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22. SWEET MELON OF ISPAHAN. Hort. Trans. Vol. iii. p.
116. Fruit ovate, from eight to twelve inches long. Skin nearly quite smooth, of a deep sulphur colour. Flesh white, extending about half way to its centre, crisp, sugary, and very rich : weight five to six pounds.
23. DAMPSHA MElon. Hort. Trans. Vol.iv. p. 211. Zamsky. Ib.
First fruit in the season nearly cylindrical, bluntly rounded at both ends. The skin varies from pale yellowish green to intense dark olive, and the whole fruit is prominently netted. Flesh bright and deep green near the skin, pale towards the centre, quite melting, and of excellent flavour. The later fruit becomes more pointed at the ends, and lose much of their reticulation on the surface, the dark green of the skin becoming darker.
24. GREEN VALENCIA. Hort. Trans. Vol. iii. p. 116. t. 3.
Winter Melon. Ib.
Fruit oval, with pointed extremities, very slightly ribbed. Skin dark green dotted with very light green, sometimes a little netted. Flesh white, becoming pale straw colour as it ripens, firm, saccharine, and juicy, and although not rich is pleasant.
The last two sorts possess the valuable property of keeping till the winter months, if hung up by the stalk, or in nets in a dry room.
The cultivation of melons in this country within the last fifty years has been so general, and their management so well understood, that it would appear unnecessary to treat particularly, and in detail, of what may be
looked upon as an almost every day practice, not only in the gardens of the opulent but in those of their more humble neighbours.
The main requisites for melon growing are plenty of dung, proper soil, and good frames or pits. The hotbeds for melons require to be much more substantial than those for cucumbers, because they are a much longer time in coming to maturity. Early cucumbers are cut by many gardeners in six or seven weeks after the time of sowing the seeds; but melons require twelve or fourteen weeks for the early sorts, and much longer for the large-sized ones.
Small melons, which are those always forced for early crops, do not require to have the bed more than four feet deep, when settled ready to receive the plants : for the large sorts, the bed ought to be five feet at the least, and in both cases the bed should be from two to three feet both longer and wider than the frame.
The mould for hills, on which the young plants are to be turned out, should be a light rich loam ; but when the plants are earthed up, the soil should be a good strong loam from an old pasture, having the flag taken along with it, adding a sixth part of rotten dung, and turning it over three or four times before it is used.
In preparing the bed, care must be taken that the dung has been well fermented by turning it over two or three times, and when used, if a quantity of oak or chesnut leaves be added and well mixed with it, the heat will not be so great at first, and it will continue much longer.
In making up the bed, the ends and sides should always be made the most compact and firm, by beating them down with the fork, and occasionally treading them so wide as to extend six inches within the frame; by this means the middle of the bed will settle the most,
and prevent the mould from cracking after the bed has been earthed up.
In growing the large sized melons, it is necessary to have large frames where there are no pits, and to cover the beds fifteen or eighteen inches thick with the mould; it should be laid on when dry, the large lumps just broken, but by no means made fine, and when finally earthed up it should be made quite firm by gently treading it down. In this state it will generally be found to retain moisture enough to ripen its fruit, without having occasion to water the bed : when this is the case, fruit are produced of the highest flavour it is possible they should attain ; but when Cantaloup and other red-fleshed melons are grown through the mere agency of heat and excessive moisture, their flavour is ever flat and insipid, in proportion to the quantity of water thus employed.
The melons of Persia, which compose the third and fourth of the foregoing divisions, differ remarkably from the varieties commonly cultivated in Europe. They are altogether destitute of the thick hard rind which characterises the latter, and which renders the one half of every fruit useless ; on the contrary, they are protected by a skin so thin and delicate, that they are subject to injury from causes which would produce no perceptible effect upon the melons of Europe. Their flesh is extremely tender, rich, and sweet, and flows copiously with a cool juice which renders them still more grateful. To these important qualities they in many cases add the merit of bearing abundant crops of fruit, the appearance of which is always extremely beautiful.
But, on the other hand, their cultivation is attended with peculiar difficulties. They are found to require a very high temperature, a dry atmosphere, and an extremely humid soil, while they are at the same time impatient of an undue supply of moisture, which causes
spotting and sudden decay long before the fruit is matured.
It is not, therefore, easy to maintain that necessary balance of heat and moisture which in Persia arises out of the very nature of the climate and mode of cultivation.
In that country, we are told, that the melon is grown in open fields, intersected in every direction by small streams, between which lie elevated beds richly manured with pigeons' dung. Upon these beds the melons are planted. The Persian gardener has, therefore, to guard against nothing but a scarcity of water, the rest is
provided by his own favourable climate. With us the atmosphere, the ventilation, the water, and the heat, are all artificial agents, operating in opposition to each other.
The most successful method of cultivation which has yet been practised, seems to be to supply the plants abundantly with water at the roots, but to give them as little as possible over head ; to combine copious ventilation and high temperature by means of frequently renewing the linings with hot dung, and to elevate each fruit a few inches above the soil, by means of a slate laid upon two bricks placed side by side.
The only Mulberries cultivated in England are the black and the white fruited : the black for its fruit, the white for the feeding of silkworms. Black Mulberries are propagated by laying down the young branches in the autumn, or early in the spring. At the end of the
year, the layers may be removed from the stools and planted out in rows, three feet apart, and a foot from plant to plant in the rows : those intended for training against walls may be planted out at once for the purpose, and the richer the soil is in which they are planted the more rapid will be the progress of the trees.
Pruning and Training.
Mulberries are principally planted as standards in orchards, and upon grass plots in the pleasure garden. In the selection of a tree for this purpose make choice of one that is straight in the stem, and free from blemishes, with a head of three or four well placed regular shoots; should there be more they must be cut out.
When the tree has been planted a year, and got firm hold of the soil, these shoots should be cut down to three or four inches, from each of which two or three clean, straight shoots will probably be produced. In August, four of the strongest and best placed should be selected, and the rest cut out, thus giving the remaining ones a better chance of extending their length, and of ripening their extremities ; besides, with a little additional trouble, if the shoots should not be so well placed as could be wished, their direction can be altered at pleasure, by tying them to small sticks fixed in the head for that purpose. In the following spring, if the four should be of an equal length, they must not be shortened; but if one or two be much longer than the other, they must be reduced to the same length, and allowed to grow for another year, when the head should be thinned out, leaving as many of the best placed shoots as will form the head. This being completed, nothing further will be required than to examine the head from