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RURAL NOTES. .

---Nailing Wall Trees.

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VIOLBTS IN FRAME.—"J. S.They have prob- ably ceased flowering;, owing to being exhausted, or the recent frost may have affected them, for they do not flower so freely in mid-winter as in autumn or spring. Do not plant them out from the frame now, but defer it till the end of March. They agreo best with a cool, somewhat heavy soil, but not too much manure, which forces them too much into leaf. Tits EARLIEST POTATO.—"Market Gardener" {Boss).—There are several, indeed a good many, claiming this distinction, but after trying the majority I do not think any are better in all points than the old Ashleaf kidney. It is early, prolific, 4ad of perfect quality. NAME OF PLANT.—" R. P. B."—It is not a fern, as you suggest, but an ornamental leaved asparagus, named Asparagus Plumosus Nanue. It is one of the most charming and valuable green-leaved plants in cultivation. OLD SBEDS—" Halifax."—Unless you have been most careful in keeping them from damp and Insects they will be untrustworthy. No matter how well old seeds have been preserved I always prefer new ones, but you may soon ascertain their germinating powers by sowing a pinch in a small pot, and placing this in a gentle heat with plenty »f moisture. If the seeds are good the young Slants will appear in a crowd in a few daye. If aay do this you may depend on them, but if not Ond they come up patchy, discard them. RHUBARB DAMPING.—S. Wright.-You have kept it too close, and the steam that the manure pro- duced, being unable to escape, has caused the tender stems to decay. There should always be a little ventilation where there is any steara. You jlhould provide this from the first. The later trowthll may be free from blemish, especially if you ventilate now. PURPLB CLEMATIS.—" Tadcaster."—The best purple clematis for cottages, and the one, I think, to which you refer, is named C. Jackmanii." You can buy plants at Is. or Is. 6d. each. The best time to plant is in March. It likes a rich, porous, well drained soil, and sunny aspect. It if quite hardy and does not require protecting in winter. FOLDINQ qHitEp.-Il Young Farmer."—Wood hurdles about 9ft. in length and 4ft. high are use- ful. Iron ones are still more so, being durable. The very common plan of using stakes and strong string netting finds favour with many. It it decidedly more economical to pen them on a Ittnt^piece at a time than allow them to go over the whole field, for when once holes have been eaten in the turnips the sooner they are all con- sumed the better. EARLY PEAS.—" A Roader (Gower).-I am glad you followed the plan I recommended, and found it answer. It is very gratifying to have green pea plants peeping through the ground at this season it gires promise of an early crop. You need have no anxiety about their suffering from cold. They are quite hardy, and are better in the end if not coddled when young. You can draw a little bank of earth upon each side of the row, and put a few twigs in as stakes, but I would not cover them over with old bags on cold nights, for when once you begin doing so you must continue, and the plants will make less progress than it brought up hardy. WRIGHT OF HARB.—" Young Sportsman (York- •liire).—They average from 71b to 91b. Many mora are under the first figure than over the last. They rarely reach 101b, and, consequently, the one you write of is quite an exception. EGOS UNFBRTILK.—W. Day.—You do not say whether they were under a hen or in an incubator, but four chicks from a dozen eggs are about up to the average of January hatching from December, as it is now the most uncertain time in the whole year for hatching. If you have no special object in rearing them now, I would advise you to delay setting more until the middle of February, when you are almost sure to be more fortunate. PARSLEY SHRTNJUNO.—"Housewife."—It is the frost that causes it to shrink. If it is severe weather cover it over with straw, bracken, or some t light material, j Nailing Wall Trees. Standard fruit trees may be negleoted without becoming very unsightly, but trees that have once been trained to a wall, and are afterwards allowed to assume a natural habit, are most unsatisfactory. If they are nailed regularly once a year they will never be far out of plaoe. The present is the best of all times to give this kind of work attention. It is a mistake to neglect them until they are in leaf, blossom, or fruit, for if the branches break away from the wall then much more damage would be done than would happen at present. Main stems and very strong branches should be tied to a large nail with cord, but the smaller shoots should be kept in their place with little strips of durable cloth. These should be cut into lengths of from 3in. to 5in., and lin. in width. One end is put round the branch both are then brought together, pressed against the wall near a joint, and! the nail inserted to bold them fast. Cast- iron nails about Hin. long are the kind specially made and generally used for nailing. The main