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.
Parsnips still in the ground may be lifted soon and allowed to become dry on their surfaces; they may then be placed in a shed thinly, and some dry straw thrown over them.
Cabbage may be planted when the weather is open and mild; they may be planted twice as thick as they are to remain; every other head can be cut out for use, and a full crop allowed to remain. However, the smaller kinds can be planted more thickly than the larger sorts. Those which form nice hearts with few outside leaves are generally esteemed. When planting, make drills as for Peas, and plant the larger kinds a foot each way, so that when the main crop is left they will stand 2 feet apart each way. The quality of the ground is a guide for distance. In highly-manured soil the size of Cabbage increases doubly. In planting all kinds of plants, it is of great importance to press the soil to the roots instead of the necks. What is called "hanging" brings premature seeding, or disappointment in some other form. A pinch of Cabbage may be sown under protection and treated the same as Cauliflowers; but this is seldom necessary where due attention has been given in autumn to securing a good plantation, and a succession of young plants in a sheltered position. A succession of Peas may be sown and repeated every two or three weeks - this can be regulated only by demand; a second early kind may be sown to succeed those that are to be planted out, or what may have been sown last month.
Stake any Peas that are up, first drawing a little of the surface soil to them, to afford protection. Later in the season "earthing up" is not necessary. Broad Beans may be sown for a main crop; 2 1/2 feet apart will be wide enough for the rows, and 4 inches from set to set. Early Longpod and Mazagan will answer well. Radishes and Lettuce may be sown in sheltered early positions: protection with litter, etc, will be required in times of frost. Rhubarb and Seakale will require attention to keep up regular supplies. Rhubarb will now grow freely in any structure where a temperature from 55° to 60° can be maintained; cellars or outhouses will answer well, or a large pot or box placed over each crown in the ground and some warm manure laid above, will soon cause the crowns to start. Roots which have been lifted may be kept free from frost after they have been forced: they can be reduced and planted in prepared ground next month, protecting the crowns with dry litter; in two years' time the same roots would be again ready for lifting to force. The trimmings of Seakale-roots should be saved in a little sand, to form new plantations next month. Pieces about 4 inches long, planted 2 feet one way and 1 foot the other, would make useful roots for forcing in two years hence.
If Mushrooms are only grown in sheds or open ground, thick coverings of hay or straw are necessary to keep in the heat and out frost. At the base of a wall facing the south is a good position for forming beds; the droppings should be thrown up sloping from the wall, and the whole bed made thoroughly firm; and when heat is moderate the spawn may be placed 9 inches or a foot apart, using it about the size of pigeons' or hens' eggs, and an inch or two below the surface of the dung is deep enough. Make the beds smooth, and spread 2 inches of good loam over the surface of the bed about a week after it is made, patting it firm and smooth with the back of a spade, then protect with the litter or hay. Walks may be turned, well trodden down, levelled with the back of a rake, and well rolled; this will keep them clean and smooth for a long time: gravel that does not bind cannot be treated so: such walks as have to be hoed and raked are always unsightly and unpleasant to walk on. Trees yet unpruned should be attended to at once, and the proper fastening given, as formerly advised. Any appearance of suckers should not be neglected, but they should be cut off clean; if only shortened, they would come up in greater force.
Hard paths over the roots of trees may be slightly forked up and a good dressing of manure given; but if the trees are vigorous, the less stimulant they receive the better. Peaches and Nectarines which have been unfastened and kept away from the walls may still remain as they are, but if their flower-buds are expanding from the mildness of the season, tying up cannot be longer delayed. It is very common to see these trees overcrowded with young wood j that evil should be guarded against, as its effects are much against successful fruit-growing. When trees are very thickly studded with fruit-buds and the wood weakly, a good crop is very uncertain: to help this the buds might be well thinned out, leaving those most prominent standing singly. A boarded coping, projecting a foot or more from the top of the wall, is of great service by keeping the trees dry: these boards should be portable, so that they can be taken off in summer to allow the dews and rains to fall on the leaves. Old trees may be renovated by taking off a quantity of soil from the surface of roots and replacing it with good loam, crushed bones, and a little rotten manure well mixed.
Where lawns are covered with moss and the grass inferior, and. weeds likely to take possession, a mixture of lime, loam, and a little well-decayed manure thoroughly turned and broken, may be spread over the surface, and once or twice in the course of the month a rake may be used freely to level the dressing and to make it fine; and if plenty of young grass does not make its appearance by the beginning of April, a dusting of seed may be given, making the surface smooth; and when all is growing freely the roller may be used. Shrubberies should now be all clean, as leaves would keep blowing out all the season; but if a dressing of any common soil can be thrown over the leaves to keep them in their place, the dressing would be of great service in promoting free growth. Deeply digging among the roots of shrubs is a very injurious practice. Rhododendrons, especially of the Noblei-anum kind, will be flowering. If stakes and mats could be used to keep out severe frost and off heavy rains, shrubberies might be kept gay for a long time. Some of the early kinds of Rhododendrons have been more or less in flower here all the winter; some of them (January 12th) are very fine, with hundreds of blossoms out and expanding. Pansies are also blooming freely; Wallflowers, Polyanthus, and Roses are plentiful.
The two latter are very useful in pots where glass protection is limited. Deutzias and Lilacs in pots, which have been previously forced, are making growth out of doors where litter has been thrown over them during late frosts. Lily of the Valley forces remarkably easy this season; we have had a good supply since Christmas, by introduring a dozen or two of pots into beat every ten or twelve days. Few exotics have the charm that many of the most simple flowers possess. Sweetbriar forced into leaf at present is valuable for its scent: Violets are favourites with every one. The most of the above we see in the possession of some cottagers, who can be cheered with flowers in the short days as well as in summer.Dahlias to supply cuttings may be potted and placed in a little heat. When the shoots have grown an inch or two they can be placed in sandy soil, one in the centre of a very small pot, and plunged in a hotbed; they will soon root if a heel for each cutting has been secured. All bulbs, Pinks, Pansies, and other hardy plants in pots, require the same care as last month; plants to supply cuttings for bedding-out may now be brought on in heat.