This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V20", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Many complain of the struggle with insects and fungoid diseases. Some of this may be cured by washing trees in the winter season. Under glass, the best peach and grape growers would never think of letting the season go over without washing the trunks after pruning, with a mixture of soot, sulphur and lime. If the bark, as in the grape, be loose, it is stripped off first. The eggs of thrip, red spider, scale, and seeds of many"blights" and mildews, are thus destroyed. It is just the same benefit to wash young orchard trees. And this is especially true of scale covered trees. If the young trees are bad, cut away the twigs, so as the more easily to cover the whole tree, to the enemy's destruction.
It will be well to note what has been said about linseed oil in our last year's volume. There is no doubt but it will destroy scale and improve the health of the trees; but in a few cases it has been destructive, evidently from the use of mineral oil, and not pure linseed. The purity of the article should be ascertained. 'Trees that have suffered badly from scale often get hide-bound - a slitting up and down with the pruning knife will set them on their feet again.
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.
And, above all, look after the nutrition of the trees. 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 conntry where corn can be successively taken for half a lifetime without manure. On these soils we need not manure fruit trees, but in all others we must, to have good results. This is particularly 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 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.
In the vegetable garden preparation is being made for early spring crops. Radish, lettuce and beets require but very little heat to start them, and may be put in at once when the ground is warm and dry, and there is no fear of much more frost. A little frost will not hurt them, even though it does follow the sowing, unless the germ is about pushing. This is the time when most hardy seeds suffer from frost, When they do suffer at all. The pea is also one of these early vegetables which a little frost will not hurt. Except, however, in the extreme South, the most of our readers will not think much of these things till next month.