GARDENING TIPS FROM
100 YEARS AGO
While many things improve with age and advanced technology, there are
some things that stand the test of time. What worked perfectly a century
ago is still just as effective and useful today as it was then. Here are
some great gardening tips from the early 1900’s.
100 years ago Gallaher Ltd printed a short “How-To” series, with clever
hints for emergency situations.
1. How To Make Potatoes Yield Good Crops
Placing potato tubers in shallow boxes in a light location, safe from
freezing temperatures in the early spring gets your crop off to a good
start. Leave them there until March or April when it’s time to plant.
Small shoots or sprouts should have emerged from the eyes. Leave only
a few of the large ones on each tuber by rubbing off the smallest shoots.
This will ensure that your crop will contain a minimum of the smaller
tubers. Planting potatoes that are already sprouted versus those in a
dormant state yields heavier crops.
2. How To Make a Potato Clamp
Potatoes, onions, apples, beets, pears and flower bulbs or roots such
as dahlias and gladioli can be safely stored out in the open. A layer
of straw is first put on the ground which the tubers and others are
then placed upon. The second layer of about 6 inches of straw is then
put over them. Around this heap, a trench should be dug with the soil
being thrown up over the straw until it is also about 6 inches deep.
At the top, a ventilation hole of about 6 inches in diameter should be
left open and then stopped up with straw.
3. How To Plant Potatoes
Heavy soil preparation for potatoes starts in the fall with ridging up
the ground. Raking it over in the spring and then digging it over just
before planting are the next steps. The sprouted and dis-budded tubers
are planted in March in rather shallow trenches that are about 2 feet
apart and 7 inches deep. Be sure to amend the soil with manure before
planting. Tubers are to be placed 12-15 inches apart with the soil
lightly raked over them. Earth them up with a hoe once the stems are
about 4 inches above the ground.
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4. How To Store Onions
Onions should be pulled up when their leaves have browned. In order to
ripen them, lay them on their sides in the sun. If it is wet, place
them on sacks in a covered location until they can be put back in the
sunshine, turning them several times to ripen evenly. A popular storage
method is to plait the onions into a type of rope which can then be hung
up on a hook or nail in a sheltered place. This “rope” is made by folding
the onion leaves around a straw skein or core and then binding the leaves
with heavy string.
5. How To Divide and Replant Rhubarb
Rhubarb is a plant that can be left alone in one spot for several years.
Once it stops growing vigorously it is time to divide and replant. It
does best in shady locations as full sun can dry the soil out too quickly.
February and March are the best months to divide rhubarb. Use a spade to
gently lift and divide large clumps ensuring that each clump has buds
attached to the roots. Replant these pieces about 3 feet apart in ground
that is deeply dug with manured soil. Cover the tops with approximately
3 inches of soil.
6. How To Plant Cabbages
To get a late fall and winter supply of cabbage, they must be planted in
March. Sowing more at intervals until the beginning of August will provide
spring and summer produce. 1 ounce of seed will cover approximately 5 square
yards. The seedlings will need to be thinned in order for the strongest
plants to survive and thrive. A spacing of 24 inches is enough for most
varieties. Watering should be done before planting versus after.
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7. Cabbage Plants
In February early cabbage varieties can be sown in a warm frame in pans or
boxes. Hardening them off should happen before they become crowded and
before planting. The seedlings will turn quickly and be ready for harvest
in the summer. Don’t plant any that don’t have a heart or are blind.
8. How to Grow Peas
Peas need to be sown properly to ensure a good crop and to avoid wasting
seed. To harvest peas in July and August, plant seeds in intervals of 7-10
days during March and April. Make a drill of about 12 inches wide and 1 ˝
inches deep in well manured and deeply dug ground. Each of the drills will
accommodate three rows of peas spaced about 3 inches apart and lightly
covered with soil. Gorse clippings placed in the drill can help deter mice
9. Raising Early Peas
Drench cut turves with a light brine solution and then lay them out
(grass-side up) for the birds to clear the bugs and worms. Once this
is done, sow the seed in thick lines on each turf, covering them with
fine soil. Keep the frame closed until plants begin to appear. To plant
seedlings in March or April, lift the turves from the frame and place
the strips in the prepared ground. Shore them up with soil and stake
them in your preferred manner.
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10. How To Plant Asparagus
A bed for two rows of asparagus plants needs to be about 3 to 4 feet wide
with a trench of about 2 feet wide and 1 foot deep between the beds. Plant
the asparagus about 4 inches from the top with the roots spread to each
side of the ridges. Do this quickly as their roots are very sensitive to
the air. The rows should be 18-24 inches apart with at least 9 inches from
the edges of the bed. 18 inches should be left between the plants as they
do not like to be crowded or placed in soggy soil conditions.
11. How To Grow Runner Beans
There are two common methods to stake and train your runner beans. The first
way is to place pairs of 8-10 foot stakes at intervals of 1 foot. Each pair
should be crossed approximately 6 feet from the ground and then attached to
a horizontal cross bar or stake. Use twine to secure them.
The second method is to build a support in the shape of a “T” and place it at
the ends of each row. Connect the “T”s using three pieces of wire attached at
the the bottom of the “T” and one at the end of each arm or crosspiece. Tie
pieces of twine from the top wires to the bottom at intervals of about 1 foot.
