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.
Once on a time there was a craze on dwarf pears. Millions were raised, and all were sold. Now when a person has anything to sell it is but natural that he should see all the good points in the article he has to sell, and that he should feel he has to sell just exactly what every one wants to buy. There are many who want to make money out of fruit culture, as well as many who simply want to enjoy a fruit garden and eat of the fruits thereof; and so it was only to be expected that when a seller had a pear tree that would bear in a few years from planting, would admit of 400 trees to the acre, and bear "so many bushels to a tree, so many trees to the acre, so many dollars for a bushel, such immense profits from so many bushels," so many should rush to their culture. Then again it was natural that those who read and believed in all this and planted accordingly, should pronounce dwarf pears a humbug, when they found so little for their pains. But after all, the failure is not so much because the pear is dwarf, but because the proper knowledge was wanting wherewith to treat them.
We know of many cases where dwarf pear culture is a great success, but it is usual in these cases to hear the remark that they are now standards; that the pear has thrown out its own roots, and outgrown those of the Quince. But this is no real objection. They never grow as large as an original standard would do, and they have given the owners all the advantages of dwarfs while they remain in that condition. There are some who can make the dwarf pear profitable even as a fruit crop, but few will be able to do this who are not well skilled in practical details. For these, dwarf pears will be still attractive. As to what constitutes skill in dwarf pear culture, it is needless to state here. The readers of the Gardener's Monthly know that an immense amount of failure has come from defective teaching. Fruit culture is not the complicated and costly study some would make it. It takes knowledge and skill to find out how simple and easy a thing fruit culture is. In the pear especially is this true. It is on the whole one of the most satisfactory of fruits to handle in the American climate, not equal to the apple or grape as a commercial venture perhaps, but as an adjunct to the amateur's garden.
Much injury has been done to fruit culture by the expressed dread some cultivators have of a " too rank growth," and a consequent advice not to manure. A fruit tree never suffers from too much manure, if the roots are healthy. If a tree seems to suffer after a heavy manuring, it is only that it was in a bad way before this. Of course, if one were to empty a cesspool, a cart load of fresh lime, or some other inordinate mass of food under a tree, it would suffer; but our meaning is that no amount of manure that would be found of benefit to any regular garden will be otherwise than beneficial to a fruit tree, if the roots be healthy.
Celery as it grows will require earthing up, and endive successively blanched; but the main business of the month will be preparations for housing the root crops for the Winter. Beets are generally the first thing attended to, they being the most easily injured by frost; carrots, salsafy and parsnips following. The latter are never really good until they have been well frozen; and many leave them entirely in the ground, taking them up as wanted for use. We prefer taking them all up and packing them in sand or half-dried loam, in a shed or cellar, which can be kept just above freezing point; yet the cooler the better. If suffered to be in heaps they heat and soon rot. In the same situation endive and Cape Brocoli may be preserved to the end of the year - they are taken up, with a small quantity •of earth adhering to them, and placed side by side together. Tomatoes, if dug up also, and suspended, roots upward, in such a situation, will keep good a long time; but this must be done before the least frost has touched them. It is a wise plan to sow a little more Early York Cabbage early in the month, as in fine mild Winters the September sowing grows too forward when protected. A very slight protection is better for them than any elaborate affair, the sun principally injuring them.
The same remarks apply to lettuce intended to be kept over Winter for Spring use, though the sun is less destructive to them than to the cabbage.
Forcing vegetables, wherever the least command of heat can be had, is the most interesting and useful part of gardening. It is not by any means what it is often considered, an operation by which you pay a dollar for a mouthful. The asparagus, sea kale, lettuce, radish, and cauliflower can be had for months earlier than in the open ground, wherever a regular temperature of 55° can be obtained - with, of course, the proper amount of air, moisture, etc. Asparagus can be had under a greenhouse stage, though of course the tops will not be so green, nor will it be much else but indifferent under such circumstances, as it would be in full light.
Radishes require an abundance of air, and lettuce light. Cauliflowers, if kept for some months with all the light and air possible, at a temperature of 50° or 55°, may have it gradually raised to 60° or 65°, and even 70°, and thus come into use in February, when there is no vegetable more desirable.
Cucumbers, tomatoes and beans require a temperature of at least 65° to begin with. If a temperature of 70° can be maintained in the coldest weather, a few of these might be sown by the end of the month, which will produce some very acceptable dishes about New Year's day. Rhubarb, if carefully taken up at the fall of the leaf and potted, or put into boxes, will also come forward well if put under the stage in a house of the last temperature.