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.
Where ground is extensive in proportion to the hands employed to carry on the operations, much energy and tact will be required to keep the work forward, which will (for a time) increase daily. Weeds will grow rapidly if the weather is showery and warm, and to keep them under they should be hoed as early as they appear above ground. They are then easily destroyed, and raking is not required among the crops, which does harm by closing the surface of the soil. The more frequently the hoe is used surface-stirring, the less will the crop suffer from drought. However, if the use of the watering-pot is really necessary, it should be applied thoroughly and done with, stirring up the battered ground again as soon as practicable. Timely attention to the sowing and planting of succession crops must not be neglected. Thinning will also be among the more important operations. If crops, such as Carrots and Turnips, come through the ground very thickly, it will be beneficial to pull out patches, to prevent the young seedlings drawing up weakly before a proper thinning can be given. Asparagus will soon be ready for cutting. Some prefer taking off everything as it appears through the ground, and when cutting is over the whole is allowed to grow untouched.
Others always leave a number of the more weakly shoots to grow on, with the view of strengthening the roots, and cutting the strong shoots for use. The latter system we believe the safest on cold late soil, where ripening of the "grass" is late in autumn. Asparagus is in good condition when the green tops are 4 or 5 inches long. Tough blanched stalks, so often met with, and small green tops, are a poor apology for this delicious vegetable. Dustings of salt increase vigour and help to keep the beds free from weeds. More Peas might be sown for late crops; and if the ground is shallow, dry, and sandy, trenches should be dug out and a quantity of rotten manure turned into them, and the Peas sown and well watered, turning the dry soil over the moistened seed to prevent evaporation. Mulching may be had recourse to, with great advantage, where necessary. If the crops are turning in too quickly, the straw may be well topped back, and the Peas thoroughly watered at the root, and they will start into fresh growth and bear abundantly. We fall back upon this system more or less every season, with excellent results. Let the sowings be at regular intervals, according to the requirements of the family. Broad Beans, if wanted, may be sown for a late crop; mulching and watering will help them.
Top those which are high enough to carry a good crop. Broad Windsor is a useful sort for present sowing. Beet may be sown for a main crop, and the earliest plants coming through the ground will require timely thinning. If the seed has not come up well, plants can be carefully lifted and transplanted to fill up vacancies. When thinning, leave the plants in the rows from 10 to 15 inches apart, according to the strength of the leaves; on poor soil they will be small, and the roots rather tough when fit for use. However, rank manure gives coarseness to the produce. Silver Beet is a very useful vegetable; it may be sown on any spare ground, the leaves to be used as Spinach and Seakale in winter. Carrots may be thinned 8 to 14 inches apart. The early Horn may be left thickly for drawing young as required. Hoe, and dust with lime. If the crop is blanky, more early Horn may be sowed to keep up a supply. Parsnips require thinning well out to let in air. When very thick, the tops of the roots become diseased; 14 to 16 inches is not too much on rich deep soil. Cauliflower may now be planted out for a main crop. To prevent clubbing, a mixture of soot, cowdung, and red lead, made into a puddle, and the roots dipped into it, answers well.
A little wood-ash put in with each plant is a good practice; 2 feet or more each way is not too much apart for the plants on good soil. The finest Cauliflowers perhaps we ever saw were planted on a piece of ground last season where Spinach was cleared off. There was no time for digging or manuring it, but a surface cleaning was given. Holes were made with a trowel in the hard soil, the plants were lifted with balls attached to the roots, a preparation of fresh cowdung and earth was ready, and a handful or two placed over the roots in process of planting; a good soaking of water was given, and regular hoeing was all the attention they had. Scarcely any rain fell from the time of planting till they were ready for cutting. We had three successions treated in this way, and we will long remember the good service they afforded when good Cauliflower was scarcely to be found.
Cabbage, Kale of sorts, and Savoys, may be planted on well-manured ground; dry poor soil makes them tough and rank-tasted. Cabbage may be planted (puddling them the same as Cauliflower) 1 foot each way, so that every other plant may be cut out when fit for use, and a full crop left. Kale generally requires 2 feet each way, and Savoys 1 1/2 foot between each plant. Drills drawn moderately deep are preferable to all other systems of planting; and when the hoe is used, the filling in of the drills will be ample earthing-up. Brussels Sprouts should be planted extensively; they are a most serviceable vegetable; and such Sprouts as we saw exhibited at the late Horticultural Show in Edinburgh (we think named Dickson's Selected) were an argument in favour of their value. They were oval in shape, many of them as large as small hens' eggs, and very firm and sound. 1 1/2 to 2 feet is the usual distance allowed between each plant. Broccolis of sorts may be planted 2 feet each way. All the Brassica tribe of plants are the better of being pricked out of the seed-bed when fit to handle, to keep them sturdy for planting out to stand. More Broccoli, such as Osborn's White, Walcheren, Snow's, and Grange's Autumn, may be sown for succession.
Kale may also be sown for planting thickly in any ground as it becomes vacant. No useful space should remain unoccupied. Let Celery be pricked out, as formerly advised, before the young plants become matted; regular and careful watering is necessary; and though Celery is very hardy when growing naturally, the usual care bestowed on it, as on other plants when grown under cover, should be observed. Sudden changes from heat to cold, shade to sunshine, and tepid water succeeded by frosty water, are some of the evils which cause premature seeding. When pricking out the seedlings, let the roots fall full length into the holes when they are dibbled in; press the soil to the roots of all plants when they are turned out, instead of their necks, as is often done. Chervil and Parsley sow as before advised; the latter may be thinned out, and the thinnings planted 1 foot apart, thoroughly watered and afterwards well hoed; they will stand the winter well and give fine large leaves. A sloping ridge, in damp localities, is very suitable for winter Parsley, but there is no great hurry yet for arranging for late supplies. Salsafy, Scorzonera, and Chicory may now be sown and treated like Beet; to have fine clean roots of the two former, free, deep, well-broken ground is necessary.