Saturday, December 1, 2012

Joseph Prentis (1754-1809) Directions for Gardening in Williamsburg, Virginia

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Joseph Prentis (1754-1809) was a Virginia politician who loved to garden. He represented Williamsburg in the Virginia House of Delegates, and served as that body's Speaker from 1786 until 1788.

Directions about Gardening

The last week in September or the first in October, take up your Colliflowers, with as much Earth to the Root as you conveniently can.
Dig a trench eighteen Inches Wide and of a sufficient depth, put in Rotten Dung; then lay your Plants with their Heads to the Sun, cover them with mould up their Leaves, add to this a Coat of Saw Dust.
When apprehensive of Frost, cover them with Straw.


Artichokes
Make a general Dressing of artichokes the first or about the Middle of March; by levelling the Earth from the Plants, but observe to let two or three of the strongest shoots remain upon every Root, and flip off the others; In doing this open the Earth deep enough to admit you to flip the Branches from the places where they arise, and closing and pressing the Earth close to the stock. The flips if wanted may be set out at this Time, and should be placed in an open situation and in a rich soil; and ought to be watered, to settle the Earth about the Plants. These flips will yield the following Autumn. These flips will also answer if put out in April. If you are desirous to have large artichokes, you must in Order to encourage the main Head, cut off, all the suckers or small Heads that are produced from the sides of the stems.
Whenever the artichoke is taken off the stem which supported it ought also to be broken down close to the Earth, as they injure the growth of the Plant it suffered to remain.
About the first of November is the time to cut down the Leaves off the artichoke and earth up the Plants to secure them from severe Frosts. If at the time of Dressing your artichokes any of the strong Plants show Fruit, and you are desirous to save the fruit you must tie up the Leaves close, and then lay the Earth up over the Roots and close about the Leaves which will preserve the Fruit and bring it to perfection.
If not earthed up in Novr it may be done in Decr or even in Jany. If the Frost will not admit of earthing them they may be well covered with straw. Before they are either earthed or covered with straw, all the dead Leaves must be first well taken away.
Jerusalem artichokes must be planted in Rows two feet asunder and about fifteen Inches distance in the Rows.

Beans
The first of February plant your Beans, if of the large kind let them be in rows of a Yard assunder and about six Inches distant in the Row.
They may be put in about the first or middle of January if a favourable season offers. Beans of any kind may also be planted about the first of March and they will succeed very well, or even between the first of April and the middle of May.
The Small Magazan Bean is to be preferred to any other kind that I have seen.

Brocoli
Brocoli Seed both of the purple and white kinds may be sown in May and it will be adviseable to sow a little of this seed at two different times in May, some time between the first and fifteenth, and between the fifteenth and thirtieth.
The Plants that are raised from the first sowing if the winter is mild will afford Heads before Christmas, at least will lead very early in the spring. The second sowing is chiefly for spring use, and will produce fine Heads in February and March and after the Heads are gone will yield abundance of fine sprouts.
The seed ought to be sown on a Border that is not fully exposed to the sun. In June take out from the Beds the Plants, and put them in other Beds three or four Inches apart every way water them and repeat it occasionally. Let them remain here about a Month and then plant them out where you wish them to stand for use.
The second week in June you may sow some more feed, and these Plants will produce Heads in February and March. In July put out your full crop of Brocoli, in Rows allowing three feet between the Rows and two feed from each other in a rich soil, and water them if the season is dry till they appear to have taken Root.

Carrots
Some time in March about 12th sow your Carrots, they grow best in a light soil, and in an open Exposure, the Ground ought to be spaded very deep, and the clods well broken, this seed ought to be thinly sown and on a dry, calm Day. The seed may also be sown in March, or April, and will answer very well; this is the best time. In May your Carrots should be properly encouraged by keeping them clear from weeds and thinning them that they may grow at Top, and swell at Bottom. And in thinning they must be left at least six Inches every way. If the Plants are used at Table they may now be thinned only about four Inches every way. In July if you incline you may sow some carrot seed, which will afford you good young Carrots in the autumn. In August you may also sow some, which will supply the Table in the Spring.
The last of Novr or first of Decr take up your Carrots, in a dry Mild Day and cut off the Tops, clean them from the Earth and carry them to some dry place, then lay a Bed of dry sand on th floor about two or three Inches thick, place the roots upon the sand close together laying their Heads outwards, Cover the Roots with sand, two Inches, and then lay on more Roots, and then more sand. After this cover them with straw.
During the growth of your Parsnips and Carrots it will be proper to spade or loosed the Earth three or four times about their roots, which make them considerably larger.

