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Heat is another great matter to be considered, also a uniformity of it; a temperature of sixty degrees during the day, to forty-five at night. Plants can be grown at a temperature of forty degrees, but they will only live, and not have sufficient strength to produce bloom, and that is what all who raise plants desire to repay them for the labor bestowed. As a general thing, our rooms are too warm and dry during the day, and the fall of heat at night chills the circulation of sap, thereby checking growth and blossom. Ventilation is quite an important consideration; there are noxious gases thrown off from heated iron, which are very injurious to plaut life; there is always more or less gas escaping from coal stoves, as well as leakage from gas-pipes in our dwellings. We know how disagreeable the air of a poorly ventilated room is to ourselves, and it is equally so to our window pets. Of course care must be taken in giving fresh air, to prevent a direct draught upon them. Insects and dust are the great enemies against which we must constantly wage war.
The insects must be smoked, or washed off in a bath of warm soap suds, then dipped in tepid clear water. Once or twice a winter will not suffice; it should be attended to at least as often as once a week, even though we do not see any insects upon them; for an ounce of prevention, in this case, is surely worth the pound of cure. The washing will remove the green fly, or aphis; also the red spider, which is so apt to attack house plants —the latter caused by too dry an atmosphere. If water could be kept on the stove, it would lessen the dead heat; if not, water in saucers might be placed among the plants. The dust which is constantly rising, must also be removed, by sprinkling, or dipping in water; if anything in nature can look its thanks, plants surely do after being thus revived.
Before arranging our plants, let us take into consideration the size of our windows, so that they may not be crowded, and the exposure as regards the sun. Here is where so many fail; getting together a miscellaneous collection of plants, some that must revel in sunlight to bring them to perfection, others that in their native state are found in deep shade; some needing the greatest amount of heat, others a cool shady location. There are plants to suit all windows, sunny or sunless, all can be gratified. For the bright south window, we will have the ever welcome Heliotrope, Mignonette, Geraniums, Oxalis, Callas, Bouvardias, Carnations, Coleus,
Hyacinths, Daphne and Roses; and of vines, Maderia, Sweet Potato, Jessamine and Maurandya. Fortunately for many, there are plants which will thrive without the life-giving sun, so that with our north windows we may “make sunshine in a shady place." The sunless windows have received far too little attention; the wise ones have written sparingly on the subject, and by sad experience have we been taught that some varieties of plants, if grown in the shade, might have been specimens of beauty and loveliness, but they drooped, dragged out a miserable existence, and finally died from too much sun. For the shady windows there are Fuchias, Primroses, Violets, Vincas, Camelias, Begonias, Ivys, Smilax, Ferns, Tradescantia, Lilly of the Valley and Snowdrops. Then, again, there are plants that require a great amount of heat and are not particular about the sun. They can be grown in a room where the stove and window are in close proximity: Begonias, both the flowering and the ornamental leaf varieties, Poinsetta, Euphorbia, Cactus, Sedum, Coleus, Achyranthes, Gesuevia, and some of the Echeverias.
Another of the frequent causes of failure with plants, is in the mistaken kindness of a too liberal supply of water. More plants have come to an untimely end by such treatment, than have died from neglect. I know the temptation is very strong when there is just a little more water left in the sprinkler to give it around, oftentimes leaving them in a drowned condition,, No matter how good the drainage may be, no plant but an aquatic can thrive with its roots constantly in soak. Let the earth be dust dry, at least once a week, then give a good watering, and they will not need more for some days, unless the flower-pots are very small. In purchasing plants, if the location they were to grown in could be given plants suited to such places could then be selected, and the mode of treatment given, and greater success could be arrived at. Do not attempt the care of too many; far better six or eight, perfect specimens of their kind, than twenty gaunt, bare-looking objects, with a few tiny, half-starved leaves on the points.
All these are probably unnecessary hints to the large majority of our Madison amateurs, as the great number of windows filled with verdure and lovely blossoms through the long winter fully attests, but may
be of some benefit to the novices who would also have a little green Eden of their own.
SMALL-FRUITS-THE IMPROVEMENTS NEEDED IN
CULTURE AND VARIETIES.
J. M. SMITH, GREEN BAY.
To one who only sees the deluge of berries that flood our markets at particular seasons of the year, it may seem like nonsense to talk or write about the necessity of a greater variety being needed. When one is told that the varieties of strawberries are numbered by hundreds, he would naturally say that anyone, however fastidious in his tastes or desires, might satisfy himself out of this large number; and yet the fact is, that there is but a single variety out of this large number, that has proved itself fitted for general cultivation, or that has proved itself even fairly profitable, except in limited areas of our country. And of this one variety (I allude of course to Wilson's Albany Seedling), it is often said it is only second or third rate as to quality. I do not propose to give my views as to strawberry cultivation at the present time, they having been copied somewhat extensively from an address upon the subject given before the Brown County Horticultural (Society. I propose in a few words to point out what seems to me to be the present want in this line of fruit-growing.
