Home Vegetable Gardening
F. F. Rockwell
Part 4 out of 4
placed--will determine more than anything else the success of the
undertaking. Grapes depend more upon proper pruning than any other
fruit or vegetable in the garden. Two principles must be kept track of
in this work. First principle: _the annual crop is borne only on
canes of the same year's growth, springing from wood of the previous
season's growth_. Second principle: _the vine, if left to itself,
will set three or four times the number of bunches it can properly
mature_. As a result of these facts, the following system of pruning
has been developed and must be followed for sure and full-sized crops.
(1) At time of planting, cut back to three or four eyes, and after
these sprout leave only one (or two) of them, which should be staked
(2) Following winter (December to March), leave only one cane and cut
this back to three or four eyes.
(3) Second growing season, save only two canes, even if several sprout,
and train these to stake or trellis. These two vines, or arms,
branching from the main stem, form the foundation for the one-year
canes that bear the fruit. However, to prevent the vine's setting too
much fruit (see second principle above) these arms must be cut back in
order to limit the number of fruit-bearing canes that will spring from
(4) Second winter pruning, cut back these arms to eight or ten buds--
and we have prepared for the first crop of fruit, about forty bunches,
as the fruiting cane from each bud will bear two bunches on the
average. However these main arms will not bear fruiting-canes another
year (see first principle above) and therefore:
(5) At the third winter pruning, (a) of the canes that bore fruit, only
the three or four nearest the main stem or trunk are left; (b) these
are cut back to eight or ten buds each, and (c) everything else is
ruthlessly cut away.
Each succeeding year the same system is continued, care being taken to
rub off, each May, buds or sprouts starting on the main trunk or arms.
The wood, in addition to being cut back, must be well ripened; and the
wood does not ripen until after the fruit. It therefore sometimes
becomes necessary to cut out some of the bunches in order to hasten the
ripening of the rest. At the same time the application of some potash
fertilizer will be helpful. If the bunches do not ripen up quickly and
pretty nearly together, the vine is overloaded and being damaged for
the following year.
The matter of pruning being mastered, the question of training is one
of individual choice. Poles, trellises, arbors, walls--almost anything
may be used. The most convenient system, however, and the one I would
strongly recommend for practical home gardening for results, is known
as the (modified) Kniffen system. It is simplicity itself. A stout wire
is stretched five or six feet above the ground; to this the single main
trunks of the vine run up, and along it are stretched the two or three
arms from which the fruiting-canes hang down. They occupy the least
possible space, so that garden crops may be grown practically on the
same ground. I have never seen it tried, but where garden space is
limited I should think that the asparagus bed and the Kniffen grape-
arbor just described could be combined to great advantage by placing
the vines, in spaces left for them, directly in the asparagus row. Of
course the ground would have to be manured for two crops. A 2-8-10
fertilizer is right for the grapes. If using stable manure, apply also
ashes or some other potash fertilizer.
If the old-fashioned arbor is used, the best way is to run the main
trunk up over it and cut the laterals back each year to two or three
The most serious grape trouble which the home gardener is likely to
encounter is the black-rot Where only a few grapes are grown the
simplest way of overcoming this disease is to get a few dozen cheap
manila store-bags and fasten one, with a couple of ten-penny nails,
over each bunch. Cut the mouth of the bag at sides and edges, cover the
bunch, fold the flaps formed over the cane, and fasten. They are put on
after the bunches are well formed and hasten the ripening of the fruit,
as well as protecting it. On a larger scale, spraying will have to be
resorted to. Use Bordeaux, 5-5-50, from third leaf's appearance to
middle of July; balance of season with ammoniacal copper carbonate. The
spray should be applied in particular just before every rain--
especially on the season's growth. Besides the spraying, all trimmed-
off wood, old leaves and twigs, withered bunches and grapes, or
"mummies," and refuse of every description, should be carefully raked
up in the spring and burned or buried. Also give clean culture and keep
the main stems clean.
