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.
Many kinds of fruit trees that have arrived at a a bearing age, may perhaps be growing very vigorously and producing very little or no fruit. Those who have read our remarks in past numbers, will understand that whatever checks the wood producing principle, tends to throw the plant into a bearing state. For this purpose, summer pruning is often employed, which by checking the most vigorous shoots, weakens the whole plant, and throws it in a fruitful condition. The same result is obtained by root pruning, with this difference, that by the last operation the whole of the branches are proportionately checked, while by pinching only the strong growing shoots, the weak ones gain at the expense of the stronger ones. Presuming that the branches have been brought into a satisfactory condition in this respect, root pruning may now be this month resorted to. We cannot say exactly how far from the trunk the roots may be operated on, so much depends on the age and vigor of the tree. In a luxuriant, healthy tree, one-fourth may be safely dispensed with. In a four year old standard pear tree, for instance, the roots will, perhaps, have reached four feet from the trunk on every side. A circle six feet in diameter may then be cut around the stem, extending two feet beneath the surface.
It is not necessary to dig out the soil to accomplish the result; a strong post spade, or strong spade of any kind, may be driven down vigorously describing the circle, and doing the work very effectually. Of all trees, the peach is as much benefitted by root pruning as any.
August and September are favorite months to plant out Strawberries, with those who desire a crop of fruit the next season. In making a strawberry-bed a warm, dry spot of ground should be chosen, with, if possible, a good loamy or clayey subsoil. A moist wet situation is very unfavorable. It is best to subsoil at least eighteen inches deep, and if the soil is poor, let it be moderately enriched with well decayed stable manure. In setting out, take care that the plants do not become dry from the time they are taken up till they are replanted, and see that they do not wither afterwards. Many persons cut off the leaves, if they are afraid of their wilting under hot suns, but a much better plan is to shade. Inverted 4-inch flower-pots are excellent for this purpose; they may be taken off at night. The dews will so invigorate them, that the shade will only be required for a few days. Sometimes in September they may need a good watering; but this should never be attempted unless a thorough saturation of the bed be given; and in a few days after, the hoe and rake should be employed to loosen and level the surface, which the heavy watering will, in all probability, have caused to bake and become very crusty.
The Grape vine at this season will require attention, to see that the leaves are all retained healthy till thoroughly ripened. It is not a sign of healthiness for a vine to grow late; on the contrary, such late growth generally gets killed in the winter - but the leaves should all stay on, to insure the greatest health of the vine, until the frost comes, when they should all be so mature as to fall together. Frequent heavy syring-ings are amongst the best ways to keep off insects from out-door grapes, and so protect the foliage from their ravages.
Towards the end of the month, a sowing of Spinach may be made in rich soil, which will come in use before winter. That desired for winter and early spring use, is usually sown in September in this region. A few Turnips may be also sown for an early crop, but will be hot and stringy unless the soil is very rich.
As fast as endive is desired for salad, it should be blanched. Matting thrown over is the best for this purpose, as the plants are not so liable to rot as when pots or boards are employed. In cold or mountainous regions, Melons are hastened in the ripening process and improved in flavor by a piece of tile being placed under the fruit.
Celery will require earthing up as it grows, to get it to blanch well. It is not well, however, to commence too early, as earthing up tends in a slight degree, to weaken the growth of the plants. Take care also, not to let the soil get into the heart in earthing, or the crown is apt to rot.
At this season of the year, more than perhaps at any other, it is important to hoe and rake between the rows of growing crops. A loose surface soil not only admits the various gases that the roots luxuriate in, but it also prevents evaporation and checks a too great absorption of heat, and then, besides all this, the weeds are kept down, and neatness and order reigns. After every heavy shower, if the time can at all be spared, the hoe, and the rake should be freely employed.