the Boston Common, or beneath the Lin- 
dens in Philadelphia, or through Elm street in New Haven, 
withoiit conviction of the beauty and utility of shade- 
trees. Trees not only are objects of beauty — the architecture 
of Nature — but they promote both health and comfort. Our 
ardent summers, from June to October, make open, un- 
shaded streets, almost impassable, and reflect heat upon our 
dwellings from the side-walks and beaten road. 

In this country the growth of trees is so rapid, and the 
supply from our own forests so abundant and convenient 
that every village and city, and every well-conducted farm 
should be Uned with shade-trees. We will offer a few sug- 
gestions upon the kmds to be selected and the manner of 
setting. 

The Locust {Rohinia pseiidacacia). — This tree is very 
popular, and is almost the only one at the West set for 
shade-trees. It has a beautiful form, grows very rapidly, 
bears a profusion of beautiful and very fragrant blossoms 
(pendulous racemes of pea-shaped flowers), its foliage is sin- 
gularly pleasing — the young leaves being of a light pea- 
green, and growing darker with age, so that in the same 
tree three or four distinct shades of green may be seen ; it 
grows freely in all soils, and is not infested by any worms ; 
its timber is almost as durable as cedar, and in the West, is 
not subject to the attacks of the borer, as it is in the East. 

On the other hand, the tree becomes unsymmetrical with 
age, it is brittle, breaking easily at slight wounds, even 
when they have healed over. It is not a long-lived tree, 
and requires careful protection from cattle. 

We would advise a more sparing use of it. Let every 
other tree be a Locust, and the alternate maple or elm, oak, 
tulip, etc. By this method the Locust will afford immediate 
shade, and when they become unsightly the intervening 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOAVERS AND FARAONG. 193 

trees will have grown to a goodly size. The Locust should 
be transplanted just as the buds are ready to burst ; they 
should be protected by frames as soon as set. Good cases 
may be made at a triflmg expense, by taking strips of inch 
and a half stuiF, three inches wide, and nine or ten feet long, 
sharpen the lower end, and drive it into the ground foar or 
five inches, and in a box formed about the tree let cross- 
pieces be nailed at the top. Be careful that the tree does 
not rub upon the case, although the wound will heal over, yet 
in the first high wind, it wiU be apt to break off at that 
point. This tree is rather pecuhar in that respect. 

The Locust was introduced to Europe by a Frenchman 
named Robin. From him. the genus {Mohinia) took its 
name. There are but four species belonging to it, and they 
are all indigenous to North America, viz. : 

Mohinia pseudacacia (common Locust). JR. viscosa, 
confined to the southwestern parts of the Alleghany Moun- 
tains, bearing rose-colored blossoms and being even more 
ornamental than the former ; it is equally hardy, and if it 
could be introduced among us would form a valuable addi- 
tion. Locusts nowhere appear to a better advantage than 
when planted in clumps of six or eight on a lawn, and if the 
H. lyseudacacia and M. viscosa were contiguous, blending 
the pure white and the rose-colored blossoms, the world 
might be challenged for a finer effect. 

The H. hispida {rose-acacia of our gardens) is a highly 
ornamental shrub, its branches are, like the moss-rose, cov- 
ered with minute spines, which give it a fine appearance. 
A fourth species is said to exist in the basin of Red River. 
The favorable opinion here expressed of the Locust, will 
remove any impression of prejudice when we say, that thei/ 
are altogether too much cultivated. Our forests are full of 
magnificent shade-trees whose claims can never, aU things 
considered, be equalled by the Locust. 

Elm ( Ulmus Americana)., commonly called White Elm. 
Of the four species of elms indigenous to the United 



194 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

States, but two are particularly worth notice, the White 
Elm, and Slippery Elm ( XJ. pulva). But the former of these 
is so incomparably the superior, that it should be selected 
wherever it can be had. It attains a height of one hundred 
feet, is very long-lived, grows more and more beautiful with 
age, its long branches droop over, forming graceful pendu- 
lous extremities ; and no one who has seen the Boston Mall, 
or the New Haven elms, or those scattered along the vil- 
lages of Connecticut, will think that Michaux exaggerated 
in pronouncing this tree to be the most magnificent vegetor- 
hle production of the Tem.perate Zone. It is vmquestionably 
the monarch among shade-trees, as superior to the oak for 
avenues and streets, as the oak is to it for parks and forests. 
The great main-street of every village should be lined with 
White Elms, set at distances of fifty feet, and Locusts 
between to supply an immediate shade, and to be removed 
so soon as the slower-growing elm has spread enough to 
dispense with them. 

The Maple. — The following varieties are in our forests, 
and are beautiful shade-trees for the borders of farms, door- 
yards, public squares, avenues, streets, etc. The Sugar 
Maple {Acer saccharinum), White Maple {A. eriocarpum,) 
Red Maple {A. ruhrum). This last variety shows beautiful 
red flowers before its leaves put out in spring, and, like the 
sugar-maj)le, brilliant scarlet leaves in autumn. The maple 
is a beautiful tree of fine form, the leaves of the difierent 
varieties, are variously shaped and all beautiful, it is free 
from disease and noxious insects. 

Besides these, the ash, oak, tulip, beech and walnut, are 
all worthy of being transferred to our streets. Shade-trees 
for door-yards, and public squares, and pleasure-grounds, 
require a separate notice, as in some material respects they 
should be difierently treated. 

We warmly recommend in lining streets, that each alter- 
nate tree only be locust. 

It is better for effect that each street, or at least con- 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWEKS AND FARMING. 195 

tinuous portions of each, have one hind of forest tree, so 
that an avenue of similar trees be formed. In planting 
grounds, it is well to group trees of different kinds, but in 
streets an avenue should be of elms, or of oaks, or of syca- 
mores, or of maples, and not all of them mingled together. 



A PLEA FOR HEALTH AND FLORICULTURE. 

Evert one knows to what an extent women are' afflicted 
with nervous disorders, neuralgic affections as they are 
more softly termed. Is it equally well known that formerly 
when women partook from childhood, of out-of-door labors, 
were confined less to heated rooms and exciting studies, 
they had, comparatively, few disorders of this natui-e. 
With the progress of society, fevers increase first, because 
luxurious eating vitiates the blood ; dyspepsia follows next, 
because the stomach, instead of being a laboratory, is turned 
into a mere warehouse, into which everything is packed, 
from the foundation to the roof, by gustatory stevedores. 
Last of all come neuralgic complaints, springing from the 
muscular enfeeblement and the nervous excitability of the 
system. 

Late hours at night, and later morning hours, early appli- 
cation to books, a steady traming for accomplishments^ viz. 
embroidery, lace-work, painting rice paper, casting wax-flow- 
ers so ingeniously that no mortal can tell what is meant lilies 
looking like huge goblets, dahlias resembling a battered cab- 
bage ; these, together with practisings on the piano, or if 
something extra is meant, a little tum, turn, turning, on the 
harp, and a little ting-tong on the guitar ; reading " ladies' 
books," crying over novels, writing in albums, and original 
correspondence with my evei'-adored Matilda Euphrosyne, 
are the materials, too often, of a fashionable education 
While all this refinement is being put on, girls are taught 



196 PLAIN A^^) pleasant talk 

from eight years old, that the chief end of women is to get 
a beau, and convert him into a husband. Therefore, every 
action must be on purpose^ must have a discreet object in 
view. Girls must not walk fast, that is not lady-like ; nor 
run, that would be shockingly vulgar ; nor scamper over 
fields, merry and free as the bees or the birds, laughing till 
the cheeks are rosy, and romi^ing till the blood marches 
merrily in every vein ; for, says prudent mamma, " my dear, 
do you think Mr, Lack-a-daisy would marry a girl whom he 
saw acting so unfashionably ?" Thus, in every j)art of edu- 
cation those things are pursued, whose tendency is to 
excite the brain and nervous system, and for the most part 
those things are not '•'• refined^'' which would develop the 
muscular system, give a natural fullness to the form, and 
health and vigor to every organ of it. 

The evil does not end upon the victim of fashionable 
education. Her feebleness, and morbid tastes, and preter- 
natural excitability are transmitted to her children, and to 
their children. If it were not for the rural habits and 
health of the vast proportion of our population, trained to 
hearty labor on the soil, the degeneracy of the race in 
cities would soon make civilization a curse to the health of 
mankind. 

Now we have not one word to say against "accomplish- 
ments " when they are real^ and are not purchased at the 
expense of a girl's constitution. She may dance like 
Miriam, paint like Raphael, make wax fruit till the birds 
come and peck at the cunning imitation ; she may play like 
Orpheus harping after Eurydice (or what will be more to 
the purpose, like a Eurydice after an Orpheus), she may 
sing and write poetry to the moon, and to every star in the 
the heavens, and every flower on earth, to zephyrs, to 
memory, to friendshij), and to whatever is imaginable in the 
spheres, or on the world — if she will, in the midst of these 
ineffable things, remember the most important facts, that 
health is a blessing ; that God made health to depend upon 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 197 

exercise, and temperate living in all respects ; and that tho 
great objects of our existence, in respect to ourselves, is a 
virtuous and pious character, and in respect to others, the 
raising and training of a family after such a sort that 
neither we, nor men, nor God, shall be ashamed of them. 

Now we are not quite so enthusiastic as to suppose that 
floriculture has in it a balm for all these mentioned ills. 
We are very moderate in our expectations, believing, only, 
that it may become a very important auxiliary in main, 
taiuing health of body and purity of mind. 

When once a mind has been touched with zeal in floricul- 
ture it seldom forgets its love. If our children were early 
made little enthusiasts for the garden, when they were old 
they would not dej)art from it. A woman's jDerception of 
the beauty of form, of colors, of arrangement, is naturally 
quicker and truer than man's. Why should they admire 
these only in paintmg, in dress, and in furniture? Can 
human art equal what God has made, in variety, hue, grace, 
symmetry, order and delicacy ? A beautiful engraving is 
often admired by those who never look at a natural land- 
scape ; ladies become connoisseurs of " artificials," who live 
in proximity to real flowers without a spark of enthusiasm 
for them. We are persuaded that, if parents, instead of 
regarding a disposition to train flowers as a useless trouble, 
a waste of time, a pernicious romancing, would inspire the 
love of it, nurture and direct it, it would save their daugh- 
ters ivom. false taste^ and all love of meretricious ornament. 
The most enthusiastic lovers of nature catch something of 
the simplicity and truthfulness of nature. 

Now a constant temptation to female vanity — (if it may 
be supposed for the sake of argument, to exist) is a display 
of person, of dress, of equipage. In olden times, without 
entirely hating their beauty, our mothers used to be proud 
of their spinning, their weaving, their curiously-wrought 
apparel for bed and board. A pride in what we have done 
is not, if in due measure, wrong or unwise ; and we really 



198 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

think that rivah-y among the young in rearing the choicest 
plants, the most resplendent flowers, would be altogether a 
wise exchange for a rivalry of lace, and ribbons, and silks. 
And, even if poor human nature must be forced to allow 
the privilege of criticising each other something severely, 
it would be much more amiable to pull roses to pieces, than 
to pull caps ; all the shafts which are now cast at the luck- 
less beauty, might more harmlessly be cast upon the glow- 
ing shield of her dahlias or upon the cup of her tulips. 

A love of flowers would beget early rising, industry, 
habits of close observation, and of reading. It would 
incline the mind to notice natural phenomena, and to reason 
upon them. It would occupy the mind with pure thoughts, 
and inspire a sweet and gentle enthusiasm ; maintain sim- 
plicity of taste ; and iu connection with personal instruction, 
unfold in the heart an enlarged, unstraitened, ardent piety. 



KEEPING YOUNG PIGS IN WINTER. 

There is both negligence, and mistake, in the way of win- 
tering pigs. I am not talking to those whose manner of 
keei^ing stock is, to let stock take care of themselves ; but 
to farmers who mean to he careful. Hogs should be sorted. 
The little ones will, otherwise, be cheated at the trough, 
and overlaid and smothered in the sleeping-heap. There 
should not' be too many in one inclosure ; especially young 
pigs should not sleep in crowds ; for, although they sleep 
warmer, they will sufier on that very account. Lying in 
piles, they get sweaty ; the skin is much more sensitive to 
the cold, and coming out in the morning reaking and smok- 
ing, the keen air pierces them. In this way, young pigs die 
off through the winter by being too warm at night. If you 
have the land-shark and alligator breed, however, you should 
crowd these together, for the more they die off the better 
for the farmer. 



A.BOUT TBUITS, FLOWEKS AND FAKMUSTG. 199 

SWEET POTATOES. 

Although oiir practice has been more extensive, and is 
more skillful, in eating sweet potatoes than in raising them, 
we yet adventure some remarks : No root can live and 
grow without food from the leaf; if the tops be permitted 
to root, so much nutriment is subtracted from the tubers as 
is diverted to these new roots. Those who are best skilled 
in their cultivation, raise their vines up so as to detach the 
roots, but do not twist them round the hill ; which, by crush- 
ing or covering the leaves, would render the vines unhealthy. 
As to vines of the Cucurhitacce^ their fruit not being vtnder 
ground, it is not necessary that such an amount of pre- 
pared sap should go to the root as if tubers were formed. 
There is, in such vines, a great liability to disease and 
injury near the hill. The vines shrink and dry near the 
base ; and however flourishing the running end may other- 
wise be, it is destroyed. If roots are secured at several 
points along the vine, we remove the chances of its prema- 
turely dying, without withdrawing any sap necessary for 
the maturation of its fruit. 



MANAGEMENT OF BOTTOM-LANDS. 

Almost every kind of soil requires a management of its 
own. That proper for clays, and that proper for bottom- 
lands, cannot be interchanged. Bottom lands are usually 
composed largely of vegetable matter and sand ; and are 
therefore light, and easy to work ; yet, as they are now 
managed, they admit a less variety of crops than the 
tougher and more unmanageable clay lands. 

Bottom-lands foe Corn. — Our corn-lands, strictly so 
called, consist of rich intervales and river bottoms. On 
these corn is raised year after year, without manuring, fal- 



200 PLAIN AND PLEAS a.NT TALK 

lowing, clover, or any change ; but one constant, successive 
corn, corn, corn. It is supposed that corn may be had for 
an indefinite period, so far as mere exhaustion of the soil is 
concerned, if the right course is pursued. Some of the best 
fai-niers in this region hog their corn lands. Hogging^ is 
turning the hogs in upon the rijoe corn, and letting them 
harvest it in their own way. The saving of labor of gath- 
ering the corn and feeding it out is very great. Some sin- 
gle farmers fatten from one to five hundred head of hogs ; 
but if this number were fed by hand and the grain gath- 
ered for them it would require a force which would eat up 
the profits. When the fatting hogs have eaten off the field 
(temporary fences divide large fields into inclosures of con- 
venient size) they are turned into another, and the stock- 
hogs for another year, are let in to glean and root for the 
waste and trampled corn. In this way nothing is lost. 

This method takes very little off from the land ; for the 
droppings of the hogs returns a great amount of food for 
the soil ; and the corn stalks being burned or turned under, 
the land continues in good heart. Land being hogged will 
be free from cut-worms y for the continual rooting of the 
stock-hogs, which continues until the ground freezes 
throws up the eggs or insect to be destroyed by the winter 
This method of cultivation is peculiarly suited to large- 
farms, where extensive tracts of ground are kept under the 
plow. 

But in the course of eight or ten years, this process ren- 
ders the soil extremely light. The action of frost upon it, 
after the hogs have snout-plowed it, leaves it in the spring 
as light and dry as an ash-heap. The corn will still grow 
as well, but every high wind will throw it down ; the soil 
has not tenacity enough to hold up its crop. Clovering 
has been resorted to by some good farmers as a remedy ; 
out without pretending to know certainly, we suspect 
that clover will not fully answer the object. Clover on 
hard soils, separates the particles and renders the ground 



ABOUT FKCriTS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 201 

lighter, and adds vegetable matter to its composition. This 
is not what bottom land needs. It is too light, and rich 
enough in vegetable matter. 

We believe a better course will be found in putting hot- 
mn-lands to small grain. To be sire, there are difficulties 
in the way of this ; but good farming is nothing but a com- 
promise of difficulties. If the month of May be cold and 
backward, wheat will do well and yield freely. But if the 
spring is forward, May w^arm and wet, the grain will run 
rank, break down when the head begins to fill, and, of 
course, the berry, however plump and well it might have 
looked ii; the milk, will, after it falls, for want of nourish-, 
ment, lighJ;, and air, shrink and shrivel. But even in such 
springs, might not an over rankness be prevented by pastur- 
ing the grain ; or even mowing it, when, as it sometimes 
happens, it gets ahead of what cattle are put upon it. But, 
at the worst, the grain is not lost ; for if it lodges, and is 
spoiled for the sickle, hogs may be turned upon it and they 
mU thrive well. 

But now comes the advantage of small grain to the soil, 
which will be the same whether the crop is reaj^ed or 
hogged. The straw or stubble, in either case, remains 
upon the ground. This should not be plowed in, but 
hurned^ and the ashes ploioed under. To do this a strip of 
eight feet should be plowed about the w^hole field ; and fire 
put to it, on every side at once, so that it may burn to- 
wards the centre ; for fire, driven across a field, would leap 
many feet of open space at a fence. The more stubble the 
better, and the more weeds the better. The ashes will give 
to the soil just what it lacks, 3ohesion or firmness, and 
moisture. For, to make a dry soil moist, requires some 
substance to be added, which, having an affinity for mois- 
ture, shall attract and retam it. This is the natiire of wood 
or straw ashes. A gentleman who will recognize in the 
above much of his own jiractical exj)erie/ice, mentioned to 
as a singular fact in corroboration of thi? reasoning. Hav- 



202 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

ing a very heavy wheat or oat stubble on a bottom-land 
field, which made it very hard for the plow, he burned it 
over ; but a smart thunder-storm coming suddenly uj), the 
fire was extinguished, leaving about five acres in the middle 
of the piece, unbui-ned. The whole field was then plowed. 
It was found that the soil in the part burned over was more 
firm, and moist, all the ensuing summer ; and the corn more 
even, and darker colored, than that ujDon the five acres 
which escaped the fire, and whose stubble had been plowed 
in. 

At all events, there can be no doubt that wood-ashes 
would be very advantageous to bottom lands. And we are 
persuaded that such soils may be kept in wheat and corn 
for any length of time, if thus managed. In conclusion, 
corn your bottom-lands till they are too light, hogging 
instead of harvesting them ; then put in wheat or oats > 
leave the stubble long, burn it over, and put it into wheat 
again, or to corn, as the case may be. 



CULTIVATION OF WHEAT. 

There are two opinions which will prevent any attempt 
to improve the cultivation of wheat, or, indeed, of anything 
else. The first is the opinion that, what are called xolieat- 
lands^ jdeld enough at any rate : the second is the opinion 
of those who own a soil not naturally good for wheat, that 
there is no use in trying to raise much to the acre. We 
suppose that wheat will not average more than twelve bush- 
els to the acre, as it is now cultivated in some parts. At 
that rate, and with too low i:)rices, it is not worth cultiva- 
tion for commercial purposes. The cost of seed, of labor 
in preparing the soil, putting in the crop, harvesting, thresh- 
ing, and carrying it to market, is greater than the value of 
the crop. At fifty cents a bushel, and twelve bushels to ihe 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARjnXG. 203 

acre, the farmer gets six dollars, which certainly does not 
cover the worth of his time and the interest on his lanr^ 

Is it possible, then, at an expense within the means of 
ordinary farmers, to bring a double or treble crop of wheat ? 
If nature has set limits to the produce of this grain to the 
acre, and if our farmers have come up to that limit, there is 
no use in their trying to do any better. But if their crop is 
four fold behind what it ought to be, they will feel courage 
to reach out for a better mode of cultivation. Vegetables 
collect food from the atmosphere, and from the soil ; and 
different plants select diiferent articles of food from the 
soil, just as different birds, beasts, insects, etc., require 
different food. One class of plants draws potash largely 
from the soil, as turnips, potatoes, the stalk of corn, etc. 
Another class requires lime, in great measure, as tobacco, 
pea straw, etc. Liebig partially classifies plants according 
to the principal food which they require ; as silica plants, 
lime plants, potash plants, etc. 

Every plant being composed of certain chemical elements, 
requires for its perfection a soil containing those elements. 
Thus chemistry has shown, by exact analysis, that good 
meadow hay contains the following elements : Silica (sand), 
lime (as a phosphate, a sulphate, and a carbonate, i. e. lime 
combined with phosphoric, sulphuric, and carbonic acids), 
potash (as a chloride, and a sulphate), magnesia, iron, and 
soda. "Whatever soil is rich in these will be productive of 
grass. 

The grain of wheat (in distinction from the straw) con- 
tains, and of course requires from the soil, sulphates of pol- 
ish, soda, lime, magnesia, iron, etc. 

Any vegetable, in its proper Jatitude, will flourisL in a 
soil which will yield it an abundance of food ; and decline 
in a soil which is barren of the proper nutritive ingredients. 

A practical, scientific knowledge of these fundamental 
facts, will give an intelligent farmei', in grain-growing lati- 
tudes, almost unlimited power over his crops. A good 



204 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

cook knows what thinjrs are required for bread ; he selects 
these materials, compounds them to definite proportions — 
adding, if any one is deficient ; subtracting, if any one is in 
excesi. Kitlsing a crop is a species of slow cooking. Here 
is a comjjound of such materials (called wheat) to be made. 
Nature agrees to knead them together, and produce the 
grain, if the farmer will supply the materials. To do this 
he must understand what these materials are. Suppose a 
cook perceiving that the bread was wretched, did not know 
exactly what was the matter ; and should add, salt, or flour, 
or yeast, or water at hap-hazard ? Yet that is exactly what 
multitudes of farmers do. They find that their fields yield 
a small crop of wheat. They do not know what the matter 
is. Is the soil deficient in lime, or sand, or clay ? Is mag- 
nesia or potash lacking ? Perhaps they do not even know 
that these things are requisite to this crop. "The land 
must be manured." Now, manure on an impracticable soil, 
is medicine. Of course if the farmer prescribes, he must 
tell what medicine, i. e. what manure. Is it vegetable mat- 
ter or phosphates ? alumina or silica ? Suppose a doctor 
says : " You are sick and must take medicine," without 
knowing what the disease is, or what the appropriate 
remedy ; and so should pull out a handful of whatever there 
was in his saddle-bags and dose the wretch ? That's the 
way farming goes on. " The ten acre lot wants manure." 
To the barn yard he goes, takes the dung heap, plows it 
imder, and gets an enormous crop of — straw. Nitrogenous 
manure was not what the soil wanted. He has added 
materials which existed in abundance already; but those 
elements, from the want of which his crop suffered, have 
not been given it. The land is sicker than it was before. 
It languishes for Avant of one element, it sufiers from a sur- 
feit of another. AYe are prepared to sustain these observa- 
tions by a reference to authentic facts. 

Massachusetts, a few years ago, was not a wheat-growing 
State. Cautious farmers had given up the crop, because 



ABOUT FRHTTS. FLOWKKS AND FARMING. 205 

neither soil nor climate was supposed to favor it. How 
theu have both soil and climate been persuaded to relent, 
and permit from twenty to forty bushels to grow to the 
acre? It was no accident, and no series of blmd but lucky 
blunders, that eifected the change. It was thinking that did 
it. It icas a change xcrought hy science. Elliot (in Con- 
necticut), Deane (both clergymen), Dexter, Lowell, Fes- 
senden, and many others, all men of science, were pioneers. 
Agricultural surveys, geological surveys, and skillful chemi- 
cal analyses of the soil and its products have been made for, 
now, a series of years. A Hitchcock, a Dana, a Jackson 
have ajDplied science to agriculture. Pamphlets, books, and 
widely circulated newspapers have difiused this knowledge. 
Agricultural societies, state and county ; farmers' meetings 
for discussion, such as are held every winter in Boston, 
have awakened the mind of farmers, and by learning to 
treat their soils skillfully, good wheat is raised in large 
quantities on soils naturally very averse to wheat. 

The average crop of wheat in great Britain is twenty-six 
bushels to the acre, but forty and fifty are common to good 
farmers ; sixty, seventy, and even eighty have been raised 
by great care. 

In the whole United States it will not average much more 
than fifteen. A comparison of the two countries will show 
a corresponding inferiority on our part in the aiDplication of 
science to agriculture. Scotland, formerly, hardly raised 
wheat. Since the formation of the Highland Agricultuj'al 
Society in Scotland, wheat has averaged fifty-one bushels to 
the acre ! — Ellstcorth''s Report for 1844, p. 16. 

Lord Hardwicke stated, in a speech before the Royal 
Agricultural Society of England, that fine Suffolk wheat 
had produced seventy-six bushels per acre; and another 
and improved variety had yielded eighty-tioo bushels 
per acre ! This was the result of " book farming " in a 
country where anti-book farmers raise twenty-six bushels 
to the acre. 



206 PLAIN AND PLKASANT TALK 

Those very operations which farmers call practical, and 
upon which they rely in decrying "book farming" were 
first made known by science, and through the writings of 
scientific men. 

These views have an immediate and practical bearing on 
the cultivation of wheat in the Western States. 

Hitherto the want of enough cleared land has led farm- 
ers to put in wheat among the corn, and half put it in at 
that. Others have j^lowed their fallows, or their grass 
lands, so early in the season, that rains and settling have 
made it hard again by seed-time. Then, without stirring it, 
the grain has been thrown (away) upon it, and half har- 
rowed in and left to its fate. ' Equally bad has been the 
system of late single plowing. Others have given their 
grain no soil to bed their roots in ; a scratched surface 
receives the grain ; its roots, like the steward, cannot dig, 
and so get no hold; and are either winter killed, or subsist 
upon the scanty food of the three or four inches of top soil. 
With some single exceptions, wheat cannot be said to have 
been cultivated yet. The two great operations in render- 
ing soil productive of wheat, are either the development of 
the materials already in the soil ; or^ the addition to the 
soil of properties which are wanting. 

Much land yielding only twelve or fifteen bushels, by a 
better preparation would, just as easily, yield thirty. Let 
us suppose that a common plowing of four or five inches, 
precedes sowing. Out of this superficial soil the wheat is 
to draw its food. Constant cropping has, perhaps, already 
diminished its abimdance. Then wheat is rank in stem, 
short in the head, and light in the kernel. But below there 
is a bed of materials untouched. The subsoil, if brought 
up, exposed to the ameliorating influence of the ele- 
ments, will furnish in great abundance the elements 
required. The simple operation of deep and thorough 
plowing will, often, be enough to increase the crop one-half. 
Deep plowing gives a place for the roots, which will not be 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 207 

apt to heave out in winter ; it saves the wheat from drought, it 
gives the nourishment of twice the quantity of soil to the crop. 

Five acres may become ten by enlai-ging the soil doxon- 
ward. These remarks are desultory ; and, while M'e intend 
to continue writing on the subject, we say to such as may 
be getting ready for the wheat-sowing, ploio deeply and 
thoroughly y unlike corn, wheat can only be plowed once, 
and that at the beginning. It should be thoroughly done, 
then, once for all. 

Wheat lands ought to be so firmed as to grow better 
from year to year ; certainly, they ought to hold their OAvn. 
Lands may be kept in heart by the adoption of a rotation 
suited to each particular soil ; or, if frequent wheat crops are 
raised, by fallows or manuring. It is a fact that in this 
neighborhood farms in the hands of careful men are yielding 
better crops of wheat every year ; while multitudes of far- 
mers think themselves fortunate in twelve or fifteen bushels 
to the acre, there is another class who expect twenty-five or 
thirty bushels, and in good seasons get it. This is encou- 
raging. As our lands get older we may look for yet better 
things. Some farmers put in from 100 to 800, and even 
1,000 acres of wheat. The native qualities of the soil are 
relied upon for the crop. To manure or clover such a body 
of land is impossible with any capital at the command of its 
owners. But with us, each o\vner of a quarter section puts 
in from ten to twenty acres, and it lies within his means to 
dress this quantity of land to a high degree. 

Soils fit for Wheat. — A vegetable mold cannot yielc? 
wheat, because it does not contain, and therefore cannot 
afford to the crop, silicate of potash, or phosphate of mag 
nesia ; the first of which gives strength to the stem, and 
the second of which is necessary to the grain. On such soil 
wheat may grow as a grass, but not as a grain. 

A mere sand will not yield wheat ; because wheat re- 
quires, and such soils do not contain, soda, magnesia, and 
especially silicate of potash. 



20^ PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

All clays contain potash, which is indispensable to wheat, 
but they may be deficient in soda, in magnesia, and in 
other alkalies. 

A calcareous clay-loam may be regarded as the best soil 
for wheat. And when it does not exist in a natural state, 
all the additions in the form of manure should be with 
reference to the formation of such a soil. If the land be 
light and sandy, clay, and marl, and wood ashes should be 
added, together with barnyard manure ; if the soil is a 
tenacious clay, it should be warmed and mellowed by sand 
and manure ; if it is deficient in lime, lime in substance, or 
in marl must be given ; vegetable molds, if heavily 
dressed with wood-ashes and lime, may be brought to pro- 
duce wheat. 

To PREPARE THE Geound. — This Operation depends 
upon the condition of the soil. But, in all cases, the 
deepest plowing is the best. The roots of wheat, if un- 
checked, will extend more than Jive feet. Stiff, tough, soils, 
unbroken for years, and especially if much trampled by 
cattle, will require strong teams. Oxen are better than 
horses to break up with. It has been said, that a yoke of 
cattle draw a plow deeper, naturally, than a span of 
horses. They are certainly better fitted for dull, dead, 
heavy pulling. And if oxen have been well trained they 
will do as much plowing in a season as horses, and come 
out of the work in better condition. 

Fallow lands should be broken up early in summer, as 
soon as- corn planting is over; about midsummer plow 
again ; and the last time early in September to prepare for 
seed. 

A grass or clover lay * may be plowed under deeply at 

* The word lay, or ley, is only a different way of spelling lea, the old 
English word for Jield, not used except in poetry or by fanners ; and it 
is one, among many instances, of old Saxon English words being pre- 
served among the agricultural population long after they have ceased to 
be generally used. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AXD FARMING. 209 

midsummer, and not disturbed till somng-time ', and tlio 
fall plowing should not disturb the inverted sod. 

When wheat is to be soAvn on wheat again, as large a 
part of the straw should be left in the harvest-field as posb- 
sible. This is to be plowed under ; but, if it can be done 
without endangering the fences, it would be better to hum 
it over ; the ashes will contain all the valuable salts. On 
this point we extract the following note appended by the 
editor of Liehig''s Agricultural Chemistry. 

" In some parts of the grand-duchy of Hesse, where wood 
is scarce and dear, it is customary for the common people 
to club together and build baking-ovens, which are heated 
with straw instead, of Avood. The ashes of this straw are 
carefully collected and sold every year at very high prices. 
The farmers there have found by experience that the ashes 
of straw form the very best manure for wheat ; although it 
exerts no influence on the growth of fallow-crops (potatoes 
or the leguminosse, for example). The stem of wheat 
grown in this way possesses an uncommon strength. The 
cause of the favorable action of these ashes will be apparent, 
when it is considered that all corn-plants require silicate of 
potash ; and that the ashes of straw consist almost entirely 
of this compound. 

But this procedure does not depend upon theoretical 
reasonings ; it has been abundantly substantiated by the 
practice of English cultivators. We find on page 333 of the 
" British Husbandry, " an admirable work published under 
the superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of 
Useful Knowledge, the following statement: 

" The ashes of burnt straw have also been found benefi- 
cial by many intelligent practical farmers, from some of 
whose experiments we select the following instances. 
Advantage was taken of a fine day to fire the stubble of an 
oat'field soon after harvest, the precaution having been pre- 
viously taken of sweeping round the boundary to prevent 
injury to the hedges. The operation was easily performed, 



210 PLAIN AHD PLEASA^'T TALK 

by simply applying a light to windward, and it completely 
destroyed every weed that grew, leaving the surface com- 
pletely coA^ered Avith ashes ; and the following crojj, which 
was wheat, produced full five quarters per acre. This 
excited fui-ther experiment, the result of which was, that in 
the following season, the stubble having been partly plowed 
in according to the common practice, and partly burned* 
and the land sown with wheat, the crop produced eight 
bushels per acre more on that jiortion which had been 
burned, than on that which had been plowed in. The 
same experiment was repeated, on different occasions, with 
similar results ; and a following crop of oats having been 
laid down with seeds, the clover was found perfectly 
healthy, while that portion on which the burning of the 
stubble had been omitted, was choked with Aveeds. It 
must, however, be recollected, that if intended to have a 
decided effect, the stubble must be left of a considerable 
length, which will occasion a material deficiency of farm- 
yard manure; though the advantages will be gained of 
saving the cost of moving the stubs, the seeds of weeds and 
insects will be considerably destroyed, and the land will 
be left unimpeded for the operation of the plow. 

" On the wolds of Lincolnshire, the practice of noi, only 
burning the stubble, but even the straw of threshed grain, 
has been carried, in many cases, to the extent of four to 
six loads per acre ; and, as it is described in the report of the 
county, has been attended, in all those instances, with 
very decidedly good effect. It is even said to have been 
found superior, in some comparative trials, to yard-dung, 
in the respective rate of five tons of straw to ten of manure !" 

We frequently ride past immense piles of wheat straw, 
encumbering the yard or field where it was threshed ; and 
never without thinking upon the unthriftiness of a farmei 
who ignorantly takes everything off" his wheat land, re- 
turns nothing to it, and is content with annually diminish- 
ing crops. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 211 

Selection of Seeds. — The % arieties of wheat, already 
v^ery numerous, are constantly increasing. No farmer 
should be satisfied with anything shoit of the best kind of 
wheat. Suppose an exj)ense of many dollars to have been 
incurred in procuring a new kind, if it yield only two 
bushels more to the acre than an old sort, it will more than 
pay for itself in the first liarvest field. It should be observed 
that different soils require different varieties; and every 
farmer should select, after trial, the kind which agrees best 
with his land. 

A standard wheat should be hardy, strong in the straw ; 
not easy to shell and waste, prolific, thin in the bran, white 
in flour, and the flour rich in starch and gluten. The 
earliness or lateness of a variety affects its liability to dis- 
ease. 

Much may be done by every farmer to secure a variety 
suited to his soil from his own fields. Let a watchful eye 
observe every remarkable head of wheat — a very early one, 
a very long head, any which have an uniisual sized grain, 
or is distinguished for any excellent property. By gather- 
ing, planting separately, and then culling again, each 
farmer may improve his own wheat ten fold. Indeed it has 
been in this way that several improved varieties have been 
procured. 

Of spring wheat, the most valuable kinds are, Italian 
Spring Wlieat ; bearded, red berry, white chaff, head long, 
bran thick, flour of fair quality. Tea or Siberian Bald ; 
bright straw, not long ; berry white, bald ; flour good ; 
extensively cultivated in New England and northern part of 
New York. Valuable variety. 

Black Sea Wheat. — White chaff, bearded, berry red, 
long and heavy, bran thick, flour inferior. Ripens very 
early, and seldom rusts or mildews. 

The following are also the spring varieties. Egyptian 
Wild Goose or Galifornia. — Large and branching head, 
bearded, berry small, bran thick, flour coarse and yellow, 



212 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

ripens iate, and subject to rust. Although branching, it is 
not productive. There is a winter variety also. Rock 
Wheat, from Spain. — Chaff white, bearded, berry red and 
long, bran thick, flour of fair quality, hardy, shows small, 
well adapted for new lands and late sowing. JBlack 
Bearded. — Long cultivated in New York — stem large, 
heavy head, berry large and red, beard very long and stiff, 
produces flour well. Red Bearded, English. — Chaff red, 
bearded, beards standing out, berry white, weighs from 
sixty to sixty-two pounds. Scotch Wheat. — A large white 
wheat, berry and straw large. 

Spring wheat does well on soils which heave and throw 
out winter wheat. It is deemed a good policy to sow some 
spring wheat every year, that, if the winter wheat fails, a 
crop may still be on hand. 

An account of the best varieties of winter wheat, we 
extract from the Western Farmer and Gardener : 

" White Flint. — A winter wheat, very white chaff, with- 
stood Hessian fly well, has yielded fifty-four bushels to the 
acre, weighing from sixty-three to sixty-seven pounds per 
bushel. Improved White Flint. — This from early selection 
from the first. White Provence, from, France. — A white 
wheat — shows small heads, well filled and large. Old Red 
Chaff. — White wheat, old — subject to fly. KentucJcy, 
White Bearded. — White wheat, sometimes called Cana- 
dian Flint — early, good for clay soils. Indiana Wheat. — 
White wheat — berry white and large, rij^ens early ,^ not so 
flinty as the White Flint, good flour, valuable for clayey 
soils. Velvet Beard, or Crate Wheat. — White wheat — 
English variety, chaff reddish, berry large and red, straw 
large and long, heads long and well filled, beard very stiff, 
flour yellowish. Soide's Wheat. — A mixed variety, heads 
large, berry white, not very hardy. Beaver Dam. — Old 
variety, berry red, flour yellowish, ripens late. Eclipse. — 
English, not hardy. Virginia Wliite May, from Virginia. — 
Winter, good flour, chafl' white Wheatland Wheat, from 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLO WEES AND FARMING. 213 

Virginia. — Chaff red, heads well filled, berry red, hardy. 
Tuscan £ald, from Italy in 1837. — Berry large and white, 
not hardy, flour good. Tuscan Bearded. — Head large, 
still less hardy. Yorkshire^ from England, ten years ago. 
— Mixed variety of white and red chaff, bald, berry white, 
good flour, liable to mjury from insects, subject to ergot. 
Bellevere Tallavera. — White variety from England, head 
large, tillers well, not hardy, insects like it much. Peggie- 
sham, English. — Head large, berry white, and medium 
sized, tender for our winters — (all this is calculated for New 
York State.) Golden Drop, English. — Berry red, flour not 
first rate. S?"^'^'"'"^ Wheat. — Produced from crosses, berry 
red, chaff white, hai dy, yield good, sixty-four pounds to the 
bushel. Mediterranean. — Chaff light, red bearded, berry 
red and long, very flinty, flour inferior. Hume's "White 
"Wheat from crosses. — A beautiful white wheat, berry 
large, bran thin, hardy and a valuable variety. Blue Stem. 
— Cultivated for thirty-three years, berry white, sixty-four 
pounds to the bushel, flour superior, bran thin, and very 
productive. Valparaiso Wheat, from South America. — 
Chaff" white, bald, berry white, bran thin, a good vari- 
ety. • 

Preparing seed for sowing. — Seed wheat should be 
subjected to a process which shall separate all chess, cockle, 
etc., from it, together with the shrunken kernels of the 
wheat itself. This may be, in part, done by screening; but 
the light grain will float and may thus be detected in the 
process of brining. Two tubs, or half barrels, may be con- 
veniently used. A strong brine of salt and water is pre- 
ferred, and the wheat, in convenient parcels, is poured in, 
the light wheat skimmed from the top, the brine poured off 
into the second tub, and the heavy wheat at the bottom 
put into some suitable receptacle to drain for an hour. 
When in successive parcels the whole quantity to be used 
has been brined, let it be emptied upon a smooth floor, and 
limed at the rate of about a bushel of lime to ten of wheat. 



214 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

By this process the chaffy graui is rejected, the smut, to 
which wheat is so liable, is entirely prevented ; and the 
grain caused to germinate more rapidly and strongly. The 
lime should be what is termed quicklime, or that just 
slaked. The reason may be explained. No seed can ger- 
minate until it has rid itself of a large part of that carbon, 
which, being essential to its preservation, must be with- 
drawn in order that it may grow. The addition of oxygen 
from air and water converts the carbon to carbonic acid, 
which is emitted from the pores, and escapes. Newly 
slaked lime has a powerful affinity for carbonic acid ; and 
by withdrawing it from the seed, puts it in a condition 
favorable to immediate germination. Lime that has been 
air-slaked or lain exposed to the air after being slaked by 
water, combines with the carbonic acid in the atmosphere, 
and when applied to wheat, being already a carbonate, it 
does not liberate the carbonic acid contained in the seed. 



Pleastjees of Hortichltttee. — There is no writing so 
detestable as so-called fine loriting. It is painted empti- 
ness. We especially detest fine writing about rural afiairs 
— all the senseless gabble about dew, and zephyrs, and stars, 
and simrises — about flowers, and green trees, golden grain 
and lowing herds, etc. We always suspect a design upon 
our admiration, and take care not to admire. In short, 
geoponical cant, and pastoral cant, and rural cant in their 
length and breadth, are like the whole long catalogue oi 
cants (not excepting the German Kant), intolerable. Now 
and then, however, somebody writes as though he knew 
something ; and then a free and bold strain of commenda- 
tion upon rural affairs is relishful. 



ABOUT FKUIIS, FLOWERS AND FARAnXQ. 215 

PRACTICAL USE OF LEAVES. 

There are two facts in the functions of the leaf, which 
are worth consideration on account of their practical bear- 
ings. The food of jDlants is, for the most part, taken in 
solution, through its roots. Various minerals — silex, lime 
ulumen, magnesia, potassa — are passed into the tree in a 
dissolved state. The sap passes to the leaf, the supei-fluous, 
water is given off, hut not the substances which it held in 
solution. These, in part, are distributed through the plant, 
and, in j^art, remain as a deposit in the cells of the leaf. 
Gradually the leaf chokes iip, its functions are impeded, 
and finally entirely stopped. When the leaf drops, it con- 
tains a large per cent, of mineral matter. An autumnal or 
old leaf yields, upon analysis, a very much larger propor- 
tion of earthy matter than a vernal leaf, which, being yet 
young, has not received within its cells any considerable 
deposit. It will be found also, that the leaves contain a 
very much higher joer cent, of mineral matter, than the wood 
of the trwik. The dried leaves of the elm contain more 
than eleven per cent, of ashes (earthy matter), while the 
wood contains less than two per cent. / those of the willow, 
more than eight fer cent.., while the wood has only 0.45 ; 
those of beech 6.69, the wood only 0.36 ; those of the (Eu- 
ropean) oak 4.05, the wood only 0.21 ; those of the pitch- 
pine 3.15, the wood only 0.25 ^er cent.^ 

It is very plain, from these facts, that, in forests, the min- 
eral ingredients of the soil perform a sort of circulation; 
entering the root, they are deposited in the leaf; then, with 
it, fall to the earth, and by its decay, they are restored to 
the soil, again to travel their circuit. Forest soils, there- 
fore, instead of being impoverished by the growth of trees, 
receive back annually the greatest proportion of those 

♦ See Dr. Grey's Botanic Text Book, an admirable work, which every 
horticulturist should own and study. 



L.1G PLAIX AND PLEASANT TALK 

mineral elements necessary to the tree, and besides, much 
organized matter received into the plant from the atmos- 
phere ; soils therefore are gaining instead of losing. If 
owners of parks or groves, for neatness' sake, or to obtain 
leaves for other purposes, gather the annual harvest of 
leaves, they Avill, in time, take away great quantities of mine- 
ral matter, by which the soil, ultimately, will be impover- 
ished, unless it is restored by manures. 

Leaf-manure has always been held in high esteem by gar- 
deners. But many regard it as a purely vegetable sub- 
stance / whereas, it is the best mineral manure that can be 
applied to the soil. What are called vegetable loams (not 
peat soils, made up principally of decomposed roots), con- 
tain large quantities of earthy matter, being mineral-vege- 
table, rather than vegetable soils. 

Every gardener should know, that the best manure for 
any plant is the decomposed leaves and substance of its own 
species. This fact will suggest the proper course with refer- 
ence to the leaves, tops, vines, haulm, and other vegetable 
refuse of the garden. 

The other fact connected with the leaf, is its function of 
Exhalation. The greatest proportion of crude sap which 
ascends the tnmk, uj)on reaching the leaf, is given forth 
again to the atmosphere, by means of a particularly beauti- 
ful economy. The quantity of moisture produced by a 
plant is hardly dreamed of by those who have not specially 
informed themselves. The experiments of Hales have been 
often quoted. A sun-flower, three and a half feet high, 
presenting a sui'face of 5.616 square inches exposed to the 
sun, was found to perspire at the rate of twenty to thirty 
ounces avoirdupois every twelve hours, or seventeen times 
more than a man. A vine with twelve square feet exhaled at 
the rate of five or six ounces a day. A seedUng apple-tree, 
with twelve square feet of foUage, lost nine ounces a day.* 

* Lindley's Horticulture, p. 42-44. Grey's Botany, p. 131. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOT.ERS ANI> FARMING. 217 

Tliese are experiments upon very small plants. The vast 
aiiiount of surface presented by a large tree must give off 
immense quantities of moisture. The practical bearings of 
this fact of vegetable exhalation are not a few. Wet for • 
est-lands, by being cleared of timber, become dry ; and 
streams, fed from such sources, become ulmost extinct as 
civilization encroaches on wild woods. The excessive damp- 
ness of crowded gardens is not singular, and still less is it 
strange that dwellings covered with vines, whose windows 
are choked with shrubs, and whose roof is overhung with 
branches of trees, should be intolerably damp ; and when 
the good housewife is scrubbing, scouring and brushing, 
and nevertheless, marvelling that her house is so infested 
w ith mold, she hardly suspects that her troubles would be 
more easily removed by the axe or saw, than by all her 
cloths and brushes. A house should never be closely sur- 
rounded with shrubs. A free circulation of air should be 
maintaiaed all about it, and shade-trees so disposed as to 
leave large openings for the light and sun to enter. Un- 
usual rains in any season produce so great a dampness in our 
residences that no one can fail to notice its effect, both on 
the health of the occupants, and upon the beauty and good 
condition of their household substance. 



The following method to destroy weeds is pursued at the 
mint m Paris, with good effect: 10 gallons water, 20 lbs. 
quicklime .nnd 2 lbs. flowers of sulphur are to be boiled in an 
iron vessel ; after settling, the clear part is thrown off and 
nsed when needed. Care must be taken, for if it will 
destroy weeds it will just as certainly destroy edgings and 
border flowers if sj^rinkled on them. Weeds, thus treated, 
will disappear for several years. 



218 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

SinilNG WORK FOR PUBLIC-SPIRITED MEN. 

Shade-trees. — One of the first things that will require 
your action is, the planting of shade-trees. Get your neigh- 
bors to join with j'ou. Agree to do four times as much as 
your share, and you will, perhaps, then obtain some help. 
Try to get some more to do the same in each street of your 
village or town. 

Locusts, of course you will set for immediate shade. 
They will in three years afford you a delightful verdant 
umbrella as long as the street. But maples form a charm- 
ing row, and the autumnal tints of their leaves and the 
spring flowers add to their beauty. They grow quite 
rapidly, and in six years, if the soil is good and the trees 
properly set, they will begin to cast a decided shadow. 
Elms are, by far, the noblest tree that can be set, but they 
will have their own time to grow. It is best then to set 
them in a row of other trees, at about fifty or a hundred 
feet apart, the intervening space to be occupied with 
quicker-growing varieties. 

The beech, buckeye, horse-chesnut, sycamore, chestnut, 
and many others may be employed with advantage. Now, 
do not let your court-house square look any longer so bar- 
ren. 

Avenues may be lined with rows of trees, but squares 
and open spaces should have them grouped or scattered in 
small knots and parcels in a more natural manner. 

May-weed. — ^There was never a better time to extermin- 
ate this villainous, stinking weed than summer-time will be. 
Just as soon as the first blossoms show, " up and at it." Club 
together in your streets and agree to spend one day a-mow- 
mg. Keep it down thoroughly for one season and it will 
no longer bedrabble your wife's and daughter's dresses, 
nor fill the air with its pungent stench, or weary the ey t^ 
with its everlasting white and yellow. 

Side-walks. — What if your neighbors are lazy; what i! 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 219 

they do not care ? Some one ought to see that there are 
good gravel Avalks in each village. You can have them in 
this way : Take your horse and cart and make them before 
your own grounds, and then go on no matter who owns, 
and when your neighbors see that yoxi have public spirit, 
they will, by and by, be ready to help you. But the grand 
way to do nothing, is, not to lift a finger yourself, and then 
to rail at your fellow-citizens as selfish and devoid of all 
public spirit. 

Protect Public Propertt. — ^What if it does concern 
eveiybody else as much as it does you ? Some one ought 
to see that the fences about every square are kept in repair. 
Some one ought to save the trees from cattle ; some one 
ought to have things in such trim as that the inhabitants 
can be proud of their own town. Pride is not decent when 
there is nothing to be proud of; but when things are worthy 
of it, no man can be decent who is devoid of a proper 
pride. The church, the schooLhouse, fences, trees, bridges, 
roads, public squares, sidewalks, these are things which tell 
tales about people. A stranger, seeking a location, can 
hardly think well of a place, in which the distinction 
between the house and stye are not obvious ; in which every 
one is lazy when greediness does not excite him, and where 
general indolence leaves no time to think of the public 
good. 

When politicians are on the point of dissolving in the 
very fervent heat of their love for the public, it would 
recall the fainting soul quicker than hartshorn or vinegar to 
ask them — Did you ever set out a shade-tree in the street ? 
Did you ever take an hour's pains about your own village ? 
Have you secured it a lyceum ? Have you watched over its 
schools? Have you aided in any arrangements for the 
relief of the poor ? Have you shown any practical zeal for 
good roads, good bridges, good sidewalks, good school- 
houses, good churches ? Have the young men in your place 
a public library ? 



220 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

If the question were put to man} Jistinguished village 
patriots, What have you done for the public good? — the 
answer would be : " Why, I've talked till I'm hoarse, and 
an imgrateful public refuse me any office by which I 
may show my love of public affairs in a more practical 
manner." 



FAEMERS AND FARMING SCENES IN THE WEST. 

If any one goes to Holland they are all Dutch farmers 
there ; if he goes to England he finds British husbandry ; 
in New England it's all Yankee farming. A man must 
go to the West to see a little of every sort of farming 
that ever existed, and some sorts we will affirm, never had 
an existence before anywhere else — the purely indigenous 
farming of the great valley. Within an hour's ride of each 
other is the Smss with his vineyard, the Dutchman with 
his spade, the " Pennsylvany Dutch" and his barn, the Yan- 
kee and his notions, the Kentuckian and his stock, the Irish- 
man and his shillelah, the Welchman and his cheese, besides 
the supple French and smooth Italian, with here and there 
a Swede and a very good sprinkling of Indians. 

Away yonder to the right is a little patch of thirty acres 
owned by a Yankee. He keeps good cows, 07ie horse only 
(fat enough for half a dozen) ; every hour of the year, save 
only nights and Sabbath-days he is at work, and neat fences, 
clean door-yard, a nice barn, good crops, and a profitable 
dairy, and money at interest, show the i esults. What if he 
has but thirty acres, they are worth any two hundred around 
him, if what a man makes is a criterion of the value of his 
larm. But a little farther out is a j^Uy old Kentucky 
farmer, the owner of about five hundrec ' acres of the best 
land in the county, which he tills when lie has nothing else 



ABOTIl' FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 221 

to Jo. He is a great hunter and must go out for three or 
four days every season after deer. He loves office quite 
well, and is always willing to " serve the public " for a con- 
sid-er-a-tiou, as Trapbois would say. As to farming, he 
hires more than he works ; but, now and then, as at plant- 
ing or harvesting, he will lay hold for a week or a month 
with perfect farming fury, and that's the last of it. As to 
Avorking every day and eveiy hour, it would be intolerable ! 
He is a great horse-raiser, is fond of stock, and if a free and 
easy fellow ready to laugh, not careful of his purse, nor 
particular about his time, will ride over his grounds, admire 
his cattle, his bluegrass pasture, his Pattons and his Dur- 
hams; and above all, that blooded filly, or that colt of Sir 
Archie's — our Kentucky farmer will declare him the finest 
fellow alive, and his house will be open to him from year's 
end to year's end again. 

Right along side of him is a " Pennsylvany Dutch," good- 
natured, laborious, frugal and prosperous. He minds bis 
OAvn business. Seldom wrangles for office. Is not very 
public spirited, although he likes very well to see things 
prosper. He farms carefully on the old approved plan of 
his father, plants by the signs in the moon, seldom changes 
his habits, and on the whole constitutes a very substantial, 
clean, industrious, but unenterprising firmer. 

Then there is a Neio York Yankee ; he has got a grand 
piece of land, has paid for it, and got money to boot; he 
knows a little about everything ; he " lays off" the timber 
for a fine large house — bossed the job himself When it 
was up he stuck on a kitchen, then a pantry on to that, then 
a pump-room on that, then a wood-house on that, and then 
a smoke-house for the fag end ; a fine garden, a snug little 
nursery well tended, good orchards ; by and by a second 
farm, pretty soon a boy on it, all married and fixed off; by 
and by again another snug little farm, and then another 
boy on it, with a little wife to help him ; and then a spruce 
young fellow is seen about the premises, and after a while 



222 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

a daughter disappears aud may be found some miles off o\\ 
a good farm, making butter and raising children, and has 
good luck at both. The old man is getting fat, has monej 
lent out, loves to see his friends, house neat as a pin, glori- 
ous place to visit, etc., etc. But who can tell how many 
sorts more there are in the great heterogeneous West, 
and how amusing the mixture often is, and what strange 
customs grow out of the mingling of so many diverse 
materials. It is like a kaleidoscope, every turn gives a new 
sight. We will take our leisure, and give some sketches of 
men, and manners and scenery, as we have seen them in the 
West. 

About eight years ago a raw Dutchman, whose only 
English was a good-natured yes to every possible question, 
got employment here as a stable-man. His wages were six 
dollars and board ; that was $36 in six months, for not one 
cent did he spend. He washed his own shirt and stock- 
ings, mended and patched his own breeches, paid for his to- 
bacco by some odd jobs, and laid by his wages. The next six 
months, being now able to talk " goot Inglish," he obtained 
eight dollars a month, and at the end of six months more 
had $48, making in all for the year $84. The second year, 
by varying his employment — sawing wood in winter, work- 
ing for the corporation in summer, making garden in 
spring, he laid by $100, and the third year $125, making 
in three years $309. 

With this he bought 80 acres of land. It was as wild as 
when the deer fled over it, and the Indian pursued him. 
How should he get a living while clearing it ? Thus he did 
it. He hires a man to clear and fence ten acres. He him- 
self remains in town to earn the money to pay for the 
clearing. Behold him ! already risen a degree, he is an 
employer ! In two years' time he has twenty acres well 
cleared, a log-house and stable, and money enough to buy 
stock and tools. He now rises another step in the world, 
for he gets marjied, and with his amply-built, broad-^ced, 



AJBOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 223 

good-natured wife, he gives up the town and is a regular 
farmer. 

Tu Germany he owned nothing and never could ; his 
wages were nominal, his diet chiefly vegetable, and his 
prospect was, that he would be obliged to labor as a menial 
for life, barely earning a subsistence and not leaving 
enough to bury him. In five years, he has become the 
owner in fee simple of a good farm, with comfortable fix- 
tures, a prospect of rural wealth, an independent life, and, 
by the blessing of heaven and his wife, of an endless pos- 
terity. Two words tell the whole story — Industry and 
Economy. These two words will make any man rich at 
the West. 

We know of another case. While Gesenius, the world- 
wide famous Hebrew scholar, was as school, he had a 
bench-fellow named Eitlegeorge. I know nothing of his 
former life. But ten years ago I knew him in Cincinnati as 
a baker, and a first-rate one too ; and while Gesenius issued 
books and got fame, Eitlegeorge issued bread and got 
money. At length he disappeared from the city. Travel- 
ling from Cincinnati to Indianapolis, a year or two since, I 
came upon a farm of such fine land that it attracted my 
attention, and induced me to ask for the owner. It belonged 
to our friend of the oven ! There was a whole township 
belonging to him, and a good use he appeared to make of 
it. Courage then, ye bakers ! In a short time you may 
raise wheat instead of molding dough. 



A HOLE IN THE PocKET. — If it wcre not for these holes 
in the pocket, we should all be rich. A pocket is like a cis- 
tern, a small leak at the bottom is worse than a large pump 
at the top, God sends rain enough every year, but it is 
not every man that will take pains to catch it ; and it is not 
every man that catches it who knows how to keep it. 



224 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

ORNAMENTAL SHRUBS. 

A DESCRIPTION of a few of the desirable flowering and 
ornauiental shrubs for yards and lawns may enable oxir 
readers to select with judgment. 

Pkivet. — This is quite beautiful as a single plant ; but 
is universally employed for hedges, verdant screens, etc. 
There is an evergreen variety, originally from Italy, by far 
the best. The roots of this plant are fibrous, don't spread 
mucli ; the limbs endure the shears very patiently ; it grows 
very rapidly, two full seasons bemg sufficient to form a 
hedge ; and it will flourish under the shade and drip of 
trees. 

Rose Acacia {liohinia hispida). — This is a species of 
the locust, of a dwarf habit, seldom growing six feet in 
height, and covered Avith fine spines which give its branches 
a mossy appearance. Its blossoms resemble the locust, but 
are of a pink color. It is often grafted upon the locust to 
give it a higher head and better growth. It should be in 
every shrubbery. 

Venetian Sumach, or smoke tree {Rhus cotinus). — The 
peculiarity of this shrub is in the large bunches of russet- 
colored seed-vessels, looking, at a little distance, like a puff 
of smoke. The French and Germans call it periwig-tree, 
from the resemblance of these russet masses to a powdered 
wig. It grows freely, and is highly ornamental. 

There are two other species of sumach worthy of cultiva- 
tion ; the Rhus typhina, or Stag's Horn sumach, of a fine 
flower, and whose leaves turn in autumn to a beautifol pur- 
plish red ; and the R. glabra, or Scarlet sumach, having 
red flowers and fruit of a \elvety scarlet appearance, chang- 
ing as it ripens to crimson. 

Syringa, or Mock Orange {Philadelphus coronarius), is 
a beautiful shrub, having, in the spring, flowers of a pure 
Avhite, and of an odor only less exquisite than that of the 
orange ; whence one of its popular names. The leaves have 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 225 

the smell of the cucumber, and are sometimes used in spring 
to flavor salads. It grows freely, even under the shade of 
trees, which, in all low shrubs, is a valuable quality. There 
is also a large flowered inodoioiis variety. The popular 
name, Syringa, is the botanical name of the lilac ; but 
these plants are not in the remotest degree related to each 
other. 

Lilac. — This well-known and favorite Httle tree requires 
only to be mentioned. There is a white variety, and deli- 
cately-leaved variety called the Persian. 

Snowball {Vibtirmitn opiclus), everywhere known, and 
everywhere a favorite ; and scarcely less so is the 

Waxberry, or Snowberry, {Symjyhora racemosa), intro- 
duced by Lewis and Clark to the public attention, and first 
raised from seed by McMahan, a gardener of some note. 
When its fruit is grown, it has a beautiful appearance. 

Tamarisk {Tamarix gallica), a sub-evergreen of very 
beautiful feathery foliage, of rapid growth, and highly orna- 
mental in a shrubbery. It wUl grow in very poor soil, 

Shepardia, or Bufialo Berry, from the Rocky Mountains, 
a low tree, with small silvery leaves, a currant-like fruit, 
which is edible. This is worthy of cultivation. It is dioe- 
cious, and the male and female trees must therefore be 
planted in proximity. 

Dwarf Almond {Amygdalus nana)^ but now called by 
botanists Cerasug or Prunus japonica. This favorite shrub 
is found in all gardens and yards. The profusion of its 
blossoms and the delicacy of their color make it, durjjjg the 
short time of its inflorescence, deservedly a favorite. As it 
flowers before its leaves put forth, it requires a green back- 
ground to produce its full efiect. It should therefore be 
planted against evergreens. 

Wood Honeysuckle {Azalea). — This is a native of North 
America, and is perfectly hardy. It flourishes best in a half 
sliade, and flowers freely. There have been a vast number 
of varieties originated from crossing the species; and the 



226 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

nurseries will supply almost every shade of color from white 
to brilliant flame color. 

The A. pontica^ is also hardy ; but the Chinese vspecies 
require a greenhouse. This is one of the most magnificent 
shrubs that can be cultivated, and deserves the special atten- 
tion of those who wish to form even a moderately good 
shrubbery. 

The Beeberey {Berberis vulgaris) is quite beautiful when 
in fruit. It is easily propagated, grows in any soil, requires 
little pruning, and is very good fur hedges. 

Globe Flovtee (Corchorus japonica). — A very pretty 
shrub with double yellow flowers, which are in abundance 
early in the summer, and also, but sparingly, shown through- 
out the season. 

"By some mistake K^erria japonica was at first supposed 
to belong to Corchorus, a genus of Tiliacea, and of course 
nearly allied to the lime-tree ; to which it bears no resem- 
blance, though it is still called Corchorus -japonica in the 
nurseries. It is also singular, that though the double-flow- 
ered variety was introduced into England in 1700, the spe- 
cies was not introduced till 1835. It is a delicate little 
shrub, too slender to support itself in the open aii- ; but 
when trained against a wall, flowering in great profusion. 
It should be grown in a light, rich soil, and it is propagated 
by cuttings," — Companion to the Flower Garden. 

Labuenum (Cytisiis laburnum). — This beautiful plant 
forms a small tree, which, in May, is covered with pendant 
yello^sfcblossoms. BloomiBg at the same time Tvith the lilac, 
the two planted together have an extremely beautiful efiect. 
It is hardy, grows in any soil, and is propagated easily by 
seed. 

The Scotch Laburnum {C. alpinus), is much more beau- 
tiful than the common kind, " the flowers and leaves being 
larger and the flower more frequently fragrant. They are 
also produced much later in the season, not coming into 
flower till the others are quite over." 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWEKS AND FARMING, 227 

Althea, or Rose of Sharon [HlMscus Syriacus). — One 
of the most desirable shrubs for yards and gardens. The 
form of the shrub is compact and sightly ; flowers double, 
and may be had of every color ; it is hardy, growing well 
in all soils, and blooms continually from the last of July till 
frost. It is beautiful in avenues, and, being patient of the 
shears, it will form a fine floral hedge, a good specimen of 
which may be seen on Mr. Hoflfner's beautiful grounds near 
Cincinnati. The single altheas are not so desirable. We 
regard this shrub as worthy of much more extensive culti- 
vation than it has received. Its flowers are coarse on a 
close inspection, but at a little distance, and among other 
plants its effect is excellent. It is very easily propagated 
by cuttings, or from the seed. 

Sweet-scented Shrub {Calycanthus Floridus). — Chief- 
ly desirable from the pine-apple fragrance of its brownish- 
purple flowers. They are used to scent drawers, to carry 
n the pocket, etc. It grows freely in any dry, ric'i soil, 
and is propagated by layers and suckers. 

Red-bud [Cercis CanadeJisis.) — This small tree is fami- 
liar to every one, being the first spring flowering tree of our 
woods. It flourishes in gardens and makes a finer aj)pear- 
ance there than in its native localities. 



Gooseberries. — Let those who are accustomed to lose 
their fruit by mildew, drench their bushes with an alka- 
line wash. Lime-water, or diluted lye are the most conve- 
nient. With a watering-pot, copiously water the whole bush, 
on the upper and under side of the branches ; which can be 
easily done, if one will lift the branches while another be- 
stows the shower-bath. After they have done bearing, prune 
out the head, and the lower branches, so as to give a free 
circulation of air under and through the bush. Spade in 
about them a liberal dressmg of leached ashes, and fine 
cha: coal if j^rocurable. 



228 PLAIN AKD PLEASANT TALK 

GAKDEN WORK FOR AUGUST. 

Dahlias will require special attention to secure them from 
splitting down, and breaking ; let every part be well sup- 
ported by ties. The cool nights and warm days of 
approaching fall wiU give them their most vigorous 
growth. 

Saving Seed. — Beet, spinage, peas, celery, salsify, let- 
tuce seeds will now be ripe and should be gathered. Even 
if not quite ripe, they may be plucked, as experiments seem 
to show that seeds are more injured by over-ripeness than 
under-ripening. Seal up your peas in bottles and put wax 
about the cork, according to Dr. Plummer's directions, and 
the larvae of the pea-bug will die for want of air. Seeds 
are ripened best in their own pods or receptacles ; and 
where they ripen nearly at the same time, and do not easily 
shake out, w^e hang the whole plant in an aii-y shed, barn, 
etc., until winter ; and then, for convenience, thresh out and 
pack up. 

As fast as your perennial plants have shed their 
flowers, let the seed plants be destroyed, unless you 
wish to save seed, as the ripening of seed exhausts the 
root. 

Young peach-trees should have the side shoots cleared 
away and one strong centre stem secured for budding in 
the fall. 

Onions may now be gathered. Let them lie a day or two 
on the bed or in the alley, and then be transferred to a cool 
and airy place. The sets for top onions may be tied in bim- 
dles and hung up till spring. 

Wliere peas and bush beans have been cleared away, tur- 
nips may be sowed for a fall and winter crop. 

Spinage seed should be got ready to be sown in Septem- 
ber, if you wish a good supply of this choicest of all spring 
greens. 

Celery plants will begin to grow strongly in the trenches ; 



,. ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWEKS AND FARMING. 229 

water with liquid manure ; if troubled with insects, dust 
with quick lime and water with salt water. Above all 
things be careful in drawing in the earth to keep it 
out from the heart of the plant, and let it be done in dry 
weather. 



