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.
Those in frames require plenty of fresh air, clean, well-stirred surfaces, and no water, except when absolutely necessary. Chicory lifted, trimmed, and placed in heat to blanch like Seakale, will soon give a plentiful supply. This is considered by some as one of the most wholesome of Salads. Keep up supplies of Cress, Mustard, and young Onions, by frequent sowings, keeping them cool and airy before they are used, which adds to their flavour. Peas and Beans coming through the soil should be protected. Stake them at once, and place evergreen branches among them. When the weather is severe, coal-ashes sprinkled over them is useful in keeping off slugs. Celery should be protected from frost with litter, but the covering should be taken off whenever thaw sets in, as rotting would soon take place. Earth up (but not to bury the leaves) all late crops requiring it. There should now be no delay in getting fruit-trees planted which still remain to be done. Those already planted (if standards) should be well secured to stakes, but not tying so that the bark may be injured, but using old cloth, leather, or straw-bands under the ties. Let mulching be placed over the roots before any injury from frost is sustained.
Those on walls should not receive their permanent fastenings, as the newly-planted roots may subside with the soil, and serious injury to the bark by the ties might be the result. All established trees on walls and fences may be nailed as soon as they are pruned. Let the shoots be placed as regular and close to the wall as possible. If shreds are used, let plenty of space be left for the branches to grow. Strings should not be tied so that they will cut the wood, as cankering would then show itself. We seldom use shreds, because of their unsightly appearance, and the harbour afforded for insects. There is also great objection to pulling out and replacing nails every season, destroying walls and making nests for vermin. When tying is practised, the same nails may last for years by cutting away the shoot not required, and tying its successor in the same place to the old nails. If all the leaves have not fallen from Peaches and Apricots, the trees should have a new soft broom swept over them. Any lateral growths still remaining should be cut off, as anything that would tend to keep the wood soft and green is very objectionable both to the health of the trees and the crop for next season.
Apricots and Peaches should have the young bearing-wood unfastened from the walls, so that they will be free to the action of the air all round to harden them. Many experienced cultivators keep the young shoots off the walls as long as possible in spring, so that they are not prematurely excited to receive a check later in the season. Much of the failure of last season's fruit can be attributed to the warm weather in February bringing out the blossoms, to be checked by the cold frosty weather in Aprii. If the shoots had been free from the walls, less injury would have been sustained, as the flower-buds would not have been so forward; however, as we never had finer crops of all kinds of fruits, Apricots excepted, we are less qualified to speak on the failure than others. Pears are often a failure, both in crop and quality, from having their spurs extended far from the walls, and the whole surface of the wall entirely covered. The spurs should proceed from the sides of the branches, and be kept short, and when they are likely to crowd one another they should be thinned out. A number of old trees we treated in this way last year, and tied the old spurs back to the wall, where they did not break off. The fruit was much finer in size, more of it, and the quality vastly improved.
A mixture of soft-soap, clay, and tobacco-water, made like paint, may be applied with a brush to trees which have been infested with scale; scraping clean with a blunt instrument before the application is put on, makes way for its destructive effects on the vermin. Gishurst's compound and Clarke's insect-destroyer are excellent for cleansing deciduous trees from insects. Roses should now be planted in open weather, first preparing the ground by deep trenching and manuring, using fresh loam and decayed leaf-mould next the roots at plan ting-time, finishing with mulching to be dug in in spring. Reynolds Hole's excellent papers on the Rose are still so fresh on our minds that nothing needs to be said about them further than a "reminder." Let tender kinds be lifted, and laid in by the roots, where they will be safe from frost. When to be grown for exhibition, Roses should be kept away from the general stock, and suitable kinds planted, to receive extra attention, with manure, watering, etc.; so said the late Mr Bicham of Hedenham, when we were admiring beds of extra strong and healthy plants separated from his immense nursery stock. Protect half-hardy shrubs, such as Myrtles and Fuchsias, which are to remain in the ground all the winter.
Coal-ashes over the roots, and hay-band fastenings over dry straw or fern, answer well. Bulbs under cover require timely attention, so that they may be taken out before they grow and become blanched. Keep them cool and free from frost. A few may be brought on in a frame to flower early; a temperature of 55° will bring them on strongly. Roman Hyacinths are now in flower, and valuable little flowers they are for rooms, etc. Bedding plants require very little water now, but give it in a tepid state, and enough to reach all the roots. Cinerarias which have plenty of roots may now be assisted with manure-water. Give air plentifully in mild weather to them and Primulas. M. T.