This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V22", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
F. W. M., says: " This timber is said to be better for posts than Locust. Can you give me some information about it? Is there more than one kind of Catalpa, and does one kind spread rapidly, and is that the valuable sort?"
[The Catalpa is a first-rate post timber, but we have our doubts about it being " better " than Locust for posts. No one wants a better post than a Locust post. But the Locust suffers materially in some parts of the country from insect depredations; and again the Locust is almost worthless where nailing is required. The nails draw in hot weather, or rather by the cold which follows hot weather, as the wood does not shrink as the nails shrink. In railroad sleepers the spikes draw out in the fall, and cannot be tightened again. We do not know whether the railroad companies who are interested in Catalpa planting have tested this point or not, but we suppose they have. We have seen posts of Catalpa with hinges for heavy gates exposed to the full sun for some years without any sign of drawing out; so far we think it safe.
There are two species of Catalpa. C. big-uonoides and C. speciosa. So far as we know there is not the slightest difference in the value of the two as timber trees. Indeed all, or nearly all of the merits of Catalpa as a durable wood is derived from the older known form of the Eastern States. It is claimed for Catalpa speciosa that in the extreme Northwestern States; say Minnesota, and Northern Iowa, it endures the winters rather better than Catalpa blgnonoides. There are other differences, such as early blooming, beauty, and so forth, which entitle it to attention from the lovers of ornamental trees, but we do not know of any other advantage claimed for it in its relations to the timber question. - Ed. G. M].