The New Zealand Evangelist
Notes on Gardening
Notes on Gardening.
(For the winter Months of June, July, and August.)
It seems that all the “populous and thriving settlements of New Zealand,” cannot afford to support our little periodical, and that there are not to be procured out of the many thousand settlers therein, two hundred and fifty who can afford six-pence a month to encourage our gratuitous labours. We page 430 say gratuitous, because not one of the writers in the Evangelist receives one farthing of remuneration for their trouble in writing, and their annoyance in seeing printed what they thus give to the public. Hazlett in one of his admirable essays, wittily observes, “It may be taken almost as a general rule that all who live by the public, starve;“and truly such would be our case, had we only to depend in New Zealand on the exertion of those mental talents which the “liberal and discerning public” gives us credit for in Europe. Here, however, manual labour is at a premium, and intellect at a heavy discount. It is a commodity not wanted in colonies. It is an impertinent intruder on the levelling system universally prevalent among settlers. It is wondered at, with stupid dislike or unaffected contempt. A man of Science is set down as fit only to live in his study, and pore over his books: beyond these he is supposed to be in the common concerns of life as ignorant and as helpless as a child. And, after all, it is asked, of what use is his Science? He will make more money and be considered far more fit for the Legislative Council (no offence to that honourable body) if lie grows carrots and onions for California, and throws his books to the sea and his science to the winds.
But to be serious. That there are not two hundred and fifty Evangelical families in all the settlements, who, having a real pleasure in reading religious publications, would each subscribe for one copy of our work, is a lamentable fact we arrive at from that number of copies not being sold.
But our Gardening Notices are not addressed exclusively to the religious few; they are of more universal application to every settler who has a garden; and not one in ten, perhaps, is without one, either for flowers, or vegetables, or for both. Now in the great ignorance which the generality of settlers usually manifest on this subject, one would have thought they would freely give sixpence to some one who would come to their houses on the first of every page 431 month, and give them a printed paper of instructions setting forth how they should manage their vegetables, fruits, and flowers, and all this, as the news venders shout, for “the small charge of sixpence only!” I suppose there are about 500 gardens in the Wellington district alone, and I will be bound to say, that nine-tenths of the owners hardly know the difference between Cabbage and Savoy, or whether Bore cole and Salzifra are greens or roots! All this and ten times more they might learn for sixpence a month, but as they think this is too much, why, the loss is theirs,—not ours.
For the information, however, of those of our readers who think differently, I shall concentrate in this, the concluding number of the second volume, brief notices of the principal work to be done during the three winter months of June, July, and August.
May and June are the most busy months in the year, for every thing that regards fruit trees. So soon as the fall of the leaf indicates the suspension of the vegetating powers, the gardener should begin to prune and transplant old trees, and make beds of cuttings of all such as it is intended to propagate. Cuttings of gooseberries and currants should never have more than three eyes or buds above ground, and are but planted in rows in a somewhat shady situation, and wide enough to admit of a small sized hoe passing between the rows, for the purpose of cutting off the weeds so soon as they appear; the first tree cuttings, moreover, should be six inches from each other, and these beds ought to be kept very clean. When gooseberries and currants are planted out to their final station, they should be five feet apart from each other, if the soil is rich, and seven or eight feet between the rows, so that a row of potatoes, French beans, carrots, lettuces, or Beet may be planted between; but cabbages, peas, beans, or any high vegetables, should never be introduced in such spots, as they are apt to shade the trees, and thus spoil the fruits.page 432
The beds of young plants of the cabbage tribe must now be well looked after, or they will be much injured by slugs; for this purpose never suffer the weeds to grow more than an inch high, and earth up the stems as the plants increase in size.
Late bulbs, or those which were omitted to be planted in April and May, must now be put in the ground, or they will not flower next season. All Perennial plants may be divided and transplanted during the fine days of winter, when the ground is not too wet, but grass-seeds had better be left until August. Annual flowers, of hardy species, may be sown early in June, and this will very much accelerate their flowering in spring and summer when another sowing may be made for autumn. Onions, carrots, and turnips, wanted for seeds, may be put in the ground during any part of the winter, but the sooner the better.
August, which corresponds, in regard to a Floral Calendar, with a European February—may be considered the first commencement of spring. The primrose and Jonquill expand their blossoms early in this month, and these are followed by the daffodil and other species of narcissus. By this time, therefore, all transplanting of trees should be finished; as well as the putting in of cuttings; for the longer they are now delayed, the less chance is there of their growing; if these cuttings, moreover, are in a situation exposed to much sun, they will not succeed half so well as in a more shady spot. Crops of peas, beans, and other vegetables may be sown in August, and the last week is quite early enough to plant the first crop of potatoes.