Petr Alekseevich Kropotkin.

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destroyed and some new culture had to be found. The
village of Ampuis became then renowned for its apricots.
At the present time, for a full 100 miles along the

taken at about 3,000,000,000 fir. (^"120,000,000) more than one-half of
the war contribution levied by Germany. It must have largely increased
since 1876. (See Appendix M.)

* Ardouin Dumazet, i., 204.


Rhone, and in the lateral valleys of the Ard^che and
the Drome, the country is an admirable orchard, from
which millions' worth of fruit is exported, and the land
attains the selling price of from 325 to 400 the acre.*
Small plots of land are continually reclaimed for culture
upon every crag. On both sides of the roads one sees
the plantations of apricot and cherry trees, while between
the rows of trees early beans and peas, strawberries,
and all sorts of early vegetables are grown. In the
spring the fine perfume of the apricot trees in bloom
floats over the whole valley. Strawberries, cherries,
apricots, peaches and grapes follow each other in rapid
succession, and at the same time cartloads of French
beans, salads, cabbages, leeks, and potatoes are sent
towards the industrial cities of the region. It would be
impossible to estimate the quantity and value of all that
is grown in that region. Suffice it to say that a tiny
commune, Saint Ddsirat, exported during Ardouin Du-
mazet's visit about 2000 cwts. of cherries every day.

I must refer the reader to the work of Charles Baltet
if he will know more about the extension taken by
market-gardening in different countries, and will only
mention Belgium and America.

The exports of vegetables from Belgium have in-
creased twofold within the last twenty years, and whole
regions, like Flanders, claim to be now the market-
garden of England, even seeds of the vegetables pre-
ferred in this country being distributed free by one
horticultural society in order to increase the export.
Not only the best lands are appropriated for that pur-
pose, but even the sand deserts of the Ardennes and
peat-bogs are turned into rich market-gardens, while
large plains (namely at Haeren) are irrigated for the
same purpose. Scores of schools, experimental farms,
and small experimental stations, evening lectures, and

* Ardouin Diimazet, vol. vii., p. 125.


so on, are opened by the communes, the private societies,
and the State, in order to promote horticulture, and
hundreds of acres of land are covered with thousands
of greenhouses. Here we see one small commune ex-
porting 5500 tons of potatoes and 4000 worth of pears,
to Stratford and Scotland, and keeping for that purpose
its own line of steamers. Another commune supplies
the north of France and the Rhenish provinces with
strawberries, and occasionally sends some of them to
Covent Garden as well. Elsewhere early carrots, which
are grown amidst flax, barley and white poppies, give
a considerable addition to the farmer's income. In
another place we learn that land is rented at 24. and
27 the acre, not for grapes or melon-growing but for
the modest culture of onions; or that the gardeners
have done away with such a nuisance as natural soil in
their frames, and prefer to make their loam out of wood
sawings, tannery refuse and hemp dust, " animalised "
by various composts.* In short, Belgium, which is
one of the chief manufacturing countries of Europe, is
now becoming one of the chief centres of horticulture.
(See Appendix N.)

The other country which must especially be recom-
mended to the attention of horticulturists is America.
When we see the mountains of fruit imported from
America we are inclined to think that fruit in that
country grows by itself. " Beautiful climate," " virgin
soil," " immeasurable spaces " these words continually
recur in the papers. The reality, however, is that horti-
culture i.e., both market-gardening and fruit culture
has been brought in America to a high degree of per-
fection. Prof. Baltet, a practical gardener himself,
originally from the classical marais (market-gardens) of
Troyes, describes the " truck farms " of Norfolk in Vir-

* Charles Baltet, L' Horticulture, etc.


gima as real " model farms ". A highly complimentary
appreciation from the lips of a practical maraicher who
has learned from his infancy that only in fairyland do
the golden apples grow by the fairies' magic wand. As
to the perfection to which apple-growing has been
brought in Canada, the aid which the apple-growers
receive from the Canadian experimental farms, and the
means which are resorted to, on a truly American scale,
to spread information amongst the farmers and to supply
them with new varieties of fruit trees all this ought to
be carefully studied in this country, instead of inducing
Englishmen to believe that the American supremacy is
due to the golden fairies' hands. If one-tenth part of
what is done in the States and in Canada for favouring
agriculture and horticulture were done in this country,
English fruit would not have been so shamefully driven
out of the market as it is at the present time.

