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WEATHER AND GARDENING

There is a certain class that pours out scorn on the type of man known as”the fair – weather gardener.”Up to a point the scorn is applaudable, but after that it is ridiculous. While we may ad- 1164 mire men who work on the land in all weathers to some extent, we have to admit that it is really very little use working out of doors in awful weather. Take, for instance, two examples of gardening workdigging, and sowing seeds. The fair-weather gardener says that he will not dig frost and snow into the ground. The all-weather gardener does not hesitate to do so, however ; he says that his garden must be dug somehow or other by a certain date. So he digs the frost and snow in. He is wrong, however, and the fair-weather gardener is right. Snow and frost if dug into the land are both exceedingly harmful, and it would be far better to leave the land alone on such days, or to do some necessary work such as stacking manure, or wheeling it on to the ground when the land is hard. It is a different matter to dig during rain. That is only unpleasant. The fair-weather gardener is wrong to leave his land alone then, if the season is getting late, for it shows he is afraid of a wetting ; he probably thinks he will melt like a lump of sugar or a piece of salt. But he will not. Again, immediately after a very heavy thaw the land is best left alone, since to dig in mud is almost as bad as to dig in frost. In the question of seed sowing much the same holds good. The allweather gardener first of all proceeds to construct for himself a timetable of work, based on facts given him by some other equally oldfashioned all – weather gardeners. This time-table fixes dates for sowing every kind of seed. The allweather gardener puts the timetable up in his potting shed and keeps rigidly to it. To him it does not matter what sort of state his soil is in, provided it is not frozen too hard to cut with his hoe ; he must get his seeds in by those certain fixed dates. I have known men to rake ofE snow to sow parsnips, and to plant peas and broad beans in a soil little else than a puddle. They expect good crops, and they sometimes even get them, more by fluke than by anything else. The fair-weather gardener is again more sensible. He looks at his soil, he tests it in the usual way by clenching and releasing it in his hand, and when it binds into a ball of mud he rightly concludes that it is not the least use sowing seeds. If he is energetic he takes steps to dry the surface of his soil by frequent deep hoeing, and if not he waits for the weather to mend. Even though he sows a httle late he has a much better chance of getting a really good crop than has his brother the all-weather man a point worth remembering. From the above it will be seen that the all-weather man should be more chary about scorning his fairweather brother than he is. There is a time for doing all things connected with gardening, as the Calendars in this book amply show. But if successful results are ultimately to be attained, the weather conditions at the start must be of a suitable nature for carrying out the work. I could go on to speak of the folly of doing any form of planting in bad weather, but the foregoing will be sufficient to make gardeners study the weather when working.E.