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12. How To Plant Trees
To plant a tree, dig a hole about a foot deep that is about a foot wider than
the roots themselves. Allow for adequate drainage by forking up the bottom,
adding 6 or 7 inches of good soil as you go. Before adding the tree, make sure
the roots have been soaked and that any stragglers or damaged rootlets have
Place the tree in the hole with the roots spread out, don’t let them become
bunched or knotted up and then cover them with soil. To settle the tree,
shake it occasionally as you are backfilling the hole and tread the ground
lightly to pack the soil. Don’t forget to drive a stout stake into the ground
to help support the stem, but don’t attach it until about a month has passed.
13. How to Espalier Apple Trees
Apple trees in bloom, especially when trained to act as an espalier or hedge
between gardens are a lovely addition. Plant two-year-old espaliers with four
to five branches already in place in a sheltered location with good soil.
During the first two years of growth allow the tree to blossom, but don’t let
it set fruit.
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14. How To Prune Young Apple Trees
Proper pruning of young fruit trees is important to encourage strong branches
that can stand a heavy load. This may mean no harvest for the first two years
but will ensure years full of fruit after that.
Plant the apple tree in the fall. That winter cut the branches back to about
18 inches to encourage bud growth in the spring. Make the cuts just above a
bud that is pointed in the direction you will want the new branch to grow.
15. How To Preserve the Flavor of Apples
Store dessert apples in a cool, moist location such as a cellar or a small
shed with a dirt floor and thatched roof to preserve these late fruits. By
wrapping each apple in oiled paper and placing them in either a wooden box
or storage tray, you can save them for months.
If you don’t have a storage room or building, you can bury the apples in the
ground and cover them with about 6 inches of dirt or make apple sugar. Don’t
try this with any varieties but the apples that ripen in the winter and later.
16. How To Grease Band Fruit Trees
Every September it is common to see bands of grease-proof paper ringing the
trunks of fruit trees. This is an important maintenance task to ensure
wingless moths won’t be able to lay their eggs in the fall. The caterpillars
that hatch from these eggs can destroy entire crops. The bands are coated
with a special grease to trap the moths and tied at the top and bottom to
make sure the insects can’t go beneath the paper.
17. How To Prune Root Cordon Fruit Trees
Cordon fruit trees with their one to three stems are welcome in small and
large gardens alike. They can be trained to grow on a trellis or against
a fence or wall. Summer and fall pruning of branches must be done to keep
the tree’s shape. Root pruning is advised as well or the tree will begin
to bear less fruit even while growing well. This is best done in late
October or November by exposing the thick roots and trimming them back to
within about 15 inches of the base. Cover again with fresh soil to protect
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Canes, and Vines
18. How To Thin Raspberry Canes
To encourage growth for the next summer, newly planted canes should be
shortened and thinned out to a maximum of two suckers. It is always the
wisest course to not allow too many suckers to grow as they will weaken
the plant and cause a light crop. Keep only the strongest canes and thin
the rest in following years.
19. How To “Top” Raspberry Canes
Proper pruning of raspberry canes is the key to a heavy crop. Summer-fruiting
raspberries are pruned twice a year. After harvest, the canes are cut to the
ground with four or five of the new shoots being tied to the support as their
replacements. In February the “topping” is done which consists of pruning the
tops of any canes that reach above the wire supports. The fall-fruiting
varieties are to be cut down in March.
20. How To Prune Gooseberry Bushes
October to the end of January is the best time to prune gooseberries. All wild
growth and straggling tips must be removed while leaving the center of the bush
open. During the winter the ground needs to be worked up, manure added if needed,
and all weeds removed in order for the water and nutrients to sink in.
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21. How To Prune Black Currant Bushes
December is when any weak growth or dead wood should be cut away from black currant
bushes. You can propagate black currants in two different manners. Take 8-inch
cuttings with the buds removed from the lower half and plant them at about 4 inches
deep in November.
The second method is removing and then replanting any suckers from October until
pruning time in December. Out in the open black currant bushes need about 5 feet
of space between them. 3 feet or so is sufficient if they have a wall or support
22. How To Prune Young Red Currant Bushes
Hard pruning of newly planted red currant bushes is required in winter to ensure
well-branched bushes full of fruit buds in the spring. If the pruning is done
lightly, the bush will only grow on top and leave the lower half bare. Autumn
planted bushes should be taken down by one-half or two-thirds if the plant isn’t
hardy in that first winter. If they are being planted in the winter or early
spring, prune them before planting. Cut the small, weaker shoots and only leave
the strongest branches.
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23. How To Protect a Strawberry Bed
A light wooden frame covered with netting is a great way to protect your fruit.
Strawberries enjoy a light compost mixture consisting of two parts of rich,
sandy loam with one part leaf mold and sand. Mulching with manure in March and
surrounding the plants with straw in May will make for cleaner fruit at harvest.
Water regularly in June and add a liquid manure fertilizer once the fruit color
begins to change.
24. How To Propagate Strawberries
Strawberries are easy to multiply by simply pinning down runners from the main
plant in June or July. Within a month or two, the new plants have rooted and
are ready to be removed and planted elsewhere. For forcing, allow new runners
to take root in pots that have been sunk in the soil near the main plant. When
well-rooted, they can be potted up and put on an outdoors cinder bed until
October. They can then be moved to the frame until January when the greenhouse
treatment can finish them off.
24 Lost Gardening Tips from 100 Years Ago
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The Encyclopedia of Life
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