“We cannot wait for favors from nature; to take them from her is our task! ”
Ivan Michurin was born 27 in October 1855 was in Ryazan province in the Pronsky district. His great-grandfather and grandfather were petty nobles, military men, participants in numerous campaigns and wars. Michurin's father - Vladimir Ivanovich, - having received an excellent home education, served as a receiver weapons at an armory in the city of Tula. Against the will of his parents, he married a girl of the bourgeois class, and soon after that, he retired as a provincial secretary, settling in a small estate, inherited by the name “Vershina”, located near the village of Yumashevka. In the district, he was a famous man - he was engaged in beekeeping and gardening, communicated with the Free Economic Society, which sent him special literature and seeds of agricultural crops. Working tirelessly in the garden, Vladimir Ivanovich made various experiments with ornamental and fruit plants, and in the winter he taught peasant children to read and write in his home.
In the Michurins family, Ivan Vladimirovich was the seventh child, but he did not know his brothers and sisters, because of all seven in infancy, he alone survived. Reality met the future great biologist extremely severely - Vanya was born in the close and dilapidated walker of the forester. The poor situation was explained by the fact that his parents were forced to get away from the violent, nervous-sick grandmother in the line of his father. It was absolutely unbearable to live with her under the same roof, and there was no money to shoot your own corner. The winter was approaching, which, quite possibly, a small child in a forest hut would not have survived, but soon her grandmother was taken to an insane asylum, and the Michurins returned to the estate. This is the only happy period in the life of the family passed very quickly. When Vanya was four years old, his poorly healthy mother, Maria Petrovna, died of fever.
Michurin himself grew up strong and healthy child. Deprived of maternal care, he spent a lot of time on the bank of the Proni river, fishing, or in the garden with his father. The boy watched with interest how plants grow and how plants die, how they close themselves up in the rain and how they languish in drought. All questions that arose in the head of observant Ivan found Vladimir Ivanovich's fascinating and lively explanations. Unfortunately, over time, Michurin Sr. began to drink. In their house was sad, and a few guests and relatives altogether ceased to appear. Vanya was rarely allowed to play with the village boys on the street, and he spent all his days in the garden of a huge beautiful manor. Thus, the digging, sowing and gathering of fruits were the only games that Michurin knew as a child. And his most valuable treasures and favorite toys were seeds, invisibly hiding in themselves the germs of a future life. By the way, the small Vanya had entire collections of seeds of different color and shape.
Primary education Michurin received at home, and after was sent to the Pronsk district school. However, Ivan found a common language with his peers with great difficulty - for him the plant world was a recognizable, solid and real world for all his life. While studying, he continued to spend all his free time, digging in the land of his beloved manor. Already at eight years old, the boy perfectly mastered various methods of plant inoculation, masterly performed such complicated and difficult for modern summer residents tree operations such as interlacing, copulation and budding. As soon as the lessons were over, Michurin collected books and, without waiting for the carts from the “Peak”, set off for a journey of many kilometers home. The road through the forest in any weather was a real pleasure for him, because it made it possible to communicate with his good and only comrades - every bush and every tree on the way was well known to the boy.
In June, 1872 Michurin graduated from the Pronsk School, after which Vladimir Ivanovich, collecting the last pennies, began to prepare him for admission to the St. Petersburg Lyceum on a gymnasium course. Soon, however, a relatively young father suddenly fell ill and was sent to a Ryazan hospital. At the same time, it turned out that the financial affairs of the family are getting worse. The Michurins estate had to be mortgaged, re-mortgaged, and then completely sold for debts. Tatyana Ivanovna, his paternal aunt, took care of the boy. It should be noted that this was a well-educated, energetic and well-read woman who treated her nephew with great care and attention. During his school years, Michurin often visited her small estate located in Birkinovka, where he spent his time reading books. Unfortunately, Tatyana Ivanovna, ready to sacrifice everything for Vanya, herself barely made ends meet. An uncle came to the rescue, Lev Ivanovich, who gave the boy to the Ryazan gymnasium. However, in this educational institution Michurin did not study for long. In the same 1872 year, he was expelled from there with the phrase “for disrespect to the authorities”. The reason was the case when the high-school student Michurin, due to an ear disease and a severe frost (and perhaps just out of horror to the authorities), did not take off his hat on the street in front of the school’s director. According to the biographers, the real reason for the exclusion of Michurin was his uncle’s refusal to bribe the school management.
