Monday, December 19, 2011

A Christmas Husbandly Fare

    It was more than three centuries ago that native Thomas Tusser, musician, chorister, and farmer, gave to the world his incomparable "Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry." He covered the farm year and the farm work as completely as Vergil had covered it more than fifteen centuries before; and he left us sketches of the countryside of his day, and the ways of the good plain folk, and quaint bits of philosophy and counsel. He celebrated the Christmas festival with much conviction, and in the homely way of the home folks, deriving his satisfactions from the things that the land produces. His sketches are wholesome reading in these days of foods transported from the ends of the earth, and compounded by impersonal devices and condensed into packages that go into every house alike.
...May we not once in the year remember the earth in the food that we eat? May we not in some way, even though we live in town, so organize our Christmas festival that the thought of the goodness of the land and its bounty shall be a conscious part of our celebration? May we not for once reduce to the very minimum the supply of manufactured and sophisticated things, and come somewhere near, at least in spirit, to a "Christmas husbandly fare?" - L.H. Bailey, The Holy Earth

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Difficulty with Much of our Teaching

    The difficulty with much of our teaching is that the pupil does not carry it with him into life; and he does not carry it with him because it is likely to be taught in an abstract way and without any particular articulation or vibration with the situations that he has to meet or with the knowledge that he is likely to gain by experience. I do not care much about the mere "practical" teaching, meaning by that the direct outcome of teaching in dollars and cents; but I care very much to have our teaching really mean something to the pupil, and to this end all teaching should be applicable.
... I think we shall some day consider it to be important that our people know the actual products of the earth, not only that they may utilize these products effectively but that they also may have the resource that comes from good nature-knowledge. - L.H. Bailey, 1913, "York State Rural Problems"

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

How the Trees Look in Winter

Only the growing and open season is thought to be attractive in the country. The winter is bare and cheerless. The trees are naked.
The flowers are under the snow. The birds have flown. The only bright and cheery spot is the winter fireside. But even there the farmer has so much time that he does not know what to do with it. Only those who have little time, appreciate its value.
But the winter is not lifeless and charmless. It is only dormant. The external world fails to interest us because we not been trained to see and know it; and also because the rigorous weather and the snow prevent us from going afield....If the farmer's winter is to be more enjoyable, the farmer must have more points of contact with the winter world. One of the best and most direct of these points of sympathy is an interest in the winter aspects of trees. Let us consider the subject a moment.
Consciously or unconsciously, we think of trees much as we think o f persons. They suggest thoughts and feelings which are also attributes of people. A tree is weeping, gay, restful, spirited, quiet, sombre. That is, trees have expression. The expression resides in the observer, however, not in the tree. Therefore, the more the person is trained to observe and to reflect, the more sensitive his mind to the things about him, and the more meaning the trees have. No one loves natures who does not love trees. - L.H. Bailey, 1899 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

L.H. Bailey on Pruning

Of all the operations connected with horticulture, pruning, shaping, and training bring the person into closest contact and sympathy with the plant. One directs and cares for the plant tenderly and thoughtfully, working out his ideas as he would in the training and guiding of a child. There are some persons, to be sure, who cannot feel this sympathetic contact with a plant: they are the ones who, if they prune at all, use an axe or machete or a corn-knife. If a person cannot love a plant after he has pruned it, then he has either done a poor job or is devoid of emotion. It is a pleasure to till the soil and to smell the fresh crumbly earth, but the earth does not grow; it is still a clod. The plant responds to every affectionate touch. - L.H. Bailey, The Pruning Manual

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Storing and Saving Seeds

    To keep seeds is to prevent germination and at the same time to preserve the life of the seed.
    Seeds should be thoroughly ripe and dry before they are stored. Those of pulpy fruits are removed and cleaned. If the seed-vessels are dry and hard, seeds may be left in them till sowing time, but usually they are removed.
    Hard seeds, as of trees and nuts, may be buried. Most seeds, however, are stored dry in paper bags or boxes in a cool dry room. The receptacles should be tight to keep out weevils; if there are any signs of bug work, a little bisulfide of carbon may be poured in the receptacle, and the vapor of it will destroy animal life. This material is inflammable, and it should be kept away from flames.
If seeds at storing time are moist and the weather is damp, they may be lightly kiln-dried before put away for winter. Rarely are dry seeds injured by freezing. Seedsmen sometimes keep large and more or less fleshy seeds, as musas, in fine dry sawdust, chaff or other material that will insure equable conditions and prevent too great desiccation. -L.H. Bailey, The Nursery Manual, 1920
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Saturday, October 01, 2011

Pumpkins and Squashes-What's the Difference?

