The Senator from South Carolina, (Mr. Calhoun.) to whom I am indebted for pointing out one symptom of the error, and for a valuable suggestion in the culture of plants, said, "while examining the defective trees around the Capitol, that the principle when exhibited was very plain and simple, that it was philosophical, and in his opinion it could not be neglected without injury to the health and growth of trees and plants, and deserving of public patronage."
"The Vice President of the United States, (Mr. Johnson,) said, that my discovery was perfectly consistent with the laws of nature; and (when observing a few trees near the Capitol, which had been injured by the error, and were recovering.) farther remarked, that my theory was essentially correct and obvious to the most superficial observer."
"The member from New-York, (Mr. Jackson,) said, that he had reared an orchard on which he had carefully avoided an excess of what I call the common error, and that it had been admired as the most flourishing and fruitful orchard in the neighbourhood; and that he had recently seen a field of Indian corn, which yielded more than one hundred bushels of shelled grain to the acre, in which an excess of the error had been avoided, while the success was attributed to quite a different cause."
From the preceding extracts, it is evident that this inestimable treasure lays near the surface; and from the disclosure having been communicated to rational and intelligent minds, it is preposterous to expect that those gentleman can, in the pursuit of their rural avocations, act directly contrary to knowledge and sound judgment; they must, therefore necessarily and unavoidably communicate the secret by their example, which will eventually disseminate in proportion as mankind take an interest in the merits of the alleged discovery.
But lest the full benefits of this invaluable remedy should be withheld from the community for want of the action of the United States Congress, I have submitted an exposition of my views of the particular points adverted to in the preamble, which may be found under the heads, Nectarine, Peach, and Plum, pages 91, 98 and 124 of the third part of the present edition of the Young Gardener's Assistant; and I would furthermore remind my readers that the directions heretofore given in this and previous editions of the work are in strict accordance with the same doctrine; and that although the error alluded to is admitted to have been very generally committed, I am not aware that any writer has ever taught or encouraged the error, either direct or indirect; I confess, however, that I have been induced to expatiate on this malpractice in horticulture from the subject having elicited the grave consideration of enlightened legislators of these United States.
And lest these my voluntary disclosures should prove to have no bearing on the alleged discovery, I would prepare the public mind for its reception by an exhortation to temperance and moderation, as the only safe course that can be considered applicable to the cultivation of all the varied species of plants, which comprise "the whole vegetable kingdom." In articles page 26 of the first part, and pages 16, 28 and 97 of the second part, I have shown that the various species of plants which occupy our greenhouses, gardens, and fields, require each, their peculiar aliment - they having been collected from all the diversified regions, climates, and soils through earth's remotest bounds; they consequently comprise natives of mountains and rocks, as well as of plains, valleys, and water courses. The most essential aliment for natives of warm climates and dry soils being heat, artificial means are used in cool seasons, and unpropitious climates to produce it. Natives of temperate climates require salubrious air, hence they are cultivated to the greatest, perfection in our Northern States in spring and autumn; and in our Southern States in the winter; seepage 147 of the first part; and natives of humid climates, as also amphibious plants in general, require a more than ordinary share of moisture, and grow best in wet soil; but these three elements collectively constitute the food of plants in general, and should be judiciously imparted to the various species, in due proportions, according to circumstances. See pages 49, 64 and 67 of the first part, for a more precise view of this subject. I have also shown that the roots of various species of plants require each their peculiar aliment, which is not to be found in all descriptions of land; this is demonstrated by roots of trees being frequently discovered spreading beyond their ordinary bounds in quest of salutary food.
Although it has been admitted that excessive deep planting of trees and plants is injurious, and in many cases fatal to their very existence, it does not follow that all annuals and biennials are injured by the same means; on the contrary, the earthing up of particular species of plants in a late stage of growth is calculated to promote early maturity, which constitutes the most essential art in gardening for the market; because the earliest crops are always the most profitable. It is moreover a necessary practice in climates where the seasons for gardening are short - as without such practice, many kinds of vegetables could not possibly be matured in due season for gathering before winter.
I would here take the opportunity of proving this last position, by reminding the reader that the effects of deep planting, the Peach tree for instance, is discoverable soon after the error is committed, by its fruit ripening prematurely, and this is often the case for a year or two prior to its final decease, and should operate as a salutary lesson against planting perennial plants and trees too deep.
In conclusion of this article, which is intended as an appendage to my works on gardening, I would urge gardeners and cultivators to consult the operations of nature in all their rural pursuits; and with a view to aid them, I subjoin the following rules, which are farther illustrated under the different heads:
1. In transplanting fruit trees, let the collar, or that part from which emanate the main roots, be near the surface. A medium sized tree may be planted an inch deeper than it was in the nursery bed; and the largest should not exceed two or three inches See pages 93, 101 and 125 of the third part of the present edition of the Young Gardener's Assistant.
2. In the cultivation of such plants as are transplanted, or grown in hills or clusters, as Indian Corn, etc, keep the earth loose but level around them in their early stages of growth, by frequent hoeing, ploughing, or cultirating; and to promote early maturity, throw a moderate portion of earth about the roots and stems at the last or final dressing.
3. In the sowing of seed, remember that in unity there is strength, and that from the gerrninative parts of a seed being weak and diminutive, it cannot be expected to perforate through the soil, solitary and alone. To insure a fair chance plant your seed moderately thick, and thin out the surplus plants while young. In planting seed in drills, which is the most eligible plan, the size of the seed and strength of its germ should be considered; large seed, producing vigorous roots, require deeper planting than diminutive seed, producing delicate roots and slender stalks.
4. In the choice of compost for exotic or greenhouse plants, imitate the native soil of each peculiar species as nearly as possible, by a judicious mixture of maiden earth, loam, sand, leaf, swamp, and rock mould, decomposed manures, and such other composts as are recommended under the different heads. Remember, that although strong manure is essential to the growth of some plants, it is poisonous to others. Pursue, then, a medium course. From your soil not being too stiff or too light, too rich or too poor, too cool or too warm, too close or too porous, if not positively salutary and congenial to all, it must render the situation of each endurable. I again repeat, that temperance in the use of aliment, is as essential to the welfare of the vegetable family as it is to the health, happiness, and longevity of mankind.
T. Bridgeman. New-York, March 4, 1840.
Since this address has been in press, I have seen another article in the Poughkeepsie Eagle, dated February 29, 1840, wherein our modest and patriotic discoverer gratuitously pronounces his knowledge as superior to that of" all Botanical and Agricultural known writers!" As 1 have anticipated the merits of this second valuable discovery in my books, I have nothing more to say than to remind the reader that this uncalled for attack on the brethren of my fraternity, fully justifies not merely the publication, but the most general circulation of these my voluntary disclosures.