This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Eggs and larvae of small insects get protection in the wood work of greenhouses and conservatories, and the best gardeners give all a thorough cleansing once a year. Where neatness is a feature of a plant house, a coat of paint is desirable. For plant growing for winter flowers, white is the best tint. There cannot be too much light to encourage free blooming. Many have observed that when a house is first built the plants bloom better than in a few years afterwards. By that time dirt gets between the laps, and often down the rafters, and all tends to lessen the light in the house. Those who grow flowers for profit and use rough lumber, usually whitewash at this season. Sulphur is put in the whitewash, and a little salt. It aids in destroying insect life. In glazing use narrow laps - not only because they collect less dirt, but also less water. In broad laps the water freezes, expands, and cracks the glass. Putty is now seldom used on the outside. It is so apt to separate from the wood a little, and then the house leaks. But it is neeessary to bed in the glass carefully, and tack down with glaziers' brads, before painting the rabets on the outside.
For winter flowering a roof with a steep pitch gives more light than a flatter roof, - and it is stronger and gets more seldom out of repair. It is noted by good observers that broken glass is in proportion to the flatness of the pitch. Furnaces should have a careful overhauling, and soot taken out of flues. Much of the smoking at the first starting of a fire comes from choking by soot. If a furnace does not draw well at first, a bunch of shavings on fire at the mouth of the chimney will generally give it a start. There is much about the arrangement of a furnace to task one's notions of good economy. As an actual saving in the coal bill, large coal is cheaper than small, - but small coal will heat up quicker. There is also much waste in small coal, much going through the bars unconsumed. The bars are best set for moderate sized coal, and small coal kept on hand to hurry up in emergencies. Ashes are never wholly taken away from the stoke hole, as when a fire is in good condition, and it is desirable to keep it so, without much consumption of fuel, a few shovels full of wet ashes is just the thing to throw on the top.
There is nothing in gardening on which so much can be saved by good judgment as in the management of a greenhouse fire. At least one-fourth the coal bill may be saved by a sensible fellow in charge, and yet not work as hard over it as a numbskull. Wood is not often used for greenhouse work, except in comparatively mild climates. When used, good chunks covered by damp ashes will smoulder and keep up a little heat for a long time. It is very profitable to use in connection with coal when good solid chunks can be had cheap. Coke is used where one is near gas works, but it has to be had at low figures to be profitable. It requires a larger furnace than coal does, and in severe weather must have almost constant attention, as it soon burns out; but where there is a large amount of glass to be heated, attention must be constant at any rate, and coke may be used to advantage. In heating, hot air absorbs less heat than water, and water than steam, - but the question of rapidity of transmitting heat is of importance. Hence, though it takes more coal to warm a cubic foot of water than of air, or more for steam than hot water, it is often cheaper to use these means of conveying heat, by the less time in which they accomplish their work.
Very much may be saved in heating by looking after the waste of heat. The writer once made an estimate of the large spaces under laps and cracks through boards and sashes, of one who "could not keep the house warm," and it footed up two square feet.
Imagine the trial to keep a house warm with a hole of two feet square in the roof! Not long since we saw a gardener who "does not find anything he does not know" in the Gardeners' Monthly, filling in concrete between boards four inches apart, forming one side of his greenhouse, in order he better to keep out the frost. The poor fellow did not know that air was a better non-conductor than concrete, and that, provided he made his boards fit tight, it was better to have a hollow than a solid wall, besides saving the rapid rotting of his boards.
It will not be long before Chrysanthemums are in flower. The ladies may do well to remember that there is nothing prettier in the world than a bunch of these flowers set off with Mahonia leaves.