HOME VEGETABLE GARDENING
A COMPLETE AND PRACTICAL GUIDE
TO THE PLANTING AND CARE OF ALL
VEGETABLES, FRUITS AND BERRIES
WORTH GROWING FOR HOME USE
F. F. ROCKWELL
Author of _Around the Year in the Garden_,
_Gardening Indoors and Under Glass_,
_The Key to the Land,_ etc., etc.
With some, the home vegetable garden is a hobby; with others,
especially in these days of high prices, a great help. There are many
in both classes whose experience in gardening has been restricted
within very narrow bounds, and whose present spare time for gardening
is limited. It is as "first aid" to such persons, who want to do
practical, efficient gardening, and do it with the least possible fuss
and loss of time, that this book is written. In his own experience the
author has found that garden books, while seldom lacking in
information, often do not present it in the clearest possible way. It
has been his aim to make the present volume first of all practical, and
in addition to that, though comprehensive, yet simple and concise. If
it helps to make the way of the home gardener more clear and definite,
its purpose will have been accomplished.
II WHY YOU SHOULD GARDEN
III REQUISITES OF THE HOME VEGETABLE GARDEN
IV THE PLANTING PLAN
V IMPLEMENTS AND THEIR USES
VI MANURES AND FERTILIZERS
VII THE SOIL AND ITS PREPARATION
VIII STARTING THE PLANTS
IX SOWING AND PLANTING
X THE CULTIVATION OF VEGETABLES
XI THE VEGETABLES AND THEIR SPECIAL NEEDS
XII BEST VARIETIES OF THE GARDEN VEGETABLES
XIII INSECTS AND DISEASE, AND METHODS OF FIGHTING THEM
XIV HARVESTING AND STORING
XV THE VARIETIES OF POME AND STONE FRUITS
XVI PLANTING; CULTIVATION; FILLER CROPS
XVII PRUNING, SPRAYING, HARVESTING
XVIII BERRIES AND SMALL FRUITS
XIX A CALENDAR OF OPERATIONS
Formerly it was the custom for gardeners to invest their labors and
achievements with a mystery and secrecy which might well have
discouraged any amateur from trespassing upon such difficult ground.
"Trade secrets" in either flower or vegetable growing were acquired by
the apprentice only through practice and observation, and in turn
jealously guarded by him until passed on to some younger brother in the
profession. Every garden operation was made to seem a wonderful and
difficult undertaking. Now, all that has changed. In fact the pendulum
has swung, as it usually does, to the other extreme. Often, if you are
a beginner, you have been flatteringly told in print that you could
from the beginning do just as well as the experienced gardener.
My garden friend, it cannot, as a usual thing, be done. Of course, it
may happen and sometimes does. You _might_, being a trusting lamb,
go down into Wall Street with $10,000 [Ed. Note: all monetary values
throughout the book are 1911 values] and make a fortune. You know that
you would not be likely to; the chances are very much against you. This
garden business is a matter of common sense; and the man, or the woman,
who has learned by experience how to do a thing, whether it is
cornering the market or growing cabbages, naturally does it better than
the one who has not. Do not expect the impossible. If you do, read a
poultry advertisement and go into the hen business instead of trying to
garden. I _have_ grown pumpkins that necessitated the tearing down
of the fence in order to get them out of the lot, and sometimes, though
not frequently, have had to use the axe to cut through a stalk of
asparagus, but I never "made $17,000 in ten months from an eggplant in
a city back-yard." No, if you are going to take up gardening, you will
have to work, and you will have a great many disappointments. All that
I, or anyone else, could put between the two covers of a book will not
make a gardener of you. It must be learned through the fingers, and
back, too, as well as from the printed page. But, after all, the
greatest reward for your efforts will be the work itself; and unless
you love the work, or have a feeling that you will love it, probably
the best way for you, is to stick to the grocer for your garden.
Most things, in the course of development, change from the simple to
the complex. The art of gardening has in many ways been an exception to
the rule. The methods of culture used for many crops are more simple
than those in vogue a generation ago. The last fifty years has seen
also a tremendous advance in the varieties of vegetables, and the
strange thing is that in many instances the new and better sorts are
more easily and quickly grown than those they have replaced. The new
lima beans are an instance of what is meant. While limas have always
been appreciated as one of the most delicious of vegetables, in many
sections they could never be successfully grown, because of their
aversion to dampness and cold, and of the long season required to
mature them. The newer sorts are not only larger and better, but
hardier and earlier; and the bush forms have made them still more
Knowledge on the subject of gardening is also more widely diffused than
ever before, and the science of photography has helped wonderfully in
telling the newcomer how to do things. It has also lent an impetus and
furnished an inspiration which words alone could never have done. If
one were to attempt to read all the gardening instructions and
suggestions being published, he would have no time left to practice
gardening at all. Why then, the reader may ask at this point, another
garden book? It is a pertinent question, and it is right that an answer
be expected in advance. The reason, then, is this: while there are
garden books in plenty, most of them pay more attention to the
"content" than to the form in which it is laid before the prospective
gardener. The material is often presented as an accumulation of detail,
instead of by a systematic and constructive plan which will take the
reader step by step through the work to be done, and make clear
constantly both the principles and the practice of garden making and
management, and at the same time avoid every digression unnecessary
from the practical point of view. Other books again, are either so
elementary as to be of little use where gardening is done without
gloves, or too elaborate, however accurate and worthy in other
respects, for an every-day working manual. The author feels, therefore,
that there is a distinct field for the present book.
And, while I still have the reader by the "introduction" buttonhole, I
want to make a suggestion or two about using a book like this. Do not,
on the one hand, read it through and then put it away with the
dictionary and the family Bible, and trust to memory for the
instruction it may give; do not, on the other hand, wait until you
think it is time to plant a thing, and then go and look it up. For
instance, do not, about the middle of May, begin investigating how many
onion seeds to put in a hill; you will find out that they should have
been put in, in drills, six weeks before. Read the whole book through
carefully at your first opportunity, make a list of the things you
should do for your own vegetable garden, and put opposite them the
proper dates for your own vicinity. Keep this available, as a working
guide, and refer to special matters as you get to them.
Do not feel discouraged that you cannot be promised immediate success
at the start. I know from personal experience and from the experience
of others that "book-gardening" is a practical thing. If you do your
work carefully and thoroughly, you may be confident that a very great
measure of success will reward the efforts of your first garden season.
And I know too, that you will find it the most entrancing game you ever
Good luck to you!
WHY YOU SHOULD GARDEN
There are more reasons to-day than ever before why the owner of a small
place should have his, or her, own vegetable garden. The days of home
weaving, home cheese-making, home meat-packing, are gone. With a
thousand and one other things that used to be made or done at home,
they have left the fireside and followed the factory chimney. These
things could be turned over to machinery. The growing of vegetables
cannot be so disposed of. Garden tools have been improved, but they are
still the same old one-man affairs--doing one thing, one row at a time.
Labor is still the big factor--and that, taken in combination with the
cost of transporting and handling such perishable stuff as garden
produce, explains why _the home gardener can grow his own vegetables
at less expense than he can buy them_. That is a good fact to
But after all, I doubt if most of us will look at the matter only after
consulting the columns of the household ledger. The big thing, the
salient feature of home gardening is not that we may get our vegetables
ten per cent. cheaper, but that we can have them one hundred per cent.
better. Even the long-keeping sorts, like squash, potatoes and onions,
are very perceptibly more delicious right from the home garden, fresh
from the vines or the ground; but when it comes to peas, and corn, and
lettuce,--well, there is absolutely nothing to compare with the home
garden ones, gathered fresh, in the early slanting sunlight, still
gemmed with dew, still crisp and tender and juicy, ready to carry every
atom of savory quality, without loss, to the dining table. Stale, flat
and unprofitable indeed, after these have once been tasted, seem the
limp, travel-weary, dusty things that are jounced around to us in the
butcher's cart and the grocery wagon. It is not in price alone that
home gardening pays. There is another point: the market gardener has to
grow the things that give the biggest yield. He has to sacrifice
quality to quantity. You do not. One cannot buy Golden Bantam corn, or
Mignonette lettuce, or Gradus peas in most markets. They are top
quality, but they do not fill the market crate enough times to the row
to pay the commercial grower. If you cannot afford to keep a
professional gardener there is only one way to have the best
vegetables--grow your own!
And this brings us to the third, and what may be the most important
reason why you should garden. It is the cheapest, healthiest, keenest
pleasure there is. Give me a sunny garden patch in the golden
springtime, when the trees are picking out their new gowns, in all the
various self-colored delicate grays and greens--strange how beautiful
they are, in the same old unchanging styles, isn't it?--give me seeds
to watch as they find the light, plants to tend as they take hold in
the fine, loose, rich soil, and you may have the other sports. And when
you have grown tired of their monotony, come back in summer to even the
smallest garden, and you will find in it, every day, a new problem to
be solved, a new campaign to be carried out, a new victory to win.
Better food, better health, better living--all these the home garden
offers you in abundance. And the price is only the price of every
worth-while thing--honest, cheerful patient work.
But enough for now of the dream garden. Put down your book. Put on your
old togs, light your pipe--some kind-hearted humanitarian should devise
for women such a kindly and comforting vice as smoking--and let's go
outdoors and look the place over, and pick out the best spot for that
garden-patch of yours.
REQUISITES OF THE HOME VEGETABLE GARDEN
In deciding upon the site for the home vegetable garden it is well to
dispose once and for all of the old idea that the garden "patch" must
be an ugly spot in the home surroundings. If thoughtfully planned,
carefully planted and thoroughly cared for, it may be made a beautiful
and harmonious feature of the general scheme, lending a touch of
comfortable homeliness that no shrubs, borders, or beds can ever
With this fact in mind we will not feel restricted to any part of the
premises merely because it is out of sight behind the barn or garage.
In the average moderate-sized place there will not be much choice as to
land. It will be necessary to take what is to be had and then do the
very best that can be done with it. But there will probably be a good
deal of choice as to, first, exposure, and second, convenience. Other
things being equal, select a spot near at hand, easy of access. It may
seem that a difference of only a few hundred yards will mean nothing,
but if one is depending largely upon spare moments for working in and
for watching the garden--and in the growing of many vegetables the
latter is almost as important as the former--this matter of convenient
access will be of much greater importance than is likely to be at first
recognized. Not until you have had to make a dozen time-wasting trips
for forgotten seeds or tools, or gotten your feet soaking wet by going
out through the dew-drenched grass, will you realize fully what this
But the thing of first importance to consider in picking out the spot
that is to yield you happiness and delicious vegetables all summer, or
even for many years, is the exposure. Pick out the "earliest" spot you
can find--a plot sloping a little to the south or east, that seems to
catch sunshine early and hold it late, and that seems to be out of the
direct path of the chilling north and northeast winds. If a building,
or even an old fence, protects it from this direction, your garden will
be helped along wonderfully, for an early start is a great big factor
toward success. If it is not already protected, a board fence, or a
hedge of some low-growing shrubs or young evergreens, will add very
greatly to its usefulness. The importance of having such a protection
or shelter is altogether underestimated by the amateur.
The chances are that you will not find a spot of ideal garden soil
ready for use anywhere upon your place. But all except the very worst
of soils can be brought up to a very high degree of productiveness--
especially such small areas as home vegetable gardens require. Large
tracts of soil that are almost pure sand, and others so heavy and mucky
that for centuries they lay uncultivated, have frequently been brought,
in the course of only a few years, to where they yield annually
tremendous crops on a commercial basis. So do not be discouraged about
your soil. Proper treatment of it is much more important, and a garden-
patch of average run-down,--or "never-brought-up" soil--will produce
much more for the energetic and careful gardener than the richest spot
will grow under average methods of cultivation.
The ideal garden soil is a "rich, sandy loam." And the fact cannot be
overemphasized that such soils usually are made, not found. Let us
analyze that description a bit, for right here we come to the first of
the four all-important factors of gardening--food. The others are
cultivation, moisture and temperature. "Rich" in the gardener's
vocabulary means full of plant food; more than that--and this is a
point of vital importance--it means full of plant food ready to be used
at once, all prepared and spread out on the garden table, or rather in
it, where growing things can at once make use of it; or what we term,
in one word, "available" plant food. Practically no soils in long-
inhabited communities remain naturally rich enough to produce big
crops. They are made rich, or kept rich, in two ways; first, by
cultivation, which helps to change the raw plant food stored in the
soil into available forms; and second, by manuring or adding plant food
to the soil from outside sources.
"Sandy" in the sense here used, means a soil containing enough
particles of sand so that water will pass through it without leaving it
pasty and sticky a few days after a rain; "light" enough, as it is
called, so that a handful, under ordinary conditions, will crumble and
fall apart readily after being pressed in the hand. It is not necessary
that the soil be sandy in appearance, but it should be friable.
"Loam: a rich, friable soil," says Webster. That hardly covers it, but
it does describe it. It is soil in which the sand and clay are in
proper proportions, so that neither greatly predominate, and usually
dark in color, from cultivation and enrichment. Such a soil, even to
the untrained eye, just naturally looks as if it would grow things. It
is remarkable how quickly the whole physical appearance of a piece of
well cultivated ground will change. An instance came under my notice
last fall in one of my fields, where a strip containing an acre had
been two years in onions, and a little piece jutting off from the
middle of this had been prepared for them just one season. The rest had
not received any extra manuring or cultivation. When the field was
plowed up in the fall, all three sections were as distinctly noticeable
as though separated by a fence. And I know that next spring's crop of
rye, before it is plowed under, will show the lines of demarcation just
This, then, will give you an idea of a good garden soil. Perhaps in
yours there will be too much sand, or too much clay. That will be a
disadvantage, but one which energy and perseverance will soon overcome
to a great extent--by what methods may be learned in Chapter VIII.
There is, however, one other thing you must look out for in selecting
your garden site, and that is drainage. Dig down eight or twelve inches
after you have picked out a favorable spot, and examine the sub-soil.
This is the second strata, usually of different texture and color from
the rich surface soil, and harder than it. If you find a sandy or
gravelly bed, no matter how yellow and poor it looks, you have chosen
the right spot. But if it be a stiff, heavy clay, especially a blue
clay, you will have either to drain it or be content with a very late
garden--that is, unless you are at the top of a knoll or on a slope.
Chapter VII contains further suggestions in regard to this problem.
There was a further reason for, mentioning that strip of onion ground.
It is a very practical illustration of what last year's handling of the
soil means to this year's garden. If you can pick out a spot, even if
it is not the most desirable in other ways, that has been well enriched
or cultivated for a year or two previous, take that for this year's
garden. And in the meantime have the spot on which you intend to make
your permanent vegetable garden thoroughly "fitted," and grow there
this year a crop of potatoes or sweet corn, as suggested in Chapter IX.
Then next year you will have conditions just right to give your
vegetables a great start.
There are other things of minor importance but worth considering, such
as the shape of your garden plot, for instance. The more nearly
rectangular, the more convenient it will be to work and the more easily
kept clean and neat. Have it large enough, or at least open on two
ends, so that a horse can be used in plowing and harrowing. And if by
any means you can have it within reach of an adequate supply of water,
that will be a tremendous help in seasons of protracted drought. Then
again, if you have ground enough, lay off two plots so that you can
take advantage of the practice of rotation, alternating grass, potatoes
or corn with the vegetable garden. Of course it is possible to practice
crop rotation to some extent within the limits of even the small
vegetable garden, but it will be much better, if possible, to rotate
the entire garden-patch.
All these things, then, one has to keep in mind in picking the spot
best suited for the home vegetable garden. It should be, if possible,
of convenient access; it should have a warm exposure and be well
enriched, well worked-up soil, not too light nor too heavy, and by all
means well drained. If it has been thoroughly cultivated for a year or
two previous, so much the better. If it is near a supply of water, so
situated that it can be at least plowed and harrowed with a horse, and
large enough to allow the garden proper to be shifted every other year
or two, still more the better.
Fill all of these requirements that you can, and then by taking full
advantage of the advantages you have, you can discount the
disadvantages. After all it is careful, persistent work, more than
natural advantages, that will tell the story; and a good garden does
_not_ grow--it is made.
THE PLANTING PLAN
Having selected the garden spot, the next consideration, naturally, is
what shall be planted in it.
The old way was to get a few seed catalogues, pick out a list of the
vegetables most enthusiastically described by the (wholly
disinterested) seedsman, and then, when the time came, to put them in
at one or two plantings, and sowing each kind as far as the seed would
go. There is a better way--a way to make the garden produce more, to
yield things when you want them, and in the proper proportions.
All these advantages, you may suppose, must mean more work. On the
contrary, however, the new way makes very much less work and makes
results a hundred per cent. more certain. It is not necessary even that
more thought be put upon the garden, but forethought there must be.
Forethought, however, is much more satisfactory than hind-thought.
In the new way of gardening there are four great helps, four things
that will be of great assistance to the experienced gardener, and that
are indispensable to the success of the beginner. They are the Planting
Plan, the Planting Table, the Check List and the Garden Record.
Do not become discouraged at the formidable sound of that paragraph and
decide that after all you do not want to fuss so much over your garden;
that you are doing it for the fun of the thing anyway, and such
intricate systems will not be worth bothering with. The purpose of
those four garden helps is simply to make your work less and your
returns more. You might just as well refuse to use a wheel hoe because
the trowel was good enough for your grandmother's garden, as to refuse
to take advantage of the modern garden methods described in this
chapter. Without using them to some extent, or in some modified form,
you can never know just what you are doing with your garden or what
improvements to make next year. Of course, each of the plans or lists
suggested here is only one of many possible combinations. You should be
able to find, or better still to construct, similar ones better suited
to your individual taste, need and opportunity. That, however, does not
lessen the necessity of using some such system. It is just as necessary
an aid to the maximum efficiency in gardening as are modern tools. Do
not fear that you will waste time on the planting plan. Master it and
use it, for only so can you make your garden time count for most in
producing results. In the average small garden there is a very large
percentage of waste--for two weeks, more string beans than can be eaten
or given away; and then, for a month, none at all, for instance. You
should determine ahead as nearly as possible how much of each vegetable
your table will require and then try to grow enough of each for a
continuous supply, and no more. It is just this that the planting plan
enables you to do.
I shall describe, as briefly as possible, forms of the planting plan,
planting table, check list and record, which I have found it convenient
To make the Planting Plan take a sheet of white paper and a ruler and
mark off a space the shape of your garden--which should be rectangular
if possible--using a scale of one-quarter or one-eighth inch to the
foot. Rows fifty feet long will be found a convenient length for the
average home garden. In a garden where many varieties of things are
grown it will be best to run the rows the short way of the piece. We
will take a fifty-foot row for the purpose of illustration, though of
course it can readily be changed in proportion where rows of that
length can not conveniently be made. In a very small garden it will be
better to make the row, say, twenty-five feet long, the aim being
always to keep the row a unit and have as few broken ones as possible,
and still not to have to plant more of any one thing than will be
In assigning space for the various vegetables several things should be
kept in mind in order to facilitate planting, replanting and
cultivating the garden. These can most quickly be realized by a glance
at the plan illustrated herewith. You will notice that crops that
remain several years--rhubarb and asparagus--are kept at one end. Next
come such as will remain a whole season--parsnips, carrots, onions and
the like. And finally those that will be used for a succession of
crops--peas, lettuce, spinach. Moreover, tall-growing crops, like pole
beans, are kept to the north of lower ones. In the plan illustrated the
space given to each variety is allotted according to the proportion in
which they are ordinarily used. If it happens that you have a special
weakness for peas, or your mother-in-law an aversion to peppers, keep
these tastes and similar ones in mind when laying out your planting
Do not leave the planning of your garden until you are ready to put the
seeds in the ground and then do it all in a rush. Do it in January, as
soon as you have received the new year's catalogues and when you have
time to study over them and look up your record of the previous year.
Every hour spent on the plan will mean several hours saved in the
The Planting Table is the next important system in the business of
gardening, especially for the beginner. In it one can see at a glance
all the details of the particular treatment each vegetable requires--
when to sow, how deep, how far apart the rows should be, etc. I
remember how many trips from garden to house to hunt through catalogues
for just such information I made in my first two seasons' gardening.
How much time, just at the very busiest season of the whole year, such
a table would have saved!
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50
0| |PA| | |
| RHUBARB-2 |RS| | SEED BED |
| |LE|??| |
5| |Y | | |
| ASPARAGUS-2 |
| POLE BEANS-2 |
| TOMATOES-1 |
20| CABBAGE EARLY-1 |
| LATE -1 |
25| BROCCOLI-1 | BRUSSELS SPROUTS-1 |
| PEPPERS-1 | EGG PLANT-1 |
30| CELERY-1 |
35| ONIONS-5-1/2 |
| LEEKS-1/2 |
| CARROTS-4 |
| BEETS-4 |
50| TURNIPS-1-1/2 | RUTABAGA-1/2 |
| PARSNIPS-1 |
60| CORN-4 |
75| PEAS-4 |
| BUSH BEANS-3 |
| LETTUCE-2 |
90| ONION SETS-1 | ENDIVE-1 |
| MUSKMELONS-6 HILLS | CUCUMBERS-7 HILLS |
| | |
| PUMPKINS-4H | WATERMELONS-5H |
100| | |
| | SUMMER SQUASH, BUSH-8H |
105| WINTER SQUASH-5H | |
| | SUMMER SQUASH, VINE-5H |
| | |
A typical Planting Plan. The scale measurements at the left and top
indicate the length and distance apart of rows. [ED. Distances are
approximate, due to typing line constraints.]
The Planting Table prepared for one's own use should show, besides the
information given, the varieties of each vegetable which experience has
proved best adapted to one's own needs. The table shown herewith gives
such a list; varieties which are for the most part standard favorites
and all of which, with me, have proven reliable, productive and of good
quality. Other good sorts will be found described in Part Two. Such a
table should be mounted on cardboard and kept where it may readily be
referred to at planting time.
The Check List is the counterpart of the planting table, so arranged
that its use will prevent anything from being overlooked or left until
too late. Prepare it ahead, some time in January, when you have time to
think of everything. Make it up from your planting table and from the
previous year's record. From this list it will be well to put down on a
sheet of paper the things to be done each month (or week) and cross
them off as they are attended to. Without some such system it is almost
a certainty that you will overlook some important things.
The Garden Record is no less important. It may be kept in the simplest
sort of way, but be sure to keep it. A large piece of paper ruled as
follows, for instance, will require only a few minutes' attention each
week and yet will prove of the greatest assistance in planning the
garden next season.
VEGETABLE GARDEN RECORD--1910
VEGETABLE |VARIETY | PUT IN | READY | NOTES
Beans, dwarf |Red Valentine | May 10 | July 6 | Not best quality. Try
| | | | other earlies
|Golden Wax | May 15 | July 22| Rusted. Spray next
| | | | year
Bean, pole |Old Homestead | May 16 | July 26| Too many. 6 poles
| | | | next year
|Early Leviathan| May 25 | Aug. 19| Good. Dry.
Bean, lima |Fordhook | May 15 | | Rotted. Try May 25
Beet |Egyptian | Apr. 10| June 12| Roots sprangled
|Eclipse | Apr. 10| June 14| Better quality
Cabbage |Wakefield | Apr. 9 | June 20| Injured by worms.
| | | |Hellebore next year
Etc., etc. | | | |
The above shows how such a record will be kept. Of course, only the
first column is written in ahead. I want to emphasize in passing,
however, the importance of putting down your data on the day you plant,
or harvest, or notice anything worth recording. If you let it go until
tomorrow it is very apt to be lacking next year.
Try these four short-cuts to success, even if you have had a garden
before. They will make a big difference in your garden; less work and
Jan. 1st--Send for catalogues. Make planting plan and table. Order
Feb. 1st--Inside: cabbage, cauliflower, first sowing. Onions for
Feb. 15th--Inside: lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts,
March 1st--Inside: lettuce, celery, tomato (early).
March 15th--Inside: lettuce, tomato (main), eggplant, pepper, lima
beans, cucumber, squash; sprout potatoes in sand.
April 1st--Inside: cauliflower (on sods), muskmelon, watermelon, corn.
Outside: (seed-bed) celery, cabbage, lettuce. Onions, carrots, smooth
peas, spinach, beets, chard, parsnip, turnip, radish. Lettuce, cabbage
May 1st--Beans, corn, spinach, lettuce, radish.
May 15th--Beans, limas, muskmelon, watermelon, summer squash, peas,
potatoes, lettuce, radish, tomato (early), corn, limas, melon, cucumber
and squash (plants). Pole-lima, beets, corn, kale, winter squash,
pumpkin, lettuce, radish.
June 1st--Beans, carrots, corn, cucumber, peas, summer spinach, summer
lettuce, radish, egg-plant, pepper, tomato (main plants).
June 15th--Beans, corn, peas, turnip, summer lettuce, radish, late
cabbage, and tomato plants.
July 1st--Beans, endive, kale, lettuce, radish, winter cabbage,
cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and celery plants.
July 15th--Beans, early corn, early peas, lettuce, radish.
Aug. 1st--Early peas, lettuce, radish.
Aug. 15th--Early peas, lettuce, radish in seed-bed, forcing lettuce for
fall in frames.
Sept. 1st--Lettuce, radish, spinach and onions for wintering over.
NOTE.--This list is for planting only (the dates are approximate: see
note I at the end of the chapter). Spraying and other garden operations
may also be included in such a list. See "Calendar of Operations" at
end of book.
DEPTH TO -DISTANCE APART-
VEGETABLE PLANT SOW--INs. SEEDS ROWS
I. CROPS REMAINING ENTIRE SEASON
Asparagus, seed April-May 1 2-4 in. 15 in.
Asparagus, plants April 4 1 ft. 3 ft.
Bean, pole May 15-June 10 2 3 ft. 3 ft.
Bean, lima May 20-June 10 2 3 ft. 3 ft.
Beet, late April-August 2 3-4 in. 15 in.
Carrot, late May-July 1/2-1 2-3 in. 15 in.
Corn, late May 20-July 10 2 3 ft. 4 ft.
Cucumber May 10-July 15 1 4 ft. 4 ft.
Egg-plant, plants June 1-20 .. 2 ft. 30 in.
Leek April .. 2-4 in. 15 in.
Melon, musk May 15-June 15 1 4 ft. 4 ft.
Melon, water May 15-June 15 1 6-8 ft. 6-8 ft.
Onion April 1/2-1 2-4 in. 15 in.
Okra May 15-June 15 1/2-1 2 ft. 3 ft.
Parsley April-May 1/2 4-6 in. 1 ft.
Parsnip April 1/2-1 3-5 in. 18 in.
Pepper, seed June 1st 1/2 3-6 in. 15 in.
Pepper, plants June 1-20 .. 2 ft. 30 in.
Potatoes, main April 15-June 20 4-6 13 in. 30 in.
Pumpkins May 1-June 20 1-2 6-8 ft. 6-8 ft.
Rhubarb, plants April .. 2-3 ft. 3 ft.
Salsify April-May 1 3-6 in. 18 in.
Squash, summer May 15-July 1 1-2 4 ft. 4 ft.
Squash, winter May 15-June 20 1-2 6-8 ft. 6-8 ft.
Tomato, seed June 1/2 3-4 in. 15 in.
Tomato, plants May 15-July 20 .. 3 ft. 3 ft.
NOTE.--The index reference numbers refer to notes at end of chapter.
|SEED FOR |
| 50 FT. |
VEGETABLE | ROW | VARIETIES
Asparagus, seed | 1 oz. | Palmetto, Giant Argenteuil, Barr's
| | Mammoth
Asparagus, plants | 50 | Palmetto, Giant Argenteuil, Barr's
| | Mammoth
Bean, pole | 1/2 pt. | Kentucky Wonder, Golden, Cluster,
| | Burger's Stringless
Bean, lima | 1/2 pt. | Early Leviathan, Giant Podded, Burpee
| | Improved
Beet, late | 1 oz. | Crimson Globe
Carrot, late | 1/2 oz. | Danver's Half-long, Ox-heart, Chantenay
Corn, late | 1/2 pt. | Seymour's Sweet Orange, White Evergreen,
| | Country Gentleman
Cucumber | 1/2 oz. | Early White Spine, Fordhook Famous, Davis
| | Perfect
Egg-plant, plants | 25 | Black Beauty, N.Y. Purple
Leek | 1/2 oz. | American Flag
Melon, musk | 1/2 oz. | Netted Gem, Emerald Gem, Hoodoo
Melon, water | 1/4 oz. | Cole's Early Sweetheart, Halbert Honey
Onion | 1/2 oz. | Prizetaker, Danver's Globe, Ailsa Craig,
| | Southport Red Globe, Mammoth
| | Silverskin (white)
Okra | 1/2 oz. | Perfected Perkins, White Velvet
Parsley | 1/2 oz. | Emerald
Parsnip | 1/4 oz. | Hollow Crowned (Improved)
Pepper, seed | 1/2 oz. | Ruby King, Chinese Giant
Pepper, plants | 25 | Ruby King, Chinese Giant
Potatoes, main | 1/2 pk. | Irish Cobbler, Green Mountain, Uncle Sam
| | (Norton Beauty, Norwood, early)
Pumpkins | 1/4 oz. | Large Cheese, Quaker Pie
Rhubarb, plants | 25 | Myatt's Victoria
Salsify | 3/4 oz. | Mammoth Sandwich
Squash, summer | 1/4 oz. | White Bush, Delicata, Fordhook, Vegetable
| | Marrow
Squash, winter | 1/4 oz. | Hubbard, Delicious
Tomato, seed | 1/2 oz. | Earliana, Chalk's Jewel, Matchless, Dwarf
| | Giant
Tomato, plants | 20 | Earliana, Chalk's Jewel, Matchless, Dwarf
| | Giant
DEPTH TO -DISTANCE APART-
VEGETABLE PLANT SOW--INs. SEEDS ROWS
II. CROPS FOR SUCCESSION PLANTINGS
Bean, dwarf May 5-Aug 15 2 2-4 in. 1-1/2-2 ft.
Kohlrabi April-July 1/2 - 1 6-12 in. 1-1/2-2 ft.
Lettuce April-August 1/2 1 ft. 1-1-1/2 ft.
Peas, smooth April 1-Aug 1 2-3 2-4 in. 3 ft.
Peas, wrinkled April 10-July 15 2-3 2-4 in. 3-4 ft.
Radish April 1-Sept 1 1/2 2-3 in. 1 ft.
Spinach April-Sept 15 1 3-5 in. 18 in.
Turnip April-Sept 1/2-1 4-6 in. 15 in.
III. CROPS TO BE FOLLOWED BY OTHERS
Beet, early April-June 2 3-4 in. 15 in.
Broccoli, early April 1/2-1 1-1/2 ft. 2 ft.
Borecole April 1/2-1 2 ft. 2-1/2 ft.
Brussels sprouts April 1/2-1 1-1/2 ft. 2 ft.
Cabbage, early April 1/2-1 1-1/2 ft. 2 ft.
Carrot April 1/2-1 2-3 in. 15 in.
Cauliflower April 1/2-1 1-1/2 ft. 2 ft.
Com, early May 10-20 2 3 ft. 3-4 ft.
Onion sets April-May 15 1-2 2-4 in. 15 in.
Peas April 1-May 1 2 2-4 in. 3 ft.
Crops in Sec. II.
IV. CROPS THAT MAY FOLLOW OTHERS
Beet, late July-August 2 3-4 in. 15 in.
Borecole May-June 1/2-1 2 ft. 2-1/2 ft.
Broccoli May-June 1/2-1 2 ft. 2-1/2 ft.
Brussels sprouts May-June 1/2-1 1-1/2 ft. 2-1/2 ft.
Cabbage late May-June 1/2-1 2-1/2 ft. 2-1/2 ft.
