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.
It is well known to most of our readers, that the Lawton or New Rochelle blackberry, has been disseminated through the country by Mr. William Lawton, of New Rochelle, in this State, and Messrs. George Seymour & Co., of South Norwalk, in Connecticut. The latter gentlemen have a somewhat extensive and very well managed nursery, which, to the enthusiastic horticulturist, is worth going many a mile to see. But its principal attraction, during the last three years, has been the famous new variety of the blackberry. Until the present season, Mr. Seymour has devoted his attention mainly, almost exclusively, to the cultivation of the plants for propagation. But this year he has appropriated nearly three acres to this berry; in so doing, he has afforded those interested opportunity to judge for themselves by actual observation.
Early in the month of August, by invitation from Mr. Seymour, when the berries were in their prime, we saw the nursery, and sufficiently to show that the Lawton blackberry is among the most valuable varieties of fruit.
The ground thus devoted is less than two and a half acres ; from this ground Mr. Seymour was sending to market daily, an average of upwards of ten bushels. He had been picking nine days, and the aggregate amount to the period of our visit, was one hundred and six bushels. Single hills, of some three or four canes, in many instances yielded a bushel each. One day during the season, nineteen bushels were picked. The picking is done almost exclusively by boys ; eight being employed. Most of the berries are produced from a field separate from the nursery; half an acre being devoted to the fruit in the nursery ; and here most of our observations were made. This half acre, which is understood to have received the same culture bestowed upon the rest of the plantation, had already produced some thirty bushels ; and probably at least twenty-five bushels remain to be gathered. This is at the rate of some sixty bushels to the acre. Many good judges who have visited the nursery, placed the estimate even higher than this.
"But does not this result involve a larger expenditure in cultivation and harvesting ?" inquires some one.
Definite information on this point, obtained from Mr. S., proves that the entire expense of the culture of an acre, after the ground has been properly prepared the first year, falls below fifty dollars, and the expense of picking is but a trifle over one cent a quart. Mr. S. employs his boys by the day, paying them fifty cents each. They have averaged, during the season, from forty to fifty quarts each a day. The berries command a ready market at twenty-five cents a quart, wholesale. The commission for selling is one per cent, or one cent for four quarts. The expense of transportation from Norwalk to New York, some forty miles, about the same.
These are the facts in regard to the culture of the Lawton blackberry. What has been stated on this subject, hitherto, has mainly been theoretical; we are now able to state from actual inspection, not only what the blackberry is capable of doing, and what it probably will do, but what it has done, and what it is doing. The yield from the two acres and three quarters cultivated by Mr. Seymour, cannot be accurately arrived at in season for the present number. But if, when the crop is harvested, it fails of reaching two hundred bushels, we shall be obliged to confess, that, with the means of forming a correct estimate, observation and figures have led us astray. It may be well to glance at Mr. Seymour's treatment. The past year, he gave the ground an ordinary coat of barn manure, not more than he would afford a field of corn. The second and third years- the present is the third - no barn manure was used. No fertilizer of any kind was employed the second year ; this season the ground was enriched with some two hundred pounds of guano to the acre. The staking is the most formidable part of the culture; though, little labor is required for this after the work is once well done. The ground has this season been ploughed twice, and once run over with the cultivator.
Mr. Seymour is confident, from experiments he has made, that no better or more profitable manure can be found for the blackberry, than swamp muck, when it can conveniently be obtained. He recommends its use in the crude state, without neutralizing by alkalies.