So ended Michurin's youth, and in the same year Ivan Vladimirovich moved to the city of Kozlov, whose neighborhood he did not leave for a long time until the end of his life. There he got a job as a commercial clerk at a local station, belonging to the Ryazan-Ural Railway. His monthly salary, by the way, was only twelve rubles. He lived in a modest hut, standing in the railway village Yamskaya. The rude attitude of the authorities, the monotonous work, the sixteen-hour working shift and the bribery of fellow clerks — such was the situation in which Michurin was in those years. The young man did not take part in friendly drinking, the temper was considered to be trustworthy, he quickly and accurately believed it was not for nothing that the county school was behind him. Two years later, Ivan Vladimirovich was promoted - a quiet and executive young man took the place of a cashier, and soon became one of the assistants to the station manager. Life gradually began to improve, Ivan could well consider himself lucky - in tsarist times, leadership work on the railway was considered prestigious. From his high position, Ivan Vladimirovich gained a peculiar benefit - he began to attend repair shops and master plumbing. He worked there long and hard, breaking his head for hours on various technical tasks.
A year later, having accumulated a small capital, Michurin decided to marry. His choice fell on the daughter of a local worker, Aleksandra Vasilyevna Petrushina, an obedient and hard-working girl who became a friend and assistant of the great naturalist for many years. It should be noted that the impoverished noble relatives of Michurin were so outraged by his unequal marriage that they declared disinheritance. It was an arrogant, but absolutely empty gesture, since there was still nothing to inherit. And only Michurin's aunt, Tatyana Ivanovna, still corresponded with him. And soon after the wedding in 1875, Ivan Vladimirovich rented the vacant estate of Gorbunov, located in the vicinity of Kozlov, with an area of about six hundred square meters. Here he planted various fruit plants and began his first experiments on selection. Years later, Michurin would write: "Here I spent all my free hours in the office." However, at first, Ivan Vladimirovich had to experience severe disappointment due to lack of knowledge and inexperience. The following years, the breeder actively studied all kinds of domestic and foreign literature on gardening. Nevertheless, many questions that concern him remained unanswered.
After a short time, new difficulties came - Ivan Vladimirovich, in a conversation with his colleagues, allowed himself to say too much about his boss. The latter found out about this, and Ivan Vladimirovich lost the well-paid post of assistant to the station. With the loss of space, the material status of the young spouses turned out to be the most deplorable, close to poverty. All the money accumulated by Michurin went to rent land, and therefore, in order to write out very expensive books on botany from abroad, seedlings and seeds from different countries of the world, as well as to buy the necessary equipment and materials, Ivan Vladimirovich had to tighten his belt and start working on to the side. Upon returning from duty, Michurin sat up deep into the night, repairing various appliances and repairing watches.
The period from 1877 to 1888 in the life of Ivan Vladimirovich was particularly difficult. It was a time of hard work, hopeless need and moral upheaval due to failures in the field of acclimatization of fruit plants. However, it was here that the iron patience of the gardener showed up, who continued to persevere with all the problems that arose. During these years, Ivan Vladimirovich invented the sprayer "for greenhouses, greenhouses, indoor plants and all kinds of crops in the open air and in hotbeds." In addition, Michurin drafted a lighting project for the railway station where he worked with electric current, and later implemented it. By the way, the installation and repair of telegraph and telephone sets has long been a source of income for the breeder.
By that time, a unique collection of fruit and berry plants of several hundred species was assembled at the Gorbunovs' estate. Ivan Vladimirovich noted: “The estate I rented was so overwhelmed with plants that there was no possibility to continue to work on it”. In such circumstances, Michurin decided to further reduce costs - from now on he carefully and to the penny took into account all expenses, recording them in a special diary. Due to extreme poverty, the gardener himself repaired old clothes, independently sewed mittens, and wore shoes until it fell apart. Sleepless nights, malnutrition, metal dust in the workshop and constant anxiety led to the fact that in the spring of 1880, Ivan Vladimirovich showed serious signs of a health disorder - he had pulmonary hemoptysis. To correct well-being, Michurin took a vacation and, closing the workshop, moved his wife out of town with the city, living the summer in the miller's house, located in a luxurious oak forest. Beautiful and healthy terrain, the sun and fresh air quickly restored the health of the breeder, who devoted all his time to reading literature and observing forest plants.
