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.
One of the most amazing experiences is the lack of common sense in trifling things so often apparent in gardening affairs. The writer of this is often asked " what shall we do?" when a dozen or two caterpillars are eating up somebody's plants, and the inquirers seem quite stupefied when told to fall to and pick them off. We have seen this season numerous valuable evergreens, which the owners would not lose for hundreds of dollars, totally destroyed by a few score of " bag-worms" or " drop-worms," which could have all been gathered together and destroyed in five minutes. The different kinds of arborvitaes and firs are especial favorites with this species of insect, and especially this season about Philadelphia numerous valuable specimens have been destroyed, because of the stolidity of those in charge. In like manner the people of Philadelphia are writing to the papers about the hairy caterpillar, the produce of the Orgyia moth. The sparrows made an end to the measuring worm, and other pests of the street trees, but this hairy fellow was too much for them, and the nocturnal habit of the moths was against their destruction by the bird. It is the only serious insect pest left in the large cities.
It is very evident that the insect loves to deposit its eggs under the protection of bark, brick coping, or some other retreat, and the easiest of all things would be to provide such retreats where the moths could weave their cottony cocoons, and then be all destroyed in a mass. But nobody thinks of it, or of anything but to write to the papers and worry the editors as to "what shall we do?" There is no doubt but a persistent effort at hand picking and trapping these insects would not involve much time, and be very effective in keeping down many noxious insects.
The past season, in most parts of the United States, has been very favorable for tree growth, and we expect to hear of much more tree planting than usual this fall. It must be remembered that no one can tell whether a winter will be very severe, or a summer very hot or dry. These are the conditions that most affect success ; and there is, therefore, little in the matter of the best season for planting to choose between. The best rule is to plant when we are ready. Rare and valuable trees and shrubs can be protected from severe winds by corn stalks, branches, or some similar material; and where this care can be given, we should be inclined to look on the fall as the best time for transplanting them.
There is probably no branch of gardening more pleasing than that which embraces hardy bulbs. They come into flower so early, and grow with so little care, that every one may grow them at a small cost. Of those which may be planted this month are Hyacinths, Tulips, Crocus, Narcissus, Japan Lilies, Anemones, Ranunculus, Crown Imperials, Snowdrops - among the better known varieties. All of these prefer a soil that is rich and not dry, but by no means a wet soil. The Tulip, Anemone and Ranunculus will do better in a dryer soil than the others; but the two last do not do well where the sun will shine directly on them when in flower. In planting these in the flower beds, it is well to set them so that spring-planted flowers for summer bedding can go between them. Where some loose litter can be had, it may be used to cover the bulb ground with. It prevents thawing of the soil till the warm spring rain comes; and we presume our readers know that it is the repeated thawings which "draw" the roots of things out in the late winter months, and leave them bare to the sun, and to their great injury.
Many kinds of hardy annuals flower much better next spring, when sown at this season of the year. A warm, rich border should be chosen, and the seed put in at once. Early in spring they must be transplanted to the desired position in the flower bed.
Many persons complain that they cannot get the Pansy to produce flowers as handsome as they see them represented in seedsmen's plates; but it is because they are not sown early enough. If not already done, sow them at once, - if they can have the protection of a cold frame all the better. These cold frames are very useful in small flower gardens. There are many little things pretty hardy, but which are much better with this protection. Many people have much difficulty in keeping over choice kinds of roses, such as Teas, Chinas and Bourbons. But if these are lifted from the ground early in October and set thickly in a cold frame, they can generally be kept very well. It is not so much the degree of frost which injures them, as it is the drying influence of the frost; and the frame aids in the prevention of evaporation. We know of a rose grower who keeps the tenderest of roses in pots in a house without any fire, though the temperature outside goes below zero, and the roses are frozen solid most of the winter. But he waters as regularly as through the summer, as the frost dries so.
He finds even the tenderest to get through the winter in this house as well as if there were no frost.