This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V20", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
During the past few years many new varieties of early peaches have been introduced, commencing with Alexander and Amsden, in this country, and Early Beatrice, Early Louise, Early Rivers, etc, by Thomas Rivers of England. About the 20th of June I received from D. S. Myers, of Bridgeville, Delaware, specimens of Kinnaman Seedling, which originated with Samuel Kinnaman, of Delaware. Fruit of medium size, roundish; skin pale brownish-red, on a pale greenish ground; flesh greenish-white to the stone, jucy, sweet, and of very good flavor, and adheres partially to the pit. It is said to be some days earlier than Alexander or Amsden. Also about the same time, specimens of the Thomas Burns peach were received from Thos. F. Burns, of Mt. Pulaski, Illinois, who writes me " that it is the earliest peach known, being nearly a month earlier than the Alexander, in this climate. The tree bore about a half bushel, all ripening even, and about the same time - June 15th. For beauty of color and hardiness of tree I think it cannot be surpassed, and it being a cling, also gives it precedence over any other variety.
The tree was bought for Hale's Early, but proved to be a seedling".
Fruit rather large, roundish, slightly depressed; suture large, ending at the apex, which is a small point; skin whitish, shaded and mottled with light red nearly over the whole surface; flesh white to the stone, to which it adheres; jucy, melting, sweet, and very good in quality. A month earlier than the Alexander, or any other variety, is certainly a great advance, and I think there must be some mistake; either the tree stands in some favorable locality, or some other cause operating to ripen it so early. Mr. Burns does not state whether the Alexander grows near this variety or not, which would have given a better test as to earliness. [Mr. Downing writes, as we are correcting this proof, that it is the Alexander. - Ed].
Another seedling, claimed to be two weeks earlier than Amsden, was found on the premises-of a Mr. Morrow, and now owned by W. L. Brown, of Ashley, Illinois. The tree is three years old, and the fruit is said to be very beautirful, and one of the finest flavored. 1 have not seen this variety.
The Callie Scaff peach was sent us by J. D. Scaff", of Watervalley, Kentucky. They were so much decayed I could judge nothing of its merits, but Mr. Scaff" and other persons inform me that it is very fine, and equal in every way to Amsden, if not better, of a higher color, and about eight days earlier. It is a seedling of the large Early York, four years old, and ripened its first fruit this season the 27th of May.
Dr. J. H. Watkins of Palmetto, Georgia, has been collecting and testing all the new varieties he could obtain, and writes me " that I have fruited together this year, on the same tree, Alexander, Amsden, Honeywell, Early Canada, Briggs' May, Beatrice, Louise, and Rivers peaches. The seperate limbs were eight to ten feet long, and had on quite a quantity of fruit. In appearance the first four were strikingly similar, the Honeywell slightly smaller, but equal to any in flavor, with the exception, possibly, of Early Canada, which showed the highest color, and, as my little children would say, ' it's a black peach, ' (where well exposed.) If there was any difference at all in the earliness of the first four peaches, the Canada certainly had it; the Canada is almost a perfect freestone, adheres very slightly, unlike the others in this respect, so far as I had an opportunity to examine. Briggs' May followed these four in one week, was smaller, but quite passable in flavor; then came Beatrice, Louise, Rivers. Rivers is fine for home use; Louise first-rate, but small; Beatrice too small; Wilder will most likely take the place of all peaches ripening between Alexander, Amsden, etc, and Hale's Early, Tillotson, etc.
" I failed to fruit Mr. Engle's peaches this season, but Wilder, Saunders and Downing were fruited near here - Downing is not thought equal to Alexander. The hardiness of trees, quality and appearance of fruit, size, flavor, etc, will determine which is most suitable for general cultivation - Alexander, Amsden, Honeywell, Downing or Early Canada, as the slight difference in time, where it exists, is of no practical value. Perfect specimens of Alexander, Amsden, Honeywell, Early Canada, were ripe this year the 1st of June; in 1877, June the 7th; in 1876, June 20th.
" Will it not take two or three years yet with trees, or a tree of each variety, growing side by side, on the same soil, with same culture, to decide lully as to time of ripening? (Yes, to give a decided opinion, five years from its first fruiting is not too long.) I have a single tree of each variety, I have arranged them in this way, besides Musser, Cumberland, and a number of other kinds, said to be extra early, in addition all the old kinds, and, indeed, I may say one of each of all varieties in general cultivation, without regard to period of maturity; and next year, if we have fruit, I will be able to report faithfully as to the behavior of Mr. Engle's peaches in this section, by the side of all those mentioned. I am very much struck with the growth of Musser, it is extremely vigorous and healthy in apperance, and Cumberland is very little behind it".
My experience with Alexander, Amsden, Honeywell and Early Canada, with two years' fruiting, is about the same as Dr. Watkins, and, as I have before stated, that if the four kinds were put in a dish it would puzzle a good pomo-logist to separate them, and yet there is no doubt but that they are all distinct kinds.