Image via Wikipedia    G. W. C. B., Baltimore, Maryland, writes: "In some sections of country pumpkins, or at least such as are recognized as such in other sections are called squashes and then again in other sections this order of recognition is exactly reversed. Will you please define the difference between pumpkins and squashes, so we novices can make the distinction also."
    We submitted your inquiry to Prof. L. H. Bailey of Cornell University, who kindly replies as follows:

It is impossible to give any distinctions between pumpkins and squashes because the vernacular names are used very indiscriminately. Ordinarily, what people in Europe call pumpkins are what we call squashes. Perhaps I can best answer by saying that there are three types of pumpkin-like plants which we grow. One type is characterized by a soft, round stem to the fruit, and to this type belong the true squashes, like the Hubbard, Boston Marrow, Turban, Mammoth Chili, and the like. This species is Cucurbita maxima. Another type is characterized by a very hard and deep-five-cornered stem, and this includes the true field pumpkins which are used so much for stock and for pies. To this type also belong the summer bush squashes like the Crookneck, and scallop varieties. This type is Cucurbita Pepo. This third type is characterized by a rather firm, cylindrical stem which has a large expansion where it joins the fruit and it includes the Cushaw, Canada Crookneck and Japan Crookneck types. This type is Cucurbita moschata. -L. H. Bailey (From "Gardening, Vol. IV, 1896)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Garden Guru: Give crotons a place in the sun

The Garden Guru: Give crotons a place in the sun

Almost 80 years ago, in his revered Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, Liberty Hyde Bailey referred to crotons as coming in an "almost endless variety." They were popular conservatory plants way back then, but now we grow them on patios and balconies, in soil in our landscape beds, and indoors in pots, just as our great-grandmas did. We're surrounded by crotons, and the list of varieties has grown exponentially. They're everywhere.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ten Things to Learn From An Apple

I like to go into the cellar at night with a lantern and pick apples from this box and that — plump and big and round — and eat them where I stand. They are crisp and cool, and the flesh snaps when I bite it and the juice is as fresh as the water from a spring. There are many kinds of them, each kind known by its own name, and some are red and some are green, some are round and some are long some are good and some are poor.

1. How much of the apple is occupied by the core?
2. How many parts or compartments are there in the core ?
3. How many seeds are there in each part ?
4. Which way do the seeds point ?
5. Are the seeds attached or joined to any part of the core? Explain.
     6. What do you see in the blossom end of the apple?
     7. What do you see in the opposite end?
8. Is there any connection between the blossom end and the core?
9. Find a wormy apple and see if you can make out where the worm left the apple. Perhaps you can make a drawing. To do this, cut the apple in two. Press the cut surface on a piece of paper. When the apple is removed you can trace out the marks.
10. When you hold an apple in your hand, see which way it looks to be bigger—lengthwise or crosswise. Then cut it in two lengthwise, measure it each way, and see which diameter is the greater.
-L.H. Bailey, An Apple Twig and An Apple, 1904

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Image via Wikipedia   Finally the apple is ripe, a fair goodly object joyous in the sun, inviting to every sense. Hanging amidst its foliage, bending the twig with its weight, it is at once a pattern in good shape, perfect in configuration, in sheen beyond imitation, in fragrance the very affluence of all choice clean growth, its surface spread with a bloom often so delicate that the unsympathetic see it not; and yet the rains do not spoil it.
The apple must be picked. Do not let it fall. Probably it is over-ripe when it falls; the hold is loosened; its time is up. Wormy apples may fall before they are ripe; the worm injury, if it begins early, causes them to ripen prematurely. A premature apple is not a good apple, albeit the small boy relishes it but only because he may get his apple earlier; in the apple season, when ripe fruits are abundant, the boy does not choose the wormy one.
Pick the apple from the tree. It will do you good. It is ever so much better than to pick it from a box on the market or out of a quart-can in the ice-chest. You will feel some sense of responsibility when you pick it, some reaction of relationship to its origin. We know that we understand folks better when we see them at home. L.H. Bailey- The Apple Tree, 1922

Monday, September 05, 2011

The Importance of Cooperative Extension Work

Regarding Cooperative Extension Work: "Any enterprise closely associated with homes and that hopefully employs the leisure of multitudes of people is worthy of investigations and researches conducted at public expense. It is a sad attitude of legislators and others that predicates the need of such investigations on the probable money earnings of the enterprises, as if there were no other measure of human life."  -Liberty Hyde Bailey, The Garden Lover, 1928
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Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Size of An Acre

I am convinced that the size of an acre of land varies directly with the size of the man who manages it. The larger the man, the larger the acre...I once asked an old gardener how much land he had, and he said with pride that he owned once acre; and he added, "It is a wonderful acre: it reaches to the center of the earth in one direction, and it takes in the stars in the other." This man's farm included not only the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow but it contained the entire rainbow. - Liberty Hyde Bailey, 1911

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

48th Annual Blueberry Festival, with Sundaes to Boot!

