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.
I am unable to say whether this and one used in Paris is the same or not, but the description of both is identical in every respect. So much is it valued there that no other finds a ready sale in their market; no safer indication can be given of its merits than this. It is said to have originated with a market gardener having grown it for a year or so, not noticing anything particular about it until another party, who saw it knew its value, procured and introduced it.
I see your notice of a yellow variety also in Paris, perhaps the same, only the one I have seen written about is white; not only the stems but the foliage is said to be beautifully variegated and worthy of the florist's notice, a beautiful ornament on the table for decoration. As to Dr. Puffer's remarks about its flavor, no safer criterion to judge that by can be given than the French taste; and there it is said no one cares to use any other. Exposure to sun does not always deteriorate flavors, and his comparison to the potato I think is hardly fair. Supt. Govt Grounds, Ottawa, Can.
It is well known that when any novel circumstance originates in one part of the world it is not unusual for a similar one to appear about the same time in other parts of the world. After the notice of Mr. Henderson's 'white plume " in our columns, we read an account of a sort of a similar character; and we now find that Messrs. Vilmorin, Andrieux & Co., of Paris, have also a variety called "golden yellow large solid "which is also a self-blancher. How near these may come together we do not know; and comparative experiments will be looked for with interest the next season.
We note that Vick's Monthly says that the seed of the Chemin celery is to be offered in this country this spring, under the name of "White Plume." We have no evidence that these two kinds are the same, and we should fear that such a mixture of names will lead to trouble.
Mr. P. Henderson writes: "1 this day send you a sample of the White Plume Celery, grown by Mr. Aug. D. Mylius of Detroit, Mich. There is nothing unusual in the size or appearance of it, but it shows the tendency this variety has for early maturity, being now in perfect condition for the table at a season when the ordinary kinds of celery are just being planted. It, however, at this season takes on less of its white or variegated character than it does in the fall. It seems that as cold weather advances the tendency to whiten increases. In the fall, when growing in the field along with the others, it shows clean, white lines, almost like a row of Centaurea. Mr. Mylius is so pleased with it that he says he intends growing it by the hundred thousand next season.
[These were admirable specimens, not only for July, but for any season. One stalk weighed 9 3/4 oz. and the whole bunch of six 3 lbs. 10 oz. The quality was very good, but there is nothing to say about this point, when there is nothing in season to compare it with. It is without a competitor, unless indeed some of the other self-blanching celeries, which have appeared also in Europe, should ask us for something to say in due course of time. - Ed. G. M].
Like your correspondent from Brockton, Mass., in March number, I, too, have been in doubt whether I should say a word about the White Plume celery.
In the season of '81 I bought my Golden Dwarf celery seed from Peter Henderson & Co., and in one lot of 20,000 there came about 300 stocks that were identical with the description of his White Plume, as now offered. These 300 were so distinctly marked and so uniform that we determined to test its keeping qualities. One of my workmen remarked at the time that he would not be surprised to learn of it being offered in a couple of years as a new variety. It decayed early with us, and was very inferior in quality. Unless I should be reliably informed otherwise, I should judge it to have originated in the way it appeared with us, being saved and perpetuated by Mr. Henderson. And if it be the same, I regret that it has been sent out from so reliable a source, for no one, I apprehend, will grow it for market the second time. As a plant of great beauty, or as a novelty, it might do very well, but to send it forth as something that will prove profitable for the market gardener to grow for market is surely a mistake.
I am certain Mr. Henderson would not grow a crop of it and expect to sell it in any market where such a variety as Golden Dwarf is known.
[There are scores of varieties of the ordinary white celery, scores of varieties of red celery, and we should suppose there will be scores of varieties of self-blanching celery. Our opinion was based on the variety sent out by Mr. Henderson as the White Plume, and has no reference to other varieties of self-blanching celery, which may or may not deserve distinctive names. - Ed. G. M].
It was suggested last spring that there were no differences in the several varieties of self-blanching celeries of Europe and our own country. Mr. Mansfield Milton, of Youngstown, Ohio, tells the Country Gen-tleman: " Last spring some of the agricultural papers in the country remarked that some of the easy-blanching kinds of Europe were the same as the White Plume. Some of the gardeners in this neighborhood, instead of getting the true kind, got the Celeri blanc of the European gardens, the result being an almost failure of what they planted from rust during the dry weather. I have never seen much success in this country with the easy-blanching kinds of Europe. They generally grow spindling, and are very liable to rust".
