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.
We quite agree with our good friend Jeffreys in his remarks contained in the September number, that want of taste amongst us, and too much anxiety about dollars and cents, is fearfully impeding our enjoyment of the beauties of nature, as well as depriving us of those feelings of personal satisfaction in the results of our own well directed pursuits, which contribute so considerable a portion of the happiness of the leisure hours of those who have once learned to appreciate them. But although much is undoubtedly owing to the above causes, this state of things is in a still greater degree owing to the want of knowledge in gardening matters which exists amongst us. Many a man who for the first time gets hold of a piece of ground, would, we think, become a gardener, if he knew how to make a beginning; but he don't want to incur the expense of a gardener continually, and if he buys a book about gardening, he finds so much that he thinks difficult to effect, or too troublesome to undertake, that he lays down the book in disgust, and his intended garden remains a wilderness.
Let us endeavor to give a few hints to beginners, of quite a homely kind, and try if we can get them to do something that will, with little expenditure of either time or money, put them in the way of having next year something to look at, and something to eat also, from those few square yards of ground that surround the pretty cottage residence in which may reside as manly a heart, aye, and may be, for its companion, as pretty a face as ever graced a palace.
Winter is approaching; before it comes, and without loss of time, knock together a few boards, and make a garden frame; get a couple of glass lights to cover it, surround the frame with earth or litter up to its edge, at least eighteen inches or two feet, all round, and provide a cover by making a straw mat, or a wooden one of old boards, to put over the glass at night, when the hard frosts set in. In the frame sow at once some flower seeds of any hardy sorts, such as Nemophilla, Candy Tuft, Larkspur, Phlox Drummon-di, Sweet Alyssum, Sweet William, Antirrhinum, Pink, Polyanthus, Stock, Columbine, and Pansy; and to these if you like, you may add, a small collection of bulbous roots, as Crocuses, Hyacinths, Narcissus, Ac.
It will be more convenient for the planting out in the spring, if these are sown separately in small flower pots; but if you have not pots, they may be sown in separate small patches, leaving just room enough between each to take them up when they are to be transplanted in the spring, with a garden trowel, or a flat piece of thin board cut into something of that shape. During the next two months you may take off the lights all day, except in very wet weather. When the frost sets in keep them covered with the lights, and at night, and in snowy weather, cover them over with the mat or board cover, but during sunshine give all the light you can in the day, by removing the mats. In this way you will have, when the winter has broken up, and the ground has become fit for the spade, a nice lot of things to turn out into your flower beds, and they will soon become gay and blooming. Manage not to fill your frames quite full, but leave a part of one light in which, in the beginning of February, you must put some light fine garden mold, and sow in it small patches of the following seeds for your kitchen garden; early cabbage, lettuce, and cauliflower; sow these very thin, and when well up, pull up a few to make room for those left, to grow stronger.
We will now leave the frame alone, and see what else has to be attended to - because, with the above instructions, you will be able to take care of that through the winter - remembering if you find the earth in the pots to get dry, you must give a little water occasionally, through the fine rose of a watering pot; but with care, for very little water will be required.
As soon as the leaves have fallen in autumn, let them be all collected and swept together to commence what you will find the most valuable assistant to your gardening operation or muck-heap. To these add all the refuse vegetable matter from your kitchen, 6uch as potato and turnep peelings, and any waste straw and litter that comes to hand. Throw a sprinkling of earth upon this heap, which will hasten decay, and after a few weeks turn it all oyer, with the same object; for, after every time that you turn a refuse heap, you induce fermentation. Before frost sets in, dig over deeply your garden ground, or that which you intend to make such, and lay it up in ridges for the winter. This materially benefits it in very many ways, some of which are well known and understood, such as the more complete destruction of vermin by greater exposure to frost, and the rendering it more friable and more readily worked in spring; and others, which are equally well ascertained, but not so generally known, as for instance, the increased facility thereby afforded for the absorption of ammonia from the atmosphere, which the ready permeability of the ridges of loose earth, by the atmospheric air induces, in much greater quantity than can take place when the earth is only just turned over a few inches, and left in a comparatively even and somewhat firm state.
