George Streynsham Master.

The Century, Volume 19 online

. (page 44 of 160)
Online LibraryGeorge Streynsham MasterThe Century, Volume 19 → online text (page 44 of 160)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


at all in sand) will show the capabilities of
cliay.

While buckwheat is a good green crop to
plow under, if the cultivator can wait for
the more slowly maturing red-top clover he
will find it far better, both to enrich and
to lighten up his heavy soil; for it is justly
regarded as the best means of imparting the
mellowness and friability in which the
roots of strawberries as well as all other
plants luxuriate. There are no .doubt soils
fit for bricks and piping only, but in most
instances by a judicious use of the means
suggested, they can be made to produce
heavy and long-continued crops of the larg-
est fruit.4

These same principles apply to the small
garden plot as well as to the acre. Instead
of carting off weeds, old pea- vines, etc., dig
them under evenly over the entire space
when possible. Enrich with warm, light
fertilizers, and if a good heavy coat of hot
strawy manure, is trenched in the heaviest
stickiest clay in October or November,
strawberries or anything else can be planted
the following spring. The gardener who
thus expends a Httle thought and far-sighted
labor will at last secure results that will sur-
pass his most sanguine hopes, and that, too,
firom land that would otherwise be as hard
as Pharaoh's heart.

Before passing from this soil to that of an
opposite character, let me add a few words
of caution. Clay land should never be
stirred when either very wet or very dry, or
else a lumpy condition results that injures
it for years. It should be plowed or dug
only when it crumbles. When the soil is
sticky or turns up in great hard lumps, let it
alone. The more haste the worst speed.

Again, the practice of fall plowing, so
very beneficial in latitudes where frosts are
severe and long continued, is just the reverse
in the far South. There our snow is rain,
and the upturned furrows are washed down
into a smooth sticky mass by the winter
storms. On sfeep hill-sides, much of the
soil would ooze away with every rain, or
slide down hill <f// mass£. In the South, there-
fore, unless a clay soil is to be planted at
once, it must not be disturbed in the fall.



and it is well if it can be protected by stub-
ble or litter, which shields it from the direct
contact of the rain and from the sun's rays.
But cow-peas, or any other rank-growing
green crop, is as usefiil to Southern day as
to Northern, and Soudiem fields might be
enriched rapidly since their long season per-
mits of plowing under several growths.

Suppose that, in contrast, our soil is a light
sand. In this case, the question of cultivat-



0^



COUNTING AND MAIUNG PLANTS.

ing Strawberry plants is greatly simplified,
but the problem of obtaining a heavy crop
is correspondingly diflficult. The plow and
the cultivator run readily enough, and
much less labor is required to keep the
weeds in subjection, but, as a rule, light
land yields little fniit, and yet under favor-
ing circumstances I have seen magnificent
crops of certain varieties growing on sand.
If suflfident moisture and fertility can be
maintained, many of our best varieties will
thrive and produce abundantly, but to do
this is the very pith of our difficulty. Too
often a sandy soil will not retain moisture
and manure. Such light land is generally
very deficient in vegetable matter and,
therefore, whenever it is possible I would
turn under green crops. If the soil could
be made sufficiently fertile to produce a
heavy crop of clover and this were plowed
under in June, and then buckwheat har-
rowed in and its rank growth turned under
in August, strawberries could be planted at
once with excellent prospects of fine crops



Digitized by



QoO^Qi



SUCCESS WITH SMALL FRUITS,



249



for the two succeeding years. Did I pro-
pose to keep the land in strawberries, I would
then give it another year of clover and buck-
wheat. The green crop, when decayed, is
lighter than clay, and renders its tenacious
texture more friable and porous ; it also ben-
efits the sandy soil by supplying the absent
humus, or vegetable mold, which is essen-
tial to ail plant life. This mold is also cool
and humid in natiu-e, and aids in retaining
moisture.

With the exception of the constant effort
to place green vegetable matter under the
surface, my treatment of sandy ground
would be the reverse of that described for
day. Before using the product of the horse-
stable, I would compost it with at least an
equal bulk of leaves, muck, sods, or even
plain earth, if nothing better could be found.
A compost of stable manure with clay would
be most excellent. If possible, I would not
use any manure on light ground until all fer-
mentation was over, and then I would rather
harrow than plow it in. This will leave
it near the surface, and the rains will leach
it down to the roots — and below them, also
— only too soon. Fertility cannot be stored
up in sand as in clay, and it should be our
aim to give our strawberries the food they
need in a form that permits of its immediate
use. Therefore, in preparing such land, I
would advise deep plowing just before plant-
ing, and, if possible, just after a rain ; then
the harrowing in of a Uberal top-dressing
of rotted compost, or of muck sweetened
by tke action of frost and the fermentation
of manure, or, best of all, the product of
the cow-stable. Decayed leaves, sods and
wood ashes, also make excellent fertilizers.

