This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The object of this additional paper is to keep the mind directed to the bacterian hypothesis of disease, as previously suggested in the Gardeners' Monthly, and linked with pear blight and peach yellows. With this recognition in view, I will proceed with a retrospective glance upon a limited number only of long-known and still highly-prized remedies, and which the present generation of investigators consider reliable agents, either as antiseptics, germicides or bac-teriacides. Originally it was my intention to have presented a tabulated form of many experiments made by the most renowned men engaged in these valuable researches; this, however, would have taken up too much of your valuable space, so I will substitute it with concise comparisons of the remedies before us, as most worthy of special notice and consideration.
As I am a thorough believer in the prevention of disease, rather than the alternative of allowing disease to " set in " and become uncontrollable, I will first proceed to mention carbolic acid as being probably for many reasons, and in many cases, the ne plus ultra remedy as an antiseptic, and very useful as a germicide and bacteriacide. Antiseptics as such are known by their action in destroying all sources of decay and decomposition and preventing the formation of germs without acting upon the mineral or vegetable matters present, and their value depends upon their power to prevent the multiplication of bacteria, though this is not necessarily connected with germicide potency; for some re-agents which fail to kill micro-organisms are nevertheless valuable antiseptics. Carbolic acid has been prominently before the public for many years as a successful antagonist to bacterial influence. As far back as 1866-67 I tested this article in a series of experiments upon certain substances of organic origin, and also those of an albuminous nature, the object mainly being to prevent fermentation, decomposition and putrefaction, which are corresponding conditions to the well-known bacterian theory.
The intermingling of carbolic acid in the above cases, in proportion of one part to one thousand, was then amply sufficient for the purpose.
In 1868, Dr. F. Crace Calvert, in a lecture before the Society for the Encouragement of National Industry of France, said that carbolic acid was then the hope of the textile manufacturer as an antiseptic in the various glues, sizes, etc, inseparable from this special manufacture, and today we have the very highest authority in stating that it takes the lead for the same purpose, though chloride and sulphate of zinc are valuable and reliable, and frequently used. When we keep in view the fact that thirty-one species of fungi are found growing upon the cotton tissue, and this naturally arising from the use of organic substances, that without the precautionary aid of antiseptics great losses sometimes would be inevitable, why not, then, utilize the same philosophy as a cautionary measure against the spread of bacterian influence upon any vegetable structure to which it may be exposed. Any one having any interest in the matter should secure a proper and effectual syringe or force pump and try the antiseptic principle upon their trees in their own particular districts and at a time at least two weeks previous to any known case of pear blight or peach yellows having been detected, the syringing being repeated occasionally during any anticipated prevalence of the disease.
Dr. Calvert in his lecture previously mentioned, stated that carbolic acid had the advantage over all other antiseptics inasmuch that it could not be used for any illegal purpose, as may be the case of corrosive sublimate and some others then on trial; but the well-known investigator and experimenter, Koch, considers corrosive sublimate at the present date the disenfectant and germicide par excellence, as from his own experience it destroys spores in a solution of one part to 20,000 and solutions of one part to 1000 and even 5000 are capable of destroying spores in a few minutes when applied as a spray. The same strong opinion is held by the editor of the Druggists' Circular who boldly asserts in the June number of the present year that no agent can compare with corrosive sublimate for the destruction of fungoid growths or bacteria so far as power and reliability are concerned, and adds that carbolic acid is far behind it as a destroyer of bacteria upon animal tissues; he has however no experience to offer of its effects upon vegetation; but admits that carbolic acid is one of our most precious antiseptics. One caution may be mentioned concerning the latter and that is, from full and comparatively recent investigation it is said to have no antiseptic influence when mixed with oil.
It is the aqueous solution only that is reliable for the diffusion of health. Vaporizing, as now practiced in the Rotunda Lying-in Hospital of Dublin and other institutions, both with carbolic acid and corrosive sublimate (one part to one thousand) is barely practical either in orchard or garden where the "broad expanse" of air covers so much unconfined space. This theme could be continued to an almost indefinite extent; but what fruit growers are most concerned about is " a remedy," antiseptic rather than disinfecting; but both have been presented in this paper and I trust will prove of some value to the future experimenter.
59 Gregory St., Rochester, N. Y.