This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V22", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Fruit trees that have proved undesirable from any cause, may be re-grafted with more favored kinds. This is an advantage with some varieties. It takes an age, for instance, to get the Seckel Pear into bearing condition from a nursery raised tree: but by grafting it on one that has already " arrived at years of discretion," the advantage of placing a young head on old shoulders, in this way is soon made manifest.
Grafting can be continued till the buds of the trees are nearly pushed into leaf. Sometimes, from a pressure of other work, some valuable scions have been left on hand too late to work. It may be interesting to know, that if such scions are put into the ground much the same as if they were cuttings, they will keep good for six weeks or two months, by which time the bark will run freely, when the scions may be treated as buds, and will succeed just as well as buds taken from young summer shoots.
The Apple is our standard fruit, and may always be relied on with reasonable care. The first care is good food. Some talk about too rich soil. We never saw the soil top rich for the apple. "Where any trouble arises in apple culture, it will be safe to attribute it to other causes than rich soil. Kitchen ashes, in which table refuse is thrown, is an excellent top-dressing for apples. We like top-dressing better than any other system of manuring apple trees. Even nice ditch scrapings are good to top-dress with, where nothing else offers. Apple trees are often starved in other ways than by neglect to manure. The apple borer leads to starvation of-tener than poor soil. The supply of food is cut off by every move the borer makes. They work at the surface of the ground. Look for them now. If you have no time, set the boys and girls to work. Say they shall have no apples for Christmas or birthday presents if they do not. However, get the borers out somehow, even if by wire and jack-knife. If not soon done they will soon get out themselves, and give you more trouble in the future. After they have left, whether by your invitation or otherwise, keep them out; even though you have to lock the door after the horse is stolen. There is nothing like tarred paper to keep them out.
The paper must be put an inch or more below the ground, and two or three above. We have used gas-tar for years; but find that if the tar contains creosote, as it sometimes does, and the newspaper be very thin, it will once in awhile injure the bark. Pine tar will therefore be better.
In grape raising people seem to go to extremes in management. A few years ago the poor plant was in leading strings. It dared not make one free growth, but it was pinched and twisted into all sorts of ways. Now the "prune not at all " maxims are getting headway, and this is as bad, if not worse. First, grape growing was such a mystery it took a life time to study it, and the " old vigneron " was an awfully sublime sort of a personage. He is now among the unfrocked and unreverenced. But there is great art in good grape treatment; and yet this art is founded on a very few simple principles. For instance, leaves are necessary to healthy growth; but two leaves three inches wide are not of equal value to one leaf of six inches. To get these strong leaves, see that the number of sprouts be limited. If two buds push from one eye, pinch out the weakest whenever it appears. The other will be strengthened by this protective policy, and the laws of trade result in favor of larger and better leaves on the leaf that follows. Allow no one shoot to grow stronger than another. If there are indications of this, pinch off its top. While it stops to wonder what you mean by this summary conduct, the weaker fellows will profit to take what properly belongs to them.
There is little more science in summer pruning than this: but it takes some experience, joined with common sense, to apply it. This, indeed, is where true art comes in.
South of Philadelphia, the more tender kinds of garden vegetables may now be sown - beans, corn, cucumbers, squashes, etc. - that it is not prudent to plant in this latitude before the first of May; and tomato, egg-plants, etc., may also be set out in those favored places. Cucumbers, squashes, and such vegetables, can be got forward as well as tomatoes, egg-plants, etc., by being sown in a frame or hotbed, and potted off into three-inch pots. They will be nice plants by the first week in May. Rotten wood suits cucumbers and the squash tribe exceedingly well as a manure. Tomatoes and egg-plants that are desired very early are best potted, soon after they come up, into small pots. They can then be turned out into the open air without any check to their roots. Of course, they should be gradually inured to the open air - not suddenly transferred from a warm and moist air to a very dry one.
Early York cabbage for early use should be set out early in this month. An excellent plan is to make the holes with a dibble first, where the cabbage is to be set; then fill the holes with manure-water; and after the water is soaked away, set in the plants. It is rather more laborious than the old way, but the cabbage grows so fast afterwards that it pays pretty well.
Celery is an important crop, and should be sown about this period. A rich moist spot shaded from the mid-day sun, should be chosen: or a box in a frame, if convenient.
Bean-poles may be planted preparatory to sowing the Lima bean in May. Where beanpoles are scarce, two or three hoop-poles, set into the ground, and tied together at the top, make as good a pole, and perhaps better.
Dwarf beans should have very warm and deep soil - sow them only two inches apart. The Valentine is yet the best early, take it all in all.
Peas should be sown every two weeks for a succession - do not make the soil very rich for them.