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 great anxiety at this time will be to preserve those things that have been growing in the open ground during Summer, for, though when they were set out we had no thought of anything more than Summer decoration, we hate to let things go to destruction that have afforded us so much pleasure. The feeling is commendable, and yet it is to be kept in check or we overburden ourselves with material which becomes a tax on time and space to care for. Still there are always some to be lifted, and those who have not the advantage of professional gardeners to assist them, may find a few hints serviceable to them.
In taking up things from the ground for potting, care should be taken to have the pots well drained, with pieces of potsherds over the hole. The more rapidly water passes through the soil the better plants will grow. Pots could be made without holes, and the water would all go through the porous sides in time; but that is too slow a way, so we make a hole to admit of its more rapid escape, and we place the broken pots over the hole to make a vacuum, which assists the objects of the hole. In very small pots, or with plants which have strong enough roots to rapidly absorb all the moisture they get, and speedily ask for more, "crocking" is not necessary.
For potting plants the soil should be as dry as possible. So dry that it will crumble readily when pinched by the finger and thumb; and it should be pounded in about the side of the pot without mercy. When the pot is large, there will be danger of breaking the pot by the proper punching of the soil about the plant, if there is any flaw in the pot. For this, reasonably good gardeners protect large pots by a piece of wire under the rim.
After potting, the plants should be well watered and kept in the shade for a few days. If they still show signs of keeping a wilted appearance long, it may be as well to pick off a few of the leaves. Some things of not too tender a nature can be kept in cellars for Spring. The bedding geraniums are often treated in this way. The leaves and softer parts are cut away, the whole tied in bunches, and hung up. At times the cellar is rather dry for this, and then some MGSS is packed in among the roots and kept a little damp.
Hanging-baskets which have been in piazzas or under trees all Summer will need to be taken to the parlors soon. Many take out and reset at this season under an impression that the soil is exhausted; but a much better way is to let them alone and sprinkle a little very well decayed manure among them.
There are but few things in the greenhouse that will require special treatment at this time. Camellias and Azaleas, as they cease to grow, will require less water; but it is now so well known that moisture is favorable to growth, and comparative dryness favorable to flowering, that we need do no more than refer to the fact.
Bulbs for flowering in pots should be placed at once. Four or five-inch pots are suitable. One Hyacinth and about three Tulips are sufficient for each. After potting, plunge the pots over their rims in sand under the greenhouse stage, letting them remain there until the pots have become well filled with roots, before bringing them on to the shelves to force.