In the garden, light soils can be given a
niuch more stable and productive character
by covering them with clay to the depth of
one or two inches every fall. The wmter's
frost and rains mix the two diverse soils, to
their mutual benefit. Carting sand on day
is rardy remunerative ; the reverse is decid-
edly so, and top-dressings of clay on light
land are often more beneficial than equal
amounts of manure.

As practically employed, I regard quick,
stimulating manures, like guano, very injuri-
ous to light soils. I believe them to be the
curse of the South. They are used " to
make a crop," as it is termed ; and they do
make it for a few years, but to the utter im-
poverishment of the land.

And yet, by the aid of these stimulating
commercial fertilizers, the poorest and thin-
nest soil can be made to produce fine straw-
VoL. XIX.— 19.



berries, if sufficient moisture can be main- .
tained. Just as a physician can rally an
exhausted roan to a condition in which he
can take and be strengthened by food, so
land, too poor and light to sprout a pea,
can be stimulated into producing a meager
green crop of some kind, which, plowed
under, will enable the land to produce a
second and heavier burden. This, in turn
placed in the soil, will begin to give a sug-
gestion of fertility. Thus poor or exhausted
soil can be made, by several years of skill-
ful management, to convalesce slowly into
strength.

Coarse, gravelly soils are usually even
worse. If we must grow our strawberries
on them, give the same general treatment
that I have just suggested.

On some peat soils the strawberry thrives
abundantly ; on others it bums and dwin-
dles. With such a soil, I should experiment
with bone-dust, ashes, etc., until I found
just what was lacking.

No written directions can take the place
of common sense, judgment, and, above all,
experience. Soils vary like individual char-
acter. I have yet to learn of a system of
rules that will teach us how to deal with
every man we meet. It is ever wise, how-
ever, to deal justly and liberally. He that
expects much from his land must give it
much.

I have dwelt at length on the preparation
and enrichment of the land, since it is the
corner-stone of all subsequent success. Let
me dose by emphasizing again the principle
which was made prominent at first. Though
we give our strawberry plants everything else
they need, our crop of finit will stfil be good
or bad in proportion as we are able to main-
tain abundant moisture during the blossom-
ing and fiiiiting season. If provision can
be made for irrigation, it may increase the
yield tenfold.

SECURING OUR PLANTS.

Having prepared and enriched our ground,
we are ready for the plants. The kinds and
quantities we desire are often not to be
found in our vicinity. In private gardens,
moreover, even if our neighbors are liberal
and have the plants to spare, names and
varieties are usually in a tangle. We must
go to the nurseryman. At this point, per-
haps, a brief appeal to the reader's common
sense may save much subsequent loss and
disappointment.

In most of our purchases, we see the arti-
de before we take it, and can estimate its



Digitized by



QoO^Qi



2SO



SUCCESS WITH SMALL FRUITS,



•value. Just the reverse is usually true of
plants. We know — or believe — that certain
varieties are valuable, and we order them
from a distance, paying in advance. When
received, the most experienced cannot be
sure that the plants are true to the names
they bear. We must plant them in our
carefully prepared land, expend upon them
money, labor, and, above all, months and
years of our brief lives, only to learn, per-
haps, that the varieties are not what we
ordered, and that we have wasted everything
on a worthless kind. The importance of
starting right, therefore, can scarcely be
overestimated. It is always best to buy of
men who, in the main, grow their own stock,
and therefore know about it, and who have
established a reputation for integrity and
accuracy. The itinerant agent flits from
Maine to California, and too often the mar-
velous portraits of fruits that he exhibits do
not even resemble the varieties whose names
they bear. It is best to buy of those who
have a '< local habitation and a name," and
then, if anything is wrong, one knows where
to look for redress.

