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.
Layering (we mention the operation in detail as usual for beginners) is cutting the bottom leaves off, leaving those on three or four upper joints. On the bottom of stem, between two joints, draw the knife gently upwards through the next joint, half severing the plant; a quantity of light sandy soil is ready, and placed under each layer, and the half-severed shoot is placed on the soil upright, taking care not to separate it from the plant, and is pegged to keep it in its place; more soil is thinly placed over, and water given to moisten the whole. Pots may be used for pegging the plants into, when growing in pots is to be the system of culture. Annuals growing too thickly may be thinned, and the young plants placed in suitable positions, if necessary; they require plenty of water, and shading for a time is beneficial. Auriculas must have the drainage of the pots frequently examined, keeping them clear; dead leaves should not be tolerated. Seedling Pansies, Wallflowers, Rockets, Canterbury Bells, and all similar plants, should be planted out before they become stunted in seedbeds. Divide and plant Polyanthus in cool rich soil.
Hyacinths, Tulips, Narcissus, etc, which were flowered in pots, may be planted out in borders for next season's flowering; a quantity may be retained in boxes of sand, to be planted thickly in pots and boxes for early flowering. Flowers come small, but often this practice saves hard forcing of good kinds. Violets should have plenty of water, and, if growing too freely, the soil may be hard trodden round the plants, and an open surface maintained. Propagating of bedding-plants will soon require attention; scarce kinds, as they can spare a few cuttings, should have attention. Well-drained pots or pans should be in readiness; single pots for rare Geraniums answer well, using sandy soil. Top Chrysanthemums as they require it; the end of June is late enough for Scotland and colder districts, but the middle or later in July is not too late for the south of England. Watering overhead and at the roots should not be neglected; I mean thorough soakings. Surface dribbling is one of the greatest evils in practice, and annually kills thousands of valuable plants. Drainage choked up is another great evil, and will in time kill plants which naturally require abundance of water. A cool wet autumn, or one dry and hot, will make much difference on both time of flowering and quality of them.
To plants of Chrysanthemums which are to flower in small pots, and these pots becoming filled with roots, liquid manure will be of much service; but for larger specimens, in big pots, manure-water for some time may be withheld. Stake and regulate the shoots; compact bushes without stakes are handsome.
Plants in structures will now require much water, dead flowers to be kept off, and manure-water may be given to vigorous growers, such as Fuchsias, Pelargoniums with pots filled with roots. Heaths and Epa-cris will be improved by frequently sprinkling them overhead, and if standing on dry ashes, moistening the surfaces will be of service. Let no plants stand on surfaces from which worms can enter the pots by the drainage. Lights of glass structures may now be easily repaired and painted. Plants flowering under glass should show their individual merits; as masses of flowers are plentiful out of doors, it requires something more to give interest under glass at this season. Climbers should be kept within limits, but not tied in bunches or crowded in any way.
Thrips are fond of establishing themselves on Azaleas; laying them on their sides and thoroughly syringing them with tobacco-water, or soft-soap water mixed with tobacco-powder, will keep them off: fumigating two or three nights in succession with tobacco will keep them down. Cinerarias and Calceolarias are liable to the attacks of green-fly, and require timely attention. M. T.
If time can be spared to thin fruit properly, it is labour well spent, both as regards securing good fruit and keeping the trees in good condition for future work. This, however, applies to trained trees, and those which have to be kept within bounds with the knife. Young trees - as bushes - whether small fruit or large, are all the better of having their hearts opened out; an hour's work, by an active hand, would go over a great many bushes, and the time would be profitably spent. There is generally so much to do at this season, that trees have in a great measure to be neglected, and the work has to be done in winter, which is much against the wellbeing of the trees. Stopping of gross shoots, rubbing off others which are too thick or misplaced, is important work at this season, - so much of canker and gross fruitless wood being caused by crowding during the growing and ripening season, and the severe use of the knife in winter, when the wood may be only half ripened. A little examination of the roots from this time to September may do much to make the trees fruitful next season, and keep the balance of the tree even.
This operation has to be done with great caution, finding the way to tap-roots by degrees, leaving a large portion of the tree untouched till the roots lifted now are again healed and growing into any new soil which may have been placed within their reach, and made firm. The other portion of the roots may be lifted in autumn, just before growth entirely ceases. We have more faith in this practice than in tearing up and cutting roots severely, as is the practice of some. Keep insects off with tobacco-water applied by a syringe. Trees with their roots near the surface may require mulching and abundance of water. Young trees should have their shoots carefully trained, stopping gross growths in time to get the branches to spread, and a year's training might be gained, and the mischief caused by cutting back strong shoots avoided. Strawberry runners should be secured as early as possible for fresh plantations. "Water (if required) liberally those newly planted which may have been forced, and keep all runners off them unless they may be wanted for stock.
When time can be spared from keeping lawns mowed, weeds rooted out, edgings clipped, the frequent use of the hoe among flowering-plants, and other work necessary, budding of Roses may be done, Pink cuttings put in, Carnations layered, cuttings of herbaceous plants put in shady positions, Chrysanthemum-tops layered in small pots for special purposes, cuttings of rare plants put in to be increased for next year's bedding stock; much of this work well done goes far to make up the interest of the garden. In large places these things have often to be passed over for want of time to spare. In amateurs' gardens the amenities of gardening have the best attention, amateurs doing the work for pleasure alone. Keep Dahlias well tied to their stakes; give manure-water if the soil is poor.
Plants to supply flowers during autumn and winter should now receive liberal treatment, and no check given by withholding water or starving the roots in very small pots. This applies to Cinerarias, Primulas, Chrysanthemums, Salvias, and all the usual hard-wooded plants. Any of the latter requiring a shift, should have attention without delay. Others well advanced in their growth should be induced to rest, so that their growth may get matured and ready to flower abundantly at the proper season. This chiefly applies to early Azaleas, Camellias, Cytisus, Coronillas, Acacias, Chorozemas, and others, which by special treatment can be had in bloom early in the winter, and when they are not in an unhealthy or pot-bound condition, will keep in bloom for months.
Bring forward successions by shutting up the structures early with moisture and sun-heat, many of the hardy forcing plants, such as Deutzias, Kalmias, Weigelia rosea, etc. Wood early ripened, and the buds formed in due time, is better than hard forcing in autumn and winter. This applies particularly to Camellias when they are wanted by November. The drainage of pots should be kept perfect, and worms kept out. This is a good time to sow Calceolaria seed. Keep the seed-pan rather shaded from hot sun, but cool and airy. Small seeds of this kind scarcely require any covering - a square of glass placed over the surface will keep off slugs. Seed pots and pans when in use should be kept perfectly level, otherwise the seed may be washed to one side. Balsams, Cockscombs, Globe Amaranthus, and similar plants, on stages coming into flower, may have their pots placed into a larger size, which will shield the roots from hot sun. Give manure-water frequently to Fuchsias, Pelargoniums, and other soft-wooded plants in flower. Stir surfaces.