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given to asparagus which is suffered to grow some inches above the ground, and which, consequently, acquires a green color by atmospherical influence. You consider this mode of culture preferable for two reasons : first, because the eatable part of such asparagus is larger ; secondly, because it has a finer flavor.
Living in a part of Germany where the culture of asparagus is very common, I hope the following remarks, though from a foreigner, will not be unwelcome. Asparagus which has obtained a green color by its being exposed to the air, will neither be grown nor eaten here, and, strange enough, exactly for the same reasons which have been alleged by you for growing it above ground. However, we do not avail ourselves of artificial means, as supposed by you, such as tubes of earthenware or metal, and still our asparagus, if well managed, is white and eatable almost the whole length.
The manner of growing it is as follows: It is never planted otherwise than in a deep, light, and sandy soil, which has been trenched to a depth of three feet, well drained and well manured. A thick layer of horsedung is put on the bottom of the trench and mixed with the soil. Strong loamy or clayey soil is decidedly disadvantageous to the growth of this vegetable. It will not thrive in it, does not become tender, and will very often become brown spotted, which the common people here call ironmould (Cipumala), especially if drainage has been neglected.
We take plants of two or three years' growth, according to their vigor, and usually plant them in furrows, which are made at two feet distance, and from one and a quarter to one and a half feet deep. The distance between the plants is likewise two feet. In these furrows the plants are permitted to grow uncovered from the month of March or April, the usual and best time for planting, till the beginning or middle of November; at all events, before severe frost is coming on. The soil, which has been taken out of the furrows and heaped up at the sides, is then put in, and the beds are completely levelled. The plants have had time during summer to establish themselves sufficiently.
Next spring, the young shoots will make their appearance above ground, and if every thing has been duly attended to ; if strong and healthy plants have been selected, and if, besides, water has been given during a dry season, not a single one ought to fail. Some people begin to cut the strongest shoots in the third year, but a better result will be obtained by leaving them undisturbed till the fourth summer, only giving them, every spring, in February or March, a good dressing of cowdung. Manure is the most essential requisite for growing fine and tender asparagus. The shoots are cut at sunrise and late in the evening, at a length of not more than nine inches, cutting them with a long knife under ground as soon as the top of the shoot is lifting the soil. Asparagus will always have the finest taste if eaten immediately after having been gathered, but ought never be kept longer than one day, and should be covered meanwhile with light earth, sand, or some other material of this description. It is a very bad practice, lately in use with our market gardeners, to immerge the asparagus, immediately after cutting, in a tub with water, leaving it in the water till they bring it to mar
ket. By this practice, the finer flavor is altogether lost, and the cooks should be warned against doing the same.
Wherever manure is not a very expensive article, the culture of asparagus pays well, since the lightest and the most sandy land, where nothing else can be grown with advantage, can easily be adapted to its culture, and will yield a rent for a long series of years. Besides, the same land can be made use of for carrots and other vegetables, when the time of cutting is over. Living myself some hundred steps from the Baltic, and having lead different accounts of the famous asparagus culture at the sea coast near San Sebastian, in Spain, I have last year made the experiment to grow it in pure sea sand containing no humus or vegetable matter whatever. It only received a moderate supply of manure, and has even not been watered during the last hot summer; nevertheless, it is growing this year so well, that I might have cut a tolerable quantity of shoots as big as a lady's finger, if I would be foolish enough to do so.
The price of asparagus with us varies from four to seven or eight schillings, or English pence, per pound, the former being the general price from the moment the weather begins to become warm. Many thousand pounds are sent by the steamers to Sweden and other foreign countries, since the Lubeck asparagus is well renowned. Though I never had the advantage of seeing your fine country, and, therefore, cannot be a judge of your green asparagus, I have several times eaten green asparagus in Italy and France, but I dare confess merely for want of better. However, there is no quarrelling as to matters of taste. As far as regards tenderness, I am at a loss to understand how asparagus can improve by being exposed to the drying influence of air, wind, and sunshine. It may become more aromatic, though I doubt it, but it will certainly require a greater exertion in being masticated.
Some persons assert that another kind of asparagus is cultivated in some parts of the sonth of Germany, which always appears green on the table, though white shoots are equally eaten. I have hitherto not been able to procure any authentic information about its existence, and am inclined to think, that only the manner of culture will produce the difference. An English giant asparagus has lately been offered by some nurserymen, Jike. wise hitherto not cultivated by myself. Different sorts may require a different treatment.
