The Gardeners' Chronicle p. 8 (Jan 7, 1843)
CALENDAR OF OPERATIONS for the ensuing week
Donald Beaton, Shrubland Park Gardens


In-door Department

Pinery.— If the tan was in a good working condition when the fruiting plants were plunged for the winter, it should now give a steady bottom-heat of from 80° to 90°. If it even gives 75° at the bottom of the pots it is quite enough at this dull season. The mean bottom-heat provided by Nature to the roots of plants in all parts of the world is well known to be higher by some degrees than that by which they are surrounded on the surface, and much less liable to variations. However far we may deviate with impunity from this simple rule in our management of other stove plants, we must strictly adhere to it to insure success in the cultivation of this fruit. While the thermometer out-of-doors keeps above 18° or 20°, that in the fruiting-house may range up to 70°, and as the weather gets colder let it fall gradually to 60° The roots of the succession-plants, being younger and more active than those of the fruiters, are therefore more easily stimulated, and on that account should be kept from 5° to 10° lower. A humid atmosphere is at all times essential to these plants, but especially in the early stages of their growth.

Vinery.— I began forcing my earliest Vinery on the 1st of last month, in the good old-fashioned way, by introducing as much fresh horse-dung as we could find room for in the house, having first removed all plants in leaf, to save them from the ammoniacal vapour of the dung. Not to lose the benefit of such a powerful agent in the destruction of insect life, I ordered all the Fig, Peach, and Apricot trees in pots to be removed into this house, with all other plants that were suspected of harbouring enemies, such as Roses, Neriums, Brugmansias, &c, which had previously been pruned or headed down on purpose to undergo this general purification. The result I shall not fail to tell you. This is the first time that this house has been forced, therefore the artificial heat has not yet exceeded 60°. Plants that have been already accustomed to this early forcing may now be kept at 65°, with all the moisture that can be applied to them. Giving air is of less consequence at this stage; just enough to keep down the sun-heat to 70° is sufficient. The borders inside the house were thoroughly watered with tepid water, and the outside border has been covered a yard deep with one-half leaves and one-half fresh dung in a state of fermentation.

Peach-house.— My earliest Peach-house is divided from the above Vinery by a glass partition, and is heated by the same boiler—one of Rogers's best conical ones. I began to force it on the same day as the Vinery; the weather was so favourable during the last month, that little or no artificial heat was applied, the house being closed up early in the afternoon. I have it now about 50° in the day, and about 40° at night; the flower-buds are already much swollen. The trees were treated in the manner described in Mr. Errington's paper in vol. i., p. 7. The borders inside were well watered with tepid water, that on the outside being protected by a layer of warm dung, but not so hot as that over the Vine-roots. No air will be admitted by the front lights in either house when the weather is frosty.

Cucumbers.— Suffolk is the cradle of Cucumber-growing. The pedigree and "points" of a Cucumber are as keenly canvassed here as those of the horse elsewhere. The aim of the best growers is to have the temperature as nearly 75° as possible in the mornings; to get all the leaves dry once every day; and to admit as much fresh air at all times as circumstances will permit.

Asparagus.— This is the easiest of all plants to force; yet unless strong, healthy roots are to be had at this early period, success need not be expected. The beds in bearing ought to have constant air, and a bottom-heat of from 60° to 70°.

Seakale and Rhubarb.— All the plants of these that are intended for forcing this spring should be forthwith mulched over with litter of some sort; if warm dung, all the better. The spent linings from pits at work will do very well. In adding more dung now to keep up the heat in the Seakale beds, take care that it is not overdone; where there are plenty of plants and a scarcity of dung, the former had better be forced in some of the houses at work.

Strawherries.— The Peach-house is the best place to introduce the first crop of these. Clear off all dead leaves, stir the surface of the pots, and add a little fresh soil. This, and all such work as is not imperatively called for. should be deferred till rainy or stormy days.

Mushrooms.— Lose no opportunity of separating the horse-droppings from the litter, as it is received from the stables, and place them in some dry shed till wanted.

Miscellaneous.— The Carrots sown on a warm border last August, to come into use before the spring-forced ones are ready, will now require a slight protection. Make active preparations for sowing Radishes, Carrots, and other light crops requiring slight hot-beds. The dung cannot be too well prepared and sweetened for this purpose. A stock of dry soils of different textures should always be at hand in open sheds ready for use. Any new brickwork about the framing-ground should be protected from frost with as much care as half-hardy plants. All pumps and water-pipes that are in the least exposed should also be covered with litter.

