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SPRING GARDENING. THE months of March and April are among the busiest to the cultivator of the flower garden, as it is the season for sowing his seeds, preparing his hot beds, and trimming up his borders. These necessary duties are also accompanied by pleasures which are inherent, not merely to the subject but the season; for many an one neglectful of such matters at all other periods of the year, is now exhilirated in spirits, and induced to bodily exertion. Believing that such is the case with all others as well as ourselves-the following remarks on garden operations, and the cultivation of the tender annuals are well timed, and it is hoped useful.
Shrubs, except those which are very early in leafing, may still be removed in March, and evergreens are best removed at this season or in April. All perennials may be transplanted with perfect safety in March and April, and if the garden to which they are introduced is wet, or with a cold, clayey, or tenacious soil, they are much better removed now than in the autumn. The hardy annuals or those which grow entirely in the open ground, may be sown from the middle of March to the middle of May; that there may be a succession of flowers throughout the summer season. To sow them, first stir and smooth the ground, then, make a slight depression with the bottom of a garden pot, or else a round ring with the edge of the pot, and thinly scatter the seed over the smooth surface made, lastly, sprinkle some fine mould over it, covering the seed from an eighth of an inch to an inch, according to the size of the seed.
The tender annuals require greater care in their cultivation, indeed there are very few private persons who do not err most egregiously in endeavouring to raise cockscombs, balsams, and other plants of a similar character.
All tender annuals, to be flowered in the highest degree of perfection, must be raised on a hot-bed; which is a mass of any fermenting material, that in its decomposition produces a degree of heat considerably above that of the atmosphere in which it is placed. There are various matters which will answer for this purpose; some animal, others vegetable, and some even mineral, as for example, certain kinds of coal dross, containing pyrites; but as the most common, and that which is most easily within the means of the amateur who has but a small garden, is stable manure, we shall confine ourselves to giving directions for the management of that material. When obtained from the stables in, say a cart-load, which is quite sufficient for a small hot-bed, large enough for rearing annuals, it consists of two parts, the dung of the horse and long litter, or in other words straw, moistened and discolored, but not decayed. When the mass, thus formed, is laid in a heap, it generally produces a very powerful heat, too strong for being used as a hot-bed; for it should never be forgotten that too hot a bed is worse for the plants than sowing them in the open air. If the bed be much too hot, the plants will be blackened and ultimately destroyed; and even if only a little hotter than is necessary, the plants will be drawn up, and become too weak to have any chance of success when afterwards transplanted into the open air. As it is the fermentation occasioned hy the decomposition of the straw contained in the manure which produces the violent heat, the heap should be turned over with a dung fork two or three times in the course of a fortnight,
till the decomposition is considerably advanced, the whole mass of one color, and the straws, which were before tough, rendered sufficiently tender to be easily torn to pieces with the dung-fork. When
the mass is arrived at this stage, it may then be formed into a bed, which may be of any convenient length and breadth, according to the situation and other circumstances.
In general, such a bed is covered with what is called a hot-bed frame. This consists of a box without a bottom, and with a moveable top, formed of a glazed sash or sashes. For a small garden, a box three feet wide, and four feet from the back to the front, will be sufficient. The back of the box may be two feet high, and the front one foot. The hot-bed may be formed in an open situation, on a surface raised six inches above the general level; and it should be three or four inches wider on every side than the box that is to be placed on it. The cart-load of manure, which has been fermented and prepared for making up this hot-bed, should now be regularly spread over the base of the intended bed, and raised by successive layers to such a height as the quantity of manure will admit. If, in building the bed by these successive layers of manure, cinder siftings, and the animal and vegetable refuse of the kitchen, are mixed along with it, the heat will be the less violent at first, but it will be retained for a much greater length of time.
The time for making a hot-bed for raising seedling annuals need not be earlier than the middle of March, or beginning of April; since the plants which are raised in it cannot in general be turned out into the open air sooner than the middle of May. As soon as the manure is formed into a bed, and the upper surface rendered quite level, the frame and the sash should be set on it. In two days the disturbed fermentation will have recommenced, and a steam will be observed under the glass. The surface of the bed may now be covered three or four inches deep with any light garden soil, and the different kinds of seeds may be sown in pots and placed on its surface; or if there should not be much heat, or likely not to be much, the pots may be sunk into the manure. In other cases, where it is not thought necessary to sow the different kinds in pots, the covering of soil may be six or eight inches deep, and the seeds may be sown on it, in little square or round patches. This indeed is the common practice.
In such a hot-bed as we have described, formed of only one load of stable manure, there is very little danger of over-heating the soil; but it may be proper to observe, that neither the temperature of the soil, nor the atmosphere over it, should ever much exceed 60°. It may fall as low as 48°, or even 40°, without the slightest injury to the plants; and it may be raised as high as 80°, or even 90°, without killing them; but any degree above 60° is decidedly injurious, by increasing the rapidity of the growth of the plants, and rendering them weak and sickly, and unfit to be turned out into the open ground.