Even if one wishes to be accurate, it is
difficult to know that one's stock is abso-
lutely pure and true to name. The evil of
mixed plants is more often perpetuated in
the following innocent manner than by any
intentional deception: For instance, one
buys from a trustworthy source, as he sup-
poses, a thousand " Monarch " strawberry
plants, and sets them out in the spring.
All blossoms should be picked off" the first
year, and, therefore, there can be no fruit
as a test of purity that season. But by
fall there are many thousands of young
plants. The grower naturally says: "I
bought these for Monarch, therefore they
are Monarch," and he sells many plants
as such. When coming into fruit the
second summer, he finds, however, that
not one in twenty is a Monarch plant. As
an honest man he now digs them under
in disgust ; but the mischief has already
been done, and scattered throughout the
country are thousands of mixed plants
which multiply with the vigor of evil.
Nurserymen should never take varieties
for granted, no matter where obtained.
I endeavor to so train my eye that I can
detect the distinguishing marks even in
the foliage and blossoms, and if anything
looks suspicious I root it out.

If possible, the nurseryman should start



with plants that he knows to be genuine,
and propagate from them. Then by con-
slant and personal vigilance he can main-
tain a stock that will not be productive
chiefly of profanity when coming mto fruit

It is not thrift to save in the first cost of
plants, if thereby the risk of obtaining poor,
mixed varieties is increased. I do not care
to save five dollars to-day and lose fifty
by the operation within a year. A gentle-
man wrote to me : "I have been outrage-
ously cheated in buying plants." On Sie
same page he asked me to furnish stock
at rates as absurdly low as those of the man
who cheated him. If one insists on hav-
ing an article at far less than the cost of pro-
duction, it is not strange that he finds some
who will " cheat him outrageously." I find
it by far the cheapest in the long run to go
to the most trustworthy sources and pay
the grower a price which enables him to
give me just what I want

When plants are both fine and genuine
they can still be spoiled, or, at least, injured
in transit from the ground where they grew.
Dig so as to save all the roots, shake these
clean of earth, straighten them out, and
tie the plants into bundles of fifty. Pack
in boxes, with the roots down in moss and
the tops exposed to the air. Do not press
them in too tightly or make them too wet,
or else the plants become heated — a process
which speedily robs them of all vitality. In
coel seasons, and when the distance is not
too great, plants can be shipped in barrels
thickly perforated with holes. The tops
should be toward the sides and the roots in
the center, down through which there should
be a circulation of air. In every case en-
velop the roots in damp moss or leaves —
damp, but not wet Plants can be sent by
mail at the rate of one cent per ounce.
Those sent out in this way rarely £ail in
doing well.

The greater part of the counting and pack-
ing of plants should be done in a cellar,
in order to prevent the little fibrous roots,
on which the future growth so greatly de-
pends, from becoming shriveled. The best
part of the roots are extremely sensitive to
sunlight or frost, and, worse than all, to a
cold, dry wind. Therefore, have the plants
gathered up as fast as they are dug and
carried to a damp, cool place where the tem-
perature varies but Uttle. From such a
place they can be packed and shipped with
the leisure that insures careful work.



Digitized by



QoO^Qi



THE GRANDISSIMES.



251



THE GRANDISSIMES.*

A STORY OF CREOLE LIFE.
By George W. Cable, author of "Old Creole Days."



CHAPTER Vn.
WAS IT HONOR^ GRANDISSIME ?

A Creole gentleman, on horseback one
morning with some practical object in view,
—drainage, possibly, — ^had got what he
sought, — the evidence of his own eyes on
certain points, — and now moved quietly
across some old fields toward the town,
where more absorbing interests awaited him
in the Rue Toulouse ; for this Creole gen-
tleman was a merchant, and because he
would presently find himself among the
appointments and restraints of the counting-
room, he heartily gave himself up, for the
moment^ to the surrounding influences of
nature.

It was late in November ; but the air was
mild and the grass and foliage green and
dewy. Wild flowers bloomed plentifully
and in all directions ; the bushes were hung,
and often covered, with vines of sprightly
green, sprinkled thickly with smart-looking
litde worthless berries, whose sparkling com-
placency the combined contempt of man,
beast, and bird could not dim. The call of
the field-lark came continually out of the
grass, where now and then could be seen his
yellow breast ; the orchard oriole was exe-
cuting his fantasias in every tree ; coveys of
partridges ran across the path close under
the horse's feet, and stopped to look back
almost within reach of the riding-whip;
clouds of rice-birds, in their odd, irresolute
way, rose fi'om the high bulrushes and set-
tled again, without discernible cause ; little
wandering companies of sparrows undulated
from hedge to hedge ; a great rabbit-hawk
sat alone in the top of a lofty pecan-tree ;
that petted rowdy, the mocking-bird, dropped
down into the path to offer fight to the horse,
and, failing in that, flew up again and drove
a crow into ignominious retirement beyond
the plain ; from a place of flags and reeds a
white crane shot upward, turned, and then,
with the slow and stately beat peculiar to
her wing, sped away until, against the tallest
cypress of the distant forest, she became a
tiny white speck on its black, and suddenly
disappeared, like one flake of snow.

