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.
This seems to be the leading topic in recent numbers. It is true great men and things have had small beginnings. That Indiana English gardener has stirred up a hornet's nest, and some of them may be spiteful enough to sting if he does not look out. Well, I for one rather admire his spirit. For let it be known to Mr. Henderson, or any son of American birth, when he puts John Bull down as an old fogy, he touches every true Englishman's person. We will admit there are plenty there like the one be re fers to, and I question very much if we could not find some American fogies. Mr. Henderson may say I did not call John a "fogy," but he says what is equally as bad. John Bull did not know or had not found out in 1872 how to pulverize his soil, yet he says John Bull, No. 2, laughed heartily at his benighted metropolis neighbor digging or delving. Well, I say, this "English gardener," by opposing Mr. Henderson a little, caused him to write a better letter than one might expect, and in a reasonable and gentlemanly manner.
But still let us, as unprejudiced readers and tillers of the soil, not condemn the truth or facts, for the "English gardener" is right in saying that American florists cannot know everything about gardening in England. I understand him to mean that the American is altogether opposite to the English climate. The latter is cool and moist, the former dry and hot, so that nature soon prepares the soil for the American husbandman, while John Bull must wait patiently and oftentimes work in a different way than Uncle Sam, and in some cases use different means. Again, I think John goes in too much for outward appearance, to please the eye rather than fill his pockets. I have reference to horticulture or floriculture. Sam must do his work in a rougher or quicker way; labor being high, must move on faster; his object, not pleasure but profit. Habit is a wonderful power. It is hard to shake it; any reasonable person will acknowledge this. So with John Bull, or any other Bull. What a man has been educated to has a tendenoy to cling to him. Yet we all ought to have common sense enough to be open to conviction or reason.
It is not the object of the readers of the Gardener's Monthly to throw stones at each other, but follow science or facts, which are stubborn things to get over; I might say we do not want to get over them, but abide by them. We only want to "get over" those that are "married to their own opinion," in spite of the facts.
And if John Bull did not know how to pulverize his soil until Mr. Henderson told him in 72, he certainly lived a long time to know very little.
The above title was a bad one to use, by former correspondent, leading to the impression that they are antagonistic, whereas both are well enough each in its way, and one cannot be dispensed with more than another. There is no doubt an immense amount of land in England might be ploughed that is now spaded; on the other hand I think it will be conceded that for many crops much greater results can be had by the spade than the plough. The spade goes deep, and finally pulverizes, and if there is any truth in all that we have been told about subsoiling and deep culture, spade-work ought to tell. In some kinds of crops also, there would certainly be an advantage. I think any one will admit that better crops of celery could be had by judicious spade culture than under the plough. Indeed I think there are few who will not admit that very much more can be made of a piece of ground well managed by spade than under any plough system, - and this being the case the whole question of which is best follows no rule, but is one of profit and loss. Land is generally cheap and labor dear at a distance from market. In such cases the plough only can be used to a profit; but close to a market the facts are reversed.
The land is dear and the labor cheap, - in such cases it pays to get all possible out of every inch of dirt, and there is nothing like the spade for doing it. I have known land in England to rent for market gardens at $100 an acre per year, - and, with labor very cheap, much more can be made of it by spade than ever could be made by the plough.