A friend asks, when is the time to prune fruit trees? just as he would ask when is the best time to dine? Numbers of trees need no pruning, and yet no implement is more valuable to the fruit grower than a good set of pruning implements. Just when to prune, no magazine can teach; nor can any one learn from an essay how to do the work. We can make suggestions in a general way, but the good use of them will depend on how much the owner loves his tree, and has been favored with a glimpse of the tree's secret history. A young tree needs some of its branches thinned, so as to lay the foundation of a permanent form, - or it may not have enough branches for this purpose, and some have to be cut back to produce more. We may desire one strong branch where there are two or three weak ones, so we cut them all away to the trunk, and the strong one will then sprout. Suckers come out from near the roots, or sprouts from the main stem. The good orchardist takes these off with finger and thumb in the summer while green, but if forgotten then he does it now. He learns after a while that sprouts on the trunk mean something wrong with the circulation. The food-giving sap does not easily reach the ends of the branches. Perhaps he finds the ends of the growing shoots have been injured by frost or drought.

In these cases the ends are shortened in order to make an active growth. In large trees this sluggish action often comes from over-bearing. Then the heart wood decays. Quite large branches then often have to be sawn out. When these large branches are sawn, the cut should be made close to the trunk, so that new wood and bark shall grow over. The exposed wood may rot and decay before the new growth covers it. so all such wounds should be covered by any kind of common paint. Sometimes trees get hide bound from poverty of the soil, from the attack of scale or other insects, or from exposure to unusually hot sun. In this case a slitting of the bark by the pruning knife, up and down the stem, is very beneficial. It is best to avoid this necessity by a plenty of good food to the roots. Raspberries and blackberries are usually shortened because the cold winters or hot summers, or perhaps fungus, weaken them. Gooseberries and currants are usually thinned out, because large healthy leaves are essential to fine fruit, and the leaves are small and feeble when the branches struggle with each other. Grapes may be thinned and shortened for nearly every reason given in the other cases. And then pruning may serve to bring very vigorous trees into fruit.

On the whole, pruning checks the vital powers of a tree, and a severe pruning will bring it into fruit within two or three years, but a severe root pruning is much better practice.

In regard to vegetable gardening in the Middle States the work for February will, for the most part, consist of preparations for future operations, and particularly for dealing with the manure question. All those kinds that are grown for their leaves or stems require an abundance of nitrogenous manures; and it is useless to attempt vegetable gardening without it. To this class belong cabbage, lettuce, spinach, etc. The other class, which is grown principally for its seeds or pods (as beans, peas, etc.), does not require much manure of this character; in fact they are injured by it. It causes too great a growth of stem and leaf, and the easiness - a great aim in vegetable growing - is injuriously affected. Mineral manures, as wood, ashes, bone-dust, etc., are much better for them. For vegetables requiring rich stable manure, it is better that they have it well rotted and decayed. Nothing has yet been found so well fitted for the purpose as old hot-bed dung; though to the smell no trace of "ammonia" remains in it.

In the open air, should the weather prove favorable, as it often is about the end of the month, peas and potatoes may be planted. Frost seldom gets deep enough in new dug ground to injure them after this date.

In the more southern States, the gardener will lose no time in getting in his potatoes, beets, carrots, parsnips, peas, spinach, radishes, lettuce, onions, and salsafy. These should be the first crops put in after the season breaks up for good. The earlier they are in the better. Asparagus, rhubarb, and horse-radish beds may now be made. Asparagus roots are generally planted too thickly to produce fine shoots, - they starve one another. A bed five feet wide should have three rows, and the plants set about eighteen inches apart. A deep soil is very important, as the succulent stems require every chance they can get for obtaining moisture. About four inches beneath the soil is sufficient to plant them. Rhubarb also requires a deep, rich and moist soil. Horse-radish beds are best made by taking pieces of strong roots, about one inch long, and making a hole about a foot or fifteen inches deep, with a dibble, and dropping the piece to the bottom of the hole; a clean, straight root will then rise up through the soil.

Crowns or eyes are better than pieces of roots, - where they can be had - and a rich, clayey soil better than a light, sandy soil.

About the middle or end of the month, or still later in the North - say the middle of March - celery and late cabbage may be sown. Here, we usually sow the second week in March.

In the Northern States, Broccoli and Cauliflower when sown in March as recommended, do not head early enough in Fall. It should be sown about the time of Early York cabbage, in the hotbed, during this month.