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.
The immense number of new varieties of fruit which continually appear, makes it very difficult to decide on what to plant, and those not familiar with pomological history, especially, are puzzled when they come to make a selection. Among all the new kinds offered there are always some of superiority, but the great proportion, good enough perhaps in themselves, are really valueless in comparison with standard kinds already well known. Among pears, for instance we have the Bartlett, Seekel, D'Anjou and scores of others which are nearly a hundred years old; they are as good to-day as they were nearly a hundred years ago, and no new competitor has been able to drive them from the field. It is the same with all other fruits if one would but believe it. The intelligent nurseryman knows this, and honestly tries to satisfy the public that it is so. But the " new " kind has been advertised and brought prominently forward, and the public crowd on him their demands for the "Lucifer," the "Conqueror," the "Summum Bonum," or the "Great French Bonne," or "The Belle," and, in spite of his own feeling that the thing is trash, he has to keep it, and see with sadness the kinds he knows are good neglected and unsold. But this is not all.
No sooner has he a stock of what he believes salable at least, the very men who assert so pyrotechnically this year, that there never was and never will be anything like the " Summum Bonum," tell you as coolly " as a cucumber " next year that it has " not been found reliable," and you must now get their magnificent "Excelsior." And still the public run on, till in disgust the intelligent and honorable nurseryman gives up the race, and is rather disposed to be regarded as behind the times in not keeping everything on hand, than to run a scrub race for the profits on the doubtfully proper trade. But what is the remedy? The great proportion of new fruits are brought out by persons who know very little about what is already known. If a variety happens to be better than the few items they have a chance to compare with, they believe all the world should shower on them some profits for " their great skill in originating the wonderful thing." It is not fraud, but honest ignorance that causes the trouble. The testimonials therefore should be carefully scrutinized. The village doctor, or the pastor of the church may testify to the originator's honor and standing in the community.
The banker may say his credit is good, and even the " celebrated fruit culturist, Gosling of Goose-town," may have declared that the originator is the greatest benefactor to our country since Christopher Columbus, or George Washington, at least, yet it is best to see that the testimonials to the new fruit's value is from some one eminent in fruit culture, and who must feel that in the recommendation he gives he has a character to lose. When the names of men like Wilder, Barry, Thomas, Warder, Berckmans, and others who crowd on us as we write, are attached to a fruit certificate, that is something, but not all. Just what they say should be carefully scrutinized. They will not say more than they know, but they speak favorably and positively of the little they know, and the introducer often introduces this in a manner calculated to impress the reader much more strongly than the writer intended. We know of many instances where an honest opinion has been given, which in print has made the writer emphatically declare he would never give another one. It will always be safe to suppose that the writer of a certificate never means anything more than just what he says. It seems we cannot do better in this one of our seasonable hints than to devote the whole chapter to this important topic.
A few new varieties should always be selected. There are few branches of pomology which give more pleasure than the testing of new fruits which prove really meritorious. Use good judgment in the selection and try some, but plant chiefly of well-known and well-tried kinds. If you are in a wholly new district, the proceedings of the American Pomological Society, or of some near local society will help you to choose. If not try some near neighbor, and find what has done well with him. If this is not practicable, take the advice of some intelligent nurseryman who is well known in the business. To be sure there is a chance that he will be inclined to recommend only what he has to sell, but then it must be remembered that, knowing that it takes years to get up a stock to sell, and that the public will only want the best, there is really little induce ment for him to grow any thing but the best. One may not always get just what he wants in this way, but he will certainly do better than he who races off after every new thing.
"Try all things and accept that which is good," is not exactly the advice for the fruit grower. Try a few of the best recommended.