J. C. (John Claudius) Loudon.

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Online LibraryJ. C. (John Claudius) LoudonAn encyclopaedia of gardening; comprising the theory and practice of horticulture, floriculture, arboriculture, and landscape-gardening, including all the latest improvements; a general history of gardening in all countries; and a statistical view of its present stat, with suggestions for its future → online text (page 125 of 313)
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this period, were not larger plants than some which I have subsequently raised from small crowns, (three
having been afforded by one fruit,) planted in the middle of August, were in the end of December last ;
but they are now beginning tc blossom, and" in the opinion of every gardener who has seen them, promise
fruit of great size and perfection. They are all of the variety known by the name of Ripley's queen
pine.

2928. Upon the introduction of my pine-plants into the hot-house, the mode of management, which it is
the object of the present communication to describe, commenced. They were put into pots of somewhat
more than a foot in diameter, in a compost made of thin green turf, recently taken from a river-side,
chopped very small, and pressed closely, whilst wet, into the pots ; a circular piece of the same material,
of about an inch in thickness, having been inverted, unbroken, to occupy the bottom of each pot This
substance, so applied, I have always found to afford the most efficient means for draining off superfluous
water, and subsequently of facilitating the removal of a plant from one pot to another, without loss of
roots. The surface of the reduced turf was covered with a layer of vegetable mould obtained from
decayed leaves, and of sandy loam, to prevent the growth of the grass roots. The pots were then placed
to stand upon brick piers, near the glass; and the piers being formed of loose bricks (without mortar),
were capable of being reduced as the height of the plants increased. The temperature of the house was
generally raised ift hot and bright days, chiefly by confined solar heat, from 95 to 105 degrees, and some-
times to 110 degrees, no air being ever given till the temperature of the house exceeded 95 degrees ; and
the escape of heated air was then only in a slight degree permitted. In the night, the temperature of
the house generally sunk to 70 degrees, or somewhat lower. At this period, and through the months of
July and August, a sufficient quantity of pigeons' dung was steeped in the water, which was given to the
pine-plants, to raise its color nearly to that of porter, and with this they were usually supplied twice a-day
in very hot weather; the mould in the pots being kept constantly very damp, or what gardeners would
generally call wet. In the evenings, after very hot days, the plants were often sprinkled with clear water,
of the temperature of the external air ; but this was never repeated till all the remains of the last sprink-
ling had disappeared from the axillae of the leaves. It is, I believe, almost a general custom with
gardeners, to give their pine-plants larger pots in autumn, and this mode of practice is approved by
Baldwin. (Cult, of Anan. 16.) I nevertheless cannot avoid thinking it wrong; for the plants, at this
period, and subsequently, owing to want of light, can generate a small quantity only of new sap ; and con-
sequently, the matter which composes the new roots, that the plant will be excited to emit into the fresh
mould, must be drawn chiefly from the same reservoir, which is to supply the blossom and fruit : and I
have found, that transplanting fruit-trees, in autumn, into larger pots, has rendered their next year's
produce of fruit smaller in size, and later in maturity. I therefore would not remove my pine-plants into
larger pots, although those in which they grow are considerably too small. As the length of the days
diminished, and the plants received less light, their ability to digest food diminished. Less food was in
consequence dissolved in the water, which was also given with a more sparing hand ; and as winter ap-
proached water only was given, and in small quantities.



Book I. IMPROVEMENTS IN PINE-APPLE CULTURE. 539

2929. During the months of November and December, the temperature of the house was generally little
above 50 degrees, and sometimes as low as 48 degrees, and once so low as 40 degrees. Most gardeners
would, I believe, have been alarmed for the safety of their plants at this temperature ; but the pine is a
much hardier plant than it is usually supposed to be ; and I exposed one young plant in December to a
temperature of 32 degrees, by which it did not appear to sustain any injury. I have also been subsequently
informed by one of my friends, Sir Harford Jones, who has had most ample opportunities of observing
that he has frequently seen, in the East, the pine-apple growing in the open air, where the surface of the
ground, early in the mornings, showed unequivocal marks of a slight degree of frost

2930. My plants remained nearly torpid, and without growth, during the latter part of November, and
in the whole of December ; but they began to grow early in January, although the temperature of the
house rarely reached 60 degrees ; and about the 20th of that month, the blossom, or rather the future fruit
of the earliest plant, became visible ; and subsequently to that period their growth has appeared very ex-
traordinary to gardeners who had never seen pine-plants growing, except in a bark-bed or other hot-bed
I believe this rapidity of growth, in rather low temperature, may be traced to the more excitable state of
their roots, owing to their having passed the winter in a very low temperature comparatively with that of
a bark -bed. The plants are now supplied with water in moderate quantities, and holding in solution a less
quantity of food than was given them in summer.