When the plants have come up, and shown two or three leaves, in addition to the cotyledons or seed-leaves, they require to be transplanted; and this may either be done into small pots, or into a bed of earth, placed on a hot-bed, formed in the same manner as the first, but with a smaller quantity of material, as much less heat is required. For a small garden, however, a second hot-bed is unnecessary; and all the transplanting and other pro
cesses preparatory to removal to the open ground, may be carried on in one hot-bed; care being taken to inure the plants to the open air by degrees, by tilting the sash up behind at all times, night and day; and after the plants are up, removing it altogether, during fine days. The great object to be kept in view, is to make the plants as strong and vigorous as possible before turning them into the open ground, and to give them air, or to thin and transplant them whenever they show symptoms of becoming weak or drawn up.
A hot-bed for tender annuals will never want what are called linings; as it is for the advantage of the plants that the heat should decline gradually as they increase in size, that they may be the more fit for transplanting, when the season arrives for them to be removed to the open ground.
The soil for growing tender annuals.-The soil used for filling the pots in which tender annuals are sown, should be as rich as possible, and yet quite open in its texture: it should also be free from grubs and the eggs of insects. As soil of this description is not to be procured without some trouble, we shall give the following directions for preparing it; the best soil is turf, but as this is usually full of worms and the eggs of insects, it will require the following preparation :-Take a spade deep of the surface of some good rich pasture; or if only the turf two or three inches thick, so much the better. Lay this up in a ridge, 18 inches wide at bottom, 3 feet high, and of whatever length may be required. Then take the fresh stable manure, which is to be used in making the hot-bed, before it has been turned over, and lay it all round the turf and over it, distributing it as equally as possible. If there is plenty of manure, in proportion to the quantity of turf, the turf may be easily heated to 200°, which will not only destroy all the insects, &c. but all the root and herbage, and moreover wonderfully enrich the soil, by the distillation of the gas evolving from the manure during its fermentation. The manure must be turned over once or twice, while covering the turf, to prepare it for making the hot-bed; and when it is ready, the ridge of turf must be removed to some shed, or airy place, to dry it, when it will be fit for use. This is the best possible soil for annuals; but when put into the pots, it must be mixed with a little vegetable mould, (formed of dead leaves laid in a heap, and turned over from time to time till they rot) and sand. old hot-bed, or decayed dung of any kind, is not good for tender plants, as it is apt to turn the whole soil sour, or soddened (at least if much watered.) In the summer, turf may be seasoned without manure, by covering it with the short grass mown off the lawn, which will ferment; but this plan is very far inferior to the other, though it is superior to the old method of laying up the turf for a year or more before it was used. By the hot-dung process, it will be ready in ten days; and not more should be prepared than will be wanted for one season's sowing and transplanting.
Watering. There are few points in which gardeners are so apt to err as in watering; and the general fault is, that they give their plants too much. This is a fatal error for plants in pots, since overwatering will soon bring on the evils attendant on imperfect drainage; it is even dangerous to syringe the plants too much, though a little water thrown over their leaves occasionally is very useful in refreshing them. If the plants should become dusty, or infected with insects, the pot should be carefully
turned on its side before the syringe is applied; and this plan has only the advantage of saving the soil in the pot from becoming sodden with too much water, but also of enabling the operator to wash the lower sides of the leaves, where the red spider, one of the greatest enemies of plants in pots, generally commences its depredations. When the plant is too large or too delicate to admit of the pot being laid on its side, two pieces of board with a notch cut in each, to allow room for the stem of the plant, and wider than the rim of the pot, should be laid over the earth, so as to carry off the water that falls from the leaves.
ACARUS GALVANICUS, OR ACARUS
OUR readers will remember the excitement caused in the year 1837 by the announcement, that Mr. Crosse, of Broomfield, had observed the developement of certain insects incident to the long-continued action of galvanism. Little additional information on this mysterious subject has since transpired, till Tuesday, the 15th instant, when a paper from Mr. Weekes, of Sandwich, was read before the London Electrical Society, detailing the successful repetition of Mr. Crosse's experiments. Among the cavilling which arose in connection with the original experiments, the possibility was urged that the ova of the insects might be in the air. Mr. Weekes's experiments were so conducted that this objection can be scarcely tenable. A well charred block of beech, containing a circular groove, to receive a bell-glass, was the base of the instrument. The groove was filled with mercury. A tumbler, containing the solution of silicate of potass, was beneath the bell; the silica was obtained by subjecting to a furnace heat a piece of fine black flint, obtained out of the centre of a "bowlder," selected from amongst those lying on the shore at Sandwich. The silica was united to the potass by a furnace heat; the result quenched in boiling water. The solution was immediately covered and filtered under cover. All things being prepared, the voltaic current was sent through the solution on the 3rd of September, 1841; and from that date to the present time the apparatus has not been disturbed. At the end of October, 1841, the first insect was observed, on the 16th of November, five were discovered. Since that date insects have been repeatedly seen. We must not omit to mention that the bell-glass was placed in total darkness, the screen being only removed when the progress was being examined. Mr. Weekes mentioned that he had another apparatus in action, very similar to this, with the exception that the bell is filled with oxygen; aud expressed an anticipation that he should sooner or later detect insect life there. This expectation was realized a few days ago. In an appendix to his communication, dated February 27th, he states, that on the previous morning, he perceived eight or ten full-grown acari in vigorous locomotion on the inner surface of the air bell.-Times.
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