This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Mr. E. A Caswell writes: "A recent number of the Gardener's Monthly presented an indictment against the Dumesnil fertilizing moss, made by one high in authority, and we beg to offer a few facts in our defence. To state that because early in the century - about the era of stage coaches and tallow dips, - some gentlemen failed to make a moss which would successfully nourish, etc., plants, without earth, that therefore M. Dumes nil cannot do so in 1882, is certainly not a strong argument at a period when the discovery of hitherto unknown scientific principles and new applications of well known ones occur almost monthly to revolutionize some branch of human industry. And to affirm that probably no fertilizing material, not already known to horticulture, can be used with moss to feed plants, is rather a negation of progress. The fact is, that the Dumesnil moss contains several ingredients that have never been thus used before, and it is a different article from all similar substances hitherto offered. It costs between eighteen and twenty cents to make it, and its materials are too many and too expensive to pretend to compete with simple bone dust and moss. Mr. Henderson admits the excellent growth of plants in Dumesnil moss during a trial of only one month.
Let him wait four and then report - others bring proof of better results. Mr. N. H. Schmidt, of New York and Astoria, ex-superintendent of the Munich and Berlin Royal Botanical Gardens, etc., has obtained wonderful results with Dumesnil moss in the growth of 'orchids' from Brazil, and 'palms' (Cocos Wedellianum, Geonoma gracilis and others), which, with moss added to the earth, have reached in two months the point that those planted in earth alone reached in four. Mr. C. J. Power, of South Farmingham, Mass., among many other plants exhibited a 'Hybiscus Cooperii' in Boston that was confessedly one of the finest specimens ever seen in the city, and he has recently had brilliant results with 'trailing arbutus,' grown in the Dumesnil moss. The Massachusetts Horticultural Society has awarded to the moss a medal, and has thus seen fit cordially to endorse it. When our facilities are perfected we shall offer Mr. Henderson an opportunity of testing, under impartial conditions, any moss or earth he may bring in competition with Dumesnil moss, and an opportunity also for some one to give a hundred dollars to the poor in case of failure.
"That Mr. Henderson should deem our moss worthy of attack, is a cause of deep satisfaction.
" 'And the stern joy which warriors feel In foeinen worthy of their steel.'"
[It may be remarked that Mr. Henderson made no "attack" on this moss. Notwithstanding the sneer in the last paragraph at Mr. Henderson's judgment, it will be remembered that Mr. H. was "invited" to test it, and that a package of the moss was sent to him for the express purpose. He simply recorded the judgment he was invited to give. The invitation to him to make another test is very funny in view of the last paragraph. Mr. Caswell's letter does not seem to convey much more information to the reader than he is already possessed of. Personal challenges seem more in place in the advertising columns; but we pass the letter for publication here on an appeal for "justice," though we really think it is not called for by anything Mr. Henderson said. - Ed. G. M].