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.
I begin with the "same old story," and name first the immortal Wilson's Albany, because you simply cannot do without it. Large, beautiful in color and shape, a great bearer in all kinds of soil, and good enough for any palate, we would part with any other half dozen kinds rather than this. True, there are many others of finer flavor, but all things considered, we name the Wilson's Albany king of the strawberry realm.
Scarcely inferior to this, is the wonderful Green Prolific. My bed of twenty by thirty feet yielded, the second season, over thirty measured gallons. And such berries!
Then I name Downer's Prolific, a native of Kentucky, which gives a large general crop, earlier than any other known sort. A little too acid, some say, but crushed sugar in abundance, scattered through them a few hours before use, makes that point all right.
I close the strawberry list by naming the Kentucky, also a native of the State whose name it bears. It is not a prolific bearer, but the berries are so large and-beautiful that I would be slow to discard it on account of its failure to bear so abundantly as its kinsman, Downer's Prolific.
Of course, there are many other kinds which are excellent in quality and fine bearers, but what we desire to impress upon the growers of small fruit is, to select a few of the best, and let the curious folks of the world experiment with the many kinds and the high-priced new varieties.
Close upon the death of the strawberry crop steals the luscious raspberry. Many persons prefer this fine fruit to the other - we are not of that faith, however.
As before stated, in reference to the strawberry, we say don't plant too many varieties, but be sure to begin with the Mammoth Cluster (a variety which has several synonyms), and let us assure you that you will not regret it if you make this kind occupy at least one-half of all the space you can spare for the raspberry. Large, beautiful, and wonderfully prolific, you will stand amazed at its loads of splendid berries; which, for table use when fresh from the canes, and for winter use when canned, there is no other kind to equal it.
Next to this, of the black-caps, get the Doolittle and Davison's Thornless, in equal numbers, and you will have all you want of this color.
By no means fail to plant a goodly number of canes of the famous and abundant-bearing Purple-Cane. " Jam," made of this variety, is perfectly superb, and it bears enormous crops of fruit almost every year. A family can scarcely do without this delightful berry. Try a few canes of it, if you doubt the truth of what we have here asserted.
Many persons prefer the red varieties, and we believe that in the market this color sells, generally, for at least a third more than the black-caps. We name, for this kind, the Hudson River Antwerp, although in many soils and climates it does not succeed well; however, it is a magnificent berry.
We name, also, the Clarke, which is large and beautiful and of superb flavor.
The Philadelphia, although not strictly a red berry, but between a red and purple, is, in our opinion, and according to our observation and experience, the finest berry grown, of any color. The crops are enormous, the fruit very large, and the flavor fine. If we had to select two kinds only of the raspberry for culture, we should unhesitatingly choose the Mammoth Cluster and Philadelphia.
The author of "Daily Rural Life " in the Rural New Yorker - thinks beds of the improved sorts of strawberries should not remain more than two or three years, and is inclined to think it cheapest to destroy them after they have borne one good crop. Although he has tried 500 other varieties, he has found no superiors to Wilson's Albany, and Triomphe de Gand - taking all their good qualities into consideration. In his soil he has found none so productive as the Wilson's, while there are many better in quality and a, few larger.
For general culture, the Wilson undoubtedly stands pre-eminent and without a rival; probably nine-tenths of the market strawberries are of this variety.
The Jucunda, Agriculturist, Triumph de Gand and Seth Boyden, do well in suitable soils with hill culture. Next to the Wilson, and for hill culture, we think the Charles Downing one of the very best and most productive. Some cultivators of the strawberry in our State have been very successful, as follows: Prepare ground in all respects nearly as well as for a crop of tobacco. Using the Wilson, set last of May or June 1st, in rows, three feet apart; cultivate and hoe, keeping the ground clean throughout the season, but after July let the runners stock the ground well with plants, which have, in some instances, brought a gross income of from $900 to $1,200 per acre. The plants, after the fruit is taken off, are turned under, and the ground turned to some other purpose; thus one good crop of choice fruit is taken from the ground, avoiding an inferior second crop.
During the season of 1873, which will be remembered as excessively dry, one cultivator saved the crop of three and a half acres, on light soil (yielding nearly $1,800), by watering - using a small steam boiler, pump and hose. Two and a half acres of the same field, unwatered, failed, from drouth, so as hardly to be worth picking.
Much has been said about the profit of fruit culture, but the profit usually depends on judicious management - which makes all the difference between full success or complete failure. Think of one train of twenty-three cars, going into Chicago, with one hundred tons of strawberries, and count up the thousands of markets, large and small, all over our country, and you will see that many millions of dollars result to the cultivators of this delicious fruit.