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.
Fruit trees are often thought to be injured by over-bearing, and so they are; but very often bearing trees break down sooner than they would do by having been permitted to bear '•sprouts" from the main branches. These may be cut out every Autumn and Winter at the annual pruning; but for all it is an injury to let them grow at all. As far as practicable all useless shoots should be rubbed out as fast as they appear in the growing season. In like manner young grafts are often injured by allowing sprouts to remain on too long. All should be taken oft' as soon as practicable. If however the graft be on a very strong vigorous shoot, and the graft itself be not over-strong and vigorous, as is, for instance, very often the case on tall stems that have had a good head taken off before grafting, all the sprouts from the stem should not be taken off at once, but only a few of the lowermost ones, every few days, till in a week or so all may be taken off up to the graft. It was said by the gardeners of the olden time that pruning in Summer weakens, but pruning in Winter strengthens.
Advanced gardening has discovered that pruning at any time weakens, and those who have the time and the disposition to look after fruit trees as they should be seen to, should so try to help the plant to grow as we want it, so as to save any pruning at all.
Fruit trees transplanted in the Spring, if they make only a very weak growth, may be cut back freely, as this is the only way to get a thrifty growth. Though pruning weakens, transplanting also weakens, and pruning is the least evil of the two. Where good fruit is desired there is nothing better than early thinning. Of course the weaker the tree is from transplanting or from any cause the less it should be permitted to bear.
Where the fire blight attacks the pear tree, the best practice is to cut away at once and burn the diseased branches. The new growth which follows this seldom has the disease in the following years. We have known of orchards that have been very badly served by the fire blight, nothing indeed being left but bare stumps, which are now as perfect as any trees can be.
For the codling moth nothing has been found superior to placing hay bands or bands of some other sheltering material round the trunks of trees, and then destroying the eggs laid therein. It will not wholly destroy the trouble in districts where nobody does anything; as after destroying one's own pests he has to entertain his neighbors; but still it does some good even here.
Fine rich color is always esteemed as one of the criterions whereby to judge of the excellence of a fruit. Sun-light is of first importance; but it is not generally known that this is injurious when in excess. In a dry atmosphere, with great sun heat, where the evaporating process goes on faster than the secretive principle, what should become a rich rosy blush in a fruit, is changed to a sickly yellow; and the rich jet black of a grape becomes a foxy red. Some grape growers of eminence, in view of the facts, shade their vineries during the coloring process : but others, instead, keep the atmosphere as close and moist as possible.
Peas for Fall crop may be sown. It is, however, useless to try them unless in a deeply trenched soil, and one that is comparatively cool in the hottest weather overhead, or they will certainly mildew and prove worthless. In England where the atmosphere is so much more humid than ours, they nevertheless have great difficulty in getting Fall peas to go through free from mildew; and to obviate these drying and mildew-producing influences, they often plant them in deep trenches, made as for celery, and are then much more successful with them.
Cabbage and brocoli may still be set out for Fall crops, also requiring an abundance of manure to insure much success. Lettuce, where salads are much in request, may yet be sown. The Curled Indian is a favorite summer kind; but the varieties of Cos, or plain-leaved kinds, are good. They take more trouble, having to be tied up to blanch well. Many should not be sown at a time, as they soon run to seed in hot weather.
At the end of June some celery may be set out for early crops, though for the main crop a month later will be quite time enough. It was once customary to plant in trenches dug six or more inches below the surface; but the poverty of the soil usually at this depth more than decreases the balance of good points in its favor. Some of our best growers now plant entirely on the surface, and depend on drawing up the soil, or the employment of boards or other artificial methods of blanching.
Beans produce an enormous crop in deeply trenched soils, and are improved as much as any crop by surface manuring. "We hope this method of fertilizing the soil will be extensively adopted for garden crops this season. Those who have not yet tried it will be surprised at the economy and beneficial results of the practice.
Cucumbers for pickling may be sown this month, and endive for Fall salid set out. Parsley for Winter use may be sown now, in boxes of rich soil, and set in a cool, shady place till it germinates.
Asparagus beds should not be cut off after the stalks seem to come up weak, or there will be but a poor crop the next season, and the beds will "run out " in a few years.
Tomatoes, after trying all kinds of trellises recommended, will be found to do best on stakes tied up singly. It is best to plant a strong pole as for lima beans, with the plants when first set out, and tie up as they grow. Marketmen generally let them grow as they will on the ground, which, perhaps, although not yielding as much, costs less labor, and may thus be most profitable.
The Swede turnip or rata baga should be sown about the end of the month. A well enriched piece of ground is essential, as by growing fast they get ahead of the ravages of the fly. Manures abounding in the phosphates, bone dust, for instanee, are superior for the turnip.
Sweet potatoes must be watched that the vines do not root in the ground as they run, which will weaken the main crop of roots. They should be gone over about once a month, and with a rake or pole, the vines disturbed somewhat from their position.
Parsley for Winter use may be sown now in boxes of rich soil, and set in a cool, shady place till it germinates.
Herbs for drying for future use, should be cut just about the time they are coming into flower. Dry them in the shade, and after sufficiently dry to put away, tie them in bunches and hang in a cool shed, or place them loosely between the paper and stow away in cupboards or drawers - the last mode is by far the cleanest and most approved plan with the best housekeepers. Some, indeed, powder the leaves at once after drying, and put them away in bags, ready for use.