It's that time again! The 48th Annual Blueberry Festival in South Haven kicks off this week. You can visit the Liberty Hyde Bailey booth on Friday the 12th down at South Haven's waterfront from 10-3 to toss some blueberries (by hand) and even test your knowledge on blueberry trivia. To top it off, come to the museum from 2-4 pm Sunday the 14th for blueberry sundaes. Clever, aren't we? Be there or be blue!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

The Farmer is Proverbially the Man Who has Stood on His Own Feet

“The farmer is proverbially the man who has stood on his own feet. Other persons have stood on other men’s feet. The purpose of every good country-life institution is to develop persons who are able to walk alone.” Liberty Hyde Bailey, The State and the Farmer (1909)

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

To Share the Earth Should Be the Right of Every Soul

We have yet scarcely visioned the proper partition of the earth, that the greatest number of the people may partake of it. When finally we have mastered ourselves, we shall look back on the people in the deep gray cities who never had the opportunity or the right to stand on a bit of wild land somewhat as we now look back in pity and in sorrow on those who suffered in the Inquisition or those who were in bondage. To share in the earth should be the right of every soul, and we shall some day make it easy rather than difficult for this to be brought about. - L.H. Bailey, The Open Country

Handbook of Nature Study: Nature Study and Writing

Handbook of Nature Study: Nature Study and Writing: 'We stifle the desire to write if we first lay down rules and formulas as to how to write. Let the child have a personal experience; then allow it to write. "

Monday, June 27, 2011

Commentary Series: Hunter: Two Anniversaries

Commentary Series: Hunter: Two Anniversaries
From Vermont Public Radio: I've been putting in new strawberry beds every few years since I started gardening in 1948. You would think I would know how to do it by now. But no, I had to get out my handy little, "The Practical Garden Book", by Hunn and Bailey, Macmillan 1900. I have the 1901 edition. That is 110 years ago.

Monday, June 20, 2011


If a window or a garden can have but one plant, that plant is likely to be a Geranium. -L.H. Bailey, Cyclopedia of American Horticulture, 1901

The Fruit Tree

   By the woodshed or the pump, or against the barn or the garden fence, the apple tree or pear tree connects the residence with the world of life and space that stretches out to woods and farms. We transfer our affections to it, as a half-way place between ourselves and our surroundings. It is the warder of the fields and monitor of the home. It is an outpost of the birds. It feels the first ray of morning sunshine. It proclaims every wind. It drips copiously in the rain. Its leaves play on the grass when the year goes down into the long night or winter. And in the spring its brightening twigs and swelling buds reveal the first pulse in the reviving earth. Every day of the year is in its fabric, and every essence of wind and sun and snapping frost is in its blossom and its fruit.
    I often wonder what must have been the loss of the child that had no fruit-tree to shelter it. There are no memories like the days under an old apple tree. Every bird of the field comes to it sooner or later. Perhaps a humming-bird once built on the top of a limb, and the marks of the old nest are still there. Strange insects are in its knots and wrinkles. The shades are very deep and cool under it. The sweet smells of spring are sweetest there. And the mystery of the fruit that comes out of a blossom is beyond all reckoning, the magic growing week by week until the green young balls show themselves gladly among the leaves. And who has not watched for the first red that comes on the side that hangs to the sun, and waited for the first fruit that was soft enough to yield to the thumb!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Liberty Hyde Bailey T-Shirt

Last Saturday saw the groundbreaking of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Interpretive Garden Path, at North Shore Elementary in South Haven, Michigan, Bailey's hometown. You can check out their blog at And, if you would like to be the first on your block to have a snazzy L.H. Bailey t-shirt call Becky Linstrom at (269) 637-0506 ext 3525! Check out the dedication news at the Herald Palladium, "Where dandelions are dandy: Garden path honors South Haven horticulturalist."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Feeling for Plants

