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.
If the weather should be very dry this month, there will be difficulty in dealing with very sandy or strong clay soils, so much will be ready for planting; and if the plants should stand long in the seed-rows or beds, they will become stunted and weakly. The advantage of pricking out, preparatory for final planting, is felt when weather is not suitable for planting out. When soil is too dry, a liberal soaking of water may be given the day before it is wanted; it will then work well, and the plants will receive no check. Hoeing frequently will be nearly all the attention necessary. On poor shallow soil, much may be done by mulching thickly; where nothing better may be had, mowings of lawns may be turned to good account. A good breadth of French Beans may now be sown, and to do them well, a liberal dressing of rotten manure must be allowed, and all pods should be picked off before the seed forms. Broccolis, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, and Kale may be planted without delay. A puddle of soil, cow-dung, and soot may be used to keep the roots moist, and be a check to grubs, etc. Let the stems, as high as the leaves, be dipped in the mixture: a handful of soot and wood-ashes round the necks of each plant will keep vermin off them.
Lettuces may be sown and planted in larger quantity: thin out the rows when fit, and plant the strongest in a shady position, which will make a succession. We get the finest Lettuces from Celery-ridges; they have a good depth of soil to root in, and being near the Celery, they get a good supply of water. Turnips: sow in larger breadths for autumn, and thin those which are fit to handle. Laing's Swede and similar kinds are useful for winter; Red and White Stone and Snowball are among the best to sow from this time forthwith. Keep the hoe in use among Onions as long as it can be done, and dust frequently with soot or guano when weather is showery. A good breadth of Parsley may now be sown for winter work; a sheltered position, free from damp, is most suitable. Thinnings of Parsley make the best leaves: plant them on good soil, 1 foot apart. Pease may be sown two or three times during the month: the two last sowings should be earlier kinds, such as "First crop," or Sangster's No. 1. Stake those requiring support before they fall over.
In the south of England we have sown Pease about the middle of July, and had fine crops from them up to November. Watering and mulching in time will do much to secure fine crops; if they are allowed to become stunted before the water is given, it will almost be labour thrown away. Carrots and Onions may be sown for drawing young: mulching with litter or grass is often given to Carrots with good results. Radishes and all other salads may be sown as required. Good soakings of water are necessary; and at this season, when weather is dry, the soil in which small seeds are sown may be covered with mats or evergreen branches till the seed vegetates, and then the covering may be taken off by degrees. Vegetable Marrows and ridge Cucumbers, where they can be cultivated in the open air, may be planted, first throwing out ridges and placing in warm clung. Leaves and a small portion of grass mixed answer well. Let the soil be returned, covering the warm material, placing a little fresh kindly soil where the plants are to be turned out to give them a start. Handlights over them for a time will help to establish the plants quickly. Gherkins and ridge Cucumbers may be placed 3 feet apart on the ridges or mounds; vegetable marrows require more than double that distance.
Cucumbers and Melons will now require less attention with linings, but more liberal watering and airing will be necessary. Melons setting their fruit should be kept dry, and air be given early in the morning; indeed, we find it beneficial to leave on a little all night. Allow neither Melons nor Cucumbers to become crowded; cut off all weakly growth, and let the heaviest watering be giving near the sides of frames, where the principal roots will be in abundance. Cucumbers in bearing may require a surfacing of good loam and rotten manure, and plenty of clear manure-water. Heavy cropping soon exhausts the plants; three fruits are enough to one Melon plant if two have been planted in one light. Dryness is necessary at ripening of Melons, when well-flavoured fruit is wanted. Tomatoes may be planted out on ridges sloping to the south: open spaces on walls suit well. Slates placed over the surface of steep borders help to bring Tomatoes on quickly. In southern market-gardens large quantities are grown with little more attention given than to Potatoes - laterals are taken off, fruit is thinned, and the plants are supported with stakes. Latest supplies may be grown in pots; and they can be taken under protection in autumn to stand where frost cannot reach them.
Ours, which fruited in autumn last season, were in pots, and they kept up a supply till late in February; and some of the same plants kept in warmth are giving supplies now, beginning their second crop about the second week of May. Basil, Sweet Marjoram, and Ice plant, may with safety be planted on a south border. Chilies well established in pots may be turned out in a warm position. Let Celery be thoroughly watered, and after the plants are established in the ridges, a little soil spread over the roots as a surfacing will help to keep in moisture. Let later plantations be turned out in the ridges 1 foot apart, as soon as the plants will lift out of the nursery-beds with good balls. Shading will be beneficial in very hot dry weather. Manure-water can hardly be given too liberally, but not too strong: that from cow-houses is excellent for Celery.
