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.
In your May number, page 151, in reply to E. F. H., you say * * * "Again cases, etc. * * * There is every reason to believe that in that severe winter the ground in that border was frozen two or three feet thick; but the grapevine pushed into leaf and flower on the application of heat with the most perfect indifference to the frozen (?) roots, so far as any human eye could see. * * *"
The " frozen roots " is what surprises me. It occurs to me that for once you took too much for granted. I have no doubt that the heat inside that house kept that border several degrees above freezing where the grape roots were. I think it freezes harder in Iowa, where I used to live, than it does in Pennsylvania, and there under manure piles the earth did not freeze, and at the edges of the heaps the ground did not freeze as deep as it did a few feet away. I think the radiation of heat from the house and through the border is what saved the vine to which you refer. If your reasoning be correct, what becomes of the theory of warm soils, etc.?
If foliation is entirely dependent on the warmth of the air, what is the good of letting the ground freeze twelve to fifteen inches deep, and then mulch to keep it from thawing out in the spring, and thus by retarding the growth save the fruit from late frosts? Will not the air about a tree mulched, say with a foot of manure after the ground is frozen be practically as warm as an unmulched tree twenty feet away? I have never found a cutting that would grow while frozen, and your willow log is only a cutting. I have seen many cuttings grow for a time without roots, but as soon as the supply of food in the cutting was exhausted it died.
[" Frozen roots" was not exactly what was meant. The frozen soil about the roots was the intention; for we do not believe any vegetable tissue ever becomes frozen in the ordinary acceptation of the term without dying afterwards. There is no more chance for continued life in a frozen root than in a frozen potato. - Ed. G. M].