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.
M. Leboeuf, a large cultivator of asparagus and strawberries of Argenteuil, France, has recently obtained some advantageous results from peat ashes used as a fertilizer. He filled three pots with the substance, without any other admixture, and planted in one oats, in another wheat, and in the third strawberry plants. Leaving them through the winter without attention, germination took place. The wheat and oats sprouted and bore large and heavy grains - the stalks attaining for the wheat at a height of four feet five inches, and for the oats three feet six inches. The strawberries were unusually vigorous. M. Leboeuf has repeated the experiments several times, with uniform success.
When Doctor Ward gets through, I'll "sum him up," as the lawyers say.
I hope Dr. Ward is not done with the subject; when he has, I have a word or two to say. Till then, I now say, en passant, he is perfectly right. The cat will come out of the bag, in this dwarf pear business, after awhile. The nurserymen have had a capital run of them for years past, and not a small one oat of me, for a moderate man. I wish we orchard pear growers, not nurserymen, could have a "protracted meeting," and opportunity to "tell our individual experience;" I guess we'd have a sympathizing time of it, and that without declaring a "dividend" in the way of profits!
We have several communications still on this subject; from Mr. L. F. Allen replying to Mr. Eaton, Mr. Coppock to Mr. Allen, and so forth. We have endeavored to be impartial during the debate; every one has had his say, and we must reserve our space for other topics; the good that is to result from the "controversy " cannot be increased by angry discussion. Facts are now all that we want, and the coming season will perhaps let 11s into some secrets on the subject. The topic has been misunderstood throughout by many, and some who have entered upon it have likewise mistaken the end in view. It was not, whether pears on the dwarf could be cultivated, but whether they could be produced on quince stock to a profit. That question has been, in the opinion of many, put to rest; amateurs will continue the practice, which is more than a hundred years old, but orchardists are now cautions how they invest their means in an experiment so far unsuccessful, as a general thing.
Although in the lachrymose vein, on a favorite subject, still I wish to add the mite of experience I have had in the quality of the different varieties of pears which I have cultivated. The soil on which they grew is, as I have before observed, a heavy clay-loam, highly charged with lime, and resting on lime stone, fifteen or twenty feet below.
/. S. Cut back this winter a considerable length, say one-third of every one of the large branches of your old tree, and then put immediately a load or two of stable manure round it; not close to the stem, but in a circle of the diameter that the hea<l of the tree is before you cut it back. Next year you will have fine young wood, and the following year fine fruit. We have practiced this with the greatest success on very old trees. In the spring just turn in the manure or cover it with earth.