The Home Acre by Edward Payson Roe
Chapter VI. The Currant
Who that has ever lived in the country does not remember the old straggling currant-bushes that disputed their existence with grass, docks, and other coarse-growing weeds along some ancient fence? Many also can recall the weary task of gathering a quart or two of the diminutive fruit for pies, and the endless picking required to obtain enough for the annual jelly-making. Nor is this condition of affairs a thing of the past. Drive through the land where you will in early July, and you will see farmers mowing round the venerable Red Dutch currants "to give the women-folks a chance at 'em." The average farmer still bestows upon this fruit about as much attention as the aborigines gave to their patches of maize. This seems very absurd when we remember the important place held in the domestic economy by the currant, and how greatly it improves under decent treatment. If it demanded the attention which a cabbage-plant requires, it would be given; but the currant belongs to that small class of creatures which permit themselves to be used when wanted, and snubbed, neglected, and imposed upon at other times. It is known that the bushes will manage to exist, and do the Very best they can, no matter how badly treated; and average human nature has ever taken advantage of such traits, to its continuous loss.
The patience of the currant is due perhaps to its origin, for it grows wild round the northern hemisphere, its chief haunts being the dim, cold, damp woods of the high latitudes. You may tame, modify, and vastly change anything possessing life; but original traits are scarcely ever wholly eradicated. Therefore the natural habitat and primal qualities of the currant indicate the true lines of development, its capabilities and limitations. It is essentially a northern fruit, requiring coolness, moisture, and alluvial soils. It begins to falter and look homesick even in New Jersey; and one has not to go far down the Atlantic coast to pass beyond the range of its successful culture. I do not see why it should not thrive much further south on the northern slopes of the mountains. From Philadelphia northward, however, except on light dry soils and in sunny exposures, there is no reason why it should not give ample returns for the attention it requires.
I shall not lay stress on the old, well-known uses to which this fruit is put, but I do think its value is but half appreciated. People rush round in July in search of health: let me recommend the currant cure. If any one is languid, depressed in spirits, inclined to headaches, and generally "out of sorts," let him finish his breakfast daily for a month with a dish of freshly picked currants. He will soon, almost doubt his own identity, and may even begin to think that he is becoming a good man. He will be more gallant to his wife, kinder to his children, friendlier to his neighbors, and more open-handed to every good cause. Work will soon seem play, and play fun. In brief, the truth of the ancient pun will be verified, that "the power to live a good life depends largely upon the liver." Out upon the nonsense of taking medicine and nostrums during the currant-season! Let it be taught at theological seminaries that the currant is a "means of grace." It is a corrective; and that is what average humanity most needs.
The currant, like the raspberry, is willing to keep shady; but only because it is modest. It is one of the fruits that thrive better among trees than in too dry and sunny exposures. Therefore, in economizing space on the Home Acre it may be grown among smaller trees, or, better still, on the northern or eastern side of a wall or hedge. But shade is not essential, except as we go south; then the requisites of moisture and shelter from the burning rays of the sun should be complied with as far as possible. In giving this and kindred fruits partial shade, they should not be compelled to contend to any extent with the roots of trees. This will ever prove an unequal contest. No fruit can thrive in dense shade, or find sustenance among the voracious roots of a tree.
Select, therefore, if possible, heavy, deep, moist, yet well- drained soil, and do not fear to make and keep it very rich. If you are restricted to sandy or gravelly soils, correct their defects with compost, decayed leaves and sods, muck, manure from the cow-stable, and other fertilizers with staying rather than stimulating qualities. Either by plowing or forking, deepen as well as enrich the soil. It is then ready for the plants, which may be set out either in the fall or in early spring. I prefer the autumn--any time after the leaves have fallen; but spring answers almost as well, while buds are dormant, or partially so. It should be remembered that the currant starts very early, and is in full foliage before some persons are fairly wakened to garden interests. It would, in this case, be better to wait until October, unless the plants can be obtained from a neighbor on a cloudy day; then they should be cut back two-thirds of their length before being removed, and the transfer made as quickly as possible. Under any circumstances, take off half of the wood from the plants bought. This need not be thrown away. Every cutting of young wood six inches long will make a new plant in a single season. All that is needful is to keep the wood moist until ready to put it in the ground, or, better still, a cool, damp place in the garden can be selected at once, and the cuttings sunk two- thirds of their length into the ground, and the soil pressed firm around them. By fall they will have a good supply of roots, and by the following autumn be ready to be set out wherever you wish them to fruit.