PULLING OFF POTATO BLOSSOMS. 

The JBoston Cultivator, speaking of this process, says : 
" As the quaUties of the potato- ball or apple differ con- 
siderably from the root or tuber, it may be that the juices 
destined to nourish the balls will not, on removing the 
blossoms, go to increase the roots. This view is not un- 
reasonable." 

We do not suppose the theory to be, that the sap tend- 
ing to the bloom and ball returns to the root. But, 
simply, that there will be so much less food to be prepared, 
and therefore so much less exhaustion to the vegetable 
economy. It is well known that the filling out and ripen- 
ing of seeds is eminently exhausting to the plant. It has 
long been the custom of florists who wish show-flowers, to 
refuse their bulbous plants leave to bloom for one season, 
plucking off the bud, that they might be so much the 
stronger for the next year's blooming. 

But we suppose the truth to be this. The sap is pre- 
pared in the leaf and enters the distributing vessels of the 
plant. It is conveyed to every organ ; each part, receiving 
its portion, modifies it by a farther chemical action pecu- 
liar to itself. Thus in the case of an apple-tree. The 
elaborated sap which goes to the leaf, the alburnum, the 
liber, the blossom, the fruit is the same in all ; but the fruit 
gives it a still further elaboration, by which it imparts the 
peculiar properties belonging to it, in distinction from th^ 



230 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

tissues ; so of the bark, the blossom, etc. If, then, the seed- 
vessels are removed, so much less elaborated sap is con- 
sumed as they would have required ; and this, or at least, 
portions of it, are given to the other parts of the vegetable 
economy. 



BLADING AND TOPPING CORN. 

No one performs these operations for the benefit of the 
ear, but to obtain fodder, and it is then justified on the 
ground that the corn is not harmed by it. The sap drawn 
from the root does not flow straight up into the ear and 
kernel, but into the leaves or blades. The carbonic acid of 
Lhe crude sap is decomposed, oxygen is given ofl' and carbon 
remains in the form of starch, sugar, gum, etc., etc., accord- 
ing to the nature of the plant. When sap has by exposure 
lo light undergone this change it is said to be elaborated. 

It is only now that the sap, passing from the upper side 
of the leaf to a set of vessels in the under side, is reconveyed 
to the stem, begins to descend, and is distributed to various 
parts of the plant, afibrding nourishment to all. But when 
the fruit of every plant is maturing, it draws to itself a large 
part of the jDrepared sap, which, when it has entered the 
kernel, is still farther elaborated, and made to produce the 
peculiar qualities of the fruit, whether corn or wheat, apple 
or pear. It is plain from this explanation that a plant 
stripped of its leaves is like a chemist robbed of his labora- 
tory, or like a man without lungs. 

If corn is needed for fodder, let it be cut close to the 
ground when the corn has glazed. The grain will go on 
ripening and be as heavy and as good as if left to stand, and 
the stalk will afford excellent food for cattle. Sheep are 
fond of corn thus cured, and will winter very well upon it. 
In husking out the corn, the husk should be left on the stalk 
for fodder. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWEKS AND FARMING. 231 

MAPLE-SUGAR. 

As most persons who have not informed themselves on 
the subject, imagme that we are indebted to cane-sugar for 
our main supply, and that maple-sugar is a petty neighbor- 
hood matter, not worth the figures employed to represent 
it, we propose to spend some sj)ace in stating the truth on 
this matter. We will exhibit, 1, the amount produced ; 2, 
the proper way of manufacturing it ; 3, the proper treat- 
ment of sugar-tree groves. 

We shall confine our statistics to the most important 
Northern and Western States. 

1. New York produces annually 10,048,109 lbs. 

2. Ohio 6,363,386 " 

S.Vermont 4,647,934 " 

4. Indiana 3,727,795 " 

5. Pennsylvania 2,265,755 " 

6. New Hampshire 1,162,368 " 

7. Virginia 1,541,833 " 

8. Kentucky 1,377,835 " 

9. Michigan 1,329,784 " 



Total of nine States 22,464,799 

Residue thus — add for Maine, Massachusetts, 
Connecticut, Maryland, Tennessee, Illinois, 
Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin 2,030,853 



24,495,652 



Something should be subtracted for beet-root and corn- 
stalk-sugar. But on the other hand, the statistics are so 
much below the truth on maple-sugar, that the deficiency 
may be set oif against beet-root and cornstalk-sugar. That 
the figures do not more than represent the amount of 
maj^le-sugar produced in these States may be presumed 
from one case. Indiana is set down at 3,727,795; but in 
the four counties of Washington, Warrick, Posey and Har- 
rison, no account seems to have been taken of this article. 



232 I'r.AIN AND PIEASANTTALK 

In Marion county, four of the first sugar -making townships, 
Warren, Lawrence, Centre and Frankhn, are not reckoned. 
If we suppose these four townships to average as much as 
the others in Marion county, they produced 77,648 lbs., 
and instead of putting Marion county down at 97,064 it 
should be 174,712 lbs. It is apparent from this case, that 
in Indiana the estimate is far below the truth ; and if it is 
half as much so in the other eight States enumerated,* 
then 22,464,799 is not more than a fair expression of the 
maple-sugar alone. 

Lousiana is the first sugar-growing State in the Union. 
Her produce, by the statistics of 1840, was 119,947,720, or 
nearly one hundred and twenty million pounds. The States 
of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Flo- 
rida, together, add only 645,281 pounds more. 

Cane-sugar in the United States 120,593,001 lbs. 
Maple " " " 24,495,652 " 

Thus about one-sixth of the sugar made annually in the 
United States is made from the maple-tree. f It is to be 

* Dr. J. C. Jackson puts Vermont at 6,000,000 lbs. per annum, while 
the census only gives about 4,000,000. 

\ The data of these calculations, it must be confessed, are very uncer- 
tain, and conclusions drawn from them as to the relative amounts of 
sugar produced in different States, are to be regarded, at the very best, 
as problematical. We extract the following remarks from an article in 
the Western Literary Journal, from the pen of Charles Cist, an able sta- 
tistical writer : 

" It is not my purpose to go into an extended notice of the errors in the 
statistics connected with the census of 1840. A few examples will serve to 
show their character and extent. In the article of hemp, Ohio is stated to 
produce 9,080 tons, and Indiana 8,605 — either equal nearly to the pro- 
duct of Kentucky, which is reported at 9,992 tons, and almost equal, when 
united, to Missouri, to which 18,010 tons are given as the aggregate. 
Virginia is stated to raise 25,594 tons, almost equal to both Kentucky 
and Missouri, which are given as above at 28,002 tons. Now the indis- 
putable fact is, that Kentucky and Missouri produce more than hemp all 
the rest of the United States, and ten times as much as either Ohio, Indiana 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AXD FARMING. 233 

remembered too that in Louisiana it is the staple, while at 
the North maple-sugar has never been manuflxctured with 
any considerable skill, or regarded as a regular crop, but 
only a temporary device of economy. Now it only needs to 
be understood that maple-sugar may be made so as to have 
the flavor of the best cane-sugar, and that it may, at a tri- 
fling expense, be refined to white sugar, and the manufac- 
ture of it will become more general, more skillful, and 
may, in a little time, entirely supersede the necessity of im- 
porting cane-sugar. Indiana stands fourth in the rank of 
maple-sugar making States. Her annual product is at least 
four million pounds, which, at six cents the pound amounts 
to $160,000 per annum. A little exertion would quickly 
run up the annual value of her home-made sugar to half a 
million dollars. 

Maple-sugar now only brings about two-thirds the price 

or Virginia, which three States are made to raise 50 per centum more 
than those two great hemp-producing States. 

"The sugar of Louisiana is given at 119,947,720 lbs., equal to 120,000 
hhds., 160 per cent, more than has been published in New Orleans, as the 
highest product of the five consecutive years, including and preceding 
1840. 

" But what is this to the wholesale figure-dealing which returns 
3,160,949 tons of hay, as the product of New York for that article! a 
quantity sufficient to winter all the horses and mules in the United States. 

" Other errors of great magnitude might be pointed out ; such as 
making the tobacco product of Virginia 11,000 hhds., when her inspec- 
tion records show 55,000 hhds., thrown into market as the crop of that 
year. Who believes that 12,233 lbs. pitch, rosin and turpentine, or the 
tenth part of that quantity, were manufactured in Louisiana in 1840, or 
that New York produced 10,093,991 lbs. maple-sugar in a single year, or 
twenty such statements equally absurd, which I might take from the 
returns ?" 

Mr. Cist will find in the appendix to Dr. Jackson's Final Report on the 
Geology of New Hampshire, a statement, that Vermont makes 6,000,000 
pounds of sugar annually. If this be so, we may, without extravagance, 
suppose that New York reaches 10,000,000 lbs. So far as we have colla- 
teral means of judging, the amount of maple-sugar is wmfcr-stated in the 
census of 1840. 



234 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

of New Orleans. The fault is in the manufacturing of it. 
The saccharine 2)riuciple of the cane and tree are exactly 
the same. If the same care were employed in their man- 
facture they would be indistinguishable ; and maple-sugar 
would be as salable as New Orleans, and if afforded at a 
less price, might supplant it in the market. The average 
quantity of sugar consumed in England by each individual 
is about thirty pounds per annum. 

Maple-Sugar Making. — Greater care must be taken 
in collecting th3 sap. Old, and half-decayed wooden- 
troughs, with a liberal infusion of leaves, dirt, etc., impart 
great impurity to the water. Rain-water, decayed vegeta- 
ble matter, etc., add chemical ingredients to the sap, trou- 
blesome to extract, and injuring the quality if not removed. 
The expense of clean vessels may be a little more, but with 
care, it could be more than made up in the quality of the 
sugar. Many are now using earthen-crocks. These are 
cheap, easily cleaned, and every way desirable, with the 
single exception of breakage. But if wood-troughs are 
used, let them be kept scrupulously clean. 

The kettles should be scoured thoroughly before use, 
and kept constantly clean. If rusty, or foul, or coated with 
burnt sugar, neither the color nor flavor can be perfect. 
Vinegar and sand have been used by experienced sugar- 
makers to scour the kettles with. It is best to have, at 
least, three to a range. 

All vegetable juices contain acids, and acids resist the 
process of crystallization. 

Dr. J. C. Jackson* directs the oi^e-measured ounce (one- 
fourth of a gill) of pure lime-water to be added to every 
gallon of sap. This neutralizes the acid, and not only faci- 
litates the granulation, but gives sugar in a free state, now 
too generally acid and deliquescent, besides being charged 

* Appendix to final Report on the Geology and Mineralogy of New 
nampshire, page 361. This admirable Report is an able exposition of 
the benefit of public State surveys. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWBitS AISD FARMING. 235 

with salts of the oxide of iron, insomuch that it ordinarily 
strikes a black color with tea. 

The process of making a pm-e white sugar is simple and 
unexjjensive. The lime added to the sap, combining with 
the peculiar acid of the maple, forms a neutral salt ; this 
salt is found to be easily soluble in alcohol. Dr. Jackson 
recommends the following process. Procure sheet-iron 
eones^ with an aperture at the small end or apex — let 
them be coated with white-lead and boiled linseed-oil, and 
thoroughly dried, so that no part can come off. [We do 
not know why earthen cones, unglazed and painted, would 
not answer equally well, besides being much cheaper.] 
Let the sugar be put mto these cones, stopping the hole in 
the lower end until it is entirely cool. Then remove the 
stopper, and pour upon the base a quantity of strong 
whisky or fourth-proof rum * — allow this to filtrate through 
until the sugar is white. When the loaf is dried it will be 
pure white sugar, with the exception of the alcohol. To 
get rid of this, dissolve the sugar in pure boiling hot-water, 
and let it evaporate until it is dense enough to crystallize. 
Then put it again into the cone-moulds and let it harden. 
The dribblets which come away from the cone while the 
whisky is draining, may be used for making vmegar. It 
is sometimes the case that whisky would, if freely used in 
a sugar camp, go off in a wrong direction, benefiting neither 
the sugar nor the sugar-maker. If, on this account, any 
prefer another mode, let them make a saturated solution 
of loaf-sugar, and pour it in place of the whisky upon the 
base of the cones. Although the sugar wUl not be quite 
as white, the draininffs will form an excellent molasses, 
whereas the drainings by the former method are good only 
for vinegar. 



* If those who drink whisky would pour it on to the sugar in the refin- 
ing cones, instead of upon sugar in tumblers, it would refine them as 
much as it does the sugar ; performing two valuable processes at once. 



236 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

Care of Sugar Orchards. — ^It is grievous to witness 
the waste committed ujjon valuable groves of sugar-trees. 
If the special object was to destroy them, it could hardly 
be better reached than by the methods now employed. 
The holes are carelessly made, and often the abominable 
practice is seen of cutting channels in the tree with an axe. 
The man who will murder his trees in this tomahawk and 
scalping-knife manner, is just the man that JEsop meant 
when he made the fable of a fellow who killed his goose to 
get at once all the golden eggs. With good care, and 
allowing them occasionally a year of rest, a sugar-grove 
may last for centuries. 

As soon as possible get your sugar-tree grove laid 
down to grass, clear out underbrush, thin out timber and 
useless trees. Trees in open land make about six pounds 
of sugar, and forest trees only about four pounds to the 
season. As the maj^le is peculiarly rich in potash (four- 
fifths of potash exported is made from sugar-maple), it is 
evident that it requires that substance in the soil. Upon 
this account we should advise a liberal use of wood-ashes 
upon the soil of sugar-groves. 

Tapping Trees. — Two taps are usually enough — never 
more than three. For though as many as twenty-four have 
been inserted at once without killing the tree, regard ought 
to be had to the use of the tree through a long series of 
years. At first bore about two inches ; after ten or twelve 
days remove the tap and go one or two inches deeper. 
By this method more sap will be obtained than by going 
down to the colored wood at first. We state upon the 
authority of William Tripure, a Shaker of Canterbury, N. H., 
that about seven pounds of sugar may be made from a 
barrel of twenty gallons, or four pounds the tree for forest 
trees; and two men and one boy will tend a thousand trees, 
making 4,000 pounds of sugar. 

We would recommend the setting of pasture-lands, 
and road-sides of the farm with sugar-maple trees. Their 



SlBOUT fruits, flowees and faemikg. 237 

growth is rapid, and no tree combines more valuable pro- 
perties. It is a beautiful shade-tree, it is excellent for fuel, 
it is much used for manufacturing purposes, its ashes are 
valuable for potash, and its sap is rich in sugar. There are 
twenty -seven species of the maple known, twelve of them 
are indigenous to this continent. All of these have asacha- 
rine sap, but only two, to a degree sufficient for practical 
2:)urposes, viz., Acer sacoharinum or the common sugar- 
maple, and Acer nigrum or the black sugar-maple. The sap 
of these contains about half as much sugar as the juice of 
the sugar-cane. One gallon of pasture maple sap contains, 
on an average, 3,451 grains of sugar ; and one gallon of 
cane-juice (in Jamaica), averages 7,000 grains of sugar. 

But the cane is subject to the necessity of annual and 
careful cultivation, and its manufacture is comparatively 
expensive and difficult. Whereas the maple is a permanent 
tree, requires no cultivation, may be raised on the borders 
of farms without taking up ground, and its sap is easily con- 
vertible into sugar, and, if carefully made, into sugar as 
good as cane-sugar can be. Add to the above considera- 
tions that the sugar-making period is a time of comparative 
leisure with the farmer, and the motives for attention to this 
subject of domestic sugar-making seem to be complete. 



Lettuce. — ^Those who wish fine head lettuce should pre- 
pare a rich, mellow bed of light soil ; tough and compact 
soil will not give them any growth. In transplanting, let 
there be at least one foot between each plant. Stir the 
ground often. If it is very dry weather, water at evenmg 
copiously, if jon water at all ; but the hoe is the only 
watering-pot for a garden, if thereby the soil is kept loose 
and fine. We have raised heads nearly as large as a drum- 
head cabbage by this method, very bi'ittle, sweet and tender 
withal. 



238 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

GEOLOGICAL DEFINITIONS. 

Many terms, in general use among scientific men, and 
asually employed in agricultural works, are obscure to 
young readers. For their sakes we will explain some of 
them ; and shall not be angry if old men profit by the 
explanation. 

Soil. — The surface-earth, of whatever ingredients it may 
be composed. It may be a clay-soil, a sand-soil, a calcareous 
soil, as the surface is composed of clay, or sand, or clay 
strongly mixed with lime, etc. 

Subsoil. — ^The earth lying below the ordinary depth to 
which the plow or spade penetrate. Sometimes it has 
hardened by the running of the plow over it for a series 
of years ; then it is called pan, as hard-pan, clay-pan, etc. 
It is sometimes of the same nature as the top-soil, as in clay- 
lands ; in others it is a difierent earth ; as when a coarse 
gravel underlies vegetable mold, or when clay lies 
beneath sandy soil. 

Subsoil Plowing. — In ordinary plowing, the share runs 
from five to seven inches deep. A plow has been con- 
structed (called subsoil plow), to follow in the furrow, and 
break up from six to eight inches deeper — so that the 
whole plowing penetrates from ten to sixteen inches. 

Subsoil Plow. — A plow having a narrow " double share^ 
or a small share on each side of the coulter, and no mold- 
board." It is designed to break up and soften the subsoil, 
but not to bring it up to the top. 

Mold. — A soil in which decayed vegetable matter 
largely predominates over earths. Thus, leaf-mold is soil 
principally composed of rotten leaves; dung-mold, of 
dung reduced to a fine powdery matter; heath-mold, a 
black vegetable soil found in heath-lands; peat-mold, 
forest-mold, garden-mold, etc. 

Loam. — Clay, or any of the primitive earths, reduced to 
a meUow, friable state by uatermixture of sand, or vegeta. 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 239 

ble matter, is called loain. Clay lands well manured with 
sand, dung, or muck, are turned, gradually, to a loam. 

Argillaceous. — From the Latin {argillaceus^) soil prin- 
cipally composed of clay. 

Alumina or Alumine. — Generally employed to signify 
pure clay. It is, chemically speaking, a metallic oxide ; 
aluminium is the metallic base^ and is an elementary sub- 
stance. 

It is generally known that the diamond is pure carbon 
(charcoal is carbon in an impure state), but it is not as 
generally known that the ruby and the sapphire^ " two of 
the most beautiful gems with which we are acquainted, are 
composed almost solely of alumina," or pure clay in a crys. 
taUized state. 

SiLicious. — An earth composed largely of silex. Silex or 
silica is considered to be a primitive earth constituting flint, 
and containing most kinds of sands, and sandstones, etc. 
China or porcelain, ware is formed from silica and alumina 
united, i. e. from silicious sand and clay. 

Calcareous. — A soil into the composition of which lime 
enters largely. Limestone lands are calcareous. Pure 
clay manured freely with marl becomes calcareous, for marl 
is, mostly, clay and carbonate of lime. 

Alluvial. — Strictly speaking, alluvium or our aUuvial 
soil, is a soil formed by causes yet in existence. Thus a 
bottom-land is formed by the wash of a river. It is usually 
a mixture of decayed vegetable matter and sand. 

Diluvial. — A diluvial soil or deposit is one formed by 
causes no longer in existence. Thus a deposit by a deluge 
is termed diluvial. The word is derived from the Latin 
{diluvium)^ signifying a deluge. 

The terms argillaceous, calcareous, silicious, alluvial and 
diluvial are constantly employed in all works which treat of 
husbandry. 

Friable. — A friable soil is one which crumbles easily. 
Clay is adhesive^ or in common language clammy: leaf- 



£40 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

mold ih friable, or crumbling. Clay becomes friable when, 
by exposure to air or frost, or by addition of sand, vegeta- 
ble matter, etc., it is thoroughly mellowed. 



DRAINING WET LANDS. 

Before many years there will be thousands of acres 
pierced Avith drains. But the inducements to it which 
make it wise in England and New England do not yet, 
generally, exist in the "West. The expense of draining one 
acre would buy two. Many farmers have already more 
arable land than they can till to advantage. Land 
redeemed from slough would not pay for itself in many 
years. 

But although a general introduction of draining would 
not be wise, there are many cases in which, to a limited 
extent, it should be practised. Lands lying near to cities 
are sufficiently valuable, and the market for farming pro- 
ducts sure enough, to justify the reclaiming of wet pieces 
of land. On small farms of forty and eighty acres, sur- 
rounded by high-priced lands, not easily procured for enlarg- 
ing his farm if the owner should wish it, draining might be 
employed with advantage. A man with a small farm can 
afford expenses for high cultivation which would break a 
large farmer. 

Some times a large meadow or arable field is marred by 
a wet slash through the middle of it; a farmer would not 
begrudge the labor of draining for the sake of having his 
iavorite field without a blemish. Sometimes farms are 
intersected by wet lands, which make the passage from one 
part of the farm to another difficult at aU times, and almost 
impassable at some seasons of the year. Draining might be 
resorted to in such a case, not so much for the sake of 
the land reclaimed, as for the convenience of the whole farm. 



ABOUT FRtllTS, FLOAVERS AXD FARMING. 241 

We know pieces of wet, peaty meadow land lying close 
by the farm-house, the only drawback to the beauty of the 
place. A good farmer would A^dsh to recover such a spot 
for the same reason that he would prefer a handsome house 
to a homely one — a fine horse over a coarse-looking animal 
— a sightly fence, rather than a clumsy one. There is much 
strong land — but high, flat, and cold — which is wet through 
all the spring, resisting seed till long after other portions of 
t1ie farm are at work, and which would, but for this back- 
wardness, be regarded as the best land. If without great 
expense, such land could be cured, few farmers would mind 
the trouble or labor. 

There are three kinds of draining Avhich may be employed 
according to circumstances — subsoil-plowing, furrow-drain- 
ing and ditch-draining. When a soil is underbound by a 
compact, impervious subsoil, all the rain or melting snow is 
retained in the soil until it can exhale and evaporate. For 
the subsoil acts like a Avater-tight floor, or the bottom of a 
tub. Subsoil-plowing, by thoroughly working through this 
under crust, gives a downward passage to the moisture ; 
water sinks as it does in sandy loams. Nor will such treat- 
ment be less useful to prevent the injury of summer drought ; 
for the depth of soil afibrds a harbor for roots from whence 
they can draw moisture when the top-soil is dry as ashes. 

But there is a limit put to this treatment by the amount 
of clay contained in the subsoil. It has been experiment- 
ally ascertained in England, that when the soil contains 
as high as forty-three per cent, of alumina (clay) sub- 
soil-plowing is useless, because the clay soon coalesces and 
is as impervious as ever. In such cases, if the land has a 
slight inclination in any direction, furrow-draining may, in 
some measure, relieve it. The ground is marked out in 
lands as for soAving grain and plowed with back-furrows, 
throAving the earth toward the centre. The rain and snow 
will run to either side, and floAv off by the channels left 
between each strip. This treatment does not relieve the 



242 PLAJN AND PLEASANT TALK 

land, to any great extent, of water contained in it, but acts 
as a preventive, by carrying off the rain and snow before 
they are absorbed. 



O DEAR! SHALL WE EVER BE DONE LYING? 

AjSt honest old gentleman, in telling us his troubles, gave 
great prominence to the necessity he was frequently under 
of disappointing his customers, whose work could not be 
finished as soon as he had promised. After explaining the 
difficulty, he looked up with great earnestness, and ex- 
claimed, " dear I shall we ever he done with this lying .^" 

We have often wondered ourselves whether such a con- 
summation would ever take place. " Your boots shall be 
done on Saturday night without fail." Nevertheless, you 
have to go to church with gaping shoes for want of them. 
" Your coat shall be sent home by nine o'clock on Satur- 
day night ;" and you get it, in fact, the Wednesday after. 
" Will you lend me your wheel-barrow ? I will return it to- 
night." You wait for it till next week, and then send for 
it. My carpenter solemnly agreed to finish my house by 
November; but it was July before I could get the key. 
My wood was to be split on Saturday afternoon — enough 
for the Sabbath ; so it was — but I had to do it. My 
money was to be paid me the next week ; and then, next 
week ; and then, next week — and then^ as soon as he 
could get it ; he did get it and spent it ; and then it should 
be paid when he got it again — ^he got it again, and paid 
another debt because the man treated hun more savagely 
than I would. The strength laid out in running for this 
money, if it had been economically applied to labor, would, 
nearly, have earned the whole debt. The fellow never paid 
me at last ; but Death came along, and he paid him 



AJBOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 243 

promptly. "O dear! shall we ever get done with this 
lying ?" It is one of the few domestic manufactures which 
need no protection, and flourishes without benefit either to 
the producer or consumer. 



CARE OF STOCK IN WINTER. 

Perhaps no better sign of careful husbandry can be found 
than in the attention paid to brute animals. We always 
expect a thriftless fellow to neglect and abuse his stock. 
When we see them well cared for, we always judge the 
owner to be a good farmer. Cattle ranging out often 
have had good picking, and if partly fed at the rack, will 
come out in the spring well-conditioned. Where hay and 
grain are a drug, we suppose that all cautions about wasting 
them will be laughed at. Care and econotny are not the 
pecuhar features of western farming ; profusion and easi- 
ness are the more characteristic. But there are some 
points of attention to which every farmer should give 
heed. 

Cleaning the Stable. — ^When cattle lie out, this trouble 
is saved in their case. But it is almost universally the prac- 
tice to let the manure accumulate in stables for horses from 
autumn to spring, and sometimes from year to year, until 
its quantity compels its removal. This is all weU enough 
for the sake of the manure — it is sheltered, and its strength 
preserved. But it is at the expense of the horse. The con- 
centrated effluvia is bad ; and lying down upon manure, 
night after night, causes the skin to break out in blotches ; 
and sometimes the whole ham is affected so much that the 
hair comes oif, and the skin is inflamed and covered with 
running sores. The ammonia of urine (which abounds in 



244 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

horse manure), is caustic, and acts upon the skin like a blis- 
ter upon the human flesh. If Providence had ordained that 
a sore should break out on the owner, for every one on his 
stock occasioned by his negligence, animals would have 
a much better time than they now do. 

Cows WITH Calf. — Especial attention should be paid to 
these. As they grow heavy, toward spring, they should 
not be chased by horses or dogs, or beaten by unmannerly 
boys and men. Their food should be abundant and nutri- 
cious. A cow brought to calving in spring in a very thin 
and lean condition will not recover through the whole sum- 
mer, no matter how carefully tended. The cow, the calf, 
and your own profit in both, require that you should bring 
your cows to the spring in first-rate condition. If you have 
roots, feed them ; but if not, give a slojj of shorts, meal, and 
flax-seed cake. This last ingredient is eminently service- 
able in laying on flesh. 

Milking Cows. — Let them be milked regularly without 
regard to weather. A careless girl will, if not watched, 
milk irregularly, and what is worse, leave the cow unstript. 
The morning work presses, or the cold pinches, or she is in 
haste, at night, to go a visiting, or some one of a hundred 
other reasons tempt her to milk out the full flow, and leave 
the strippings. A cow so abused will be injured, in a short 
time, so much, that all the care in the world will not bring 
her back again. 

See that stock are treated with gentleness and pctience. 
It is a shame to abuse a kind and docile animal, and it is 
useless to thrash those that are not so. In either case, kind- 
ness is the best policy. A man who is brutal to cattle is 
more of a beast than they are. We have seen many a man 
who, if he had two more legs, would not fetch the price of 
a stock-hog. 



ABOUT FEUITSj FLOWEES AND FARMING. 245 

DEEP PLANTING. 

We saw recently a potato which grew at the depth of 
twenty -five feet below the surface of the earth. This is an 
extraordinary depth. Few things planted at that depth 
would vegetate. The fact in this case is unquestionable. 
The top was terminated by a cluster of blossoms, and the 
potatoes were of the size of small hickory-nuts. 

P. S. Another fact, which like to have been omitted in this 
account, is, that it grew at the bottom of an 02^en well. 



CORN AND MILLET FOR FODDER. 

The practice of sowing grains for fodder has been prac- 
tised with great success. Millet is sown in May, June, or 
July, at the rate of three pecks of seed to the acre. It is, 
usually, ready for the scythe in about ninety days. Thick 
sowing is best. Cut when the grain is fairly out of the 
milk, and cure it like hay. Four tons is a fair yield — two 
tons is a small crop. 

Indian Corn should be sown broadcast at the rate of 
four to five bushels to the acre. Corn belongs to the tribe 
of grasses. Cultivating it for the grain, in rows, with every 
stimulant of air, light, and manure, develops the stalk 
almost to a tree form. When sown for fodder, the object 
should be to produce it, as nearly as possible, like a grass. 
Thick sowing will tend to do it, and each stalk being small 
and tender, the crop will be easily masticated by cattle. By 
good management six or eight tons may be cut to the acre 
— cutting twice in the season. The first mowing should be 
about the period of silking. The next, whenever the 
shoots have grown again to a proper size. If but one 
mowing is intended, it should be permitted to stand a week 



246 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

or two later than when two crops are to be taken. For, all 
plants prepare the most of nutritious juices at the period of 
their fruiting. Indian corn is the richest in saccharine 
matter at about the time its grain is turning from a milky 
to a mealy state. Cattle will eat either of the above grains, 
treated like a grass crop, with great avidity ; and every one 
knows that it is desirable to give them a change of food 
through the winter. 



SEED SAVING. 

The seeds of cucumber, melon, etc., are better, at any 
rate, when four of five years old than when fresh ; and wo 
have well authenticated instances of seeds retaining their 
vitality much longer than this. There is no fixed period 
during which seeds will keep. There is no reason to sup- 
pose that they would lose their vitality in any assignable 
number of years if the proper conditions were observed. 
De Candolle says that M. Gerardin raised kidney beans, 
obtained from Tournefort's herbarium, which were at least 
a hundred years old ; but beans left to the chances of the 
atmosphere are not good the second year, and hardly worth 
planting in the third. Professor Lindley raised raspberry 
plants from seed not less than sixteen or seventeen hundred 
years old. Multitudes of other instances might be given. 
In reply to the first question, it may, then, be said, that the 
length of time through which seeds will keep depends upon 
the method of preserving them. 

We do not suppose it to be essential to inclose apple, 
pear, and quince seeds in earth for the purpose of preserv- 
ing their vitality during a single winter. But if exposed 
to the air, the I'ind becomes so hard and rigid as to make 
germination very difficult from mere mechanical reasons. 
The moisture of the soil keeps the covering in a tender 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 247 

state, and it is easily ruptured by the expansion of the 
seed. 

The shell of peach, plum, and other stone-fruit seeds 
■would form, if left to dry and harden, a yet more hopeless 
prison. If "kept for two years, the most stone-fruit pips, 
it is to be presumed, would not germinate. Some, how- 
ever, would have vigor enough to grow even then. We 
have forgotten who it was, but believe it to have been 
a reliable person, recently mentioned the fact, that a peach 
or apricot stone was for several years kept as a child's play 
thing ; but upon being planted, grew, and is now a healtliy 
tree. Such cases are, however, rare. 

The intercourse between Great Britain and her distant 
colonies, and the various expeditions fitted out from her 
shores for purposes of botanical research and for the acquisi- 
tion of new plants from distant regions, have made the sub- 
ject of seed-saving at sea a matter of much experiment. 

In general, the conditions of preservation are three ; a 
low temperature, dryness, and exclusion of air. But it 
often happens, that all these cannot be had, and then a 
choice must be made between them. Heat and moisture 
will either germinate the seeds or corrupt them. In long 
voyages, and in warm regions, moisture contained in the 
seed^ if in a close bottle, is sufficient to destroy the seed. 
Glass bottles have therefore been rejected. Seeds for long 
voyages, or for long preservation, are thoroughly ripened 
and thoroughly dried ; but dried without raising the tempe- 
rature of the air, as this would impair their vitality. They 
are then wrapped in coai'se paper, and put, loosely, in a 
coarse canvas bag, and hung up in a cool and airy place. 
In this way seeds will be as nearly secure from heat and 
moisture — their two worst enemies — as may be. It is pro- 
bable that some seeds have but a short period of vitality 
under any circumstances of preservation. Seeds contain- 
ing much oil, are peculiarly liable to spoil. Lindley sug- 
gests that the oil becomes rancid. 



248 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

The preservation of seeds from oue season to another, for 
home use, is not difficult, and may be described in three 
sentences: rijDen them Avell, dry them thoroughly, and 
keep them aired and cool. 



RHUBARB. 



Rhubarb or pie-plant is becoming as indispensable to the 
garden as corn, or potatoes, or tomatoes. No family 
should be without it. It comes in after winter apples are 
gone and before green apples come in again for tarts. By 
a little attention it may be had from the last of March 
through the whole summer. Indeed, it may be had 
through the whole year. The root contains within itself 
all the nourishment required to develop the leaves and 
stalks at first, Tvithout any other aid than warmth and mois- 
ture. If then it be lifted late in the fall or during open 
weather in winter, and put in large pots, nail kegs, boxes, 
etc., put in a warm room, or cellar, it will soon send up a 
supply of leaves. It is not even necessary that there should 
be much light, for the want of it only makes the stem 
whiter and of a milder acid. The roots thus used may 
either be throA\Ti away, or set out again and not used until 
they have recovered, which will be in about one summer. 

For early spring use, select a warm spot in the garden, 
and late in the fall dig in around your roots a good supply 
of rotten manure. Cover them with coarse manure, straw, 
or litter. As soon as the frost comes out of the ground, 
knock out the ends of a barrel and put one over each plant 
from which you propose to gain an early supply. Put a 
quantity of coarse manure around the outside of the bar- 
rel to maintain the warmth, and, in cold nights and during 
cold rains, lay a board over the open top. Thus treated, 
you may have tarts in March. But the main supply of this 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWEKS AND FARMING. 249 

wholesome plant is to arise from open cultivation. The 
roots may be gained from seed or from division of old 
roots. Eastern writers recommend sowing the seed in 
autumn; but in the West spring sowings have vegetated 
much better than an autumnal planting. In April sow the 
seed in deep mellow and rich beds. Keep the plants free fi-om 
weeds and in a growing state during the summer. They 
may require a little shading during the hottest days of sum- 
mer. The next spring we transplant them to a trial-bed ; 
for, it is to be remembered, that the seed does not neces- 
sarily give a plant like its parent. Let them be set two 
feet apart every way, and during the season it can be seen 
which are the largest and best ; these are to be raised in the 
flill, divided and transplanted, and the rest thrown away* 
Out of a hundred plants, not more than two or three may 
be worth keeping. In the spring of 1842 we planted seed 
obtained in New York, for the Victoria Rhubarb (a new 
kind), which had been imported but a few months. Of 
fifty plants only three proved worth keeping — one of these 
for its earliness and the others for size. 

When you have secured roots from which you wish to 
form a bed for your main supply, divide them either in the 
fall or spring into as many pieces as there are buds on the 
crown, each piece having, of course, a bud. The smallest 
slice of root will live, although a large portion is preferable. 
Do not be too timid in dividing ; the plant is exceedingly 
tenacious of life — it can hardly be killed. We have had 
roots lying in the open air for weeks, and when replanted 
growing with undiminished vigor. Every one who has, for 
a single season, tended a garden, knows what dock is, and 
how tenacious of life, so much so, as to make it quite a 
trouble. The rhubarb is a full-blooded vegetable brother, 
belonging to the same family of plants. 

This plant thrives most luxuriantly in a rich, sandy loam ; 
the earth should be spaded and mellowed to at least twenty 
inclies depth. We prepare ground for it as follows : Mark 



250 



PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 



out the row with a line, throw out the top eailh on one 
side; throw out a full spade depth of subsoil upon the 
other side. Throw back the top dirt, mixing it freely 
with well rotted manure. Now put in the soil which was 
taken fi-om the bottom of the trench ; as this is compara- 
tively poor — mix it largely with manure. We make rows 
four feet apart, and set the plants three feet apart in the 
row. Very little care is needed in after cultivation. The 
large leaves will shade the ground and check weeds. A 
good supply of fresh manure, well dug in once a year, will 
keep the plants in heart and health for a long time. 



PEAS. 



Peas should be planted among the earliest of seeds- 
They are a hardy vegetable, and will bear severe frosts in 
the spring without injury. A light, sandy soil is the best. 
If manured, let only the most thoroughly rotted be used, 
Two sorts of peas are sufficient for all ordinary purposes — 
one early kind, and one for the later and main supply. The 
number of kinds advertised by seedsmen is very great, and 
every year adds to the new varieties. Many of them are 
of little value, and many, hitherto esteemed, are supplanted 
by better ones. The Early War^vick and Cedo Nulli are 
fine early peas, unsurpassed till the Prince Albert appeared. 
This is now esteemed the earliest of peas, ripening at Boston 
in fifty-three days from the time of sowing, and in England 
in forty-two days. "We hope to be able, soon, to have this 
variety for distribution. Early peas are seldom of high 
flavor; none that we ever raised are comparable to the 
larger and later peas, and it is, therefore, except for market 
purposes, not desirable to plant very largely of early sorts. 

Of late peas we have, after trying many sorts, fallen back 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FAKMIXG 251 

upon the old-fashioned Marroiofat, and now raise it exclu- 
sively. It will be fit for the table in from seventy to eighty 
days after planting. KnighVs tall marrowfat is recom- 
mended in Hovey's Magazine (a standard authority), as of 
" delicious quality and producing throughout the whole sea- 
son." We have never had an opportvinity of proving it. 

We prefer huying our seed to raising it. In this region 
the pea-bug pierces every seed-pea, and, although the germ 
is not usually destroyed by this depredator, the seed is 
weakened, and the certainty of growth very much dimin- 
ished. If one must plant buggy peas, let them have scald- 
ing water poured upon them and turned off again imme- 
diately. The bug wiU be destroyed and the pea not injured. 

When peas are up they require but one or two hoeings, 
as they soon shade the ground so as to prevent weeds from 
growing. They should be well supplied with brush, strong- 
ly set in the ground. When peas are allowed to fall over, 
they become mildewed and rot. This also happens when 
the rows are planted so near together as to prevent free 
circulation of air. 

When large quantities of peas are desired they should 
be soAvn broad-cast, at the rate of about three bushels to 
the acre — more rather than less. It leaves the land in fine 
tilth, smothering all weeds. Thirty bushels to the acre is 
a fair crop ; but eighty-four, and eighty-eight, have been 
taken. 



Autumn-planted Onions. — Onions for seed should be 
planted in October ; and, like their more brilliant, but less 
perfumed, friends of the tulip and hyacinth connections, 
they will thoroughly root themselves during the autumn 
and mild winter weather, and be ready for early work, the 
moment the frost rises from the srround. 



252 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 



PLANT SHADE-TREES. 



We would suggest to the editors of newspapers the pro- 
priety of establishing in their columns a permanent agricul- 
tural department. We are much pleased to see that many 
excellent papers are doing it, and that others insert occa- 
sional articles. Great advantage cannot fail to accrue to 
our town and rural population by putting into their hands 
every week, able articles from practical farmers and gar- 
deners upon the various topics of agriculture and horticul- 
ture. Let every paper urge the setting out of shade-trees 
in our villages. It is greatly to be desired, that all our 
towns should be filled with elms, maples, ashes, locusts, etc. 
The cultivation of fruit may be much encouraged and pro- 
moted by a frequent republication of articles on that sub- 
ject. The gardens and conservatories of a few very wealthy 
gentlemen do not constitute a horticultural community. 
They are of great use in the procuration and cultivation of 
new varieties of plants, and in testing important matters by 
expensive experiments. But affluent men and their pleas- 
ure grounds are to horticulture, what universities are to 
common schools ; that State is best educated whose whole 
population are the most thoroughly trained ; and that is the 
horticultural State, all of whose villages, towns, farms, and 
gardens, are in the highest state of cultivation. 

Our desire is to diffuse a love for rural affairs, husbandry, 
and horticulture among the whole mass of the community. 



Weeds in Alleys. — It is said that weeds may be entirely 
destroyed for years by copious watering with a solution of 
lime and sulphur in boiling-hot water. This, if effectual, 
will be highly important to such as have garden gravel 
walks, pavements, etc., through which gi'ass and weeds 
grow up. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 253 



HOT-BEDS. 

After a little practice any one can make and manage a 
simple hot-bed. Foi* a common family one twelve by 
four feet will be large enough, and nine by four will answer 
for a small family. Frame. — The frame should be made of 
two-inch stuff (pine or poplar). The back must be as high 
again as the fi'ont, in order to give the right inclination to 
the sash. The ends should be nailed fast to corner posts, 
say four inches square. The back and front are to be 
attached to those parts by iron bolts, which may be screwed 
or unscrewed at pleasure. The frame may be taken to 
pieces, if so made, and put away during the season it is not 
in use. A frame twelve by four, will take four sash of 
three feet mde, the other sized frame will take three sash. 
Where the sash meet, apiece of wood three inches broad 
and two thick, should be let in from back to front, for the 
sash to run upon, and it may be allowed to extend back for 
two feet beyond the body of the frame. Three coats of 
paint should be put on the outside and inside of the 
frame, and then, with good care, it will last twenty 
years. Mark out the ground six inches larger every 
way than your frame. Dig it out a foot deep. Take fresh, 
strong horse-dung. Shake it up and mix it thoroughly. 
Lay it into the bed evenly, beating it dowm with the back 
of the fork, hut never treading it. Raise the bed three feet 
above the surface, making the thickness in aU four feet. In 
a week's time this will have settled six or eight inches. 
We have for the sake of a gentler and longer continued 
heat, laid alternate layers of manure and tan-hark, and thus 
far it has done well with us. Put on the frame and sash 
and let it stand till the heat begins to raise, which will be 
two or three days. Then raise the sash to let the steam 
pass off. In about four days take off the frame, put on 
about six inches of light, good soil, evenly, aU over the 



254 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

bed ; reiilace the frame, and in a day thereafter it will be 
ready for seed. 

Cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, egg plants, peppers, 
celery, cucumbers, lettuce, together with savory herbs, as 
sweet marjoram, sweet basil, thyme, sage, lavender, etc., etc. 
may be sown in drills in the soil prepared as above. 

It is difficult to give, on paper, the directions for the care 
of the bed. The greatest dangers of all, are that of burning 
the plants by excessive heat, or of damping them ofl", by too 
little air. These evils must be guarded against by the 
admission of as much air as possible. In mild days let the 
sash be partly open all day, and in very cold days, endeavor 
to procure a half hour even, at mid-day, for raising the sash 
and airing the plants. As they grow up, if crowded, they 
should be thinned out, so as not to run up spindling. 



ORIGINAL RECIPES. 

When we say original, we don't mean that no one ever 
employed the same recipes, but only this, that we have 
obtained them, not from books, but from good and skillful 
housewives. 

Epicure's Corn bread. — ^Upon two quarts of sifted corn- 
meal, pour just enough boiliag water to scald it thoroughly ; 
if too much water is used it will be heavy. Stir it thoroughly, 
let it get cold ; then rub in a piece of butter as large as a 
hen's egg, together with two teaspoonfuls of fine salt ; beat 
four eggs thoroughly, and they will be all the better if the 
whites and yolks are beaten separately, add them to the 
raeal and mix thoroughly. Next, add a pint of sour cream, 
or butter-milk, or sour milk (which stand ir the order of 
their value). Dissolve two teapoonfuls of saleratus in hot 
water, and stir it in. Put it in buttered pans and bake it 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 255 

In winter, it may be mixed over night and in that case, 
the eggs and saleratus should not be put in until morning. 
When ready for the oven, the mixture ought to be about as 
thin as 'good mush^ and if not, more cream should be 
added. 

If you are not an epicure already, you will be in danger 
of becomhig one, if you eat much of this corn cake — 
provided it is well made. 

Sugar Ginger-bread. — To three-quarters of a pound of 
butter and not quite a pmt of finely rolled brown sugar, add a 
great spoonful of ginger, and a little cinnamon and nutmeg ; 
beat these up to a foam ; beat four eggs thoroughly and 
add and mix well, with the butter and sugar. Add a tea- 
cup of rich cream, a great spoonful of saleratus dissolved in 
hot water. Stir in sifted flour as long as it can be worked. 
Pound and knead the dough very thoroughly. Roll out 
quite thin, cut into small cakes, bake in a quick oven. They 
will be hard, but tender and crisp. 

HoosiER Biscuit. — Add a teaspoonful of salt to a pint of 
new milk, warm from the cow. Stir in flour until it 
becomes a stiff batter ; add two great spoonfuls of lively 
brewer's yeast ; put it in a warm place and let it rise just as 
much as it will. When well raised, stir in a teaspoonful of 
saleratus dissolved in hot water. Beat up three eggs (two 
will answer), stir with the batter, and add flour until it 
becomes tolerable stiff dough ; knead it thoroughly, set it 
by the fire until it begins to rise, then roll out, cut to 
biscuit form, put in pans, cover it over with a thick cloth, 
set by the fire until it rises again, then bake in a quick 
oven. If well made, no directions will be needed for 
eating. 

As all families are not provided with scales and weights, 
refeiTing to the ingredients generally used in cakes and 
pastry, we subjoin a list of weights and measures. 



256 



PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 



WEIGHT AND MEASUR 



Wheat flour 
Indian meal 
Butter, when soft 
Loaf-sugar, broken. 
White sugar, powdered, 
Best brown sugar 
Eggs 



one pound 

one pound two ounces, 

one pound one ounce, 

one pound 

one pound one ounce, 

one pound two ounces, 

ten eggs 



is one quart 
is one quart, 
is one quart, 
is one quart. 
is one quart, 
is one quart, 
are one pound. 



LIQUID MEASURI 

Sixteen large tablespoonfuls are 

Eight large tablespoonfuls are 

Four large tablespoonfuls are 
A common sized lumber holds 
A common sized wine glass holds 



half a pint 
one gill, 
half a gill, 
half a pint, 
half a gill. 



Allowing for accidental differences in the quality, fresh- 
ness, dryness, and moisture of the articles, we believe this 
comparison between weight and measui-e to be as nearly 
correct as possible. 



COOKING VEGETABLES. 

While we believe meat to be necessary to laboring men, 
we are equally sure that it is used to excess ; for persons of 
a sedentary habit, vegetable diet is supposed to be much 
more wholesome, because much less stimulating than meat. 
Whatever shall make vegetables more relishful will 
extend their popular use, and therefore any simple recipe 
for cooking them is a public good. The following are 
taken fresh from the kitchen, and we will vouch for their 
being good, although there may be other ways still better. 

1. Geeens. — The articles employed for greens are numer- 
ous ; we merely mention the following : — sprouts of turnip 



ABOUT PEUITS, FLOWERS AND FARSIING. 257 

and cabbage, dandelions, lamb's quarters, red-rooted 
plantain, cowslip, wild pepper-grass, purslain, young beet- 
t02:)s, lettuce, and spinage — the best of all greens. 

In gathering plantain, care must be taken to select only 
the red-rooted, the white being thought poisonous. With 
the exception of spinage, all these should be boiled in salted 
water, or in water with a piece of salt pork, for half an hour, 
then taken out, drained, and served up with butter gravy. 

Spinage is boiled, as above, for half an hour, then taken 
out, thoroughly drained, put into a skillet with cream, butter 
and pepper, and if need be, a little more salt. Place it over 
the fire and stir it uj) with a knife all the time it simmers, 
until it becomes a paste. About five minutes are enough 
for this last process — then dish and serve it. 

2. Asparagus. — Asparagus should never be cut below the 
surface of the ground^ although books and papers, almost 
universally, direct to the contrary. The white part of the 
stem is always tough and inedible. Let it spring up about 
six or eight inches and then cut it at the surface of the 
ground. Lay it in the pan or kettle in which it is to be 
cooked, and sprinkle salt over it. Pour boiling water over 
it, until it is just covered ; boil from fifteen to twenty-five 
minutes, according to the age of the asparagus. Have two 
or three nicely toasted slices of bread in the dish which is 
to go to the table ; lay the asparagus upon the toast, putting 
first sweet butter and pepper upon it according to your 
taste ; lastly pour over it the liquor in which it was boiled. 
Many throw away the water in which it was cooked and 
substitute cream and butter, but thereby the finest flavor 
of the vegetable is thrown away and lost. 

3. Beets. — "While young, beets may be boiled tops and 
all; as the tops get tough the root alone is boiled in salted 
water until tender, viz. from three-quarters of an hour to 
an hour and a half, according to the size of the beet. 
Quarter or slice them if large, and add fresh sweet butter 
and pepper. 



258 PLAIX AND PLEASANT TALK 

4. Peas. — ISTo vegetable depends more for its excellence 
upon good cooking than peas. Have them freshly gathered 
and shelled, but never toash them. If they are not per- 
fectly clean, roll them in a dry cloth; but even this is sel- 
dom required, and then only through carelessness. Pour 
them dry into the cooking dish, and put as much salt over 
them as is required, then pour on boiling water enough to 
cover them ; boil them fifteen minutes if they are young; 
no pea is fit to cook which requires more than half an hour's 
boiling. When done, put to a quart of peas three great table- 
spoonfuls of butter, and pepper to your taste. Put all the 
water to them in which they were boiled. The great mis- 
takes in cooking peas are in cooking too long, and in de- 
luging them with water. 

String or snap beans are cooked like peas, only they 
require longer boiling. 

5. Corn should be boiled in salted water from twenty 
to thirty minutes, according to its age ; if boiled longer it 
becomes hard and loses its flavor. We have given in the 
'Western Farmer and Gardener., p. 231, a recipe for corn 

and beans, but as all may not see that periodical, we extract 
the substance of it. 

We give directions for a mess sufficient for a family of 
six or seven. 

To about half a pound of salt pork put three quarts of 
cold water ; let it boil. Now cut off three quarts of green 
corn from the cobs, set the corn aside and put the cobs to 
boil with the pork, as they will add much to the richness of 
the mixture. When the pork has boiled, say half an hour, 
remove the cobs and put in one quart of freshly-gathered, 
green, shelled beans ; boil again for fifteen minutes ; then 
add the three quarts of corn and let it boil another fifteen 
minutes, Now turn the whole out into a dish, add five or 
six large spoonfuls of butter, season it with pepper to your 
taste, and with salt also, if the salt of the pork has not 
proved sufficient. If the liquor has boiled away, it will be 



ABOUT FETJITS, FLOWEES A^S^D FAEMING. 259 

necessary to add a little more to it before taking it away 
from the fire, as this is an essential part of the affair. 

6. Salsify oe Otstee-plant. — This vegetable is raised 
exactly as are carrots and parsnips. Like the latter — they 
require a little frosting before their flavor is fully devel- 
oped. 

They should be scraped and washed (but not soaked in 
vinegar, as English cooks direct, to extract a bitter taste, 
which they do not contain), and sliced ; sprinkle enough 
salt upon them to season them, pour on just enough boiling 
water to cover them ; boil till perfectly tender, which will 
be, say fifteen minutes. Put butter and pepper to them ; 
stir up a little flour in cream to make a thin paste and pour 
in enough to thicken a little the water in which they were 
boiled. Dish wdth or without toasted bread, as may suit 
the taste. 

7. Tomatoes. — The recipe which we gave in the Farmer 
and Gardener has been universally copied, and, we believe, 
has beguiled thousands to the love of tomatoes. It has 
been introduced to cook-books under the name of " Indiana 
Recipe for Cooking Tomatoes." 

8. Onions should be boiled for half an hour in salted 
water, then drained, put into sweet milk, boiled again for 
five or ten minutes, seasoned with butter, pepper and salt, 
and served ujd. 

9. Pie-plant. — This important vegetable — among the 
earliest, the most wholesome, and of the easiest culture — 
should be found in every garden, and served up on every 
table during the spring and early summer. To prepare it 
for use, strip off the skin, slice it thin, put into a dish with 
a few spoonfuls of boiling w^ater, just enough to keep from 
sticking, for its own juice will afford liquid enough after it 
is cooked. Boil until it is perfectly tender, stirring it con- 
stantly. If the plant is good and the fire quick, it ought 
to be boiled in five minutes. Stir in all the sugar needed 
while it is in a scalding state. A little nutmeg o'' lemon 



260 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

peel, put in while it is hot, improves the flavor. When cool, 
it may be used for tarts, or pies, with or without upper 
crust ; it also makes a better apple-ssiuce than apples do 
themselves. 

10. Egg-plant. — Boil in salted water a few minutes; cut 
slices, put a little salt between each slice, and let them lie 
for half an hour. Then fry them in butter or lard until 
they are brown. 

11. Cauliflower and Broccoli. — ^The only difference 
between these, so far as the cook is concerned, is in color. 
Take off the outside leaves and soak them for an hour in 
salted water. Pour boiling water to them and boil for about 
twenty minutes. Serve them up with butter and pepper. 
The Savoy cabbages are next in delicacy of flavor to the 
cauliflower, and may be cooked in the same way. 



FAEMERS, TAKE A HINT. 

It is very surprising to see how slow men are to take a 
hint. The frost destroys about half the bloom on the fruit- 
trees ; everybody prognosticates the loss of fruit ; instead 
of that, the half that remains is larger, fairer, and higher 
flavored than usual ; and the trees instead of being ex- 
hausted, are ready for another crop the next year. Why 
don't the owner take the hint and thin out his fruit every 
bearing year ? But no ; the next season sees his orchard 
overloaded, fruit small, and not well formed ; yet he 
always boasts of that first-mentioned crop without profiting 
by the lesson it teaches. 

We heard a man saying, " the best crop of celery I ever 

saw, was raised by old John , on a spot of ground 

where the wash from the barn-yard ran into it after every 
hard shower." Did he take the hint, and convey such 



ABOUT FEUITS, FLOWEES AND FARMING. 261 

liquid mauure in trenches to his garden? Not at all; 
he bragged about that wonderful crop of celery, but would 
not take the hint. 

We knew a case where a farmer subsoiled a field and 
raised crops in consequence which were the admiration of 
the neighborhood ; and for years the field showed the 
advantage of deep handling. But we could not learn that a 
single fanner in the neighborhood took the hint. The man 
who acted thus wisely, sold his farm and his successor pur- 
sued the old way of surface-scratching. 

A stanch farmer complained to us of his soU as too loose 
and hght ; we mentioned ashes as worth trying ; " well, 
now you mention it, I believe it will do good. I bought a 
part of my farm from a man who was a wonderful fellow to 
save up ashes, and around his cabin it lay in heaps. I took 
away the house and ordered the ashes to be scattered, and 
to this day I notice that when the plow runs along through 
that spot, the ground turns up moist and close-grained." 
It is strange that he never took the hint ! There are thou- 
sands of bushels of ashes lying not far from his farm about 
an old soap and candle factory with which he might have 
dressed his whole farm. 

A farmer gets a splendid crop of corn or grain fi-om off a 
grass or clover lay. Does he take the hint ? Does he 
adojjt the system which shall allow him every year just 
such a sward to put his grain on ? No, he hates book- 
farming, and scientific farming, and "this notion of rota- 
tion ;" and jogs on the old way. 

A few years ago our farmers got roundly into debt ; and 
they have worried and sweat under it, till some of them 
have grown greyer, and added not a few wrinkles to their 
face. Do they take the hint ? Are they not pitching into 
debt again ? 

A few years ago mules commanded a high price ; every- 
body raised mules forthwith ; the market of course was 
glutted ; the price fell ; everybody quit the business ; mar- 



262 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

kets became empty and the price rose ; a few men who 
had stuck to the busmess pushed in their droves and made 
money ; and now everybody is raising mules again. The 
same game is played every four or five years with pork ; 
men make when pork is scarce, but few farmers have stock 
on hand. They instantly rush into the business, flood the 
country with hogs and get almost nothing for them. Why 
don't men take the hint ? A moderate stock all the time^ 
makes more money than that system which has none when 
the price is high and too many when the price is low. 

Because one year, the wheat crop has been very large 
and fine, and the price low, not half so much will be put in 
another year. Those who are wise, foreseeing this fact and 
sowing largely, will, if the season favors wheat, reap a hand- 
some profit. 

Auctioneers tell us that a " wink is as good as a word." 
We give both, and hope our readers will take the hint. 



MIXING PAINT, AND LAYING IT ON. 

It 18 convenient, and oftentimes, on the score of economy, 
necessary for persons (who have not been apprenticed to 
the trade), to do their own painting. To enable such to 
practise with success, we propose giving a few hints. 

EESPECTT^G THE AETICLES USED. 

White Lead. — ^This is extensively manufactured in all of 
our principal cities. Low priced leads are always adulterated 
by chalk, or, as it is called in its prepared state, whiting. It 
is sometimes so largely mixed with this, as to be worthless, 
and every one has observed houses, painted for a year 
or so, from which the paint rubs off like whitewash, in 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING, 263 

consequence of the use of adulterated lead. The poorest 
lead is sold without any brand. The common article is 
branded as ISTo. 1, with the maker's name. The best article 
is branded with the maker's name, as Pure, or Superior. 
It is the best economy always to use the pure lead. 

Oil. — Linseed oil is that usually employed in painting. 
It contains a large amount of fatty substance and of other 
impurity, which should be separated from it before it is 
used. This is to be done by boiling. For outside work, 
the oil should ahoays be boiled, no matter what the painter 
says about it. Great care should be taken in doing this. 
Let the kettle be set out of doors, the heat be increased 
gradually, but never enough to produce violent boiling, as 
the oil will expand, run over, and take fire, when nothing 
can save it, or the house either, oftentimes, if you have 
been foolish enough to do it within doors. As fast as 
impurities rise to the surface, skim them off — when the oil 
has a clear look, slack off the fire and let the oil cool ; care- 
fully turn off the clear portion, leaving the sediment undis- 
turbed. 

Dryers. — Substances used to make paint dry quickly 
are called Dryers. For light work sugar of lead is the 
best ; for colored paint, lithai-ge and red lead are employed. 
Spirits of turpentine is used for the same purpose. Litharge 
and red lead are usually boiled in with the oil at the 
rate of about a quarter of a pound of litharge to a gallon 
of oil. 

Mixing and Laying On. — Paint is purchased in kegs, 
containing twenty-five pounds of lead ground in oil, and 
ready for mixing. The kegs themselves make excellent 
paint-pots. The lead is to be mixed according to the work 
to be done. If paint is laid on in heavy coats it wiU crack 
and peel off. If several thin coats are successively laid on, 
it forms a solid body. The first coat is called priming. 
The lead is made quite thin with oil for priming. Before 
laying it on, let the work be cleaned, all dust and dirt be 



264 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

removed. The surface is then covered evenly with paint, 
and allowed to dry thoroughly. 

Second Coat. — Let nail-holes, cracks, etc., be filled with 
putty ; for colored painting, red-lead putty is the best. 
The paint should be mixed to the thickness of thin cream, 
and laid on evenly^ but not in too great quantities. In nice 
work, after this coat has thoroughly dried, it should be 
rubbed do^vn with pumice-stone or fine sand-paper. The 
third coat is to be laid on as was the second. Three coats, 
at least, are required for good painting. Four or five will 
be still better. 

Paint mixed with boiled oil usually has a glossy appear- 
ance. If it is desired to increase this, small portions of 
varnish are added. This is usually confined to outside 
work. 

In cities the glossy surface of paint, is dis-esteemed for 
inside work ; and instead, a flatted white is laid on. This 
is produced by mixing the lead for the last coat with tur- 
pentine instead of oil, by which a dull white is made. 
Flatted coloi's are not susceptible of being cleaned by wash- 
ing more that once or tmce, whereas common paint will 
endure washing, if carefully performed, for years. If paint- 
ing is well done, and the paint is of the best materials, it 
ought to last twenty years. But the trash too often 
daubed upon buildings, does not last five years. 

White will keep its color best for outside work. Some 
tint is thought to be more agreeable for inside work. Much 
judgment is required in preparing colored or tinted paints; 
and verbal directions cannot well be given for it in any 
moderate space. The usual pigments employed in making 
up the tints most in fashion, are for grey — white lead, 
Prussian blue, ivory black, and lake, or Venetian red ; for 
pea and sea greens — white, Prussian blue, and yellow ; for 
olive green — white, Prussian blue, umber, and yellow 
ochre ; for fawn color — burned terra sienna, umber, and 
white. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 265 

We add two recipes taken from an English work, for a 
cheap paint for inside walls. 

" Milk Paint. — ^A paint has been used on the Continent 
with success, made from milk and lime, that dries quicker 
than oil paint, and has no smell. It is made in the follow- 
ing manner : Take fi'esh curds and bruise the lumps on a 
grinding-stone, or in an earthen pan, or mortar, with a spa- 
tula or strong spoon. Then put them into a pot with an 
equal quantity of lime, well slacked with water, to make it 
just thick enough to be kneaded. Stir this mixture mthout 
adding more water, and a white-colored fluid will soon be 
obtained, which will serve as a paint. It may be laid on 
with a brush with as much ease us varnish, and it dries 
very speedily. It must, however, be used the same day it 
is made, for if kept till next day it will be too thick : conse- 
quently no more must be mixed up at one time than can be 
laid on in a day. If any color be required, any of the 
ochres, as yellow ochre, or red ochre, or umber, may be 
mixed with it in any proportion. Prussian blue would be 
changed by the lime. Two coats of this paint will be suffi- 
cient, and when quite dry it may be polished with a piece 
of woollen cloth, or similar substance, and it will become as 
bright as varnish. It will only do for inside work ; but it 
will last longer if varnished over with white of egg after it 
has been polished." 

' " The following recipe for milJc paint is given in 
'Smith's Art of House Painting:' Take of skimmed 
milk nearly two quarts; of fresh-slaked lime about six 
ounces and a half; of linseed oil four ounces, and of whiting 
three pounds ; put the lime into a stone vessel, and pour 
upon it a sufficient quantity of milk to form a mixture 
resembling thin cream ; then add the oil, a little at a time, 
stirring it with a small spatula ; the remaining milk is then 
to be added, and lastly the whiting. The milk must on 
no account be sour. Slake the lime by dipping the pieces 



266 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

in water, out of which it is to be immediately taken, and 
left to slake La the air. For fine white paint the oil of 
caraAvay is best, because colorless ; but with ochres the com- 
monest oils may be used. The oil when mixed with the 
milk and lime entirely disappears, and is totally dissolved 
by the lime, forming a calcareous soap. The whiting or 
ochre is to be gently crumbled on the surface of the fluid, 
which it gradually imbibes, and at last sinks : at this 
period it must be well stirred in. This paint may be 
colored like distemper or size-color, with levigated charcoal, 
yellow ochre, etc., and used in the same manner. The 
quantity here prescribed is sufficient to cover twenty-seven 
square yards with the first coat, and it wUl cost about three 
halfpence a yard. The same paint will do for outdoor 
work by the addition of two ounces of slaked lime, two 
ounces of linseed oU, and two ounces of white Burgundy 
pitch : the pitch to be melted in a gentle heat with the oil, 
and then added to the smooth mixture of the milk and 
lime. In cold weather it must be mixed warm, to facilitate 
its incorporation with the milk." 

We add several recipes of various convenient kinds of 
paint to be employed in particular situations, and for special 
])urposes. 

"-4 coating to preserve wood in damp situations may 
be made by beating twelve pounds of resin in a mortar, 
and adding to it three pounds of sulphur and twelve pints 
of whale oil. This mixture must then be melted over a fire, 
and stirred well while it is melting. Ochre of any required 
color, ground in oil, may be put to it. This composition 
must be laid on hot, and when the first coat is dry, which 
wiU be in two or three days, a second coat may be given ; 
and a third, if necessary." 

" Gas tar^ with yellow ochre, makes a very cheap and 
durable green paint for iron rails and coarse woodwork." 



ABOUT rEUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 267 

" Composition to lay on a hoarded building^ to resist the 
weather and likewise fire. — ^Take one measure of fine sand, 
two measures of wood-ashes well sifted, three of slaked 
lime ground up with oil, and mix them together ; lay this 
on with a brush, the first coat thin, the second thick. This 
adheres so strongly to the boards covered with it, that it 
resists an iron tool, and the action of fire, and is impene- 
trable by water." 

" A flexible paint for canvas is made by stirring into 
fifty-six pounds of common oil paint a solution of soap lye, 
made of half a pound of soap and three pounds of water : it 
must be used while warm," 

" A black coloring for garden loalls may be made by 
mixing quicklime, lampblack, a little copperas, and hot 
water." 



GARDEN WEEDS. 

After hot weather sets in many are naturally inclined to 
relax their garden labors ; they have eaten their salads, 
their radishes and peas ; their beans and corn require but 
little attention, and as for the rest, it is left to the company 
of weeds. 

Weeds. — If the garden be thoroughly hoed twice or 
three times, the labor of keeping doAvn weeds the rest of the 
summer will be small. It is best to go over a compartment 
first with the hoe, to cut off weeds and loosen the soU, then 
with a rake go over it again, levelling and smoothing the 
surface, and collecting the weeds into heaps, which should 
be wheeled to the manure-corner and left to decay. In 
raking, tread backward so that your tracks will be covered 
by the rake, and the bed left even. 