Cauliflower May-June 1/2-1 2 ft. 2-1/2 ft.
Celery, seed April 1/2 1-2 in. 1 ft.
Celery, plant July 1-Aug 1 .. 6 in. 3-4 ft.
Endive April-August 1/2 1 ft. 1 ft.
Peas, late May 15-Aug 1 2-3 2-4 in. 4 ft.
Crops in Sec. II.
II. CROPS FOR SUCCESSION PLANTINGS
|SEED FOR |
| 50 FT. |
VEGETABLE | ROW | VARIETIES
Bean, dwarf | 1 pt. | Red Valentine Burpee's Greenpod,
| | Improved Refugee, Brittle Wax,
| | Rust-proof Golden Wax, Burpee's
| | White Wax
Kohlrabi | 1/4 oz | White Vienna
Lettuce | 50 | Mignonette, Grand Rapids, May King,
| | Big Boston, New York, Deacon, Cos,
| | Paris White
Peas, smooth | 1 pt | American Wonder
Peas, wrinkled | 1 pt | Gradus, Boston Unrivaled, Quite Content
Radish | 1/2 oz. | Rapid Red, Crimson Globe, Chinese
Spinach | 1/2 oz. | Swiss Chard Beet, Long Season, Victoria
Turnip | 1/3 oz. | White Milan, Petrowski, Golden Ball
III. CROPS TO BE FOLLOWED BY OTHERS
Beet, early | 1 oz. | Edmund's Early, Early Model
Broccoli, early | 35 | Early White French
Borecole | 25 | Dwarf Scotch Curled
Brussels sprouts | 35 | Dalkeith, Danish Prize
Cabbage, early | 35 | Wakefield, Glory of Enkhuisen,
| | Early Summer, Succession, Savoy
Carrot | 1/2 oz. | Golden Ball, Early Scarlet Horn
Cauliflower | 35 | Burpee's Best Early, Snowball, Sea-foam
| | Dry Weather
Corn, early | 1/3 pt. | Golden Bantam, Peep o' Day, Cory
Onion sets | 2 pt. |
Peas | 1 pt. |
Crops in Sec. II.
IV. CROPS THAT MAY FOLLOW OTHERS
Beet, late | 1 oz. | Crimson Globe
Borecole | 25 | Dwarf Scotch Curled
Broccoli | 25 | Early White French
Brussels sprouts | 35 | Dalkeith, Danish Prize
Cabbage, late | 25 | Succession, Danish Ballhead Drumhead
Cauliflower | 25 | As above [Savoy, Mammoth Rock (red)]
Celery, seed | 1 oz. | White Plume, Golden Self-blanching,
| | Winter Queen
Celery, plant | 100 | White Plume, Golden Self-blanching,
| | Winter Queen
Endive | 1/2 oz. | Broad-Leaved Batavian, Giant Fringed
Peas, late | 1 pt. | Gradus
Crops in Sec. II.
REFERENCE NOTES FROM THE TABLES
1 In the vicinity of New York City. Each 100 miles north or south will
make a difference of 5 to 7 days later or earlier.
2 This is for sowing the seed. It will take three to six weeks before
plants are ready. Hence the advantage of using the seed-bed. For
instance, you can start your late cabbage about June 15th, to follow
the first crop of peas, which should be cleared off by the 10th of
3 Distances given are those at which the growing _plants_ should
stand, after thinning. Seed in drills should be sown several times as
4 Best started in seed-bed, and afterward transplanted; but may be sown
when wanted and afterward thinned to the best plants.
IMPLEMENTS AND THEIR USES
It may seem to the reader that it is all very well to make a garden
with a pencil, but that the work of transferring it to the soil must be
quite another problem and one entailing so much work that he will leave
it to the professional market gardener. He possibly pictures to himself
some bent-kneed and stoop-shouldered man with the hoe, and decides that
after all there is too much work in the garden game. What a revelation
would be in store for him if he could witness one day's operations in a
modern market garden! Very likely indeed not a hoe would be seen during
the entire visit. Modern implements, within less than a generation,
have revolutionized gardening.
This is true of the small garden as certainly as of the large one: in
fact, in proportion I am not sure but that it is more so--because of
the second wonderful thing about modern garden tools, that is, the low
prices at which they can be bought, considering the enormous percentage
of labor saved in accomplishing results. There is nothing in the way of
expense to prevent even the most modest gardener acquiring, during a
few years, by the judicious expenditure of but a few dollars annually,
a very complete outfit of tools that will handsomely repay their cost.
While some garden tools have been improved and developed out of all
resemblance to their original forms, others have changed little in
generations, and in probability will remain ever with us. There is a
thing or two to say about even the simplest of them, however,--
especially to anyone not familiar with their uses.
There are tools for use in every phase of horticultural operations; for
preparing the ground, for planting the seed, for cultivation, for
protecting crops from insects and disease, and for harvesting.
First of all comes the ancient and honorable spade, which, for small
garden plots, borders, beds, etc., must still be relied upon for the
initial operation in gardening--breaking up the soil. There are several
types, but any will answer the purpose. In buying a spade look out for
two things: see that it is well strapped up the handle in front and
back, and that it hangs well. In spading up ground, especially soil
that is turfy or hard, the work may be made easier by taking a strip
not quite twice as wide as the spade, and making diagonal cuts so that
one vertical edge of the spade at each thrust cuts clean out to where
the soil has already been dug. The wide-tined spading-fork is
frequently used instead of the spade, as it is lighter and can be more
advantageously used to break up lumps and level off surfaces. In most
soils it will do this work as well, if not better, than the spade and
has the further good quality of being serviceable as a fork too, thus
combining two tools in one. It should be more generally known and used.
With the ordinary fork, used for handling manure and gathering up
trash, weeds, etc., every gardener is familiar. The type with oval,
slightly up-curved tines, five or six in number, and a D handle, is the
most convenient and comfortable for garden use.
For areas large enough for a horse to turn around in, use a plow. There
are many good makes. The swivel type has the advantage of turning all
the furrows one way, and is the best for small plots and sloping
ground. It should turn a clean, deep furrow. In deep soil that has long
been cultivated, plowing should, with few exceptions, be down at least
to the subsoil; and if the soil is shallow it will be advisable to turn
up a little of the subsoil, at each plowing--not more than an inch--in
order that the soil may gradually be deepened. In plowing sod it will
be well to have the plow fitted with a coulter, which turns a miniature
furrow ahead of the plowshare, thus covering under all sods and grass
and getting them out of the way of harrows and other tools to be used
later. In plowing under tall-growing green manures, like rye, a heavy
chain is hung from the evener to the handle, thus pulling the crop down
into the furrow so that it will all be covered under. Where drainage is
poor it will be well to break up the subsoil with a subsoil plow, which
follows in the wake of the regular plow but does not lift the subsoil
to the surface.
TOOLS FOR PREPARING THE SEED-BED
The spade or spading-fork will be followed by the hoe, or hook, and the
iron rake; and the plow by one or more of the various types of harrow.
The best type of hoe for use after the spade is the wide, deep-bladed
type. In most soils, however, this work may be done more expeditiously
with the hook or prong-hoe (see illustration). With this the soil can
be thoroughly pulverized to a depth of several inches. In using either,
be careful not to pull up manure or trash turned under by the spade, as
all such material if left covered will quickly rot away in the soil and
furnish the best sort of plant food. I should think that our energetic
manufactures would make a prong-hoe with heavy wide blades, like those
of the spading-fork, but I have never seen such an implement, either in
use or advertised.
What the prong-hoe is to the spade, the harrow is to the plow. For
general purposes the Acme is an excellent harrow. It is adjustable, and
for ground at all mellow will be the only one necessary; set it, for
the first time over, to cut in deep; and then, set for leveling, it
will leave the soil in such excellent condition that a light hand-
raking (or, for large areas, the Meeker smoothing-harrow) will prepare
it for the finest of seeds, such as onions and carrots. The teeth of
the Acme are so designed that they practically constitute a gang of
miniature plows. Of disc harrows there are a great many makes. The
salient feature of the disc type is that they can tear up no manure,
grass or trash, even when these are but partly turned under by the
plow. For this reason it is especially useful on sod or other rough
ground. The most convenient harrow for putting on the finishing
touches, for leveling off and fining the surface of the soil, is the
lever spike-tooth. It is adjustable and can be used as a spike-tooth or
as a smoothing harrow.
Any of the harrows mentioned above (except the Meeker) and likewise the
prong-hoe, will have to be followed by the iron rake when preparing the
ground for small-seeded garden vegetables. Get the sort with what is
termed the "bow" head (see illustration) instead of one in which the
head is fastened directly to the end of the handle. It is less likely
to get broken, and easier to use. There is quite a knack in
manipulating even a garden rake, which will come only with practice. Do
not rake as though you were gathering up leaves or grass. The secret in
using the garden rake is _not_ to gather things up. Small stones,
lumps of earth and such things, you of course wish to remove. Keep
these raked off ahead of where you are leveling the soil, which is
accomplished with a backward-and-forward movement of the rake.
The tool-house of every garden of any size should contain a seed-drill.
Labor which is otherwise tedious and difficult is by it rendered mere
play--as well as being better done. The operations of marking the row,
opening the furrow, dropping the seed at the proper depth and distance,
covering immediately with fresh earth, and firming the soil, are all
done at one fell swoop and as fast as you can walk. It will even drop
seeds in hills. But that is not all: it may be had as part of a
combination machine, which, after your seeds are planted--with each row
neatly rolled on top, and plainly visible--may be at once transformed
into a wheel hoe that will save you as much time in caring for your
plants as the seed-drill did in planting your seed. Hoeing drudgery
becomes a thing of the past. The illustration herewith shows such a
machine, and some of the varied attachments which may be had for it.
There are so many, and so varied in usefulness, that it would require
an entire chapter to detail their special advantages and methods of
use. The catalogues describing them will give you many valuable
suggestions; and other ways of utilizing them will discover themselves
to you in your work.
Valuable as the wheel hoe is, however, and varied in its scope of work,
the time-tried hoe cannot be entirely dispensed with. An accompanying
photograph [ED. Not shown here] shows four distinct types, all of which
will pay for themselves in a garden of moderate size. The one on the
right is the one most generally seen; next to it is a modified form
which personally I prefer for all light work, such as loosening soil
and cutting out weeds. It is lighter and smaller, quicker and easier to
handle. Next to this is the Warren, or heart-shaped hoe, especially
valuable in opening and covering drills for seed, such as beans, peas
or corn. The scuffle-hoe, or scarifier, which completes the four, is
used between narrow rows for shallow work, such as cutting off small
weeds and breaking up the crust. It has been rendered less frequently
needed by the advent of the wheel hoe, but when crops are too large to
admit of the use of the latter, the scuffle-hoe is still an
There remains one task connected with gardening that is a bug-bear.
That is hand-weeding. To get down on one's hands and knees, in the
blistering hot dusty soil, with the perspiration trickling down into
one's eyes, and pick small weedlets from among tender plantlets, is not
a pleasant occupation. There are, however, several sorts of small
weeders which lessen the work considerably. One or another of the
common types will seem preferable, according to different conditions of
soil and methods of work. Personally, I prefer the Lang's for most
uses. The angle blade makes it possible to cut very near to small
plants and between close-growing plants, while the strap over the back
of a finger or thumb leaves the fingers free for weeding without
dropping the instrument.
There are two things to be kept in mind about hand-weeding which will
reduce this work to the minimum. First, never let the weeds get a
start; for even if they do not increase in number, if they once smother
the ground or crop, you will wish you had never heard of a garden.
Second, do your hand-weeding while the surface soil is soft, when the
weeds come out easily. A hard-crusted soil will double and treble the
amount of labor required.
It would seem that it should be needless, when garden tools are such
savers of labor, to suggest that they should be carefully kept, always
bright and clean and sharp, and in repair. But such advice is needed,
to judge by most of the tools one sees.
Always have a piece of cloth or old bag on hand where the garden tools
are kept, and never put them away soiled and wet. Keep the cutting
edges sharp. There is as much pleasure in trying to run a dull
lawnmower as in working with a rusty, battered hoe. Have an extra
handle in stock in case of accident; they are not expensive. In
selecting hand tools, always pick out those with handles in which the
grain does not run out at the point where there will be much strain in
using the tool. In rakes, hoes, etc., get the types with ferrule and
shank one continuous piece, so as not to be annoyed with loose heads.
Spend a few cents to send for some implement catalogues. They will well
repay careful perusal, even if you do not order this year. In these
days of intensive advertising, the commercial catalogue often contains
matter of great worth, in the gathering and presentation of which no
expense has been spared.
FOR FIGHTING PLANT ENEMIES
The devices and implements used for fighting plant enemies are of two
sorts:--(1) those used to afford mechanical protection to the plants;
(2) those used to apply insecticides and fungicides. Of the first the
most useful is the covered frame. It consists usually of a wooden box,
some eighteen inches to two feet square and about eight high, covered
with glass, protecting cloth, mosquito netting or mosquito wire. The
first two coverings have, of course, the additional advantage of
retaining heat and protecting from cold, making it possible by their
use to plant earlier than is otherwise safe. They are used extensively
in getting an extra early and safe start with cucumbers, melons and the
other vine vegetables.
Simpler devices for protecting newly-set plants, such as tomatoes or
cabbage, from the cut-worm, are stiff, tin, cardboard or tar paper
collars, which are made several inches high and large enough to be put
around the stem and penetrate an inch or so into the soil.
For applying poison powders, such as dry Paris green, hellebore and
tobacco dust, the home gardener should supply himself with a powder
gun. If one must be restricted to a single implement, however, it will
be best to get one of the hand-power, compressed-air sprayers--either a
knapsack pump or a compressed-air sprayer--types of which are
illustrated. These are used for applying wet sprays, and should be
supplied with one of the several forms of mist-making nozzles, the non-
cloggable automatic type being the best. For more extensive work a
barrel pump, mounted on wheels, will be desirable, but one of the above
will do a great deal of work in little time. Extension rods for use in
spraying trees and vines may be obtained for either. For operations on
a very small scale a good hand-syringe may be used, but as a general
thing it will be best to invest a few dollars more and get a small tank
sprayer, as this throws a continuous stream or spray and holds a much
larger amount of the spraying solution. Whatever type is procured, get
a brass machine--it will out-wear three or four of those made of
cheaper metal, which succumbs very quickly to the, corroding action of
the strong poisons and chemicals used in them.
Of implements for harvesting, beside the spade, prong-hoe and spading-
fork already mentioned, very few are used in the small garden, as most
of them need not only long rows to be economically used, but horse-
power also. The onion harvester attachment for the double wheel hoe,
costing $1.00, may be used with advantage in loosening onions, beets,
turnips, etc., from the soil or for cutting spinach. Running the hand-
plow close on either side of carrots, parsnips and other deep-growing
vegetables will aid materially in getting them out. For fruit picking,
with tall trees, the wire-fingered fruit-picker, secured to the end of
a long handle, will be of great assistance, but with the modern method
of using low-headed trees it will not be needed.
Another class of garden implements are those used in pruning--but where
this is attended to properly from the start, a good sharp jack-knife
and a pair of pruning shears (the English makes are the best, as they
are in some things, when we are frank enough to confess the truth) will
easily handle all the work of the kind necessary.
Still another sort of garden device is that used for supporting the
plants; such as stakes, trellises, wires, etc. Altogether too little
attention usually is given these, as with proper care in storing over
winter they will not only last for years, but add greatly to the
convenience of cultivation and to the neat appearance of the garden.
Various contrivances are illustrated in the seed catalogues, and many
may be home-made--such as a stake-trellis for supporting beans.
As a final word to the intending purchaser of garden tools, I would
say: first thoroughly investigate the different sorts available, and
when buying, do not forget that a good tool or a well-made machine will
be giving you satisfactory use long, long after the price is forgotten,
while a poor one is a constant source of discomfort. Get good tools,
and _take_ good care of them. And let me repeat that a few dollars
a year, judiciously spent, for tools afterward well cared for, will
soon give you a very complete set, and add to your garden profit and
MANURES AND FERTILIZERS
To a very small extent garden vegetables get their food from the air.
The amount obtained in this way however, is so infinitesimal that from
the practical standpoint it need not be considered at all. Practically
speaking, your vegetables must get all their food from the garden soil.
This important garden fact may seem self-evident, but, if one may judge
by their practice, amateur gardeners very frequently fail to realize
it. The professional gardener must come to realize it for the simple
reason that if he does not he will go out of business. Without an
abundant supply of suitable food it is just as impossible to grow good
vegetables as it would be to train a winning football team on a diet of
sweet cider and angel cake. Without plenty of plant food, all the care,
coddling, coaxing, cultivating, spraying and worrying you may give will
avail little. The soil must be rich or the garden will be poor.
Plant food is of as many kinds, or, more accurately speaking, in as
many _forms_, as is food for human beings. But the first
distinction to make in plant foods is that between available and non-
available foods--that is, between foods which it is possible for the
plant to use, and those which must undergo a change of some sort before
the plant can take them up, assimilate them, and turn them into a
healthy growth of foliage, fruit or root. It is just as readily
possible for a plant to starve in a soil abounding in plant food, if
that food is not available, as it would be for you to go unnourished in
the midst of soups and tender meats if the latter were frozen solid.
Plants take all their nourishment in the form of soups, and very weak
ones at that. Plant food to be available must be soluble to the action
of the feeding root tubes; and unless it is available it might, as far
as the present benefiting of your garden is concerned, just as well not
be there at all. Plants take up their food through innumerable and
microscopic feeding rootlets, which possess the power of absorbing
moisture, and furnishing it, distributed by the plant juices, or sap,
to stem, branch, leaf, flower and fruit. There is one startling fact
which may help to fix these things in your memory: it takes from 300 to
500 pounds of water to furnish food for the building of one pound of
dry plant matter. You can see why plant food is not of much use unless
it is available; and it is not available unless it is soluble.
THE THEORY OF MANURING
The food of plants consists of chemical elements, or rather, of
numerous substances which contain these elements in greater or less
degrees. There is not room here to go into the interesting science of
this matter. It is evident, however, as we have already seen that the
plants must get their food from the soil, that there are but two
sources for such food: it must either be in the soil already, or we
must put it there. The practice of adding plant food to the soil is
what is called manuring.
The only three of the chemical elements mentioned which we need
consider are: nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash. The average soil
contains large amounts of all three, but they are for the most part in
forms which are not available and, therefore, to that extent, may be at
once dismissed from our consideration. (The non-available plant foods
already in the soil may be released or made available to some extent by
cultivation. See Chapter VII.) In practically every soil that has been
cultivated and cropped, in long-settled districts, the amounts of
nitrogen, phosphoric acid and potash which are immediately available
will be too meager to produce a good crop of vegetables. It becomes
absolutely necessary then, if one would have a really successful
garden, no matter how small it is, to add plant foods to the soil
abundantly. When you realize, (1) that the number of plant foods
containing the three essential elements is almost unlimited, (2) that
each contains them in different proportions and in differing degrees of
availability, (3) that the amount of the available elements already in
the soil varies greatly and is practically undeterminable, and (4) that
different plants, and even different varieties of the same plant, use
these elements in widely differing proportions; then you begin to
understand what a complex matter this question of manuring is and why
it is so much discussed and so little understood. What a labyrinth it
offers for any writer--to say nothing of the reader--to go astray in!
I have tried to present this matter clearly. If I have succeeded it may
have been only to make the reader hopelessly discouraged of ever
getting at anything definite in the question of enriching the soil. In
that case my advice would be that, for the time being, he forget all
about it. Fortunately, in the question of manuring, a little knowledge
is not often a dangerous thing. Fortunately, too, your plants do not
insist that you solve the food problem for them. Set a full table and
they will help themselves and take the right dishes. The only thing to
worry about is that of the three important foods mentioned (nitrogen,
phosphoric acid and potash) there will not be enough: for it has been
proved that when any one of these is exhausted the plant practically
stops growth; it will not continue to "fill up" on the other two. Of
course there is such a thing as going to extremes and wasting plant
foods, even if it does not, as a rule, hurt the plants. If, however,
the fertilizers and manures described in the following sections are
applied as directed, and as mentioned in Chapter VII., good results
will be certain, provided the seed, cultivation and season are right.
The terms "manure" and "fertilizer" are used
somewhat ambiguously and interchangeably. Using the former term in a
broad sense--as meaning any substance containing available plant food
applied to the soil, we may say that manure is of two kinds: organic,
such as stable manure, or decayed vegetable matter; and inorganic, such
as potash salts, phosphatic rock and commercial mixed fertilizers. In a
general way the term "fertilizer" applies to these inorganic manures,
and I shall use it in this sense through the following text.
Between the organic manures, or "natural" manures as they are often
called, and fertilizers there is a very important difference which
should never be lost sight of. In theory, and as a chemical fact too, a
bag of fertilizer may contain twice the available plant food of a ton
of well rotted manure; but out of a hundred practical gardeners ninety-
nine--and probably one more--would prefer the manure. There is a reason
why--two reasons, even if not one of the hundred gardeners could give
them to you. First, natural manures have a decided physical effect upon
most soils (altogether aside from the plant food they contain); and
second, plants seem to have a preference as to the _form_ in which
their food elements are served to them. Fertilizers, on the other hand,
are valuable only for the plant food they contain, and sometimes have a
bad effect upon the physical condition of the soil.
When it comes right down to the practical question of what to put on
your garden patch to grow big crops, nothing has yet been discovered
that is better than the old reliable stand-by--well rotted, thoroughly
fined stable or barnyard manure. Heed those adjectives! We have already
seen that plant food which is not available might as well be, for our
immediate purposes, at the North Pole. The plant food in "green" or
fresh manure is not available, and does not become so until it is
released by the decay of the organic matters therein. Now the time
possible for growing a crop of garden vegetables is limited; in many
instances it is only sixty to ninety days. The plants want their food
ready at once; there is no time to be lost waiting for manure to rot in
the soil. That is a slow process--especially so in clayey or heavy
soils. So on your garden use only manure that is well rotted and broken
up. On the other hand, see that it has not "fire-fanged" or burned out,
as horse manure, if piled by itself and left, is very sure to do. If
you keep any animals of your own, see that the various sorts of manure
--excepting poultry manure, which is so rich that it is a good plan to
keep it for special purposes--are mixed together and kept in a compact,
built-up square heap, not a loose pyramidal pile. Keep it under cover
and where it cannot wash out. If you have a pig or so, your manure will
be greatly improved by the rooting, treading and mixing they will give
it. If not, the pile should be turned from bottom to top and outside in
and rebuilt, treading down firmly in the process, every month or two--
applying water, but not soaking, if it has dried out in the meantime.
Such manure will be worth two or three times as much, for garden
purposes, as that left to burn or remain in frozen lumps. If you have
to buy all your manure, get that which has been properly kept; and if
you are not familiar with the condition in which it should be, get a
disinterested gardener or farmer to select it for you. When possible,
it will pay you to procure manure several months before you want to use
it and work it over as suggested above. In buying manure keep in mind
not what animals made it, but what food was fed--that is the important
thing. For instance, the manure from highly-fed livery horses may be,
weight for weight, worth three to five times that from cattle wintered
over on poor hay, straw and a few roots.
There are other organic manures which it is sometimes possible for one
to procure, such as refuse brewery hops, fish scraps and sewage, but
they are as a rule out of the reach of, or objectionable for, the
purposes of the home gardener.
There are, however, numerous things constantly going to waste about the
small place, which should be converted into manure. Fallen leaves,
grass clippings, vegetable tops and roots, green weeds, garbage, house
slops, dish water, chip dirt from the wood-pile, shavings--any thing
that will rot away, should go into the compost heap. These should be
saved, under cover if possible, in a compact heap and kept moist (never
soaked) to help decomposition. To start the heap, gather up every
available substance and make it into a pile with a few wheelbarrows
full, or half a cartload, of fresh horse manure, treading the whole
down firmly. Fermentation and decomposition will be quickly started.
The heap should occasionally be forked over and restacked. Light
dressings of lime, mixed in at such times, will aid thorough
Wood ashes form another valuable manure which should be carefully
saved. Beside the plant food contained, they have a most excellent
effect upon the mechanical condition of almost every soil. Ashes should
not be put in the compost heap, because there are special uses for
them, such as dusting on squash or melon vines, or using on the onion
bed, which makes it desirable to keep them separate. Wood ashes may
frequently be bought for fifty cents a barrel, and at this price a few
barrels for the home garden will be a good investment.
Coal ashes contain practically no available plant food, but are well
worth saving to use on stiff soils, for paths, etc.
VALUE OF GREEN MANURING
Another source of organic manures, altogether too little appreciated,
is what is termed "green manuring"--the plowing under of growing crops
to enrich the land. Even in the home garden this system should be taken
advantage of whenever possible. In farm practice, clover is the most
valuable crop to use for this purpose, but on account of the length of
time necessary to grow it, it is useful for the vegetable garden only
when there is sufficient room to have clover growing on, say, one half-
acre plot, while the garden occupies, for two years, another half-acre;
and then changing the two about. This system will give an ideal garden
soil, especially where it is necessary to rely for the most part upon
There are, however, four crops valuable for green-manuring the garden,
even where the same spot must be occupied year after year: rye, field
corn, field peas (or cow peas in the south) and crimson clover. After
the first of September, sow every foot of garden ground cleared of its
last crop, with winter rye. Sow all ground cleared during August with
crimson clover and buckwheat, and mulch the clover with rough manure
after the buckwheat dies down. Sow field peas or corn on any spots that
would otherwise remain unoccupied six weeks or more. All these are sown
broadcast, on a freshly raked surface. Such a system will save a very
large amount of plant food which otherwise would be lost, will convert
unavailable plant food into available forms while you wait for the next
crop, and add _humus_ to the soil--concerning the importance of
which see Chapter VII.
I am half tempted to omit entirely any discussion of chemical
fertilizers: to give a list of them, tell how to apply them, and let
the why and wherefore go. It is, however, such an important subject,
and the home gardener will so frequently have to rely almost entirely
upon their use, that probably it will be best to explain the subject as
thoroughly as I can do it in very limited space. I shall try to give
the theory of scientific chemical manuring in one paragraph.
We have already seen that the soil contains within itself some
available plant food. We can determine by chemical analysis the exact
amounts of the various plant foods--nitrogen, phosphoric acid, potash,
etc.--which a crop of any vegetable will remove from the soil. The idea
in scientific chemical manuring is to add to the available plant foods
already in the soil just enough more to make the resulting amounts
equal to the quantities of the various elements used by the crop grown.
In other words:
Available plant food elements in (
the soil, plus > == Amounts of food elements
Available chemical food elements ( in matured crop
supplied in fertilizers )
That was the theory--a very pretty and profound one! The discoverers of
it imagined that all agriculture would be revolutionized; all farm and
garden practice reduced to an exact science; all older theories of
husbandry and tillage thrown by the heels together upon the scrap heap
of outworn things. Science was to solve at one fell swoop all the age-
old problems of agriculture. And the whole thing was all right in every
way but one--it didn't work. The unwelcome and obdurate fact remained
that a certain number of pounds of nitrogen, phosphoric acid and
potash--about thirty-three--in a ton of good manure would grow bigger
crops than would the same number of pounds of the same elements in a
bag of chemical fertilizer.
Nevertheless this theory, while it failed as the basis of an exact
agricultural science, has been developed into an invaluable guide for
using all manures, and especially concentrated chemical manures. And
the above facts, if I have presented them clearly, will assist the home
gardener in solving the fertilizer problems which he is sure to
What are termed the raw materials from which the universally known
"mixed fertilizers" are made up, are organic or inorganic substances
which contain nitrogen, phosphoric acid or potash in fairly definite
Some of these can be used to advantage by themselves. Those practical
for use by the home gardener, I mention. The special uses to which they
are adapted will be mentioned in Part Two, under the vegetables for
which they are valuable.
GROUND BONE is rich in phosphate and lasts a long time; what is called
"raw bone" is the best "Bone dust" or "bone flour" is finely
pulverized; it will produce quick results, but does not last as long as
the coarser forms.
COTTON-SEED MEAL is one of the best nitrogenous fertilizers for garden
crops. It is safer than nitrate of soda in the hands of the
inexperienced gardener, and decays very quickly in the soil.
PERUVIAN GUANO, in the pure form, is now practically out of the market.
Lower grades, less rich in nitrogen especially, are to be had; and also
"fortified" guano, in which chemicals are added to increase the content
of nitrogen. It is good for quick results.
NITRATE OF SODA, when properly handled, frequently produces wonderful
results in the garden, particularly upon quick-growing crops. It is the
richest in nitrogen of any chemical generally used, and a great
stimulant to plant growth. When used alone it is safest to mix with an
equal bulk of light dirt or some other filler. If applied pure, be sure
to observe the following rules or you may burn your plants: (1)
Pulverize all lumps; (2) see that none of it lodges upon the foliage;
(3) never apply when there is moisture upon the plants; (4) apply in
many small doses--say 10 to 20 pounds at a time for 50 x 100 feet of
garden. It should be put on so sparingly as to be barely visible; but
its presence will soon be denoted by the moist spot, looking like a big
rain drop, which each particle of it makes in the dry soil. Nitrate of
soda may also be used safely in solution, at the rate of 1 pound to 12
gallons of water. I describe its use thus at length because I consider
it the most valuable single chemical which the gardener has at command.
MURIATE and SULPHATE OF POTASH are also used by themselves as sources
of potash, but as a general thing it will be best to use them in
combination with other chemicals as described under "Home Mixing."
LIME will be of benefit to most soils. It acts largely as an indirect
fertilizer, helping to release other food elements already in the soil,
but in non-available forms. It should be applied once in three to five
years, at the rate of 75 to 100 bushels per acre, after plowing, and
thoroughly harrowed in. Apply as long before planting as possible, or
in the fall.
Mixed fertilizers are of innumerable brands, and for sale everywhere.
It is little use to pay attention to the claims made for them. Even
where the analysis is guaranteed, the ordinary gardener has no way of
knowing that the contents of his few bags are what they are labeled.
The best you can do, however, is to buy on the basis of analysis, not
of price per ton--usually the more you pay per bag, the cheaper you are
really buying your actual plant food. Send to the Experiment Station in
your State and ask for the last bulletin on fertilizer values. It will
give a list of the brands sold throughout the State, the retail price
per ton, and the actual value of plant foods contained in a ton. Then
buy the brand in which you will apparently get the greatest value.
For garden crops the mixed fertilizer you use should contain (about):
Nitrogen, 4 per cent. ( Basic formula
Phosphoric acid, 8 per cent. > == for
Potash, 10 per cent. ( Garden crops
If applied alone, use at the rate of 1000 to 1500 pounds per acre. If
with manure, less, in proportion to the amount of the latter used.
By "basic formula" (see above) is meant one which contains the plant
foods in the proportion which all garden crops must have. Particular
crops may need additional amounts of one or more of the three elements,
in order to attain their maximum growth. Such extra feeding is usually
supplied by top dressings, during the season of growth. The extra food
beneficial to the different vegetables will be mentioned in the
cultural directions in Part Two.
If you look over the Experiment Station report mentioned above, you
will notice that what are called "home mixtures" almost invariably show
a higher value compared to the cost than any regular brand. In some
cases the difference is fifty per cent. This means that you can buy the
raw chemicals and make up your own mixtures cheaper than you can buy
mixed fertilizers. More than that, it means you will have purer
mixtures. More than that, it means you will have on hand the materials
for giving your crops the special feeding mentioned above. The idea
widely prevails, thanks largely to the fertilizer companies, that home
mixing cannot be practically done, especially upon a small scale. From
both information and personal experience I know the contrary to be the
case. With a tight floor or platform, a square-pointed shovel and a
coarse wire screen, there is absolutely nothing impractical about it.
