This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
In the September number of the 'Gardener' you published a few remarks on a mode of growing Cucumbers for market: we very-much regret to find that there was an error as to the sort mentioned as found best for this particular purpose. It was there stated to be Sutton's Perfection; we now find it is Sutton's Champion, a variety brought into notice perhaps a dozen years ago.
On visiting our industrious friend a few days ago, he gave us this information, as well as a little more. We found him busy repairing, cleaning, and getting ready for the coming season. As there is but little demand for Cucumbers at this season, we found the structure empty except one division, where there were a few old Plums and some good fruit hanging; also a goodly stock of young, healthy plants ready for the troughs. To show that the most cautious may err; - a few plants had been put out, but as a brick flue had just been built instead of the old socket - pipes, and the work had not had time to dry, the fumes given off had destroyed the plants. The good man took it very patiently, said he was glad it was not his best plants, and that he had plenty more to replace them. Here was philosophy and prudence. He submitted to what could not be helped: he was provided against contingencies. Nothing so likely to happen as the unexpected. In again discussing his mode of growing, he said, no doubt he was successful, but then he gave his time and attention to it. A gentleman's gardener, with fifty other things on hand, would be almost sure to fail.
He never had spider, thrip, scorching, or anything else amiss with his plants; but were the soil once to get dry, he would soon be eaten up with insects, and the plants fail. This witness is true. This great fact is applicable to all artificial plant-growing and forcing operations. Every gardener capable of reflection knows that these pests are the result of neglect. We do not say that the attendant is always to blame - men often have more than enough exacted of them; but in many cases these things arise from ignorance or misdirected energy.
With proper attention, the trough system has many advantages; the small amount of soil induces moderate growth and fruitfulness, with fair-sized fruit, which is more saleable than very large ones. We could never see the good of very large Cucumbers for a family. What is not used at once is generally wasted, and the amount of energy required to produce a brace 24 or 27 inches long would produce at least double the number of fruit from 15 to 18 inches, and these are ample for ordinary purposes. S. X.