This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
It is very difficult to eradicate white-scale from hard-wooded greenhouse plants such as yours. Try a few of the worst of them by dipping them in water, at a temperature of 100°, with the specified quantity of Gishurst's compound in it.
We regret that your letter fell aside, and a reply was omitted last month. Furze will grow on your banks. We advise you to sow the seed where you wish it to grow, and at once. The following grasses will suit your light poor soil: Crested Dogstail, Round Cocksfoot, Hard Fescue, Meadow Fescue, Evergreen Ryegrass, Evergreen Meadow-grass; Yellow Trefoil, Perennial White Clover, and Alsike Clover may be added.
The best method of packing Grapes for exhibition is that generally practised by those who show at the great London and provincial exhibitions - i.e., they are fixed on a board on which a lining of clean, generally white, paper has been pasted, by having a tape passed through the bunch over its leading stem and through holes to the back of the board, where it is tied sufficiently firm to keep the bunch from moving. Then this board, with the bunch or bunches so fixed on it, is placed in a box, and fixed there at an angle of 40°, so that the bunch is in a natural position; but you must be in a very outlandish part of the country if you have not seen Grapes packed as we have attempted to describe. Peaches may have fine tissue-paper put round them, and be packed in wadding - each Peach fitting into a compartment made in a light tin or wooden box to fit it with the wadding round it; or they may be packed in boxes without compartments for each fruit if they have wadding between them. If you visit Covent Garden in the Peach season, you will see them very neatly and safely packed in punnets, with pink paper round them.
Unless we could see your vines and examine the soil, we cannot pretend to give a satisfactory reason for your failure. There are two ways by which the side-shoots come to drop off. If they are tied down to the wires too soon, or all at once instead of gradually, they stand the strain at the time, but in many cases drop off a few hours afterwards; or they may drop off by the force of their own weight, if not tied in proper time. We suspect the latter of these is not the cause in your case. Get some experienced gardener to look at them; a fourth part muck, as you term it, is far too great a proportion for a vine-border.
Try and put some temporary division between your two lots of plants; then you may be able to treat them differently. If those that have not started are growing freely, keep them rather dry at the root, so as to check their growth. If they are making suckers and not growing much fiom their centres, as is sometimes the case, remove the suckers and stimulate them by a brisk bottom-heat and moisture, and more than likely they may start. But they are very obstinate sometimes. Sheep's droppings and soot make excellent manure-water for Pines. Deluge the haunts of the ants with boiling water, and molest them in every possible way, and more than likely they will shift their quarters. They can be poisoned with arsenic in anything they are fond of.
Some of the varieties in your list we are not acquainted with, but the following are all good: - Lapstone Kidney, Paterson's Victoria, Fortyfold, Mona's Pride, Veitch's Improved, Wheeler's Milky-White, American Early, Myatt's Prolific, Regent.
Get Euclid and a set of mathematical drawing instruments, and produce on paper all the figures in the first few books; after that you will be able to go on with all the geometric drawing that you will require. We would also advise you to possess yourself of Cassell's 'Popular Educator,' and master all in that on the subject of drawing. You may find such work as this dry at first, but in the long-run most fascinating and mind-improving. You have already a good foundation for a good handwriting, and if you want to improve it, write down the letterpress of Euclid as well as the figures. This will help to put an edge on your reasoning faculties.
Your Grapes are evidently suffering from what is known as "shanking," for which a great many causes have been assigned. "We believe that anything that injures the constitution of the Vine will cause shanking, - such as over-heavy cropping, ill-matured wood and roots the previous season, drought, and over-much wet at the roots. If your wood is not hard and brown, fire your vinery till it is, and give a circulation of air. See that there is no stagnant water about the roots, also that in a dry season the border is not allowed to get too dry. Crop moderately and keep red-spider at bay, and, all other things being equal, your Grapes should not shank. Very likely your dropping to fire suddenly in cold weather paralysed the system of your Vines, and they have rebelled as described. Avoid sudden checks.
Cut the tops of your Draecenas and insert them in small pots in light sandy soil, and plunge the pots in a bottom-heat of 80°. Keep moderately moist and shade from sun. The old plants will break with several young shoots, which can be rooted in like manner. Propagation is also effected by taking the thick knobs formed by the roots and putting them in sandy soil in bottom-heat. Keep the temperature for the plants you name at 65° at night throughout autumn and winter.