By E. J. KING,
M.A., b' .11 .S.
WHAT is there to do this week? To that one question a hundred answers could be given. At. this time of year while the crops are growing well there is no spectacular caption half-way down this article telling you of new operations, yet this season is as busy as any other.
On July 1 I plucked my first raspberries, black currants and loganberries. The raspberries ought to have been yielding some ten days before then, and I've no doubt at all that they did. But the jays and pigeons and blackbirds get up before I do in the morning, and that's where the raspberries went. For with these soft fruits one day makes all the difference. You go round and decide that you will pluck on the morrow; but the birds also know that the fruit will be just perfect on the morrow. And there you are.
Raspberries and other soft fruits should be girt about with line nets like those patented under the name of Roycott nets, which I mentioned earlier. But any good net will do. Not all my bushes and canes were covered. I will see that they are next year. I have said that before, but this time I mean it. In the meantime the best can be made of a bad job by plucking immediately before the fruit is ripe. If spread out on a paper indoors it will ripen well. It may not be necessary to do this with loganberries, as the birds are not so partial to these.
WHERE THE FRUIT COMES FROM Pruning often fills the novice with needless terrors. Fruiting trees and shrubs have their peculiarities, but the main scheme is as follows : New wood is made each year, and on that wood in the following year the flowers and fruit are borne. On apples and pears you will see that the fruit is now hanging from little spurs at the base of what was recently young wood. In autumn the young wood is eut back to fatten these spurs at its base. On loganberries and raspberries you can see that any fruit of respectable size is on new shoots growing out of the big sturdy canes that sprang from the bottom of the plant last year. On black currants and gooseberries the idea of pruning is to produce this young growth from the bottom and half-way up the plant to bear fruit next year. The same is to a small degree true of red currants, but here the fruit is borne on young shoots right at the top of the old wood, and practically no pruning is required.
If this sounds rather complicated, just go round and give yourself an object lesson in observation. It is surprising how much better it will stick in your mind. If your bushes were only planted this year and have not borne fruit, a neighbour will show you his plants.
FEED FOR GOOD HARVESTS When planting out it is usual to give young plants plenty of food within reach. This gives them a flying start. Then, except with certain subjects rare enough to leave out of reckoning, you do not feed the plant again until it has attained a pretty fair growth and perhaps (as hi peas, tomatoes, etc.) made flowers. Then feeding must be attended to without hesitation. The fruits swell better and there are more of them. But if, for instance, you were to give onions a banquet in the intermediate stage before the bulbs are swelling, they would grow all leaf and no bulb. Food should be given in abundance just before maturity. Onion tops should be bent over before this feeding.
As you finish with one lot of early peas you can sow another. The kind sown now should be a very early variety such as Gradus. This double-cropping has no evil results if you give plenty of good quick food such as fishmeal or steamed bonemeal. Even potatoes can be thus double-cropped.
Shallots usually have a fair number of the cloves (bulbs) ready for lifting, while the. others are small. See if you can detach some and leave the others to develop. Plenty of water helps. Soot water, poultry manure and steamed bonemeal will be good for them.