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.
In a former number of the Horticulturist I detailed some experiments on the virtues of spent tan, as tested by many years experience. Those remarks having elicited many inquiries from strawberry growers, allow me to add, yet another valuable feature in its use, viz: earliness in fruiting without forcing.
There is not by the concurrent testimony of many individuals comprising the Buffalo Horticultural Society, a strawberry within their grounds (June 4th) more than a third grown, and generally yet merely blossoming - while from my mulched beds of the varieties, Early Scarlet, Hovey's Seedling, Burr's Seedling and Necked Pine, we have gathered ripe fruit from the first of June. The whole crop is ripening and coloring well, and is at obtained, no other means or protection being needful save a deep and rich soil (clay loam) with an inch and half covering of spent tan direct from the vat.
When strawberries are thus mulched with tan, it is easy to see that the winter frosts penetrate far less deeply into the ground - the roots are not torn or otherwise injured by the upheaval of frosty weather; the warm rays of the sun penetrate to the roots during March and April; while the soil collects and retains its heat greatly by the aid of the mulch, and the warmth arising from the increased temperature of the tan, hastens the swelling and ripening of the fruit. Your obt. W. R. Coppock.
Black Rock, June 6,1951.
[We can add our testimony to Mr. Coppock's, as to the value of mulching trees generally, and of tan mulching in particular, as admirably adapted to the strawberry. We covered some strawberry beds last autumn about two inches deep with tan, and found them this spring in the finest possible condition - far better than beds covered with straw, litter, or leaves. The tan seems specifically adapted as a constant covering for the strawberry beds, the fruit and the foliage both being decidedly improved by it - though we have not found in our own experiments much gain in the earliness of ripening. Ed.]