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.
About 1845, H. E. Hooker planted an acre with the Virginia Scarlet. It was considered a very novel venture and an immense strawberry bed. The fruit, the first ever sold in Rochester, was put in round pointed baskets, which were strung on a string and sold by his partner, at retail, from a fruit stand. Others took up the culture soon after, and Rochester has become quite a strawberry centre. The dealers are reported to have paid out for strawberries this season, in this city, eighty-four thousand dollars ($84,000). One canning house absorbed, I understand, ten thousand (10,000) quarts per day. The same house is said to have canned ten tons per day and two hundred tons in all - of cherries.
Regarding new varieties of strawberries it seems to me we are not making much progress in the direction of quality. We get them larger and larger all the time, but not better. Have we to-day any strawberry, possible to obtain a fair crop of fruit from, under ordinary garden culture, of high quality? Have we anything as good to-day as the almost forgotten Hovey Seedling? If so, what is it? It seems to me we are, with all the almost endless list of varieties, greatly lacking a good berry for the home garden. Something is wanted not so sharp as Wilson and not so flavorless as Sharpless, and the balance of the list of big berries.
The Bidwell, in my garden, is a dismal failure. The plants grew with great vigor; the set of fruit was more than abundant. The fruit grew to fine size, and the few that ripened were very beautiful in appearance; but very much the larger part never ripened. They either withered or rotted before fully ripe. The tips would remain green and hard, and by the time they were tender the balance of the berry was ruined. The quality of the perfect specimens was of rather low grade, but as good as ordinary market sorts may be.
My soil is a deep, very rich dark loam, and has been in sod for a dozen or more years. The plants were well watered. Other sorts did well. On grounds near my own, but of light colored loam, this sort did no better. It does not seem to be suited to this vicinity.
I am greatly pleased with the fruit of the Longfellow. It is a long-fellow in shape, and its deep color and regular form please the eye. In quality it is about on par with most of the big berries, but rather better if anything. The vine is very slender, but does not seem feeble. For the home garden I consider it well worth a trial; for field culture I doubt it's being popular here. The Warren is large and handsome and good, and seems to be a promising sort.
If one can be contented with very mild flavor, I know of no sort for general culture for the home garden, so valuable as the Cumberland. With me its growth is vigorous, the yield fully as great as the Wilson, the fruit very large, tender, handsome and good for a mild flavored berry.
The Sharpless sells well in market bringing about double prices at retail. But I don't like its ugly, shapeless form, its pasty flesh and insipid flavor.