Small Gardens

The Profitable Portion

Fruit--The best kinds for a small garden--Avoidance of size minus flavour--Vegetables--Herbs. If a small garden has room for any fruit-trees, =apples are the most useful= kind to grow; they can be so trained as to take up little

room; for instance, in espalier fashion, down each side of a sunny walk. These =apple-hedges= are a lovely sight in spring and also in the autumn, when the ruddy fruit is waiting to drop into the outstretched hand. Though names can easily be given, it is generally a good plan to =make enquiries in the neighbourhood as to the best varieties= to grow, for so much depends on soil and position. Colloquial names are often given, which require identifying with existing varieties; this can be done by sending up a specimen of the fruit to the manager of a correspondence column in some reliable gardening magazine. These gentlemen are generally able to give the desired information, and no charge is made. =A surer method= still is to send the fruit which it is desired to identify to some well-known nurseries, such as those of Messrs. Rivers at Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire; they have acres upon acres of splendid fruit-trees of every kind, and my readers cannot do better than purchase all they require from them. Having such wide experience, they can recommend varieties suitable for all kinds of soil and all sorts of positions. For small gardens, apple-trees grafted on =the paradise stock= are much to be recommended, as they are compact in habit, taking up but little room and =begin bearing almost at once=. Messrs. Rivers guarantee their trees on this stock to continue in full-bearing for many years. "Plant pears, and you plant for your heirs" is the old saying, but this is all changed now that the =quince stock= is used so much. Cordon pears on wire fencing bear first-rate crops, and are particularly good for small gardens; the diagonal cordon is perhaps the best. =Cooking pears= can be grown on north walls, but it is not advisable to try dessert varieties on such a cold aspect. =STONE FRUIT.= To grow stone fruit successfully, =the soil must contain a fair quantity of lime=; moreover the trees, especially if trained against walls, must be kept well-watered at the stoning period. After the fruit has been picked, less moisture is required. =Standard plants are very profitable=, as crops of currants and gooseberries can be grown beneath them; this double system of cropping the ground being a great advantage where space is a consideration. =Plums= require little pruning, and are also not so liable to attacks of birds as other fruit. When ordering, =do not get too many trees of one variety=, a good selection will give a long succession of fruit; this applies to all kinds of fruit-trees. =Currants are a very manageable fruit=, as they do well in almost any position; heavy crops can be secured from bushes planted on north borders, the =black currant= thriving though it only gets a minimum of sunshine; =gooseberries= are not exacting either, and will give a good return for a small amount of labour. Both may be propagated by cuttings, and are very reasonable in price, only costing about four shillings a dozen. Messrs. Rivers' stock of =maiden peach-trees= and =nectarines= is unsurpassed, and many of the best kinds obtainable have been raised by them, and are of worldwide fame. Regarding that oft-debated question of protecting the blossom in spring, they do not advise anything in the nature of bracken to be used, this often doing more harm than good. If possible, =a glass coping= should be placed along the top of the wall, from which tiffany can depend on cold nights; unless this be done, it is best to leave them alone. Fine crops are often obtained in the south and west of England without any protection whatever, the good seasons amply compensating for the bad. It occasionally happens that the amateur has an advantage over the market grower. This is particularly the case where one wants to curtail the =depredations of birds=; it pays to protect a few yards of fruit, but where it is a case of several acres, the trees have to take their chance. =Cherries= have to be watched very carefully in this respect; it is very desirable to keep the =Morello cherries= hanging long, as they then become sweeter and make good tarts. These trees do very well on north walls. =WANT OF FLAVOUR.