2931. In planting suckers, I have, in several instances, left the stems and roots of the old plant remaining
attached to them ; and these have made a much more rapid progress than others. One strong sucker was
thus planted in a large pot upon the 20th of July (1819), and that is (.March 1S20) beginning to show fruit.
Its stem is thick enough to produce a very large fruit ; but its leaves are short, though broad and numer-
ous ; and the gardeners who have seen it, all appear wholly at a loss to conjecture what will be the value of
its produce. In other cases, in which I retained the old stems and roots, I selected small and late suckers
and these have afforded me the most perfect plants I have ever seen ; and they do not exhibit any symp-
toms of disposition to fruit prematurely. I am, however, still ignorant whether any advantage will be
ultimately obtained by this mode of treating the queen pine : but I believe it will be found applicable with
much advantage in the culture of those varieties of the pine, which do not usually bear fruit till the plants
are three or four years old.

2932. Some remarks are next made upon the facility of managing pines in the manner recommended, and
upon the necessary amount of the expense. " My gardener is an extremely simple laborer, he does not know
a letter or a figure ; and he never saw a pine-plant growing, till he saw those of which he has the care. If I
were absent, he would not know at what period of maturity to cut the fruit ; but in every other respect he
knows how to manage the plants as well as I do; and I could teach any other moderately intelligent and
attentive laborer, in one month, to manage them just as well as he can : in short, I do not think the skill ne-
cessary to raise a pine-apple, according to the mode of culture I recommend, is as great as that requisite to
raise a forced crop of potatoes. The expense of fuel for my hot-house, which is fortv feet long, by
twelve wide, is rather less than sevenpence a day here, where I am twelve miles distant" from coal pits :
and if I possessed the advantages of a curved iron-roof, such as those erected by Loudon, at Bayswater,
which would prevent the too rapid escape of heated air in cold weather, I entertain no doubt, that the ex-
pense of heating a house forty-five feet long, and ten wide, and capable of holding eighty fruiting pine-
plants, exclusive of grapes or other fruits upon the back wall, would not exceed fourpence a-day. A roof
of properly curved iron bars, appears to me also to present many other advantages : it may be erected at
much less cost, it is much more durable, it requires much less 'expense to paint it, and it admits greatly
more light." {Hort. Trans, iv. 72.) The president has since (in June, 1820) had such a house as he has
hinted at erected, and roofed with our bar ; and in a long paper {Hort. Trans, iv. 543.) read in November,
1821, and two others {Hort. Trans, v. 142. 227.) he has given some account of it, and of his experience
in pine-apple culture. The first paper is quoted at length in The different modes of cultivating the
pine-apple from its first introduction to Europe, to the improvements of T. A. Knight, in 1822, (a work
which should be in the hands of every pine grower,) and the following remarks are from that
work :

