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.
Grape-vines in the open air, on arbors and trellises, should have their pruning finished before warm Spring days set in, or they will bleed. It does not injure them much, but it looks bad. The pruning must be regulated by the condition of the vine. If the vines are young and the shoots weak, cut them all back, to make a new and vigorous growth. If already a fair quantity of strong shoots of last season's growth exists, cut out the weaker ones, so as to leave enough of stronger ones. The cane system, slightly modified, is best for arbors and trellises in the hands of amateurs generally. This implies a new set of canes every year or two. If, as frequently happens from bad management, all the young and strong-bearing wood exists only at the end of the vines, - and these latter have become nothing but long, ropy-looking apologies for what a vine should be - the whole cane may be buried down in the soil to where the strong shoots spring from, and the young wood of last season trained up from this.
The plant will then recover its good appearance quite as well as by •cutting down, with the advantage of not sacrificing a year's crop of fruit.
Many kinds of raspberries, especially in dry soils, have a tendency to throw up innumerable suckers. These should be thinned out. Three or four canes are enough to leave in a"hill".
We like, however, to grow raspberries in rows, where each cane may have a chance to enjoy an independent existence of about a square foot of soil for itself.
We have before remarked that fruit trees and bushes should invariably be cut in severely, and not allowed to bear the same season of planting. It is a fatal mistake to look for fruit the same season of setting out the trees. This is at the expense of future growth, and without future growth there will be no future crops.
Raspberries, blackberries, etc, frequently bear and die when so treated. The canes should be cut back to a few inches on transplanting. Raspberries for fruit in fall should always be pretty well cut back. It is not essential with the regular Fall-bearing kinds, but it aids them much.
In the vegetable garden we might give a hint in asparagus culture, that if very large stalks are desired the soil must be, very rich, and the plants set as wide apart as rows of corn. It is to be observed that those who believe there are some varieties of asparagus that may be reproduced from seed,urge the necessity of planting very wide apart. We do not know that very large stalks are especially desirable, and for ordinary use would set the plants about twenty inches apart; about four inches beneath the surface is deep enough to set. Good deep soil is generally good; but if in a stiff soil, deepening it for asparagus, only makes a well into which the surrounding waters drain. It is much better in such situations to plant in raised beds. The alleys between, then serve as surface ditches. Many failures in planting asparagus, arise from this depth of bed, under such circumstances. The plants rot from water about them.
In the open ground Peas and Potatoes receive the first attention. Then Beets and Carrots. Then Lettuce, Radish, Spinach, Onions, Leeks and Parsley. Beyond this, unless in more favorable latitudes than Pennsylvania, little can be done till the first week in April. There is nothing gained in working soil until it has become warm and dry.
Those who have no Spinach sown in the Fall should do that right away; no amount of stable manure but will be a benefit to it, though guano, in even smallish doses, will kill it. Guano produces excellent Cabbage, mixed with the ground while it is being dug for that crop. Cabbage, is ready; and Potatoes are better in before the beginning of next month, if the ground is not too wet; many plant Cabbage between the Potato rows.
Onions are better put in early, but the ground ought to be dry, and trodden or beaten firm when the sets are planted; the ground ought not to have rank manure - wood ashes and pure un-dunged loam will alone produce an excellent crop.
To have Turnips good in Spring they must be sown very early; they are hardy, and must be put in as soon as the ground can be caught right.
Parsley delights in a rich gravelly loam, and should be sown very early.
Parsnips, another crop which should receive early attention, also delights in a deep gravelly soil, but detests rank manure.
Lettuce and Radishes continue to sow at intervals.
Herbs of all kinds are best attended to at this season - a good collection is a good thing.
The Carrot will thrive in soil similar to the Beet; lime is an excellent manure for it - we use Long Orange. Celery may be sown about the end of the month, in a bed of very light rich soil, and Tomatoes, Egg Plants and Peppers sown in pots or boxes, and forwarded. It is as bad to be too early with these as too late, as they become stunted.
In vegetable garden culture it must be remembered that we have to operate the reverse of fruit culture. A woody growth is what we require for fruit trees; but we need for vegetables a soft, spongy, succulent character, the very reverse of this. For this end the ground cannot be too deep, too rich, or too much cultivated. The hoe and the rake should be kept continually going, loosening the surface and admitting"air and light," as the old books used to say. There is not only an advantage in this for the direct benefit of the plant, but an early use of these tools keeps down the weeds, and thus we save labor. It is a great thing to be "forehanded" in the weed war.