The important thing is to see that all ingredients are evenly and
thoroughly mixed. A scale for weighing will also be a convenience.
Further information may be had from the firms which sell raw materials,
or from your Experiment Station.
The matter of properly applying manure, even on the small garden, is
also of importance. In amount, from fifteen to twenty-five cords, or 60
to 100 cartloads, will not be too much; although if fertilizers are
used to help out, the manure may be decreased in proportion. If
possible, take it from the heap in which it has been rotting, and
spread evenly over the soil immediately before plowing. If actively
fermenting, it will lose by being exposed to wind and sun. If green, or
in cold weather, it may be spread and left until plowing is done. When
plowing, it should be completely covered under, or it will give all
kinds of trouble in sowing and cultivating.
Fertilizers should be applied, where used to supplement manure or in
place of it, at from 500 to 1500 pounds per acre, according to grade
and other conditions. It is sown on broadcast, after plowing, care
being taken to get it evenly distributed. This may be assured by sowing
half while going across the piece, and the other half while going
lengthwise of it. When used as a starter, or for top dressings--as
mentioned in connection with the basic formula--it may be put in the
hill or row at time of planting, or applied on the surface and worked
in during the growth of the plants. In either case, especially with
highly concentrated chemicals, care must be taken to mix them
thoroughly with the soil and to avoid burning the tender roots.
This chapter is longer than I wanted to make it, but the problem of how
best to enrich the soil is the most difficult one in the whole business
of gardening, and the degree of your success in growing vegetables will
be measured pretty much by the extent to which you master it. You
cannot do it at one reading. Re-read this chapter, and when you
understand the several subjects mentioned, in the brief way which
limited space made necessary, pursue them farther in one of the several
comprehensive books on the subject. It will well repay all the time you
spend upon it. Because, from necessity, there has been so much of
theory mixed up with the practical in this chapter, I shall very
briefly recapitulate the directions for just what to do, in order that
the subject of manuring may be left upon the same practical basis
governing the rest of the book.
To make your garden rich enough to grow big crops, buy the most
thoroughly worked over and decomposed manure you can find. If it is
from grain-fed animals, and if pigs have run on it, it will be better
yet. If possible, buy enough to put on at the rate of about twenty
cords to the acre; if not, supplement the manure, which should be
plowed under, with 500 to 1500 pounds of high-grade mixed fertilizer
(analyzing nitrogen four per cent., phosphoric acid eight per cent.,
potash ten per cent.)--the quantity in proportion to the amount of
manure used, and spread on broadcast after plowing and thoroughly
harrowed in. In addition to this general enrichment of the soil,
suitable quantities of nitrate of soda, for nitrogen; bone dust (or
acid phosphate), for phosphoric acid; and sulphate of potash, for
potash, should be bought for later dressings, as suggested in cultural
directions for the various crops.
If the instructions in the above paragraph are followed out you may
rest assured that your vegetables will not want for plant food and
that, if other conditions are favorable, you will have maximum crops.
THE SOIL AND ITS PREPARATION
Having considered, as thoroughly as the limited space available
permitted, the matter of plant foods, we must proceed to the equally
important one of how properly to set the table, on or rather in, which
they must be placed, before the plants can use them.
As was noted in the first part of the preceding chapter, most tillable
soils contain the necessary plant food elements to a considerable
extent, but only in a very limited degree in _available_ forms.
They are locked up in the soil larder, and only after undergoing
physical and chemical changes may be taken up by the feeding roots of
plants. They are unlocked only by the disintegration and decomposition
of the soil particles, under the influence of cultivation--or
mechanical breaking up--and the access of water, air and heat.
The great importance of the part the soil must play in every garden
operation is therefore readily seen. In the first place, it is required
to furnish all the plant food elements--some seven in number, beside
the three, nitrogen, phosphoric acid and potash, already mentioned. In
the second, it must hold the moisture in which these foods must be
either dissolved or suspended before plant roots can take them up.
The soil is naturally classified in two ways: first, as to the amount
of plant food contained; second, as to its mechanical condition--the
relative proportions of sand, decomposed stone and clay, of which it is
made up, and also the degree to which it has been broken up by
The approximate amount of available plant food already contained in the
soil can be determined satisfactorily only by experiment. As before
stated, however, almost without exception they will need liberal
manuring to produce good garden crops. I shall therefore not go further
into the first classification of soils mentioned.
Of soils, according to their variation in mechanical texture, I shall
mention only the three which the home gardener is likely to encounter.
Rocks are the original basis of all soils, and according to the degree
of fineness to which they have been reduced, through centuries of
decomposition by air, moisture and frost, they are known as gravelly,
sandy or clayey soils.
CLAY SOILS are stiff, wet, heavy and usually "cold." For garden
purposes, until properly transformed, they hold too much water, are
difficult to handle, and are "late." But even if there be no choice but
a clay soil for the home garden, the gardener need not be discouraged.
By proper treatment it may be brought into excellent condition for
growing vegetables, and will produce some sorts, such as celery, better
than any warm, light, "garden" soil. The first thing to do with the
clay soil garden, is to have it thoroughly drained. For the small
amount of ground usually required for a home garden, this will entail
no great expense. Under ordinary conditions, a half-acre garden could
be under-drained for from $25 to $50--probably nearer the first figure.
The drains--round drain tile, with collars--should be placed at least
three feet deep, and if they can be put four, it will be much better.
The lines should be, for the former depth, twenty to thirty feet apart,
according to character of the soil; if four feet deep, they will
accomplish just as much if put thirty to fifty feet apart--so it pays
to put them in deep. For small areas 2-1/2-inch land tile will do. The
round style gives the best satisfaction and will prove cheapest in the
end. The outlet should of course be at the lowest point of land, and
all drains, main and laterals, should fall slightly, but without
exception, toward this point. Before undertaking to put in the drains,
even on a small area, it will pay well to read some good book on the
subject, such as Draining for Profit and Draining for Health, by
But drain--if your land requires it. It will increase the
productiveness of your garden at least 50 to 100 per cent.--and such an
increase, as you can readily see, will pay a very handsome annual
dividend on the cost of draining. Moreover, the draining system, if
properly put in, will practically never need renewal.
On land that has a stiff or clay sub-soil, it will pay well to break
this up--thus making it more possible for the water to soak down
through the surface soil rapidly--by using the sub-soil plow. (See
The third way to improve clay soils is by using coarse vegetable
manures, large quantities of stable, manures, ashes, chips, sawdust,
sand, or any similar materials, which will tend to break up and lighten
the soil mechanically. Lime and land plaster are also valuable, as they
cause chemical changes which tend to break up clayey soils.
The fourth thing to do in treating a garden of heavy soil is to plow,
ridging up as much as possible, in the fall, thus leaving the soil
exposed to the pulverizing influences of weather and frost. Usually it
will not need replowing in the spring. If not plowed until the spring,
care should be taken not to plow until it has dried out sufficiently to
crumble from the plow, instead of making a wet, pasty furrow.
The owner of a clayey garden has one big consolation. It will not let
his plant food go to waste. It will hold manures and fertilizers
incorporated with it longer than any other soil.
SANDY SOIL is, as the term implies, composed largely of sand, and is
the reverse of clay soil. So, also, with the treatment. It should be so
handled as to be kept as compact as possible. The use of a heavy
roller, as frequently as possible, will prove very beneficial. Sowing
or planting should follow immediately after plowing, and fertilizers or
manures should be applied only immediately before.
If clay soil is obtainable nearby, a small area of sandy soil, such as
is required for the garden, can be made into excellent soil by the
addition of the former, applied as you would manure. Plow the garden in
the fall and spread the clay soil on evenly, harrowing in with a disc
in the spring. The result will be as beneficial as that of an equal
dressing of good manure--and will be permanent.
It is one of the valuable qualities of lime, and also of gypsum to even
a greater extent, that while it helps a clay soil, it is equally
valuable for a sandy one. The same is true of ashes and of the organic
manures--especially of green manuring. Fertilizers, on sandy soils,
where they will not long be retained, should be applied only
immediately before planting, or as top and side dressing during growth.
Sandy soil in the garden will produce early and quick results, and is
especially adapted to melons, cucumbers, beans and a number of the
other garden vegetables.
GRAVELLY SOIL is generally less desirable than either of the others; it
has the bad qualities of sandy soil and not the good ones of clay,
besides being poorer in plant food. (Calcareous, or limestone pebble,
soils are an exception, but they are not widely encountered.) They are
not suited for garden work, as tillage harms rather than helps them.
THE IDEAL GARDEN SOIL is what is known as a "rich, sandy loam," at
least eight inches deep; if it is eighteen it will be better. It
contains the proper proportions of both sand and clay, and further has
been put into the best of mechanical condition by good tilth.
That last word brings us to a new and very important matter. "In good
tilth" is a condition of the soil difficult to describe, but a state
that the gardener comes soon to recognize. Ground, continually and
_properly cultivated_, comes soon to a degree of fineness and
lightness at once recognizable. Rain is immediately absorbed by it, and
does not stand upon the surface; it does not readily clog or pack down;
it is crumbly and easily worked; and until your garden is brought to
this condition you cannot attain the greatest success from your
efforts. I emphasized "properly cultivated." That means that the soil
must be kept well supplied with humus, or decomposed vegetable matter,
either by the application of sufficient quantities of organic manures,
or by green manuring, or by "resting under grass," which produces a
similar result from the amount of roots and stubble with which the soil
is filled when the sod is broken up. Only by this supply of humus can
the garden be kept in that light, friable, spongy condition which is
absolutely essential to luxuriant vegetable growth.
PREPARING THE SOIL
Unless your garden be a very small one indeed, it will pay to have it
plowed rather than dug up by hand. If necessary, arrange the
surrounding fence as suggested in the accompanying diagram, to make
possible the use of a horse for plowing and harrowing. (As suggested in
the chapter on Implements), if there is not room for a team, the one-
horse plow, spring-tooth and spike-tooth cultivators, can do the work
in very small spaces.
If however the breaking up of the garden must be done by hand, have it
done deeply--down to the sub-soil, or as deep as the spading-fork will
go. And have it done thoroughly, every spadeful turned completely and
every inch dug. It is hard work, but it must not be slighted.
If the garden can be plowed in the fall, by all means have it done. If
it is in sod, it must be done at that time if good results are to be
secured the following season. In this latter case, plow a shallow
furrow four to six inches deep and turning flat, as early as possible
in the fall, turning under a coating of horse manure, or dressing of
lime, and then going over it with a smoothing-harrow or the short
blades of the Acme, to fill in all crevices. The object of the plowing
is to get the sods rotted thoroughly before the following spring; then
apply manure and plow deeply, six to twelve inches, according to the
Where the old garden is to be plowed up, if there has not been time to
get in one of the cover crops suggested elsewhere in this text, plow as
late as possible, and in ridges. If the soil is light and sandy, fall
plowing will not be advisable.
In beginning the spring work it is customary to put on the manure and
plow but once. But the labor of double plowing will be well repaid,
especially on a soil likely to suffer from drouth, if the ground be
plowed once, deeply, before the manure is spread on, and then cross-
plowed just sufficiently to turn the manure well under--say five or six
inches. On stiff lands, and especially for root crops, it will pay if
possible to have the sub-soil plow follow the regular plow. This is, of
course, for thoroughly rotted and fined manure; if coarse, it had
better be put under at one plowing, making the best of a handicap. If
you have arranged to have your garden plowed "by the job," be on hand
to see that no shirking is done, by taking furrows wider than the plow
can turn completely; it is possible to "cut and cover" so that the
surface of a piece will look well enough, when in reality it is little
better than half plowed.
That is the first step toward the preparation of a successful garden
out of the way. Next comes the harrowing; if the soil after plowing is
at all stiff and lumpy, get a disc-harrow if you can; on clayey soils a
"cut-a-way" (see Implements). On the average garden soil, however, the
Acme will do the work of pulverizing in fine shape.
If, even after harrowing, the soil remains lumpy, have the man who is
doing your work get a horse-roller somewhere, and go over the piece
with that. The roller should be used also on very sandy and light
soils, after the first harrowing (or after the plowing, if the land
turns over mellow) to compact it. To follow the first harrowing (or the
roller) use a smoothing-harrow, the Acme set shallow, or a "brush."
This treatment will reduce to a minimum the labor of finally preparing
the seed- or plant-bed with the iron rake (or, on large gardens, with
the Meeker harrow). After the finishing touches, the soil should be
left so even and smooth that you can with difficulty bring yourself to
step on it. Get it "like a table"--and then you are ready to begin
Whatever implements are used, do not forget the great importance of
making the soil thoroughly fine, not only at the surface, but as far as
possible below Even under the necessity of repetition. I want to
emphasize this again by stating the four chief benefits, of this
thorough pulverization: First, it adds materially in making the plant
foods in the soil available for use; secondly, it induces the growing
plants to root deeply, and thus to a greater extent to escape the
drying influence of the sun; thirdly, it enables the soil to absorb
rain evenly, where it falls, which would otherwise either run off and
be lost altogether, or collect in the lower parts of the garden; and
last, and most important, it enables the soil to retain moisture thus
stored, as in a subterranean storage tank, but where the plants can
draw upon it, long after carelessly prepared and shallow soils are
burning up in the long protracted drouths which we seem to be
increasingly certain of getting during the late summer.
Prepare your garden deeply, thoroughly, carefully, in addition to
making it rich, and you may then turn to those more interesting
operations outlined in the succeeding sections, with the well founded
assurance that your thought and labor will be rewarded by a garden so
remarkably more successful than the average garden is, that all your
extra pains-taking will be richly repaid.
STARTING THE PLANTS
This beautifully prepared garden spot--or rather the plant food in it--
is to be transformed into good things for your table, through the ever
wonderful agency of plant growth. The thread of life inhering in the
tiniest seed, in the smallest plant, is the magic wand that may
transmute the soil's dull metal into the gold of flower and fruit.
All the thought, care and expense described in the preceding chapters
are but to get ready for the two things from which your garden is to
spring, in ways so deeply hidden that centuries of the closest
observation have failed to reveal their inner workings. Those two are
seeds and plants. (The sticklers for technical exactness will here take
exception, calling our attention to tubers, bulbs, corns and numerous
other taverns where plant life puts up over night, between growth and
growth, but for our present purpose we need not mind them.)
The plants which you put out in your garden will have been started
under glass from seed, so that, indirectly, everything depends on the
seed. Good seeds, and true, you must have if your garden is to attain
that highest success which should be our aim. Seeds vary greatly--very
much more so than the beginner has any conception of. There are three
essentials; if seeds fail in any one of them, they will be rendered
next to useless. First, they must be true; selected from good types of
stock and true to name; then they must have been good, strong, plump
seeds, full of life and gathered from healthy plants; and finally, they
must be fresh. [Footnote: See table later this chapter] It is therefore
of vital importance that you procure the best seeds that can be had,
regardless of cost. Poor seeds are dear at any price; you cannot afford
to accept them as a gift. It is, of course, impossible to give a rule
by which to buy good seed, but the following suggestions will put you
on the safe track. First, purchase only of some reliable mail-order
house; do not be tempted, either by convenience or cheapness, to buy
the gaily lithographed packets displayed in grocery and hardware stores
at planting time--as a rule they are not reliable; and what you want
for your good money is good seed, not cheap ink. Second, buy of
seedsmen who make a point of growing and testing their own seed. Third,
to begin with, buy from several houses and weed out to the one which
proves, by actual results, to be the most reliable. Another good plan
is to purchase seed of any particular variety from the firm that makes
a leading specialty of it; in many cases these specialties have been
introduced by these firms and they grow their own supplies of these
seeds; they will also be surer of being true to name and type.
Good plants are, in proportion to the amounts used, just as important
as good seed--and of course you cannot afford losing weeks of garden
usefulness by growing entirely from seed sown out-doors. Beets,
cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, egg-plant, and for
really efficient gardening, also onions, corn, melons, celery, lima
beans, cucumbers, and squash, will all begin their joyous journey
toward the gardener's table several weeks before they get into the
garden at all. They will all be started under glass and have attained a
good, thrifty, growing size before they are placed in the soil we have
been so carefully preparing for them. It is next to impossible to
describe a "good" vegetable plant, but he who gardens will come soon to
distinguish between the healthy, short-jointed, deep-colored plant
which is ready to take hold and grow, and the soft, flabby (or too
succulent) drawn-up growth of plants which have been too much pampered,
or dwarfed, weazened specimens which have been abused and starved; he
will learn that a dozen of the former will yield more than fifty of the
latter. Plants may be bought of the florist or market gardener. If so,
they should be personally selected, some time ahead, and gotten some
few days before needed for setting out, so that you may be sure to have
them properly "hardened off," and in the right degree of moisture, for
transplanting, as will be described later.
By far the more satisfactory way, however, is to grow them yourself.
You can then be sure of having the best of plants in exactly the
quantities and varieties you want. They will also be on hand when
conditions are just right for setting them out.
For the ordinary garden, all the plants needed may be started
successfully in hotbeds and cold-frames. The person who has had no
experience with these has usually an exaggerated idea of their cost and
of the skill required to manage them. The skill is not as much a matter
of expert knowledge as of careful regular care, daily. Only a few
minutes a day, for a few sash, but every day. The cost need be but
little, especially if one is a bit handy with tools. The sash which
serves for the cover, and is removable, is the important part of the
structure. Sash may be had, ready glazed and painted, at from $2.50 to
$3.50 each, and with care they will last ten or even twenty years, so
you can see at once that not a very big increase in the yield of your
garden will be required to pay interest on the investment. Or you can
buy the sash unglazed, at a proportionately lower price, and put the
glass in yourself, if you prefer to spend a little more time and less
money. However, if you are not familiar with the work, and want only a
few sash, I would advise purchasing the finished article. In size they
are three feet by six. Frames upon which to put the sash covering may
also be bought complete, but here there is a chance to save money by
constructing your own frames--the materials required, being 2x4 in.
lumber for posts, and inch-boards; or better, if you can easily procure
them, plank 2 x 12 in.
So far as these materials go the hotbed and coldframe are alike. The
difference is that while the coldframe depends for its warmth upon
catching and holding the heat of the sun's rays, the hotbed is
artificially heated by fermenting manure, or in rare instances, by hot
water or steam pipes.
In constructing the hotbed there are two methods used; either by
placing the frames on top of the manure heap or by putting the manure
within the frames. The first method has the advantage of permitting the
hotbed to be made upon frozen ground, when required in the spring. The
latter, which is the better, must be built before the ground freezes,
but is more economical of manure. The manure in either case should be
that of grain-fed horses, and if a small amount of straw bedding, or
leaves--not more, however, than one-third of the latter--be mixed among
it, so much the better. Get this manure several days ahead of the time
wanted for use and prepare by stacking in a compact, tramped-down heap.
Turn it over after three or four days, and re-stack, being careful to
put the former top and sides of the pile now on the inside.
Having now ready the heating apparatus and the superstructure of our
miniature greenhouse, the building of it is a very simple matter. If
the ground is frozen, spread the manure in a low, flat heap--nine or
ten feet side, a foot and a half deep, and as long as the number of
sash to be used demands--a cord of manure thus furnishing a bed for
about three sash, not counting for the ends of the string or row. This
heap should be well trodden down and upon it should be placed or built
the box or frame upon which the sash are to rest. In using this method
it will be more convenient to have the frame made up beforehand and
ready to place upon the manure, as shown in one of the illustrations.
This should be at least twelve inches high at the front and some half a
foot higher at the back. Fill in with at least four inches--better six
--of good garden soil containing plenty of humus, that it may allow
water to soak through readily.
The other method is to construct the frames on the ground before severe
freezing, and in this case the front should be at least twenty-four
inches high, part of which--not more than half--may be below the ground
level. The 2 x 12 in. planks, when used, are handled as follows: stakes
are driven in to support the back plank some two or three inches above
the ground,--which should, of course, be level. The front plank is sunk
two or three inches into the ground and held upright by stakes on the
outside, nailed on. Remove enough dirt from inside the frame to bank up
the planks about halfway on the outside. When this banking has frozen
to a depth of two or three inches, cover with rough manure or litter to
keep frost from striking through. The manure for heating should be
prepared as above and put in to the depth of a foot, trodden down,
first removing four to six inches of soil to be put back on top of the
manure,--a cord of the latter, in this case, serving seven sashes. The
vegetable to be grown, and the season and climate, will determine the
depth of manure required--it will be from one to two feet,--the latter
depth seldom being necessary. It must not be overlooked that this
manure, when spent for heating purposes, is still as good as ever to
enrich the garden, so that the expense of putting it in and removing it
from the frames is all that you can fairly charge up against your
experiment with hotbeds, if you are interested to know whether they
The exposure for the hotbeds should be where the sun will strike most
directly and where they will be sheltered from the north. Put up a
fence of rough boards, five or six feet high, or place the frames south
of some building.
The coldframe is constructed practically as in the hotbed, except that
if manure is used at all it is for the purpose of enriching the soil
where lettuce, radishes, cucumbers or other crops are to be grown to
maturity in it.
If one can put up even a very small frame greenhouse, it will be a
splendid investment both for profit and for pleasure. The cost is lower
than is generally imagined, where one is content with a home-made
structure. Look into it.
PREPARING THE SOIL
All this may seem like a lot of trouble to go to for such a small thing
as a packet of seed. In reality it is not nearly so much trouble as it
sounds, and then, too, this is for the first season only, a well built
frame lasting for years--forever, if you want to take a little more
time and make it of concrete instead of boards.
But now that the frame is made, how to use it is the next question.
The first consideration must be the soil. It should be rich, light,
friable. There are some garden loams that will do well just as taken
up, but as a rule better results will be obtained where the soil is
made up specially as follows: rotted sods two parts, old rotted manure
one part, and enough coarse sand added to make the mixture fine and
crumbly, so that, even when moist, it will fall apart when pressed into
a ball in the hand. Such soil is best prepared by cutting out sod, in
the summer, where the grass is green and thick, indicating a rich soil.
Along old fences or the roadside where the wash has settled will be
good places to get limited quantities. Those should be cut with
considerable soil and stacked, grassy sides together, in layers in a
compost pile. If the season proves very dry, occasionally soak the heap
through. In late fall put in the cellar, or wherever solid freezing
will not take place, enough to serve for spring work under glass. The
amount can readily be calculated; soil for three sash, four inches
deep, for instance, would take eighteen feet or a pile three feet
square and two feet high. The fine manure (and sand, if necessary) may
be added in the fall or when using in the spring. Here again it may
seem to the amateur that unnecessary pains are being taken. I can but
repeat what has been suggested all through this book, that it will
require but little more work to do the thing the best way as long as
one is doing it at all, and the results will be not only better, but
practically certain--and that is a tremendously important point about
all gardening operations.
SOWING THE SEED
Having now our frames provided and our soil composed properly and good
strong tested seed on hand, we are prepared to go about the business of
growing our plants with a practical certainty of success--a much more
comfortable feeling than if, because something or other had been but
half done, we must anxiously await results and the chances of having
the work we had put into the thing go, after all, for nothing.
The seed may be sown either directly in the soil or in "flats." Flats
are made as follows: Get from your grocer a number of cracker boxes,
with the tops. Saw the boxes lengthwise into sections, a few two inches
deep and the rest three. One box will make four or five such sections,
for two of which bottoms will be furnished by the bottom and top of the
original box. Another box of the same size, knocked apart, will furnish
six bottoms more to use for the sections cut from the middle of the
box. The bottoms of all, if tight, should have, say, five three-
quarter-inch holes bored in them to allow any surplus water to drain
off from the soil. The shallow flats may be used for starting the seed
and the three-inch ones for transplanting. Where sowing but a small
quantity of each variety of seed, the flats will be found much more
convenient than sowing directly in the soil--and in the case of their
use, of course, the soil on top of the manure need be but two or three
inches deep and not especially prepared.
Where the seed is to go directly into the frames, the soil described
above is, of course, used. But when in flats, to be again transplanted,
the soil for the first sowing will be better for having no manure in
it, the idea being to get the hardest, stockiest growth possible. Soil
for the flats in which the seeds are to be planted should be, if
possible, one part sod, one part chip dirt or leaf mould, and one part
The usual way of handling the seed flats is to fill each about one-
third full of rough material--screenings, small cinders or something
similar--and then fill the box with the prepared earth, which should
first be finely sifted. This, after the seeds are sown, should be
copiously watered--with a fine rose spray, or if one has not such,
through a folded bag to prevent the washing of the soil.
Here is another way which I have used recently and, so far, with one
hundred per cent, certainty of results. Last fall, when every bit of
soil about my place was ash dry, and I had occasion to start
immediately some seeds that were late in reaching me, my necessity
mothered the following invention, an adaptation of the principle of
sub-irrigation. To have filled the flats in the ordinary way would not
have done, as it would have been impossible ever to wet the soil
through without making a solid mud cake of it, in which seeds would
have stood about as good a chance of doing anything as though not
watered at all. I filled the flats one-third full of sphagnum moss,
which was soaked, then to within half an inch of the top with soil,
which was likewise soaked, and did not look particularly inviting. The
flats were then filled level-full of the dust-dry soil, planted, and
put in partial shade. Within half a day the surface soil had come to
just the right degree of moisture, soaked up from below, and there was
in a few days more a perfect stand of seedlings. I have used this
method in starting all my seedlings this spring--some forty thousand,
so far--only using soil screenings, mostly small pieces of decayed sod,
in place of the moss and giving a very light watering in the surface to
make it compact and to swell the seed at once. Two such flats are shown
[ED., unable to recreate in typed format], just ready to transplant.
The seedlings illustrated in the upper flat had received just two
waterings since being planted.
Where several hundred or more plants of each variety are wanted, sow
the seed broadcast as evenly as possible and fairly thick--one ounce of
cabbage, for instance, to three to five 13 x 19 inch flats. If but a
few dozen, or a hundred, are wanted, sow in rows two or three inches
apart, being careful to label each correctly. Before sowing, the soil
should be pressed firmly into the corners of the flats and leveled off
perfectly smooth with a piece of board or shingle. Press the seed
evenly into the soil with a flat piece of board, cover it lightly, one-
eighth to one-quarter inch, with sifted soil, press down barely enough
to make smooth, and water with a very fine spray, or through burlap.
For the next two days the flats can go on a pretty hot surface, if one
is available, such as hot water or steam pipes, or top of a boiler, but
if these are not convenient, directly into the frame, where the
temperature should be kept as near as possible to that indicated in the
In from two to twelve days, according to temperature and variety, the
little seedlings will begin to appear. In case the soil has not been
made quite friable enough, they will sometimes "raise the roof" instead
of breaking through. If so, see that the surface is broken up at once,
with the fingers and a careful watering, as otherwise many of the
little plants may become bent and lanky in a very short time.
From now on until they are ready to transplant, a period of some three
or four weeks, is the time when they will most readily be injured by
neglect. There are things you will have to look out for, and your
attention must be regular to the matters of temperature, ventilation
VEGETABLE DATE TO SOW SEED WILL BEST TEMPERATURE TO
KEEP GERMINATE (ABOUT)
Beets Feb. 15-Apr. 1 5 years 55 degrees
Broccoli Feb. 15-Apr. 1 5 years 55 degrees
Sprouts Feb. 15-Apr. 1 7 years 55 degrees
Cabbage Feb. 1-Apr. 1 7 years 55 degrees
Cauliflower Feb. 1-Apr. 1 7 years 55 degrees
Celery Feb. 15-Apr. 1 8 years 50 degrees
Corn Apr. 1-May 1 2 years 65 degrees
Cucumber Mar. 15-May 1 10 years 75 degrees
Egg-plant Mar. 1-Apr. 15 7 years 75 degrees
Kohlrabi Mar. 1-Apr. 1 7 years 55 degrees
Lettuce Feb. 15-Apr. 1 5 years 55 degrees
Melon, musk Apr. 1-May 1 7 years 75 degrees
Melon, water Apr. 1-May 1 7 years 75 degrees
Okra Mar. 15-Apr. 15 3 years 65 degrees
Onion Jan. 15-Mar. 15 3 years 50 degrees
Pepper Mar. 1-Apr. 15 5 years 75 degrees
Squash Mar. 15-Apr. 15 7 years 75 degrees
Tomato Mar. 1-Apr. 15 5 years 75 degrees
The temperatures required by the different varieties will be indicated
by the table above. It should be kept as nearly as possible within ten
degrees lower and fifteen higher (in the sun) than given. If the nights
are still cold, so that the mercury goes near zero, it will be
necessary to provide mats or shutters (see illustrations) to cover the
glass at night. Or, better still, for the few earliest frames, have
double-glass sash, the dead-air space making further protection
VENTILATION: On all days when the temperature within the frame runs up
to sixty to eighty degrees, according to variety, give air, either by
tilting the sash up at the end or side, and holding in position with a
notched stick; or, if the outside temperature permits, strip the glass
WATERING: Keep a close watch upon the conditions of the soil,
especially if you are using flats instead of planting directly in the
soil. Wait until it is fairly dry--never until the plants begin to
wilt, however--and then give a thorough soaking, all the soil will
absorb. If at all possible do this only in the morning (up to eleven
o'clock) on a bright sunny day. Plants in the seedling state are
subject to "damping off"--a sudden disease of the stem tissue just at
or below the soil, which either kills the seedlings outright, or
renders them worthless. Some authorities claim that the degree of
moisture or dampness has nothing to do with this trouble. I am not
prepared to contradict them, but as far as my own experience goes I am
satisfied that the drier the stems and leaves can be kept, so long as
the soil is in good condition, the better. I consider this one of the
advantages of the "sub-irrigation" method of preparing the seed flats,
TRANSPLANTING: Under this care the little seedlings will come along
rapidly. When the second true leaf is forming they will be ready for
transplanting or "pricking off," as it is termed in garden parlance. If
the plants are at all crowded in the boxes, this should be done just as
soon as they are ready, as otherwise they will be injured by crowding
and more likely to damp off.
Boxes similar to the seed-flats, but an inch deeper, are provided for
transplanting. Fill these with soil as described for frames--sifted
through a coarse screen (chicken-wire size) and mixed with one-third
rotted manure. Or place an inch of manure, which must be so thoroughly
rotted that most of the heat has left, in the bottom, and fill in with
Find or construct a table or bench of convenient height, upon which to
work. With a flat piece of stick or one of the types of transplanting
forks lift from the seedling box a clump of seedlings, dirt and all,
clear to the bottom. Hold this clump in one hand and with the other
gently tear away the seedlings, one at a time, discarding all crooked
or weak ones. Never attempt to pull the seedlings from the soil in the
flats, as the little rootlets are very easily broken off. They should
come away almost intact. Water your seed-flats the day previous to
transplanting, so that the soil will be in just the right condition,
neither wet enough to make the roots sticky nor dry enough to crumble
Take the little seedling by the stem between thumb and forefinger, and
with a small round pointed stick or dibber, or with the forefinger of
the other hand, make a hole to receive the roots and about half the
length--more if the seedlings are lanky--of the stem. As the seedling
drops into place, the tips of both thumbs and forefingers, by one
quick, firm movement, compress the earth firmly both down on the roots
and against the stem, so that the plant sticks up firmly and may not be
readily pulled out. Of course there is a knack about it which cannot be
put into words--I could have pricked off a hundred seedlings in the
time I am spending in trying to describe the operation, but a little
practice will make one reasonably efficient at it.
In my own work this spring, I have applied the "sub-irrigation" idea to
this operation also. The manure placed in the bottom of the boxes is
thoroughly watered and an inch of soil put in and watered also, and the
box then filled and the plants pricked in. By preparing a number of
flats at one time, but little additional work is required, and the
results have convinced me that the extra trouble is well worth while.