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WEED KILLERS

These are essential if there is much in the way of pleasure grounds under the gardeners care. Various proprietary articles are on the market, useful though expensive, and thus some gardeners prefer to make their own. This is easily done as follows : Carbolic Acid.A i% solution of the pure acid (i.e. i part acid to 99 parts of water bulk for bulk) makes quite an effective weed killer, but the pure acid being difficult to obtain in some places the common commercial acid can be substituted and i lb. of this mixed with every 14-15 gallons of cold water. Care must be taken that the acid does not float on the surface but is evenly mixed with the whole, and on no account must any come in contact with the clothes or flesh, as it is very corrosive. The liquid is applied through the fine rose of a watering- can to weedy gravel paths, etc., and a good soaking given. Caustic Soda.A solution of this made by dissolving i lb. in 10 gallons of water is recommended by some as a weed killer, but is still rather in the experimental stage. Its use should be limited to very hot weather on gravel paths, and a good soaking given as before. Copper Sulphate. Copper sulphate, or Blue Stone, has an undoubtedly corrosive effect on green leafage, as is evidenced by scorching if potato-spraying liquids are improperly mixed. This may be turned to advantage as a weed killer in districts where this material is cheap. The use is still in the experimental stage, but a solution of I lb. per 5-10 gallons of water may be used with some success in hot weather. Salt.This is of undoubted vjac as a mild weed killer. It is best applied dry and scattered freely over weedy paths on the first really hot day in the early summer. The weeds will wither in a few hours, and can then be got up without much difficulty. Hot Brine, made by dissolving as much salt as is possible in each gallon of boiling water, is also a splendidly effective weed killer if a thorough soaking of the boiling liquid is applied to young weeds on paths through a finerosed can. Sodium Hydrogen Sulphate. This also is of great value as a weed killer. A strong, almost saturated solution should be made as the material is cheap, and this applied hot through a fine-rosed can. Vitriol.A 4% solution of oil of vitriol (Sulphuric Acid) in water makes a weed killer of enormous valueit is probably the most useful of all. The acid must not be measured in a metal utensil, but in one of pot or well-glazed earthenware to prevent damage. The water should be measured into a wooden tub and the acid poured very slowly into it with constant stirring. If the water-can is used this must be repainted all over before and after use on account of the corrosive action of the acid. This solution may be used at any time, a thorough soaking being given as before. Besides these materials there are one or two mixtures which make good weed killers. Many gardeners swear by a mixture of equal parts quicklime and salt applied in dry weather, but this is objectionable in wet districts. A good solution for watering paths may be made by boiling about i lb. of White Arsenic and the same weight of Caustic Soda together in 4-5 gallons of water until a clear solution results. Then filter and bottle the liquid, using a pint of this stock solution per gallon of water. Warnings on Weed Killers. If any of these liquids remain over after use it should be bottled and labelled”Poisonous”to prevent accidents. These bottles should not be left about, but are best locked up in the tool shed. 1166 The clothes and hands must not come in contact with the majority of the liquids, or bad burns will result. The liquids must be kept away from live edgings, grass verges, dwarf hedges, etc., or the latter will be greatly damaged, if not destroyed.E.

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WEEDING

