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very agreeable whole. Further on is a border of Lilium tigrinum ; on the op, posite border, Lupinus polyphyllus. At right angles to this are borders of common roses, right and left, terminating in an oblong sheet of gravel, whereon stand two large beech trees. These trees form an excellent shade for a luncheon party, for which the oblong was designed. To the left of this, by a winding walk, is a small terraced flower-garden, in the face of a sunny bank. On the left of the walk is a bank of rhododendrons, on the right a mass of the smaller periwinkle, which is thriving in mere sand, under two large elm trees. Returning from this and passing along the north wall and kitchen-garden gate, we come to a main walk parallel to the one with the rose borders. After passing under some shady trees, we come to the end of the pæony border, which is about 300 ft. long by 20 ft. broad. Behind this is a hedge of common furze, then a pathway, and afterwards a row of Cèdrus Deodàra, alternate with Portugal laurel. In the border there are three rows of Lupinus polyphyllus of different varieties; then two rows of varieties of herbaceous pæonias; and in front two rows of the pretty little Aquilegia glandulòsa. This border, when in bloom, is perhaps the most showy thing in the garden. At the end of this, to the right, is a booth for the flowering of calceolarias, geraniums, and other summer plants. This booth was devised as we were not able to show off the plants to advantage in the houses, owing to their being so crowded; and it was found last season to answer admirably. The booth is the same size as the tulip awning, viz. 50 ft. long by 13 ft. broad, so that the tulip canvass, which is fitted on rollers (on Mr. Weeks's plan), goes on this when it comes off the tulips. The booth I shall here describe. It is merely a skeleton shed, with posts, rafters, ridge bar, and wall plate, and movable wooden shutters for the sides, made of very thin deal, with half-inch openings between the boards to admit air. The inside is fitted with a stage of two shelves running all round, and a flat top. The pathway also goes all round. The ends are boarded, the same as the shutters, in which are the doorways. The subdued light through the canvass shows the plants to much advantage, which you have no doubt observed in Chiswick show, or other places where plants are exhibited in a somewhat similar way. We now return to the greenhouse and vinery, heated by our hot-water apparatus, on the level principle; at the west end of which is a mass of hollyhock; at the east end the heath-pit described above, backed by a plantation of young fruit trees, which forms a small orchard. In front of the vinery is a grass plot, with an oval in the centre filled with rhododendrons and a Magnòlia purpùrea.
Several alterations and improvements are in contemplation, the principal one of which will be carried into effect so soon as the weather is sufficiently open, viz. planting the different sorts of the Himalaya pines at sufficient distances along the main walks, so that, some time hence, they will form pine avenues; the borders, walks, plants, &c., to be left until the pines form sufficiently attractive objects to dispense with them.
In the above rough sketch, joined to my predecessor's communication, will be found the leading features of Dalvey garden, which I now submit, with the permission of my most worthy employer ; than whom a more devoted admirer of Flora does not exist; who lives on and loves his native ground; who encourages horticulture in particular, and all rural affairs in general, to the utmost of his power. Would that more of our landed country gentlemen were of the same mind! Then would they not only live on, but take an interest in, their hereditary possessions ; giving employment to the mass of the population in the improvement of their estates, to the enriching of themselves and future generations ; banishing our now proverbial poverty from the land, and spreading happiness and comfort through the length and breadth of our now over-populated country. Then would that money be spent among us which is gained on the soil, but which at present is drained off to our more favoured neighbours.
Dalvey Gardens, Feb. 1. 1843.
Art. VIII. Bicton Gardens, their Culture and Management, in a Series
of Letters to the Conductor. By James Barnes, Gardener to the Right Honourable Lady Rolle.
(Continued from p. 368.) LETTER XVI. Culture of the Potato. Mismanagement it is subject to.