Of the early cabbage and cauliflower, not two plants in a thousand have
Ordinarily about one hundred plants are put in a 13 x 19 inch flat, but
if one has room and is growing only a few plants for home use, somewhat
better plants may be had if fifty or seventy-five are put in. In either
case keep the outside rows close to the edges of the flats, as they
will have plenty of room anyway. When the flat is completed, jar the
box slightly to level the surface, and give a thorough watering at
once, being careful, however, to bend down the plants as little as
possible. Set the flats close together on a level surface, and, if the
weather is bright, shade from the sun during the middle of the day for
two or three days.
From now on keep at the required temperature and water thoroughly on
bright mornings as often as the soil in the flats gets on the dry side,
as gardeners say--indicated by the whitening and crusting of the
surface. Above all, give all the air possible while maintaining the
necessary temperature. The quality of the plants will depend more upon
this than anything else in the way of care. Whenever the temperature
allows, strip off the sash and let the plants have the benefit of the
rains. A good rain seems to do them more good than any watering.
Should your plants of cabbage, lettuce, beets or cauliflower by any
chance get frozen, do not give them up for lost, for the chances are
that the following simple treatment will pull them through: In the
first place, shade them thoroughly from the sun; in the second, drench
them with cold water, the coldest you can get--if you have to break the
ice for it, so much the better. Try, however, to prevent its happening
again, as they will be less able to resist subsequent injury.
In hot weather, where watering and ventilation are neglected, the
plants will sometimes become infested with the green aphis, which under
such conditions multiplies with almost incredible rapidity.
HARDENING OFF: For five days or a week before setting plants in the
field they should be thoroughly hardened off. If they have been given
plenty of air this treatment will mean little change for them--simply
exposing them more each day, until for a few nights they are left
entirely without protection. They will then be ready for setting out in
the open, an operation which is described in the next chapter.
STARTING PLANTS OUTSIDE
Much of the above is applicable also to the starting of plants out-of-
doors, for second and for succession crops, such as celery and late
cabbage. Select for the outside seed-bed the most thoroughly pulverized
spot to be found, enriched and lightened with fine manure. Mark off
rows a foot apart, and to the necessary depth; sow the seed evenly;
firm in if the soil is dry, cover lightly with the back of the rake and
roll or smooth with the back of the spade, or of a hoe, along the
drills. The seed, according to variety, will begin to push through in
from four to twenty days. At all times keep the seed-bed clear of
weeds; and keep the soil between the rows constantly cultivated. Not
unless it is very dry will watering be necessary, but if it is
required, give a thorough soaking toward evening.
As the cabbage, celery and similar plants come along it will add to
their sturdiness and stockiness to shear off the tops--about half of
the large leaves--once or twice after the plants have attained a height
of about six inches.
If the precautions concerning seed and soil which I have given are
heeded and the details of the work of planting, transplanting and care
are carried out, planting time (April) will find the prospective
gardener with a supply of good, stocky, healthy plants on hand, and
impatient to get them into that carefully prepared garden spot. All of
this work has been--or should have been--interesting, but that which
follows in the next chapter is more so.
SOWING AND PLANTING
The importance of having good seeds has already been declared. They
must not only grow, but grow into what we have bought them for--be true
to name. Without the latter quality we cannot be sure of good gardens,
and without the former they will not be full ones. A meagre "stand"
from seeds properly sown is a rather exasperating and discouraging
experience to encounter. The cost for fertilizing and preparing the
land is just as much, and the cost of cultivating very nearly as much,
when the rows are full of thrifty plants or strung out with poor ones.
Whether you use ten cents' worth or ten dollars' worth, the best seed
to be had will be the most economical to buy--to say nothing of the
satisfaction that full rows give.
And yet good seedsmen are more thoughtlessly and unjustly abused in the
matter of seed vitality than in any other. Inexperienced gardeners seem
universally to have the conviction that the only thing required in seed
sowing is to cover the seed with soil. What sort of soil it is, or in
what condition, or at what depth or temperature the seed is planted,
are questions about which they do not trouble themselves to think.
Two conditions--moisture and warmth--are necessary to induce
germination of seeds, no matter how full of life they may be; and as
was shown in the preceding chapter the different varieties have some
choice as to the degree of each, especially of temperature. This means
of course that some commonsense must be used in planting, and when
planting outdoors, where we cannot regulate the temperature to our
need, we simply must regulate our seed sowing to its dictates, no
matter how impatient we may be.
To insure the best possible germination, and thus the best gardening,
we must, first of all then, settle the question of temperature when
sowing out-of-doors. For practical work it serves to divide the garden
vegetables into two groups, though in planting, the special suggestions
in the following chapter should be consulted.
WHEN TO SOW OUTDOORS
Sow from the end of March to the beginning of May, or when plum and
peach trees bloom, the following:
Beet Cabbage Carrot Cauliflower
Celery Endive Kale Kohlrabi
Lettuce Onions Parsley Parsnip
Peas Radish Spinach Turnip
Sow from the beginning of May to the middle of June, or when apple
trees bloom, the following:
Beans Corn Cucumber Melon, musk
Melon, water Okra Pumpkin Squash
Getting the seed to sprout, however, is only the first step in the
game; they must be provided with the means of immediately beginning to
grow. This means that they should not be left to germinate in loosely
packed soil, full of air spaces, ready to dry out at the first
opportunity, and to let the tiny seed roots be shriveled up and die.
The soil should touch the seed--be pressed close about it on all sides,
so that the first tiny tap root will issue immediately into congenial
surroundings where it can instantly take hold. Such conditions can be
found only in a seed-bed fine but light enough to pack, reasonably rich
and sufficiently moist, and where, in addition to this, the seed has
been properly planted.
METHODS OF PLANTING
The seed-bed, as it is called, is the surface prepared to receive the
seed, whether for a patch of radishes or an acre of onions. For crops
to be sown directly where they are to go, the chapter on Preparation of
the Soil takes us to this point, and as stated at the conclusion of
that chapter, the final preparation of the bed should be made only
immediately prior to its use.
Having, then, good seeds on hand and the soil properly prepared to
receive them, the only problem remaining is what way they shall be put
in. The different habits of growth characteristic of different plants
make it patent at the outset that there must be different methods of
planting, for very evidently a cabbage, which occupies but three or
four square feet of space and stays in one place to make a head, will
not require the same treatment as a winter squash, roaming all over the
garden and then escaping under the fence to hide some of its best fruit
in the tall grass outside.
The three systems of planting usually employed are known as "drills,"
"rows" and "hills." I do not remember ever seeing a definition giving
the exact distinctions between them; and in horticultural writing they
seem to be used, to some extent at least, interchangeably. As a rule
"drills" refer to the growing of plants continuously in rows, such as
onions, carrots or spinach. "Rows" refer to the growing of plants at
fixed distances apart in the rows such as cabbage, or potatoes--the
cultivation, except hand weeding and hoeing, being all done in one
direction, as with drills. "Hills" refer to the growing of plants
usually at equal distances, four feet or more apart each way, with
cultivating done in both directions, as with melons and squashes. I
describe the different methods at length so that the reader may know
more definitely just what is meant by the special instructions given in
the following text.
SOWING THE SEED
If one observes the suggestions as to temperature just given, and the
following precautions in placing the seed within the soil, failure of
good seed to germinate is practically impossible. In the first place,
plant _on a freshly prepared surface_, always just before a rain
if possible, except in the case of very small seeds, when just after a
rain will be better. If the soil is at all dry, or likely to be
followed by a spell of hot, dry weather, always firm by using the back
of the hoe for small seed, or the ball of the foot for larger ones,
such as peas, beans or corn, to press the seed firmly and evenly into
the soil before covering. Then when the soil is covered in over the
seed, firm along the top of the row very lightly, just enough to mark
it and hold the soil in place.
The depth of the drill furrow in which the seed is to be sown will
depend (1) on the variety of vegetable, (2) on the season of planting,
and (3) on weather conditions. Remember that the seed must be supplied
with moisture both to germinate and to continue to exist after
germination; and also that it must have soil through which the air can
to some extent penetrate. Keeping these things in mind, common sense
dictates that seed planted in the spring, or during a wet spell of
weather, will not need to be put in as deeply as should the same seed
in summer or early autumn, or during a hot, dry spell.
The old general rule is, to cover seed planted under glass, where the
moisture can be controlled, to a depth of two or three times its
diameter; and out-of-doors, to four or five times. I should say these
depths were the minimums desirable. In other words, the smallest seed,
such as onion, carrot, lettuce, will go in one-quarter to one-half inch
deep. Beets, spinach, parsnips and other medium-sized seed one-half to
one inch deep, and peas, beans, corn, etc., two to four inches deep--
usually near the first figure.
After the seed is sown it is of course desirable to keep the ground
from baking or crusting on top, as it is likely to do after a morning
rain followed directly by hot sun. If the seed sprouts have not yet
reached the surface of the soil, rake very lightly across the rows with
an iron rake; if they have broken through, work as close as possible to
the row. The best implement I have ever seen for this purpose is the
disc attachment of the double wheel hoe--see Implements. An ordinarily
good garden loam, into which the desirable quantity of short manure has
been worked, will give little trouble by raking. In a clay soil, it
often will pay, on a small scale, to sift leaf mould, sphagnum moss, or
some other light porous covering, over the rows, especially for small
seed. The special seed-bed, for starting late cabbage or celery, may
easily be sheltered. In very hot, dry weather this method will be a
SETTING OUT PLANTS
The reader has not forgotten, of course, that plants as well as seeds
must go into the well managed garden. We have already mentioned the
hardening-off process to which they must be subjected before going into
the open ground. The flats should also be given a copious watering
several hours, or the day before, setting out. All being ready, with
your rows made straight and marked off at the correct distances, lift
out the plants with a trowel or transplanting fork, and tear or cut
them apart with a knife, keeping as much soil as possible with each
ball of roots. Distribute them at their positions, but not so many at a
time that any will dry out before you get them in place. Get down on
your hands and knees, and, straddling the row, proceed to "set." With
the left hand, or a trowel or dibber if the ground is not soft, make a
hole large enough to take the roots and the better part of the stem,
place the plant in position and firm into place by bearing down with
the backs of the knuckles, on either side. Proceed so to the end of the
row, being careful to keep your toes from undoing your good work behind
you, and then finish the job by walking back over the row, still
further firming in each plant by pressing down the soil at either side
of the stem simultaneously with the balls of the feet. When all the
rows are completed, go over the surface with the iron rake, and you
will have a job thoroughly done and neatly finished.
If the weather and soil are exceptionally dry it may be necessary to
take the additional precautions, when planting, of putting a pint or so
of water in each hole (never on the surface) previous to planting; or
of puddling the roots in a thick mixture of rich soil and water. The
large leaves also should be trimmed back one-half. In the case of
plants that are too tall or succulent, this should be done in any case
--better a day or two previous to setting out.
Transplanting should be done whenever possible in dull weather or
before rain--or even during it if you really would deserve the name of
gardener! If it must be done when the sun continues strong, shade the
plants from, say, ten to three o'clock, for a day or two, with half
sheets of old newspapers held in tent-shaped position over the plants
by stones or earth. If it is necessary to give water, do it toward
evening. If the plants have been properly set, however, only extreme
circumstances will render this necessary.
Keep a sharp lookout for cut-worms, maggots or other enemies described
in Chapter XIII.
And above all, CULTIVATE.
Never let the soil become crusted, even if there is not a weed in
sight. Keep the soil loosened up, for that will keep things growing.
THE CULTIVATION OF VEGETABLES
Before taking up the garden vegetables individually, I shall outline
the general practice of cultivation, which applies to all.
The purposes of cultivation are three--to get rid of weeds, and to
stimulate growth by (1) letting air into the soil and freeing
unavailable plant food, and (2) by conserving moisture.
As to weeds, the gardener of any experience need not be told the
importance of keeping his crops clean. He has learned from bitter and
costly experience the price of letting them get anything resembling a
start. He knows that one or two days' growth, after they are well up,
followed perhaps by a day or so of rain, may easily double or treble
the work of cleaning a patch of onions or carrots, and that where weeds
have attained any size they cannot be taken out of sowed crops without
doing a great deal of injury. He also realizes, or should, that every
day's growth means just so much available plant food stolen from under
the very roots of his legitimate crops.
Instead of letting the weeds get away with any plant food, he should be
furnishing more, for clean and frequent cultivation will not only break
the soil up mechanically, but let in air, moisture and heat--all
essential in effecting those chemical changes necessary to convert non-
available into available plant food. Long before the science in the
case was discovered, the soil cultivators had learned by observation
the necessity of keeping the soil nicely loosened about their growing
crops. Even the lanky and untutored aborigine saw to it that his squaw
not only put a bad fish under the hill of maize but plied her shell hoe
over it. Plants need to breathe. Their roots need air. You might as
well expect to find the rosy glow of happiness on the wan cheeks of a
cotton-mill child slave as to expect to see the luxuriant dark green of
healthy plant life in a suffocated garden.
Important as the question of air is, that of _water_ ranks beside
it. You may not see at first what the matter of frequent cultivation
has to do with water. But let us stop a moment and look into it. Take a
strip of blotting paper, dip one end in water, and watch the moisture
run up hill, soak up through the blotter. The scientists have labeled
that "capillary attraction"--the water crawls up little invisible tubes
formed by the texture of the blotter. Now take a similar piece, cut it
across, hold the two cut edges firmly together, and try it again. The
moisture refuses to cross the line: the connection has been severed.
In the same way the water stored in the soil after a rain begins at
once to escape again into the atmosphere. That on the surface
evaporates first, and that which has soaked in begins to soak in
through the soil to the surface. It is leaving your garden, through the
millions of soil tubes, just as surely as if you had a two-inch pipe
and a gasoline engine, pumping it into the gutter night and day! Save
your garden by stopping the waste. It is the easiest thing in the world
to do--cut the pipe in two. And the knife to do it with is--
_dust_. By frequent cultivation of the surface soil--not more than
one or two inches deep for most small vegetables--the soil tubes are
kept broken, and a mulch of dust is maintained. Try to get over every
part of your garden, especially where it is not shaded, once in every
ten days or two weeks. Does that seem like too much work? You can push
your wheel hoe through, and thus keep the dust mulch as a constant
protection, as fast as you can walk. If you wait for the weeds, you
will nearly have to crawl through, doing more or less harm by
disturbing your growing plants, losing all the plant food (and they
will take the cream) which they have consumed, and actually putting in
more hours of infinitely more disagreeable work. "A stitch in time
saves nine!" Have your thread and needle ready beforehand! If I knew
how to give greater emphasis to this subject of thorough cultivation, I
should be tempted to devote the rest of this chapter to it. If the
beginner at gardening has not been convinced by the facts given, there
is only one thing left to convince him--experience.
Having given so much space to the _reason_ for constant care in
this matter, the question of methods naturally follows. I want to
repeat here, my previous advice--by all means get a wheel hoe. The
simplest sorts cost only a few dollars, and will not only save you an
infinite amount of time and work, but do the work better, very much
better than it can be done by hand. You _can_ grow good
vegetables, especially if your garden is a very small one, without one
of these labor-savers, but I can assure you that you will never regret
the small investment necessary to procure it.
With a wheel hoe, the work of preserving the soil mulch becomes very
simple. If one has not a wheel hoe, for small areas very rapid work can
be done with the scuffle hoe.
The matter of keeping weeds cleaned out of the rows and between the
plants in the rows is not so quickly accomplished. Where hand-work is
necessary, let it be done at once. Here are a few practical suggestions
that will reduce this work to a minimum, (1) Get at this work while the
ground is soft; as soon as the soil begins to dry out after a rain is
the best time. Under such conditions the weeds will pull out by the
roots, without breaking off. (2) Immediately before weeding, go over
the rows with a wheel hoe, cutting shallow, but just as close as
possible, leaving a narrow, plainly visible strip which must be hand-
weeded. The best tool for this purpose is the double wheel hoe with
disc attachment, or hoes for large plants. (3) See to it that not only
the weeds are pulled but that _every inch_ of soil surface is
broken up. It is fully as important that the weeds just sprouting be
destroyed, as that the larger ones be pulled up. One stroke of the
weeder or the fingers will destroy a hundred weed seedlings in less
time than one weed can be pulled out after it gets a good start. (4)
Use one of the small hand-weeders until you become skilled with it. Not
only may more work be done but the fingers will be saved unnecessary
The skilful use of the wheel hoe can be acquired through practice only.
The first thing to learn is that it is necessary to watch _the wheels
only:_ the blades, disc or rakes will take care of themselves. Other
suggestions will be found in the chapter on Implements.
The operation of "hilling" consists in drawing up the soil about the
stems of growing plants, usually at the time of second or third hoeing.
It used to be the practice to hill everything that could be hilled "up
to the eyebrows," but it has gradually been discarded for what is
termed "level culture"; and the reader will readily see the reason,
from what has been said about the escape of moisture from the surface
of the soil; for of course the two upper sides of the hill, which may
be represented by an equilateral triangle with one side horizontal,
give more exposed surface than the level surface represented by the
base. In wet soils or seasons hilling may be advisable, but very seldom
otherwise. It has the additional disadvantage of making it difficult to
maintain the soil mulch which is so desirable.
ROTATION OF CROPS
There is another thing to be considered in making each vegetable do its
best, and that is crop rotation, or the following of any vegetable with
a different sort at the next planting.
With some vegetables, such as cabbage, this is almost imperative, and
practically all are helped by it. Even onions, which are popularly
supposed to be the proving exception to the rule, are healthier, and do
as well after some other crop, _provided_ the soil is as finely
pulverized and rich as a previous crop of onions would leave it.
Here are the fundamental rules of crop rotation:
(1) Crops of the same vegetable, or vegetables of the same family (such
as turnips and cabbage) should not follow each other.
(2) Vegetables that feed near the surface, like corn, should follow
(3) Vines or leaf crops should follow root crops.
(4) Quick-growing crops should follow those occupying the land all
These are the principles which should determine the rotations to be
followed in individual cases. The proper way to attend to this matter
is when making the planting plan. You will then have time to do it
properly, and will need to give it no further thought for a year.
With the above suggestions in mind, and _put to use_, it will not
be difficult to give the crops mentioned in the following chapter those
special attentions which are needed to make them do their very best.
THE VEGETABLES AND THEIR SPECIAL NEEDS
The garden vegetables may be considered in three groups, in each of
which the various varieties are given somewhat similar treatment: the
root crops, such as beets and carrots; the leaf crops, such as cabbage
and lettuce; the fruit crops, such as melons and tomatoes.
Under the first section we will consider:
Beet Carrot Kohlrabi
Leek Onion Parsnip
Potato Salsify Turnip
Any of these may be sown in April, in drills (with the exception of
potatoes) twelve to eighteen inches apart. The soil must be rich and
finely worked, in order that the roots will be even and smooth--in poor
or ill-prepared soil they are likely to be misshapen, or "sprangling."
They must be thinned out to the proper distances, which should be done
if possible on a cloudy day, hand-weeded as often as may be required,
and given clean and frequent cultivation. All, with the exception of
leeks and potatoes, are given level culture. All will be greatly
benefited, when about one-third grown, by a top dressing of nitrate of
_Beet:_--Beets do best in a rather light soil. Those for earliest
use are started under glass (as described previously) and set out six
to seven inches apart in rows a foot apart.
The first outdoor sowing is made as soon as the soil is ready in
spring, and the seed should be put in thick, as not all will come
through if bad weather is encountered. When thinning out, the small
plants that are removed, tops and roots cooked together, make delicious
The late crop, for fall and winter use, sow the last part of June. For
this crop the larger varieties are used, and on rich soil will need six
to eight inches in the row and fifteen inches between rows.
_Carrot:_--Carrots also like a soil that is rather on the sandy
side, and on account of the depth to which the roots go, it should be
deep and fine. The quality will be better if the soil is not too rich.
A few for extra early use may be grown in the hotbeds or frame. If
radishes and carrots are sown together, in alternating rows six inches
apart, the former will be used by the time the carrots need the room,
and in this way a single 3 x 6 ft. sash will yield a good supply for
the home garden. Use Chantenay or Ox-Heart (see Chapter XII) for this
The late crop is sometimes sown between rows of onions, skipping every
third row, during June, and left to mature when the onions are
harvested; but unless the ground is exceptionally free from weeds, the
plan is not likely to prove successful.
_Kohlrabi:_--While not truly a "root crop"--the edible portion
being a peculiar globular enlargement of the stem--its culture is
similar, as it may be sown in drills and thinned out. Frequently,
however, it is started in the seed-bed and transplanted, the main crop
(for market) being sown in May or June. A few of these from time to
time will prove very acceptable for the home table. They should be used
when quite young; as small as two inches being the tenderest.
_Leek:_--To attain its best the leek should be started in the
seed-bed, late in April, and transplanted in late June, to the richest,
heaviest soil available. Hill up from time to time to blanch lower part
of stalk; or a few choice specimens may be had by fitting cardboard
collars around the stem and drawing the earth up to these, not touching
the stalk with earth.
_Onions:_--Onions for use in the green state are grown from white
"sets," put out early in April, three to four inches apart in rows
twelve inches apart; or from seed sown the previous fall and protected
with rough manure during the winter. These will be succeeded by the
crop from "prickers" or seedlings started under glass in January or
February. As onions are not transplanted before going to the garden,
sow directly in the soil rather than in flats. It is safest to cover
the bed with one-half inch to one inch of coarse sand, and sow the seed
in this. To get stocky plants trim back twice, taking off the upper
half of leaves each time, and trim back the roots one-half to two-
thirds at the time of setting out, which may be any time after the
middle of April. These in turn will be succeeded by onions coming from
the crop sown from seed in the open.
The above is for onions eaten raw in the green state when less than
half grown. For the main crop for bulbs, the home supply is best grown
from prickers as described above. Prize-taker and Gibraltar are mostly
used for this purpose, growing to the size of the large Spanish onions
sold at grocery stores. For onions to be kept for late winter and
spring use, grow from seed, sowing outdoors as early as possible.
No vegetable needs a richer or more perfectly prepared soil than the
onion; and especial care must be taken never to let the weeds get a
start. They are gathered after the tops dry down and wither, when they
should be pulled, put in broad rows for several days in the sun, and
then spread out flat, not more than four inches deep, under cover with
plenty of light and air. Before severe freezing store in slatted
barrels, as described in Chapter XIV.
_Parsnip:_--Sow as early as possible, in deep rich soil, but where
no water will stand during fall and winter. The seed germinates very
slowly, so the seed-bed should be very finely prepared. They will be
ready for use in the fall, but are much better after the first frosts.
For method of keeping see Chapter XIV.
_Potato:_--If your garden is a small one, buy your main supply of
potatoes from some nearby farmer, first trying half a bushel or so to
be sure of the quality. Purchase in late September or October when the
crop is being dug and the price is low.
For an extra early and choice supply for the home garden, start a peck
or so in early March, as follows: Select an early variety, seed of good
size and clean; cut to pieces containing one or two eyes, and pack
closely together on end in flats of coarse sand. Give these full light
and heat, and by the middle to end of April they will have formed dense
masses of roots, and nice, strong, stocky sprouts, well leaved out. Dig
out furrows two and a half feet apart, and incorporate well rotted
manure in the bottom, with the soil covering this until the furrow is
left two to three inches deep. Set the sprouted tubers, pressing firmly
into the soil, about twelve inches apart, and cover in, leaving them
thus three to four inches below the surface. Keep well cultivated, give
a light top dressing of nitrate of soda--and surprise all your
neighbors! This system has not yet come extensively into use, but is
practically certain of producing excellent results.
For the main crop, if you have room, cut good seed to one or two eyes,
leaving as much of the tuber as possible to each piece, and plant
thirteen inches apart in rows three feet apart. Cultivate deeply until
the plants are eight to ten inches high and then shallow but
frequently. As the vines begin to spread, hill up moderately, making a
broad, low ridge. Handle potato-bugs and blight as directed in Chapter
XIII. For harvesting see Chapter XIV.
While big crops may be grown on heavy soils, the quality will be very
much better on sandy, well drained soils. Planting on well rotted sod,
or after green manuring, such as clover or rye, will also improve the
looks and quality of the crop. Like onions, they need a high percentage
of potash in manures or fertilizers used; this may be given in sulphate
of potash. Avoid planting on ground enriched with fresh barnyard manure
or immediately after a dressing of lime.
_Salsify:_--The "vegetable oyster," or salsify, is to my taste the
most delicious root vegetable grown. It is handled practically in the
same way as the parsnip, but needs, if possible, ground even more
carefully prepared, in order to keep the main root from sprangling. If
a fine light soil cannot be had for planting, it will pay to hoe or
hand-plow furrows where the drills are to be--not many will be needed,
and put in specially prepared soil, in which the seed may get a good
_Radish:_--To be of good crisp quality, it is essential with
radishes to grow them just as quickly as possible. The soil should be
rather sandy and not rich in fresh manure or other nitrogenous
fertilizers, as this tends to produce an undesirable amount of leaves
at the expense of the root. If the ground is at all dry give a thorough
wetting after planting, which may be on the surface, as the seeds
germinate so quickly that they will be up before the soil has time to
crust over. Gypsum or land-plaster, sown on white and worked into the
soil, will improve both crop and quality. They are easily raised under
glass, in autumn or spring in frames, requiring only forty to fifty
degrees at night. It is well to plant in the hotbed, after a crop of
lettuce. Or sow as a double crop, as suggested under _Carrots_.
For outside crops, sow every ten days or two weeks.
_Turnip:_--While turnips will thrive well on almost any soil, the
quality--which is somewhat questionable at the best--will be much
better on sandy or even gravelly soil. Avoid fresh manures as much as
possible, as the turnip is especially susceptible to scab and worms.
They are best when quite small and for the home table a succession of
sowing, only a few at a time, will give the best results.
Under leaf crops are considered also those of which the stalk or the
flower heads form the edible portion, such as celery and cauliflower.
Asparagus Brussels Sprouts Cabbage
Cauliflower Celery Endive
Kale Lettuce Parsley
The quality of all these will depend largely upon growing them rapidly
and without check from the seed-bed to the table. They are all great
nitrogen-consumers and therefore take kindly to liberal supplies of
yard manure, which is high in nitrogen. For celery the manure is best
applied to some preceding crop, such as early cabbage. The others will
take it "straight." Most of these plants are best started under glass
or in the seed-bed and transplanted later to permanent positions. They
will all be helped greatly by a top-dressing of nitrate of soda, worked
into the soil as soon as they have become established. This, if it
fails to produce the dark green healthy growth characteristic of its
presence, should be followed by a second application after two or three
weeks--care being taken, of course, to use it with reason and
restraint, as directed in Chapter VI.
Another method of growing good cabbages and similar plants, where the
ground is not sufficiently rich to carry the crop through, is to
"manure in the hill," either yard or some concentrated manure being
used. If yard manure, incorporate a good forkful with the soil where
each plant is to go. (If any considerable number are being set, it will
of course be covered in a furrow--first being trampled down, with the
plow). Another way, sure of producing results, and not inconvenient for
a few hundred plants, is to mark out the piece, dig out with a spade or
hoe a hole some five inches deep at each mark, dilute poultry manure in
an old pail until about the consistency of thick mud, and put a little
less than half a trowelful in each hole. Mix with the soil and cover,
marking the spot with the back of the hoe, and then set the plants. By
this method, followed by a top-dressing of nitrate of soda, I have
repeatedly grown fine cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce and sprouts.
Cotton-seed meal is also very valuable for manuring in the hill--about
a handful to a plant, as it is rich in nitrogen and rapidly decomposes.
The cabbage group is sometimes hilled up, but if set well down and
frequently cultivated, on most soils this will not be necessary. They
all do best in very deep, moderately heavy soil, heavily manured and
rather moist. An application of lime some time before planting will be
a beneficial precaution. With this group rotation also is almost
The most troublesome enemies attacking these plants are: the flea-
beetle, the cabbage-worm, the cabbage-maggot (root) and "club-root";
directions for fighting all of which will be found in the following
_Asparagus:_--Asparagus is rightly esteemed one of the very best
spring vegetables. There is a general misconception, however--due to
the old methods of growing it--concerning the difficulty of having a
home supply. As now cared for, it is one of the easiest of all
vegetables to grow, when once the beds are set and brought to bearing
condition. Nor is it difficult to make the bed, and the only reason why
asparagus is not more universally found in the home garden, beside that
mentioned above, is because one has to wait a year for results.
In selecting a spot for the asparagus bed, pick out the earliest and
best drained soil available, even if quite sandy it will do well. Plow
or dig out trenches three feet apart and sixteen to twenty inches deep.
In the bottoms of these tramp down firmly six to eight inches of old,
thoroughly rotted manure. Cover with six to eight inches of good soil--
not that coming from the bottom of the trench--and on this set the
crowns or root-clumps--preferably one-year ones--being careful to
spread the roots out evenly, and covering with enough soil to hold in
position, making them firm in the soil. The roots are set one foot
apart. Then fill in level, thus leaving the crowns four to six inches
below the surface. As the stalks appear give a light dressing of
nitrate of soda and keep the crop cleanly cultivated. (Lettuce, beets,
beans or any of the small garden vegetables may be grown between the
asparagus rows during the first part of the season, for the first two
years, thus getting some immediate return from labor and manure). The
stalks should not be cut until the second spring after planting and
then only very lightly. After that full crops may be had.
After the first season, besides keeping cleanly cultivated at all
times, in the fall clear off and burn all tops and weeds and apply a
good coating of manure. Dig or lightly cultivate this in the spring,
applying also a dressing of nitrate of soda, as soon as the stalks
appear. If the yield is not heavy, give a dressing of bone or of the
basic fertilizers mentioned earlier. It is not difficult to grow plants
from seed, but is generally more satisfactory to get the roots from
some reliable seedsman.
_Broccoli:-The broccoli makes a flower head as does the cauliflower.
It is, however, inferior in quality and is not grown to any extent
where the latter will succeed. It has the one advantage of being
hardier and thus can be grown where the cauliflower is too uncertain to
make its culture worth while. For culture directions see _Cauliflower_.
_Brussels Sprouts:_--In my opinion this vegetable leaves the
cabbage almost as far behind as the cauliflower does. It is, if
anything, more easily grown than cabbage, except that the young plants
do not seem able to stand quite so much cold. When mature, however, it
seems to stand almost any amount of freezing, and it is greatly
improved by a few smart frosts, although it is very good when
succeeding the spring crop of cauliflower. It takes longer to mature
than either cabbage or cauliflower.
_Cabbage:_--Cabbage is one of the few vegetables which may be had
in almost as good quality from the green-grocer as it can be grown at
home, and as it takes up considerable space, it may often be advisable
to omit the late sorts from the home garden if space is very limited.
The early supply, however, should come from the garden--some people
think it should stay there, but I do not agree with them. Properly
cooked it is a very delicious vegetable.
What has already been said covers largely the conditions for successful
culture. The soil should be of the richest and deepest, and well
dressed with lime.
Lettuce is grown with advantage between the rows of early cabbage, and
after both are harvested the ground is used for celery. The early
varieties may be set as closely as eighteen inches in the row, and
twenty-four between rows. The lettuce is taken out before the row is
The late crop is started in the outside seed-bed about June 1st to
15th. It will help give better plants to cut back the tops once or
twice during growth, and an occasional good soaking in dry weather will
prove very beneficial. They are set in the field during July, and as it
often is very dry at this time, those extra precautions mentioned in
directions for setting out plants, in the preceding chapter, should be
taken. If the newly set plants are dusted with wood ashes, it will be a
wise precaution against insect pests.
