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.
Those who have greenhouses, pits or frames, will now see to having any necessary repairs attended to. White-washing annually is serviceable, destroying innumerable eggs of insects, in the war against which the gardener should always take the initiative; sulphur mixed with the whitewash is also serviceable. Powerful syringing is a great help to keeping plants clean, and should be frequently resorted to.
One of the worst foes is the red spider, an insect so small that few persons know of its existence till they are educated to it. With a small lens they can be seen, living, red, dust-like dots, very active, and usually traveling with great rapidity over the leaves. But they are very destructive. Their presence is always indicated by grey or whitish spots on the green leaves. Whenever they are seen the leaves should be carefully examined, and syringing with water and sprinkling with sulphur employed.
Propagation of bedding plants for another season will now be progressing actively. Geraniums, and other things with firm wood, do best in sand spread on the open ground, with a glass frame partially shaded spread over it. A great benefit will be found in most cuttings if they are placed for a short time in slightly damp moss for a few days before inserting the same, so that the wood at the base of the cutting may be partially healed or calloused over. Verbenas, and such cuttings, can be kept but a few hours, unless the wood is very hard. The harder the wood the longer they will do to keep so. Ripe wood of some things will be benefitted by keeping two weeks. All this must be found out by each propagator himself.
It is a very good time to look around for soil for potting purposes. The surface soil of an old pasture forms the best basis, which can be afterwards lightened with sand, or manured with any special ingredients to suit special cases, as required. The turfy or peaty surfaces of old wood or bogs also come very "handy." A stock of moss should also be on hand for those who crock pots, in order to cover the potsherd; moss also comes in useful for many purposes connected with gardening, and should be always on hand.
People not in the secret are often puzzled over the terms used by gardeners in potting. Soil they regard as the earth - earth of any kind that is ready to receive the plant or seed. A heavy soil is that in which clay preponderates over sand. A sandy soil is that in which sand is abundant with the clay. Loam bothers some people - generally it is used as the equivalent of "soil," writers often using "sandy loam" when they might just as well say "sandy soil." But strictly it is the upper surface of clay land which has become black by contact with the air and culture. A loamy soil would be understood as a rather heavy earth lightened by culture.
Plants intended to be taken from the open ground and preserved through the winter should be lifted early, that they may root a little in the pots. A moist day is of course best for the purpose, and a moist shady place the best to keep them in for a few days afterwards. Anything that is somewhat tender had better be housed before the cold nights come. Some things are checked without actual frost.
Ornamental annuals for winter-flowering should be at once sown, not forgetting Mignonette, to be without which will be an unpardonable sin. Chinese Primroses, Cinerarias, Calceolarias, Pansies, Polyanthus, etc, should be sown. Winter-blooming Carnations and Violets should not be forgotten. They are now essentials in all good greenhouse collections. Call a Ethiopica, old as it is, is an universal favorite, and should now be repotted, when it will flower through the winter finely. Oxalis, Sparaxis, Cyclamens, and such Cape bulbs that flower through the winter, should be repotted now. They are an easily grown tribe of plants, and should be in more favor.