Out-door Department

Plants of every description have never been in a worse condition to resist frost than they are this season. Broccoli, Endive, Celery, and Lettuces will all require slight protection now. Cardoons and blanched Celery might be removed into sheds, with a little moist sand put round their roots. Horse-radish may be treated in the same manner, but never more at one time than is sufficient for three weeks consumption. The last month has been so mild as to have excited all plants and roots into growth. Care must be taken of Onions, Carrots, Beet, &c. , perhaps they have also been deceived by the season Manuring, digging, and trenching should now be pushed forward with all speed.

Orchard —All newly-planted trees and bushes should be mulched with the lightest portion of rotten dung or spent linings, Unnail the Fig-trees on the walls, and gather their branches together in the centre : and after tying them together fasten a few of the strongest to the wall, and thatch the whole over with straw. After pruning see that all the trees are divested of Lichen, Moss, rough dead bark, &c. It is a capital plan to wash over the stems and main branches with a paint of fresh slacked lime and a little soot.


In-door Department

Stove.— Let the temperature here be kept very steady at this time; not higher with fire-heat than 60°, even in the warm Orchidaceous house. This is a good time to prune and regulate the heads of the specimen plants. Many, such as Justicias, Poinsettias, Aphelandras, &c., had better now be cut down altogether, and kept dry for a few weeks. If you have a good stock of Euphorbia jacquiniflora, cut down some of them also; this will enable them to make an earlier growth, and come into flower three weeks sooner next winter This treatment applies with equal effect to Justicia speciosa and the old Justicia, now Eranthemum pulchellum, and no doubt to all our winter-flowering plants. The circumstance of their not being allowed to exhaust themselves by flowering this season will enable them to do so with increased vigour next year. Look at the Gloxinias and Gesneras on the dry shelves, and set a few roots of each into growth, to create a succession of flowers. As soon as the Dendrobiums and others of this tribe, that have been kept dry lately, show signs of growth, give them a little moisture. If you have at command sufficient humidity for the atmosphere of this house, very few Orchidaceae will require much water at this season. They are all so accommodating that they may be potted at any time; but the present, and early in the autumn, are the best seasons for so doing. All sorts of insects are fond of them, particularly woodlice, and the smaller shell-snails; these must be constantly watched and destroyed.

Greenhouse and Conservatory.— If the liberty I have taken above in introducing my own practice in the Vinery and Peat-house will be acceptable to the reader, I shall in future speak of these two houses separately; in practice I treat them very differently. Our greenhouses here are constantly ventilated day and night, except during frost. The conservatory, on the contrary, gets only a little air in the middle of fine days, from, September to May; and the temperature averages from 40° to 50° during the dullest weather.

Pits and Frames.— Of all our plant structures these are become of late years the most important—they arc the omnibuses of our gardens : everything, from the finest Heath to the humblest Alpine plants, finds a ready asylum here during these hard times. They require the utmost attention at the present season. A slimy green pot, a speck of mouldiness on the surface, or even a decayed leaf, if not instantly removed, may be the ruin of the most favourite plant. Very little watering will be required here for some time yet; see that ample covering is ready for the long cold nights.

Out-door Department

Now that the first sharp frost has settled the worms for the winter, get all the lawn well rolled at the first opportunity; prune, plant, or transplant, all sorts of shrubs and trees; protect all tender ones. All the tender Roses must also be protected. Mr. Rivers proved last winter that good liquid manure is as good for Roses as rotten dung; this is of the greatest advantage, as we are always short of the latter. No doubt but other shrubs would be much benefited by a dressing of this sort.


Forest and Coppice Woods.— It is no use finding fault with the farmers for not employing the idle labourers, when one can hardly ride ten miles across the country without seeing scores of acres of the finest plantations running to ruin, for want of thinning, pruning, and draining. Coppice Woods are like old Raspberry stools, with only this difference, that a chance shoot here and there has got the lead, depriving all the rest of their clue nourishment; this should not be so.

Nursery.— Nursery grounds are, or ought to be, managed like the kitchen-garden, at least as far as rotation of crops, manuring, digging, and trenching, are concerned. The Acorn-beds, if sown last November, will now be visited by mice, which must be destroyed. The stool-ground should now be cleared and cleaned of all weeds, weak shoots, spurs, &c, so as to be ready for layering a fresh stock of shoots next month. Now is the best time to cut all shoots for grafting in the spring; gather all these to one convenient place, and stick them in the ground with their proper number -sticks. Nothing is more slovenly than to see the foreman running himself out of breath at grafting-time in hunting after the different sorts, while the grafter is kept idle half his time in waiting for them.

Beaton Bibliography