This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
If the beds are not ready, lose no time in the preparation of them. If the soil of the garden be not a good loam, of somewhat retentive quality, such must be procured. It ought not to be used fresh from a pasture, but laid up in a ridge, turned over, and reduced by exposure to air and frost till brought to a uniform texture. Old manure must be added, mixing it well with the loam. Make the beds two spits deep, and fill up with compost to about the level of the paths. As much of future success depends on making up the beds well, the attention of florists is urged to this particular. Do not spare a little trouble or expense in beginning well. Carey Tyso.
I prune at two different times, the hardy varieties in December, the more tender ones in February. Protect the latter from frost by fastening about their heads fern, or spruce and yew-boughs; but not so thickly as to prevent the circulation of air. John Dobson.
This should be an active month with the Ranunculus-grower: new sorts purchased, boxes of named sorts finally arranged, soil in beds in good, clean condition, margin-boards put down, having been previously repainted where necessary, - all ready for the important operation of planting. Proceed, about the middle of the month, in fine weather, with a coarse rake, to make the surface of the beds level, and not more than an inch higher than the surrounding walks. If the quantity of tubers be small, they may be planted with a dibble, so that the crowns of the tubers are 1 1/2 inch in depth, and 5 inches x 5, or 6 x 5 inches distance from each other. Seedling roots, though small the second year, require an inch more space than older varieties, in consequence of their subsequent vigour. If the quantity of roots be large, make drills a full inch deep, and press the claws of the tubers carefully, but somewhat firmly, into the soil, that the crowns may be the requisite depth, and the tubers secured from rising by the natural swell occasioned by rapid absorption of a large amount of moisture.
Rake, level, and keep an eye to the operations of a mischievous class of disturbers called lobworms.
Wallingford, Berks. Carey Tyso.
If any roots are out of ground, plant them immediately. The roots planted in the middle of last month will have absorbed a great amount of moisture, and have trebled their original bulk. In this swelling process some of the tubers will rise to the "surface, - these should be placed lower and firmer in the soil. Those also that are disturbed by worms will require the same attention. The texture of light soils may be improved, during the dry winds usual to this month, by pressure on the surface with the back of the spade. This should never be done later than three weeks after planting.
Walling ford. C. Tyso.
The surface of the beds will require a little attention. Cracks occasioned by dry winds must be stopped, and the soil pressed carefully and closely round the collar of the plants as soon as the leaves are safely through the soil. If the soil runs or cakes, it should be scratched over with a small fork (a table-fork will answer the purpose), and about three quarters of an inch of fine sand added as a top-dressing. Protect choice beds from late frosts. Seedlings must be supplied with water regularly, and shaded: one dry day without protection is sufficient to ruin a spring-sown crop. A little rich fine mould should be sprinkled over the young plants as a top-dressing.
Wallingford. Carey Tyso.
Attend to the surface of the beds, and stop cracks or holes. When the presence of wireworm is suspected, set traps of sliced potatoes, or carrots, about an inch deep. Bran, if kept moist, will be found a great attraction to them when it begins to decay. Protect from frosts, which may be apprehended occasionally in the mornings of this month. Harden seedlings by exposure to air, but not to midday sun; and about the middle of the month plunge the seed-boxes, or pots, in the ground, in the open air, in a sheltered situation. Water must be regularly supplied until the plants have reached mature growth.
Wallingford. Carey Tyso.
These have not suffered from the severe weather proportionately with Tulips and some other florists' flowers, and are at present looking full of promise. Should we have a deficiency of rain, it will be necessary to preserve from drought by shading with flake-hurdles, or other contrivances which admit air freely. Water, in many situations, will be also found necessary; and this should be administered with care: better do it effectually and seldom than a little nightly. Protection from rain and sun must be afforded when in bloom, particularly to the dark sorts. Do not allow any choice sorts to overbloom themselves; seedlings are apt to do this, and exhaust their energy in one season. Disbudding will, in great measure, prevent it. Seedlings in boxes should now be in the open air, plunged to the edge, and a little shade afforded. The Ranunculus stands on vantage ground in one respect above many of its compeers in the open garden, - its blossoms require no artificial aids, as dressing, clipping, or extraction of petals, etc.: defend it from accident and all enemies, and the only preparation for the exhibition-stand is to sever it from the plant. As the Ranunculus blooms in the longest days and under powerful suns, every means should be taken to prolong the bloom by keeping down the temperature.
A good soaking of the paths with water will be useful to this end.
Wallingford. Carey Tyso.