J. C. (John Claudius) Loudon.

The different modes of cultivating the pine-apple, from its first introduction into Europe to the late improvements of T. A. Knight, esq online

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Online LibraryJ. C. (John Claudius) LoudonThe different modes of cultivating the pine-apple, from its first introduction into Europe to the late improvements of T. A. Knight, esq → online text (page 10 of 12)
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steams the house by watering the paths and flues
when the steam apparatus is not at work ; some-
times he waters the plants over the top ; and at
all times he keeps up a good bottom heat.

It may be further noticed, that in the hottest
weather, from June to September, he permits the
temperature of the atmosphere of the house to rise
to upwards of 100 degrees during the day, but
leaves sufficient number of sashes open during the


night, to lower the heat of the air within very
nearly to that of the air without. This is perfectly
natural treatment, consistent with what takes place
in those countries where the Pine Apple is grown
in the open air, and consonant with the practice of
Mr. Knight.

Insects. These he keeps off by regimen, water-
ing with clear water, and filling the house with
steam. In short, Mr. Oldacre's opinions and prac-
tices, as far as circumstances have required prac-
tice, are in perfect unison with Mr. M'Phail's : and
it is not, perhaps, too much to assert, that experi-
ence will bring every gardener to the same result.

Fruit produced. Mr. Oldacre considers that the
fruit he produces in the copper-roofed house is
never so high-flavoured as that grown in the other
with a timber roof, though the treatment be in all
other respects the same. This certainly appears a
very singular circumstance, and not to be account-
ed for in the present state of human knowledge.
The bars of iron, or copper sashes, might possibly
(but not probably) make some difference in the
electrical state of the air of the house, but this is
the utmost degree of variation we can conceive a
metallic roof capable of making. If it admits more
light, or abstracts more heat, these are effects easily
counteracted, if desired, and must have been so,
if they existed in any degree, as Mr. Oldacre
asserts the culture in both houses was exactly


On the whole, we must suspend our opinion on
this subject; or rather conclude that it is more
probable, Mr. Oldacre is mistaken in thinking the
culture he gives to the plants in both houses the
same, than that the single circumstance of a metal-
lic roof on one of them, should make such differ-
ence in its produce. This report, which had been
made current at the Horticultural Society, excited
the attention of Sir Thomas Baring, who, having
an extensive range of metallic hot-houses, at East
Stratton Park, his seat in Hampshire, soon after-
wards sent a very fine Pine Apple to the Society, to
be tasted at one of their meetings. At this meeting
we were present, but though we tasted of this Pine
Apple, yet not having sufficient opportunity of
comparing it with any other, we could not discern
any difference. When a great many fruits are
tasted in rapid succession, and of each such smaU
portions as hardly to afford its real taste, the im-
pression on the palate is evanescent; or at any rate,
it is not, perhaps, too much to say, that under such
circumstances, it is difficult to form a solid judg-


Culture of the Pine Apple, by William Toivnsend Aiton, Esq.
gardener to the King, at Kew and Kensington.

IT is only within the last four years, that the
Pine culture, in the royal gardens, has been above


mediocrity; before 1817, and as far back as we
have had an opportunity of observing, they were
in a very poor state, those at Kew more particu-
larly. At present, the Pines in both the gardens
mentioned, are equal to any within ten miles of
London ; and, with the exception of the New
Providence, Black Antigua, and some other sorts,
are not surpassed, even by those of Mr. Baldwin.
The culture pursued in the royal gardens, is as
simple as it is successful ; and as economical as if
the fruit were grown for the market by a commer-
cial gardener. The whole does the highest credit
to Mr. Aiton, and those whom he employs.

Form of House. The plants are struck, and
brought forward in pits, or frames, (fig. 14.) con-

structed exactly in Mr. Baldwin's manner, with
this difference, that the sub-soil at Kensington
being moist, they are raised on a small platform
(#...) above the surface, instead of being sunk
under it, as Baldwin's are. They have, also, the
addition of a gutter in front ( c ), which, though at
first sight it may appear trifling, yet, in practice,
is of very material consequence, by keeping the
lining dry, and not chilling and interrupting the



heat in the very part where it should penetrate to
the interior of the pit.