_Cauliflower:_--The cauliflower is easily the queen of the cabbage
group: also it is the most difficult to raise. (1) It is the most
tender and should not be set out quite so early. (2) It is even a
ranker feeder than the cabbage, and just before heading up will be
greatly improved by applications of liquid manure. (3) It must have
water, and unless the soil is a naturally damp one, irrigation, either
by turning the hose on between the rows, or directly around the plants,
must be given--two or three times should be sufficient. (4) The heads
must be protected from the sun. This is accomplished by tying up the
points of leaves, so as to form a tent, or breaking them (snap the mid-
rib only), and folding them down over the flower. (5) They must be used
as soon as ready, for they deteriorate very quickly. Take them while
the head is still solid and firm, before the little flower tips begin
to open out.
_Celery:_--This is another favorite vegetable which has a bad
reputation to live down. They used to plant it at the bottom of a
twelve-inch trench and spend all kinds of unnecessary labor over it. It
can be grown perfectly well on the level and in the average home
As to soil, celery prefers a moist one, but it must be well drained.
The home supply can, however, be grown in the ordinary garden,
especially if water may be had in case of injurious drouth.
For the early crop the best sorts are the White Plume and Golden Self-
blanching. Seed is sown in the last part of February or first part of
March. The seed is very fine and the greatest pains must be taken to
give the best possible treatment. The seed should be pressed into the
soil and barely covered with very light soil--half sifted leaf-mould or
moss. Never let the boxes dry out, and as soon as the third or fourth
leaf comes, transplant; cut back the outside leaves, and set as deeply
as possible without covering the crown. The roots also, if long, should
be cut back. This trimming of leaves and roots should be given at each
transplanting, thus assuring a short stocky growth.
Culture of the early crop, after setting out, is easier than that for
the winter crop. There are two systems: (1) The plants are set in rows
three or four feet apart, six inches in the row, and blanched, either
by drawing up the earth in a hill and working it in about the stalks
with the fingers (this operation is termed "handling"), or else by the
use of boards laid on edge along the rows, on either side. (2) The
other method is called the "new celery culture," and in it the plants
are set in beds eight inches apart each way (ten or twelve inches for
large varieties), the idea being to make the tops of the plants supply
the shade for the blanching. This method has two disadvantages: it
requires extra heavy manuring and preparation of soil, and plenty of
moisture; and even with this aid the stalks never attain the size of
those grown in rows. The early crop should be ready in August. The
quality is never so good as that of the later crops.
For the main or winter crop, sow the seed about April 1st. The same
extra care must be taken as in sowing under glass. In hot, dry weather,
shade the beds; never let them dry out. Transplant to second bed as
soon as large enough to develop root system, before setting in the
When setting in late June or July, be sure to put the plants in up to
the hearts, not over, and set firmly. Give level clean culture until
about August 15th, when, with the hoe, wheel hoe or cultivator, earth
should be drawn up along the rows, followed by "handling." The plants
for early use are trenched (see Chapter XIV), but that left for late
use must be banked up, which is done by making the hills higher still,
by the use of the spade. For further treatment see Chapter XIV.
Care must be taken not to perform any work in the celery patch while
the plants are wet.
_Corn salad or Fetticus:_--This salad plant is not largely grown.
It is planted about the middle of April and given the same treatment as
_Chicory:_--This also is little grown. The Witloof, a kind now
being used, is however much more desirable. Sow in drills, thin to five
or six inches, and in August or September, earth up, as with early
celery, to blanch the stalks, which are used for salads, or boiled.
Cut-back roots, planted in boxes of sand placed in a moderately warm
dark place and watered, send up a growth of tender leaves, making a
_Chervil:_--Curled chervil is grown the same as parsley and used
for garnishing or seasoning. The root variety resembles the stump-
rooted carrot, the quality being improved by frost. Sow in April or
September. Treat like parsnip.
_Chives:_--Leaves are used for imparting an onion flavor. A clump
of roots set put will last many years.
_Cress:_--Another salad little grown in the home garden. To many,
however, its spicy, pungent flavor is particularly pleasing. It is
easily grown, but should be planted frequently--about every two weeks.
Sow in drills, twelve to fourteen inches apart. Its only special
requirement is moisture. Water is not necessary, but if a bed can be
started in some clean stream or pool, it will take care of itself.
Upland cress or "pepper grass" grows in ordinary garden soil, being one
of the very first salads. Sow in April, in drills twelve or fourteen
inches apart. It grows so rapidly that it may be had in five or six
weeks. Sow frequently for succession, as it runs to seed very quickly.
Dandelion:_--This is an excellent "greens," but as the crop is not
ready until second season from planting it is not grown as much as it
should be. Sow the seed in April--very shallow. It is well to put in
with it a few lettuce or turnip seed to mark the rows. Drills should be
one foot apart, and plants thinned to eight to twelve inches.
The quality is infinitely superior to the wild dandelion and may be
still further improved by blanching. If one is content to take a small
crop, a cutting may be made in the fall, the same season as the sowing.
_Endive:_--This salad vegetable is best for fall use. Sow in June
or July, in drills eighteen to twenty-four inches apart, and thin to
ten to twelve inches. To be fit for use it must be blanched, either by
tying up with raffia in a loose bunch, or by placing two wide boards in
an inverted V shape over the rows; and in either case be sure the
leaves are dry when doing this.
_Kale:_--Kale is a non-heading member of the cabbage group, used
as greens, both in spring and winter. It is improved by frost, but even
then is a little tough and heavy. Its chief merit lies in the fact that
it is easily had when greens of the better sorts are hard to get, as it
may be left out and cut as needed during winter--even from under snow.
The fall crop is given the same treatment as late cabbage. Siberian
kale is sown in September and wintered-over like spinach.
_Lettuce:_--Lettuce is grown in larger quantities than all the
other salad plants put together. By the use of hotbeds it may be had
practically the year round. The first sowing for the spring under-glass
crop is made in January or February. These are handled as for the
planting outside--see Chapter VIII.--but are set in the frames six to
eight inches each way, according to variety. Ventilate freely during
the day when over 55° give 45° at night. Water only when needed, but
then thoroughly, and preferably only on mornings of bright sunny days.
The plants for first outdoor crops are handled as already described.
After April 1st planting should be made every two weeks. During July
and August the seed-beds must be kept shaded and moist. In August,
first sowing for fall under-glass crop is made, which can be matured in
coldframes; later sowings going into hotbeds.
In quality, I consider the hard-heading varieties superior to the
loose-heading sorts, but of course that is a matter of taste. The
former is best for crops maturing from the middle of June until
September, the latter for early and late sowings, as they mature more
quickly. The cos type is good for summer growing but should be tied up
to blanch well. To be at its best, lettuce should be grown very
rapidly, and the use of top-dressings of nitrate are particularly
beneficial with this crop. The ground should be light, warm, and very
rich, and cultivation shallow but frequent.
_Mushroom:_--While the mushroom is not a garden crop, strictly
speaking, still it is one of the most delicious of all vegetables for
the home table, and though space does not permit a long description of
the several details of its culture, I shall try to include all the
essential points as succinctly as possible, (1) The place for the bed
may be found in any sheltered, dry spot--cellar, shed or greenhouse--
where an even temperature of 53 to 58 degrees can be maintained and
direct sunlight excluded. (Complete darkness is _not_ necessary;
it is frequently so considered, but only because in dark places the
temperature and moisture are apt to remain more even.) (2) The material
is fresh horse-manure, from which the roughest of the straw has been
shaken out. This is stacked in a compact pile and trampled--wetting
down if at all dry--to induce fermentation. This process must be
repeated four or five times, care being required never to let the heap
dry out and burn; time for re-stacking being indicated by the heap's
steaming. At the second or third turning, add about one-fifth, in bulk,
of light loam. (3) When the heat of the pile no longer rises above 100
to 125 degrees (as indicated by a thermometer) put into the beds,
tramping or beating very firmly, until about ten inches deep. When the
temperature recedes to 90 degrees, put in the spawn. Each brick will
make a dozen or so pieces. Put these in three inches deep, and twelve
by nine inches apart, covering lightly. Then beat down the surface
evenly. After eight days, cover with two inches of light loam, firmly
compacted. This may be covered with a layer of straw or other light
material to help maintain an even degree of moisture, but should be
removed as soon as the mushrooms begin to appear. Water only when the
soil is very dry; better if water is warmed to about 60 degrees. When
gathering never leave stems in the bed as they are likely to breed
maggots. The crop should appear in six to eight weeks after spawning
_Parsley:_--This very easily grown little plant should have at
least a row or two in the seed-bed devoted to it. For use during
winter, a box or a few pots may be filled with cut-back roots and given
moderate temperature and moisture. If no frames are on hand, the plants
usually will do well in a sunny window.
Parsley seed is particularly slow in germinating. Use a few seeds of
turnip or carrot to indicate the rows, and have the bed very finely
_Rhubarb:_--This is another of the standard vegetables which no
home garden should be without. For the bed pick out a spot where the
roots can stay without interfering with the plowing and working of the
garden--next the asparagus bed, if in a good early location, will be as
good as any. One short row will supply a large family. The bed is set
either with roots or young plants, the former being the usual method.
The ground should first be made as deep and rich as possible. If poor,
dig out the rows, which should be four or five feet apart, to a depth
of two feet or more and work in a foot of good manure, refilling with
the best of the soil excavated. Set the roots about four feet apart in
the row, the crowns being about four inches below the surface. No
stalks should be cut the first season; after that they will bear
abundantly many years.
In starting from seed, sow in March in frames or outside in April; when
well along-about the first of June--set out in rows, eighteen by twelve
inches. By the following April they will be ready for their permanent
Manuring in the fall, as with asparagus, to be worked in in the spring,
is necessary for good results. I know of no crop which so quickly
responds to liberal dressings of nitrate of soda, applied first just as
growth starts in in the spring. The seed stalks should be broken off as
fast as they appear, until late in the season.
_Sea-Kale:_--When better known in this country, sea-kale will be
given a place beside the asparagus and rhubarb, for, like them, it may
be used year after year. Many believe it superior in quality to either
asparagus or cauliflower.
It is grown from either seed or pieces of the root, the former method,
being probably the more satisfactory. Sow in April, in drills fourteen
inches apart, thinning to five or six. Transplant in the following
spring as described for rhubarb--but setting three feet apart each way.
In the fall, after the leaves have fallen--and every succeeding fall--
cover each crown with a shovelful of clean sand and then about eighteen
inches of earth, dug out from between the rows. This is to blanch the
spring growth. After cutting, shovel off the earth and sand and enrich
with manure for the following season's growth.
_Spinach:_--For the first spring crop of this good
and wholesome vegetable, the seed is sown in September,
and carried over with a protection of hay
or other rough litter. Crops for summer and fall
are sown in successive plantings from April on, Long-Standing
being the best sort to sow after about May
15th. Seed of the New Zealand spinach should be
soaked several hours in hot water, before being
For the home garden, I believe that the Swiss chard beet is destined to
be more popular, as it becomes known, than any of the spinaches. It is
sown in plantings from April on, but will yield leaves all season long;
they are cut close to the soil, and in an almost incredibly short time
the roots have thrown up a new crop, the amount taken during the season
Spinach wants a strong and very rich soil, and dressings of nitrate
show good results.
THE FRUIT CROPS
Under this heading are included:
Bean, dwarf Bean, pole
Melon, musk Melon, water
Most of these vegetables differ from both the preceding groups in two
important ways. First of all, the soil should not be made too rich,
especially in nitrogenous manures, such as strong fresh yard-manure;
although light dressings of nitrate of soda are often of great help in
giving them a quick start--as when setting out in the field. Second,
they are warm-weather loving plants, and nothing is gained by
attempting to sow or set out the plants until all danger from late
frosts is over, and the ground is well warmed up. (Peas, of course, are
an exception to this rule, and to some extent the early beans.) Third,
they require much more room and are grown for the most part in hills.
Light, warm, "quick," sandy to gravelly soils, and old, fine, well
rotted manure--applied generally in the hill besides that plowed under,
make the best combination for results. Such special hills are prepared
by marking off, digging out the soil to the depth of eight to ten
inches, and eighteen inches to two feet square, and incorporating
several forkfuls of the compost. A little guano, or better still
cottonseed meal, say 1/2 to 1 gill of the former, or a gill of the
latter, mixed with the compost when putting into the hill, will also be
very good. Hills to be planted early should be raised an inch or two
above the surface, unless they are upon sloping ground.
The greatest difficulty in raising all the vine fruits--melons, etc.--
is in successfully combating their insect enemies--the striped beetle,
the borer and the flat, black "stink-bug," being the worst of these.
Remedies will be suggested in the next chapter. But for the home
garden, where only a few hills of each will be required, by far the
easiest and the only sure way of fighting them will be by protecting
with bottomless boxes, large enough to cover the hills, and covered
with mosquito netting, or better, "plant-protecting cloth," which has
the additional merit of giving the hills an early start. These boxes
may be easily made of one-half by eight-inch boards, or from ordinary
cracker-boxes, such as used for making flats. Plants so protected in
the earlier stages of growth will usually either not be attacked, or
will, with the assistance of the remedies described in the following
chapter, be able to withstand the insect's visits.
_Beans, dwarf:_--Beans are one of the most widely liked of all
garden vegetables--and one of the most easily grown. They are very
particular about only one thing--not to have a heavy wet soil. The
dwarf or bush sorts are planted in double or single drills, eighteen to
twenty-four inches apart, and for the first sowing not much over an
inch deep. Later plantings should go in two to three inches deep,
according to soil. Ashes or some good mixed fertilizer high in potash,
applied and well mixed in at time of planting, will be very useful.
As the plants gain size they should be slightly hilled--to help hold
the stalks up firmly. Never work over or pick from the plants while
they are wet. The dwarf limas should not be planted until ten to
fourteen days later than the early sorts. Be sure to put them in
edgeways, with the eye down, and when there is no prospect of immediate
rain, or the whole planting is fairly sure to be lost.
_Beans, pole:_--The pole varieties should not go in until about
the time for the limas. Plant in specially prepared hills (see above)
ten to twenty seeds, and when well up thin, leaving three to five.
Poles are best set when preparing the hills. A great improvement over
the old-fashioned pole is made by nailing building laths firmly across
2 x 3-in. posts seven or eight feet high (see illustration). To secure
extra early pods on the poles pinch back the vines at five feet high.
_Corn:_--For extra early ears, corn may easily be started on sod,
as directed for cucumbers. Be sure, however, not to get into the open
until danger from frost is over--usually at least ten days after it is
safe for the first planting, which is seldom made before May 1st.
Frequent, shallow cultivation is a prime necessity in growing this
crop. When well up, thin to four stalks to a hill--usually five to
seven kernels being planted. A slight hilling when the tassels appear
will be advisable. Plant frequently for succession crops. The last
sowing may be made as late as the first part of July if the seed is
well firmed in, to assure immediate germination. Sweet corn for the
garden is frequently planted in drills, about three feet apart, and
thinning to ten to twelve inches.
_Cucumber:_--This universal favorite is easily grown if the
striped beetle is held at bay. For the earliest fruits start on sod in
the frames: Cut out sods four to six inches square, where the grass
indicates rich soil. Pack close together in the frame, grass side down,
and push seven or eight seeds into each, firmly enough to be held in
place, covering with about one and a half inches of light soil; water
thoroughly and protect with glass or cloth, taking care to ventilate,
as described in Chapter VIII. Set out in prepared hills after danger of
frost is over.
Outside crop is planted directly in the hills, using a dozen or more
seeds and thinning to three or four.
_Egg-plant:_--The egg-plant is always started under glass, for the
Northern States, and should be twice transplanted, the second time into
pots, to be of the best size when put out. This should not be until
after tomatoes are set, as it is perhaps the tenderest of all garden
vegetables as regards heat. The soil should be very rich and as moist
as can be selected. If dry, irrigating will be necessary. This should
not be delayed until the growth becomes stunted, as sudden growth then
induced is likely to cause the fruit to crack.
Watch for potato-bugs on your egg-plants. They seem to draw these
troublesome beetles as a magnet does iron filings, and I have seen
plants practically ruined by them in one day. As they seem to know
there will not be time to eat the whole fruit they take pains to eat
into the stems. The only sure remedy is to knock them off with a piece
of shingle into a pan of water and kerosene. Egg-plants are easily
burned by Paris green, and that standard remedy cannot be so
effectively used as on other crops; hellebore or arsenate of lead is
good. As the season of growth is very limited, it is advisable, besides
having the plants as well developed as possible when set out, to give a
quick start with cotton-seed meal or nitrate, and liquid manure later
is useful, as they are gross feeders. The fruits are ready to eat from
the size of a turkey egg to complete development.
_Melon, musk:_--The culture of this delicious vegetable is almost
identical with that of the cucumber. If anything it is more particular
about having light soil. If put in soil at all heavy, at the time of
preparing the hill, add sand and leaf-mould to the compost, the hills
made at least three feet square, and slightly raised. This method is
also of use in planting the other vine crops.
_Melon, water:_--In the warm Southern States watermelons may be
grown cheaply, and they are so readily shipped that in the small home
gardens it will not pay to grow them, for they take up more space than
any other vegetable, with the exception of winter squash. The one
advantage of growing them, where there is room, is that better quality
than that usually to be bought may be obtained. Give them the hottest
spot in the garden and a sandy quick soil. Use a variety recommended
for your particular climate. Give the same culture as for musk melon,
except that the hill should be at least six to ten feet apart each way.
By planting near the edge of the garden, and pinching back the vines,
room may be saved and the ripening up of the crop made more certain.
_Okra:_--Although the okra makes a very strong plant--and
incidentally is one of the most ornamental of all garden vegetables--
the seed is quickly rotted by wet or cold. Sow not earlier than May
25th, in warm soil, planting thinly in drills, about one and a half
inches deep, and thinning to a foot or so; cultivate as with corn in
drills. All pods not used for soup or stems during summer may be dried
and used in winter.
_Peas:_--With care in making successive sowings, peas may be had
during a long season. The earliest, smooth varieties are planted in
drills twelve to eighteen inches apart, early in April. These are,
however, of very inferior quality compared to the wrinkled sorts, which
may now be had practically as early as the others. With the market
gardener, the difference of a few days in the maturing of the crop is
of a great deal more importance than the quality, but for the home
garden the opposite is true.
Another method of planting the dwarf-growing kinds is to make beds of
four rows, six to eight inches apart, with a two-foot alley between
beds. The tall-growing sorts must be supported by brush or in other
ways; and are put about four feet apart in double rows, six inches
apart. The early varieties if sown in August will usually mature a good
fall crop. The early plantings should be made in light, dry soil and
but one inch deep; the later ones in deep loam. In neither case should
the ground be made too rich, especially in nitrogen; and it should not
be wet when the seed is planted.
_Pepper:_--A dozen pepper plants will give abundance of pods for
the average family. The varieties have been greatly improved within
recent years in the quality of mildness.
The culture recommended for egg-plant is applicable also to the pepper.
The main difference is that, although the pepper is very tender when
young, the crop maturing in the autumn will not be injured by
_Pumpkin:_--The "sugar" or "pie" varieties of the pumpkin are the
only ones used in garden culture, and these only where there is plenty
of ground for all other purposes. The culture is the same as that for
late squashes, which follows.
_Squash:_--For the earliest squash the bush varieties of Scallop
are used; to be followed by the summer Crookneck and other summer
varieties, best among which are the Fordhook and Delicata. For all,
hills should be prepared as described at the beginning of this section
and in addition it is well to mix with manure a shovelful of coal
ashes, used to keep away the borer, to the attack of which the squash
is particularly liable. The cultivation is the same as that used for
melons or cucumbers, except that the hills for the winter sorts must be
at least eight feet apart and they are often put twelve.
_Tomato:_--For the earliest crop, tomatoes are started about March
1st. They should be twice transplanted, and for best results the second
transplanting should be put into pots--or into the frames, setting six
to eight inches each way. They are not set out until danger of frost is
over, and the ground should not be too rich; old manure used in the
hill, with a dressing of nitrate at setting out, or a few days after,
will give them a good start. According to variety, they are set three
to five feet apart--four feet, where staking or trellising is given, as
it should always be in garden culture, will be as much as the largest-
growing plants require. It will pay well, both for quality and quantity
of fruit, to keep most of the suckers cut or rubbed off. The ripening
of a few fruits may be hastened by tying paper bags over the bunches,
or by picking and ripening on a board in the hot sun. For ripening
fruit after frost see Chapter XIV.
A sharp watch should be kept for the large green tomato-worm, which is
almost exactly the color of the foliage. His presence may first be
noticed by fruit and leaves eaten. Hand-picking is the best remedy.
Protection must be made against the cutworm in localities where he
All the above, of course, will be considered in connection with the
tabulated information as to dates, depths and distances for sowing,
quantities, etc., given in the table in Chapter IV, and is supplemented
by the information about insects, diseases and harvesting given in
Chapters XIII and XIV, and especially in the Chapter on Varieties which
follows, and which is given separately from the present chapter in
order that the reader may the more readily make out a list, when
planning his garden or making up his order sheet for the seedsman.
BEST VARIETIES OF THE GARDEN VEGETABLES
It is my purpose in this chapter to assist the gardener of limited
experience to select varieties sure to give satisfaction.
To the man or woman planning a garden for the first time there is no
one thing more confusing than the selection of the best varieties. This
in spite of the fact that catalogues should be, and might be, a great
help instead of almost an actual hindrance.
I suppose that seedsmen consider extravagance in catalogues, both in
material and language, necessary, or they would not go to the limit in
expense for printing and mailing, as they do. But from the point of
view of the gardener, and especially of the beginner, it is to be
regretted that we cannot have the plain unvarnished truth about
varieties, for surely the good ones are good enough to use up all the
legitimate adjectives upon which seedsmen would care to pay postage.
But such is not the case. Every season sees the introduction of
literally hundreds of new varieties--or, as is more often the case, old
varieties under new names--which have actually no excuse for being
unloaded upon the public except that they will give a larger profit to
the seller. Of course, in a way, it is the fault of the public for
paying the fancy prices asked--that is, that part of the public which
does not know. Commercial planters and experienced gardeners stick to
well known sorts. New varieties are tried, if at all, by the packet
only--and then "on suspicion."
In practically every instance the varieties mentioned have been grown
by the author, but his recommendations are by no means based upon
personal experience alone. Wherever introductions of recent years have
proved to be actual improvements upon older varieties, they are given
in preference to the old, which are, of course, naturally much better
It is impossible for any person to pick out this, that or the other
variety of a vegetable and label it unconditionally "the best." But the
person who wants to save time in making out his seed list can depend
upon the following to have been widely tested, and to have "made good."
_Asparagus:_--While there are enthusiastic claims put forth for
several of the different varieties of asparagus, as far as I have seen
any authentic record of tests (Bulletin 173, N. J. Agr. Exp. Station),
the prize goes to Palmetto, which gave twenty-eight per cent. more than
its nearest rival, Donald's Elmira. Big yield alone is frequently no
recommendation of a vegetable to the home gardener, but in this
instance it does make a big difference; first, because Palmetto is
equal to any other asparagus in quality, and second, because the
asparagus bed is producing only a few weeks during the gardening
season, and where ground is limited, as in most home gardens, it is
important to cut this waste space down as much as possible. This is for
beds kept in good shape and highly fed. Barr's Mammoth will probably
prove more satisfactory if the bed is apt to be more or less neglected,
for the reason that under such circumstances it will make thicker
stalks than the Palmetto.
_Beans (dwarf):_--Of the dwarf beans there are three general
types: the early round-podded "string" beans, the stringless round-
pods, and the usually more flattish "wax" beans. For first early, the
old reliable Extra Early Red Valentine remains as good as any sort I
have ever tried. In good strains of this variety the pods have very
slight strings, and they are very fleshy. It makes only a small bush
and is fairly productive and of good quality. The care-taking planter,
however, will put in only enough of these first early beans to last a
week or ten days, as the later sorts are more prolific and of better
quality. Burpee's Stringless Greenpod is a good second early. It is
larger, finer, stringless even when mature, and of exceptionally
handsome appearance. Improved Refugee is the most prolific of the
green-pods, and the best of them for quality, but with slight strings.
Of the "wax" type, Brittle Wax is the earliest, and also a tremendous
yielder. The long-time favorite, Rust-proof Golden Wax, is another fine
sort, and an especially strong healthy grower. The top-notch in quality
among all bush beans is reached, perhaps, in Burpee's White Wax--the
white referring not to the pods, which are of a light yellow, and flat
--but to the beans, which are pure white in all stages of growth. It has
one unusual and extremely valuable quality--the pods remain tender
longer than those of any other sort.
Of the dwarf limas there is a new variety which is destined, I think,
to become the leader of the half-dozen other good sorts to be had. That
is the Burpee Improved. The name is rather misleading, as it is not an
improved strain of the Dreer's or Kumerle bush lima, but a mutation,
now thoroughly fixed. The bushes are stronger-growing and much larger
than those of the older types, reaching a height of nearly three feet,
standing strongly erect; both pods and beans are much larger, and it is
a week earlier. Henderson's new Early Giant I have not yet tried, but
from the description I should say it is the same type as the above. Of
the pole limas, the new Giant-podded is the hardiest--an important
point in limas, which are a little delicate in constitution anyway,
especially in the seedling stage--and the biggest yielder of any I have
grown and just as good in quality--and there is no vegetable much
better than well cooked limas. With me, also, it has proved as early as
that old standard, Early Leviathan, but this may have been a chance
occurrence. Ford's Mammoth is another excellent pole lima of large
size. Of the other pole beans, the two that are still my favorites are
Kentucky Wonder, or Old Homestead, and Golden Cluster. The former has
fat meaty green pods, entirely stringless until nearly mature, and of
enormous length. I have measured many over eight and a half inches
long--and they are borne in great profusion. Golden Cluster is one of
the handsomest beans I know. It is happily named, for the pods, of a
beautiful rich golden yellow color, hang in generous clusters and great
profusion. In quality it has no superior; it has always been a great
favorite with my customers. One need never fear having too many of
these, as the dried beans are pure white and splendid for winter use.
Last season I tried a new pole bean called Burger's Green-pod
Stringless or White-seeded Kentucky Wonder (the dried seeds of the old
sort being brown). It did well, but was in so dry a place that I could
not tell whether it was an improvement over the standard or not. It is
claimed to be earlier.
_Beets:_--In beets, varieties are almost endless, but I confess
that I have found no visible difference in many cases. Edmund's Early
and Early Model are good for first crops. The Egyptian strains, though
largely used for market, have never been as good in quality with me.
For the main crop I like Crimson Globe. In time it is a second early,
of remarkably good form, smooth skin and fine quality and color.
_Broccoli:_--This vegetable is a poorer cousin of the cauliflower
(which, by the way, has been termed "only a cabbage with a college
education"). It is of little use where cauliflower can be grown, but
serves as a substitute in northern sections, as it is more hardy than
that vegetable. Early White French is the standard sort.
_Brussels sprouts:_--This vegetable, in my opinion, is altogether
too little grown. It is as easy to grow as fall and winter cabbage, and
while the yield is less, the quality is so much superior that for the
home garden it certainly should be a favorite. Today (Jan. 19th) we had
for dinner sprouts from a few old plants that had been left in
transplanting boxes in an open coldframe. These had been out all
winter--with no protection, repeatedly freezing and thawing, and, while
of course small, they were better in quality than any cabbage you ever
ate. Dalkeith is the best dwarf-growing sort. Danish Prize is a new
sort, giving a much heavier yield than the older types. I have tried it
only one year, but should say it will become the standard variety.
_Cabbage:_--In cabbages, too, there is an endless mix-up of
varieties. The Jersey Wakefield still remains the standard early. But
it is at the best but a few days ahead of the flat-headed early sorts
which stand much longer without breaking, so that for the home garden a
very few heads will do. Glory of Enkhuisen is a new early sort that has
become a great favorite. Early Summer and Succession are good to follow
these, and Danish Ballhead is the best quality winter cabbage, and
unsurpassed for keeping qualities. But for the home garden the Savoy
type is, to my mind, far and away the best. It is not in the same class
with the ordinary sorts at all. Perfection Drumhead Savoy is the best
variety. Of the red cabbages, Mammoth Rock is the standard.
_Carrots:_--The carrots are more restricted as to number of
varieties. Golden Ball is the earliest of them all, but also the
smallest yielder. Early Scarlet Horn is the standard early, being a
better yielder than the above. The Danvers Half-long is probably grown
more than all other kinds together. It grows to a length of about six
inches, a very attractive deep orange in color. Where the garden soil
is not in excellent condition, and thoroughly fined and pulverized as
it should be, the shorter-growing kinds, Ox-heart and Chantenay, will
give better satisfaction. If there is any choice in quality, I should
award it to Chantenay.
_Cauliflower_;--There is hardly a seed catalogue which does not
contain its own special brand of the very best and earliest cauliflower
ever introduced. These are for the most part selected strains of either
the old favorite, Henderson's Snowball, or the old Early Dwarf Erfurt.
Snowball, and Burpee's Best Early, which resembles it, are the best
varieties I have ever grown for spring or autumn. They are more likely
to head, and of much finer quality than any of the large late sorts.
Where climatic conditions are not favorable to growing cauliflower, and
in dry sections, Dry-weather is the most certain to form heads.
_Celery:_--For the home garden the dwarf-growing, "self-blanching"
varieties of celery are much to be preferred. White Plume and Golden
Self-blanching are the best. The former is the earliest celery and of
excellent quality, but not a good keeper. Recent introductions in
celery have proved very real improvements. Perhaps the best of the
newer sorts, for home use, is Winter Queen, as it is more readily
handled than some of the standard market sorts. In quality it has no
superior. When put away for winter properly, it will keep through
_Corn:_--You will have to suit yourself about corn. I have not the
temerity to name any best varieties--every seedsman has about half a
dozen that are absolutely unequaled. For home use, I have cut my list
down to three: Golden Bantam, a dwarf-growing early of extraordinary
hardiness--can be planted earlier than any other sort and, while the
ears are small and with yellow kernels, it is exceptionally sweet and
fine in flavor. This novelty of a few years since, has attained wide
popular favor as quickly as any vegetable I know. Seymour's Sweet
Orange is a new variety, somewhat similar to Golden Bantam, but later
and larger, of equally fine quality. White Evergreen, a perfected
strain of Stowell's Evergreen, a standard favorite for years, is the
third. It stays tender longer than any other sweet corn I have
_Cucumbers:_--Of cucumbers also there is a long and varied list of
names. The old Extra Early White Spine is still the best early; for the
main crop, some "perfected" form of White Spine. I myself like the
Fordhood Famous, as it is the healthiest strain I ever grew, and has
very large fruit that stays green, while being of fine quality. In the
last few years the Davis Perfect has won great popularity, and
deservedly so. Many seedsmen predict that this is destined to become
the leading standard--and where seedsmen agree let us prick up our
ears! It has done very well with me, the fruit being the handsomest of
any I have grown. If it proves as strong a grower it will replace
Fordhood Famous with me.
_Egg-plant:_--New York Improved Purple is still the standard, but
it has been to a large extent replaced by Black Beauty, which has the
merit of being ten days earlier and a more handsome fruit. When once
tried it will very likely be the only sort grown.
_Endive:_--This is a substitute for lettuce for which I personally
have never cared. It is largely used commercially. Broad-leaved
Batavian is a good variety. Giant Fringed is the largest.
_Kale:_--Kale is a foreigner which has never been very popular in
this country. Dwarf Scott Curled is the tenderest and most delicate (or
least coarse) in flavor.
_Kohlrabi:_--This peculiar mongrel should be better known. It
looks as though a turnip had started to climb into the cabbage class
and stopped half-way. When gathered young, not more than an inch and a
half in diameter at the most, they are quite nice and tender. They are
of the easiest cultivation. White Vienna is the best.
