Whatever kind of concentrated fertilizer may be used, I find it well repays the labor to prepare it in the following manner: to every bushel of fertilizer, add three bushels of either leaf-mold (from the woods), well pulverized muck, sweepings from a paved street, or - in the absence of either of the above - common garden soil. In every case the material employed must be as dry as it is possible to procure it. When guano is used, be careful to have it thoroughly pulverized and broken up before mixing with the other ingredients. The fertilizer must be well mixed with the soil or mold used by turning it at least twice. This mixing should be done in winter, or early spring, and the material packed away in barrels in a dry place for at least a month before using it. The main object of this operation is for the better separation and division of the fertilizer, so that when applied, it can be more regularly distributed over the land; besides this, no doubt the fertilizing qualities of the leaf-mold or other substance are developed by this treatment. Experiment has shown that this method of using concentrated fertilizers of nearly all kinds, materially increases their value. One of the most successful market-gardeners in our neighborhood, has adopted this method for years, and in extensive experiments with different kinds of fertilizers, with and without being mixed, finds a saving of quite one-third in quantity in thus treating them. He finds that 1,200 lbs. of guano, mixed with two tons of garden soil, and sown over the surface after plowing, and then harrowed in, is equal in effect to 2,000 lbs. of guano used without mixing.
We have ourselves experimented with guano, blood and bone, and bone flour, with nearly like results, and as a top dressing for grass, we think the advantage of mixing is even more marked. When fertilizers are applied to* corn, potatoes, tomatoes, etc., in hills or drills., it is not only more economical to mix in this manner, but much safer in inexperienced hands; for when any strong fertilizer is used pure, injury is often done to the roots by their coming in contact with it in too great quantity in the raw state, owing to imperfect mixing in the hill or drill, while, if composted as advised above, the danger is much less. We are often asked as to the quantity to be applied to different garden crops. Taking guano as a basis, we would recommend for all vegetable crops, if earliness and good quality are desired, the use of not less than 1,200 lbs. per acre, (an acre contains 4,840 square yards, and cultivators for private use can easily estimate from this the quantity they require for any area), mixed with two tons of either of the materials recommended. This quantity is used broadcast by sowing on the ground after plowing, and deeply and thoroughly harrowing in, or if in small gardens, forked in lightly with the prongs of a garden fork or long toothed steel rake. When applied in hills or drills, from 100 to 300 lbs. should be used to the acre, according to the distance of these apart, mixing with soil, etc., as already directed.
In regard to which of the fertilizers is most desirable, we find but little difference, provided each is pure. Guano at $80 per ton, is relatively as cheap as blood and bone fertilizer at $65; bone flour at $50, or superphosphate at $40; for in the lower priced articles we find we are obliged to increase the quantity to obtain the same results, so that the cost is nearly alike whichever be used. The all important point is the purity of the article, a matter that few working farmers or gardeners ever attempt to decide except by the results in culture, hence we advise each one who has been using a fertilizer that has proved satisfactory, to experiment but lightly with another until the new article has proved its merits. The competition in the manufacture of articles so much in use as fertilizers, has in many instances forced down prices below the point at which they can be produced in a pure state, hence the widespread adulteration with "salt cake," "plaster," and other articles utterly worthless but to make weight. Next in meanness to the quack that extracts money from a poor consumptive for his vile nostrums, is the man who compels the poor farmer or gardener, may be a thousand miles away struggling for an existence, to pay freight on the sand mixed with his guano, or the plaster in his bone dust. In this relation I am reminded of a retribution that fell on the "Sands of Life man," who figured so conspicuously a few years ago in New York. The advertisement of this philanthropic gentleman, it will be remembered, was that "A retired clergyman whose Sands of Life had nearly run out," would for a consideration tell how the " running out" could be stopped in others. A kind hearted fellow in Illinois, deeply sympathizing with the old gentleman on account of his loss of "sand," sent him by express - but forgot to prepay - a thousand pounds of the article ! It is reported that the "retired clergyman " on opening the cask, expressed himself in a manner not only ungrateful, but utterly unclerical. We counsel no vengeance, but if some of these sand-mixing guano men could have the sand sifted out by their victims with compound interest added, and returned to them under the fostering care of an express company, it would be but even handed justice,