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.
Peaches left at the rate of 1 foot apart all over the trees (and much less on weakly ones) will be a good crop: 9 inches apart is enough for Nectarines, and 6 inches for Plums. Though the latter are often left much closer, it is at the expense of flavour, colour, and size of fruit. Pears should also be thinned, as, when too heavy for the amount of foliage, gritty tasteless fruit only is produced. Thinning of shoots should be proceeded with gradually, stopping those (even if in their right position) which are taking the lead: every shoot coming out straight from the wall should be taken off. Syringe freely with water, and if insects of any kind attack the foliage, Hellebore powder and a little soft soap in the water will keep them in check. We have lately used Clarke's insect-destroyer (at the rate of 2 oz. to the gallon) with the best results on Peaches and Roses. It is a cleanly thing, and certain death to whatever insect it comes in contact with. If dry weather set in, fruit-trees which have been lately planted may require a soaking of water.
Thinning judiciously the shoots of Currants and Gooseberries would not be labour lost when fine fruit is required.
Ranunculus in flower may be shaded, where a fine display of these pretty flowers is kept up. Annuals may be sown and planted out to keep up a succession of these. Thin those requiring it. Bulbs, such as Hyacinths, Narcissus, Tulips, etc. (which are often allowed to remain in the ground all the season), are the better of being taken up and kept in dry quarters till they are wanted. Keep Auriculas from rain, and allow them to remain shaded from strong sun till the blooming period is past. Decayed flowers and seed-pods, except when seed is wanted, should be kept picked off. Where seed is saved, it should only be taken from the best kinds, and all inferior flowers destroyed or kept from flowering near selected kinds. It is often from this cause that there is so much confusion with sorts, as they become crossed and entirely changed in character. Pinks, Carnations, etc, should now be tied up neatly. Many kinds of herbaceous plants may require reducing, though this should have been attended to when digging was going on: it would be better to do it yet, rather than let the plants smother themselves. Phloxes, Hollyhocks, Dahlias, newly planted out, and all similar plants requiring stakes, should have it done effectually at once.
Roses, to keep them free from grubs and other pests, require to be looked over frequently: hand-picking is the only effectual method of keeping grubs from destroying the hearts of the flowers. They curl themselves up in the leaves near the buds, and feed away at pleasure. Budding of Roses may be performed as soon as the wood is fit, and buds can be secured. When the bark will readily peel off, the wood is in order. Cut off the bud with a leaf, and half an inch of bark, or more, very thinly. Cut a slit an inch long where the bud is to be placed, which should be as close to the stock as possible. Cut a cross, the slit forming a cross. With a buddingknife raise the bark on both sides, place the bark of the bud in neatly under the bark of the stock, letting it fit properly. The leaf with the bud should fit exactly at the cross. Tie the bark of the stock down with soft matting. Damp moss may be kept over the wound for a time to help to heal up the union. Various kinds of Roses, which it may be desirable to increase, can be budded on inferior kinds, or weakly kinds on strong ones.
All plants, such as Geraniums, Verbenas, Heliotropes, Fuchsias, Stocks, Asters, etc., planted out for decorating beds and borders, may require a good watering, should the weather prove very dry, but the operation cannot be looked upon as anything less than a necessary evil, and should only be done when the plants will not live without it. A good soaking to the whole bed or border will be the most effectual method of supplying the water, and follow up with the hoe, stirring every surface, which will act as a mulching. It does great injury to the soil to puddle in it with either hoe or rake when it is wet. Peg down any Verbenas, Petunias, or such plants as are liable to be injured by wind: a good old practice is to cut willows in short lengths, and bend them like hair-pins. They are sure pegs, and decay in the ground when done with. Beech pegs often do mischief by producing fungi in the soil. Plants in pots should be plunged when they are in exposed drying positions. Good waterings at the roots and overhead are necessary where plants are growing freely.
Watering must never be done by halves, but if rain should come heavy, and continue for some time, the more tender things out of doors may be laid on their sides; but where the plants are in frames, and glass can be used for protection, much labour will be saved. Keep Cinerarias, Primulas, and similar plants, cool, and in rather a shady position: a frame turned to face the north answers well for these. Insects must be kept down by fumigating with tobacco. Pooly's tobacco-powder, dusted on the under sides of the leaves, acts severely on thrips and green-fly. Chrysanthemums must be stopped to keep the plants bushy. Shift the plants on into larger-sized pots when the roots reach the sides of those they are in. All plants, such as Heaths, Epacris, Cytisus, Acacias, and similar kinds, which have been cut back and are now growing freely, should be shifted on into larger pots if the roots have filled the soil they are in. Old soil can be reduced, and the plants replaced in pots of the same size if desirable.
Sprinkle newly-potted plants overhead, and shade for a time.