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.
In practical hints suited to the season, it is very hard to say much that is new, or that has not been often gone over before. The greatest gain of the few past years has been in divesting fruit culture of much of that mystery with which it was formerly surrounded. Almost any soil will grow fruit trees tolerably well, and a very little common sense and observation will teach people how to manage them in a tolerable sort of a way. Of course, if the very highest excellence is desired, then extra care in the selection of spots, and extra expense and skill, are necessary. But the trouble has chiefly been that new beginners have been taught by writers who were aiming at the highest excellence, which after all can only be reached by experience; and starting at this wrong end, so many people fail. The fact is very few men who recommend spending from two to five hundred dollars an acre in getting ready a fruit orchard, ever do it themselves.
Wherever grafting is to be done, many proceed at once when they think frost is over. Our experience is that the best time is just as the leaf buds are bursting. The grafts must be cut long before, and buried in the earth to keep them from shrivelling. When the scions are thus preserved grafting may be done to near midsummer. Very strong and long grafts may be used on all trees, if not done too early. Marshall P. Wilder gets strong trees very soon by this plan. If too early done these long shoots would dry up. These re-marks are for amateurs who have but a few trees to do; and it is now almost a necessity for every one to have some varieties which are not found to do well in a locality re-grafted with those that will. Nurserymen who have much to do, must begin early; but they use short grafts, with little evaporating surface exposed. For wax to keep out the air from the wound, farmers use common earth, with a piece of rag tied around to keep it from washing away. Others who have more to do, use beeswax, rosin, and lard in about equal proportions, melted, and applied a little warm.
Some years ago we published a plan for making a liquid wax; simply melted rosin poured into a bottle of alcohol.
Grape vines are of course all pruned and tied up. Just as the buds are bursting the steel blue beetle attacks them. Hand-killing is the remedy. Where grape vines are to grow fast, use twiggy stakes or wire trellis for them to cling to. It is as good as manure. Also in planting grapes be sure to have a dry bottom. The best security against wet roots is to raise the soil above the level of the surface. Also the drier the soil the richer it may be without risk of injury. Organic manures sour rapidly in wet places, and injure fibres.
Gooseberries and currants should have their weaker shoots thinned out, and a little of those left shortened. It makes the fruit much larger. The foreign varieties mildew badly unless grown where the roots will be moist and cool in Summer, but not wet. All these mountain or high northern races, want a cool Summer soil. With the exception of the Cluster there has not been much improvement on the Houghton's Seedling which is the most popular of the more hardy American class. Of currants the Red and White Dutch and Versaillaise are we think still the best.
In those favored localities where the frost has melted before the suns of Spring, the gardener will lose no time in getting in his potatoes, beets, carrots, parsnips, peas, spinage, radishes, lettuce, onions, and salisfy. These should be the first crops put in after the season breaks up for good. The earlier they are in, the better. Asparagus, rhubarb, and horse radish beds may now be made. Asparagus roots are generally planted too thickly to produce fine shoots-they starve one another. A bed five feet wide should have three rows, and the plants set about eighteen inches apart. A deep soil is very important, as the succulent stems require every chance they can get for obtaining moisture. About four inches beneath the soil is sufficient to plant them. Rhubarb also requires a deep, rich, and moist soil. Horse radish beds are best made by taking pieces of strong roots, about one inch long, and making a hole about a foot or fifteen inches deep, with a dibble, and dropping the piece to the bottom of the hole; a clean straight root will then rise up through the soil.
Crowns or eyes are better than pieces of roots, where they can be had, and a rich clayey soil better than a light sandy one.
About the middle or end of the month, or still later in the North-say the middle of Marchcelery and late cabbage may be sown. Here we usually sow the second week in March.
All gardens should have beds of herbs. They are always looked for in the Fall, and nearly always forgotten in Spring. Now is the time to plant thyme, sage, mint, balm, and other perennial herbs, and parsley and other seeds of hardy kinds may be sown. When we say now, it is, of course, understood to mean where the frost has evidently broken up for the season. Our readers in less favored climes will not forget it when it does.