This section is from the book "The Gardener V2", 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.
Ox an entire renovation of the garden being made here, and when starting to take out the foundation for the wall, we had to go to the depth of 6 feet before a solid foundation could be got. After 20 inches of soil on the top, all the rest was loose red sand. I decided to concrete both sides of the wall to the width of 14 feet. "When the wall was finished, the little good soil on the top was removed to the garden quarters, the sand wheeled right away to the depth of 30 inches at the wall below the ground-level, and 33 inches at the out edge, so that there is plenty of fall for water to run off; and along the front a drain was cut, 8 inches deep, and the width of a spade. Being all ready for the concrete, there was brought nice-sized gravel, laid in quantities of about 4 tons, and 1 ton of coal-ashes, to which was added 1 ton of lime fresh from the kiln, which had as much water thrown on it as make it fall; then it and the gravel were mixed together, covering all over with the ashes. After letting it lie in this state for twelve hours, it was well mixed by turning it over several times, adding more water if required, but keeping it rather adhesive than otherwise (as it sets quicker when not too free), and laying it on at once to the depth of 3 inches all over, beginning at one end, so that there is no treading on the concrete until perfectly dry.
When smoothing it down, if found too firm and not smoothing well, have a watering-pot with a rose, and sprinkle a little water over it, but no more than will enable the operator to level it properly, bearing in mind to let it have the same fall from the wall to the outside as the foundation of sand in which it is laid. It must now be let alone until it is thoroughly hard, which will be in about ten days if the weather is fine and dry, when some nice round boulders were put all on the top, to the depth of 4 inches, and filling up the drain in front at the same time to the same level. Then a good thick sod, with the grass side downwards, was laid all over the drainage, before the regular filling up with soil was commenced, which, when done, was raised 6 inches higher than the natural ground, to allow for subsiding, keeping it always a few inches higher at the wall - giving it a gentle fall to the box-edge. From the nature of our subsoil here, I have found these borders, through the very dry season which we have had, to contain more moisture than other parts of the garden which are not concreted.
Not wishing to spoil the wall by nailing, which has several objections, studs with eyes were put in between every third line of bricks, standing about an inch from the wall, having stronger ones at the ends to act as stretchers; and after the wire, which is galvanised, was passed through all but the end ones, and drawn tight; a 9-inch in length piece of small rod-iron, with an eye at one end to fasten the wire to, and nearly all the length, had a screw-thread worked on, when the wire had been fastened to the other end, put through the end stud; then a screw-nut was put on, so that all was made as tight as required. The first outlay may be a little more than the yearly bills for nails and shreds, but a very few years would soon cover the first expense, as a few mats go a long way in tying. Trees trained to the wire here, in a general way, don't bloom so soon in spring as when close to the wall, and the fruit is cleaner and more regular in colour; and as for insects, there is no harbour at all for them.
From the success attending the above operations, I am induced to send them to your valuable periodical, knowing that where such a subsoil exists, if followed, the results will be equally successful as here.
Thoresby Park Gardens.
[The young wall-trees at Thoresby are models of health and fruitfulness.] - Ed.