Puslapio vaizdai
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E ALL know something about St. noted in citrus fruits, vegetables, and

Augustine, and have admired everything else that is planted there.

its Ponce de Leon” hotel, its North of the Manatee River (named Alcazar, and the charming dames and after a sluggish, ungainly, porpoise-like, damsels who hie them there from the aquatic, herbivorous mainmal now almost wintry blasts of Washington, New York, extinct, but that used much to affect these and farther north; we are not unfamiliar peaceful waters before steamboats, huntwith Palm Beach; and who has not received ers, and other irritants came to disturb pamphlet after pamphlet, each describing, its quiet)-virtually a salty inlet of the bay, in a little more flowery language than did some twelve miles long and a mile wide, the last, the wonderful advantages of an into which a main stream and many immediate investment in the Miami dis- branches flow — the soil is muck land, oritrict? To the average man there is noth- ginal jungle, whose centuries of tropical ing but the east coast to Florida. Had it growths have added their rich fertilization, not been for our recent war, the conse- and it is here that thrive the lettuce, quent camps at Tampa, and the departure celery, peas, beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, of the transports from that port, it might egg-plant, and melons that, in the order have been necessary to preface these re- mentioned, find their way to our Northern marks with the statement that Florida tables long before there is the tiniest really does have a west coast, a region as shoot of green stuff in our own fields. different in climate, soil, and other con- It is varied farming indeed, and there ditions as if it were thousand instead of is but little time for loafing if the farmer barely one hundred and thirty miles from really and not merely figuratively wishes the Atlantic. Our fruit-buyers and com- to make hay while the sun shines. For mission men, however, know this region instance, lettuce seedlings are prepared in well, particularly the fertile Manatee dis- August and are set out in October, the trict, whence they get their finest oranges product being gathered for the holiday and the earliest of the truck”-gardeners' market -some twenty thousand plants to products, and there may we well tarry for the acre. The field is turned up again two or three pages.

and seeded to corn, between whose rows Half a century or so ago great sugar are set the tomato plants, both crops maplantations flourished there and planters turing early in April; then the field is set waxed fat and merry; some of the old con- to sweet potatoes or to grass, either of crete mansions yet giving faded evidences which is ready for storing before the that those old-timers knew how to live and rainy season of July and August, when, enjoy life. The Seminole war drove many by the way, it does not rain in one steady away and the generation has died out; be- downpour, as is generally the case in the sides which politics has raised hob" with tropics, but when there are numerous sugar. The people now there are new to thunder-storms with their attending showthe country and mostly hustling Northern- ers, and with days and days of brightest ers. To a degree it is this thrift added to sunshine between storms. Some fertilizthe wonderful fertility of the soil that ing is done, of course, but it seems as if produces the astonishing results to be vegetables fairly jumped out of the soil

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and took an interest in doing it quickly smaller growths there are found as many and largely. From the seed to luxuriant as two hundred to the acre.

An orange green scarcely two weeks elapse, and tree, fruit-bearing at five years of age, three and four crops of vegetables a year will produce a couple of hundred oranges, from one patch are not unusual, and in or about one boxful; then it doubles its quantities as surprising as the diversity. product every year, fifteen hundred and Two hundred crates of tomatoes and a even two thousand fine oranges having hundred and fifty to two hundred bushels been seen on a single tree. of sweet potatoes shipped to market - Some growers pick the oranges green and leaving a fifth of the product for home ship them in that condition, but the fruit consumption, unfit for market, or over- really ripens about the beginning of Nolooked are an average acre's yield. vember and is picked from then on to the

South of the Manatee it is mostly pine middle of January, during which period and scrub palmetto land, not so rich, but it is frequently kept in storage on the tree well suited for citrus fruits. The native so as not to glut the early market. No product is the wild Florida orange, still swaddling-clothes are necessary; no infound in remote districts, -a bitter, thin- dividual tents for the trees; no fires or skinned fruit, fit only for preserves, and other frost-fighting devices need be rethen only when well sugared. This stock, sorted to, as is necessary in other districts. by grafting and budding with imported In 1895 and again this year the citrus stock, has been brought up to its present crops of northern Florida — those not so perfect state. The parent-trees, from protected by their owners — were frozen which were budded most of the fine and turned out a complete failure. The Florida as well as California stocks of Manatee district, being south of the navel oranges, are to be seen in the ex- twenty-eighth parallel,escaped those chillperimental grounds of the Department of ing blights, and in fact as well as in Agriculture at Washington. - sturdy old theory it is in the frost-proof zone. grand-dads to the millions of luscious The county of Manatee comprises about beauties we have eaten or shipped away twelve hundred square miles, not over during the past ten years.

one hundred of which are under any kind Lemons and pomelos (or grape-fruit, as of cultivation, and from this latter area the pomelo is called, because it grows in 150,000 boxes of oranges were shipped grape-like bunches), with the oranges, are during the past season. The highest total the principal products of Manatee. Add to crop for Florida before the frost of 1894– these limes, guavas, and persimmons, and 95 — since when it has never reached anyyou have the fruit-bearing trees of the where near that point — was 5,000,000 district. All of them, excepting the guava,

boxes. This year scarcely more than yield single crops per year.

