Gardening Directory

Soil and its Treatment

Loam is a mixture of clay and sand. Whenthe former predominates it is termed heavy loam, and when the latter abounds it is called light. Marl is a compound of chalk and clay, or chalk and loam. Though suitable for certain fruit-trees and

a few other things, few flowers will grow in it. Drainage is one of the most important considerations in the cultivation of flowers. Should the soil be clayey, and hold water, make V-shaped drains, 3 ft. below the surface, and let 2-in. pipes lead to a deep hole made at the lowest part of the garden and filled with brick rubbish, or other porous substances, through which the water may drain; otherwise the cold, damp earth will rot the roots of the plants. Trenching is the process of digging deep, so as to loosen and expose the soil as much as possible to the action of the air. If this is done in the autumn or early winter to a new garden, it is best to dig it deep, say about 2 ft, and leave it in large clods to the pulverising action of the frost, after which it is easily raked level for spring planting. If the clods are turned over the grass will rot and help to improve the ground; new land thus treated will not require manuring the first year. Should the ground be clayey, fine ashes or coarse sand thrown over the rough clods after trenching will greatly improve it. Digging should be done when the ground is fairly dry, and about one spade deep. Avoid treading it down as much as possible. Hoeing must be constantly attended to, both to prevent the soil becoming exhausted of its nourishment by the rapid growth of weeds, and because when the surface becomes hard and cracked the rain runs through the deep fissures, leaving the surface soil dry and the roots of the plants unnourished. Mulching consists in spreading a layer of stable manure, about 3 in. deep, over the roots of trees and plants in the autumn to keep them warm and moist. The manure may be forked into the soil in the spring. Watering the plants carefully is of great consequence. Evening or early morning is the best time, and one copious application is far better than little and often. Water may be given to the roots at any time, but should not be sprinkled over the leaves in a hot sun nor in cold weather. Plants having a soft or woolly foliage should never be wetted overhead, but those with hard and shiny leaves may be freely syringed, especially when in full growth.

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