Soon after returning home, Ivan Vladimirovich moved the entire collection of plants to a new Lebedev estate. He acquired it, by the way, with the help of a bank, and immediately (due to lack of funds and numerous debts) pledged the land. It was in this place that the first unique Michurin varieties were bred. However, after a couple of years, and this patrimony was overflowing with plants.
In the fall of 1887, the breeder learned that a certain priest Yastrebov was selling a piece of land of thirteen hectares near the village of Turmasovo, located seven kilometers from the city on the bank of the Lesnoy River. After inspecting the ground, Michurin was very pleased. The whole autumn and winter of 1887-1888 went to a hectic fundraising at the endless labor and, finally, in May 1888 after the sale of all the planting material, the deal took place, and half of the land was immediately mortgaged. It is curious that the Michurins' family, which by that time had increased to four people (the gardener had a daughter, Maria and son Nikolay), was only seven rubles in cash. Due to the lack of money, all the plants from the Lebedyev site, members of the Michurins family, carried seven kilometers on their shoulders. In addition, there was no home in the new place, and they lived in a hut for two seasons. Recalling those years, Ivan Vladimirovich said that their diet included only vegetables and fruits grown by them, black bread, and “a rye tea for a couple of kopecks”.
Years of intense labor flowed. In place of the hut, a small, but a real log cabin appeared, and the neglected wasteland around turned into a young garden where Ivan Vladimirovich, like a demiurge, created new forms of life. Thousands of hybrid seedlings of pears, apples and cherries have already grown to 1893 in Turmasovo. First time in stories winter-hardy varieties of apricot, peach, oil-bearing rose, sweet cherry, mulberry tree, cigarette tobacco and almond appeared in central Russia. Michurin grew up plums, unprecedented in these lands, fruitful grapes, the vines of which wintered under the open sky. Ivan Vladimirovich himself, who finally finally changed the cap of a railway worker to a wide-brimmed farm hat, lived in a nursery without a break.
It seemed to Michurin that his dreams of a prosperous and independent life, a devotion to creative activity, are close to realization. However, an unusually cold winter came and terrible damage was inflicted on the southern and western European varieties of its plants. After that, Ivan Vladimirovich realized all the unsuccessfulness of the method he had tried to acclimatize old varieties with the help of vaccination and decided to continue his work on the breeding of new plant varieties through the directional upbringing of hybrids and artificial crossing. With a huge boost, the breeder took up the hybridization of plants, however, this work required considerable cash injections.
It should be noted that by that time Michurin had organized a trading nursery in Turmasovo, which, however, did not receive wide popularity. In this regard, one of the most pressing issues for the biologist was still the question of the maintenance of his family. However, the gardener did not lose heart, placing great hopes on the sale of their unique varieties. In the twelfth year of breeding work, he sent to all parts of the country the "Complete Price List" of fruit and ornamental shrubs and trees, as well as seeds of fruit plants present in his farm. This collection was illustrated with drawings of the gardener himself, who had a great mastery of both graphics and sophisticated watercolor techniques. Michurin's price list had nothing to do with the advertising catalogs of trading companies and was rather a scientific guide for gardeners than a genuine price list. In his diary, referring to that period, the breeder noted: “He deliberately breeded apple-distributors, conductors and conductors gave up to twenty thousand catalogs for distribution in trains ... One hundred customers will turn out from distribution of twenty thousand ...”.
Finally, the autumn of 1893 has come - the long-awaited time of the first release of seedlings grown in a nursery. Michurin believed that the price lists and his articles in various journals, breaking the age-old routine in gardening, would bear fruit. He was firmly convinced that there would be a lot of orders, but he was awfully disappointed - there were almost no buyers. In vain hopes for sales, the breeder spent the last pennies on magazine and newspaper ads, as well as through acquaintances going to the auctions and fairs, sent new catalogs for distribution to traders and the public. Despite this, in the first years of the nursery of Michurin, only mistrust and indifference were met, both by reputable gardeners and acclimatizers, and by ordinary people.
