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Title: The $100 Prize Essay on the Cultivation of the Potato. - Prize offered by W. T. Wylie and awarded to D. H. Compton. - How to Cook the Potato, Furnished by Prof. Blot.
Author: Compton, D. A.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The $100 Prize Essay on the Cultivation of the Potato. - Prize offered by W. T. Wylie and awarded to D. H. Compton. - How to Cook the Potato, Furnished by Prof. Blot." ***

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Core Historical Literature of Agriculture (CHLA), Albert R. Mann Library,
Cornell University (http://chla.library.cornell.edu/)


Transcriber's note:

      Text enclosed between tilde characters was in bold face in
      the original (~bold face~).

      [oe] represents the oe-ligature.


Prize offered by W. T. WYLIE and awarded to D. H. COMPTON.


_Furnished by Prof. BLOT._






In the fall of 1868, I offered $100 as a prize for the best Essay on the
Cultivation of the Potato, under conditions then published; the prize to
be awarded by a committee composed of the following gentlemen, well
known in agricultural circles:

Colonel MASON C. WELD, Associate Editor of _American Agriculturist_.

A. S. FULLER, ESQ., of Ridgewood, N. J., the popular author of several
horticultural works, and Associate Editor of the _Hearth and Home_.

Dr. F. M. HEXAMER, who has made the cultivation of the potato a special

In the month of January, 1870, the committee awarded the prize to D. A.
Compton; and this Essay is herewith submitted to the public in the hope
of stimulating a more intelligent and successful cultivation of the

                                       BELLEFONTE, PA., January, 1870.
                                                          W. T. WYLIE.

                                 OFFICE OF THE AMERICAN AGRICULTURIST,
                                              NEW-YORK, January, 1870.

     REV. W. T. WYLIE: DEAR SIR: The essays submitted to us by Mr.
     Bliss, according to your announcement, numbered about twenty.
     Several could not be called essays from their brevity, and others
     were exceedingly incomplete. About twelve, however, required and
     were worthy of careful consideration. That of Mr. D. A. Compton, of
     Hawley, Wayne County, Pa., was, in the opinion of your committee,
     decidedly superior to the others as a practical treatise, sure to
     be of use to potato-growers in every part of the country, and well
     worthy the liberal prize offered by yourself.

                  In behalf of the committee, sincerely yours,
                                            MASON C. WELD, _Chairman_.



The design of this little treatise is to present, with minuteness of
detail, that mode of culture which experience and observation have
proved to be best adapted to the production of the Potato crop.

It is written by one who himself holds the plow, and who has, since his
early youth, been engaged in agriculture in its various branches, to the
exclusion of other pursuits.

The statements which appear in the following pages are based upon actual
personal experience, and are the results of many experiments made to
test as many theories.

Throughout the Northern States of our country the potato is the third
of the three staple articles of food. It is held in such universal
esteem as to be regarded as nearly indispensable. This fact is
sufficient to render a thorough knowledge of the best varieties for use,
the character of soil best adapted to their growth, their cultivation
and after-care, matters of the highest importance to the farmers of the
United States.

The main object of this essay is so to instruct the novice in
potato-growing that he may be enabled to go to work understandingly and
produce the potato in its highest perfection, and realize from his
labors bestowed on the crop the greatest possible profits.


The potato is most profitably grown in a warm, dry, sandy, or gravelly
loam, well filled with decayed vegetable matters. The famous potato
lands of Lake County, Ohio, from which such vast quantities of potatoes
are shipped yearly, are yellow sand. This potato district is confined to
ridges running parallel with Lake Erie, which, according to geological
indications, have each at different periods defined its boundaries. This
sand owes much of its potato-growing qualities to the sedimentary
deposit of the lake and to manural properties furnished by the
decomposition of the shells of water-snails, shell-fish, etc., that
inhabited the waters.

New lands, or lands recently denuded of the forest, if sufficiently dry,
produce tubers of the most excellent quality. Grown on dry, new land,
the potato always cooks dry and mealy, and possesses an agreeable flavor
and aroma, not to be attained in older soils. In no argillaceous soil
can the potato be grown to perfection as regards quality. Large crops
on such soil may be obtained in favorable seasons, but the tubers are
invariably coarse-fleshed and ill-flavored. To produce roots of the best
quality, the ground must be dry, deep, and porous; and it should be
remembered that, to obtain very large crops, it is almost impossible to
get too much humus in the soil. Humus is usually added to arable land
either by plowing under green crops, such as clover, buckwheat, peas,
etc., or by drawing and working in muck obtained from swamps and low

The muck should be drawn to the field in fall or winter, and exposed in
small heaps to the action of frost. In the following spring, sufficient
lime should be mixed with it to neutralize the acid, (which is found in
nearly all muck,) and the whole be spread evenly and worked into the
surface with harrow or cultivator.

Leaves from the woods, buckwheat straw, bean, pea, and hop vines, etc.,
plowed under long enough before planting to allow them time to rot, are
very beneficial. Sea-weed, when bountifully applied, and turned under
early in the fall, has no superior as a manure for the potato. No stable
or barn-yard manure should be applied to this crop. If such nitrogenous
manure must be used on the soil, it is better to apply it to some other
crop, to be followed the succeeding year by potatoes. The use of stable
manure predisposes the tubers to rot; detracts very much from the
desired flavor; besides, generally not more than one half as many
bushels can be grown per acre as can be obtained by using manures of a
different nature. Market gardeners, many of whom from necessity plant on
the same ground year after year, often use fine old stable manure with
profit. Usually they plant only the earlier varieties, crowd them with
all possible speed, dig early, and sell large and little before they
have time to rot, thus clearing the ground for later-growing vegetables.
Thus grown, potatoes are of inferior quality, and the yield is not
always satisfactory. Flavor, however, is seldom thought of by the hungry
denizens of our cities, in their eagerness to get a taste of something

Market gardeners will find great benefit from the use of wood-ashes,
lime, and the phosphates. Sprinkle superphosphate in the hill at the
rate of two hundred pounds per acre; mix it slightly in the soil with an
iron rake or potato-hook, then plant the seed. Just before the last
hoeing, sprinkle on and around the hill a large handful of wood-ashes,
or an equal quantity of lime slacked in brine as strong as salt will
make it.

But for the generality of farmers, those who grow only their own supply,
or those who produce largely for market, no other method of preparing
the soil is so good, so easy, and so cheap as the following; it requires
time, but pays a big interest: Seed down the ground to clover with wheat
or oats. As soon as the grain is off, sow one hundred and fifty pounds
of plaster (gypsum) per acre, and keep off all stock. The next spring,
when the clover has made a growth of two inches, sow the same quantity
of plaster again. About the tenth of July, harrow down the clover,
driving the same direction and on the same sized lands you wish to plow;
then plow the clover neatly under about seven inches deep. Harrow down
the same way it was plowed, and immediately sow and harrow in two
bushels of buckwheat per acre. When it has grown two inches, sow plaster
as before; and when the buckwheat has grown as large as it will, harrow
down and plow under about five inches deep. This, when cross-plowed in
the spring sufficiently deep to bring up the clover-sod, is potato
ground _first-class in all respects_.

It is hardly supposable that this mode of preparation of soil would meet
with favor among all farmers. There is a parsimonious class of
cultivators who would consider it a downright loss of time, seed, and
labor; but any one who will take the trouble to investigate, will find
that these same parsimonious men never produced four hundred bushels of
potatoes per acre; and that the few bushels of small tubers that they do
dig from an acre, are produced at considerable loss. "Men do not gather
grapes from thorns, nor figs from thistles."

To make potato-growing profitable in these times of high prices of land
and labor, it is absolutely necessary that the soil be in every way
fitted to meet any and all demands of the crop.

It is said that in the State of Maine, previous to the appearance of the
potato disease, and before the soil had become exhausted by continued
cropping, potatoes yielded an average of four hundred bushels per acre.
Now, every observer is aware that the present average yield of the same
vegetable is much less than half what it was formerly. This great
deterioration in yield can not be attributed to "running out" of
varieties; for varieties are extant which have not yet passed their
prime. It can not be wholly due to disease; for disease does not occur
in every season and in every place. True, we have more insects than
formerly, but they can not be responsible for all the great falling off.
It is traceable mainly to poverty of the soil in certain ingredients
imperatively needed by the crop for its best development, and to the
pernicious effect of enriching with nitrogenous manures. Any one who
will plant on suitably dry soil, enriched only with forest-leaves,
sea-weeds, or by plowing under green crops until the whole soil to a
proper depth is completely filled with vegetable matter, will find to
his satisfaction that the potato can yet be grown in all its pristine
vigor and productiveness.

To realize from potato-growing the greatest possible profits, (and
profits are what we are all after,) the following conditions must be
strictly adhered to: First, the ground chosen _must be dry_, either
naturally or made so by thorough drainage; a gently sloping, deep, sandy
or gravelly loam is preferable. Second, the land should be liberally
enriched with humus by some of the means mentioned, if it is not already
present in the soil in sufficient quantities, and the soil should be
deeply and thoroughly plowed, rendering it light, porous, and
pulverulent, that the air and moisture may easily penetrate to any
desirable depth of it; and a proper quantity of either wood-ashes or
lime, or both, mixed with common salt, should be harrowed into the
surface before planting, or be applied on top of the hills immediately
after planting. And, finally, the cultivation and after-care should be
_prompt_, and given as soon as needed. Nothing is more conducive to
failure, after the crop is properly planted, than failure in promptness
in the cultivation and care required.


Experience proves that no better method can be adopted to bring up lands
partially exhausted, which are remote from cities, than plowing under
green crops. By this plan the farmer can take lot after lot, and soon
bring all up to a high state of fertility. True, he gathers no crop for
one year, but the outlay is little; and if in the second year he gathers
as much from one acre as he formerly did from three, he is still
largely the gainer.

It costs no more to cultivate an acre of rich, productive land than an
acre of poor, unproductive land; and the pleasure and profit of
harvesting a crop that abundantly rewards the husbandman for his care
and labor are so overwhelmingly in favor of rich land as to need no
comment. Besides, manuring with green crops is not transitory in its
effects; the land remembers the generous treatment for many years, and
if at times lime or ashes be added to assist decomposition, will
continue to yield remunerative crops long after land but once treated
with stable manure or guano fails to produce any thing but weeds. The
skinning process, the taking off of every thing grown on the soil and
returning nothing to it, is ruinous alike to farm and farmer. Thousands
of acres can be found in various parts of the country too poor to pay
for cultivating without manuring. Of the capabilities of their lands
under proper treatment the owners thereof have no idea whatever. Such
men say they can not make enough manure on the farm and are too poor to
buy. Why not, then, commence plowing under green crops, the only manure
within easy reach? If fifty acres can not be turned under the first
year, put at least one acre under, which will help feed the rest. Why be
contented with thirty bushels of corn per acre, when eighty or one
hundred may be had? Why raise eight or twelve bushels of wheat per acre,
when forty may as well be had? Why cut but one half-ton of hay per acre,
when the laws of nature allow at least three? Why spend precious time
digging only one hundred bushels of potatoes per acre, when with proper
care and culture three or four hundred may easily be obtained? And,
finally, why toil and sweat, and have the poor dumb beasts toil and
sweat, cultivating thirty acres for the amount of produce that should
grow, may grow, can grow, and has grown on ten acres?

The poorest, most forsaken side-hills, cobble-hills, and knolls, if the
sand or gravel be of moderate depth, underlaid by a subsoil rather
retentive, by turning under green crops grow potatoes of the first
quality. If land be so poor that clover will not take, as is sometimes
the case, seed to clover with millet very early in the spring, and
harrow in with the millet thirty bushels of wood-ashes, or two hundred
pounds of guano per acre; then sow the clover-seed one peck per acre;
brush it in.

If neither ashes nor guano can be obtained at a reasonable price, sow
two hundred pounds of gypsum per acre as soon as the bushing is
completed. This will not fail in giving the clover a fair foothold on
the soil.

