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.
At this season, in most gardens, watering (with liquid manure if it can be had) may be done freely among all growing crops, especially Pease, Cabbage, Cauliflower, and Lettuce, which are expected to turn in soon for use; and on sandy soil a good mulching is of great service. On such soil it is difficult to secure good Pease without plenty of moisture at their roots. Where Pease are growing freely, and turning in earlier than desirable, the crop may be prolonged by lopping back gross shoots, and keeping the pods clean picked off as they become fit for use. Keep an open surface wherever the hoe can be used, especially among Broccolis, Brussels Sprouts, Kale, and other winter vegetables. When Turnips, Potatoes, and other crops are cleared off, let the ground be filled up with something that may be in demand in winter or spring. Kales, Carrots, and Spinach will be very useful; no ground should be left as a harbour for weeds. Endive, Lettuce, and all other salads, may be sown again for autumn and winter use. Sow Early Horn Carrots for a supply of small roots (so much in demand by some). They can be protected through the winter, and drawn as required. Sow more Cabbage, which can be pricked out to stand the winter for spring planting.
Coleworts planted thickly apart at this season will come in useful in early winter; though they may only have leaves, they are very tender and sweet. All the smaller kinds of early Cabbage, if planted now, are often of great value in mild winters; well-worked ground, with thoroughly decayed manure, is necessary to grow them freely. Onions to stand the winter may be sown now; a sheltered position is of advantage, but should not be shaded by trees, etc. Turnips may be sown for spring use. Strap-leaved and Early Stone often can be had in February and March from autumn sowings; when drawn from the ground they are more juicy than when kept in pits, etc. Let all salads, Cauliflower, etc, which are to be kept under protection through the winter, be pricked out before they are weakened by drawing up in the seed-beds. Celery for early use should now be kept well earthed up, first giving a good soaking of water, if necessary; then dust with lime, if slugs are at all troublesome. Keep the earth out of the hearts of the plants to prevent rotting. We have seen fine useful Celery planted in the south as late as August. All the later crops should have plenty of moisture at the roots if crisp Celery is wanted.
If Onions are growing strongly still, they may be twisted at their necks, which will hasten ripening. Seeds to be saved will now require attention; if cut in small bunches and placed in the sun they will do well. Dryness is of great importance to all seeds when ripening. Tomatoes will now require close topping, and where the fruit are too numerous they may be thinned off; and except means can be afforded to ripen the fruit, none need be allowed to set after August. On the walls protection can be given to keep them in bearing. On the back walls of our sunk pits they are doing admirably, and the wooden covers can be pushed on when frost makes its appearance. Dung for Mushroom-beds may be collected and allowed to dry moderately; then throw it in a heap to heat, but not to burn. The beds can be made in sheds or anywhere, but where there is proper protection much labour is saved - 1 foot deep of horse-droppings, thoroughly beaten firm, and allowed to heat before the pieces of spawm are put in (care being exercised to prevent overheating, by making a number of holes in the bed to let the heat escape). The bed is thus made, and ought to produce Mushrooms with little further trouble at this season.
The covering of earth should be good, healthy loam, soft and rich, and placed 2 inches over the surface a week or so after the bed is spawned. The size of bed will be regulated according to the demand. There are many opinions about spawning, but I have often abundance of fine Mushrooms by placing the spawn an inch or two deep in the dung, and 10 or 12 inches apart. The pieces are broken up about the size of pigeons' eggs, and any of the cakes which have no spawn in them are discarded. The bed should remain untouched for five or six weeks after spawning, then tepid water may be given sufficiently to moisten through the covering of earth. Heavy drenchings of cold water destroy the spawn, but a moist atmosphere is beneficial. Small beds made frequently keep the most regular supply; besides, it is not always convenient to secure large quantities of manure for the purpose.
Strawberries which are done with should be trenched down; others which are to stand should be cleared of all runners, mulching, decaying leaves, etc, and the surface of the soil pointed ever with a fork, or the hoe used freely. The more attention given now, the better will the plants be able to give a good supply of fruit next season: plants in preparation either for forcing or for planting out require liberal supplies of water overhead as well as at their roots. Those in pots require turning round, and the roots should be prevented from growing through. Cucumbers which have been bearing freely may be cut in a little, and a good surfacing of turfy loam and a little decayed manure given. A good watering with tepid water will be of great service where roots are very plentiful, and a good lining of manure placed round the plants to encourage free growth. Thin Vegetable Marrows: they require plenty of room to grow. When watering this class of plants, it is necessary to find the extremities of the roots, as continued watering near the necks of the plants, leaving the feeders to perish, soon brings on disease. Trees require to be looked over, taking away any leaves or shoots that may be shading the fruit, pushing them aside, or taking them off if they can be spared.