Colliflowers
These seed may be sown in a Bed of rich Light soil in a warm situation in the natural Ground in the middle of February and planted out about the middle of April in a rich spot, at the distance of two feet or thirty Inches every way, water them if the season is dry. As soon as the flower appears, it should be screened from the sun and wet, which alters its colour, and to shelter it let three or four of the largest Leaves be taken off to cover the flower.
In dry weather they ought to be often watered. If the Plants were not transplanted in April it may be done in May. In May you may sow the seed, and the Plants from this seed, will produce their flowers in abundance in October, and November. The seed ought not to be sown till the last of May and the Bed must be shaded, and frequently watered if dry.
The Plants that were sown in May, about the last of June should be pricked out into another Bed in an open situation at about three Inches apart, and give them a little water to settle the Earth, about their Roots. It will be proper to shade them from the sun if a hot season till they have taken root. They are to remain in this Bed for about a Month and then be planted out where they are to stand, and to be watered till they have taken root, and they will produce in October and November.
For other observations on Colliflowers see forward.

Currants
The last of February or first of March prune your Currants by cutting away all ill growing Branches, and leave the Branches about seven or eight Inches apart. They may be planted at this Time, and ought to be seven or eight feet apart. Currants are best raised by Cuttings for this purpose take such of the shoots as are strong, and let them be from twelve to fifteen Inches long, plant them in Rows not less than twelve inches apart and put each cutting about half way into the Ground.
At this Time it will be also proper to loosed the Earth around the roots.
About the last of October you may prune your Currants, and dig the Earth about them. In these Trees, many young shoots are produced every summer some of which should be cut away, but care taken to leave the strongest to supply the places of the old Branches, some of which should be cut away every Year to make room for the young Bushes.
This is also a very proper season to propagate which is best done by cuttings, in the mode before mentioned.
They may also be raised by Cuttings in December.

Celery
About the middle of March sow Celery for the principal Crop. The seed should be put in a warm spot of rich Earth, cover it but very lightly, as soon as the Plants are large enough draw out the largest and transplant them in a Bed three Inches apart and shade them till they have taken root.
They are to remain her about a month or five weeks, and then to be placed in their Trenches, and which ought to be done in June, in the following manner. Dig each Trench, seven or eight Inches of very rotten Dung in the Bottom of each Trench, when this is done, let the Bottom be neatly dug, burying the Dung equally about four Inches deep, then put in your Plants, in one row in the middle of the trench at the distance of five Inches between each plant; if the season is not very favourable they must be watered frequently, about a month or five weeks they require to be earthed up, and which ought to be done in dry days, the earth must be finely broken and much care be taken, that it is placed gently and equally on both sides and not drawn up so high, as to cover the Bud, this must be repeated every fortnight or thereabouts till the celery is fit for use. For a full Crop of Celery for the winter the same preparation must be made, chuse the strongest Plants, and trim the ends of their roots, and cut two or three Inches off the Tops of their Leaves and plant them in July. Before the Earth is drawn to the Celery it of great service to have it well stirred three or four Times, and by no means to draw it to your Celery when wet. Celery may also be transplanted in August.
The celery ought to be earthed up within four or five Inches of the Tops, and if the Tops are then covered from the severe Frosts it will still be of great service.

Chamomile Flowers
Plant flips of Chamomile in a rich Bed at the distance of nine or ten Inches, when they bear the flowers ought to be gathered and fried for use.

Dressing Borders
In February let your Beds and Borders be thoroughly cleaned from weeds, and the surface of your flower Borders be lightly and carefully loosened with a hoe in a dry day, and neatly raked, which gives a liveliness to the surface, in pleasing to the Eye, and well worth the Labour.