   One does not make a good library till one has a feeling for books, nor a good collection of pictures without a feeling for pictorial art. Neither does one make a good garden of any kind without a feeling for plants.
    This does not mean that the feeling must be born with the person. It would be a hopeless world if we could not acquire new sentiments and enthusiasms. One can cultivate a feeling for plants by carefully observing them, growing them, reading about them, and particularly by choosing the company of persons who know and love them. As soon as one begins to distinguish the different kinds closely, one acquires the feeling of acquaintanceship; every kind then has its own qualities, and every kind is admirable in itself. Plants have personality. - L.H. Bailey, The Feeling for Plants, Homegrounds
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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Good Air

It is most strange that persons who spend the day in the open air are likely to bottle themselves up at night. I suppose that the fear of fresh air is in part expressive of our general philosophy of life, whereby we unconsciously carry the idea that man is in warfare with nature. We shut our doors to nature. Our windows are small and cramped, as if we only grudgingly let in the out-of-doors. Before we knew the nature of contagious disease, it was very natural that we should consider the atmosphere to be responsible for all kinds of insidious enemies. Disease was supposed to be due to some effluence or miasma, and we shut our doors to it. Now that we are able to distinguish the effects of air from mosquitoes, flies, and germs, we should begin to discriminate in our habits. The best civilization will come when we put ourselves in sympathetic attitude toward nature, rather than when we antagonize it; and we shall learn what things are noxious and take means to avoid them. The spread of tuberculosis in northern regions in former time was due not so much to the fact that winters were cold as to the battening up of doors and windows. Sometime we shall learn how to warm our houses and at the same time supply them with clean air. - L.H. Bailey, The Training of Farmers, 1909
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Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Best Planting

...the best planting, like the best painting and the best music, is possible only with the best and tenderest feeling and the closest living with nature. One's place grows to be a reflection of himself, changing as he changes, and expressing his life and sympathies to the last. -L.H. Bailey

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Camera In Gardening

L.H. Bailey, Apple-Jonathan, ca. 1901
 The best preparation for gardening is to go afield and see the things that grow there. Take photographs in order to focus your attention on specific objects, to concentrate your observation, to train your artistic sense. An ardent admirer of nature once told me that he never knew nature until he purchased a camera. If you have a camera, stop taking pictures of your friends and the making of mere souvenirs, and try the photographing of plants and animals and small landscapes. Notice that the ground glass of your camera concentrates and limits your landscape. The border-pieces frame it. Always see how your picture looks on the ground glass before you make your exposure. Move your camera until you have an artistic composition—one that will have a pictorial or picturesque character. Avoid snap-shots for such work as this. Take your time. At the end of a year, tell me if you are not a nature-lover. If to-day you care for only pinks and roses and other prim flowers, next year you will admire also the weedy tangles, the spray of wild convolvulus on the old fence, the winter stalks of the sunflower, the dripping water-trough by the roadside, the abandoned bird's-nest, and the pose of the grasshopper. L.H. Bailey, 1900

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Dandelion

The first warmth of spring brought the dandelions out of the banks and knolls. They were the first proofs that winter was really going, and we began to listen for the blackbirds and swallows. We loved the bright flowers, for they were so many reflections of the warming sun. They soon became more familiar, and invaded the yards. Then they overran the lawns, and we began to despise them. We hated them because we had made up our minds not to have them, not because they were unlovable. In spite of every effort, we could not get rid of them. Then if we must have them, we decided to love them. Where once were weeds are now golden coins scattered in the sun, and bees revelling in color; and we are happy! - L. H. Bailey.

Suggestions For Study
I. Ask your teacher to let you go out of doors for ten minutes to look at dandelions. In your note books write answers to the following questions:
1. At what time of day are you looking for the dandelions? Is the sun shining, or is the sky overcast? Make up your mind to notice whether dandelions behave the same at all hours of the day and in all kinds of weather.
2. How many dandelions can you count as you stand on the school-ground? The little yellow heads can be seen a long distance.
3. Where do they prefer to grow, — on the hillsides, along the roadsides, in the marshes, or in your garden?

II. Gather a basket full of blossoming dandelions, roots and all, take them to school, and ask the teacher to let you have a dandelion lesson. Here are some suggestions that will help you:

1. Each pupil should have a plant, root and all. Describe the plant. Is it tall or short? How many leaves are there? How many blossoms?
2. Hold the plant up so that you can see it well. How many distinct colors do you find? How many tints and shades of these colors?
3. Look carefully at the blossom. How many parts has it? How much can you find out about the way in which the yellow head is made up?
III. Mark a dandelion plant in your garden. Watch it every day. Keep a record of all that happens in its life.

