« ZurückWeiter »
In the art of husbandry, we witness the slowest and most patient progress. We must go back to the earliest ages for the foundations of our knowledge. The slow steps of advance are wearisome, and are by no means flattering to the race. Yet we must bear in mind that the subject is one of difficulty, dealing with uncertain and ever-varying elements, and requiring almost endless experiments and observations in order to arrive at the best results. Soils, situations, variations in the seasons and in the weather, diseases, and other conditions, are so changing, that fixed rules cannot be laid down as in mechanics; and the greater evil is, that, owing to these uncertain elements, random experiments are most unreliable data. Yet, from the huge mass of past experience, knowledge is gradually sifted. This knowledge is stated more clearly, is made available, and put into general use; so that, with frequent and important improvements in mechanical implements, with many discoveries and developments of new varieties of products, and with some progress in the sciences, as applied to husbandry, we may safely say there is a steady advance. There are reverses, and in some instances there are failures. The wheat-crop is almost given up in New England ; the plum is a fruit scarcely to be found in our markets; peaches are no spontaneous growth at the present; the almost extinct St. Michael pear was unsurpassed a generation since by any new variety. Fifty years ago, the Sweetwater grape was a very reliable fruit; and the Isabella was sure to ripen, and was excellent.
Our contest with insects, with an exhausted soil, and with diseases induced by climatic changes consequent upon the destruction of our forests, will require untiring energy and patience. It will not do to delude ourselves into the feeling that our garners are to overflow with the fruits of the earth. Yet we may take courage. We are yearly learning new facts in regard to insects, and acquiring dominion over them. Science is at work in the vast field of research for the specific food for plants. Practical experiments are developing varieties of plants adapted to the changes in climate. This is the field, and this the work. It is a struggle of which this generation saw not the beginning, neither is it to see the beginning of the end. We may be compelled to abandon one old, favorite, strongly-fortified post after another; the pleuro-neumonia may destroy our herds; we may fail to detect and control the potato-disease; the plum, peach, and cherry may prove but lingering reminders of former prodigality: still, for every position abandoned, we take a new and stronger one. The St. Michael, the Flemish Beauty, and the Glout Morceau pears, may perish; but we put in such recruits as the Clapp, the Sheldon, the Beurre d'Anjou, and the ranks are stronger than ever before. Our cattle-fairs show improving grades of stock; our farms indicate slow but gradually-improving culture; our horticultural exhibitions plainly tell of more energy and skill, and in the quality, and especially the great increase of varieties, leave no room to doubt that the result is a decided advance. But we must gratefully acknowledge that which comes to us from the past; we must be moderate in our expectations, and be patient in struggling with unending difficulties; and we must be content to know that ours is not to be a finished work; that we have no slight task in struggling against a retrograde; and that it is a high and worthy ambition if we can transmit our blessings unimpaired, adding thereto according to the wisdom and skill which God has given us.
William C. Strong.
The time was, and that within the recollection of many now living, when the varieties of pears were few .in number. The St. Michael, St. Germain, Catherine, and Orange pears, were about all that were generally cultivated in the vicinity of Boston: now there are many collections that boast of hundreds of varieties. Formerly only a few trees were sold, each person buying one, two, or possibly half a dozen: now many a garden or orchard can boast of hundreds, or even thousands, of trees; while our market-farmers, who heretofore have raised mostly vegetables, or, if fruits, the small ones, are now planting pear-trees in, great numbers. Once the apple was the great and leading fruit-crop of Massachusetts, and some orchards gave a yield of a thousand barrels a year: now apples grown in this vicinity are a rarity. In old times, it was considered very difficult and unprofitable to attempt to raise pears, partly because it took so long to bring them into bearing, and partly because they required high cultivation : now these objections no longer obtain; the dwarf-pear giving fruit at a very early age, and even the standard pear yielding a good crop in about the same number of years that was formerly required to bring an apple-orchard well into bearing. Then our cultivators are more accustomed to high manuring, and are willing to do full justice in this respect to their pear-orchards. The story that was told of the father who objected to planting an orchard because it took so long to bring it into bearing, but who still lived to eat of the fruit grown by the son on an orchard of his planting, has been fully illustrated in many an instance in pear-culture. Time was, and that within a very few years, when the Bartlett and Seckel were almost the only varieties planted: so that, if a person should say to a nurseryman that he wanted three trees, you might be fully sure that one would be a Bartlett, one a Seckel; and then he would ask what else there was worth planting, and finally end by buying another Bartlett. Now almost every farmer you meet will talk to you of Beurr6 this, or Beurrd that, and go through and discuss the merits of scores of varieties with all the freedom of a veteran pomologist. Once the St. Michael, and, later, the Bartlett, were considered the height of perfection; and it was regarded as downright heresy to dissent from this opinion: now many have become convinced that there are scores of better pears, so far as quality is concerned, than either of the varieties named.