Before the millet blossoms, cut and cure it for hay. Keep all stock off
the clover, plaster it the following spring, plow it under when in full
bloom; sow buckwheat immediately; when up, sow plaster; when in full
bloom, plow under and sow the ground immediately with rye, to be plowed
under the next May. Thus three crops are put under within a year, the
ground is left strong, light, porous, free from weeds, ready to grow a
large crop of potatoes, or almost any thing else.

Much is gained every way by having and keeping land in a high state of
fertility. Some crops require so long a season for growth, that high
condition of soil is absolutely necessary to carry them through to
maturity in time to escape autumnal frosts. In the Western States manure
has hitherto been considered of but little value. The soil of these
States was originally very rich in humus. For a time wheat was produced
at the rate of forty bushels per acre; but according to the statistics
given by the Agricultural Department at Washington, for the year 1866,
the average yield in some of these States was but four and a half
bushels per acre. It is evident from this that Mr. Skinflint has had
things pretty much his own way. His land now produces four and a half
bushels per acre; what time shall elapse when it shall be four and one
half acres per bushel? Who dare predict that manure will not at some day
be of value west of the Alleghanies? New-Jersey, with a soil naturally
inferior to that of Illinois, contains extensive tracts that yearly
yield over one hundred bushels of Indian corn per acre, while the
average of the State is over forty-three; and the average yield of the
same cereal in Illinois is but little over thirty-one bushels per acre.
In the Western States, where potatoes are grown extensively for Southern
markets, the average yield is about eighty bushels per acre; while in
old Pennsylvania could be shown the last year potatoes yielding at the
rate of six hundred and forty bushels per acre. There are those who
argue that manure is never necessary--that plant-food is supplied in
abundance by the atmosphere; it was also once said a certain man had
taught his horse to live without eating; but it so happened that just as
he got the animal perfectly schooled, it died.

Good, thorough cultivation and aeration of the soil undoubtedly do much
toward the production of crops; but mere manipulation is not all that is

That growing plants draw much nourishment from the atmosphere, and
appropriate largely of its constituents in building up their tissue, is
certainly true; it is also certainly true that they require something of
the soil besides mere anchorage. All facts go to show that if the
constituents needed by the plant from the soil are not present in the
soil, the efforts of the plant toward proper development are abortive?
What sane farmer expects to move a heavy load over a rugged road with a
team so lean and poverty-stricken that they cast but a faint shadow? Yet
is he much nearer sanity when he expects farming to be pleasant and
profitable, and things to _move aright_, unless his land is strong and
fat? Is he perfectly sane when he thinks he can skin his farm year after
year, and not finally come to the bone? The farmer on exhausted land
must of necessity use manure. Manure of _some_ kind must go under, or he
must go under; and to the great mass of cultivators no mode of enriching
is so feasible, so cheap, and attended with such satisfactory results,
as that of plowing under green crops.

The old plan of leaving an exhausted farm, and going West in search of
rich "government land," must soon be abandoned. Already the head of the
column of land-hunters have "fetched up" against the Pacific, and it is
doubtful whether their anxious gaze will discover any desirable
unoccupied soil over its waters.

The writer would not be understood as saying that all farms are
exhausted, or that there is _no_ way of recuperation but by plowing
under green crops. What he wishes understood is, that where poor, sandy,
or gravelly lands are found, which bring but small returns to the owner,
by subjecting them to the process indicated, such lands bring good crops
of the kind under consideration. And further, that land in the proper
condition to yield a maximum crop of potatoes, is fitted to grow other
crops equally well. Neither would the writer be understood as arguing
that a crop of clover and one of buckwheat should be turned under for
each crop of potatoes; where land is already in high condition, it may
not be necessary. A second growth of clover plowed under in the fall for
planting early kinds, and a clean clover sod turned in _flat_ furrows in
the spring, for the late market varieties, answer very well. To turn
flat furrows, take the furrow-slice wide enough to have it fall
completely inside the preceding one.

Potatoes should not be planted year after year on the same ground;
trouble with weeds and rapid deterioration of quality and quantity of
tubers soon render the crop unprofitable. Loamy soil planted
continuously soon becomes compact, heavy, and lifeless. Where of
necessity potatoes must be grown yearly on the same soil, it is
advisable to dig rather early, and bury the vines of each hill in the
one last dug; then harrow level, and sow rye to be plowed under next
planting time.

The intelligent farmer, who grows large crops for market, will always so
arrange as to have a clover-sod on dry land in high condition each year
for potatoes. It is said by many, in regard to swine, that "the breed is
in the trough;" though this is certainly untrue to a certain extent, yet
it is undeniable that in potato-growing success or failure is in the
character of soil chosen for their production.

Why clover, or clover and buckwheat lands, are so strongly urged is,
such lands have in them just what the tubers need for their best and
healthiest development; the soil is rendered so rich, light, and porous,
and so free from weeds, that the cultivation of such land is rather a
pleasure than otherwise, and at the close of the season the tangible
profits in dollars and cents are highly gratifying.


From the fact that the United States produce about 109,000,000 bushels
of potatoes annually, it might be supposed a great many varieties would
be cultivated. Such, however, is not the fact. Of the varieties extant,
comparatively few are grown extensively.

Every grower's observation has established the fact that for quality the
early varieties are inferior to the late ones. The Early June is very
early, but its quality is quite indifferent. The Cherry Blow is early,
attains good size, and yields rather well. In quality it is poor. The
Early Kidney, as to quality, is good, but will not yield enough to pay
for cultivation. The Cowhorn, said to be the Mexican yam, is quite
early, of first quality, but yields very poorly. The Michigan White
Sprout is early, rather productive, and good. Jackson White is in
quality quite good, is early, and a favorite in some places. The Monitor
is rather early, yields large crops; but as its quality is below par, it
brings a low price in market. Philbrick's Early White is one of the
whitest-skinned and whitest-fleshed potatoes known. It is about as early
as Early Goodrich, is quite productive, and grows to a large size, with
but few small ones to the hill. Its quality is excellent. It has not yet
been extensively tested. The Early Rose is said to be very early, of
excellent quality, and to yield extremely well. It has, however, not
been very widely tested. Perhaps for earliness and satisfactory product,
the Early Goodrich has no superior. It is of fair quality, and though
some seasons it does not yield as well as others, yet, all things
considered, it is a desirable variety. The old Neshannock, or Mercer, is
among the latest of the early varieties. As to quality, it is the
standard of excellence of the whole potato family. But it yields rather
poorly, and its liability to rot, except on soils especially fitted for
it, has so discouraged growers that its cultivation in many sections is
abandoned. On rather poor, sandy soil, manured in the hill with
wood-ashes, common salt, and plaster only, it will produce in ordinary
seasons two hundred bushels per acre of sound, merchantable tubers, that
will always command the highest market price. Any potato cultivated for
a long series of years will gradually become finer in texture and better
in quality; but its liability to disease will also be greatly increased.
As an instance of this, it will be remembered that when the Merino and
California varieties were first introduced, they were so coarse as to be
thought fit only to feed hogs, and for this purpose, on account of their
great yielding qualities, farmers continued to cultivate them, until
finally they became so changed as in many sections to be preferred for
the table. Their cultivation, however, is now nearly abandoned.

Of the later varieties, the Garnet Chili, a widely-diffused and
well-known sort, deserves notice. It is not of so good quality as the
Peach Blow; but its freedom from disease, and the large crop it
produces, make it a favorite with many growers. The chief fault with it
is, the largest specimens are apt to be hollow at the centre. It ripens
rather early; and, even when dug long before maturity, it has a dryness
and mealiness, when prepared for the table, not found in many other
sorts. The Buckeye is extensively grown for market; its yield is not
satisfactory, and its quality is only medium. The Dykeman is yet grown
to some extent, but will soon be superseded.

The Prince Albert is a well-known and highly-esteemed variety,
approaching very near the Peach Blow in quality. One peculiarity of
this potato is, the largest tubers appear to be of as good quality as
the small ones. With proper soil and culture, it yields a fair crop; is
quite free from disease; and its smoothness, high flavor, and fine
appearance make it much sought after in the market.

The Fluke, a very late potato, is a great favorite with many who produce
for market. Its yield is very large; and its smoothness and uniformity
of size make it altogether a desirable variety. It is generally free
from disease. In quality it is rather above medium.

The Harrison, if it should do as well in the future as it has done in
the past, bids fair to become _the_ potato for general cultivation. It
has yielded in this section, on soil of moderate fertility, with
ordinary culture, one peck to the hill of uniform-sized, merchantable
potatoes. It is a strong, vigorous grower, and very healthy. Its
quality, though not the very best, is good. The Willard, lately
originated by C. W. Gleason, of Massachusetts, is a half-early variety.
It is enormously productive, of a rich rose color, spotted and splashed
with white. The flesh is white. In form and size it closely resembles
the Early Goodrich, its parent. It has not been extensively tested, but
certainly promises well. The Excelsior is said, by those interested in
its sale, to be very productive, and of most excellent quality,
retaining its superior flavor all the year round. It is claimed that old
potatoes of this variety are better than new ones of most early kinds,
thus obviating the necessity of having early sorts. The Excelsior is
said to cook very white and mealy; form nearly round, eyes prominent. It
has not been much tested out of the neighborhood where it originated.

But the potato-eater is yet unborn who can justly find fault with a
properly-grown Peach Blow. It is pronounced by many equal or superior to
the Mercer in quality, which is not the fact. It is emphatically a late
potato; and, though it does not yield as well per acre as some other
sorts, it is comparatively healthy; and its quality is such that it
always brings a high price in the market. In fact, but few other kinds
of late sorts could find sale if enough of this kind were offered to
supply the demand. Planted ever so early, it keeps green through the
heat of summer, and never matures its tubers until after the fall rains,
and then no potato does it more rapidly.

Grown on rich argillaceous soil, it will be hollow, coarse flesh, and
ill-flavored; but planted on such soil as is recommended, it is about
all that could be desired. It is a strong, vigorous grower; and one
peculiarity of it is, that insects will not attack vines of this variety
if other kinds are within reach.

Planted on extremely poor ground, it will, perhaps, yield more bushels
of tubers, and those of better quality, than any other variety that
could be planted on the same soil. Among all the old or new sorts,
perhaps, no potato can be found that deteriorates so little in quality
from maturity to maturity again. And, in fine, where only high quality
with moderate yield are desired, it has few if any superiors.

Many other varieties might be mentioned; but the list given includes
about all of much merit. New varieties are constantly arising, clamoring
for public favor, many of which are wholly unworthy of general
cultivation. One or two varieties, such as are adapted to the grower's
locality and market, are preferable to a greater number of sorts grown
merely for variety's sake.


The characteristics of a potato, such as quality, productiveness,
healthfulness, uniformity of size, etc., depend much on the nature of
the soil on which it originated. These characteristics, some or all,
imbibed by the minute potato from the ingredients of the soil, at its
first growth from the seed of the potato-ball, adhere with great
tenacity to it through all its generations. A seedling may, in size,
color, and form resemble its parent; but its constitution and quality
are in a great degree dependent on the nature of the soil, climatic
influences, and other accidental causes.

True crosses are generally more vigorous and healthy than others; and it
is probably to accidental crosses we are indebted for many varieties
that differ so widely from their parents. A cross is most apparent to
the eye when the parents are of different colors, in which case the
offspring will be striped or marked with the colors of each parent.


In order to comprehend fully the principles of this subject, and their
application to practical operations, it will be necessary to take a
general view of the generative organs of the vegetable kingdom, and the
manner in which they act in the production of their species. If we
examine a perfect flower, we shall find that it consists essentially of
two sets of organs, one called the pistils, the other the stamens. The
pistils are located in the centre of the flower, and the stamens around
them. The summit of the pistil is called the stigma; and on the top of
each stamen is situated an anther--a small sack, which contains the
pollen, a dust-like substance, that fertilizes the ovules or young seeds
of the plant.

These organs are supposed to perform offices analogous to those of the
animal kingdom--the stamens representing the male, and the pistils the
female organs.

