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.
Pears on walls should have the shoots pulled off altogether where the spurs are already too thick. Sun and air are of great importance in preparing the trees for fruiting next year. All growths should be stopped by degrees, as great quantities of wood pulled off while the trees are in active growth is fatal to success. We prefer going over the upper parts, then the centres, and lastly along the bottom; the growths thus become equal. Some go over Pears and break the shoots half over, which answers pretty well; but the decaying leaves are untidy, and a harbour for earwigs, wood-lice, etc. Finer kinds of Apples and Cherries grown on walls require similar treatment to Pears. Morello Cherries do best when growth is medium, and a number of side shoots cut out yearly, and as many left (which have started from the main branches) to fill up the vacant space. Whatever is done now is so much towards reducing labour when the weather is cold. Plums, Peaches, and Apricots should be kept closely tied to the wall. In the north they seldom ripen their wood thoroughly; but we have seen in the south-west of England, Apricots and Plums growing far out from the walls, and bearing heavy crops of fine fruit - but locality makes all the difference.
Where there is rank growth and little fruit on wall-trees, a little root-pruning at this season can be practised with the best results. As an example, we half lifted two Plums last season (Dovebank and Washington) which were all wood and leaves, and little fruit. The roots were replaced in healthy loam made firm; little more growth was made, and the few fruit ripened very well. By the end of October the leaves were turning yellow. We then lifted the other portion of the trees. They are now bearing good crops and looking exceedingly healthy. By this treatment no time is lost, as often occurs when the whole of the roots are lifted in early winter. Let grubs be picked off at once whenever they appear. Apricots are liable to their attacks. Hellebore powder we often use with excellent effect on wall-trees. Place 4 ounces in 2 or 3 gallons of water, thoroughly stir it, and apply with a syringe to the under sides of the leaves.
Roses will be tempted by good soakings of water. Guano or any other kind of manure-water will help ready growers. We emptied a cesspool lately in which were the drainings from the stable-yard, and applied the thinnest part of the liquid to a long border of new Roses. To allow it to pass easily into the soil, two men made drills (as for Pease) all through the border, keeping clear of the roots; the other men poured it into the drills, and when all was done the dry earth was levelled in to prevent evaporation, and now the border is thoroughly moist and the Roses growing rapidly. The remaining portion of the liquid was thrown into Celery-ridges among the manure, which was not very good, and the whole dug in. Suckers must be cut off clean as soon as they appear, and all dead flowers should be picked off. Water blooming plants in borders thoroughly when they require it, and stir with the hoe after the surface becomes dry. Regulate the growths of plants, to keep borders gay and neat. All decaying flowers and leaves should be cut off, and no weeds allowed to appear. Let trained Roses and other climbers be tied in their places to prevent breakage by wind.
Dandelions and other weeds should not be allowed to seed in lawns; they should be carefully taken out, and a little salt placed in the holes to prevent any of the roots left from growing. All the usual "keeping" - such as clipping of grass-edgings, mowing, rolling, etc. - should be kept up diligently, now that the ornamental grounds are becoming gay. Water Violets, and let Dahlias and Hollyhocks have plenty of manure-water. Stake them securely, and cut off any shoots which are crowding the plants. Propagate Pansies from side shoots; the younger the cuttings the finer will be the plants. Propagate Pinks by cuttings, and layer Carnations and Picotees. For Pinks first prepare beds of sandy light soil, in which the pipings are placed, thoroughly watered, and hand-lights placed over them. When making pipings, take the shoots from round the bottoms of the stems. They should be about 2 inches long, and the lower leaves stripped off is all the preparation they require. They should be made firm when planted in the light rich soil. If shaded from sun, so much the better; an old mat or any such material will answer if the position is exposed to sun. As the plants begin to show growth, begin to give air, and increase it gradually till they are all rooted.
The shoots of Carnations and Picotees are sometimes propagated like Pinks, but with a little bottom-heat. The general way is to take a little of the soil away all round the plant and replace it with light sandy earth, raising it above the level of the surrounding soil. Cut the leaves all off the shoots, only leaving the upper ones (three or four). On the bottom side of the stem, about 3 inches from the top, cut a slit (sloping upwards) half through the shoot, passing the knife through the joint, doing this with care, not to sever the stem. Cut off the piece below the joint outside and close up to it, then peg down the split joint, so that the shoot stands upright; even the soil round the joint, and the whole is finished. Water when necessary till the layer makes roots. The pegs we use are either fern or bent pieces of willow. Auriculas, if they are in a frame facing the north, heavy rains kept off, the drainage clear, and all kept clean, will do well for the present. Let all plants be attended to liberally with water, air, and cleanliness, as directed last month. Chrysanthemums may be topped back for the last time. Young bushy tops may be layered into small pots, and grown on if small plants are wanted. Tie large plants out, and keep them sturdy.
Propagate fancy and other Pelargoniums by placing the cuttings under hand-lights in sandy soil. When we lived with the late Mr Catleugh, many thousands of the above were propagated in the open ground annually for Covent Garden; some of the more tender kinds were sheltered with a frame. Cut down all those that are done flowering. Zonals grown on liberally will take their place, and make a grand display for four months to come. Give manure-water to those which are flowering freely. M. T.