Currant-bushes may be planted five feet apart each way, and at the same distance, if they are to line a fence. They should be sunk a few inches deeper in the soil than they stood before, and the locality be such as to admit of good culture. The soil should never be permitted to become hard, weedy, or grass-grown. As a rule, I prefer two-year-old plants, while those of one year's growth answer nearly as well, if vigorous. If in haste for fruit, it may be well to get three-year-old plants, unless they have been dwarfed and enfeebled by neglect. Subsequent culture consists chiefly in keeping the soil clean, mellow, rich, and therefore moist. I have named the best fertilizers for the currant; but if the product of the horse-stable is employed, use it first as a mulch. It will thus gradually reach the roots. Otherwise it is too stimulating, and produces a rampant growth of wood rather than fruit.
Under any circumstances this tendency to produce an undue amount of wood must be repressed almost as rigorously as in the grape- vine. The secret of successful currant-culture is richness beneath, and restriction above. English gardeners are said to have as complete and minute systems of pruning and training currants as the grape; but we do not seem to have patience for such detail. Nor do I regard it as necessary. Our object is an abundant supply of excellent fruit; and this result can be obtained at a surprisingly small outlay of time and money, if they are expended judiciously.
The art of trimming a currant-bush, like that of pruning a grape- vine, is best learned by observation and experience. One can give principles rather than lay down rules. Like the vine, the currant tends to choke itself with a superabundance of wood, which soon becomes more or less barren. This is truer of some varieties than of others; but in all instances the judicious use of the pruning- knife doubles the yield. In view of the supposition that the leading shoot and all the branches were shortened in one-half when the plant was set out, I will suggest that early in June it will be observed that much more wood is forming than can be permitted to remain. There are weak, crowding shoots which never can be of any use. If these are cut out at this time, the sap which would go to mature them will be directed into the valuable parts of the forming bush. Summer pruning prevents misspent force, and it may be kept up with great advantage from year to year. This is rarely done, however; therefore early in spring the bushes must receive a good annual pruning, and the long shoots and branches be cut well back, so as to prevent naked reaches of wood. Observe a very productive bush, and you will see that there are many points abounding in little side-branches. It is upon these that the fruit is chiefly borne. A bush left to itself is soon a mass of long, slender, almost naked stalks, with a little fruit at the ends. The ideal bush is stocky, open, well branched, admitting light, air, and sun in every part. There is no crowding and smothering of the fruit by the foliage. But few clusters are borne on very young wood, and when this grows old and black, the clusters are small. Therefore new wood should always be coming on and kept well cut back, so as to form joints and side-branches; and as other parts grow old and feeble they should be cut out. Observation and experience will teach the gardener more than all the rules that could be written, for he will perceive that he must prune each bush according to its own individuality.
For practical purposes the bush form is the best in which to grow currants; but they can easily be made to form pretty little trees with tops shaped like an umbrella, or any other form we desire. For instance, I found, one autumn, a shoot about three feet long. I rubbed off all the buds except the terminal one and three or four just beneath it, then sunk the lower end of the shoot six inches into the soil, and tied the part above the ground to a short stake. The following spring the lower end took root, and the few buds at the top developed into a small bushy head. Clumps of miniature currant-trees would make as pretty an ornament for the garden border as one would wish to see. It should be remembered that there is a currant as well as an apple borer; but the pests are not very numerous or destructive, and such little trees may easily be grown by the hundred.
Clean culture has one disadvantage which must be guarded against. If the ground under bushes is loose, heavy rains will sometimes so splash up the soil as to muddy the greater part of the fruit. I once suffered serious loss in this way, and deserved it; for a little grass mown from the lawn, or any other litter spread under and around the bushes just before the fruit ripened, would have prevented it. It will require but a very few minutes to insure a clean crop.
I imagine that if these pages are ever read, and such advice as I can give is followed, it will be more often by the mistress than the master of the Home Acre. I address him, but quite as often I mean her; and just at this point I am able to give "the power behind the throne" a useful hint. Miss Alcott, in her immortal "Little Women," has given an instance of what dire results may follow if the "jelly won't jell." Let me hasten to insure domestic peace by telling my fair reader (who will also be, if the jelly turns out of the tumblers tremulous yet firm, a gentle reader) that if she will have the currants picked just as soon as they are fully ripe, and before they have been drenched by a heavy rain, she will find that the jelly will "jell." It is overripe, water- soaked currants that break up families and demolish household gods. Let me also add another fact, as true as it is strange, that white currants make red jelly; therefore give the pearly fruit ample space in the garden.