The extension given to horticulture in America is
immense. The " truck farms " alone i.e., the farms
which work for export by rail or steam covered in the
States in 1892 no less than 400,000 acres. At the very
doors of Chicago one single market-gardening farm
covers 500 acres, and out of these, 150 acres are given
to cucumbers, 50 acres to early peas, and so on. During
the Chicago Exhibition a special " strawberry express,"
composed of thirty waggons, brought in every day
324,000 quarts of the freshly gathered fruit, and there
are days that over 10,000 bushels of strawberries
are imported in New York three-fourths of that
amount coming from the " truck farms " of Virginia by

This is what can be achieved by an intelligent com-
bination of agriculture with industry, and undoubtedly
will be applied on a still larger scale in the future.

However, a further advance is being made in order

* Ch. Baltet, V 'Horticulture, etc.


to emancipate horticulture from climate. I mean the
glasshouse culture of fruit and vegetables.

Formerly the greenhouse was the luxury of the rich
mansion. It was kept at a high temperature, and was
made use of for growing, under cold skies, the golden
fruit and the bewitching flowers of the South. Now,
and especially since the progress of technics allows of
making cheap glass and of having all the woodwork,
sashes and bars of a greenhouse made by machinery,
the glasshouse becomes appropriated for growing fruit
for the million, as well as for the culture of common
vegetables. The aristocratic hothouse, stocked with the
rarest fruit trees and flowers, remains; nay, it spreads
more and more for growing luxuries which become more
and more accessible to the great number. But by its
side we have the plebeian greenhouse, which is heated
for only a couple of months in winter, and the still more
economically built " cool greenhouse," which is a simple
glass shelter a big " cool frame " and is stuffed with
the humble vegetables of the kitchen garden : the po-
tatoes, the carrots, the French beans, the peas and the
like. The heat of the sun, passing through the glass,
but prevented by the same glass from escaping by radia-
tion, is sufficient to keep it at a very high temperature
during spring and early summer. A new system of
horticulture the market-garden under glass is thus
rapidly gaining ground.

The greenhouse for commercial purposes is essenti-
ally of British, or perhaps Scottish, origin. Already
in 1851, Mr. Th. Rivers had published a book, The
Orchard Houses and the Cultivation of Fruit Trees in
Pots under Glass. And we are told by Mr. D. Thomson,
in the Journal of Horticulture (3ist January, 1889), that
nearly fifty years ago grapes in February were sold at
253. the pound by a grower in the north of England,
and that part of them was sent by the buyer to Paris,
for Napoleon III/s table, at 503. the pound. "Now,"


Mr. Thomson adds, " they are sold at the tenth or twen-
tieth part of the above prices. Cheap coal cheap
grapes ; that is the whole secret"

Large vineries and immense establishments for grow-
ing flowers under glass are of an old standing in this
country, and new ones are continually built on a grand
scale. Entire fields are covered with glass at Cheshunt,
at Broxburn (fifty acres), at Finchley, at Bexley, at
Swanley, at Whetstone, and so on, to say nothing of
Scotland. Worthing is also a well-known centre for
growing grapes and tomatoes; while the greenhouses
given to flowers and ferns at Upper Edmonton, at Chel-
sea, at Orpington, and so on, have a world-wide reputa-
tion. And the tendency is, on the one side, to bring
grape culture to the highest degree of perfection, and, on
the other side, to cover acres and acres with glass for
growing tomatoes, French beans and peas, which un-
doubtedly will soon be followed by the culture of still
plainer vegetables.

