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.
Those who have greenhouses, pits or frames, will now see to having any necessary repairs attended to. Whitewashing annually is serviceable, destroying innumerable eggs of insects, in the war against which the gardener should always take the initiative; sulphur mixed with the whitewash is also serviceable. Powerful syringing is a great help to keeping plants clean, and should be frequently resorted to. Those who continually use the syringe, and are watchful for the first appearances of insects, are seldom on the search for remedies. It is so with window as with greenhouse plants. The one who looks at each plant every day, turns up the leaves and examines them, and watches for the first abnormal appearances to trace out the matter, almost always has healthy plants. Often plants in these situations cannot well be syringed, but a sponge is a very good substitute.
This is the most active season for striking cuttings with the view to have plants for next Spring. It is not amons the least signs of advancement that striking cuttings is now a very simple operation, when once it was one of the great mysteries in the art of gardening. We were told to be very careful about watering, but now we find that if the cutting is properly selected and the temperature just right, the more water the better. Indeed saucers without any holes, so that when watered the sand in them is like mud, are found to be among the best of all propagating pans, and the little patent devices, or curiously constructed pots for propagating, which in the past were among the most important outfits of a new beginner's attempts at gardening, are now found cracked or rusting in some old shed. But even with the simplification of this cutting business some art must be used. Indeed it requires experience to succeed well. The very soft wood will perhaps rot, and so will the very hard wood; and then the position may be too hot or too cool. Generally a half ripe cutting put into a pot or box of sand, put right in the full sun, and kept copiously and continuously wet, will rot in a few days.
Those who try it for the first time may fail either wholly or in part; but if they are observing they will soon trace the cause of failure, and have better luck next time.
It is a very good>time to look around for soil for potting purposes. The surface soil of an old pasture forms the best basis, which can be afterwards lightened with sand, or manured with any special ingredients to suit special cases, as required. The turfy or peaty surfaces of old wood or bogs also come very "handy." A stock of moss should also be on hand for those who crock pots, in order to cover the potsherd; moss also comes in useful for many purposes connected with gardening, and should be always on hand.
People not in the secret are often puzzled over the terms used by gardeners in potting. Soil they regard as the earth - earth of any kind that is ready to receive the plant or seed. A heavy soil is that in which clay preponderates over sand. A sandy soil is that in which sand is abundant with the clay. Loam bothers some people - generally it is used as the equivalent of " soil," writers often using " sandy loam " when they might just as well say " sandy soil." But strictly it is the upper surface of clay land which has become black by contact with the air and culture. A loamy soil would be understood as a rather heavy earth lightened by culture.
Plants intended to be taken from the open ground and preserved through the Winter should be lifted early, that they may root a little in the pots. A moist day is of course best for the purpose, and a moist shady place the best to keep them in for a few days afterwards. Anything that is somewhat tender had better be housed before the cold nights come. Some things are checked without actual frost.