Fruit-trees will now require looking over frequently. It is a bad practice to let the wood grow to great length and get matted, and then to take off large breadths of foliage at once. We prefer beginning at the top of trees, then in a week or two the middle is gone over. The base is gone over in due time. Where little growth is made, as in the case of well-established trees and those which have been carefully root-pruned, there is no necessity for much attention in summer. There is a great variety of opinion on summer-pruning or disbudding, but we prefer (after trying every system we have seen in print) doing as much in summer as we can, and avoiding winter-pruning as much as possible. This applies chiefly to Pears, Apples, Plums, Cherries, and Apricots. Trees growing too strong, and no fruit on them of any value, may have a little done to their roots now, cutting below the trunk, leaving the roots outwards untouched - overdoing is injurious. Wherever we have practised summer root-pruning, the best results have attended the operation, especially with stone fruits. Where walls are low, leading branches of trees may be taken over where suitable, and may be established on both sides. Many trees perish from not having enough space to grow upon.
Continual cutting brings on canker, then death follows. Old Jargonelle Pears, Apricots, and Morello Cherries, often met with in houses growing how they may, with little labour bestowed on them, show what is most suitable for their welfare. Plenty of space saves the knife, both at top and roots. Pigs growing vigorously may have their tops taken off at fourth or fifth leaf, which will throw them into fruit. We do all our pruning to Figs in the growing season, and root-prune whenever there are signs of useless growth. We never have a failure with this fruit, but can supply strong manure-water throughout the whole growing season, and few shoots are made on established trees longer than 4 or 6 inches. Abundance of fibre and plenty of stimulant give plenty of large fruit. When gross shoots are made on young trees - such as Carrington and Castle Kennedy Figs - we make notches in them about every 8 inches apart, and young shoots are thrown out. The tops are taken off when the fifth bud is formed, and fruit generally shows itself at once. The system of lay-ing-in and cutting-out young wood annually, if not done by experienced hands, too often ends in failure.
Whether we train in fan-shape, upright, or horizontal (and all these we try), leading shoots are taken equidistant, and kept in their place, similar to trained Pears and Apples. Cultivating Figs in pots is an easy method, of managing them: watering, surfacing, and pinching are all that is then required. Cordons are easily managed: some we have grown in this way, and spurred in more for the sake of getting leaves, are now loaded with fruit, and, though shaded by Peach-trees trained over them, they swell to a good size. White Marseilles is an excellent kind for growing to cover walls which are shaded by Vines or otherwise. On some of these we had fine fruit, yellow as gold, in April; now they are crimson, and different in shape all on same tree. The second crop, which is a heavy one, will probably be of a brownish tinge. Position and cultivation change the character of Figs entirely; our favourites are Black Ischia, Brunswick, Brown Turkey, and White Marseilles. Sometimes with us Castle-Kennedy and Brunswick are exactly alike.
The lifting of bulbs when they are done flowering will now require attention. To make way for flowering-plants, the bulbs may be carefully lifted with all their roots and some earth attached, and planted in sand till they ripen. Summer flowering-plants may be planted out now; and if watering is necessary, give all the soil plenty, and hoe the surface soon afterwards. Mignonette, Stocks, and other sweet-scented plants, should be plentiful. They are favourites with every one. Sweet Peas: stake and keep the pods off them; top if they get too high. Bud Roses as soon as the bark peels off readily: when done early, the plants are well established before winter. Far north this can scarcely be done yet. Stake all plants, such as Carnations, Pinks, etc, requiring it before they fall over. Sow seed of Pansies, and increase the stock by cuttings. Allow nothing to seed except to be saved for sowing.
Chrysanthemums place in their flowering quarters; give plenty of water, and keep drainage clear where they are in pots. Geraniums, where in flower, shade from bright sun, and water with manure-water. "Stage" sorts done flowering should be placed in the sun to ripen their wood. Growing plants of all kinds will be benefited by syringing after warm days. They may be watered now in the after-part of the day, allowing enough to moisten all the soil. Dahlias fasten to their stakes, and when in active growth give plenty of manure-water. Poses which have flowered in pots may be examined; fresh turfy loam, if at command, may be used for potting them. Plunge the pots in a half-shady position for a time; water freely as roots increase, and keep off all insects by syringing; allow no flowers to come on them or any other plants which are to flower in winter. Scale on such plants as Camelias, Oranges, and Myrtles must be cleanly washed off if healthy foliage is wanted, and all plants without it are not worth their room.