At the present time the- Channel Islands and Belgium
take the lead in the development of glasshouse culture.
The glory of Jersey is, of course, Mr. Bashford's estab-
lishment. When I visited it in 1890, it contained
490,000 square feet under glass that is, nearly thirteen
acres, but seven more acres under glass have been added
to it since. A long row of glasshouses, interspersed with
high chimneys, covers the ground the largest of the
houses being 900 feet long and forty-six feet wide ;
this means that about one acre of land, in one piece,
is under glass. The whole is built most substantially :
granite walls, great height, thick "twenty-seven oz.
glass " (of the thickness of three pennies),* ventilators
which open upon a length of 200 and 300 feet by work-
ing one single handle ; and so on. And yet the most
luxurious of these greenhouses was said by the owners

* " Twenty-one oz." and even " fifteen oz." glass is used in the cheaper



to have cost less than is. the square foot of glass (136!.
the square foot of ground), while the other houses have
cost much less than that. From 5d. to pd. the square
foot of glass * is the habitual cost, without the heating
apparatus 6d. being a current price for the ordinary

But it would be hardly possible to give an idea of
all that is grown in such glasshouses, without producing
photographs of their insides. In 1890, on the 3rd of
May, exquisite grapes began to be cut in Mr. Bashford's
vineries, and- the crop was continued till October. In
other houses, cartloads of peas had already been
gathered, and tomatoes were going to take their place
after a thorough cleaning of the house. The 20,000
tomato plants, which were going to be planted, had to
yield no less than eighty tons of excellent fruit (eight
to ten pounds per plant). In other houses melons were
grown instead of the tomatoes. Thirty tons of early
potatoes, six tons of early peas, and two tons of early
French beans had already been sent away in April. As
to the vineries, they yielded no less than twenty-five tons
of grapes every year. Besides, very many other things
were grown in the open air, or as catch crops, and all
that amount of fruit and vegetables was the result of
the labour of thirty-six men and boys only, under the
supervision of one single gardener the owner himself;
true that in Jersey, and especially in Guernsey, every
one is a gardener. About 1000 tons of coke were burnt
to heat these houses. Mr. W. Bear, who has visited the
same establishment in 1886, was quite right to say that
from these thirteen acres they obtained money returns
equivalent to what a farmer would obtain from 1300
acres of land.

However, it is in the small " vineries " that one sees,
perhaps, the most admirable results. As I walked

* It is reckoned by measuring the height of the front and back walls
and the length of the two slopes of the roof.


through such glass-roofed kitchen gardens, I could not
but admire this recent conquest of man. I saw, for in-
stance, three-fourths of an acre heated for the first three
months of the year, from which about eight tons of
tomatoes and about 200 Ib. of French beans had been
taken as a first crop in April, to be followed by two
crops more. In these houses one gardener was
employed with two assistants, a small amount of coke
was consumed, and there was a gas engine for watering
purposes, consuming only 135. worth of gas during the
quarter. I saw again, in cool greenhouses simple plank
and glass shelters pea plants covering the walls, for the
length of one quarter of a mile, which already had
yielded by the end of April 3200 Ib. of exquisite peas
and were yet as full of pods as if not one had been taken
off. I saw potatoes dug from the soil in a cool green-
house, in April, to the amount of five bushels to the
twenty-one feet square. And when chance brought me,
in 1896, in company with a local gardener, to a tiny,
retired " vinery " of a veteran grower, I could see there,
and admire, what a lover of gardening can obtain from so
small a space as the two-thirds of an acre. Two small
" houses " about forty feet long and twelve feet wide,
and a third formerly a pigsty, twenty feet by twelve
contained vine trees which many a professional gardener
would be happy to have a look at ; especially the whilom
pigsty, fitted with " Muscats " ! Some grapes (in June)
were already in full beauty, and one fully understands
that the owner could get in 1895, from a local dealer,
4 for three bunches of grapes (one of them was a
" Colmar," 13^ Ib. weight). The tomatoes and straw-
berries in the open air, as well as the fruit trees, all on
tiny spaces, were equal to the grapes ; and when one is
shown on what a space half a ton of strawberries can be
gathered under proper culture, it is hardly believable.