2933. To draw any conclusions in the present stage of Knight's experiments would be premature,
and might excite prejudice to anticipate the final result. That the pine-plant will grow and thrive, with-
out what is technically called bottom heat, is an obvious truth, since no plant in a state of nature is found
growing in soil warmer than that of the superincumbent atmosphere. But to imitate nature, is not always
the best mode of culture ; for the more correct the imitation, the less valuable would be the greater part
of her products, at least as far as horticulture is concerned. What would our celery, cabbage, and apples
be, if their culture were copied from nature? Though the pine-apple will grow well without bottom heat
it may grow with bottom heat still better; and though the heat of the earth, in its native country, may
never exceed that of the surrounding atmosphere, it does not follow that earth heated to a greater degree
may not be of service to it, in a state of artificial culture. But admitting for the sake of argument, that
the pine-plant could be grown equally well with, as without bottom heat; still it appears to us that the
mass of material which furnishes this heat, will always be a most desirable thing to have in a pine-stove, as
being a perpetual fund of heat for supplying the atmosphere of the house in case of accident to the flues or
steam-apparatus. Besides it appears from nature, as well as from observing what takes place in culture,
that the want of a steady temperature and degree of moisture at the roots of plants is more immediately
and powerfully injurious to them than atmospheric changes. Earth, especially if rendered porous and
sponge-like by culture, receives and gives out air and heat slowly ; and while the temperature of the air of
a country, or a hot-house, may vary twenty or thirty degrees in the course of twenty-four hours, the soil at
the depth of two inches would hardly be found to have varied one degree. With respect to moisture, every
cultivator knows, that in a properly constituted and regularly pulverised soil, whatever quantity of rain
may fall on the surface, the soil is never saturated with water, nor, in times of great drought, burnt up
with heat. The porous texture of the soil, and sub-soil, being at once favorable for the escape of super-
fluous water, and adverse to its evaporation, by never becoming so much heated on the surface, or con-
ducting the heat so far downwards as a close compact soil. These properties of the soil relatively to plants
can never be completely attained by growing plants in pots, and least of all by growing them in pots sur-
rounded by air. In this state, whatever may be the care of the gardener, a continual succession of
changes of temperature will take place in the outside of the pot, and the compact material of which it is
composed being a much more rapid conductor of heat than porous earth, it will soon be communicated to the
web of roots within. With respect to water, a plant in a pot surrounded by air is equally liable to injury.
If the soil be properly constituted, and the pot properly drained, the water passes through the mass as soon
as poured on it, and the soil at that moment may be said to be left in a state favorable for vegetation. But
as the evaporation from the surface ar.d sides of the pot, and the transpiration of the plant goes on, it be-
comes gradually less and less so, and if not soon resupplied, would become dry and shrivelled, and either
die from that cause, or be materially injured by the sudden and copious application of water. Thus the
roots of a plant in a pot surrounded by air, are liable to be alternately chilled and scorched by cold or heat,
and deluged or dried up by superabundance or deficiency of water, and nothing but the perpetual care and
attention of the gardener, to lessen the tendencies to these extremes, could at all preserve the plant from
destruction. To lessen the attention of the gardener, therefore, to render the plant less dependent on his ser-
vices, and, above all, to put a plant in a pot as far as possible on a footing with a plant in the uncon fined soil,
plunging the pot in a mass of earth, sand, dung, tan, or any such material, appears to us a most judicious
part of culture, and one that never can be relinquished in fruit-bearing plants with impunity. Even if no
neat were to be afforded by the mass in which the pots were plunged, still the preservation of a steady
temperature which would always equal the average temperature of the air of the house, and the re-



540 PRACTICE OF GARDENING. Part III.

tention, by the same means, of the steady degree of moisture, would, in our opinion, be a sufficient argu-
ment for plunging pots of vigorous-growing, many-leaved, or fruit-bearing plants.

2934. Had Knight's plan been brought forward by a less eminent horticulturist, it
would have claimed but little attention, as the plan of growing pines without bottom
heat, is generally considered to have been tried, first by M. Le Cour, and subsequently
by various others, and abandoned. In Knight's hands, however, whether it fail or suc-
ceed, it is certain of doing good, by the observations it will elicit from the fertile and
ingenious mind of so candid and philosophical a horticulturist. (The different Modes,,
&c. p. 170.)

