Welcome to the Timekeeper’s Assistant Daniel Bunce Gardening Club.
Each month we’ll be going through Bunce’s Australian Manual of Horticulture which means we’ll be sharing Southern Hemisphere gardening tips, for those in the north please feel free to add your northern notes.
This month we’re into Winter so it’s about cleaning and planting greens. Here are some highlights from Bunce:
PEAS – Take advantage of the first fine weather to sow another principal crop of early peas, to succeed those sown last month. For this crop you should select a mellow compartment of ground, which is well sheltered from the cold, damp, south-west winds, which, at this season, are very prevalent; the ground, to do justice to the future crop, should be well and deeply dug, at least a spit deep; and where one or two crops of the same, or other kinds of vegetables, have been taken from this ground, it will now require manure, which should be carefully drawn to the bottom of the trench, and equally covered, leaving the surface smooth and even.
TRENCHING AND MANURING VACANT PATCHES OF GROUND
Out of all the twelve months, you could not select a better than that of June for trenching and manuring all unoccupied portions of ground. Trenching is not only of the greatest importance, in improving and fertilising the soil, but is also attended with this advantage, namely, killing all vermin and insects harbouring therein, as well as pulverising, sweetening and preparing it for the reception of the early spring crops intended for it. Also take advantage of dry days for wheeling from old cucumber and melon beds, all waste manure, on to places where it is required. This should afterwards be spread over the surface at least six inches thick, and carefully and immediately dug in.
WINTER DRESSING OF ARTICHOKES
For the last few years, many parties in Melbourne have been growing, in mistake, the Cardoon, for the Artichoke, which, although belonging to the same genera (Carduus, or thistle), is perfectly useless as a fruit-bearing vegetable; but is grown principally in France, where it is cultivated, earthed up, and blanched, in the same manner as celery; and afterwards used in soups only. The pure globe-headed artichoke, on the contrary, produces a large edible blossom, which is eaten (more particularly by invalids), with melted butter. Where the real artichoke is grown, it will be necessary to adopt the following directions: Cut down all the large lower leaves, and dig between the rows, throwing, as you proceed with the work, a little fine mould over the crowns, to protect the hearts of the plants. If your plantation be well established, that is, if it has been made for two or three years, it will require some decayed manure, which should be dug in, at the time of dressing the crop.
Look over the mushroom beds and see that they are well covered with straw; it would be also advisable to give an additional covering of garden mats which will prevent the wind blowing away the straw. It will be necessary to examine the beds after heavy rains, and where you find the straw wet, put some that is dry in its place.
STANDARD FRUIT TREES
Look over standard fruit trees, whether in the orchard, fruit, or kitchen garden, and give them a regular trimming by taking out the branches which are too much crowded, and cut out all such as may appear unfruitful, and of a long disorderly growth, as well as all dead wood; – standard trees require to have full room for their growth above, and to enable the shoots to branch out freely every way at the sides and top. These trees do not, like wall and espalier trees, which are limited to certain bounds, require a systematic annual pruning, but only occasionally, to regulate disorderly branches. In pruning, therefore, when the general branches of any particular tree are too much crowded, cut some of the most uselessly placed shoots out in a regular manner; and where any of the main branches are cross placed, or grow in a rambling manner across the others, thus creating confusion in the tree, cut them clean out; – or if as before observed, any of the branches appear to be unfruitful or in a worn out state, cut them away to give more room for the general fruit bearing and healthy branches; also, when you observe any of the branches growing beyond the general limits, with long, straggling, weak, overhanging shoots, either cut them entirely out, or back to a proper distance, that they may gain strength. Observe at all times to cut out all dead wood, whenever or wherever it makes its appearance.
CULTIVATION OF THE ROSE
This Queen of Flowers thrives best in a strong, rich loamy soil, and when you wish to preserve any particular sorts pure, they should be propagated by layers. The China varieties strike best from cuttings, and the varieties of the Provence, or cabbage-rose, rise from suckers produced from the old roots – and when standards or tree roses are wanted, they should be budded or grafted, and by this means you may obtain several colours and varieties on the same stem. Until within the last forty years the cultivation of the rose was little thought of, and the sorts very limited – since which time an immense number of beautiful varieties has been raised from seeds on the Continent, chiefly in France. Upwards of four hundred distinct varieties have, been raised, too, in Great Britain, chiefly from the Scotch rose, Spinossisima – thus making altogether a list of upwards of one thousand four hundred different sorts.
Propagating by Seeds – Is merely practised where new varieties are wanted. Let the hips be gathered as soon as they are fully ripe, throw them together in a heap, which must be turned pretty often until the husks are rotten – then clear the seed from them, and let it be sown about the middle of July or August. It will come up about the middle of December, and in the autumn the produce may be transplanted.
By Cuttings. – Few sorts, excepting the China and its varieties, will strike kindly from cuttings. About the middle of October take a quantity of cuttings, choosing always the strongest, which plant thickly under a wall or fence, in a composition of loam, sand, and rotten dung. They must be shaded in sunny days, and will be rooted, and ready for planting out in the autumn.
By Laying. – About the beginning of November, you must be prepared with a sharp knife and some hooked pegs ; commence by taking hold of the shoot intended to be laid, and make an incision just below a bud or joint on the upper side of the branch, making your knife pass half-way up to the next bud above – then give the branch a slight twist, that the part so cut may rest upon the soil about two inches deep; after which make use of the hooked pegs which should be placed immediately over the incision, the object of these pegs being to keep the joint in its place; finish by pressing the soil gently over the layer with the hand.