A great change has been wrought: more pears are raised, more pears are consumed. If prices were high years ago, they are higher now. The supply has hardly kept pace with the demand; and as prices are thus high, and the supply short, many have been led to enter upon the cultivation of this fruit on a more extensive scale. Years ago, when Manning, Kenrick, and others were raising and importing pear-trees, the cry was, that the market would soon be glutted with this fruit (the same was said of strawberries, and yet the fruit has advanced in price every year): but we see no such result; for pears bring better prices now than at the time referred to. If we reason from analogy, we say that what is true of the past will be of the future. It is possible to plant too many pear-trees: but when we remember the extent of our country ; the great increase of population ; the facilities for transporting the surplus fruit to distant markets; the fact, that, in many parts of the country, pears cannot be successfully grown, — is it probable, that, for many years at least, the market will be overstocked with this valuable fruit? It has been our desire to see the time when the masses, the poor as well as the rich, could eat pears as well as other fruits; but they cannot do it when
VOL. 1. 6
they sell from five to seven dollars a bushel. Then, if apples are to continue to fail us, we must have the more pears, to make up, so far as possible, for the deficiency of that fruit. If, then, it be assumed that pears can be profitably grown, and that there is a constantly increasing demand for them, it becomes important to raise such as will best meet the wants of the public, both as to quality, and time of ripening. It is to be regretted that the public are not governed more by the intrinsic value of a fruit than by its showy appearance, choosing generally the bright golden pear, the biillianl red apple, or the rich-looking black grape, without much regard to quality; thus passing by the rich Belle Lucrative to accept the Buffum, Merriam, Beurrd Clairgeau, or some such variety of inferior quality. By a more thorough education of the people through the medium of horticultural societies and horticultural magazines, this evil may in the future be remedied. An important inquiry is as to what varieties shall be planted, in the present state of the popular mind, to supply the market, and be profitable to the producer, if not the consumer. This will require quite a different answer than the question, as to what varieties shall be planted for home consumption; for we often speak of this or that variety being good to "sell, but not to eat." They must be varieties of good size; for though they be of most excellent quality, equal to the Johonnot, and, like that delicious variety, small and inferior-looking, the public will pass by, and refuse to buy them. The Seckel appears to be an exception to this rule; for it is a favorite wherever known. It would seem to be absolute heresy to mention the Bell or Windsor, a very inferior sort; and yet it is one of the most profitable varieties now grown for the market. The tree is very hardy, bears well, and requires little care: the fruit sells well, because it is early; its color catches the eye, and thus tempts the passer-by to purchase a pear that is really only suitable for cooking. The Brandywine is an excellent summer pear, that deserves a higher place than it has yet received. It is of more than medium size, and thus possesses an advantage over most of the summer pears. The Clapp's Favorite, one of the handsomest and best of its season, will fill a place just before the well-known Bartlett finds its way to market. This variety is a most excellent grower; and if the fruit is picked when hard and apparently green, but just when the defective specimens show signs of ripeness, it is good, and keeps well for a summer pear. The Buffum, though rather below size, is very handsome, and of fair quality; while the tree is a most excellent grower and bearer. One well-known poraologist declares it to be a very profitable market-variety. It does best in a light soil. Then comes the Bartlett, so universally known, attracting the attention of every one by its good size, and rich golden color • even the windfalls and thinnings ripening up so as at least to be salable, if not good. The tree is a good grower when young; a great bearer; the fruit of large size, and good quality; and, taken all in all, probably the most popular variety grown in this country. The public show their good taste by adopting this pear as a favorite, though it is not of the very best quality. The Louise Bonne de Jersey is much in demand in the market; and though it is in some localities less popular than formerly, yet it stands well as a salable variety. It does much better on quince, giving superior fruit. The Doyenne' Boussock may safely be put down as an excellent market-pear; large size, handsome, and quite eatable. It is a profitable sort, and worthy the attention of fruitgrowers. The Andrews has been raised to considerable extent; but as it comes in about the same time with the Bartlett, and is not as attractive in appearance, it will never become extensively popular. The Golden Beurr6 of Bilboa takes a fair rank among this class of pears: the fruit is generally fair and handsome, but comes too near the time of the Bartlett to be grown extensively. Soon after will follow the Merriam, a native fruit, and a prodigious bearer; a variety that sells well on the fruit-stands at the corners of the streets. The Sterling, which comes a little earlier, is also regarded as a good fruit for the market, because of its beauty, size, and "fairish" quality.
And then, as we come down to the fruit of October, there is Swan's Orange, too acid for some, yet quite desirable on account of its fine size, productiveness, beauty of fruit, and vigor of tree. Then comes Beurr6 d'Anjou, good in every respect, — good bearer, good size, fair, and nearly first-rate in quality. It has been said by a well-known pear-grower, that, if he were to plant a thousand trees, they should all be of this deservedly popular sort. It rots just right; for it gives you due notice by commencing on the outside, unlike many pears of fair exterior. It is true that it has the fault of blowing off badly, which is a serious drawback in exposed locations. It does equally well on quince or pear stock, and is destined