It is especially in Guernsey that the simplification
of the greenhouse must be studied Every house in


the suburbs of St. Peter has some sort of greenhouse,
big or small. All over the island, especially in the north,
wherever you look, you see greenhouses. They rise
amid the fields and from behind the trees; they are
piled upon one another on the steep crags facing the
harbour of St. Peter ; and with them a whole generation
of practical gardeners has grown up. Every farmer is
more or less of a gardener, and he gives free scope to
his inventive powers for devising some cheap type of
greenhouses. Some of them have almost no front and
back walls the glass roofs coming low down and the
two or three feet of glass in front simply reaching the
ground; in some houses the lower sheet of glass was
simply plunged into a wooden trough standing on the
ground and rilled with sand. Many houses have only
two or three planks, laid horizontally, instead of the
usual stone wall, in the front of the greenhouse. The
large houses of one big company are built close to each
other, and have no partitions between. As to the ex-
tensive cool greenhouses on the Grande Maison estate,
which are built by a company and are rented to gardeners
for so much the 100 feet, they are simply made of thin
deal board and glass. They are on the " lean to " or
" one roof " system, and the back wall, ten feet high,
and the two side walls are in simple grooved boards,
standing upright The whole is supported by uprights
inserted into concrete pillars. They are said to cost not
more than 5d. the square foot, of glass-covered ground.
And yet, even such plain and cheap houses yield ex-
cellent results. The potato crop which had been grown
in some of them was excellent, as also the green peas.*
In Jersey I even saw a row of five houses, the walls of
which were made of corrugated iron, for the sake of
cheapness. Of course, the owner himself was not over-
sanguine about his houses. " They are too cold in

* Growing peas along the wall seems, however, to be a bad system.
It requires too much work in attaching the plants to the wall.


winter and too hot in summer/' But although the five
houses cover only less than one-fifth of an acre, 2000 Ib.
of green peas had already been sold as a first crop;
and, in the first days of June, the second crop (about
1500 plants of tomatoes) was already in good progress.

It is always difficult, of course, to know what are the
money returns of the growers, first of all because Thorold
Rogers' complaint about modern farmers keeping no
accounts holds good, even for the best gardening estab-
lishments, and next because when the returns are
known to me in all details it would not be right for me
to publish them. Roughly speaking, I can confirm Mr.
Bear's estimate to the effect that under proper manage-
ment even a cool greenhouse, which covers 4050 square
feet, can give a gross return of 180. " Don't prove too
much ; beware of the landlord ! " a practical gardener
once wrote to me.

As a rule, the Guernsey and Jersey growers have only
three crops every year from their greenhouses. They
will start, for instance, potatoes in December. The
house will, of course, not be heated, fires being made
only when a sharp frost is expected at night ; and the
potato crop (from eight to ten tons per acre) will be
ready in April or May before the open-air potatoes begin
to be dug out Tomatoes will be planted next and be
ready by the end of the summer. Various catch crops
of peas, radishes, lettuce and pther small things will be
taken in the meantime. Or else the house will be
" started " in November with melons, which will be
ready in April. They will be followed by tomatoes,
either in pots, or trained as vines, and the last crop of
tomatoes will be in October. Beans may follow and
be ready for Christmas. I need not say that every
grower has his preference method for utilising his houses,
and it entirely depends upon his skill and watchfulness
to have all sorts of small catch crops. These last begin
to have a greater and greater importance, and one can


already foresee that the growers under glass will be
forced to accept the methods of the French maraichers,
so as to have five and six crops every year, so far as it
can be done without spoiling the present high quality
of the produce.

All this industry is of very recent origin. One may
see it still working out its methods. And yet the
exports from Guernsey alone are already represented
by quite extraordinary figures. It was estimated
a few years ago that they were as follows : Grapes,
502 tons, 37,500 worth at the average price of gd.
the pound ; tomatoes, 1000 tons, about 30,000 ; early
potatoes (chiefly in the fields), 20,000 ; radishes and
broccoli, 9250 ; cut flowers, 3000 ; mushrooms, 200 ;
total, 99,950 to which total the local consumption in
the houses and hotels, which have to feed nearly 30,000
tourists, must be added. But now these figures must
have grown considerably. In June, 1896," I saw the
Southampton steamers taking every day from 9000 to
12,000, and occasionally more, baskets of fruit (grapes,
tomatoes, French beans and peas), each basket represent-
ing from twelve to fourteen pounds of fruit Taking
into account what was sent by other channels, we may
thus say that from 400 to 500 tons of tomatoes, grapes,
beans and peas, worth from 20,000 to 25,000, are
exported every week in June.