In 1893-1896, when thousands of hybrid seedlings were already growing in the garden of Ivan Vladimirovich, Michurin's ingenious mind was visited by a new thought, which led to important and great consequences. The biologist has found that the soil of his nursery, which represents powerful black soil, is too oily and, by “spoiling” hybrids, makes them less resistant to the devastating “Russian winters”. For the breeder, this meant the merciless elimination of all hybrids, questionable in their cold resistance, the sale of the Turmasovsky site, as well as the search for a new, more suitable place. Thus, almost all the many years of work on the foundation of the nursery had to be restarted, seeking funds through new hardships. Such a state of affairs would have broken a less steadfast person, but Ivan Vladimirovich had enough determination and strength to move to a new level of his research work.
After a long search, he finally found a piece of unwanted, abandoned land in the vicinity of the city of Kozlov. It belonged to a local official and was a washed up sediment that was full of ravines, swamps, canals and streams. In the flood, which was especially turbulent here, the entire land plot was covered with water, and even large, mature trees were washed out in low places. However, there was no cheaper and more suitable land, and the breeder decided to move his nursery here. In 1899, he sold the old place and, together with his relatives, moved to the suburban Donskoe for the winter. All summer 1900, while a new house was being built, he lived in a hastily shed. By the way, Ivan Vladimirovich designed a two-story house himself, and also calculated an estimate for it. To the great chagrin of Michurin, the transfer of his nursery to a new soil ended with the loss of a substantial part of the unique collection of hybrids and initial forms. As before, he bravely survived this, and his assumptions about the importance of the Spartan education of hybrids were fully justified. The gardener noted: "When raising seedlings on thin soil, under severe conditions, although fewer of them had cultural qualities, they were completely resistant to frost." Subsequently, the site became the main department of the Central Genetic Laboratory named after Michurin, and the biologist himself worked in this place until the end of his life. Here, the various breeders developed by him proved the practical possibility of overcoming the uncrossability of many species, and also achieved the development of hybrid seedlings of the required quality, which are developing very poorly under normal conditions.
In 1905, Ivan Vladimirovich is fifty years old. And the more his gardener's skill was perfected, the more unsociable his character became. Moreover, despite the fact that Michurin had already bred many outstanding varieties, official science refused to recognize the achievements of the biologist. The breeder, by the way, sent his work to all specialized journals, wrote to the emperor himself, reproaching him, as well as all bureaucratic Russia, in criminal disregard for the fruitful branch, wrote to various ministries, drawing bureaucrats' attention to gardening as the most important human mission on Earth. There is a story about how once Michurin sent an article to his Moscow magazine about horticulture about his new method of cutting cherries. The editors knew that the cherry is not cuttings, and they refused to publish it, explaining with the phrase: “We write only the truth”. Enraged, Ivan Vladimirovich dug up and, without any written support, sent a dozen of rooted cuttings of sweet cherries. In the future, he did not respond to the pleas of the description of the method, nor to tearful apologies. From government subsidies, Michurin also refused, so as not to fall, in his own words, into slave dependence on departments, since “every issued penny will be taken care of by its best use”. In the summer of 1912, the office of Nicholas II sent a prominent official, Colonel Salov, to the gardener in Kozlov. The brave military man was extremely surprised by the modest view of the Michurin manor, as well as the poor attire of her master, whom the colonel first took for the caretaker. After a month and a half after Salov’s visit, Ivan Vladimirovich received two crosses - the Green Cross “for work on agriculture” and Anna of the third degree.
