How does this relate to the 19th century? Note that it is a native fruit of North America. Also, note where the cranberry is grown. In my opinion it makes for a unique setting and occupation. Also there is a paragraph below that relates to the growth of this industry in the 19th century. But the primary reason for including this excerpt about the cranberry for Thanksgiving is because it was a part of the early Thanksgiving celebrations in Plymouth, MA.
Here is an excerpt from: From the Cyclopedia Of American Horticulture ©1906
CRANBERRY. A name applied to trailing species of the genus Vaccinium (JSricAcece). Of the true Cranberries there are two species in North America,—the small ( Vaccinium Oxycoccus), and the large ( V. macrocarpon). These are native to swamps, where they trail their slender stems and little oval evergreen leaves over the sphagnum and boggy turf. The red, firm berries ripen late in fall, and often persist on the vines until spring, when well protected with snow. Each berry is borne on a slender pedicel; and the curve of this pedicel in the European species is said to have suggested the name Craneberry, which is now shortened to Cranberry. See Vaccinium.
The large Cranberry, Vaccinium macrocarpon, is now cultivated on hundreds of acres in the United States; and this Cranberry culture is one of the most special and interesting of all pomological pursuits. This Cranberry grows only in North America; and North America is the only country which has a domestic or cultivated Cranberry. Because Cranberry-growing is such an unusual type of horticulture, it is thought advisable to devote considerable space to it in this Cyclopedia.
Cranberries may be grown on land both low and high; but it is the general experience that low, boggy lands are the only ones which give permanently good results. In the winter, the natural Cranberry bogs are usually flooded, and in summer they are free of standing water. The flowers are often caught by the late frosts of spring, and the fruit may be injured by the early frosts of fall. Bogs are often ruined by fire in times of drought. Insects and fungi often play havoc with the crop.
The ideal bog for Cranberry culture is the one in which the natural environments of the plant are most nearly imitated, and in which the grower can have the greatest control over the difficulties mentioned above. It should have the following qualifications : (1) Capability of being drained of all surface water, so that frea water does not stand higher than one foot below the surface in the growing season. (2) Soil which retains moisture through the summer, for Cranberries suffer greatly in drought. (3) Sufficient water supply to enable it to be flooded. (4) A fairly level or even surface, so that the flooding will be of approximately uniform depth over the entire area. (5) Not over-liable to frosts. Bogs which contain moss or sphagnum and which have a peaty or mucky soil are usually chosen. If heath-like shrubs grow naturally in the bog, the indications are all the better. The presence of the Cassandra or Leatherleaf is regarded as a good augury. Black ash, red maple, swamp huckleberry, and white cedar swamps are often very satisfactory. Old mill-ponds often give good results.
Before the Cranberries are planted, the bog must be cleaned of trees, bushes, moss and roots. This may be done by "turfing," which is the digging out of the flood in spring or fall, to kill insects or to protect from frosts. The objects of flooding are as follows: (1) to protect the plants from heaving in winter ; (2) to avoid late spring and early fall frosts ; (3) to drown insects; (4) to protect from drought; (5) to guard against Hre. Unless serious contingencies arise, the bog is flooded only in winter. A flooded bog looks like a lake (Fig. 568). Good results are obtained now and then in "dry"or upland bogs, which cannot be flooded; but such bogs or meadows rarely give uniform results, and they are less advised than formerly.
There are three centers of Cranberry growing in North America,— Cape Cod peninsula, New Jersey, Wisconsin. Each has methods peculiar to itself. It was in the Cape Cod region that Cranberry culture began. The first attempts were made early in this century. William Kenrick, writing in 1832 in this "Orchardist," says that "Capt. Henry Hall, of Barnstable, has cultivated the Cranberry twenty years;" "Mr. P. A. Hayden, of Lincoln, Mass., is stated to have gathered from his farm in 1830, 400 bushels of Cranberries, which brought him in Boston market $600." In the second and subsequent editions, Kenricks makes the figure $400. It is not said whether Mr. Hayden's berries were wild or cultivated. At the present day, with all the increase in production, swamp growth, or by "drowning," which is deeply flooding the place for a year. The method of preparing the surface for receiving the plants varies in different regions. Open ditches are run through the place in sufficient number to carry off the surface water. They are usually made 2 to 4 feet deep. If some water stands in them during the summer, better results are expected. These ditches usually feed into one main or central ditch; and this main ditch is preferably the one which, when dammed at its lower end, floods the bog by backing up the water. Growers prefer, if possible, to divert a living brook through the bog, or to straighten and deepen one which may exist there ; but in the absence of a brook, a reservoir may be constructed above the bog. Sufficient water supply should be had to cover the entire area from December until April or early May, to a depth of at least one foot. The lower places will have a deeper covering, but 4 or 5 feet in places usually does no harm in the winter. It 569. Cranberry hand-picker, also may be necessary to prices are higher than those received by Mr. Hayden.