Occasionally some plants are fruited in these
pits, especially at Kew, but, in general, they are
removed to a low house (fig. 15.) of a most econo-


mical and judicious construction, and calculated
both for the growth of Pines and Vines. This house
is fifteen feet wide within walls ; the pit ( a ), is nine
feet wide ; the back path ( b ), forms a border for
the roots of the Vines ; the pit is surrounded by a
flue ( c, d ) ; the curb, or plate is two feet three
inches from the glass in front ( e ), and four feet
eight inches from it behind (jf ) ; the Vines are
planted in the back border ( b ), and trained under
the roof directly over it and over the back flue ;
and others are planted in the front border ( g ) ;
and trained up the rafters.

The length of the houses in the royal gardens at
Kensington, varies from thirty- three to fifty feet
(fig. 16.) : each house has two furnaces, one for
constant use, and another for giving an extra sup-



ply of heat in very severe weather. The first ( a ),
proceeds directly to the front corner ( b ), thence
along the front to the opposite end (c), then along
the back of the pit ( d, e ), passing under the back
path, or border, and terminating in a chimney (^/)
beside the furnace.

The other furnace is placed at the opposite end
of the house ( g ) ; has a short flue under the back
path, which conducts it to the back course of the
principal flue (at cT), which it joins, and the smoke
of the two fires moves in the same tunnel, ( from d
to e} and passes out by the same chimney. When
this second furnace is not in use, its connection
with the flue of the first is cut off by- a damper at
the point of junction ( d ). A very small fire made


in this furnace in severe weather, not only adds to
the heat of the house by its own power, but by
increasing the draught, or rate of burning, of the
fire in the other furnace.

In addition to the fire heat, a steam apparatus
has been lately erected, and the tubes conducted
round the houses on the tops of the flues ( fig. 15.
d, e ) ; this is found to give a great command of
heat, and also to admit of filling the house with va-
pour at pleasure. The height of the house from
the ground to the top of the back wall, is only nine
feet (fig. 170? tae rafters of the icof are placed

about four feet apart, centre from centre ; or about
twenty-four sashes are given to every hundred
feet ; the front sashes ( a ), ' are only eighteen
inches high, and slide past each other ; the middle
end sash ( b ), also slides ; the sill of the door ( c ),
and the back path, or border, are on a level with
the outer surface of the ground, to admit the easy
wheeling in of tan, &c. ; the front border ( d ), is
raised considerably above it, on account of the
wet bottom ; the back sheds are low and neat, and
the furnaces sunk three feet below the surface


( %. 16, h h ) to give them a better draught ; and
this also serves to drain the back border.

The houses are placed in pairs, the furnaces for
general use at the extreme ends of the range, and
the auxiliary ones in the middle, where the steam-
boiler is also placed, but worked by a fire apart.

On the w r hole, no plan of Pine-stove that has
yet appeared, is more simple, neat, economical,
and complete than this ; the only fault we have
to them, is, that owing to the great thickness of
wood employed on the bars of the sashes, they are
rather dark and gloomy within ; but this might
easily be remedied by the substitution of light iron
rafters, with wooden framed sashes sliding in them,
but the bars of the sashes formed of iron. It is
true, gloomy as these houses are, the Pines thrive
in them as well as can be wished, but probably by
having more light, they might thrive, so as to sur-
pass all expectation.

Soil. Good yellow loam, with a third of rotten
dung, and some road grit to serve as sand. This
is well mixed together, and passed through a wide
screen, and the pots are well drained with three
or four pieces of potsherd.

General management. This differs in little or
nothing from that of Mr. Andrews ; and only from
that of Mr. Baldwin in the crowns and suckers
being struck in pots, instead of the bark, as is
Mr. Baldwin's practice. Supposing the crowns and
suckers potted in September, they are not dis-
turbed till the following March j such as are very


forward, are shifted at once into large pots, and
will show fruit in the course of that autumn, or
within the year, and ripen their fruit in November
or December, very desirable periods for the royal
table, equally expeditious, as in Mr. Baldwin's
mode, and more so than in Cuba or Jamaica. The
plants which are in a less forward state are dis-
rooted entirely, put into pots according to their
sizes, nursed all the summer in the pits, and moved
to the larger houses in autumn, where they show
fruit at various periods, during the winter, and in
the following season ; thus ripening their fruit at
different periods, from eighteen months to two and
a half years, from the time they were taken from the
parent plants. The pots in which these plants
are fruited, seldom exceed twelve inches in dia-

Insects. Various modes of getting rid of these
was attempted both at Kew and Kensington ; that
which was finally successful was steeping for two
or three hours in strong tobacco- water, as recom-
mended by Miller; then washing in pure water
two or three times drying, planting, shading,
and applying a brisk bottom heat, a moist atmo-
sphere, and giving a little air. This recovered the
plants, and future regimen continued them in the
vigorous state of health in which they now are.

