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.
It is the opinion of many who live beyond the Grampians, that nothing but the most hardy of the vegetable kingdom will grow or prosper in this northern clime. But to those who thus think, I will endeavour, with your .kind permission, to show otherwise. As a young gardener, of but a very few years' experience, my practical knowledge cannot be much, neither are my literary attainments such as would warrant me to aspire to the dignity of becoming a contributor to your valuable magazine. Still I will try, as briefly as I can, to show how successfully some of the finest fruits are grown in this county (Caithness).:
Of the Strawberry there are, e.g., Garibaldi, Dr Hogg, Elton, British Queen, and the Keen Seedling, all of which are grown with the most successful results. The Elton especially requires a little more than a mere passing remark, as it grows to such an enormous size. Having been struck with the prodigious size of them here this year, I was led by curiosity to weigh some of them: if I were to chronicle the results here, I fear I would be accused of drawing the "long bow; " and yet I am perfectly satisfied that, without being considered boastful, they were equal in quality and size to any that have been reared in the sunny South. Examples might be enumerated, but this will suffice for my present purpose.
Of other fruits there is the Gooseberry, which, of course, does well in almost all places; but I might mention that while I hear many complaining of a species of fungus destroying their crops, it is generally unknown here, and where it has appeared it has been of such a mild type that it never affects the fruit.
As a parenthetical remark, I might here say that the Apple crop this year was more or less affected by a species of fungus. A number of black dots appeared on the skin of the Apple, which is supposed to have been caused by the bite of an insect when the fruit was setting. But to turn again to the Gooseberry, I was going to say that the Sulphur and Hedgehog, as dessert varieties, and the large and small jam Gooseberry, as preserving varieties, are amongst those that suit best in this county.
The Black Currant grows uncommonly well here on bushes, but bears better and a finer flavoured berry when grown against walls; and I yet hope to be able to tell you how Lee's Prolific Black Currant suits this semi-polar region.
Of wall-fruit nothing surprises tourists and our Southern friends more when they pay us a visit than the extraordinarily fine Apples which decorate the walls of many of the gardens in this county - Plums, Apricots, and Nectarines in some cases giving variation to the more common wall - fruit. If the first instalment of " Fruit-Culture in the North " meets your approval, I shall be glad to continue it in the succeeding number of the ' Gardener.'
Forss, Caithnesshire. N. S. S.
Nov. 14, 1872.