Dung your Grounds
Such of the Garden as may be vacant should be well manured in October and also well spaded that it may have the advantage of fallow from the sun, snow, and air of the winter season.
In March loosen the surface of the Borders which were planted with flowers of any sort in the Fall, or Autumn, let this be done in a dry day with a small Hoe, stirring the Earth very carefully between the Plants, taking care of the shoots from the Bulbous Roots which are now appearg thro’ the surface, then let them be neatly raked and clear away all Dead Leaves, which appear about the Plants. By loosening the surface of the Borders the first growth of seed weeds is prevented, and it greatly promotes the grown of the Flowers.
In December use every oppy of laying Dung on such parts of the Garden as may want it.

Gooseberrys
Use the same method in cultivating this Fruit as is recommended for Currants.

Gathering Seeds
Gather seeds of all sorts as they ripen, let this be done in dry weather and as soon as they are cut spread them in some dry place, where the air can freely come, they ought to be turned frequently and after they are perfectly dry may be beaten out; and well cleaned from the Rubbish and Husks.

Onions
About the middle or last of February you may prepare your Ground for Onions, let it be well manured and sow them thin, and as equally as possible. From this Time till the first of April they will succeed very will if sown.
In May the Onions should be well cleared of weeds and the Plants thinned leaving them three or four Inches asunder. They may be transplanted and when growing it is of great service to loosed the Earth about them.
Onions may also be sown about the Middle of July, or in August for the Winter, when they come up, they must be well attended to, or the weeds will get the better of the Onions and destroy the whole Crop. When your forwardest Crop is fot to take up in the Fall and which is discovered by their Leaves beginning to wither, they must be managed in the following manner.
They must be taken up in dry weather, and leave to each Onion four or five Inches of the Leaves they must then be placed in a dry place to harden exposed to the sun, for a fortnight, and frequently turned. They ought to be afterwards placed in a dry and airy Room, but let them be first well cleaned from the Earth, and their outer skins, and spread, on the floor, the windows of this appartment ought to be kept open in fair weather for about a wek, and those that decay should not be suffered to remain with the others.
About the 20th of Septr is a good time to sow your onion seed. Let them be kept very clean from weeds, and transplanted early in the Spring.

Parsley
Sow some of this seed about the last of January in Drills tolerably thick and cover it about a Quarter of an Inch deep. It may be down from this Time till April, and will thrive very well.

Strawberries
Where new Plantations of this Fruit are desired about the last of June is the proper time to prepare for it. In chusing your Plants let them be taken from such Beds as bear well, and produce the largest fruit. Let the Plants be taken from the last summers Growth very carefully up with the roots. Trip the roots a little and cut off any strings from the Head of the Plant, and let them be put in immediately, into a Bed in a shade situation, and about three or four inches apart, and as soon as planted they must be watered to sell the Earth;
In this situation they must remain till Septr or October, by which time they will be strong and in fine order to transplant where they are to remain and ought to be planted at least twelve Inches asunder. In February they should be well cleaned, and have their spring Dressing. First pull off all the runners and clear the Bed from weeds of every sort, then loosed the Ground between the Plants, and add a little fresh earth, between the rows, and about each plant, which makes them flower strong and produce large fruit. The Beds ought to be kept free from Runners and weeds as they advance, But where new Plantations are wanted it is best to let the runners remain. In dry weather they ought to be frequently watered, especially if they are in Bloom, and if not well supplied with water, you will have but small Fruit, and a thin Crop.
In October or Novr the Beds ought to be well cleaned and any vacancies may at this time be filled with other Roots.

Raspberries
If your Raspberries have remained un pruned till February, they ought now to be pruned, and in doing this, observe to leave three of the strongest last Years shoots, close together on each root to bear fruit, the next summer and all above that number on every root must be cut away. Clear away the dead wood. Each shoot that you leave, should be shortened by taking of about one third of their length. After they are pruned you ought to dig about the root and clear away all straggling roots, and leave none but those that are to support the Branches you expect to bear. In February is a proper time to make new Plantations where there are wanted.
If they are not pruned and cleaned in February it may be done in the month of March, and they will bear transplanting very well, at this Time.
They may also be transplanted in October, or Novr and may be pruned at this Time. In chusing Plants take such as are well provided with roots, for this is very material in this Plant, an dif there be one two or more Buds formed on the roots for the next summers shoots they are to be preferred.
Before they are placed in the Earth, shorten the roots a little and let the shoots be trimmed.

