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.
Among the higher mountains of northeast Pennsylvania this season the writer noticed plums hanging from the trees in immense profusion. Inquiring if this was always the case, it appeared not; that " if a rain came about the time the fruit was stoning they would all rot." Most of the plums had curculio marks, but were ripening for all. It is possibly from some such circumstances that we often hear of successful remedies against curculio. Something is done and fruit follows, and the credit given to the ap-lication. We have given this matter some thought, and feel that so far there is no effectual remedy but shaking them off and destroying them. It does not take near as long to do this as it would seem, where a man or two is regularly employed. In the writer's case his plum orchard was smoked with burning coal tar every evening except Sunday for four weeks from the time the petals fell. Nine-tenths of the plums have been stung and have rotted for all. Still it might have been supposed that the tar smoke saved the one-tenth, only for the fact that in a part of the orchard where a solitary tree grew, and was not smoked, there is about the same proportion of perfect plums. This is the third year of tar smoke, with the same results.
It would have taken no longer to shake the insects on sheets and destroy them. Next year shaking will be in order. It is often the same with other things. We have seen people fuss about preparing some druggists mixture for destroying the caterpillars on a couple of dozen currant bushes when the whole brood might be shook off with a stick and crushed out in a few minutes.
Persons often wonder what is the best kind of fruits to plant. The best way to learn is to visit one's neighbors at this season and take notes. No editor can tell what should be planted in a far away district. Some things do so much better in one district than another, and then there may be a particular demand for some special kinds in some local market. All these things, when the planting is to be for profit, are of great consequence. When the planting is for family use only, it is still more difficult to advise what kinds to choose. But there is this always to be remembered that if a tree does not produce just what we like, it can be top-grafted. In this part of the world there has been an enormous crop of pears this year. Pears do not appear to have become a very profitable fruit to grow for market as a general thing, though some few have made money on them. But for family use it is one of the most reliable kinds to have. The fire-blight is the only severe enemy, but, though we have seen some trees get the disease even when washed, we have little doubt that if pear trees are annually washed with a mixture of sulphur and lime as far up the main branches as the long-handled brush will reach, the disease will not be as frequent or as hard as in unwashed trees.
Clay, coal ashes or soot may be mixed with the wash to deaden its glaring whiteness.
In the vegetable garden we may note that the asparagus beetle is spreading rapidly over the country, and will be found a terrible pest to the grower. In beds of young plants - nursery plants - Paris green will be effective; but this must not be used on plants in kitchen use. Fuller is credited with saying that powdered quicklime will do for them. It is a pest that will require close attention.
In preparing for planting trees, the soil should be stirred up at least two feet in depth. Of course, the trees should be planted in the holes only so deep as they stood in the ground before, rather higher, if anything, as the soil will settle. Good common soil may be filled in the holes if the natural soil is very bad; but anything applied as manure may be stirred in the surface-soil after the trees are planted.
Some talk, in preparing an orchard, about making "one large hole" for all the trees. This seems witty, but it is an expense which very few orchards will ever repay. Water is likely to stand in the deep holes we recommend; but in such cases we would, rather than go to the expense of subsoiling the whole orchard or underdraining, plant higher than they grew before - higher than the surrounding soil, mounding the earth, as it were, above the level. No water will ever stand here. And the money usually spent on making "one big hole" of the "whole" orchard, or in underdraining, we would spend in annually surface-dressing the ground. Another year of bountiful crops has rewarded the efforts of the fruit grower, and hundreds will plant who have never thought of it before. On the other hand many who have grown for market are discouraged by the very abundance. The enormous quantities produced have so cheapened them, that hundreds have been almost ruined.
The public was not prepared for such great abundance. Now just as people are getting to use fruit freely, and making it by habit a necessary article of food, growers will go out of the field, and in consequence, even with good crops another year, the demand will probably exceed the supply. Thus these little waves of success ebb and flow; all we can do is to go on with our hints for the success of fruit growing, knowing that these little incidentals will regulate themselves.
The planting of the pear, apple, plum and cherry will soon be in season; peaches, apricots and grape vines, except south of the Potomac being for the most part left till spring. Choose a dry piece of ground. If not naturally dry, it is best to throw the earth up into banks or ridges and plant on them. This is cheaper and better than underdraining. In planting, if the roots appear deep, cut away some of the deeper ones, and shorten some of the top of the tree at the same time. This is particularly true of dwarf pears which are often grafted on rather long quince stocks. Cut all away of the quince root but about six inches, and if this should be found to leave few roots, cut away the top correspondingly. Most of the failures with dwarf pears come from bad quince roots, so deep in the ground the lower parts decay, and this decay gradually communicates upwards until the whole system becomes diseased. The more tenacious the subsoil the more necessary is it to attend to this matter. We spoke of pruning in proportion to injury.
It will be found that all trees are a little injured by removal, therefore all trees should be a little pruned at transplanting.
The great trouble with most celery growers is that the soil is not rich enough or has not water enough. Good celery needs an abundance of these good things.