In this way your ground may lay all the winter. If you happen to have any of the more tender kinds of roses, as the varieties of the China or Bourbon, you will do well to put them in the frame for the winter, where a number of them laid together, with their roots covered over with mold, will keep well, and in a small compass, to be planted out when you decorate your flower beds with the contents of your winter frame in the spring. And any other common green-bouse plants or shrubs you may keep in the frame also.
Your garden, and your frame, will now be in a fair way for next years horticultural campaign, and your occasional visits to the latter, and the daily attention to the covering and un-covering, far from being found a labor, will often, during the dreary season of winter, afford you pleasure. Habits are soon acquired, and then we associate with them imperceptibly, the idea of amusement; and it is astonishing to find how soon we take an interest in any subject, when once we have resolved upon prosecuting it. The garden frame thus commenced, has to our knowledge in numerous instances, led its owner on, step by step, until the green-house and hot-house have been found the only means of gratifying a taste which slumbered only to be awakened to the enjoyment of those beauties which the Courts of Flora can alone unfold to her delighed votaries.
With the above, however, fur the present as a beginning, you may if you please be content; but before telling you how to carry on your operations at the end of the winter, I will describe another auxilliary, which you may in the beginning or middle of March, call into requisition to add to your enjoyments, and that is a hot-bed. And this you may make as follows:
Get three or four loads of fresh stable manure from the stable, and shake it with a fork, and lay it up in a heap; let it remain three or four days, and then turn it all over and shake it up again, and let it remain for the same time in a heap; repeat this again after a like interval, when for so small a bed it will be ready for use. Now proceed to make your hot-bed. You will require a frame with one or two lights; mark the size of your frame on the ground, by driving a stick at the four corners. Dig out the ground for eighteen inches deep. Throw in any old brush-wood or dry litter at the bottom, then fill it with the prepared manure, treading it evenly down as you go on, and taking particular care to make it firm and steady at each corner, otherwise when it subsides, which it is sure to do, it will get crooked. If your manure is moist, well and good; but if it appears dry, take some water and throw on as you make it up, so as to wet it moderately. When you have filled up the place dug out, widen the bed a foot or so all round, and continue it until all your manure is used up, beating or treading it down evenly. Then place the frame on the top, and the light upon it, and let it stand.
In a few days, you will find it has become very hot; the frame will fill with rank steam like smoke; the light should be raised a few inches, to allow this to escape. As soon as you find this rank steam begin to subside, put six or eight inches of good garden mold into the frame, which in twenty-fours will be warmed through, and if you find no return of the rank steam in another twenty-four hours, it is fit for use. Take care, if there is windy weather, to protect the side of your bed next to the quarter from which it blows, by rough boards, or a screen of some kind. Unless you do this, the wind will blow through the bed and cool it very quickly. In this bed you may sow in March, tomatoes, egg-plants, okra, pepper, early cabbage and lettuce, all of which will be ready for planting out in the open garden by the time that the ground is ready for them.
Whether you make a hot-bed or not, at all events, aa soon as the winter has taken leave of your neighborhood, set about to get your garden in order. With the rake and hoe, level down your ground, lay out your vegetable garden into beds, and sow seeds of such as you wish to grow, and plant out from your frames a part of your stock of cabbage, lettuce, etc. Do not, however, put all out at once, in case of a return of a sharp night's frost; but when you are satisfied there is no return of that likely to occur, the sooner you get out your general stock the better. The flower beds should also be raked over; your frame seedlings turned out of their pots, or taken up carefully and planted into them; and a further stock of annuals sown in the open ground to succeed the bloom of those turned out of the frames. Any green-house plants wintered in the frames may also be turned out into the ground, or re-potted into larger sized pots, if it is desired to keep them for decorating the parlor or verandah; and soon will you be rewarded for your winter's care, by that loveliness of floral display, which, as in the instance of the " lilies of the flield," has been declared by unerring Wisdom, to exceed the array of " Soloman in all his glory".
We had intended to add a few words upon the summer treatment of the flower garden, bat our paper is long enough, and we roust postpone it for the present. Enough has been said for all, at this time of year, to make a beginning. Americus.