When the anthers, which contain the pollen, arrive at maturity, they
open and emit a multitude of minute grains of pollen; and these, falling
on the pistils of the flower, throw out hair-like tubes, which penetrate
through the vascular tissue of the pistil, and ultimately reach the
ovules, thus fertilizing them, and making them capable, when mature, of
reproducing plants of their own kind.

The ovules are the rudimentary seeds, situated in a case at the base of
the pistils, each consisting of a central portion, called the nucleus,
which is surrounded by two coats, the inner called the secundine, the
outer the primine. When the hairlike tube of the pollen-grain passes
through the orifice in the coatings of the ovule, and reaches the
nucleus, or embryo sack, it is supposed to emit a spermatic or plantlet
germ, which passes through the wall of the embryo sack and enters the
germinal vesicle contained in it. The vesicle corresponds to the
vesicle, or germinal spot, in the eggs of birds, and ovum of mammiferous
animals. The germ remains in the vesicle, and finally becomes the
embryo, fully developed into a plantlet, as may be seen in many seeds.

Flowers of plants are called perfect when the stamens and pistils are in
the same flower, as the apple; mon[oe]cious, when in different flowers
and on the same plant, as the white oak; and di[oe]cious, when in
different flowers and on different plants, as in the hemp. In that class
of plants in which the stamens, or males, are on one plant, and the
pistils, or females, on another, the males of course must always remain
barren; and the pistilates, to be fruitful, must have the pollen from
the anthers of the staminate brought in contact with its stigma by wind,
insects, or other means. In plants with perfect flower, the stamens are
generally situated around and above the pistil, so that the pollen falls
upon the stigma by mere force of gravity. In the potato, the pollen is
conveyed from the anthers to the stigma by actual contact of the two

Cross-breeding in plants consists in fertilizing one variety with the
pollen of another variety of the same species. The offspring is called a
cross-breed, or variety. The process of cross-breeding consists in
taking the pollen of one variety and applying it to the stigma of
another variety, in such a way as to effect its fertilization. This is
done by cutting away (with scissors) the stamens of the flower to be
fertilized, a short time before they arrive at maturity, and taking a
flower in which the pollen is ripe, dry, and powdery, from the stalk of
the variety wished for the male parent; and holding it in the right
hand, and then striking it on the finger of the left, held near the
flower, thus scattering the pollen on the stigma of the pistil of the
flower to be fertilized. The utmost care should be taken to apply the
pollen when the flower is in its greatest vigor, and the stigma is
covered with the necessary coating of mucus to insure a perfect
connection of the pollen with the pistil, and make the fertilization
perfect. All flowers not wanted in the experiment should be removed
before any pollen is formed.

It is necessary to tie a thin piece of gauze over the flower to be
fertilized, before and after crossing, to prevent insects from conveying
pollen to it, thus frustrating the labors of the operator. If the
operation has been successful, the pistil will soon begin to wither; if
not perfect, the pistil will continue fresh and full for some days.
This _modus operandi_ is substantially the same in crossing fruits,
flowers, and vegetables throughout the vegetable kingdom.

Hybridizing differs from cross-breeding only in fertilizing one species,
or one of its varieties, with the pollen of another species, or one of
its varieties, of the same or a different _genus_. The offspring is
called a hybrid, or mule. Hybrids, with very few exceptions, are
sterile, they fail to propagate themselves from seed, and must, to
preserve them, be propagated by grafts, layers, or suckers. No change is
perceptible in the fruit produced from blossoms upon which the operation
of cross-breeding or hybridizing has been performed; but the seed of
fruits so obtained may be planted with the certainty of producing a
fruit or tuber commingling the qualities, colors, and main
characteristics of both parents.

Experience, however, shows that the characteristics of the male
predominate somewhat in the offspring. To judicious cross-breeding and
hybridizing we owe most of our superior fruits and vegetables. If the
operation were more generally known and practiced by farmers, the most
gratifying results would be soon obtained, not only in the production of
the most valuable varieties of potatoes and other vegetables, but also
in fruits, flowers, and grain of every description.


Other things being equal, smooth potatoes are preferable to those with
deeply-sunken eyes. The starch being most abundant near the skin, not so
much is lost by the thin paring of the former as by the necessarily
deeper paring of the latter.

Varieties usually well formed sometimes grow so knobby and ill-shaped as
to be scarcely recognized. This is caused by severe drought occurring
when the tubers are about two thirds grown, causing them to partially
ripen. On the return of moisture, a new growth takes place, which shows
itself in knobby protuberances.


Many growers argue that potatoes should be planted whole. The only
plausible theory in support of whole seed is, that the few eyes that do
start have a greater supply of starch available from which to obtain
nutriment until the plant can draw support from the soil and atmosphere.
But experiments also demonstrate that if all the eyes except one or two
near the middle be cut out of the seed-potato, such seed will push with
the greatest possible vigor.

Many eyes of the uncut seed start, but the stronger soon overpower the
weaker, and finally starve them out. A plot planted with three small,
uncut potatoes to the hill, and another planted with three pieces of two
eyes each to the hill, will not show much difference in number of vines
during the growing season.

The poor results sometimes attending cut seed are almost always
traceable to improper seed improperly cut. Only large, mature, sound
tubers should be used. Cut them in pieces of two or three eyes each,
taking pains to secure around each eye as much flesh as possible, also
under the eye to the centre of the tuber.

Experiments prove that eyes from the "seed end" produce potatoes that
mature earliest; they are also smallest. Those from the large or stem
end are largest, latest, and least in numbers. Eyes from the middle
produce tubers of very uniform size.

If small, ill-shaped potatoes be planted on the same ground for three
successive years, the results will give the best variety a bad name.

Much is gained by changing seed. No two varieties are made up of the
same constituents exactly in the same proportion; hence, a soil may be
exhausted for the best development of one, and still be fitted to meet
the demands of another. Even when the same variety is desired,
experience shows the great benefit of planting seed grown on a different
soil. The best and most extensive growers procure new seed every two or
three years, and many insist on changing seed every year; and
undoubtedly the crop is often doubled by the practice.


Early kinds should be planted as soon as the ground has become
sufficiently dry and warm. Late market varieties should be planted about
two weeks later than the early ones. Unquestionably more bushels can be
obtained per acre by planting in drills than in hills, but the labor of
cultivating in drills is much the greater.

Prepare the ground by thorough plowing, making it decidedly mellow. Mark
it out four feet apart each way, if to be planted in hills, by plowing
broad, flat-bottomed furrows about three inches deep. At the crossings
drop three pieces of potato, cut, as directed, in sections of two or
three eyes each. Place the pieces so as to represent the points of a
triangle, each piece being about a foot distant from each of the other
two. If the cut side is put down, it is better; cover about two inches
deep. Where land is free from stone and sod, the covering may be well
and rapidly done with a light plow. Immediately after planting, sprinkle
over and around each hill a large handful of unleached wood-ashes and
salt, (a half-bushel of fine salt mixed with a barrel of ashes is about
the right proportion.) If ashes can not be obtained, as is sometimes the
case, apply instead about the same quantity of lime slacked in brine as
strong as salt will make it. The potato from its peculiar organization
has a hungering and thirsting after potash. Wood-ashes exactly meet its
wants in this direction. Lime indirectly supplies potash by liberating
what was before inert in the soil. Salt in small quantities induces
vigorous, healthy growth. To obtain the best results, the ashes or lime
should be covered with about half an inch of soil. This plan of manuring
in the hill is recommended only in cases where the fertilizers named are
in limited supply, and it is desirable to make the most of them. Maximum
crops have been obtained by using the fertilizers named in the manner
described; but where they can be obtained at low prices, it is certainly
advisable, and requires less labor, to apply all three, ashes, lime, and
salt, broadcast in bountiful quantities, and harrow it in before the
ground is marked out for planting.


If weeds are expected, pass a light harrow over the rows just before the
vines are ready to burst through; this will disturb them and render them
less troublesome. As soon as the tops are two inches high, run a
corn-plow five inches deep _close_ to the hills, turning the furrows
_from_ the rows.

Plow both ways twice between the rows, finishing on the rows running
east and west, which will give the sun's rays a better chance to warm
the ground properly. Standing on the squares of earth, warmed on all
sides by the air and sunlight, the potatoes will grow amazingly. Just as
soon as the tops have attained a height of six or seven inches, hitch a
strong horse to a two-horse plow, and turn furrows fully seven inches
deep midway between the rows _to_ the hills. Plow twice between the
rows both ways; and if the ground be a side-hill, turn the first furrow
between the rows up-hill, which will leave the rows in better shape.
Hoeing is often wholly unnecessary; but where, from weeds or poor
plowing, it is needed, draw mellow earth to the plants with the hoe,
keeping the top of the hills somewhat hollow to catch the rains. Then,
so far as stirring the soil is concerned, _let it alone_.

After potatoes are fairly up, their cultivation should be crowded
through with all possible speed, or at least as rapidly as the growth of
the tops will permit.

If the last plowing be deferred until the vines are large, a large
proportion of small potatoes is sure to be the consequence. After a
certain stage of growth, new tubers are formed each time the soil is
disturbed; these never fully develop, they rob those first formed, and
make the crop much inferior to what it should be. By the mode of culture
described, the ground is made warm and mellow close up to the
seed-potatoes, the roots soon fill the whole hill, and tubers are formed
that have nothing to do but to grow. The writer is aware flat culture
has strong advocates; but, after many experiments, he is convinced that
hills are much the best.


However much lime or other fertilizers may be applied to the soil, still
great benefit is derived from the use of plaster, (sulphate of lime.)

After all, plaster is the main dependence of the potato-grower, a help
on which he may rely with the utmost confidence. Astonishing results are
obtained from its use, when applied in a proper manner. The writer has
seen a field, all of the same soil, all prepared alike, and all planted
with the same variety at the same time, on one half of which, that had
no plaster, the yield was but sixty bushels per acre, and many rotten;
the other part, to which plaster was applied in the manner hereafter
explained, yielded three hundred and sixty bushels per acre, and not an
unsound one among them.

The action of plaster is often puzzling. From the fact that where land
has been strongly limed, a small quantity of plaster applied shows such
decided benefit, there would seem plausibility in Liebig's theory that
its effects must be traceable not to the lime, but to the sulphuric
acid. The ammonia in rain-water in the form of carbonate (a volatile
salt) is decomposed by plaster, the sulphuric acid having greater
affinity for it, thus forming two new compounds, sulphate of ammonia and
carbonate of lime. But as arable soil has the same property of absorbing
ammonia from the air and rain-water, and fixing it in the same or even a
higher degree than lime, there is only the sulphuric acid left to look
to for an explanation of the favorable action of plaster on the growth
of plants.

It is found that plaster in contact with soil undergoes decomposition,
part of the lime separating from the sulphuric acid, and magnesia and
potash taking its place, quite contrary to the ordinary affinities.

These facts show that the action of plaster is very complex, and that it
promotes the distribution of both magnesia and potash in the ground,
exercising a chemical action upon the soil which extends to any depth of
it; and that, in consequence of the chemical and mechanical
modifications of the earth, particles of certain nutritive elements
become accessible and available to plants that were not so before.

It is said plaster is of most benefit in wet seasons; such is not
always the case. It is certainly beneficial to clover, wet or dry; so of

A few years since, when the drought was so intense in this section as to
render the general potato crop almost a total failure, the writer
produced a plentiful crop by the use of plaster alone. On examination at
the dryest time, the bottoms of the hills were found to be literally
dust, yet in this dust the tubers were swelling finely: the leaves and
vines were of a deep rich green, and remained so until frost, while
other fields in sight, planted with the same variety, but not treated
with plaster, were brown, dead, and not worth digging. That gypsum
attracts moisture may be proved by plastering a hill of corn and leaving
a hill by it unplastered; the dew will be found deposited in greater
abundance on the plastered hill. But, according to Liebig, certain
products of the chemical action of plaster enter into and are
incorporated with the structure of the plant, closing its breathing
pores to such an extent that the plant is enabled to withstand a drought
which would prove fatal to it unassisted.