First our strawberry season is too short. It is either a flood or a famine with us. It is true that we can supply our tables with fruit from the south, if we have the money to spare, and choose to use it for that purpose; but how much nicer, as well as better it would be, if we had the supply from our own grounds. By looking over my tables for the last five years I find that the strawberry season has been as follows: In 1871, commenced selling June 9. Sales closed July 4; season, twenty-five days. In 1872, from June 24 to July 11, or eighteen days; 1873, from June 23 to July 10, eighteen days; 1874, June 22 to July 10, nineteen days; 1875, June 21 to July 24, thirty-four days. This is an average of nearly twenty-three days, though it should perhaps be stated that last season, the time was lengthened beyond the ordinary period by artificial watering. These figures prove conclusively that we need at least two more varieties viz.: one that shall come on a little earlier, or, in our climate, as near the first of June as possible, another to come on later, and continue the season until the raspberry crop shall be fairly ready for the market. These varieties should be hardy; they should be good berries, with the hermaphrodite or perfect flower, and in quality should be at least equal to the Wilson. If they are better we will not complain. Here is a desideratum that I have been looking for, for at least fifteen years, but in vain, unless indeed, the Kentucky, which I am now testing, shall be of some assistance in lengthening the season; though I have in reality but little faith that it will prove itself to be of permanent value in that respect. I would very cheerfully give $50 for a dozen strong, healthy plantis, that will be as good, in every respect as the Wilson, and only one week earlier. I would give $50 more for another dozen of such plants that would continue in full bearing one week later than the Wilson. I hope and trust that this object may be attained, and the sooner the better.
If we could have varieties that would endure our very severe winters without being covered, I should be glad, although I have but little hope of this being accomplished. This beautiful and modest little beauty is the earliest of our fruits. It is a favorite of almost every one, old and young, rich and poor. It is no longer a luxury for the rich alone, but has become a necessity, and should be so plenty and cheap, that not only those in comfortable circumstances, but the industrious laborer could have a full supply during its season.
The next upon our list is the raspberry. Here the list upon the books is far from being as great as is the case with the strawberries, yet we are not confined to a single variety; there being several of them that are fairly profitable for the market, and good for the table. There is less difference of opinion as to the best method of cultivating this fruit than with the strawberry. A very common method being to set the rows six feet apart, and the plants about two feet apart in the rows. My own experience and observation confirms me in the belief that a number of mistakes are made in the ordinary method of cultivating this fruit. First, they need a damper soil than they usually get. Second, they need more manure than they get. Third, they need winter protection, and lastly, they are not sufficiently trimmed and thinned out in the spring. I do not propose to take up your time in arguing these points, although I have seen some remarkable instances of the advantages of being both careful and thorough in the cultivation of this fruit. Here we need something more hardy. We need something that will endure our winters not only without being occasionally killed, but that will do it without being injured. I have tried quite a number of our most hardy varieties, but as yet have found none but what are often injured more or less, though they are not often killed outright. Once within ten years my Philadelphias have been killed to the ground; two or three times they have been more or less injured; twice within that time my Doolittle, Miami, and Golden Cap, have been killed, and a number of times injured. The Clark, and one or two others of the more tender varieties were killed nearly every winter until I threw them away.
We need a variety of red berries, that will bear transportation better than the Philadelphia, which perhaps stands the highest of the red berries now cultivated in the west. I, for one, would not object to an'improvement in the quality. Here, too, as in the case of the strawberry, we need something a little later, something that will carry us fairly into the blackberry season. And unless we can get a later bearing strawberry we need an earlier raspberry.
Next comes the blackberry. Here I scarcely know what to say, except that we may as well own up that we have no good variety in this class that will endure our winters without being well protected. In the portion of the State that I, in part, represent, the wild berries are generally so very plenty, as well as cheap, that we could scarcely afford to cultivate any variety of them, even if they were sufficiently hardy to endure our most severe winters without protection. But where the wild fruit is not attainable, a variety as good as the Kittatinny and sufficiently hardy to stand any and all cur winters without protection, would be a plant of great value. The canes of this fruit are so stiff and heavy, and so disagreeable to handle, that covering them is really a very unpleasant, as well as an expensive work, and in reality amounts in many places to a prohibition of its cultivation. Hence the great necessity of some new standard variety for cultivation in a climate where the winters are as severe as in this State and Minnesota.