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.
Now is an excellent time to prepare for fruit-tree planting. If time will admit, large spaces should be dug out to hold a quantity of fresh earth; chopped turf 4 inches thick is very suitable. If the natural loam is strong, the space for the roots should be filled up above the level of the surrounding soil; good drainage is a very important matter. If the ordinary garden soil has to be used, let it be taken from a position where trees have never grown in it before; a little charcoal mixed with it is beneficial. The idea that good fruit cannot be grown without the aid of maiden loam is untenable, but the help of such valuable material is of great advantage. "We have an objection to mixing manure with loam for fruit-trees. If the soil is extra poor and light, a little cow-manure may then be serviceable; anything to cause rank growth is not desirable. A foundation of concrete or stones built so that the roots cannot pass downwards may be of great service in time to come - a thing well done at first is true economy. Growths on fruit-trees trained to walls or fences should now be getting hard and brown ; growth should now cease, and let all that is not required be taken off.
Attend to root-lifting as formerly advised.
We have often seen fine trees lifted and thrown away, because they have grown freely and not set any fruit. A little lifting might have prevented disappointment, and saved valuable trees. Stopping growth of Pyramids and Bush-trees should also have attention. If mildew appears on Peach or any trees, a syringing with water well mixed with sulphur, and a little soft-soap in it (to make the liquid stick), will stop the pest. Birds and wasps will now be busy, and hexagon netting is a sure preventive of both. Though expensive at first, it lasts longer than most other kinds of nets. Let fruit be gathered when dry. Apples and Pears show fitness for gathering by their pips becoming dark in the colour. Have the fruit-room clean and dry; fumigate with sulphur to keep down insects. See that mice have not ingress; they often do much damage in winter, while food is scarce elsewhere.
Cuttings of Currants and Gooseberries may be put in when pruning is done. They are generally selected from the strongest prunings and stuck in the soil by the lower ends till time can be spared to make them. Runners should now be closely cut from Strawberries, both from old and new plantations. Clear away all litter and useless leaves; leave fresh ones entire. Some still cut off the Strawberry-leaves, and allow a fresh growth. The practice is unnecessary, if not mischievous. Old plantations, where it is necessary they should remain, should have a coating of good manure forked over the surface of the roots, but every fibre should remain unmolested. Strong-growing plants should have plenty of room left them to develop themselves. Thin out Raspberry-canes which have fruited; and weakly plants may have the rods reduced to the number required for next season's supply.
The keeping of lawns and flower-beds will now require more labour. Decaying flowers and falling leaves will require frequent attention. Reds which are getting too thick should be judiciously thinned, so that air can circulate and prevent rotting. Top rank-growing Pelargoniums down to a flower-bud, taking away some leaves, and the late bloom will be of a dense character. Ground should not remain cracked, but have the hoe freely used, which will prevent drought from destroying the roots. Give prompt attention to staking of Dahlias, Hollyhocks, and other tall-growing plants. Manure-water at the root will help them much. Let unnecessary shoots be cut from Dahlias, and all decaying flowers cut off. Exhibition flowers should be kept thin, and the plants well supported with guano or other wholesome manure-water. Hedges may now be clipped, laurels and other rank-growing shrubs trimmed into their proper size and shape. Cutting down large shrubs may be left till March or later. Carnations and Picotees may have their rooted layers taken off and potted or planted in a frame; and Hyacinths and all bulbous roots may be planted for early blooming. Use good loam, with a quantity of well-rotted manure, mixed with a little sand.
If the soil is rather dry, water the bulbs after they are planted in the pots; let them stand till the surface-soil becomes a little dry, then place the bulbs in a dry position, where they can be covered with 6 inches of old tan, fine coal-ashes, leaf-mould, or similar material. They may be looked to occasionally to see that the bulbs do not grow more than from half an inch to an inch before they are removed to a glass structure, where they can grow on slowly, only using the lights to keep off heavy rains and frost. Though Dutch bulbs are hardy, they should not be exposed to frost after they are potted. Bulbs generally are gross feeders, and can take liberal soakings of manure-water while they are growing.
Stage Pelargoniums shaken out of their pots, their roots reduced, and potted into smaller pots, are the better of glass-lights placed over them to keep off heavy rains. Cuttings are easily managed by being placed in the usual way, in sandy soil - kept in the full sun, and damp kept out of the structure; some place them in the sun in the open ground till they root; they are then lifted and potted in good loam, mixed with a little sand. Scarlet and Zonale kinds done flowering may be placed in the sun, trimmed back, and prepared to be wintered in suitable quarters, but there is seldom room to spare for large plants, and they often endure rough treatment. Finish propagating, except Calceolarias, which may remain till October. Chrysanthemums may now be treated as greenhouse plants. Some early ones showing bloom may be placed under glass. Keep frost from those intended to supply the main autumn bloom. Manure-water is of much service, especially if they are pot-bound; sow more Mignonette. Keep Cinerarias growing with a free circulation of air and plenty of light; little shading will now be necessary.
Primulas to flower early may be removed to their winter quarters, and keep plants for late bloom growing in a healthy atmosphere; close stagnant air will cause great mischief to Primulas. Liliums will be greatly benefited by plenty of manure-water. Gladioli, in pots, which have been kept late, should now have plenty of manure-water, and be kept free from decaying flowers. They make a grand show when mixed with other plants in a conservatory. Fuchsias going out of flower should be kept from frost, and may be placed under a stage or similar position. Those blooming will be helped much if they have the water coloured at each watering with guano. All manure-loving plants are helped in this way much better than when they have large and strong applications at longer intervals. Camellias, Cytisus, Coro-nillas, Acacias, Heaths, Epacrises, Eupatoriums, Azaleas, and all similar winter-flowering plants which have been standing out of doors, may now be prepared for taking them into their winter quarters; put their drainage right, surface the soil with fresh material, secure any shoots which require staking, wash the pots, and arrange the plants neatly where they are to remain. During this month there is much work to be done in housing plants.
Hardy shrubs, etc, to be forced for winter-flowering, should now be placed in full sun, and kept moderately dry at the root, but nothing should be starved into ripening, as its usefulness would be much impaired. China and free-growing Roses for early work may now be kept growing for autumn and winter display. M. T.