This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V18", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
A lady, writing from Maryland, says that last spring a year ago I proposed in the Monthly to tell something about raising Orange and Lemon trees, and wishes I would redeem my promise. She says she and her lady friends followed my instructions for growing the Calla lily with very favorable results, and adds that she is quite successful in raising seedling Geraniums, but has great difficulty in getting them to flower before they are very large plants. Now, I think this letter ought to have been sent to Mr. Meehan, as all letters of inquiry should be; but as she says I promised, I must, of course, perform. The first thing to be done is to procure the lemon seed (as both orange and lemon are generally grafted or budded on the lemon stock); this can easily be accomplished by saving all the perfect pips they find in the lemons when next they make lemonade; these should be dried and sown in light sandy soil in a pan or shallow box, and when two or three inches in height should be potted singly in small pots or planted out in the open ground.
If the weather be warm, and all danger from frosts be over, these seedlings when as thick as an ordinary lead pencil may be budded with orange or lemon buds in the same way as peach trees, and about the same time of the year - July, August, September. For my own part, I prefer grafting, as it forms a specimen much quicker than the slower process of budding, which causes us to wait until the next season before we can hope to get a growth. The only difficulty in the way of grafting is to keep the stock and graft, or rather that part which is operated upon, in an air-tight chamber during the process, which can be readily done in the following manner:
Suppose the stock to be one foot high, or as high as your fancy may dictate; with a sharp knife carefully cut the bark and outer wood down as shown in Fig. 1, then prepare the graft as shown in the same figure; insert the graft in the stock, carefully bringing the edges of the bark together so that the bark of the graft fits the bark of the stock (it is not necessary that the graft fit the stock exactly, if the bark of the graft meet the bark of the stock on one side it is all-sufficient); tie them in their place as shown in Fig. 2 with some soft tying material, such as cotton strings, matting, etc. After tying them smear the grafted part over with soft clay, shorten the stock back, place it in a glass jar, and stop the mouth up with moss, cotton or soft paper, so as to exclude all air during the time that the union is taking place. Shade the plant, and when the graft has taken, gradually harden it off by removing the material from the mouth of the jar for two or three hours each day, extending the time until it is thoroughly hardened, but in no case allow the graft to droop from too long exposure. In selecting the grafts be careful to take only such as have plump eyes on the half ripened wood, as the older the wood is the slimmer the chance of success.
The orange is generally distinguished from the lemon by its leaf stalks having wings, as shown in Fig. 4, while the lemon has a plain stalk as shown in Fig. 3. Both plants grow well in almost any rich sandy soil, and when growing require an abundance of water. The pots should be well drained with oyster shells, broken pots, or small stones, and the plant shifted into larger pots, as the old one becomes filled with roots.
The principal varieties of oranges and lemons are Sweet Orange. Bitter Orange. Finger Orange. Blood Orange.
Varieg. leaved Orange. Sweet Lemon. Sour Lemon. Citron.
Otaheite Orange. Myrtle-leav'd Orange. Mandarine Orange. Fr. Hybrid Orange.
The Lime. Californian Lime. Dwarf Lime. The Pummelce.
In regard to flowering seedling Geraniums the process which I generally practice after the plant has grown some eight inches is as follows: I make a six-inch cutting of the top, dry it in the shade for a day, and insert it in sand or sandy soil, keeping it moderately dry until rooted, when it should be potted and shifted, as it requires, or planted out in the ground.
By this means it will be found that seedling Geraniums flower much quicker and grow dwarfer than on the seed roots, and where room is no object, and stumps are kept, you get two plants instead of one, which is a great advantage if the seedling be worth preserving, etc.