_Leek:_--For those who like this sort of thing it is--just the
sort of thing they like. American Flag is the best variety, but why it
was given the first part of that name, I do not know.
_Lettuce:_--To cover the lettuces thoroughly would take a chapter
by itself. For lack of space, I shall have to mention only a few
varieties, although there are many others as good and suited to
different purposes. For quality, I put Mignonette at the top of the
list, but it makes very small heads. Grand Rapids is the best loose-
head sort--fine for under glass, in frames and early outdoors. Last
fall from a bench 40 x 4 ft., I sold $36 worth in one crop, besides
some used at home. I could not sell winter head lettuce to customers
who had once had this sort, so good was its quality. May King and Big
Boston are the best outdoor spring and early summer sorts. New York and
Deacon are the best solid cabbage-head types for resisting summer heat,
and long standing. Of the cos type Paris White is good.
_Muskmelon:_--The varieties of muskmelon are also without limit. I
mention but two--which have given good satisfaction out of a large
number tried, in my own experience. Netted Gem (known as Rocky Ford)
for a green-fleshed type, and Emerald Gem for salmon-fleshed. There are
a number of newer varieties, such as Hoodoo, Miller's Cream, Montreal,
Nutmeg, etc., all of excellent quality.
_Watermelon:_--With me (in Connecticut) the seasons are a little
short for this fruit. Cole's Early and Sweetheart have made the best
showing. Halbert Honey is the best for quality.
_Okra:_--In cool sections the Perfected Perkins does best, but it
is not quite so good in quality as the southern favorite, White Velvet.
The flowers and plants of this vegetable are very ornamental.
_Onion:_--For some unknown reason, different seedsmen call the
same onion by the same name. I have never found any explanation of
this, except that a good many onions given different names in the
catalogues are really the same thing. At least they grade into each
other more than other vegetables. With me Prizetaker is the only sort
now grown in quantity, as I have found it to outyield all other
yellows, and to be a good keeper. It is a little milder in quality than
the American yellows--Danvers and Southport Globe. When started
under glass and transplanted out in April, it attains the size and the
quality of the large Spanish onions of which it is a descendant.
Weathersfield Red is the standard flat red, but not quite so good in
quality or for keeping as Southport Red Globe. Of the whites I like
best Mammoth Silver-skin. It is ready early and the finest in quality,
to my taste, of all the onions, but not a good keeper. Ailsa Craig, a
new English sort now listed in several American catalogues, is the best
to grow for extra fancy onions, especially for exhibiting; it should be
started in February or March under glass.
_Parsley:_--Emerald is a large-growing, beautifully colored and
mild-flavored sort, well worthy of adoption.
_Parsnip:_--This vegetable is especially valuable because it may
be had at perfection when other vegetables are scarce. Hollow Crown
("Improved," of course!) is the best.
_Peas:_--Peas are worse than corn. You will find enough
exclamation points in the pea sections of catalogues to train the vines
on. If you want to escape brain-fag and still have as good as the best,
if not better, plant Gradus (or Prosperity) for early and second early;
Boston Unrivaled (an improved form of Telephone) for main crop, and
Gradus for autumn. These two peas are good yielders, free growers and
of really wonderfully fine quality. They need bushing, but I have never
found a variety of decent quality that does not.
_Pepper:_--Ruby King is the standard, large, red, mild pepper, and
as good as any. Chinese Giant is a newer sort, larger but later. The
flesh is extremely thick and mild. On account of this quality, it will
have a wider range of use than the older sorts.
_Pumpkins:_--The old Large Cheese, and the newer Quaker Pie, are
as prolific, hardy and fine in quality and sweetness as any.
_Potato:_--Bovee is a good early garden sort, but without the best
of culture is very small. Irish Cobbler is a good early white. Green
Mountain is a universal favorite for main crop in the East--a sure
yielder and heavy-crop potato of excellent quality. Uncle Sam is the
best quality potato I ever grew. Baked, they taste almost as rich as
_Radish:_--I do not care to say much about radishes; I do not like
them. They are, however, universal favorites. They come round, half-
long, long and tapering; white, red, white-tipped, crimson, rose,
yellow-brown and black; and from the size of a button to over a foot
long by fifteen inches in circumference--the latter being the new
Chinese or Celestial. So you can imagine what a revel of varieties the
seedsmen may indulge in. I have tried many--and cut my own list down to
two, Rapid-red (probably an improvement of the old standard, Scarlet
Button), and Crimson Globe (or Giant), a big, rapid, healthy grower of
good quality, and one that does not get "corky." A little land-plaster,
or gypsum, worked into the soil at time of planting, will add to both
appearance and quality in radishes.
_Spinach:_--The best variety of spinach is Swiss Chard Beet (see
below). If you want the real sort, use Long Season, which will give you
cuttings long after other sorts have run to seed. New Zealand will
stand more heat than any other sort. Victoria is a newer variety, for
which the claim of best quality is made. In my own trial I could not
notice very much difference. It has, however, thicker and "savoyed"
_Salsify:_--This is, to my taste, the most delicious of all root
vegetables. It will not do well in soil not deep and finely pulverized,
but a row or two for home use can be had by digging and fining before
sowing the seed. It is worth extra work. Mammoth Sandwich is the best
_Squash:_--Of this fine vegetable there are no better sorts for
the home garden than the little Delicata, and Fordhook. Vegetable
Marrow is a fine English sort that does well in almost all localities.
The best of the newer large-vined sorts is The Delicious. It is of
finer quality than the well known Hubbard. For earliest use, try a few
plants of White or Yellow Bush Scalloped. They are not so good in
quality as either Delicata or Fordhook, which are ready within a week
or so later. The latter are also excellent keepers and can be had, by
starting plants early and by careful storing, almost from June to June.
_Tomato:_--If you have a really hated enemy, give him a dozen seed
catalogues and ask him to select for you the best four tomatoes. But
unless you want to become criminally involved, send his doctor around
the next morning. A few years ago I tried over forty kinds. A good many
have been introduced since, some of which I have tried. I am prepared
to make the following statements: Earliana is the earliest quality
tomato, for light warm soils, that I have ever grown; Chalk's Jewel,
the earliest for heavier soils (Bonny Best Early resembles it);
Matchless is a splendid main-crop sort; Ponderosa is the biggest and
best quality--but it likes to split. There is one more sort, which I
have tried one year only, so do not accept my opinion as conclusive. It
is the result of a cross between Ponderosa and Dwarf Champion--one of
the strongest-growing sorts. It is called Dwarf Giant. The fruits are
tremendous in size and in quality unsurpassed by any. The vine is very
healthy, strong and stocky. I believe this new tomato will become the
standard main crop for the home garden. By all means try it. And that
is a good deal to say for a novelty in its second year!
_Turnip:_--The earliest turnip of good quality is the White Milan.
There are several others of the white-fleshed sorts, but I have never
found them equal in quality for table to the yellow sorts. Of these,
Golden Ball (or Orange Jelly) is the best quality. Petrowski is a
different and distinct sort, of very early maturity and of especially
fine quality. If you have room for but one sort in your home garden,
plant this for early, and a month later for main crop.
Do not fail to try some of this year's novelties. Half the fun of
gardening is in the experimenting. But when you are testing out the new
things in comparison with the old, just take a few plants of the latter
and give them the same extra care and attention. Very often the
reputation of a novelty is built upon the fact that in growing it on
trial the gardener has given it unusual care and the best soil and
location at his command. Be fair to the standards--and very often they
will surprise you fully as much as the novelties.
INSECTS AND DISEASES AND METHODS OF FIGHTING THEM
I use the term "methods of fighting" rather than the more usual one,
"remedies," because by both experience and study I am more and more
convinced that so long as the commercial fields of agriculture remain
in the present absolutely unorganized condition, and so long as the
gardener--home or otherwise--who cares to be neglectful and thus become
a breeder of all sorts of plant pests, is allowed so to do--just so
long we can achieve no remedy worth the name. When speaking of a remedy
in this connection we very frequently are putting the cart before the
horse, and refer to some means of prevention. Prevention is not only
the best, but often the only cure. This the gardener should always
This subject of plant enemies has not yet received the attention from
scientific investigators which other branches of horticulture have, and
it is altogether somewhat complicated.
Before taking up the various insects and diseases the following
analysis and list will enable the reader to get a general comprehension
of the whole matter.
Plant enemies are of two kinds--(1) insects, and (2) diseases. The
former are of two kinds, (a) insects which chew or eat the leaves or
fruit; (b) insects which suck the juices therefrom. The diseases also
are of two kinds--(a) those which result from the attack of some
fungus, or germ; (b) those which attack the whole organism of the plant
and are termed "constitutional." Concerning these latter practically
nothing is known.
It will be seen at once, of course, that the remedy to be used must
depend upon the nature of the enemy to be fought. We can therefore
reduce the matter to a simple classification, as follows:
Covered boxes........... 1
Kerosene emulsion....... 5
Whale-oil soap.......... 6
Miscible oils........... 7
Tobacco dust............ 8
Carbolic acid emulsion.. 9
Corrosive sublimate.... 10
Bordeaux mixture....... 11
Paris green............ 12
Arsenate of lead....... 13
It will be of some assistance, particularly as regards quick reference,
to give the following table, which shows at a glance the method of
fighting any enemy, the presence of which is known or anticipated.
While this may seem quite a formidable list, in
practice many of these pests will not appear, and
under ordinary circumstances the following six
remedies out of those mentioned will suffice to keep
them all in check, _if used in time:_ Covered boxes,
hand-picking, kerosene emulsion, tobacco dust, Bordeaux
mixture, arsenate of lead.
ENEMY | ATTACKING | CLASS | REMEDY
Aphis (Plant-lice) | Cabbage and other plants, | b | 5,8,6
| especially under glass | |
Asparagus-beetle | Asparagus | a | 13, 12
Asparagus rust | Asparagus | c | 11
Black-rot | Cabbage and the cabbage | d | 10
| group | |
Borers | Squash | b | 4
Caterpillars | Cabbage group | a |12, 14, 4
Caterpillars | Tomato | a | 4
Club-root | Cabbage group | c | see text
Cucumber-beetle | Cucumber and vines | a | 1, 11, 8
(Striped beetle) | | |
Cucumber-wilt | Cucumber and vines | c | 11
Cucumber-blight | Cucumber, muskmelon, | c | 11
| cabbage | |
Cut-worm | Cabbage, tomato, onion | a |2,4,12,13
Flea-beetle | Potato, turnip, radish | a | 11, 5
Potato-beetle | Potato and egg-plant | a |12, 13, 4
Potato-blight | Potato | c | 11
Potato-scab | Potato (tubers) | c | 10
Root-maggot | Radish, onion, cabbage, | a | 4, 3, 9
| melons | |
Squash-bug | Squash, pumpkin | b |4,8,12,5
White-fly | Plants; cucumber, tomato | b | 6, 5, 8
White-grub | Plants | a | 4
However, that the home gardener may be prepared to meet any
contingency, I shall take up in brief detail the plant enemies
mentioned and the remedies suggested.
_Aphis:_--The small, soft green plant-lice. They seldom attack
healthy growing plants in the field, but are hard to keep off under
glass. If once established it will take several applications to get rid
of them. Use kerosene or soap emulsion, or tobacco dust. There are also
several trade-marked preparations that are good. Aphine, which may be
had of any seed house, has proved very effective in my own work, and it
is the pleasantest to use that I have so far found.
_Asparagus-beetle:_--This pest will give little trouble on cleanly
cultivated patches. Thorough work with arsenate of lead (1 to 25) will
take care of it.
_Black-rot:_--This affects the cabbage group, preventing heading,
by falling of the leaves. In clean, thoroughly limed soil, with proper
rotations, it is not likely to appear. The seed may be soaked, in cases
where the disease has appeared previously, for fifteen minutes in a
pint of water in which one of the corrosive sublimate tablets which are
sold at drug stores is dissolved.
_Borers:_--This borer is a flattish, white grub, which penetrates
the main stem of squash or other vines near the ground and seems to sap
the strength of the plant, even when the vines have attained a length
of ten feet or more. His presence is first made evident by the wilting
of the leaves during the noonday heat. Coal ashes mixed with the manure
in the hill, is claimed to be a preventative. Another is to plant some
early squash between the hills prepared for the winter crop, and not to
plant the latter until as late as possible. The early squash vines,
which act as a trap, are pulled and burned.
Last season almost half the vines in one of my pieces were attacked
after many of the squashes were large enough to eat. With a little
practice I was able to locate the borer's exact position, shown by a
spot in the stalk where the flesh was soft, and of a slightly different
color. With a thin, sharp knife-blade the vines were carefully slit
lengthwise on this spot, the borer extracted and killed and the vines
in almost every instance speedily recovered. Another method is to root
the vines by heaping moist earth over several of the leaf joints, when
the vines have attained sufficient length.
_Cabbage-caterpillar:_--This small green worm, which hatches upon
the leaves and in the forming heads of cabbage and other vegetables of
the cabbage group, comes from the eggs laid by the common white or
yellow butterfly of early spring. Pick off all that are visible, and
spray with kerosene emulsion if the heads have not begun to form. If
they have, use hellebore instead. The caterpillar or worm of tomatoes
is a large green voracious one. Hand-picking is the only remedy.
_Club-root:_--This is a parasitical disease attacking the cabbage
group, especially in ground where these crops succeed each other. Lime
both soil and seed-bed--at least the fall before planting, unless using
a special agricultural lime. The crop infested is sometimes carried
through by giving a special dressing of nitrate of soda, guano or other
quick-acting powerful fertilizer, and hilled high with moist earth,
thus giving a special stimulation and encouraging the formation of new
roots. While this does not in any way cure the disease, it helps the
crop to withstand its attack. When planting again be sure to use crop
rotation and to set plants not grown in infested soil.
_Cucumber-beetle:_--This is the small, black-and-yellow-striped
beetle which attacks cucumbers and other vines and, as it multiplies
rapidly and does a great deal of damage before the results show, they
must be attended to immediately upon appearance. The vine should be
protected with screens until they crowd the frames, which should be put
in place before the beetles put in an appearance. If the beetles are
still in evidence when the vines get so large that the screens must be
removed, keep sprayed with Bordeaux mixture. Plaster, or fine ashes,
sifted on the vines will also keep them off to some extent, by keeping
the leaves covered.
_Cucumber-wilt:_--This condition accompanies the presence of the
striped beetle, although supposed not to be directly caused by it. The
only remedy is to get rid of the beetles as above, and to collect and
burn every wilted leaf or plant.
_Cucumber-blight_ or _Mildew_ is similar to that which
attacks muskmelons, the leaves turning yellow, dying in spots and
finally drying up altogether. Where there is reason to fear an attack
of this disease, or upon the first appearance, spray thoroughly with
Bordeaux, 5-5-50, and repeat every ten days or so. The spraying seems
to be more effective on cucumbers than on melons.
_Cut-worm:_--The cut-worm is perhaps the most annoying of all
garden pests. Others do more damage, but none is so exasperating. He
works at night, attacks the strongest, healthiest plants, and is
content simply to cut them off, seldom, apparently, eating much or
carrying away any of the severed leaves or stems, although occasionally
I have found such bits, especially small onion tops, dragged off and
partly into the soil. In small gardens the quickest and best remedy is
hand-picking. As the worms work at night they may be found with a
lantern; or very early in the morning. In daytime by digging about in
the soil wherever a cut is found, and by careful search, they can
almost invariably be turned out. As a preventive, and a supplement to
hand-picking, a poisoned bait should be used. This is made by mixing
bran with water until a "mash" is made, to which is added a dusting of
Paris green or arsenate of lead, sprayed on thickly and thoroughly
worked through the mass. This is distributed in small amounts--a
tablespoonful or so to a place along the row or near each hill or
plant--just as they are coming up or set out. Still another method,
where only a few plants are put out, is to protect each by a collar of
tin or tar paper.
_Flea-beetle:_--This small, black or striped hard-shelled mite
attacks potatoes and young cabbage, radish and turnip plants. It is
controlled by spraying with kerosene emulsion or Bordeaux.
_Potato-beetle:_--The striped Colorado beetle, which invariably
finds the potato patch, no matter how small or isolated. Paris green,
dry or sprayed, is the standard remedy. Arsenate of lead is now largely
used. On small plots hand-picking of old bugs and destruction of eggs
(which are laid on under side of leaves) is quick and sure.
_Potato-blight:_--Both early and late forms of blight are
prevented by Bordeaux, 5-5-50, sprayed every two weeks. Begin early--
when plants are about six inches high.
_Potato-scab:_--Plant on new ground; soak the seed in solution
prepared as directed under No. 10, which see; allow no treated tubers
to touch bags, boxes, bins or soil where untreated ones have been kept.
_Root-maggot:_--This is a small white grub, often causing serious
injury to radishes, onions and the cabbage group. Liming the soil and
rotation are the best preventives. Destroy all infested plants, being
sure to get the maggots when pulling them up. The remaining plants
should be treated with a gill of strong caustic lime water, or solution
of muriate of potash poured about the root of each plant, first
removing an inch or so of earth. In place of these solutions carbolic
acid emulsion is sometimes used; or eight to ten drops of bisulphide of
carbon are dropped into a hole made near the roots with the dibber and
then covered in. Extra stimulation, as directed for _Club-root_,
will help carry the plants through.
_Squash-bug:_--This is the large, black, flat "stink-bug," so
destructive of squash and the other running vines. Protection with
frames, or hand-picking, are the best home garden remedies. The old
bugs may be trapped under boards and by early vines. The young bugs, or
"sap-sucking nymphs," are the ones that do the real damage. Heavy
tobacco dusting, or kerosene emulsion will kill them.
_White-Fly:_--This is the most troublesome under glass, where it
is controlled by fumigation, but occasionally is troublesome on plants
and tomato and cucumber vines. The young are scab-like insects and do
the real damage. Spray with kerosene emulsion or whale-oil soap.
_White-grub_ or _muck-worm:_--When lawns are infested the sod
must be taken up, the grubs destroyed and new sward made. When the
roots of single plants are attacked, dig out, destroy the grubs and, if
the plant is not too much injured, reset.
The remedies given in the table above are prepared as follows:
1.--_Covered boxes:_--These are usually made of half-inch stuff,
about eight inches high and covered with mosquito netting, wire or
"protecting cloth"--the latter having the extra advantage of holding
warmth over night.
2.--_Collars_ are made of old cans with the bottoms removed,
cardboard or tarred paper, large enough to go over the plant and an
inch or so into the ground.
3.--_Cards_ are cut and fitted close around the stem and for an
inch or so upon the ground around it, to prevent maggots going down the
stem to the root. Not much used.
4.--_Hand-picking_ is usually very effective, and if performed as
follows, not very disagreeable: Fasten a small tin can securely to a
wooden handle and fill one-third full of water and kerosene; make a
small wooden paddle, with one straight edge and a rather sharp point;
by using this in the right hand and the pan in the left, the bugs may
be quickly knocked off. Be sure to destroy all eggs when hand-picking
5.--_Kerosene emulsion_ is used in varying strengths; for method
of preparing, see Chapter XVII.
6 and 7.--For use of whale-oil soap and miscible oils, see Chapter
8.--_Tobacco dust:_--This article varies greatly. Most sorts are
next to worthless, but a few of the brands especially prepared for this
work (and sold usually at $3 per hundred pounds, which will last two
ordinary home gardens a whole season) are very convenient to use, and
effective. Apply with a duster, like that described in Implements.
9.--_Carbolic acid emulsion:_--1 pint crude acid, 1 lb. soap and 1
gal. water. Dissolve the soap in hot water, add balance of water and
pump into an emulsion, as described for kerosene emulsion.
10.--_Corrosive sublimate_ is used to destroy scab on potatoes for
seed by dissolving 1 oz. in 7 gals, of water. The same result is
obtained by soaking for thirty minutes in a solution of commercial
formalin, at the rate of 1 gill to 15 gals. of water.
11.--_Bordeaux mixture:_--See Chapter XVII.
12.--_Paris green:_--This is the standard remedy for eating-bugs
and worms. With a modern dusting machine it can be put on dry, early in
the morning when the dew is still on. Sometimes it is mixed with
plaster. For tender plants easily burned by the pure powder, and where
dusting is not convenient, it is mixed with water at the rate of 1 lb.
to 50 to 100 gals. and used as a spray. In mixing, make a paste of
equal quantities of the powder and quicklime, and then mix thoroughly
in the water. It must be kept stirred up when using.
13.--_Arsenate of lead:_--This has two advantages over Paris
green: It will not burn the foliage and it will stay on several times
as long. Use from 4 to 10 lbs. in 100 gals. of water; mix well and
strain before putting in sprayer. See also Chapter XVII.
14.--_Hellebore:_--A dry, white powder, used in place of Nos. 12
or 13 on vegetables or fruit that is soon to be eaten. For dusting, use
1 lb. hellebore to 5 of plaster or flour. For watering or spraying, at
rate of 1 lb. to 12 gals. of water.
So much for what we can do in actual hand-to-hand, or rather hand-to-
mouth, conflict with the enemy. Very few remedies have ever proved
entirely successful, especially on crops covering any considerable
area. It will be far better, far easier and far more effective to use
the following means of precaution against plant pest ravages: First,
aim to have soil, food and plants that will produce a rapid, robust
growth without check. Such plants are seldom attacked by any plant
disease, and the foliage does not seem to be so tempting to eating-
insects; besides which, of course, the plants are much better able to
withstand their attack if they do come. Second, give clean, frequent
culture and keep the soil busy. Do not have old weeds and refuse lying
around for insects and eggs to be sheltered by. Burn all leaves, stems
and other refuse from plants that have been diseased. Do not let the
ground lie idle, but by continuous cropping keep the bugs, caterpillars
and eggs constantly rooted out and exposed to their natural enemies.
Third, practice crop rotation. This is of special importance where any
root disease is developed. Fourth, watch closely and constantly for the
first appearance of trouble. The old adages "eternal vigilance is the
price of peace," and "a stitch in time saves nine," are nowhere more
applicable than to this matter. And last, and of extreme importance, be
prepared to act _at once_. Do not give the enemy an hour's rest
after his presence is discovered. In almost every case it is only by
having time to multiply, that damage amounting to anything will be
If you will keep on hand, ready for instant use, a good hand-sprayer
and a modern powder gun, a few covered boxes, tobacco dust, arsenate of
lead and materials for kerosene emulsion and Bordeaux mixture, and are
not afraid to resort to hand-picking when necessary, you will be able
to cope with all the plant enemies you are likely to encounter. The
slight expense necessary--considering that the two implements mentioned
will last for years with a little care--will pay as handsome a dividend
as any garden investment you can make.
HARVESTING AND STORING
It is a very common thing to allow the garden vegetables not used to
rot on the ground, or in it. There is a great deal of unnecessary waste
in this respect, for a great many of the things so neglected may just
as well be carried into winter, and will pay a very handsome dividend
for the slight trouble of gathering and storing them.
A good frost-proof, cool cellar is the best and most convenient place
in which to store the surplus product of the home garden. But, lacking
this, a room partitioned off in the furnace cellar and well ventilated,
or a small empty room, preferably on the north side of the house, that
can be kept below forty degrees most of the time, will serve
excellently. Or, some of the most bulky vegetables, such as cabbage and
the root crops, may be stored in a prepared pit made in the garden
As it is essential that such a pit be properly constructed, I shall
describe one with sufficient detail to enable the home gardener readily
to construct it. Select a spot where water will not stand. Put the
vegetables in a triangular-shaped pile, the base three or four feet
wide, and as long as required. Separate the different vegetables in
this pile by stakes about two feet higher than the top of the pile, and
label them. Then cover with a layer of clean straw or bog hay, and over
this four inches of soil, dug up three feet back from the edges of the
pile. This work must be done late in the fall, as nearly as one can
judge just before lasting freezing begins, and preferably on a cold
morning when the ground is just beginning to freeze; the object being
to freeze the partly earth covering at once, so that it will not be
washed or blown off. The vegetables must be perfectly dry when stored;
dig them a week or so previous and keep them in an airy shed. As soon
as this first layer of earth is partly frozen, but before it freezes
through, put on another thick layer of straw or hay and cover with
twelve inches of earth, keeping the pile as steep as possible; a
slightly clayey soil, that may be beaten down firmly into shape with a
spade, being best. The pile should be made where it will be sheltered
from the sun as much as possible, such as on the north side of a
building. The disadvantage of the plan is, of course, that the
vegetables cannot be got at until the pile is opened up, in early
spring, or late if desired. Its two advantages are that the vegetables
stored will be kept in better condition than in any cellar, and that
cellar or house
room will be saved.
For storing small quantities of the roots, such as carrots or beets,
they are usually packed in boxes or barrels and covered in with clean
sand. Where an upstairs room has to be used, swamp or sphagnum moss may
replace the sand. It makes an ideal packing medium, as it is much
lighter and cleaner than the sand. In many localities it may be had for
the gathering; in others one may get it from a florist.
In storing vegetables of any kind, and by whatever method, see to it
(1) They are always clean, dry and sound. The smallest spot or bruise
is a danger center, which may spread destruction to the lot.
(2) That the temperature, whatever required--in most cases 33-38
degrees being best--is kept as even as possible.
(3) That the storage place is kept clean, dry (by ventilation when
needed) and sweet (by use of whitewash and lime).
(4) That no rats or other rodents are playing havoc with your treasures
while you never suspect it.
So many of the vegetables can be kept, for either part or all of the
winter, that I shall take them up in order, with brief directions.
Many, such as green beans, rhubarb, tomatoes, etc., which cannot be
kept in the ordinary ways, may be easily and cheaply canned, and where
one has a good cellar, it will certainly pay to get a canning outfit
and make use of this method.
_Beans:_--Almost all the string and snap beans, when dried in the
pods, are excellent for cooking. And any pods which have not been
gathered in the green state should be picked, _as soon as dry_ (as
wet weather is likely to mould or sprout them), and stored in a dry
place, or spread on a bench in the sun. They will keep, either shelled
or in the dry pods, for winter.
_Beets:_--In October, before the first hard frosts, take up and
store in a cool cellar, in clean, perfectly dry sand, or in pits
outside (see Cabbage); do not cut off the long tap roots, nor the tops
close enough to cause any "bleeding."
_Brussels sprouts:_--These are improved by freezing, and may be
used from the open garden until December. If wanted later, store them
with cabbage, or hang up the stalks in bunches in a cold cellar.
_Cabbage:_--If only a few heads are to be stored, a cool cellar
will do. Even if where they will be slightly frozen, they will not be
injured, so long as they do not freeze and thaw repeatedly. They should
not be taken in until there is danger of severe freezing, as they will
keep better, and a little frost improves the flavor. For storing small
quantities outdoors, dig a trench, a foot or so deep, in a well drained
spot, wide enough to admit two heads side by side. Pull up the
cabbages, without removing either stems or outer leaves, and store side
by side, head down, in the bottom of the trench. Now cover over lightly
with straw, meadow hay, or any refuse which will keep the dirt from
freezing to the cabbages, and then cover over the whole with earth, to
the depth of several inches, but allowing the top of the roots to
remain exposed, which will facilitate digging them up as required. Do
not bury the cabbage until as late as possible before severe freezing,
as a spell of warm weather would rot it.
_Carrots:_--Treat in the same way as beets. They will not be hurt
by a slight freezing of the tops, before being dug, but care must be
taken not to let the roots become touched by frost.
_Celery:_--That which is to be used early is blanched outside, by
banking, as described in Chapter XI, and as celery will stand a little
freezing, will be used directly from the garden. For the portion to be
kept over winter, provide boxes about a foot wide, and nearly as deep
as the celery is high. Cover the bottoms of these boxes with two or
three inches of sand, and wet thoroughly. Upon this stand the celery
upright, and packed close together. In taking up the celery for storing
in this way, the roots and whatever earth adheres to them are kept on,
not cut, as it is bought in the stores. The boxes are then stored in a
cellar, or other dark, dry, cold place where the temperature will not
go more than five degrees below freezing. The celery will be ready for
use after Christmas. If a long succession is wanted, store from the
open two or three different times, say at the end of October, first
part of November and the latter part of November.
_Cucumbers, Melons, Egg-plant:_--While there is no way of storing
these for any great length of time without recourse to artificial cold,
they may be had for some time by storing just before the first frosts
in a cool, dark cellar, care being taken in handling the fruits to give
them no bruises.
_Onions:_--If the onions got a good early start in the spring, the
tops will begin to die down by the middle of August. As soon as the
tops have turned yellow and withered they should be pulled, on the
first clear dry day, and laid in windrows (three or four rows in one),
but not heaped up. They should be turned over frequently, by hand or
with a wooden rake, and removed to a shed or barn floor as soon as dry,
where the tops can be cut off. Keep them spread out as much as
possible, and give them open ventilation until danger of frost. Then
store in a dry place and keep as cool as possible without freezing. A
few barrels, with holes knocked in the sides, will do well for a small
_Parsley:_--Take up a few plants and keep in a flower-pot or small
box, in the kitchen window.
_Parsnips:_--These will stay in the ground without injury all
winter, but part of the crop may be taken up late in the fall and
stored with beets, carrots and turnips, to use while the ground is
_Potatoes:_--When the vines have died down and the skin of the new
potatoes has become somewhat hardened, they can be dug and stored in a
cool, dry cellar at once. Be sure to give plenty of ventilation until
danger of frost. Keep from the light, as this has the effect of making
the potatoes bitter. If there is any sign of rot among the tubers, do
not dig them up until it has stopped.
_Squash and Pumpkins:_--The proper conditions for storing for
winter will be indicated by the drying and shrinking of the stem.
_Cut_ them from the vines, being careful never to break off the
stem, turn over, rub off the dirt and leave the under side exposed to a
few days' sunlight. Then carry in a spring wagon, or spring
wheelbarrow, covered with old bags or hay to keep from any bruises.
Store in the dryest part of the cellar, and if possible where the
temperature will not go below forty degrees. Leave them on the vines in
the field as late as possible, while escaping frosts.
_Tomatoes:_--Just before the first frosts are likely to begin,
pick all of the best of the unripened fruits. Place part of these on
clean straw in a coldframe, giving protection, where they will
gradually ripen up. Place others, that are fully developed but not
ripe, in straw in the cellar. In this way fresh tomatoes may frequently
be had as late as Christmas.
_Turnip:_--These roots, if desired, can be stored as are beets or
It is hard to retain our interest in a thing when most of its
usefulness has gone by. It is for that reason, I suppose, that one sees
so many forsaken and weed-grown gardens every autumn, where in the
spring everything was neat and clean. But there are two very excellent
reasons why the vegetable garden should not be so abandoned--to say
nothing of appearances! The first is that many vegetables continue to
grow until the heavy frosts come; and the second, that the careless
gardener who thus forsakes his post is sowing no end of trouble for
himself for the coming year. For weeds left to themselves, even late in
the fall, grow in the cool moist weather with astonishing rapidity,
and, almost before one realizes it, transform the well kept garden into
a ragged wilderness, where the intruders have taken such a strong
foothold that they cannot be pulled up without tearing everything else
with them. So we let them go--and, left to themselves, they accomplish
their purpose in life, and leave upon the ground an evenly distributed
supply of plump ripe seeds, which next spring will cause the perennial
exclamation, "Mercy, John, where did all these weeds come from?" And
John replies, "I don't know; we kept the garden clean last summer. I
think there must be weed seeds in the fertilizer."