Among the most vexatious weeds may be mentioned the 
purslaia {Portulacca oleracea), commouly called pussly. 
It comes in May and lasts through the summer. One plant 



268 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

bears seed enough for a whole acre. It is very tenacious 
of Hfe, The least bit of root sprouts again, and when 
rooted up, if a single fibre touches the soil, it starts off in 
full vigor. When boiled it furnishes a very palatable article 
of "greens." We go over the ground with a hoe, then 
rake it into heaps and wheel it to the barn-yard. Hogs 
are fond of it, and it is said to fatten them well. It is 
somewhat amusing to those who are vexed at its insuper- 
able intrusiveness and its inevitable vigor, to hear English 
garden-books speaking of it as " somewhat tender," of rais- 
ing it on hot-beds, of drilling it in the open garden, of 
watermg it in dry weather thrice a week, and cutting it 
carefully so that it may sprout again ! Cut it as you please, 
gentlemen ! rake it into alleys, let an August sun scorch it, 
and if there is so much as a handful of dirt thrown at i% no 
fear but that it will sprout again. It is a vegetable type of 
immortality. The Jamestown weed (called jimpsum), the 
Spanish needle, lamb's-quarters, etc., are easily eradicated 
for the season by one or two hoeings. The grasses which 
infest gardens, spreading into a cultivated ground from the 
grass-plat, or brought in with manure, are easily weeded 
out if plucked while small ; but if left, the long spreading- 
roots tear up tender plants along with them. 

It is said that if no seeds were brought into the land by 
wind or manure, or growth, the stock of weeds might be 
eradicated in eight years. But so long as corners and 
fence edges are reserved as weed-nurseries, to furnish an 
annual supply of seed, no one need fear that gardening will 
become too easy from want of work. 

We know of but two reasons for letting weeds grow to 
any size. In a large garden, when all the groimd is not to 
be planted at once, the reserved portions may be suffered 
to sprout all the weeds, and when six or eight inches high, 
if turned under, they vdll furnish good manure. Again, 
when cut-worms are very numerous, when tomatoes and 
cabbages have been set out on a clean compartment, we 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 269 

iia\ e lost from a half to two-thirds of the jilants. If the 
weeds are kept down just about the hill, and permitted to 
grow for a few weeks, between the rows, although it has a 
very slovenly look, it will save the cabbages, etc., by giving 
ample foot to the cut-worm. When the plants grow tough 
in the stem the weeds may be lightly spaded in, and the 
surface levelled with a rake. 



LUCERNE. 



This admirable plant is not so well known as it should be. 
It resembles a clover, and is used for green food for cattle, 
for which it is peculiarly adapted both by its nutriciousness 
and its endurance of repeated cuttings. Care must be 
taken to put it upon the right soil and it will bear mowing 
four or five times a year, and will last for ten years — with 
care five years more ! The soil for it is a deep^ a very deep 
vegetable loam, which drains itself perfectly and yet with- 
out becoming dry. It has a fusiform root, which, as the 
plant grows older, extends downward from four to six feet. 
The subsoil is regarded by Flemish farmers as of more 
importance than the surface soil. A stiff, cold, clay, a wet 
and springy soil ; a hard, cold, wet subsoil of any sort, is 
unfavorable to it. It should therefore be tried on warm, 
dry, and rich soils, than which none are better than our 
sandy alluvions or bottom lands. During its first year it 
requires some care, to keep down weeds, as it is easily 
smothered ; but when once established it rules the soil in 
defiance of anything. If the ground is very clean, it may be 
sown broadcast ; but it is always safer and often necessary 
to drill it. Authors vary as to the quantity of seed 
required per acre. Von Thaer says six to eight pounds, 
while his French editor says from sixteen to eighteen. We 



270 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

suppose that from ten to twelve pounds will be a fair 
amount. 

When the plants are well established they will be 
improved by severe harrowing every spring, a sharp har- 
row being used until the field looks as if it were plowed. 

Lucerne has been tried by a few cultivators in the West, 
but by more in the East, with great success, and it has this 
peculiar excellence, that, thanks to its very long roots, it 
withstands our severest droughts ; indeed our hottest and 
dryest summers are those which it seems to delight in. 



FA]VnLY GOVERmiENT. 

" William ! stop that noise, I say — wonH you stop ! Stop, 
I tell you, or I'U slap your mouth." 

William bawls a Uttle louder. 

" William, I tell you ! ain't you going to stop ? Stop I 
say ! If you don't stop I'll whip you, sure." 

William goes up a fifth, and beats time with his heels. 

" I never saw such a child ! — he's got temper enough for 
a whole town ; I'm sure he didn't get it from me. Why 
don't you be still ! Whist. Wh-i-st. Come, come, be still, 
won't you ? Stop, stop^ stop, I say ! Don't you see this — 
don't you see this stick ? See here now," (cuts the air with 
the stick). 

William, more furious, kicks very manfully at his mother 
— grows redder in the face, lets out the last note, and 
begins to reel, and shake, and twist, in a most spiteful 
manner. 

" Come, William ! come dear — that's a darling — ^naughty 
William ! come, that's a good boy ; donty cry, p-o-o-r, little 
fellow ; sant ab-o-o-s-e you, sail eh ! Ma's ittle man, want 
a piece of sooger ? Ma's little boy got cramp, p-o-o-r little 
sick boy," etc., etc. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 271 

William wipes up, and minds, and eats his sugar, and 
stops. 

After Scene. — The minister is present, and very nice 
talk is going on upon the necessity of governing children. 
"Too true," says mamma, "some people will give up to 
their children, and it ruins them — every child should be 
governed. But then it won't do to carry it too far ; if one 
whips all the time it will break a child's spirit. One 
ought to mix kindness and firmness together in managing 
children." 

" I think so," said the preacher ; " firmness first and then 
kindness." 

" Yes, sir, that's my practice exactly." 



CATALOGUE OF FLOWERS, SEEDS, AND FRUITS. 

We have received from difierent directions catalogues of 
seeds, flowers, and fruits. Instead of a mere mention of 
them, we shall employ them as texts for some remarks on 
the departments to which they belong. 

The kinds, and varieties of the same kind of vegetables 
advertised are satisfactory. Then there is evidence that the 
easily besetting sin of seed establishments has been resisted 
and very much overcome, viz. : a prodigal multiplication 
of varieties. Now we do not wish to tie down a seedsman 
to only one variety of cucumber — one pea — one bean ; for 
there is great advantage in having many varieties of the 
same vegetable. Some love mild radishes, and some love 
the full peppery taste ; as both qualities cannot exist in the 
same variety it is desirable to have two. But some radishes 
which do admirably in the spring and early summer, lose 
their good quaHties if planted in summer. We therefore 
seek and find a summer variety. This again fails for late 



272 



PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 



autumnal use, and we procure a (so called) winter sort. 
We need one pea for its earliness : but early fruit seldom 
has size or a high flavor ; we desire other varieties, there- 
fore, for flavor, even though, in giving them a longer 
period to perfect their juices, we have a late pea. But some 
men raise peas for market, and cannot afibrd to raise a pea 
merely because fine-flavored, unless also it is prolific. Then, 
once more, market peas must be raised, usually as a field- 
pea, and sown broadcast. Some peas stand up stronger 
than others, and these are of course preferred. Now, as we 
cannot find any vegetable that combines all the quahties of 
earliness, size,fiavor, and adaptation to variety of soil and 
diversity of cultivation, we come as near to it as possible, 
by gaining varieties, in which some one or more of these 
qualities are better developed than in any others. The rea- 
sons for multiplying varieties afford a rule by which they 
may be limited. 

The fact that a seed is a variety different from aU others 
is no good reason for retaining or cultivating it ; it must, in 
SOME respects, surpass others now in use, or it only encum- 
bers the garden. What is the use of ten varieties of peas 
ripening at the same time of one size, and differing from 
each other in not one assignable particular ? When a cata- 
logue enumerates j'l/'^y varieties of cabbage, or pea, or bean, 
are we to believe that each of the fifty has a virtue peculiar 
to itself? If not, if two-thirds of them have no merit 
which is not found, and found in a higher degree, in the 
one-third they have no business to be retained. Let the 
one-third, stand and the rest be erased. We regard a very 
fat catalogue as we do a very fat man — all the worse for its 
obesity. In comparing catalogues, we are not left as much 
without an authoritative standard of judgment, in respect 
to a proper extension of the number of varieties, as might 
at first appear. English gardening has been carried to such 
a degree of excellence, both as an art and as a science, that 
we may regard the deliberate judgment of the best gar 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AKD FARMING. 



273 



deners as law on this subject. When Loudon published his 
invaluable " Encyclopedia of Gardening," he was permitted 
by the London Horticultural Society to avail himself of the 
services of the distinguished Monro in the department of 
culinary vegetables. 

Let us compare the catalogues of three first rate seedsmen 
as it respects a multiplication of varieties, with Mr. Monro's 
selections : 





1 

8 


a 

1 







1 




Si 




CM 






d 

3 




2 
9 
17 


15 
10 

^5 


2 
6 

8 


5 
8 
9 


9 

22 
30 


10 

18 
49 


7 
20 
47 


15 
24 
61 


8 
12 
56 


Breck 











Mr. Monro names nineteen kinds of peas only, instead 
of forty-seven : t^centy-two kinds of beans instead of sixty- 
one ; seven varieties of turnip instead of twenty-two^ or, 
worse yet, thirty ; fourteen sorts of lettuce, instead of fifty- 
two. 

To the uninitiated a catalogue may look meagre with only 
eight kinds of lettuce instead of fifty ; fifteen beans instead 
of sixty-one^ etc., but these corpulent catalogues make 
meagre pockets, except in the case of the seedsman. A 
much greater latitude of varieties is allowable in a nursery 
catalogue than in a seedsman's list. But in even these 
there is a disposition to extravagance which needs to be cor- 
rected. Where the disproportion of knowledge between 
the buyers and seller is so great as it is, and for some time, 
must be, in horticultural matters, it becomes nurserymen 
and seedsmen who are honest (and we have many such, and 
they are increasing) — those who regard their business as an 
honorable branch of science., as well as a proper means of 
livelihood, and who hope to gain a high reputation^ even 



274 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

more than they do wealth, it becomes such to render the 
hsts SELECT ; and while the monstrously bloated catalogues 
of boasting and avaricious men continue to perplex and de- 
ceive the unwary, let all intelligent cultivators sustain 
those who rely on the quality rather than quantity of their 
articles. 



GARDEN SEEDS. 

Good seeds are the veiy first requisite for a good garden ; 
SOU and culture cannot make good crops out of bad seed. 

1. As a general rule, buy your seeds. The reasons for it 
are so many and so good, that you will certainly do it, 
imless economy prevent ; but it is better to economize else- 
where. 

In the first place, seed-raising is a delicate business \ and, 
for many reasons, will be better done by those who make it 
their business, than by those who do not. A reputable 
seedsman never dreams of raising, himself, all the seeds 
which he sells. For example, one sort of seed is let out to 
a farmer who contracts to raise it in a given soil and man- 
ner, and at a distance from all other seeds. One man raises 
the beet seed — another man, very often hundreds of miles 
distant, another sort. Peas are sent to Vermont and to 
Canada, where the pea-bug does not infest them. Some 
seeds, for which this climate is not favorable, are imported 
from Italy, from Guernsey — just as floweriug bulbs are from 
Holland. We suppose this to be true of Landreth, Thorn- 
burn, Prince, Bliss, Risley, etc. In cases where seeds are 
raised upon the premises of the seedsman, they are put on 
difierent parts of the farm, as far apart as possible. 

These precautions are indispensable to the procuration of 
the best seeds of esculent vegetables. Species of the same 
genus, with open flowers, are so easily crossed^ that, if 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING, 275 

growTi contiguously, they cannot be kept pure. All cvcicrhi- 
taceous plants, such as squashes, pumpkins, inelons, 
cucumbers, gourds, etc., will mix and degenerate if planted 
even in the same garden. Let any one who wishes to see 
how it is done, watch the bee covering itself with golden 
pollen as it searches for honey in the cells of the flower, and 
darting off to another, mingling the fertihzing powder of 
the two. In a single morning, cucumbers, will be mixed 
with each other, and with canteloupes; squashes will be 
crossed, and in the next generation will show it. Where 
the organs of flowers are protected, as in the pea, bean, etc., 
by a floral envelope, insects do not mix their pollen. I 
I have never known pure beet seed raised in a private gar- 
den which had more than the single kind in it — or when 
another garden was near which had other sorts. 

We prefer, generally, northern seeds to those raised 
elsewhere. A mere change of soil and climate is often 
advantageous to seeds. But besides this, greater care and 
skill are usually employed at the north in producing sound 
and safe seeds. 

We can recommend, from repeated trials, the seeds of 
Risley, Chatauque county, N. Y., and of Mr. Breck of 
Boston. Landreth of Philadelphia has a high re2)utation ; 
so have the veteran Thorburn of John Street, and the enter- 
prising house of B. K. Bliss &> Sons of Park Place, New 
York. 

2. Some seeds retain their power of gei'mination to an 
astonishing length of time, as will appear from facts stated 
by Prof. Lindley : 

" Not to speak of the doubtful instances of seeds taken 
from the Pyramids having germinated, melons have been 
knoAvn to grow at the age of 40 years, kidney beans at 100, 
sensitive-plant at 60, rye at 40 ; and there are now grow- 
ing, in the garden of the Horticultural Society, raspberry 



276 



PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 



plants raised from seeds IGOO or 1700 years old." (See 
" Introduction to Botany," ed. 3, p. 358.) 

But in selecting seeds, fresh ones should be had if pos- 
sible. Where, however, the vegetable is cultivated for the 
sake of its flower, or its fruit, it is sometimes better to select 
old seed. Thus balsamines (the touch-me-not) and the 
cucumber, squash and melon tribe do better on seeds three 
or four years old ; for fresh seeds produce j^lants whose 
growth will be too luxuriant for producing fruit ; whereas 
from old seed, the plants have less vigor of growth but a 
greater tendency to fruit weU. 

We insert a table, exhibiting the years which different 
seeds will retain their vitality. 

TIMB THAT SEEDS WILL KEEP. 



YEARS. 

Asparagus 4 or 13 

Balm 2 

Basil 1 or 3 

Beans 1 or 2 

Beets 8 or 10 

Borage 2 

Cabbage 6 or 8 

Carrot 1 or 7 

Celery 6 or 8 

Corn 2 or 3 

Cress 2 

Cucumber 8 or 10 

Caraway 4 

Fennel 6 

Garlic 3 

Leek 3 or 4 

Lettuce 3 or 4 

Mangel Wurtzel 8 or 10 



TVAtBi 

Marjoram 4 

Melon 8 or 1(1 

Mustard 3 or 4 

Nasturtium 2 or 3 

Onion 3 

Parsley 6 or 6 

Parsnip 1 

Pea 2 or 3 

Pumpkin 8 or 10 

Pepper 5 or 6 

Radish 6 or 8 

Rue 3 

Ruta Baga 4 

Salsify 2 

Savory 3 or 4 

Spinage 3 or 4 

Squash 8 or 10 

Turnip 3 or 4 



ABOUT FKUIT6, FLOWERS A.ND FARMING. 277 

FARMERS' GARDENS. 

Farmers are apt to have very inferior gardens. The 
idea is, that in the spring they have no time ; the fai-m crops 
are of more importance. In consequence of such a decision, 
no garden will be had unless the housewife is willing to be 
gardenwife too. At her importunity at length one horse is 
put to the plow and the garden is broken up — say four 
inches deep. Possibly the boy is allowed to throw up the 
beds, but very often even this is left to woman's hand. She 
has to hunt up seed ; peppers are pulled off from the ceiling 
and eviscerated ; drawers are ransacked for the bag of ra- 
dish seed or the paper of lettuce seed ; the old broken 
pitcher is taken from its long seclusion on the top of the 
cupboard and emptied of its beans and peas ; withal a few 
flower seeds are added to grace the stock — four o'clocks, 
poppies, marigolds, and touch-me-nots. Our gardenwife is 
not so admirable for lily hands or fair face, or fairy form. 
She cannot walk over dewy flowers without crushing them, 
as can a true heroine ; for her specific gravity gives evidence 
of a good constitution, health and habits. 

Her praise is, that in a new country where woman unques- 
tionably suffers the most of hardships, she is cheerful, con- 
tented, industrious, enterprising, and, like women the world 
over, seeks to draw around herself objects of taste and 
beauty to decorate and cheer her husband's and her child 
ren's home ; and, if necessary, to do it by the field-labor of 
her own hands. We could not forbear saying so much of 
the meritorious gardener of more than half the rural gar 
dens in the West. 

The seeds all mustered, she may be seen, after the break- 
fast things are all done up, busy with spade and hoe, hiding 
her treasures. And thus she does it. First a Hberal suit 
of onion beds — savory vegetables to the tongue and most 
unsavory to the nose — ^making it almost impossible for these 
respectable neighbors to live together in peace, one or 



278 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

other of them being in bad odor with the other. Next, a 
seed-bed full of cabbages — significant to the imagination of 
cold-slaw, sourcrout, etc. A good row of peas, and a few 
hills of running beans are added. The alleys are ruffled 
with bush beans ; a few early potatoes, some corn for roast- 
ing-ears, with a slender bed for beets, complete the stock 
of esculents. But sage, and summer savory, and thyme, and 
rue, and sweet marjoram, tansy, boneset and wormwood 
are attended to ; a part for stuffing ducks and chickens — 
and the others for curing those who have been too much 
stuffed with them. The garden yields in due time its first 
fruits ; the potatoes come and go, the corn is early plucked, 
lettuce shoots up its seed-stalk, peas render their tribute 
and grow sere, beans rattle in the pod, and before August 
her work is done and her garden forsaken except a small 
retinue of flowers, which are nursed to the last. Weeds 
now make up for lost time, and in a few weeks a weedy 
forest hides every trace of cultivation. This is not a fancy 
sketch ; we have been far from drawing a picture from the 
worst specimens ; it is a fair average case. 

Our business is, not to quarrel with the farmer, but to 
suggest a better plan for his garden. We saw the plan 
stated some years ago ; where, we have forgotten, but think 
well of it. It is simply this : let the garden be an oblong — 
say three times as long as it is broad — and cultivate it with 
the plow. Instead of having beds, let aU seeds be planted 
in rows running the whole length of the garden. For 
example, begin with one row of beets — or more if wanted ; 
next a row or rows of carrots, parsnips, cabbages, potatoes, 
corn, and all about three feet apart. The same system 
should be followed for small fruits — currants, gooseberries, 
strawberries, raspberries, etc. — and it will have this advan- 
tage over common gardens, that the bushes will have sun 
and air on all sides, and be more fruitful and more healthy 
for it. The whole garden, thus arranged, can be kept in 
order with very httle labor. A single-horse plow will dress 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 279 

between the rows of the whole garden in a very little time 
and save all hand-hoeing. The hand-weeding in the row 
may be performed by women or children. 

In large towns gromid is scarce and labor abundant. 
Gardens, therefore, are properly laid out for economy of 
space. In the country the reverse is true ; land is abundant 
but labor scarce and dear ; of course gardens should be laid 
out not to save room, but to economize labor. The plan 
suggested will save labor, improve the garden, and take 
from the wife the drudgery of the spade and hoe. 



EARLY DAYS OF SPRING. 

If the soU be thrown up during the open weather into 
ridges, an immense number of insects will be unburrowed 
and destroyed ; stiff clayey soUs wiU be rendered more 
crumbling and mellow by exposure to frost. If advantage 
is taken of the weather to haul manure, let it be stacked up, 
and a little earth thrown over it, else the volatile and most 
valuable portions will escape. Ashes may be spread over 
the garden ; a small portion of refuse salt wiU benefit the 
ground, and may be so^vn now. Clear the ground of aU 
vines, stalks, haulm. If you have flowering bulbs, cover 
slightly with coarse manure — they will not be so much tried 
by the changes of temperature and moisture, and will 
flower stronger for it. Bright, dry days afibrd a fine time 
for going to the woods and cutting poles for your beans, 
stakes for your trees and dahlias, brush for peas, etc. 
While you are about it, collect moss from old logs, and put 
away ia the barn or shed to cover the ground in summer 
where roses and shrubs have been newly set out, and 
require to be kept moist. If not done before, put two or 
three forks full of coarse green manure about tender shrubs 



280 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

— Noisette and China roses. Freezing and thawing at the 
crown of the roots, destroys them oftener than anything 
else. 

On mild days when the earth is open, sow lettuce seed in 
a warm corner, beat it gently with the back of the shovel, 
and cover it slightly with fine earth or old crumbling 
manure. You will have lettuce ten days earlier for your 
trouble. Pepper-grass and radishes may be sowed in like 
manner. 

HI^^ Let alone the knife and saw. Your vines and trees 
will not be benefited by any pruning at this season. 



PARLOR FLOWERS. 

Water fi-eely such as are in pots, while in blossom. 
The flower stalks will be apt to shoot up taller and weaker 
than in the garden, and will require rods to support them. 
Let the rod be thrust down about two inches from the cen- 
tre of the flower, and attach the flower stem to it by one 
or two ligaments. Flowers in small stove rooms can 
be kept in health with extreme difficulty. The heat forces 
their growth, or injures the leaves. They should be 
washed off once a week (either on a mild day out of doors, 
or in a warm room within, if the weather be severe), as the 
dust settles upon the leaf, and stops up the stomata 
(mouths) by which the leaf perspires and breathes. If 
green aphides infest them, put a pan of coals beneath the 
stand, and throw on a half-handful of coarse tobacco. In 
half an hour every insect will tumble off. Let such as lie 
on the surface of the earth be removed or crushed, as they 
will else revive. Plants should have fresh air every day. 



4.B0UT FRUITS, FLOWERS AN1> FARMING. 281 

A SALT RECIPE. 

There is a gi'eat fashion, now-a-days, in all papers, to 
set forth useful recipes for every imagmable purpose. 
Every newspaper has its weekly budget of recipes. Our 
magazines have a page of original recipes; and, before 
long, why should not the North American Meview^ or the 
Edinburgh jRevieio come out with their quarterly bill of 
fare reciped in full? So practical is our nineteenth cen- 
tury, that our literary men and women feel it to be a solemn 
duty to indite novel recipes for cooking, seasoning, remov- 
mg stains, curing diseases, etc. ; and why not? If one can 
invent a sonnet, an elegy, or worse yet, a poem, and thus 
draw people's brains a wool-gathering in the regions of 
imagination, ought they not to atone for their license by an 
invention equally substantial for the body? Miss Leslie 
writes a beautiful story, and a recipe for manipulating 
lobsters. Miss Martineau writes travels, political econo- 
mies and suggestions on plum pudding. Mrs. Sigourney 
tunes her lyre with a hand most redolent of pies, cakes and 
gingerbread. Such is the aspect of culinary affairs, and 
the rights of women, that the day seems at hand when no 
learning will sustain a man, and no accomplishments a 
woman, who does not understand the art and mystery of 
cooking. It will be the duty of some future Heyne to give 
accurate recipes for all the feasts of Homer's heroes, the 
ingredients of all the Horacian drinking-bouts — the dishes 
of Virgil's fine fellows, as well as the minor matters of 
armor, language, manners, and customs ; and a good lexi- 
con, Hebrew, Greek, or Latin, must contain clearly written 
recipes for all the dishes used by the people whose lan- 
guage it sets forth. "We have been led into this grand 
prairie of reflections by a recij)e found in a country paper 
which unquestionably is salty. 

" Indian Baked Pudding. — Indian pudding is good and 
wholesome, baked. Scald a quart of milk, and stir in seven 



PLAIN AND PLKASANT TALK 



table spoonfuls* of salt, a tea-cupful of molasses, and a great 
spoonful of ginger, or sifted cinnamon. Bake three or four 
hours. If you want whoy you must be sure and pour in a 
little cold milk, after it is all mixed. Try it," 

If Misses Leslie, Childs, etc, refuse to mother such a 
recipe, with no Indian meal in it, but seven mortal spoon- 
fuls of salt, then we will consider it as emanating from Lot's 
wife. We are sure if one should eat many such puddings, 
he would speedily come to her estate. 



CULTURE OF CELERY. 

We know of no vegetable which requires more care and 
skill in its cultivation, from beginning to end, than celery- 
An inexperiened hand will be aj^t to fail in planting his seed, 
fail in preparing the trenches, and fail in earthing up the 
plants and bleaching them. And yet, celery is so generally 
a favorite that every family desires it, and every gardener 
is willing to cultivate it. 

Seed Sowing. — The seed is exceedingly slow in germi- 
nation, and, if not assisted artificially, will lie three and 
sometimes four weeks without sprouting. We soak the 
seed in water, (a solution of oxalic acid would be much 
better), for twenty-four hours : turn off the water, and then 
add and stir up a few handfuls of sand, well moistened, and 
let the seed stand in a stove room or other warm place, for 
two or three days. The sand will now be nearly dry ; if it 
be not, add dry sand to it until it is perfectly powdery, 
and can be sown without falling in lumps. Besides hasten- 
ing its germination, mixing the seed with sand ena- 
bles the operator to sow it with greater facility and 
evenness. Select a shaded spot, let the earth be rich, 
rather inclined to moisture, and perfectly mellow. Sow 



ABOUT FKTJITS, FLOWERS AND FARMLNG. 283 

the seed broadcast, and cover very thinly by siftiBg over it 
finely pulverized mold. Beat the bed gently with the back 
of the spade to settle the earth firmly about the seed. 
Don't fear that the seed will be troubled by beating ; every 
seed should have the earth pressed to it by a smart stroke of 
the hoe, hand, spade, or by the pressure of a roller. If the 
weather is exceedingly warm and dry, cover your seed-bed 
with matting or old carpet, to retain the moisture. When 
up let them be well weeded, until they are six inches high, 
when they are to be removed to the trench for blanching. 

First Transplanting. — The process here detailed maybe 
wholly omitted by those who are obliged to economize time 
and labor. But those who wish to do the very best that 
can be done — who wish to avoid spindling, w^eak plants, 
and secure strong and vigorous ones — transplant their 
celery to a level bed of very rich soil, placing the plants 
four inches apart every way. They are cultivated here for 
about five weeks, when they will have attained a robust 
habit, or, technically, they will have became stocky — for 
which purpose they were thus transplanted. 

Ci:LERY Trenches. — ^Dig your trenches about eighteen 
inches wide, and one foot deep, laying a shovelful of dirt 
alternately on each side of the trench, that it may be con- 
veniently drawn in on both sides Avhen you earth tip. If 
you are favored with a very deep and rich loamy soil, such 
as often abounds in Western gardens, you will need little 
or no manure. But usually about four inches of vegetable 
tnold and very thoroughly rotted manure, should be placed 
in the bottom of the trench and gently spaded in. No 
part of the culture is more critical than manuring. If the 
soil is slow, poor, and stingy, the celery will be dwarfish, 
tough and strong. On the other hand, if you employ new, 
rank, fiery manure, although you will have a vigorous 
growth, the stalks will be hollow, watery, coarse and flavor- 
less. Let the manure be very thoroughly decayed and 
mixed half and half with leaf or vegetable mold. 



284 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

Set the plants five inches apart, water them freely with a 
fine rosed watering pot, and, if the sun is fierce, cover 
the trenches daily from ten a.m. till evening with boards. 
In about a week they wiU begin to grow and will need 
no more shading. 

Let them alone, except to weed, until the plants are from 
twelve to fifteen inches high — at which time they are to be 
earthed up. 

Earthing Up. — In dry weather, with a short, hand-hoe, 
draw in the earth gently from each side and Tjring it up 
carefully to the stalk. The soil must be kept out of the 
plant, and it is best for the first and perhaps the second 
time of earthing, to gather up the leaves in the left hand, 
and holding them together, to draw the earth about them. 
Fill in about once in two weeks, and always when the plants 
are dry. When the trench is full, the process is still to go 
on, and at the close of the season your plants will be 
exactly reversed — instead of standing in a trench they will 
top out from a high ridge. 

Saying Celery in Winter. — ^Three ways may be men- 
tioned. Letting it stand in the trench — in which case it 
should be covered with long straw and boards so laid over 
it that it will be protected from the wet, which is supposed 
to be more prejudicial to it than mere cold. 

The Boston market gardeners dig it late in autumn, trim 
off the fibrous roots, cut off the top, lay it for two days 
in an airy shed, turning it, say twice a day, and then pack 
it in layers of perfectly dry sand, in a barrel. After laying 
two dar'j to air it goes into the barrel much wilted, but 
regains its plumpness, and comes out as fresh as from the 
trench. 

Lastly, it may be put in rows on the cellar bottom, with- 
out trimming, and earth heaped up about it. Set a plank 
at an angle of forty-five degrees and bank up the earth 
against it, set a row of roots and cover them with dirt, 
then another row and so on. 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 285 

Solid celery is not a particular variety — any celery is solid 
when properly grown — and if grown too rankly the most 
solid celery in the woi'ld will be hollow. 

We have seen it recommended to water the trenches once 
or twice during the season with a weak brine of salt and 
water. Besides the fertilizing effect of salt, it will have 
the effect of retaining moisture in the soil, and what is of 
yet more moment, it destroys the parasitical fungus 
{Puccitica Heraclei) which attacks and rusts the plant, and 
probably would, also, guard it against a maggot which is 
apt to infest and very much injure it. There is an insect, 
which, in very dry weather, is apt to sting the leaf and cause 
it to wilt. While the dew is on in the morning, sift lime 
over the plants once or twice, and it will check the fly. 

If any think these directions too minute and the process 
vexatious, they are at liberty to try a cheaper method — and 
may, once in a while, succeed. But a certain crop, year by 
year, cannot be expected without exact and very careful 
cultivation. We have learned this by sorrowful expe- 
rience. 

The main crop of celery need not be placed in the 
trenches until the middle of July or the first of August. 
It's greatest growth will be in the fall months. 



Seedling Trees. — Many trees which are entirely hardy 
when grown, are very tender during the first and second 
winters. Cover them vnth straw, refuse garden gatherings, 
leaves, etc. Sometimes it is best to raise them and lay 
them in by the heels^ by which those gardeners designate 
the operation of laying trees in trenches or excavations, 
and covering the roots and a considerable portion of the 
stems. This will not be extra labor in aU cases when the 
young trees are to be reset, at any rate, the second year 
in nursery rows. 



286 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 



CULTURE OF PIE-PLANT. 

Beginners should in all cases, if possible, obtain a supply 
of plants, from a proved sort, by dividing the root. Raising 
from seed is an after, and an amateur practice. The first 
object with every man is to supply his family with this 
esculent, and not to experiment with new sorts. Let him 
buy or beg from garden or nursery, enough buds to estab- 
lish a bed, of some kind already known to be good. 

The besi season of the year for dividing the root is in the 
spring ; the next best is in late autumn ; and the worst in 
midsummer — as we have abundantly ascertained by experi- 
ment. The reason is plain. Like bulbs, and tubers, the 
root of the pie-plant stores up in itself dm-ing one season, a 
supply of organizable matter enough to enable it to start 
off the next season, without any dependence upon the soil. 
Dahlias, potatoes, onions, turnips, cabbages, etc., it is well 
known, are able to grow for a considerable time, in the 
spring, without any connection with the soil ; being 
sustained by that supply which they had treasured up 
within themselves the previous autumn. When this is 
exhausted, they will die, if they have not been put in con- 
nection with food from without. When pie-plant is divided 
in the spring, it is fiill of the material of life, and a bud cut 
off from the main root with a portion of the root attached, 
has a supply of food until new roots are emitted, which in 
good soil and weather will be in about a week. There is 
the same vitality in autumn, and the only reason why it is 
not so good for transplanting as spring, is the risk that the 
buds and roots will rot off during the winter. A uniform 
winter wUl scarcely injure one in a hundred, but constant 
changes, freezing and thawing, will weaken, if not destroy 
many of them. When, however, it is necessary to divide 
and transplant in the fall, cover the bed full four inches 
deep with coarse, strong manure. Although great care 
will enable one to transplant a section of the root in mid- 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 287 

summer, yet we have found that when no more attention is 
paid than in spring, nme plants are lost out of ten. The 
reason is obvious. There is no reserved treasure of sap in 
the root in summer, sucl\ as gives it vitality in spring or 
autumn. If for any reason we must take up a root in 
summer, let every possible fibre be saved, the plant well 
watered and sheltered until it begins to grow again. 

Raising from Seed. — The origination of new varieties 
of fruits, flowers and esculent vegetables is one of the 
greatest rewards of gardening. Almost every seed of the 
pie-plant will produce a variety. We have thought our- 
selves repaid for trouble if one in fifty seedling plants were 
worth saving. It requires a full two years' trial to improve 
a sort. Of fifty plants, say twenty-five may be rejected 
peremj)tori]y the first season, the petioles being mere wires. 
Of the other twenty-five, one or two will give great promise, 
and the others will be doubtful. Let them be transplanted 
in the spring of the second season, into very mellow, rich, 
deep loam, full three feet apart every way, and here they 
may stand until the owner is fully satisfied, by the trial of 
one or more seasons, which are good and which inferior. 
In marking seedling plants, the cultivator should bear in 
mind that there are two kinds required, viz. a very early 
sort, and one for the later and main supjDly. If a plant has 
small stalks, and is late too, reject it of course. If it be 
very early^ it may be valuable even if quite small. Some 
sorts are fit for plucking five or six weeks before others ; 
we have a variety which comes forward almost the moment 
the frost leaves the ground in the spring, or in warm spells 
in winter. 

In selecting a late sort from your seedlings, several 
qualities must be consulted. The plant should manifest an 
indisposition to go to seed ; should be apt to throw out an 
abundance of leaves, to supply those taken ofi"; the petioles 
should be large ; the meat rich and substantial. There is 
great difference between one sort and another in the 



288 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

amount of sugar required, in the delicacy of flavor, and iu 
the property of stewing to a pulp, without wasting away. 

A good variety of pie-plant, then, should be a vigorous 
grower, prolific, large in the stalk, not apt to flowei", of a 
sprightly acid without any earthy or woody taste, not stew- 
ing away more than one-third when cooked, and not requir- 
ing too much sugar. 

We have observed in our trials that seedlings having 
smooth leaves, with the upper surface varnished and glossy, 
are seldom good ; while every plant which we have thought 
worth keeping, had the upper surface of its leaves of a 
deep, dull, lack-lustre green. 

Formation of a Bed. — Select a strong and rich loam 
Let it be spaded full two feet deep. If the subsoil has 
never been worked, and is clay, or gravel, a large supply of 
old manure should be mixed with it. Our working-method 
is this: Mark off the square, begin on one side, lay out a 
full spadeful of the top-soil clear across the bed ; lay four or 
five inches of manure in the trench, and then spade it down 
a full twelve inches deep ; beginning again by the side of the 
fix'st trench, put the top-soil of the second into the first ; add 
manure and spade as before ; and so across the bed. The 
surface-soil thrown out of the first trench may be wheeled 
down and put into the last one. This process will leave 
the bed much higher than it was ; let it stand one or two 
weeks to settle. If the bed is prepared in autumn it will 
be better, and in the spring it may be half-spaded again 
before planting. 

Mark out, by line, rows three feet apart, and set your 
plants in the rows three feet from plant to plant, if of 
the large kind, and two feet, if of the small. Very large 
varieties require four feet every way. The buds should be 
left just below the surface of the soil. 

After Culttjke. — ^Through the summer keep the surface 
mellow and free from weeds. In the fall of the year, when 
the leaves show signs of falling, form a compost heap of 



ABOUT PEUTTS, FLOWERS AND FAEMING. 289 

fine charcoal, if you can get it from blacksmith's or else- 
where, vegetable mold, ashes, and very old manure. Spread 
and spade in a good coat of this, spading lightly near to the 
plants and deeply between them. When frost destroys the 
tops wholly, cover the bed with coarse, strong manure 
about four inches deep, smooth it down, and let it remain 
thus. The next spring stir the surface smartly with a rake, 
and no further care will be requu-ed except to pluck out any 
weeds that grow through the summer. 

Gathering. — Leaves are constantly springing from the 
centre. Of course the full-grown ones will be on the out- 
side. These should be harvested, leaving the inside ones 
to mature. By going regularly over your bed, and taking 
in turn the outside leaves, a bed may be used tUl July with- 
out the slightest injury. Other fruit, after that time, 
usually displaces pie-plant and leaves it to rest the 
remainder of the year. The leaf-stalks should not be cut 
off. Slide the hand down as near as possible to the root, 
and give the stalk a backward and sidewise wi'ench and it 
will be detached at a joint or articulation, and no stump 
will be left to rot and injure the root — we usually cut off 
the leaves on the spot, leaving them about the root, both 
for shade to the ground and for manure. 



Pbeseevb yoijr Pot-Plants. — ^We warn ladies having 
pot-plants designed for winter-wear, to be prudent before 
hand^ or some frosty night wUl cut every tender plant left 
out, and then prudence will be good for nothing. Every 
one who pretends to keep parlor plants should own a 
thermometer. If at sundown or at nine o'clock it stands 
anywhere near forty degrees, your plants are in danger. 
Sometimes it will fall, in one night, from fifty degrees to 
below thirty-two degrees, which last is the freezing point. 



290 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 



SUN-FLOWER SEED. 



To some extent this is likely to become a profitable crop. 
Medium lands will yield, on an average, fifty bushels; 
while first-rate lands will yield from seventy to a hundred 
bushels. 

Mode of Cultivation. — ^The ground is prepared in all 
respects as for a corn crop, and the seed sown in drills four 
feet apart — one plant to every eighteen inches in the drill. 
It is to be plowed and tended in all respects like a crop of 
corn. 

Hakvesting. — As the heads ripen, they are gathered, 
laid on a barn floor and threshed with a flail. The seed 
shells very easily. 

Use. — The seed may be employed in fattening hogs, feed- 
ing jjoultry, etc., and for this last purpose it is better than 
grain. But the seed is more valuable at the oil-mill than 
elsewhere. It will yield a gallon to the bushel without 
trouble ; and by careful working, more than this. Hemp 
yields one and a fourth gallons to the bushel, and flax-seed 
one and a half by ordinary pressure ; but two gallons under 
the hydraulic press. 

The oil has, as yet, no established market price. It vrill 
range from seventy cents to a dollar, according as its value 
shall be established as an article for lamps and for painters' 
use. But at seventy cents a gallon for oil, the seed would 
command fifty-five cents a bushel, which is a much higher 
price than can be had for corn. 

It is stated, but upon how sufficient proof we know not, 
that sun-flower oil is excellent for burning in lamps. It has 
also been tried by our painters to some extent; and for 
inside work, it is said to be as good as linseed oil. Mr. 
Hannaman, who has kindly put us in possession of these 
facts, says, that the oil resembles an animal, rather than 
a vegetable oil ; that it has not the varnish properties 
of the linseed oil. "We suppose by varnish is meant, 



ABOUT FBUITS, FLOWEES AND FARMING. 291 

the albumen and mucilage which are found in vegetable 
oils. The following analysis of hemp-seed^ and flax-seed^ or 
as it is called in England lint or linseed, will show the 
proportions of various ingredients in one hundred parts. 

Hemp-seed. Linseed. 

(Bucholz.) (Leo Meier.) 

Oil , 19.1 11.3 

Husk, etc 38.3 44.4 

Woody fibre and starch, 5.0 1.5 

Sugar, etc 1.6 10.8 

Gum, 9.0 n.\ 

Soluble alb umea (Casein ?) 24.7 15.1 

Insoluble do — 3.7 

Wax and resin, 1.6 3.1 

Loss, 0.7 3.0 

100 100 

The existence of impurities in oil, such as mucilage, albu- 
men, gum, etc., which increase its value to the painter, dimin- 
ishes its value for the lamp^ since these substances crust or 
cloy the wick, and prevent a clear flame. All oils may, 
therefore, the less excellent they are for painting, be regarded 
as the more valuable for burning. Rape-seed is extensively 
raised in Europe, chiefly in Flanders, for its oil, and is 
much used for burning. Ten quarts may be extracted 
from a bushel of ^eed. We append a table represent- 
ing the richness of various seeds, etc., in oil. 

Oil per cent. 

Linseed (flax) 11 to 22 

Hemp-seed, 14 to 25 

Rape-seed, 40 to 70 

Poppy-seed, 36 to 33 

White mustard-seed, 36 to 48 

Black mustard-seed, 15 

Swedish turnip-seed, 34 

Sun-flower seed, , 15 

Walnut kernels- , 40 to 70 



292 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

Hazel-nut kernels, 60 

Beech-nut kernels, 15 to 11 

Plum-stone do 33 

Sweet almond kernels, 40 to 64 

Bitter do. do 28 to 46 



APRIL GARDEN-WORK. 

Evert one will now be at work in the garden. A few 
suggestions maj make your garden better. 

Plowing Gardens. — We do not like the practice except 
when the garden is large, and the owner unable to meet 
the expense of spading. But if you must plow, let that be 
well done. Those contemptible little one-horse plows, with 
which most gardens are plowed, should be discarded. The 
best plowing will be too shallow, but these spindhng little 
plows, drawn by a little meagre horse, will skun over your 
ground, averaging from three to four inches deep, and pre- 
paring your soil to receive the utmost possible detriment 
from summer droughts. What chance have young roots, 
or the finer fibres of plants, to penetrate more than a few 
inches of surface-soil ? Persons come to our garden and 
wonder why some vegetables flourish so well, while they 
never have luck with them, "It must be a difference of 
soil." No, it is the difference of working it. Give your 
vegetables a chance to descend eighteen or twenty inches 
if they incline to it, and you will have no more trouble. A 
large plow should be used, and you should stand by and 
see that it is put in to the beam. A garden soil is usually 
mellow, and a plow can go to its full depth vsdthout hurting 
the horses. 

Spading. — This mode of working the ground will always 
be employed by those ambitious of having a first-rate gar- 
den. Indeed, where there is much shrubbery and perma- 
nent beds, as of asparagus, pie-plant, strawberry, and plant- 



ABOUT FEUITS, FLOWEES AND FARMING. 293 

ations of currants, raspberries, etc., spading is the only 
method which can be employed. 

Spading Shrubbert. — Let very fine manure be spread 
about roses, honeysuckles, and ornamental shrubs (where 
they are not standing in a grass-lawn). Beginning at the 
plant, with great care turn over the soil one or two inches 
deep, yet so as not to injure the fibres ; gradually deepen 
the stroke of your spade as you go out from the plant ; at 
two feet from the shrub you may put in the spade half its 
depth, and at three feet to its full depth. You will of 
course cut many roots, but they will very soon re-form and 
send out fibres, and by the manure spaded in, be supplied 
with abimdant nourishment for the season. 

Spading Flower Beds. — This requires a practised hand. 
There is danger of wounding and displacing clumps of 
flower-roots, or of filling the crowns with du"t, or of leaving 
the surface uneven, and the edges ragged. If there is a 
skillful gardener to be had, hire it done, and watch while 
he performs, for any man who has seen a thing done in a 
garden once, ought to be ashamed if he cannot himself do 
it afterwards. 

Spading Vegetable Beds. — ^Asparagus, pie-plant, straw- 
berries, etc., require enriching every year, and to have the 
manure forked or spaded in. It is easy to perform this 
upon strawberries, and a spade is preferable. A three or 
four-pronged fork is better for asparagus and pie-plant. Be 
careful not to tear or cut the crowns of the plants. No 
material injury ensues from clipping the side fibres, m the 
sjyring; in summer, when a plant reqxiires all its mouths to 
supply sap for its extended surface of leaf, it is not wise to 
cut the roots or fibres at all, but only to keep the surface 
mellow and fi^iable. 

Deep Spading. — Ames' garden-spades measure twelve 
inches in length of blade. In a good soil the foot may gain 
one or two additional inches by a good thrust. Thus the 
soil is mellowed to the depth of fourteen inches. This will 



294 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

do very well ; but if you aspire to do the very best, another 
course must be first pursued. The first spadeful must be 
thrown out, and a second depth gained, and then the top 
soil returned. This is comparatively slow and laborious, 
but it need not be done more than once in five years, and 
by dividing the garden into sections, and performing this 
thorough-spading on one of the sections each year, the pro- 
cess wiU be found, practically, less burdensome than it seems 
to be. 



GETTING POOR ON RICH LAND AND RICH ON POOR 

LAND. 

A CLOSE observer of men and things told us the follow- 
ing little history, which we hope will plow very deeply into 
the attention of all who plow very shallow in their soils. 

Two brothers settled together in county. One of 

them on a cold, ugly, clay soil, covered with black-jack 
oak, not one of which was large enough to make a half 
dozen rails. This man would never drive any but large, 
powerful, Conastoga horses, some seventeen hands high. He 
always put three horses to a large plow, and plunged it in 
some ten inches deep. This deep plowing he invariably 
practised and cultivated thoroughly afterward. He raised 
his seventy bushels of corn to the acre. 

This man had a brother about six miles off, settled on 
a rich White River bottom-land farm — and while a black- 
jack clay soil yielded seventy bushels to the acre, this fine 
bottom-land would not average fifty. One brother was 
steadily growing rich on poor land, and the other steadily 
growing poor on rich land. 

One day the bottom-land brother came down to see the 
black-jack oak farmer, and they began to talk about their 
crops and farms, as farmers are very apt to do. 



ABOUT PEUITS, FLOWEKS AND FARMING. 295 

"How is it," said the first, "that you manage on this 
poor soil to beat me in crops ?" 

They reply was " I work my land.'''' 

That was it, exactly. Some men have such rich land 
that they won't work it ; and they never get a step beyond 
where they began. They rely on the soil, not on labor, or 
skill, or care. Some men expect their lands to work, and 
some me7i expect to work their land ; — and th at is just 
the diiFerence between a good and a bad farm er. 

When we had written thus far, and read it to our infor- 
mant, he said, " three years ago I travelled again through 
that section, and the only good farm I saw was this very 
one of which you have just written. All the others were 
desolate — fences down — cabins abandoned, the settlers dis- 
couraged and moved ofi". I thought I saw the same old 
stable door, hanging by one hinge, that used to disgust me 
ten years before ; and I saw no change except for the worse 
in the whole county, with the single exception of this one 
farm." 



GETTING READY FOR WINTER. 

Haul tanbark and bank up around the house to insure 
a warm cellar. Cellar windows should be kept open through 
the day, and closed after the nights begin to freeze, as late 
in the season as possible. See that dry walks are i:)repared 
from the house to all the out-houses. Do not be stingy of 
your materials ; make the paths high and rounding, so as to 
insure dryness, especially about the barn. See that stones, 
gravel, or timber are laid so as to be out of the way of cat- 
tle's feet, and just in the way of your own. We have seen 
swamp-barn-yards, before going into which a prudent man 
would choose to make his Avill. Mud on the shoes from 
roads and fields is all well enough ; but mud from one's own 



296 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

yards, shows that the owner has not fixed up as he ought 
to have done. 

If your stables are old, examine the floor ; or some night 
may let a horse through, to come ou^t lame for life. If you 
have a dirt floor, see that it is carefully laid, and remember 
that if it be inclined either way, it should be from the rack 
and not toward it. Let your wagons, carts, ploAvs, etc., be 
repaired during the fall and winter, and not be left till spring 
See that your shingles are all sound on the house, barn, 
and shed. The leak which you have allowed to drop, drop, 
drop all summer has at last taken off" a yard or two of 
plaster, and it is time now to i:»ut on a shingle or two. 
There is another leak or two that must be stopped. That 
pocket of yours which has let out dime after dime for liquor, 
the hole getting bigger and bigger every year, now is the 
time to sow it up, or it will rip you up. A pocket is a small 
place, to be sure, but we have seen barns, cattle, and acre 
after acre slip through a hole in it which, at first, was 
only large enough to let sixpence through. 

See that all your tools have a safe and dry standing- 
place; hoes rakes, scythes, sickles, yokes, spades, shovels, 
chains, pins, harrows, plows, carts, and sleds, axes, mattocks, 
hammers, and everything, but your geese and ducks, should 
be kept from wet and snow. 

If you have no stables for your cattle, you should have 
good sheds provided, opening to the south. Even when 
cattle are allowed to run through the stock-fields, there 
ought to be in some warm place an ample shed to which 
they can resort during wet and cold weather ; and one sufiS^ 
ciently snug can be made without calling in the carpenter 
or buying lumber. 



ABOUT FBUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING '297 

ESCULENT VEGETABLES. 

We mention some of the more common kinds of garden 
esculent vegetables, to point out the best kinds, and give 
some hints for their cultivation. If more vegetables were 
raised and eaten in the place of meat, there would be fewer 
diseases, and less expense for medicine than is now the case 
among those who eat so heartily and liberally of the fat of 
the land. 

Beet. — ^The turnip-rooted blood beet should be sown for 
the earliest crop ; the long blood beet for the late crop, and 
for winter use. The blood beet is the proper garden beet. 
The scarcity, the sugar beets (so called), white, yellow, and 
red, are inferior for table use. Every year we see accounts 
of new varieties, which are seldom mentioned a second 
time, while these old standard sorts hold their own from 
year to year. We see people running around among 
their neighbors for beet-seed, careless whether it is early or 
late, coarse fleshed or fine grained, sweet or insipid. It is 
just as easy and cheap to have the best seed of the best 
kinds, as to have refuse seed of worthless kinds. Lately, a 
variety introduced from France, called JBassano, has at- 
tracted attention and commendation.* It is early, tender, 
and sweet. If you attempt to raise your own seed, let only 
one sort stand in the garden ; otherwise bees and other 
insects will mix them, and the purity of the variety wiU be 

* A new variety called tne Bassano has been recently introduced into 
France, and extensively cultivated ; and it is said to be found in all the 
markets from Venice to Genoa, in the month of June. It is remarkable 
for the form of the root, which is flattened like a turnip. The skin is 
red, the flesh white, veined with rose. It is very tender, very deUcate, 
preserving its rose colored rings after cooking, and from two to two 
and a half inches in diameter. This description is from the Bon Jardi- 
flier for 1841. The edition for 1842 states that this variety is highly 
esteemed in the north of Italy, and that it is, in fact, one of the best kinds 
for the table. — Hovey^s Magazine. 



298 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

lost. We very seldom see an unmixed variety in common 
gardens, unless seed have been bought from good seeds- 
men. 

The best seed is a small black seed about the size of a 
pin head, enveloped in a ragged, rough, two or three lobed 
husk. Every seeming seed planted, then, is a mere envel- 
ope of two or more seeds, and two or three plants come up, 
very much to the surprise of the inexperienced, for each 
husk. When a little advanced, they are to be thinned out 
to one in a place. 

We i^refer planting very early, and in rows eight inches 
apart and at about one inch distant in the row. As the plants 
begin to gain size they make very delicate greens ; and for 
this purpose are to be boiled, leaf, root, and all. Continue 
to thin out until one is left for every six inches for full 
growth. 

Every year a great ado is made about monstrous beets — 
twenty and thirty pounders. There is no objection to 
these giants, unless they beget an idea that size is the test 
of merit. For table-use, medium sized fruits and vegetables 
are every way preferable ; a beet should never be larger 
than a goose-egg. 

It is equally foolish to suppose that large, coarse-grained 
vegetables, whether jiotatoes, beets, parsnips, ruta bagas, or 
anything else, are as good for stock, though not so palat- 
able to men. To be sure they fill up. But that which is 
nutriment to man is nutriment to beast ; a vegetable which 
is rank and watery is no better for my cow than for us. 
It is not the bulk but the quality that measures the fitness 
of articles for food. 

Parsnip. — This vegetable is, to those who are fond of it, 
very desirable, as commg in at a time when other things are 
failing. For, although the parsnip attains its size by 
autumn, yet its flavor seems to depend upon its receiving a 
pretty good frosting. It may be dug at ojDen spells through 
the winter and early in the spring. It gives one of the 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWERS AND FAEMING. 299 

first indications of returning warmth, and its green leaves 
are among the first wliich cheer the garden. On this ac- 
count it must be dug early in the spring and housed, or it 
will spoil by growth. 

We know of no difference in varieties. The Guernsey^ 
is not a different sort from the common, but only the com- 
mon sort, very highly cultivated in that island, where it 
sometunes grows to a length of four feet. The holloio- 
crovjned and Siani are mentioned in English catalogues, as 
fine fleshed and flavored, but we have never been able to 
obtain seed of them. 

The parsnip {Pastinacea sativa) is a native of Great 
Britain and is fomid wild by the road-sides, delighting par- 
ticularly in calcareous soils. It has hitherto been supposed 
that the seed would not retain its germinating power more 
than one year, but Mr. Mendenhall states that he has raised 
freely from four year old seed. The parsnip is much sown 
as a field crop at the east, yielding 1,000 bushels, on good 
land, to the acre. They are invaluable both to cows 
and horses. The quantity and quality of milk in cows 
is improved ; and no farmer with whom butter-making is a 
considerable object of interest, should be without a root 
crop — beet, carrot, or ruta baga. 

Carrot. {Daucus carota). — This is a native of Great 
Britain. The early horn and Altringham are the best 
varieties sold by our seedsmen. Beside their use upon the 
table, they are largely and deservedly cultivated in the field 
for stock. A horse becomes more fond of them than of oats, 
and they do not, like the potato, require boiling before feed 
ing out. A thousand bushels may be raised to the acre. 
The premium of the New York Agricultural Society for the 
year 1844, was to a crop of 1,059 bushels the acre. 
The seed should be new each year, as it will not 
come well even the second year, and not at all if kept yet 
longer. 

Radish. — Every garden has its bed of rad'thes, and they 



300 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

are among the first spring gifts. They will grow in any 
soil, but not in all equally well. A mellow sandy loam is 
best ; or rather that soil is best which will grow them the 
quickest. If they are a long time in growing, they are 
tough and stringy. It is said that a compost of the follow- 
ing materials will produce them very early and finely. 
Take equal parts of buckwheat bran and fresh horse-dung, 
dig them in plentifully into the soil where you intend to 
sow. Within two days a plentiful crop of toadstools will 
start up. Spade them under, and sow your seed, and the 
radishes will come forward rapidly, and be tender and free 
fi'om worms. 

The short-top scarlet, is the best for spring planting. It 
is so named, because, from its rapid growth the top is yet 
small when the root is fit for the table. There is a white 
and red turnip-rooted variety, also good for spring use. 
The turnip-rooted kinds have not only the shape, but some- 
thing of the sweetness and flavor of the turnip, and are by 
some preferred to all others. For summer planting, there 
is a yeUow turnip-rooted sort and the summer white. For 
fall and early winter, the white and black Spanish are 
planted. When radishes are sown broadcast, it must be 
very thinly, for if at all crowded they run to top, and 
refuse to form edible roots. For our own use, we sow on 
the edges of beds, devoted to onions, beets, etc., and thrust 
each seed down with the finger. 

The radish i^Raphanus sativus) is a native of China, and 
was introduced to England before 1584. 

Salsify, ok Vegetable Oyster. — ^We esteem this to be 
a much better root for table use than either the parsnip or 
carrot. It is cultivated in all respects as these crops are. 
Some have been skeptical as to their possessing an oyster 
flavor. They seldom attain the true taste until, like the 
parsnip, they have been well frosted. But if dug up dur- 
ing spells in winter and early in the spring, and cooked by 
an orthodox formula, they are strikingly like the oyster. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. oOl 

We have just consulted the oracle of our kitchen, and give 
forth the following method of cooking it: First, oblige 
your husband to raise a good supply of them. When you 
have obtained them, scrape off the outside skin — cut the 
root lengthwise into thin slices — put them into a spider and 
iust cover with hot water. Let them boil until a fork will 
pass through them easily. Without turnmg off the water, 
season them with butter, pepper, and salt, and sprinkle 
in a little flour — enough to thicken the liquor slightly. Then 
eat them. 

The success of this gustatory deception depends, more 
than anything else, upon the skill in seasoning. If well done 
they are not merely an apology, but they are a very excel- 
lent substitute for the shell-fish himself; a thousand times 
better than pickled can-oysters — those arrant libels upon all 
that is dear in the remembrance of a live oyster. 

Every one may save seed for himself, as it will not, if well 
cultivated, degenerate. It is a biennial, and roots may 
either be set out, or left standing where they were planted. 
When the seed begins to feather out it must be immediately 
gathered, or like the dandelion or thistle, it will be blown 
away by the wind. This vegetable should be much more 
extensively cultivated than it is. 

Beans. — There are three kinds — English dwarf, kidney 
dwarf or string, and the pole beans. The first kind, so far 
as our experience has gone, are coarser than the others, 
and, in our hot and dry summers, are very diflicult to raise. 

Of kidney or bush beans, there is a long catalogue of 
sorts. The Mohawk is good for its hardmess, enduring 
spring frosts with comparative impunity. The red-speckled 
valentine is highly commended. But after a trial of some 
twenty kinds, we are entirely contented with one — the 
China red-eye. It is early, hardy, very prolific, and well 
flavored. 

Of the pole beans, one sort, the Lima., might supersede 
all others were it a little earlier. It is immensely prolific . 



B02 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

Its flavor unrivalled, and nearly the same in the dry bean 
as when cooked in its green state, a quality which has 
never, we believe, been found in any other variety. To 
supjily the deficiency of this variety in earliness, we know 
of none equal to the Horticultural. With these two kinds 
one has no need of any other. Pole beans will not bear 
frost, and are among the last seeds to be planted, seldom 
before the last of April. The bush-bean may precede 
them a fortnight. 

The English dwarf ( Viciafaha) is a native of Egypt ; but 
has been cultivated in England from time immemorial, and, 
it is supposed, was introduced by the Romans. 

The kidney dwarf {Phaseolus vulgaris) is a native of 
India, and was introduced into England about the 
year 1597. 

The pole bean {Phaseolus rmdtifloris) is a native of 
South America, and was introduced to England in 1633. 

Pole beans are not strictly annuals. In a climate where- 
the winter does not destroy them they bear again the 
second year, and we believe yet longer. Gov. Pinney, 
of Liberia, on the African coast, stated in a lecture, speak- 
ing of the vegetable productions of that region, that the 
bean was a permanent vine like the grape, bearing its crops 
from year to year without replanting. The bush bean is 
strictly an annual. If the pole bean were protected in the 
ground, or raised and put away like sweet potatoes, 
dahlias, etc., in the cellar and replanted in the spring it 
would bear again the second season. Perhaps an earlier 
crop of beans might thus be secured. 

The bean crop, by field culture, is not to be overlooked. 
Great quantities of dried beans are consumed by families, 
by the army and in the navy, and they always bear a good 
price, when they are Avell grown and well cured. They are 
excellent for sheep, not from their fattening properties, but 
for improving their fleece. Analysis has shown them to be 
rich in those properties which are " wool-gathering." 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWBES AND FARMING. 303 

FIELD ROOT CROPS. 

From mid-winter, and especiaWj Just before spring opens, 
beets, carrots, pai'snips, potatoes, ruta baga, and mangel 
wurtzel are of the highest utility. After months of dry 
fodder, and of slops thickened with corn-meal, cattle need — 
their stomach, their blood need — a change of diet ; and none 
can be better than roots. At the East it is no longer a de- 
batable question — root crops are as regularly laid in as 
grain or grass crops. The chief difficulty at the East, in 
introducing " new-fangled notions," arises from the regular 
routine habits of farmers and their settled aversion to change 
from old ways. Very little of this spirit exists at the West. 
There the very essence of life is change. The population 
have broken up from old homesteads, moved off from old 
States, abandoned the comforts and settled life of long 
tilled agricultural districts — to come into a new country, 
where they have to practise new ways, live differently, and 
labor by new methods ; and, by consequence, the farming 
community of the West are remarkably free to meet and 
adopt agricultural improvements. But the difficulty lies in 
a different direction. The farmers have large farms — are 
ambitious of large crops, large herds of cattle, large droves 
of hogs, and of a style of husbandry which brings in a 
large pile, and all at once ; so that the idea of good farming 
is large farming. Many a sturdy Kentuckian will very 
patiently plow, two or three times, his fifty or hundred acres 
of corn, and think nothing of it ; but to put in half an acre 
of carrots, or beets, to weed and work, to harvest and store 
the vexatious little crop, this seems a piddling business. 
Our big prairie farmers, our heavy bottom-land farmers, our 
stock farmers who " hog" one or two hundred acres of corn, 
of their own planting or of their neighbor's, they do not 
love little work. We know a man who lives on thirty acres 
of land of about a middling quality. He winters seven 
cows, two horses, and two pigs. He raises corn and grass 



304 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

enough for his own use, and sells none. Every year he puts 
in about a quarter of an acre of parsnips, or ruta baga, for 
winter and spring fodder. His garden in summer, and his 
dairy aU the year round, are represented in market. He 
probably does not receive five dollars at once, on any one 
sale, through the year. We never looked into that old 
chest under his bed ; but we will venture much, that if the 
shrewd housewife would keep her eagle eyes off long enough 
to give us a chance, it would be found that this man has 
made, and laid up, more money in the last five years from 
his thirty acres, than any farmer about here from six times 
the amount. Our farmers have not grown rich on large 
and careless farming j but many are growing rich on small 
farm^s and careful husbandry. 

When the dairy shaU be more thought of — when winter- 
ing stock, and fattening it, shall be more carefully studied — 
we predict that our farmers will annually raise thousands 
of bushels of roots, and have capacious cellars under their 
barns to store them in. 



CULTIVATION OF FRUIT-TREES. 

We must give up thinking of remedies for blights and 
diseases of fruit-trees and seek after preventives. Amputa- 
tion may limit its ravages ; but surgery is not a remedy, 
but a resource after remedies fail. We must, it seems to 
us, look for a preventive in a wiser system of fruit cultiva- 
tion. To this subject we shall now speak. 

The effect of cultivation in Qhanging the habits of plants 
is familiar to all. Incident to this artificial condition of the 
plant, there will be new diseases, vegetable vices, which, as 
they result from cultivation, must be regarded in every 
perfect system of cultivation. 

Where trees are grown for timber, or shade, or orna- 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 305 

meiit, everything can be sacrificed to the production of 
wood and foliage. But in fruit-trees wood is nothing and 
fi-uit is everything. We push for quantity and quality of 
fruit ; and would not regard the wood or foliage at all, if it 
were not indispensable as a means of procuring fruit. That 
is the most skillful treatment of fruit-trees which involves a 
just compromise between the wants of the tree^ and the 
abundance and excellence oi fruit. There is a way of gain- 
ing fruit by a rapid consumption of the tree ; and there is a 
method of gaining fruit by invigorating and prolonging the 
tree. T^vo systems of cultivation grow out of these dif- 
ferent methods — a natural system and an artificial system. 
All cultivation is artificial, even the rudest. JBy natural 
system, then, is only meant a treatment which interferes 
but little with nature ; and by artificial, a system in which 
skill is applied to every part of the vegetable economy. 
For conservatories, gardens, and experimental grounds, 
there is no reason why an artificial system should not exist. 
Moral considerations restrain us from stimulating a man or a 
beast to procure a quick or a large return at the expense of 
life and limb ; but in vegetable matters our preference or 
interest is the only restraint. If any reason exists for forc- 
ing a tree to bear young, and enormously, and after ten 
years' service for throwing it away, it is proper to do it. 
For larger show-fruit we ring a limb expecting to sacrifice 
the branch ; we diminish the life of the pear by putting it 
to a dwarf habit by violent means. If we have any suffi- 
ciently desirable object to accomplish, there is no reason 
why we should not do it. There may be as good reasons 
for limiting a tree to ten years as a strawberry bed to 
three. 

There is another form of the artificial system in which 
there is much to censure. When fruit-trees are set in gar- 
dens, yards, etc., to be permanent, and long-lived., it is folly 
to apply to them that high-toned treatment which belongs 
to an artificial system as I have spoken of it above. 



306 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

Impatient of delay, the cultivator presses his trees foiward 
by stimulating applications, or retards them by violent 
interference — by prunings at the root or branch, by bend- 
ing or binding ; everything is sacrificed for early and abun- 
dant bearing. Fine fruit yards, designed to last a hundred 
years, are served with a treatment proper only to a con- 
servatory or experimental garden. This high-toned system 
is still more vicious when applied to orchards and especially 
to pear orchards; and it seems to us that much is to be 
learned and much unleai'ned before we shall have attained 
a true science of pear culture. Let us consider some facts. 
It is well known that seedling apple-trees are generally 
longer lived than grafted varieties, and obnoxious to fewer 
diseases. The same is true of the pear-tree. It has fre- 
quently been said that seedling and wilding pears were not 
subject to the blight. This is not true if such trees are under- 
going the same cultivation as grafted sorts ; it is not always 
true when they exist in an untutored state ; but when they 
are left to themselves, they certainly are less obnoxious to 
the blight and to disease of any kind, than are grafted and 
cultivated varieties. A comparison between wild and 
tame, between cultivated and natural, between seedling and 
and grafted fruit, is certainly to the advantage of seedHng 
uncultivated fruit, in respect to the health of the tree — of 
course it is not in respect to quality of fruit. In connection 
with these facts, consider another, that seedling and wilding 
fruit is nearly twice as long in coming into bearing as are 
cultivated varieties. The seedling apple bears at from ten 
to fourteen years. The pear bears at from fifteen to eighteen 
years. But upon cultivation the grafted pear and apple 
bear in from five to eight years. It is noticeable that, 
although the pear as a wilding is four or five years longer 
in coming to a bearing state than the apple, yet, upon 
cultivation, they both bear at about the same age from the 
bud or graft. In a private letter from Robert Manning (we 
prize it as among the last he ever wrote ; another, received 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 307 

not long after, was dictated ; but signed by his tremialous 
hand in letters which speak of death), lie says, '■'•Pears hear 
as soon as apples of the same age/ on the quince much 
sooner," etc. 

