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.
Many of the Brassica tribe of plants for winter supply will now be out and growing rapidly, if all has gone well. With us, growth never was more rapid. The hoe and fork will now be required more than at any other time, both for keeping an open healthy surface and for destroying weeds. There will soon be Turnips, Potatoes, and other crops cleared off ground, which will require preparing and planting. A good stock of Kale, Cabbage, and Cauliflower, ready to plant, will be useful for "filling up." Vacant spaces in autumn have a wasteful appearance, besides giving trouble in keeping them clean. All main crops of Broccolis and Brussels Sprouts not planted should have attention at once; and as July is a hot month, extra attention with watering will be necessary: puddling the roots, and placing the earth properly to them, must be kept in mind, as formerly advised. Coleworts should be planted thickly for cutting young, and leaving every alternate plant to grow larger. Successions of Cabbages are more preferable for general use than old ones left to sprout and heart, but the latter plan is often adopted; and when the old crops are cut, the stumps should be cleared of the oldest of the leaves, and a good mulching given; or rotten dung forked in over the roots answers better.
If a chance crop of Peas is to be sown, an early kind - such as Sangster's No. 1 or First Crop - may be tried. Success with late Peas depends much on a mild autumn - not too damp. Asparagus and Seakale may be improved with a sprinkling of salt over the surface of the soil among the plants, which is an easy way of destroying weeds. Sow Carrots and Onions for drawing young, also all kinds of Salads, in cool well-moistened ground. Endive and Lettuce may be sown extensively this month, as they will keep on long into the autumn if watering is not neglected; sow them thinly where they are to stand, Celery should be got out as early as possible now, keeping good balls with the roots, and giving abundance of water after they are planted. Slight mulching will be serviceable for keeping the roots cool and moist; and if the Celery-grubs appear, pick them off, and dust the parts with lime. Lime well dusted in the ridges is good for dislodging slugs and other vermin. Twist the necks of autumn-sown Onions to help them to ripen: when they are allowed to stand long in the ground, they (if showery weather sets in) are apt to make a second growth, which destroys their keeping qualities. Kidney Beans and Scarlet Runners may require heavy watering and mulching, if on sandy soil, to keep them in bearing.
Pick all pods off them as soon as they get past use. Pinch in Runners where they are to be kept dwarf: we get a longer continuance of bearing from those kept down than from staked ones; besides, no time is spent in staking. Leeks, if not already planted, may have attention at once; they require abundance of good manure: those left where they were sown should be thinned out to 8 inches apart (or less if the ground is poor), and earth drawn about the stalks to blanch them. If more Spinach is to be sown, let the soil be well watered the day previously. If weather is wet, this precaution will not be necessary, but covering in and treading on the soil, when wet, is an evil to be avoided. When it is compulsory to sow in wet weather, let the earth be drawn over the seed with a rake, and treading or smoothing it when dry on the surface. Ground may soon be prepared for prickly Spinach. Heavy coatings of manure, turned in near the surface, is an evil by which the crop is often destroyed wholesale. We prefer trenching deeply; and if manure is required, it is turned into the bottom. A week or two later for sowing it in the south will suit very well. Cabbage, for autumn planting, may be sown in the north about the third week in the month.
The first week of August to the middle of the month is suitable for the south of England. This being a very important crop, it should suffer no check from drought or grubs, otherwise premature seeding in spring will be the result. Mats or evergreen branches placed over the seed, and well watered till it comes up, will do much to secure success. Vegetable Marrows will require thinning and stopping; if they are allowed to become matted, the crop will be a poor one. Stop the shoots of Cucumbers and Melons above the fruit, and do not allow too many to swell at one time. Cucumbers, if they have fruited freely and are beginning to look "rusty," may be cut back, clearing off old leaves, then well surfaced with good loam and dung, thoroughly watered with tepid manure - water, warmth afforded from dung or otherwise, well sprinkled, and shaded from strong sun. They will soon start into active growth again, and bear for a long time. The same treatment may be given to Melons which have finished their crop, and have their foliage in healthy condition; but they require more care than Cucumbers. Decay at the necks of the plants, and the attacks of red-spider, are their worst enemies.
Young fruit-trees will require frequent looking over, for if strong shoots are allowed to take the lead, the tree will be much injured; by timely stopping strong growths, a number of side-shoots will be emitted, and a year's training gained. An unequally-grown tree has a bad appearance in a well-kept garden. Continue to stop shoots and take off what are not required, doing it by degrees, as formerly advised. Pears growing above the tops of walls are very unsightly: while we write this, however, we have a fine wall of trees sending single shoots above the coping; they are to remain till autumn, and be trained over to the other side to take the place (piecemeal) of Cherries which are doing little good. Their roots are growing into a hollow hedge, where they cannot be helped in any way. Thin, trim, and regulate Annuals; Mignonette, and some of the freer-growing plants, may be cut back, to keep them clear of box and grass edgings: plants growing over edgings have a slovenly appearance; besides, they kill whatever they grow over. Top Sweet Peas, and keep the pods off them; plenty of manure-water will keep them long in flower.
Propagate Pansies and Hollyhocks by cuttings; young shoots of the latter, taken off with "heels" attached, and well attended with water and shade, will make fine established plants by autumn.
Dahlias require tying up carefully to their stakes; any misplaced shoots or useless ones may be cut out; plenty of manure-water may be given; on heavy rich soil it is less required. Pelargoniums which are well ripened in their growth may be cut down, removed to a frame if at command, kept dry a few days, then well sprinkled with water, and shut up with sun-heat: when growth makes its appearance, plenty of air and light should be given, and when they are half an inch or so long, the old plants may be shifted out of their flowering-pots, reduced at the roots, potted into smaller pots, using sandy loam. When the pots are well filled with roots, a liberal shift of rich loam and a little sand should be given, be carefully watered, and no damp and unhealthy atmosphere harboured among them - these are the principal requirements of this plant. Green-fly delights in feasting among the young shoots.
It is well to remark that great injury from bad potting and injudicious watering is done to Pelargoniums. The roots should be wholly encased by the new soil, and no space left between them and the sides of the pots; extra drainage will help those inexperienced in watering; rainwater, or from a pond, is most suitable, and enough given when required to wet the whole ball of soil. Cinerarias, Primulas, Balsams, and other quick-growing plants, must not be allowed to become pot-bound, otherwise premature flowering will be the result. Sprinkle over head plants in windows, giving them plenty at their roots. If boxes are well filled with roots, a little of Standen's manure may be sprinkled over their surface, according to the directions on the package. This manure is less offensive than some others employed. When manure of an offensive kind is given, it should be covered with clean soil, but not battered down, which keeps out air. Carnations and Picotees should now be layered; all budding of Ptoses should be finished as early as possible. Propagate Pinks from side-shoots, taking them off at the joints, stripping off the lower leaves, and placing them neatly in sandy soil in a shady position, covering them over with hand - lights, watering, and giving air freely as soon as growth commences.
Chrysanthemums will now require liberal treatment with manure-water, and if the specimens are large, staking to keep them open at the heart may be done as soon as convenient. The tops of some of them may be layered into small pots, and plants can be had of a small size for many purposes. Lawns should now be kept clear of seeding weeds; if they cannot be got clean out by the roots, a little salt placed over the broken part will in most cases kill them. Roll walks often, to keep them smooth and hard. M. T.