This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In managing the vegetable garden the highest excellence should be aimed at. This is the chief source of pleasure in a garden. If one can take no pleasure in his garden, - If the watching of the beautiful processes of nature in furnishing him food, and the many lessons they teach him, which he in a thousand ways can so pleasurably and profitably apply, have no] charms or attractions for him, - he had better give up gardening, for assuredly, in most cases, - even 99 in 100 instances, - the market gardener will bring the vegetables to his own door cheaper than he can grow them. Amateur gardening should primarily be pursued for the lessons it teaches, and the pleasure it affords; when it ceases to do this it should be abandoned.
All those kinds that are grown for their leaves or stems require an abundance of nitrogenous manures; and it is useless to attempt vegetable gardening without it. To this class belong cabbage, lettuce, spinach, etc. The other class, which is grown principally for its seeds or pods, as beans, peas, etc., do not require much manure of this character - in fact they are injured by it. It causes too great a growth of stem and leaf, and the earliness - a great aim in vegetable growing - is injuriously affected. Mineral manures, as wood ashes, bone-dust, etc., are much better for them. For vegetables, requiring rich stable manure, it is best that they have it well rotted and decayed. Nothing has yet been found so well fitted for the purpose as old hot-bed dung; though to the smell no trace of " ammonia " remains in it.
All fruit trees like a rather dry, rich soil. On a cold, clayey bottom, diseases are usually frequent.
Do not plant deep; cut off tap roots, and do all you can to encourage surface fibres. Surface manuring is the best way of doing this, after the tree is planted. Do not allow any thing to grow vigorously around your trees the first year of planting, nor allow the soil to become hard or dry. Let trees branch low, and prune a little at transplanting.
The Strawberry, where it has been covered during the winter, should be uncovered as early as possible in spring, that the warm spring suns may exert all their influence on producing an early crop. As soon as growth commences, a sowing of guano has been found to be of great benefit to the crop of fruit.
Raspberries and Blackberries may be planted towards the end of the month; they should be cut down to within a foot of the ground at planting ; they will, of course, not then bear the next season after planting. But this is a benefit; no fruit tree should be allowed to bear the same season.
Pruning of fruit trees, when required, should be proceeded with at favorable opportunities.
The rule, in pruning grape vines, is to shorten the shoots in proportion to their strength; but, if the advice we have given in former summer hints has been attended to, there will be little disproportion in this matter, as summer pinching of the strong shoots has equalized the strength of the vine. Those who are following any particular system will, of course, prune according to the rules comprising such system. As a general rule, we can only say, excellent grapes can be had by any system of pruning; for the only object of pruning, in any case, is to get strong shoots to push where they may be desired, or to increase, with the increased vigor of the shoot, which pruning supposes will follow the act, increased size in the fruit it bears.