Do not let up on your fight with weeds, for every good vegetable that
is left over can be put to some use. Here and there in the garden will
be a strip that has gone by, and as it is now too late to plant, we
just let it go. Yet now is the time we should be preparing all such
spots for withstanding next summer's drouth! You may remember how
strongly was emphasized the necessity for having abundant humus
(decayed vegetable matter) in the soil--how it acts like a sponge to
retain moisture and keep things growing through the long, dry spells
which we seem to be sure of getting every summer. So take thought for
next year. Buy a bushel of rye, and as fast as a spot in your garden
can be cleaned up, harrow, dig or rake it over, and sow the rye on
broadcast. Just enough loose surface dirt to cover it and let it
sprout, is all it asks. If the weather is dry, and you can get a small
roller, roll it in to ensure better germination. It will come up
quickly; it will keep out the weeds which otherwise would be taking
possession of the ground; it will grow until the ground is frozen solid
and begin again with the first warm spring day; it will keep your
garden from washing out in heavy rains, and capture and save from being
washed away and wasted a good deal of left-over plant food; it will
serve as just so much real manure for your garden; it will improve the
mechanical condition of the soil, and it will add the important element
of humus to it.
In addition to these things, you will have an attractive and luxuriant
garden spot, instead of an unsightly bare one. And in clearing off
these patches for rye, beware of waste. If you have hens, or by chance
a pig, they will relish old heads of lettuce, old pea-vines, still
green after the last picking, and the stumps and outer leaves of
cabbage. Even if you have not this means of utilizing your garden's by-
products, do not let them go to waste. Put everything into a square
pile--old sods, weeds, vegetable tops, refuse, dirt, leaves, lawn
sweepings--anything that will rot. Tread this pile down thoroughly;
give it a soaking once in a while if within reach of the hose, and two
or three turnings with a fork. Next spring when you are looking for
every available pound of manure with which to enrich your garden, this
compost heap will stand you in good stead.
Burn _now_ your old pea-brush, tomato poles and everything that is
not worth keeping over for next year. Do not leave these things lying
around to harbor and protect eggs and insects and weed seeds. If any
bean-poles, stakes, trellises or supports seem in good enough condition
to serve another year, put them under cover now; and see that all your
tools are picked up and put in one place, where you can find them and
overhaul them next February. As soon as your surplus pole beans have
dried in their pods, take up poles and all and store in a dry place.
The beans may be taken off later at your leisure.
Be careful to cut down and burn (or put in the compost heap) all weeds
around your fences, and the edges of your garden, _before_ they
If the suggestions given are followed, the vegetable garden may be
stretched far into the winter. But do not rest at that. Begin to plan
_now_ for your next year's garden. Put a pile of dirt where it
will not be frozen, or dried out, when you want to use it next February
for your early seeds. If you have no hotbed, fix the frames and get the
sashes for one now, so it will be ready to hand when the ground is
frozen solid and covered with snow next spring. If you have made garden
mistakes this year, be planning now to rectify them next--without
progress there is no fun in the game. Let next spring find you with
your plans all made, your materials all on hand and a fixed resolution
to have the best garden you have ever had.
Part Three--Fruits and Berries
THE VARIETIES OF POME AND STONE FRUITS
Many a home gardener who has succeeded well with vegetables is, for
some reason or other, still fearsome about trying his hand at growing
his own fruit.
This is all a mistake; the initial expense is very slight (fruit trees
will cost but twenty-five to forty cents each, and the berry bushes
only about four cents each), and the same amount of care that is
demanded by vegetables, if given to fruit, will produce apples,
peaches, pears and berries far superior to any that can be bought,
especially in flavor.
I know a doctor in New York, a specialist, who has attained prominence
in his profession, and who makes a large income; he tells me that there
is nothing in the city that hurts him so much as to have to pay out a
nickel whenever he wants an apple. His boyhood home was on a
Pennsylvania farm, where apples were as free as water, and he cannot
get over the idea of their being one of Nature's gracious gifts, any
more than he can overcome his hankering for that crisp, juicy,
uncloying flavor of a good apple, which is not quite equaled by the
taste of any other fruit.
And yet it is not the saving in expense, although that is considerable,
that makes the strongest argument for growing one's own fruit. There
are three other reasons, each of more importance. First is quality. The
commercial grower cannot afford to grow the very finest fruit. Many of
the best varieties are not large enough yielders to be available for
his use, and he cannot, on a large scale, so prune and care for his
trees that the individual fruits receive the greatest possible amount
of sunshine and thinning out--the personal care that is required for
the very best quality. Second, there is the beauty and the value that
well kept fruit trees add to a place, no matter how small it is. An
apple tree in full bloom is one of the most beautiful pictures that
Nature ever paints; and if, through any train of circumstances, it ever
becomes advisable to sell or rent the home, its desirability is greatly
enhanced by the few trees necessary to furnish the loveliness of
showering blossoms in spring, welcome shade in summer and an abundance
of delicious fruits through autumn and winter. Then there is the fun of
doing it--of planting and caring for a few young trees, which will
reward your labors, in a cumulative way, for many years to come.
But enough of reasons. If the call of the soil is in your veins, if
your fingers (and your brain) in the springtime itch to have a part in
earth's ever-wonderful renascence, if your lips part at the thought of
the white, firm, toothsome flesh of a ripened-on-the-tree red apple--
then you must have a home orchard without delay.
And it is not a difficult task. Apples, pears and the stone fruits,
fortunately, are not very particular about their soils. They take
kindly to anything between a sandy soil so loose as to be almost
shifting, and heavy clay. Even these soils can be made available, but
of course not without more work. And you need little room to grow all
the fruit your family can possibly eat.
Time was, when to speak of an apple tree brought to mind one of those
old, moss-barked giants that served as a carriage shed and a summer
dining-room, decorated with scythes and rope swings, requiring the
services of a forty-foot ladder and a long-handled picker to gather the
fruit. That day is gone. In its stead have come the low-headed standard
and the dwarf forms. The new types came as new institutions usually do,
under protest. The wise said they would never be practical--the trees
would not get large enough and teams could not be driven under them.
But the facts remained that the low trees are more easily and
thoroughly cared for; that they do not take up so much room; that they
are less exposed to high winds, and such fruit as does fall is not
injured; that the low limbs shelter the roots and conserve moisture;
and, above all, that picking can be accomplished much more easily and
with less injury to fine, well ripened fruit. The low-headed tree has
come to stay.
If your space will allow, the low-headed standards will give you better
satisfaction than the dwarfs. They are longer-lived, they are
healthier, and they do not require nearly so much intensive culture. On
the other hand, the dwarfs may be used where there is little or no room
for the standards. If there is no other space available, they may be
put in the vegetable or flower garden, and incidentally they are then
sure of receiving some of that special care which they need in the way
of fertilization and cultivation.
As I have said, any average soil will grow good fruit. A gravelly loam,
with a gravel subsoil, is the ideal. Do not think from this, however,
that all you have to do is buy a few trees from a nursery agent, stick
them in the ground and from your negligence reap the rewards that
follow only intelligent industry. The soil is but the raw material
which work and care alone can transform, through the medium of the
growing tree, into the desired result of a cellar well stored each
autumn with fruit.
Fruit trees have one big advantage over vegetables--the ground can be
prepared for them while they are growing. If the soil will grow a crop
of clover it is already in good shape to furnish the trees with food at
once. If not, manure or fertilizers may be applied, and clover or other
green crops turned under during the first two or three years of the
trees' growth, as will be described later.
The first thing to consider, when you have decided to plant, is the
location you will give your trees. Plan to have pears, plums, cherries
and peaches, as well as apples. For any of these the soil, of whatever
nature, must be well drained. If not naturally, then tile or other
artificial drainage must be provided. For only a few trees it would
probably answer the purpose to dig out large holes and fill in a foot
or eighteen inches at the bottom with small stone, covered with gravel
or screened coal-cinders. My own land has a gravelly subsoil and I have
not had to drain. Then with the apples, and especially with the
peaches, a too-sheltered slope to the south is likely to start the
flower buds prematurely in spring, only to result in total crop loss
from late frosts. The diagram on the next page suggests an arrangement
which may be adapted to individual needs. One may see from it that the
apples are placed to the north, where they will to some extent shelter
the rest of the grounds; the peaches where they will not be coddled;
the pears, which may be had upon quince stock, where they will not
shade the vegetable garden; the cherries, which are the most
ornamental, where they may lend a decorative effect.
And now, having decided that we can--and will--grow good fruit, and
having in mind suggestions that will enable us to go out to-morrow
morning and, with an armful of stakes, mark out the locations, the next
consideration should be the all-important question of what varieties
are most successfully grown on the small place.
[Illustration: A suggested arrangement of fruit trees on the small
place.] [ED. Unable to recreate in text format.]
The following selections are made with the home fruit garden, not the
commercial orchard, in mind. While they are all "tried and true" sorts,
succeeding generally in the northeast, New England and western fruit
sections, remember that fruits, as a rule, though not so particular as
vegetables about soil, seem much more so about locality. I would
suggest, therefore, submitting your list, before buying, to your State
Experiment Station. You are taxed for its support; get some direct
result from it. There they will be glad to advise you, and are in the
best position to help you get started properly. Above all, do not buy
from the traveling nursery agent, with his grip full of wonderful
lithographs of new and unheard-of novelties. Get the catalogue of
several reliable nurseries, take standard varieties about which you
know, and buy direct. Several years ago I had the opportunity to go
carefully over one of the largest fruit nurseries in the country. Every
care and precaution was taken to grow fine, healthy, young trees. The
president told me that they sold thousands every year to smaller
concerns, to be resold again through field and local agents. Yet they
do an enormous retail business themselves, and of course their own
customers get the best trees.
The following are listed, as nearly as I can judge, in the order of
their popularity, but as many of the best are not valuable
commercially, they are little known. Whenever you find a particularly
good apple or pear, try to trace it, and add it to your list.
Without any question, the apple is far and away the most valuable
fruit, both because of its greater scope of usefulness and its longer
season--the last of the winter's Russets are still juicy and firm when
the first Early Harvests and Red Astrachans are tempting the "young
idea" to experiment with colic. Plant but a small proportion of early
varieties, for the late ones are better. Out of a dozen trees, I would
put in one early, three fall, and the rest winter sorts.
Among the summer apples are several deserving special mention: Yellow
Transparent is the earliest. It is an old favorite and one of the most
easily grown of all apples. Its color is indicated by the name, and it
is a fair eating-apple and a very good cooker. Red Astrachan, another
first early, is not quite so good for cooking, but is a delicious
eating-apple of good size. An apple of more recent introduction and
extremely hardy (hailing first from Russia), and already replacing the
above sorts, is Livland (Livland Raspberry). The tree is of good form,
very vigorous and healthy. The fruit is ready almost as soon as Yellow
Transparent, and is of much better quality for eating. In appearance it
is exceptionally handsome, being of good size, regular form and having
those beautiful red shades found almost exclusively in the later
apples. The flesh is quality is fully up to its appearance. The white,
crisp-breaking flesh, most aromatic, deliciously sub-acid, makes it
ideal for eating. A neighbor of mine sold $406 worth of fruit from
twenty trees to one dealer. For such a splendid apple McIntosh is
remarkably hardy and vigorous, succeeding over a very wide territory,
and climate severe enough to kill many of the other newer varieties.
The Fameuse (widely known as the Snow) is an excellent variety for
northern sections. It resembles the McIntosh, which some claim to be
derived from it. Fall Pippin, Pound Sweet and Twenty Ounce, are other
popular late autumns.
In the winter section, Baldwin, which is too well known to need
describing, is the leading commercial variety in many apple districts,
and it is a good variety for home growing on account of its hardiness
and good cooking and keeping qualities; but for the home orchard, it is
far surpassed in quality by several others. In northern sections, down
to the corn line, Northern Spy is a great favorite. It is a large,
roundish apple, with thin, tender, glossy skin, light to deep carmine
over light yellow, and an excellent keeper. In sections to which it is
adapted it is a particularly vigorous, compact, upright grower.
Jonathan is another splendid sort, with a wider range of conditions
favorable for growth. It is, however, not a strong-growing tree and is
somewhat uncertain in maturing its fruit, which is a bright, clear red
of distinctive flavor. It likes a soil with more clay than do most
apples. In the Middle West and Middle South, Grimes (Golden) has made a
great local reputation in many sections, although in others it has not
done well at all.
The Spitzenberg (Esopus) is very near the top of the list of all late
eating-apples, being at its prime about December. It is another
handsome yellow-covered red apple, with flesh slightly yellowish, but
very good to the taste. The tree, unfortunately, is not a robust
grower, being especially weak in its earlier stages, but with good
cultivation it will not fail to reward the grower for any extra care it
may have required.
These, and the other notable varieties, which there is not room here to
describe, make up the following list, from which the planter should
select according to locality:
_Earliest or Summer:_--Early Harvest, Yellow Transparent, Red
Astrachan, Benoni (new), Chenango, Sweet Bough, Williams' Favorite,
Early Strawberry, Livland Raspberry.
_Early Autumn:_--Alexander, Duchess, Porter, Gravenstein, McIntosh
_Late Autumn:_--Jefferies, Fameuse (Snow), Maiden's Blush,
Wealthy, Fall Pippin, Pound Sweet, Twenty Ounce, Cox Orange,
_Winter:_--Baldwin, Rhode Island Greening, Northwestern Greening,
Jonathan, Northern Spy, Yellow, Swaar, Delicious, Wagener, King,
Esopus, Spitzenberg, Yellow Bellflower, Winter Banana, Seek-no-further,
Talman Sweet, Roxbury Russett, King David, Stayman's Winesap, Wolf
Pears are more particular than apples in the matter of being adapted to
sections and soils. Submit your list to your State Experiment Station
before ordering trees. Many of the standard sorts may be had where a
low-growing, spreading tree is desired (for instance, quince-stock
pears might be used to change places with the plums). Varieties
suitable for this method are listed below. They are given approximately
in the order of the ripening:
Wilder: Early August, medium in size, light yellow, excellent quality.
Does not rot at the core, as so many early pears are liable to do.
Margaret: Oblong, greenish, yellow to dull red.
Clapp Favorite: Very large, yellow pear. A great bearer and good
keeper--where the children cannot get at it.
Howell: A little later than the foregoing; large, bright yellow,
strong-growing tree and big bearer.
Duchesse d'Angouleme: Large greenish yellow, sometimes reaching huge
size; will average better than three-quarters of a pound. The quality,
despite its size, is splendid.
Seckel: Small in size, but renowned for exquisite flavor--being
probably the most universally admired of all.
Beurre Superfine: October, medium size, excellent quality.
Bartlett: The best known of all pears, and a universal favorite.
Succeeds in nearly all sections.
Anjou: One of the best keepers, and very productive. One of the best in
flavor, rich and vinous.
For trees of the standard type the following are worthy of note:
Congress (Souvenir du C.): A very large summer sort. Handsome.
Belle Lucrative: September to October.
Winter Nelis: Medium size, but of excellent quality and the longest
Kieffer: Very popular for its productiveness, strength of growth and
exceptional quality of fruit for canning and preserving. Large fruit,
if kept thinned. Should have a place in every home garden.
Josephine de Malines: Not a great yielder but
of the very highest quality, being of the finest texture
and tempting aroma.
Success with peaches also will depend largely upon getting varieties
adapted to climate. The white-fleshed type is the hardiest and best for
eating; and the free-stones are for most purposes, especially in the
home garden, more desirable than the "clings."
Greensboro is the best early variety. Crawford is a universal favorite
and goes well over a wide range of soil and climate. Champion is one of
the best quality peaches and exceptionally hardy. Elberta, Ray, and
Hague are other excellent sorts. Mayflower is the earliest sort yet
The available plums are of three classes--the natives, Europeans and
Japans; the natives are the longest-lived, hardier in tree and blossom,
and heavier bearers.
The best early is Milton; brilliant red, yellow and juicy flesh.
Wildgoose and Whitaker are good seconds. Mrs. Cleveland is a later and
larger sort, of finer quality. Three late-ripening plums of the finest
quality, but not such prolific yielders, are Wayland, Benson and Reed,
and where there is room for only a few trees, these will be best. They
will need one tree of Newman or Prairie Flower with them to assure
setting of the fruit. Of the Europeans, use Reine Claude (the best),
Bradshaw or Shropshire. Damson is also good. The Japanese varieties
should go on high ground and be thinned, especially during their first
years. My first experience with Japanese plums convinced me that I had
solved the plum problem; they bore loads of fruit, and were free from
disease. That was five years ago. Last spring the last one was cut and
burned. Had they been planted at the top of a small hill, instead of at
the bottom, as they were, and restricted in their bearing, I know from
later experience that they would still be producing fruit. The most
satisfactory varieties of the Japanese type are Abundance and Red June.
Burbank is also highly recommended,
Cherries have one advantage over the other fruits--they give quicker
returns. But, as far as my experience goes, they are not as long-lived.
The sour type is hardier, at least north of New Jersey, than the sweet.
It will probably pay to try a few of the new and highly recommended
varieties. Of the established sorts Early Richmond is a good early, to
be followed by Montmorency and English Morello. Windsor is a good sweet
cherry, as are also Black Tartarian, Sox, Wood and Yellow Spanish.
All the varieties mentioned above are proved
sorts. But the lists are being added to constantly,
and where there is a novelty strongly recommended
by a reliable nurseryman it will often pay to try
it out--on a very small scale at first.
PLANTING: CULTIVATION: FILLER CROPS
As the pedigree and the quality of the stock you plant will have a
great deal to do with the success or failure of your adventure in
orcharding, even on a very small scale, it is important to get the best
trees you can, anywhere, at any price. But do not jump to the
conclusion that the most costly trees will be the best. From reliable
nurserymen, selling direct by mail, you can get good trees at very
As a general thing you will succeed best if you have nothing to do with
the perennial "tree agent." He may represent a good firm; you may get
your trees on time; he may have a novelty as good as the standard
sorts; but you are taking three very great chances in assuming so. But,
leaving these questions aside, there is no particular reason why you
should help pay his traveling expenses and the printing bills for his
lithographs ("made from actual photographs" or "painted from nature,"
of course!) when you can get the best trees to be had,
direct from the soil in which they are grown, at the
lowest prices, by ordering through the mail. Or,
better still, if the nursery is not too far away, take
half a day off and select them in person. If you
want to help the agent along present him with the
amount of his commission, but get your trees direct
from some large reliable nursery.
Well grown nursery stock will stand much abuse,
but it will not be at all improved by it. Do not
let yours stand around in the sun and wind, waiting
until you get a chance to set it out. As soon as you
get it home from the express office, unpack it and
"heel it in," in moist, but not wet, ground; if under
a shed, so much the better. Dig out a narrow trench
and pack it in as thick as it will go, at an angle of
forty-five degrees to the natural position when
growing. So stored, it will keep a long time in
cold weather, only be careful that no rats, mice, or
rabbits reach it.
Do not, however, depend upon this knowledge to
the extent of letting all your preparations for planting
go until your stock is on hand. Be ready to
set it the day it arrives, if possible.
Planting can be done in either spring or fall. As a general rule, north
of Philadelphia and St. Louis, spring planting will be best; south of
that, fall planting. Where there is apt to be severe freezing,
"heaving," caused by the alternate freezing and thawing; injury to the
newly set roots from too severe cold; and, in some western sections,
"sun-scald" of the bark, are three injuries which may result. If trees
are planted in the fall in cold sections, a low mound of earth, six to
twelve inches high, should be left during the winter about each, and
leveled down in the spring. If set in the spring, where hot, dry
weather is apt to follow, they should be thoroughly mulched with
litter, straw or coarse manure, to preserve moisture--care being taken,
however, against field mice and other rodents.
The trees may either be set in their permanent positions as soon as
bought, or grown in "nursery rows" by the purchaser for one or two
years after being purchased. In the former case, it will be the best
policy to get the strongest, straightest two-year stock you can find,
even if they cost ten or fifteen cents apiece more than the "mediums."
The former method is the usual one, but the latter has so many
advantages that I give it the emphasis of a separate paragraph, and
urge every prospective planter to consider it carefully.
In the first place, then, you get your trees a little cheaper. If you
purchase for nursery row planting, six-foot to seven-foot two-year-old
apple trees, of the standard sorts, should cost you about thirty cents
each; one-year "buds," six feet and branched, five to ten cents less.
This gain, however, is not an important one--there are four others,
each of which makes it worth while to give the method a trial. First,
the trees being all together, and in a convenient place, the chances
are a hundred to one that you will give them better attention in the
way of spraying, pruning and cultivating--all extremely important in
the first year's growth. Second, with the year gained for extra
preparation of the soil where they are to be placed permanently, you
can make conditions just right for them to take hold at once and thrive
as they could not do otherwise. Third, the shock of transplanting will
be much less than when they are shipped from a distance--they will have
made an additional growth of dense, short roots and they will have
become acclimated. Fourth, you will not have wasted space and time with
any backward black sheep among the lot, as these should be discarded at
the second planting. And then there is one further reason,
psychological perhaps, but none the less important; you will watch
these little trees, which are largely the result of your own labor and
care, when set in their permanent positions, much more carefully than
you would those direct from the nursery. I know, both from experience
and observation, how many thrifty young trees in the home orchard are
done to an untimely death by children, careless workmen, and other
So if you can put a twelve-month curb on your impatience, get one-year
trees and set them out in a straight row right in your vegetable garden
where they will take up very little room. Keep them cultivated just as
thoroughly as the rest of your growing things. Melons, or beans, or
almost any low-growing vegetable can be grown close beside them.
If you want your garden to pay for your whole lot of fruit trees this
season dig up a hole about three feet in diameter wherever a tree is to
"go permanently." Cut the sod up fine and work in four or five good
forkfuls of well rotted manure, and on these places, when it is warm
enough, plant a hill of lima pole-beans-the new sort named Giant-podded
Pole Lima is the best I have yet seen. Place a stout pole, eight to ten
feet high, firmly in each hole. Good lima beans are always in demand,
and bring high prices.
Let us suppose that your trees are at hand, either direct from the
nursery or growing in the garden. You have selected, if possible, a
moist, gravelly loam on a slope or slight elevation, where it is
naturally and perfectly drained. Good soil drainage is imperative.
Coarse gravel in the bottom of the planting hole will help out
temporarily. If the land is in clover sod, it will have the ideal
preparation, especially if you can grow a patch of potatoes or corn on
it one year, while your trees are getting further growth. In such land
the holes will not have to be prepared. If, however, you are not
fortunate enough to be able to devote such a space to fruit trees, and
in order to have them at all must place them along your wall or
scattered through the grounds, you can still give them an excellent
start by enriching the soil in spots beforehand, as suggested above in
growing lima beans. In the event of finding even this last way
inapplicable to your land, the following method will make success
certain: Dig out holes three to six feet in diameter (if the soil is
very hard, the larger dimension), and twelve to eighteen inches deep.
Mix thoroughly with the excavated soil a good barrowful of the oldest,
finest manure you can get, combined with about one-fourth or one-fifth
its weight of South Carolina rock (or acid phosphate, if you cannot get
the rock). It is a good plan to compost the manure and rock in advance,
or use the rock as an absorbent in the stable. Fill in the hole again,
leaving room in the center to set the tree without bending or cramping
any roots. Where any of these are injured or bruised, cut them off
clean at the injured spot with a sharp knife. Shorten any that are long
and straggling about one-third to one-half their length. Properly grown
stock should not be in any such condition.
Remember that a well planted tree will give more fruit in the first ten
years than three trees carelessly put in. Get the tree so that it will
be one to three inches deeper in the soil than when growing in the nursery.
Work the soil in firmly about the roots with the fingers or a blunt wooden
"tamper"; do not be afraid to use your feet. When the roots are well
covered, firm the tree in by putting all your weight upon the soil
around it. See that it is planted straight, and if the "whip," or small
trunk, is not straight stake it, and tie it with rye straw, raffia or
strips of old cloth-never string or wire. If the soil is very dry, water
the root copiously while planting until the soil is about half filled in,
never on the surface, as that is likely to cause a crust to form and
keep out the air so necessary to healthy growth.
Prune back the "leader" of the tree-the top above the first lateral
branches, about one-half. Peach trees should be cut back more severely.
Further information in regard to pruning, and the different needs of
the various fruits in regard to this important matter, will be given in
the next chapter.
Standard apple trees, fully grown, will require thirty to forty-five
feet of space between them each way. It takes, however, ten or twelve
years after the trees are set before all of this space is needed. A
system of "fillers," or inter-planting, has come into use as a result
of this, which will give at least one hundred per cent, more fruit for
the first ten years. Small-growing standards, standard varieties on
dwarf stock, and also peaches, are used for this purpose in commercial
orchards. But the principle may be applied with equally good results to
the home orchard, or even to the planting of a few scattered trees. The
standard dwarfs give good satisfaction as permanent fillers. Where
space is very limited, or the fruit must go into the garden, they may
be used in place of the standard sorts altogether. The dwarf trees are,
as a rule, not so long-lived as the standards, and to do their best,
need more care in fertilizing and manuring; but the fruit is just as
good; just as much, or more, can be grown on the same area; and the
trees come into bearing two to three years sooner. They cost less to
begin with and are also easier to care for, in spraying and pruning and
in picking the fruit.
The home orchard, to give the very finest quality of fruit, must be
given careful and thorough cultivation. In the case of scattered trees,
where it is not practicable to use a horse, this can be given by
working a space four to six feet wide about each tree. Every spring the
soil should be loosened up, with the cultivator or fork, as the case
may be, and kept stirred during the early part of the summer. Unless
the soil is rich, a fertilizer, high in potash and not too high in
nitrogen, should be given in the spring. Manure and phosphate rock, as
suggested above, is as good as any. In case the foliage is not a deep
healthy green, apply a few handfuls of nitrate of soda, working it into
the soil just before a rain, around each tree.
About August 1st the cultivation should be discontinued, and some
"cover crop" sown. Buckwheat and crimson clover is a good combination;
as the former makes a rapid growth it will form, if rolled down just as
the apples are ripening, a soft cushion upon which the windfalls may
drop without injury, and will furnish enough protection to the crimson
clover to carry it through most winters, even in cold climates.
In addition to the filler crops, where the ground is to be cultivated
by horse, potatoes may be grown between the rows of trees; or fine
hills of melons or squash may be grown around scattered trees, thus,
incidentally, saving a great deal of space in the vegetable garden. Or
why not grow a few extra fancy strawberries in the well cultivated
spots about these trees? Neither they nor the trees want the ground too
rich, especially in nitrogen, and conditions suiting the one would be
just right for the others.
It may seem to the beginner that fruit-growing, with all these things
to keep in mind, is a difficult task. But it is not. I think I am
perfectly safe in saying that the rewards from nothing else he can
plant and care for are as certain, and surely none are more
satisfactory. If you cannot persuade yourself to try fruit on any
larger plan, at least order half a dozen dwarf trees (they will cost
about twenty cents apiece, and can be had by mail). They will prove
about the best paying investment you ever made.
PRUNING, SPRAYING, HARVESTING
The day has gone, probably forever, when setting out fruit trees and
giving them occasional cultivation, "plowing up the orchard" once in
several years, would produce fruit. Apples and pears and peaches have
occupied no preferred position against the general invasion of the
realm of horticulture by insect and fungous enemies. The fruits have,
indeed, suffered more than most plants. Nevertheless there is this
encouraging fact: that, though the fruits may have been severely
attacked, the means we now have of fighting fruit-tree enemies, if
thoroughly used, as a rule are more certain of accomplishing their
purpose, and keeping the enemies completely at bay, than are similar
weapons in any other line of horticultural work.
With fruit trees, as with vegetables and flowers, the most important
precaution to be taken against insects and disease is to _have them
in a healthy, thriving, growing condition_. It is a part of Nature's
law of the survival of the fittest that any backward or weakling plant
or tree seems to fall first prey to the ravages of destructive forces.
For these reasons the double necessity of maintaining at all times good
fertilization and thorough cultivation will be seen. In addition to
these two factors, careful attention in the matter of pruning is
essential in keeping the trees in a healthy, robust condition. As
explained in a previous chapter, the trees should be started right by
pruning the first season to the open-head or vase shape, which
furnishes the maximum of light and air to all parts of the tree. Three
or four main branches should form the basis of the head, care being
taken not to have them start from directly opposite points on the
trunk, thus forming a crotch and leaving the tree liable to splitting
from winds or excessive crops. If the tree is once started right,
further pruning will give little trouble. Cut out limbs which cross, or
are likely to rub against each other, or that are too close together;
and also any that are broken, decayed, or injured in any way. For trees
thus given proper attention from the start, a short jackknife will be
the only pruning instrument required.
The case of the old orchard is more difficult. Cutting out too many of
the old, large limbs at one time is sure to give a severe shock to the
vitality of the tree. A better plan is, first, to cut off _close_
all suckers and all small new-growth limbs, except a few of the most
promising, which may be left to be developed into large limbs; and then
as these new limbs grow on, gradually to cut out, using a fine-tooth
saw and painting the exposed surfaces, the surplus old wood. Apples
will need more pruning than the other fruits. Pears and cherries need
the least; cutting back the ends of limbs enough to keep the trees in
good form, with the removal of an occasional branch for the purpose of
letting in light and air, is all the pruning they will require. Of
course trees growing on rich ground, and well cultivated, will require
more cutting back than those growing under poorer conditions. A further
purpose of pruning is to effect indirectly a thinning of the fruit, so
that what is grown will be larger and more valuable, and also that the
trees may not become exhausted by a few exceptionally heavy crops. On
trees that have been neglected and growing slowly the bark sometimes
becomes hard and set. In such cases it will prove beneficial to scrape
the bark and give a wash applied with an old broom. Whitewash is good
for this purpose, but soda or lye answers the same purpose and is less
disagreeably conspicuous. Slitting the bark of trunks and the largest
limbs is sometimes resorted to, care being taken to cut through the
bark only; but such practice is objectionable because it leaves ready
access to some forms of fungous disease and to borers.
Where extra fine specimens of fruit are desired, thinning is practiced.
It helps also to prevent the tree from being overtaxed by excessive
crops. But where pruning is thoroughly done this trouble is usually
avoided. Peaches and Japan plums are especially benefited by thinning,
as they have a great tendency to overbear. The spread of fruit
diseases, especially rot in the fruit itself, is also to some extent
Of fruit-tree enemies there are some large sorts which may do great
damage in short order--rabbits and field mice. They may be kept away by
mechanical protection, such as wire, or by heaping the earth up to a
height of twelve inches about the tree trunk. Or they may be caught
with poisoned baits, such as boiled grain in which a little Rough on
Rats or similar poison has been mixed. The former method for the small
home garden is little trouble, safer to Fido and Tabby, and the most
reliable in effect.
Insects and scale diseases are not so easily managed; and that brings
us to the question of spraying and of sprays.
For large orchards the spray must, of course, be applied with powerful
and expensive machinery. For the small fruit garden a much simpler and
very moderate priced apparatus may be acquired. The most practical of
these is the brass-tank compressed-air sprayer, with extension rod and
mist-spray nozzle. Or one of the knapsack sprayers may be used. Either
of these will be of great assistance not only with the fruit trees, but
everywhere in the garden. With care they will last a good many years.
Whatever type you get, be sure to get a brass machine; as cheaper ones,
made of other metal, quickly corrode from contact with the strong
The insects most commonly attacking the apple are the codlin-moth,
tent-caterpillar, canker-worm and borer. The codlin-moth lays its eggs
on the fruit about the time of the falling of the blossoms, and the
larvae when hatched eat into the young fruit and cause the ordinary
wormy apples and pears. Owing to these facts, it is too late to reach
the trouble by spraying after the calyx closes on the growing fruit.
