“The rural industries have taken on a new and quickened life in consequence of the recent teachings and applications of science. Agriculture is no longer a mere empiricism, not a congeries of detached experiences, but it rests upon an irrevocable foundation of laws. These fundamental laws or principles are numerous and often abstruse, and they are interwoven into a most complex fabric; but we are now able to understand their general purport, and we can often trace precisely the course of certain minor principles in problems which, a few years ago, seemed to be hopelessly obscure, and which, perhaps, were considered to lie outside the sphere of investigation. Agriculture has developed into a system of clear and correct thinking; and inasmuch as every man’s habit of thought is determined greatly by the accuracy of his knowledge, it follows that the successful prosecution of rural pursuits is largely a subjective matter. It is therefore fundamentally important that every rural occupation should be contemplated from the point of view of its underlying reasons. It should be approached in a philosophic spirit. There was an attempt in the older agricultural literature to discuss rural matters fundamentally; but the knowledge of the time was insufficient, and such writings fell into disrepute as being unpractical and theoretical. The revolt from this type of writing has given us the present rural literature, which deals mostly with the object, and which is too often wooden in its style. The time must certainly be at hand when the new teaching of agriculture can be put into books.
“For many years the writer has conceived of an authoritative series of readable monographs, which shall treat every rural problem in the light of the undying principles and concepts upon which it rests. It is fit that such a series should be introduced by a discussion of the soil, from which everything ultimately derives its being. This initial volume is also an admirable illustration of the method of science, for the soil is no longer conceived to be an inert mixture, presenting only chemical and simple physical problems, but it is a scene of life, and its physical attributes are so complex that no amount of mere empirical or objective treatment can ever elucidate them. If the venture should prove that the opening century is ready for the unrestrained application of science to rural life, then it is hoped that the Rural Science Series, under the present direction or another’s, may ultimately cover the whole field of agriculture.” -“Editors Preface to the Rural Science Series,” in The Soil by F. H. King (1895), pp. v-vi
Note: The Rural Science Series was one of Bailey’s most significant and prolonged editorial projects. It grew to contain dozens of volumes by many authors, all under Bailey’s editorship. A full list of the series has not been attempted to date, and the following list contains only books in the series that list Bailey as a primary author (see note for the complete Chronological List).
The Nursery-Book: A Complete Guide to the Multiplication and Pollination of Plants. New York: Rural Publishing, 1891. Revised in 1896 for inclusion in The Garden-Craft Series (under the title The Nursery-Book: A Complete Guide to the Multiplication of Plants). By 1907 also included in The Rural Science Series.
Plant-Breeding: Being Six Lectures upon the Amelioration of Domestic Plants. The Garden-Craft Series. New York: Macmillan, 1895. Included and expanded upon the 1892 text of Cross-Breeding and Hybridizing. Translated by J. M. and E. Harraca and published in French in 1901 as La Production des Plantes: Cinq Leçons sur L’Amélioration des Plantes Cultivées. Editions from 1915 on, revised by Arthur W. Gilbert and without the original subtitle, included in the Rural Science Series.
The Forcing-Book: A Manual of the Cultivation of Vegetables in Glass Houses. The Garden-Craft Series. New York: Macmillan, 1896. By 1909 also included in The Rural Science Series.
The Principles of Fruit-Growing. The Rural Science Series. New York: Macmillan, 1897.
The Principles of Agriculture: A Text-Book for Schools and Rural Societies. Edited by L. H. Bailey. The Rural Science Series. New York: Macmillan, 1898.
The Pruning-Book: A Monograph of the Pruning and Training of Plants as Applied to American Conditions. The Garden-Craft Series. New York: Macmillan, 1898. By 1911 included in The Rural Science Series. Revised in 1916 as The Pruning-Manual as part of The Rural Manuals.
The Principles of Vegetable-Gardening. The Rural Science Series. New York: Macmillan, 1901.