Taken from, Cornell Nature-Study Leaflets

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Favortie of Bailey- New John Muir Movie to Debut

L.H. Bailey called John Muir, "the interpreter of mountains, forests, and glaciers." This Preservationist, naturalist, author, explorer, activist, scientist, farmer, John Muir (4/21/1838 – 12/24/1914) was all these things and more. Nearly a century after his death, this Scottish American is remembered and revered as the father of the environmental movement and the founder of the Sierra Club, the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. American Masters continues its 25th anniversary season with John Muir in the New World, airing nationally Monday, April 18 at 9 p.m. (ET) on PBS in honor of Earth Day (4/22) and John Muir Day (4/21). Find out more at the link above.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Liberty Hyde Bailey Interpretive Garden Path: Poem

He is from our town
He did good things for nature
He was many things
Who was this great scientist?
He was the great LIBERTY!

written by Marnie F., South Haven, Michigan
(A Tanka poem: 5,7,5,7,7)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Olga Bonfiglio: News: South Haven Promotes Agricultural Sustainability

The South Haven area has a rich, 150-year-old agricultural history as the Southwest Michigan Fruit Belt, the largest non-citrus fruit producing region in North America.  It includes the legacy of Liberty Hyde Bailey, America’s father of horticulture and founder of the Michigan Pomological Society (later named Michigan Horticultural Society).  He was born in South Haven.
READ MORE: Olga Bonfiglio: News: South Haven Promotes Agricultural Sustainability

Wes Jackson Puts Bailey at the Top

Wes Jackson, known for being the co-founder and current president of The Land Institute, named, "the grand old Cornell dean," Liberty Hyde Bailey in his personal agricultural Hall of Fame list. "[Bailey] kept looking back to nature as the standard or measure against which we should judge our agricultural practices. The Outlook to Nature appeared in 1905 and The Holy Earth in 1915."

Read the entire article at:

Friday, February 25, 2011

100 Years of Community Gardening

The roots of Bailey's work go deep. Cornell Cooperative Extension celebrates one-hundred years, another milestone connected to America's Father of Modern Agriculture. "We commemorate Bailey’s work in celebration of Cornell Cooperative Extension’s 100 years of agricultural, nutritional, and environmentally sustainable support, and we continue to encourage self-sustaining gardening and farming." Check out how they are celebrating this centennial!

4-H Youth Development Celebrates CCE at 100 with Statewide Growing Project

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Greenhouse in the Snow

Liberty Hyde Bailey, self-portrait
    It is in the dead of winter that the greenhouse is at its best, for then is the contrast of life and death the greatest. Just beyond the living, tender leaf-separated only by the slender film of the pane- is the whiteness and silence of the midwinter. You stand under the arching roof and look away into the bare blue depths where only stars hand their fold, faint lights. The bald outlines of an overhanging tree are projected against the sky with the sharpness of the figures of cut glass. Branches creak and snap as they move stiffly in the wind. White drifts show against the panes. Icicles glisten from the gutters. Bits of ice are hurled from trees and cornice, and they crinkle and tinkle over the frozen snow. In the short sharp days the fences protrude from a waste of drift and riffle, and the dead fretwork of weed-stems suggest a long-lost summer. There, finger's breath away, the temperature is far below zero; here, is  the warmth and snugness of a nook of summer.
    This is the transcendent merit of a greenhouse, - the sense of mastery over the forces of nature. It is an oasis in one's life as well as in the winter. You have dominion.
    But this dominion does not stop with the mere satisfaction of a consciousness of power. These tender things, with all their living processes in root and stem and leaf, are dependent wholly on you for their very existence. One minute of carelessness or neglect and all their loveliness collapses in the blackness of death. How often have we seen the farmer pay a visit to the stable at bedtime to see that the animal  are snug and warm for the night, stroking each confiding face as it raised at his approach! And how often have we seen the same affectionate care of the gardener who stroked his plants and tenderly turned and shifted the pots, when the night wind hurled the frost against the panes! It is worth the while to have a place for the affection of things that are not human.
Cornell's historic Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory may face demolition.
    Did my reader ever care for a greenhouse in a northern winter? Has he smelled the warm, moist earth when the windows are covered with frost? Has he watched the tiny sprout grow and unfold into leaf and flower? Has he thrust a fragment of the luxuriance of August into the very teeth of winter? Then he knows the joy of conquest that makes a man stronger and tenderer. - L.H. Bailey (From, Country Life in America, Volume 1, Number 5, March 1902)
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