2935. Estimate of Knight's efforts as to the culture of the jrine-apple. Knight's two
subsequent papers contain merely incidental observations of little consequence ; but in
so far as they go, rather adverse than otherwise, both to the plan of house, as well as
the mode of culture. On the whole, it may safely be asserted that no light has been
thrown on the culture of the pine-apple by this eminent horticulturist, notwithstanding
his assertions respecting the great facility of its culture by the most ignorant laborer ;
that the culture in the bark-bed, or other hot-bed, if the pots be plunged into it, is worse
than useless (Hort. Trans, iv. 544.) ; and that every one of a very great number
of gardeners who visited the garden, declared himself a zealous convert, (lb. 545).
The truth is, Knight commenced his operations a perfect novice in that depart-
ment of gardening ; and it is most curious to observe, from his own accounts, that he
has only succeeded in so far as he has approached to the modes in common use. Very
large pots were adopted (Hort. Trans, v. 144.), which served as an approach to plunging
smaller pots in a mass calculated to preserve a uniform degree of moisture : a house
with a fixed roof is found less suitable for ventilation than one with sliding sashes (Hort.
Trans, v. 287-8-9.) ; and this circumstance, and that of the iron bars admitting so much
light, render the risk of over-heating such, that it was " thought best" to be " provided
with a net" to shade in hot weather. In short, notwithstanding the " many converts"
among the " practical gardeners," and the confident assertions in the communications to
the Horticultural Society, the failure may be considered as not only complete, but as
having been attended by nothing useful or new on the subject. It is but rendering
justice to practical gardeners to state this freely ; and Knight is too sensible a man to
be offended at us for having done so. We, therefore, recommend all those who wish
to grow the pine-apple in the first style of excellence, and at a moderate expense, to
adopt the pits and houses of Baldwin, Aiton, or Scott ; and to imitate their practice,
or that of M'Phail and Griffin. See the useful treatise above (2932.) referred to for
more minute details.

2936. The mode of employing the vigor remaining in the old stock or plant after the fruit is cut,
to nourish, for a certain time, the sucker or suckers which may be growing on it, was prac-
tised by Speechly ; but scarcely to the extent to which it has been carried lately. This
we think, a considerable improvement, if kept within certain limits ; but, if carried too
far, what might be gained by the sucker coming earlier into fruit, would be lost by the
retardation of its own suckers.

2937. A queen pine, grown by Peter Marsland, of Woodbank, near Stockport, was exhibited to
the Horticultural Society, on Nov. 3. 1818. " It weighed three pounds fourteen ounces, measured seven-
teen inches in circumference, and was peculiarly well-flavored. The singularity of this pine was its being
the produce of a sucker which had been removed from the parent root only six months previous to the
time the fruit was cut The plant on which the sucker grew had produced a fruit, which was cut in
October, 1817 ; the old stem, with the sucker attached, was allowed to remain in the pine -pit till May,
1818; at that time the sucker was broken off, potted, and plunged into a fresh pit ; it soon after showed
fruit, which, in the course of four months, attained to the weight and size above stated. P. Marsland is in
the practice of producing pines in this way with equal success and expedition. His houses are all heated
by steam." (Hort. Trans, iv. 52.)

2938. Specimens of the New Providence, globe, black Antigua, and Enville, were exhibited on the 17th of
October, 1819, all which were produced in a similar manner to the above. P. Marsland considers, that
" though not of the largest description, yet as far as beauty of form and richness of flavor are concerned,
they would not yield to fruit of more protracted growth." The success which has attended this gentle-
man's mode of " treating the pine, so as to ensure the production of fruit within twelvemonths from the
cutting of their previous produce, has been perfectly satisfactory ;" and the following is his account of it.
" In November, 1819, as soon as the fruit had been cut from the pine-plants, which were then two years
old, all the leaves were stripped off the old stocks, nothing being left but a single sucker on each, and that
the strongest on the plant; they were then placed in a house where the heat was about sixty degrees,
and they remained till March, 1820. At this period the suckers were broken off from the old stocks, and
planted in pots from eight to twelve inches in diameter, varying according to the size of the sucker. It
may be proper, however, to observe, that the length of time which the young sucker is allowed to remain
attached to the mother plant, depends in some degree upon, the kind of pine : the tardy fruiters, such as
the black Antigua, and others, require to be left longer than the queen, and those which fruit readily.
After the suckers had been planted, they were removed from the house, where they had remained while
on the old stock, to one in which the temperature was raised to seventy-five degrees. Immediately upon
their striking root, the largest of the suckers showed fruit, which swelled well, and ripened between
August and November, being, on the average, ten months from the time the fruit was cut from the old
plant, and seven months from the time the sucker was planted. The fruit so produced, though, as may
be expected, not of the largest description, I have invariably found to be richer and higher flavored than
that grown on older plants. The suckers of inferior strength will not show fruit in the same season, but
in the following they will yield good fruit, and strong suckers for a succeeding year's supply. Those
suckers are to be preferred which are produced on plants that have ripened their fruit in November, for
those taken from plants whose fruit is cut in August or earlier, are apt to show fruit in January, or