From the beginning of April to the end of October the gardener should never cease weeding, since, if he does, his land and crops will be robbed right and left of food and water. Many gardeners err by reason of the fact that they start weeding too late in the season. They let the ground assume a verdant meadow-like appearance and then, late in May, instead of early in April, they start attacking the weeds. They are too late. Already the soil has been robbed of food and moisture, already the crops have suffered for lack of air and light, and the prospects of the best results have vanished into space. Had weeding been done earlier, in fact as soon as the rows of crops were sufficiently above the ground to show their presence, much less labour would have been needed, and the ultimate results would have been better in every way. The writer well remembers some weeding experiences, a record of which is published elsewhere. He thinks that gardeners on the whole are a very lazy lot as regards weeding. It is so easy when one sees a few weeds between the fines of our crops to say :”These are not worth troubling about.”But soon these few neglected weeds seed, and breed hundreds more. It is surely a case of being in time. There are many modes of weeding. And here opinions differ. The present writer is fully convinced of the enormous value of the Dutch hoe as a weeding tool except in certain cases. There are weeds such as trefoil, wild strawberry, ground ivy, and twitch which no sensible gardener should attempt to raise with a Dutch hoe or any other hoe. Such weeds should be got up with a weeding fork, and broken as little as possible, since every little piece broken off seems capable of growing. The use of the hoe for such weeds serves to break them up into many pieces just the opposite of what should be done. Then again the Dutch hoe is very little use in the case of longrooted weeds such as dandelions. It only cuts their crowns off ; then they immediately form a callus and three or four more crowns. A digging fork is the right tool to use for raising dandelions and similar deep rooting weeds. But for surface rooting weeds, not in seed, such as charlock, groundsel, chickweed, feverfew, etc., the Dutch hoe is a splendid tool to use. A few sharp reaches or cuts with this removes the top growth of the weeds, and a deeper cut (which should in every case immediately follow the surface one) throws out most of their roots. Weeds should not be left lying on the surface soil except on hot dry land, and even then it is a risk. The gardener should remember what terribly strong constitutions weeds have and treat the subject of weeding with the respect due to it. If the weeds are left lying about on cold damp soils even in the strongest sunshine, they may suddenly shoot into growth again. On hot dry soils the weeds soon wither when hoed up, but the first shower of rain frequently makes them start growing again. Flowers are prematurely formed and seeds ripened, so unless the gardener gets rid of weeds in some satisfactory manner immediately after hoeing them up, he is likely not to have to do his work merely over again, but ten times over again. No saying is truer than that which tells us that”one years seeding means ten years weeding.”Hand weeding demands a little consideration. There are some portions of the garden where the hoe cannot be used and where the weeder would be tiresome. In such cases rather than let the weeds get a hold and spoil the efiect, as well as spoil the plants, the weeding should be done by hand. In very dry weather this is almost impossible if the work is to be done thoroughly, owing to the grip the weeds have on the soil. The best time, and the safest as regards the growing plants, is to do the work immediately after, or during a heavy shower. The weeds are firmly gripped towards their base with the right hand, and a slight but sudden twist brings them out root and all. Care must be taken not to leave the roots of the weeds in the ground, otherwise there will be more trouble in the course of a week or two. Our aim should be not to let the weeds ever grow to any size. To keep the ground clear, there is no better practice than to hoe the borders and vegetable garden regularly at least once, or, better stiU, twice each week. Weeds cannot grow in the loose friable layer of soil obtained by frequent hoeing, and advantage of this fact should be taken. There is only one safe way of destroying deep rooted and creeping weeds, also weeds which are in seed. That is by burning them. The method of working is dealt with in a separate article, to which article (Burning Garden Rubbish) the reader is referred. Soft weeds which are not in flower may also be burnt, but it is wasteful. The bestTmethod of disposing of these is dealt with in the article on Vegetable Matter, to which the reader is asked to refer. E. T. E. See also ORCHARDS : Making and Management of; Trees : Raising FROM Seed; Vegetables : General Considera tions.