Fruit produced. The object, and it is most suc-
cessfully attained, is to have handsome Pines on
the royal table every day in the year ; they cannot,
of course, be very high-flavoured in the winter


and spring months ; but appearance, in some cases,
is every thing they look well, the golden hue
of the Apple, mimic grandeur of the crown, and
the presence of such a rare fruit at an uncommon
season, accords well with the pomp and splendour
of a royal table. As to flavor, indeed, by the time
the desert appears on great occasions, the palate is
generally seasoned with wine, and a few drops of
alchohol are already transferred to the ventricles
of the brain ; when that is the case, every fruit has
just what flavor it ought to have ; for the fine
phrensy of a warmed imagination knows no degree
of merit but the superlative.




THE Pine Apple has never been so generally cul-
tivated in this country as it might have been, from
an idea that its culture is attended with more diffi-
culty and expense than that of all other fruits ; and,
also, from the circumstance of the greater number
of gardeners being ignorant of its cultivation.
With respect to the difficulty of cultivating this
fruit, every gardener, who knows any thing about
it, knows it is much easier grown and fruited than
the cucumber early in spring, or the melon at
any period of the year. In short, with the single
difference of requiring an artificial temperature, it
is as easy, or easier to grow than a common cab-
bage : it is not nearly so liable to insects as that
plant is in dry seasons ; and of two plantations, the
one of crowns or suckers of Pines, and the other of
seedling cabbages, we may venture to assert, that
more of the former will perfect their fruit than
those of the latter will perfect their loaf or head.

With respect to the expense of cultivating the
Pine Apple, it must be acknowledged that it is
greater than that required to cultivate any other


fruit ; from the length of time requisite to bring it
to perfection ; the keeping up a high temperature
during the winter months, and the unremitting at-
tention required throughout the year. Another
source of expense, and in some cases of difficulty,
has been the procuring of tan, or other materials,
to supply a bottom heat ; and the last one that may
be mentioned is, that gardeners who undertake to
cultivate the Pine Apple, generally are paid a
higher remuneration than those who confine them-
selves to the other fruits.

These circumstances have lately induced some
amateurs, and also some practical gardeners, to
devise means of simplifying the culture of the
Pine Apple, and lessening the expenses attending
it. The principal amateurs are T. A. Knight,
Esq. the President of the Horticultural Society,
and Peter Marsland, Esq. of Woodbank, near
Stockport; the principal practical gardeners are
Mr. Gunter, of Earlscourt, Mr. Hay, a Horticul-
tural architect in Edinburgh, and some others,
who have made less extensive trials.



Of the improvements in the culture of the Pine Apple, proposed
by T. A. Knight, Esq. F.R.S. P. H. S., of Doiunton- Castle,

MR. KNIGHT'S improvements consist chiefly in
the disuse of bottom heat, and in the application
of a much higher temperature during sunshine at
all seasons, but especially in the summer season,
and a much lower temperature during winter, and
during the night, at all times, than is generally
adopted by gardeners.

Mr. Knight had no experience in the culture of
the Pine Apple till the year 1819. In that year,
he informs us (in a paper published in the third
volume of the Horticultural Transactions) that he
tried the effect of a very high temperature during
the day, in bright weather, and of comparatively
low temperature during the night, and in cloudy
weather. A fire of sufficient power only to pre-
serve the house in a temperature of about 70 dur-
ing summer, was employed ; but no air was given,
nor its escape facilitated, till the thermometer, per-
fectly shaded, indicated a temperature of 95, and
then only two of the upper lights, one at each end,
were let down about four inches. The heat of the
house was, consequently, sometimes raised to 110,
during the middle of bright days, and it generally


varied in such days from 90 to 105, declining
during the evening to about 80, and to 70 in the
night. Late in the evening of every bright and hot
day, the plants were copiously sprinkled with
water, nearly of the temperature of the external
air. The melon, water-melon, Guernsey lily, fig-
tree, nectarine, orange and lemon, mango, Avo-
ado-pear, Mammee-tree, and several other plants,
part of them natives of temperate climates, grew
in this hot-house so managed " through the whole
summer, without any one of them being etiolated,
or any way injured, by the very high temperature to
which they were occasionally subjected ; and from
these and other facts," Mr. Knight continues,
" which have come within my observation, I think
myself justified in inferring, that in almost all cases
in which the object of the cultivator is to promote
trie rapid and vigorous growth of his plants, very
high temperature, provided it be accompanied by
bright sunshine, may be employed with great ad-
vantage ; but it is necessary that the glass of his
house should be of good quality, and that his plants
be placed near it, and be abundantly supplied with
sand and water." In the above case, liquid-
manure was employed.