Certain it is that plaster renders plants less palatable to insects,
and, so far as the writer's experiments extend, it is fatal to many of
the fungi family. To obtain the best results, the vines of potatoes
should be dusted with plaster as soon as they are fairly through the
soil, again immediately after the last plowing and hoeing, and, for
reasons hereafter given, at intervals throughout the whole growing
season. The first application may be light, the second heavier, and
thereafter it should be bountifully applied, say two hundred pounds per
acre at one sowing.


The year 1845 will ever be memorable by its giving birth to a disease
which threatened the entire destruction of the potato crop, and which
caused suffering and pecuniary ruin to an incredible extent throughout

The potato, at the time of the appearance of the potato disease, was
almost the sole dependence of the common people of Ireland for food.
That over-populated country experienced more actual suffering in
consequence of the potato disease than has any other from the same
cause. Although this disease has never, in this country, prevailed to
the same ruinous extent that it has in some others, yet we are yearly
reminded of its existence, and in some seasons and localities its
destructive effects are seriously apparent.

The final or culminating cause of the disease known as the "potato-rot"
is _Botrytis (peronospora) infestans_. This may be induced by many and
various predisposing causes, such as feebleness of constitution of the
variety planted, rendering them an easy prey to the disease; by planting
on low, moist land, or on land highly enriched by nitrogenous manures,
causing a morbid growth which invites the disease; also by insects or
their larvæ puncturing or eating off the leaves or vines. But by far the
most wide-spread and most common cause of the disease is sudden changes
of atmospheric temperature, particularly when accompanied by rain.
Drought, though quite protracted and severe, unless accompanied by
strong drying winds, and followed by sudden and great reduction of
temperature, seldom affects the potato seriously. It is not uncommon in
the Northern States, during the months of August and September, for
strong westerly winds to prevail for many days in succession. These
winds, coming from the great American desert, are almost wholly devoid
of moisture, and their aridity is often such that vegetation withers
before them as at the touch of fire. Evaporation is increased in a
prodigiously rapid ratio with the velocity of wind. The effects of the
excessive exhalation from the leaves of plants exposed to the sweep of
such drying winds are at once seriously apparent.

When these winds finally cease, the atmosphere has a low relative
humidity, not enough moisture remains in the air to prevent radiation;
the heat absorbed by the earth through the day is, during the bright,
cloudless night, rapidly radiated and lost in space, and a reduction in
temperature of twenty to thirty degrees is the consequence.

In the first place, the potato-vines suffer by excessive exhalation; in
the second, by sudden reduction of temperature, and, though not frozen,
their functions are much deranged, and their vitality greatly enfeebled.
To use a common expression, the plant "has caught a violent cold that
has settled on the lungs."

The leaves (which are the lungs of plants) now fail to perform their
functions properly. The points of many of the leaves turn brown, curl
up, and die.

The ascending sap, not being fully elaborated by the diseased leaves,
oozes out through the skin of the stalk in a thick, viscous state, and
the plant to all appearance is in a state of consumption.

At this stage the ever-present minute spores of the _Botrytis infestans_
eagerly pounce on the sickly plant, fastening themselves on its most
diseased parts. The _Botrytis infestans_ is a cryptogamous plant, and is
included in the Mucidineous family, (moulds.) It is a vegetable parasite
preying upon the living potato plant, like lice or other animal
parasites upon the animal species.

At first this mould forms webby, creeping filaments, known in botanical
language as mycelium. These root-like fibres then branch out, sending
out straight or decumbent articulated stems. These bead-like joints fill
up successively with seeds or spores, which are discharged at the proper
time to multiply the species.

Under favorable conditions of warmth and moisture, the mycelium spreads
very rapidly. Spores are soon formed and matured, to be carried to
plants not yet infected. Rains also wash the seminal dust down the
plant, causing it to fasten and grow on the vine near the ground. The
roots of the parasite penetrate and split up the stalk even to the
medullary canal.

These roots exude a poisonous substance, which is carried by the
elaborated descending sap down to the tubers, and as the largest tubers
require the largest amount of elaborated sap for their development, they
will, consequently, receive the greatest quantity of the vitiating
principle, and will, on digging, be found a mass of rottenness, when the
smaller ones are often but slightly affected. The _Botrytis infestans_
can not gain a lodgment on vines that are truly healthy and vigorous,
high authority to the contrary notwithstanding.

Healthy varieties, growing in a sheltered situation on dry, new soil, to
which no nitrogenous manures have been applied, can not be infected,
though brushed with other vines covered with the fungus. Different
varieties, and sometimes different members of the same variety, are not
always alike affected by the disease, though growing in the same hill.

As will be noticed, the potato disease is rather an effect than a cause,
and appears to have been designed to prevent members enfeebled by
accident or otherwise from propagating their species by putting such
members out of existence. Ozone, supposed to be a peculiar form of
oxygen, is exhaled from every part of the green surface of plants in
health, and effectually repels the attacks of mildew; but it is found
that when the atmosphere is very dry, or, on the other hand, very humid,
plants cease to evolve ozone, and are therefore unprotected. Winds from
the ocean are strongly ozonic, and it is ascertained that plants growing
on soil to which salt has been applied evolve more ozone than others.
Hence the benefit derived from the use of salt on potato lands.

The "Black knot," another species of fungus that attacks the branches of
the plum and Morello cherry, operates very similarly to the potato
mildew. The roots of the parasite penetrate and split up the cellular
tissue of the branch on which it fastens, and if the limb be not
promptly amputated, the descending sap carries the deleterious principle
through the whole system, and the following year the disease appears in
a greatly aggravated form in every part of the whole tree. The remedy in
this case is prompt amputation of the part diseased on its first
appearance, and a judicious application of salt to the soil.

Common salt, to a certain extent, is as beneficial to some plants as to
animals; and every intelligent farmer knows that if salt be withheld
from the bovine _genus_ for any considerable length of time, the general
health droops and parasites are sure to abound. The object of nature in
bringing into existence the large family of mildews, each member of
which is a perfect plant in its way, and as capable of performing its
functions as the oak of the forest, was undoubtedly to prevent
propagation from sickly stock, and by the decomposition of feeble plants
to make room and enrich the soil for the better development of
healthier plants. But it by no means follows that, because a plant is
attacked by mildew, it must necessarily be left to die, any more than it
follows that, because an animal is infested with vermin, it should be
let alone to be eaten up by them.


In treating for the potato-rot, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound
of cure;" for when leaves or vines are once dead, they ever remain so.
All that can be done for potatoes infested is to stop the mildew from
spreading, by destroying it where it is, and by strengthening "those
things which remain." The writer was led to the adoption of the remedy
proposed by experiments made upon fruits.

Every one who has an apple or pear-orchard must have observed that
mildew of fruit supervenes after some sudden change of temperature,
especially when accompanied by rain. Spots of mildew invariably form on
the young fruit immediately after a cold night, when the thermometer has
indicated a change of twenty to twenty-five degrees. This growth of
mildew takes place when the apples are of various sizes, from the
earliest formation to the size of large marbles. These fungous growths
appear as dark-colored spots, which arrest the growth of the apple
immediately beneath, causing it to become distorted, while the expansion
and contraction bring on diseased action, which results in the cracking
and general scabbiness of the fruit.

Knowing that dry-rot (_Merulius Lachrymans_, Schum,) another species of
fungus, was remedied by an application of sulphuric acid, I thought it
might possibly destroy the fruit mildew. An application of plaster,
(gypsum,) which is composed of lime and sulphuric acid, was made with
the happiest results. It was found that an apple dusted with ground
plaster at its first formation remained free from mildew and came to
maturity, while apples growing by it, but not so treated, became scabby
and worthless. It was also ascertained that a thorough application of
plaster destroyed the mildew after it had formed, and that such fruit
came to maturity. On the potato mildew, so far as the writer's
experience extends, plaster, if applied early, is a perfect prevention,
and if not delayed too long after the disease appears, is a certain

The vines should be watched closely, and on the first appearance of the
disease plaster should be applied; not merely sowing it broadcast, but
dashing it over and under the vines, bringing it in contact with the
stalks, using a handful to three or four hills. Plaster for this purpose
should be very dry and powdery, and should be applied when the air is
still. One application is seldom sufficient; it should be renewed as
often as circumstances require. Examine the vines about three days after
a cold night, or about the same length of time after a heavy rain. If
the leaves begin to curl and wither, apply plaster at once; and, in
short, whenever the vines show any signs of drooping, be the cause bites
of insects, excessive aridity, or excessive humidity of the atmosphere,
or sudden change of temperature, drooping from any cause whatever
indicates the approach of mildew, which should be promptly met with an
application of plaster. As before stated, plaster the vines as soon as
they are up, again after the last plowing and hoeing; after that, one,
two, or three times, as circumstances indicate.

By this method the vines are kept of a bright lively green, and the
tubers are kept swelling until growth is stopped by frost. Another point
gained is, potatoes so grown are so sound and free from disease as to be
easily kept for spring market without loss by rot.

Whether the surprising effects of plaster on the potato mildew is
attributable to the sulphuric acid, to the lime, or to its simply being
a dust, has not been determined. It is well known that the fruits of a
vineyard or orchard in close proximity to a dusty and much frequented
highway are remarkably free from mildew, which can only be due to dust
settling on the trees and fruit. But in the case of plaster, the writer
is inclined to believe its efficacy is mainly due to the sulphuric acid,
probably assisted by the lime in a state of dust. Be this as it may, it
matters not. The result is all that can be desired; the remedy is easily
applied, costs but a trifle, and a single season's trial is all that is
needed to convince the most skeptical grower of its merits.


Is full half the labor of growing and securing a crop of potatoes.
Digging is a long, laborious task. Many small fortunes are sunk yearly
by inventors in experimenting with and constructing "potato-diggers;"
but, so far, no machine has done the work properly except under the most
favorable circumstances. Stones, vines, and weeds are obstacles not yet
fully overcome. Many tubers are left covered with earth, and so lost;
and besides, some machines so bruise the potatoes in digging as to
injure their appearance and keeping qualities. Undoubtedly, the day will
come when the great bulk of potatoes will be dug well and rapidly by
horse-power; but until that day does come, the potato-hook must be used.

Much of the back-ache and general unpleasantness incident to digging is
avoided, or greatly mitigated, by having the potatoes large and sound,
turning out a peck to the hill, especially if the digger is the owner
of the crop.

Digging should be done only when the ground is dry, that the potatoes
may come out clean and bright. A small plow, to turn a light furrow from
each side of the rows, is some help. Pull up the vines, and lay them
down so that they will be covered by the dirt dug from the hill.
Commence on one side of the hill; press the hook or hoe down, so that it
will reach a trifle below the potatoes, and draw the implement firmly
toward you. Repeat the operation, each time placing the tool a few
inches further in or across the hill, until the whole hill is dug. By
this method the potatoes will not be bruised; whereas, if the digging be
commenced in the centre of the hill, many potatoes will be sacrificed
and much injured. Potatoes should be picked up as soon and as fast as
dug; and immediately covered with straw or other material, to protect
them from the light. A few hours' strong sunshine will ruin the best
potato ever grown. Light changes the natural color to green, and renders
the potato so bitter and unpalatable as to be wholly unfit to eat.

Owing to the inconsiderate way in which potatoes are often dug, and the
light to which they are exposed while being transported to and while in
market, the denizens of our cities seldom, if ever, taste this vegetable
in its greatest excellence. If to be stored in the cellar, the potatoes
should be left in the field, in heaps covered with straw, until the
sweating is over, and then be removed to the cellar and lightly covered
with dry sand, or earth, just sufficient to exclude the light.

If to be buried in the field, choose a dry, sideling place; scrape out a
slight hollow, by merely removing the surface soil with a hoe; into
this, pile ten to twelve bushels; place the potatoes properly, and
cover them carefully with clean straw, six inches deep; cover over the
straw with four or five inches of earth, except a small opening at the
top; over this opening place a board or flat stone, elevated a little on
one side, to lead off the rain.