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WAHLENBERGIA

(Syn. Edraianthus, Tufted Harebell. Nat. Ord. Campanulaceae).These tufted plants with grassy leaves are all good rock garden plants, and may be easily raised from seeds sown in gentle heat in March. Wdhlenbergia dalmatica. This biennial bears tufts of grassy leaves. Flowers rich violet in dense heads. Site sunny. Soil gritty, well drained. Flowering Period, June to August. Height, 3 ins. W. graminifoUa.This biennial bears tufts of downy leaves. Flowers pale blue. Site sunny. Soil gritty. Flowering Period, May to July. Height, 3 ins. W. Pumilio (Syn. W. pumiliorum). This perennial bears tufts of very short silvery leaves. Flowers lilac or rosy-lilac. Site sunny. Soil rocky. Flowering Period, May to July. Height, 2 ins. W. serpyllijolia (Thyme-leaved Harebell).This perennial bears tufts of narrow shining green leaves. Flowers deep violet-blue. Site sunny. Soil gritty. Flowering Period, June to August. Height, 3 ins. W. vincaeflora (Syn. W. gentianoides). This plant bears tufts of slender stems. Flowers deep blue. Site, half-shade. Soil rich gritty loam. Flowering Period, May to July. Height, i ft.

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WEEDS

The kinds of weeds with which a gardener has to contend are determined by various factors, such as locality, soil, climate, and cultivation. The number of species that may occur as garden weeds is very large, but comparatively few are so generally found as to need special consideration. The most important of these are as follows : Annual Meadow Grass (Poa annua. Nat. Ord. Graminese). Annual. Occurs in tufts. Leaves bright green, usually somewhat wrinkled in places. Found in all sorts of situations, though the individual plants are often very short lived. Flowers all the year round. Height, 2-6 ins. Means of Control.Constant hoeing, to prevent seeding. On Paths.The weeds should be hoed or cut down, and the paths then dressed with one of the following weed killers : (i) Common salt, applied dry, sufficient to whiten the surface. (2) Washing soda, applied in a solution containing 5 lb. in 10 gals, of water. (3) Bluestone (copper sulphate), 5-10 parts to 100 parts of water. (4) Carbolic acid, i part to 100 parts of water. (s) Sulphuric acid, 4 parts to 100 parts of water. This needs special care in handling, as it is very corrosive and poisonous. It should be mixed in a wooden vessel, and 1168 applied as rapidly as possible with a can, which must be washed out directly after use. (6) Patent weed killers of various descriptions, of which many are advertised. Bent Grass (Agrostis vulgaris and A. alba. Nat. Ord. Graminese). Perennial ; tufted or creeping. In the latter case it roots freely as it spreads. Leaves flat, rather rough on the upper side. Flowers very small, borne on a slender, dainty, branched head called a panicle, which is sometimes spreading, sometimes close, and often tinged with brown. Flowers throughout summer. Height, 2-24 ins. Means of Control.Constant hoeing, hand pulling, and entire removal of plants by digging. Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensts. Nat. Ord. Convolvulaceae).Perennial, with slender, creeping underground stems, climbing by means of twining aerial stems. Leaves stalked, rather heart-shaped. Flowers bell-shaped, white or pink. Fruits containing four large seeds. The twining stems tend to strangle the plants up which they clamber, and to pull them to the ground in many cases. Flowers summer. Means of Control.Underground stems should be dug out and burned, and all green stems be pulled up or hoed out whenever seen. Black Bindweed (Polygonum Convolvulus. Nat. Ord. Polygonaceae). Annual ; climbs by means of twining stems. Leaves heart-shaped. Flowers white or pink, in loose, stalked clusters. Fruits black, triangular. Flowers summer and autumn. Means of Control.Constant hoeing, and hand pulling where necessary. Uses.The seeds are very similar to those of buckwheat, and have been used for the same purposes, including the preparation of flour for human consumption. Black Nightshade (Solanum nigrum. Nat. Ord. Solanaceae). Usually annual, sometimes biennial. Stems angular ; much branched. Leaves stalked and angular. Flowers small, white, and in clusters. Fruit a black berry. Flowers summer and autumn. Height, under 2 ft. Means of Control.Constant hoeing. Buttercup.See Creeping Buttercup. Chickweed (Siellaria media. Nat. Ord. Caryophyllaceae).Annual. A much-branched trailing plant with opposite leaves and small white flowers. Forms an abundance of seed, and is often very troublesome in kitchen gardens. Can be recognised by a row of hairs that runs up one side of the stem from leaf to leaf, and then changes its position to the opposite side between the next pair of leaves. Flowers practically all the year round. Means of Control.Constant hoeing. Coltsfoot (Tussilago Farfara. Nat. Ord. Compositae).Perennial, with stout creeping underground stems. Leaves heart-shaped and radical, the undersides covered with white cottony down ; appear after the flowers. Flower heads pale yellow ; arise on separate stems, with small leaves or scales arranged on the stalks. Fruits with a pappus or tuft of hairs or plumes, which aid in distribution by the wind. Flowers early spring. Means of Control.The underground stems should be removed as much as possible during cultivation, and the flower heads be cut early to prevent seeding. The weed is often associated with poor soil, and judicious manuring may help to eradicate it in such cases. 4 E Common Orache (Airiplex patula. Nat. Ord. Chenopodiacese).Annual, varying much in height and habit. Numerous branches, which come off at right angles to the stem and to one another. Leaves stalked and angled, with broad bases, often covered with a whitish meal. Flowers greenish and insignificant, in slender spikes. This is a most variable plant in every way. The colour may be anything from a very deep green to a light whitish-green, though it is rarely as white as Fat Hen, which it often resembles rather closely. Flowers summer and autumn. Means of Control.Constant hoeing. Common Sow-thistle (Sonchus oleraceus. Nat. Ord. Compositae). Annual. A strong growing, succulent plant, with prickly leaves and a milky juice which exudes whenever any part is broken. Leaves have no stalks and clasp the stem with their broad bases. Flower heads numerous, flat, pale yellow. Fruits with a tuft of hairs or plumes, by which they are scattered by the wind. Flowers summer and early autumn. Height, 1-3 ft. Means of Control.Constant hoeing. If any plants become established they should be dug out, as the roots are stout and run deeply in the ground. Couch Grass (Agropyron repens, or Triticum repens. Nat. Ord. Gramineae). Perennial. One of the most pestilent of grasses. Is easily recognised by the white or brownish creeping underground stems which send out roots and aerial stems from every joint. The growing tip is characteristically sharp and pointed, and is well adapted for piercing its way through the soil or even through any obstacle that comes in its way, provided it be not too hard. Flowers summer. Height, 1-2 ft.

