I Am A Bit Surprised At The OG Practices I See In Old Literature
I'm talking about American gardening and small-farm literature from 80-100 years ago. Sure, they once had to depend far more on manure (which was becoming ever scarecer in the time period I mentioned) and they didn't have many synthetic pesticides so nicotine and copper sulfate were more important, as was cover cropping for nitrogen or organic matter. But still, I see mulching and composting, even intensive composting, were well regarded then. Litter occasionally was gathered from forests in large amounts for mulch and then nutrients. These practices maybe were not considered essential but they were definitely considered good practice and recommended.
On the other hand, the casualness with which they applied arsenic, lead, and mercury is almost frightening. And they recommend far too much tilling, used then for both weed control and retaining soil water by what we would now call dust mulching, though even in the moist eastern US.