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 seems to me, that the remarks on this subject, at page 335, should not pass without a word of qualification. With regard to the style of that communication, I would simply repeat the remarks of a celebrated writer, that " every man should aim at eminence, not by palling down others, but by raising up himself, and enjoy the pleasure of his own fancied superiority, without interrupting others in the same felicity".
In the communication referred to, it is asserted that the curing of mildew with sulphur was first published in the American Flower Garden Directory, in the year 1832. That it was known in Europe previous to that date, I can well remember, and in Loudon's Encyclopedia of Gardening (published in 1822), it is noted as a quotation from a previous work; so that the "savans of Europe" have not the discovery to make now. The recent failures of the grape crop in some parts of the world, have been the means of directing attention more particularly to the subject, and, consequently, these receipts are being published for the benefit of those whom it may concern.
I claim to having some experience in grape culture, and I have found no more effectual method of applying sulphur than dusting it over the leaves and fruit when attacked by mildew in cloudy weather, unless dusting it on the flue, and applying a gentle heat, which of course is not available where there is no heater. This method of dusting, your correspondent terms "filthy in the extreme." A slight syringing washes it off. There is no filthiness left, which is more than can be said of the lime and sulphur mixture. Even the "amber colored" water leaves very filthy marks on painted wood-work; on this account, I discontinued its use for the cleanlier method of dusting.
As to the American way, viz: placing a "few pounds of .sulphur on several pieces of boards, and stirring it once a week," you may not have any mildew, if the precautions mentioned are attended to; that is, "unless you give heavy waterings, and allow cold currents of air." As it is generally thought that sudden checks to growth (such as would be occasioned by heavy waterings) and currents of cold air, are the predisposing causes of mildew, it may be supposed that, in their absence, no mildew will appear; consequently, the boards without the sulphur would be equally efficacious.
The past month has, with us, been wet, with much cloudy weather. In a cold grapery, our usual method of dusting sulphur on the floor, has not been sufficient to ward off the mildew. It requires heat to liberate the fumes of sulphur; hence its inefficiency during sunless, cool weather.
" In London," they sometimes syringe with a sulphur mixture, to kill red spider (not to eradicate mildew), which is troublesome when much artificial heat is required. But all filthiness is soon removed by clean water, and they do not find any injurious effects from its use in this way.
My object in writing this was, in the first place, to correct the misstatement of the discovery of curing mildew with sulphur; secondly, to give my opinion upon the merits of dusting it over the plants; thirdly, to caution the unwary how they bring the sulphur and lime amber-colored water in contact with paint; and lastly, to show that the efficiency of sulphur depends upon heat. Yours, very respectfully, A Grape Coltivator.