This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Now is the time that good gardening tells on the whole succeeding season, and it will be useful to read and reflect on the following from "Burgess's Amateur Gardener." If you don't mow your lawn frequently nothing will look right, and if your weeds obtain the mastery, the whole of your labor goes for little or nothing.
" 'How does your garden get on V is a question often followed by the reply, 'Oh, I am sorry to Bay it is smothered with weeds!' a confession too often corroborated by actual inspection. A garden properly treated in reference to weeding is comparatively a rare sight, except in large establishments. We often see ground well laid out, and not deficient in valuable plants, which are, indeed, smothered with sowthistle, groundsel, and chickweed. This state of things often arises from the peculiar arrangements people make with their gardeners, who visit the place perhaps once or twice a week. The consequence is, that weeding is often postponed to other matters which are more pressing, and the noxious productions are allowed to grow rampant and run to seed. A second crop of weeds may thus often spring up before their parents are dead, until the long deferred opportunity be presented; a desperate onslaught is made on the enemies, and for a few weeks a more decent aspect is secured. If, in all cases where the labor of a gardener is not sufficient, enough supernumerary help were secured, to prevent weeds getting ahead, the benefits would soon be manifest.
We should like to 6ee it acknowledged as indispensable, a conditio sine qua rum in gardening, that no weed should be allowed to show a flower; for although this would not be all that neatness demands, the end would at length be attained, since without flowers there will be no seeds, and extermination must be the natural result. Let the amateur consider, first, how impossible it is to secure a pleasing appearance in the garden if weeds are allowed to grow, however small they may be. Compare the appearance of two beds, one quite clear and fresh raked, with another, sprinkled with weeds just displaying their cotyledons. However diminutive these may be, they mar the beauty of a parterre, and therefore should not be allowed to grow. Secondly, it should be borne in mind that rank weeds injure all growing crops, by taking from the soil that which is intended to secure their perfect development. It is vain to apply manure, if weeds are allowed to steal it. Thirdly, weeds which come to maturity send their roots deeply, and are not to be eradicated without considerable labor.
Try to pull up thistles, for instance, and they will break off at the crown, only to furnish an abundant second crop, in a few days; to be prevented doing further mischief, the root must be dug up, which, in a garden of any size, will be a work of time and labor. Fourthly, weeds are very prolific, and if allowed to bear seed, some years may transpire before the effects are obliterated. These four considerations ought to be forcible enough to induce every gardener to resolve that he will henceforth give no quarter to weeds. As it is the expense which is often alleged as the grand impediment in the way of weed extermination, let the gardener compute the difference between a constant hoeing, etc, to prevent the growth of thieves, and the hard-tasked labor demanded to clear the ground when they are grown, and he will find, in a pecuniary point of view, the advantage is on the side of cleanliness. There can be no doubt which is really the cheapest mode, when the superiority of clean crops is considered. Ply the hoe, then, well, rake your beds often, and you will reap great benefits.
If in any case great weeds have grown up, they had better be cleared away by hand, for if allowed to fall on the soil, they often take root again, or shed their seeds before they can be raked away.