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From 'The Dictionary of Daily Wants' (1858)

As every person who is his own gardener is naturally anxious that the care and attention he bestows on his little plot of ground should be crowned with success, and that it should at all times present that appearance of neatness and order so pleasing to the eye, attention to the following general directions will go far to secure these advantages:-

Perform every operation at the proper season. The natural, and therefore the best indications for the operation of sowing, reaping, transplanting, &c., are given by the plants themselves, or by the progress of the season as indicated by other plants. But there are artificial calendars or remembrancers, which serve to aid the memory, although they will not supply the place of a watchful and vigilant eye, and habits of attention, observation, reflection, and decision.

Perform every operation in the best manner. This is to be acquired in part by practice, and partly also by reflection. For example, in digging over a piece of ground, it is a common practice with slovens to throw the weeds and stones on the dug ground, or on the adjoining alley or walk, with the intention of gathering them afterwards. A better way is to have a wheelbarrow, or, if that cannot be had, a large basket, into which to put the weeds and extraneous matters, as they are taken out of the ground.

Complete every part of an operation as you proceed. This is an essential point in garden operations ; and though it cannot always he attended to, partly from the nature of the operation, partly from the weather, &c., yet the judicious gardener will keep it in view as much as possible. Suppose a compartment, or breadth of rows of potatoes, containing one-tenth of an acre, required to have the ground stirred by the Dutch hoe, the weeds raked off, and then the potatoes earthed-up with the forked hoe, the ordinary practice would be, first to hoe over the whole of the ground, then to rake it wholly over, and, lastly, to commence the operation of earthing-up. If the weather were certain of holding good for two days, this, on the principle of the division of labour, would certainly be somewhat the most economical mode. But supposing the weather dry, the part left hoed and not raked will for a time appear unfinished: and if rain should happen to fall in the night, the operation will be defeated in most soils. Better, therefore, to hoe, rake, and earth-up a small part at a time; so that, leave off where you will, that which is done will be complete.

Finish one job before you begin another. This advice is trite, but it is of great importance; and there are few cases where it cannot be attended to.

In leaving off working at any job, leave your work and tools in an orderly manner. Are you hoeing between rows, do not throw down your hoe blade upwards, or across thr rows, and run off the nearest way to the walk. Lay your implement down parallel to the rows, with its face or blade to the ground; then walk regularly between one row to the alley, and along the alley to the path. In general, do not leave off in the middle of a row. Straighten your trenches in digging, because, independently of appearances, should a heavy rain of some days duration intervene, the ground will have to be re-dug, and that will be more commodiously done with a straight than with a crooked, and consequently unequal, trench.

In passing to and from your work, or, on any occasion, keep a vigilant look out for weeds, decayed leaves, or any other deformities and remove them, or some of them, in passing along. Attend to this particularly on walks and edgings, and in passing through hothouses, &c. In like manner take off insects, or leaves infested by them. Much in large as well as in small gardens may be effected by this sort of timely or preventive attention, which induces suitable habits fo a young gardener, and occupies very litte time.

In gathering a crop, or any part of a crop, remove at the same time the roots, leaves, stems, or whatever else belonging to the plants of which you have cropped the desired parts, is of no further use, or may appear slovenly, decaying, or offensive. In cutting cabbage, lettuce, borecoles, &c., pull up the stem (with exceptions) and roots, and take them at once with the outside leaves to the compost-heap. Do the same with the haulm of potatoes, leaves of turnips, carrots, celery, &c. Do not suffer the haulm of peas and beans to remain a moment after the last gathering of the crop.

Cut down the stalks of all flowering plants, with the proper exceptions, the moment they have fully done flowering, unless seed is an object. Cut off decayed roses, and all decaying double flowers, with their foot-stalks, the moment they begin to decay; and the same, of single plants, when the seed is not wanted. From May to October the flower-garden and shrubbery ought to be looked over every day, as soon as the morning dews are evaporated, for this purpose and for gathering decayed leaves, tie up tall growing stems before they become straggling, &c.

Keep every part perfect in its kind. Attend in spring and autumn to walls md buildings, and get them repaired, painted, and glazed where needed. Attend at all times to machines, implements, and tools, keeping them clean, sharp, and in perfect repair. See particularly that they are placed in their proper situations in the tool-house. House every implement, utensil, or machine not in use, both in winter and summer. Allow no blanks in edgings, rows, single specimens, drills, beds, &c. Keep edgings and hedges cut to the greatest nicety. Keep the shapes of wall trees filled with wood according to their kind, and let their training be in the first style of perfection. Keep all walks in perfect form, whether raised or flat, free from weeds, dry, and well rolled.

Finally, attend to personal habits and to cleanliness. Never perform any operation without gloves on your hands that you can do with gloves on; even weeding is far more effectively and expeditiously performed by gloves the forefingers and thumbs of which terminate in wedge-like thimbles of steel, kept sharp. Most other operations may be performed with common gloves. Always use an iron head fastened to your shoe in digging; and generally wear a broad-brimmed light silk or straw hat, to serve both as a shelter from moisture and a shade from the sun. The labour of the feet will thus be lessened, the wear of the shoes spared, and rheumatism in the back and the neck avoided.- See DIGGING, HOEING, PLANTING, RAKING, WEEDING, &c. makes minimal use of cookies, including some placed to facilitate features such as Google Search. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to the use of cookies. Learn more here

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