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.
The Apple is our standard fruit, and may always be relied on with reasonable care. The first care is good food. Some talk about too rich soil. We never saw the soil too rich for the apple. Where any trouble arises in apple culture, it will be safe to attribute it to other causes than rich soil. Kitchen ashes, in which table refuse is thrown, is an excellent top-dressing for apples. We like top-dressing better than any other system of manuring apple trees. Even nice ditch scrapings are good to top-dress with. where nothing else offers. Apple trees are often starved in other ways than by neglect to manure. The apple borer leads to starvation of-tener than poor soil. The supply of food is cut off by every move the borer makes. They work at the surface of the ground. Look for them now. If you have no time, set the boys and girls to work. Say they shall have no apples for Christmas or birthday presents if they do not. However, get the borers out somehow, even if by wire and jack-knife. If not soon done they will soon get out themselves, and give you more trouble in the future. After they have left, whether by your invitation or otherwise, keep them out; even though you have to lock the door after the horse is stolen. There is nothing like tarred paper to keep them out.
The paper must be put an inch or more below the ground, and two or three above. We have used gas-tar for years; but find that if the tar contains creosote, as it sometimes does, and the newspaper be very thin, it will once in awhile injure the bark. Pine tar will therefore be better.
In grape raising people seem to go to extremes in management. A few years ago the poor plant was in leading strings. It dared not make one free growth, but it was pinched and twisted into all sorts of ways. Now the "prune not at all" maxims are getting headway, and this is as bad, if not worse. First, grape growing was such a mystery it took a life time to study it, and the " old vigneron" was an awfully sublime sort of a personage. He is now among the unfrocked and unreverenced. But there is great art in good grape treatment; and yet this art is founded on a very few simple principles. For instance, leaves are necessary to healthy growth; but two leaves three inches wide are not of equal value to one leaf of six inches. To get these strong leaves, see that the number of sprouts be limited. If two buds push from one eye, pinch out the weakest whenever it appears. The other will be strengthened by this protective policy, and the laws of trade result in favor of larger and better leaves on the leaf that follows. Allow no one shoot to grow stronger than another. If there are indications of this, pinch off its top. While it stops to wonder what you mean by this summary conduct, the weaker fellows will profit to take what properly belongs to them.
There is little more science in summer pruning than this; but it takes some experience, joined with common sense, to apply it. This, indeed, is where true art comes in.