This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The injury to the grape vine by the phylloxera, does not seem as bad as it was a few years ago, probably from increase in the number of its parasitic enemies. At least we find grapes now doing tolerably well in places where they once failed. It is our impression that the insect was distributed with grape vines from some leading nurseries before people knew what it was. Now people examine their plants before they set them out, and destroy those which have little gall-like grains of wheat among the fibres.
Apples, Peaches, Plums and Quinces should also be examined before setting out for any "borers" that may be feeding in the stems near the collar of the tree. Often the destructive insects are introduced into places in this quiet way that knew them not before.
In planting dwarf Pears, it is very important to have them on a spot that has a moist subsoil, either naturally or made so by subsoiling or mixing some material with the soil that will give out moisture in dry weather. Trees already planted on a dry gravelly subsoil, should have a circle dug out two feet deep, and two or three feet from the tree. This should be filled up with well-enriched soil. If the dwarf Pear does not grow freely, it is a sign that something is wrong. It should at once be severely pruned, so as to aid in producing a vigorous growth.
Strawberry beds are frequently made at this season, and though they will not bear fruit the same year, are much more certain to grow, and will produce a much better crop next year than when left till next August. Though it is a very common recommendation, we do not value a highly manured soil. It should be well trenched or subsoiled; tills we consider of great value. In rich soils there is too much danger of having more leaves than fruit.
Buds that were inoculated last Fall should not be forgotten; but as soon as vegetation has pushed forth, the buds should be examined, and all other issues from the old stock taken away. It may also be necessary to make a tie, in order to get the young shoot of the bud to go in the way from which you would not hereafter have it depart.
Grafting can be continued till the buds of the trees are nearly pushed into leaf. Sometimes, from a pressure of other work, some valuable scions have been left on hand too late to work. It may be interesting to know, that if such scions are put into the ground, much the same as if they were cuttings, they will keep good for six weeks or two months, by which time the bark will run freely, when the scions may be treated as buds, and will succeed just as well as buds taken from young summer shoots.
Few things mark a well-kept garden better than an abundance of all kinds of herbs. Now is the time to make the beds. Sage, thyme and lavender grow from slips, which may be set in now, precisely as if an edging of box were to be made of them. They grow very easily. Basil and sweet marjoram must be sown in a rich, warm border. Salsafy and scorzonera like a damp, rich soil.
Celery, with most families, is an important crop, and should be sown about this period. A very rich, moist spot, that will be shaded from the mid-day April sun, should be chosen, - or a box in a frame, by those who have the conveniences.
It is not a good plan to cut all the asparagus shoots as soon as they appear. A few sprouts should always be left to grow from each, to strengthen the plants.
Lettuce, for a second crop of salad, should be sown about the end of the month. The Drumhead cabbage is usually sown for a summer crop; but the old kinds of cos lettuce would, no doubt, be found very valuable in rich soils.
Dwarf beans should have very warm and deep soil - sow them only two inches apart. The Valentine is yet the best early, take it all in all.
Bean poles may be planted preparatory to sowing the Lima bean in May. Where bean poles are scarce, two or three hoop poles, set into the ground one foot from each other, and tied together at the top, make as good a pole, and perhaps better.
In field culture tomatoes are rarely if ever staked. The plants lie on the ground and take care of themselves. It probably would not pay for the extra expense of staking in such cases, as the stakes would be in the way of the horse-hoe and demand so much more hand-labor to keep the weeds down. Yet we are not sure but that some plan of staking would be profitable for all this extra labor; for the tomatoes are much more abundant, more numerous, and of better flavor when staked than when suffered to ramble over the ground.
For garden culture there is no doubt about its being the most profitable plan, and it becomes a"question as to what is the best way of doing the thing. In our own case we use stout branches that have numerous snags on, and which help to support the immense weight of fruit which our plants always bear. Others use a long trellis, sloping and meeting at the top a section which looks like an inverted v ( A ), but the cool air so much shaded soil induces, is not favorable to the best results in tomato growing, as the tomato rejoices in warm ground. Some take pains to make neat upright trellises and train and prune the plants, making a pretty garden picture, as well as producing capital results for the kitchen. Herewith is a picture from Mr. H. A. Dreer, the well-known seedsman of Philadelphia, of one trained in this way.