point to keep in view in nailing is never to crowd the branches in one part and have them thin in another. They should be equally distributed all over the wall and trained out nicely, and in such a fashion as not to offend the eye, Water for Fowls in Cold Weather. Some persons appear to think that fowls Only require water to drink in hot weather,! but I am inclined to the opinion that they consume more water in frosty weather than at any time, and that they relish having con-. stant access to it at this season. Water does not become foul so soon now as in the hot weather. Whore fowls drink from a stream they will give no labour in watering, but where it is given them in dishes these should be washed out and cleansed once weekly, and the water changed once a day. I have noticed that one will almost always find a healthy lot of fowls in connection with public-houses, especially in winter. I am inclined to attribute this to their being frequently supplied with odds and ends of beer. This forms an excellent drink for fowls in winter, as it is heating and nourishing, and they lay well from it. Surplus beer may also be profitably mixed with their meal. 9 • Borders for Vines. Grape vines delight in rioh soil and good feeding, and unless they have a good border the produce will generally be defioient. I do not advise amateurs to start their vines into growth thus early in the season, bat the borders should be examined at this time, and their deficiencies Remedied. Where the roots are scarce fl. the surfaoe and the soil poor the whole should be removed down to the roots, then apply some good material to them. Turfy loam and bone dust or a little oow or horse manure will be found a good mixture, and the borders should always be well drained. If the border ia in good condition do not dig into it. There is an imraellSO amount of harm done by this operation when it is not required. In such oases only a layer of rioh manure should }t» spread over the surface to a depth of Sin. This surface feeding has a tendency to draw the roots to the top, which is the proper plaoe for them. Here they reoeive the fall benefit of the sun and fertilisers. As the majority of tanall vineries have now been cleared of their ooatenta, the vines should be pruned and joleared forthwith. When all has been finished, water the border, if dry, several fctttts orer. or fiuiil it is quite "saturated! I throughout. If the borders are poor use liquid manure; this will stimulate and strengthen them from the first. Woodcocks. These interesting and peculiar-looking birds are rarely found near towns, but prefer remaining in woods and rough land. They have very rarely been known to breed in Eng- land, but migrate in the spring and return to us again in autumn. They seem to change places with the swallows. They are not so large as a partridge, are very pretty in plumage, and are readily identified by their bill, which is upwards of Gin. in length. They are a great delicacy on the table, and sportsmen are especially anxious to secure them at this season, but they are of very un- certain presence. Some winters I have known the whole of large estates to be shot over without a woodcook appearing, whilst at other times they are moderately plentiful, but never extremely so, This appears to be a good year for them. Towards the end of Decem- ber I saw no fewer than fifteen fall to three guns in one day, whilat quite as many escaped, the total being most unusual. The habits of the woodcock in this country are little under- stood. The following observations by a recent writer will, therefore, prove interesting to many. He says:— 11 When the moon rose I took a position near one of the miitt places, where the borings wprc freshest and most plentiful, and awaited develop-! ments. For a long time the bright light of the j moon fell upon the spot I wished to observe, and I could see everything wi'h the utmost plainness. At about eight o'clock a woodcock dropped down silently beside the brook. Presently another bird walked out of the shadow and joined it. Both began to bore for worms—an operation I had never seen before, and a curious performance it was. The birds would rest their bills upon the mud and stand in this position for several second, as if listening. Then with a sudden, swift move- ment they would drive the bill its entire length in the soil, hold it so for a second, and then as swiftly withdraw it. Though I watched the birds carefully with the glass, I could not detect the presence of a worm in their bills when they were j withdrawn. But tha subsequent process gave me the clue to their method of feeding. After having bored over a considerable piece of ground—a square foot or more—they proceeded to execute what! looked comically like a war-dance upon the per- forated territory. They also occasionally tapped the ground with the tips of their wings. My intense curiosity to know the possible utility of this process WRS at length gratified by seeing a wcrm clawl half a length from one of the borings, when it was immediately pounced upon and devoured by one of the woodcocks. Presently another worm