In the third (1841) and subsequent editions, it is said that "an acre of Cranberries in full bearing will produce over 200 bushels ; and the fruit generally sells, in the markets of Boston, for $1.50 per bushel, and much higher than in former years." It was as late as 1850, however, that Cranberry culture gained much prominence. It was in 1856 that the first treatise appeared : B. Eastwood's "Complete Manual for the Cultivation of the Cranberry." About 1845, Cranberry culture began to establish itself in New Jersey.
In the Cape Cod region, the bogs are "turfed." The surface covering is cut into small squares and hauled off. The object is to obtain a uniform surface in order that all plants may have equal opportunity. The bog is then "sanded." Rather coarse, clean sand is spread over the entire area to the depth of about 4 inches. In this covering, the vines are planted. The sand keeps down weeds and thereby lessens subsequent labor; it affords a moisture-holding mulch for the muck; it renders the plantation easier to be worked in wet weather, and it prevents the too vigorous growth of the vine. Every four of five years a fresh sanding, to the depth of an inch or less, is given. This keeps the vines short and close. Formerly, whole roots or " sods " of Cranberry were used for planting, but now cuttings are employed. These cuttings are 6- or 8-inch pieces of rigorous runners, with the leaves on. They are thrust obliquely through the sand, only an inch or two of the top remaining uncovered. They are set about 14 inches apart each way. In three or four years a full crop is obtained. The bogs are kept clean by means of hand weeding. At Cape Cod, it is estimated that the sum of $300 to $500 per acre is required to flt and plant a bog. A good yield from a bog in full bearing is 50 barrels to the acre ; but 200 barrels have been grown.
In New Jersey, the general tendency is to omit the sanding. The bogs are not cleared so carefully. The plants are often set directly in the earth bottom, after the heavy turf is removed. The bogs—or meadows, as they are usually called—are not kept so scrupulously clean. It is thought that a reasonable quantity of grass prevents scalding of the berries. If the vines become too by the form of the berry, —the bell-shaped (Pig. 570), the bugle-shaped (Pig. 571), and the cherry-shaped (Fig. 572). There are many named varieties in each of these classes, differing in size, color, firmness, keeping qualities, productiveness. These varieties have been selected from plants which have appeared naturally in the bogs. Some of them have been discovered in wild bogs. The demands of the market, as respects varieties, are constantly changing. In Massachusetts, the following varieties are now popular: Early Black, Howe, Matthews, McFarliu.
The Cranberry is now a staple article of food in North America. "Turkey and Cranberry sauce" may be said to be the national dish. The berries are used in great variety of dishes. An effort has been made to open an European market, and an agent was sent abroad in 1891 for that purpose by the American Cranberry Trade Company. The export trade has now assumed some importance, and is growing. The approximate Cranberry crops for a series of years are shown below, in bushels:
deep, they are mown or burned in order to secure a fresh growth from the roots.
The gathering of the crop is done preferably by hand-picking, particularly in plantations which" are well cared for. In some eases the berries are raked off with a steel garden rake, but many of them are lost and bruised, and the vines may be injured. It is said by some that the tearing out of the old and large vines in the raking tends to renew the plants, and this is undoubtedly true; but there are better ways of keeping the vines young and short, as by sanding or mowing. In the East, raking is now rarely employed, unless the crop is very poor or prices very low; or unless hard frost is expected, in which case the berries may be raked, the bog flooded, and the berries caught at the flume. Sometimes the bog is flooded when hard frost is threatened and the water is allowed to remain all winter, and the berries are harvested in the spring; but such early flooding may injure the vines. The price paid for the picking of Cranberries is usually about 40 to 50 cts. a bushel. Three to four bushels is considered to be an average day's picking. There are various devices to facilitate the picking. On Cape Cod a popular implement is the Lumber1: picker (Fig. 5C9). The machine is tjirust into the vines, and the operater closes the lid by bearing down with his thumb; drawing it backward pulls off the berries. Usually the pickers are"lined-off " (Fig.568) by cords stretched across the bog, thus limiting each one to a particular area, which he is required to pick clean. The berries are cleaned by running them through a separator, by passing them over a screen, by floating off the litter by dowsing them in water, and by other means. Dowsing usually reduces the market value. They are then marketed in barrels or crates.