The grape completes the list of the small fruits worth while to the
average home gardener. If you have not already experimented with them,
do not let your garden go longer without them. They are all easily
obtained (none costing more than a few cents each), and a very limited
number will keep the family table well supplied with healthy
delicacies, which otherwise, in their best varieties and condition,
could not be had at all. The various operations of setting out, pruning
and spraying will soon become as familiar as those in the vegetable
garden. There is no reason why every home garden should not have its
few rows of small fruits, yielding their delicious harvests in
A CALENDAR OF OPERATIONS
One of the greatest difficulties in gardening is to get things started
ahead at the proper time, and yet upon the thoroughness with which this
is done the success of the garden must depend, in large measure.
The reader may remember that in a previous chapter (Chapter IV) the
importance of accurately planning the work ahead was emphasized. I
mentioned there the check list used to make sure that everything would
be carried out, or started ahead at the proper time--as with the sowing
of seeds. The following garden operations, given month by month, will
serve not only as a timely reminder of things to be done, but as the
basis for such a check list. The importance of the _preparations_
in all matters of gardening, is of course obvious.
Probably one of the good resolutions made with the New Year was a
better garden for the coming summer. The psychologists claim that the
only hope for resolutions is to nail them down at the start with an
_action_--that seems to have more effect in making an actual
impression on the brain. So start the good work along by sending at
once for several of the leading seed catalogues.
_Planting Plan_. Make out a list of what you are going to want
this year, and then make your Planting Plan. See Chapter IV.
_Seeds_. Order your seed. _Do it now_ while the seedsman's
stock is full; while he is not rushed; while there is ample time to
rectify mistakes if any occur.
_Manures_. Altogether too few amateur gardeners realize the great
importance of procuring early every pound of manures, of any kind, to
be had. It often may be had cheaply at this time of year, and by
composting, adding phosphate rock, and several turnings, if you have
any place under cover where it can be collected, you can double its
value before spring.
_Frames_. Even at this season of the year do not fail to air the
frames well on warm days. Practically no water will be needed, but if
the soil does dry out sufficiently to need it, apply early on a bright
_Onions_. It will not be too early, this month, to sow onions for
spring transplanting outside. Get a packet each of Prizetaker, Ailsa
Craig, Mammoth Silver-skin, or Gigantic Gibraltar.
_Lettuce_. Sow lettuce for spring crop under glass or in frames.
_Fruit_. This is a good month to prune grapes, currants,
gooseberries and peach trees, to avoid the rush that will come later.
_Hotbeds_. A little early for making them until after the 15th,
but get all your material ready--manure, selected and stacked; lumber
ready for any new ones; sash all in good repair.
_Starting Seeds_. First part of the month, earliest planting of
cabbage, cauliflower and lettuce should be made; and two to four weeks
later for main early crop. At this time also, beets and earliest
_Tools_. Overhaul them all now; order repairs. Get new catalogues
and study new improvements and kinds you do not possess.
_Poles and brush_. Whether you use the old-fashioned sort (now
harder to obtain than they used to be) or make your "poles" and use
wire trellis for peas, attend to it now.
_Fruit_. Finish up last month's work, if not all done. Also
examine plum and cherry trees for black-knot.
_Hotbeds_. If not made last of February, should be made at once.
Some of the seed sown last month will be ready for transplanting and
going into the frames; also lettuce sown in January. Radish and carrot
(forcing varieties) may be sown in alternating rows. Give much more
air; water on bright mornings; be careful not to have them caught by
suddenly cold nights after a bright warm day.
_Seed-sowing under glass_. Last sowing of early cabbage and early
summer cabbages (like Succession), lettuce, rhubarb (for seedling
plants), cauliflower, radish, spinach, turnip, and early tomatoes;
towards last of month, late tomatoes and first of peppers, and egg-
plant. Sweet peas often find a place in the vegetable garden; start a
few early, to set out later; they will do better than if started
outside. Start tomatoes for growing in frames. For early potatoes
sprout in sand.
_Planting, outside_. If an early spring, and the ground is
sufficiently dry, sow onions, lettuce, beet, radish, (sweet peas),
smooth peas, early carrot, cabbage, leek, celery (main crop), and
turnip. Set out new beds of asparagus, rhubarb and sea-kale (be sure to
try a few plants of the latter). Manure and fork up old beds of above.
_Fruit_. Prune now, apple, plum and pear trees. And this is the
last chance for lime-sulphur and miscible-oil sprays.
