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.
"Now, Mr. Editor, here is the result of one small experiment. Let us have all the light we can, for I cannot but think the subject is worthy of thorough in-vestigation. I should particularly like to know if any of your readers have tried the Dioscorea with other manures, and if so, what were they, and how used? also, the kind of soil they were planted in, and the season when planted?
"One of my best roots grew with nothing but good, light, wood soil, and no manure. Now, gentlemen, you who have experimented, tell us all about your Dioscoreas [and be as brief as possible - Ed.] Medicus".
The last testimony we deem it important to produce, is that of Andrew S. Fuller, of Brooklyn, N. Y., who states that his own experiments have been quite satisfactory wherever he planted pieces of roots; that they must be left two seasons in the ground; that the same root does not continue to enlarge the second year, but that, after throwing out its new roots, it decays. If thus treated, on the two seasons' plan, it will yield as much per acre as has been claimed for it, or more than double the common potato. He plants in rows two feet apart, and six inches apart in the rows, which gives 43,560 tubers per acre, allowing only one pound each, " which is far below the average," and has 43,560 pounds per acre, or more than five times the average of the potato. He thinks the depth it attains is advantageous, inasmuch as it is by that occupancy of otherwise waste ground we get so heavy a yield.
The testimony, on the whole, is sufficiently favorable to induce a continuance of the experiments. It is still a question whether those who took much pains to ridicule this edible root and made their fortunes by the Sorghum and Imphee seed, will not have to change their tactics. The Dioscorea is still in repute both in France and England, where they talk of eight and eleven tons to the acre. This journal has waited for facts: in the case of neither plant has a proper or permanent solution yet been arrived at among us. Meantime we must be patient and hear again from such careful observers as Dr. Hollick, and especially let us learn what have been the results of experiments at the South with Dioscorea.
In previous pages will be found a summary of the experiments reported respecting the Dioscorea, which will be read with interest. The time is near when the cuttings of the roots should be again planted. We are glad to know that there are some persons who are not discouraged by the trials already made, and we must wait another year before a decided judgment can be entered in the court of public opinion. From England we hear favorable reports. One cultivator has produced specimens weighing ten pounds, grown from strong roots. The French appear to consider the Dioscorea very valuable, and it is surely of too much importance to this country to be allowed to fail because interested parties have chosen to make an unnatural noise about it.
The English have been much pleased the past season to find the Catalpa, and the Gle-ditohia have ripened their seeds, a rare event in that climate. The Catalpa pods were attempted to be passed off at Willis's room for a new kind of kidney bean !
Mr. Editor: In renewing my somewhat procrastinated subscription to your spirited and interesting periodical, it may not be out of place to write a little of our experience with the above, what we consider a valuable esculent. We have cultivated this potato for two seasons, and the only noticeable objection so far is that the tubers penetrate the earth so deep that it is hard to get them out whole.
I can enumerate in its favor its productiveness, good eating qualities, exemption, so. far, from disease; but, above all, its extreme hardiness to withstand our most rigorous winters in the open ground without the slightest protection. A few hills left out the first winter ('56 and '57) have grown luxuriantly the past season, whilst of those now in the ground (over 1/4 acre) we dug two hills a few days ago, and had them served up in a pudding to quite a household, and is remembered among the good things that gratify the appetite.
I am aware that I run some risk in testifying thus to the merits of the Dioscorea, as much has been said against it through the public prints, resulting in some oases from bad culture and soil, and planting too small and imperfect tubers; yet I firmly believe when some reasonable time elapses to get acquainted with its characteristics, it will rank as one of the institutions of our glorious country. * Samuel Cofman.
Carroll, Fairfield Co., Ohio.
If you could conveniently call on us, we shall feel pleasure in showing you a tuber that at the present time weighs five pounds, and measures two feet four, and one-half inches in length; its growth in that direction was to some degree checked by its reaching a bed of gravel. We must observe, however, that this one has been three years in attaining the size just mentioned, but we have others of one year's growth, four of which, out of the few we have left, weigh twenty-four ounces. With regard to its quality as a table vegetable, we think that if it was mashed, after being properly cooked it would be difficult to tell the difference between it and the potato, except by the color which, in the Dioscorea, is whiter. We intend growing a few during the forthcoming season, and have made a memorandum to send you the result of our experience. - A Gar-dbkbb in London Chronicle.