Of varieties there are three general types, determined:
The Low-bush Cranberry, or Wolfberry (V. VitisIdaa), is much used in Nova Scotia and other parts, and is gathered and shipped in large quantities to Boston; but it is not cultivated. This berry is also common in Europe, where it is much prized. The quantities of this fruit imported into the U. S. from various sources is considerable. For example, between July 24 and Dec. 31, 1897, the following imports were received (as compiled by Rider):
The Cranberry is subject to the attacks of various insects, for most of which the best remedy is flooding, although the fruit-worm is probably best destroyed by spraying with arsenites. There are also fungous troubles. For information on all these difficulties, the bulletins of the New Jersey Experiment Station are the best literature.
The best literature on the Cranberry is comprised in the Proceedings of the American Cranberry Growers' Association, with headquarters at Trenton, N. J. This society holds an "annual meeting" in January, and an "annual convention" in August. Beginning with 1880, it has published regular reports of each of these gatherings. The standard books are White's "Cranberry Culture," largely from the New Jersey standpoint, and Webb's "Cape Cod Cranberries."
Notes By A Wisconsin Grower.— Cranberries are raised mainly in the states of Massachusetts, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. The eastern marshes are mostly "made," while in Wisconsin there are thousands of acres of natural marsh as yet entirely uncultivated, as well as much that is cultivated.
The natural soil for the Cranberry is peat. Sand is also good, but, when used alone, must have a new coat of it spread over the ground every few years, as it becomes exhausted and the vines become woody and cease to bear. The ideal soil seems to be a foundation of peat, with from 2 to 4 inches of sand spread over it. It is very desirable that the surface should be level, so that it can all be kept equally moist. The leveling is usually done by "scalping," i. e., taking off the sod and carrying it away. This also removes the moss and other foul vegetation, and gives the vines a chance to take full possession of the ground. If scalping is considered too expensive, the moss may be killed by flooding in winter and drawing the water off in spring ; but it takes two or three years for it to rot sun *, ittly to allow vines to do well. Plowing is sometimes resorted to where it can be done, or the sods turned upside down by some other means.
The best sites for Cranberry raising are those which afford a perfect water supply. There should be a reservoir of water on the upper side of the marsh (and if it is on the north or northwest so much the better, as it will then be more sure protection from frost), which can be emptied on to the marsh at short notice; and there must also be good drainage, to carry it away from the marsh quickly when desired. A level piece of marsh which has vines already growing on it looks very tempting to the uninitiated, but, if it has not a good water supply, it is better to leave it in the natural state and take the crops which grow in favorable seasons, than to spend money improving it.
A good sand marsh may be made near any stream in a sandy region by selecting a spot where water can be drawn from the stream, but there should also be a reservoir to hold water in, as that which comes directly from a running stream is sometimes too cold for Cranberries.
If dams are built from the sods thrown from the ditches, it is desirable, at least for the reservoir dam?, to cover them with sand. This should be put mostly on the top and upper side, and should slope from the top of the dam to the center of the ditch. This prevents muskrats from doing very much damage, and the dam is not so apt to be washed out by high water as when built in a perpendicular wall. The cheapest way to move sand to build dams or for spreading on the marsh is to haul it on sleighs in the winter. A platform is built on rockers, so that the load may be dumped at one side of the sleigh ; and two loads in a place on a good peat dam will make a heavy reservoir dam. The pit from which sand is taken should be well protected with snow or sawdust to prevent its freezing badly. One of the best ways of making waste-gates is to place three joists lengthwise of the dam a little below the bottom of the ditch, and a platform built upon them, and the whole settled down as firmly as possible; then the dam is built right onto the platform for 3 or 4 feet on each side, and then the sideboards put in place, and cleats nailed up and down into which to slip the sluice boards. It is a good plan to have an outside ditch, which will carry surplus water around the marsh instead of across it, in wet seasons.