Now the rush is on! Plan your work, and _work your plan_. But do
not yield to the temptation to plant more than you can look out for
later on. Remember it is much easier to sow seeds than to pull out
_The Frames_. Air! water! and do not let the green plant-lice or
the white-fly get a ghost of a chance to start. Almost every day the
glass should be lifted entirely off. Care must be taken never to let
the soil or flats become dried out; toward the end of the month, if it
is bright and warm, begin watering towards evening instead of in early
morning, as you should have been doing through the winter. If proper
attention is given to ventilation and moisture, there will not be much
danger from the green plant-louse (aphis) and white-fly, but at the
first sign of one fight them to a finish. Use kerosene emulsion,
tobacco dust, tobacco preparations, or Aphine.
_Seed sowing_. Under glass: tomato, egg-plant and peppers. On sod:
corn, cucumbers, melons, early squash, lima beans.
_Planting, outside_. Onions, lettuce, beet, etc., if not put in
last month; also parsnip, salsify, parsley, wrinkled peas, endive.
Toward the end of this month (or first part of next) second plantings
of these. Set out plants of early cabbage (and the cabbage group)
lettuce, onion sets, sprouted potatoes, beets, etc.
_In the Garden_. Cultivate between rows of sowed crops; weed out
by hand just as soon as they are up enough to be seen; watch for cut-
worms and root-maggots.
_Fruit_. Thin out all old blackberry canes, dewberry and raspberry
canes (if this was not done, as it should have been, directly after the
fruiting season last summer). Be ready for first spraying of early-
blossoming trees. Set out new strawberry beds, small fruits and fruit
_Keep ahead of the weeds_. This is the month when those warm,
south, driving rains often keep the ground too wet to work for days at
a time, and weeds grow by leaps and bounds. Woe betide the gardener
whose rows of sprouting onions, beets, carrots, etc., once become green
with wild turnip and other rapid-growing intruders. Clean cultivation
and slight hilling of plants set out are also essential.
_The Frames_. These will not need so much attention now, but care
must be taken to guard tender plants, such as tomatoes, egg-plant and
peppers, against sudden late frosts. The sash may be left off most of
the time. Water copiously and often.
_Planting, outside_. First part of the month: early beans, early
corn, okra and late potatoes may be put in; and first tomatoes set out
--even if a few are lost--they are readily replaced. Finish setting out
cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower, beets, etc., from frames. Latter part of
month, if warm: corn, cucumbers, some of sods from frames and early
squash as traps where late crop is to be planted or set.
_Fruit_. Be on time with first sprayings of late-blossoming
fruits--apples, etc. Rub off from grape vines the shoots that are not
_Frequent, shallow cultivation!_
Firm seeds in dry soil. Plant wax beans, lima beans, pole beams,
melons, corn, etc., and successive crops of lettuce, radish, etc.
Top-dress growing crops that need special manure (such as nitrate of
soda on onions). Prune tomatoes, and cut out some foliage for extra
early tomatoes. Toward end of month set celery and late cabbage. Also
sow beans, beets, corn, etc., for early fall crops. Spray where
necessary. Allow asparagus to grow to tops.
_Fruit._ Attend to spraying fruit trees and currants and
gooseberries. Make pot-layers of strawberries for July setting.
Maintain frequent, shallow cultivation. Set out late cabbage,
cauliflower, broccoli, leeks and celery. Sow beans, beets, corn, etc.,
for late fall crops. Irrigate where needed.
_Fruit_. Pinch back new canes of blackberry, dewberry and
raspberry. Rub off second crop of buds on grapes. Thin out if too many
bunches; also on plums, peaches and other fruit too thick, or touching.
Pot-layered strawberries may be set out.
Keep the garden clean from late weeds--especially purslane, the hot-
weather weed pest, which should be always _removed_ from the
garden and burned or rotted down.
Sow spinach, rutabaga turnip, bush beans and peas for last fall crop.
During first part of month, late celery may still be put out. Sow
lettuce for early fall crop, in frames. First lot of endive should be
tied up for blanching.
_Fruit_. Strawberries may be set, and pot-layered plants, if
wanted to bear a full crop the following season, should be put in by
the Thin out and bag grapes.
_Frames_. Set in lettuce started in August. Sow radishes and
successive crop of lettuce. Cooler weather begins to tell on late-
planted crops. Give cabbage, cauliflower, etc., deeper cultivation.