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WALL GARDENING

The healthy interest taken in the many beautiful mountain plants we comprehensively embrace within the term”Alpine”has led to an eager inquiry for information in respect of their cultivation and treatment under garden conditions. The most natural and also the most picturesque way of growing Alpines is unquestionably in a properly constructed rock garden. This is not usually a difficult problem in large gardens, but with those of moderate extent and especially with small gardens in or near large cities, it is not always a simple matter to combine variety with a near approach to pictorial effect, for the reason that a large number of the most efiective rock plants are somewhat aggressive when placed in company with small growers, and unless close attention is paid to them in the growing season, they are most likely to crowd and smother them out. This difficulty is readily overcome, even in the smallest garden, by surrendering the rock garden to the choicest and rarest subjects, supplementing this by a dry-wall for the more vigorous and showy subjects. The advantage of the last named is that it takes up small space, it readily accommodates a great variety, and it introduces a pictorial feature of no mean order to the garden. Then again, drywalls may have a place in gardens where space cannot be found for an elaborate rock garden ; in such cases the roost acceptable form is that of a retaining-wallj as then it supplies an apparent reason for Its existence, and the mass of soil that the wall supports yields a constant supply of moisture, so that even in the hottest summer the roots do not suffer from drought. Positions which suggest reasons for the existence of retaining-walls are when supports for terraces are required, or they may be introduced to force up the levels in forming a”sunk”garden, or the margins of a formal water-lily garden. Again, low walls radiating from the main paths, the borders level with the wall tops, may be introduced into many gardens, and with old rectangular stone slabs forming the pathways an extremely interesting garden results. Drywalls may also be raised on level ground to form an enclosure much in the way we follow in planting hedges. In this case we take, for example, a wall that will be 5 ft. high when finished ; this will require a base 3 ft. wide, and by allowing 2 ins. of”batter”on each side to every foot in height, the top will be 16 ins. wide when finished. In districts much subject to drought, the top should at least be 2 ft. wide, so that in a wall 5 ft. high the base would be 3 ft. Sins. wide. This gives a large body of soil to resist the drying influences of sun and air, while the increased width of the top allows artificial watering to be carried out with greater ease and with marked benefit to the plants. A wall of this nature differs from the retaining-wall in that both faces can be planted, as well as the top, and it is scarcely possible to conceive it as other than a charming addition to the garden. The best material for erecting dry-walls is rough, unhewn stone direct from the quarry; blocks varying in size and thickness and of unequal lengths are to be preferred, and if the stone shows stratification so much the better. A dry-wall that is a prominent feature in the garden design should have the best stone procurable. For low walls it is often most expedient to use stone formed from broken paving slabs, or waste pieces from the local builders yard ; the only disadvantage is, that it takes longer to build ; for all practical purposes the result is similar, as plants do equally well, and once they come to maturity, the stone is largely hidden by them.

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WEEDS AND WEEDING

When Chickweed chokes our flowers and plants, And Nightshade over food crops pants. The gardener must use his hand, And pull these weeds from out the land. When Dandelion thrives and blooms. And Bindweed over all else looms. With Couchgrass, Nettles holding sway, We need a fork, and that to-day. Where Creeping Buttercup is seen. We have to fork to keep land clean. The same with that Convolvulus, We dig it up with little fuss. Fat Hen comes up quite quick by hand, And so does Groundsel from the land. Not so the Greater Bindweed, or The Horsetail weed we often saw. The last two weeds are terrors true, At least to me, and you will rue If they are left to romp about. When every scrap should be dug out. The Pimpernel and Shepherds Purse These weeds are very little curse Are easily pulled up by hand. Especially if soil be sand. The Thistlestruly awful weeds. Dont speak to me of Thistles seeds Need scything down before they bloom. And burning is, of course, their doom. The Sun Spurge, but a lowly plant, Is not the subject for much cant ; The same applies to Celandine: They decompose to humus fine. A naughty weed is Stinging Nettle, It stings to show its own high mettle. We glove our hands, or grasp it tight. And jerk its roots out to the light. And there are many other weeds. Too many for the gardners needs. Some weeds are terrors, some are not. But all on neatness form a blot. And evry weed whereer it lie, A robber is of blackest dye. A fact, but seldom recognised. Which often makes me quite surprised. Then let us each with hand and hoe, Or fork or spade, move down each row. And knock the weeds up with a will. Then quickly our big barrow fill. The weeds with long tap-roots or seed Must bum to ash, our plants to feed. All others in a hole may rot To give us humus pure and hot. E.

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