By that time, the fame of the gardener's hybrids spread throughout the world. Back in 1896, Ivan Vladimirovich was elected an honorary member of the American scientific society Briders, and at 1898, the All-Canada Congress of Farmers who met after a severe winter, was surprised to find that all sorts of cherries of American and European origin were frozen in Canada, with the exception of Fertile Michurin from Russia. Well-versed in colors, the Dutch offered Ivan Vladimirovich about twenty thousand royal rubles for the bulbs of his unusual lily, smelling like violet. The main condition for them was that this flower in Russia will no longer be grown. Michurin, although he lived poorly, did not sell the lily. And in March 1913, the breeder received a message from the US Department of Agriculture proposing to move to America or sell a collection of plants. In order to prevent encroachment on hybrids, the gardener broke such a sum that the US agriculture was forced to surrender.
Meanwhile, the Michurin garden was growing. The most ambitious plans of Ivan Vladimirovich were carried out, as if by magic - before the revolution in his nursery more than nine hundred (!) Plant varieties were grown, drawn from Japan, France, the USA, Germany and many other countries. He didn’t have enough of his hands, the breeder wrote: “... the loss of strength and frustrated health quite persistently let know about themselves”. Michurin reflected on attracting street children to chores, but world war intervened in these plans. The commercial nursery of the biologist stopped working, and Ivan Vladimirovich, who was knocked out of his strength, again had difficulty making ends meet. And the new 1915 year brought him another misfortune, almost destroying all hopes of continuing research. In the spring of the raging river, overflowing its banks, flooded the nursery. Then they hit hard frosts, burying many valuable hybrids under the ice, as well as the school of two-year-olds, which were for sale. Following this blow, an even more terrible second followed. In the summer, a cholera epidemic began in the city. The kind and sensitive wife of Michurin took care of one sick girl and got infected herself. As a result, a young and strong girl recovered, and Alexandra Vasilyevna died.
The loss of the closest person broke the great biologist. His garden began to fall into neglect. Out of habit, Michurin was still courting him, but did not feel the same enthusiasm. All offers to help - rejected, and the sympathizers - despised. At some point, news of the October coup came to Ivan Vladimirovich, but he did not attach much importance to this. And in November, an authorized comrade from the People's Commissariat of Agriculture granted 1918 to him and announced that his garden would be nationalized. The horror of the situation shook Michurin, knocking out of the usual rut and taking a full recovery from mental ailments. The breeder, immediately going to the nearest Soviets, indignantly stated there that it was impossible to take everything from him like that ... The Soviet power of the gardener reassured - he was told that he would be left at the garden as the head. And soon, Ivan Vladimirovich was sent numerous assistants and students. Thus began the second life of Michurin.
Attention to the work of the breeder, to his personality and to his experience fell on the biologist as an avalanche. The authorities needed new public idols, and somewhere in the higher spheres Michurin was appointed as such. From now on, his research was funded indefinitely, Ivan Vladimirovich received official rights to run the nursery at his own discretion. All my life, this beacon of science had dreamed that the wall of indifference around it would not be so discouragingly impenetrable, and at once received indisputable, nationwide and full recognition. From now on, on every suitable occasion, Michurin exchanged telegrams with Stalin, and in the long-term routine of his day there was an important change - now from twelve to two o'clock in the afternoon he received delegations of scientists, collective farmers and workers. By the spring of 1919, the number of experiments in the Michurin garden had increased to several hundred. At the same time, the previously unsociable Ivan Vladimirovich advised agricultural workers on the problems of raising yields, combating drought and breeding, participated in the agronomical work of the People's Commissariat, and also spoke to numerous students, eagerly catching every word of the master.
It should be noted that Michurin - a bright supporter of the scientific organization of labor - even at the age of forty-five (at 1900) established a strict schedule of the day, which remained unchanged until the very end of his life. The breeder got up at five o'clock in the morning and until twelve he worked in the garden with a break for breakfast at eight o'clock in the morning. At noon, he had lunch, then, until three o'clock in the afternoon, he rested and read newspapers, as well as special literature (after the revolution, he received delegations). From 15 hours of the day to evening, Ivan Vladimirovich again worked in the nursery or, depending on the weather and circumstances, in his office. He had supper at 21 for an hour and worked until midnight on correspondence, and then went to bed.
