This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
Pinks do not suffer much from still frost, strong cold winds are far more injurious; any protection that can be given to break this force will be attended with advantage - such as branches of Fern placed on the northern or eastern side of the beds, or between the rows. J. T. Neville.
Continue the protection recommended last month. Look over the beds, and press the soil to those plants that have been loosened by the late frosts. See also that the tallies are in their proper places; frost often lifts them out of the ground. Hoe the surface, and give a top-dressing of good soil the first open weather. In severe weather give extra protection to delicate-growing varieties, by covering them with a small glass elevated on the south side, but in mild weather remove the covering.
Peckhum, Surrey. J. T. Neville.
Protection must be continued through this month. The easterly winds so prevalent at this season are trying to the constitution of the Pink, and will destroy many of the weakly ones if they are left unprotected. Earthing up is a great security against wind. Towards the end of the month the plants will begin to move, as will be seen by the change of green in the hearts; keep the surface of the soil open, and eradicate weeds as fast as they make their appearance.
Seed may be sown about the middle of the month, in any light and sweet soil; if composed of a third part leaf-mould, it will be all the better; sift a little rather fine for the surface. By placing the pots or boxes in a western aspect, much trouble in shading will be saved, and the seed will germinate equally well. Cover with a flat sheet of glass, or a hand-light, and be sure to keep the soil moist.
Peckham, Surrey. J. T. Neville.
If the beds have not been top-dressed, it will be advisable to attend to it the first dry day. The plants are now growing, and the young fibres would at once receive nourishment from the fresh compost. Hoe the surface, cut down the young weeds, and destroy obnoxious insects. Look once more to the tallies, and renovate all that are not legible; see also that your stock is complete, that there is no favourite sort deficient, and if so, order it directly, that you may secure good plants. Pinks preserved in pots through the winter should now be put out; be careful not to break the ball of earth more than possible; for the less the fibres are disturbed, the finer and more correctly will the flowers lace.
It is not too late to sow Pink seed, but the sooner done, the stronger the plants will be. The snail, the slug, and the woodlouse are voracious devourers of young pinks. The former two will sweep off a whole crop in one night. The latter, though not so great a devourer, by its industry will cut down the plants by degrees till the pan is cleared. Their attack is on a small portion of the stem close to the surface. The best protection against these enemies is, to fix the pans over water, and prevent their approach.
Peckham. J. T. Neville.
The month of May is a growing time with the Pink. If the season should prove a dry one, take care that they have a plentiful supply of water. In dry, sandy soils, if a good mulching of cow-manure be given, it will prove of great service in keeping the roots cool and moist. Hoe the surface now and then, that the atmosphere may penetrate to the fibres. If fine blooms are required for exhibition, the flower-stems must be reduced in number, which will throw strength into the remainder, and thereby increase the size of the blossoms. The reduction must be regulated according to the strength and habit of the plant. Sorts that produce large full flowers should be thinned but sparingly, if at all; while the weaker kinds, that produce small flowers and but few petals, may be reduced to one stem only, or two, if the plants are unusually strong. Pinks intended for seeding require different treatment. Every bud and every stem should remain on the plants, to insure a good crop; for by throwing too much strength into the blossoms, numbers of the stamens, or chives, are forced into petals, or parts of petals, and thereby the object in view is in a great measure defeated.
I would therefore advise selecting a few of the most approved sorts for this purpose, and marking them conspicuously before commencing to thin out the general stock, which will call your attention to them towards the latter part of the month.
These plants are fast approaching their time of blooming. If the weather should set in hot and dry at the beginning of the month, a great supply of water will be requisite, and must be given, to assist the swelling of the pods, and to insure a free development of the blossom; for if starved for want of moisture at this period, the plants become infested with the green-fly, grow lank and weak, and the blooms perish in the buds. Prepare all requisites for blooming; the glasses for forwarding, the shades and tables, etc, and have all clean and fit for immediate use. Go over the plants daily, select the most promising buds, and carefully tie them in good time; and while performing this part of the business. look to those that have been tied a day or two previous and if too tight, release them, and retie. Manure water may even two or three times a week; and during the expanding of the blossoms, water the footways round the beds once or twice during the heat of the day; and endeavour to keep a humid atmosphere floating around the opening buds.
The piping-bed should now be prepared, and no time lost in taking cuttings.