I send you a few bunches (put up New York market fashion) of our new celery "White Plume." If I mistake not, this will open an entirely new phase in Celery culture. It "sported" in the vicinity of Newark, N. J., some three years ago from what is known as the half dwarf va-riety, showing a variegation of creamy white, mainly confined, however, to the center stalk and leaves of the plant, looking as if nature was meeting art half way; for as we know in all other celeries this whitening of the center so as to make it fit to eat, is only obtained by the slow and troublesome process of "banking" or earthing up, while in the "White Plume" Celery no work is necessary other than hoeing or ploughing sufficient earth to the rows, so as to straighten it.
New Celery - White Plume.
Another advantage in this new variety is, that not only the stalks are white and fit for use, but the leaves also, giving it somewhat the appearance of a bunch of white leathers, and hence the name given to it of "White Plume." This ornamental feature will be of great value, as it is well known that celery at our best hotels is nearly as much valued for an ornament for the table as for use, and in this we have the rare combination of these qualities.
There is only one drawback to this valuable new celery. Its natural tendency to white prevents it keeping late into winter, and it usually would not be safe to keep it later than the middle or end of January in such sections of the country where it has to be preserved by putting it away in the trenches. But as the greatest quantity of celery is. usually used in early winter and during the holidays, for this purpose no other variety is at all so valuable as "White Plume;" and when it is known that at least three fourths of the labor is saved in growing it, it may well be believed what a boon it will be to all cultivators of this vegetable. To the greater number of amateurs heretofore, the great labor entailed in growing celery has prevented the attempt, but when it is known that it can be now grown as easily as cabbage or lettuce, there is but little doubt that the area of celery culture will be greatly extended. New York City.
[We are much indebted to Mr. Henderson for the information about this singular sport, which will introduce a new era into the history of celery culture.
Self-blanching celery will indeed be a labor-saving class. The celery was remarkably solid and crisp, no trace of pithiness, and no waste. To our taste it was not as nuttily flavored as the best kinds of the old-fashioned class; but this only means that the way is open for still further improvements. - Ed. G. M].
I am in doubt whether I had better say a word about Mr. Henderson's new celery, because I think he has done a great deal for floriculture in America, and do not desire that what I may say should be taken in the way of unkind criticism. What I say is this, that while the "White Plume" may be beautiful to the eye, the flavor of any celery grown, exposed to sun, light, and air, will not be of the same flavor as that grown in the old and troublesome way. The action of the sun developes a different condition. This is readily seen in the potato, and justifies your remark in the January number of the Monthly, "that to your taste it was not as nuttily flavored as the best kinds of the old-fashioned class." Of course not, and never will be, unless it is covered from the sun-light.
Brockton, Mass., Feb. 4th, 1884.
In reply to Dr. Loring W. Puffer's doubt, that the White Plume celery " will not be of the same flavor as that grown in the old and troublesome way," I will say that although this new celery blanches entirely white without the air being excluded from it by banking, or any other process, yet it is found necessary to either draw as much soil to it as will prevent it from spreading, or else to tie each plant about the center for the same purpose. This we have found is all the work necessary to render it fit for the table. I grew over 10,000 roots of it last season, and we tested it by tying it up with matting ("handling"), and drawing the earth to it (the process preliminary to banking the old sorts) and found it equal in all respects, thus treated, to the best kinds of the older sorts that had been blanched by banking in the ordinary way. This was not alone our own opinion but scores of experts in celery, calling at our grounds to see it, came to the same conclusion. In fact, to test the matter fairly the leaves of the blanched stalks were taken off both sorts, and when mixed together they could not be distinguished, the flavor of the other kinds and the White Plume being identical, or so nearly so that they could not be separated.
But one reason why some may not have thought the flavor as good was, that all the samples we sent out were sent early in the season, before cold weather set in, and every one who has had any experience in celery knows that the flavor of any celery is never so good in early fall as in winter. My first opinion from the appearance of the plant (one-half at least of it being white) was, that it would be of little use as a winter celery. In this we have been most agreeably mistaken, for in over 5,000 put away in trenches in the usual way, up to the middle of February less than one per cent, rotted, and it kept in as good condition as the old kinds put away in the same manner. If it does as well under general cultivation as it does here, there is but little doubt that it will soon be grown to the exclusion of all other sorts. Moreover, it will greatly extend the culture of celery, as no experience is necessary to grow it more than that of any ordinary vegetable.
Jersey City Heights, March 6th, 1884.