This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In 1875 the editor of this magazine read a paper before the meeting of the American Association at Detroit, in which he stated, Mr. Darwin says he "protected some from bees, and they bore no seeds; some exposed to bees perfected thousands. I am satisfied that in all cases I examined of flowers just before expanding, and before any insect had interfered with them, the stigma had received its own pollen. Mr. Darwin does not say how he-protected his flowers. Nutrition is often interfered with by protection, and failure to seed follows. I endeavored to repeat the experiment of protection for this meeting. I covered a patch of clover with a sieve having one-eighth inch meshes. I think 1 may say every flower perfected seed." The paper evoked considerable adverse discussion, and especially this reference to Mr. Darwin's clover experiments. It became necessary for him to defend himself from the charge of seeking to discredit Mr. Darwin. Professor Beal was present, we believe, at that meeting, and though we do not remember that he took part in the discussion against the paper, we know that his views then were not in accord with the writer of the paper.
It is therefore with satisfaction that we give in another column an account of some experiments by Prof. Beal on this very question, in a lecture delivered before some Farmers' institute last winter. We stand among Mr. Darwin's warmest admirers, but we wished to show that there were many reasons why clover did not seed aside from mere questions of pollenization, and that Mr. Darwin had been mistaken in supposing that protection or non protection from insects were the only things to be considered in relation to this question. Mr. Darwin himself would be the last to suppose this was all, hut he had evidently forgotten it here. Prof. Beal's figures now show, as our observations did, that clover will seed when protected from bees, and at the same time he shows by repeating the experiments with varying results, that there are other considerations besides pollenization which affect fertility, and these considerations no doubt had more to do with Mr. Darwin's failure than protection from insects had.
The writer introduces this here in no "I told you so " sort of spirit. But those who antagonized the Detroit paper have had abundant time to repeat for themselves the experiments made by the writer. One distinguished gentleman promised to do so and " report."
As six years have now elapsed, it seems but due to science that these experiments noted by Prof. Beal should be emphasized in connection with that which has passed.