This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Fruit growers know by this time that the reproductive and the mere vegetative forces of plants are antagonistic. There may not be two distinct principles like two distinct men, in vegetables, the one directing the growth forces, the other the forces of reproduction; but the fruit grower has to act as if there were. While a fruit tree is growing freely it will not bear; while it is bearing freely it will not grow. A fruit tree is not needed to grow always or bear always; it is desired to have a due share of each. The art of successful fruit growing is in learning just how to let each of these forces have its due share. Some people ask the nurseryman when buying plants, "will they bear next year?" the answer usually is, it might, but don't let it. But this is not the best advice. If the tree appears to be growing vigorously, it may bear some, if not, take off any fruit that attempts to form. A raspberry or blackberry cane for instance, to do well should throw up a strong sucker for next year's bearing. If it do this, then let the old cane bear all it will, if not, prevent the maturity of the fruit. It is also true of trees not recently transplanted. If not growing vigorously thin out severely in the earliest stages of formation.
If a tree be very vigorous, and there should still be the unusual phenomenon of a large crop, let it bear them all.
The cherry grower will now be asking how he shall save his fruit from the birds. The robin and catbird have done yeoman service, all through the spring on destructive insects, but the orchardist will have a right to ask what will it all amount to if we get no cherries? Where the orchard is large enough to warrant it, the small boy with toy pistols, crackers, and other funny things will pay perhaps. For smaller trees fish-nets to cover them may pay. It is, however, a problem we are not well qualified to solve.
The plum fruited so well over most of the Union last year, through nature herself having taken a hand in destroying the curculio, that people will be apt to forget that constant shaking of the tree, and destroying the insect is a necessity to any certain crop. It is not clear whether any of the easier remedies are beneficial. The writer determined to give Kauffman's tar smoke plan a fair trial last year. The pan of burning tar was carried under the trees every evening. There was a splendid crop, but then so had some neighbors who did nothing at all. But it may be different this season. It seems that we have gained a great deal in our knowledge of warfare against destructive insects of late years, but all methods require some work to carry out successfully. Without some work the earth seems to produce thorns and thistles only.
In the vegetable garden we must remember that for all vegetables which are eaten in an immature state, a very rich soil is essential to good crops. For peas, beans and such things a garden may be so rich as to produce plenty of leaves but few flowers. All this, however, has been seen to earlier in the season, though it seems well to mention it as celery planting comes along. It is one of those plants which loves rich soil.
At the end of June, some celery may be set out for early crops, though for the main crop a month later will be quite time enough. It was once customary to plant in trenches dug six or more inches below the surface; but the poverty of the soil usually at this depth more than decreases the balance of good points in its favor.
Some of our best growers now plant entirely on the surface, and depend on drawing up the soil, or the employment of boards or other artificial methods of blanching.
Peas for a fall crop may be sown. It is, however, useless to try them unless in a deeply trenched soil, and one that is comparatively cool in the hottest weather overhead, or they will certainly mildew and prove worthless. In England where the atmosphere is so much more humid than ours, they nevertheless have great difficulty in getting fall peas to go through free from mildew; and to obviate these drying and mildew-producing influences, they often plant them in deep trenches, made as for celery, and are then much more successful with them.
Cucumbers for pickling may be sown this month, and endive for fall salad set out. Parsley for winter use may be sown now, in boxes of rich soil, and set in a cool, shady place till it germinates.
Tomatoes, after trying all kinds of trellisses recommended, will be found to do the best on stakes tied up singly. It is best to plant a strong pole as for Lima beans, with the plants when first set out, and tie up as they grow. Marketmen generally let them grow as they will, on the ground, which, perhaps, although not yielding as much, costs less labor, and may thus be most profitable.
The Swede turnip or ruta baga should be sown about the end of the month. A well enriched piece of ground is essential, as by growing fast they get ahead of the ravages of the fly. Manures abounding in the phosphates - bone-dust, for instance, - are superior for the turnip.
Sweet potatoes must be watched, that the vines do not root in the ground as they run, which will weaken the main crop of roots. They should be gone over about once a month, and with a rake or pole, the vines disturbed somewhat from their position.
Herbs for drying for future use, should be cut just about the time they are coming into flower. Dry them in the shade, and after sufficiently dry to put away, tie them in bunches, and hang in a cool shed, or place them loosely between the paper, and stow away in cupboards or drawers, - the last mode is by far the cleanest and most approved plan with the best housekeepers. Some, indeed, powder the leaves at once after drying, and put them away in bags, ready for use.