It appears, then, that while cultivation accelerates the 
period of fruit-bearing and perfects the fi-uit, it is also 
accomj)anied with premature age and liability to diseases, 
we do not wish to be imderstood as opposang the habit of 
cultivating fruit, or as prejudiced against grafted varieties 
— we are neither opposed to the one nor to the other. But 
we would deduce from facts, some conclusions which will 
enable us to perfect our fi-uits by a more discriminating 
treatment. 

The question will arise. Is it only by accident that liability 
to disease increases, with increase of cultivation ? Is there 
an inherent objection in all artificial treatment ? or is there 
objection only to particular methods of artificial cultiva- 
tion? 

Although there may be too many exceptions, to allow of 
our saying, that quickly-growing timber is not durable, it 
may be said in respect to trees of the same species, that the 
durability of the timber depends (among other things) on 
the slowness of its growth. Mountain timber is usually 
tougher and more lasting than champaign wood; timber 
growing in the great alluvial valleys of the West, is noto- 
riously more perishable than that grown in the parsimonious 
soils of the North and East. 

The reason does not seem obscure. In a rich soil, and 
under an ardent sim, not only is the growth of trees greater 
in any given season, than in a poor soil, but the growth is 
coarser and the grain coarser. But what is a coarse growth, 
and what is fine-grained, or coarse-grained timber ? — timber 
in which the vascular system has been greatly distended, in 
which sap-vessels and air-cells are large and coarse. Where 
wood is formed with great rapidity and with a super 
abimdance of sap, not only will there be large ducts and 



308 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

vessels, but the sap itself M^dll be but imperfectly elaborated 
by the leaves. We may supj^ose that overfeeding in vege- 
tables is, in its effects, analogous to overfeeding in animals. 
The sap is but imperfectly decomposed in the leaf — it passes 
into the channels for elaborated sap in a partially undigested 
state — it deposits imperfect secretions, and the whole tissue 
resulting from it will partake of the defects of the proper 
juiced 

Thus a too rapid growth not only enlarges the sap pas- 
sages, but forms their sides and the whole vegetable tissue 
of imperfect matter. This accounts, not only for the perish- 
ableness of quickly-grown timber, but, doubtless, for the 
short-lived tendency of cultivated fruit in comparison with 
xoildings. For where the tissue is imperfectly formed, 
general weakness must ensue. 

These reasonings do not include plants which, in their 
original nature, have a system of large sap-vessels, etc., and 
which naturally are rapid growers, but respects only plants 
which have been forced to this condition by circumstances. 

Has this condition of the vegetable substance nothing to 
do with the health of a tree ? Does it not very much 
determine its liability to disease ? — its excitability ? Where 
are trees liable to diseases of the circulation ? In England, 
in New England, where, by climate and soil, growth is 
slow ? — or in the Western and Middle States, where, by 
climate, by soil, and by vicious treatment, the growth is 
excessive ? This leads me to review the methods employed 
in rearing fruit-trees. 

The nursery business is a commercial business, and aims 
at profit. It is the interest of nurserymen to sell largely, 
and to brmg their trees into market in the shortest possible 
time from the planting of the seed and the setting of the 

* For the young reader it may be necessary to say, that when eap is 
first taken up by the roots it is called true sap ; but after it has under- 
gone a change in the leaves it is caWedi proper juice. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 309 

bud, to the sale of the tree. But independently of this, 
few nurserymen know, accurately, the nature of the plants 
which they cultivate, and still less the habits of each 
variety. Why should they, when learned pomologists are 
content to know as little as they ? The trees are highly 
cultivated and closely side-pruned. The vigor of a tree, 
i. e. the rapidity with which it will grow, determines its 
favor. Sorts which take time, and require a longer treat- 
ment, are regarded with disfavor. Everything is sacrificed 
to rapid growth and eax-ly maturity. 

Next, and proceeding in the same evil direction, comes 
the orchard cultivation. From what quarter have we, 
mostly, derived our opinions and practices in fi-uit cultiva- 
tion ? From French, English, and New England writers. 
But is the system which they pursue fit for us ? There is 
an opposite extreme to high cultivation ; there are evils 
besetting low-cultivation. In cold, wet, stiif, barren soUs, 
and in a cool, or humid, or cloudy atmosphere, trees 
require stimulants. The soU needs drying, warming, 
manuring; and the tree requires pruning. But such a 
system is ruinous, where the soil is full of fiery activity, 
bursting out with an irrepressible fertility and a superabun- 
dant vegetation ; where the long summer days are intensely 
brilliant, and the air warm enough to ripen fruit even in 
the densest shade of an unpruned tree. 

A traveller in Lapland would require the most bracing 
and stimulating food ; but in New Orleans it would produce 
fever and death, A region, subject to all the diseases and 
evils of vegetable plethora, has adopted the practice of 
regions subject to the opposite evils. While receiving with 
gratitude, at the hands of eminent foreign physiologists 
and cultivators, the principles, we must establish the art 
of horticulture, by a practice conformable to our own cir- 
cumstances. A treatment which in England would only pro- 
duce healthful growth, in this country would pamper a tree 
to a luxurious fullness. Let us not be deluded by the falla- 



310 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

ciouB appearance of our orchards. The evils which we 
have to fear are not shown forth in the early history of a 
tree or an orchard. On the contrary, the appearance will 
be flattering. The apple is a more hardy tree than the 
pear, and will endure greater mismanagement ; but in the 
long run we shall have to pay for our greedy cultivation, 
even in the apple family. Our pear-trees are already 
evincing the evils of a too luxuriant habit ; and if the West 
is ever to become the pear-region of America, the culture 
of this tree must be adapted to the peculiai'ities of western 
soil and climate. 

It will be borne in mind that our remarks upon the culti- 
vation of fruit-trees are not applicable to the processes of 
art employed in experimental gardens, or in climates 
requiring a highly artificial culture, but to gardens and 
open orchards of the pear and apple in the middle and 
Western States. 

Our climate and soil predispose fruit-trees to excessive 
growth. There is, in the States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, 
and in the thickly settled portions of Missouri and Ken- 
tucky, very little poor soil. Limestone lands, clay lands, 
sandy loams and alluvions, aflbrd not only variety of soil, 
but the strongest and most fertile. The forest trees of the 
West compared with the same species east of the Alleghany 
ridge, exhibit the diiference of soils. Artificial processes 
may prodiice better soils, it may be, but there is not pro- 
bably on earth so large a body of land which is, as 
uniformly, deep, strong, quick, and rich in all mineral and 
vegetable substances. It is cultivated under a climate most 
congenial to vegetation, both in respect to length and tem- 
perature. Our spring is early. In 1835 we gathered 
flowers from the woods, near Cincinnati, on the 22d of 
February. In 1839 we gathered them at Lawrenceburgh, 
in the last week of February. We find in our garden 
journal at Indianapolis, latitude 39°55' north, March 11, 
1840, " rose-bushes, honey-suckles, and willow trees had 



ABOUT FEDITS, FLOWERS AND FARMIKG. 311 

been in leaf for some days," and seed-sowing had begun. 
In 1841, seed was sown in open ground, April 8tli. In 
1842, pie-plant broke ground March 8th, and aU early seed 
were in the ground by the 21st. In 1843, seeds were in by 
April 20. In 1844 ground was in a working state Feb. 
23 d, and seeds put in by March 1. Trees, varying according 
to the nature of the season, complete \h.Q first growth, on an 
average, about the 1st of September. Their second growth 
continues, usually, into November. In 1844 we had noisette 
roses pushing out terminal leaves after Christmas ; but this 
is not a frequent occurrence. Upon an average, the middle 
of March and the 1st of November, may be taken as the 
limits of the vegetable year — a period of more than seven 
months. During this season rains are copious, and fre- 
quent. Our midsummer droughts are seldom so severe 
upon vegetation as they seem to be in New England, 
During the months of June, July and August, the tempe- 
rature of mid-day seldom falls below 70° Fahren. and 
ranges between 70° and 100°. 

One other cause of rapid growth is to be mentioned 
— the nature of our winters. Except when the roots are 
frozen, they are supposed never to be mactive. During the 
winter they slowly absorb materials from the soil, and fiU 
the whole system with sap. When the winters are severe 
they are usually very long ; and the slowness of its winter 
action is compensated by the length of time afforded to the 
plant. In the western States, though the winters are short, 
yet there is scarcely a week in which trees may not accumu- 
late their stores. The spring growth will be vigorous in 
proportion to the amount of true sap collected in the vege- 
table system. As the whole winter is mild enough for 
this process to go on, the growth of trees is rampant in 
spring. Thus, the quality of the soils, and the nature of 
the seasons — the mildness of winter — the earhness of spring 
and length of summer — its heat and great atmospheric bril- 
liancy, an conspire to produce very rapid and strong 



312 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK. 

growth in herb, shrub, and tree ; and I repeat, as a funda^ 
mental consideration, that our soil and season predis- 
pose FRUIT-TREES TO EXCESSIVE GROWTH. FrOm this fact 

we should take our start in every process of orchard, nur- 
sery, and garden cultivation of fruit-trees ; and if philoso- 
phically employed it will, we will not say revolutionize, but 
materially modify the processes of cultivation peculiar to 
colder climates and poorer soils. In respect to esculent 
vegetables — cabbages, radishes, celery, rhubarb, lettuce, 
etc., this rank and rapid growth is beneficial, since it is not 
the fruit but the plant which we eat. The reverse is true 
in fruit-trees. Observant cultivators have conformed to 
this indication of nature, in some things ; for instance, • in 
the treatment of the grape. The German emigrants who 
settled in these parts, having been conversant with vine- 
dressing in Europe, were usually employed to cut and lay 
in the vines of such as were desirous of the best gardens. 
But, gradually, their practice has been rejected, and now, 
instead of reducing our vines to niggardly stumps, the 
wood is spared and laid in long. If pruning be close, the 
vine may be said to overflow with excess of new wood, 
which does not ripen well. Our remarks more especially 
apply to regions below 40° of north latitude. 

Below this line, our efforts need not be directed to the 
forcing of growth, for that, naturally, will be all-suflicient. 
Our object must be compact and thoroughly ripened wood. 
These reasonings may be applied to many practices now 
generally in vogue. 

1. It is the practice of nurserymen to force their trees by 
cultivation, and by prunmg. It is very well known, to 
those conversant with the nursery business, that great grow- 
ers and early growers are the favorites (and, so far as an 
expeditious preparation of stock for sale is concerned, just- 
ly), that slow and tedious growers are put upon rampant 
growing stocks to quicken them. In some cases manures are 
fi-eely applied to the soil, as directed by all writers who teach 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWIlBS AND FARMING. 313 

how to prepare ground for a nursery. But such writers 
had their eye upon the soil of England or New England. 
The still more vicious practice of side trimming and free 
pruning is followed, which forces the tree to produce a great 
deal of wood, rather than to ripen well a little. A well- 
informed nurseryman ought not to look so much at the 
length of his trees, as to the quality of their wood. The 
very beau ideal of a fruit-tree for our climate is one that, 
while it is hardy enough to grow steadily in cool seasons, is 
not excitable enough to grow rampantly in warm ones, and 
which completes its work early in the season, ripens its 
wood thoroughly, and goes to rest before there is danger 
of severe frost. Such trees may be had, by skillful breed- 
ing, as easily, as, by breeding, any desirable quality may be 
developed in cattle or horses. But of this hereafter. 

The subject of pruning will be separately treated ; but 
it is appropriate here to say, that every consideration should 
incline the nurseryman to grow his trees xoith side brush 
from top to bottom., and by shortening these, to multiply 
leaves to the greatest possible extent all over the tree. In 
every climate we should idolize the leaf — in which are the 
sources of health and abiding vigor. 

2. The mistakes of the nursery are carried out and de- 
veloped by the purchaser, in the following respects — ^by bad 
selection, pernicious cultivation, and by improper pruning. 

Fu-st, trees are selected upon a bad principle. Men are 
very naturally in a hurry to see their orchards in bearing ; 
precocious trees, therefore, and all means of prematurity 
are sought. In respect to the pear, it is the popular, but 
incorrect, opinion that it takes a man's lifetune to bring 
them into fruit. Hope deferred, very naturally in such 
cases, makes the heart sick. But certain talismanic words 
found in catalogues and fruit manuals restore the courage, 
and you shall find the pencil mark made upon all pears, 
described as " of a vigorous growth," " a rampant grower," 
" comes early into bearing," " bears young," " a great and 



314 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

early bearer." But suet as these — "not of a very vigorous 
growth," " does not bear young," " the growth is slow but 
healthy," " grows to a large size before producing fruit," — 
are passed by. Many farmers judge of a tree as they 
would timothy grass. A short-jointed, compact branch, is 
" stunted p'' but a long, plump limb, like a water shoot, or 
a Lombardy poplar branch, is admired as a first-rate growth. 
Some i3ears have but this single virtue : they make wood in 
capital quantities, but very poor pears. Now our selection 
must proceed on different j^rinciples if our orchards are to 
be durable and healthy. We should mark for selection pears 
described as — "of a compact habit," "growth slow and 
healthy," " ripens its wood early and thoroughly." A tree 
which runs far into the fall, and makes quantities of wood 
more than it can thoroughly ripen, must be regarded as 
unsafe and undesirable. 

There is another marked fault in selecting trees — a dispo- 
sition to get long and handsome trees with smooth stems. 
This principle of selection would be excellent when one 
goes after a bean-pole, or a cane. A fruit-tree is not usually 
cultivated for such uses. In the first place, it is not wise to 
expose the trunk of a fruit-tree to the full sun of our sum- 
mers. We have seen peach trees killed by opening the 
head so much as to expose the main branches to the sun. 
A low head, a short trunk should be sought. When land 
is scarce, aud orchards cultivated, high trimming is em- 
ployed for the sake of convenience, not of the tree, but of 
its owner. And in cool and humid climates, such evils do 
not attend the practice, as with us. Beside picking long 
shanked trees, one would suppose that a leaf below the 
crotch would poison the tree from the assiduity with which 
they are trimmed off. It ought to be laid down as a fimda- 
mental rule with us, that a tree is benefited not hy the 
amount of its wood, hut hy the extent of its leaf surface. 
Every effort should be used to make the length of the wood 
moderate, and the amount of its leaves abundant. The 



ABOUT FKITITS, FLOWERS AND FAEMING. 315 

\ 

leaf does not depend for its quality on the wood, hut the 
\oood takes its nature from the leaf. Young ti-ees ought 
to be grown with side brush from the roots to the fork. 
Water shoots from the root are to be removed, but leaves 
upon the trunk are to be nursed. By cutting in the brush 
when it tends to a long growth, it will emit side shoots, and 
still increase the number of leaves. 

Secondly. There is great evil in pruning too much. 
France and England have given us our notions upon prun- 
ing. There, their owm system is wise, because it conforms 
to the climate and soil. But their system of pruning is to- 
tally uncongenial with our seasons and the habits of our 
trees. In England, for instance, the peach will not ripen in 
open grounds, except, perhaps, in the extreme southern 
counties. In consequence, it is trained upon walls, and its 
wood thinned, to let light and heat upon every part of it. 
It is very right to husband light and heat when it is scarce, 
and by opening the head of a tree to carry them to all parts 
of the sluggish wood. But we often have more than we want. 
A peach vsdU ripen, on the lowest limb and inside of the 
tree, by the mere heat of the atmosphere. Even in New 
England, the English system of pruning proves too free. 
Manning says, " From the strong growth of fruit-trees in 
our country and the dryness of its atmosphere, severe prun- 
ing is less necessary here than in England." We are not 
giving rules for pruning ; but cautions against pruning too 
freely. There is not a single point in fruit cultivation where 
more mistakes are committed than in pruning. 

Thirdly. Great mistakes are committed in stimulating the 
growth of trees by enriching the soil. Books direct (and 
men naturally and innocently obey), the putting of manure 
to yoimg trees. We have no doubt that the time will 
come, when manures wUl be so thoroughly analyzed and 
classified, that we can employ them just as a carpenter does 
his tools, or the farmer his implements ; if we Avish wood., 
we shall apply certain ingredients to the soil and have it ; 



316 PLAIN AISTD PLEASANT TALK 

if we wish fruit, we shall have at hand manures which pro- 
mote the fruiting properties of the tree ; if we want seed, 
we shall have manures for it. But manures as now em- 
ployed, are, usually, not beneficial to orchards of young 
trees. A clay soil, very stiff and adhesive, may require 
sand and vegetable mold to render it permeable to the root ; 
some very barren soils may require some manure; but the 
average of our farms are rich enough already, and too rich 
for the good of the young tree. It would be better for the 
orchard if it made less wood and made it better. 

If these directions make the prospect of fruit so distant 
as to discourage the planting of orchards, we will add, plant 
your orchard ; and if you cannot wait for its healthful 
gi'owth, plant also trees for immediate use, and serve them 
just as you please ; manure them, cut them, get fruit at all 
hazards; only make up your minds that they will be short- 
lived and liable to blight and disease. 



A LIST OF CHOICE FRUITS. 

OuE readers may desire a list of fruits, which are univer- 
sally admitted to be of first-rate excellence. We cannot 
include, of course, all that are first rate ; but we put none 
in that are not so. 



I. Apples. 

I. SUMMER. 

Red »r Carolina June. Prince's Harvest. 

Summer Queen. Kirlcbridge White. 

Yellow Hoss. Sweet June. 

Sweet Bough. Daniel. 



ABOUT FEUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 



317 



II. AUTUMN. 



Maiden's Blush. 
Wine. 

Holland Pippin. 
Rambo. 



Fall Harvey. 
Gravenstein. 
Ashmore. 
Porter. 



III. WINTER. 



Black. 

Golden Russet. 
Newtown Spitzenberg. 
Rhode Island Greening. 
Hubbardston Nonsuch. 
Vandeveer Pippin. 
YeUow BeUe Fleur. 



White Belle Fleur. 
Michael Henry Pippin. 
Pryor's Red. 
Green Newtown Pippin. 
Jenetan or Rawle's Janet. 
Putnam Russet. 



II. Pears. 

I. Summer Pears, or such as ripen from the first of July to the last of 

August. 

1. Madeleine,or Ci*ron des Carmes. 4. Dearborn's Seedling. 

2. Bloodgood. 5. Julienne. 

3. Summer Francreai. 6. WilUams' Bon Chretien. 



II. Autumn Pears, or stich as ripen from September to the last of No 

vember. 



1. 


Stevens' Genesse. 


14. 


Beurre Bosc. 


8. 


BeUe Lucrative. 


15. 


Andrews. 


9: 


Henry the Fourth. 


16. 


Marie Louise. 


10. 


Washington. 


17. 


Doyenne or fall butter. 


11. 


Dunmore. 


18. 


Dix. 


12. 


St. Ghislain. 


19. 


Petre. 


13. 


Seckel. 


20. 


Duchesse D'Angouleme. 



III. Winter Pears, or those which ripen during the winter and spring 

months. 



21. Beurre Diel. 

22. Hacon's Incomparable. 

23. Passe Colmar. 

24. Beurre Ranz. 

25. Columbia. 

26. Beurre D'Aremberg, 



27. Van Mons Leon le Clerc. 

28. Beurre Easter. 

29. Chaumontelle. 

30. Glout Morceau. 

81. Prince's St. Germain. 

82. Winter Nelis. 



318 



PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 



Those who wish only four trees, may select Nos. 2, 6, 20, 
26. Those who have room for eighty to the above may add 
13, 23, 25, 32. Those who wish sixteen trees, to the above 
may add, 1, 3, 11, 14, 18, 21, 24, 28. 



III. Peaches. 



1. Red Magdalen. 

2. Early Royal George. 

3. Early York. 

6. Apricot Peach. 
^. Baltimore Rose. 

8. Swalsh. 

9. Noblesse. 

10. Coolidge's Favorite. 



15. Heath. 

16. Crawford's late Melocoton. 



I. KARLY. 

4. Morris' Red Rareripe. 

5. Crawford's Early Melocoton. 

II. MEDIUM. 

11. Malta. 

12. Brevoort. 

13. Douglass. 

14. Grosse Mignoune. 

III. LATE. 

17. Lemon Cling. 

18. La Grange. 



IV. Apkicots. 

1. Large Early. 3. Peach Apricot. 

2. Breda. 4. Moorpark. 

V. Cherries. 

1. Bauman's May or Bigarreau de 6. Bigarreau, or Spanish Yellow. 



Mai. 

2. Black Eagle. 

3. Knight's Early Black. 

4. May Duke. 

5. Elton. 



7. Belle de Choisy. 

8. Black Tartarian. 

9. Downer's Late. 
10. Napoleon. 



For a collection of two trees, 4, 9 ; for four trees, add 
6 and 10. 



1. Green Gage. 

2. Jeiferson, 

3. Huling's Superb. 

4. Coe's Golden Drop. 

5. Purple Gage. 



VI. Plums. 

6. Cruger's Scarlet. 
Y. Washington. 

8. Red Gage. 

9. Smith's Orleans. 

10. Royal de Tours. ^ jT. 



ABOUT FEUITS, FLOWERS AOT) FARMING. 319 

For two trees, 1 and 4 ; for four add 2 and 7. The fol- 
lowing are said to be suitable for light sandy soUs, on which 
plums usually drop their fi-uit : Cruger's Scarlet, Imperial 
Gage, Red Gage, Coe's Golden Drop, Bleeker's Gage, Blue 
Gage. 

VII. Strawberries. 

Early Virginia. Hudson. 

Hovey's Seedling. Ross Phoenix. 

No one man can make out a list that will suit all ; and 
those who are acquainted with fruits will reject some fi-om 
the above list and insert others. But it may be safely said, 
that he who has in his collection the above varieties, will 
have a collection comprising the best that are known, and 
without one inferior sort, although there may be many 
others as good ; which may be added by such as have room 
for them. 



THE NURSERY BUSINESS. 

The great interest in the cultivation of fruit which has 
been excited within a few years, has given rise to many 
nurseries to supply the demand, and every year we see the 
number increasing. Or rather, we see new adventurers m 
this line, for the failure of many and the abandonment of 
the business, prevents the number from becoming so great 
as one would suppose. 

We are very glad to see the art of fruit culture increas- 
ing, and we are very glad to see competent men embarkmg 
in the nursery business. But we are sorry to see the 
impression gaining ground that it is a business which any- 
body can conduct, and that every man can make money by 
it who knows how to graft or to bud. Let no man embark 
in it under such misapprehension. 



320 PLAIN AND PI,KASANT TAT,K 

In the first place, the time, an (3 )ahor and natience ro- 
qnired for a successful nursery business is ranch f^reater 
than any one suspects beforehand. If a nan has a ]vge 
capital he may begin sales at once upon a purchased stock. 
But if one is to prepare his own stock for market, and this 
must be the case with by far the greater number of western 
nurserymen, it will require several years of expensive labor 
before he can realize anything. Nor even then will he be 
apt to receive profits which will at all meet his expectations. 
During these years of preparation on what is he to live? 
If he has means, very well ; but let no man suppose that he 
can get along, esi^ecially with a family on his hands, during 
the early years of his nursery, if he has nothing else to de- 
pend upon. The mere physical labor of keeping a nursery 
in proper order is such as to make it no sinecure. 

But all this is a less consideration than the special skill 
and vigilant care required to conduct a nursery in an hon- 
orable manner. Nowhere do mistakes occur more easily, 
and nowhere are they more provoking, both to the buyer 
and seller. It is rare that assistants can be had upon 
whom reliance can be placed. There are men enough to 
plow, and grub, and clean ; but to select buds and grafts, 
to work the various kinds, and plant them safely by them- 
selves, this, usually, must be done by the proprietor. Where 
a nursery is carried on by assistants, it makes almost no dif- 
ference how much care is used, mistakes will abound. 

The extent to which an error goes is not unworthy of a 
moment's attention. We purchased of a very highly re- 
spectable nurseryman, the Boyal George peach. The first 
season many buds were distributed from it. An expert 
nurseryman in the vicinity, among others, got of it. The 
credit of the original proprietor of the tree was such that 
it was thought safe to propagate at once, and thousands of 
trees were worked with these buds ; from him, nurserymen 
from neighboring counties procured scions, and now the 
Koyal George, which has proved to be no Royal George at 



ABOUT FEJITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 3'21 

all, is scattered all over the country. When a nursery con- 
tains from fifty to a hundred kinds of apples, thirty or forty 
kinds of pears, ten to twenty sorts of cherries, thirty or 
forty kinds of peaches, besides plums, nectarines, aj^ricots, 
etc., there will be some two or three hundred separate 
varieties of fruit to be propagated each year, and of each 
sort from a hundred to a thousand or more trees, according 
to the business of the nursery. Two things are apparent 
from this view ; first, that such unremitting and sagacious 
vigilance is required that not every one is fit to be a nurse- 
ryman ; and, secondly, that not every nurseryman is a 
scamp who puts upon you trees untrue to their names. 
No doubt there are roguish nurserymen ; no doubt, too, 
there are culpably careless men in this, as in all other forms 
of business. But no one will be so charitable to nursery- 
men as those who imderstand the difficulties of their busi- 
ness ; and a mistake, and many of them, may occur in well- 
appointed grounds, which no care could well have pre- 
vented. 

We think this to be a business to which no man should 
turn, except under two conditions ; first, that he will, if he 
has not already, serve a faithful apprenticeship to it — we 
do not mean by regular indenture, but by practising for 
several years in a good nursery until the prominent essen- 
tial parts of the business have become practically familiar. 

The other condition is, that he make up his mind to see 
to it himself. 



Remedy for Yellow Bugs. — A gentleman informs us 
that he has always saved his vines by planting poppies 
among them. Those on one side of an alley, without pop- 
pies, would be entirely eaten, while th 3se on the other side, 
with poppies, would not be touched. 



322 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

THE BREEDING OF FRUITS. 

Because, as yet, no certain rules can be laid down for the 
production of a given result by crossing flower on flower, 
it does not follow that there are not certain invariable prin- 
ciples which govern the process. It is but a little while since 
breeding animals had any pretension to scientific rules. But, 
by careful practice and observation, the most important 
improvement has been attained in all the animals belonging 
to the farm. And if careful research and experiment do 
not result in absolute certainty, they will yet render the 
production of fine varieties of fruit, by the crossing of 
the old ones, a matter of much less chance than it now 
is. 

The art of cross-fertilization is being much more practised 
by florists than by pomologists, and for obvious reasons. 
What the breeder of annuals can do in a few months 
requires more than as many years from him that essays to 
raise new fruits. Many florists' flowers, however, require 
as long and even a longer time than apples or pears ; and it 
is a marvel that the phlegmatic patience of the tulip-loving 
Dutch Jobs should not have found imitators in the orchard. 
If a man can wait ten years to ascertain that all his seedling 
bulbs are good for nothing, or at the best, that out of ten 
thousand, but one or two are worth keeping, surely the 
patience of an enthusiast in fruit ought not to snap by being 
drawn through such a space. 

Two methods for originating new varieties of fruit have 
been practised ; the natural method of Yan Mons, and the 
artificial method of Knight. Van Mons, born at Brussels 
in 1765, was a man of fine genius and thorough education. 
Although he is chiefly known as a pomologist, his labors 
in the nursery were only incidental to the regular occupa- 
tion of a public scientific life. M. Poiteau quaintly says of 
him that he writes " on the gravest subjects, in the midst 
of noise, in a company of persons who talk loudly on frivo- 



A150UT FRUITS, FLOWEKS AND FARMING. 323 

loiis subjects, and takes pai't in the conversation without 
stopping his pen." 

Van Mons' theory is founded upon two physical facts : 

1 . That all seeds in a state of nature can he made hy cul- 
tivation to vary from their condition^ which variations 
may befixed^ and become permanent. 

2. That all cidtivated seeds have a tendency to return to- 
ward that natural state from which they originally varied. 
We say toward, for he suj^posed that an improved fruit would 
never return absolutely to the original and natural type. 

It was upon this last principle tliat Van Mons accounted 
for the fact, that as a general thing, the seeds of fine old 
varieties of fruit produced only inferior kinds. Recourse 
could not be had therefore to seeds of improved fruit. 

On the other hand, the seed of fruits absolutely wild 
would produce fruits exactly like their original. If the 
seed of the wild pear be gotten from the wood and planted 
in a garden, every seed will yield only the wild pear again. 
But if a wild pear be transplanted, and put under new influ- 
ences of soil, climate and cultivation, its fruit wiU begin to 
augment and improve. The change is not merely upon the 
size and ajspearance of the fruit, it affects also the qualities 
of the seed. For if the seed be now planted, the difference 
between a ^nld pear, in a state of nature and the same wild 
pear-tree ^?^ a state of cultivation will at once appear in 
this, that whereas the seed of the first is constant, the seed 
of the second shows an inclination to vary. Here then is a 
starting. Wlien once the habit of variation is gained, the 
foimdation of improvement is laid. In a short time the 
enthusiasm of Van Mons had collected into his garden 
80,000 trees upon which he was experimenting, nor can the 
result of his labors be better stated than in the words of 
M. Poiteau : 

" That so long as plants remain in their natural situation, 
they do not sensibly vary, and their seeds always produce 
the same; but on changing their climate and territory 



324 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

several among them vary, some more and others less, and 
when they have once departed from their natural state, 
they never again return to it, but are removed more and 
more therefrom, by successive generations, and produce, 
sufficiently often, distinct races, more or less durable, and 
that finally if these variations are even carried back to the 
territory of their ancestors, they will neither represent the 
character of their parents, or ever return to the species 
from whence they sprung." 

Accordingly, Van Mons began to sow the seeds of natural 
and wild fruit which were in a variable state. By all means 
within his power he hastened his seedhngs to show fruit. 
The first generation showed only poor fruit but decidedly 
better than the wild. Selecting the seed of the best of 
these, he sowed again. From the fruit of these he sowed 
the third generation. From the third, a fourth ; and from 
the fourth, a fifth ; as far as the eighth generation. 

His experience showed that there was great difierence 
among different species of fruit in the number of gene- 
rations through which they must pass before they were per- 
fect. The apple yielded good fruit in the fourth genera- 
tion. Stone fruits produced perfect kinds in the third 
generation. Some varieties afiTorded perfect fruit in the 
fifth generation, while others go on improving to the 
eighth. 

The time required for this renovation diminished at each 
remove from the normal or wild state. Thus, the trees 
from the second sowing of the pear-seed fruited in from ten 
to twelve years ; those from their seed, or of the third gene- 
tion in from eight to ten years ; those of the fourth genera- 
tion in from six to eight years ; those of the fifth genera- 
tioUi in six years, and those in the eight, in foui- years. 
These are the mean terms of all his experiments. 

To obtain perfect stone fruits, through four successive 
generations, from parent to son, required from twelve to 
fifteen years ; the apple required twenty years, and the pear, 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLO WEES AND FAKMING. 325 

when carried only to the fifth generation, required from 
thirty to thirty-six years. 

Hybridization, or Knigut's Method. — Andrew Knight, 
one of the most original and jjhUosophic horticulturists that 
ever lived, pursued an entirely different method — that of 
cross-fertilization. He carefully removed the anthers from 
the blossoms upon which he wished to operate, so that the 
stigma should not receive a particle of the pollen belonging 
to its owTi flower. He then procured from the variety 
which he "wished to cross, a portion of the pollen, and arti- 
ficially impregnated the prepared blossom with it. When 
the fruit thus produced had ripened its seeds, they were 
sown, and by regular process brought into bearing. The 
progeny were found to combine, in various degrees of 
excellence, the qualities of both parents. 



REMARKS ON THE TWO METHODS. 

1. Both Van Mons and Knight believed in a degeneracy 
of plants ; but the degeneracy of the one system is not to 
be confounded with that of the other. 

Knight believed that varieties had a regular period of 
existence ; although, as in animal life, care and skUl might 
make essential difference in the longevity, yet they could in 
nowise avert the final catastrophe; a time would come, 
sooner or later, at which the vegetable vitality would be 
expended, and the variety must perish by exhaustion — by 
i^nning out. 

Van Mons believed that an improved variety tended to 
return to its normal state — to its wUd type ; and although 
he did not believe that it could ever be entirely restored tc 
its wild state, it might go so far as to make it worthless for 
useful purposes. 

Knight believed in absolute decay ; Van Mons, in retro- 
cession. According to Knight's theory, varieties of fruit 



326 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

cease by the natural statute of limitation ; according to 
Van Mous, they only fall from grace. 

There can be no reasonable doubt that Van Mons held 
the truth, and as little, that Knight's speculations were fal- 
lacious. Bad cultivation will cause anything to run out ; no 
plant will perfect its tissues or fruit without the soil affords 
it elementary materials. The so-called exhausted varieties 
renew their youth when transplanted into soils suitable for 
them. 

2. Against Van Mons' method it is urged, that it enfee- 
bles the constitution of plants ; that, enfeebling is the very 
key of the process. This Mr. Downing urges with emphasis, 
saying that, " the Belgian method (Van Mons') gives us 
varieties often impaired in i\m\.Y health in their very origin." 
It is one thing to restrain the energy of a plant, and an- 
other to enfeeble it. It may be enfeebled until it becomes 
unhealthy, but rampant vigor is as really an unhealthy state 
as the other extreme. A tree refuses fruit and is liable to 
death from a coarse, open, rank growth, as much as from a 
languor which suppresses all growth. 

No ; that which we imagine Van Mons to have effected 
was a smaller, but more compact and fine growth. Nor 
are we aware that, as a matter of experience^ the Belgian 
pears prove to be any more tender than the EngUsh. 
Doubtless, there are trees of a delicate and tender habit in 
the nmnber, but as few, in proportion to the great number 
origmated, as by any other method. 

The two mam objections to the plan are the time required^ 
and the utter uncertainty of the results. To imitate the 
process would require a Van Mons' patience, in which, pro- 
bably, he was never surpassed, and his enthusiasm, which 
was extraordinary even for a horticulturist, a race of beings 
supposed to be anything but phlegmatic. 

The xmcertainty is such as to prevent any determinate 
improvement. We get, not what we may wish, but what- 
ever may happen to come. Nothing that art can do would 



>30'JT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 327 

affect tho size, color, hardness, or in any respect, the gene- 
ral character of the fruit. 

It is in these aspects that Knight's method must always 
be preferred as a practical system. We can obtain a return 
for our labor in one-fifth the time ; and, what is even more 
important, we can regulate, before-hand, the results within 
certain limits. The new fruit is to be made up of the quali- 
ties of its parents in various propoi*tions. We cannot deter- 
mine what the proportions shall be, but we can determine 
A^hat parents shall be selected. Nor is it at all improbable 
tliat, when knowledge has become more exact by a longer 
and larger experience, the breeder of fruit may cross the 
varieties with nearly the same certainty of result as does 
the breeder of stock. It is upon this feature, the power 
which science has over the results to be obtained, that we 
look with the greatest interest ; and we urge upon scientific 
cultivators the duty of perfecting our fruits by judicious 
breeding. 



PRUNING ORCHARDS. 

The habit of early spring pruning has been handed down 
to us from English customs, and farmers do it because it 
always has been done. .Besides, about this time, men have 
leisure, and would like to begin the season's work; and 
pruning seems quite a natural employment with which to 
introduce the labors of the year. 

It is not possible for America, but more emphatically for 
western cultivators to do worse than to pattern upon the 
example of British and Continental authorities in the matter 
of orchards and vineyards. The summers of England are 
moist, cool, and deficient in light. Our summers are exactly 
the reverse — dry, fervid, and brilliant. The stimuli of the 



328 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

elements vrith them are much below, and with iis much 
above par. In consequence, their trees have but a moderate 
growth ; ours are inclined to excessive growth. 

Their whole system of open-culture, and wall-training is 
founded upon the necessity of husbanding all their re- 
sources. To avail themselves of every particle of light, 
they keep open the heads of their trees, so that the parsi- 
monious sunshine shall penetrate every part of the tree. 
Let this be done with us, and there are many of our trees 
that would be killed by the force of the sun's rays upon the 
naked branches in a single season, or very much enfeebled. 
For the same general reasons, the English reduce the quan- 
tity of bearing-wood, shortening a part or wholly cutting it 
out, that the residue, having the whole energy of the tree 
concentrated upon it, may perfect its fruit. Our difficulty 
being an excess of vitality, this system of shortening and 
cutting out, would cause the tree to send out suckers from 
the root and trunk, and would fill the head of the tree with 
rank water-shoots or goicrmands. What would be thought 
of the people of the torrid zone should they borrow their 
custoiBS of clothing from the practice of Greenland ? It 
would be as rational as it is for orchardists, in a land whose 
summers are long and of high temperature, to copy the 
customs of a land Avhose summers are prodigal of fog and 
i-ain, but penurious of heat and light. 

Except to remove dead, diseased or interfering branches, 
do not cut at all. 

But if pruning is to be done, wait till after corn-jjianting. 
Tlie best time to prune is the time when healing will the 
quicJcest follow cutting. This is not in early spring, but in 
early summer. The elements from which new wood is pro- 
duced are not drawn from the rising sap, but from that 
which descends between the bai-k and Avood. This sap, 
called true sap, is the upward sap after it has gone through 
that chemical laboratory, the leaf. Each leaf is a chemical 
contractor, doing up its part of the work of preparing sap 



ABOUT FEUITS, FLOWERS AXD FARMING. 329 

for n&e, as fast as it is sent up to it from the root through 
tke interior sap-passages. In the leaf, the sap gives off and 
-receives, certain properties ; and when thus elaborated, it 
is charged with all those elements required for the forma- 
tion and sustentation of every part of vegetable fabric. 
Descending, it gives out its various qualities, tUl it reaches 
the root ; and whatever is left then passes out into the soil. 

Every man will perceive that if a tree is pruned in sprhig 
before it has a leaf out, there is no sap provided to repair 
the wound. A slight granulation may take place, in certain 
circumstances, and in some kinds of plants, from the ele- 
ments with which the tree was stored during the former 
season ; but, in point of fact, a cut usually remains without 
change until the progress of spring puts the whole vege- 
table economy into action. 

In young and vigorous trees, this process may not seem to 
occasion any injury. But trees growing feeble by age will 
soon manifest the result of this injudicious practice, by 
blackened stumps, by cankered sores, and by decay. 

If one must begin to do something that looks like spring- 
work, let him go at a more efficient train of operations. 
With a good spade invert the sod for several feet from the 
body of the tree. With a good scraper remove all dead 
bark. Dilute (old) soft soap with urine ; take a stiff shoe- 
brush, and go to scouring the trunk and main branches. 
This will be labor to some purpose ; and before you have 
gone through a large orchard faithfully, your zeal for spring- 
work will have become so far tempered with knowledge, 
that you will be wUling to let pruning alone till after corn- 
planting. 

Two exceptions or precautions should be mentioned. 

1. In the use of the wash ; new soap is more caustic than 
old ; and the sediments of a soap barrel much more so thin 
the mass of soap. Sometimes trees have been injured by 
applying a caustic alkali in too great strength. There is 
little danger of this when a tree is rough and covered with 



330 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

dead bark or dirt ; but when it is smooth and has no scurf 
it is more hable to suiFer. Trees should not be washed hi 
dry and warm weather. The best time is just before spring 
rains, or before any rain. 

2. Where fruit-trees are found to have suffered from the 
winter, pruning cannot be too early, and hardly too severe. 
If left to grow, the heat of spring days ferments the sap 
and spreads blight throughout the tree ; whereas, by severe 
cutting, there is a chance, at least, of removing much of the 
injured wood. We have gone over the pear-trees in our 
own garden, and wherever the least affection has been dis- 
covered, we have cut out every particle of the last sum- 
mer's wood; and cut back until we reached soimd and 
healthy wood, pith and bark. 



SLITTING THE BARK OF TREES. 

This is a practice very much followed by fruit-raisers. 
Downing gives his sanction to it. Mr. Pell (N. Y.), famous 
for his orchards, includes it as a part of his system of 
orchard cultivation. Men talk of trees being hark-bound, 
etc., and let out the bark on the same principle, we sup- 
pose, as mothers do the pantaloons of growing boys. We 
confess a prejudice against this letting out of the tucks in 
a tree's clothes. We do not say that there may not be 
cases of diseased trees in which, as a remedial process, this 
may be wise ; but we should as soon think of slitting the 
skin on a boy's legs, or on a cal:Ps or colt's, as a regular 
part of a plan of rearing them, as to slash the bark of sound 
and healthy trees. Mark-bound ! what is that ? Does the 
inside of a tree grow faster than the outside ? When bark 
is slit, is it looser around the whole trunk than before ? 
When granulations have filled up this artificial channel, is 
not the bark just as tight as it was before ? Mark, we do 



ABOUl FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 331 

not say that it is not a good practice ; but only that we do 
not yet understand what the benefit is. 

" Why, the bark bursts sometimes." 

Yes, disease may thus aflfect it ; and when it does, cut if 
7iecessary. 

" Does it do any harm?" Perhaps not; neither would it 
to put a weathercock on the top of every tree ; or to bury 
a black cat under the roots, or to mark each tree with talis- 
manic signs. Is it worth while to do a thing just because 
it does no harm ? 

" But when a tree is growing too fast, does it not need 
it?" Yes, if it can be shown that the bark, alburnum, etc., 
do not increase alike. That excitement which increases the 
growth of one part of a tree wiU, as a general fact, increase 
the growth of every other. In respect to the fruit and 
seed, doubtless, particular manures will develop special 
properties. But is there evidence that such a thing takes 
place in respect to the various tissues of the wood, 
bark, etc? 

" But if a tree be sluggish, and bound, will it not help 
it ?" Whatever excites a more vigorous circulation will be 
of advantage. Whether any supposed advantage from the 
knife arises in this way, we do not know. But a good 
scraping, or a scouring off of the whole body with sand, 
and then a pungent alkaline wash — (soft soap diluted with 
urine) would, we think, be better for bark-bound trees than 
the whole tribe of sUts, vertical, horizontal, zig-zag, or 
waved. 



HovEY's Magazine of Horticulture. — We recommend 
all who can afford three dollars a year for a sterling monthly, 
beautifully got up, in the best style of Boston typography, 
to send to Boston for Hovey's Magazine. We give it an 
unqualified recommendation, and those who take it one 
year will be loth to part with it. 



332 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

DOWNING'S FRUTT AND FRUIT-TREES OF AMERICA. 

When a book is hopelessly weak or incorrect, it should 
be the object of o'iticism to exterminate it. But when a 
work is admitted to be, upon the whole, well done, criti- 
cism ought to be an assistance to it, and not a hindrance. 
Praise by the wholesale is better for the publisher than for 
the reputation of the author ; since, in a work like Doa^ti- 
ing's, every pomologist knows that perfection is not attain- 
able, and indiscriminate eulogy inclines the better-read 
critic to rebut the praise by a full development of the faults. 
Thus on one side there is general praise and faint blame ; 
and on the other, faint praise and general blame. 

We shall, at present, confine our attention to the cata- 
logue of apples and pears, for all other fruits of our zone 
together are not of importance equal to these ; and if an 
author excels in respect to these, his success Avill cover a 
multitude of sins in the treatment of small fruits, and fruits 
of short duration. Mr. Downing has shown good judg- 
ment in making out his list of varieties ; his descriptions, 
for the most part, seem to be from his own senses ; he has 
added many interesting particulars in resi:)ect to fi'uits not 
recorded before, or else scattered in isolated sentences in 
magazines and journals. 

But are his descriptions thorough and uniform ? While 
he has added materials to pomology, has he advanced the 
science by reducing such materials to a consistent form ? If 
Ave compare Mr. Downing's descriptions with those of Ken- 
rick, or even of Manning, he excels them in fullness. If he 
be compared with classic European pomologists, he is de- 
cidedly inferior, both in the conceiDtion of what was to be 
done, and in a neat, systematic method of execution. In- 
deed, Mr. Downing does not seem to have settled, before 
hand, in his mind, a formula of a descrij^tion ; sometimes 
only three or four characteristics are given. Downing sins 
in excellent company. There is not an American pomo- 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMnS-G. 333 

logical writer who appears to have conceived, even, of a sys- 
tematic, scientific description of fruits. European authoi's, 
decidedly more explicit and minute than we are, have never 
reduced the desciiptive part of the science to anything like 
regularity. We do not suppose that there can be such exact 
and constant dissimilarities detected between variety and 
variety of a species, as exists between species and species of 
a genus. We do not think a description of fruits to be im- 
perfect, therefore, merely because it is less distinctive than 
a description of plants. But the more variable and obscure 
the points of difference between two varieties, the more 
scrupulously careful must we be to seize them. Where 
differences are broad and uniform, science can afford to be 
careless, tnit not where they are vague and illusory. We 
can approximate a systematic accuracy. But it must be by 
making up ia the number of determining circumstances, 
that which is wanting in the invariable distiactiveness of a 
few that are specific. 

1. Do\\n2ing's descriptions are quite ^'regular and unequal. 
Both his pears and apples are imperfect, but not alike im- 
perfect. The descriptions of pears are decidedly in advance 
of those of the apple. It would seem as if the improve- 
ment which he gained by practice was very easily traced in 
its course on his pages. 

Hardly two apples are described m reference to the same 
jmrticulars. With respect to color of skin, size and form, 
eye and stem, he approaches the nearest to uniformity. 
But with respect to every other feature there is an utter 
want of regularity, which indicates not so much carelessness 
as the want of any settled plan or conception of a perfect 
scientific description. 

We will, out of a multitude of similar cases, select a few 
as specimens of Avhat we mean. Of the Pumpkin Russet., 
he says, " flesh exceedingly rich and sweet ;" but he does 
not speak of its texture., whether coarse or fine ; whether 
brittle or leathery. Pomme de Neige — " flesh remarkably 



334 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

white, very tender, juicy and good, with a slight perfume ;" 
but is it sweet or sour, or subacid, or astringent ? No one 
can tell by reading the joint descriptions of the Red and 
the Yellow Ingestries what their flavor is, since it is only 
said that they are "juicy and high flavored" — but whether 
the high flavored juice is sweet or sour, does not appear. 
These are not picked instances. They occur on almost 
every page of his list of apples. The Summer Sweet Para- 
dise is, of course, sweet, since we are three times told of it, 
once in the title and twice in the text. The Sweet Pear- 
main also, is a " sweet apple " " of a very saccharine flavor." 
Of course it is sweet. Nos, 67, 68, 69, 74, 75, and very many 
more, are described without information as to their flavor 
except that, whatever it is, it is " brisk," or " high," or " rich" 
— forlorn adjectives unafl&anced to any substantive which they 
may qualify. Sometimes the health of the tree and its hardi- 
ness are given, and as often omitted. Some times its habit 
of bearing is mentioned, but oftener neglected. The color 
of the flesh is given in No. 82, but not in 83 ; in 84, but not 
in 85 ; from 86-92 inclusive, but not to the second 92, for 
the Bedfordshire Foundling and the Dutch Mignonne are 
both numbered 92. The color of the flesh is not given in 93, 
97, 100, 101, 103, 110, although the intermediate numbers 
have it given. Why should one be minutely described, and 
another not all ? We should regard it an ungrateful requital 
for all the pleasure and profit which this volume has afibrded 
us to hunt up and display what, to some, may seem to be 
mere "jots and tittles," were it not that these, in them- 
selves, unimportant things mai'k decisively the absence in 
the author's plan^ of a style of description which pomology 
always needed, but now begins imperiously to demand. 
And we are confident that a pomological manual on the 
right design, is yet to be written. Our hearty wish is, that 
Mr. Downing's revised edition may be that manual. 

2. We are led, from these remarks, to consider, by it- 
self, the imperfect scale of descriptions adopted by aU our 



ABOUT FEUITS, TLOWEES AND FARMING. 335 

American pomological writers, upon wh.ch Mr. D. has not 
materially improved. 

The description of the tree is very meagre or totally neg- 
lected. Nothing at all is said of it in cases out of the 174 
apples mmabered and described. The general shape of 
the tree is given in but thirty-eight instances in the same 
number. 

The color of the wood is, usually, noticed in the accoimt 
of pears ; but in the accoimt of apples in not one case, we 
should think, in ten. 

The peculiar growth of the young xoood^ in a great 
majority of cases, is not noticed; but more frequently in 
the pear than in the apple list. The least practised 
observer knows how striking is this feature of the face of a 
tree. We do not remember an instance where the huds 
have been employed as a characteristic. Are distinctive 
marks so numerous that such a one as this can be spared ? 
The shape, color, size, prominence, and shoulder of buds, 
together with their interstitial spaces, form too remarkable 
a portion of trees to be absolutely overlooked in a book 
describing the "fruits d^w^ fruit-trees of America." 

Equally noticeable is the almost entire neglect of the 
core and seed^ as identifying marks. Once in a while, as in 
the case of the Belle Fleur, the Roman Stem, the Spitzen- 
berg, and the Pomme Royale, we are told, that the cores 
are hollow. But neither among pears nor apples, is the core 
or seed made to be of any importance. This is the more 
remarkable as being a decided retrocession in the art of 
description. Prince, wisely following continental authors, 
is careful in his description of pears, to give, and with some 
minuteness, the peculiarities of the seed. But Downing 
injudiciously misled by, in this respect, the decidedly bad 
example of British authors, has, almost without exception, 
neglected this noble criterion. There is not another single 
feature, either of fruit or fruit-trees, which we could not 
spare better than the core and seed. Not only may varie- 



338 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

ties be marked by their seeds, but they form, in connection 
with the core, important elements of diagnosis of qualities. 
A long-keeper, usually has a very small, compact core, with 
few seeds. A highly improved and luscious pear, not unfre- 
queutly is wholly seedless; while fruits not far removed 
from the wild state abound in seeds. Whenever a system 
of description shall have been formed, we venture to predict 
that the core and seed will be ranked at a higher value in it 
than any one other element of discrimination and description. 
The same neglect or casual notice is bestowed upon the 
leaf. If anything about it is remarkable it is mentioned) 
not otherwise : but is there a page of any book that was 
ever printed, that has more reading on it than is on a leaf, 
if one is only taught to read it ? It^ too, is not only a sign 
of difference but very often of quality. Mr. D. has availed 
himself of this criterion in describing peaches. Is it a legible 
sign only in the peach orchard ? He that is ignorant of 
these marks, and only can tell one fruit irova another, is yet 
in the a b c of pomology. Who but a tyro, on importing 
Coe''s Golden Drop^ would not at once j^erceive the imposi- 
tion, if there was one, the moment his eye saw a bud, or its 
shoulder ? Van Mons learned to select stocks for his experi- 
ments, as well by the wood and bud in winter, as by the 
leaf and growth of summer. In a large bed of seedlings 
every experimenter ought to know by wood and leaf Avhat 
to select as prognosticating good fruit, and what to reject, 
without waiting to see the fruit. Nurserymen of our 
acquaintance, without book, label, or stake, can tell every 
well-known variety on their grounds. One of our acquain. 
tance never had a mark, label, stake, or register, of any 
kind upon his groimd ; a culpable reliance on his ability to 
read tree-faces ; for, on his throwing up the business sud- 
denly, his successor fell into mnumerable mistakes. It is 
just as easy for a pomologist to know the face of every 
variety, as for a shepherd to know the face of every sheep 
in his flock, or a grazier every animal of his herd. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 337 

2. Although the "Fruit and Fruit-trees of America" 
professes to give the process of management only for the 
garden and the orchard, it ought to include, and we pre- 
sume was designed to embrace the essential features of 
nursery culture. Every cultivator of fruit must be a private 
nurseryman ; he needs the same information, the same direc- 
tions as if he were a commercial gardener. He that designs 
jilanting an orchard ought to know the disj^osition of each 
variety of fruit-tree, that he may suit the circumstances of 
lus soil, or provide for the peculiarities of a tree, as a 
farmer needs to know the peculiarities of the different 
breeds of hogs and cattle. With a large number of persons 
it would be enough to say of fruits, "superb," "extra- 
Bupei'b," " superlatively grand," " extra magnificent ;" for 
such, a princely catalogue would answer every purpose. 
But such as have some knowledge, and every year, we are 
happy to believe, the number of such increases, ask, not the 
author's bare eulogy, but a definite statement of all those 
special qualities on which such eulogy is founded. The 
exact taste of each variety of fruit should be studied in res- 
pect to soil; some, and but few, love strong clays; yet 
fewer thrive upon wet soils ; but some will, as the Sweet or 
Carolina June, which does well on quite wet soils; some 
refuse their gifts except upon a warm and rich sand ; some, 
and by fiir the greatest number, love a deep loam, with a 
subsoil moist without being wet. The buds of some varie- 
ties escape the vernal frosts by their hardiness; some by 
putting forth later than their orchard brethren. Some 
varieties thrive admirably by ground or root grafting, while 
very many, so worked, are killed off during the first winter; 
some varieties, if budded, grow off with alacrity, others are 
dull and unwilling ; some form their tops with facility and 
beauty; others, like many men, are rambling, awkward, 
and averse to any head at all. Some sorts, put upon what 
stock you will, have singularly massive roots ; others have 
fine and slender ones. Every variety of tree has traits of 



338 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

disposition peculiar to itself; and in respect to traits pos- 
sessed in common, even these may be classified. In every 
description there should be, at least, an attempt at giving 
these various nursery peculiarities. It cannot be done, as 
yet, with any considerable accuracy. Fruit-trees have not 
yet been minutely studied. A florist can give you a thou- 
sand times more minute and special information in respect 
to the peculiar habits and wants of his flowers, than an 
orchardist can of his trees. Doubtless, it is easier to do it 
in plants which have a short period ; whose whole life passes 
along before the eye every season, than in plants whose very 
youth outlasts ten generations of Dahlias, Pansies, Balsams, 
etc. But that only makes it the more important that we 
should be up and doing. Let no work be regarded as clas- 
sic which does not take into its design the most thorough 
enunciation of all the peculiarities of fruits, and pomology 
will receive more advantage in ten years, than it could by a 
hundred years of rambling, unregulated, discursive descrip- 
tions. 

The abUity which Mr. D. has shown as a horticultural 
writer, his industry in collecting materials for this, his last 
work ; the skill which he has shown himself to possess in 
describing fruits, give the public a right to expect that he 
wUl " go on unto perfection ;" and if Mr. D. will adopt a 
higher standard and set out with a design of a more sys- 
tematic description of fruits, every liberal cultivator in the 
land will be glad to put at his disposal whatever of minute 
observation he may possess. 



Buckwheat is a corruption rather than a translation of 
the Saxon word Buckwaizen^ the first syllable signifying 
beech, the tree of that name, whose nut the kernel of the 
grain so much resembles in shape. The grain, therefore, 
might be properly called beech-wheat. 



AnoTj^i fblus, flovkrs and farming. 339 



LETTER FROM A. J. DOWNING. 

We give belov a letter from Mr. Downicg, long known 
as an eminent pomologist and more recently yet more 
distinguished fcr his writings upon Horticultural matters. 
Although a private letter, it is of general interest, and he 
will, we hope, indulge the Hberty taken* 

" Highland GARDENa, Newburgh, New York, 
Feb. 29th, 1845. 

" My deak Sik : I thank you for the interesting article 
on horticulture in the West, which appears in the last No. 
oi Hovey''s Magazine. 

"My particular object in writing you at this moment is 
to call your attention to the remarks you make on the 
' Golden Russet,' which you call ' the prince of small 
apples.' From your description of this fruit it is the 
' Sheep-nose,' or ' Bullock's Pippin ' of Coxe, well known 
here, and one of the most melting and delicious of apples. 
I understand from Professor Kirtland of Cleveland, that 
this is the apple known by the name of Golden Russet in 
his region. 

" Will you do me the favor, for the sake of settling the 
synonyms, to send me two or three cuttings of the young 
wood, by man ? I can then determine in a moment. The 
Sheep-nose has long shoots of a peculiar drab color. If 
your apple proves the same, I think I shall cancel the title 
'Sheep-nose ' — (a vile name), known only in New Jersey, 
and substitute ' American Golden Russet 'f — this being its 
common title in New England and the West. I speak now 
in relation to my work on fruits, now in press. 

" What do you mean by the ' White Bell-flower of Coxe ?' 
The Detroit I have carefully examined, and it is quite 

* Mr. Downing's untimely end by drowning is well known. 
\ There is an English Golden Russet, distinct and quite acid. 



340 PLAIN 4.NT) PLEiSANT ii LK 

different from the Yellow Bellflower. The Monstrous Bell- 
flower — the only other one Coxe describes- is a large 
autumn fruit, while the Detroit keeps till April ? 

" My work on Fruits has cost me a great deal of labor, 
but will still contain many imperfections. When it is out 
of press — in about six weeks — I promise myself the plea- 
sure of sending it with the copy of each of my previous 
works for the acceptance of your Horticultural Society. 
And I then hope to be favored with your criticism. 
Hoping an early answer to my queries herein, 

" I am sincerely yours, 

" A. J. Dow2sriNG. 

" H. W. Beecher." 



We should have said " Monstrous Bellflower " instead of 
White. 

The Bellflower here mentioned is the White or Green 
Bellflower of Indiana, the Ohio Favorite of western Ohio 
about Dayton, etc., the Sollow-cored Pippin of some ; and 
it has been inquired for, at Mr, Alldredge's nursery, as the 

Gumherland Spice. Mr. A considered, from the 

description given, that the white Bellflower only could 
have been meant. But from the following description of 
Cumberland Spice in Kenrick, from Coxe, I am inclined to 
think that the true Cumberland Spice may have been 
inquired for. 

" The tree is very productive ; a fine dessert fruit, large, 
rather oblong, contracted toward the summit ; the stalk 
thick and short ; of a pale yellow color, clouded near the 
base ; the flesh white, tender, and fine. It ripens in 
autumn, and keeps till winter, and shrivels in its last 
stages." 

The fruit was brought to Wayne County, Indiana, by Mr. 
Brunson. He came from New York to Huron county, 
Ohio, and thence to Wayne County, Indiana. It is univer- 



A.BOTJT FKtJITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 341 

eally diifused through the eastern and central parts of 
Indiana, and is esteemed a first-rate apple. The tree strik- 
ingly resembles the Green Newtown Pippin, but its brush is 
not so small, and there is less of it, the top being rather 
more open. The wood is brittle, and, as the tree is a free 
and constant bearer, it tends to break, and is troublesome 
to keep in good order. Mr. Ernst and other gentlemen of 
Cincinnati supjiose the variety to be the Detroit. We 
cannot say one thing or another, except that it is of the 
Bellflower family. The Detroit of New York is a widely 
difiprent fruit, of a bright scarlet color, and we never heard 
of any other Detroit^ until the name was applied to this 
apple. 

There is not the least doubt that the Golden Russet of the 
"West is the Bullock Pippin and Sheep-nose of New Jersey, 
and we hope that the proposed name " American Golden 
Russef'' will deliver us, for ever after, from eating any 
more sheep-noses. Names are of importance in classifying 
fruits, and there is a pleasure also in having a decorous name 
to a good fruit. It is amusing to look through a catalogue 
of singular names. 

The Soss apple is popularly the Horse apple, and when, 
on a certain contingency a gentleman promised to eat a hoss 
it was not so hazardous a threat as some have imagined. 
The French, in naming their fruits, exercise a freedom with 
things human and divine, to which we occidentals are not 
accustomed (as, Ah Mon Dieu ! Grosse Cicisse Madame, 
etc.), and an innocent person, recapitulatmg his pears, might, 
if overheard by neighbors understanding French, be 
thought very profane, or worse. There are other names 
Avhich have a tendency to make the mouth water, as Onion 
Pear. One must have pleasing associations while eating 
the Toad Pear. (See Prince's Pom. Man. p. 24 and 34.) 
The French Bon Chretien (or Good Christian) is called in 
these parts the Bon Cheat-em. Then, there is the Demoi- 
selle, the Lady's Flesh, and Love's Pear (Prmce, 58, 34, 



342 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

and 117) — very proper for young lovers. Then, there is 
the Burnt Cat ( Chat Brusle of the French, Prince 89), 
which undoubtedly has a musk flavor. We have less 
objection to the PriesPs Pear {Poire de PrUre^ Prince, 
108). Piscatory gentlemen would always angle in our nur- 
series for the Trout pear (Prince 130), and if they did not 
get a bite, the pear would^ as it is a fine variety. How did 
those who named pears, Louise Bonne de Jersey^ or Van 
Mans leon le clerc, expect common folks to hold fast to the 
true name ? But he must have a short memory indeed, 
who forgets the emphatic name of Yat or Yut. 

But to return from our digression. We give the descrip- 
tion of the Golden Russet from three sources, and indorse 
their general accuracy: 

GOLDEN EUSSET. — (dR. PLUMMEK.) 

"Size. — 2 2-10 inches long; 2 7-10 inches wide. 

" Form. — ^Rather smaller at the summit ; moderately flat- 
tened at the ends. 

" Pulp. — Very tender, juicy, yellowish white. 

" Color. — Deep yellow, with brown and russet clouds ; 
or wholly brown and russet. 

" Surface. — Nearly dull ; ruffled by the confluent line- 
oles ; dots hardly discoverable. 

" Flavor. — Sweet and delicious. 

" Stem. — Slender ; half to one inch long, reaching to a 
considerable distance beyond the verge. 

" Eye. — In rather contracted cavity ; closed. 

" Ripens in the tenth month. 

" It is one of our best apples, and keeps well through the 
winter." 

" Whether the Leathercoat and the Glass apple are the 
same as are now known under those names, it is impossible 
to determine. Near Poughkeepsie, in the State of New 
York, the Leathercoat used to be a favorite fruit; and 



ABOUT FETJITS, FLOWERS AND FARXnNG. 343 

wl ether it is the same as the Golden Russet, described 
ahcve, I am not now able to say ; but my recollection of 
that apple after a lapse of twenty-three years induces rae 
to think it is no other than the Golden Kusset ; and, indeed, 
Trevelyan calls it also the ' russet appell.' The Glass apple 
was described in a former number of ' The Orchard,' If 
the 'lethercott' has descended to us under the name of 
Golden Russet, the fine flavor of this apple would lead us 
to believe that it had not deteriorated, after a period of 
more than two centuries and a half." — West. Farm, and 
Gard., 1843. 

bullock's pippin, or sheep-nose. (COXE.) 

Golden Russet of C'mcinnati. Golden Russet of the Eastern 
nurseries. — {Dr. Kirtland.) 

"Neither the size nor appearance of this fruit would 
attract attention ; yet it sells more readily in markets where 
it is known than any other apple. Its flavor is rich and 
pleasant, and many people consider it the best fruit of the 
season. In northern Ohio it matures at New-Year's, while 
in Cincinnati it is in perfection in November." — West. 
Farm, and Qard.., 1841. 



GOLDEN RUSSET — BULLOCK PIPPIN, OR SHEEP-NOSE. 

(a. HAMPTON.) 

" This apple is below medium size ; the skin is yellow, 
inclined to a russet; the flesh yellow, rich, juicy, tender 
and sprightly. I know of no apple more generally admired 
for its richness and excellent flavor than this ; commanding 
a high price, and ready sale, in market ; it makes very rich 
cider; a great and constant bearer; and keeps well till 
spring." — West. Farm, and Gard.., 1841. 

We do not know another apple whose flavor and flesh 



344 PLAIM .4ND PLEAS A>rr TALK 

are so admirable. A gentleman in Ohio, on being asicd for 
a list of a hundred trees for an orchard, replied, '■set ont 
ninety-nine Golden Russets, the other one you can cnoose 
for yourself." 



ATTENTION TO ORCHARDS. 

Clean out your orchards. Let no branches lie scatteitd 
around. If in crops, let the tillage be thorough and clean. 
In plowing near the tree be careful not to strike deep 
enough to lacerate the small roots and fibres. An orchar 1 
should be tended with a cultivator rather than a plow, and 
the space immediately about the tree should be worked 
Avitli a hoe. Look to the fence corners, and grub out all 
bushes, briers and weeds. A fine orchard with such a ruffle 
around it, is like a handsome woman with dirty ears and neck. 

Pruning may still be performed. Those who are raising 
young orchards ought not to prune at any particular time 
between May and August, but all along the season, as the 
tree needs it. If a bad branch is forming, take it out while 
it is small ; if too many are starting, rub them out while so 
tender as to be managed without a knife and by the fingers. 
If an orchard is rightly educated from the first, there will 
seldom be a limb to be cut off larger than a little finger, 
and a pen-knife will be large enough for pruning. In the 
West there is more danger of pruning too much, than too 
little. The sun should never be allowed to strike the inside 
branches of a fruit-tree. Many trees are thus very much 
weakened and even killed if the sun is violently warm. 
Over-pruning induces the growth of shoots at the root, 
along the trunk, and all along the branches. 

Griih up suckers, and clear off fi-om large and well 
established trees all side-shoots. After a tree is three inches 



4B0TJT FEUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 345 

ill diaipeter through the stem, it may be kept entii'ely free 
of side shoots. But young trees are much assisted in every 
respect, except appearance, by letting brush grow the whole 
lengoh of their stem, only pinching oif the ends of the whips, 
if they grow too rampantly. In this way the leaves afford 
great strength to the trunk, and prevent its being spindling 
or weak-fibred. 