In passing to the consideration of varieties, it is quite natural in this connection to mention the white sorts first. I know that people are not yet sufficiently educated to demand white currants of their grocers; but the home garden is as much beyond the grocer's stall as the home is better than a boarding-house. There is no reason why free people in the country should be slaves to conventionalities, prejudices, and traditions. If white currants are sweeter, more delicious and beautiful than the red, why, so they are. Therefore let us plant them abundantly.
If there is to be a queen among the currants, the White Grape is entitled to the crown. When placed upon the table, the dish appears heaped with translucent pearls. The sharp acid of the red varieties is absent, and you feel that if you could live upon them for a time, your blood would grow pure, if not "blue."
The bush producing this exquisite fruit is like an uncouth-looking poet who gives beauty from an inner life, but disappoints in externals. It is low-branching and unshapely, and must be forced into good form--the bush, not the poet--by the pruning-knife. If this is done judiciously, no other variety will bear more profusely or present a fairer object on a July day.
The White Dutch has the well-known characteristics in growth of the common Red Dutch currant, and is inferior only to the White Grape in size. The fruit is equally transparent, beautiful, mild, and agreeable in flavor, while the bush is enormously productive, and shapely in form, if properly trained and fertilized.
While the white currants are such favorites, I do not undervalue the red. Indeed, were I restricted to one variety, it should be the old Dutch Red of our fathers, or, more properly, of our grandmothers. For general house uses I do not think it has yet been surpassed. It is not so mild in flavor as the white varieties, but there is a richness and sprightliness in its acid that are grateful indeed on a sultry day. Mingled with the white berries, it makes a beautiful dish, while it has all the culinary qualities which the housekeeper can desire. If the bush is rigorously pruned and generously enriched, it is unsurpassed in productiveness, and the fruit approaches very nearly to the Cherry currant in size.
I do not recommend the last-named kind for the home garden, unless large, showy fruit counts for more than flavor. The acid of the Cherry currant, unless very ripe, is harsh and watery. At best it never acquires an agreeable mildness, to my taste. The bushes also are not so certainly productive, and usually require skilful pruning and constant fertilizing to be profitable. For the market, which demands size above all things, the Cherry is the kind to grow; but in the home garden flavor and productiveness are the more important qualities. Fay's Prolific is a new sort that has been very highly praised.
The Victoria is an excellent late variety, which, if planted in a sheltered place, prolongs the currant-season well into the autumn. Spurious kinds are sold under this name. The true Victoria produces a pale-red fruit with tapering clusters or racemes of berries. This variety, with the three others recommended, gives the family two red and two white kinds--all that are needed. Those who are fond of black currants can, at almost any nursery, procure the Black Naples and Lee's Prolific. Either variety will answer all practical purposes. I confess they are not at all to my taste.
From the currant we pass on naturally to the gooseberry, for in origin and requirements it is very similar. Both belong to the Ribes family of plants, and they are to be cultivated on the same general principles. What I have written in regard to partial shade, cool, sheltered localities, rich, heavy soils, good culture, and especially rigorous pruning, applies with even greater force to this fruit, especially if we endeavor to raise the foreign varieties, in cultivating this fruit it is even more important than was true of raspberries that the reader should distinguish between the native and foreign species. The latter are so inclined to mildew in almost every locality that there is rarely any certainty of satisfactory fruit. The same evil pursues the seedling children of the foreign sorts, and I have never seen a hybrid or cross between the English and native species that was with any certainty free from a brown disfiguring rust wholly or partially enveloping the berries. Here and there the fruit in some gardens will escape year after year; again, on places not far away, the blighting mildew is sure to appear before the berries are fully grown. Nevertheless, the foreign varieties are so fine that it is well to give them a fair trial. The three kinds which appear best adapted to our climate are Crown Bob, Roaring Lion, and Whitesmith. A new large variety, named Industry, is now being introduced, and if half of what is claimed for it is true, it is worth a place in all gardens.