Let them remain so until the sweating is completely over, or so long as
prudence will permit; and when cold weather fairly sets in, add more
earth to keep from freezing, leaving only a wisp of straw protruding
through to carry off any foul air that may be generated.

Where the winters are intensely cold, it is best to cover but lightly
with earth, say five or six inches deep; and when freezing is becoming
severe, spread over the heap buckwheat straw, or coarse manure, to the
depth of six inches. There is danger in covering very deep at first,
especially if the autumn should prove warm. If kept too warm, rot is
sure to ensue. Experience shows that any vegetable keeps better buried
in pits that contain not more than ten or twelve bushels each.

Where large quantities are to be buried, it is advisable to open a long,
shallow, broad trench, leading up and down a hill, if possible, to
secure good drainage. Commence, at either end, by placing a desirable
quantity of potatoes as soon as dug; next to these put a little straw;
against the straw place about six inches of earth; then more straw and
more potatoes; and so keep on until the trench is full. A few furrows
plowed on each side assist in covering; and make a drain to lead off the
rains, which is a matter of the first importance. By this method each
lot of potatoes is kept separate; and any section can be opened at any
time to be taken to market, without endangering the others.

Potatoes buried properly are usually of better flavor in the spring than
it is possible for potatoes to be which are kept in a common cellar.

And here let me add that, if leaves from the woods be used instead of
straw, to cover potatoes to be buried, such potatoes will be of better
flavor; and further, if nothing but dry earth comes in contact with
them, they will be better still. Straw is used for the twofold purpose
of securing an air-chamber to keep out frost, and to prevent the earth
from mingling with the tubers on opening the pits.


There are ten distinct species of insects preying upon the potato-plant
within the limits of the United States. Many of these ten species are
confined within certain geographical limits. Their habits and history
differ very widely. Some attack the potato both in the larva state and
in the perfect or winged state; others in the perfect or winged state
alone; and others again in the larva state alone.

In the case of seven of these insects, there is but one single brood
every year; while of the remaining three there are every year from two
to three broods, each of them generated by females belonging to
preceding broods. Eight of the ten feed externally on the leaves and
tender stems of the potato; while two of them burrow, like a borer,
exclusively in the larger stalks.

Each of these ten species has its peculiar insect enemies; and a mode of
attack which will prove very successful against some of them will often
turn out to be worthless when employed against the remainder.


~The Stalk-Borer~,[A] (_Gortyna nitela_, Guenee.)--This larva (Fig. 2,)
commonly burrows in the large stalks of the potato. It occurs also in
the stalks of the tomato, in those of the dahlia and aster, and other
garden flowers. It is sometimes found boring through the cob of growing
Indian corn. It is particularly partial to the stem of the common
cocklebur, (_Zanthium sirumarium_;) and if it would only confine itself
to such noxious weeds, it might be considered more of a friend than an
enemy. It is yearly becoming more numerous and more destructive. It is
found over a great extent of country; and is particularly numerous in
the valley of the Mississippi north of the Ohio River. The larva of the
stalk-borer moth leaves the stalk in which it burrowed about the latter
part of July, and descends a little below the surface of the earth,
where in about three days it changes into the pupa, or chrysalis state.

[Footnote A: Where no hair-lines are given, the insects are represented

The winged insect (Fig. 1,) which belongs to the same extensive group of
moths (_Noctua_ family, or owlet moths) to which all the cut-worm moths
appertain, emerges from under ground from the end of August to the
middle of September. Hence it is evident that some few, at all events,
of the female moths must live through the winter, in obscure places, to
lay eggs upon the plants they infest the following spring; for
otherwise, as there is no young potato, or other plants, for them to lay
eggs upon in the autumn, the whole breed would die out in a single year.
This insect, in sections where it is numerous, does more injury to the
potato crop than is generally supposed.

~The Potato-Stalk Weevil,~ (_Baridius trinotatus_, Say.)--This insect is
more particularly a southern species, occurring abundantly in the Middle
States, and in the southern parts of Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana.
It appears to be totally unknown in New-England.

The female of this beetle deposits a single egg in an oblong slit, about
one eighth of an inch long, which it has previously formed with its beak
in the stalk of the potato. The larva subsequently hatches out, and
bores into the heart of the stalk, always proceeding downward toward the
root. When full grown, it is a little more than one fourth of an inch in
length, and is a soft, whitish, legless grub, with a scaly head. Hence
it can always be readily distinguished from the larva of the
stalk-borer, which has invariably sixteen legs, no matter how small it
may be. Unlike this last insect, it becomes a pupa in the interior of
the potato-stalk which it inhabits: and it comes out in the beetle state
about the last of August or beginning of September.

The stalk inhabited by the larva wilts and dies. The perfect beetle,
like many other snout-beetles, must of course live through the winter,
to reproduce its species the following spring. In Southern Pennsylvania,
some years, nearly every stalk of extensive fields is infested by this
insect, causing the premature decay of the vines, and giving them the
appearance of having been scalded. In some districts of Illinois, the
potato crop has, in some seasons, been utterly ruined by this
snout-beetle, many vines having a dozen larvæ in them. This insect
attacks no plant but the potato.

~The Potato-Worm~, (_Sphinx 5-maculata_, Haworth.)--This well-known
insect, the larva of which (Fig. 3,) is usually called the potato-worm,
is more common on the closely allied tomato, the leaves of which it
often clears off very completely in particular spots in a single night.
When full-fed, which is usually about the last of August, the
potato-worm burrows under the ground, and shortly afterward transforms
into the pupa state, (Fig. 5.) The pupa is often dug up in the spring
from the ground where tomatoes or potatoes were grown in the preceding
season, and most persons that meet with it suppose that the singular
jug-handled appendage at one end of it is its _tail_. In reality,
however, it is the _tongue-case_, and contains the long, pliable tongue
which the future moth will employ in lapping the nectar of flowers. The
moth itself (Fig. 4) was formerly confounded with the tobacco-worm moth,
(_Sphinx Carolina_, Linnæus,) which it very closely resembles, having
the same series of orange-colored spots on each side of the abdomen.

The gray and black markings, however, of the wings differ perceptibly in
the two species; and in the tobacco-worm moth there is always a more or
less faint white spat, or a dot, near the centre of the front wing,
which is never met with in the other species. The potato-worm often
feeds on the leaves of the tobacco plant in the Northern States. In the
Southern States, in Mexico and the West-Indies, the true potato-worm is
unknown, and it is the tobacco-worm that the tobacco-grower has to
fight. The potato-worm, however, is never known to injure the potato
crop to any serious extent.

~The Striped Blister-Beetle~, (_Lytta vittata_, Fabr.) This insect (Fig.
6) is almost exclusively a southern species, occurring in some years
very abundantly on the potato-vines in Southern Illinois, and also in
Missouri, and according to Dr. Harris, it is occasionally found even in
New-England. In some specimens the broad outer black stripe on the
wing-cases is divided lengthwise by a slender yellow line, so that,
instead of _two_, there are _three_ black stripes on each wing-case; and
often in the same field may be noticed all the intermediate grades; thus
proving that the four-striped individuals do not form a distinct
species, as was supposed by the European entomologist Fabricius, but are
mere varieties of the same species to which the sixth-striped individual

The striped blister-beetle lives under ground and feeds upon various
roots during the larva state, and emerges to attack the foliage of the
potato only when it has passed into the perfect or beetle state.

This insect, in common with our other blister-beetles, has the same
properties as the imported Spanish fly, and any of them will raise just
as good a blister as that does, and are equally poisonous when taken
internally in large doses. Where the striped blister-beetle is numerous,
it is a great pest and very destructive to the potato crop. It eats the
leaves so full of holes that the plant finally dies from loss of sap and
the want of sufficient leaves to elaborate its juices. In some places
they are driven off the plants (with bushes) on a pile of hay or straw,
and burned. Some have been successful in ridding their fields of them by
placing straw or hay between the rows of potatoes, and then setting it
on fire. The insects, it is said, by this means are nearly all
destroyed, and the straw burning very quickly, does not injure the

~The Ash-Gray Blister-Beetle~, (_Lytta cinera_, Fabr.)--This species (Fig.
7, male) is the one commonly found in the more northerly parts of the
Northern States, where it usually takes the place of the striped
blister-beetle before mentioned. It is of a uniform ash-gray color. It
attacks not only the potato-vines but also the honey locusts, and
especially the Windsor bean. In particular years it has been known, in
conjunction with the rose-bug, (_Macrodactylus subspinosus_, Linn.,) to
swarm upon every apple-tree in some orchards in Illinois, not only
eating the foliage, but gnawing into the young apples.

This beetle does considerable damage to the potato crop, especially in
the North-Western States. Like the other members of the (_Lytta_)
family, it lives under ground while in the larva state, and is
troublesome only when in the perfect or winged state.

~The Black-Rat Blister-Beetle~, (_Lytta murina_, Le Conte.)--This species
(Fig. 8,) is entirely black. There is a very similar species, the black
blister-beetle, (_Lytta atrata_, Fabr.,) from which the black-rat
blister-beetle is distinguishable only by having four raised lines
placed lengthwise upon each wing-case, and by the two first joints of
the antennæ being greatly dilated and lengthened in the males, of the
lath species. It is asserted by some authors that the black
blister-beetle is injurious to the potato; but I can not see how it
could do much damage to that crop, as the perfect insect does not appear
until late in August, when the potato crop is nearly out of its reach.
Not so, however, with the black-rat blister-beetle, which is on hand
ready for business early in the season. This insect does considerable
damage to the potato in Iowa, and neighboring States; it is also found,
though in not so great numbers, throughout the whole of the Northern

~The Margined Blister-Beetle~, (_Lytta marginata_, Fabr.)--This species
(Fig. 9) maybe at once recognized by its general black color, and the
ash-gray edging to its wing-cases. It usually feeds on certain wild
plants, but does not object to a diet of potato-leaves. Though found
over a large extent of country, it seldom appears in numbers large
enough to damage the potato crop materially. Like other blister-beetles,
it goes under ground to pass into the pupa state, and attacks the potato
only when it is in the perfect or winged state.

~The Three-Lined Leaf-Beetle~, (_Lema trilineata_, Olivier.) The larva of
the three-lined leaf-beetle may be distinguished from all other insects
which prey upon the potato by its habit of covering itself with its own
excrement. In Figure 10, _a_, this larva is shown in profile, both full
and half grown, covered with the soft, greenish excrementitious matter
which from time to time it discharges. Figure 10, _c_, gives a somewhat
magnified view of the pupa, and Figure 10, _b_, shows the last few
joints of the abdomen of the larva, magnified and viewed from above. The
vent of the larva, as will be seen from this last figure, is situated on
the upper surface of the last joint, so that its excrement naturally
falls upon its back, and by successive discharges is crowded forward
toward its head, till the whole upper surface is covered with it. There
are several other larva, feeding upon other plants, which wear cloaks of
this strange material.

Many authors suppose that the object of the larva in all these cases is
to protect itself from the heat of the sun. In all probability the real
aim of nature in the case of all these larvæ is to defend them from the
attacks of birds and of cannibal and parasitic insects.

There are two broods of this insect every year. The first brood of larvæ
may be found on the potato-vine toward the latter end of June, and the
second in August.

The first brood stays under ground about a fortnight before it emerges
in the perfect beetle state, and the second brood stays under ground all
winter, and only emerges at the beginning of the following June.

The perfect beetle (Fig. 11) is of a pale yellow color, with three black
stripes on its back, and bears a strong resemblance to the cucumber-bug,
(_Diabrotica vittata_, Fabr. Fig. 12.)

From this last species, however, it may be distinguished by its somewhat
larger size, and by the remarkable pinching-in of the thorax, so as to
make quite a lady-like waist there, or what naturalists call a
"constriction." The female, after coupling, lays her yellow eggs (Fig.
10,_d_) on the under surface of the leaves of the potato plant. The
larvæ hatching, when full grown descend into the ground, where they
transform to pupæ (Fig. 10, _c_) within a small oval chamber, from which
in time the perfect beetle emerges.