Scour off the d,ead harh^ which, besides being unsight- 
ly, is a harbor for a great variety of insects, and affords 
numerous crevices for Avater to stand in. We have pre- 
viously recommended soft soap, thinned with urine to the 
consistence of paint, as a wash for trees ; we have seen 
nothing better. 

Examine grafts if any have been put in. See if the 
wax excludes the air entirely ; rub out all shoots which 
threaten to overgrow and exhaust the graft ; if it is grow- 
ing too strongly, it must be supported, or it will blow out 
in some high wind. 

Look out for Blight. — ^All trees that have shown no 
indications of blight, will be safe for the season. But those 
which have shown the affection may be expected to con- 
tinue to break out through the season. It is all important 
to use the knife freely ; for although there is no contagion 
from tree to tree, yet the diseased sap will, in the same tree, 
be conveyed from part to part over the whole fabric. But 
prompt pruning will remove the seat and source of the evil. 
Where a branch is affected, cut chips out of the bark along 
down for yards ; indeed, examine the limb entirely home 
to the trunk, and you may easUy detect any spots which are 
depositories of this diseased sap, which, by its color, and 
whole appearance, will be identified by the most unprac- 
tised eye. Cut everything, below and aloft, that has this 
feculent sap in it, even if you take off the whole head by 
the trunk, and leave only a stump ; for, the stump may send 
new shoots ; but if the tree is spared from false tenderness 
you will lose it, bough, trunk, and root. 



346 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 



WINE AND HORTICULTURE. 

^^ Look not thou upon the whu when it is red, tvhen it giveth his color 
in the cup, when it moveth itself aright." 

Now, the Cincinnati Hortip-^.llVc*! Society appointed a 
committee to do just what Sol jmon says must not oe done. 
Their report is a very artful document, so drawn up that 
the unwary would suppose that this was a mei-e business 
affair — passing off quite respectably. But we were not to 
be deceived ; we instantly saw through it ; and pencil in 
hand, we noted all places in the re})ort proper to shock a 
true "Washmgtonian heart. 

Although the array of forty kinds of wine save one, did 
not intimidate these hitherto respectable gentlemen, it 
inspired them with prudence ; and a German Committee 
called in, to ferret out any foreign wines which might have 
been smuggled in to the confusion of the judges. 

The committee only darkly intimate their modus ope- 
randi ; if they had given us a journal of their doings, 
made out on the spot, by some trusty clerk, what a bac- 
chanal mystery would have been disclosed ! but they had 
discretion enough left to defer this until they were sober 
again. 

But Washingtonianism is abroad, and can detect all the 
mysteries of ebriety, however graced with authority from a 
Horticultural Society. We can imagine the impatience 
with which the bottles were preliminarily eyed — the entire 
moderation with which each sipped a few first specimens ; 
we can see them gradually warming with their subject — 
tasting with alacrity — nodding at each other, squinting 
through the ruddy glass, smacking their too often dewy 
lips, or wagging their heads with more than ordinary satis- 
fliction as a beaker of great merit made the facilis descen- 
sus averni. Laughter interrupts sober attention to busi- 
ness; in vain the chairman thumj)s the table for order; 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 347 

he gets more jokes than attention. Many a sly story ia 
told ; some of them have visited vnne countries and now 
begin long yarns thereof; the clamor of laughing, and 
anecdote, and criticism — the necessity, in consequence, of 
re-tasting, and tasting again to arrive at a conclusion, 
brought them, we doubt not, to a most lamentable conclu- 
sion, although the report only obscurely hints of it, as we 
shall see. Had any of them married into the Caudle con- 
nection we might have had a graphic account of their 
several arrivals at their homes — at what time, by whose 
help, in what condition, etc. 

The tabular report given in has evidently been studiously 
framed. We suspect that if the opinions had been set 
down just in the order of their occurrence, they would 
have afforded an index of the condition of the committee as 
well as of the wine. But though they have mixed them 
up, they cannot elude our vigilance — we can pick out the 
chronological order. At first such opinions as these were 
given : " Tolerably good," " Inferior," " Poor, fermented 
on skins." They were critical yet ; but warming a Uttle 
they express more generous sentiments ; " Good," " Very 
good Cape," " Very good, resembling old Madeira." The 
next step shows the genial advance — some were getting 
disputatious. " Good, considered by some better than 
No. 8, by others not so good," — they evidently had a row 
about it. They next advanced into the patriotic mood as 
is seen in the judgment of our foreign wines, "Good dry 
wine, but supposed to be foreign," " Inferior, a foreign 
wine," "Not American wine." Here the gradations of 
contemjjt are very plain. We have next, melancholy evi- 
dence of their progress in the necessity of a stronger body 
to their wines, — " Not liked, supposed to have been injured 
in the bottle." Why not say it right out, that it was a 
weak, thin wine ? Here we have it, " Good strong wine." 
The last record made is "Good new, not in a state for judg- 
ment." Does this refer to the wine or to the committee ? 



348 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

To the latter we suppose ; and at this point, probably per- 
ceiving their condition, they laid aside their official charac- 
ter and made it a private, personal, and somewhat miscel- 
laneous affair. We see now the meaning of a senten(;e 
which follows the tabular exhibit : " The judgments pro- 
nounced and recorded in the foregoing table, were as 
nearly unanimous as can ever be expected among so many 
judges." 

The committee state in respect to western wines : "That 
the pure juice of the grape when judiciously managed will 
furnish the finest kind of wine, without any addition or 
mixture whatever ; that no saccharme addition is necessary 
to give it sufficient body to keep for any length of time in 
this climate." 

We submit that the keeping j^roperties of wine are not 
altogether intrinsic; but dej^end much upon the persons 
having access to them, or, as we were taught in school, 
" on time, place, and person." In our cellar American 
wines would doubtless have great longevity. We wish to 
call the attention of Mr. Gough to the closing sentence of 
the report : " A taste for the wines of this region appears 
to be well established, smce all that can be produced finds 
a ready market at good prices ; and the committee are of 
opinion, that the period is not distant when the wines of 
the Ohio will enjoy a celebrity equal to those of the 
Rhine." 

Here's work on hand for him. In conclusion, we 
respectfully suggest that the same committee be continued 
from year to year, as there is no use in spoiling a fresh set 
every year. If the specimens multiply, perhaps more help 
will be required — at any rate a by-law should be passed, 
so that there shall be one committee-man to at least every 
ten bottles. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING, 349 

DO VARIETIES OF FRUIT RUN OUT? 

Is there such similarity between animals and vegetables, 
in their organic structure, development and functions, as 
to make it safe to reason upon the properties of the one 
fi'om the known properties of the other ? 

It is admitted that the lowest forms of vegetable exist- 
ence are extremely difficult to be distinguished from a cor- 
responding form of animal existence. As we approach the 
lower confines of the vegetable kingdom, flowers, and of 
course, seeds, disappear. The distinction between leaves 
and stem ceases ; and, at last, the stem and root are no lon- 
ger to be separated, and we find a mere vegetable sheet or 
lamina whose upper surface is leaf and whose lower surface 
is root. In a corresponding sphere, animal existence is re- 
duced to its simplest elements. Whatever resemblances 
there are in the lowest and rudimentary forms of vegetable 
and animal life, it cannot be doubted that when we rise 
to a more perfect organization, the two kingdom be- 
come distinct and the structure and functions of each are 
in such a sense peculiar to itself, that he will grossly mis- 
conceive the truth who supposes a structure or a function to 
exist in a vegetable, because such structure or function 
exists in an animal, and vice versa. To be sure, they resem- 
ble in generals but they difter in specials. Both begin in a 
seminal point but the seed is not analogous ; both develop 
— but not by an analogous growth ; both require food, but 
the selection, the digestion and the assimilation are diifer- 
ent. The mineral kingdom is the lowest. Out of it, by 
help of the sun and air, the vegetable procures its materials 
of growth ; in turn the vegetable kingdom is the magazine 
from which the animal kingdom is sustained ; to each, thus 
the soil contains the original elements ; the vegetable is the 
chemical manipulator, and the animal, the final recipient of 
its products. The habit of reasoning from one to the other, 
of giving an idea of the one by illustrations drawn from the 



350 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

other, especially in popular writings, will al\\-ays be fruitful 
of misconceptions and mistakes. 

The next idea set fortli in the paragraph which we review, is, 
the essential dissimilarity of huds and seeds. The writer 
thinks that a plant from a seed is a 7iew organization, but a 
plant from a bud or graft (which is but a developed bud) is 
but a continuation of a previous plant. With the exception 
of their integuments, a bud and a seed are the same thing 
A seed is a bud prepared for one set of circumstances, and 
a bud is a seed prepared for another set of circumstances — 
it is the same embryo in different garments. The seed has 
been called, therefore, a " primary bud," the difference 
beng one of condition and not of nature. 

It is manifest, then, that the plant which springs from a 
bud is as really a new plant as that which springs from a 
seed ; and it is equally true, that a seed may convey the 
weakness and diseases of its parent with as much facility as 
a bud or a graft does. If the feebleness of a tree is general, 
its functions languid, its secretions thin, then a bud or graft 
will be feeble, — and so would be its seed ; or if a tree be 
thoroughly tainted with disease, the buds would not escape, 
nor the tree springing from them — neither would its seed, 
or a tree sj)ringing from it. A tree from a bud of the 
Doyenne pear is just as much a new tree as one from its 
seed. 

The idea which we controvert has received encourage- 
ment from the fact, that a bud produces a fruit like the 
parent tree, while, oftentimes, a seed yields only a variety 
of such fruit. But, it is probable that this is never the case 
with seeds except when they have been brought mto a 
state of what Van Mons calls variation. In their natural 
and uncultivated state, seeds will reproduce their parent 
with as much fidelity as a bud or a graft. 

The liability of a variety to run out, when propagated by 
bud or graft, is not a whit greater than when propagated by 
seed, in so far as the nature of the vegetable is conce'med. 



ABOUT FRXnXS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 35I 

Bill ii is true that the conditions in which a bud grows 
render it liable to extrnisic ills not incidental to a plant 
springing fi'om seed. A seed, emitting its roots directly 
into the earth, is lialile only to its own ills ; a bud or graft 
emitting roots, through the alburnum of the stock on which 
it is established, into the earth, is subject to the infirmities 
of the stock as well as to its own. Thus a healthy seed 
produces a healthy plant. A healthy bud may produce 
a feeble plant, because inoculated upon a diseased branch 
or stem. 

Instead of a limitation in their nature, there is reason to 
supi^ose that trees might flourish to an indefinite age were 
it not for extrinsic difiiculties. A tree, unlike an animal, is 
not a single, simple organization, it is rather a community 
of plants. Every bud separately is an elementary plant, 
capable, if disjoined from the branch, of becoming a tree 
by itself. In fact, each bud emits roots, which, uniting to- 
gether, go down upon a common support (the trunk) and 
enter the earth, and are there put in connection with ap- 
propriate food. Every fibre of root maybe traced upward 
to its bud from which it issued. 

In process of time, the elongation of the trunk exposes it 
to accidents; the branches are subject to the force of 
stoi'ms; in proportion as the distance from the roots 
increases, and the longer the passages through which the 
upper sap, or downward elaborated sap travels, the more 
liabilities are there to stoppage and injury. The reason of 
decline in a tree is not to be looked for in any exhaustion 
of \dtal force in the organization itself, but it is to be found 
in the immense surface and substance exposed to the wear 
and tear of the elements. 

It would seem, if this view be true, that no bounds can 
be placed to the duration of perennial plants, if, by any 
means, we could diminish their exposure, by reducing their 
expansion, by keeping them within a certain sphere of 
growth. Now this is exactly what is accomplished hy hud 



852 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

ding. A bud, far removed on the parent stock from the 
root and connected with it through a long trunk, is inocu- 
lated upon a new stock. It now grows with a comparatively 
limited exposure to interruption or accident. The connec- 
tion with the soil is short and direct. 

In this manner a variety of fruit may be perpetuated to 
all generations, if the laws of vegetable health be regarded 
in the process. Healthy buds, worked upon healthy stocks 
and planted in wholesome soil, will make healthy trees ; and 
from these another generation may proceed, and from these 
another. By a due regard to vegetable physiology, the 
Newtown Pippin, and the Seckle Pear, may be eaten two 
thousand years hence, provided^ always^ that expounders of 
prophesy will allow us the use of the earth so long for 
orchard purposes. A disregard of the laws of vegetable 
physiology in the propagation of varieties, will, on the 
other hand, rapidly deteriorate the most healthy sort. 
There is no clock-work in the branches of the tree, which 
finally runs down past all winding up ; there is no fixed 
quantity of vitality, which a variety at length uses up, as a 
garrison does its bread. Plants renew themselves and 
every year have a fresh life, and, in this respect, they dif- 
fer essentially from all forms of animal existence. Any one 
tree may wear out ; but a variety^ never. 

We need not say, therefore, that we dissent ti-om 
Knight's theory of natural exhaustion and from every sup- 
plement to it put forth since his day. Van Mons' theory of 
variation and the tendency of plants to return toward theii' 
original type, is to be regarded as nearer the truth. 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 353 



THE STRAWBERRY CONTROVERSY. 

No man will deny that in their cultivated state, strawher- 
ries are found, in respect to their blossoms, in three condi- 
tions : first, blossoms with stamens alone, the pistillate organs 
being mere rudiments ; second, blossoms with pistillate or- 
gans developed fully, but the stamens very imperfect, and 
inefficient ; third, blossoms in which stamLnate and pistillate 
organs are both about equally developed. 

There are two questions arising on this state of facts ; 
one, a question of mere vegetable physiology, viz., Is such 
a state of organization peculiar to this plant originally, or 
is it induced by cultivation ? The other question is one of 
eminent practical importance, viz., What effect has this state 
of organization upon the success of cultivation ? 

Passing by the first question, for the present, we would 
say of the second that, a siihstantial agreement has at 
length, been obtained. It is on all hands conceded that 
staminate plants, or those possessing only stamens, and not 
pistillate organs, are unfruitful. Any other opmion would 
now be regarded as an absurdity. It is equally well under- 
stood that pistillate plants, or those in which the female 
organs are fully, and the male organs scarcely at all devel- 
oped, are unfruitful. No one would attempt to breed a 
herd of cattle from males exclusively, or from females j and, 
for precisely the same reason, strawberries cannot be had 
from plants substantially male, or substantially female, where 
each are kept to themselves. 

But a difference yet exists among cultivators as to the 
facts respecting those blossoms which contain both male and 
female organs, or, as they are called, perfect flowering 
plants. 

Mr. Longworth states, if we understand him, substan- 
tially, that perfect-flowering varieties will bear but moder. 
ate crops, and, usually, of small fruit. 

On the other hand, Dr. Brinkle, whose seedling straw* 



354 PLAIX A>fD PLEASANT TALK 

berries we noticed in a former article, Mr. Downing, and 
several other eminent cultivators adopt the contrary opiu- 
ion, that, xoith care, large crops of large fruit may be obtained 
from perfect-flowering jjlants. This question is yet, then, 
to be settled. 

It is ardently to be hoped that, hereafter, we shall have 
less premature and positive assertion, upon unripe observa- 
tions, than has characterized the early stages of this con- 
troversy. We will take the liberty of following Mr. Hovey 
in his magazine, between the years 1842 and 1846, not for 
any pleasure that we have in the singular vicissitudes of oi:)in- 
ion chronicled there, but because an eminent cultivator, 
writer, and editor of, hitherto, the only horticultural maga- 
zine in our country, has such influence and authority in 
forming the morals and customs of the kmgdom of Horti- 
culture, that every free subject of this beautiful realm is 
interested to have its chiefs men of such accuracy that it 
will not be dangerous to take their statements. 

In 1842, Mr. Longworth communicated an article on the 
fertile and sterile characters of several varieties of straw- 
berries for Mr. Plovey's magazine, which Mr. H. for sub- 
ject-matter, indorsed. In the ISTovember number, Mr. Coit 
substantially advocated the sentiments of Mr. L. ; and the 
editor, remarking upon Mr. Coit's article, recognized dis- 
tinctly the existence of male and female plants. 

He (Mr. H.) says that, of four kinds mentioned by Mr. 
C. as unfruitful, two were so '"''from the loant of staminate 
or male plants;'''' and " the cause of the barrenness is thus 
easily explained.'''' And he goes on to explain divers cases 
upon this hypothesis ; and still more resolutely he says, that 
all wild strawberries have not perfect flowers ; " in a dozen 
or two plants which we examined last sirring some were per- 
fect (the italics are ours) having both stamens and pistUs ; 
others^ otily pistils, and others, only stamens; thus showing 
that the defect, mentioned by Mr. Lo7igicorth, exists in the 
original species.'''' He closes by urging cultivators to set 



ABOUT FEtriTS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 355 

rows of early Yirginia among the beds for the sake of im- 
pregnatmg the rest. 

Mr. Hovey's next foi'mal notice was exactly one year from 
the foregoing, November, 1843, and it appears thus: "We 
believe it is now the generally received opinion of all intel- 
ligent cultivators (italics are onrs again) that there is no 
necessity of tnahing any distinction in regard to the sexual 
character of the plants when forming new beds. 71} e idea 
of male aiid female floioers^ first originated, we believe, by 
Mr. Longworth, of Ohio, is now considered as exploded^ 
Such a sudden change as this was brought about, he says, 
by additional information received during that year by 
means of his correspondents, and by more experience on 
his own part. He says nothing of male blossoms and female 
blossoms, which he had himself seen in loild straioberries. 
Mr. Hovey then assumed the theory that cidtivation, good 
or bad, is the cause of fertile or unfertile beds of strawber- 
ries, and he says : " in conclusion, we think we may safely 
avei', that there is not the least necessity of cultivating any 
one strawberry near another (our italics) to insure the fer- 
tility of the plants, provided they are under a proper state 
of cultivation." 

Mr. Hovey now instituted experiments, which he prom- 
ised to publish, by which to bring the matter to the only 
true test ; and he, from time to time, re-promised to give 
the result to the public, which, thus far, we believe, he has 
forgotten to do. 

His magazine for 1844 opens, as that of 1843 closed ; and 
in the first number he says, " the jftener our attention is 
called to this subject, the more we feel confirmed in the 
opinon that the theory of Mr. Longworth is entirely un- 
founded ; that there is 7io such thing as male and female 
plants., though certain causes may produce, as we know 
they have, fertile and sterile ones." 

Nevertheless, in the next issue but one this peremptory 
language is again softened down, and a doubt even appears, 



356 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

Avlien he says, " If 3fr. LongwortK's theory should prove 
tnie,^'' etc. We, among others, waited anxiously for the 
])romiscd experiments ; but if published we never saw them. 
The subject rather died out of his magazine until August, 
1845, when, in speaking of the Boston Pine, a second fine 
seedling of his own raising, he is seen bearing away on the 
other tack, if not with all sails set, yet with enough to give 
the ship headway in the right direction : " Let the causes 
be what they may, it is sufficient for all practical purposes, 
to know, that the most abundant crops (italics ours) can be 
produced by planting some sort abounding in staminate 
flowers, in the near vicinity of those which do not possess 
them." P. 293. And on p. 444 he reiterates the advice to 
plant near the staminate varieties. In the August number 
for 1846, p. 309, Mr. Hovey shows himself a thorough con- 
vert to Mr, Longworth's views, by indorsing, in the main, 
the report of the committee of the Cincinnati Horticultural 
Society. We hope after so various a voyage, touching at so 
many points, that he will now abide steadfast in the truth. 
We look upon this as a very grave matter, not because 
the strawberry question is of such paramount, although it is 
of no inconsidei-able importance ; but it is of importance 
whether accredited scientific magazmes should be trust- 
worthy; Avhether writers or popular editors should be 
responsible for mistakes entirely unnecessary. We blame 
no man for vacillation, while yet in the process of investi- 
gation, nor for coming at the truth gradually, since this is 
the necessity of our condition to learn only by degrees, and 
by painful sittings. The very first requisite for a writer is, 
that he be worthy of trust in his statements. No man can 
be trusted who ventures opinions upon uninvestigated mat- 
ters; who states facts with assurance which he has not 
really ascertained; who evinces rashness, haste, careless- 
ness, credulity, or fickleness in his judgments. The ques- 
tion of perfect or imperfect blossoms depends upon the sim- 
plest exercise of eyesight. It requires no measurements, 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 357 

no process of the laboratory, no minute dissections or nice 
calculations ; it requires only that a man should see what 
he looks at. 

When a boy, jdaying " how many fingers do I hold uj)," 
by dint of peeping from under the bandage, we managed to 
make very clever guesses of how many lily-fingers some 
roguish lassie was holding in tempting show before our ban- 
daged eyes ; but some folks are not half so lucky with both 
eyes wide open, and the stamens and pistils standing before 
them. 

If such a latitude is permitted to those who conduct the 
investigations peculiar to horticulture, who can confide in 
the publication jf facts, observations or experiments ? Of 
what use will be journals and magazines? They become 
like chronometers that will not keep tune ; like a compass 
that has lost its magnetic sensibility ; like a guide who has 
lost his own way, and leads his followers through brake, 
and morass, and thicket, into interminable wanderings. 
Sometimes, the consciousness of faults in ourselves, which 
should make us lenient toward others, only serves to pi*o- 
duce irritable fault-finding. After a comparison of opmions 
and facts, through a space of five years, with the most dis- 
tinguished cultivators. East and West, Mr. Longworth is 
now universally admitted to have sustained himself in all 
the essential points which he first promixlgated — not discov- 
ered, for he made no claims of that sort. The gardeners 
and the magazines of the East have, at length, adopted his 
practical views, after having stoutly, many of them, con- 
tested them. 

It was, therefore, with unfeigned surprise, that we read 
Mr. Hovey's latent remarks in the September number of his 
magazine, in which, vAih. some asperity, he roundly charges 
Mr. Longworth with manifold errors, and treats him with 
a contempt which would lead one, ignorant of the con- 
troversy, to suppose that Mr. Hovey had never made a 
mistake, and that Mr. Longworth had been particularly 



358 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

fertile of them. Thus : " Mr. Longworth's ren/arks abouncl 
in so many erroi'S and inconsistencies, that wq shall expect 
scarcely to notice all." " Another ^ross assertion,'''' etc. Re- 
ferring to another topic, he says, " This question we, there- 
fore, consider as satisfactorily settled, without discussmg 
Mr. Longworth's conflicting views about male and female, 
Keen's," etc. 

This somewhat tragical comedy is now nearly played out, 
and we have spoken a word just before the fall of the cur- 
tain, because, as chroniclers of events, and critics of horti- 
cultural literature and learning, it seemed no less than our 
duty. We have highly appreciated Mr, Hovey's various 
exertions for the promotion of the art and science of horti- 
culture, nor will his manifest errors and short-comings in 
this particular instance, disincline us to receive from his pen 
whatsoever is good. 

We hope that our remarks will not be construed as a 
defence of western men or western theories, but as the 
defence of the truth, and of one who has truly expounded 
it, though, in this case, theory and its defender happen to 
be of western origin. Whatever errors have crept into 
Mr. Longworth's remarks should be faithfully expurgated; 
and perhaps it may be Mr, Hovey's duty to perform the 
lustration. If so, courtesy would seem to require that it 
should be done with some consciousness, that through this 
whole controversy Mr. Longworth is n: w admitted to have 
been right in all essential matters ; and if, in error at all, 
only in minor particulars, while Mr, Ilovey, in all the con- 
troversy, in respect to the plainest facts, has been changing 
from wrong to right, from right to wrong, and from wrong 
back to right 'again. We do not think that the admirable 
benefits which Mr. Longworth has conferred upon the 
whole commimity by urging the improved method of culti- 
vating the strawberry, has been adequately appreciated. 
We still less like to see gratitude expressed in the shape of 
snarling gibes and jjetty cavUs. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 359 

We will close these remarks by the correction of a matter 
which Mr. Do^Tiing states. While he assents to all the 
practical aspects of Mr. Longworth's views, he dissents as 
to some matters of fact and philosophy, and among others, 
to the fact that Hovey's seedling is alicays and only a pis- 
tillate plant. He thinks that originally it had perfect flow- 
ers, but that after bearing twice or thrice on the same roots 
the plants degenerate and become either pistillate or stami- 
nate. He says, " Hovey's seedling straAvberry, at first, 
was a perfect sort in its flower, but at this moment more 
than half the plants in this country have become pistillate." 

Mr. Hovey himself states the contrary on p. 112 of his 
magazine for 1844. He denies that there are two kinds 
of blossoms to his seedling, and says, " the flowers are all 
of one kind, with both pistils and stamens, hut the latter 
quite short and hidden under the receptacle.'''' This is the 
common form of sM pistillate blossoms, and shows, in so far 
as Mrr Hovey's observations are to be trusted, that, at its 
starting-point and home, Hovey's seedling was, as with us it 
now invariably is, so far as we have ever seen it, a pistillate 
plant. 



STRAWBERRIES. 

Directions for the culture of the strawberry will vary 
with circumstances ; as, whether it is raised for private use, 
or for market. But, for whatever purpose cultivated, 
respect must be invariably had to the fact of staminate and 
pistillate flowers, or male and female. Each flower contains 
the rudiments of both the male and female organs. But the 
male organs are more or less defective in one set of plants 
and the female in another " and, in the Hudson and some 
others, it amounts to a complete separation of the sexes. 
In some of the male (staminate) varieties mo re or less of 



3 GO PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

the blossoms are also partially perfect in the female organs 
and will produce some fruit. 

" Every flower contains both the male and female organs ; 
and, in the white and monthly, both organs are always 
perfect in the same blossom, as far as my experience goes. 
In other kinds, the male organs are more or less defective 
in one set of jDlants, and the female in the other ; and, in 
the Hudson and some other varieties, it amounts to a com- 
plete separation of the sexes. The male organs are so 
defective in one set of plants, and the female in the other, 
that an acre of either would not produce a single fruit. In 
some of the male (staminate) varieties, more or less of the 
blossoms are also more or less perfect in the female organs, 
and will prodiice more or less fruit ; but I have never seen a 
female plant with the male organs sufficiently developed to 
produce a single perfect fruit. Ilovey's seedling, and some 
others, may produce deformed berries." — Longworth. 

Mr. Longworth, in consequence of this fact, always has 
a compartment allotted to male and one to female plants, 
and out of these he forms his beds, being able thus to 
insure a proper proportion of males to females. Mr. S. S. 
Jackson, a very skillful nurseryman of Cincinnati, usually, 
in selling plants, puts up ninety females to ten males in the 
hundred. 

We shall now give the time and manner of planting of 
some of the best cultivators in the West, at the East, and in 
England. 

Mr. Jackson says : "I plant any time from the first of 
April, till they are in bloom. I, one year, planted twenty- 
five square roods of ground ; the plants were all in bloom 
when set out ; and the next year I picked thirty-eight 
bushels, and there were fully ten bushels left on the 
vines. 

"I plant them in this way: first plow or spade the 
ground ; harrow it smooth ; then strain a line on one side 
nine inches from the edge, and a row from twelve to fifteen 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 361 

inches apart ; then move the line eighteen inches, and plant 
another row ; then move it three feet, and again eighteen 
inches — and so on till the ground is planted. I then go 
over and put one male plant every six feet, between the 
two rows. Keep them clear of weeds through the summer, 
and let them spread as much as they will. 

" In the fall dress the out-walks eighteen inches wide, 
which will leave the beds three feet wide ; and when it sets 
in cold, give them a light covering of straw ; rake it off in 
the sj^rmg. You may then expect a full crop. It is best to 
make a new bed once in two or three years." 

But plantations may be made through the summer, and 
as late as September ; of course, the earlier in the season 
the better established the plants will become before winter, 
and the larger the next summer's crop. Thus, a bed 
formed in September would bear very scantily ; while Mr. 
Jackson's beds, formed in the spring, produced a large 
crop the next season. 

Mr. Kenrick gives the following methods as practised by 
market gardeners near Boston ; the first one strikes us as 
being the most economical way of working strawberries, 
on a large scale, that we have seen : 

" In the vicinity of Boston, the following mode is often 
adopted. The vines are usually transplanted in August. 
The rows are formed from eighteen inches to two feet 
asunder. The runners, during the first year, are destroyed. 
In the second year, they are suffered to grow and fill the 
interval, and in the autumn of that year, the whole old rows 
are turned under with the spade, and the rows are thus 
shifted to the middle of the space. The same process is 
repeated every second year. 

" Another mode, which may be recommended generally, is 
to plant the strawberries in rows thirty inches asunder, and 
nine inches distant in the row, and suffer the vines to 
extend to the width of eighteen inches, leaving twelve 
inches' space for an alley ; or allow eighteen inches' width 



362 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

to the alleys, and three feet asunder to the rows ; and to 
form new beds every three years, or never to suffer the bed 
to exist over four years ; and to plant out in August in 
preference to spring." 

Dr, Bayne of Alexandria, D. C, gives his method 
of producing very large fruit. The peculiarity of his 
treatment is the use of undecomposed or green manure. 
Almost every other cultivator recommends well rotted 
manure ; and, we are inclined to think, with the better 
reason. We have found some English cultivators who 
agree with him ; but the most dissuade from the practice, 
as making plants productive of leaves rather than fruit. 

" To produce strawberries of extraordinary size for exhi- 
bition, I would recommend the following preparation : 
select the best soil and trench it at least two feet deep ; 
incorporate well with the first twelve inches an abundance 
of strong undecomposed manure ; pulverize and rake the 
ground well, then mark off the rows twelve or fifteen inches 
asunder, and set the plants in the rows from twelve to 
fifteen inches, according to the luxuriance and vigor of the 
variety. During the first year, the runners must be care- 
fully and frequently destroyed before they become rooted. 
By this means the stools become very vigorous and bear the 
most abundant crops. In the spring after the fruit is set, 
place around each plant a small quantity of straw, or what 
is much better, cover the whole surface of the ground one 
inch thick with wheat chaff. This prevents evaporation, 
protects the fruit from the earth, improves the flavor, and 
will greatly increase the size." 

Loudon gives Garnier's method of treating the straw- 
berry as an annual. It is peculiarly applicable to small 
gardens. The observations on the depth of soil required, 
are worthy of especial attention : 

" Early in August, or as soon as the gathering is over, I 
destroy all my beds, and proceed immediately to trench, 
form, and manure them in the manner before directed, to 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 363 

receive the plants for the crop of the ensuing year, taking 
care to select for that purpose the strongest and best-rooted 
runners from the old rejected plants. If at this season the 
weather should be particularly hot, and the surface of the 
ground much parched, I defer the operation of preparing 
my beds and planting them till the ground is moistened by 
rain. Such is the simple mode of treatment which I have 
adopted for three successive years, and I have invariably 
obtained upon the same spot, a great produce of beautiful 
fruit, superior to that of every other garden in the neighbor- 
hood. Depth of soil I have found absolutely necessary for 
the growth and production of fine strawberries, and when 
this is not to be obtained, it is useless, in my opinion, to 
plant many of the best varieties. It is not generally known, 
but I have asceitained the fact, that most strawberries 
generate roots, and strike them into the ground, nearly two 
feet deep in the course of one season. The j^ractice of 
renewing strawberry plantations every year, and even of 
using runners of the current year for forcing, is now become 
very general among gardeners. Mr. Knight generally 
adopts this mode, and, notwithstanding the increased labor 
attending it, it is even adoi)ted by some market-gardeners 
about London for thoir earliest crops. It is invariably 
found that by this mode the fruit not only comes larger, 
but somewhat earlier. It must always be recollected, how* 
ever, by those who int<>nd practising it, that almost the 
whole of the success depends on bringing forward the 
earliest runners, by encouraging them to root. This is 
done by stirring the soil beneath them, hooking them 
down, or retaining them in their proper places by small 
stones ; or, when the object is to procure plants for tbrcing 
rooting them into small pots." 



364 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 



RASPBERRIES, STRAWBERRIES, GOOSEBERRIES AND 
CURRANTS. 

Currants, Gooseberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, etc., 
are termed " Small Fruit." "We wiU give some directions 
for spring-work which these re [uire. 

Raspbeeeies. — The sorts usually found in our gardens are 
rejected from all good collections as worthless. The Ant- 
werp, red and white, have, until lately, been regarded as 
the best. Two new kinds are very highly thought of — 
the Franconia and the Fastolf. This last is an Eng- 
lish vai'iety ; was found growing on a gentleman's ground 
among some lime and brick rubbish — evidently a seedling 
— and removed to his garden. It was a number of years 
before it attracted attention ; but, lately, it has been much 
in demand and bids fair to claim a rank among the first, if 
it is not the first. 

A deep, rich, loamy soil which is moist, proves best for 
this fruit. It prefers a half shady position. 

When first planted, put them four feet apart in the row, 
and the rows three feet from each other. 

In old beds cut out the last year''s bearing wood, now 
worthless, and also all the new shoots but four or five to a 
root ; grub up all that have come up between the rows. 
Cut those which are reserved for bearing to about five feet 
in length, and tie them gently to a stake. Thus treated 
from year to year, and weU manured, raspberries will return 
a rich reward. 

Ste awbereies. — The number of kinds is immenst,. Knight, 
late president of the London Horticultural Society, had/bwr 
hundred kinds in his garden, and most of them seedlings of 
his own raising. The early Virginia is regarded as the 
best early kind. Hovey's, Warren's and Keen's seedlings 
are admirable sorts. Wiley's and Motter's seedlings ori- 
ginated in Cincinnati and are esteemed. There are many 
other fine sorts which an amateur cultivator would wish, 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 365 

not necessary to common gardens, where two or three 
choice sorts will suffice. 

Almost every cultivator has a way of his own in raising 
strawberries. 

In private gardens, in a soil well enriched and deeply 
spaded, let beds be formed about four feet wide ; upon 
these set three rows of hills and the plants about fifteen 
inches apart in the row. Pinch off all runners through the 
season^ unless they are wanted for new plants. 

Old beds, grown over and matted, had better be des- 
troyed; but if, for any reason, it is desirable to s^ve them, 
mark out lines every eighteen inches and dig alleys through 
the bed, by turning the plants under. In this way the patch 
will be thrown into beds of eighteen inches width. Before 
this is done take an iron-toothed rake and rake the bed 
severely. Do not be afraid of tearing the plants ; go over 
the whole bed thoroughly. It will seem as if scarcely a 
dozen plants were left, but in a few weeks your bed will be 
entirely covered with a strong growth. 

Gooseberries. — This fruit is very much neglected because 
its merits are only little known. There are two sorts found 
in our gardens, the common gooseberry and English^ by 
which name is meant a large, coarse, thick-skinned green 
variety. It is not generally known that there are any other 
cultivated sorts ; and as these are inferior they are little 
cared for. The Lancashire (England) Nurserymen publish 
300 varieties ! The select list of Mr. Thompson of the Lon- 
don Horticultural Society's garden comprises fifty-six 
varieties; the still more condensed select list of Robert 
Manning (Mass.) includes txoenty-eight sorts. Some of 
these beai- fruit as large as a medium-sized plum. There 
are four colors, red, yellow, green and white ; to each color 
are two sizes, large and small fruits. Those who have not 
seen and tasted the Scotch and Lancashire varieties of the 
gooseberry do not know what the fruit is. In sending foi 
them, select a trustworthy nurseryman, and request him to 



366 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

send, of each color, such kuids as have proved, with huu, 
the best ; aud in such numbers as you may wish. The 
gooseberry delights in three things, a very rich soil, a shady 
positio.", and a free circulation of air. If accommodated in 
these respects, it will be free from mildew and give a sure 
and ample crop of delicious fruit. 

Hill-tops are the best sites. In gardens the open and airy 
pans should be selected; in low and confined situations 
they mildew. Hog manure is esteemed the best for this 
fruit. When the fruit begins to set, if threatened with 
blight, take a moderately strong lime-water (sul23hur added 
will be all the better) or, if lime is not convenient, lye from 
wood ashes, and drench the bushes freely with it. A large 
watering-pot should be employed. Gooseberries may be in- 
creased from cuttings like the currant, and with the same ease. 

Currants. — There are very few varieties of this fruit. 
Our common red and white, if well cultivated, are very 
good. The Large Dutch Red, aud White, are much larger 
varieties and generally preferred in the best Eastern gar- 
dens. Every farmer, if he has nothing else, has a long row 
of currant bushes, and gets, usually, five times as many cur- 
rants as he can consume. Very few fruits have so few 
diseases incident to them as the currant. It is not infested 
with worms, its fruit is subject to no blight, it bears every 
year, is rarely affected either by severe winters or late 
frosts, and we do not remember a season in our lives when 
there was not, at least, a partial currant crop. 

We advise those who are careful in such matters to train 
their currants to a tree form ; let a cutting be set, rub out 
all the buds but tAvo or three at the top ; at about twelve 
or fifteen inches from the earth let the branches put out, 
and never permit suckers to grow, or branches to stand 
lower ihan this. The difliculty Avhich some have found in 
tree currants, that they are top-heavy and require staking 
to prevent their being bent by winds and their own weight, 
arises from having the stem too long. We have seen two 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 3G7 

feet and even more allowed. If twelve or fifteen inches be 
allowed, the stem, in a few years, will become strong 
enough to withstand winds and sustain its own top. Thus 
formed they are beautiful to the eye, convenient for borders, 
allow a free circulation of air under and through them, are 
easy to work in spring or for manuring, and easy to prune, 
when, as .should be done every year, you take out the old 
wood. 

Gooseberries will do better to be trained in this Avay, 
than iu the bush form. The top once formed, there is no 
difficulty in keeping it so. If you are faithful to grub up 
every sucker for one season you will have few to plague 
you after that. 

Gooseberries, Raspberries, Strawberries and Currants 
ought to be found in every f irraer's garden. The trouble 
of cultivation is slight and the return of wholesome fruit 
very great. One woman can, for the most part, bestow all 
the attention which they need. 



SPRING WORK IX THE ORCHARD. 

1 . There is a great deal more pruning done than is need- 
ful or healthful. Our hot summers and strong growth of 
wood make every leaf on the tree precious. Dead limbs 
should be taken out. Where the tree is really tangled with 
wood, thin out. Where branches are rubbing across each 
other severely, take ofi" one of them. Grub up every water- 
sprout from the roots. If you can avoid it, do not use them 
for trees, for the tree thus obtained will inherit the same 
propensity of sending up water-shoots. Sometimes, iu 
scarcity of stock, they are used rather than to have none, 
but it is then only a lesser of two evils. 

2. .Time of Prui-nIng.— There is a bad ])ractice abroad of 
pinning before the leaves are out, English books direct to 



368 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

prune in February, and we suspect that tlie custom sprang 
up at the East from the old country example. It is not safe 
for us to follow the specific processes of Great Britain or 
the Continent. Our own well settled experience is to be our 
rule of pfactice. 

There is no better month in the year to prune, than that 
month in which the tree is making the most wood. It is 
plain that the sooner a wound heals the better; and equally 
plain, that a tree which is growing Mali heal a wound 
quicker than an inactive tree. All the matter which goes 
to form wood, or to form the granulations by which a cut 
heals, comes from the downward current of sap, or sap 
which has been elaborated in the leaf. Of course when the 
tree has the most leaves, and the leaves are preparing the 
greatest quantity of proper juice or elaborated sap, that is 
the time for pruning, because the tune for healuig. In this 
climate we have preferred the last of May for spring prun- 
ing, and the last of August for summer pruning — the exact 
week varying as the season is forward or backward. 

3. Instead of Pruning at this early period, let Trees 
BE thoroughly Scraped and Scoured. — A three-sided 
scraper, such as butchers use to clean their blocks with, or 
any convenient implement, may be applied to the trunk and 
large branches with force sufficient to take off the drv^ dead 
bark. Only this is to be removed. Take soft soap and 
reduce it by uritie to the consistence of paint. Witli a stiff 
shoe-brush rub the whole trunk and the limbs as far up as 
is practicable. The bark will grow smooth and glossy ; 
insect eggs will be entirely destroyed ; all moss and fungous 
vegetation removed, and the bark stimulated and made 
healthier. This is better than any whitewash, and just 
as convenient. 

4. Lime is better used as follows : remove the earth from 
the trunk, and put about half a peck to each tree. JlLvery 
spring, spread and dig in the old lime, and put new m its 
place. Unleached ashes are good to be dug in aroumi a 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 369 

tree. If your soil is calcareous, full of lime, these applica- 
tions are not needful. Thoroughly rotted manure, or better 
yet, black vegetable mold may be dug in liberally, and 
will supply the soil with nutriment, and the roots will lind 
their way in with great facility. 

5. When a tree is manured, remember that the ends only 
of the roots take up nourishment, and that the ends of the 
roots are not found close by the trunk. We often see 
heaps of manure piled about the trunJc^ and the ends of the 
roots are three yards or more distant from it. You might 
as well put your fodder down at your cattle's hind legs, 
and wonder that they did not get fat on it. Treat your 
trees as you do your stock — put their food Avhere their 
mouths are. Young orchards are better without stimu- 
lating manure. Let the soil be mellowed, and then give 
the trees their owti time, and if they do not bear quite as 
soon, they will live longer and be less subject to disease. 



MIRACLES IN FRUITS. 

When a traveller was relating, in Cowper's presence, 
some prodigious marvels, the poet smiled somewhat incredu- 
lously. " \yell, sir, don't you believe me ? I saw it with 
my own eyes." " Oh, certainly, I believe it if you saw it, 
but I would not if I had seen it myself.'''' Even so we feel 
about the thousand and one physiological fooleries which 
run the monthly rounds of the papers. 

How on earth do men suppose a fruit to receive its char- 
acteristic quality ? Is it from the root, trunk, pith, bark, 
branch, or leaf? One would think that it made no differ- 
ence which. We have long supposed that the leaf digested 
the sap, returned it to the passages of distribution to be 
employed in the formation of fruit, wood, tissue, etc. Is 
tliis the function of the leaf? or have recent investigations 



370 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

exploded this doctrine ? If not, it will be apparent that all 
gi-afting of scions together, cannot change the quality of 
fruit, unless the leaves are also amalgamated. Is a red, 
green, yellow, and white fruit, sweet, soui", or bitter, be put 
upon the same tree, each will maintain its characteristics ; 
because, each bud or scion has its own peculiar leaves, from 
whose laboratory the fruit is sweetened or acidulated and 
colored vith all its hues. To be sure, fruits are affected by 
the stock on which they are put; but their characteristic 
elements are not altered, but only pushed along in the same 
line and made more perfect. 

There is no doubt that trees indulge, occasionally, in rare 
antics. A sober apple-tree will sometimes let down its dig- 
nity, in what gardeners call a " sport," e. g. a sweet apple 
niay grow on a sour tree, and vice versd. An apple may 
wu one side be sweet and on the other sour. But, in such 
cases, the same general law is seen governing yet. We all 
know that great changes of temperament occur in men, A 
nervous temperament often becomes abdoramal, and a little, 
A\'iry, fussy, peevish, minikin, becomes a round, plump, rosy, 
corpulent spot of good nature. Similar changes may occur, 
through disease, or the peculiarity of the season, or from 
unknown causes, in the structure of the leaves of a branch, 
and then the fruit will follow the change of the leaf. 

But the fruit itself digests still further the elaborated sap 
sent to it from the leaf. If, then, from any hidden causes, 
the fruit should in part change its structure, the juices 
elaborated would be altered. If stamens and pistils may 
change to petals, if petals may change to leaves, if leaves may 
extend to branches, we know of no reason why the whole 
or the half of a fruit may not, also, alter its structure ; and 
with its peculiarity of function, also, of course, the charac- 
ter of the fruit. While then we are not skeptical of " mon- 
sters," " marvels," " sports," " singularities," we think we 
c ;n trace the original law through all the transmuta- 
tions. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMI>fG. 371 

PROTECTK^G THE ROOTS OF FRUIT-TREES. 

Cultivators are frequently urged in Horticultural papers 
to cover the roots of the peach-trees with heaps of snow, 
etc., that they may be retarded in the spring, and escape 
injury from late frosts upon their blossoms. This direction 
takes it for granted that the warmth of the groimd starts 
the root, and the root starts the sap, and the sap wakes up 
the dormant branch. By covering the soil and keeping it 
back, the whole tree is supposed to be secured. But, 
unfortunately for this process, the motion of the sap is first 
\\\ the BKANCHEs, and last in the roots. Light and heat, 
exerted upon the branches for any considerable length of 
time, produce a high state of excitability ; the sap begins to 
move toward the bud, its place is supplied by a portion 
lower down, and so on until the whole column of sap 
through the trunk is in motion, and last of all in the boot. 
But suppose warm, spring days, with a temperature of from 
sixty degrees to sixty-five degrees, have produced a vigor- 
ous motion of the sap in the branches and trunk, while the 
root, (thanks to snow and ice piled over it to keep it 
frozen), is dormant, what will result? The sap already 
within the tree will be exhausted, the root will supply 
none, the light and heat still push on the development 
of bud and leaf and the tree will exhaust itself and die. 
We not long since observed a remarkable confirmation ot 
these reasonings. A gentleman of our acquaintance, in 
reading these unskilfull directions to cover the peach-tree 
root, oj)ened trenches about his trees, and filled them with 
snow, heaping bountifully also all about the trees. The 
next spring, long after his trees should have been at work, 
the snow held the root fast ; the buds swelled and burst, 
lingered, shrivelled and died — and the trees too. This 
might have been prognosticated. There are partial 
methods of protecting the peach from too early develop- 
ment, but they all have respect to the protection of the 



372 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

limbs. If tlie branches can be covered during the random 
and premati;rely hot days of spring, the tree will not suffer. 
High, and cool-aired aspects, north hill-sides, northern sides 
of houses, barns, etc., will answer this purpose. When it 
can be afforded, long boai'ds may be set up upon the east 
and south sides of choice trees, upon a frame slightly made 
and easily removed. 

The reason why more damage has not been done by 
covering peach-tree roots, than has occurred, is, that the 
ground has been superficially frozen, and many of the roots 
extending deeper and laterally beyond the congealed por- 
tions, have afforded a supply of sap after a motion had been 
imparted to it in the branches. 



PRUNING GRAPE VINES. 

All know that after the sap begins to flow in the spring, 
a vine, if cut, will bleed. It seems that at this early period 
of its development tlie sap vessels have no power of con- 
traction. Many suppose that the same state of things con- 
tinues throughout the growing season, and are afraid to 
cut their vines. But after the vine has begun to grow 
freely (when the leaves, for example, are as large as the 
palm of one's hand), a wound very soon contracts, bleeds 
little or none, and heals over as in a tree. Any pruning 
which is necessary upon the old wound may, therefore, be 
fearlessly performed. 

Some inexpert cultivators, in order to let the sun iall 
upon the graj^es, pluck off the leaves; hoping thus to pro- 
cure sweeter grapes. This is the very way to have acid 
fruit. Where is the sugar prepared for the cluster but in 
these very leaves which are taken off? Withovit leaves, 
the sap which flows into the cluster has undergone but 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMIXG. 373 

imperfectly those chemical changes on which the fruit 
depends. Every leaf in the neighborhood of the fruit is 
precious. 



MILDEW ON GRAPES. 

Many permit the fruit of the vines to perish before their 
eyes from the ravages of mildew, ignorant that an effectual 
remedy is within their reach. It is simply to dust the 
branches with flowers of sulphur. It is best done while the 
dew is on. 

When vines are trained upon the sides of a house or 
fence, it is well to whitewash the surfaces on which they 
are fastened with a wash in which flowers of sulphur has 
been largely mixed. 

It is recommended by some cxiltivators to employ such a 
whitewash for the loood of the vine, covering all the main 
stems with it ; but all these methods result in the one thing 
— the application of sulphur as a remedy for mildew. 



HOW TO OBTAIN GRAPE VINES. 

Grafting is only practised on the vine for special rea- 
sons, and we have never had occasion to try it. We shall 
speak of a better mode of obtaining vines. 

The best method of " getting a start " of grape vines is, 
by the employment of cuttings. These may be planted 
immediately after the spring pruning of established vines. 
But cuttings of native grapes are as well planted in the 
fall. The granulation, from which the roots spring, will 
form during the winter, and the cuttings, starting early in 
the spring, will make good growth the first year. Cutting,-* 



374 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

are the best, because they can be procured easily, abun- 
dantly, and cheaply ; they will bear carriage to any dis- 
tance, are exceedingly tenacious of life, and they make 
thi'iftier plants. Cuttings may be set, either where they 
are to remain, in which case several should be set, to 
allow for failures, and only the strongest finally retained ; 
or, they may be set in nursery rows, eight inches apart. 
Cutting" should be inserted about eight inches deep, 
and have two eyes or buds above the surface. The two 
buds are merely precautionary ; that if one fails the other 
may sprout ; one only, and that the strongest, should finally 
be permitted to grow. 

An old and skillful cultivator of the vine says that ciit- 
tings are the best of all modes of securing a supply of 
vines. "For my part I am for scions withoiit roots, 
after many experiments. All the advantage the one with 
roots has over the other, is that they are more sure to 
live ; but they will not in general, make as thrifty 2)l<^nts^^ 
— tT. J. Dufour. 

This only objection to cuttings — that a part of them fail 
to root — is of little practical importance, as they are easily 
ol)tained in any quantity. 



AUTUMNAL MANAGEMENT OF FRUIT-TREES. 

Orchaedists and cultivators of garden-fruit will have 
need of all their skill to prepare tender fruit-trees for win- 
ter. It is the misfortune, alike of the English summers, and 
of ours in the "West, that trees do not properly ripen their 
wood. But in Great Britain it is from the want of enough, 
and in America, from too much summer. Our long and hot 
summers give two or three separate growths to fruit-trees, 
and the last one is usually in progress at a period so late 



A.BOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 375 

that severe frosts and freezings overtake the tree while yet 
in an excitable state, pushing new wood, and with a top 
quite unripened for severe frosty handling. 

The year 1845 furnished a fine type of western summers. 
The spring came in very properly, and at so late a period 
that the usual frosts, after the expansion of leaves, were 
avoided. The summer opened warmly and continued with 
almost imvaryiug heat throughout. At the same time there 
were frequent and copious rains. 

By this statement the' average temperature of June was 
71°, and the rain 6* inches; of July, average noon heat 
80°, rain 3^ inches ; of August, average noon heat 80°, rain 
5 1" inches. Nights were exceedingly warm. The day 
repeatedly opened and closed at 80°. Our thermometer on 
the north of our house, in a shady yard, stood for eight and 
ten days together between 94° and 100°, twice attaining 
the latter height. 

Under such stimulus our pear, apple and plum-trees, made 
their first growth by the first of July. They soon started 
into a second growth, which wound up during the last of 
August and the first of September, plum-trees entirely 
shedding their leaves and standing as bare as in Jan- 
uary. 

Let orchards be examined when frosts begin to occur, 
and every side-shoot^ sucker or loater-sprout^ cut cleanly 
out. These succulent, raw sprouts are the breeding-spots 
of disease. Cold-blight invariably manifests itself in them 
in the most positive form. 

Garden trees, choice pears, and stone-fruits, should, in 
addition to this operation, if still in growth at the last of 
September, receive a fill pruning. From the first to the mid- 
dle of October, according to the season, cut oif two-thirds 
of the new growth, or back to strong, ripe wood. It is well 
known that the newest buds, near the extremity of young 
wood, are the most sensitive and apt to break and grow, 
whereas the buds near the base of a branch are dormant 



376 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

It is the repose of the older buds which makes fall pruning, 
if performed with judgment, so valuable. Because it forces 
the tree to expend its energies in ripening its wood instead 
of making more, and it also tends to induce fruitfulness by 
changing leaf-buds to fruit-buds. The great art of fall 
pruning is to relieve the tree of its crude wood without 
causing its dormant buds to break. If performed too early, 
or if but the tips of the fine wood are removed, the new 
buds may break and side-shoots issue, leaving the tree 
worse off than before. 

Young trees just coming into bearing should have their 
trunks protected. That there is a change in the economy 
of a tree when it begins to bear is plain ; and experience 
seems to teach that trees are peculiarly tender at the time 
of this change, since they are far more apt to die when 
coming to fruit, than either before or afterward. Cherry- 
trees and pear-trees should have brush, or corn-stalks, 
or straw, or matting, as is most convenient, so placed from 
the ground to the branches, as to exclude the sun with- 
out excluding air. An hour's attention may save much 
regret. 



PEARS GRAFTED UPON THE APPLE STOCK. 

We do not think the pear does so well in any other way 
as on its own root. But it has been foimd extremely diffi- 
cult to obtain the requisite stock. Pear-seeds are scarce. 
When obtained, the seedlings have proved intractable, and 
left the nurseryman oftentimes in the lurch. The first and 
best substitute for pear-stock, is the root of the pear — great 
quantities may be obtained when removing pear-trees in 
the autumn from the nursery, and also without any injury 
to the trees, roots may be taken from old bearing-trees. 



ABODT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 377 

These are to be grafted in the manner already described in 
our pages. Next to this, the quince stock is to be chosen. 
The pear is dwarfed uj)on it. In other words, the two are 
but imj)erfectly suited to each other, and the scion does not 
develop according to its original nature. But this very 
dwarfing adds something to the good qualities of the fruit, 
affords trees so small that, at eight feet apart, they make 
beautiful linings to a walk or border, and, morever, brings 
the pear to its fruit several years earlier than if it were on 
its own bottom. But on the other hand, the pear on quince 
is comparatively short-lived. The white-thorn has been 
tried as a stock and not without success, but it is hardly to 
be used except in extremities. 

Last, and worst of all, comes the apple. The scion grows as 
vigorously upon the apple as upon a stock of its own species, 
and we do not know that the fruit deteriorates. But the 
trees seem to have no constitution. After a few bearings 
they seem struck with irremediable weakness, and soon run 
down and die. Nurserymen ought not, therefore, to graft 
the pear upon the apple. To do so, if advised of the fore- 
going facts, cannot be honest. Our attention has been 
called to the subject by some painful experience of our 
own. 



Neshanoc Potato. — This potato (pronounced Jf/esha^ 
noc), was raised from the seed about the year 1800, by 
John Gilkey, Mercer county, Pennsylvania. He called it 
Neshanoc^ from a creek near to which he lived. It was 
called by some, Mercer., from the county in which it was 
raised. It is extensively cultivated, and deserves to be. 
Mr. Gilkey was an Irishman — of course a judge of good 
potatoes. 



C78 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

SEEDLINGS FROM BUDDED PEACHES. 

Me. Nicholas Long worth iuquires: "Will the pit of 
the budded peach produce the same fruit as the bud, or as 
the stock, or a mixture of the two?" And he also says, "1 
have never fairly tested the question, but my experience 
led me to believe that the budded pit produced the same 
fruit as the original stock." 

So far as this question can be determined (independently 
of experiment) upon the known laws of the vegetable king- 
dom, we say that it will not produce fruit like that of the 
original stock ; nor will it, on the other hand, with any cer- 
tainty, reproduce the budded kind. 

If the pit of a budded variety takes after the stock, we 
must very much change our theory of the office of leaves, 
and perhaps of the bark. At present, the received and 
orthodox teaching is, that the sap from the root is crude 
and undigested until it has received in the leaf a chemical 
change. Until then, the sap does not materially influence 
the vegetable tissue, nor form new substance, or aflect the 
fruit. But after its elaboration in the leaf, a returning cur- 
rent of prepared sap (similar in its functions to arterial 
blood), sets downward, distributuig to every part of the 
vegetable economy the properties required by each. The 
sap arising from the root, does not touch the channel of 
fruit until it has been chemically changed; and the differ- 
ence exhibited in the fruit of one tree compared with 
another, arises, primarily from the nature of the sap which 
it receives ; the sap receives its qualities by a digestion in 
the leaf.* In all cases, then, we suppose the leaf to deter- 
mine the nature of the fruit (and the root in no case, and 
the trunk in no case), since the stem is, so far as sap is con- 
cerned, but a bundle of canals for its j)assage — a mere high- 

* The fruit itself still further elaborates the sap, else a peach would be 
ae acrid as the juice of the peach leaf. 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWEES AND FARMING. 379 

way foi" transmission — and not like the leaf, a laboratory for 
its preparation ! * 

We may be reminded that a stock, in point of fact, does 
influence the fruit. It is indisputable that pears are changed 
on quince roots. The Wilkinson, grafted upon the quince, 
is smaller, more prolific, higher flavored, and of a brighter 
red cheek than if grafted on the pear. The Duchesse d'An- 
gouleme is larger and better on the quince than on its own 
roots. But what is the influence in this case ? When a free- 
grower is put upon a slow-grower, the j)oint of junction 
becomes a point of comj^arative obstruction to the return- 
sap. It is only a wholesome process of I'itiging, or decor- 
tication. Lindley says : 

" When pears are worked upon the wild species, apples 
upon crabs, and peaches upon peaches, the scion is, in regard 
to fertility, exactly in the same state as if it had not been 
grafted at all : while, on the other hand, a great increase 
of fertility, is the result of graftmg pears upon quinces, 
peaches upon plums, apj^les upon the thorn, and the 
like. In these cases, the food absorbed from the earth 
by the root of the stock is communicated slowly." And 



* Loudon (Encyclopaedia of Gardening, p. 448), has the following 
remarks : 

" The bark is the medium in which the proper juices of the plant, in 
their descent from the leaves, are finally elaborated and brought to the 
state which is peculiar to the species. From the bark these juices are 
communicated to the medullary rays, to be by them deposited in the 
tissue of the wood. The character of timber, therefore, depends chiefly 
upon the influence of the bark: and hence it is that the wood formed 
above a graft never partakes, in the slightest degree, of the nature of 
the wood below it. The bark, when young and green, like the leaves, is 
supposed, like them, to elaborate the sap, and hence may be considered 
as the universal leaf of a plant. 

These views corroborate the reasoning above, although Loudon 
extends the functions of the leaf to the bark. We have not been able, 
in our limited range of books, to fiud any other authority for this state- 
ment, respecting the " young and green bark." 



380 



PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 



Manning adds : " No other influence have we ever noticed 
exercised by the scion upon the stock." 

But if, after all, it can be shown by actual trial, that the 
pits of budded peaches do go hack to the fruit of the 
stock, why we must receive it, in spite of all theory ; for, 
(and some would do well to heed the maxim), facts must 
rule our theories, and not theories our fact. But we may 
properly put any facts seeming to contravene the received 
theory of the functions of plants in producing fruit, upon 
their oath, and refuse them, unless they are unquestionable 
and relevant. 

SujDpose a budded peach not to yield a fruit at all like 
the bud, sujjpose it to resemble the fruit of the stock, it 
does not follow that the stock influenced the fruit to such a 
change. Mr. Longworth knows how freely some peaches 
" sport," and that all peaches may be made to do it. If a 
Melacatune be budded upon a Red Rareripe, and the Mela- 
catune pit shows a fruit resembling the Red Rareripe, it 
must be shown that the blossom had not been crossed by 
the busy offices of flies, bees, etc., with the pollen of con- 
tiguous Red Rareripe-trees. 

When a tree is even solitary, it does not follow that a 
change in fruit which shall make it resemble the stock more 
than the graft, results from the force of the stock on the 
grafted fruit, for seedlings of grafted fruit are, notoriously 
often, base and degenerate ; and the resemblance might be 
accidental, for seedlings of different origin are often strik- 
ingly alike. 

While we are aware of no facts which justify Mr. Long- 
worth's suspicion, that the pits of budded varieties produce 
kinds like the stock on which the bud was put, we have 
facts enough showing that "budded pits" produce their 
own kind. 

It may be added that thoroughly ripe peaches are lesa 
inclined to " sport " than those which are partially green. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWJERS AND FARMING. 381 

CARE OF PEACH-TREES. 

Take a light hoe and remove the earth from the trunk 
of your trees. If there are worms there you may detect 
them from the gum which has exuded, or by the channels 
w^hich they have made in the bark, or if by neither of these, 
Dy the discoloration of the bark in spots. Scrape the bark 
gently with the back of a knife, and you can easily detect 
the traces of worms if any are there. Cut freely and boldly 
both ways along their track so as to lay bare the channel 
in its whole length — remove the worm, and the bark will 
very soon heal. Sometimes four, six, and even more will 
be found in one tree. The ashes of stone coal, blacksmiths' 
cinders, wood ashes, lime, the refuse stems of tobacco, plant- 
ing tansy around the trunk, these, and dozens of other 
remedies are proposed. For our own part we rely solely 
on our jack-knife. In March or April, and then again in 
August or September, according to the season, we search 
the trunk thoroughly. We can attend to twenty trees in 
an hour or two ; and when eating freely of dehcious peaches 
we never had a qualm of regret for having so spent the 
time. 

We have practised sowing salt under fruit-trees with 
decided advantage. If one pound of saltpetre be added to 
every six pounds of salt, it will be yet better. We sow 
enough to make the ground look moderately white, and 
prefer to do it in wet weather. 



The most salable butter, quality being equal, is that 
which is neatest done up. There is a great deal in the looks 
of a thing. You'll always find it so. 



382 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

RENOVATING PEACH-TREES. 

The peach-tree inclines to thicken at the top, the small 
inside branches die, and are removed by e'^ery neat cultiva- 
tor. As the bi"anches shoot up, this tree is disposed to 
abandon its lower branches, and, like the vine, to bear on 
the wood the farthest from the root, i. e. the young and 
new wood. In a few years the tree has a long-iiecked trunk, 
sometimes several of them ; while the weight of foliage and 
fruit is situated so as to act like a power applied to a lever ; 
and as the fruit grows heavy, or a storm occurs, the tree is 
broken down. We have practised the follo^^dng method 
with success. In the month of July we saw off the top of 
one half of the tree, leaving about ten or twelve feet of 
stem, measuring from the ground. New shoots will now 
put out along the whole trunk; a part of these should be 
rubbed off, according to the judgment of the cultivator, 
leaving such as will give symmetry to the tree, and form a 
head low down. The second year, these branches will bear 
fruit, and the other side may then be treated in the same 
way. 

This new head will require little meddling with for about 
four years. At this time, or whenever the tree is outrun- 
ning itself, the same process is to be renewed. But this 
time the tree will be composed of a multitude of smaller 
branches, instead of two or three main ones as at first. 
Some of these should be wholly cut out, and the wound 
smeared with a residuum of paint, or a thick white paint, 
or grafting wax, or anything that wiU exclude the air while 
the cxxt is granulating. The others are to be cut within, 
say, five inches of the old, original Avood — leaving, thus, a 
stem of mere stumps. If the branches are taken entirely 
ofi", leaving only the oldest wood, the buds which would 
break from it would not be as healihy or vigorous as those 
which wiU spring from the stumps of the later branches. 

Probably twenty or thirty whips will come to each stump; 



ABOUT FEUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 383 

these should from day to day he reduced in numher, until, 
at last, all are removed hut one, and that one should, if pos- 
sible, spring from the nearest point where the stump joins 
the old stem. When this new branch is obtained and fairly 
established, remove the stump with a fine saw, so as to 
leave the new branch, as nearly as possible, in the place of 
the old one. We remove the whips from a stump gradu- 
ally in order to give the tree the advantage of their leaves 
as long as it can be done without interfering with the 
branch or branches which we are training out. 

This method is to the peach what prunmg is to the grape. 
The tree is kept in hand instead of sprawling abroad, a 
prey to its own weight and to storms ; there is always a 
plenty of young wood for the fruit, which can be easily 
reached when one thins out, or gathers for use. 

One of our trees taught us this method of its o^vn accord 
in the summer of 1843. The weight of fruit was so great 
that we applied a prop to the middle of the branch ; in a few 
days the branch broke short off at the point of the prop. 
It so hapj)ened that the three main limbs on one side of the 
tree acted in this manner. That same fall a strong growth 
of new wood shot out, and the next season I had on that 
side as fine a top as ever I had on any peach-tree. 



Evert farmer who expects his wife to make good butter, 
after furnishing her with some good, well-fed milk cows, 
should provide her with good milk-pans — large and shallow, 
so as to present a large surface for the cream to rise on, and 
enough of them to hold all her milk, and allow it to remain 
undisturbed long enough for all the cream to rise. These 
pans should be nicely washed every time the milk is emp- 
tied out of them, and always be clear and bright when 
ailed. 



384 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

AN APOLOGUE OR APPLE-LOGUE. 

Two men planted out each one hundred apple-trees. In 
six or seven years they began to bear. One had spared no 
pains to bring his orchard into the highest condition. He 
had constantly cultivated the soil about them, scraped off 
the rough bark, washed them with urinated soap, picked 
off every worm and nursed them as if they had been child- 
ren. The other, pursuing a cheaper plan, simply let his 
trees alone ; but the moss, and canker-worms took his place 
and attended to them every year. When the orchards 
began to bear, the careful man had the best fruit, and the 
careless man covered his folly by cursing the nurseiy-man 
for selling him poor trees. In a year or two the careful 
man had two bushels to the other's one from each tree. 
Not to be outdone, the latter determmed to have as many 
apples as the former, and set out another hundred trees. 
By and by, when they bore, the other orchard had so im- 
proved that it produced twice as many yet ; another hun- 
dred trees were therefore planted. In process of time the 
first orchard of one hundred trees still sent more fruit to 
market than the three hundred trees of the careless man, 
who now gave up and declared that he never did have luck, 
and it was of no use to try on his soil to raise good fruit. 