1,500,000 boxes will be the output, so that is a spring and fall bearing dwarf, most this district alone will supply one tenth of prolific (in full fruit you can hardly see a Florida's orange crop. leaf), and a fine jelly-maker.

We may here note the superiority of the Of oranges sixty-five to eighty trees are Florida orange over its California brother. set out to the acre; of guavas and the The latter ripens in January, February, and

The guava


March, the colder months, when conditions compel it to take on a thick skin for warm covering. The sap then runs less freely through the tree, and the sun's rays are not sufficiently ardent fully to distil the sugar in the fruit, hence the fruit is comparatively dry and flavorless. On the other hand, in Florida, the fruit, ripening in November and December, has the full benefit of maturing during the summer's ardent sun, the sap flows far more freely, and the orange wears its thinnest clothing; hence is it the sweetest, thinnest-skinned, highest flavored, and juiciest orange in the world. Cuban, Porto Rican, Bahaman, and Mexican oranges have lately been quoted and somewhat feared as competitors, and if some of the advice so freely given by the wise experts recently sent to Cuba and Porto Rico by enterprising magazines is taken, Florida and California would soon be depopulated of its fruit-growers, who, upon reaching those West Indian paradises so glowingly described by the aforesaid wise men, would proceed to raise unsurpassed oranges by saying "Presto, or by some such easy process, - certainly not by irrigation or by the sweat of their brows.

The fact of the matter is that the stock in those countries has not been highly cultivated, and it will take years to bring it up to anywhere near the Florida standard. The further north oranges can be grown the higher is the flavor and better the stock, yet when grown above the twenty-eighth parallel - the frost-line already mentioned — they are liable to absolute ruin of crop and trees, while in the West Indies they are exposed to the ravages of the frequently recurring hurricanes of those latitudes. These facts, therefore, fully justify the claim that not

only are the oranges from about the Manatee district the best in the world, but that there is also every reason to believe that that superiority will continue.

Lemon culture in this district is still in an experimental stage. Trees are grown from Sicilian cuttings, and, the conditions being most favorable, some of the stock is superior even to the very fine parent Sicilian lemons. While it is in its infancy, so much care and study has been given to this culture that it cannot fail to become, in the course of a very few years, a most important source of revenue.

The pomelo, or grape-fruit (an original East Indian fruit introduced into the West Indies from China by Capt. Shaddock early in the eighteenth century, and thence carried up into Florida about twenty-five years ago), is growing in favor with our Northern markets, and rightly too, for to one who has learned how to eat it no more delicious, succulent, pleasing fruit was ever placed upon our tables, a food fit for the gods, wholesome and rich in medicinal qualities, an essentially tropical fruit, yet grown to perfection in this region. It is also a prolific tree, yielding, after ten and twelve years, as many as a thousand fine pomelos.

In driving through the district there may be seen strange shed-like structures, some eight feet high, and roofed over with slats about three inches wide and as far apart. These are imitation forests built to cover and delude pineapples into believing they are still in the shelter of their great native forests. Exposed to the direct rays of a hot sun this fruit becomes woody and shrivels up, but these sheds partially protect it from the sun while allowing free passage for air, dew, and light. The pineapple is a native of the South and Central

Americas and has been grown successfully grow — some of them — to eight, ten, and in Florida for the past ten years. It is now even nineteen pounds of deliciousness. a staple, though in first cost a most costly Two years ago a company was organized culture; but it is immensely profitable. which issued stock to the amount of It must be constantly watched to keep it $15,000, $10,000 of which was paid in. free from sand, bugs, and ants, and care Forty acres were put into pineapples and must be taken in cultivating it, “ slipping” vegetables, and last year, as a result, the it, and removing the “suckers” or lower stockholders had $10,000 to portion off as a shoots for the next season's planting. One dividend, although not a pineapple had patch that cost its owner, for original been sold, full ripening not having taken plants, preparing the soil, and building place, the bulk of the returns being from

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the slat sheds, $1,500 for one acre, may be the sale of the «suckers » or lower shoots,
cited as an instance of the profit in pine- and the “slips” or “rattoons” from their
apples. Eighteen months — it is a slow superior pine-stock, and, of course, from
grower -- from the time of planting he the sale of their vegetables.
sold $2,300 of fruit from that acre and had Other patches of land may be seen cov-
three “shoots from each parent plantered with cheese-cloth, a highly scientific
ready and growing for the next crop on style of farming. On the acres under
that and adjacent acres, valued at $2,500 these cloth coverings tobacco is being

raised. Large quantities are also raised Naturally there are failures in this as in in the open, but that grown under shelter all ventures, but one cannot help wonder- from the intense heat of the sun, from ing sometimes why people persist in invest- caterpillars, worms, dust, and rain, is paring in all kinds of wild-cat schemes that ticularly fine, a leaf without blemish, long, promise — but never yield — dividends of of splendid silky texture, equal to the finten and fifteen per cent, when good old est Cuban stock. The leaf is pole-curedmother earth, for a little persuading, stands Cuban fashion - and is specially adapted ever ready to make such bountiful returns, for fine “ wrappers.” A thousand pounds at least in some of her favored spots. to the acre is the yield, worth, cured and

With another illustration of pineapple ready for market, all the way from 50 profits we may leave them in peace to cents to $2.40 a pound.

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