Cause of Curl and Dry Rot. I will now give you my opinion on the culture and growth of that invaluable vegetable the potato; the abuse and mismanagement it is subject to; the cause of curl, and of that enemy the dry rot, &c. &c. It may be thought by some that I know more about eating a potato than about
the proper method of growing them; and certainly the art of cooking them is a greater trouble than growing them, about which I mean to say no more than I have myself observed. I hope it may be useful to some. I shall give my honest opinion, and facts are stubborn things. I have had considerable practice in growing potatoes in pots, in cellars, in sheds, in pits, in frames, in hothouses, hooped and matted in the open ground, in borders in the open garden, and in the open field. I have practised in all these ways for several years; but I do not pretend to say that my methods are superior to any other person's; one thing I can say, that no person has ever beat me yet at any exhibition of early frame potatoes ; but I do not wish to boast.
Now the greatest fault I have always observed is in preparing the seed; how can you expect to have a good crop of potatoes if the seed is bad and has lost its virtue? For instance, I have often seen, at this time of the year, potatoes hurried out of the ground, chucked together in large heaps, or clamps as they are called in some places, wet and dirty as it may be. I have many times seen those heaps allowed to heat, and the steam passing from them as if from a dunghill; of course that must be wrong. I have thought, for many years, that the steam, or reek, which passes off must be so much virtue lost. I have seen these very heaps kept for seed, and allowed, in the spring of the year, to grow all together in one mass of shoots and roots, and to become so hot in the middle of the heap that you could scarcely bear your hand in it: the hotter they get, the faster they grow; and the faster they grow, the hotter they get : then perchance they get moved, and the shoots are pulled off to give a check, to keep them from growing. Can such potatoes as these be either fit to eat, or in a proper state to plant ? My opinion has always been that the principal virtue is thus lost. But, notwithstanding, they are planted again, and if cut, which is the usual practice, they perhaps lie about for several days after, sometimes for weeks; and then are put into the ground after making what is considered a good preparation for it. If it comes on very wet weather, a great many of them slop away, as it is called in Devonshire, and the remainder become weak, and look spindly and thin all the summer. If it should be a hot and dry time when planted, and the weather continues dry for some time after planting, of course they get dry rot, which is plain for anybody to see. I have seen this hundreds of times in different places, and have often pointed it out; but nobody would ever admit it was their own fault: it was either the fault of the ground, or of the season; they had done everything they could. According to my observations, my opinion is that the curl is principally occasioned by using imperfect seed that has not been sufficiently ripened ; such, for instance, as late-planted potatoes : many select them because they are not fit to eat, and, therefore, think they will do to plant. An early frost having come, and cut them all down before they have got half their natural growth, it makes them so watery and waxy that they are not eatable, and, therefore, they bundle them close together somewhere to give them a sweat; and think they will then do for seed.
In planting potatoes, I have for many years observed that three parts out of four are planted too late, which is a very great disadvantage in more ways than one. First, the seed gets exhausted; 2dly, a considerable portion of the most valuable part of the season is lost ; 3dly, if it should set in a dry summer a great portion of the seed is lost, and what does spring up is only weak. If it should set in a wet summer they slop, and what remains does not ripen. My system is to plant all seed whole; neither large nor small potatoes, but a middling size, from the size of a pigeon's egg to that of a bantam’s. When they are first dug up they ought to be sorted for that purpose ; and they should be exposed to the sun and air to harden; and, when put away, laid in lofts or on shelves, or in places where they will neither grow nor get heated.
The greater part of the potatoes I have seen planted in Devonshire has been done too late by six or eight weeks; and, if it were not for its beautiful climate and soil, what could they expect to get, as the preparation they make is but poor. In the first place, generally speaking, they plough the ground only to the depth of 4 or 5 inches ; I think that is not doing much towards it: 2dly, the earth between the rows does not get
halfhoed, nor stirred about enough, after the potatoes are up. My own opinion is fully made up, that the ground should be broken up deep, stirred and worked about in every possible way (particularly in dry weather), for every thing that is planted; the best manure is that supplied by the atmosphere, without which nothing can thrive. I do not mean where the subsoil is
barren and unfit to turn up on the top of the other ; but, at all events, break it: even if you let it lie where it is the atmosphere can penetrate and the water can pass through freely ; but neither can do so, except you keep the earth open. For instance, if you go to any wood or hedge-row, and grub up trees that have sprung up naturally, without the assistance of man, you will there find the nature of the earth is porous ; partly from roots decaying, and partly by moles, mice, worms, and insects working through in all directions, which, of course, allows both air and water to pass through in its natural way. Why should we, under pretence of cultivating and assisting nature, puddle and trample the earth for four or five inches on the surface, to stop up all the pores? It seems strange, but I am sorry to say I have seen it so, and so it is likely to continue. I have never had the pleasure of seeing but one subsoil plough since I have been in Devonshire; and what gave me pleasure did not do so to others. I laugh to think of the many curious remarks I heard made on that “ugly plough," as it was called; ; they were certain it never would answer hereabouts.