This insect in certain seasons is a great pest in the Eastern and Middle
States, but has never yet occurred in the Mississippi Valley in such
numbers as to be materially injurious.

~The Cucumber Flea Beetle~, (_Haltica cucumeris_, Harris.) This nimble
minute beetle (Fig. 13) belongs to the flea-beetles, (_Haltica_ family,)
the same sub-group of the leaf-beetles (_Phytophaga_) to which also
appertains the notorious steel-blue flea-beetle (_Haltica chalybea_,
Illiger) that is such a pest to the vineyardist. Like all the rest of
the flea-beetles, it has its hind thighs greatly enlarged, which enables
it to jump with much agility. It is not peculiar to the potato, but
infests a great variety of plants, including the cucumber, from which it
derives its name. It eats minute round holes in the leaf of the plant it
infests, but does not always penetrate entirely through it.

The larva feeds internally upon the substance of the leaf, and goes
under ground to assume the pupa state. It passes through all its stages
in about a month, and there are two or three broods of them in the
course of the same season. This is emphatically the greatest insect pest
that the potato-grower has to contend with in Pennsylvania. It abounds
throughout most of the Northern, Middle, and Western States. Large
fields of potatoes can any summer be seen in the Middle States much
injured by this minute insect, every leaf apparently completely riddled
with minute round holes, and the stalks and leaves appearing yellow and
seared. Plaster frequently and bountifully applied is sure to prevent
the attacks of this insect, or to disperse it after it has commenced

~The Colorado Potato-Bug~, (_Doryphora_ 10--_lineata_, Say.)--This insect,
which, according to Dr. Walsh, has in the North-West alone damaged the
potato crop to the amount of one million seven hundred and fifty
thousand dollars, came originally from the Rocky Mountains, where it was
found forty-five years ago, feeding on a wild species of potato peculiar
to that region, (_Solanum rostratum_, Dunal.) When civilization marched
up the Rocky Mountains, and potatoes began to be grown in that region,
this highly improved pest acquired the habit of feeding upon the
cultivated potato. It went from potato-patch to potato-patch, moving
east-ward at the rate of about sixty miles a year, and is now firmly
established over all the country extending from Indiana to its old
feeding-grounds in the Rocky Mountains. In about twelve years it will
have reached the Atlantic coast.

There is another very closely allied species, known as the Bogus
Colorado potato-bug, (_coryphora juncta_, Germor,) which has existed
throughout a great part of the United States from time immemorial. This
latter insect, however, feeds almost exclusively on the horse-nettle,
(_Solanum carolinense_, Linn.,) and is never known to injure the potato.
Both insects are figured, so that one need not be mistaken for the

Figure 14, _b_, _b_, _b_, gives a view of the larva of the true Colorado
potato-bug, in various positions and stages of its existence. Figure 15,
_b_, _b_, of that of the bogus Colorado potato-bug. It will be seen at
once that the head of the former is black, and the first joint behind
the head is pale and edged with black behind only; that there is a
double row of black spots along the side of the body; and that the legs
are black. In the other larva, (Fig. 15, _b_,) on the contrary, the head
is of a pale color, the first joint behind the head is tinged with dusk
and edged all round with black; there is but a single row of spots along
the side of the body, and the legs are pale.

Figure 14, _d_, _d_, exhibits the true Colorado potato-bug; Figure 15,
the bogus Colorado potato-bug; each of its natural size. Figure 14, _e_,
shows the _left_ wing-case enlarged, and Figure 15, _e_, an enlarged leg
of the latter. On a close inspection, it will be perceived that in the
former (Fig. 14, _e_) the boundary of each dark stripe on the wing-cases
toward the middle is studded with confused and irregular punctures,
partly inside and partly outside the edge of the dark stripe; that it is
the third and fourth dark stripes, counting from the outside, that are
united behind, and that both the knees and feet are black.

In Figure 15, _d_, on the contrary, it is the second and third
stripes--not the third and fourth--counting from the outside, that are
united behind, and the leg is entirely pale, except a black spot on the
middle of the front of the thigh. The eggs (Fig. 14, _a_, _a_, and Fig.
15, _d_, _d_) are yellow, and are always laid on the under side of the
leaf in patches of from twenty to thirty; those of the bogus are of a
lighter color. Each female of the true Colorado potato-bug lays,
according to Dr. Schirmer, about seven hundred eggs. In about six days
the eggs hatch into larvæ, which feed on the foliage of the potato plant
about seventeen days; they then descend to the ground, where they change
into pupæ at the surface of the earth. The perfect beetle appears about
ten to fourteen days after the pupa is formed, begins to pair in about
seven days, and on the fourteenth day begins to deposit her eggs. There
are three broods of this insect every year. Neither geese, ducks,
turkeys, nor barn-yard fowl will touch the larva of the Colorado
potato-bug when it is offered to them, and there are numerous authentic
cases on record where persons who have scalded to death quantities of
these larvæ, and inhaled the fumes of their bodies, have been taken
seriously ill, and even been confined to their beds for many days in
consequence. It is also reported to have produced poisonous effects on
several persons who handled them incautiously with naked hands. Various
plans have been tried to destroy this persistent enemy of the potato
plant. Powdered hellebore is said to have been used with effect as a
means of destroying the pest. It should be dusted on and under the
foliage when the plant is wet with dew. Hellebore, however, is a
dangerous remedy on account of its poisonous qualities. A mixture of one
part salt, ten parts soap, and twenty parts water, applied to every part
of the plants with a syringe, is quite effectual. Several cannibal and
one parasitic insect are known to prey upon the larva of the Colorado
potato-bug, and the eggs in vast numbers are eaten by several species of
lady-birds and their larva.


The time is not far distant when the American farmer will be obliged to
put forth greater efforts to destroy noxious insects than he has
hitherto. It is a well-known fact that noxious insects are increasing in
a rapid rate throughout every part of our land. The country is becoming
so "buggy" that eternal vigilance is the price of every thing produced
from the soil.

Close observers calculate that more fruits of various kinds and
varieties are annually destroyed or rendered worthless by insects than
are gathered and used by man. The cotton-worm, the wheat-midge, the
canker-worms, the potato-bugs, are each every year increasing in numbers
and destructiveness.

The "curculio" alone destroys millions of dollars' worth of fruit

It is a safe estimate, all things considered, that, if noxious insects
of all descriptions could at once be annihilated throughout our country,
and mildews of various classes be effectually held in check, the cost of
living to our people would, in-a short time, be reduced to one third of
its present amount. It is disheartening to see what a vast amount of
grains, fruits, and vegetables is annually eaten up by the larvæ, or
appropriated by the perfect insects of various classes, merely for the
sake of propagating their abominable species. Yet, in view of all the
devastation, but feeble effort is made to abate the evil. Birds, many
species of which nature seemingly designed on purpose to keep insects in
check, are wantonly shot by lazy boys and indolent men, who range the
fields and forests, killing all, from the humming-bird to the crow.
Legislative enactments made expressly to protect the insectivorous
songsters are every day violated with impunity. One man plants an
orchard and does all he can to destroy noxious insects; another man near
him also has an orchard, but his orchard serves no purpose but to
propagate "curculios," "canker-worms," "bark-lice," "tent caterpillars,"
"codling moths," etc., for his neighbors, and, as a matter of course,
the whole neighborhood swarms with noxious insects. If all cultivators
would act in concert and with a will, insects might be reduced in
numbers very rapidly. Most moths of night-flying insects are attracted
to and destroyed by small bonfires kindled in still evenings during the
summer months.

Bottles half-filled with sweetened water, hung here and there, will trap
countless bugs. Strong soap-suds applied immediately after they hatch is
a sure remedy for plant lice. Molasses and water, to which a little
arsenic has been added, placed in shallow dishes among the vines, is
good medicine for potato-bugs, and all bugs in general. A lighted lamp
placed in the centre of a common milk-pan, partly filled with water, the
whole elevated a few feet from the ground, will, on a still evening,
attract and destroy the wheat-midge and similar insects in great
numbers. The calculations of the "curculio" and "codling moth" are
brought to naught by turning hogs into the orchard to eat the stung
fruit as it falls, and the larva that depastures upon the leaves of the
current and gooseberry is destroyed by syringing the plants with a
mixture of soap, salt, and water.


The constituents of the potato are according to different authorities,
as follows:

   Water                 75.2
   Casein                 1.4
   Starch                15.5
   Dextrine               0.4
   Sugar                  3.2
   Fat                    0.2
   Fibre                  3.2
   Mineral matter         0.9

     Or economically:
   Water                 75.2
   Flesh-formers          1.4
   Fat-formers           18.9
   Accessories            3.6
   Mineral matter         0.9

Of the high value of potatoes, when used in connection with other food,
there is not a shadow of doubt. All experimenters and observers in the
economy of food agree in saying that they are of the highest utility;
but they must be used with other food whose constituents are different
from those of the root.

The analysis shows that potatoes surpass in the fat-producing principles
the nutritious or flesh-forming in such proportions that they could not
alone sustain the composition of the blood; for an animal fed alone on
these tubers would be obliged to consume such quantities to provide the
blood with the requisite proportion of albumen that, even if the process
of digestion were not discontinued, there would be a superabundance of
fat accumulated beyond the power of the oxygen to consume, which would
successively absorb from the albuminous substance a part of its vital
elements, and thus a check would be caused in the endless change of
matter in the tissues in the nutritive and regressive transformations.

Potatoes, then, to be of most value as food for cattle, should be fed in
connection with grain, or with other roots in which the flesh-forming
element predominates. There seems to be no doubt that the tubers are of
most value when cooked, although some authors affirm to the contrary. It
seems possible to prove this on philosophical principles; for it is well
known that the starch contained in the potato is incapable of affording
nourishment until the containing globules are broken, and one of the
most efficient means of doing this seems to be by heat.

Boussingault, in speaking of the economy of cooking potatoes, says, "The
potato is frequently steamed or boiled first; yet I can say positively
that horned cattle do extremely well upon raw potatoes, and at
Bechelbrunn our cows never have them otherwise than raw. They are never
boiled, save for horses and hogs. The best mode of dealing with them is
to steam them; they need never be so thoroughly boiled as when they are
to serve for the food of man. The steamed or boiled potatoes are crushed
between two rollers, or simply broken with a wooden spade, and mixed
with cut hay or straw or chaff, before being served out. It may not be
unnecessary to observe that by steaming potatoes lose no weight; hence
we conclude that the nutritive equivalent for the boiled is the same as
that of the raw tuber.

"Nevertheless, it is possible that the amylaceous principle is rendered
more easily assimilable by boiling, and that by this means the tubers
actually become more nutritious. Some have proposed to roast potatoes in
the oven, and there can be little question that heated in this way they
answer admirably for fattening hogs, and even oxen. Done in the oven,
potatoes may be brought to a state in which they may perfectly supply
the place of corn in feeding horses and other cattle."

The apparent contradiction in the remarks will be observed; but the
evident leaning in favor of cooked potatoes shows that Boussingault,
although paying some attention to the theory that cooked food is not
generally attended with the same benefit to ruminating as to other
animals, was evidently almost convinced that those which contained an
abundance of starch in their constituents must be rendered more
nutritious when exposed to the action of heat.

Potatoes fed in a raw state to stock are laxative in their effects, and
are often given to horses as a medicine in cases of "hidebound" with
decided benefit. Bots, which have been known to live twenty-four hours
immersed in spirits of turpentine, die almost instantly when placed in
potato-juice; hence a common practice with horsemen, where bots are
suspected, is to first administer milk and molasses to decoy the
parasites from the coating of the stomach, and then drench the animal
with the expressed juice of potatoes. A decoction made by boiling the
parings of potatoes in a small quantity of water is often used as a wash
to kill vermin on cattle. Raw potatoes, fed occasionally and in small
quantities, are a good tonic for stock of any kind which is kept
principally on hay; but all experiments show that when the potato is
used for fattening purposes, the tubers should in some way be cooked,
that the animal to which they are fed may derive from them the greatest
possible amount of nutriment. Repeated experiments demonstrate the fact
that horned cattle or hogs lay on as much fat from the consumption of
two thirds of a given quantity of potatoes properly cooked as they will
by eating the entire quantity in a raw state. In point of nutriment as
cattle-food, two pounds of potatoes are considered equivalent to one
pound of hay.