The scene was altogether such as to fill



any hearty soul with impulses of genial
friendliness and gende candor ; such a scene •
as will sometimes prepare a man of the
world, upon the least direct incentive, to
throw open the windows of his private
thought with a freedom which the atmos-
phere of no counting-room or drawing-room
tends to induce.

The young merchant — ^he was young —
felt this. Moreover, the matter of business
which had brought him out had responded
to his inquiring eye with a somewhat golden
radiance, and your true man of business — ^he
who has reached that elevated pitch of serene,
good-natured reserve which is of the high
art of his calling — is never so generous with
his pennyworths of thought as when newly
in possession of some little secret worth
many pounds.

By and by the behavior of the horse
indicated the near presence of a stranger;
and the next moment the rider drew rein
under an immense live-oak where there was
a bit of paling about some graves, and raised
his hat.

" Good-mawning, seh." But for the silent
r*s, his pronunciation was exact, yet evidently
an acquired one. While he spoke his salu-
tation in English, he was thinking in French :
" Without doubt, this rather oversized, bare-
headed, interrupted-looking convalescent
who stands before me, wondering how I
should know in what language to address
him, is Joseph Frowenfeld, of whom Doctor
Keene has had so much to say to me. A
good face — unsophisticated, but intelligent,
mettlesome and honest. He will make his
mark ; it will probably be a white one ; I
will subscribe to the adventure."

" You will excuse me, seh ? '* he asked
after a pause, dismounting, and noticing,
as he did so, that Frowenfeld's knees showed
recent contact with the turf; " I have, my- #
self, some interhest in two of these grhaves,
seh, as I suppose — ^you will pahdon my
frheedom — ^you have in the otheh fo'."

He approached the old but newly whit-
ened paling, which encircled the tree's
trunk as well as the six graves about it.
There was in his face and manner a sort of
impersonal human kindness, well calculated



Copyright. — All rights reserved.



Digitized by



QiOo^z



252



THE GRANDISSIMES.



to engage a diffident and sensitive stranger,
standing in dread of gratuitous benevolence
or pity.

"Yes, sir," said the convalescent, and
ceased; but the other leaned against the
palings in an attitude of attention, and he
felt induced to add : " I have buried here
my father, mother and two sisters," — he had
'expected to continue in an unemotional tone ;
but a deep respiration usurped the place of
speech. He stooped quickly to pick up his
hat, and, as he rose again and looked into
his listener's face, the respectful, unobtrusive
sympathy there expressed went directly to
his heart.

" Victims of the feveh," said the Creole,
with gentle gravity. " How did that hap-
pen ? "

As Frowenfeld, after a moment's hesita-
tion, began to speak, the stranger let go the
bridle of his horse and sat down upon the
turf. Joseph appreciated the courtesy and
sat down, too; and thus the ice was broken.

The immigrant told his story; he was
young — often younger than his years — and
his listener several years his senior; but the
Creole, true to his blood, was able at any
time to make himself as young as need be,
and possessed the rare magic of drawing
one's confidence without seeming to do more
than merely pay attention. It followed that
the story was told in full detail, including
grateful acknowledgment of the goodness
of an unknown finend, who had granted this
burial-place on condition that he should not
be sought out for the purpose of thanking
him.

So a considerable time passed by, in
which acquaintance grew with delightful
rapidity.

" What will you do now ? " asked the
stranger, when a short silence had followed
the conclusion of the story.

" I hardly know. I am taken somewhat
by surprise. I have not chosen a definite
course in life — as yet. I have been a gen-
eral student, but have not prepared myself
for any profession; I am not sure what I
shaU be."

A certain energy in the immigrant's face
half redeemed thischild-like speech. Yet the
Creole's lips, as he opened them to reply,
betrayed amusement; so he hastened to
say:

" I apprheciate yo' position, Mr. Frhowen-
fcld, — excuse me, I believe you said that
was yo' fatha's name. And yet," — the
shadow of the amused smile lurked another
instant about a comer of his mouth, — ** if



you would unde'stand me kindly I would
say, take ca'e "

What little blood the convalescent had
rushed violently to his face, and the Creole
added :

" I do not insinuate you would willingly
be idle. I think I know what you want
You want to make up yo* mind now what
you will do^ and at yo' leisu'e what you will
be; eh ? To be, it seems to me," he said
in summing up, — "to be is not so necessarhy
as to do, eh ? or-h am I wrhong ? "

" No, sir," replied Joseph, still red, " I
was feeling that just now. I will do the
first thing that offers ; I can dig."

