Friday, April 1, 2016

1905 - Take a Chance with Seedsman F. B. Mills

This is a continuation of older posts about seedsman F. B. Mills.

An example of Mr. Mills penchant for taking a plunge, and sometimes inviting others to take it with him, is illustrated in this February 1905 inquiry to the periodical, United States Investor.
F. B. Mills' Ginseng Farm.
14T80. (Fall River, Mass.) Would you advise or recommend a purchase of stock in the Ginseng Farm of F. B. Mills. Rose Hill, New York, at 80 cents per share, par value $1?      Are the chances good of the farm paying at least a 7 per cent dividend before the year 1905, and 500 per cent dividends in five years' time?
Ans.: We should hardly care to advise a purchase of stock In F. B. Mills' Ginseng Farm at 80 cents per share. We are told that the farm referred to consists of only about one acre in extent, and that it is capitalized for $100,000. 
Mr. Mills Is a successful dealer in seeds and has branched out into other enterprises, among them the "ginseng farm" or garden. The future of the business is so problematical that it is all guesswork as to the outcome, but the opinion is that the demand for ginseng seed and plants comes principally from small dealers and growers who anticipate great profits in the future, and that when that demand is filled, prices will drop.  Mr. Mills expects the shares of stock to be worth $100 "at a very conservative figure" and to "reach dividends of $5 each in five years' time," - statements which are considered absurd.  We do not recommend a purchase of the stock.

United States Investor - Volume 16 - 1905

In 1907, an article in Horticulture also alludes to Frank Mills' willingness to take a chance.  It mentions also how he is thinking about opening a place out west, which the catalog here testifies to having happened!
At various times there have been rumors that Mills, of Rose Hill, N.Y, was planning to move his business to some point where he could better transportation facilities.
Mr. Mills does a large business in seeds and plants, and very successfully, but “the wine of success is often intoxicating,” and Mr. Mills has, at sundry times, been under the influence. 
He has tried his hand at various schemes outside of his seed and plant business, such as railroad building, the raising of fancy fowls, the making of incubators, the growing of ginseng, and finally, took a plunge into the general merchandise business along the lines followed by the Sears-Roebuck Company, but none of these ventures has been a pronounced success, and one or two have been rather costly failures. 
 It is true he is still growing ginseng but just how successful from a financial point of view cannot be learned. Considering that Mr. Mills never spent an hour's apprenticeship at any seed house before embarking in business for himself, his great success in this business is all the more creditable to him, as he is the son of a poor farmer, and had scarcely been out of his father's dooryard before his first catalogue was issued. 
Returning to the question of his removal, it can be said that while he contemplates establishing a branch in the West, his headquarters for the present at least, will remain in Rose Hill, as his investment here must have cost him at least $100,00, and is altogether too large and expensive an outfit to be abandoned without most urgent reasons and compensating advantages. 

Horticulture, Volume 5, 

June 22, 1907

1905 - Chicago Pickling Cuke from A. T. Wood, Seedsman

I don't know why I continue with Wood as I don't trust a guy who is so invested in giving premiums! Yet here is another thing that caught my eye tonight when I was reading his catalog from 1905.  I can't help it, old catalog engravings are my weak spot.

The Chicago Pickling Cucumber.  My first thought was that it is another of his re-named plants.  Not so!  Below the cuke photos you'll find some info from current heirloom seed sellers that fill you in on why it was so popular.
Here is a delightfully addressed link from the Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative.
A brief history of the development of cucumber cultivars in the USA
I love this URL 

Chicago Pickling Cucumber | Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co
Originally bred for the markets of the Chicago area. Released in 1888, this has been the go to pickling cuke for generations of home gardeners and canners, and ...

Chicago Pickling Cucumber - Jung Seed
Chicago Pickling Cucumber Seeds (Cucumis sativus) grow medium green fruit, thin skinned pickling cucumbers with black spine.

Cucumber Cucumis sativus 'Chicago Pickling' - Dave's Garden
Welcome to the famous Dave's Garden website. Join our friendly community that shares tips and ideas for gardens, along with seeds and plants.

Chicago Pickling Cucumber - Annie's Heirloom Seeds › Cucumber
57 day. This old variety has a thin skin and black spines. It was developed in Chicago for the commercial pickle trade, and has been popular ever since to the ...

'Chicago Pickling' Pickling Cucumber 1605 - OSC Seeds
The thin skin allows for ready absorption of pickling solutions and while fruit can be allowed to reach up to 12.5 cm (5") in length without sacrificing quality, they ...

Chicago Pickling Cucumber - Sustainable Seed Co. › ... › Ce-K › Cucumber Heirloom Seeds

Sunday, March 27, 2016

1898 - A. T. Cook Is At It Again with the "Vegetable Peach"

Ah, he is at it again - this time teasing buyers with a plant that sounds too good to be true!

And what is a Vegetable Peach, you may ask.  I did anyway.  And found at first NOTHING.

Then the Settler's Guide and Farmer's Handbook  from Western Australia's Department of Agriculture in  1897 came to the rescue!

I'm not telling what it is until further down the post.  Cook wasn't giving any clues to the true nature of the plant either.  

What do you think it is?

(By the way, the brownie fad seems to have invaded even Cook's ads!)

It is a melon!  Nowadays it is called a Vine Peach and is available from many sources. 
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds says the following:    
The fruit are the size of a peach, with a yellow rind and bland white flesh. This variety was very popular in Victorian times for making sweet pickles, pies and preserves. They were developed in China and introduced into America in the 1880's. In the Orient this type of melon is pickled.
Here is what the Western Australia's Department of Agriculture wrote:
Mango Melon, Or Egyptian Prolific Vegetable Peach.— Cultivation.—Cultivate in a similar manner as that recommended for rock melon. Grows like a rock melon, branching out in dozens of vines in every direction full of fruit and blossoms, commencing early and lasting on till frost if watered in dry weather; suitable for all climates. Fried in batter, green, a substitute for egg plant. It is also said to be superior to vegetable marrows, cooked in a similar style if used before being too ripe. When ripe and yellow makes beautiful, white, transparent preserves and sweetmeats, equalling the celebrated California fruits and Japanese pie melon; they are just like an orange when ripe. The late fruit makes excellent pickles. Young green ginger makes the best flavouring, and it does not colour the preserves.
Mango Melon, Or Vegetable Peach Jam.—To every pound of vegetable peaches allow three-quarters of a pound of the best white sugar, and one pound of good, young, green ginger to every 8 lbs. of fruit. Mode : Cut up the fruit, taking care to scoop out all the pips (using a spoon is best); weigh, and put into a china basin with the quantity of sugar sprinkled on, and allow it to stand twenty-four hours; choose young ginger, wash carefully, and scrape off all the outside skin; then boil in an enamel pan for several hours in clean water; boil till you can stick a fork in ; then take out and cut up as finely as possible; this is imperative or it will spoil your jam ; mix all together, and boil gently. It takes a long time to cook, as the melon must be quite clear, and a thin skin must come over the jam. This is ascertained by occasionally taking out a small spoonful and putting on a saucer to cool. Always cover the jars with strong paper while hot. About six ounces of preserved ginger, cut very small, improves it, but darkens it.