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.
In the cultivation of garden crops, the hoe and rake should be kept continually at work. Weeds should be taken in hand before they are barely out of the seed-leaf, and one-half the usual labor of vegetable gardening will be avoided. Hoeing or earthing up of most garden crops is of immense advantage in nearly every case. One would suppose that in our hot climate flat culture would be much more beneficial: but a fair trial, say on every other row of a bed of cabbages, will show a great difference in favor of the earthed up plants. It would be easy to explain the reason of this, but in this column we try to confine ourselves to "hints," and leave reasons to our other departments.
Cabbage, Cauliflower and Brocoli are now set out for fall crops, and Endive sown for winter 6alad. Lettuce also for summer and fall use. This, however, must be sown in very rich soil, and in a partially shaded situation, or it will go to seed. Peas, beans, and other crops should be sowed every two weeks. They do much better than when a large crop is sown at one time, and then have too many on at one time to waste.
Melons, cucumbers, corn, okra, squash, beans, sweet potatoes, Lima beans, pepper, egg-plants, tomatoes, and other tender vegetables that do well till the sun gets high, and the ground warm, should go into the soil without delay.
Bean poles should be set before the beans are planted; and near cities where they are comparatively high priced, their ends should be charred. This will make them last some years. Try also short stout poles for cucumbers and tomatoes. They do remarkably well this way.
Fruit culture for profit has had to contend with over-abundant crops the past year or two, and the trees in such cases are weakened. Now, this may be remedied by thinning out fruit in infancy. This prevents a glut, gives finer fruit, and saves the trees.
Besides thinning the fruit, we should thin the young branches. Handsome forms are as desirable in fruit as in ox'namental trees. No winter pruning will do this exclusively. It may furnish the skeleton - but it is summer pinching which clothes the bones with beauty. A strong shoot soon draws all its nutriment to itself. Never allow one shoot to grow that wants to be bigger than others. Equality must be insisted on. Pinch out always as soon as they appear such as would push too strongly ahead, - and keep doing so till the new buds seem no stronger than the others. Thus the food gets equally distributed.
Fruit growing primarily for pleasure, to follow with plenty of good fruit, has been much encouraged by the greater success of the grape of late years. There is much more interest in having collections of varieties than there used to be.
As to the best system of pruning grapes, there are several " schools," all contending that their views are " decidedly best." In such cases we have generally found there is much to admire in them all - situations and peculiar circumstances deciding the point in each individual instance. There are a few points incontrovertible to insure success, and it matters little what system of pruning is followed, so that they are secured. First, a healthy set of roots of the previous year's growth is essential to produce vigorous start of growth the year following. Secondly, after starting, these roots can only be kept vigorous by encouraging an abundance of healthy foliage, to be retained on the vine as long as possible. Thirdly, the leaves of the first growth are at least of double the value to the plant than those from secondary or lateral shoots: they should therefore, be carefully guarded from injury. Fourthly, checking the strong-growing shoots strengthens the weaker ones, equalizes the flow of sap to every part of the vine, and insures regular and harmonious action between all the parts.
Any system that secures this does all that is necessary for the general health and vigor of the vine; and where some special objects are desirable, such as dwarfing, particularly early bearing, productiveness at the expense of longevity, special means must be employed to bring them about.