The Creole shrugged and pouted.

" And be called a dos brhtUe — a * burnt-
back.' "

" But " began the immigrant, with

overmuch warmth.

The other interrupted him, shaking his
head slowly, and smiling as he spoke.

" Mr. Frhowenfeld, it is of no use to
talk ; you may hold in contempt the Crheole
sco'n of toil — just as I do, myself, but in
theorhy, my de'-seh, not too much in prhac-
tice. You cannot affo'd to be entVely dif-
ferhent to the community in which you live;
is that not so ? "

"A friend of mine," said Frowenfeld,
" has told me I must * compromise.' "

" You must get acclimated," responded
the Creole ; " not in body only, that you
have done ; but in mind — in taste — in con-
ve'sation — and in convictions too, yes, ha,
ha ! They all do it — all who come. They
hold out a little while — a verhy litde; then
they open thei' sto'es on Sunday, they iro-
po't cahgoes of Afrhicans, they brhibe the
officials, they smuggle goods, they have
colo'd housekeepe's. My-de'-sch, the wata
must expect to take the shape of the buck-
et; eh?"

" One need not be water ! " said the im-
migrant.

"Ah!" said the Creole, with another
amiable shrug, and a wave of his hand ; " cet-
tainly you do not suppose that is ray advice
— ^that those things have my apprhovaL"

Must we repeat already that Frowenfeki
was abnormally young ?

"Why have they not your condemna>
tion ? " cried he with an earnestness thju
made the Creole's horse drop the grass
from his teeth and wheel half around.

The answer came slowly and gently.

" Mr. Frhowenfeld, my habit is to buy
cheap and sell at a prhofit. My condemaa-
tion? My-de'-seh, there-h is no sa-a-ale



Digitized by



QiOo^z



THE GRANDISSIMES.



253



for-hit I it spoils the sale of otheh goods, my-
de*-seh. It is not to condemn that you want ;
you want to snc-ceed. Ha, ha, ha ! you see
I am a mehchant, eh? My-de'-seh, can
you affo'd not to succeed ? "

The speaker had grown very much in
earnest in the course of these few words,
and as he asked the closing question, arose,
arranged his horse's bridle and with his
elbow in the saddle, leaned his handsome
head on his equally beautiful hand. His
whole appearance was a dazzling contra-
diction of the notion that a Creole is a per-
son of mixed blood.

"I think I can!" replied the convales-
cent, with much spirit, rising with more
haste than was good, and staggering a mo-
ment.

The horseman laughed outright.

"Yd' prhinciple is the best, I cannot
dispute that; but whetheh you can act it
out — ^rhefo'me's do not make money, you
know.'* He examined his saddle-girth and
began to tighten it. " One can condemn —
too cautiously — by a kind of— elevated
cowa'dice (I have that fault) ; but one can
also condemn too rhashly; I rhemembeh
when I did so. One of the occupants of
those two grhaves you see yondeh side by
side — I think might have lived longer-h if
I had no spoken so rhashly for-h 'is rhights.
Did you ewa hear-h of Brhas-Coup^, Mr.
Frhowenfeld?"

" I have heard only the name."

"Ah ! Mr. Frhowenfeld, th^^ was a bold
man's chance to denounce wrhong and
opprhession ! Why, that negrho's death
changed the whole channel of my convic-
tions."

The speaker had turned and thrown up
his arm with frowning earnestness; he
dropped it and smiled at himself.

" Do not mistake me for one of yo'
new-fashioned Philadelphia ^ negrhophiles^-
I am a mehchant, my-de'-seh, a good sub-
ject of His Catholic Majesty, a Crheole
of the Crheoles, and so fo'th, and so fo'th.
Come!"

He slapped the saddle.

To have seen and heard them a little
later as they moved toward the city, the
Creole walking before the horse and Frow-
enfeld sitting in the saddle, you might have
supposed them old acquaintances. Yet the
immigrant was wondering who his com-
panion might be. He had not introduced
himself — seemed to think that even an im-



Online LibraryGeorge Streynsham MasterThe Century, Volume 19 → online text (page 44 of 160)