It is added, " My house contains a few Pine
Apple plants, in the treatment of which I have
deviated somewhat widely from the common prac-
tice ; and I think with the best effects, for their
growth has been exceedingly rapid, and a great
many gardeners, who have come to see them, have

L 3


unanimously pronounced them more perfect than
any which they had previously seen. But many
of the gardeners think that my mode of manage-
ment will not succeed in winter, and that my plants
will become unhealthy, if they do not perish in that
season ; and as some of them have had much ex-
perience, and I very little, I wish, at present, to
decline saying more relative to the culture of that
plant." Hort. Trans, iii. 465.

The above information, the result of Mr.
Knight's experiments in 1819, was communicated
to the Horticultural Society in the autumn of that
year. On the 7th of March following, a paper was
read to the Society on the same plants, of which
the following is a transcript :

Of those gardeners who doubted whether the
plants would stand the winter, it is stated, " The
same gardeners have since frequently visited my
hot-house, and they have unanimously pronounced
my plants more healthy and vigorous than any they
had previously seen : and they are' all, I have good
reason to believe, zealous converts to my mode of

"I had long been much dissatisfied with the
manner in which the Pine Apple plant is usually
treated, and very much disposed to believe the bark-
bed, as Mr. Kent has stated, (Hort. Trans.m. 288.)
' worse than useless,' subsequent to the emission
of roots by the crowns or suckers. I therefore
resolved to make a few experiments upon the cul-
ture of that plant ; but as I had not at that period,


(the beginning of October,) any hot-house, I de-
ferred obtaining plants till the following spring.
My hot-house was not completed till the second
week in June (1819,) at which period I began my
experiment upon nine plants, which had been but
very ill preserved through the preceding winter by
the gardener of one of my friends, with very ina-
dequate means, and in a very inhospitable climate.
These, at 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 to
blossom, and in the opinion of every gardener who
has seen them, promise fruit of great size and per-
fection. They are all of the variety known by the
name of Ripley's Queen Pine.

" Upon the introduction of my plants into the
hot-house, the mode of management, which it is
the object of the present communication to de-
scribe, commenced. They were put into pots of
somewhat more than a foot in diameter, in a com-
post made of thin, green turfj recently taken from
a river-side, chopped very small, and pressed close-
ly, 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 sub-
sequently 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 mor-
tar), were capable of being reduced as the height
of 'the plants increased. The temperature of the
house was generally raised in hot and bright days,
chiefly by confined solar heat, from 95 to 105,
and sometimes to 110, no air being ever given till
the temperature of the house exceeded 95 ; 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, 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 colour 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 even-
ings, 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 sprinkling had disap-
peared 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
Mr. 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 consequently, 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 ren-
dered 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

" 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 approached,
water only was given, and in small quantities.

" During the months of November and Decem-
ber, the temperature of the house was generally
little above 50, and sometimes as low as 48, and
once so low as 40. Most gardeners would, I be-
lieve, 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 tem-
perature of 32, by which it did not appear to sus-


tain any injury. I have also been subsequently
informed by one of my friends, Sir Harford Jones,
who has had most ample opportunities of observ-
ing, 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

" 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 ; and about the 20th of
that month, the blossom, or rather the future fruit,
of the earliest plant, became visible ; and subse-
quently to that period their growth has appeared
very extraordinary 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 exciteable 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 quanti-
ties, and holding in solution a less quantity of food
than was given them in summer.

" In planting suckers, I have, in several in-
stances, 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
1820) beginning to show fruit. Its stem is thick
enough to produce a very large fruit ; but its leaves
are short, though broad and numerous ; and the
gardeners who have -seen it, all appear wholly at a
loss to conjecture what will be the- value of its pro-
duce. 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
symptoms of disposition to fruit prematurely. I
am, however, still ignorant whether any advantage

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Online LibraryJ. C. (John Claudius) LoudonThe different modes of cultivating the pine-apple, from its first introduction into Europe to the late improvements of T. A. Knight, esq → online text (page 10 of 12)