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 is just as much the province of a horticultural journal to disabuse the popular mind of an error, as it is for it to advance a new or improved system of culture. One of the most general and deep-seated of these errors is the notion that the cause of this troublesome feature in the culture of the cabbage crop is in consequence of using hog-manure as a fertilizer.
I will briefly state a few facts why we consider this a radical error. In the district from which I write I presume there are at least two hundred acres annually under cabbage crop, embracing every variety of soil, from light sand to deep clayey loam, and yet in every case we have "club" if we plant cabbages on the same ground two years in succession, except on lands wherein the soil is impregnated with oyster shell: there we may plant successively for fifty years and never see it, and that, too, without any restriction about manure. On the other hand, I have (for convenience) used cow-manure solely on one of my places, and in another, horse-manure, largely mixed with hog-manure; and yet, whenever we, by accident or otherwise, transgressed the rule of planting only in alternate years, just so sure were they affected by club-root, in. both places alike. This, of course, only on ground where there was no oyster shell deposit.
Reasoning from these facts, our theory is, that an insect is in some way attracted by the cabbage plant when growing the first season, but is then powerless to injure; but that it then deposits its eggs in the soil, which forms the insect ready to attack the roots on being planted the succeeding season. We can not vouch that the above is correct, but the facts seem to point to no better solution. We explain the exemption from club-root in soils containing the deposit of oyster shell by the belief that the insect can not exist in contact with lime; therefore we have long since come to the conclusion that the reason of club-root in cabbage is solely caused by an absence of lime in the soil.
Being so thoroughly convinced that the above is the only and true cause of annoyance, we have for the past two seasons used lime extensively, (at the rate of one hundred bushels unslacked oyster shell per acre,) and the results, thus far, convince us that there is no doubt that we can thus artificially form a soil where cabbages or cauliflowers can be grown successively, without the attendance of their destructive enemy, club-root.
The successful growing of this crop in this district is of more importance than many are aware of. The two hundred acres annually devoted to cabbages will average five hundred dollars per acre, or something near one hundred thousand dollars for the whole. This is only from one Jersey district. New York island and Long Island, I presume, will figure up as much more.
I hope I have not forestalled my quondam friend, Mr. Roessle, of celery renown, in divulging his "secret" of "how to grow a cabbage crop without club." But he seems to be so long in thinking about it, I was afraid the " interested" public would be getting impatient, and so let the cat out of the bag; but whether or not it is his "cat" I am unable to say.
[We think it has been sufficiently demonstrated that the "club-root" or anbury is caused by a species of curculio, and that hog-manure has nothing to do with it. Such being the case, we should naturally expect "club-root" to prevail in proportion to the number of years cabbages are grown on the same piece of ground; provided no suitable remedy is applied. "A Jersey Market Gardener " here tells us that shell lime, according to his experience, is a certain remedy; and, knowing him as we do, we have the most implicit confidence in every word he says of his own knowledge. The announcement of a sure remedy for this formidable disease will be of incalculable value to a large class of our readers. Whether he has forestalled Mr. Roessle we can not say; but, Mr. Jersey man, when you undertake to play with "cats " you must look out for a "scratch." - Ed].