1. When a man is too shiftless to take good care of two 
horses, he buys two more, and gets from the four what he 
might get from two. 

2. A farmer who picks up a cow simply because it is not 
an ox, and is^ nominally, lactiferous, and then lets the crea- 
ture work for a hving, very soon buys a second, and a third, 
and a fourth, and gets from them aU, what he should have 
had from one good one. 

3. A farmer had one hundred acres. Instead of getting 
seventy-five bushels of corn to the acre, he gets forty and 
makes it up by cultivating twice as many acres ; instead of 
thirty bushes of wheat he gets twelve, and puts in acres 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 385 

enough to make up ; instead of making one hundred acres 
do the work of three hundred, he buys more land, and 
allows three hundred to do only the work of one hundred. 

4. A young woman, with a little pains, can have three 
times as many clothes as she needs, and then not look so 
well as a humble neighbor who has not half her wardrobe ; 
wherefore, we close with some proverbs made for the occa- 
sion : , 

Active little is better than lazy much. 

Carefulness is richer than abundance. 

Large farming is not always good farming, and small 
farming is often the largest. 



SELECT LIST OF APPLES. 

It is impossible to frame a list of apples which will suit 
every cultivator. Men's taste in fruits is widely different. 
The delicacy and mildness of flavor which some admire, is 
to others mere insipidity. The sharp acid, and coarse grain 
and strong flavor which disgust many palates, are with 
others the very marks of a first-rate apple. The object of 
the cultivator in planting an orchard, whether for his own 
use, for a home market, for exportation, for cider-making, 
or for stock-feeding, will very materially vary his selection. 

The soil on which an orchard is to be planted should also 
determine the use of many varieties, which are admirable 
only when well suited in their locality. 

Regard is to be had to climate, since some of the finest 
fruits in one latitude entirely betray our expectations in 
another. The hardiness and health of different varieties 
ought to be more an object of attention than hitherto. As 
in building, so in planting an orchard, a mistake lasts for a 
century, and a bad tree in a good orchard is like bad tim- 
ber in a good mansion. 



386 PLAIN AND PLEASAXT TALK 

However select, then, a list may be, every cultivator 
must exercise his own judgment in adapting it to his own 
circumstances. 

SUMMER APPLES. 

1. Caeolina June. — ^This is identical with the Red June 
of the principal nurseries ; but many inferior varieties scat- 
tered through the country, called Red June, are to be dis- 
criminated from it. 

The tree is upright with slender wood, which, when 
loaded with fruit, droops like a willow. It is a healthy 
tree, ripens its wood early in the fall, and is not subject to 
frost-blight. It comes early into bearing, is productive and 
bears every year. The fruit is of medium size though 
specimens grow large ; the flavor is sprightly, subacid, the 
flesh tender. It has flourished well on sand-loams, common 
clays, and on strong limestone clay. Ripens from the first 
to the twentieth of July. A valuable market fruit. Four 
trees, in one county, sent eighty dollars'' worth to mar- 
ket in one season. Not mentioned by eastern writers, nor 
found in eastern catalogues, but described at the "West by 
Hampton and Plummer, and found in Ohio and Indiana 
nurseries. 

2. Sweet June. — ^Tree upright, wood moderately strong ; 
ripens its wood early in fall; not subject to frost-blight; 
flomishes on all soils, even if quite wet ; bears very young, 
often while in nursery rows ; bears every year and abun- 
dantly. The fruit is of medium size ; color a pale yellow ; 
form globular ; flavor sweet and pleasant. Ripens at same 
time as the Carolina June. 

3. KiRKBRiDGE White. — Not fouud in any catalogues 
but those of Western nurseries. Tree upright, wood 
strong and stubbed ; grows slow while young, but vigor- 
ously when fully established; ripens its wood early in 
autumn ; not subject to frost-blight ; bears moderately 



A.BOUT FEUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 387 

young, and is very productive. Its fruit ripens in succes- 
sion for six loeeks from first of July to middle of 
August, and is peculiarly valuable on that account ; color 
nearly white ; it is largest at base and tapers regularly to 
the eye, and is ribbed ; flavor, mild, pleasant acid ; flesh 
melting, and, if fully ripe breaks to jjieces in falling to the 
ground. 

4. Prince's Harvest. — Manning pronounces this " the 
earliest apple worthy of cultivation." It may be in Massa- 
chusetts, but it is preceded by many at the West. Man- 
ning's description is good. 

" The form is flat, of medium size ; the skin, when per- 
fectly ripe, is of a beautifully bright straw color ; the flesh 
tender and sprightly; if gathered before they are fully 
ripe, it has too much acidity. The finest fruits are those 
which drop ripe from the tree ; the branches make very 
acute angles, by which it is readily distinguished from most 
other trees in the orchard ; it bears young. Ripe early in 
July." 

Our nurserymen regard it as a shy bearer. 

5. Summer Queen. — Extensively cultivated in the West 
under the name of Orange Apple. The tree is spreading ; 
a rapid grower ; not subject to frost-blight ; wood moder- 
ately strong ; comes late into bearing ; productive when the 
tree is fully grown, according to the books, but in this 
region with some exceptions has proved to be a poor bearer. 
Fruit large, yellow, striped with red ; flesh, breaking ; 
flavor strong, and not delicate. 

6. Sweet Bough. — ^Two varieties of this name are cul- 
tivated in the West — Coxe's and Mount's. Coxe's sweet 
bough, is that of the books and catalogues. Ripens at the 
same time ; not quite so high in flavor. Coxe's trees are 
large limbed and spreading ; bearing on the point of the 
limbs, and are shy bearers ; Mount's variety is of upright 
growth ; bears on spurs along the branches ; is a good 
bearer and ripens from middle of July to August. 



388 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

" A Tariety under the name of Philadelphia Jennetting is 
known in Trumbull County, Ohio. It ripens two weeks 
later than the common kind, otherwise it is not essentially 
diflferent."— X>/. J. P. Kirtland. 

Y. Summer Pearmain, — There seem to be two varieties 
of this name cultivated in Ohio and Indiana. 

(1.) That of Coxe, which is the one generally cultivated, 
and deservedly popular. 

" The fruit-buds seem to be unusually hardy, and often 
resist the impression of late spring frosts, while others are 
killed. In 1834, when our fruits were universally cut off 
by that destructive agent, a tree of the summer pearmain 
and another of the Vandeveer, matured a dozen or two 
apples, while not another tree in an orchard containing over 
five hundred, bore a solitary fruit. It is worthy of more 
extensive cultivation." — Dr. Kirtland. 

(2.) A variety evidently allied to Coxe's, but all things con- 
sidered a more desirable variety. The fruit resembles Coxe's, 
but is larger ; the flavor is the same, but not quite as high ; 
Coxe's is oblong ; this variety is Vandeveer pippin shape ; 
color the same, and the period of ripening, viz., July and 
August. The trees are very distinct; Coxe's is upright, 
this is spreading ; Coxe's of a slender growth, and stinted 
habit, and is hard to bring forward in the nursery ; this has 
a vigorous growth, and strong wood, and strikingly resem- 
bles the Vandeveer pippin-tree. It bears early and abun- 
dantly in all soils. 

This second variety was brought, by a man named Har- 
lan, Fayette County, Indiana, from South Carolina, where 
it is extensively cultivated. 

8. Daniel. — The tree is upright, nearly pear-tree shape ; 
wood strong and healthy ; leaves, above aU varieties, dark 
green and glossy; bears young and abundantly. Fruit 
medium size ; it has a yellow ground covered with blotches 
of dull red; flavor rich, sweetish, and high. Ripens in 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING, 389 

succession from first to middle of August. A desirable 
variety. 

9. Hoss, improperly pronounced Sorse, and so written 
in Prince's catalogue. Originated in North Carolina ; 
largely cultivated in both Carolinas and southern Virginia ; 
named from the originator. It has been propagated by 
suckers, grafts, and even hy seeds / in this latter case, the 
product very nearly resembles the parent. Three varieties, 
however, may be discriminated. Tree upright, wood strong 
and healthy ; bears yearly and abundantly ; flesh melting : 
flavor rather too acid until thoroughly ripe, and then fine. 
Ripens in August and September. Desirable in the most 
select orchards. 

The time of ripening \ have set down for the latitude of 
Indianapolis. Upon the Ohio River, near Cincinnati, it will 
be ten days earlier. 

AUTUMN APPLES. 

10. Maiden's Blush. — Tree moderately spreading, open 
top, limbs slender ; grows late in fall, and somewhat liable 
to winter-killing ; grows well on aU good soils ; bears 
young and very abundantly every year. The fruit large 
when the tree is not allowed to ripen too large a crop ; 
white, and blush toward the sun ; tender, melting, very 
juicy, decidedly acid. The fruit is, even in unfavorable 
seasons, very free fi'om cracks, knots, and is always fair ; 
one of the best for drying and excellent for marketing ; 
should be plucked before it is dead ripe ; ripens from 
August to October. It is the same as the English Hor- 
thornden. It does not do well grafted on the root ; being 
apt to burst the first or second winter ; buds well, and 
should be thus propagated in the nursery. It is a native of 
New Jersey. 

11. Wine Apple. — Tree spreading but not sprawling; 
medium grower, healthy ; limbs rather slender ; does well 



390 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

on all soils ; bears very young, largely, and every year. 
Fruit large on young, and medium-sized on old trees ; deep 
yellow ground covered with red, and russet about the 
stem ; tender, melting, very juicy, high-flavored, sweet, 
with a spicy dash of subacid. One of the richest cooking 
apples ; one of the most desirable for drying, resembling 
dried pears. Where known, it is worth, dried, a dollar and 
a half a bushel, when other ajiples command but seventy- 
five cents. Ripens first of Sej)tember and has passed its 
13rime by November. Eastern writers call it a winter 
apple, and Kenrick gives October to March as its season ; 
but, in the West, it seldom sees the first winter month. 
Takes by graft and bud pretty well ; does well grafted upon 
the root ; favorable for nursery purposes. 

12. Holland Pippin. — Tree large and spreading; 
strong growth ; wood short and stubbed, healthy ; bears 
moderately young ; they are averse to heavy clay and wet 
soils ; on light, dry, rich, sandy soQs bears largely, and of 
high color and flavor; bears every other year. Fruit 
large, very bright yellow, tender, juicy, subacid. The pulp 
in the mouth becomes rather viscid, as if the fruit were 
mucilaginous, which is agreeable or otherwise according to 
the taste of the eater. It is sometimes, but rarely, water- 
cored. Ripens in October and November ; will keep later, 
but apt to lose in flavor. Good for drying, but usually 
sold green, being a very marketable fruit. Not a good 
tree for nurserymen ; not willing to come if grafted on 
the root ; does well by crown-grafting ; moderately well 
by budding, the eye being apt to put out simply a spur, 
which can seldom be forced into a branch if j^ermitted to 
harden. 

13. Rambo. — This apple is known in New Jersey by the 
names of Romanite, Seek-no-further, and Bread and 
Cheese. The first two names belong to entirely difierent 
apples. The rambo is not to be confounded with the Mam- 
bours, of which there are several varieties. Tree upright, 



ABOUT FRIHTS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 391 

and the most vigorous growth of all trees cultivated in the 
West ; the easiest of all to bud with, a bud seldom misses, 
and makes extraordinary growth the first season ; it may- 
well be called the nurseryman's favorite ; bears very young, 
abundantly every year, good on all soils. Fruit medium 
size, yellow ground with red stripes and the whole over- 
laid Avith a bloom, like a plum ; tender, juicy, melting, sub- 
acid, rich; it has a peculiarity of riiDening ; it begins at the 
skin and ripens toward the core ; often soft and seemingly 
rij^e on the outside while the inside is yet hard. Ripens 
from October to December. One of the best of all 
fruits. 

14. Golden Russet. — This admirable apple is put in the 
list of fall fruits, because, though it will keep through the 
winter, it ripens in November, and sometimes even in 
October. Tree, strong grower, upright, compact top- 
healthy, grows late in fall and therefore subject to winter- 
killing ; will grow on all soils, but delights in rich sandy 
loams, on which it bears larger and finer fruit. Fruit small, 
rather oblong ; color yellow, slight red next to the sun ; 
although called russet^ there is but a trace of it on the fruit 
of healthy trees ; tender, melting, spicy, very juicy ; in 
flavor it resembles the St. Michael's pear (Doyenne) more 
nearly than any other apple. 

This fruit is the most popular of all late, fall, or early 
Avinter apples, and deservedly, and should be put at the 
head of the list. A gentleman near Belfre, Ohio, being 
applied to for a list of apples to furnish an orchard of a 
thousand trees for marketing purposes, replied, "Take nine 
hundred and ninety-nine golden russets, and the rest you 
can choose to suit yourself." For nursery purposes it is 
rather a backward apple ; the buds apt to fail, which 
occasions much resetting. It will not do Avell grafted on 
the root, being tender and always largely winter-killed 
when so wrought. They graft kindly on well established 
stocks. 



392 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

If a larger list of fall apples is desired, we recommend the 
Fall Harvey, Gravenstein, Lyscom, Porter, Red Ingestrie, 
Yellow do. The Ashmore is a desirable fruit — difficult to 
raise in the nursery, and therefore avoided, but the fruit is 
fine. The Ross Nonpareil is a very admirable fall fruit of 
Irish origin. 

The list of autumn apples is very large and continually 
augmenting. But fall apples are, ordinarily, less desirable 
than any others ; not from inferior quality, but because they 
ripen at the season of the year when peaches and pears are 
in their glory. 



WTNTEK APPLES. 

15. Gloria Mundi or Monstrous Pippin. Tree, one of 
the most upright, top close, and resembling the pear. 
Wood medium sized, healthy, vigorous growth, wood 
ripens early, not subject to frost-blight ; bears on moderately 
young trees. It works weU from the bud, and also 
extremely well grafted on roots, and grows straight and 
finely for nursery purposes. Fruit very large, green, 
changes when dead-ripe to a yellowish white. Flavor mild, 
subacid ; flesh melting and spicy. Ripens in November, at 
the same time with the Golden Russet, but wiU not keep as 
long. A native. 

16. Black Apple. — ^Tree low, spreading, and round 
topped ; wood of medium vigor, healthy, ripens early, and 
not subject to frost-blight. Grafts on the root kindly ; not 
so favorable for budding as the No. 15 ; bears remarkably 
young, and abundantly to a fault. Fruit medium sized ; 
color very dark red, almost black, with grey rusty spots 
about the stem ; flesh tender, breaking ; moderately juicy, 
flavor rather sweet, though not a real sweet apple. No 
apple would stand fairer as an early winter fruit, were it not 
for a peculiar, dry, raw taste, somewhat resembling the 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AXD FARMING. 393 

taste of uncooked corn meal. Ripens from November to 
January. It is a native. 

17. Newton Spitzekburg. — ^Tree, not large, upright but 
not compact, top open ; wood of medium size and vigor of 
growth ; healthy, ripens early, and yet, now and then, it 
takes the frost-blight ; bears moderately young, every other 
year, very abundantly ; grafts well on the root, buds only 
moderately well, good for nursery handling. Fruit, vary- 
ing much in size, biit often large, flesh melting, juicy ; flavor 
rich, spicy, subacid ; ripens from November to January. 

18. Rhode Island Greening. — Tree large, very spread- 
ing and drooping, grows vigorously, healthy, ripens early, 
not subject to frost-blight; bud takes well; but, whether 
grafted on the root, or budded, it will plague the nursery- 
man by its disposition to spread and twist about like a 
quince bush. It should be budded on strong stocks 
at the height at which the top is to be formed; but it 
always overgrows the stock. Fruit very large, color green' 
with cloudy spots dotted with pin-point black specks ; flesh 
breaking, tender and juicy : flavor mild, rich, subacid ; a 
very popular fruit. Ripens from November to January. 

19. HuBBARDSTON NoNESUCH. — Admirable in nursery; 
works well on root or by bud. We give Downing's des- 
cription, as it has not fruited in this region. 

" A fine, large, early winter fruit, which originated in the 
town of Hubbardston, Mass., and is of first rate quality. 
The tree is a vigorous grower, forming a handsome branch- 
ing head, and bears very large crops. It is worthy of 
extensive orchard culture. 

" Fruit large, roundish-oblong, much narrower near the 
eye. Skin smooth, strij^ed with splashes, and irregular 
broken stripes of pale and bright red, which nearly cover a 
yellowish ground. The calyx open, and the stalk short, in 
a russeted hoUow. Flesh yellow, juicy, and tender, with 
an agreeable mingling of sweetness and acidity in its flavor. 
October to January." 



394 PLA.IN AND PLEASANT TALK 

20. Minister. — We give Manning's description : 

" This fine aj^ple originated in RoAvley, Mass. The size 
is large, the form oblong like the Bellflower, tapering to the 
eye, Trith broad ridges the whole length of the fruit ; the 
skin a light greenish yellow, striped with bright red, but 
the red seldom extends to the eye ; flesh yellow, light, high 
flavored and excellent. This is one of the very finest apples 
which New England has produced. It ripens from Novem- 
ber to February, and deserves a place in every collection 
of fruits, however small. This apple received its present 
name from the circumstance of the late Rev. Dr. Spring, of 
Newburyport, having purchased the first fruit brought to 
market." 

21. Vanderveee Pippin. — Tree large, one of the most 
vigorous, sjjreading, but not droopmg ; ripens its wood 
late, occasionally touched with frost-blight and Hable to 
burst at the surface of the ground during the winter. 
Bears young, every year, and very abundantly. Buds well, 
grafts well on the root, grows ofl" strongly, forms a top 
readily, and will please nurserymen. Fruit large, more uni- 
formly of one size all over the tree than any in the orchard ; 
shape of fruit flat ; color, red stripes on a yellow, russety 
ground. Flesh coarse, gritty ; flavor strong, penetrating, 
without aroma ; December to March. This fruit is remark- 
able for having almost every good quality of tree and fruit 
and being notwithstanding a third-rate apple. The tree is 
hardy, its bloom, from peculiar hardiness, escapes injury 
from frost, and even a second set of blossoms put out, 
though feeble ones, if the first are destroyed. The fruit is 
comely, cooks admirably, keeps well ; but a certaio sharp- 
ness and coarseness will always make it but a second or 
third-rate fruit. No tree is sought by farmers in this 
region, with more avidity. Its origin is doubtful. Bran- 
son, of Wayne County, brought it to Indiana, and all our 
nurseries trace their stock to his. It was carried for the 
first time to New Jersey, by Quakers visiting that region, 



A.BOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AKD FARMING. 395 

from his orchard. It should have been mentioned, that it 
holds its age remarkably well, very old trees producing as 
largely, and as fiiir, sound fruit as when young. 

22. Yellow Belle Fleur, or Bellflower. — Tree 
spreads and droops more than any tree of the orchard, the 
Newark j^i^^pin, perhaps, excepted ; wood very slender 
and whip-like, healthy, ripens early, not subject to frost- 
blight, grafts well on the root, but is rather tender during 
the first winter when so worked ; buds well, but from its 
drooping, sprawling habits, is hard to form into a top. Bears 
moderately young (not so young as the white) ; abun- 
dantly. Flesh melting and tender and juicy ; flavor fine 
and delicate rather than high ; color deep yellow when 
ripe ; ripens from December to March, One of the most 
deservedly popular of winter apples and always salable in 
all markets. 

23. White Belle Fleur. — This apple is cultivated in 
Ohio under the names of Hollow-cored Pippin^ Ohio 
favorite^ and, by the Cincinnati pomologists, of Detroit. 
It is also the Cumberland Spice and Monstroxis Bellflower 
of Coxe. It was taken to the West by Brunson of Wayne 
County, Indiana, and thence disseminated in every direc- 
tion ; and it may be called the Bellflower of Indiana, 
since it and not the yellow, predommates in all orchards, 
The yellow, however, within five years, has been largely 
distributed. Tree, medium sized, spreading ; wood stronger 
than the yellow belle fleur, healthy, ripens its wood early, 
but liable to after-growth in warm falls, and therefore sub- 
ject to frost-blight. The tree, from its habit of growth, 
more liable to split and break under a full crop than any 
tree of the orchard. One of the youngest bearers in the 
nursery ; fruitful to a fault. Grafted on the root it kills ofi" 
in winter ; buds well and forms a top without difiiculty. 
Fruit above medium and sometimes very large; color, 
greenish white, and, in some seasons with a blush on the 
smmy side; flesh breaking at first, but when fully ripe, 



39G PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

melting and juicy ; flavor mild and delicate. It is not apt 
to cloy, and more can be eaten than of almost any variety. 
Ripe from December to March. 

24. Baldwin. — Works well in nursery by root or bud, 
and is fine for nurserymen. Top forms easily. Not up- 
right, as Do^vning says, but a round, spreading top. We 
give Downing's description : 

"The Baldwin stands at the head of New England 
apples, and is unquestionably a first-rate fruit in all respects. 
It is a native of Massachusetts, and is more largely culti- 
vated for the Boston market than any other sort. It 
bears most abundantly, and we have had the satisfaction 
of raising larger, more beautiful, and highly favored speci- 
mens here, than we ever saw in its native region. The 
Baldwin, in fiavor and general characteristics, evidently 
belongs to the same family as Esopus Spitzenburg, and 
deserves its extensive popularity. 

" Fruit large, roundish, and narrowing a little to the eye. 
Skin yellow in the shade, but nearly covered and striped 
with crimson, red, and orange, in the sun ; dotted with a 
few large russet dots, and with radiating streaks of russet 
about the stalk. Calyx closed, set in a rather narrow 
plaited basin. Stalk half to three fourths of an inch long, 
rather slender for so large a fruit, planted in an even, 
moderately deep cavity. Flesh yellowish white, crisp, with 
that agreeable mingling of the saccharine iand acid which 
constitutes a rich, high flavor. The tree is a vigorous, 
upright grower, and bears most abundantly. Ripe from 
November to March, but attains its greatest perfection in 
January." 

25. Michael Henet Pippin. — Tree upright, with a 
round-shaped top ; wood strong, rather slow grower, ripens 
its main growth of wood early, but hable to fresh growth 
in warm, wet falls ; bears very young, every other year 
abundantly and not a single apple in the next year. Should 
not be grafted on the root ; and it is rather troublesome 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 397 

when "budded, from a disposition to make dwarf spur- 
like branches, rather than upright limbs. Fruit medium- 
sized, long, large about the base, sharpening toward the eye ; 
color green, clouded and black speckled; flesh tender, 
melting; flavor rich, inclined to sweet, and very fine. 
Ripens from December to March. 

26. Red Sweet Pippin. — Tree handsome, round-topped, 
but rather spreading ; wood strong, and vigorous growth, 
ripens early ; tree very healthy, apt to grow with very 
smooth bark afibrding little shelter for insects ; bears 
young, every year and abundantly. Works well in the 
nursery either by grafting on the root, or by budding. 
Fruit medium size inclining to large ; color red with grey 
stripes on the shaded side ; flesh breaking and firm ; flavor 
sweet and rich. It bakes well, is good for pies, eats well, 
and its kitchen and table qualities combined make it a 
desirable fruit. Ripe from December to April. 

27. Prtok's Red. — ^Tree upright; wood slow growing, 
slender, and the branches ftiU of small wood, healthy, not 
subject to frost-blight; comes very late into bearing, 
requiring ten or twelve years for full bearing ; bears only 
moderate crops; every year. Difficult to work in the 
nursery, but does better by grafting on the root than by 
budding. Fruit above medium size; color, red dotted 
with white specks ; the whole surface covered with slight 
bloom ; flesh melting ; flavor very rich and high, and by 
some thought to be even richer than the golden russet. If 
this apple only grew on the Vanderveer pippin tree, it would 
require nothing more to render it perfect. Ripens from 
December to March. Its keeping properties are more 
in danger from the teeth than from ordinary decay. A very 
salable and popular apple, which, when once had, none 
would consent to lose. It is unknown in New England and 
New York except by description ; and is not even described 
by Downing, and but little more than mentioned by Ken- 
rick. 



898 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

28. Green Newtown Pippin. — Tree spi-eading, wood 
slender and slow growing; ripens early, making it often 
troublesome for nm-serymen to procure buds fit for late 
work; not subject to frost-blight. The tree requires vigor- 
ous cultivation to redeem it from a feeble growth ; the bark 
is inchned to crack on the branches and scale up, and when 
once roughened it is difficult ever again to make them 
smooth. Late coming into bearing, bears abundantly every 
other year. Tliey should never be grafted on the root ; 
they should be budded on strong healthy stocks and high 
up in order to do well. Fruit large, green, changing to 
yellow when dead-ripe ; flesh firm, breaking ; flavor very 
rich. Ripe from February to May. This apple is culti- 
vated in extraordinary abundance at the East both for 
home and foreign markets. They sell in London, at six- 
pence a piece. The farm of R. L. Pell contains 2,000 bear- 
ing trees of this variety ; a note descriptive of Avhich we 
give from Downing : 

" One of the finest orchards in America is that of Pell- 
ham farm, at Esopus, on the Hudson. It is no less remark- 
able for the beauty and high flavor of its fruit, than the 
constant productiveness of trees. The proprietor, R. L. Pell, 
Esq., has kindly furnished us with some notes of his experi- 
ments 'on fruit-trees, and we subjoin the following highly 
interesting one on the apple. 

" ' For several years past, I have been experiment- 
ing on the apple, having an orchard of 2,000 bearing 
Newtown Pippin-trees. I found it very unprofitable to 
wait for what is termed the 'bearing year,' and it 
has been my aim to assist nature, so as to enable the 
trees to bear every year. I have noticed that from the 
excessive productiveness of this tree, it requires the inter- 
mediate year to recover itself — to extract from the earth 
and the atmosphere the materials to enable it to j^roduce 
again. This it is not able to do, unassisted by art, while it 
is loaded with fruit, and the intervening year is lost ; if, 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 399 

lio'.vever, the tree is supplied with proper food it will bear 
every year ; at least such has been the result of my experi- 
ments. Three years ago, in April, I scraped all the rough 
bark from the stems of several thousand trees in my 
orchards, and washed all the trunks and limbs within reach 
with soft soap ; trimmed out all the branches that crossed 
each other early in June, and painted the wounded part 
with white lead, to exclude moisture and prevent decay. I 
then, in the latter part of the same month, slit the bark by 
running a sharp-pointed knife from the ground to the first 
set of limbs, which prevents the tree from becoming bark- 
bound, and gives the young wood an opportunity of ex- 
panding. In July I placed one peck of oyster-shell lime 
under each tree, and left it piled about the trunk until 
November, during which time the drought was excessive. 
In November the lime was dug in thoroughly. The follow- 
ing year I collected from these trees 1,700 barrels of fruit, 
part of which was sold in New York for four, and others in 
London for nine dollars per barrel. The cider made from 
the refuse, delivered at the mill two days after its manufac- 
ture, I sold for three dollars and three-quarters per barrel ot 
thirty-two gallons, exclusive of the barrel. In October I 
manured these trees with stable manure in which the 
ammonia had been fixed, and covered this immediately with 
earth. The succeeding autumn they were literally bending 
to the ground with the finest fruit I ever saw, while the 
other trees in my orchard not so treated were quite barren, 
the last season having been their bearing year. I am now 
placing round each tree one peck of charcoal dust, and pro- 
pose in the spring to cover it from the compost heap. 

" ' My soil is a strong, deep, sandy loam on a gravelly 
subsoil. I cultivate my orchard grounds as if there were 
no trees on them, and raise grain of every kind except rye, 
which grain is so very injurious that I believe three suc- 
cessive crops of it would destroy any orchard younger than 
twenty years. I raised last year m an orchard containing 



400 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

twenty acres, trees eighteen years old, a crop of Indian 
corn which averaged 140 bushels of ears to the acre.' " 

29. Rawle's Janet, or Jennetting. — Tree round 
topped, a little spreading and handsome. Wood strong, 
slow gri/wth, short jointed, and the healthiest, perhaps, of 
all orchard trees. Does not bear young ; but when estab- 
lished, a great bearer every year, unless overloaded, when 
it rests a year. It is the finest of all apples to graft on the 
root, and should be always so propagated in the nursery ; 
if budded, it being a late starter in spring, the stock will 
put out its branches before the bud, and make great trou- 
ble. Fruit medium sized ; color green strij^ed with red ; 
roundish but inclined to sharpen toward the eye; flesh 
white, melting, very juicy; flavor mild and delicate. 
Ripens from February to May. This is, and deserves to be, 
an exceedingly popular apple in all the West. The tree 
is remarkably healthy ; it blooms ten days later than other 
varieties, and therefore seldom loses a ci'op by spring frost ; 
but the bloom is very sensitive to frost if overtaken ; the 
fruit is very relishful ; keeps as well as the ISTewtown Pippin, 
and by many, and by this writer among the number, is much 
preferred to that noted variety. It has the peculiar excel- 
lence of enduring frost Avithout material injury ; a property 
which has enabled cultivators to save thousands of bushels 
of fruit which by sudden and early cold had been severely 
frosted. 



The reason that the Cockle-bur, that great peat on farms, 
cannot be destroyed by being cut ofi" once a year, is that 
nature has provided for its propagation by bestowing on it 
seed vessels which ripen at two difierent times of the year. 
This will be found to be the case on careful examination. — 
Western Farmer and Gardener. 



ABOUT FRUITb, FLOWEKS AND FARMIXG. 401 

ORIGIN OF SOME VARIETIES OF FRUIT. 

The history of our fine fruits has many curious points of 
interest to the zealous j^omologist. It is made up of 
skill, felicitous blunders, discoveries, and profitable acci- 
dents. 

The Flemish pears, with which so large a portion of the 
calendai of new pears is filled, were the products of scienti- 
fic efforts. In like manner, many of the finest fruits ori- 
ginated by Knight, were by a scientific, although a different, 
process. On the other hand it would be difiicult to find 
fruits suj^erior to those in the making of which only Nature 
had a hand. 

The Duchesse dP Angoulenie^ a pear without a rival, in its 
season, was found in 1815, growing wild in a hedge, near 
Angers, in the department of Maine et Loire, France. 

The Washington^ one of our finest native pears, was 
likewise discovered in a thorn hedge, at Naaman's creek, 
Delaware, by Gen. Robertson. He was removing a fence 
on his farm about forty-five years ago ; he found the young 
tree nearly grown. 

The Lewis is a native of Massachusetts. Mr. Downer, of 
Dorchester, a critical judge of fruits, was acquainted with 
the original tree ten years before he thought it worth a 
place in his garden. He visited it three times, and was 
each time disinclined to cultivate it ; it was not until he had 
seen a tree taken from it, growing in cultivated ground, 
that he adopted it. It now ranks among the finest native 
pears. 

Dearborn's Seedling was -discovered by General Dearborn 
in a cluster of syringas and rose bushes, forming a part of q. 
border to an avenue. Pears seem to have great fondness 
for hedges, borders, etc. The discoverer attempted to 
remove the tree, then, apparently, about five years old, to 
bis nursery for a stock; but diggmg two feet deep, and 
findmg no root but the tap root, he feared that deplantiui; 



402 PLAIN AMD PLEASANT TALK 

might kill it. It was left to grow, and has proved to be 
one of the first-class pears. 

Dow)icr''s late cherry, was a stock in the nursery row, and 
several times budded with other kinds; the buds always 
failing, the tree Avas allowed to fruit, and proved one of the 
best, if not the best, of late cherries. 

KnighVs Black Eagle was raised from the seed of the 
Bigarreau fertilized by the May Duke. "When it bore, the 
fruit was so inferior that tlie London Horticultural Society 
peremptorily rejected it. Mr. Knight determined to head 
the tree down and graft into it other sorts. But he had 
given the tree to a daughter, with whom it was a favorite, 
and she refused to have it sacrificed. Each year, subse- 
quently, showed an improvement in the fruit ; and now it 
stands in the first class of cherries. This is one among 
many instances, which show that young seedlings do not 
exhibit the true qualities of the fruit for several years after 
they come to bearing. 

The Red-cheeh Melocoton peach was accidentally obtained 
by the late Wm. Prince, Flushing, Long Island. He had 
budded the Kennedy's Caroline upon a stock, and below 
the point of inoculation a branch of the original stock had 
shot up into bearing. Sending a servant to gather the 
budded fruit, he was surprised by his bringing, and, as he 
declared, from this tree, a free-stone peach. On examining, 
he found the cause as stated above, and was so much 
pleased with the new kind that he cultivated it. 



The best stock a man can invest in, is the stock of a 
farm ; the best shares are plow-shares ; and the best banks 
are the fertile banks of the rural stream : the more these 
are broken the better dividends they pay. 



ABOUT FRUTTS, FLOWERS AXD FARMESTG. -ICo 

THE QUIXCE. 

We have nothing to say that has not been well said by 
Downing, in his most intei'esting chapter on the Quince. 
His Fruit and Fruit Trees of America, by the way, is 
beyond all question the best pomological manual, all things 
considered, which has appeared at home or abroad. 

To return to the quince ; we marvel that so few trees 
have found a place in our collections of fruit. Quinces bear 
transportation, and will, upon an average, bring two dollars 
a bushel. They sell extravagantly high every year, and yet 
no one seems to take the hint. 

Our favorite mode of increasing the quince, is by layers. 
The tree being low and inclined to be bushy, there is always 
an abundance of suitable wood to lay down. Twenty or 
thirty or even more rooted plants may be obtained in a 
single season ; and the layers throw out such a profusion of 
roots that the only difficulty will be to separate each plant 
Avith its roots from the tough and matted abundance which 
will be found to have filled the soil. If laid down in the 
spring, they may be removed by midsummer, a cool and 
moist day being chosen, and the plants shaded until they 
start again to growing. If this is done, a second set of 
layers may be put down to remain over fall and winter and 
be removed the next spring. 

Trees intended for the fruit-compartment of the garden 
should be trained to a single stem, when they will make a 
low and not altogether unsymmetrical tree ; at any rate, a 
tree much more convenient than the quince bush which we 
usually find in our garden corners. 

Where the seed is to be planted, they should be prepared ; 
they are covered with a thick mucilaginous matter which 
resti-ains their quick germination. Let them be jDut into 
water for twelve hours, and the water will become nearly 
as thick as paste. Pour it off and repeat the operation 
until they are nearly clean ; mix them with sand and sow 
them immediately. 



404 PI.AIX AND PLEASANT TALK 

CUTTING AND KEEPING GRAFTS. 

Mant experienced orchardists suppose the best time for 
cutting grafts to be immediately on the fall of the leaf in 
autumn. 

Grafts should be cut in mild weather, when the wood is 
entirely free from frost. Select the outside limbs and the 
last year's growth of wood. 

Too much care cannot be observed in Jceeping the varie- 
ties separate. Tie up in bundles and mark the names of 
each kind as soon as cut. A moinent's carefulness may save 
years of vexation. 

When the grafts are to be used at home, it is well to lay 
them in the cellar where frost will not reach them, and 
slightly cover them, so that they shall not evaporate the 
moisture which they contain. Too much wet injures them. 
Half-dry sand is as good as anything, and if packed in an 
old nail-keg and put in a cool place, they will require no 
further attention until it is time to use them. 

When grafts are to be sent to a considerable distance, 
they should be carefully wraj^ped in moist cloth, with folds 
enough to exclude the air entirely. For convenience of 
carrying they may be packed, m this condition, in a box, 
and the space filled in with cotton-wool, chaff, bran, or any 
similar substance. 

It is stated by some, that grafts taken from the lower 
limbs of trees will produce fruit the soonest ; while those 
from the middle and top and from the upright shoots will 
make trees of the finest form. We confess a slight preju- 
dice against the lower limbs of trees, as it was thence that 
" switches " Avere cut in the mischievous days of our youth, 
wherewith to apply Solomon's doctrine of discipline. 
Whether they will make upright trees, we cannot say ; but 
they are supposed to have a tendency to make upright 
men. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 405 



FROST-BLIGHT. 

It is a matter of great importance that all cultivators of 
fruit unite in making observations on this subject, and that 
il may be done with some unity of purpose, 

1. Let the examiner select trees upon which are seen 
small loater-shoots^ that have evidently grown late in the 
fall. Usually, a tuft of withered leaves will indicate them. 
Examine also all the new wood which retains terminal 
leaves or is wmtei'-killed at the tips. 

2. The pith will be, in apples, an iron-rust color, and in 
pears greenish black or pepper color ; the inner skin will be 
discolored, and the wood of a greenish, waxy appearance. 
On cutting down to the point where these shoots unite with 
the branch or trunk, the diseased sap will be fomid to have 
discolored the whole neighborhood. In many cases which 
we have examined, half the trunk is affected. We exam- 
ined a bearing pear-tree, which to the eye has not one 
sign of uuhealthiness, but which, on cutting, is found 
to be affected throughout, and will, undoubtedly, die in 
sprhig. 

3. Let a comparison be instituted between trees in differ- 
ent circumstances. 

Is there any difference between slow-growing varieties 
and those which grow rapidly ? 

Is there any difference between trees in cold, northern 
aspects, whose sap, in autumn, would not be likely to be 
excited, and those with southern aspects ? 

Is there a difference between trees upon a fat clay or 
rank loam of any kind, and those upon a warm, dry, sandy 
loam. It is supposed that any causes which produce a 
coarse, M'atery, flabby tissue in a tree, predispose it to 
injury by frost, and thus to the blight; and that the fine- 
ness and firmness of texture of trees growing in a sand- 
loam on a gravelly subsoil give them great power of endur- 
ance. 



4C6 PLArN" AND PLEASA3irT TALK 

4. Let trees which are found to be in an injured condi- 
tion be marked and examined again as follows : 

(1.) At the breaking up of winter, to see if any change 
of condition has taken place. 

(2.) At the breaking of the bud into leaf. 

(3.) At the full development of leaf and when the down- 
ward current of sap is begun. 

5. It is a matter of great importance to ascertain whether 
the character of the season which follows such frost-injm-ies 
as have befallen fruit-trees in this region, modifies the di.s- 
ease. Some think that blight will follow without regard to 
the ensuing season ; others suppose that a dry^ and warm 
season will very much prevent the mischief; but that a 
moist and warm spring and summer, will give it a fatal 
development. 

It is ardently to be hoped that accurate observations will 
be made, and upon a large scale. We presume that it need 
not be added that the exact truth of facts is the first step 
toward any sound explanation ; and that our object should be 
to find out facts^ and then, afterward, to deduce principles. 



Boiling Potatoes. — N'ot one housekeeper out of ten 
knows how to boil potatoes properly. Here is an Irish 
method, one of the best we know. Clean wash the potatoes 
and leave the skm on ; then bring the water to a boil and 
throw them in. As soon as boiled soft enough for a fork to 
be easily thrust through them, dash some cold water into 
the pot, let the potatoes remain two minutes, and then pour 
off the water. This done, half remove the jDot-lid, and let 
the potatoes remain over a sloAV fire till the steam is evapo- 
rated ; then peel and set them on the table in an open dish. 
Potatoes of a good kind thus cooked, will always be sweet, 
dry and mealy. A covered dish is bad for potatoes, as it 
keeps the steam in, and makes them soft and watery. 



ABOUT FEUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 407 

SEEDLING FRUITS. 

Already the varieties of hardy fruits have become so 
numerous, that not only can they not all be cultivated, but 
the mere list of names is too bulky to be printed. Down- 
ing's book gives a list of 181 apj^les. The London Horti- 
cultural Society's Catalogue, expurgated at that, gives 900 
kinds of apples, and 1,500 have been tested in the Society's 
gardens. Manning's experimental grounds and nursery at 
the time of his death, contained 1,000 named varieties of 
the pear ! Swollen as is the list, there are scores annually 
added ; many under the advice of scientific bodies ; many 
have popular approbation ; many from the partialities of 
some parental nurseryman ; and many come in, as evil came 
into this world, no one can tell how. 

It has become necessary, therefore, to exclude many from 
the catalogue, and especially necessary that none should 
enter without the very best passport. In the main, one set 
of tests will serve, both for receiving and expurgating ; for 
no matter how long a fruit has been on the list, it should be 
ejected if, being out, its qualities would not gain it a fresh 
admission. There are no hereditary rights, or rights of 
occupancy, in pomological lists. 

Titles, rank, antiquity, pedigree and other merciful means 
of compensating a want of personal merit, may do for men 
but not for apples. A very glorious pomological reforma- 
tion broke out in the London Horticultural Society's gai'- 
dens at Chiswick, and that Luther of the orchard, Mr. 
Thompson, has abolished an astonishing number of sine- 
cures, and reformed, if not worthless rotten boroughs, very 
worthless apples and pears. The Society's first catalogue 
issued in 1826. Its third catalogue was published in De- 
cember of 1842. The experience of the intervening six- 
teen years led to the total rejection from their list, on the 
ground of mferiority, or as synonyms, of 600 varieties oJ 
apples; 139 of cherries; 200 of gooseberries ; 82 ofgrapos, 



408 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

80 of Strawberries ; 150 of peaches ; 200 of pears ; and 150 
of plums. Only twenty-eight peaches are allowed to stand ; 
and only twenty-six strawberries out of the hundreds that 
were proved. We have no similar society in the United 
States whose authority would be generally acknowledged. 
Our only resource is the diffusion of the very best fruits 
that every neighborhood may have a standard of compari- 
son by the reduction of experience to the form of rules. 
Although it is difficult to lay down general rules on this 
subject, there are three which may be mentioned. 

1. N'o fruit should be admitted to the list and none 
retained upon it, which is decidedly poor. — One would sup- 
pose this truism to be superfluous as a rule. But it is only 
necessary to go out into seedling orchards in any neighbor- 
hood to find small, tough, and flavorless apples, which hold 
their place alongside of orchards filled with choice grafted 
fruit. 

2. JVo seedling fruit should he added to the list, which 
is in no respect better than those of the same period of 
ripening already cultivated. — It is not enough that an 
apple is nearly or quite as good as another favorite ap- 
ple. It must be as good in flavor, and better in some of its 
habits. 

3. In testing the merits of fruit, an estimate shoidd be 
the result of a consideration of all the hahits, jointly , of the 
tree and of the fruit. — It is in the application of this rule 
that great experience and judgment are required. This 
will be plain, if one considers how many essential particu- 
lars enter into a first-rate fruit beside mere flavor. 

Of two fruits equal in flavor, one may surpass the other 
in tenderness of flesh, in juiciness, in delicacy of skin, and 
in size. It is rare that any single fruit combines all these 
excellences, and therefore it is that we retain several vari- 
eties, among which such properties are distributed. 

There are many fruits which, having good substance and 
flavor, derive their value from some single peculiarity. 



ABOUT T-KUITS, FLOWEKS AND FABMING. 409 

Thus a fruit may be no Ijetter thau many others, but the 
tree, blooming very late m spring, is seldom overtaken by 
prowling and irregular frosts. Some of our best fruits have 
stingy bearing-trees, or trees of very tender and delicate 
habit ; and we are obliged to tolerate more hardy and pro- 
lific trees with fruit somewhat inferior. 

A few fruits are retained on the list because they have 
the singular property of being uninjured by frosts, and 
others because, though not remarkable for flavor, they are 
endless keepers, of both which properties the Rawle's Jen- 
netting is an example. 

In fruits designed for market, beauty and abundance 
must be allowed to supersede mere excellence of flavor. 
Some very rich fruits are borne in such a parsimonious way 
that none but amateurs can afibrd tree-room. 

Nor are we to overlook nursery qualifications ; for, of two 
fruits equally good, preference should be given to that 
which will work the kindliest in the nursery. Some will 
bear grafting on the root, some will not ; some take well by 
budding, and grow ofi" promptly and with force; others 
are dull and slugglish, and often reluctant to form the new 
partnership. While then it will always be to the nursery- 
man's interest to work such kinds as he can sell the most of 
— he has a I'ight, in so far as he directs the public judg- 
ment of his neighborhood, to give a preference, among 
equal fruits, to such as work the surest and strongest. It 
is as much the interest of the purchaser and the public to 
have the freest growing sorts, as it is the nurseryman's 
interest. Thus, if another Seckle pear could be found grow- 
ing on the tree of Williams' £on Chretien, it ought to sup- 
plant the old Seckle tree, which, in spite of its incomparable 
fruit, is a vexatious thing to manage ; and, as often in the 
case of other and fairer fruit, makes one wonder how such 
amiable and beautiful daughters ever had such a surly and 
crusty old father. 

A poraological censor must also have regard to varieties 



410 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

of taste among men, and to commercial qualities of fruit, 
and to its adaptation to soil and climate. 

No one man has a right to make his tongue the monarch 
over other people's tongues. Therefore, for instance, it is 
none of our business, if a rugged mouth chooses to roll a 
slice of tlie austere Vanderveer pipjoin, like sin, as a sweet 
morsel under his tongue. The mild delicacy of an apple, 
which fills our mouths with admiration, would be mere insi- 
pidity to all who are favored with leather mouths. So that 
there must be toleration even among apple-mongers. 

Nor are the humbler tests of cooking to be overlooked. 
Some fruits are good eaters and poor cookers ; some cook 
well but are villainous to the taste when raw ; some will 
stew to a fine flavor and sweetness vnthout sugar ^ and some 
have remarkable jelly properties. But after the largest allow- 
ance is made for taste, hardiness, keeping, prolific bearing, 
color, size, texture, season, adaptation to soils, etc., etc., 
there will be found, we think, a large number of tenants in 
our nurserymen's catalogues, upon whom should be instantly 
served a writ of ejectment. 



TIME FOR PRUNING. 

"We do not believe m severe pruning at any time. If a 
man has the education of his orchard from the start, it is an 
utter abomination to leave his trees in such a condition as 
to require it. If, however, one comes into possession of a 
much abused orchard, or of a seedling orchard ; or, if a 
single tree is to be changed, or an old tree is to be headed 
back for health's sake, then it may be necessary to prune 
with a free hand. But ia such cases, the change should 
not be attempted in one season, but divided between two. 

There is, we suppose, a critical time in which pruning 
will injure the tree. It is after the sap is in full motion, the 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 411 

vegetable system impleted, hut before the pores and sap 
passages have acquired a contractile power. Tlius, if a 
grape is pruned when the buds begin to swell, the wood 
does not contract, and the vine bleeds to excess. But if 
[•runed after the leaves are as large as the palm of the 
hand, no injury ensues from cutting, for now the sap pas- 
sages contract and close speedily. 

Thus if a tree be handled before or after this period, it 
does not suffer ; but if pruned at this critical state of the 
wood, it will bleed, the stump part will become diseased, 
probably from the relaxed state of the woody tissue, and 
canker will ensue — a word indicating, we presume, simply 
a state of decay, covered by or accompanied with, some 
sort of fungus growth. 

Pruning before this critical time, is sometimes the most 
convenient. But if it be a question, at which of the two 
periods is the tree in a state to suffer the least, and to 
recover the soonest, we say, after it is in full leaf and well 
a-growing, viz. the last of May and the first of June. The 
wood has then a contractile force, does not bleed ; the tree 
is making new wood with great energy, and has therefore 
a full supply of organizable matter with which promptly to 
heal the wound. 

Mr. O. V. Hill thus speaks in the £osto7i Cultivator : 

" Fruit growers at the present day, are generally of the 
opinion, that the proper time for pruning is the last of 
May or early in June, when the tree is in full leaf and in a 
vigorous, growing state. This, on many accounts, appears 
to be the most suitable season, as the wounds heal much 
more rapidly, the tree throws out less suckers, canker is 
avoided and the sap circulates freely to every part of the 
tree ; but there are some objections to pruning in the 
early part of summer, which I do not recollect to have seen 
noticed. Any one who is familiar with vegetable physi- 
ology is aware that there is a new layer of Avood and a new 
layer of bark deposited every year, and that in June tliis 



412 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

process is in active operation ; the newly-forming wood and 
bark are then consequently in a tender and imperfect state, 
and very susceptible to injury. Standing in the forks of 
the branches as it is sometimes necessary to do in pruning, 
will frequently separate the bark and wood, especially in 
young trees at this season. In grafting late in the season, 
this is frequently the case ; sometimes where the ladder is 
placed against a branch it wiU remove the bark ; and in 
sawing, unless the saw runs very clear, and the teeth are 
fine, the same results will fallow ; if pruning is done 
in June, it should be performed with the greatest cau- 
tion." 

The New York Farmer and Mechanic^ commenting on 
the above, says: 

" The best time for pruning apple-trees is, as yet, we 
believe, undetermined by the most experienced orchardists, 
but we are of opinion that the early part of June is, for 
reasons above given by Mr. Hill, to be jDreferred. The 
objection arising from the fear of injuring the bark of the 
tree can easily be obviated by • having the operator use 
moccasins instead of shoes, and surrounding the upper 
round of the latter "with straw or flannel." 

Downing says : 

" We should especially avoid pruning at that period in 
spring when the buds are swelling, and the sap is in full 
flow, as the loss of sap by bleeding is very injurious to most 
trees, and, in some, brings on a serious and incurable can- 
ker in the limbs. 

" There are advantages and disadvantages attending all 
seasons of pruning, but our own experience has led us to 
believe that, practically, a fortnight before midsumm,er is 
by far the best season, on the whole, for pruning in the 
northern and middle States. Wounds made at this season 
heal over freely and rapidly ; it is the most favorable time 
to judge of the shape and balance of the head, and to see at 
a glance which branches require removal ; and all the stock 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 413 

of orgauizable matter in the tree is directed to the branches 
that remain." 

Some of the western States are so much earlier than 
that of New York, that early June will be equivalent to the 
time specified by Downing. We have now fortified the 
opinion which we heretofore expressed, by good authority, 
and by what seems to us good reasons. As it is, however, 
with some, yet a debated question, we shall carefully insert 
the experience of any man for or against our position. 



PLUMS AND THEIR ENEMIES. 

Multitudes of men have had pliyn-trees, and every year, 
for ten years, have seen the fruit promise fair at first and 
then prematurely drop, without knowing the reason. Even 
well-informed men have said to us that it arose from some 
defect in the tree^ from too much gum, from a worm at the 
root, etc. 

The plum-tree is very hardy; is less subject to disease 
than most fruit-trees ; its fruit is highly prized ; and the 
varieties of it are numerous and many of them delicious. 
By a proper selection of trees a succession of fruit may be 
had from July to November. The trees are usually sure 
and enormous bearers, every year. With so many good 
qualities the cultivation of the plum is well-nigh prohibited, 
as a garden or orchard fruit, by the valor of one little bug I 

The CurcuUo (a very hardy fellow, with a constitution 
yet unimpaired by such a name as Rhynchmnus Nenuphar!) 
is a small beetle, about a quarter of an inch long, which 
attacks the plums almost as soon as the fruit has set. They 
seek this, and almost all smooth-skinned fruits, as a place ot 
deposit for their eggs. Many of the facts which we shaU 



414 PLAIN' AND PLEASANT TALK 

narrate, were meutioued to us by Mr. Payne of Madison, 
who has closely and curiously observed this dej)redator. 

An incision is first made, of semicircular form, by a little 
rostra or lancet which he carries in his head for this very 
purpose. After the opening is made, the curculio deposits 
an egg therein ; then changing positions again, it carefully, 
with its fore legs, secures the egg in its nidus, and pats the 
skin under the edge of which its treasure is hidden, with 
repeated and careful efforts of its feet. Where fruit abounds 
it deposits, usually, but one to a plum. But we have had 
trees, just beginning to bear, whose few plums were scari- 
fied all over. 

The egg hatches to a worm, and this feeds on the plum, 
causing it prematurely to fall ; the insect issuing from it, 
enters the ground, to undergo its transformations, and soon 
to reappear, a beetle, ready for fresh mischief-making pro- 
pagation. 

The climate of the West is entirely glorious for all man- 
ner of insects. They can put the East to shame in the mat- 
ter of aphides, cockroaches, cutworms, army and wire- 
worms, cu^rculios, i:)each-worms, grubs, etc., etc. There are 
many questions relating to the history of insects, about 
which eastern writers are in doubt, not at all doubtful 
with us. 

1. Do the larvae remain in the ground all the residue of 
the summer, and come forth only in the ensuing spring ? 
In cold latitudes it may be so. Harris says, that they 
undergo their transformation in twenty days. Downing 
admits this of a few stragglers. But the main supply of 
bugs, he thinks, remains all summer and until spring, in the 
ground. But with us the curculio is not exclusively an early 
summer insect. It is found, in its appropriate haunts, 
through the whole warm season. Mr. Payne put plums 
containing the worms into a glass, and in eleven days 
obtained full-grown curculios. In cool regions they pro- 
bably have but an annual generation j but in warm and 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 415 

long summers, in the West, tliey reproduce often in each 
season. 

2. The mode of ascent has been a matter of doubt. J. J. 
Thomas, in the Fruit Culturist says : " It has the power of 
using its wmgs in flying ; but whether it crawls up the tree 
or ascends by flight, appears not to be certainly ascer- 
tained," 

Downing admits that it flies, but says , " How far this 
insect flies is yet a disputed point, some cultivators affirm- 
ing that it scarcely goes further than a single tree, 
and others believing that it flies over a whole neighbor- 
hood." 

Kenrick says : " They crawl up trees," and he quotes an 
author as saying : " That of two trees standing so near each 
other as to touch, the fruit of one has been destroyed and 
the other has escaj^ed ; so little and so reluctantly do these 
insects inchne to use their wings." Dr. James Tilton says, 
in the " Domestic Encyclopedia," that " they appear very 
reluctant to use their wings, and perhaps never employ 
them but when necessity compels them to migrate." 

It is true that the curculio, in cold and chilly weather, is 
disinclined to fly ; but give it a right murderously hot day, 
and "McGregor's on his native heath again." Just before 
a thunder storm, in summer, in a still, sultry, sweltering 
day, they may be seen flying among the trees as blithely as 
any house-fly ; alighting on your arm, or hand, and spring- 
ing off agam as nimbly as a flea. 

All remedies fovmded on the idea of their crawling pre- 
ferences wUl be signal failures. Troughs about trees, bats 
of wool, bandages of all kinds about the trunk to impede 
the ascent will be found as useful as would high fences to 
keep crows from a cornfield, or birds from the garden. 

All remedies for this pest succeed to a charm where the 
curculio does not abound ; and almost every one of them 
fails in places really mfested them. 

In cities, and in country places which are far removed 



416 TLAIN AXD PLEASANT TALK 

from all oicliards or gardens, the crops may be saved. It 
is not difficult to defend a tree against aU the curculios that 
are bred upon it. Pavements ; hard-rolled gravel ; gathe)"- 
ing up, daily, the fallen plums and destroying them ; the 
application of salt, and many other remedies may succeed 
where the curculio from other gardens or orchards cannot 
easily migrate to supply the trees with a fresh brood. 
Trees in cities, and in retired places, on this account, often 
bear plenteously. 

But of what use is it to destroy five hundred larvae, if 
twice that number of emigrants, from some other quarter, 
are anxious, the next spring, to squat upon your trees, or 
to enter them, in land-office style, most nefariously? All 
remedies founded on the destruction of the larvse will be 
totally useless if your trees can be reached from some 
infected point abroad, as we have found to our sorrow. In 
our own experience, and in that of other amateur-cultivators 
of fruit, the pavement, salt, and all have been " love's labor 
lost." But in the experience of others, in clunates where 
the curculio does not abound, or in secluded situations, they 
have proved effectual. 

The remedies to be employed, in ordinary cases, must be 
such as will constantly molest the insect at his work. 
Inclosures, in which swine root, and rub against the trees ; 
lanes, where cattle resort, to rub off their hair in spring, to 
shade themselves in summer — these are the best situations. 
In yards and gardens plum-trees should be placed upon the 
most frequented paths ; close to the well, by the kitchen 
door, near the wood-house, so that, as often as possible, 
they may be jarred in passing and rej^assing. 

"Where a few trees stand apkrt in the garden, it is said 
that, daily, morning and evening, by spreading a sheet 
under them, and giving the tree a sudden and violent blow 
with a mallet, the insects will drop and may then be 
gathered and destroyed. This should be performed while 
it is cool, as then, only, the curcuho is somewhat torpid. li 



ABOUT FEUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 417 

this course is pursueJ, a block sliould be put upon the tree, 
to receive the stroke, with a bit of carpet or some soft pad 
to it, that the bark may not be injured. A white sheet 
should be spread under the trea to catch the falling 
robber. 

A few trees mil suffice for a private family, and the fruit 
must be earned by careful watchfulness. Those who are 
too indolent, or careless, or indifferent to the luxury to 
bestow the requisite attention through the months of May 
and June, may spare themselves the trouble of planting 
plum-trees. Plum orchards are not to be thought of 

Although the curculio chiefly deUghts in the plum, it 
scruples at no fruit. It may be found upon peaches, cher- 
ries, nectarines, apricots, gooseberries and cm-rants. 



ROOT GKAFTIJS^G. 

While nothing can be done out of doors in the nursery, 
the process of root graftmg may be carried on, and the 
stock be ready for setting as soon as the grounds are open 
in spring. 

When this method of graftmg is employed with discretion, 
it greatly aids the nurseryman. It is a resource in case he 
cannot procure stocks to bud or graft upon ; it makes finer 
and handsomer trees ; and it can be carried on at a season 
of leisure ; and the scions, being early in the ground, have 
a longer season of growth by two months than buds, or 
ordmary grafts. 

Although any healthy root with some fibres will answer 
to graft upon, yet experienced nurserjonen prefer the tap 
roots of young seedling stocks. Those who have apple and 
pear stocks which are to be removed, should employ the 
open weather of winter to raise them. The tap roots may 



418 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

be taken for grafting purposes and the stocks put away in 
cellars, or buried in the ground. 

We do not know that there is any difference in favor of 
the root of one variety over another ; but it will not do to 
propagate every variety of fruit by this method. Expei i- 
ence has shown that some sorts do better by root grafting 
than in any other way; but other kinds are very apt to 
be winter-killed ; and some varieties have such a straggling 
habit of growth, that it would be extremely difficult to train 
them to a good head ; and such sorts, therefore, require to 
be budded or grafted high up on good stocks. 

The roots bemg washed, are cut into four or five inch 
pieces; and the scions prepared as for ordinary grafting. 
Splice, or tongue grafting is the most convenient method. 
Woollen yarn, cut to ten or twelve inches' length, is wound 
around it closely at the point of junction. Let the grafting 
wax be kept in a melted state, by being put in a pan, over 
a few coals. Holding the work over the pan, with a spoon 
pour a portion of the liquid all over the yarn ; it hardens 
immediately, and the whole may be set in rows in a box 
and covered above the point of union with moist sand, 
and kept in a cellar till it is time to turn them out in the 
spring. 



The cherry, plum, pear and aj)ple trees, in a diseased 
condition, will often throw uj) numerous and thrifty 
sprouts that will offer to an inexperienced cultivator invit- 
ing temptations to multiply his stock at a rapid rate 
with little labor. If he be deceived by these appearances, 
and propagate his valuable kinds upon these diseased 
growths, his efforts will ultimately result in his disappoint- 
ment. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 419 

BLIGHT AND INSECTS. 

In an article ou employing suckers of fruit-trees for 
stocks, wliicli we shall copy, Dr. Kirtland says : 

" The practice of grafting and budding pears upon this 
quality of stocks has extended a diseased action, a kind of 
canker among our pear orchards, that has, in some instances, 
been mistaken for blight^ a disease that has its origin in the 
depredations of a minute coleopterous insect, which has 
been satisfactorily described ii\ all its stages of transforma- 
tion by Dr. Harris, and other Massachusetts entomologists." 

That the fire-blight is, to any considerable extent any- 
where, but especially at the West, occasioned by an insect, 
is an idea, we believe, totally unsupported by facts. That 
some injury has been done by the scolytus pyri^ the investi 
gations of Mr. Lowell and Professoi Peck leave no room to 
doubt. But we are not satisfied that, even in these cases, 
they were the cause of the blight^ but only an accidental 
concomitant. Did Mr. Lowell or Piofessor Peck always 
find this beetle upon blighted trees'? Was it found in 
every blighted limb ? Did not blight occur without these 
insects? Has any one of New England since found the 
blight to proceed from the gnawings of this beetle ? 

Has any one found this beetle before the blight occurred 
at its mischievous work, or is it only after the blight is seen 
that the beetle is found ? If the scolytus pyri has \)QQ\i found 
only after the tree is thoroughly afiected, there is reason to 
suppose that it did not come until after the disease had pre- 
pared the way for it. 

We are seriously skeptical of this alleged cause. What- 
ever may be true of the blight at the East, the blight in the 
Wo<5t is unquestionably not an efibct of the scolytus pyri. 
We have examined with the utmost pains, multitudes of 
trees na all soils — several of our shrewdest nurserymen have 
searched year by year, and Ave have, unfortunately, had too 
much opportunity and too many subjects, and yet no insect 



420 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

or insect-track has been detected, except those which have 
attacked the tree in consequence of the blight. 

To be sure, we can find bugs, black, brown, green and 
grey, but the mere presence of an insect is nothing, though 
with many, it seems enough, when a tree is blighted, if a 
bug is found on it, to determine the parentage of the mis- 
chief. Nor do the published accounts of insects, found on 
blighted trees, increase our respect for this theory. The 
observations seem to have been not thorough enough, and 
not carefully made, and the reasonings even less philo- 
sophical. Men have searched for a theory rather than for 
the mere facts in the case. But by far the greatest num- 
ber of those who write, give no evidence of relying upon 
any observations which they have themselves made, but go 
back perpetually to the old precedents, Mr. Lowell and 
Professor Peck, without being at any pains to verify them. 
Has Dr. Kirtland ever found the scolytus pyri f Has he 
ever, in time of extensive blight, found it under such cir- 
cumstances as to satisfy his mind that it was the real cause 
of fire-blight ? or does he rest satisfied that blight is occa^ 
sioned by an insect simply because so it is set down in good 
books ? The canker may be mistaken for blight by those 
who have not been acquainted with either ; but surely, no 
one who has ever attentively examined one real case of fire- 
blight would ever mistake it for anything else, or anything 
else for it. 

The insect theory we regard as wholly untenable except 
for special, local, peculiar ravages which are not properly 
blights. The blight is a disease of the circulation. It 
affects every tissue of the plant. It is not a disease from 
exhaustion of sap by the suction of aphides, as Dr. Mosher, 
of Cincinnati, supposed, for the trees have a plethora rather 
than scarcity of sap ; it lacerates the sap-vessels, bursts the 
bark, flows down the branches, and dries in globules upon 
the trunk. On cutting the tree, if the blight is yet new, 
the texture of the alburnum will be found to resemble what 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWEKS AND FARMING. 421 

is called a loater-core in the apple, its color is of a dirty 
greenish hue, soon changing by exposure to brown and 
black. But if the blight is old, the wood is of a dingy 
white, the alburnum colored like iron rust, and the bark of a 
brownish black. These appearances are incompatible with 
any idea of exhaustion by the gnawing of the scolytiis pyri, 
or the suction of aphides, which would result in mere shrink- 
ing of parts, dryness and death. If insects have a hand in 
the mischief, it is by the secretion of poison, of which fact, 
we have never seen the trace of proof, although it has often 
been suggested, and is by some empyrically asserted. To 
our minds the insect-poison-theory is imaginary. It is 
entirely convenient to refer every excrescence, or shrinking 
of parts, every watery suffusion, wart, discoloration, crump- 
ling leaf, wilting, etc., to poison, and still more convenient 
to find the insect so atomic that it cannot be foimd, and thus 
to heap the multiform sins of the orchard on the scape-goat 
of a hypothetical insect. 

As to electricity, as no one knows anything about this 
elemental sprite, his out-goings or in-comings, we are like to 
have acted over again all the caprices of witch-times, when 
elves and gnomes cut up every prank imaginable, and when 
any j^rank, which was cut up, of course was performed by 
them. Everybody is agog about electricity. But we 
respectfully suggest that it is one thing to ascertain facts 
by cautious, guarded experiments or careful observation, 
and quite another to set down everything, which one does 
not know what else to do with, to electricity, simply because 
it may he so for might that we knoto to the contrary. 
People reason somewhat in this wise ; electricity performs 
a vast number of very mysterious operations, therefore, 
every operation which is mysterious is performed by elec- 
tricity. We believe electricity to have something to do 
with it, only because it seems to have concern with every 
living, growing thing. 

We believe that the blight is, in all cases, the effect ot 



422 PLAIN AXD PLEASANT TALK 

frost upon the sap. We have, until recently, supposed it 
to arise from autumnal freezing, while the tree is in full 
growth. We are now inclined to suppose that severe freez- 
ing and sudden thawing at any time, autumn, winter or 
spring, when the sap is m motion^ will result in blight. 
The blight of 1844 was from the freezing of growing trees 
in the autumn of J 843, and the premonitory stages were 
clearly discernible in the tree during the whole winter 
months before it broke out in its last malignant form. 

When a warm winter allows continuous motion of sap, 
and sudden, severe freezing with rapid thawing occurs, we 
suppose it to cause a variety of blight. We are making 
investigations on this head, but are not yet prepared to 
speak with certainty. 