In order to be certain of clean, fair gooseberries every year, we must turn to our native species, which has already given us several good varieties. The Downing is the largest and best, and the Houghton the hardiest, most productive and easily raised. When we remember the superb fruit which English gardeners have developed from wild kinds inferior to ours, we can well understand that the true American gooseberries are yet to be developed. In my work "Success with Small Fruits" those who are interested in this fruit will find much fuller treatment than is warranted in the present essay.
Not only do currants and gooseberries require similar treatment and cultivation, but they also have a common enemy that must be vigilantly guarded against, or the bushes will be defoliated in many localities almost before its existence is known. After an absence of a few days I have found some of my bushes stripped of every leaf. When this happens, the fruit is comparatively worthless. Foliage is as necessary to a plant as are lungs to a man. It is not essential that I should go into the natural history of the currant worm and moth. Having once seen the yellowish-green caterpillars at their destructive work, the reader's thoughts will not revert to the science of entomology, but will at once become bloody and implacable. I hasten to suggest the means of rescue and vengeance. The moment these worms appear, be on your guard, for they usually spread like fire in stubble. Procure of your druggist white hellebore, scald and mix a tablespoonful in a bowl of hot water, and then pour it in a full watering-can. This gives you an infusion of about a tablespoonful to an ordinary pail of water at its ordinary summer temperature. Sprinkle the infected bushes with this as often as there is a worm to be seen. I have never failed in destroying the pests by this course. It should be remembered, however, that new eggs are often hatched out daily. You may kill every worm to-day, yet find plenty on the morrow. Vigilance, however, will soon so check the evil that your currants are safe; and if every one would fight the pests, they would eventually be almost exterminated. The trouble is that, while you do your duty, your next-door neighbor may grow nothing on his bushes but currant-worms. Thus the evil is continued, and even increased, in spite of all that you can do; but by a little vigilance and the use of hellebore you can always save your currants. I have kept my bushes green, luxuriant, and loaded with fruit when, at a short distance, the patches of careless neighbors were rendered utterly worthless. Our laws but half protect the birds, the best insecticides, and there is no law to prevent a man from allowing his acres to be the breeding-place of every pest prevailing.
There are three species of the currant-borer, and their presence is indicated by yellow foliage and shrivelling fruit. The only remedy is to cut out and burn the affected stems. These pests are not often sufficiently numerous to do much harm.
I earnestly urge that virulent poisons like Paris green, London purple, etc., never be used on fruit or edible vegetables. There cannot be safety in this course. I never heard of any one that was injured by white hellebore, used as I have directed; and I have found that if the worms were kept off until the fruit began to ripen, the danger was practically over. If I had to use hellebore after the fruit was fit to use, I should first kill the worms, and then cleanse the bushes thoroughly by spraying them with clean water.
In treating the two remaining small fruits, blackberries and strawberries, we pass wholly out of the shade and away from trees. Sunshine and open ground are now required. Another important difference can also be mentioned, reversing former experience. America is the home of these fruits. The wild species of the blackberry abroad has never, as far as I can learn, been developed into varieties worthy of cultivation; and before importations from North and South America began, the only strawberry of Europe was the Alpine, with its slight variations, and the musky Hautbois.
I do not know whether any of our fine varieties of blackberries are cultivated abroad, but I am perfectly certain that they are worthy of the slight attention required to raise them in perfection here.
Like the blackcaps, all our best varieties are the spontaneous products of Nature, first discovered growing wild, and transferred to the garden. The blackberry is a fruit that takes kindly to cultivation, and improves under it.
The proper treatment is management rather than cultivation and stimulation. It requires a sunny exposure and a light, warm soil, yet not so dry as to prevent the fruit from maturing into juicy berries. If possible, set the blackberries off by themselves, for it is hard to prevent the strong roots from travelling all over the garden. The blackberry likes a rich, moist, mellow soil, and, finding it, some varieties will give you canes sixteen feet high. You do not want rank, thorny brambles, however, but berries. Therefore the blackberry should be put where it can do no harm, and, by a little judicious repression, a great deal of good. A gravelly or sandy knoll, with a chance to mow all round the patch, is the best place. The blackberry needs a deep, loose soil rather than a rich one. Then the roots will luxuriate to unknown depths, the wood ripen thoroughly, and the fruit be correspondingly abundant.
