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.
Mr. Downing, among others in this vicinity, has used the tan-bark as a mulch, and invariably with a marked benefit to their strawberries, over those ordinarily treated. Mr. Charles Downing informed me that he ate strawberries twenty years tgo, taken from a tan-bark bed, that were then remarkable for their excellence. It will be answered, * it is without doubt true, but the enhanced value of the fruit should be ascribed to the mulch, and not to the specific influence of the tannic acid.' I have proved the mulching by hay, straw, muck, charcoal and iron cinders, and yet have found no result equivalent to that of the tan-bark. My beds of British Queen, which I have heretofore nursed with extreme care, were mulched last year with tan-bark, and have presented this year an array of force and beauty quite equal to defy the sharp edge of the sternest skepticism.
Experiments with tannic acid and other liquids, I selected three rows of each variety of four different kinds of strawberries, which traverse my triple bed of inorganic manures, and made my applications in the subjoined order. The liquids were applied from May 18th to June 23d, twenty-five times, usually about sunset, the. omissions being supplied by rain.
Tannic acid - in the form of tan-bark liquor, one gallon to one hundred of water.
Citric acid - the expressed juice of one lemon to four gallons of water.
June 22d. The strawberries nourished by tannic acid, exceeded the others m quantity. The fruit of the citric acid presented the largest average size. Three dishes of the fruit were subjected to the judgment of two ladies, who declared the strawberries of the malic add to be the sweetest and highest flavored; those of the tannic acid 'next,' and those of the citric acid comparatively ' tart,'
June 25th. Second picking. A gentleman essayed the three kinds, and his taste awarded the first preference to the fruit of the tannic, the second to that of the malic acid.