Planting Trees and Shrubs
In the larger planting operations, the essential thing is preparation of the. Shrubs and trees remain where they are, undisturbed, probably for the remainder of their lives. It is not possible later on to do much to improve the soil drainage. Preparation for any large shrub or tree, therefore, should include digging to a depth of at least 3 ft. At the bottom of the holes that are taken out all the roughest materials available should be thrown, such as flints, old cans, broken bricks, clinker, etc. Over this the coarsest soil should be put, together with manure, which will help to supply moisture to the plant roots in dry weather. The remainder of the soil filled in will depend on the type of tree or shrub. For peat will be used, for instance, and for Apricots a sandy loam.
In all the larger planting operations, preparation of stakes beforehand is desirable. Every tree, shrub or Rose plant should be staked at planting time, and the best time to put in the stake is before the plant roots are covered. This is particularly important if the planting is a one man job. For instance, if an apple tree is being planted, and the hole is taken out first, and a stake driven in, the tree can be tied to the stake before the soil is filled in. In that case it will not be necessary to have an assistant to hold the tree, and the accurate level at which the tree is being planted can be better estimated. Firm planting is particularly desirable in the case of trees and shrubs.
A practice adopted by old-fashioned gardeners is to rest each tree on a small mound of rather rough poor material (gravel, for instance) in the centre of the hole. This is said to induce earlier fruiting and flowering.
Before covering the roots with soil, they should be thoroughly examined, and any broken or damaged portions should be cut cleanly away with a knife. This will do much to prevent the access of disease pores.
The operation of hoeing is frequently misunderstood by the novice. Hoeing is practised for two reasons. The operation consists in either pushing or drawing the blade of the hoe through the top 2 or 3 in. of soil in such a manner that allare chipped off. But is only one of the reasons for hoeing, and perhaps it is the least important.
The other reason is that it keeps the surface of the soil in a broken friable condition. This prevents the loss of much soil moisture drawn to the surface by capillary attraction. If the top surface is loose, and no deep cracks occur, the loss of moisture is reduced. This fact has been proved over and over again by experiments on hoed and unhoed land. It is found that the soil is cooler and moister in summer if it is regularly hoed, while in winter it is warmer.
There are two main types of hoe: the Dutch hoe or thrust hoe, which is used with a pushing motion, walking backwards across the plot, and the draw hoe or potato hoe, which is used with a reverse motion, the operator walking forwards.
The hoe cannot be used unless there is room for it between the rows of plants. That is partly whyin nursery beds are sown in drills at least 6 in. apart. This leaves sufficient room for a small hoe to be used between them.
If very fine flower seeds are developing and the seed bed appears to be smothered in weeds, it will be found easy to hoe if a couple of strings are stretched across the bed just over the rows of seedlings. This draws attention to their position so that the hoe does not go astray.
The hoe is sometimes used for thinning out seedlings in the rows, as well as for checking the weeds between the rows.
In a mixed flower border where the flowers are not spaced in regular formation, the hoe is not always a useful tool. In such a case the surface of the soil should be kept free between the plants with a small handfork. For instance, in the early part of the year when bulbs are just showing through the soil, the handfork should be used to break the soil surface, and from that time on, throughout the summer, it should be used as frequently as possible. The more often the top layer of soil is stirred, the better for the health of the plants, but on no account should the soil be stirred deeply, otherwise the roots maybe damaged.