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.
Commissioner Le Due must be congratulated on having produced in this, one of the most valuable reports ever issued by the •department. Too often the bulk of these reports has consisted of the correspondence of irresponsible parties whose opinions are of no importance, and whose communications should be admitted to respectable agricultural papers only because they might " bring out" something better from more intelligent readers. In a work of a national character like the Report of our Department, they are wholly out of place. There is very little of this style of blemish in this issue. The work is for the most part, by persons in whom intelligent people have confidence, and what they reported will stand good for reference during all time. A good proportion of the work is taken up with Notes on Tea, Coffee, Sugar, and other subjects that may possibly be produced in our country. The Commissioner has been made the butt of many newspapers which mistake wit for wisdom, because of his investigations in these directions. Some of the investigations may not have been wisely pursued, and we believe occasionally there have been needless repetitions to find out what has been already learned: but these faults are generally inseparable from tasks like these.
No one knows better than those who have been many years in editorial positions how new and good ideas have to be draped be-fore the public over and over again before they make much impression. We have no idea that all the so-called "hobbies " of the Commissioner will become practical. Some of them we feel sure will scarcely be. But if even one new " staple " shall be added to what we now have, by his efforts it will be worth all his administration has cost, and he may well be proud of the results.
The reports of the Botanist, Chemist, Superintendent of Gardens and Grounds, Entomologist, Swine Doctor and Statician are all full of useful information; and the illustrations of grasses and other subjects make the text clear.
We learn for the first time, that the "beggar-ticks " which the newspapers have been telling us, is a sort of Boragewort, is really a leguminous plant, a species of Desmodium; and the Canaigre root - a Mexican plant, and wemayadci a famous medical drug in dysenteries, is found to be a Polygonaceous plant allied to the Rhubarb or Dock. The statement that the olive will stow where the thermometer falls to zero, is a mistake. It has been known to stand this temperature in France; but in Pennsylvania, as we can speak from personal knowledge, it will die under 15° below freezing point. The day is gone by when the thermometer is to be taken as an absolute guide to a plant's hardiness.
Another interesting matter has been brought out by this report in regard to the Japan Persimmon: while some have been easily killed by light frost, others have never been in the least injured. This will explain the apparently conflicting experiences recorded in our pages; and gives some hope that by a judicious selection of varieties, fine fruit may be grown much further north than has been believed possible the past year.