The season for asparagus is at present on the decline. However, I have requested a friend at Lubeck to send you with this letter a sample of our market asparagus, grown and sold in the common way, and I beg you to give it a fair trial, rot overlooking that it will have been cut almost a week when arriving with you.- Gard. Chron., 1847, pp. 403, 404.
Cultivating the Pine Apple in the open air in England.—The last mail brings to hand our foreign papers, and we find in one of them an important article on the growth of the pine apple,-heretofore supposed to require the very highest temperature, -in the open air. The communication of this fact has been inade by Lady Rolle, of Bicton, in Devonshire, to Dr. Lindley, and we quote the whole from the Chronicle, and would particularly ask our
readers to notice bis remarks on what he considers the “ practical” interest of the experiment, viz: the necessity of a low night temperature in forcing. houses of all kinds. To our cultivators, however, the communication is of greater importance; as, under our burning sun, during summer, there is no doubt of the perfect ripening of the pine apple, and other fruits, if the plants could only be stowed away from danger of frost in winter, and then set out in properly prepared beds, or pits, in summer, exposed to the sun and air. The subject is one which we shall refer to again ; for the present, we have not room to say more.- Ed.
The name of Bicton will long be associated with important experiments in the cultivation of the pine apple. The latest which has come to our knowledge has had for its object a demonstration of the possibility of ripening this fruit in the open air during our summer.
We learn from a statement, which Lady Rolle has been so obliging as to put into our hands, that in May last Mr. Barnes, having some plants ready, although the weather was unfavorable, opened a trench, casting the earth right and left, so as to form a bank on each side, which he imagined would afford some shelter from cold winds ; in the bottom of the trench he placed bricks in threes, in the form of a triangle, so as to make a dry bottom for the plants to stand on, and, at the same time, to secure a ready passage for air and water. The plants, having been placed on the bricks, were packed to the rims of the pots in tree leaves, which had been used during the winter in and about hot-beds. This being done, the whole surface, banks and all, was covered with charred hay or grass, which Mr. Barnes considered the best material for absorbing heat, retaining it, and giving it off gradually ; in which expectation he has not been deceived, for although the weather proved cold at intervals, stormy and windy, with frosty mornings, and many dark sunless days, yet no injury was sustained, and when the sun did appear the fruit made great progress ; at the same time the suckers which sprung up grew vigorously and were most healthy. The varieties of pine apple employed in this experiment consisted chiefly of Queens, together with Black Jamaica, Montserrat, Enville, Moscow Queen, Anson's Queen or Otaheite, and Black Antigua, &c. The plants employed had never been subjected to fire heat at any time. They were turned out after they had blossomed.
A pine apple thus produced has been placed before us by Lady Rolle, and we can state that it was a Queen, of excellent quality, weighing three pounds fourteen ounces, although from having been cut several days it had lost some ounces. It was perfectly well swelled, with the exception of a small portion below the crown, which was “blind;" this did not, however, prevent its being a handsome table fruit.
It thus appears that so tender a fruit as the pine apple may be enabled to bear full exposure to the air of May, June, and July in this climate, by a little judicious management. The cold winds were kept off by banks thrown up across (we presume) the prevailing currents. The want of a sufficient amount of earth heat was compensated for by a “lining” of leaves still capable of fermentation. And then, by covering the scene of the ex
periment with a black substance, the heat absorbing power of the ground was so much increased as to enable it to maintain a night atmosphere round the plants high enough to repel the late frosts of Devonshire, and to maintain a healthy growth during the day. These are, we imagine, the three points which have chiefly led to success. It must, however, be remarked that the fruit was set before the plants were exposed to the air. Had this been neglected, we believe the experiment would have failed ; and we even attribute the “blindness" of the upper part oi the fruit to the setting process not having been completed there, at the time when the plants were removed from shelter. It
may be alleged that this experiment is more curious than useful; that the only practical result is that it merely enables a fruiting house to be cleared in May, and immediately converted into a succession house, instead of remaining full of fruiting plants till August. We, however, do not regard it in that light. It will be highly interesting to know what sort of young plants will be formed by the suckers thus obtained ; Mr. Barnes says they are extremely vigorous; we should expect them to be so ; and if they continue to thrive thus during the remainder of the summer, they will probably become the parents of very fine fruit. This is, however, in the future.