= One great fault noticeable in fruit-growing of recent years is that everything is sacrificed to size and appearance, flavour being at a discount; the shows have had a great deal to do with this; in the old days, when they were fewer in number, the test of a fruit was its taste. =Strawberries= in particular have deteriorated in this way, the huge kinds now seen often being absolutely devoid of the luscious flavour generally associated with them. Of course we have =better keeping varieties=, and they can be obtained much later than was once the case. If the culture of the perpetual varieties is extended strawberries will be in season many weeks longer, and this will be extremely good news for invalids, who find it as a rule one of the easiest fruits to digest. =The cultivation of strawberries is fairly easy=, but their wants must be regularly attended to. Once in three years the old plants must be taken up, and new ones (the "runners" issuing from the old) planted instead; in the summer a good mulching of strawy manure should be placed between the rows, as this helps to keep the fruit clean, besides enriching the soil. Plants which are expected to bear a good crop of fruit must have all their runners cut off as fast as they appear, as it exhausts the plants much to bear both. =Strawberries are partial to rather a light soil=, but nearly all other fruit-trees revel in a mixture of loam and clay, with a little sand to keep it open. This soil does not suffer so much from drought, and, being firmer, the larger trees can send their roots down and get a far better hold of the ground than is possible in shingly, poor soils. =ORNAMENTAL AND USEFUL.= =Vegetables= take up a good deal of room in a garden if they are wanted all the year round, but a few things can be easily grown. =Scarlet runner beans=, being ornamental as well as useful, are some of the best vegetables to grow, as they can be made to form a convenient screen for a rubbish heap. These can be brought up from seed sown early in April, and, when a foot high, require sticks; these come rather expensive if new ones are used every summer, but with care they will last two and even three seasons, though latterly they become very brittle. On the rubbish heap, =marrows= can be grown with the greatest facility, as they revel in the rich warmth there found. They should be bought when a few inches high, and planted out at the end of May, as they are only half hardy. When the flower at the end drops off they are ready to cut; if allowed to get much larger they lose all their flavour. A few, however, should be allowed to become quite ripe, as they can be used in the autumn for making apple-tart, two parts apple to one part marrow, and they also make =a good jam= when spiced with ginger, etc. =RELATIONS OF THE SUNFLOWERS.= =Jerusalem artichokes= will flourish on a north border, and come in very nicely during November; they are planted in exactly the same manner as potatoes, that is, by means of pieces containing two or three "eyes," which should go in about February. Like potatoes, too, they can be stored; though so tall, they do not require any sticks; these artichokes present much the same appearance as the ordinary cottager's sun-flower (indeed, the botanical name is identical, helianthus), having thick, hollow stems, covered with long, pointed, hairy leaves. =Potatoes are rather "kittle-kattle"= for amateurs, but where the soil is light they should certainly be tried, especially where there is room for a rotation of crops, as successive planting should not be made in the same place. Beware of giving rank manure to them, a sure precursor of disease; artificial manures, such as guano are far more suitable. =No trees must be allowed near them=, but a sunny open piece of ground be given up to them. March is the month to plant and the rows should be from fifteen inches to two feet apart. =Carrots and turnips= also prefer a light soil and sunny situation. Seeds of both should be sown in March, when the soil is in a friable condition, several times subsequently; the seeds must be well thinned out, and the space between the rows constantly turned by the hoe; the latter operation is particularly needful in heavy land, as it not only destroys weeds, but prevents the soil from caking: the rows should be about a foot apart. Before the turnips are ready, the young green tops make a vegetable by no means to be despised. =Herbs=, such as mint, parsley, mustard and cress, should be grown in every garden, as they take up but little space and are so much dearer to buy. =Mint= is perennial, and will come up year after year, giving no trouble whatever; it spreads rapidly and will grow anywhere. To start a bed, roots can be bought from some market-gardener, or cuttings can be struck from the bunches bought in the shops. =Parsley= is a biennial, though generally grown as an annual, because the leaves from young plants are much the best; the seeds should be sown two or three times a year, beginning about February, in a sheltered nook; =this herb likes plenty of sun=; even the curliest varieties degenerate if placed in a damp shady situation. It prefers light soil, and gives a better winter supply than where the soil is heavy. Flower-heads must be cut off regularly to keep the plants in good condition, though just a few of the best kinds may be allowed to perfect their seed, which should be sown as soon as ripe. =Mustard and cress= should also be sown several times during the summer; the cress must be sown three or four days before the mustard, to obtain them ready for cutting at the same time; both must be cut almost directly they appear, as, if allowed to grow tall, they become tough, and their flavour is lost; these seeds require no thinning out, the exception that proves the rule.

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