Let the rows be six feet apart; set out the plants in the fall, if possible, or early spring; put two plants in the hills, which may be four feet apart. If the ground is very poor, give the young plants a shovelful of old compost, decayed leaves, etc. Any fertilizer will answer, so that it is spread just over the roots to give the plants a good send-off.
As a rule, complete success in blackberry culture consists in a little judicious work performed in May, June, and July. The plants, having been set out as I have advised in the case of raspberries, throw up the first season strong green shoots. When these shoots are three feet high, pinch off the top, so as to stop upward growth. The result of this is that branches start on every side, and the plant forms a low, stocky, self-supporting bush, which will be loaded with fruit the following season.
The second year the plants in the hill will send up stronger canes, and there will be plenty of sprouts or suckers in the intervening spaces. When very young, these useless sprouts can be pulled out with the least possible trouble. Left to mature, they make a thorny wilderness which will cause bleeding hands and faces when attacked, and add largely to the family mending. That which a child could do as play when the suckers were just coming through the ground, is now a formidable task for any man. In early summer you can with the utmost ease keep every useless blackberry sprout from growing. More canes, also, will usually start from the hill than are needed. Leave but three strong shoots, and this year pinch them back as soon as they are four feet high, thus producing three stocky, well-branched bushes, which in sheltered places will be self-supporting. Should there be the slightest danger of their breaking down with their load of fruit, tie them to stakes by all means. I do not believe in that kind of economy which tries to save a penny at the risk of a dollar.
I believe that better and larger fruit is always secured by shortening in the side branches one-third of their length in spring. Fine varieties like the Kittatinny are not entirely hardy in all localities. The snow will protect the lower branches, and the upper ones can usually be kept uninjured by throwing over them some very light litter, like old pea or bean vines, etc.--nothing heavy enough to break them down. As soon as the old canes are through bearing, they should be cut out. If the blackberry patch has been left to its own wild will, there is nothing left for us but to attack it, well-gloved, in April, with the pruning-shears, and cut out everything except three or four young canes in the hill. These will probably be tall, slender, and branchless, therefore comparatively unproductive. In order to have any fruit at all, we must shorten them one-third, and tie them to stakes. It thus may be clearly seen that with blackberries "a stitch in time" saves almost ninety-nine. Keep out coarse weeds and grass, and give fertilizers only when the plants show signs of feebleness and lack of nutrition.
A rust similar to that which attacks the black-cap is almost the only disease we have to contend with. The remedy is the same-- extirpation of the plant, root and branch.
After testing a great many kinds, I recommend the three following varieties, ripening in succession for the family--the Early Harvest, Snyder, and Kittatinny. These all produce rich, high- flavored berries, and, under the treatment suggested, will prove hardy in nearly all localities. This fruit is not ripe as soon as it is black, and it is rarely left on the bushes until the hard core in the centre is mellowed by complete maturity. I have found that berries picked in the evening and stood in a cool place were in excellent condition for breakfast. To have them in perfection, however, they must be so ripe as to drop into the basket at the slightest touch; then, as Donald Mitchell says, they are "bloated bubbles of forest honey."
I fancy the reader is as impatient to reach the strawberry as I am myself. "Doubtless God could have made a better berry"--but I forbear. This saying has been quoted by the greater part of the human race, and attributed to nearly every prominent man, from Adam to Mr. Beecher. There are said to be unfortunates whom the strawberry poisons. The majority of us feel as if we could attain Methuselah's age if we had nothing worse to contend with. Praising the strawberry is like "painting the lily;" therefore let us give our attention at once to the essential details of its successful culture.
