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.
While there is much pressing work at this season, fruit-trees are often allowed to take their chance. We always consider this a very important time to get trees into even growth, and secure the necessary fruit-bearing wood regularly over the tree: disbudding should have attention, as formerly advised. Where any strong watery growths are taking the lead, to the injury of more useful growth, the former should be taken clean off; or if there is vacant space not likely to be filled up, "stopping" the strong wood will cause a number of small shoots to break out, and they may be turned to useful account. Thorough syringing with water, to dislodge insects and keep the foliage clean, is of great benefit in securing a healthy tree; but where there is not healthy root-action, nothing else will make up for it. Older trees require less attention than young ones, but if they are left to chance all the season through, longevity will not be one of their characteristics: good soakings of manure-water may do much for them. Plenty of moisture for newly-planted trees may be necessary if they are getting dry at the roots. Thinning the fruit should be done with caution, as much of it may turn yellow and drop off. Wet and cold at the roots, or poverty and drought, may cause failure.
Soot-water is excellent for keeping insects in check, both on fruit-trees and plants of all kinds. We have kept mealy-bug in check among stove-plants, Pines, etc.,by syringing with soot-water made clear with lime. Bought mixtures should be used in strict accordance with the directions given.
Newly-planted shrubs may be watered and mulched with grass, etc.; soil thrown over it will give a tidy appearance and save much labour. Timely mowing and sweeping will now be required to keep the pleasure-grounds in enjoyable condition. Walks require weeding and rolling after rain, to keep them smooth and firm.
Flower-borders, where herbaceous and other plants are growing, may require frequent stirring; and staking the tall-growing plants should not be neglected: a battered hard surface should not be tolerated anywhere. Bedding-plants will now be ready for planting out; but there is not much gained by planting before the 20th of the month, except in some favoured localities, and they are not always in the most southerly districts. We never had so much difficulty in Scotland as in the more southern parts of England, either with spring frosts or drying winds. The more hardy kinds should be put out first, such as Calceolarias, etc, keeping Dahlias, Heliotropes, and suchlike, till the end of the month or beginning of June. It is best when the beds are moist but not wet. It is objectionable to plant in the soil when sodden or dust-dry; and when it is in the latter state, a good soaking should be given to the whole bed the day before planting. The soil about the roots of the plants should be healthy with moisture before they are turned out: hard dry balls give an early but very short flowering period. Stir the surfaces of beds and borders when fit after rain or watering. This is of much importance to free growth.
If any borders are to be planted in vegetable gardens, and the crops not shut out by fruit-trees, shrubs, or other means, Sweet Peas may be sown, or other means taken to keep such things as Potatoes, Cabbage, etc, from view. Flowers appear mockingly beside rough vegetable crops. Better one small bed or border of well-kept flowers, free from dead petals, decaying leaves, and the plants kept from growing over the edges of box, grass, etc, than a score of neglected beds or borders. Roses will now be growing rapidly, and the usual care with suckers, looking after insects and grubs, must not be omitted. Although we were to give a chapter on the Rose in regard to soil, free root-action, moisture, etc, the same as we gave on the Vine (as an illustration) at the beginning of the season, it would not now be out of place, as the failures are not so much from the neglect of usual requirements as the roots getting beyond control, and not receiving the benefit of mulching, fresh loam, and other necessaries. During a dry season, if soil is at all light, free from moisture, and watering not liberally done; the points of the roots grow downwards in search of moisture till they may get into poor unhealthy subsoil; then mildew and badly-formed flowers, which last a short time, may be expected.
Carnations, Pinks, and similar plants, will soon require staking; watering with soot-water gives them vigour, and helps to keep vermin in check. Staking should be attended to before the flowers fall about. Sow seed of Pinks, Pansies, Auriculas, Polyanthus, etc. - do not bury the seed deeply; and prevent the soil from being scorched by strong sun. Slugs, etc, will also have to be looked after; a row of lime and soot placed round the handlights or pans will keep them from getting among the seedlings. Plant out annuals, etc, in borders and beds when safe from frost. Chrysanthemums require regular attention, with liberal soakings of water, especially when plenty of roots are made. Watering overhead in dry hot weather is of much service; evening, of course, is the best time to do it. Cuttings may still be struck, and if large potfuls of foliage and blooms are objects, they may yet be secured by placing a number of plants in one pot. For exhibition this would be out of the question. Plants in glass structures should now be kept free from decaying flowers, seed-pods (except where seed is wanted), and decaying leaves. Unhealthy surfaces of the soil should be removed and replaced with healthy stuff. Shifting on growing plants before the roots become pot-bound is of much importance.
Geraniums coming into flower may have clear manure-water occasionally, or a small quantity in each supply of water. Fuchsias must not be checked in any way if good healthy free-flowering plants are wanted. Gladioluses, Tritomas, and a number of common plants, may be grown on freely out of doors in a cool position to supply flowers in Autumn. Salvias and Heliotropes grown on liberally are excellent late in the season. Balsams, Cockscombs, and Globe Amaranths, must not be suddenly checked by taking them from heat to cold. Cyclamens must not be suddenly checked in their growth - starving them is an evil to be guarded against; the plants should be allowed to ripen gradually. Acacias, Cytisus, and many of the more robust greenhouse plants, make their flowering-wood strong enough out of doors. If well plunged in ashes, frequently sprinkled, and (for a time) shaded from mid-day sun, they will make free growth; but if the pots are very full of roots, shifting to a larger size will be necessary, or the roots (if not already done) reduced and potted in same size of pot. No roots should be allowed to grow through the pots into the ashes or soil; slate placed under them will keep them right.
Water for the next few months will be required by free-growing plants in great abundance; better to have a few of them well managed than great numbers half-dead.