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.
It is as needful and wise in debate to define your terms as to catch the hare before you snuff the savory stew. Half the world's disputes are over words, not things; over the " outward and visible" shadow, instead of the "inward and spiritual " substance. . .
I mean by swamp much, that black store of vegetable decay found in low down and water logged places, bog swamps, peat beds and hollows that catch and hold the upland waste. Of these there are two great classes - fresh and salt muck. Fresh muck is of three kinds.
1st. That made by the drift and decay borne along by sluggish runs into low down places. This store comes from the woods and fields, and from local growth of weeds and grasses.
2d. That found in basins among the hills, holding the wash from wood and tilled soils.
3d. The great peat beds, from a few feet to fathoms deep; the growth through centuries of Sphagnous moss and vegetable waste piled in tiny layers of decay.
The second class, the salt muck, comes of old ocean's drift and scum through countless ages of animal and vegetable growth and death. Its richness is packed and stored in great salt marshes of unfathomed mould, in deep inlets filled by the rush of big tides and storms sweeping inward, all that floats on its ceaseless surge and mysterious currents.
All these tribes cover vast areas. They yield but little, as they lie, to the stock of human wealth. But I believe their vast treasures stand with open doors to the wit, skill and lift of the tiller of the soil. Along the whole sweep of our sea-girt shore, north and south, wherever the big salty tides sweep into the upland rifts, and away inland, beyond the ocean's breath, beside tiny streams, in swamps without end or in vast dis mal peat beds, are garnered relics and ashes of decayed vegetation awaiting a resurrection into crops.
Yet from the Monthly and other like guides and pioneers in land culture, come doubt and distrust, to dampen this hope of the harvest. Why is this and how is this? Verily, I think they sin against the light and against signal tests and trials. Prof. Dana (not he of the rocks but the chemist), long since in his "Muck Manual " figured up the hidden riches of the muck bed. He states its wealth, assayed value, as equivalent to the best stable manure. Prof Johnson, of Salle, has followed up the same subject with new figures and field tests. In my next I will give some of their analyses and trials.