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.
The past winter, when the ground has been covered with snow for months, mice, rabbits and other animals have been nearly starved, and have had to take what they could get, even to the bark of apple and other orchard trees. All this could have been prevented if the trees had paper tied around them for a few feet from the ground, and gas tar smeared over the paper. But these animals do no hurt in open winters, and we seldom think to prepare for what may be. But what can be done with the barked trees? All they need is a connection of bark between the two disconnected portions. This connection can be made by inserting a scion between the bark on the root and the bark on the stem, bending the scion outwards and then tying it in to the trunk, so as to press the ends firmly in place. The following cut of the Cornelius grape-graft gives this bending idea exactly.
After the graft has been set in, the whole may be covered by earth. If several of these grafts can be set in around the trunk, it will.be so much the better. Where time cannot be given to this, or where the trees are not wholly girdled, earth may be banked over the wounded part, and the top of the tree pruned more or less severely, according to the extent of the injury. In this case roots will come out from the upper and lower part of the bark on the trunk, .and thus save the tree, though it will be somewhat checked in its growth for a year or two.
In connection with this subject of grafting any choice fruit may be grafted, at this season, on others less desirable. The scions should be cut before the buds begin to swell, and set in the ground as cuttings. But they should not be grafted till the stock is just about bursting into leaf. Those who have much of this work to do begin earlier - we speak principally to amateurs with but a few things to graft.
Pruning of most kinds of fruits has been accomplished through the winter. It is customary, however, to leave the peach till towards spring, in order to cut out any wood that may be injured through the winter. In other respects, the peach should have little pruning at this season, as it tends only to make it grow more luxuriously; and a too free vigor of growth is a fault of the peach in this climate. The only pruning admissible is that which has for its object the production of shoots in naked or desirable places.
It may be said of all fruit trees, they should be severely pruned at planting, and every other means resorted to in order to produce a vigorous healthy growth. Fruit, worthy of the name of fruit, is the result of healthy growth the season previous, and it is impossible to obtain both the same season of planting. If any fruit sets in a transplanted tree, it should be remorselessly torn off and cast away.
This is a busy season south of Pennsylvania in this department; here we must wait till the end of the month, and northward still later. The crops noted will, of course, be dependent on the arrival of the season which is rather indicated by the ground becoming warm and dry, than by the almanac. It is very important to have crops early; as soon as the ground is, therefore, in good condition, put in the seed. Possibly a cold rain might come and injure them, and you may lose, and have to make a new sowing. Even so, it is but the loss of the seed and labor, while, if the seed do not die, the early crop will more than repay that risk.
Where new asparagus beds are to be made, now is the time; the ground should be rather moist than dry, and be trenched about two feet deep, mixing in with it a good quantity of stable dung, and, if the ground be inclining to sand, add some salt; the beds should be marked out four feet wide, and the alleys about two feet. If pegs are driven down at the corners of the beds permanently, they will assist operations in future years. Having marked the positions of the beds and procured a stock of two year old plants, place them on the soil nine inches apart in rows, one foot asunder, making three rows in each bed; then cover the whole with soil from the alleys and rich compost a couple of inches.
Those who have no spinach sown in the fall should do that right away; no amount of stable manure but will be a benefit to it, though guano, in even small doses, will kill it; guano produces excellent cabbage, mixed with the ground while it is being dug for that crop. Cabbage, by the way, may be put in as soon as the ground is ready; and potatoes are better in before the beginning of next month, if the ground is not too wet; many plant cabbage between the potato rows.
Deep, rich soil, now so generally condemned for fruit gardens, is of the first importance here. Soil cannot be too rich or too deep, if we would have good vegetables. It is, indeed, remarkable, that in many respects we have to go very differently to work to get good fruits than we have to perfect vegetables. While, for instance, we require sunlight to get the best richness to our fruits, our vegetables are usually best when blanched or kept from the light. So, also, as we keep the roots as near the surface as we can in order to favor the woody tissue in trees, we like to let them go deep in vegetables, because this favors succulence.