The Gard'ner at work, ere the birds pipe a tune, Each fruit tree inspects, then commences to prune; The insects destroying, on branches or root, That injure the blossom, or live in the fruit.
If the weather be mild this month, considerable work may be done in the fruit garden and orchard, before the ground can be brought into suitable condition for ploughing, digging, or planting.
Prune grape vines early in this month, if not done last month, but withhold the knife until you have surveyed the plant, and selected a full supply of the last summer shoots at regular distances from each other, for bearers the coming summer; cut out the superabundant, with most of the last year's bearers, and naked wood. Prune so that a young shoot will terminate each branch, and shorten the reserved shoots; the smallest to three or four joints, and the strong ones to ten or twelve. Fasten the vines to trellises as soon as pruned, with list, or shreds of woollen cloth, arranging the general branches from ten to twelve inches' distance, more or less, according to the size of the vines and space allotted for them to grow in. Preserve all strong shoots to make cuttings with, to be planted next month, which will produce vines fit to set out next year. See Observations on Training and Pruning, page 21; also, article Grape Vine, 72 to 88.
Prune Apple trees, 38; Cherry, 52; Pear, 112; Quince, 132; also, Currant bushes, 59; Gooseberry, 71; cutting out all crowded branches, worn-out bearers, and decayed wood. If not done in the autumn, plantations may be made this month of all the above species.
Cut out and destroy all the old stems of Raspberry shrubs, reserving three or four of the strongest young shoots on each stool; shorten them at the top, and take away all others, the strongest of which may be transplanted to form a new bed. Lay the trailing varieties for propagation, 134.
In transplanting trees, care should be taken that the collar, or that part from which emanate the main roots, be not inserted too deep in the soil, as this injures the bark, and, consequently, impedes the natural circulation of the juices. A medium sized tree may be planted one inch deeper than it was in the nursery bed, and the largest should not exceed two or three inches, 9, 93, 101 and 125.
Plant cuttings and suckers of Gooseberries and Currants, also, of such fruit trees as produce them, in order to raise stocks to bud and graft upon; fruit stones and kernels may also be planted for the same purpose.
Young trees, shrubs, and vines may be obtained at public nurseries, in different stages of growth, suited for general planting; and others sufficiently advanced for immediate bearers; these should be carefully taken up, and replanted. For full information on this subject, the reader is referred to the article, 'On the Choice of Fruit Trees in the Nursery,' page 32.
Toward the end of the month is a good time to prepare for the cultivation of Cranberries; they thrive best in a wet soil, but will grow on almost any land, by giving it a top-dressing of peat, bog, or swamp earth. As soon as such ground can be brought into tillable condition, get plants that were produced from layers of the last season, and set them out in rows about two feet apart; they will soon cover the ground by their runners, which, on being layed, will produce an abundance of plants well adapted for additional plantations in succeeding years. See page 57.
Provide Cedar or Chestnut stakes for the purpose of driving into the ground, to protect newly planted trees from injury by the wind.