At the suggestion of a number of friends, I addressed the following note
to Professor Blot, which, with his reply, is appended:

                                                PROFESSOR PIERRE BLOT:
                                              NEW-YORK, Feb. 15, 1870.

DEAR SIR: In connection with a Prize Essay on the cultivation of the
potato, I wish to publish an article on COOKING THE POTATO, to be taken
from your _Hand-Book of Practical Cookery_. I write this note to ask
whether I can do this with your entire approval. Hoping that such
article may aid our American housekeepers to prepare the potato for the
table in a more palatable and wholesome manner, I remain yours very

                                                          W. T. WYLIE.

                             BROOKLYN, CENTRAL KITCHEN, Feb. 15, 1870.


DEAR SIR: ~You are authorized, with the greatest pleasure.~ P. BLOT.

In accordance with the above authority, the following selections have
been made from the book named:

~To Select.~--As a general rule, the smaller the eye the better the
potatoes. By cutting off a piece from the larger end, you ascertain if
they are sound; they must be white, reddish, bluish, etc., according to
the species. If spotted, they are not sound, and therefore very
inferior. There are several kinds, and all of them are good when sound
or coming from a proper soil. Use the kind you prefer, or those that are
better fit for the way they are intended to be served.

~To Boil.~--Being naturally watery, potatoes should never be cooked by
boiling except when wanted very white, as for _croquettes_. When boiled
whole, put them of an even size as much as possible, in order to cook
them evenly. They are better, more mealy, when steamed or baked; but
those who have no steamer must, of course, boil them. Cover them with
cold water, set on the fire and boil till done, then pour off all the
water, put the pan back on a slow fire for five minutes and well
covered; then use the potatoes.

~To Steam.~--Place them above a kettle of boiling water, in a kind of
drainer made for that purpose, and adapted to the kettle. The drainer
must be covered tight. They cook as fast as by boiling, the degree of
heat being the same. When steamed the skin is very easily removed.

~To Prepare.~--If they are to be boiled, or steamed, or baked, it is only
necessary to wash them. If wanted peeled, as for frying, etc., then
commence by cutting off the germs or eyes; if young and tender, take the
skin off with a scrubbing-brush, and drop immediately in cold water to
keep them white; if old, scrape the skin off with a knife, for the part
immediately under the skin contains more nutriment than the middle, and
drop in cold water also. If wanted cut, either in dice, or like carpels
of oranges, or any other way, cut them above a bowl of cold water, so
that they drop into it; for if kept exposed to the air, they turn
reddish and lose their nutritive qualities.

~A l'Allemande.~--Steam, peel, and slice the potatoes. Cut some bread in
thin slices, and fry bread and potatoes with a little butter, and turn
the whole in a bowl, dust well with sugar, pour a little milk all over,
and bake for about fifteen minutes; serve warm.

~A l'Anglaise.~--Steam or boil about a quart of potatoes, and then peel
and slice them. Put two ounces of butter in a frying-pan on the fire,
and put the potatoes in when melted, toss them for about ten minutes,
add salt, pepper, a little grated nutmeg, and serve hot.

~Broiled.~--Steam, peel, and slice the potatoes. Lay the slices on a
gridiron, and place it over a rather slow fire; have melted butter, and
spread some over the slices of potatoes with a brush; as soon as the
under part is broiled, turn each slice over and spread butter over the
other side. When done, dish, salt, and serve them hot. A little butter
may be added when dished, according to taste.

~Fried.~--To be fried, the potatoes are cut either with a vegetable spoon,
in fillets, in slices, with a scalloped knife, or with an ordinary one,
or cut in pieces like carpels of oranges, or even in dice. When cut,
drain and wipe them dry. This must be done quickly, so as not to allow
the potatoes to turn reddish. Have a coarse towel ready, then turn the
potatoes into a colander, and immediately turn them in the towel, shake
them a little, and quickly drop them in hot fat. When done, turn them
into a colander, sprinkle salt on them, and serve hot. Bear in mind that
fried potatoes must be eaten as hot as possible. Fry only one size at a
time, as it takes three times as long to fry them when cut in pieces as
when sliced or cut in fillets.

~To fry them light or swelled.~--When fried, turn into the colander, and
have the fat over a brisk fire; leave the potatoes in the colander only
about half a minute, then put them back in the very hot fat, stir for
about one minute, and put them again in the colander, salt them, and
serve hot. If the fat is very hot, when dropped into it for the second
time they will certainly swell; there is no other way known to do it. It
is as easily done as it is simple. Potatoes cut in fillets and fried are
sometimes called _à la Parisienne_; when cut in slices or with a
vegetable spoon, they are called _à la française_.

Potatoes cut with a vegetable spoon and fried, make a good as well as a
sightly decoration for a dish of meat or of fish. They may be fried in
oil also, but it is more expensive than in fat. They may be fried in
butter also, but it is still more expensive than oil, and is not better
than fat; no matter what kind of fat is used, be it lard, beef suet, or
skimmings of sauces and gravy, it can not be tasted.

~Lyonnaise.~--Potatoes _Lyonnaise_ are prepared according to taste, that
is, as much onion as liked is used, either in slices or chopped. If you
have not any cold potatoes, steam or boil some, let them cool, and peel
and slice them. For about a quart of potatoes, put two ounces of butter
in a frying-pan on the fire, and when melted put as much onion as you
please, either sliced or chopped, into the pan, and fry it till about
half done, when add the potatoes and again two ounces of butter; salt,
pepper, and stir and toss gently till the potatoes are all fried of a
fine, light-brown color. It may require more butter, as no vegetable
absorbs more than potatoes.

~Mashed.~--Peel and quarter about three pints of potatoes, as directed;
put them in a saucepan with more water than is necessary to cover them,
and a little salt; set on the fire and boil gently till done, drain, put
them back in the saucepan, mash them well and mix them with two ounces
of butter, two yolks of eggs, salt, pepper, and milk enough to make them
of a proper thickness. Set on the fire for two or three minutes,
stirring the while, and serve warm. When on the dish, smooth them with
the back of a knife or scallop them, according to fancy.

~Mashed and Baked.~--Put two ounces of butter in a stewpan and set it on
the fire; when hot, add a tea-spoonful of parsley chopped fine, and a
little salt; five minutes after, put in it a quart of potatoes,
prepared, cooked, peeled, and mashed, as directed; then pour on the
whole, little by little, stirring continually with a wooden spoon, a
pint of good milk; and when the whole is well mixed, and becoming rather
thick, take from the fire, place on the dish, then set in a brisk oven
for five minutes, and serve.

~Sautees.~--Take a quart of young and tender potatoes, peel them with a
brush, and cut in slices. Put two ounces of butter in a frying-pan on a
quick fire; when hot, put the potatoes in, and fry them till of a golden
color; place them on a dish without any butter, sprinkle chopped parsley
and salt on, and serve. They may also be served without parsley,
according to taste.

~Soufflees.~--Steam a quart of potatoes, then peel and mash them in a
saucepan and mix an ounce of butter with them; set on the fire, pour
into it, little by little, stirring the while, about half a pint of
milk, stir a little longer after the milk is in and until they are
turning rather thick; dish the potatoes, smooth or scallop them with the
back of a knife, and put them in a quick oven till of a proper color,
and serve.

~In Cakes.~--Prepare and cook by steam a quart and a half of potatoes,
peel and mash them; mix with them the yolks of five eggs, half a
lemon-rind grated, and four ounces of fine white sugar. Put four ounces
of butter in a stewpan and set it on the fire; when melted, put the
mixture in, stirring it with a wooden spoon continually; as soon as it
is in the stewpan, add the whites of the five eggs, well beaten; leave
on the fire only the time necessary to mix the whole well together, and
take off; when nearly cold, add, if handy, and while stirring, a few
drops of orange-flower water; it gives a very good flavor; then put the
whole in a tin mould greased a little with butter; place in a quick oven
for about thirty-five minutes, and serve.

~With Butter, or English Fashion.~--Put water on the fire with
considerable salt in it; at the first boil, drop a quart of washed
potatoes in and boil till done, when take off, peel, and put them whole
in a saucepan, with butter, salt, pepper, and a little nutmeg; set on a
rather slow fire, stirring gently now and then till they have absorbed
all the butter. Serve warm. They absorb a great deal of butter.

~With Bacon or Salt Pork.~--Peel and quarter about a quart of potatoes.
Set a saucepan on the fire with about four ounces of fat salt pork cut
in dice in it. When fried, put the potatoes in. Season with a bunch of
seasonings composed of two sprigs of parsley, one of thyme, and a
bay-leaf; salt and pepper to taste, and about half a pint of broth or
water. Boil gently till cooked, remove the bunch of seasonings; skim off
the fat, if any, and serve warm. It is served at breakfast, as well as
_entremets_ for dinner.

~With Cream or Milk.~--Peel and mash a quart of potatoes, when prepared
and cooked. Put two ounces of butter in a stewpan and set it on a good
fire; when melted, sprinkle in it a tea-spoonful of flour, same of
chopped parsley, a pinch of grated nutmeg, and salt; stir with a wooden
spoon five minutes; then add the potatoes, and half a pint of milk or
cream; keep stirring ten minutes longer, take from the fire, sprinkle in
them half a table-spoonful of sugar, and serve as warm as possible.

~With White Sauce.~--Clean, wash, and throw a quart of potatoes in boiling
water, with a sprig of thyme, two onions, a bay-leaf, two sprigs of
sweet basil, two cloves, salt, and pepper; when cooked, take the
potatoes out carefully, peel and cut them in two, place them on a warm
dish, pour on them a white sauce, and serve warm.



We propose to add a few pages of illustrations of the new varieties,
together with descriptions of the same. A number of these were given in
the pamphlet issued last year, and are reproduced from that. In case a
new edition is called for, it is likely that a number of additional cuts
will be added to it.

We would call attention to the report of a series of experiments which
have been made on the farms connected with the Agricultural College of

There are very many questions connected with the cultivation of the
potato which can be answered satisfactorily only by careful and repeated

[Illustration: Excelsior.]

Seedling of Early Goodrich, now six years old, and is claimed to combine
more good qualities than any other potato. D. S. Heffron, of Utica,
originated it. Is said to be productive, early, and of good keeping

MASSASOIT.--A new variety from Western Massachusetts, resembling the
Harrison in appearance, but earlier and of much better quality; flesh
white, cooks dry and mealy, and altogether a superior variety; strongly
recommended for a general crop. (See next page.)

                                        BELLEFONTE, February 12, 1870.

   REV. W. T. WYLIE:

DEAR SIR: I inclose an extract from the report, suitable, I think, for
the pamphlet.

                                                     H. N. MCALLISTER.


From an interesting and instructive report of the Professor of
Agriculture to the Board of Trustees of the Agricultural College of
Pennsylvania, for 1869, in relation to the results of experiments made
upon the three several experimental farms connected with that
institution, we make the following extracts touching the Potato,
verifying and illustrating some of the principles set forth in the above


Of upward of thirty different varieties experimented upon, the Early
Goodrich, Early Rose, and Harrison are among the best and most prolific.


_2d.--Different Modes of Preparing the Seed._

CENTRAL FARM.--One fourth of Plot No. 11--Early Goodrich--_cut tubers_,
yields 500 pounds, equal to 286 bushels per acre; _large and whole
tubers_, yields 410 pounds, equal to 234 bushels per acre; _medium-sized
tubers_, yields 419 pounds, equal to 239 bushels per acre; and _small
tubers_, yields 486 pounds, equal to 278 bushels per acre.

_3d.--Combined Diversity between Soil and Sub-soil and Common Plowing._

CENTRAL FARM.--The 4 plots, Nos. 11, 16, 116, and 416--_soil and subsoil
plowing_--yields 6200 pounds, equal to 221 bushels per acre; the 2
plots, Nos. 216 and 316--_common plowing_--yields 1845 pounds, equal to
but 131 bushels per acre.