All this is obtained from an island whose total area,
rocks and barren hill-tops included, is only 16,000 acres,
of which only 9884 acres are under culture, and 5189
acres are given to green crops and meadows. An island,
moreover, on which 1480 horses, 7260 head of cattle
and 900 sheep find their existence. How many men's
food is, then, grown on these 10,000 acres?

Belgium has also made, within the last few years,
an immense progress in the same direction. While no
more than 250 acres, all taken, were covered with glass
some twenty years ago, more than 800 acres are under


glass by this time.* In the village of Hoeilaert, which
is perched upon a stony hill, nearly 200 acres are under
glass, given up to grape-growing. One single estab-
lishment, Baltet remarks, has 200 greenhouses and con-
sumes 1 500 tons of coal for the vineries, t " Cheap
coals cheap grapes," as the editor of the Journal of
Horticulture wrote. Grapes in Brussels are certainly
not dearer in the beginning of the summer than they
are in Switzerland in October. Even in March, Belgian
grapes are sold in Covent Garden at from 4d. and 6d. the
poundt This price alone shows sufficiently how small
are the amounts of labour which are required to grow
grapes in our latitudes with the aid of glass. // certainly
costs less labour to grow grapes in Belgium than to grow
them on the coasts of Lake Leman.

The various data which have been brought together
on the preceding pages make short work of the over-
population fallacy. It is precisely in the most densely
populated parts of the world that agriculture has lately
made such strides as hardly could have been guessed
twenty years ago. A dense population, a high develop-
ment of industry, and a high development of agriculture
and horticulture, go hand in hand : they are inseparable.
As to the future, the possibilities of agriculture are such
that, in truth, we cannpt yet foretell what would be the
limit of the population which could live from the produce
of a given area. Recent progress, already tested on a
great scale, has widened the limits of agricultural pro-

* I take these figures from the notes which a Belgium professor of
agriculture was kind enough to send me. The greenhouses in Belgium
are mostly with iron frames.

fA friend, who has studied practical horticulture in the Channel
Islands, writes me of the vineries about Brussels : " You have no idea to
what an extent it is done there. Bashford is nothing against it."

\ A quotation which I took at random, in 1895, from a London daily,
was : " Covent Garden, igth March, 1895. Quotations : Belgian grapes,
4d. to 6d. ; Jersey ditto, 6d. to lod. ; Muscats, is. 6d. to as., and tomatoes,
3d. to sd. per Ib."


duction to a quite unforeseen extent ; and recent dis-
coveries, now tested on a small scale, promise to widen
those limits still farther to a quite unknown degree.

The present tendency of economical development in
the world is we have seen to induce more and more
every nation, or rather every region, taken in its geo-
graphical sense, to rely chiefly upon a home production
of all the chief necessaries of life. Not to reduce, I
mean, the world-exchange : it may still grow in bulk ;
but to limit it to the exchange of what really must be
exchanged, and, at the same time, immensely to increase
the exchange of novelties, produce of local or national
art, new discoveries and inventions, knowledge and
ideas. Such being the tendency of present development,
there is not the slightest ground to be alarmed by it
There is not one nation in the world which, being armed
with the present powers of agriculture, could not grow
on its cultivable area all the food and most of the raw
materials derived from agriculture which are required
for its population, even if the requirements of that popu-
lation were rapidly increased as they certainly ought to
be. Taking the powers of man over the land and over
the forces of nature such as they are at the present day
we can maintain that two to three inhabitants to each
cultivable acre of land would not yet be too much. But
neither in this densely populated country nor in Bel-
gium are we yet in such numbers. In this country
we have, roughly speaking, one acre of the cultivable
area per inhabitant

Supposing, then, that each inhabitant of Great Britain
were compelled to live on the produce of his own land,
all he would have to do would be, first, to consider the
land of this country as a common inheritance, which
must be disposed of to the best advantage of each and
all this is, evidently, an absolutely necessary condition.
And next, he would have to cultivate his soil, not in some
extravagant way, but no better than land is already


cultivated upon thousands and thousands of acres in
Europe and America. He would not be bound to in-
vent some new methods, but could simply generalise and
widely apply those which have stood the test of experi-

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Online LibraryPetr Alekseevich KropotkinFields, factories, and workshops; or, Industry combined with agriculture and brain work with manual work → online text (page 10 of 22)