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.
The work of an instructor must of necessity be to a great extent experimental, and he must often lose in experimenting what other cautious people gain. So in Plum culture, the writer has been endeavoring to learn what there is in everything recommended as protective against cur-culio. For years past different things strongly recommended by eminent men have been fairly tried with absolutely no result. This year the old-fashioned plan of shaking the trees and collecting the insects has been resorted to, and as a consequence we have bushels of plums. It is clear to our mind that there is no other remedy than shaking the trees, and this is not a severe or expensive remedy when systematically attended to.
Plant fruit trees as early as possible. Deep planting is an injury, though they can be set with more impunity deeper in sand than clayey soil. Mound the earth about the stems; it aids against drawing out by frost. Ram the earth very tightly about the roots, and prune the twiggy branches from the tops. Severe pruning at transplanting is the best insurance against loss.
If older trees have moss, or scale, or have had red spider in the summer, prune away the twig gy portions, and wash with whale-oil soap and sulphur. Grape vine stems may be peeled of old loose bark and washed in the same manner. Grapes may also be pruned at once, and if in a region where they are liable to suffer from frost in winter, bend the stems down and cover with earth. Where Raspberries are also liable to winter kill, cut back one-fourth of the wood, and bend and bury in like manner. Where Strawberries are liable to draw by frost, it is best to cover them with straw or some dry material. These are often injured by covering with manure or other material which favors dampness, and strawberries are often injured by it. They hate damp.
There is little else to be done in the fruit garden at this season, except gathering and preserving late crops of Apples and Pears, and preserving them for winter.
In no department of gardening is a deep and rich soil more important than in Vegetables; and at this season we could not give better advice than to lose no opportunity of improving it in this respect. Trenching may be carried on whenever the ground is not frozen over an inch in depth. We are not in favor of that species of trenching which throws the surface soil to the bottom and brings the sub soil to the top, in the preparation of a new garden. This should only be adopted for worn-out soils. The proper plan is to throw out the surface-soil on a strip three feet wide, then breaking up the sub-soil thoroughly to the depth of one or one and a half feet. On this broken sub-soil the surface-soil from the next trench is thrown, and so on until the whole be finished. The manure should be so applied as to be worked in with the surface-soil, as the work proceeds. It is little use to attempt to grow vegetables unless the soil is so treated. They may be and are grown on thin soils, not only at a great expense for manure, and a great risk of dying out in a dry season, and of having the roots rotted out in a wet one. As long as the frost, severe enough to injure the celery crop, keeps away, it may have earthings up.
Care must be exercised in the operation not to let the earth get into the hearts of the plants, or they will be liable to rot. When the plant has evidently finished its growth for the season, measures should be taken to preserve it through the winter. For family use, it is probably as well to let it stay where it is growing, covering the soil with leaves, litter or manure, to keep out the frost, so that it can be taken up as wanted. Where large quantities are frequently required, it is better to take it up and put it in a smaller compass, still protecting it in any way that may be accessible. It always keeps best in the natural soil, where it is cool and moist, and free from frost; and whatever mode of protection is resorted to, these facts should be kept in view. Beets, turnips, and other root crops will also require protection. They are best divested of their foliage and packed in layers of sand in a cool cellar. Parsnips are best left in the soil as long as possible. If any are wanted for late spring use, they may be left out to freeze in the soil, and will be much improved thereby. Cabbage is preserved in a variety of ways.
If a few dozen only, they may be hung up by the roots in a cool cellar, or be buried in the soil, heads downwards, to keep out the rain, or laid on their sides as thickly as they can be placed, nearly covered with soil, and then completely covered with corn-stalks, litter, or any protecting material. The main object in protecting all these kinds of vegetables is to prevent their growth by keeping them cool as possible, and to prevent shrivelling by keeping them moist. Cabbage plants, lettuce, and spinage will require a slight protection before hard freezing. This is usually done by scattering straw loosely over. The intention is principally to check the frequent thawings, which draw the plants out of the ground.
In making new vegetable gardens, a south-east aspect should be chosen, as far as practicable. Earliness in the crops is a very great desideratum, and such an aspect favors this point materially. Too great a slope is objectionable, as inducing too great a run of water in heavy rains. The plots for the crops should be laid off in squares or parallelograms, for convenience in digging, and the edges of the walks set with box edging. If water can be introduced, it is a great convenience.
Sometimes Broccoli does not head before there is danger of frost especially if growing vigorously. If taken up with small balls of earth, and set in a damp cellar they will still perfect themselves.