Summer nailing, tying, Arc, are generally finished this month, so that the shoots may have the full benefit of the walls while there is sun to prepare them for fruiting. Flies, wasps, and birds are generally great enemies in gardens at this season. Hexagon netting or some other material should be used, or there will be much of the best of the fruit destroyed. If the weather should be dry, liberal soakings of water should be given to young trees; and a good washing with a garden engine will be of great service in destroying greenfly, red-spider, and dust.
Anemone and Ranunculus seed may be sown early in the month (if not already done). Any of the common roots may be sown in rows in an open border, but the finer kinds should be sown in pans or boxes, or where they can be attended and protected if necessary. Auriculas can be potted now if they require it: their roots should be examined, and if healthy, and the pots are not well filled, they had better remain as they are. A shift to a larger-sized pot is necessary when there are plenty of healthy feeders; when any of them are unhealthy, the sour soil may be taken carefully away, and good turfy loam and a little sand substituted. Re-pot in same sized or smaller pots, giving plenty of drainage: though loam and good rotten dung is often used when potting Auriculas, it is better to leave out the manure when roots are unhealthy, and cannot consume it. Attend to layering Carnations and Picotees, if not already done. Water carefully those which are rooting. Dahlias, Hollyhocks, and all border plants, should have all decaying flowers taken off as soon as they are observed, and should be well secured to their stakes. Wind often does great damage when tying has not been well seen to. Chrysanthemums require plenty of water, otherwise they will lose their bottom leaves.
Stakes may now be used to keep the branches in their positions, and from being crowded. All half-hardy plants in pots, such as Verbenas, Petunias, Calceolarias, Geraniums, etc., require liberal treatment now, as the plants are blooming freely. Manure-water will be of great service in keeping them vigorous. The surfaces of the pots cleared of old soil, and fresh rich loam and rotten dung given, will also aid root-action: no battered surfaces shrunk from the sides of the pots should be tolerated. Plenty of Pansy cuttings should now be put in; they are becoming one of the leading plants for bedding, and are easily managed. Imperial Blue, Clieveden Yellow, and some other distinct kinds, are of great value. A good stock of all hardy kinds of bedding-plants should be secured, especially where means are limited for keeping others through the winter. All kinds of plants for decorating the borders and beds should now be propagated without delay: boxes, pans, or pots, well drained witli broken pots, etc, good loam, sand, and leaf-mould in equal proportions, suit most things; and a frame for Verbenas, Petunias, and similar soft-wooded plants, answers well.
All they require is to keep them from flagging, and when there are signs of active growth, air must be given liberally to strengthen and establish the cuttings. Handlights and many other methods are adopted by amateurs, all doing very well: proper attention to moisture, shading, and air, however, are necessary to insure success. Geraniums of the scarlet class are generally placed in boxes of light loamy soil and sand, and set full in the sun, so that they can be easily removed to their winter-quarters when the season is further advanced. Cutting in and topping down plants in the borders and beds must not be neglected now, when so much of the appearance depends on orderly keeping. Plants allowed to grow over Box edgings or grass edgings have a slovenly appearance, and the edgings are frequently killed by such neglect. Roses which have flowered may have some of the shoots cut well back, and they will flower freely late in autumn. Keep all suckers closely cut off, and untie those which were budded early: cut off all unnecessary shoots from the stocks, to let the whole vigour of the plants be thrown into the buds.
Any plants grown in pots, such as Lilacs, Deutzias, Kalmias, Rhododendrons, etc, should now be placed where they can have abundance of sun and air to ripen and prepare their flower-buds for forcing. Primulas, Cinerarias, and herbaceous Calceolarias for next winter, spring, and summer decoration, require plenty of fresh air, abundance of water (keeping clear drainage), and liberal shifts into good turfy loam, sand, and a little leaf-mould. Primulas require lighter soil, with a little peat if it can be had: a frame kept facing the north will still suit them till the season advances. Keep down green-fly among Cinerarias and Calceolarias by the use of tobacco smoke judiciously used, so that the foliage may not be injured. M. T.