Whilst I think of it, I must tell you how they get up their potatoes in Devonshire, which, I think, will make you laugh too. They do not take them up with a fork of any kind, but have what they call a “ tibble;" that is, two bills, what you would, perhaps, call a mattock. I have always heard it so called everywhere but in Devonshire. What we call a fork, too, they call a pick. Well, they go into the garden with this tibble and a maun (they call a basket of any size a maun); they thrust this tool amongst the potatoes with all their might, the same as we used to do at Norwood amongst the oak stubs in clearing the woods. As soon as two or three potatoes are rooted out, they let go their tool and pick them up; then taking hold of the tool again, as before, they root out two or three more. This is their manual of grubbing up potatoes : in wet bad weather you may guess they lose nothing by the job; for they and their tibble are besmeared all over with slub. I think there should be some fine enforced for robbing the fields of so much good earth. I have often asked them why they did not get proper potato forks, and have told them that they would take up a larger quantity, and in better condition ; and that they ought to have some to fork out, others to pick up, and bag : but they always replied that it would never answer in this part of the country, and that a man could get up a larger quantity with the tibble; though they acknowledged they had never tried my way, or used any kind of fork, but had seen them ploughed out.
I omitted to observe in the proper place that when potatoes are allowed to grow in a shady situation, under hedges or trees, they do not come to proper perfection, and are mixed with the others which were grown in the open field, which accounts for some being found waxy or watery amongst the others when cooked; likewise in the next season, when planted again, for finding a few in one row and a few in another curled.
As I have before observed, all potatoes that are meant for seed should be ripe, and hardened by the sun and air before stowing away; that they should be kept in an airy dry situation, and never allowed to grow until they are planted out, under any consideration; that a thoroughly good winter fallow should be made, and the ground well broken up at this season of the year, and laid as rough as it can possibly be made, for the sun, wind, and frost to penetrate through it. Any good stabledung, cow-dung, dung from the pigsties, or any other good manure, will grow potatoes well, if the ground is only properly prepared, and thoroughly sweetened with the atmosphere; taking care to plant them in good time for general crops. I like to have them all in between the middle of March and the last week in April.
For the growing of potatoes in pots in hothouses, &c., to have them good in January, they should be planted the first week in October in a 60-sized pot, placed at the back end, or in any part of the hothouse where you can put them thick together ; as fast as they get up and are three inches high, take them out into a colder place, such as a vinery or a peach-house, When you have a quantity in readiness, fill as many good-sized pots as you can spare; get some good, open, rich, sweet mould; fill the pots three parts full, not sifted but rough; place them where you intend them to stand in rows. A peach-house is the best place; in one where you intend beginning early, you get the first crop off before the leaves of the peach trees shade the house at all. In planting them into the larger pots from the sixties, pull off all the shoots except the one that is the strongest; never allowing more than one shoot to each plant at this season of the year: put three or four plants into a large pot, according to the size. Be careful never to water with cold water, or they will come on very slowly; also be sure you do not overwater them, or the flavour of the potato will be lost; a little manure liquid, with some soot in it, once, is a fine thing. When fit to earth up, fill up the pots; and when they have made their growth, leave off watering them altogether, if you wish to have a good-flavoured and dry potato. If you have not small sixties to spare, use pans, shallow boxes, or an old basket, or lay them inside of a hotbed, either in a frame or in a hothouse, which will hatch them quite as well.
For growing them in pits or frames, I make a very slight hotbed with a few leaves and rubbish (for bottom-heat does not