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.
Of the many projects for securing a plum crop, none have been permanently successful but jarring the trees. It is not a great task, but it needs to be persistently followed. The plum knot, is less prevalent than it used to be; cutting away as it appears keeps it under, and generally prevents its being a serious evil. Apple and Pear sometimes suffer from the hot sun shining on the bark. Whitewash, that is lime wash, is objectionable on account of the glaring color, but it reflects the heat, and the tree is benefited. Hot ground is an injury to most fruit trees. Shading, wherever it can be cheaply done is a great benefit.
Do not let any tree over-bear. The tendency with most trees when they once begin, is to do too much of it. The good fruit grower cuts out the fruit spurs or flower branches, before they are in blossom. If this has not been done, thin out the fruit.
Thin out sprouts from trees, where new branch es are not needed, especially on the trunk or near the ground. The injury to trees from leaving them till fall is enormous.
Watch if your strawberry or raspberry plants are diseased; if they are do not propagate from them. Spotted leaves or rusty shoots particularly avoid.
Grapes first coming in bearing should not be permitted to perfect large crops of fruit while young. It is excusable to fruit a bunch or so on a young vine, "just to test the kind," but no more should be permitted till the vine has age and strength. Vigorous growth, and great productiveness, are the antipodes of the vegetable world. Encourage as much foliage as possible on the vines, and aim to have as strong shoots at the base as at the top of the cane; this can be done by pinching out the points of the strong shoots after they have made a growth of five or six leaves. This will make the weak ones grow stronger. Young vines grow much faster over a twiggy branch, stuck in for support, than over a straight stick as a trellis, and generally do better every way. Where extra fine bunches of grapes are desired, pinch back the shoot bearing it to about four or five leaves above the bunch. This should not be done indiscriminately with all the bunches. Too much pinching and stopping injures the production of good wood for next season.
These hints are for amateurs, who have a few vines on trellises ; for large vineyard culture, though the same principles hold good as far as they go, they will vary in their application.
Fine, rich color is always esteemed as one of the criterions whereby to judge of the excellence of a fruit. Sun-light is of first importance; but it is not generally known that this is injurious when in excess. In a dry atmosphere, with great sun-heat, where the evaporating process goes on faster than the secretive principle, what should become a rich rosy blush in a fruit, is changed to a sickly yellow; and the rich jet black of a grape becomes a foxy red. Some Grape-growers of eminence, in view of the facts, shade their vineries during the coloring process; but others, instead, keep the atmosphere as close and moist as possible. The latter course detracts from the flavor of the fruit. The best plan is that which combines both practices.
Red spider, or some species allied to it, is getting to be a fearful pest in small orchards. A powerful garden water engine is the best thing that we know. Usually in large orchards there are not these troubles, and fortunately, no engine is required. In large orchards codling moth and the curculio are the chief enemies, but even here growers often depend on the great number of trees being too many for the pests. In small gardens the trouble from birds is as bad as the trouble from insects. Here is a sketch from an English source of a wind clapper, to drive the birds away.
In the vegetable garden we must prepare for summer and fall vegetables. The market gardener depends on manure doing most of the work, but the amateur in his small patch will do well to look to deeply moved soil. Beans, peas, celery, salad, and such things do very well indeed in deep rich soil during even hot weather, but no where else.