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.
At the Rochester Nurserymen's Meeting there was much discussion on the best method of labeling the trees in an orchard. There should always be a book kept with the names of the trees in regular order, so that if a label be accidentally lost or become illegible, there will be a certainty of getting it again. But, as Mr. P. Barry well remarked, time is a great deal in this age, and all labelling should be made very plain, so that we can easily see the name the moment we want it. There are few better things than large stout pieces of pine wood, well painted, and the name written on the label while the paint is soft, and this label suspended from a branch within reach by a piece of stout copper wire. The loop of the wire must of course be large, to guard against its cutting into the branch by the growth of the wood. This is the season to examine the fruits, and note how far they may prove to be true to name. In regard to the quality of fruits it is worth while to look to the healthiness of the trees. Many a fruit has been pronounced worthless, when, if the tree had been healthier, another conclusion might have been reached. This is especially true of small fruits. An unhealthy raspberry, blackberry or strawberry, always gives fruit of poorer flavor than plants in good health.
It is not always easy to tell when plants of small fruits are in good health, for they often have something the matter with them before the injury is very plain. The experienced eye detects a change in the color of the foliage, in many cases of plant trouble. If we know the soil to be good, and the plant has for all this a yellowish tint, there is sure to be something the matter with the plant. It is generally useless to try to renovate a sickly stock. Better get new plants, or another kind, and plant where the kind has not been growing before, if we can find such a spot.
In orchard trees this yellow tint may often be noted. Occasionally this will be from poor ground; and a top dressing of some fertilizing substance will give a renewed green to the trees next season, but very often borers may be found in the stems, or fungus at the roots, or some other trouble directly affecting the health of the tree, and for which even manure will be of no account. A good green dark color to the foliage is always a test of healthfulness. This is especially marked in the grape. People often call attention to some variety they are growing, that it is worthless, when the pale color of the leaves tells plainly that the plant is sick. There is nothing helps a grape so much as a good top-dressing annually, unless it be a nice trellis whereon the grape may twine. It loves wire or twiggy sticks whereon the tendrils may attach themselves. Among some of the absurdities of amateur gardening is the putting up of an expensive grape arbor, and then putting out small vines to run over it. Better let them grow for a year or two over strong bushy stakes, and put the arbor up after the plants have grown.
The vines will grow the better for this, and the arbor will have that many more years to last before it rots away.
The fall is an excellent time to plant all kinds of fruit trees, except in the very coldest climates the peach may perhaps be reserved for spring. If the fruit orchard is to go on a hill, or where the trees may dry out easily in summer time, the fall is the best time. The roots get the earliest start in spring against the dry time cometh. Small growing things, in cold climates, should have the earth well drawn up around the plants in order to guard against being drawn out by frost.
The main crop of Spinage should now be sown. Properly cooked, there are few vegetables more agreeable to the general taste, and few families who have gardens will wish to be without it. It is essential that it have a very well enriched soil, as good large leaves constitute its perfection as a vegetable. As soon as the weather becomes severe, a light covering of straw should be thrown over it. A few Radishes may be sown with the Spinage for fall use.
Turnips also may still be sown. In fact, if the soil be rich, a better quality of root for table use will be obtained than if sown earlier.
Celery and Endive will still require the attention in blanching described in former hints.
Cabbage and Cauliflower are sown this month for spring use. The former requires some care, as, if it grow too vigorous before winter, it will all run to seed in the spring. The best plan is to make two sowings - one early in the month, the other at the end. The rule is, get them only just so strong that they may live over the winter in safety. Many preserve them in frames; but they should have wooden sashes or shutters instead of glass, so as not to encourage them to grow much.
Cauliflower, on the other hand, cannot well be too forward. Most persons provide a pit of stone, brick or wood, sunk five or six feet below the surface of the ground, into which leaves, manure, or any waste vegetable matter is filled. When quite full it is suffered to heat a little, when it will sink somewhat and have more material added to it; about six inches of good rich loam is then placed on it, and early in November the Cauliflower planted out. The object in refilling the leaves so often is to insure the plants remaining as near the glass as possible, which is very essential in the growth of Cauliflowers. Lettuce is treated in the same way, and seed should be sown now to prepare for the planting. The Cabbage Lettuce is the kind usually employed.
Tomatoes will still repay care bestowed in keeping them in shape. Those grown on stakes should be tied up, and will continue bearing for some time yet. Where the ground is very dry, waste water from the kitchen will benefit them.
Potatoes, as soon as the tops are well decayed, are best taken up at once, as they appear less liable to rot afterwards, than if left long in the ground.
Egg plants like plenty of moisture, with sun and air. If the ground be dry, give them abundant manure water; they will bear until frost.