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.
Just a few words in reference to Mr. Zirngeibel's article on water heating in your May issue. The principle there resorted to is very old, and, I believe, is described in Loudon's Encyclopedia of Gardening as having been first put in practice by a Mr. Fowler previous to the advent of the present system of hot water heating, about 1820, and for sundry reasons discarded after trial. It will also be found from the same source that steam was tried successfully before that time, was found to be adapted to the purpose, but was discarded on the sole account of great cost. At all events the honor of originality does not in Mr. Zirngeibel's case belong to him. I would say that the gentleman is mistaken if he thinks he can handle hot water, even under pressure, as easily as steam, nor can he heat a range of houses any better or as well. There are many places very close to him which are economically and satisfactorily heated by steam. Could we know them, there are very probably ample reasons for Mr. Z's failure with steam, which do not in any way go to show that it is a failure when in other hands.
Steam has been proved to be the best heating medium for all other kinds of structures, and why not for glass buildings? The only reasonable objection offered, that plants would not grow so well, has been refuted a hundred times, and nothing remains for people to do in the matter except to have their apparatus put in by competent people.
All the letters written against steam heating have come from persons who have never tried it and know nothing about it, or from persons who have had apparatus put in upside down because it was cheap, and the subsequent failures have led them to cry out loudly against the whole subject and frighten the more timid of their brethren.
I had the honor of sending you a squib on this heating question some years since, which provoked the discussion which has been carried on in your magazine - doubtless oftentimes trying you sorely for the past three or four years, and have watched each issue with much interest and much amusement at statements made, but have endeavored by silence generally to have compassion on you, and for this intrusion would ask your pardon. I, for one, would like to read a series of articles written on this subject, by any one whose experience had rendered him competent to give a full, fair discussion, for from such I think the mass of your readers would learn much concerning what is to them a very vital subject. Boston, Mass.
[The discussions last year were lengthy and trying to editorial patience, but the great importance of the subject led us to look charitably on the attempts to enlighten the public, much as they prevented room for other topics, almost as desirable. - Ed. G. M].