_4th.--Diversity between Letting all Sprouts Grow and Thinning to Three
in each Hill._.

EASTERN FARM.--Plot No. 208: Monitors; large and whole tubers, 21-1/2
pounds; _not thinned_; Moro Philips's superphosphate; yield 1174 pounds,
equal to 168 bushels per acre.

Plot No. 209: Monitors; large and whole tubers, 23 pounds; _thinned_;
Moro Philips's superphosphate; yield 1042 pounds, equal to 149 bushels
per acre.

Plot No. 210: Monitors; large and whole tubers, 15 pounds; _not
thinned_; stable manure; yield 860 pounds, equal to 124 bushels per

Plot No. 211: Monitors; large and whole tubers, 14-1/2 pounds;
_thinned_; stable manure; yield 839 pounds, equal to 119 bushels per

_5th.--Diversity from Time of Cutting the Seed-Potatoes._.

Plot No. 222: Monitors; _cut two weeks before planting_; yield 580
pounds, equal to 83 bushels per acre.

Plot 223: Monitors; _cut at time of planting_; yield 819 pounds, equal
to 117 bushels per acre.

Plot 220: Early Shaw; _cut two weeks before planting_; yield 764 pounds,
equal to 100 bushels per acre.

Plot 221: Early Shaw; _cut at time of planting_; yield 907 pounds, equal
to 129 bushels per acre.

[Illustration: Massasoit.]


Bresee's Peerless, or No. 6.

The latest and best of all Mr. Bresee's seedlings for the main crop.
This is also a seedling of the Garnet Chili, and originated from the
same seed-ball as the Early Rose; skin dull white, occasionally
russeted; eyes shallow, oblong; flesh white, mealy; grows to a large
size, often weighing from one and a half to two pounds, and enormously
productive. At a trial before a committee of the Massachusetts
Horticultural Society, in September last, this variety obtained more
votes as to quality than any other of Bresee's seedlings.



   Two pounds large-sized potatoes, planted whole                        00
   "   "     "   "  cut into quarters                                    00
   "   "     "   "  cut to single eyes                                   00
   "   "     "   "  cut to single eyes and planted four in a hill        00
   "   "     "   "  planted in drills, fifteen inches between the sets,  00
   Two pounds small potatoes, planted whole                              00
      "        "     "        cut in two pieces                          00
   Two pounds cut to single eye, and worked in ridges                    00
      "        "     "           the surface kept flat                   00

To these add such other experiments as may be interesting to you.
_Weigh_ the product of each carefully, and report _weight_, _average_,
_size_ of each lot, and _quality_.


_Brezee's King of the Earlies._

Raised, in 1862, by Albert Brezee, of Hubbardton, Vt., from a ball of
the Garnet Chili. Vines of medium height, or a little less, and bearing
no balls; leaves large; tubers large and handsome, roundish and slightly
flattened; eyes small, and somewhat pinkish; skin flesh-colored, or dull
pinkish white; flesh white, cooks well, and is of the best quality for
the table. Has proven thus far very hardy. The variety will not be sent
out until the spring of 1870.



Originated in Michigan, in 1866, from a cross of the Peachblow and Brick
Eye. It is of oblong, roundish shape, flattened at the ends. Skin light
pink, with pink blush near the eye. Eyes slightly sunken, flesh white,
cooks dry and mealy, and of superior flavor. Ripens from six to ten days
earlier than the Rose, of uniform large size and but few small ones, and
perfectly free from Core or Hollow Heart, and a superior Winter and
Spring variety.


_Brezee's Prolific._

This variety originated with Albert Brezee, Esq., of Hubbardton, Vt., in
1861. Mr. Brezee was the originator of the Early Rose, the seed
producing both that and Brezee's Prolific being from the same seed-ball,
and both are seedlings of the Garnet Chili.

The vines of Brezee's Prolific are of medium height, quite bushy, and
somewhat spreading, and with very large leaves; as yet they have
produced no seed-balls. Tubers large, regular in shape, and very smooth,
slightly oblong, and very much flattened; skin dull white, inclined to
be russeted; eyes but little depressed and slightly pinkish; flesh
white, rarely if ever hollow; cooks quickly, and is very mealy and of
excellent quality. Yield very large, maturing three weeks later than the
Early Rose.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Rules Worth Observing._--An experienced cultivator says, "My experience
leads me to lay down the following as _safe rules_:

"I. As early as possible, _lay your plans_ for the next season's
planting, and manure and work your ground accordingly, in advance.

"II. Secure the _best seed_, even if it cost you two or five times as
much as a common and less valuable sort.

"III. _Always_ get a new, improved variety, as soon as it has been
tested and proved. _Remember_ the profit is mainly made by the early
cultivators. When it gets so common that _you_ can buy cheap, you will
have to _sell_ cheap, too.

"IV. Buy only from reliable dealers, and _be sure_ you get the _genuine_

"V. BUY, or at least ORDER, if you possibly can, in the fall or winter;
you thus save the spring rise of prices.

"VI. Liberal outlay for _seed, manure, tools, and work_ gives ten-fold
the largest return in money, as well as satisfaction."



Also a seedling of 1860, of the Pink Eye Rusty Coat, No. 15, which it
closely resembles. When two years old, Mr. Goodrich described it thus:
"Longish, rusty, coppery; leaves and vines dark green; flowers white; a
very hopeful sort." September 29th, 1863, at digging time, he added:
"Very nice; many in the hill; no disease." The two seasons, 1865 and
1866, under Dr. Gray's cultivation, this variety yielded at the rate of
four hundred bushels to the acre, being more productive than the parent.
This variety gives the best satisfaction. The tubers are not overgrown,
but numerous; have fine-grained, solid flesh, that cooks white. For
winter use this kind is excellent. It is a good keeper, and has a fine,
rich flavor, especially when baked.



J. J. H. Gregory says of this potato: "The Willard is a seedling from
the Early Goodrich. It proves to be a half early variety, enormously
productive, and is a potato of good promise. It is of a rich rose color,
spotted and splashed with white. The flesh is white."



"It is a seedling of the Garnet Chili, that was originated in 1861, by
Albert Brezee, Esq., an intelligent farmer of Hortonville, Vt. I have
experimented with it for three years, and have been so well pleased with
it that I have purchased all Mr. Brezee could spare for the last two
years, and have engaged the whole of his small crop for another year.

"It has a stout, erect stalk, of medium height; large leaves; flowers
freely; bears no fruit. The tuber is quite smooth, nearly cylindrical,
varying to flattish at the centre, tapering gradually toward each end.
Eyes shallow, but sharp and strongly marked. Skin thin, tough, of a dull
bluish color. Flesh white, solid, and brittle; rarely hollow; boils
through quickly; is very mealy, and of the best table quality. It is as
healthy and productive as the Early Goodrich, matures about ten days
earlier, and is its superior for the table. The cut is a good outline of
this beautiful and excellent sort.

"I consider it the most promising very early potato with which I am
acquainted, and I have tried nearly all the early sorts of the country."

       *       *       *       *       *

_~How to Double Your Crop, when you have New and Rare Kinds.~_--In an
ordinary hot-bed or cold frame, put some six inches of good, loose, rich
soil; split your potato, and lay it cut side down about three inches
under the surface. When the sprouts are four or five inches high, lift
the potato, slip off the sprouts, and plant them.

You can then cut the tuber into single eyes, and plant as usual. The
crop from the sprouts will ripen two weeks before the others. I made $40
this year by trying this with a _handful_ of potatoes. Every reader is
welcome to it, and may make as much or more than I did, if he secures a
few pounds of the newer and costly but valuable kinds.

_Early Goodrich._

A seedling of the Cusco of 1860. In 1862, Mr. Goodrich described it:
"Round to longish; sometimes a crease at the insertion of the root;
white; flowers bright lilac; (produces) many balls; yield large. Table
quality is already very good. This sort is No. 1 every way." He said to
me in the spring of 1864: "This early sort gives me more satisfaction
than any other I have ever grown." This variety ripens as early as the
Ashleaf Kidney; on rich soil yields from 250 to 350 bushels per acre;
has never shown any disease; is white-fleshed, and of superior quality.

The above description by D. S. Heffron is fully sustained by my

I noticed at dinner to-day, (Nov. 17th,) every potato in a large dishful
had cracked its skin, and from most of them the skin had peeled itself
half off.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Rev. W. F. Dixon_, of Pine Grove, gives the results of his experience
in the following note:

                                         "PINE GROVE, MERCER CO., PA.,
                                                   September 20, 1868.

"A year ago last spring, a friend gave me three early Goodrich potatoes,
which I planted four eyes in a hill, and last fall I raised over one
bushel. I had the Buckeye planted in the same lot. The Goodrich produced
about four times as much to the hill as the Buckeye."

       *       *       *       *       *

Our country may well honor the memory of Rev. C. E. Goodrich, who, by
persevering experiments and patient toil, has produced such wonderful
results. His success should stimulate every farmer to make a similar
line of experiments.

_Potato Crop of New York State._--The total potato crop of the State of
New York, this year, is about 25,000,000 bushels. The six great potato
counties are Washington, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Monroe, St. Lawrence, and
Genesee. Only one other county (Oneida) produces 300,000 bushels; three
others, 600,000; one, 500,000; six, 400,000. New York county returns a
crop of 1700 bushels. The entire crop of the State, 25,000,000 bushels,
is raised on 254,403 acres of land. The three counties in the State
which produce the most potatoes join each other, viz., Washington,
Rensselaer, and Saratoga--their aggregate production reaching within a
fraction of 2,500,000 bushels, or more than one-eighth of the total
product of the whole State.--_New York Observer_.


Mr. Heffron gives the following account of this variety: "It is a
brother of the Early Goodrich--a seedling of the Cusco of 1860. When two
years old, Mr. Goodrich described it thus: 'White, large, not so deep
eyes as the parent, nice.'" In 1863, Mr. Goodrich had eleven and a half
bushels; and though it was a bad year for disease, and this a young and
tender seedling, when he overhauled his seedlings, January 29th, 1864,
he made this entry in his book: "All perfect, fine."

It has a smooth white skin, white flesh, and is the most solid of large
potatoes, having no hollow at the centre. It is enormously productive,
yielding as well as the parent Cusco, and exceeds all others; its form
is good, table quality excellent; keeps well; ripens ten days earlier
than the Garnet Chili, and thus far is as hardy as the Garnet Chili.

Among winter sorts this potato must soon hold as high a place as is
conceded to the Early Goodrich among the early sorts.


_To Keep Potatoes during Winter._--As soon as dry after digging, pick up
and handle carefully; store in a dry, well-aired, cool cellar, free from
frost, either in bins raised a little from the bottom of the cellar, or
in barrels having at least two holes bored through the staves near the
bottom, and lay the top head on, over a lath, so as to exclude the light
without preventing a free circulation of air. Also sprinkle among the
potatoes about half a pint of recently slacked quick-lime to each
barrel. If bins are used, cover them over sufficiently to exclude the
most of the light. Air the cellar all winter, as often as the
temperature outside will admit of it.



It has a stout, erect stalk, of full medium height, internodes of medium
length, and very large leaves; the tuber is above medium in size, quite
smooth, in form of a short cylinder swelled out at the centre,
occasionally slightly flattened, and terminating rather abruptly; eyes
shallow, sharp, sometimes swelled out or projecting, and always strongly
defined; skin medium thickness, considerably netted or russet, tough,
white; flesh entirely white, solid, heavy, brittle, and never hollow,
and it boils through quickly, with no hard core at centre or stem, is
mealy, of floury whiteness, and of superior table quality.


_Early Prince._

The _Early Prince_ is a seedling of the Early York, and was propagated
in 1864. It has proved to be from a week to ten days earlier than the
Early Rose, as far as size and solidity are concerned, and from two to
three weeks earlier in quality.

       *       *       *       *       *


A Good, Cheap, and very Valuable Paper for Every Man, Woman, and Child





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