made its appearance, and so on until the woodcocks had devoured as many as a dozen of them. Then the vein seemed exhausted, and the birds took their leave. I have subsequently studied the philosophy of this method of digging bait, and have come to the conclusion that certain birds are a great deal wisor that certain bipeds without feathers. If you will take a sharpened stick and drive it into the ground a number of times in a spot which is prolific with worms, and then tap on the ground with the stick for a few minutes, you will find that tho worms will coma to the surface, and that they will como up through the holes which you have made. I account for it by the supposition that the tap- ping of the stick somehow affects the worms the same as the patter of rain, and it is a well; known fact that worms come to the surface of the ground when it rains. The antics of the woodcocks after they had made their borings, then, were simply mimetic, and intended to deiude worms into the belief that it was raining in the upper world. The worms, being deceived, came up and were devoured." » Thinning Overcrowded Plantation. "Middle -Aloor (,Yo-.Ig) complains of the condition of a plantation that il6 very common. His trees were planted about ten years ago. They are chiefly spruce, Scotch firs, and Austrian pines. Thinning has been neglected, t and now they are so crowded that they are damaging each other. To allow this is one of the greatest errors that can be committed in j oonnection with young plantations.! The thinning of them should begin! #I from the time crowding commences, Then it is an easy matter to remove the worst of the trees, and always keep those that are intended for timber or cover or shelter free. This will cause them to be well furnished with branches almost to the ground. Those which form double leaders should have one and the worst of the two removed as soon as it is observed. In thinning out a crowded and neglected plantation care must be taken that too much thinning is not done at one time or in one year,. aa trees that arc crowded and are, depending on each other for shelter and sup- port are very apt to be blown over, if too much exposed at first. Middle -Ifoor and others ought to begin this winter by removing all the dead and spindly trees and the doable leaders. They should bo left a little closer on the outside than the middle, and the best should merely be left free without attempting to give much space between them. In one or two years hence they may be thinned more. The present thinning will enable those left to be in good condition for standing thinning by that time. Few Is for the Table, I have received several inquiries as to which are the best fowls to cross with to secure good birds for the table. Prizes bave been given for many years at the leading poultry shows for the best produce of this description, and they have almost invariably been won by a first cross with the Game and Dorking. I have seen many of these, and regard this: cross as the Lest anyone could accomplish,) The birds need not be show specimens, but I they should be strong and healthy on both sides. # m A New Way of Growing Mushrooms, A correspondent describes this, and says :— "Some yeariJ ago I saw a system of mushroom culture which was said to be very successful. The man who adopted the plan bad been seeking a simple way of securing mushrooms all the vcar round with the least possible trouble, and" his efforts had resulted in his finding that for which he had sought. The method was as followsHe obtained a gnod sized crate, strong, nnd with a good bottom, such as those in which hardware is sent by rail, All the staves at one end were cut out, simply leaving the top rim to keep the thing togeth-jr. for without that the crate could not have supported the bed laid upon it. The crate wa turned up- side down, and the bed prepare.1 and spawned in the usual way, so far as the outer crust of it was concerned. But there was not nnarlv so much manure used as' in the ordinary hot bed, for the lieat was obtained in another, way. When the bed was made, the inside of thre crate was hollow, but the open end had been left uncovered, the close end being all built over with the bed. The uii thod of heat- I ing was by placing inside the crato the grass cut from the lawn, This within a few days generated sufficient heat to develop the mushrooms in the bed. When the heat appeared to be exhausted the spent grass was taken out and fresh material was placed therein. This, it will be at once seen, is a very simple plan, and one that could be worked almoat anywhere. Of course, the grass will not last nearly as long as a well made mushroom bed, but there is, as a rule, no liwit to tho number of times it may be renewed." Cut grass is not available at this time of the year, but any kind of hot manure, or such materials as are used for hot beds might be substituted. As so long as the hoat is forth- coming it does not matter what kind of stuff is used. This system is especially adapted for amateurs and small growers.

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RURAL NOTES. .