Chapter 2. THE HANDLING OF THE PLANTS

Table of Contents

_Sowing the seeds._
_Propagating by cuttings._
_Transplanting young seedlings._
_Transplanting established plants and trees._
_Winter protection of plants._
_Pruning._
_Tree surgery and protection._
_The grafting of plants._
_Keeping records of the plantation._
_The storing of fruits and vegetables._
_The forcing of plants._

There is a knack in the successful handling of plants that it is impossible to describe in print. All persons can improve their practice through diligent reading of useful gardening literature, but no amount of reading and advice will make a good gardener of a person who does not love to dig in a garden or who does not have a care for plants just because they are plants.

To grow a plant well, one must learn its natural habits. Some persons learn this as if by intuition, acquiring the knowledge from close discrimination of the behavior of the plant. Often they are themselves unconscious of this knack of knowing what will make the plant to thrive; but it is not at all necessary to have such an intuitive judgment to enable one to be even more than a fairly good gardener. Diligent attention to the plant's habits and requirements, and a real regard for the plant's welfare, will make any person a successful plant-grower.

Some of the things that a person should know about any plant he would grow are these:--

Whether the plant matures in the first, second, third, or subsequent years; and when it naturally begins to fail.

The time of the year or season in which it normally grows, blooms, or fruits; and whether it can be forced at other seasons.

Whether it prefers a situation dry or moist or wet, hot or cool, sunny or shady.

Its preferences as to soil, whether very rich or only moderately rich, sand or loam, or peat or clay.

Its hardiness as to frost, wind, drought, heat.

Whether it has any special requirements as to germination, and whether it transplants well.

Whether it is specially liable to attack by insects or disease.

Whether it has a special inability to grow two years in succession on the same land.

Having suited the situation to the plant, and having prepared the ground well and made a resolution to keep it well, special attention must be given to such matters as these:--

Guarding from all insects and diseases; and also from cats and chickens and dogs; and likewise from rabbits and mice.

Protecting from weeds.

Pruning, in the case of fruit trees and bushes, and also of ornamental woody plants on occasion, and sometimes even of annual herbs.

Staking and tying, particularly of sprawly garden flowers.

Persistent picking of seed pods or dead flowers from flower plants, in order to conserve the strength of the plant and to prolong its season of bloom.

Watering in dry weather (but not sprinkling or dribbling).

Thorough winter protecting of plants that need it.

Removing dead leaves, broken branches, weak and sickly plants, and otherwise keeping the place tidy and trim.