As we have intimated before, this fruit as we find it in our gardens, even though we raise foreign kinds, came originally from America. The two great species, Fragaria chilensis, found on the Pacific slope from Oregon to Chili, and Fragaria virginiana, growing wild in all parts of North America east of the Rocky Mountains, are the sources of all the fine varieties that have been named and cultivated. The Alpine strawberry (Fragaria vesca), which grows wild throughout the northern hemisphere, does not appear capable of much variation and development under cultivation. Its seeds, sown under all possible conditions, reproduce the parent plant. Foreign gardeners eventually learned, however, that seeds of the Chili and Virginia strawberry produced new varieties which were often much better than their parents. As time passed, and more attention was drawn to this subject, superb varieties were originated abroad, many of them acquiring a wide celebrity. In this case, as has been true of nearly all other fruits, our nursery-men and fruit-growers first looked to Europe for improved varieties. Horticulturists were slow to learn that in our own native species were the possibilities of the best success. The Chili strawberry, brought directly from the Pacific coast to the East, is not at home in our climate, and is still more unfitted to contend with it after generations of culture in Europe. Even our hardier Virginia strawberry, coming back to us from England after many years of high stimulation in a moist, mild climate, is unequal to the harsher conditions of life here. They are like native Americans who have lived and been pampered abroad so long that they find this country "quite too rude, you know-- beastly climate." Therefore, in the choice varieties, and in developing new ones, the nearer we can keep to vigorous strains of our own hardy Virginia species the better. From it have proceeded and will continue to come the finest kinds that can be grown east of the Rockies. Nevertheless, what was said of foreign raspberries is almost equally true of European strawberries like the Triomphe de Gand and Jucunda, and hybrids like the Wilder. In localities where they can be grown, their beauty and fine flavor repay for the high culture and careful winter protection required. But they can scarcely be made to thrive on light soils or very far to the south.
So many varieties are offered for sale that the question of choice is a bewildering one. I have therefore sought to meet it, as before, by giving the advice of those whose opinions are well entitled to respect.
Dr. Hexamer, who has had great and varied experience, writes as follows: "A neighbor of mine who has for years bought nearly every new strawberry when first introduced, has settled on the Duchess and Cumberland as the only varieties he will grow in the future, and thinks it not worth while to seek for something better. Confined to two varieties, a more satisfactory selection could scarcely be made. But you want six or seven, either being, I think, about the right number for the home garden. I will give them in the order of desirability according to my judgment-- Cumberland, Charles Downing, Duchess, Mount Vernon, Warren, Sharpless, Jewell."
The selection which places the Cumberland Triumph at the head of the list is but another proof how kinds differ under varied conditions. On my place this highly praised sort is but moderately productive and not high-flavored, although the fruit is very large and handsome. I regard the list, however, as a most excellent one for most localities.
The Hon. Marshall P. Wilder's choice for the latitude of Massachusetts: "Charles Downing, Wilder, Hervey Davis, Sharpless, Cumberland, Kentucky. Jewell is very promising." A. S. Fuller, for latitude of New York: "Charles Downing, Sharpless, Miner's Prolific, Wilson's Albany, Champion." P. C. Berckmans, for the latitude of Georgia: "Wilson, Sharpless, Charles Downing, Triomphe de Gand, Glendale." The Hon. Norman J. Colman's choice for Missouri and the West: "Crescent, Captain Jack, Cumberland, Champion, Hart's Minnesota, Cornelia."
If I gave a hundred other lists, no two of them probably would agree in all respects. Mr. Downing often said to me, "Soil, climate, and locality make greater differences with the strawberry than with any other fruit." This is far more true of some varieties than others. I believe that the excellent kind named after Mr. Downing, if given proper treatment, will do well almost anywhere on the continent. It will be noted that it is on all the lists except one. I should place it at the head of garden strawberries. It is a kind that will endure much neglect, and it responds splendidly to generous, sensible treatment. Its delicious flavor is its chief recommendation, as it should be that of every berry for the home garden.
I have tested many hundreds of kinds, and have grown scores and scores that were so praised when first sent out that the novice might be tempted to dig up and throw away everything except the wonderful novelty pressed upon his attention. There is one quiet, effective way of meeting all this heralding and laudation, and that is to make trial beds. For instance, I have put out as many as seventy kinds at nearly the same time, and grown them under precisely the same conditions. Some of the much-vaunted new-comers were found to be old varieties re-named; others, although sold at high prices and asserted to be prodigies, were seen to be comparatively worthless when growing by the side of good old standard sorts; the majority never rose above mediocrity under ordinary treatment; but now and then one, like the Sharpless, fulfilled the promises made for it.
In my next chapter I shall venture to recommend those varieties which my own experience and observation have shown to be best adapted to various soils and localities, and shall also seek to prove that proper cultivation has more to do with success than even the selection of favored kinds.
Nor would I seek to dissuade the proprietor of the Home Acre from testing the many novelties offered. He will be sure to get a fair return in strawberries, and to his interest in his garden will add the pleasure and anticipation which accompany uncertain experiment. In brief, he has found an innocent form of gambling, which will injure neither pocket nor morals. In slow-maturing fruits we cannot afford to make mistakes; in strawberries, one prize out of a dozen blanks repays for everything.