This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
(Concluded From P. 85, Feb. No.)
The vigor of the vine may be increased and prolonged by layering thrifty shoots, which form roots of their own, and in effect become new and independent, though still attached to the parent vine. The importance of this method may be better understood when we learn that young vines are generally free from mildew. For four or five years after my first planting, the fruit was always fair, while others in the neighborhood suffered much. This result occasioned great surprise to some horticultural friends, who understood the cause of this singular exemption no better than I did. Time, however, at last unraveled the mystery in part. When the wood became older, and the plant in consequence diminished in vigor, my grapes were blighted as badly as theirs.
I have observed the same thing in regard to the gooseberry. The more thrifty the variety, the less danger from mildew; and generally they are exempt till the bushes are several years old. We may therefore consider this shrub, like the raspberry, an imperfect perennial; and we ought to prepare new plantations in time, so as always to have a supply of this fine fruit.
I never think without regret, that so few people have apricots - so easily raised, and so delicious when ripe. It comes in, too, when neither plums nor peaches are to be had, with rare exceptions. I obtained a sort from Flushing, many years ago, under the name of "peach apricot," which some pomologists pronounce a misnomer, - but whether true to its name or not, I should like to see the peach that is half as valuable. In every door-yard there ought to be one or two 6f such trees.
There is another fruit, too much neglected, which I would take the liberty to recommend. It is the American Mulberry. There is a very old, and a very good-natured maxim, to wit: "There is no disputing tastes," - so when pomologists tell me there is another sort "incomparably finer," I can only say - not in reply, but in excuse - that I procured the genuine English Mulberry, and that the fruit is so sour that I do not eat it. Well, some folks like sour fruit, such as the Cornelian Cherry, but let me have the American Mulberry in preference to either. The native trees in Western New York, however, bear much smaller fruit than some varieties do, that are found-three or four degrees further south; and there is one in my fruit garden from that quarter, though probably not of the very best kind, that 1 value as highly as any other tree within that enclosure.
Many people like the mild flavor of the huckleberry; but generally our land is unfavorable to its growth. There is a low bush, however - the dwarf service berry, (Aronia ovalis) - that yields a fruit somewhat similar, and grows well in heavy, though not in sandy soils. It is as easily cultivated as the currant; and bears moderately well.
But why do we want so many sorts of fruits? For the same reason that we want so many sorts of food: the pleasure that springs from variety. Another not less cogent, however, might be given. In proportion to the number of kinds cultivated, are chances for a supply in unfavorable seasons, - for the frost often destroys one sort, and leaves another; and continued rains induce decay in some, and not in others, especially among plums and cherries. Some fair skin varieties of the latter were almost worthless this year; and some of the black have suffered, while the acid sorts, as the May Duke and Morello, have generally escaped. Let us, therefore, have many kinds; and if the best sometimes offer nothing, let us have the second best.
On a former occasion, I noticed how much the best flavor of fruits depended on culture: and that two of my pear trees yielded nothing fit to eat until the land was cultivated around them, when the products became excellent. I have now another instance to relate. Into the branches of a May Duke surrounded by sod, I inserted scions of the Belle de Choisy, and for two years the cherries were insipid. Not suspecting the cause, as the May Dukes* were fine, I wondered how it had ever attained such a reputation. At last the hogs rooted up and destroyed every, spire of grass in it, the ground was well pulverized, and ever since the fruit has been delicious.
Last fall I had late planted cabbages that formed large tufts of leaves, but not good heads; and I had a hope that if I could preserve them till spring, they might grow into something useful; so they were set in a trench, very closely, side by side - some straw was thrown on them, and over that about two inches of earth. As the trench was ten or twelve feet in length, two tubes were set in near each end, to let off the bad air - just such as every cabbage depot under ground, or potato heap ought to have. In the spring I was surprised at the result. Every green leaf had disappeared - the larger plants had formed good heads, though not so compact as those grown in the open air, and all were beautifully blanched, and fit for use.
One item more, and I have done. No insects, no birds, and no malady among fruit trees, have discouraged pomologists so much as the depredators of Our own species - thieves in the proper sense of the word. Laws have been made sufficiently stringent, but a better public sentiment on this subject can only repress such outrages effectually; and to Horticultural Societies must we chiefly look for its general introduction. Your splendid exhibitions silently urge the spectators to produce fruit of their own. Every one that makes the attempt, enlists on the side of virtue and true civilization; and if there is room for it, becomes more, moral. The man whose tree is robbed, feels sympathy for his plundered neighbor, that he never felt before; and the boy that guards his melon patch, feels more like a man, and learns to respect the property of others. In accordance with these remarks a late writer has pithily said, "I never knew a boy to steal fruit, whose father raised fruit himself".