Book I. CULTURE OF THE VINERY. 541

February, while yet remaining on the mother plant But whenever this happens, the sucker should be
broken off immediately upon being perceived, and planted in a pot so as to form a root of its own to
maintain its fruit." (Hort. Trans, iv.392.) ' ^

2939. This experiment shows what can be done ; though it must be obvious that a considerable part of the
saving in time is lost by the small size of the fruit. Baldwin, in our opinion, has hit on the proper use of
this mode, the principle of which, as already observed, consists in the employment of the otherwise lost
vigor of the old stock. He contrives to produce tolerably sized fruit, and to have such a degree of vigor
in his suckers, as that they are able, in their turn, to throw out other vigorous suckers to succeed them
In aid of this, he often earths up the old stock, so as to cover the lower end of the sucker ; and partially
wrenching it off, he, by these means, obtains for it a good stock of roots before he renders it an in-
dependent plant.

Sect. II. Of the Culture of the Vinery.

2940. On the culture of so important a fruit as the grape, it is not surprising that there
should be a great variety of opinions. Without quoting those of the earlier, and of
foreign authors, neither of which are of much value as to the hot-house culture of this
plant, we shall give those of the best modern British gardeners ; on the general modes
of culture adopted in ordinary vineries ; in regard to particular modes of culture ; as to
gathering and preserving the fruit ; and as to insects and diseases.

Subsect. 1. Of the General Culture of tlie Grape in Fineries.

2941. The culture of the grape in ordinary vineries embraces the subject of soil, sort of
grapes, sort of plants, pruning, training, bleeding of the shoot, culture of the borders,
time of beginning to force, temperature, air, water, ripening and resting of the wood.

2942. Soil. The kind of compost Speedily made use of for the vine border of the hot-
luuse at Welbeck, was as follows, viz. " One fourth part of garden mould (a strong
lo; m) ; one fourth of the swarth or turf, from a pasture where the soil is a sandy loam ;
ore fourth of the sweepings and scrapings of pavements and hard roads; one eighth of
rotten cow and stable-yard dung, mixed ; and one eighth of vegetable mould from
reduced and decayed oak-leaves. The swarth or sward should be laid on a heap, till the
grass roots are in a state of decay, and then turned over and broken with a spade ; then
put it to the other materials, and work the whole well together." ( TV. on Vine, p. 25.)
Speechly covers his vine border with a coat of gravel two inches thick.

2943. Abercrombie says, " materials and proportions of a good compost are of top-spit sandy loam from an
upland pasture, one third part ; unexhausted brown loam from a garden, one fourth part ; scrapings of
roads, free from clay, and repaired with gravel or slate, one sixth part -, vegetable mould, or old tan
reduced to earth, or rotten stable-dung, one eighth part ; shell-marl or mild lime, one twelfth part."
The borders he recommends to be from three to five feet in depth, and, where practicable, not less than
four feet wide in surface within the house, communicating with a border outside the building, of not less
than ten feet wide.

2944. M'Phail directs as follows : " To make a suitable border where it is required for the grape-vine,

Erovide a large quantity of earth of a loamy nature ; that from arable land, or from a ridge in which a
edge-row of hazel, maple, elm, &c. have grown many years, and have been grubbed, is good ; or a spit
deep from the surface of a common, long pastured ; or from the head or end lands of a corn-field ; either
of these will do very well." For forcing early, he adds, " vines do best in a strong deep loam,
not destitute of a mixture of sand, and well manured with rotten dung, on a dry bottom of hard
clay."

2945. Nicol, after premising that the bottom of the border is to be made perfectly dry by draining and
paving, says, " the average depth of the border should not be less than a yard. If four feet, so much the
better. It is not easy to say how broad it should be ; but it should not be narrower, outside and inside of
the house taken together, than thirty feet. The soil should be thus composed : one half strong hazelly
loam, one fourth light sandy earth, an eighth part vegetable mould of decayed tree-leaves, and an eighth



Online LibraryJ. C. (John Claudius) LoudonAn encyclopaedia of gardening; comprising the theory and practice of horticulture, floriculture, arboriculture, and landscape-gardening, including all the latest improvements; a general history of gardening in all countries; and a statistical view of its present stat, with suggestions for its future → online text (page 125 of 313)