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.
In getting ready for spring; vegetables do not fear to pile on the manure. It is the rank rich growth which gives the agreeable tenderness to them, and without an abundance of manure this cannot be done. Deep soil is also a great element of success. Though we do not favor sub-soiling and underdraining for fruit trees, we regard it as very profitable in vegetable growing Asparagusbeds may have the soil raked off them a little, if it was thrown up from the alley-way in the fall. It allows the sun to get to the roots earlier, and the crop is forwarded thereby. If the beds are poor, they may have a dressing of guano, or superphosphate, which has been found very beneficial to this crop. It has become almost a stereotyped recommendation to have "salt applied," but there is a good deal of the humbug about it. In dry, sandy soils it does a little good, and a little in whatever manure is applied is acceptable to them, but more has been made of the salt theory with Asparagus than it deserves. Asparagus beds may be got ready as soon as the ground is sufficiently dry to admit of working. A deep soil is all-important; two feet, at least. and a situation should be chosen that is warm, and yet not too dry.
The roots should be set about four inches under the surface, twenty inches or two feet from each other, and the rows eighteen or twenty inches apart. Large, fine Asparagus cannot be obtained by crowding the plants; strong two and three year old plants are the best; although in good, rich soil, one year old plants will often bear a good crop the year after planting. The length of time Asparagus requires to come into bearing depends much on the soil. It is useless to attempt raising it in poor ground.
This is generally supposed to be the pruning season. Orchard trees generally get too much pruning. In young trees only thin out so as not to have the main leaders crossing or interfering with one another. Or when a few shoots grow-much stronger than the rest, cut these away. Insist on all the branches in young trees growing only on a perfect equality. On older trees which have been in bearing a number of years, it will often benefit to cut away a large portion of the bearing limbs. By a long series of bearings, branches will often get bark bound and stunted, preventing the free passage of the sap to the leaves. In such cases the sap seems to revenge itself by forcing out vigorous young shoots a long way down from the top of the tree. It is down to these vigorous young shoots that we would cut the bearing branches away. One must use his own judgment as to the advisability of this. If the tree bears as fine and luscious fruit as ever of course no such severe work need be done, but if not, then now is the time.
In young orchards some species of scale insects are likely to be troublesome. These should be killed by washing at this season. If the trees be very badly infested, cut back the young shoots, and the stouter branches can then be more thoroughly done. Some people use weak lye for washing, with good results; we do not object to some lime and sulphur going in with it. Old trees are very much assisted by having the rough bark scraped off of the trunk and main branches, and then coated with a similar wash. Never mind what people say about stopping up the "breathing pores." Try it once, and you will always want to repeat the practice.
And above all look after the nutrition of the lives. Some people say that land which will raise good corn will grow good fruit trees, which is all right; but they should add that like corn they require regular and continuous manuring. There are some parts of the country where corn can be successively taken for a half a life time without manure; on these soils we need not manure fruit trees, but in all others we must, to have good results. This is particulary essential where trees are grown in grass, as both the trees and the grass require food. Where trees are grown in grass, we prefer top dressing in June or July, but if it has not been done then, do it now. Where trees are kept under a clean surface culture, the manure is of course ploughed or harrowed in with the crop in the spring of the year. To know whether trees require manure or not ask the leaves. If in July they are of a dark rich green, nothing need be done to them, but if they have a yellow cast, hunger is what is the matter. This of course is supposing they are not infested by borers, in which case they will be yellowish in the richest soil.