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.
At the present time much is being said and written in regard to silk culture. Indeed it is time for the subject to be agitated in the United States, for if once developed it will furnish lucrative employment at their homes for thousands of women and children, and add largely to the national wealth of the land.
Perhaps a few practical ideas in regard to the relative value of the different kinds of mulberry used for silk culture, from one who is engaged in the business, will be of interest to some of your many readers. For the Northern States I place at the head the Russian, brought to this country about seven years ago by Russian Men-nonites. 1st. Because it is perfectly hardy and will thrive in any soil. 2d. It is a rapid grower. 3d. It produces large quantities of leaves, which furnish silk of the finest quality, 4th. It produces the best fruit of all the mulberries, and the greatest quantity of it. It can be grown to the height of forty feet, and from three to five feet in diameter, or can be sheared to any size you like. There are eleven varieties of the Morus alba, or white mulberry; among them is the Morus Tartarica, Morus multicaulis, Morus Mo-retta, Morus japonica, English white and others.
But if I were to plant two acres - it matters not in what part of the United States - one would be Russian ; and then, if you tire of silk culture, its fine fruit will more than pay for your labor and expense of growing. Never plant the common American, or Morns rubra near the paper mulberry. And I would not advise planting Morus nigra for silk culture. In Europe and Asia, the mulberry is considered the most valuable of all trees, for it produces the most delicious fruit. Its timber is used in the arts and for fuel; the bark and fibre for paper, and its leaves produce the finest fabrics of silk. At some future time I will send you an article on the different kinds of silk worms.
[It seems proper to say to our readers that the species or type of all these varieties, the Morus alba is perfectly hardy over the greater part of the United States, if not over every part of it and nobody who wishes to engage in silk culture will go wrong in planting seed of the Morus alba, or in growing trees of the ordinary Morus alba seed. It is quite likely that in time there will be found certain varieties of the white mulberry better adapted to some localities than others, just as we find some varieties of apples or grapes are ; but this is only a question of the refinement of culture. People sometimes say of the grape, they had better have Concords or Clintons, than risk the coquettish dispositions of better varieties. And they will find it true of mulberry plants. If people had stuck to the common white mulberry, - seedling mulberries, instead of speculating in the "multicaulis" variety of it, with its large leaves and larger diseases, they would not have had to deplore the terrible ravages of disease among the silk worms which stopped the demand and destroyed the old "Multicaulis mania." If people are wise they will let well enough alone, before getting into speculations about "improved varieties". - Ed. G. M].