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.
When any of our fruit growers have a little trouble to raise fruit, they generally wish that they could "do as they do in Europe." But there too they have enemies to fight, and this is what a correspondent of the London Joural of Horticulture has to say about it:
"I had a quarter of gooseberry bushes cut hard down last Spring which had made good heads, but nearly every bud has been taken, so that they will have to be cut hard back again. I have now come to the conclusion that the only ■safe way to grow common bush fruit is to plant thickly, leaving blank spaces at intervals for the sake of convenience, gathering the fruit and netting the bushes over. Do the netting early in the season, for when once the buds begin to swell, the work of destruction is done in a very' short time.
If this plan is adopted, and the pruning de-layed until the bushes are green - as gooseberries may be pruned with impunity at such a stage - hoops of green hazel or other pliable wood might be bent over the bushes to support the nets. Some of the long shoots will of course have a tendency to keep the nets from pressing too closely; the hoops to be left until the fruit begins to ripen, as at that time the blackbirds, thrushes, and sparrows are great thieves, and must be guarded against; and we can seldom keep either gooseberries or currants without protection after they show signs of coloring.
Later on come a host of bluebottles, flies, wasps, and hornets, the latter being rather numerous about here. Sparrows, hawfinches, and jackdaws are very fond of young peas, and last Spring the birds nearly cleared a quarter of early peas before they were fit for table use; and I was somewhat puzzled to account for the wholesale manner in which they were taken. I had accused rats of taking them, and had set traps, in one of which we caught a fine old jackdaw. This had a deterring effect, as the peas did not disappear so fast afterwards. Wood pigeons are great garden robbers in Spring. All these depredations take place early in the morning before the workmen are about. In the Autumn came the tits and spoiled a number of pears; others we were obliged to gather before they were ripe, and many of them shrivelled".