A curious fact, when Ivan Vladimirovich was on the brink of failures, he temporarily broke away from his beloved plant world and switched to other works - he repaired watches and cameras, was engaged in mechanics, modernized barometers and invented unique tools for gardeners. Michurin himself explained this by the need to “refresh his thinking abilities”. After the break, he took up his main activity with new forces. The multifunctional room of the naturalist, served at the same time as a laboratory, a workshop of optics and mechanics, a library, and a blacksmith shop. In addition to numerous barometers and secateurs, Ivan Vladimirovich invented and made a device for measuring radiation, an elegant distillation apparatus for distilling essential oil from rose petals, a grafting bit, a cigarette case, a cigarette lighter, and a special machine for stuffing cigarettes with tobacco. Designed biologist and lightweight internal combustion engine for their own needs. In his experiments, he used the electricity produced by the hand-held dynamo he collected. For a long time the breeder could not afford to buy a typewriter, in the end he did it himself. In addition, he invented and built a portable metal portable furnace, in which his equipment was soldered and forged. He also had a unique workshop for making wax models of vegetables and fruits. They were known as the best in the world and were so skillful that many tried to bite them. In the same office-workshop Michurin received visitors. Here is how one of them described the room: “Behind the glass of one cabinet - test tubes, flasks, flasks, jars, bent tubes. Behind the glass of another - models of berries and fruits. On the tables - letters, drawings, drawings, manuscripts. Everywhere, wherever there is a place, are placed various electrical appliances and devices. In one corner, between the bookshelf and the workbench, there is an oak cabinet with all kinds of carpentry, plumbing and turning tools. In other corners garden forks, hoes, shovels, saws, sprayers and pruners. On the table - a microscope and a magnifying glass, on the workbench - a vise, a typewriter and an electrostatic machine, on the shelf - notebooks and diaries. On the walls - geographical maps, thermometers, barometers, chronometers, hygrometers. There is a lathe at the window, and a cabinet decorated with carvings next to seeds from all over the world. ”
The second life of the gardener lasted eighteen years. By 1920, he brought more than one hundred and fifty new hybrid varieties of cherries, pears, apples, raspberries, currants, grapes, plums and many other crops. In 1927, at the initiative of a prominent Soviet geneticist, professor Iosif Gorshkov, the film South in Tambov was released, promoting Michurin's achievements. In June, the 1931 breeder was awarded the Order of Lenin for his fruitful work, and in 1932 the ancient city of Kozlov was renamed Michurinsk, becoming the All-Russian Center for Horticulture. In addition to large fruit-nurseries and fruit-growing farms, there later appeared Michurinsky State Agrarian University and Michurin Horticultural Research Institute.
The disciples of the great biologist told legends about how Michurin could talk for hours with perishing plants, and they returned to life. Also, he could enter any unfamiliar courtyard and the huge watchdogs did not bark. And out of hundreds of seedlings with some kind of supernatural flair, he culled the unviable. Pupils tried to transplant secretly discarded seedlings, but they never took root.
Almost all winter 1934-1935 of the year, despite the age-related malaise, Ivan Vladimirovich worked actively, without violating the established regime for decades. As always, delegations came to him, with his closest students. In addition, Ivan Vladimirovich corresponded with all the leading breeders of the Soviet Union. In February, a seventy-nine-year-old scientist 1935 suddenly fell ill - his strength weakened, he lost his appetite. Despite his condition, Michurin continued to be involved in all the work in the nursery. All March and April in the intervals between the attacks, he worked hard. At the end of April, a special consultation was appointed by the Kremlin's head sanitary department together with the People's Commissariat of Health, which found stomach cancer in the patient. In connection with the serious condition of the patient in the middle of May a second consultation was organized, which confirmed the diagnosis of the first. At the gardener there were constantly doctors, but all May and the beginning of June Michurin, who was on artificial nutrition, was tormented by severe pain and bloody vomiting, without getting out of bed, continued to look through the correspondence, and also to advise his students. He constantly called them, gave instructions and made changes to the work plans. New breeding projects in the nursery of Michurin were a great many - and students squeezed, intermittent voices informed the old gardener about the latest results. Ivan Vladimirovich’s consciousness faded away at nine in the morning thirty minutes past 7 June 1935. He was buried next to the agricultural institute he created.
According to the materials of the book A.N. Bakharev "The Great Transformer of Nature" and the site http://sadisibiri.ru.