When a sudden violent freezing overtakes growing trees 
in spring, with rapid thaws, it, we suppose, results in a 
blight resembling the autumn-caused blight. 

We are diligently searching into this whole matter, and 
hope to throw some light upon it. 

But now comes the question. What is it that makes 
some trees so obnoxious to this evil while others escape ? 
Why are some orchards generally affected-, and contiguous 
orchards entirely saved ? 

It is very plain that the blight occurs, as a general disease, 
in some seasons more than in others, because it depends upon 
the peculiar condition of the season, the time and degree 
of frosts. But it does not seem so clear why, when these 
conditions are favorable to blight, one tree should suffer, and 
the next in the row should not ; why one orchard should 
be depopulated, and another in the same town not touched. 

We think that light will be afforded on this point by a 
consideration of the texture oitv&o.'^. 

When trees are rapidly grown by stimulating manures, 
or upon strong clay loams, or from any other cause, the 
wood is coarse, the passages enlarged, the tissue loose and 
spongy. The tree passes a great volume of sap — it is but 
imperfectly elaborated (as is seen by the late period to 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMIXG. 423 

which such trees defer the beariug of fruit), and the tissues 
formed by it are correspondingly imperfect in wholesome- 
ness, compactness, and solidity of parts. The tree is bloated 
— is dropsical. 

On gravelly soils, or loams with a gravelly subsoil, or on 
any kind of soil, which gives a slow and thorough growth^ 
the wood is fine, close and perfect; the vessels are not 
expanded, their sides are firmer, less sensitive to sudden 
changes of temperature, and when exposed to them better 
able to resist them. 

Whatever soil produces rank or coarse w^ood, a flabby 
tissue will be subject to blights. Whatever soil induces 
a fine-grained, compact fibre, and vigorous tissue, will be 
free from blight. The same is true of the various methods 
of cultivation ; those who drive their trees, who aim chiefly 
at a rapid and strong growth, will give their trees a con- 
dition requisite for blight. Those who pursue a more cau- 
tious, a slower method, and look to the quality rather than 
the quantity of their wood, will be comparatively fi-ee 
fi'om blight. 

To be sure, there may be seasons so extreme that blight 
will occur in the most healthy tree; so disease will occur in 
the most temperate men ; yet temperance, conformity to 
the laws of nature, is the rule of health, and nonconformity 
the preparation for disease. 

Meanwhile, will those who are unfortunate enough to have 
a good opportunity for observing, examine — 

1 . The soil and subsoil of blighted trees ? 

2. The habit of the tree, as to rankness of growth? 

3. The character of the cultivation which has been em- 
ployed ? 

4. In short, the relative condition of orchards and trees 
which have escaped or been blighted, as to fineness and 
closeness, and health of texture. It is high time that this 
matter should be minutely investigated. It is the appro- 
brium cultoruni. 



424 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

APPLES. FOR HOGS. 

Farmers are afraid of sour apples ; if stock have only 
sour fruit they are injured ; but let both sweet and sour 
grow in the orchard, and experience has determined that 
they wUl, of themselves, eat the due proportion of each. 
Cattle and hogs are as fond of variety in fruit as men are. 
In raising potatoes, pumpkins, apples, etc., for animals, it is 
frequently supposed that the larger and ranker the growth 
the better ; that, at any rate, cattle fare as well on coarse- 
grained vegetables as on others. But a rank, coarse, watery 
vegetable is no better for an ox than for a man. The 
nutritious principle is the same to man or beast. A fine- 
fleshed, highly nutritious apple or potato is as much better 
for stock as it is for man. If a variety is not fit for men, it 
is not worth while to cultivate it at all. Cattle show them- 
selves to be of this opinion when left to range ; they avoid 
coarse, rough herbage, and pick the sweetest and highest 
flavored. Let the best sorts of apples be planted for stock. 
If one has a seedling orchard which it would be worth while 
to graft over for human use, let not its poor, miserable fruit 
be fed to hogs; let it be grafted over even if one means to 
use it for stock. 



Pulling off Potato Flowers. — The man who makes his 
potato-ground feed flowers, prevents it feeding his children. 
Every ounce of matter consumed by the flowers is so much 
taken from the consumption of the family. 



To RESTORE an exhausted, or rather tired field, it should 
be sown in grass, and stock fed upon it during the winter 
months. Hogs fattened upon tired land enrich it very 
much. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 425 

THE FLOWER GARDEN. 

Spring FLOWERixct-BuLBs. — When crocus, hyacinths, 
narcissus, tulips, have done flowering, let the seed stalks 
be cut down, as the ripening of the seed severely taxes and 
exhausts the powers of a plant. Some persons are accus- 
tomed, after the bulbs have flowered, to cut ofi" the tops, as 
if to do the most mischief possible. The success of the next 
year's flowering will depend very much on the care given 
to your beds now. Many bulbs, as the tulip, form entirely 
new bulbs ; and others, as the hyacinth, form the flower 
bud for the next season. The leaf is the indispensable 
means of doing this ; m it are perfected the juices which are 
returned and deposited in the root. If the bed is left to be 
choked with weeds, and your bulbs robbed of nutriment, or 
if the soil is left compact, or if there is too much moisture, 
or on the other hand, too little, the bud or bulb for the 
next year will be weakened. A very deep bed, or a sandy 
soU, wUl sufficiently prevent the effects of too much 
water. 

The surface should be mellowed by the hand, and tho- 
roughly weeded. The raost careful cultivators raise their 
bulbs every year. The careful at least every third year. 
The careless let them alone and wonder, from year to year, 
why their bulbs do so poorly — " The moles must eat them, 
or, worms probably injure them ;" but the worst worm in a 
flower-garden is careless indolence. When bulbs are raised, 
it should not be done until the leaves are dry. 

Gladiolus. — We are surprised that this fine soldier-like 
plant is not more extensively employed to adorn gardens, 
yards, and lawns. A few varieties only are found in our 
gardens. Great attention has been given in Europe, espe- 
cially in Belgium, to raising new varieties, and many mag- 
nificent kinds are now found in European collections which, 
so far as we know, are not to be had for love or money in 



426 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

America. The bulb, or rather corm,* increases very rapidly, 
and by a little attention one may obtain from a few, a very 
large supply. They may be planted with good effect in 
rows, in clumps, and in beds, but not singly. A sandy 
loam, well mixed with leaf-mold, is their delight. We 
usually remove the top soil, and then take out and reject 
about twelve inches of the subsoil, making in all about 
twenty inches' depth ; return the top earth, together with 
enough compost of leaf-mold, sand, and thoroughly 
decayed manure, to fill it ; plant about four inches deep, 
measuring from the top of the corm. When your plants 
are growing, examine every day ; if you see a sawdust-hke 
matter about them, they need attention. On searching, a 
perforation will be found in the stem. With a penknife slit 
the stem down from the hole until you reach the worm 
which caused the mischief If this course is not projDerly pur- 
sued, you will lose stem and root. With a thin strip of bass 
matting, or a bit of green ribbon, the stem may be tied and 
fastened to a rod for support. In door-yards, and in the 
scanty grounds of city yards, clumps of ten or fifteen gladioli 
would have a very beautiful appearance, especially if dif- 
ferent varieties, instead of being mixed, should be planted 
in separate but contiguous patches. 

TuBEKOSE. — ^The beauty of its pure, white florets, but 
especially the delightful odor of this fragrant flower, has 
rendered it a favorite wherever it is known. It is very 

* Bulbs are of two kinds : those which have a number of coats, or 
skins, one within the other, like the hyacinth, which are called tunicated 
bulbs ; those which consist of a number of scales, only attached to the 
base, like the lily ; but what are called corms, are only a solid mass of 
feculent matter, and which modern botanists do not allow to be bulbs, 
but call underground stems. Corms do not require taking up so often 
as bulbs ; and when they are intended to remain for several years in the 
ground, they should be planted from four to six inches deep at first ; as 
every year a new corm vill form above the old one ; and thus, if planted 
to3 near the surface, tht corm, in a few years, will be pushed out of tho 
ground. — Loudon. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWEKS AND FARMING. 427 

tender to frost, and must not be j^lanted out until about 
the first of May. It is to be treated like the gladiolus. Its 
effect is heightened by being put in a half shade, where its 
pure white is relieved by a green background. The flower 
stem rises from two to three feet and requires a rod to sus- 
tain it. The fragrance is so powerful that a few plants will, 
at evening, scent a whole garden; a circumstance well 
known to owners of pleasure gardens, who render their 
grounds very delightful by disjDersing these, and other odo- 
riferous flowers, in various j)arts of their grounds, thus 
loading the dewy evening air with delicious perfume. They 
may be planted in ten-inch pots and sunk in the ground 
until they have begun to blossom, when the pots may be 
raised and conveyed to the parlor or veranda. A single 
plant will sometimes make a room disagreeable by its exces- 
sive odor. 

The roots are imported to England from Italy, as that 
climate is too humid and cool too perfect them for flower- 
ing. But, in our soil and climate, we have found no diffi- 
culty in raising, from oiF-sets, the finest possible bulbs. No 
yard or garden should be without tuberoses. 

Plants in Pots. — It is better when one has ground at 
hand, to turn out plants which have been housed through 
the winter into the open garden. Roses, geraniumS) 
azaleas, cape jasmins, fuchsias, etc., will be wonderfully 
invigorated by such treatment. The tea and Bengal roses 
can hardly be brought to perfection in pots, and those who 
have only seen the penurious growth and diminished and 
sparse blossoms in the parlor have no idea of the beauty of 
these roses. We usually excavate a place two feet square 
and two feet deep for each rose, filling it Avith sandy loam 
very highly enriched with leaf-mold and decayed manure. 
The trouble will be repaid four fold ; for nature has never 
made a plant that forgets to be grateful for attention. 

In turning out plants, put the left hand in such a way 
upon the top as that the stem shall come between the 



428 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

second and third finger, then invert the pot and give the 
bottom of it two or three sharp raps, when the pot will 
come off. If the plant is in a lively, growing state, and the 
outside of tlie ball of earth is covered with fine, white, new 
roots, it will be best to put the ball into the ground with- 
out disturbing the roots at all. But if the plant is not grow- 
ing, the earth may be carefully worked out from the roots 
with the hands, taking care to break the fibres as little as 
2>ossible. Sj^read out the roots as much as possible in every 
direction, and cover with fine earth. 

Rose bushes will need attention soon, as worms and bugs 
begin their depredations. When the number of bushes is 
limited, hand-picking every day or two is best. For a 
large collection one must resort to more general methods. 
Drench your shrubs, which aphides and worms infest, with 
soapsuds, made of two pounds of whale-oil soap to fifteen 
gallons of water. This is by far the most efiicacious — the 
only efficacious — course for destroying insects. 

As flower-seeds come up, see that they are well weeded, 
and if crowded, thin them out. We would recommend the 
cultivation of some old-fashioned flowers. N"othing is more 
showy than a bed of poppies of mixed colors. Holyhocks 
are becoming very great favorites, and we saw recently 
flowers as magnificent, and as well worth having, as any 
dahlia. The varieties of lupine should be sought for, and 
for those who have seen nothing but the white and blue 
lupines we make an extract from Mrs. Loudon's "Com- 
panion to the Flower Garden " — an admirable work, which, 
though professedly written for ladies, may be used with 
profit by everybody who cultivates a garden. 

"LupiNus. — LeguminoscB. — The Lupine. A genus of 
herbaceous annuals and perennials which contain some of 
our most beautiful border flowers : yellow, blue, white, and 
pink lupines are among the oldest border annuals; JL. nanus 
is a beautiful little annual, with dark blue flowers, a native 
of California, and requiring the usual treatment of Cali- 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 429 

fornia annuals. L. mutablUs and Gruicshankii are splen- 
did plants, growing to tlie height of four oi* five feet, and 
branching like miniature trees. L. Polyphyllus and its 
varieties are perennials, and they are splendid and vigorous- 
growing plants, with spikes of flowers from one foot to 
eighteen inches in length ; L. nootkatensis is a handsome 
dwarf perennial, and L. arboreiis^ when trained against a 
wall, will attain six feet in height, and in sheltered situations 
it will grow with equal vigor trained as a bush tied to a 
stake ; L. latif alius is a perennial from California, with 
very long spikes of blue flowers. All the species will 
thrive in common garden soil ; the annuals are propagated 
by seed sown in February or March, and the perennials by 
division of the roots." 



PREPARATION OF SEED FOR SOWING. 

Many persons suppose that when seeds have been select- 
ed, nothing is necessary but to put them into the ground 
just as they are. A careful pi-eparation of seed, both for 
field or garden use, wall add much to the success of a 
planting. 

1. Assorting Seeds. — In every lot of seed there are 
many imperfect ones ; some are insectiferous, some are un- 
ripe, some are the extreme terminal seeds, small and weak, 
some are very often a httle moldy. In some way all de- 
fective seeds should be removed. 

Then it should be remembered, that the soundest and 
largest seeds will produce plants of a corresponding vigor, 
and that by planting only the healthiest, the variety is kept 
pure — or even improved. 

For garden use hand picking will suffice. We pour our 
corn on a table, and select only the kernels which are plump 
and large, rejecting any which show an intermixture oi 



430 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

other varieties. Beet seed requires careful winnowing, 
nearly one-fourth, as they are usually sold, being unfit for 
planting. Peas are more uniform in size and quality, and 
require but little selection. Melons, squashes, and cucum- 
bers should be culled, or better yet, be put into water ; only 
those which sink promptly should be used, the swimming 
and floating ones being light and trashy. Beans are apt to 
be imperfect. We have usually found occasion to reject full 
one-third of every quart, for seedsmen are apt to put in 
every seed that grows, whether they will ever grow again 
or not. There is no dishonesty certainly in this ; but if one 
would habitually screen or select, and put up only the very 
choicest, he would ultimately get a higher price, and secure 
for his seed a universal demand. 

2. Soaking Seeds. — Some seeds will not germinate for a 
long period, unless they are artificially brought forward. 
Locust seeds are scalded before planting. Peas are scalded 
to kUl the bug, when thus inhabited. The cypress vine seed 
require soaking to induce a quick germination. Celery 
seed is very sluggish unless soaked. 

Seeds are often steeped in ^epared liquids to force their 
growth. Old seeds, whose powers of germination are much 
diminished, are made to vegetate by being put into a weak 
solution of oxalic acid. "Wheat '\^ pickled in salt brine, then 
rolled in lime, as a preventive of smut. 

Corn is protected from worms by copperas water ; and 
peas are put into train oil to guard them from moles and 
mice. Tanner's oil, and a solution of saltpetre are often 
used ; the first for turnip-seed, to protect them fi-om a 
destructive insect ; and the latter for all seeds, as a stimu- 
lant to their growth and to guard against worms and bugs. 

Some excitement was made in Scotland, not long ago, by 
the great eifects alleged to have been produced by so pre- 
paring seeds that they would contain in or on themselves all 
those fertilizing qualities usually looked for in the soil. It 
is possible, by employing chemical mixtures, or coatings, to 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 431 

make the seed germinate with great ^■igor, and to establish 
itself strongly ; but we do not suppose any process can be 
made to reach beyond this. No mere soaking or coating 
can extend its influence through the whole growth of the 
crop. 

When seeds are soaked they anticipate the weeds in com- 
ing up, especially seeds planted in May and June, and this 
is a very important object, as crops are, often, almost smoth- 
ered with weeds before they are large enough to be weeded. 



SOWING FLOWER SEEDS — TRANSPLANTING. 

Many flower-seeds require no more skill in planting than 
do peas or beans, for they are as large and as easily ger- 
minated. But very many are small, and some extremely 
small, and if planted too deeply, they will not shoot, or 
will shoot very feebly. 

Select a free-working and rich piece of ground — a sandy 
loam is best, and a stiflT clay the worst — let it be spaded 
deeply, incorporating very thoroughly-rotted manure, i. e. 
manure full two years old and which will crumble in the 
hand as fine as sand. With a fine-toothed rake reduce every 
lump and bring the surface to the finest state of pulveriza- 
tion. K the seed is very small, it had better be mixed 
with a little sand, or dry soil, to increase the bulk. The 
sowing will be easier and more equal. Scatter the seed 
upon the bed ; then with the hands or a fine garden sieve, 
sift fresh and mellow earth upon it from a quarter to half an 
inch in depth. To bring the earth compactly about the 
seed, spat the bed with moderate strokes with the back of a 
spade. If the weather is very dry, water the bed at evening 
with a watering-pot — to pour it from a pail or cup would 
wash up the surface. Keep the plants from weeds, and 
when they are one or two inches high, they may be trans- 



432 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

planted to the places where they are to stand. Balsams, 
larkspurs, poppies, and, indeed, most flowers do better by 
being transplanted. The operation checks the luxuriance 
of the plant, and increases its tendency to flower. 

Sometimes seeds are planted where they are to remain; 
the treatment is precisely the same as before, except they 
are thinned out instead of transj^lanted. No mistake is 
more frequent, among inexperienced gardeners, than that 
of sufiering too many plants to stand together. One is re- 
luctant to pull up fine thriving plants ; or he does not reflect 
that what may seem room enough while the plant is young, 
will be very scanty when it is grown. 

There is much taste to be displayed in arranging flowers 
in a garden so that proper colors shall be contrasted. It is 
important that proper colors should be matched in a gar- 
den, as on a dress. 



PARLOR PLANTS AND FLOWERS IN WINTER. 

The treatment of house plants is very little understood, 
although the practice of keeping shrubs and flowers during 
the winter is almost universal. It is important that the 
physiological principles on which success depends should 
be familiarly understood ; and then cultivators can apply 
them with success in all the varying circumstances in which 
they may be called to act. 

Two objects are proj^osed in taking plants into the house 
— either simple protection, or the development of their 
foliage and flowers, during the winter. The same treat- 
ment will not do for both objects. Indeed, the greatest 
number of persons of our acquaintance, treat their winter 
plants, from which they desire flowers, as if they only 
wished to preserve them till spring ; and the consequence 
is, that they have very little enjoyment in their favorites. 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWERS AJSTD FARMING. 433 

HOUSE PLANTS DESIGNED SIAIPLY TO STANJ) OVER. 

Tender roses, azaleas, cape jasmins, crape myrtles, or- 
anges, lemons, figs, oleanders, may be kept in a light cellar 
if frost never penetrates it. 

If kept in parlors, the following are the most essential 
points to be observed. The thermometer should never be 
permitted to rise above sixty degrees or sixty-five degrees ; 
nor at night to sink below forty degrees. Although plants 
\vdll not be frost-bitten until the mercury falls to thirty-two 
degrees, yet the chill of a temperature below forty degrees 
will often be as mischievous to tender plants as frost itself. 
Excessive heat, particularly a dry stove heat, will destroy 
the leaves almost as certainly as frost. We have seen plants 
languishing in a temperature of seventy degrees (it often 
rising ten degrees higher), while the owners wondered what 
could ail the plants, for they were sure that they kept the 
room warm enough ! 

Next, great care should be taken not to overwater. Plants 
which are not growing require very little water. If given, 
the roots become sogged, or rotten, and the whole plant is 
enfeebled. Water should never be suifered to stand in the 
saucers ; nor be given, always, when the top-soil is dry. 
Let the earth be stirred, and when the interior of the ball 
is becoming dry, give it a copious supply ; let it drain 
through thoroughly, and turn off what falls into the saucer. 

PLANTS DESIGNED FOR WINTER FLOWERING. 

It is to be remembered that the winter is naturally the 
eeasoii of rest for plants. All plants require to lie dormant 
during some portion of the year. You cannot cheat them 
out of it. If they are pushed the whole year they become 
exhausted and worthless. Here lies the most common error 
of plant-keepei'S. If you mean to have roses, blooming 
geraniums, etc., in winter, you must, artificially^ change 



434 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

tJieir season of rest. Plants which flower in summer must 
rest in winter; those which are to flower in winter must 
rest either in summer or autumn. It is not, usually, worth 
while to take into the house for flowering purposes any 
shrub which has been in full bloom during the summer or 
autumn. Select and pot the wished-for flowers during sum- 
mer ; place them in a shaded position facing the north, give 
very little water, and then keep them quiet. Their ener- 
gies will thus be saved for winter. When taken into the 
house, the four essential points of attention are light, 
moisture, temperature, and cleanliness. 

1. Light. — The functions of the leaves cannot be health- 
fully carried on without light. If there be too little, the 
sap is imperfectly elaborated, and returns from the leaves to 
the body in a crude, undigested state. The growth will be 
coarse, watery, and brittle ; and that ripeness which must 
precede flowers and fruit cannot be attained. The sprawl- 
ing, spindling, white-colored, long-jointed, plants, of which 
some persons are unwisely proud, are, often the result of 
too little light and too much water. The pots should be 
turned around every day, unless when the light strikes 
down from above, or from windows on each side ; other- 
wise, they will grow out of shape by bending toward the 
light. 

2. Moisture. — Difierent species of plants require differ- 
ent quantities of w^ater. What are termed aquatics, of 
which the Calla ^thiopica, is a specimen, require great 
abundance of it. Yet it should be often changed even in 
the case of aquatics. But roses, geraniums, etc., and the 
common house plants require the soil to be moist, rather 
than loet. As a general rule it may be said that every pot 
should have one-sixth part of its depth filled with coarse 
pebbles, as a drainage, before the plants are potted. This 
gives all superfluous moisture a free passage out. Plants 
should be watered by examination and not by time. They 
require vai'ious quantities of moisture, according to their 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AXD FARMIXG. 435 

activity, and the period of tlieir growth. Let the earth be 
well stirred, and if it is hecoming dry on the inside, give 
water. Never water by dribblets — a spoonfnl to-day, 
another to-morrow. In this way the outside will become 
bound, and the inside remain dry. Give a copious watering, 
so that the whole ball shall be soaked ; then let it drain off, 
and that which comes into the saucer be poured off. But^ 
in whatever way one prefers to give water, the thing to be 
gained is a full supply of moisture to every part of the 
roots, and yet not so much as to have it stand about them. 
Manure-water may be employed vsdth great benefit every 
second or third watering. For this purpose we have never 
found anything of value equal to guano. Besides water to 
the root, plants are almost als much benefited by water on 
the leat — but of this we shall speak under the head of 
cleanliness. 

3. Temperature. — Sudden and violent changes of tem- 
perature are almost as trying to plants as to animals and 
men. At the same time, a moderate change of tempera- 
ture is very desirable. Thus, in nature, there is a marked 
and uniform variation at night from the temperature of the 
day. At night, the room should be gradually lowered in 
temperature to from foi'ty-five degrees to fifty degrees, while 
through the day it ranges from fifty-five degrees to seventy 
degrees. Too much, and too sudden heat will destroy 
tender leaves almost as surely as frost. It should also be 
remembered that the leaves of plants are constantly exhal- 
ing moisture during the day. If in too warm an atmos- 
phere, or in one which is too dry, this perspiration becomes 
excessive and weakens the plant. If the room be stove- 
heated, a basin of water should be put on the stove to sup- 
ply moisture to the air by evaporation. Sprinkling the 
leaves, a kind of artificial dew, is also beneficial, on this 
account. The air shoiild be changed as often as possible. 
Every warm and sunny day should be improved to let in 
fresh air upon these vegetable breathers. 



436 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

4. Cleanliness. — ^This is an important element of health 
as well as of beauty. Aninial-undeanliness is first to be 
removed. If ground-worms have been incorporated with 
the dirt, give a dose or two of lime-water to the soil. Next 
aphides or green-lice will appear upon the leaves and stems. 
Tobacco smoke will soon stupefy them and cause them to 
tumble upon the shelves or surface of the soil, whence they 
are to be carefully brushed, or crushed. If one has but a 
few plants, put them in a group on the floor; put four 
chairs around them and cover with an old blanket, forming 
a sort of tent. Set a dish of coals within, and throw on a 
handful of tobacco leaves. Fifteen minutes' smoking will 
destroy any decent aphis. 

If a larger coUection is on hand, let the dish or dishes be 
placed under the stands. When the destruction is completed, 
let the parlor be well ventilated, unless, fair lady, you have 
an inveterate smoker for a husband ; in which case you may 
have become used to the nuisance. 

The insects which infest large collections of green-houses, 
are fully treated of in horticultural books of directions. 

Dust will settle every day upon the leaves, and choke up 
the perspiring pores. The leaves should be kept free by 
gentle wiping, or by washing. 



White Clover is an important grass on flourishing old 
meadows. It grows very thick at the bottom of the other 
grass, although in a good season it will grow to the height 
of from twelve to sixteen inches. I have seen it in low 
spots completely covered for weeks together. Therefore 
land which produces abundant crops of grass, would require 
extensive draining for grain, and seeing that plowing such 
land destroys its life, it is far better to keep it in grass con- 
tinually. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND PARMIKG. 437 

PARLOR FLOWERS AND PLANTS IN WINTER.— (^r«. 2.) 

Theue are so few who care enough for flowers to trouble 
themselves with them during the winter, that it seems 
almost unkind to criticise the imperfections of those who 
do. But it is very plain that, for the most part, skill and 
knowledge do not keep pace with good taste. Not to point 
out defects to those who are anxious to improve would be 
the real unkmdness. 

There are two objects for which plants are kept over. 

Plants are housed for the sake of their verdure and 
bloom during the winter ; or, simply to protect them from 
the frosts. Our first criticism is, that these two separate 
objects are, to a great extent, improperly imited. Tables 
and window-stands are crowded with plants which ought to 
be in the cellar or in a pit. Plants which have bloomed 
through the summer will rest during the winter. To 
remove them from the heat and dust of the parlor — to place 
them in a dry, light, warm cellar, will certainly conduce to 
their entire rest, and the parlor will lose no grace by the 
removal of ragged stems, falling leaves, and flowerless 
branches. When a large quantity of plants are to be pro- 
tected, and cellar room is wanting, a pit may be prepared 
with little expense. Dig a place eight or ten feet square, 
in a dry exposure. The depth may be from five to six feet. 
Let the surface of this chamber be curbed about with a 
plank frame, the top of which should slope to the south at 
an inclination of about three inches to the foot. This may 
be covered with plank except in the middle, where two 
sash may be placed. The outside of the plank may be 
banked up with earth, and if light brush or haulm be placed 
upon the top, in severe weather, it will be all the better. 
The inside may be provided with shelves on every side for 
the pots, and thus hundreds of plants may be efiectually 
protected. During severe freezing weather the sash should 
be covered mth mats, old carpet, straw or anything of the 



438 PLAIN AXD PLEASA^fT TALK 

kind ; and in very cold weather this should not be removed 
during the daytime : for if the plants have been touched 
with frost, the admission of light will destroy or maim them, 
whereas, if kept in darkness, they will suiFer little or no 
injury. Several fimilies may unite in the expense of form- 
ing a cold-pit and thus fill it with plants at a small expense 
and very little inconvenience to each. Very little if any 
water should be given to plants thus at rest. 

Even where plants are wanted to bloom in the parlor late 
in the winter, it is often better to let them spend the fore- 
• part of the winter in the cellar or pit. 

Our second criticism respects the character of winter col- 
lections. 

The most noticeable error is the strange crowd of plants 
often huddled together, as if the excellence of a collection 
consisted in the number of things brought together. Every- 
thing that the florist sees in other collections has been pro- 
cured, as if it would be an unpardonable negligence not to 
have what others have. Hence we sometimes see scores 
of plants, very diflerent in their habits, reqitiring widely 
different conditions of growth, reduced to one regimen, 
viz. a place near the window, so much water a day, and 
one turning round. This summary procedure, of course, 
soon results in a vegetable Falstaff's regiment ; some plants 
being long, sprawling, gangling, some dormant and dumpy ; 
some shedding their leaves and going to rest with unripe 
wood, some mildewed, a few faintly struggling to show 
here and there a bewildered blossom. In such a collection 
the eye is pained by the entire want of sympathy arising 
from jumbling together the most dissimilar kinds ; from the 
want of robust health, and from the entire disappearance 
of that vivid freshness and sprightliness of growth, com- 
pact while it is rapid, which gives a charm to well man- 
aged plants. 

AU plants which are not growing, or for whose growth 
your parlors are not suitable, should be put into the cellar 



ABOTTT FEITITS, FLOWEES AUTD FAEMITSTG. 439 

and should tliere be allowed to stand over in a state of rest. 
According to your accommodations, select a feto vigorous, 
symmetrical, hearty, healthy plants for the Avindow. One 
plant well tended, will afford you more pleasure than twen- 
ty, half-nurtured. 

In our dwellings, one has to make his way between two 
extremes in the best manner that he can. Without a stove 
our thin- walled houses are cold as an ice-house, and a frosty 
night sends sad dismay among our favorites. Then, on the 
other hand, if we have a stove, the air is apt to be parched^ 
and. unwholesome, fit for salamanders, fat and torpid cats 
and dozing grandmothers. There is not much choice be- 
tween an ice-house and an oven. There can be 7io such 
thing as floral health toithout fresh air and enough of it. 
This must be procured by frequent ventilation. 



PROTECTING PLANTS IN WINTER. 

Vert many shrubs, vines, roses, etc., usually regarded as 
tender, may yet be safely left standing in the garden if 
properly protected. 

The neck of plants^ i. e. that part at which the roots and 
stem come together, requires thorough protection ; both 
because it is the most tender (as some say), and because it 
is at this point, that freezing and sudden thawing must 
occur. The black soil absorbing heat rapidly, th© neck of 
a plant will be first and most affected by the morning sun ; 
and this is the reason, we think, rather than any special 
tenderness of parts, why plants are killed at the crown of 
the root. Let the ground be well covered with leaves or 
with coarse manure, and let it come up three or four inches 
high on the stem. It is better to have the top strawy, 
rather than dark colored manure. 



440 PLAIN" AND PLEASANT TALK 

It is the sun, and not the frost, tliat, for the most part, 
kills the stems of half-hardy plants. Protection is often, 
therefore, only thorough shading. The Bengal tea, and 
noisette roses are left out at Philadelphia and at Cincin- 
nati without detriment. 

Drive a stake by the side of the plant, and drawing up 
the branches to it, cover them with straw, or bass-matting 
wrapped around them. Kegs, barrels, boxes, etc., may be 
turned over such as are not too high and will sufficiently 
protect them. Air-holes should be bored in barrels, etc., 
and the north side is the best for the purpose. 

Grape vines which need protection should be loosened 
from the trellis or wall, pruned, laid down on the ground 
and earth thrown over them three or four inches deep. 
Isabella and Catawba grape vines will need no protection. 



TO PRESERVE DAHLIA ROOTS. 

The least frost destroys these roots. In warm and damp 
cellars they rot. Very many persons have no cellars at all 
(a very frequent destitution at the West) ; others are so 
small and moist, as to be unfit (our own, for instance) ; and 
the extreme variations of temperature during the day and 
night make sitting-rooms and their closets very rmsafe 
places for them. The labor of packing them in sand is not 
great to those who have it ready or men to procure it ; but 
to ladies, and especially to many in tovras and cities who 
are enthusiastic cultivators of flowers, but grievously vexed 
with poverty of pocket, this plan is inconvenient. 

Why may not dahlias be kept in the soil ? We think 
there is not the least doubt that they can be protected from 
frost and heat. Every one knows that in spading up in 
the spring the dahlia beds of the previous year, large sec- 
tions of the tubers, which had broken ofl" when the main 



ABOUT FEUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 441 

roots were removed, are found in a fresh and sound condi- 
tion. 

Let a pit be dug say two feet deep, the roots carefully 
disposed in it, covered with soil, and the whole protected 
by coarse litter, straw, etc. We do not advise any to ad- 
venture their whole stock in this manner ; but we design 
to select the inferior sorts fi-om our stock and treat them 
thus ; and if successful, we shall, another year, try our 
whole stock. 



HEDGES. 



1. Where a hedge is properly made and carefully trim- 
med, it is the most beautiful fence that can be made ; and, 
as an object of beauty, it may be vvell to form hedges in a 
wood country ; but as a mode of general fencing we deem 
it totally inappropriate to the condition of a country abound- 
ing in timber. The labor of setting and tending it until it 
is established, is tenfold more than is required for a timber 
fence ; a hedge requires from five to eight years for its 
establishment ; and every year of this time it must be well 
tended ; when grown, it requires annual shearing ; which, 
on a long line of fence, is a labor to which few farmers wUl 
submit for the sake of appearances. It is hable to get out 
of order by disease, or the death of particular parts ; and, 
if neglected a few years, it becomes ragged, a covert for 
vermin and mischievous animals. In yards, gardens, and 
lawns, hedges should be grown for ornament, and to serve 
as screens, and backgrounds. 

Upon the estates of the affluent where money is less valu- 
able to the owner than decorations, hedges should be estab- 
lished. Hedges may also be economical in a prairie coun- 
try ; the labor and expense of making and keeping may be 
less than would be the cost of timber ; but on farms in a 



442 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

■woodland district they are to be regarded as a luxury; and 
like all luxuries, they are expensive. 

2. The white thorn will do very well for hedges if care- 
fully tended. The usual materials for hedges, at the East, 
are the English white thorn {cratCBgus oxycantha)^ the 
buckthorn {rliamnus catharticus), Newcastle thorn {cra- 
tcegas crus-galli), honey locust [gleditschia triacanthos)^ 
red cedar [Juniperus Yirginiana), the Washington or Vir- 
ginia thorn {cratcegus cor data). 

The Osage orange {maclura aurantiaca) has been high- 
ly recommended ; it is eminently beautiful, and if proved 
to be good for hedging, should be employed. Privet makes 
a sightly hedge, but is thoi-nless. The "Washington thorn 
is employed in this neighborhood by Aaron Aldredge ; it 
is very beautiful ; will require eight or ten years to give it 
maturity. 

3. When the thorn is used, the berries should be gath- 
ered and mashed, in the fall, and the seed exposed, mixed 
with moist sand, to the frost of winter. In the spring they 
should be sown in nursery rows, and at a year old, they 
should be transplanted. A reserve of plants should be kept 
in the nursery to supply vacancies which may occur. 

The ground should be thoroughly and deeply pulverized 
by plowing (spading would be much better) and the plants 
set about six inches apart. The ground should be kept 
entirely free from weeds ; this may be done in a profitable 
manner by planting bush beans on each side, the tending 
'of which will keep the hedge clean, the ground mellow, 
besides the profit of the crop. Dr. Shurtlifi", of Boston, 
gives the following brief but excellent directions : 

" Prepare your land in the best manner ; use suitable plants 
of thrifty growth, the older the better ; assort and accom- 
modate to the difierent kinds of soil ; preserve all the roots, 
but crop the tops, leaving only few buds ; keep a few in 
your nursery ; set them sloping to the north, and leave the 
ground a little concave about the roots ; keep them cleat 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 443 

of grass and weeds, and add a little eartli to the roots at 
each hoemg ; clear away the leaves at autumn ; trim the 
side branches carefully, and leave the main stems to nature 
till they are six feet high, then crop off the toj^s to the 
height you mean to have your hedge. It will look like a 
wedge with the sharp end upwards, and will exhibit a most 
beautiful appearance." 



WATERING TREES, ETC. 

We have observed many persons copiously watering 
young trees and garden plants. 

1. In many cases much Avater is a positive injury. The 
roots draw up a larger suj)ply of liquid than there is vigor 
in the tree to digest or appropriate. In such cases the 
tissue is enfeebled, the roots decay, and the tree perishes in 
the trying heats of July and August. 

2. It often happens that wetting the tree itself is much 
better than watering the root. Take a watering-pot and 
drench the leaves, and limbs and trunk, several times in a 
day. In a small tree a large bunch of cotton or rags may 
be put in the crotch and saturated with water. It will gra- 
dually trickle down the stem, and also evaporate, keeping 
the leaves in a moist medium. This trouble is worth while 
in case of rare trees difficult to be obtained. A tree per- 
spires as really as an animal or a man. Every leaf is fur- 
nished with sto'>nata or pores, the number and size of which 
determine the amount of perspiration. Of course, as they 
vary in different plants, there is a corresponding difference 
in the amount which they perspire. Plants which grow in 
exposed situations, scorched by the sim, have a structure 
which admits but slight perspiration, while those which grow 
in the shade and in moist places perspire copiously. 

It is upon this state of facts that watering the tree itself 



444 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

is beneficial. The exhalation from the leaf is diminished, 
and sap retained -within the tree. Beside this, the leaf and 
young green bark absorb some moisture. 

3. Where watering is resorted to it should not be upon 
the surface ; esjDecially is this injurious in clay soils. The 
moisture is immediately exhaled, and the sun hardens the 
wet earth into a crust, nearly as impervious to light, and 
air and moisture, as if it were sheet-iron. Let a slight 
trench be opened, and after the water has sunk away, 
replace the earth and pulverize it. In this way no baking 
will take place. 

4. But the best method of watering by the root, is that 
which is technically denominated mulching. Cover the 
surface of the ground beneath the tree or shrub with three 
or four inches' thickness of coarse, strawy manure. If 
watered through this the earth will not bake; tbe moisture 
will not evaporate ; the root will be shielded from the sun, 
and enriched by the infiltration of the juices of the manure. 



LABELS FOR TREES. 

It is of great importance for every farmer to preserve the 
names of his fruit-trees ; and no amateur cultivator should 
think himself worthy of a name whose garden and fruit 
ground is not registered and labelled. 

It is best in every case to have a fruit-book, in which 
should be entered the name of each tree, its place, time of 
planting, from whom obtained, how old it was from the 
graft or bud, when set out, its size, condition, etc. 

Such a book, kept in the house, is a sure and permanent 
record of the names of your fruit-trees. Beside this, each 
tree should have a label attached to it. For, in passing 
through an orchard or fruit garden, it is desirable to know 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AKD FARMING. 445 

the names of trees without the inconvenience of carrying 
your book under your arm. The labels are for daily use ; 
the book keeps a permanent record, so that if a label be lost 
the name of the tree does not go with it. It is quite pro- 
voking to examine a friend's premises without being able to 
learn the name of a single tree. Beside, every cultivator 
should know the names of his trees as well as of his cattle ; 
otherwise they will get local names, and the same fruit have 
a new name in each orchard. 



TRANSPLANTING EVERGREENS. 

The general impression that evergreens are very difficult 
to transplant is not well founded if one will observe a few 
directions. 

The best time for transplanting is when the tips begin 
to show fresh growth in spring. This is exactly the 
reverse of directions in English books, which denounce 
spring, and enjoin fall transplanting — in the climate of Eng- 
land, doubtless with good reason ; and it is a good illustra- 
tion of the caution necessary before imitating, in our 
climate, the most skillful foreign practices. 

A friend informs us that he has always totally lost all 
his fall transplantings ; not saving ten in a hundred ; and 
other men say they have had similar experience, and it is 
a settled fact that fall transplanting of evergreens is bad 
practice. 

The best method of removing is to lift the plant with as 
many roots and fibres as possible. More care should be 
used in this respect than in the removal of fruit-trees; 
indeed, there is little risk when good roots are obtained and 
kept in a moist condition. In planting, the most successful 
operators that we have seen, mix about half and half com 



446 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

mon soil and. old rotten wood, from the forests, filling it in 
carefully about the roots and covering the surface with sub- 
stances which Avill prevent too much evaporation of mois- 
ture, as litter, decayed wood, sods grass side down, etc., 
etc 

The old wood employed should be thoroughly decom- 
posed ; and that of the hackberry, maple, and beech are 
preferred. The decayed wood of the black walnut and oak 
do not seem congenial to plants. 

"When large trees are to be removed it is often done with 
success in the winter, by opening a trench about the tree 
and permitting the ball of earth to freeze pretty thoroughly. 
The tree is then undermined and upon a sledge easily 
removed to its destination. The hole for its recej^tion 
should have been dug while the ground was unfrozen, and 
it will be necessary to wait until it thaws before it can again 
be filled in about the tree. 



FLOWERS, LADIES, AND ANGELS. 

If ladies wish to get into the very best company pos- 
sible, we do not know of any pleasanter way than is detailed 
in this beautiful scrap from a German poet : 

A flower do but place near thy window glass, 
And through it no image of evil shall pass. 
Abroad must thou go ? on thy white bosom wear 
A nosegay, and doubt not an angel is there ; 
Forget not to water at break of the day 
The lilies, and thou shalt be fairer than they ; 
Place a rose near thy bed nightly sentry to keep, 
And angels shall rock thee on roses to sleep. 

And pray what will happen if a gentleman does all this ? 
For one, we have a personal curiosity to know ; for we do 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 447 

all these things and a good many more. If any other 
angels have hovered about us than angelic flowers, we make 
an especial request to theui not, hereafter, to be so shy 
about it. Our natural eye would delight to behold in 
veritable substance all the flower-spirits which our ideality 
spies lurking in our garden-blossoms. 



HORTICULTURAL CURIOSITIES. 

Mr. Hovey, editor of the magazine v/hich bears his name, 
had occasion during the year 1844 to visit Europe, for pro- 
fessional objects; "not the least was that of giving some 
account of the condition of gardening in that country, fi-om 
whose works, whose practice, and experience, our own cul- 
tivators have derived so much knowledge." 

We cull from the several numbers alreadv published in 
his magazine, the most interesting facts. 

Rhododendrons. — Speaking of the Liverpool botanical 
gardens, he says : 

" The principal clumps were filled with rhododendrons of 
various kinds, which do remarkably well ; the climate, from 
its humidity, seems to suit them, and most of the plants 
Avere clothed with branches from the base to the top. R. 
altaclerense we saw six feet high ; how fine must be its 
numerous clusters of splendid rosy blossoms! From the 
time we entered this garden, where we first saw the rhodo- 
dendrons in abundance, until we returned home, we were 
constantly impressed with the importance wliich this shrub 
is destined to hold in our gardens. Although a native of 
our woods and forests, it is scarcely known out of our native 
habitats ; yet abroad we see it the first ornament of the 
garden. By hybridization, and the production of an 
immense number of seedlings, during the last fifteen years, 
it has been increased in splendor, until it now almost equals 



448 PLAIN AND PLEAS A VT TALK 

its tender, but gorgeous eastern sisters. How long shall 
our gardens be deficient in this great ornament ?" 

Fuchsias, or Ladies' Eaedrop. — Nothing will be more 
surprising to those who have cultivated this beautiful jjlant, 
and thought it well grown if a foot high, and brilliant if a 
dozen blossoms showed at once, than the magnificent size 
and flowering oi Fuchsias as seen in England. 

At the Sheffield Botanical Gardens Mr. Hovey saw the 
Fuchsias globosa major, upwards of twenty feet high, the 
stem, at the base, being two inches through ! Its drooping 
branches were clothed with thousands of flowers ; another 
variety, " called Youngii grandiflora was also twenty feet 
high, and equally strong, with innumerable flowers: this 
plant was only seven years old. It is almost impossible for 
those who have never seen specimens more than four or 
five feet high, to imagine the great beauty of such gigantic 
plants; notwithstanding their size they were well grown, 
being of symmetrical shape, and with vigorous and healthy 
foliage ; they were j^lanted in very large tubs, about two 
feet deep and two feet in diameter. 

"The splendid F.fulgens and corymbiflora we also saw 
here upward of ten feet high, and full of their showy 
flowers." 

The Regent's Park Garden occasions the following 
remarks : 

" Fuchsia globosa was, perhaps, as beautiful as anything 
which we saw for this subject. There is an opinion pre- 
valent that fuchsias in our climate do not do well in the 
open border ; but we suspect such an idea has been pre- 
maturely formed without experience, for we recollect seeing 
in the garden of Mr. Johnson, of Lynn, three years ago, 
plants, which were then in profuse bloom, and had been so 
all summer, turned out of the pots into the soil ; the proba- 
bility is that the plants have not been abundant enough to 
give a fair trial. As they are easily propagated, and may 
be sold almost as cheap as verbenas, we hope to hear of 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWEKS AND FARMING. 449 

experiments being tried to test their capability of enduring 
our wai'm sun." 

At Chiswick Mr. Hovey saw the original tree of Wil- 
liams' Bon Chretien pear (the Bartlett of Boston gardens). 
It was hale and healthy. 

Tulips. — Mr. H. visited Mr. Groom, at Clapham ; " pre- 
parations were making for planting out the great collection 
of tulips in October. For this flOwer Mr. Groom is famous ; 
he has raised several very splendid seedlings, some of which 
are priced as high as Jive hundred dollars, and a great num- 
ber at one hundred dollars each (£21 sterling). It would 
seem to those who know little of the tulip that this Avas 
something of a tulip mania ; but the tulip is a most gorgeous 
flower, and when once a love for it takes possession of the 
amateur, and he obtains a knowledge of its properties, there 
is scarce anything he would not sacrifice to obtain the 
choicest kinds. In England, there are many collections 
valued at thousands of pounds. In this country the tulip is 
but little valued, and a bed of the most common kind 
attracts nearly as many admirers as one of the choicest and 
high-priced flowers." 

Dwarf Pear-trees. — "The garden is laid out with 
numerous walks, and the borders of them were filled with 
bearing trees. They were from six to ten feet high, ti-ained 
in pyramidal form, and many of them full of fruit. This 
mode of growing trees appears to be universally adopted 
around Paris ; we scarcely saw a standard tree. The 
advantages of the pyramidal or quenouille form are, that, in 
gardens of moderate extent only, a collection of two or 
three hundred kinds may be cultivated ; they occupy but 
little room, being placed about six feet apart, and being 
pruned in, they do not throw sufiicient shade to injure any- 
thing growing near them. They afibrd greater facilities 
for examining the fruit while growing, and for picking it 
when ripe ; the trees are not so much shaken by high winds, 
and the large kind of pears do not so easily blow ofi": the 



450 PLAIN AXD PLEASANT TATK 

facilities for making observations upon tlie wood and leaves, 
are also gi-eater; and, as regards appearance alone, they 
are, when well managed, far more beautiful than standards. 
To those who Avish to plant out large quantities for orchard 
cultivation, they would not, of course, be recommended ; 
but for the garden, the pyramidal form should be 
adopted." 

Alpine Strawberry. — This variety is especially valu- 
able from its jjropensity to bear all the summer. At the 
gardens of the Luxembourg, Paris, Mr. Hovey says: 

" The Alpine strawberry is cultivated very extensively 
for the supply of the royal tables throughout the whole 
summer and autumn, and one-quarter was devoted to this 
fruit ; the plants were set out in long rows, with alternate 
plantations of dahlias, which were now in most profuse 
bloom ; a great many of them were the fancy sorts, which 
are greatly admired and extensively cultivated in and 
around Paris. One of the finest we saw was the Beauty 
of England, purple tipped with white ; and every flower 
distinctly marked. The strawberries are set out in August 
or September, and the following season produce abundantly; 
or they may be raised from seed in the spring, and planted 
out to bear a crop in the autumn. A moist soil and half 
shady aspect is most favorable, and, in our climate, to 
expect success, such a locality should be selected if possible ; 
an abundance of fruit may then be expected. The best 
berries were as large as the finest Woods we generally see 
in our market. We recommend all who love this delicious 
fruit to try the experiment of their cultivation. Such pro- 
fusion as we saw them exposed for sale in the cafes of Paris, 
shows that there can be no great difficulty in the way of 
success." 



ABOUT FEUITS, FLOTV'ERS AXD FARMING. 451 

THE CORN CROP. 

The valleys of the West are regarded as the corn-fields 
of the world, and the people seem to regard the crop of 
corn as the foundation crop. Lately wheat is becoming a 
rival, particularly in the northern part of Ohio, Indiana, 
Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Our real object, is, not to 
theorize, — to teach " book farming" — but to lay before prac- 
tical men practical results, to inform them of what has been 
done. We give on page 382 the method of cultivating the 
])otato as employed by eminent and successful cultivators. 
We here present the modes of cultivating corn which have 
produced the largest crops. 

W. C. Young's Method. — Mr. Young is a Kentucky 
farmer, and raised 195 bushels of shelled corn to the acre. 
When this was first published it quite staggered the faith of 
eastern farmers. This roused the zeal of Kentucky, and 
the Dollar Fanner sets forth the manner, and adds a series 
of explanations, all of which we give. We must say, that 
such a depth, for seed on stiff soils — on any soil except 
the lightest and mellowest, and on these, in a cool or rainy 
spring, Avould not be proper. Neither could planting be 
done in March in the latitudes of Indiana unless in the 
southern part, and then only in early seasons. That 
Mr. Young did produce 195 bushels to the acre, we feel just 
as certain as that we now hold a pen in our hand. It was 
measured by as respectable gentlemen as any in Jessamine 
County — gentlemen appointed for the purpose by the Jes- 
samine Agricultural Society. And let it be remembered 
that this was no first experiment on a single acre. The 
corn was planted and cultivated according to the method 
long adopted by Mr. Young, and his whole crop was pro- 
nounced equal to the five acres measured. This extraordi- 
nary crop was produced in 1840, a year very favorable to 
corn ; but we are told by Mr. Young that in the dry est 
years he does not get less than 100 bushels to the acre. 



452 PLAIN AND PLEASAIST TALK 

Here then is not " book farming," but a method of cultiva. 
tion practised for years by a plain, practical, but intelligent 
flirmer. Here then is actual experience for a course of years, 
the very thing the farmer says he must have before he can be 
convinced ! But, reader, are you convinced ? ISTo. You can 
not get round the experience, provided it xoas experience, 
and you will take a short way of evading the matter by sim- 
ply saying that you don't believe a word of the whole story. 

Strange as it may seem, these worthy farmers that . 
go so strong for facts and experience, and who yet deny 
all facts and all experience that do not tally with their 
own notions — these very farmers are fond of arguing, and 
like mightily to have the reason or rationale of things 
explained; and many a one of them will yield to the theory 
•who will not yield to a fact. Well, then, let us look into 
the theory of Mr. Y.'s practice. Hear him : 

" My universal rule is, to plow my corn land the fall pre- 
ceding the spring when I plant ; and as early in the spring 
as possible, I cross-plow as deep as circumstances will per- 
mit ; and as soon as this is done, I commence checking off — 
the first way with my large plows, and the second with my 
small ones ; the checks three feet by three, admitting of 
working the land both ways. And then I plant my corn 
from the 20th to the 25th of March — a rule to which I adhere 
with scrupulous exactness ; planting from eight to twelve 
grains in each hill, covering the same from four to six 
inches deep, greatly preferring the latter depth. So soon 
as my corn is up of sufficient height, I start the large har- 
row directly over the rows, allowing a horse to walk each 
side ; harrowing the way the corn was planted ; and on 
land prejjared as above and harrowed as directed, the hoe- 
ing part will be so completely performed by this process, 
thao it will satisfy the most skeptical. Then, allowing the 
corn thus harrowed, to remain a few days, I start my small 
jolow Avith the bar next the corn ; and so nicely will this be 
done, that when a row is thus plowed, so completely will 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FAEMIXG. 453 

the intermediate spaces, hills, etc., be lapped in by the 
loose earth, occasioned by this system of close plowing, as 
to render any other work useless for a time. I thin to four 
stalks upon a hill, never having to transplant, the second 
plowing being performed with the raoldboard toward the 
rows of corn ; and so rapid has been the growth of the corn 
between the first and second plowings, that this is per- 
formed with ease ; and when in this stage, I consider my 
crop safe — my general rule being, never to plow my corn 
more than four times, and harrow once. My practice is, to 
put a field in corn two successive years, then grass it, and 
Jet it lie eight years — a rule from which I never deviate. 
Now, I do not pretend that the labor bestowed upon a sod- 
field to put it in a state of thorough cultivation, does not 
meet with a fair equivalent from one crop ; but I presume 
no farmer will doubt when I say the second year's crop 
from sod land is better than the first, with not more than one 
half the labor. The best system of farming is to produce the 
greatest amount of profit from the smallest amount of labor." 

Now what are the essentials of this method ? 

First — Fertility of soil, kept up by his system of manur- 
ing and grass, of which we shall not speak. 

Second — Early planting. In consequence of this, the 
corn matures before the dry season commences, and every 
farmer knows that plenty of rain will make a good crop of 
corn in. almost any soil. They all know that the essential 
thing for corn Ls rain, and there is generally plenty of rain 
till about the 1st of July. Mr. Young might plant his corn 
considerably later and have it come up as eai'ly, and grow 
oft* more rapidly, by soaking it in a solution of saltpetre. 
Thus would the effect of frost and chilly mornings be in a 
degree avoided, while we feel confident, from our own expe- 
rience, all injury from the cut-worm would be avoided. 

Third — Close planting. Every farmer must know that 
to produce the heaviest possible crop, a certain number of 
stalks must be upon the ground. It is often observed that 



454 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

the great sin of American agricitlture is too thin soNving. 
Grass is nearly always sowed too thin, and the same is true 
of small grain. In England they sow four and five and 
sometimes six bushels of oats to the acre ; in this country 
generally not more than a bushel or a bushel and a half. 
Hence in England they yield three or four times as heavy as 
in this country ; while in this country we never hear of an 
extiaordinary crop where less than three or four bushels 
to the acre Avere so^vn. Now, we venture to affirm that no 
very large corn crop was ever grown unless it was planted 
more than usually thick. In the crop of George W. Wil- 
liams, of Bourbon county, Kentucky, the corn was planted in 
rows two feet apart, with a stalk every foot in the rows. 
This crop produced 167 bushels to the acre. But there is 
another important advantage of close planting. The corn 
very soon becomes so dense that the ground is shaded, and 
the groA\'th of the grass is prevented, and the moisture 
retained in the soil. By this method of cultivation, no 
grass is ever allowed to absorb the moisture from the earth, 
or to take up the nutritious gases which ought to be appro- 
priated exclusively to the corn. 

Fourth — ^Deep planting. This probably operates favor- 
ably by giving the roots a bedding where the soil is always 
moist. Another advantage may be that the roots are thus 
not so liable to be broken by the plow in cultivation. But it 
must be here noted, that by Mr. Yoimg's methed, the corn 
is "laid by" before the roots are so extended as to be liable 
to much injury from the plow. 

Fifth and last — It will be observed that, by Mr. Young's 
method, the soil is kept very friable and loose, and that to 
a considerable depth. This may be considered the all- 
essential point in husbandry. One of the chief advantages 
of all manures is, so to divide the soil that the atmos- 
phere, from which plants derive their principal nutri- 
ment, may freely penetrate to the roots of the plants. In 
such a loose soil, too, it is well known that much less rain is 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AXD FARMING. 455 

requisite than in a stiff, cold, close soil. For this reason, 
gravel, sand, or sawdust is often the best manure that can 
be put upon a stiff soil. In the fall of the year, Mr. Young 
turns down very deep a thick-rooted sod of eight years' 
standing. The vegetable matter in the sod will obviously 
keep the soil very loose for a year or two by mechanical 
division, as well as by the slow fermentation of this matter 
in the soil. But this is not aU. The soil is deeply broken 
up before planting ; it is harrowed thoroughly as soon as 
the corn conies up, and then there is a rapid succession of 
plowmg, mitil the ground is shaded by the corn, and plow- 
ing is no longer possible or necessary. No doubt the 
plow is preferable to the hand-hoe or cultivator in the case 
of Mr. Young ; for it makes the soil loose to a greater 
depth, and we have already explained that, according to 
his method, the roots of the corn are not exposed to injury 
from the plow. 

We append to this account of Mr. Young's method, that 
of several other cultivators, and are indebted for them to the 
Western Farmer and Guardian. In Mr. Miller's account 
the reader will observe the depth of planting in a stiff clay. 

Mr. Sutton's Method. — Mr. James M. Sutton, of 
St. George, Delaware, who raised upon seventy-nine acres 
6,284 bushels of corn, and who gives an accurate and 
detailed account of the condition and cultivation of each 
field, makes this remark in relation to the use of the plow : 

" In order to test the advantage of the cultivator over 
the plow, for tilling corn, he had five rows in this field that 
he lapped the furrow to, with a plow, previous to going 
over it the last time with the cultivator. He soon dis- 
covered that the growth of these five rows fell short, in 
height, of those adjacent, and yielded one-fifth less corn. 

" There is no doubt but the true mode of tilling corn, 
especially where sod-ground is used, is to plow deep, and 
use nothing but the fallow and flake-harrow for its cultivar 
tion. By not disturbing the sod plowed down, it remains 



456 PLAIN ANP PLEASA]NTr TALK 

there as a reservoir of moisture, and an exhilarating prin. 
ciple throughout the season, to the growth of the corn," 

Upon Mr. Sutton's report of his crop. Judge Buel adds 
the following : 

" Tlie management which led to the extraordinary pro- 
duct of corn, should be deeply impressed upon the inind of 
every corn-grower. 1, The ground was well dunged with 
LONG manure ; 2, it was planted on a grass lay, one deep 
plowing ; 3, it was well pulverized with the harrow ; 4, 
the plow was not used in the after-culture, nor the corn 
hilled, but the cultivator only used ; 5, the sod was not 
disturbed, nor the manure turned to the surface ; and 6, 
the corn was cut at the ground when it was fit to top. 
These are the points which we have repeatedly urged in 
treating of the culture of this crop ; and their correctness 
is put beyond question by this notable result. The value of 
lime and marl are well illustrated in the second experiment." 

Mr. Charles H. Tomlinson, of Schenectady, N. Y., in giv- 
ing an account of his experience says : 

" The two last years' corn has been raised in the follow- 
ing manner, on the Mohawk Flats near this city. If in 
grass, the land is plowed and well harrowed, lengthwise of 
the furrow, without disturbing . the sward. The ground is 
then prej^ared for planting, by being marked out two and a 
half feet one way and three feet the other. The last season, 
the field was rolled after being planted, with evident benefit, 
as it made it level. When the corn is three inches high, 
the cultivator is passed through both ways ; and twice 
afterward it is used in the same manner ; no hills are made, 
but the ground is kept level. Neither hand-hoe nor plow 
are used, after the corn is planted. Fields manured with 
coarse manure have been tilled in the same manner. Corn 
tilled in this way is as clean of weeds as w^hen tilled in the 
usual way : it is no more liable to be blown down, and the 
produce equally good. It saves a great deal of hard labor 
which is an expensive item in the usual culture of corn. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS A1VX> FARMING. 457 

Last October, ten rods were measured out in two different 
places, in a corn-field, on grass land — the one yielding ten, 
the other nine, bushels of ears. In one corn-field, after 
the last dressing in July, timothy and clover-seed were 
sown, and in the fall the grass api^eared to have taken as 
well as it has done iu adjoining fields where it had been 
sown with oats." 

Upon which Judge Buel again remarks : " All, or nearly 
all, the accounts we have published of great products of 
Indian corn, agree in two particulars, viz. in not using 
the plow in the culture, and in not earthing, or but very 
slightly, the hiUs. These results go to demonstrate, that 
the entire roots are essential to the vigor of the crops, and 
to enable them to perform their functions as nature designed, 
must be near the surface. If the roots are severed with 
the i^low, iu dressing the crop, the plants are deprived of a 
jjortion of their nourishment ; and if they are buried deep 
by hilling, the plant is partially exhausted in throwing out 
a new set near the surface, where alone they can perform all 
their offices. There is another material advantage in this 
mode of cultivating the corn crop — it saves a vast deal of 
manual labor." 

The preceding considerations justify us in recommending, 
that in the management of the Indian corn crop, the fol- 
lowmg rules be observed, or at least partially, so far as to 
test theii- correctness. 

1. That the corn harrow and cultivator be substituted 
for the plow m the culture of the crop. 

2. That the plants be not hilled, or but slightly so — this 
not to prevent the soil being often stirred and kept clean, and, 

3. That in harvesting, the crop be cut at the groimd as 
soon as the gi'ain is glazed. 

Again, iu reference to the system of level cultivation of 
corn, Judge Buel remarks : 

" The experience of the last two years has been sufficient 
to admonish us, that -wdthout due precaution, our crops of 



4r)8 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

Indian corn will not pay for the labor bestowed on the cul- 
ture ; and yet, that where due attention has been paid to 
soU, manure, seed and harvesting, the return has been 
bountiful, notwithstanding bad seasons. Having been uni- 
formly successful in the culture of this crop, we feel 
justified in repeating some leading directions for its manage- 
ment." 

" After-culture. — In this the plow should not be used 
if the corn han-ow and cultivator can be had, and if used, 
should not be sufiered to penetrate the soil more than two 
or three inches. The plow tears the roots, turns up and 
wastes the manure, and increases the injuries of drought. 
The main object is to extirpate weeds, and to keep the 
surface mellow and oj^en, that the heat, air and moisture 
may exert better their kind influences uj)on the vegetable 
matter in the soil, in converting it into nutriment for the 
crop. At the first dressing with the hand-hoe, the plants 
are reduced to four, or three, in a hill, the surface is broken 
among the plants, the weeds carefully extirpated, and a lit- 
tle fresh mold gathered to the hill. At the second dressing, 
a like process is observed, taking care that the earthing 
shall not exceed one inch and a half, that the hill be broad 
and flat, and that the earth for this purpose be not taken 
fl-om one place, but gathered from the surface between the 
rows, where it has been loosened by the cultivator." 

MR. miller's method. 

" Georgetown x Roads, Kent Co., Md. 

" I have just finished measuring the corn that grew this 
year on a lot of mine of five and a half acres, and have 
measured 105i barrels and one bushel of ears, making 103 
bushels of corn per acre. The following is the manner in 
which I prepared the ground, etc. The soil is a stiff clay : 
and one and a half acres of said lot was in clover last year, 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. • 4f.9 

the balance in wheat. I put 265 two-horse cart loads of 
barn-yard manure on it : the manure was coarse, made out of 
straw, corn-tops and husks, hauled into the yard in January 
and February, and hauled out in March and April, conse- 
quently was very little rotted. I spread it regularly and 
plowed it down with a large concave plow, seven inches deep. 
I then harrowed it twice the same way it was plowed. I then 
had the rows marked out with a small plow, three feet ten 
inches wide, and one and a half inches deep. I planted my 
corn from eighteen to twenty-two inches apart, and covered 
it with hoes: just drawing the furi'ows over the corn, 
which covered it one and a half inches below the sur- 
face. When the corn was four inches high, I harrowed it, 
and thinned it to two stalks in the hill : in about two weeks 
after harrowing, I cultivated it : about the 15th of June I 
cultivated it again, which was all the tillage I gave it. We 
farmers of the eastern shore count our corn by the 
thousand : I had 38,640 hills on my lot, and I think my corn 
would have been better had I planted earlier : I did not 
plant until the last of April. I think the planting of corn 
shallow and working it with the cultivator is much the best 
way, especially on clover lay; 

Mr. Hopkins' Method. — " Soil and Gidture. — The soil 
is a warm sandy loam. It was plowed deep in the autumn. 
About the first of May, I carried on, and spread all over 
the ground, about thirty loads of stable and bai'n-yard 
unfermented manure, then rolled and harrowed the ground 
well, being careful not to disturb the sod, which was timo- 
thy, and mown the summer preceding ; and on the 9th and 
10th of May planted the same, two and a half feet between 
the rows, and fifteen inches between the hills. It was 
dressed with ashes when it made its appearance above 
ground. On the 10th June commenced weeding and thin- 
ning, leaving from two to four of the best spears in each 
hill, the whole averaging about three spears in a hill. After 
this I ashed it again, using in all about ten bushels of good 



460 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK. 

unleached house ashes. On the 10th of July commenced 
hoeing, and at the same time took off all the suckers — ^put 
no moi-e about the hills than we took from them, but care- 
fully cleaned out all the weeds from the hills. The seed 
was prepared by simply wetting it with warm water, and 
rolling it in plaster. 

"Habvesteng. — The corn was cut upon the 18th Sep- 
tember at the ground, and shocked in small shocks ; and on 
the 9th of October it was housed and husked, and subse- 
quently threshed and measured. 

" Product. — Ninety-nine bushels of first-rate corn, with- 
out even a nubbin of soft or poor grain, owing to the fact, 
probably, that there were no suckers on which to grow 
them." 



POTATO CROP. 

The potato crop has never been as much attended to in 
this region as in New York, and New England. We 
beheve, however, that its value is becoming apparent, and 
that potatoes will be produced to a much greater extent 
than hitherto. Reserving some remarks of our own to a 
future number, we insert the methods of cultivation, em- 
ployed by eminent cultivators. 

Spurrier's Method of Cultivation. — " Be careful," says 
he, " to procure some good sets ; that is, to pick a quantity 
of the best kind of potatoes perfectly sound and of a toler- 
ably large size ; these are to be prepared for planting by 
cutting each root into two, three or more pieces, minding 
particularly that each piece be furnished with at least one 
or two eyes, which is sufficient. Being thus prepared, they 
are to be planted in rows not less than eighteen inches dis- 
tant : if they are to be plowed between, they must not be 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 461 

less than three feet, and if four feet apart the more 
eJi£!,"ihle. 

" The best method I have found by experience is to make 
a trench either with the spade or plow, about five inches 
deep, and put long dung or straw at the bottom, laying the 
sets on it at their proper distances, which is from 9 to 12 
inches apart, covering them with mold. They must be kept 
clean from weeds." 

Mr. Knight's Plan. — " He recommends the planting of 
whole potatoes, and those only which are of fine medium 
size — none to be of less weight than four ounces. The 
early sorts, and, indeed, all which seldom attain a greater 
height than two feet, are to be planted about four or five 
inches apart in the rows, centre from centre, the crown ends 
upward, the rows to be from 2 feet 6 inches to 3 feet 
asunder. The late jDotatoes, which produce a haulm above 
3 feet in height, are to be planted 5 or 6 inches apart, centre 
from centre, in rows 4 or 5 feet asunder. The j^otatoes to 
point north and south and to be Avell manured." 

