Page images

to give these valuable results of the application of science to strawberries, we must now return to our fall work. Next in importance to the strawberries was the asparagus-bed, and great were the preparations made for it. Bridgeman was consulted. He is somewhat obscure, and I did not practically understand some of his directions, especially the one which he lays down as of the first importance, that the plot of ground must be thoroughly “ trenched.” Of course, I was perfectly acquainted with the meaning of that word in its ordinary acceptation--it signifies to dig a ditch; but the exact purpose of a ditch in an asparagus-bed was not entirely apparent. It was not for drainage, for, as far as I could make out, the ditch was to be filled up again as soon as made; it was not merely as an ornament, or to separate these valuable plants from their baser and less aristocratic neighbors, but it had some occult purpose manifestly connected with a subtle and technical interpretation. An application to the last pictorial and unabridged “Worcester" did no good : there “ trench” was made to mean a "pit, drain, or ditch.” As “drain or ditch” were impossible, so “pit" seemed equally out of the question.

Not seeing any better way out of the dilemma, and the necessity to proceed being pressing, I put a bold


face upon the matter, and, in an indifferent sort of way, told Patrick to trench the necessary ground. To my great surprise and relief, he understood me, and I found it was not making a ditch round the plot, as I had suspected, but digging it well over and putting in manure. The roots of the asparagus were queer-looking things, without any green tops, reminding one of the frogs' legs seen in market strung on a stick, only that they have rather more legs than a frog. They were planted under my own supervision, and there we shall leave them until next spring, in the firm hope we shall see more of them.

The fruit-trees had to be set out in the fall, besides a forest of shade-trees; but, as this was done in October, after the cold weather had driven me to town, some painful mistakes arose in placing them; the fruit - trees generally found themselves where the shade-trees were to have been, and the smallest dwarfs usurped the locations of the tallest monarchs of the forest. This produced an irregular effect. There bid fair to be great thinness of foliage where we hoped for the densest shade, and the large trees were generally planted in such parts of the garden as required most sun; this, however, was not a serious matter, as they could be arranged in the ensuing fall, and it is not clear, after all, whether a little shade is not a good thing for plants in our extreme climate. This, with plowing and digging, closed our fall work, and in the next chapter we shall get a comparative statement of profit and loss, showing the manifold advantages of living in the country.



NOW that

OW that we have finished our first year's expe

rience, and shown how readily a person can pass from the profession of a lawyer to that of an agriculturist, we come to the subject which, after all, is the great question of both city and country life, and which we have always kept so steadily in viewthe question of profit and loss. The reader must bear in mind that I had great difficulties to contend with; no one had kindly set out fruit-trees for me, nor started my asparagus and strawberry beds, nor even laid out my garden. Moreover, the weather had been exceptionally hot and dry; for it does usually rain occasionally during the summer in our climate, and several accidents had happened that can hardly be expected to take place invariably. The profit, therefore, must be looked for, not in the merely vulgar, material sense, but somewhat in the sensations, thoughts, and experiences that were included in the results of the year's labor. To be sure, there was an

indirect material gain: if I had gone to Saratoga or Newport, or had hired a summer residence elsewhere, $2000 or $3000 would hardly have covered the expense, even if I did not fall into the clutches of the “tiger;" and if I had staid in the city, at the present price of mint juleps and sherry cobblers, and the present dusty condition of the public thoroughfares, I could hardly have got off for less. The pure air of Flushing supplied the place of both these excitements, while the deep interest of my agricultural pursuits kept my mind in a pleasant state of occupation.

The original outlay for house and grounds was, in round numbers, $15,000; my fruit-trees cost $145 50, which must be added to principal of investment, as it was not to be expected I should have to buy fruittrees every year. The strawberry plants cost $20, and this should also be part of principal; but, as they all died, it may be that this must be yearly expense, at least for the first season. The asparagus plants cost $25, and we can hardly be able to tell where to place that item until next year shall determine what becomes of them. The baker's boy, who served me with bread, ran his cart against my gate-post, and put me to an expense of $35 for repairs; this clearly should be principal, as he could hardly be expected to renew the operation yearly; besides, he has been

« PreviousContinue »