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.
"Where fruit-trees have received their annual dressing, and are now properly secured to their places on the walls, etc, and standards (which may have been left unpruned to keep a supply of fruit-buds after birds have done their work) are now dressed, there will be little to do in that department. However, the advancing season will bring its own work, and Peaches, Nectarines, Plums, and Apricots will, in early localities, soon require attention by disbudding, or, it may be, thinning the flower-buds, as that is often of great service in securing a crop, especially if the trees are weakly, and a scanty supply of foliage made. "When disbudding is done, all the shoots which are misplaced and likely to deform the tree should be rubbed off, leaving plenty to supply fruit another season. The shoots near the base of the old ones should be left, and a leader to draw up the sap. When a portion of disbudding is done as soon as growth commences, little check to the tree is given. The tree should never be subjected to having large quantities of young growths taken off at one time, and the young fruit should not be suddenly denuded, especially when there is still danger from frost.
All natural spurs placed neatly and close to the wall should be left, as they are certain fruit-bearers of a superior quality (at least we believe this, and save them with all care). Where there is abundance of healthy fibre these natural spurs are also sure to be plentiful. Strawberries may require a thorough hoeing, but not to disturb the roots; clear off decaying leaves. Young plants which have been kept in store through the winter may be lifted with good balls and planted out in good deep soil - rows 2 feet apart, and 1 foot to 1½ foot between the plants is generally enough, but we have seen it necessary to keep some sorts 3 feet apart each way. Mulching to keep out drought may require attention where soil is light and dry. Stable-litter answers well, and will soon be made pure by the weather, and fit for keeping the fruit clean in its season. Plants which may have been forced should be protected, as they do well for planting in the open ground.
Flower-gardens will now be in tidy order, and the grounds ready for the plants. Where hardy kinds are much used, they could be planted in their places at once. They will become established early, and give the garden an interesting appearance at the beginning of the season. Ajuga, Arabis, Cerastium, Pansies of sorts, Dactylis, many kinds of ornamental-foliaged shrubs, and a host of useful things, may be arranged now for edgings, etc. Where Pansies or Violas are to be used for bedding, the soil should be rich, cool, firm, and deep. Sowings of annuals may be made in borders and beds where wanted. Herbaceous plants may be reduced and replanted, if necessary. When digging among them, care should be taken not to spread the roots in the ground, as confusion would then follow. The same applies to hardy bulbs; some mark their positions with a piece of wood stuck beside them. Lawns will now require to be well swept and rolled, any grass edgings repaired, and neatly cut where necessary; but while doing this the edgings should not be reduced, but only parts which are getting beyond bounds taken evenly off. Walks should now be smooth and level, frequently rolled. Weeds should not be allowed to appear where they can be kept down.
Box-edgings may be clipped soon; if the weather is showery, so much the better. We prefer Box kept flat in flower-gardens and around flower-borders, but in the kitchen-garden it suits better to be kept the shape of a wedge, and not too thin. Tulips and other bulbs may require looking over, pressing the soil nicely round their necks, and keeping the surfaces of beds neatly stirred. Hyacinths in flower may require protection from strong sun and driving rain; those in pots require plenty of manure-water, and to be shaded to prolong their bloom, keeping the pots cool. Roses unpruned should now have attention - suckers should not be allowed to appear, but be cut clean off. Where soil is light and poor a good soaking of manure-water will do much to give a "successful bloom." Drills drawn, not disturbing the roots, and then covered over with the dry surface soil, is a good method of harvesting the moisture. All bedding plants will now be getting ready for turning out next month; while getting them hardened gradually, sudden exposure to cold is to be avoided. Plenty of light and air, when weather is mild, will help to prepare them; and taking the light off altogether when weather is suitable will harden them without making them "wiry" and stunted.
Marigolds, Asters, Stocks, and other ornamental plants, may be got forward; when fit to handle they do well pricked out in a frame or under handlights, keeping them covered up from frost. Light soil is necessary for getting up the seedlings strong for planting out; more seed may be sown for succession. Dahlias may still be divided, and young shoots with heels attached placed in small pots of sandy soil. If Dahlias are grown on steadily to good-sized plants in large pots, they may be planted out in June, coming into bloom soon after. The usual way of growing them for a few weeks' bloom in autumn lessens their value to a great extent. Carnations and Pico-tees to be grown and flowered in pots will require careful attention with water, and shifting into larger-sized pots when roots are plentiful; thorough drainage is very important. Those to be planted out may be placed in their quarters soon; well-prepared soil, tolerably rich and sandy, suits them. Grubs soon find them out, and when established in the soil are difficult to get rid of. Auriculas may require shading from sun; weakly flower-stems may be taken off to do justice to the principal flowers; abundance of fresh air and careful watering are their chief requirements at present; worms in their pots, or any pots, are to be avoided.
Chrysanthemums will now require attention, keeping them growing steadily without any check, topping in the growths as they require it. Shift to larger pots those which are filling their present pots with roots; liberal supplies of water will be required in proportion to the roots which are to consume it, and a check will cause naked stems, and the pots will not be covered with large healthy foliage, so necessary to a well-grown Chrysanthemum. We have a paper sent us by one who grew some of the most extraordinary specimens ever seen in the west of England, but as there seems nothing in the treatment which has not been indorsed by others writing of their practice, we need not insert it here. The substance of the treatment is - the plants were propagated in April, kept growing steadily, carefully avoiding any check from any cause, plunging the pots in a southerly position, choosing the coolest clay-ground at command, and making holes in it to fit each pot into, and giving abundance of manure-water after the buds were set for flowering. Those grown in the open ground may have similar attention. Liliums will now be making growth. They require plenty of light and air. Any which may be wanted for late flowering can be kept in a shady position.
We put a dozen or two out in a cool position, plunged in gravel through the summer. They come in useful in October and November. Hard-wooded plants will now require plenty of fresh air, and to be kept free from stagnant moisture. Water them so that every particle of soil is moistened - dribblings are to be strictly avoided. Insects, on growing soft-wooded plants, must be kept in check. Tobacco for fumigating them is still as useful and single a method of destroying them as any. Clark's insect-destroyer stands high with us, both for fruit-trees and plants, it is so cleanly. Cinerarias and Primulas require plenty of light and air after they are up, and they should be pricked off into pans or potted in small pots. Cinerarias require very cool treatment, and not exposed to broiling sun. Primulas require more encouragement and lighter soil, in which is plenty of leaf-mould. Balsams, Cockscombs, and Globe Amaranths do well when sown now. They require bottom-heat at the beginning, plenty of light and air as they grow into specimens, and may be flowered in cool positions.