English Apples - a call for less diversity, 1829

...........(from "A Description and History of Vegetable Substances used in The Arts and Domestic Economy, pub. Charles Knight, London, 1829.)

The varieties of the appple are so many, and they are so rapidly multiplied, that it would be impossible for us to present any account of them either useful or interesting.

One of the best things horticulturalists could do would be to direct attention to the names of the best sorts, for the list of varieties available is embarrassingly long.

In the words of the RHS catalogue: "our list is far more extensive than useful (1200 varieties) ...but no significant reduction can be made until a public declaration of the sorts which are undeserving of further cultivation". Indeed, the process of experimentation is at present adding daily to their number.

It has been asserted that many fine old varieties of apple are now going into decay. Perhaps some of them are being too widely grown, instead of being confined to the localities where they do best. In some places, the old types are healthy enough. There are many theories but fewer answers.

American apples are brought into England, as well as many French apples; about 20,000 bushels on average.

Footnote added by N.D.
It's interesting how our perspective has changed. Two hundred years ago, there was a call for fewer varieties. Now we've gone full circle and the number of types of apple available commercially is quite small; there is a call for more diversity, not less.

Two hundred years ago, families would have had to feed themselves; there were no cheap suppliers or supermarkets. If your apple tree failed, you'd have no apples through the winter ... so only the most reliable croppers would be good enough. Diversity would not have been high on anyone's list of priorities.

paraphrased by Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

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