"Handle" celery wanted for early use.
Harvest and store onions. Get squash under cover before frost. From the
15th to 25th sow spinach, onions, borecole for wintering over. Sow down
thickly to rye all plots as fast as cleared of summer crops; or plow
heavy land in ridges. Attend to draining.
_Fruit_. Trees may be set. Procure barrels for storing fruit in
winter. At harvest time it is often impossible to get them at any
Get ready for winter. Blanch rest of endive. Bank celery, to be used
before Christmas, where it is. Gather tomatoes, melons, etc., to keep
as long as possible. Keep especially clean and well cultivated all
crops to be wintered over. Late in the month store cabbage and
cauliflower; also beets, carrots, and other root crops. Get boxes,
barrels, bins, sand or sphagnum moss ready beforehand, to save time in
Clean the garden; store poles, etc., worth keeping over; burn
everything else that will not rot; and compost everything that will.
_Fruit_. Harvest apples, etc. Pick winter pears just before hard
frosts, and store in dry dark place.
_Frames_. Make deep hotbeds for winter lettuce and radishes.
Construct frames for use next spring. See that vegetables in cellar,
bins, and sheds are safe from freezing. Trench or store celery for
spring use. Take in balance of all root crops if any remain in the
ground, except, of course, parsnip and salsify for spring use. Put
rough manure on asparagus and rhubarb beds. Get mulch ready for
spinach, etc., to be wintered over, if they occupy exposed locations.
_Fruit_. Obtain marsh or salt hay for mulching strawberries. Cut
out old wood of cane-fruits--blackberries, etc., if not done after
gathering fruit. Look over fruit trees for borers.
Cover celery stored last month, if trenched out-of-doors. Use only
light, loose material at first, gradually covering for winter. Put
mulch on spinach, etc.
_Fruit_. Mulch strawberries. Prune grape-vines; make first
application of winter sprays for fruit trees.
set about procuring manures of all kinds from every available source.
Remember that anything _which will rot_ will add to the value of
your manure pile. Muck, lime, old plastering, sods, weeds (earth and
all), street, stable and yard sweepings--all these and numerous others
will increase your garden successes of next year.
It is with a feeling in which there is something of fear that I close
these pages--fear that many of those little things which become second
nature to the grower of plants and seem unimportant, but which
sometimes are just the things that the beginner wants to know about,
may have been inadvertently left out. In every operation described,
however, I have tried to mention all necessary details. I would urge
the reader, nevertheless, to study as thoroughly as possible all the
garden problems with which he will find himself confronted and to this
end recommend that he read several of the many garden books which are
now to be had. It must be to his advantage to see even the same
subjects presented again from other points of view. The more familiar
he can make himself, both in theory and in practice, with all the
multitude of operations which modern gardening involves, the greater
success will he attain.
Personally, the further I have gone into the growing of things--and
that has now become my business as well as my pleasure--the more
absorbingly interesting I find it. Each season, each crop, offers its
own problems and a reward for the correct solution of them. It is a
work which, even to the beginner, presents the opportunity of deducting
new conclusions, trying new experiments, making new discoveries. It is
a work which offers pleasant and healthy recreation to the many whose
days must be, for the most part, spent in office or shop; and it gives
very substantial help in the world-old problem of making both ends
Let the garden beginner be not disappointed if he does not succeed, for
the first season or two, or possibly three, with everything he plants.
There is usually a preventable reason for the failure, and studious
observation will reveal it. With the modern success in the application
of insecticides and fungicides, and the extension of the practice of
irrigation, the subject of gardening begins to be reduced to a
scientific and (what is more to the point) a sure basis. We are getting
control of the uncertain factors. All this affects first, perhaps, the
person who grows for profit, but with our present wide circulation of
every new idea and discovery in such matters, it must reach soon to
every remote home garden patch which is cared for by a wide-awake
Such a person, from the fact that he or she is reading a new garden
book, I take the reader to be. I hope this volume, condensed though it
is, has added to your fund of practical garden information; that it
will help to grow that proverbial second blade of grass. I have only to
add, as I turn again to the problems waiting for me in field and under
glass, that I wish you all success in your work--the making of better
gardens in America.
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