Wednesday, July 19, 2017

1838 - Mr. Cuthill's Advice on Sowing and Raising Mignonette in Pots

On the Culture of the Mignonette

By James Cuthill

MIGNONETTE is considered a very simple plant to grow, and so it is in fashion. We generally see it during winter; but a celebrated grower of forced flowers for Covent Garden told me that he never had but one really good crop of mignonette, and by it he made a good sum of money. 

After four winters' sowing, without the least failure, I consider my system established; and by it I have had, without the least variation, forced mignonettein flower by Christmas, and as strong as border mignonette. 

On the 20th of August, I sowed 100 pots of 32's, filled with the following compost: half sandy loam, the other half made up with leaf mould, and road sand, not sisted, but very dry when used, and pressed into the pots up to the brim. When the seeds are sown, a little of the compost is sifted over them. The pots are then put into a pit or frame, and set very near the glass. 

The lights are kept off at all times, except during rainy weather, when they are always put on; as, above all things, a drop of rain is never allowed to fall upon the pots, for several reasons. The first of these is, because rain is often very heavy, and washes the seed out of the pots; secondly, the rain is often too little, and only moistens the surface; and, thirdly, after the 1st of October, rain is too cold, and chills the plants. 

I water the plants with a very fine rose, and always twice over, but never until they are upon the point of flagging; and, after the 1st of October, I either warm the water, or use it out of the stove. I remove the mignonette to the front of the green-house, about the 1st of November, for fear of damps. 

If a succession is wanted, I cut down as many as may be necessary, about the middle of December; and these will make a better blooming and thicker pot of mignonette, than a second sowing, and will save trouble. 

In thinning, I leave only six or seven plants in each pot; five of them about 1 in. from the rim, and one or two in the centre. In order to show gardeners how wrong it is to let rain fall upon their frame plants during winter, I had two pots of mignonette put on the bare flue of an empty pit in November, giving them no water and no covering; and, upon the 1st of February, brought them into the green-house; and now (Feb. 5.) they are looking well. 

This speaks volumes: if mignonette will stand 30° of frost, merely because it is kept dry, what will cauliflowers, lettuce, radishes, &c., not stand 2 The above may appear a simple story to many; but I am obliged to be more particular with winter mignonette in pots, than with the finest stove plant. 
Dyrham Park Gardens, Feb. 6, 1838.

The Gardener's Magazine and Register of Rural & Domestic Improvement, Volume 4