Spinach
Sow spinach in February if the weather is mild, and it ought to be repeated every fortnight, until the middle or last of April. The first of July get your Ground ready for a winter Crop, and sow it in Drills. If not sown at this time, it may be sown in August (or first of Septr best time), but ought to be placed in a spot that is dry in the winter when the Plants are up and have leaves about an Inch broad, they must be thinned and cleared from weeds, and should be left four or five Inches apart from each other and which must be done some time in Septr as you find the Plant requires it. In gathering it for use take care to take the largest Leaves and leaving the inner ones to grow in their turn.

Parsneps
The same Directions that are recommended in the culture of Carrots will also suit this Plant.

Salsafy
The last of February this must be sown, and ought to be placed in a light spott in an open situation, sow the seed thin and let it be gently raked over. It may be sown in March also.
For your winters Crop the seed should now be sown, at this time the seed sown in the Spring should be carefully thinned, and the Plants set out about six or seven Inches apart.

Peas
In the first of January if the weather is open on a warm Exposure, you may sow some Hot Spurr Peas, in Rows three feet and a half distant, at this your Crop of Marrow fats may also be sown but these had better be at the distance of four feet. When they come up draw a little Earth to their stems in a mild day, but take Care that this Earth is pretty dry.
In February sow your principal Crop of Peas. Marrow Fats should be at least three feet and a half asunder. Hot Spur and those of a smaller kind three feet apart. Marrow fat Peas, may also be down in March or any of the smaller sort. They may also be sown in April and will succeed very well. In May as the proper season to sow any kind of Dwarf Peas, and when they come up they ought to be earthed up with tolerable dry soil.
In June you may also sow some Peas, and altho they do not generally succeed very well, yet if the season proves tolerably moist there will be a great chance of reaping a tolerable Crop in Septr at which time they will be a rarity. If the weather be very dry, it will be proper to soak the Peas in Water for a few Hours.
The last of Septr or first of October, sow some Peas, for an early Crop. The earliest Hotspur is the proper sort to be sown at this Time, and a war Border under a wall or fence is the proper situation.
If no Peas were sown in October, it will be proper to sow some the first of November, and those that are sown at this Time have the best chance to succeed. When the weather is open In Decr let a warm spot be got ready for Peas, and sow the early Hotspur, let them be covered an Inch and a half with Earth.

Colliflowers
Must be sown critically t a day, or it is said there can be no Depended on them. For the Fall you must sow your seed on the 12th day of April and transplant them into Beds to stop their growth, in July place them where they are intended to grow as they grow they ought to be hilled up otherwise, when they head, the wind will injure them, they grow best in a rich light soil, the best way of managing then here is as follows. Dig Trenches a foot and a half wide quite down to the clay, mix with the Clay with your spade some long Dung into which place your Plants about five feet apart when they are large enough to be transplanted, and as they grow hill them up with the best mould you can get, this method answered the purpose of transplanting for the Clay suppressed their growth, and the warmth of the Dung afforded them head enough to vegetate.
If the Flie is apt to destroy your plants it is a good way when you sow the seed to sow spinach or Rhadish so an not to interfere with the Plants. These Things being more agreeable food to the Insects will frequently save your Plants.
In November when the intense Frosts approach take your Colliflowers up by the roots with as much Mould as you can and place them in a hole dug in the ground, about two feet below the surface well sheltered by straw, near one another, and cut them as you please, they may be kept in this way the greatest part of the winter.

Lettuce
May be sown from February to October, the last crop to be sown about the first of August, and in October transplanted into a rich Border sheltered from the weather. It is a hardy Plant and will stand most of our winters if covered only with Pea Vines, Asparagus Haulm, Matts or straw.
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