Mackenzie's Plan. — " Work the ground until it is com- 
pletely reduced and free from root weeds. Three plo-w-ings, 
with frequent harrowings and rollings, are necessary in both 
cases, before the land is in a suitable condition. When this 
is accomplished, form the drills ; place the manure in the 
drills, plant above it, reverse the drills for covering it and 
the seed, then harrow the drills in length. 

" It is not advantageous to cut the seed into small slips ; 
for the strength of the stem at the outset depends in direct 
proportion to the vigor and power of the seed-plant. The 
seed-plant, therefore, ought to be large, rarely smaller than 
the fourth part of the potato ; and if the seed is of small 
size, one half of the potato may be profitably used. At all 
events, rather err in giving over large seed than in making 
it too small ; because, by the first error, no great loss can 
ever be sustained ; whereas, by the other, a feeble and late 
crop may be the consequence. When the seed is properly 



462 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

cut, it requires from ten to twelve hundred weight of pota- 
toes., from 12i to 16 bushels, where the rows are at 27 inches 
distance ; but this generally depends greatly upon the size 
of the potatoes used ; if they are large a greater weight- 
may be required ; but the extra quality will be abundantly 
repaid by the superiority of the crop, which large seed 
usually produces. Plant early in May." 

Barnum's Plan. — "Plow deep and pulverize well by 
thoroughly harrowing; manure with compost, decomposed 
vegetables or barnyard manure ; the latter preferable. 
When coarse or raw manure is used it must be spread and 
plowed in immediately. Stiff clay soil should always be 
plowed the fall previous. Lay your land in drills 27 inches 
apart, with a small plow, calculated for turning a deep, nar- 
row furrow running north and south ; lay on the bottom of 
the drills 2 inches of weLl-rotted barnyard manure, or its 
equivalent, then drop your potatoes, if of the common size, 
or what is more important, if they retain the usual quan- 
tity of eyes — if more, they should be cut to prevent too 
many stalks shooting up together : put a single potato in 
the drills or trenches 10 inches apart, the first should remain 
uncovered until the second one is deposited, to place them 
diagonally in the drills, which wiU afford more space 
between the potatoes one way, than if laid at right angles 
in the rows. The covering may be performed with a hoe, 
first hauling in the furrow raised on each side the drill, 
then carefully take from the centre of the space the soil to 
finish the covering to the depth of 3| or 4 inches ; by taking 
the earth from the centre of the space on either side to the 
width of 3 inches, it will leave a drain of 6 inches in the 
centre of the space and a hill of 14 inches in width gently 
descending from the drill to the drain, the width and depth 
of the drill will be sufiicient to protect the plant against any 
injurious effects of a scorching sun or drenching rain. The 
drains in the centre will at all times be found . sufficient to 
pass off the surplus water. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FAR5IIXG, 4G3 

" When the plant makes its appearance above the surface, 
the following mixture may be used : for each acre take 1 
bushel of plaster and 2 bushels of good ashes, and sow it 
broadcast as even as possible ; a moist day is preferable for 
this operation — for want of it, a still evening v,n.\\ do. 

" The operation of hilling should be performed once and 
once only during the season ; if repeated after the potatoe 
is formed it will cause young shoots to spring up, which 
retards the growth of the potatoe and diminishes its size. 
If weeds spring up at any time they should be kept down 
by the hand or hoe, which can be done without disturbing 
the growth of the stalk. 

" My manner of hoeing or hilling is not to haul in the 
earth from the space between the hills or rows, but to bring 
on fresh earth sufficient to raise the hill around the plant 1^ 
or 2 inches ; in a wet season the lesser quantity will be suffi- 
cient, in a dry one the larger will not be found too much. 
The substance for this purpose may consist of the scrapings 
of ditches or filthy streets, or the earth from a barnyard that 
requires levelling : where convenient, it may be taken from 
swamps, marshes, the beds and banks of rivers or small 
sluggish streams at low water. If planted on a clay soil, 
fresh loam taken at any depth from the surface, even if it 
partakes largely of fine sand, will be found an excellent top- 
dressing. If planted on a loamy soil, the earth taken from 
clay pits, clay or slaty soil will answer a valuable purpose ; 
in tact, there are but few farms in the country but what 
may be furnished with some suitable substance for top- 
dressing, if sought for. The hoeing and hilling may be per- 
formed with facility by the aid of a horse and cart, the 
horse travelling in the centre of a space between the 
drills, tbe cart-wheels occupying the two adjoining ones, 
thereby avoiding any disturbance or injury to the growing 
plants." 

Mr. "Barnum's method has attracted great attention, from 
the fact that he actually raised from 1,000 to 1,500 bushels 



464 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

of potatoes to the acre ! "When this was first published it 
was received with great incredulity ; calls were made for 
the metliod of cultivation, which drew forth an elaborate 
article from Mr. B., of which the above is but a morsel. It 
afterward was stated, and the most authentic and unques- 
tionable evidence adduced in proof, that Mr. Barnum 
raised, upon experiment, at the rate of more than 3,000 
bushels to the acre. Now, although the labor and the great 
amount of seed required would prevent the cultivation of 
many acres of land thus, yet it is worth a trial in a small 
way; and if one acre can be made to produce 1,000 
bushels, it Avill be as much as is usually dug iroxn five acres ; 
and it is questionable whether the labor and seed for five 
acres are not more than that required by Mr. B.'s method 
for one. 

Me. a. Robinson's Plan. — He says: "If I plant low- 
ground, I plow my ground in beds in a difierent direction for 
the water to drain ofi", then harrow lengthwise of the fur- 
rows and small lands ; having a number of them, side and 
side, I take a light, sharp horse-harrow, and harrow cross- 
wise of the beds, which pulverizes the ground and fits it 
well for planting, leaving a small space between the rows, 
which answers for two purposes, one for a guide for the 
rows for dropping : this is done by dropj^ing in the middle 
of the tracks of the harrow, which is easily and correctly 
performed, by any small boy. It also serves completely to 
fill up all cracks or holes, the seed lying fair and easy. I 
then drop my manure directly over the seed potatoes, ana 
when covered up, the seed is safe from inundation, by 
being some inches above the surrounding surface : tlie seed 
lies warm under this manure, the rains drain into the mid- 
dle furrows ; I plant three feet distance ; it takes the most 
of the surface that is pulverized to cover the potatoes, and 
by the time they are twice well hoed, my hills are as I want 
them to be. They naturally rise' high above the surface in 
the form of a sugar-loaf: this hill is to turn ofi" heavy raina, 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS A^^) FARMING. 465 

and it naturally keeps the potatoes from being too moist, 
and they are often injured thereby. I have found that 
three feet each way is the most proper distance to insure a 
good crop ; I plant three common sized potatoes in the 
hill ; it is no use to cut them : if cut small, the vines come 
up small and weak, grow fast and fall down." 

The following method we take from an able writer in the 
Louisville Journal^ signing himself " Grazier :" 

"The ground selected for potatoes should be dry, where 
no surface-water will rest. It should be rich ; if not natur- 
ally so, it must be made so by a sufficient quantity of good 
manure. It should be plowed twice, and at least twelve 
inches deep. After the first plowing, it should be har- 
rowed and cross harrowed ; and after the second plowing, 
harrowed again, and if not very friable and free from clods 
it should then be rolled. The mold cannot be too fine, as 
on the depth of the plowing, and fineness of the earth, 
depend the retention of that moisture so indispensable to 
the health and maturing of all bulbous roots in particular. 
The ground thus prepared, should then be opened ofli* in 
drills, three feet from the centre of one to the centre of the 
other, and, if practicable, running north and south. When 
opened, if manure is to be applied, it must then be hauled 
in carts ; the horse going down between the drills, the bed 
of the cart will cover two drills, where the manui-e can be 
pulled out at intervals, in quantity sufiicient, not only for 
the two drills described, but for one on each side in addi- 
tion ; all of which one hand, following with a fork, can 
easily distribute and spread in the four drills. 

" This done, the ground is ready for the seed. I shall 
first describe the whole of the cultivation and harvesting 
necessary, and then speak of the seed and its preparation 
separately. The seed should be dropped in the manure, 
twelve inches apart, and as quickly as a drill is planted, the 
plow should follow and cover it in. The double mold- 
board plow, which is the proper implement for the business, 



466 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

will cover two drills by going once up and once dowoi the 
field ; if the single mold-board plow is used, it will of 
course cover but one drill by the same oi^eration. When 
your ground is thus gone over, your land will all be in high 
drills, and can rest so for about one Aveek, when you must 
take a two-horse harrow, and harrow your drills across, 
leaving your field as level as before your drills were opened. 
There is no danger, as some woiald suppose, of disturbing 
your seed. 

" In a few days, when you can see your plants distinctly 
above groimd, from one end of your drills to the other, you 
must take your one-horse plow, and go up and down each 
drill, running the land side of your plow as close to the 
plant on each side as you safely can, throwing the earth 
away from it, which operation will leave your field in raised 
drills between your plants. In a few days after this you 
take your double mold-board plow, and go down the centre 
of the blank drills, covering all your plants nearly out of 
sight, observing as you go along that the weight of earth is 
thrown against, and not ow, the plants. Then, in some 
days after, when your plants are well over the toj) of your 
drills, take your scuffle, an implement not unlike your cul- 
tivator in this country,»and for which the cultivator can be 
substituted, and go over your whole field between the drills, 
giving the earth a good stirring, and not be afraid of 
encroaching a little at each side on the drill. At this stage, 
a boy should follow the scuffle, and pull up any weeds that 
apj)ear on the top or sides of the drills. In a few days 
after this, when your plants are strong and well up, you go 
down the centre between the drills, with your double mold- 
board plow, the wings well apart, and throw the earth well 
up to the plants. This must sometimes finish the cultivar 
tion, if the vines have spread and are closed too much, but 
generally the vines will allow it, and the crop be much 
benefited by one more scuffling ; but this time take par- 
ticidar care not to disturb the drill at the bottom, as the 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 467 

bulbs are now forming and spreading; then gently run 
your double mold-hoard plow through the whole field again, 
narrowing the wings of it, which will have the eiFect of 
adding the earth, and compressing it to the bottom of the 
drill, where the bulbs are forming, rather than throAving it 
up to the stalk at top, where there is sufficient already. 
This finishes the cultivation. 

" To prepare the seed you must select well-shaped, even 
potatoes, not too small nor too large. Cut them, leaving one 
good eye at least to every set ; prepare them from two to 
three weeks at least, before you plant ; and each day, as you 
cut, roll your sets in pulverized lime, and spread them on 
the barn floor to dry : when dry, heap them in a corner till 
taken out to plant. If this plan is pursued, and the ground 
selected and prepared as directed, you may rest satisfied 
that so sure as the laws of nature are invariable, and that 
hke eifects follow like causes, as sure will a good and sound 
crop of potatoes be produced in this climate with no vari- 
ation in the result, except what may be occasioned by the 
vicissitudes of the season. 

" Ten tons of potatoes, two thousand two hundred and 
forty pounds to the ton, is considered a fair crop in Ire- 
land. Twelve tons an extra one — equal to three hundred 
and seventy bushels the first, and four hundred and forty- 
four bushels the second, allowing sixty pounds to the 
bushel, which I have found to be about the average weight 
of a bushel here. I have grown four crops of potatoes in 
this country, in two diflferent situations and latitudes (six 
acres the smallest quantity cultivated any season). Each 
crop was treated in every particular as here described, 
and in three instances out of the four, I got a little over 
four hundred measured bushels to the acre. The fourth 
crop was only about three hundred and fifty bushels to the 
acre, caused by the peculiarity of the season, which pro- 
duced an almost entire failure with my neighbors, vmder 
their management." 



468 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

POTTING GARDEN PLANTS FOR WINTER USE. 

Roses, geraniums, chrysauthemums, Cape jasmins, etc^ 
which have been put into the garden boi'dcrs, should 
be prepared for removal to the parlor for winter, before 
frost, else the plants will not be established in the pots 
when removed to the parlor, and will thrive but poorly. 

Select the pot which is to receive each plant, draw a cir- 
cle about the plant of the size of the pot, then thrust a 
sharp spade down so as to cut all the roots at the line of the 
circle described. Let the plant remain, Avatering it tho- 
roughly , and if it droops, let it be sheltered from the sun. 
In a few days new roots will begin to form within the ball 
of earth described by the circle, and in three or four weeks 
that ball may be carefully hfted, placed in the pot for which 
it was measured, and it will go on growmg as if nothing 
had happened to it. If one waits till frost, then digs up the 
plant without a previous preparation of its roots, it will of- 
tentimes not recover from the violence during the winter. 
But by the method suggested above, roses, etc., will go on 
growing and blooming through the winter. 



There are many who suppose it necessary to leave the 
second growth of grass undisturbed, to rot on the ground, 
in order to preserve the fertility of old meadows in grass 
where top dressmg with manure is not resorted to. But 
such management is oftentimes extremely hurtful, and the 
hijury is proportioned to the amount left untrodden and 
unfed. If the amount left standing, or laying loose upon 
the surface, be considerable, it makes a harbor for mice, 
which will, under cover of the old grass, intersect the sur- 
face of the land with paths innumerable, from which they 
cut all the grass that comes in then- way. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLO WEBS AUD FAKMING 469 



MARY HO WITT'S USE OF FLOWERS. 

Here is another of those beautiful gems which can never 
be brought to the light too often. And when more appro- 
priately than in the middle of our spring-time, while burst- 
ing buds and fragrant blossoms are delighting every 
sense ? 

God might have made the earth bring forth 

Enough for great and small, 
The oak-tree and the cedar-tree, 

Without a flower at all. 

We might have had enough, enough 

For every want of ours, 
For luxury, medicine, and toil, 

And yet have had no flowers. 

The ore within the mountain mine 

Requireth none to grow. 
Nor does it need the lotus flower 

To make the river flow. 

The clouds might give abundant rain, 

The nightly dews might fall, 
And the herb that keepeth life in man, 

Might yet have drunk them all. 

Then wherefore, wherefore were they made 

And dyed with rainbow light. 
All fashioned with supremest grace, 

Upspringing day and night? 

Springing in valleys green and low. 

And on the mountains high, 
And in the silent wilderness, 

Where no man passeth by ? 

Our outward life requires them not^ 

Then wherefore had they birth ? 
To minister delight to man — 

To beautify the earth. 



470 PLAIN AJn) PLEASANT TALK 

To comfort man, to whisper hope 
Whene'er his faith is dim, 

For whoso careth for the flowers, 
Will much more care for Him. 



WHAT ARE FLOWERS GOOD FOR? 

*' I HAVE said and Avritten a great deal to my countrymen 
about the cultivation of flowers, ornamental gardening, and 
rural embellishments ; and I would read them a homily on 
the subject every day of every remaining year of my Hfe, 
if I thought it would induce them to make this a matter of 
particular attention and care. When a man asks me, what 
is th(! use of shrubs and flowers, my first impulse is always, 
to look under his hat and see the length of his ears. I am 
heartily sick of measuring everything by a standard of 
mere utility and profit ; and as heartily do I pity the man, 
who can see no good in life but in the pecuniary gain, or 
jn the mere animal indulgences of eating and drinking." — 
Colmaii's Agricidtural Tour. 

We protest against the sauciness of the italicized line. 
Mr. Colman never feels any such impulse ; and if he does, 
he ought to suspect his own ears. Nothing is more prepos- 
terous than interflagellations among men on the matter of 
likes and dislikes. Every man selects his ruling passion, 
and scoflfs at such as do not grow enthusiastic with him. A 
market gardener rails at a florist for fol-de-rol trifles ; and 
the florist looks at the length of the fellow's ears who has 
nothing but turnips, onions, and cabages ; while a big 
Miami farmer, who puts in his five-hundred-acre corn-patch, 
by way of summer amusement, regards both as small affairs. 
We find no faiilt Avith those who possess a super-ardent 
enthusiasm for flowers ; but when they throw it in other 
people's faces, and call them brutes and asses, for not liking 
pretty flowers, we think the thing has been carried quite far 
enough. We love good manners along with pretty flowers. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 471 

THE BLIGHT IN THE PEAR-TREE* 

ITS CAUSE AND A REMEDY FOR IT. 

The year 1844 will long be remembered for the exten- 
sivei'avages of that disease hitherto denormnated Jire-blight. 
Beginning at the Atlantic coast, we have heard of it in 
Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Indi- 
ana, and as far as Tennessee ; and it is probable that it has 
been felt in every fi-uit-growing State in the Union where 
the season of 1843 was the same as that west of the Alle- 
ghany range, namely, cold in spring, dry throughout the 
summer, and a wet and warm fall, with early and sudden 
winter. 

In Indiana and Ohio the blight has prevailed to such an 
extent as to spread dismay among cultivators ; destroying 
entire collections — taking half the trees in large orchards — 
affecting both young and old trees, whether grafted or 
eeedings in soils of every kind. Many have seen the labor 
and fond hope of years cut off, in one season, by an invisible 
destroyer, against which none could guard ; because, in the 
conflicting opinions, none were certain whether the disease 
was atmospheric, insect or chemical. 

I shall now proceed to describe that blight known in the 
western States (without pretending to identify it with the 
blight known in New York and New England), to examine 
the theories proposed for its causation, and to present what 
now seems to me the true cause, 

I. Description. — ^Although the signs of it, as wiU appear 
in the sequel, may be detected long before the leaves pnt 
out in the spring, yet its full effects do not begin to appear 
vmtil May, or if the spring be backward, until June. On 
the wood of the last year will be found a point where the 

* Read before the Iiidiana Horticultural Society, and communicated by 
Mr. Beecher to Hovey's Magazine of Horticulture, December, 1844. 



472 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

bark is either dead and dry, or else at the same point the 
bark will be puffed, softened, or sappy with thickened sap 
— these two ai^pearances indicating only different degrees 
of the same blight. Wherever the bark is dead and dry, 
the limb will flourish above it, make new wood, ripen its 
fruit, but perish the ensuing winter. In the other case, as 
soon as the circulation of the sap becomes active, the point 
described shows signs of disease, the leaf turns to a darker 
brown than is natural to its ordmary decay, being nearly 
black, and the wood perishes. 

The disease, at first, blights the terminal portions of the 
branch ; but the affection spreads gradually downward, 
and sometimes affects the whole trunk. The time from the 
first appearance of the blight to that in which any affected 
part dies, is various ; sometimes two or three weeks — some- 
times a day only ; and sometimes, but rarely, even a few 
hours consummate the disease. 

On dissecting the branch, the wood is of a dirty, brown- 
ish, yellow color ; the sap thick and unctuous, of a sour 
disagreeable odor, like that of a fermented watermelon, on 
the tops of potato vines after they have been frosted. In 
still, moist days, where the blight is extensive in an orchard, 
this odor fills the air, and is disagreeably perceptible at 
some distance from the trees. 

Sometimes the bark bursts, the sap exudes, and runs 
down, turning black ; and its acridity will destroy vegeta- 
tion on which it may drop, and shoots, at a distance from 
the trunk, upon which the rain washes this ichor, will soon 
perish. When we come to treat of the cause of this dis- 
ease, it will be important to remember this malignancy of 
the fluids. 

We are carefully to distinguish these appearances, pecu- 
liar to what I suppose ought to be called lointer-bllght, from 
another and a summer-blight. In this last, the leaf is affected 
at first in spots ; gradually the whole leaf turns russet 
color and drops. Along the wood may be seen the hard- 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 473 

ened trail as of a slimy insect, of an ash coloi*. The wood 
suffers very little by this summer-hlight, and sometimes 
none. The winter-blight is found on almost all kinds of 
trees. This summer it has affected the apple, the pear, the 
peach, the quince, the English hawthorn, privet, black 
birch, Spanish chestnut, elder, and calycanthus. I enume- 
rate the most of these kinds on the authority of J. H. 
James, of Urbana, Ohio, and C. W. Elliott, of Cincinnati, 
having observed it myself only on fruit-trees. 

II, Theories. — A variety of theories exist as to the 
causes of this disease. Some are mere imaginations ; soine 
are only ingenious ; and some so near to what I supiDose to 
be the truth, that it is hardly possible to imagine how the 
discovery was not made. 

The injury is done in the fall, but is not seen till spring 
or summer, or even the next fall. Thus, six months or a 
year intervene between the cause and the effect — a sufficient 
reason for the difficulty of detecting the origin of the evil. 

1. Some have alleged that the rays of the sun, passing 
through vapors which arise about the trees, concentrate 
upon the branches, and destroy them by the literal energy 
of fire. Were this true, the young and tender shoots would 
suffer first and most ; all pear-trees would suffer alike ; all 
moist and hot summers would be affected with blight ; her- 
baceous plants would suffer more than ligneous : all of 
which results are contrary to facts. 

2. Some have supposed the soil to contain deleterious 
substances, or to be wanting in properties necessary to 
health. But in either case such a cause of the blight ap- 
pears untrue, when we consider that trees suffer in all soils, 
rich or poor ; that, in the same soil, one tree is blighted 
and the next tree escapes ; that they will flourish for twenty 
years and then blight ; that a tree partially diseased recov- 
ers, and thrives for ten or more years without recurrence of 
blight. 

3. It has been attributed to violent and sudden changes 



474 PLAIlSr AND PLEASANT TALK 

of temi)eratiire in the air and of moisture in the earth ; to 
sudden change from sward to high tillage ; and the result is 
stated to be an " overplus " of sap, or a " surfeit." All 
these causes occur every year; but the blight does not 
every year follow them. Changes of temperature, and vio- 
lent changes in the condition of the soil, may be allied with 
the true cause. But when only these things exist, no blight 
follows. 

4. Others hav^e attributed the disease to over-stimulation 
by high manuring, or constant tillage ; and it has been said 
that covering the roots with stones and rubbish, or lay- 
ing the orchard down to grass, would prevent the evil. 
Facts warrant no such conclusions. Pear-trees in Gibson 
County, Indiana, on a clay soil, with blue slaty subsoil, 
were affected this year more severely than any of which 
we have heard. Pears in southern parts of this State, on 
red clay, where the ground had long been neglected, suf- 
fered as much as along the rich bottom lands of the Wa- 
bash about Vincennes. If there was any difference it Avas 
in favor of the richest land. About Mooresville, Morgan 
County, Indiana, pears have been generally affected, and 
those in grass lands as much as those in open soils. Aside 
from these facts, it is well known that pear-trees do not 
blight in those seasons when they make the rankest growth 
more than in others. They will thrive rampantly for years, 
no evil arising from their luxuriance, and then suddenly 
die of blight. 

5. It has been supposed by a few to be the effect of age^ 
the disease beginning on old varieties, and propagated upon 
new varieties by contagion. Were this the true cause, we 
should expect it to be most frequently developed in those 
pear regions where old varieties most abound. But this 
disease seems to be so little known in England, that Lou. 
don, in his elaborate Encyclopedia of Garde7iing, does not 
even mention it. Mr. Manning's statement wiU be given 
further on, to the same purport. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS jS SD FAEMIXG. 475 

6. Insect theory : Tlie confidence with which eastern 
cultivators pronoiuice the cause to be an msect, has m part 
served to cover up singular discrepancies in the separate 
statements in resj^ect to the ravages, and even the species 
of this destroyer. The Genesee Fanner of July, 1843, 
Hiiys, " the cause of the disease was for many years a mat- 
ter of dispute, and is so still by some jjersons ; but the ma- 
jority are now fully convinced that it is the work of an 
insect (scolytus pi/ri). T. W. Harris, in his work on insects, 
i-peaks of the minuteness and obscure habits of this insect, 
as " reasons why it has eluded the researches of those per- 
sons who disbelieve in its existence as the cause of the 
blasting of the limbs of the pear-treey Dr. Harris evi- 
dently supposed, imtil so late as 1843, that this insect in- 
fested only Xh.e pear-tree ; for he says, "the discovery of 
the blight-beetle in the limbs of the apple-tree, is a new 
fact in natural history ; but it is easily accounted for, be- 
cause this tree belongs not only to the same natural group, 
but also to the same genus as the pear-tree. It is not, 
therefore, surprising, that both the pear and the apple-tree 
should occasionally be attacked by the same insect." [See 
an ai-ticle in the 3Iassachusetts Ploughman, summer of 
1843, quoted in Genesee Farmer, J'^iiy, 1843.] 

This insect is said to eat through the alburnum,, the hard 
wood, and even a part of the pith, and to destroy the 
branch by separation of part from part, as a saw would _ 
On these facts, which there is no room to question, v.e 
make two remarks. 

1st. That the blight thus produced is limited, and proba- 
bly sectional or local. No account has met my eye which 
leads me to suppose that any considerable injury has been 
done by it. Mr. Manning, of Salem, Mass., in the second 
edition of his " Book of Flowers," states that he has never 
" had any trees affected hy iV — the blight. Yet his garden 
and nursery has existed for twenty years, and contained 
immense numbers of trees. 



476 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

2d. It is very plain that neither Mr, Lowell, originally, 
nor Dr. Harris, nor any who describe the blight as caused 
by the blight-beetle, had any notion of that disease which 
passes by the same name in the middle and western States. 
The blight of the scolytus pyri is a mere girdling of the 
branches — a mechanical separation of parts ; and no men- 
tion is made of the most striking facts incident to the great 
blight — the viscid unctuous sap ; the bursting of the bark, 
through which it issues; and its poisonous effects on the 
young shoots upon which it drops. 

We do not doubt the insect-blight ; but we are sure that it is 
not our blight. We feel very confident, also, that this blight, 
which from its devastations may be called the great bhght, 
has been felt in New England, in connection with the insect- 
blight, and confounded with it, and the effects of two dif- 
ferent causes happening to appear in conjunction, have 
been attributed to one, and the least influential cause. 
The writer in Fessenden's American Gardener (Mr. Low- 
ell ?) says of the blight, " it is sometimes so rapid in its 
progress, that in a few hours from its first appearance the 
whole tree will appear to be mortally diseased." This is 
not insect-blight ; for did the blight-beetle eat so suddenly 
around the whole trunk f Now here is a striking appear- 
ance of the great bhght, confounded with the minor blight, 
as we think will appear in the sequel. 

This theory has stood in the way of a discovery of the 
true cause of the great blight ; for every cultivator has 
gone in search of insects ; they have been found in great 
plenty, and in great variety of species, and their harmless 
presence accused with all the mischief of the season. A 
writer in the Farmer's Advocate^ Jamestown, N. C, dis- 
cerned the fire-blight, and traced it to " small, ret?, pellucid 
insects, briskly moving from place to place on the branches." 
This is not the scolytus pyri of Prof Peck and Dr. Harris. 

Dr. Mosher, of Cincinnati, in a letter published in the 
Farmer and Gardener for June, 1844, describes a third 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FAEKIXG. 477 

insect — " very ininute hrown-colored aphides^ snugly secreted 
in the axilla of every leaf on several small branches ; . . . 
most of them were busily engaged with their proboscis 
inserted through the tender cuticle of this part oi XkiQ petiole 
of the leaf, feasting upon the vital juices of the tree. The 
leaves being thus deprived of the necessary sap for nourish- 
ment and elaboration soon perished, . . . while all that part 
of the branch and trunk below, dependent upon the elabo- 
rated sap of the deadened leaves above, shrunk, turned 
black, and dried up," p. 261. 

Lindley, in his work on Horticulture^ p. 42-46, has de- 
tailed exjieriments illustrating vegetable perspiration^ from 
which we may form an idea of the amount of fluid which 
these " very minute brown-colored aphides " would have to 
drink. A sunflower, three and a half feet high, perspired 
in a very warm day thirty ounces — nearly two pounds ; on 
another day, twenty ounces. Taking the old rule, " a piut 
a pound," nearly a quart of fluid was exhaled by a sun- 
flower in twelve hours ; and the vessels were still inflated 
with a fresh supply drawn from the roots. Admitting that 
the leaves of a fruit-tree have a less current of sap than a 
sunflower or a grape-vin§. yet in the months of May and 
June, the amount of sap to be exhausted by these very 
minute brown aphides, would be so great, that if they 
drank it so suddenly as to cause a tree to die in a day, they 
would surely augment in bulk enough to be discovered 
without a lens. If some one had accounted for the low 
water in the Mississippi, in the summer of 1843, by saying 
that buffaloes had drank up all the upper Missouri, and cut 
off the supply, we should be at a loss which most to pity, 
the faith of the narrator, or the probable condition of the 
buffaloes after their feat of imbibition. 

But the most curious results /b^/oio these feats of suction. 
The limbs and trunk helow shrink and turn black, for want 
of thai; elaborated sap extracted by the aphides. And yet 
fivery year we perform artificially this very operation in 



478 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

ringing or decortication of branches, for the purpose of 
accelerating maturation or improving the fruit. Every year 
the saw takes off a third, a half, and sometimes more, of a 
living tree ; and the effect is to produce new shoots, not 
death. Is an operation vrhich can be safely performed by 
man, deadly when performed by an insect ? Dr. Masher 
did not detect the insects without extreme search, and then 
only in colonies, on healthy branches. Do whole trees 
wither in a day by the mere suction of such insects ? Had 
they been supposed to poison the fluids, the theory would 
be less exceptionable, since poisons in minute quantities 
may be very malignant. 

While we admit a limited mischief of insects, they can 
never be the cause of the prevalent blight of the middle 
and western States — such a blight as prevailed in and 
around Cincinnati in the summer of 1844 — nor of that 
blight which prevailed in 1832. The hlight-heetle^ after 
most careful search and dissection, has not been found, nor 
any trace or j^assage of it. Dr. Mosher's insect may be set 
aside without further remark. 

I think that further observation will confinn the follow- 
ing conclusions : ^ 

1. Insects are frequently found feeding in various ways 
upon blighted trees, or on trees which afterward become so. 

2. Trees are fatally blighted on which no insects are dis- 
cerned feeding — neither aphides nor scolytus pyri. 

3. Multitudes of trees have such insects on them as are 
in other cases supposed to cause the blight, without a sign 
of blight following. This has been the case in our own 
garden. 

III. Cause of the Blight. — ^The Indiana Horticultural 
Society, early in the summer of 1844, appointed a committee 
to collect and investigate facts on the Fire-Blight. While 
serving on this committee, and inquiring in all the pear- 
growing regions, we learned that Reuben Reagan, of Putnam 
County, Ind., was in possession of much information, and 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWEES AND FARMING. 479 

supposed himself to have discovered th 3 cause of this evil ; 
and to him we are indebted for a first suggestion of the cause. 
Mr. Reagan has for more than twelve } ears past suspected 
that this disease originated in the foil previous to the sum- 
mer on which it declares itself During the last winter 
Mr. Reagan predicted the blight, and in his pear-orchards 
he marked the trees that would suffer, and pointed to 
the spot which would be the seat of the disease ; and his 
prognostications were strictly verified. After gathering 
from him all the information which a limited time would 
allow, we obtained from Aaron Alldredge, of Indianapolis, 
a nurseryman of great skill, and possessed of careful, 
cautious habits of observation, much corroborative informa- 
tion ; and particularly a tabular account of the blight for 
nine years past in his nursery and orchard. 

The spring of 1843 opened early, but cold and wet, until 
the last of May. The summer was both dry and cool, and 
trees made very little growth of new wood. Toward 
autumn, however, the drought ceased, copious rains satu- 
rated the ground, and warm weather started all trees into 
vigorous, though late, growth. At this time, while we 
hoped for a long fall and a late winter, on the contrary we 
were surprised by an early and sudden winter, and with 
unusual severity at the very beginning. In the West, 
much corn was ruined and more damaged ; and hundreds of 
bushels of apples were caught on the trees and spoUed — one 
cultivator alone losing five hundred bushels. Caught in this 
early winter, what was the condition of fruit-trees ? They 
were making rapid growth, every part in a state of excite- 
ment, the wood unrij^e, the passages of ascent and descent 
irapleted with sap. In this condition, the fluids were sud- 
denly frozen — the growth instantly checked ; and the 
whole tree, from a state of great excitability, was, by one 
shock, rudely forced into a state of rest. Warm suns, foi 
a time, followed severe nights. What woui d be the effect 
of this freezing and sudden thawing upon the fluids and 



480 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

their vessels ? We have been able to- find so little written 
uiDon vegetable morbid anatomy (probably from the want 
of access to books), that we can give but an imperfect account 
of the derangement produced upon the circulating fluids 
by congelation. We cannot state the specific changes pro- 
duced by cold upon the ascending sap, or on the cambium, 
nor upon the elaborated descending current. There is rea- 
son to suppose that the two latter only suffer, and probably 
only the last. That freezing and thawing decompose the 
coloring matter of plants is known ; but what other decom- 
position, if any, is effected, we know not. The effect of con- 
gelation upon the descending sap of pear and apple-trees, is 
to turn it to a viscid, unctuous state. It assumes a reddish 
brown colpr ; becomes black by exposure to the air ; is 
poisonous to vegetables even when applied upon the leaf. 
Whether in some measure this follows all degrees of con- 
gelation, or only under certain conditions, we have no means 
of knowing. 

The effect of freezing and thawing upon the tissues and 
sap-vessels is better known. Congelation is accompanied 
with expansion ; the tender vessels are either burst or lace- 
rated ; the excitability of the parts is impaired or destroyed ; 
the air is expelled from the aeriferous cavities, and forced 
into the passages for fluids ; and lastly, the tubes for the 
conveyance of fluids are obstructing by a thickening of their 
sides.* The fruit-trees, in the fall of 1843, were then 
brought into a morbid state — the sap thickened and dis- 
eased ; the passages lacerated, obstructed, and probably, in 
many instances burst. The sap elaborated, and now pass- 
ing down in an injured state, would descend slowly, by 
reason of its inspissation, the torpidity of the parts, and the 
injured condition of the vessels. The grosser parts, natu- 
rally the most sluggish, would tend to lodge and gradually 
collect at the junction of fruit-spurs, the forks of branches, 

* Lindley's Horticulture, p. 81-82. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 481 

or wherever the condition of the sap-vessels favored a lodg- 
ment. In some cases the passages are wholly obstructed ; 
in others, only in part. 

At length the spring approaches. In early pruning, the 
cultivator will find, in those trees which will ere long deve- 
lop blight, that the knife is followed by an unctuous sap, 
and that the liber is of a greenish yellow color. These will 
be the first signs, and the jDractised eye may detect them 
long before a leaf is put forth. 

When the season is advanced sufficiently to excite the 
tree to action, the sap will, as usual, ascend by the albur- 
num, which has prqbably been but little injured ; the leaf 
puts out, and no outward sign of disease appears ; nor will 
it appear until the leaf prepares the downward current. 
May, June and July, are the months when the growth is 
most rapid, and when the tree requires the most elaborate 
sap ; and in these months the blight is fully developed. 
When the descending fluid reaches the point where, in the 
previous fall, a total obstruction had taken place, it is as 
effectually stopped as if the branch were girdled. For the 
sap which had lodged there would, by the winds and sun, 
be entirely dried. This would not be the case if the sap 
was good and the vitality of the wood unimpaired ; but 
where the sap and vessels are both diseased, the sun affects 
the branch on the tree just as it would if severed and lying 
on the ground. There will, therefore, be found on the tree, 
branches with spots where the bark is dead and shrunk 
away below the level of the surrounding bark ; and at 
these points the current dovmward is wholly stopped. 
Only the outward part, however, is dead, while the albur- 
num^ or sap-wood, is but partially injured. Through the 
alburnum, then, the sap from the roots passes up, enters 
the leaf, and men are astonished to see a branch, seemingly 
dead in the middle, growing thriftily at its extremity. No 
insect-theory can account for this case ; yet it is perfectly 
plain and simple when we consider that there are two cur- 



482 PLAIN AKD PLEASAVr TALK 

rents of sap, one of which may be destroyed, and the other 
for a limited time go on. The blight, under this aspect, is 
nothing but ringi7ig or decortication^ effected by diseased 
sap, destroying the parts in which it lodges, and then 
itself drying up. The branch will grow, fruit will set, 
and frequently become larger and finer flavored than 
usual. 

But in a second class of cases, the downward current 
comes to a point where the diseased sap had effected' only 
a partial lodgment. The vitality of the neighboring parts 
was preserved, and the diseased fluids have been undried 
by wind or sun, and remain more or less inspissated. The 
descending current meets and takes up more or less of this 
diseased matter, according to the particular condition of the 
sap. Wherever the elaborated sap passes, after touching 
this diseased region, it will carry its poison along with it 
down the trunk, and, by the lateral vessels, in toward the 
pith. We may suppose that a violence which would destroy 
the health of the outer parts, would, to some degree, rup- 
ture the inner sap-vessels. By this, or by some unknown 
way, the diseased sap is taken into the inner,* upward cur- 
rent, and goes into the general circulation. If it be in a 
diluted state, or in small quantities, languor and decline will 
be the result ; if in large quantities, and concentrated, the 
branch will die suddenly, and the odor of it will be that of 
frost-bitten vegetation. All the different degrees of mor- 
tality result from the quantity and quality of the diseased 
sap which is taken into circulation. In conclusion, then, 
where, in one class of cases, the feculent matter was, in the 
fall, so virulent as to destroy the parts where it lodged, and 
was then dried by exposure to wind and sun, the branch 
above will live, even through the summer, but perish the 
nest winter ; and the spring afterward, standing bare amid 
green branches, the cultivator may suppose the branch to 

* See Lindley, p. 82. 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWEKS AND FARMING. 483 

have blighted that spring, alth >ugh the cause of death wag 
seated eighteen months before. "When, in the other class 
of cases, the diseased sap is less virulent in the fall, but 
probably growing worse through the spring, a worse blight 
ensues, and a more sudden mortality. 

We will mention some proofs of the truth of this explana- 
tion. 

1. The two great blight years throughout the region of 
Indianapolis, 1832 and 1844, were preceded by a summer and 
fall such as we have described. In the autumns of both 
1831 and 1843, the orchards were overtaken by a sudden 
freeze while in a fresh-growing state ; and in both cases the 
consequence was excessive destruction the ensuing spring 
and summer. 

2. In consequence of this diagnosis, it has been found 
practicable to predict the blight six mouths before its devel- 
opment. The statement of this fact, on paper, may seem 
a small measure of proof; but it Avould weigh much with 
any candid man to be told, by an experienced nurseryman, 
this is such a fall as will make blight ; to be taken, during 
the winter into the orchard, and told, this tree has been 
struck at the junction of these branches; that tree is not at 
all affected ; this tree wOl die entirely the next season ; this 
tree will go first on this side, etc., and to find, afterward, 
the prediction verified. 

3. This leads us to state separately, the fact, that, after 
such a faU, blighted-trees may be ascertained during the 
process of late winter or early spring pruning. 

In pruning before the sap begins to rise freely, no sap 
should follow the knife in a healthy tree. But in trees 
which have been affected with blight, a sticky, viscid sap 
exudes from the wound. 

4. Trees which ripen their wood and leaves early, are 
seldom affected. This ought to elicit careful observation ; 
for, if found true, it will be an important element in deter 
mining the value of rarieties of the pear in the middle and 



484 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

western States, where the late and warm autumns render 
orchards more liable to winter blight than New England 
orchards. An Orange Bergamot, grafted upon an apple 
stock, had about run out ;it made a small and feeble growth, 
and cast its leaves in the summer of 1843, long before frost. 
It escaped the blight entirely ; while young trees, and of the 
same kind (we believe), standing about it, and growing vig- 
orously till the freeze, perished the next season." I have 
before me a list of more than fifty varieties, growing in the 
orchard of Aaron Alldredge, of Indianapolis, and their history 
since 1836 ; and so far as it can be ascertained, late-grow- 
ing varieties are the ones, in every case, subject to blight ; 
and of those which have always escaped, the most part are 
known to rij^en leaf and wood early. 

5. Wherever artificial causes have either produced or 
prevented a growth so late as to be overtaken by a freeze, 
blight has, respectively, been felt or avoided. Out of 200 
pear-trees, only four escaped in 1832, in the orchard of Mr. 
Reagan. These four had, the previous spring, been trans- 
planted, and had made little or no growth during summer 
or fall. If, however, they had recovered themselves, dur- 
ing the summer, so as to grow in the autumn, transplant- 
ing would have had just the other effect ; as was the case 
in a row of pear-trees, transplanted by Mr. Alldredge in 
1843. They stood still through the summer and made 
growth in the fall — were frozen — and in 1844 manifested 
severe blight. Mr. Alldredge's orchard affords another 
instructive fact. Having a row of the St. Michael pear (of 
which any cultivator might have been proud), standing 
close by his stable, he was accustomed, in the summer of 
1843, to throw out, now and then, manure about them, to 
force their growth. Under this stimulus they were making 
excessive growth when winter-struck. Of all his orchard, 
they suffered, the ensuing summer, the most severely. Of 
twenty-two trees twelve were affected by the blight, and 
eight entirely killed. Of seventeen trees of the Bell pear, 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 485 

eleven suffered, but none were killed. All in this region 
know the vigorous habit of this tree. Of eight Crassane 
Bergamot (a late grower), five were affected and two 
killed. In an orchard of 325 trees of 79 varieties, one in 
seven blighted, 25 were totally destroyed. Although a 
minute observation was not made on each tree, yet, as a 
general fact, those which suffered were trees of a full habit 
and of a late growth. 

6. Mr. White, a nurseryman near Mooresville, Morgan 
County, Indiana, in an orchard of from 150 to 200 trees, 
had not a single case of the blight in the year 1844, though 
all around him its ravages were felt. What were the facts 
in this case ? His orchard is planted on a mound-like piece 
of ground; is high, of a sandy, gravelly soil: earlier by a 
week than nursery soils in this county ; and in the summer 
of 1843 his trees grew through the summer; wound up 
and shed their leaves early in the fall, and during the warm 
spell made no second growth. The orchard, then, that 
escaped, was one on such a soil as insured an early growth, 
so that the winter feU upon rij)ened wood. 

7. It maybe objected, that if the blight began in the new 
and growing wood, it would appear there ; whereas the 
seat of the evil, t. e. the place where the bark is diseased 
or dead, is lower down and on old wood. Certainly, it 
should be; for the retux-ning sap falls some ways down 
before it effects a lodgment. 

8. It might be said that S2)ri?ig-frosts might produce this 
disease. But in the spring of 1834, in the last of May, 
after the forest-trees were in full leaf, there came frost so 
severe as to cut every leaf; and to this day the dead tops 
of the beech attest the power of the frost. But no blight 
occurred that year in orchard, garden or nursery. 

9. It may be asked why forest-trees do not suffer. To 
some extent they do. But usually the dense shade pre- 
serves the moisture of the soil, and favors an equal growth 
during the spring and summer ; so that the excitability of 



486 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

the tree is spent before autumn, and it is going to rest 
when frost strikes it. 

10. It may be mquired why flail -growing shrubs are not 
always blighted, since many kinds are mvariably caught by 
the frost in a growing state. 

We reply, first, that we are not to say that every tree or 
shrub suifers from cold in the same manner. We assert it 
of fruit-trees because it has been observed; it must be 
asserted of other trees only when ascertained. 

We reply more particularly, that a mere frost is not sup- 
posed to do the injury. The conditions mider which blight 
is supposed to originate are, a growing state of the tree, a 
sudden /"reese, and sudden thawing. 

We would here add, that many things are yet to be 
ascertained before this theory can be considered as settled ; 
as the actual state of the sap after congelation, ascertained 
by experiment ; the condition of sap-vessels, as ascertained 
by dissection ; whether the congelation, or the thawing, or 
both, produce the mischief; whether the character of the 
season following the fall-injury may not materially modify 
the malignancy of the disease ; seasons that are hot, moist 
and cloudy, propagating the evil ; and others dry, and cool, 
restraining growth and the dsease. It is to be hojDcd that 
these points will be carefully investigated, not by conjec- 
ture, but by scientific processes. 

11. We have heard it objected, that trees grafted in the 
spring blight in the graft during the smnmer. If the stock 
had been alfected in the fall, blight would arise from it y if 
the scion had, in common with the tree from which it was 
cut, been injured, blight must arise from it. 

Blight is frequently caused in the nursery ; and the cul- 
tivator, who has brought trees from a distance, and with 
much expense, has scarcely planted them before they show 
blight and die. 

12. It is objected, that while only a single branch is at 
first affected, the evil ia imparted to the whole tree ; not 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWEKS AND FARMESTG. 487 

only to the wood of the last year, but to the old branches. 
We reply, that if a single branch only should be affected by 
fall-frost, and be so severely affected as to become a reposi- 
tory of much malignant fluid, it might gradually enter the 
system of the whole tree, through the circulation. This 
fact shows, why cutting is a partial remedy ; every diseased 
branch removed, removes so much poison ; it shows also 
why cutting from hdow the seat of the disease (as if to fall 
below the haunt of a supposed insect), is beneficial. The 
farther the cut is made from that point where the sap has 
clogged the passages, the less of it will remain to enter the 
circulation. 

13. Trees of great vigor of constitution, in whose system 
but little poison exists, may succeed after a while in reject- 
ing the evil, and recover. Where much enters the system, 
the tree must die ; and with a suddenness proportioned to 
the amount of poison circulated. 

14. A rich and dry soil would be likely to promote early 
growth, and the tree would finish its work in time ; but a 
rich and moist soil, by forcing the growth, would prepare 
the tree for blight ; so that rich soils may prevent or pre- 
pare for the blight, and the difference will be the difference 
of the respective soils in producing an early instead of a late 
growth. 

IV. Remedy. — So long as the blight was believed to be 
of insect origin, it appeared totally irremediable. If the fore- 
going reasoning be found correct, it will be plain that the 
scourge can only be occasional ; that it may be in a degree 
prevented ; and to some extent remedied where it exists. 

1. We should begin by selecting for pear orchards a 
warm, light, rich, dry and early soil. This will secure an 
early growth and ripe wood before winter sets in. 

2. So soon as observation has determined what kinds are 
naturally early growers and early ripeners of wood, such 
should be selected ; as they will be least likely to come 
under those conditions in which blight occurs. 



488 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

3. Wherever orchards are ah-eady planted ; or where a 
choice in soils cannot be had, the cultivator may know by 
the last of August or September, whether a fall-growth is 
to be expected. To prevent it, we suggest immediate root- 
pruning. This will benefit the tree at any rate, and 
will probably, by immediately restraining growth, prevent 
blight. 

4. Whenever blight has occurred, we know of no remedy 
but free and early cutting. In some cases it will remove 
all diseased matter ; in some it will alleviate only ; but in 
bad blight, there is neither in this, nor in anything else that 
we are aware of, any remedy. 

There are two additional subjects, with which we shall 
close this paper. 

1. This blight is not to be confounded with winter-hill- 
ing. In the winter of either 1837 or 1838, in March a deep 
snow fell (in the region of Indianapolis) and was immediately 
followed by brilliant sun. Thousands of nursery-trees per- 
ished in consequence, but without putting out leaves, or 
lingering. It is a familiar fact to orchardists, that severe 
cold, followed by warm suns, produce a bursting of the 
bark along the trunk ; but usually at the surface of the 
ground. 

2. We call the attention of cultivators to the disease of 
the peach-tree, called " The Yellows." We have not spoken 
of it as the same disease as the blight in the pear and the 
apple, only because we did not wish to embarrass this sub- 
ject by too many issues. We will only say, that it is the 
opinion of the most intelligent cultivators among us, that 
the yellows are nothing but the development of the blight 
according to the peculiar habits of the peach-tree. We men- 
tion it, that observation may be directed to the facts. 



ABOUT FKCITS, FLOV.'KKS AND FARMIXG. 489 

PROGRESS OF HORTICULTURE IN INDIANA* 

1 AM induced to send you some remarks upon Horticul- 
tural matters, from observing your disposition to make your 
magazine not merely a record of specific processes, and a 
register of plants and fruits, but also a chronicle of the 
yearly progress and condition of the Horticultural art. 1 
should be glad if I could in any degree thus repay the pleas- 
ure which others have given me through your numbers, by 
reciprocal efforts. 

The Indiana Horticultural State fair is held annually, on 
the 4th and 5th of October. Experience has shown that it 
should be earlier ; for, although a better assortment of late 
fruits, in which, hitherto, we have chiefly excelled, is se- 
cured, it is at the expense of small fruits and flowers. The ' 
floral exhibition was meagre — the frost having already visit- 
ed and despoiled our gardens. The chief attraction, as, in 
an agricultural community, it must long continue to be, was 
the exhibition of fruit. My recollection of ISTew England 
fruits, after an absence of more than ten years, is not dis- 
tinct ; but my impression is, that so fine a collection of fruits 
could scarcely be shown there. The luxuriance of the peach, 
the plum, the pear and the apple, is such, in this region, as 
to afford the most perfect possible specimens. The vigor 
of fruit-trees, in such a soil and under a heaven so conge- 
nial, produces fruits which are very large without being 
coarse-fleshed ; the flavor concentrated, and the color very 
high. It is the constant remark of emigrants from the 
East, that our apples surpass those to which they have been ^ 
accustomed. Many fruits which I remember in Connecticut 
as light-colored, appear with us almost refulgent. All sum- 
mer and early fall apples were gone before our exhibition ; 
but between seventy and a hundred varieties of winter ap- 



* A letter published in Hovey's Magazine of Horticulture, February, 
1845. 



490 PLAIN AISTD PLEASANT TALK 

pies were exhibited. We never expect to see finer. Our 
most pojjular winter apj^les are : Yellow Bellflower ; White 
Bellflower (called Detroit by the gentlemen of Cincinnati 
Horticultural Society — but for reasons which are not satisfac- 
tory to my mind. What has become of the White Bellflower 
of Coxe, if this is not it?) Newtown Spitzenberg, exceed- 
ingly fine with us ; Canfield, Jennetting or Neverfail, escap- 
ing spring frosts by late blossoming, very hardy, a great 
bearer every year ; the fruit comes into eating in February, 
is tender, juicy, mild and sprightly, and preferred with us 
to the Green Newtown pij^pin — keeping full as well, bearing 
better, the pulp much more manageable in the mouth, and 
the apple has the peculiar property of bearing frosts, and 
even freezing, without material injury; Green Newtown 
pippin; Michael Henry pippin (very fine); Pryor's Red, 
in flavor resembling the New England Seek-no-further ; 
Golden Russet, the prince of small apples, and resembling a 
fine butter-pear more nearly than any apple in our orchards 
— an enormous bearer ; some limbs exhibited were clustered 
with fruit, more like bunches of grapes than apples ; Milam, 
favorite early winter; Rambo, the same. But the apple 
most universally cultivated is the Vandervere pippin, only a 
second or third-rate table apple, but having other qualities 
which quite ravish the hearts of our farmers. The tree is 
remarkably vigorous and healthy ; it almost never fails in a 
crop ; when all others miss, the Vandervere pippin hits; the 
fruit, which is very large and comely, is a late winter fruit — 
yet swells so quickly as to be the first and best summer 
cooking apple. If its flesh (which is coarse) were fine, and 
its (too sharp) flavor equalled that of the Golden Russet, it 
Avould stand without a rival, or near neighbor, at the very 
head of the list of winter apples. As it is, it is a first-rate 
tree, bearing a second-rate apple. A hybrid between it 
and the Golden Russet, or Newtown Sj^itzenbei'g, appropri- 
ating the virtues of both, would leave little more to be 
hoped for or wished. The JBaldwin has never come up to 



ABOUT FKUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 491 

its eastern reputation with us ; the Rhode Island Greening 
is eaten for the sake of " auld lang syne ;" tlie Roxbiiry 
russet is not yet in bearing — instead of it several false 
varieties have been presented at our exhibitions. All the 
classic apples of your orchards are planted here, but are 
yet on probation. 

Nothing can exhibit better the folly of trusting to seed- 
ling orchards for fruit, for a main supply, than our experi- 
ence in this matter. The early settlers could not bring 
trees from Kentucky, Virginia or Pennsylvania — and, as 
the next resort, brought and planted seeds of popular ap- 
ples. A later population found no nurseries to supply the 
awakening demand for fruit-trees, and resorted also to plant- 
ing seed. That which, at first, sprang from necessity, has 
been continued from habit, and from an erroneous opinion 
that seedling fruit was better than grafted. An immense 
number of seedling trees are found in our State. Since the 
Indiana Horticultural Society began to collect specimens of 
these, more than one hundred and fifty varieties have been 
Bent up for inspection. Our rule is to reject every apple 
, Avhich, the habits of the tree and the quality of its fruit 
being considered, has a superior or equal already in cultiva- 
tion. Of all the number presented, not six have vindicated 
their claims to a name or a j^lace — and not more than three 
Avill probably be known ten years hence. While, then, we 
encourage cultivators to raise seedlings experimentally, it 
is the clearest folly to reject the established varieties and 
trust to inferior seedling orchards. From facts which I have 
collected there has been planted, during the past year, in 
this State, at least one hundred thousand apple-trees. Every 
year the demand increases. It is supposed that the next 
year will surpass this by at least twenty-five thousand. 

In connection with apple orchards, our farmers are 
increasingly zealous in pear cultivation. We are fortunate 
in having secured to our nurseries not only the most ap- 
proved old varieties, but the choicest new pears of British, 



492 PLAIN AND PLEASANT TALK 

Continental or American origin. A few years ago to eacli 
one hundred apple-trees, our nurseries sold, perhaps, two 
pear-trees ; now they sell at least twenty to a hundred. 
Very large pear orchards are established, and in some in- 
stances are now beginning to bear. I purchased Williams's 
Bon Chretien in our market last fall for seventy-five cents 
the bushel. This pear, with the St. Michael's, Beurre Diel, 
Beurrc d'Aremberg, Passe Colmar, Duchesse d'Angouleme, 
Seckel, and Marie Louise, are the most widely dilFused, and 
all of them regularly at our exhibitions. Every year ena- 
bles us to test other varieties. The Passe Colmar and 
Beurre d'Aremberg have done exceedingly well— a branch 
of the latter, about eighteen inches in length, was exhib- 
ited at our Fair, bearing, over twenty pears, none of which 
were smaller than a turkey's Q^g. The demand for pear- 
trees, this year, has been such that our nurseries have not 
been able to answer it — and they are swept almost entirely 
clean. I may as well mention here that, beside many more 
neighborhood nurseries, there are in this State eighteen 
which are large and skillfully conducted. 

The extraordinary cheapness of trees favors their general 
cultivation. Apple-trees, not under ten feet high, and finely 
grown, sell at ten, and pears at tioenty cents ; and in some 
nurseries, apples may be had at six cents. This price, it 
should be recollected, is in a community where corn brings 
from twelve to twenty cents only, a bushel ; wheat sells 
from forty-five to fifty ; hay at five dollars the ton. During 
the season of 1843-'44, ajDples of the finest sorts (Jennetting, 
green Newtown pippin, etc.), sold at my door, as late as 
April, for twenty-five cents a bushel — and dull at that. This 
winter they command thirty-seven cents. Attention is in 
ereasingly turned to the cultivation of apples for exporta^ 
tion. Our inland orchards will soon find an outlet, both to 
the Ohio River by railroad, and the Lakes by canal. The 
effects of such a deluge of fruit is worthy of some sjjecula- 
tion. It will diminish the price but increase the profit of 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 493 

fi'uit. An analogous case is seen in the penny-postage sys- 
tem of England. Fruit will become more generally and 
largely an article, not of luxury, but of daily and ordinary 
diet. It will find its way down to the poorest table — and 
the quantity consumed will make up in profit to the dealer, 
Avhat is lost in lessening its price. A few years and the 
apple crop will be a matter of reckoning by farmers and 
speculators, just as is now, ths potato crop, the wheat crop, 
the pork, etc. Nor will it create a home market alone. 
By care it may be exported with such facility, that the 
world will receive it as a part of its diet. It will, in this 
respect, follow the history of grains and edible roots, and 
from a local and limited use, the apple and the pear will 
become articles of universal demand. The reasons of such 
an opinion are few and simple. It is a fruit always palat- 
able — and as such, will be welcome to mankind whatever 
their tastes, if it can be brought within their reach. The 
western States will, before many years, be forested with 
orchards. The fruit bears exportation kindly. • Thus there 
will be a supply; a possibility of distributing it by com- 
merce, to meet a taste already existing. These views may 
seem fanciful — may prove so ; but they are analogical. 
Nor, if I inherit my three score years and ten, do I expect 
to die, until the apple crop of the United States shall sur- 
pass the potato crop in value, both for man and beast. It 
has the double quality of palatableness, raw or cooked — it 
is ^pennanent crop, not requiring annual planting — and it 
produces more bushels to the acre than corn, wheat, or, on 
an average, than potatoes. The calculations may be made, 
allowing an average of fifteen bushels to a tree. The same 
reasoning is true of the pear ; it and the apple, are to hold 
a place yet, as universal eatables — a fruit-grain^ not known 
in their past history. If not another tree should be set in 
this county (Marion County), in ten years the annual crop 
of apples will be 200,000 bushels. But Wayne County has 
double our number of trees ; suppose, however, the ninety 



494 PLAIN AND PLEASANl TALK 

counties of Indiana to have only 25 trees to a quarter sec- 
tion of land, i. e. to each 160 acres, the crop, of fifteen bush- 
els a tree, would be nearly two millio7is. 

The past year has greatly increased the cultivation of 
small fruits in the State. Strawberries are found in almost 
every garden, and of select sorts. None among them all is 
more populai' — or more deservedly so — than Hovey's Seed 
ling. We have a native white strawberry, removed from 
our meadows to our gardens, which produces fruit of supe- 
rior fragrance and flavor. The crop is not large — but con- 
tinues gradually ripening for many weeks. The blackberry 
is introduced to the garden among us. The fruit sells at 
our market for from three to five cents — profit is not there- 
fore the motive for cultivating it, but improvement. I have 
a white variety, " What color is a black-herrj when it is 
greetiP" We used to say red, but now we have ripe black- 
berries which are white^ and green ^toc^-berries which are 
red. Assorted gooseberries and the new raspberries, Fran- 
conia and Kastolfi* are finding their way into our gardens. 
The Antwerps we have long had in abundance. If next 
spring I can produce rhubarb weighing two pounds to the 
stalk, shall I have surpassed you ? I have a seedling which 
last year, without good cultivation, produced petioles weigh- 
ing from eighteen to twenty ounces. My wrist is not very 
delicate, and yet it is much smaller in girth than they were. 

In no department is there more decided advance among 
our citizens than in floriculture. In all our rising towns, 
yards and gardens are to be found choicely stocked. All 
hardy bulbs are now sought after. Ornamental shrubs are 
taken from our forests, or imported from abroad, in great 
variety. Altheas, rose acacia, jasmin, calycanthus, snow- 
berry, snowball, sumach, syringas, spicewood, shepherdia, 
dogwood, redwood, and other hardy shrubs abound. The 
rose is an especial favorite. The Bengal, Tea and Noisettes 
bear our winters in the open garden with but slight protec- 
tion. The Bourbon and Remontantes will, however, drive 



ABOUT FETJITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 495 

out all old and ordinary varieties. The gardens of this 
town would afford about sixty varieties of roses, which 
would be reckoned first rate in Boston or Philadelphia. 

While New England suffered under a season of drought, 
on this side of the mountains the season was uncommonly 
fine — scarcely a week elapsed without copious showers, and 
gardens remained moist the whole season. Fruits ripened 
from two to three weeks earlier than usual. In conse- 
quence of this, winter fruits are rapidly decaying. To-day 
is Christmas, the weather is spring-like — ^no snow — the ther- 
mometer this morning, forty degrees. My Noisettes retain 
their terminal leaves green ; and in the southward-looking 
dells of the woods, grasses and herbs are yet of a vivid 
green. Birds are still here — three this morning were sing- 
ing on the trees in my yard. There are some curious facts 
in the early history of horticulture in this region, which I 
meant to have included in this communication ; but insen- 
sibly I have, already, prolonged it beyond, I fear, a conve- 
nient space for your magazine. I yield it to you for cut- 
ting, carving, suppressing, or whatever other operation will 
fit it for your purpose. 



BROWNE'S AMERICAN POULTRY YARD.* 

Let no man turn up his contemptuous nose at this Trea- 
tise untU he has traced the manifold relations of eggs and 
capons to cake, company, and civilization. Banish the barn- 
yard, and the universal aldermanhood would shrink and 
grow lean; cup-cakes and sponge-cakes, omelets, whips and 
legionary confections, would become mere dreams of re- 
membrance. 

Every friend of the trencher, every notable housewife, 

• Published by A. 0. Moore & Co., New York. Price $1 00. 



496 PLAIK AND PLEASAITT TALK 

complacently glorious amidst stacks of praised and devoured 
cake, has an interest in this book. There is, therefore, a 
certain interest which every civilized community should 
take in the progress of the great art of fowl-breeding. 

There are striking analogies, also, which should be noticed 
by every comparative psychologist. The doctrine of trans- 
migration has some of its strongest proofs in the Kingdom 
of Poultry. The glowing comb, the haughty carriage, the 
resplendent tail-feathers, and ostentatious crowing of"the 
lord of the barn-yard creation, reveals to the sagacious 
reasoner either the origin or destination of many other 
"lords of creation." 

Nor can one mistake the resemblances traceable in the 
gentler sex of hens. Some there are industrious only in 
scratching and cackling, but nervous, gadding, restless; 
never content at home, never so happy as when at work in 
a new-made garden, and sagacious always of the very spots 
which are most precious in the owner's eyes. Are these 
the types of human busybodies, or are these resemblances 
only accidental? Others are discreet, domestic, prolificj 
useful and happy hens, human and feathered. Many there 
are neglectful. Some fowls are laborious egg-layers, but 
poor setters ; others disdain the pains of laying, but are 
quite willing of a leisure summer's month to set awhile 
upon other eggs. 

In the management, too, of their families, can any can- 
did man resist the evidence of resemblances and affiliations 
between hens and humanity ? Here a hen walks forth 
from her nest with but a single chick ; the whole farm is 
too small for her anxious spirit. On this one precious 
pledge she bestows more clucking, more research and 
scratching, than a discreet old matron of many broods 
would upon five annual generations ! And after all, what 
is tlie little brat good for — lazy and worked for, but never 
taught to work, it lives a few. months petted and spoiled — 
dies of neglect, or is anatomized by some science-loving 



ABOUT FRUITS, FLOWERS AND FARMING. 497 

weasel ! Other, and unnatural hens there are, to whom 
the vast brood of peeping, chirping chicks is but a burden. 
They seem to have thoughts of their own, and are per- 
plexed and interrupted by the cares needful for their 
household. Could we pry into the secrets of this race, 
doubtless there would be found to be literary mothers, too 
busy for the general good to have much time for special 
duties. We cannot stop now to draw out these analogies, 
so well worthy the study of mental philosophers ; else we 
should exhibit the distinctions of rank, race, and culture, in 
this interesting kingdom. There are nice questions of 
pedigree, there are points in relation to feathers and top- 
knots, combs and spurs, tail-feathers and wing-feathers, 
neck-hackles and toes, which are worthy the attention of 
any Calhoun of the barn-yard. The more savory but 
homely considerations of fattening, slaying, dressing, sell- 
ing, stuffing, cooking, carving, distributing, eating and 
digestion, must be left to our readers' own reflections. 
Meanwhile, any man that owns a hen, or has a coop in 
prospect, may buy this book, certain of his money's worth. 
Book-farming and book-fowling are better than nothing. 



. REFLECTIONS ON THE CLOSE OF THE YEAR.* 

The labor of another year nas passed beyond our reach. 
We can alter nothing, and the past is of no use to us except 
as a lesson for the future. The soil that the plow ripped 
up, in the spring, has yielded its harvest, its work is closed, 
its fruits garnered. The tree whose boughs grew green 
when the singing of birds proclaimed that spring was come, 
has rijrened its fruit, perfected its growth, its store ia 
gathered, and its leaves are lying beneath it, and slowly 

• A.D. 1845. 



498 PLAIN AJiTD PLEASANT TALK (^ H (/ (^ '^ 

u 

returning to the earth from which they sprang. Only here 
and there, on a bright morning, do we see one of those 
birds which, a few months ago, builded their nest, watched 
their young, or taught the nesthngs how to fly — young and 
old, with their grace of motion and sweet notes, are gone 
to a fairer clime. These changes one cannot help noticing ; 
and no meditative mind can avoid many thoughts which 
flow out of them. Where are the harvests garnered which 
grew in the soil of the human heart ? What thoughts and 
generous purposes have been ripened and stored up Hke 
fruit, and what ones have fallen and perished like leaves ? 
Our vernal orchards never stood, within our remembrance, 
in such a glory of bloom ; yet when the fruit should have 
set, most of the blossoms proved vain. And how many 
good purposes and fair resolutions have so perished within 
us ! Have we, like the trees which we love and care for, 
made growth, of root and branch ? Everything in nature 
has gradually assumed a preparation for winter. Those 
frosts and that ice which would have sent such mischief 
upon the leaves of summer, now lie, without harm, upon 
orchard and garden. Are we ripe and ready, too, for such 
a winter as adversity brings upon men ? 



TECB END.