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.
That the Tea plant is hardy in any of the States south of the Potomac, has been known for a century at least. As frequently stated in this magazine, the only question involved is whether it can be prepared here as cheaply or as good as in China.
It is a matter wholly for intelligent experiments, with the chances in favor of success. Whatever has been attempted in this country in the past has unfortunately not been done intelligently. At the outset Mr. Fortune was sent to China for seed, without any definite idea of what was to be done with the plants. These were scattered "promiscus like" as the negro preacher said, and perhaps most of them might as well have been thrown away at once. On the farm of Mr. Craven, in Liberty County, Georgia, several hundred of these plants got through alive, and are now about fifteen feet high. The farm has been purchased recently by a Mr. Jackson, a British subject, who has spent fifteen years among the tea planting regions of India, who is so full of faith that it can be made a success, that he set out the past spring a great number, and now has 100,000 plants under culture.
There is little in this beyond what we have known before. We knew that the soil and climate is well suited to tea culture, and the novelty is that a foreign gentleman has become enthused over these facts. Unfortunately we all know how many are the little elements which go to make up success, and which enthusiasts from abroad find only after a few years of experience. We must not dare much hope of success on this enthusiastic venture, however much we may wish for it.
To us the greatest difficulty seems to be in the great difference between the cheap labor of India and China, and our own; and then the profits would be like the growth of the tea plant itself, too slow for the majority of American capitalists.
The value of the pound of tea to the acre for the first five or ten years, would probably be very slim in comparison with what a com crop would produce. If Mr. Jackson or any other gentleman can work out the figures well, he will be one of the Nation's great benefactors.