What in our eyes is of most practical interest is the establishment of the fact, upon which we have so long and often insisted, that a high night temperature in forcing-houses is a fatal mistake. Good gardeners are beginning to admit the correctness of this view in vineries ; but they have doubted whether the principle could be applied to the pine apple, because it naturally grows in countries so much hotter than those occupied by the vine. But they forget the effect of radiation at night; they have not considered how low the temperature of even the tropics must osien become near the surface of the ground, under the bright and cloudless skies of such regions ; they have not recollected that ice is formed during the night in Bengal. The new experiment of Mr. Barnes has shown that what is true of the vine is equally true of the pine apple; for, notwithstanding the efficacy of a black surface, it is impossible that the temperature of the air round his pines should not have been much below 40° in the “ frosty mornings of which he speaks.
Another point is the excellent flavor of the fruit thus produced. To what was that owing? not to high temperature, nor to bright and long-continued sunshine, for we are told that the weather was stormy, with many dark sunless days. It was caused by the free access of air constantly passing over the leaves, incessantly seeding them on the one hand, and helping them on the other to elaborate their juices by the as incessant removal of their superfluous water. What a lesson is this to us all! What a condemnation of our vicious system of building glass- houses to be filled with stagnant air and vapor ; of our miserable ventilation ; of our barbarous flues ; of our water-pipes and tanks, and the sluggish atmosphere which they warm. Let us even add what a triumph it is for the friends of Polmaise, de nonstrating as it does the soundness of their views of the paramount importance of rapid currents of everchanging air. For ourselves, we are perfectly convinced that the day is at hand when the first question asked of an architect will be not how he proposes to heat a hothouse, but how he will manage to ventilate it. The costly and complicated machinery of hot-water apparatus will be only remembered as a folly, and the simple processes which combine a rapid distribution of heat with a rapid motion of air, will be universally employed. We may depend upon it, that, in nine cases out of ten, cold is much less dangerous than heat, and that half our bad cultivation is caused by a mistaken eagerness to keep plants in an artificial iostead of natural condition.-(16. p. 467.)
Window flowers.—This is the season when those who do not possess greenhouses will see the reward of their care and labor in the blooming plants which have been tended by them in-doors. The dry air of sitting-rooms must be counteracted as much as possible by syringing, by exposure to gentle rains, and by admitting as much of the atmospheric air as can conveniently be done. Green fly may easily be kept down in small collections by picking and rubbing them off by the hand; or all the pots may be put into a frame closely covered up, and subjected to tobacco smoke. Do this in the evening and leave the plants till the morning, when they should receive a good watering by a fine rose or a syringe. Keep plants in pots moderately moist, without allowing water to remain in the saucers. By these means, and bringing in a succession as the former plants get shabby, a window may be made very interesting to the amateur, and an air of elegance and refinement be given to the dwelling.
Plants may now be cultivated in balconies, and on the stone in front of the window, so as to give a beautiful and attractive appearance to the exterior of the house. Fuchsias do admirably well for this purpose, as they will continue to bloom until the frosts of autumn disturb them, and require less care than most plants equally showy. Let strong healthy plants be potted in six inch pots, in a light rich soil, and let these pots be dropped into others just large enough to admit the space of about half an inch all round; the inserted pot standing on moss or leaf-mould until its brim is on a level with that of the pot containing it. By this little contrivance, the hottest suns will be unable to scorch the roots of the plants, they will retain moisture longer, and will flourish more luxuriantly. If a drooping variety of fuchsia is made to alternate with those of erect habit, a mass of bloom will be presented of great depth and richness. Other showy plants can, of course, be treated in the same way.
Take time by the forelock, and prepare for your collections next year, by purchasing or striking young plants. It requires some forethought to keep up a succession of window flowers without a greenhouse, but it may be done. Former papers have treated more fully on this subject, and to them the readers of the Chronicle are referred.-(16. p. 404.)
ART. II. Domestic Notices. Hovey's Seedling Strawberry. It has been gratifying to us to hear that our seedling has taken the prizes at nearly every horticultural exhibition in the