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.
When, at the commencement of the Gardener's Monthly, we showed that the best kind of cultivation for orchards was to well care for them in grass, few of our younger readers can have any idea of the storm of indignation on the one hand, and ridicule on the other, which we had to encounter. Our advice was contrary to that given in"the books;" but we knew, from the lessons of experience, that the advice of the books was wrong, and dared to say so. We lost some subscribers by telling the truth as we found it, but we quieted our (then) publishers by the assurance that it would all turn out right, by and by. Pears especially we recommended should be well cultivated in grass, putting it particularly on the ground of its health-fulness, and illustrating it as the experience of Abraham Barker, near Philadelphia, whose orchard, on the plan invented by aesop, which, "dug around and manured, to let in the air and the food" to the roots, came near being a disastrous failure, till he took our advice and sowed it down in clover and grass, and top-dressed with manure afterwards. To-day that orchard is one of the best about here."We have also referred to anotber orchard of 50,000 pears, set out by its enthusiastic owner to show expressly that we were wrong.
This orchard has been the victim of disease till but a few are left. Immense numbers were dug up and burned; and this orchard too within gun-shot of the very successful one of Abraham Barker. These and similar facts we have continually referred to; but we have been told that we must be wrong - that Elwan-ger and Barry"cultivated," and they had no •disease; that Marshall P. Wilder"cultivated, that C. M. Hovey and Patrick Irwin"cultivated," and they had no disease. But on our own examination of the orchards of Wilder and Hovey, we found that though they were not actually in grass, they were practically on our plan; for the surface was barely stirred, and the Hatter top-dressed with seaweed. However, we need not here go over again with all that has passed; but we now know - everybody now knows - that the best orchards in the Union everywhere are those which are well cultivated in grass.
It gives us great pleasure to append the following from the Country Gentleman. We give it with the more satisfaction because we always felt that the Country Gentleman, while opposing our views, did so honestly, in the belief that we were advocating not good culture in grass, but absolute neglect in grass; and we had full faith that as it came to understand us fully, there would be little difference of opinion between us; for the Country Gentleman is too progressive a paper not to be willing, as we are, to learn as we go along. It says :
" Since the wide prevalence of the blight in the pear, a large number of instances are reported of greater immunity from this disease in trees growing in grass; while in rarer cases the reverse has been observed. The evidence, however, preponderates in favor of pear orchards in grass - this remark applying to standard trees".