Keep close watch and spray immediately upon the fall of the blossoms,
and repeat the spraying a week or so (not more than two) later. For
spray use Paris green at the rate of 1 lb., or arsenate of lead (paste
or powder, less of the latter: see accompanying directions) at the rate
of 4 lbs. to 100 gallons of water, being careful to have a thorough
mixture. During July, tie strips of burlap or old bags around the
trunks, and every week or so destroy all caterpillars caught in these
traps. The tent-caterpillar may be destroyed while in the egg state, as
these are plainly visible around the smaller twigs in circular,
brownish masses. (See illustration.) Upon hatching, also, the nests are
obtrusively visible and may be wiped out with a swab of old bag, or
burned with a kerosene torch. Be sure to apply this treatment before
the caterpillar begins to leave the nest. The treatment recommended for
codlin-moths is also effective for the tent-caterpillar.
The canker-worm is another leaf-feeding enemy, and can be taken care of
by the Paris green or arsenate spray.
The railroad-worm, a small white maggot which eats a small path in all
directions through the ripening fruit, cannot be reached by spraying,
as he starts life inside the fruit; but where good clean tillage is
practiced and no fallen fruit is left to lie and decay under the trees,
he is not apt to give much trouble.
The borer's presence is indicated by the dead, withered appearance of
the bark, beneath which he is at work, and also by small amounts of
sawdust where he entered. Dig him out with a sharp pocket-knife, or
kill him inside with a piece of wire.
The most troublesome disease of the apple, especially in wet seasons,
is the apple-scab, which disfigures the fruit, both in size and in
appearance, as it causes blotches and distortions. Spray with Bordeaux
mixture, 5-5-50, or 3-3-50 (see formulas below) three times: just
before the blossoms open, just as they fall, and ten days to two weeks
after they fall. The second spraying is considered the most important.
The San José scale is of course really an insect, though in appearance
it seems a disease. It is much more injurious than the untrained fruit
grower would suppose, because indirectly so. It is very tiny, being
round in outline, with a raised center, and only the size of a small
pinhead. Where it has once obtained a good hold it multiplies very
rapidly, makes a scaly formation or crust on the branches, and causes
small red-edged spots on the fruit (see illustration). For trees once
infested, spray thoroughly both in fall, after the leaves drop, and
again in spring, _before_ growth begins. Use lime-sulphur wash, or
miscible oil, one part to ten of water, thoroughly mixed.
Sour cherries are more easily grown than the sweet varieties, and are
less subject to the attacks of fruit enemies. Sweet cherries are
troubled by the curculio, or fruit-worm, which attacks also peaches and
plums. Cherries and plums may be sprayed, when most of the blossoms are
off, with a strong arsenate of lead solution, 5 to 8 lbs. to 100 gals.
water. In addition to this treatment, where the worms have once got a
start, the beetles may be destroyed by spreading a sheet around and
beneath the tree, and every day or so shaking or jarring them off into
it, as described below.
Do not spray peaches. For the curculio, within a few days after the
flowers are off, take a large sheet of some cheap material to use as a
catcher. For large orchards there is a contrivance of this sort,
mounted on a wheelbarrow frame, but for the home orchard a couple of
sheets laid upon the ground, or one with a slit from one side to the
center, will answer. If four short, sharp-pointed stakes are fastened
to the corners, and three or four stout hooks and eyes are placed to
reunite the slit after the sheet is placed about the tree, the work can
be more thoroughly done, especially on uneven ground. After the sheet
is placed, with a stout club or mallet, padded with a heavy sack or
something similar to prevent injury to the bark, give a few sharp
blows, well up from the ground. This work should be done on a cloudy
day, or early in the morning--the colder the better--as the beetles are
then inactive. If a considerable number of beetles are caught the
operation should be repeated every two or three days. Continue until
the beetles disappear.
Peaches are troubled also by borers, in this case indicated by masses
of gum, usually about the crown. Dig out or kill with a wire, as in the
case of the apple-borer. Look over the trees for borers every spring,
or better, every spring and fall.
Another peach enemy is the "yellows," indicated by premature ripening
of the fruit and the formation of stunted leaf tufts, of a light yellow
color. This disease is contagious and has frequently worked havoc in
whole sections. Owing to the work of the Agricultural Department and
the various State organizations it is now held in check. The only
remedy is to cut and burn the trees and replant, in the same places if
desired, as, the disease does not seem to be carried by the soil.
Pears are sometimes affected with a scab similar to the apple-scab, and
this is combated by the same treatment--three sprayings with Bordeaux.
A blight which causes the leaves suddenly to turn black and die and
also kills some small branches and produces sores or wounds on large
branches and trunk, offers another difficulty. Cut out and burn all
affected branches and scrape out all sores. Disinfect all sores with
corrosive sublimate solution--1 to 1000--or with a torch, and paint
over at once.
Plums have many enemies but fortunately they can all be effectively
checked. First is the curculio, to be treated as described above.
For leaf-blight--spotting and dropping off of the leaves about
midsummer--spray with Bordeaux within a week or so after the falling of
the blossoms. This treatment will also help to prevent fruit-rot. In
addition to the spraying, however, thin out the fruit so that it does
not hang thickly enough for the plums to come in contact with each
In a well kept and well sprayed orchard black-knot is not at all likely
to appear. It is very manifest wherever it starts, causing ugly, black,
distorted knarls, at first on the smaller limbs. Remove and burn
immediately, and keep a sharp watch for more. As this disease is
supposed to be carried by the wind, see to it that no careless neighbor
is supplying you with the germs.
As will have been seen from the above, spraying poisons are of two
kinds: those that work by contact, which must be used for most sucking
insects, and germs and fungous diseases; and those that poison
internally, used for leaf-eating insects. Of the former sort, Bordeaux
mixture is the standard, although within the last few years it has been
to a considerable extent replaced by lime-sulphur mixtures, which are
described below. Bordeaux is made in various forms. That usually used
is the 5-5-50, or 5 lbs. copper sulphate, 5 lbs. unslaked lime, 50
gals. water. To save the trouble of making up the mixture each time it
is needed make a stock solution as follows: dissolve the copper
sulphate in water at the rate of 1 lb. to 1 gal. This should be done
the day before, or at least several hours before, the Bordeaux is
wanted for use. Suspend the sulphate crystals in a cloth or old bag
just below the surface of the water. Then slake the lime in a tub or
tight box, adding the water a little at a time, until the whole attains
the consistency of thick milk. When necessary, add water to this
mixture if it is kept too long; never let it dry out. When ready to
spray, pour the stock copper sulphate solution into the tank in the
proportion of 5 gals. to every 50 of spray required. Add water to
amount required. Then add stock lime solution, first diluting about
one-half with water and straining. The amount of lime stock solution to
be used is determined as follows: at the druggist's get an ounce of
yellow prussiate of potash dissolved in a pint of water, with a quill
in the cork of the bottle so that it may be dropped out. (It is
poison.) When adding the stock lime solution as directed above,
continue until the prussiate testing solution when dropped into the
Bordeaux mixture will no longer turn brown; then add a little more lime
to be on the safe side. All this sounds like a formidable task, but it
is quite simple when you really get at it. Remember that all you need
is a few pounds each of quicklime and copper sulphate, an ounce of
prussiate of potash and a couple of old kegs or large pails, in which
to keep the stock solutions,
Lime-sulphur mixtures can be bought, or mixed by the home orchardist.
They have the advantages over Bordeaux that they do not discolor the
foliage or affect the appearance of the fruit. Use according to
directions, usually about 1 part to 30 of water. These may be used at
the same times and for the same purposes as Bordeaux.
Lime-sulphur wash is used largely in commercial orcharding, but it is a
nasty mess to prepare and must be used in late fall or winter. For the
home orchard one of the miscible oils now advertised will be found more
satisfactory. While they cost more, there is no time or expense for
preparation, as they mix with cold water and are immediately ready for
use. They are easier to apply, more comfortable to handle, and will not
so quickly rot out pumps and spraying apparatus. Like the sulphur wash,
use only during late fall and winter.
Kerosene emulsion is made by dissolving Ivory, soft, whale-oil, or tar
soap in hot water and adding (away from the stove, please!) kerosene
(or crude oil); 1/2 lb. soap, 1 gal. water, 2 gals, kerosene.
Immediately place in a pail and churn or pump until a thick, lathery
cream results. This is the stock solution: for use, dilute with five to
fifteen times as much water, according to purpose applied for--on
dormant fruit trees, 5 to 7 times; on foliage, 10 or even 15.
Of the poisons for eating-insects, arsenate of lead is the best for use
in the fruit orchard, because it will not burn the foliage as Paris
green is apt to do, and because it stays on longer. It can be used in
Bordeaux and lime-sulphur mixtures, thus killing two bugs with one
spray. It comes usually in the form of a paste--though there is now a
brand in powder form (which I have not yet tried). This should be
worked up with the fingers (it is not poison to touch) or a small
wooden paddle, until thoroughly mixed, in a small quantity of water and
then strained into the sprayer. Use, of the paste forms, from one-
fourth to one lb. in 20 gals, clear water.
Paris green is the old standard. With a modern duster it may be blown
on pure without burning, if carefully done. Applied thus it should be
put on during a still morning, before the dew goes. It is safer to use
as a spray, first making a paste with a small quantity of water, and
then adding balance of water. Keep constantly stirred while spraying.
If lime is added, weight for weight with the green, the chances of
burning will be greatly reduced. For orchard work, 1 lb. to 100 gals.
water is the usual strength.
The accompanying table will enable the home orchardist to find quickly
the trouble with, and remedy for, any of his fruit trees.
The quality of fruit will depend very largely upon the care exercised
in picking and storing. Picking, carelessly done, while it may not at
the time show any visible bad results, will result in poor keeping and
rot. If the tissue cells are broken, as many will be by rough handling,
they will be ready to cause rotten spots under the first favorable
conditions, and then the rot will spread. Most of the fruits of the
home garden, which do not have to undergo shipping, will be of better
quality where they ripen fully on the tree. Pears, however, are often
ripened in the dark and after picking, especially the winter sorts.
Apples and pears for winter use should be kept, if possible, in a cold,
dark place, where there is no artificial heat, and where the air will
be moist, but never wet, and where the thermometer will not fall below
thirty-two degrees. Upon exceptionally cold nights the temperature may
be kept up by using an oil stove or letting in heat from the furnace
cellar, if that is adjacent. In such a place, store the fruit loosely,
on ventilated shelves, not more than six or eight inches deep. If they
must be kept in a heated place, pack in tight boxes or barrels, being
careful to put away only perfect fruit, or pack in sand or leaves.
Otherwise they will lose much in quality by shriveling, due to lack of
moisture in the atmosphere. With care they may be had in prime quality
until late in the following spring.
FRUIT | PEST | REMEDY | TIMES TO APPLY
| | | AND WHEN
Apple | Apple-scab | Bordeaux 5-5-50, or summer | 3.--b B O--a B
| | lime-sulphur spray | F--f 14 d.
| | |
| Apple-maggot | Pick up and destroy all | (See key below.)
| or | fallen fruits |
| Railroad worm| Dig out or kill with wire; |
| Borer | search for in fall and spring|
| | |
| Codlin moth | Arsenate of lead, 4 in 100; |
| | or Paris Green, 1 in 200. | 2.--a B F-f
| | Burlap bands on truck |20 d.
| | for traps during July |
| | |
| Cankerworm | Same as above |
| | |
| Tent- | Same as above, also wipe out |
| caterpillar | out or burn nests |
| | |
| Blister-mite | Lime-sulphur wash; kerosene | Late fall or
| | emulsion (dilute 5 times) | early spring.
| | or miscible oil (1 in 10 gal.)|
| | |
| Bud-moth | Arsenate of lead or Paris | 2.--When leaves
| | Green | appear--b B O.
Cherry| Leaf blight | Bordeaux 5-5-50 | 4.--b B C--a
| | | calyx closes--f
| | | 15 d--f 15 d.
| | |
| Curculio | Arsenate of lead, 8 in 100. | 1.--a B F.
| | Curculio catcher (see Plum) | 3 times a week
| | |
| Black-knot | Cut out and burn at once |
| | (see Plum) |
| | |
| Fruit-rot | Pick before fully ripe. |
| | spread out in cool airy room |
Peach | Borer | Dig out or kill with wire |
| Yellows | Pull out and burn |
| | tree--replant |
| | |
| Curculio | Do not spray. Catch on sheets |
| | (see Plum) |
| | |
| Brown-rot | Summer lime-sulphur; open |
| | pruning; pick rotten fruit | 3.--When fruit
| | | is half
| | | grown--f 10
| | | d--f 10 d.
| | |
| Leaf-curl | Bordeaux 5-5-50; lime-sulphur | 1--b buds swell,
| | wash | fall or early
| | | spring.
Pear | Blight | Cut out diseased branches; |
| | clean out sores; disinfect |
| | with corrosive sublimate 1 |
| | in 1000; paint over |
| | |
| Scab | Bordeaux 5-5-50, or summer | 2.--b B O--a B
| | sulphur (see Apple) | O--f 14 d.
| | |
| Blister-mite | |
Plum | Leaf-blight | Bordeaux or summer sulphur | 1.--After fruits
| | | set.
| Fruit-rot | Same; also thin fruits so as |
| Black-knot | not to touch (see Cherry) |
| Curculio | also have neighboring trees |
| | cleaned up |
| | Jar down on sheets stretched |
| | beneath trees and destroy | a B F--cool
| | | mornings-3
| | | times a week.
Any | San José | Lime-sulphur wash, kerosene | Late fall or
| scale | emulsion, 5 times diluted; | early spring.
| | miscible oil, 1 in 10 gals |
| | |
| Oyster-shell | Kerosene emulsion | May or June,
| scale | | when young
| | | whitish lice
| | | appear.
a-After. b-Before. d-Days. f-Follow up in. B-Blossoms. O-Open. F-Fall.
Do not let yourself be discouraged from growing your own fruit by the
necessity for taking good care of your trees. After all, you do not
have to plant them every year, as you do vegetables, and they yield a
splendid return on the small investment required. Do not fail to set
out at least a few this year with the full assurance that your
satisfaction is guaranteed by the facts in the case.
BERRIES AND SMALL FRUITS
Besides the tree-fruits discussed in the preceding chapters, there is
another class which should be represented in every home garden--the
berries and small fruits. These have the advantage of occupying much
less room than the former do and are therefore available where the
others are not.
The methods of giving berries proper cultivation are not so generally
known as the methods used with vegetables. Otherwise there is no reason
why a few of each should not be included in every garden of average
size. Their requirements are not exacting: the amount of skill, or
rather of attention, required to care for them is not more than that
required by the ordinary vegetables. In fact, once they are well
established they will demand less time than the annual vegetables.
Of these small fruits the most popular and useful are: the strawberry,
the blackberry, dewberry and raspberry, the currant, gooseberry and
The strawberry is the most important, and most amateurs attempt its
culture--many, however, with indifferent success. This is due, partly
at least, to the fact that many methods are advocated by successful
growers, and that the beginner is not likely to pick out _one_ and
stick to it; and further, that he is led to pay more attention to how
many layers he will have, and at what distance he will set the plants,
than to proper selection and preparation of soil and other vital
The soil should be well drained and rich--a good garden soil being
suitable. The strawberries should not follow sod or corn. If yard
manure is used it should be old and well rotted, so as to be as free as
possible from weed seeds. Potash, in some form (see Fertilizers) should
be added. The bed should be thoroughly prepared, so that the plants,
which need careful transplanting, may take hold at once. A good sunny
exposure is preferable, and a spot where no water will collect is
The plants are grown from "layers." They are taken in two ways: (1) by
rooting the runners in the soil; and (2) by layering in pots. In the
former method they are either allowed to root themselves, or, which
gives decidedly better results, by selecting vines from strong plants
and pushing them lightly down into the soil where the new crown is to
be formed. In the second method, two-inch or three-inch pots are used,
filling these with soil from the bed and plunging, or burying, them
level with the surface, just below where the crown is to be formed, and
holding the vine in place with a small stone, which serves the
additional purpose of marking where the pot is. In either case these
layers are made after the fruiting season.
SETTING THE PLANTS
In using the soil-rooted layers, it is generally more satisfactory to
set them out in spring, as soon as the ground can be worked, although
they are sometimes set in early fall--August or September--when the
ground is in very good condition, so that a good growth can at once be
made. Care should be used in transplanting. Have the bed fresh; keep
the plants out of the soil as short a time as possible; set the plants
in straight, and firm the soil; set just down to the crown--do not
cover it. If the soil is dry, or the season late, cut off all old
leaves before planting; also shorten back the roots about one-third and
be sure not to crowd them when setting, for which purpose a trowel, not
a dibble, should be used if the condition of the ground makes the use
of any implement necessary. If so dry that water must be used, apply it
in the bottom of the hole. If very hot and dry, shade for a day or two.
METHODS OF GROWING
I describe the three systems most valuable for the home garden: (1) the
hill, (2) the matted row, and (3) the pot-layered. (1) In the hill
system the plants are put in single rows, or in beds of three or four
rows, the plants one foot apart and the rows, or beds, two or three
feet apart. In either case each plant is kept separate, and all runners
are pinched off as fast as they form, the idea being to throw all the
strength into one strong crown. (2) In the matted row system the plants
are set in single rows, and the runners set in the bed at five or six
inches each side of the plants, and then trained lengthways of the row,
this making it a foot or so wide. The runners used to make these
secondary crowns must be the first ones sent out by the plants; they
should be severed from the parent plants as soon as well rooted. All
other runners must be taken off as they form. To keep the beds for a
good second crop, where the space between the rows has been kept
cultivated and clean, cut out the old plants as soon as the first crop
of berries is gathered, leaving the new ones--layered the year before--
about one foot apart. (3) The pot-layering system, especially for a
small number of plants, I consider the best. It will be seen that by
the above systems the ground is occupied three years, to get two crops,
and the strawberry season is a short one at best. By this third system
the strawberry is made practically an annual, and the finest of berries
are produced. The new plants are layered in pots, as described above.
The layers are taken immediately after the fruit is gathered; or better
still, because earlier, a few plants are picked out especially to make
runners. In either case, fork up the soil about the plants to be
layered, and in about fifteen days they will be ready to have the pots
placed under them. The main point is to have pot plants ready to go
into the new bed as soon as possible after the middle of July. These
are set out as in the hill system, and all runners kept pinched off, so
that a large crown has been formed by the time the ground freezes, and
a full crop of the very best berries will be assured for the following
spring. The pot-layering is repeated each year, and the old plants
thrown out, no attempt being made to get a second crop. It will be
observed that ground is occupied by the strawberries only the latter
half of the one season and the beginning of the next, leaving ample
time for a crop of early lettuce, cabbage or peas before the plants are
set, say in 1911, and for late cabbage or celery after the bed is
thrown out, in 1912. Thus the ground is made to yield three crops in
two years--a very important point where garden space is limited.
Whatever system is used--and each has its advocates--the strawberry bed
must be kept clean, and attention given to removing the surplus
runners. Cultivate frequently enough to keep a dust mulch between the
rows, as advocated for garden crops. At first, after setting, the
cultivation may be as deep as three or four inches, but as the roots
develop and fill the ground it should be restricted to two inches at
most. Where a horse is used a Planet Jr. twelve-tooth cultivator will
be just the thing.
After the ground freezes, and before severe cold sets in (about the 1st
to the 15th of December) the bed should be given its winter mulch. Bog
hay, which may be obtained cheaply from some nearby farmer, is about
the best material. Clean straw will do. Cover the entire bed, one or
two inches over the plants, and two or three between the rows. If
necessary, hold in place with old boards. In spring, but not before the
plants begin to grow, over each plant the mulch is pushed aside to let
it through. Besides giving winter protection, the mulch acts as a clean
even support for the berries and keeps the roots cool and moist.
INSECTS AND DISEASE
For white-grub and cut-worm see pages elsewhere in the text. For rust,
which frequently injures the leaves so seriously as to cause practical
loss of crop, choose hardy varieties and change bed frequently.
Spraying with Bordeaux, 5-5-50, four or five times during first season
plants are set, and second season just before and just after
blossoming, will prevent it. In making up your strawberry list remember
that some varieties have imperfect, or pistillate blossoms, and that
when such varieties are used a row of some perfect-flowering (bi-
sexual) sort must be set every nine to twelve feet.
New strawberries are being introduced constantly; also, they vary
greatly in their adaptation to locality. Therefore it is difficult to
advise as to what varieties to plant. The following, however, have
proved satisfactory over wide areas, and may be depended upon to give
satisfaction. Early crop:--Michel's Early, Haverland, Climax; mid-
season crop:--Bubach No. 5, Brandywine, Marshall, Nic. Ohmer, Wm. Belt,
Glen Mary, Sharplesss; late crop:--The Gandy, Sample, Lester Lovett.
The blackberry, dewberry and raspberry are all treated in much the same
way. The soil should be well drained, but if a little clayey, so much
the better. They are planned preferably in early spring, and set from
three or four to six or seven feet apart, according to the variety.
They should be put in firmly. Set the plants in about as deep as they
have been growing, and cut the canes back to six or eight inches. If
fruit is wanted the same season as bushes are set, get a few extra
plants--they cost but a few cents--and cut back to two feet or so.
Plants fruited the first season are not likely to do well the following
year. Two plants may be set in a place and one fruited. If this one is
exhausted, then little will be lost. Give clean cultivation frequently
enough to maintain a soil mulch, as it is very necessary to retain all
the moisture possible. Cultivation, though frequent, should be very
shallow as soon as the plants get a good start. In very hot seasons, if
the ground is clean, a summer mulch of old hay, leaves or rough manure
will be good for the same purpose.
In growing, a good stout stake is used for each plant, to which the
canes are tied with some soft material. Or, a stout wire is strung the
length of the row and the canes fastened to this--a better way,
however, being to string two wires, one on either side of the row.
Another very important matter is that of pruning. The plants if left to
themselves will throw up altogether too much wood. This must be cut out
to four or five of the new canes and all the canes that have borne
fruit should be cut and burned each season as soon as through fruiting.
The canes, for instance, that grow in 1911 will be those to fruit in
1912, after which they should be immediately removed. The new canes, if
they are to be self-supporting, as sometimes grown, should be cut back
when three or four feet high.
It is best, however, to give support. In the case of those varieties
which make fruiting side-shoots, as most of the black raspberries
(blackcaps) do, the canes should be cut back at two to three feet, and
it is well also to cut back these side shoots one-third to one-half,
early in the spring.
In cold sections (New York or north of it) it is safest to give winter
protection by "laying down" the canes and giving them a mulch of rough
material. Having them near the ground is in itself a great protection,
as they will not be exposed to sun and wind and will sometimes be
covered with snow.
For mulching, the canes are bent over nearly at the soil and a
shovelful of earth thrown on the tips to hold them down; the entire
canes may then be covered with soil or rough manure, but do not put it
on until freezing weather is at hand. If a mulch is used, it must be
taken off before growth starts in the spring.
The large-growing sorts are set as much as six by eight feet apart,
though with careful staking and pruning they may be comfortably handled
in less space. The smaller sorts need about four by six. When growth
starts, thin out to four or five canes and pinch these off at about
three feet; or, if they are to be put on wires or trellis, they may be
cut when tied up the following spring. Cultivate, mulch and prune as
Blackberries will do well on a soil a little dry for raspberries and
they do not need it quite so rich, as in this case the canes do not
ripen up sufficiently by fall, which is essential for good crops. If
growing rank they should be pinched back in late August. When tying up
in the spring, the canes should be cut back to four or five feet and
the laterals to not more than eighteen inches.
Blackberry enemies do not do extensive injury, as a rule, in well-
cared-for beds. The most serious are: (1) the rust or blight, for which
there is no cure but carefully pulling and burning the plants as fast
as infested; (2) the blackberry-bush borer, for which burn infested
canes; and (3) the recently introduced bramble flea-louse, which
resembles the green plant-louse or aphis except that it is a brisk
jumper, like the flea-beetle. The leaves twist and curl up in summer
and do not drop off in the fall. On cold early mornings, or wet
weather, while the insects are sluggish, cut all infested shoots,
collecting them in a tight box, and burn.
As with the other small fruits, so many varieties are being introduced
that it is difficult to give a list of the best for home use. Any
selections from the following, however, will prove satisfactory, as
they are tried-and-true:--Early King, Early Harvest, Wilson Junior,
Kittatinny, Rathburn, Snyder, Erie.
This is really a trailing blackberry and needs the same culture, except
that the canes are naturally slender and trailing and therefore, for
garden culture, must have support. They may be staked up, or a barrel
hoop, supported by two stakes, makes a good support. In ripening, the
dewberry is ten to fourteen days earlier than the blackberry, and for
that reason a few plants should be included in the berry patch. Premo
is the earliest sort, and Lucretia the standard.
The black and the red types are distinct in flavor, and both should be
grown. The blackcaps need more room, about three by six or seven feet;
for the reds three by five feet will be sufficient. The blackcaps, and
a few of the reds, like Cuthbert, throw out fruiting side branches, and
should have the main canes cut back at about two and a half feet to
encourage the growth of these laterals, which, in the following spring,
should be cut back to about one-third their length. The soil for
raspberries should be clayey if possible, and moist, but not wet.
The orange rust, which attacks the blackberry also, is a serious
trouble. Pull up and burn all infested plants at once, as no good
remedy has as yet been found. The cut-worm, especially in newly set
beds, may sometimes prove destructive of the sprouting young canes. The
raspberry-borer is the larva of a small, flattish, red-necked beetle,
which bores to the center of the canes during summer growth, and kills
them. Cut and burn.
Of the blackcaps, Gregg, McCormick, Munger, Cumberland, Columbian,
Palmer (very early), and Eureka (late), are all good sorts. Reds:
Cuthbert, Cardinal (new), Turner, Reliance, The King (extra early),
Loudon (late). Yellow: Golden Queen.
The currant and gooseberry are very similar in their cultural
requirements. A deep, rich and moist soil is the best--approaching a
clayey loam. There need be no fear of giving too much manure, but it
should be well rotted. Plenty of room, plenty of air, plenty of
moisture, secured where necessary by a soil or other mulch in hot dry
weather, are essential to the production of the best fruit.
The currant will stand probably as much abuse as any plant the home
gardener will have to deal with. Stuck in a corner, smothered in sod,
crowded with old wood, stripped by the currant-worm, it still struggles
along from year to year, ever hopefully trying to produce a meager crop
of poor fruit. But these are not the sort you want. Although it is so
tough, no fruit will respond to good care more quickly.
To have it do well, give it room, four or five feet each way between
bushes. Manure it liberally; give it clean cultivation, and as the
season gets hot and dry, mulch the soil, if you would be certain of a
full-sized, full-flavored crop. Two bushes, well cared for, will yield
more than a dozen half-neglected ones. Anywhere north of New York a
full crop every year may be made almost certain.
Besides careful cultivation, to insure the best of fruit it is
necessary to give some thought to the matter of pruning. The most
convenient and the most satisfactory way is to keep it in the bush
form. Set the plants singly, three or four feet apart, and so cut the
new growth, which is generously produced, as to retain a uniform bush
shape, preferably rather open in the center.
The fruit is produced on wood two or more years old. Therefore cut out
branches either when very small, or not until four or five years later,
after it has borne two or three crops of fruit. Therefore, in pruning
currants, take out (1) superfluous young growth; (2) old hard wood (as
new wood will produce better fruit); and (3) all weak, broken, dead or
diseased shoots; (4) during summer, if the tips of the young growths
kept for fruiting are pinched off, they will ripen up much better--
meaning better fruit when they bear; (5) to maintain a good form, the
whole plant may be cut back (never more than one-third) in the fall.
In special situations it may be advisable to train the currant to one
or a few main stems, as against a wall; this can be done, but it is
less convenient. Also it brings greater danger from the currant-borer.
The black currant, used almost entirely for culinary or preserving
purposes, is entirely different from the red and white ones. They are
much larger and should be put five to six feet apart. Some of the fruit
is borne on one-year-old wood, so the shoots should not be cut back.
Moreover, old wood bears as good fruit as the new growth, and need not
be cut out, unless the plant is getting crowded, for several years. As
the wood is much heavier and stronger than the other currants, it is
advisable gradually to develop the black currants into the tree form.
ENEMIES OF THE CURRANT
The worst of these is the common currant-worm. When he appears, which
will be indicated by holes eaten in the lower leaves early in spring,
generally before the plants bloom, spray at once with Paris green. If a
second brood appears, spray with white hellebore (if this is not all
washed off by the rain, wipe from the fruit when gathered). For the
borer, cut and burn every infested shoot. Examine the bushes in late
fall, and those in which the borers are at work will usually have a
wilted appearance and be of a brownish color.
VARIETIES OF CURRANTS
Red Dutch, while older and smaller than some of the newer varieties, is
hardier and not so likely to be hurt by the borer. London Market, Fay's
Prolific, Perfection (new), and Prince Albert, are good sorts. White
Grape is a good white. Naples, and Lee's Prolific are good black sorts.
This is given practically the same treatment as the currant. It is even
more important that it should be given the coolest, airiest, location
possible, and the most moist soil. Even a partially shaded situation
will do, but in such situations extra care must be taken to guard
against the mildew--which is mentioned below. Summer mulching is, of
course, of special benefit.
In pruning the gooseberry, it is best to cut out to a very few, or even
to a single stem. Keep the head open, to allow free circulation of air.
The extent of pruning will make a great difference in the size of the
fruit; if fruit of the largest size is wanted, prune very close. All
branches drooping to the ground should be removed. Keep the branches,
as much as possible, from touching each other.
The currant-worm attacks the gooseberry also, and is effectively
handled by the arsenate of lead, Paris green or hellebore spraying,
The great trouble in growing gooseberries successfully is the powdery
mildew--a dirty, whitish fungous growth covering both fruit and leaves.
It is especially destructive of the foreign varieties, the culture of
which, until the advent of the potassium sulfide spray, was being
practically abandoned. Use 1 oz. of potassium sulfide (liver of
sulphur) to 2 gals. water, and mix just before using. Spray thoroughly
three or four times a month, from the time the blossoms are opening
until fruit is ripe.
Of the native gooseberries--which are the hardiest, Downing and
Houghton's Seedling are most used. Industry is an English variety,
doing well here. Golden Prolific, Champion, and Columbus, are other
good foreign sorts, but only when the mildew is successfully fought
No garden is so small that there cannot be found in it room for three
or four grape-vines; no fruit is more certain, and few more delicious.
If it is convenient, a situation fully exposed to the sun, and sloping
slightly, will be preferable. But any good soil, provided only it is
rich and thoroughly drained, will produce good results. If a few vines
are to be set against walls, or in other out-of-the-way places, prepare
the ground for them by excavating a good-sized hole, putting in a foot
of coal cinders or other drainage material, and refilling with good
heavy loam, enriched with old, well rotted manure and half a peck of
wood ashes. For culture in the garden, such special preparation will
not be necessary--although, if the soil is not in good shape, it will
be advisable slightly to enrich the hills.
One or two-year roots will be the most satisfactory to buy. They may be
set in either fall or spring--the latter time, for New York or north,
being generally preferable. When planting, the cane should be cut back
to three or four eyes, and the roots should also be shortened back--
usually about one-third. Be sure to make the hole large enough, when
setting, to let the roots spread naturally, and work the soil in well
around them with the fingers. Set them in firmly, by pressing down hard
with the ball of the foot after firming by hand. They are set about six
As stated above, the vine is cut back, when planting, to three or four
eyes. The subsequent pruning--and the reader must at once distinguish
between pruning, and training, or the way in which the vines are
placed--will determine more than anything else the success of the
undertaking. Grapes depend more upon proper pruning than any other
fruit or vegetable in the garden. Two principles must be kept track of
in this work. First principle: _the annual crop is borne only on
canes of the same year's growth, springing from wood of the previous
season's growth_. Second principle: _the vine, if left to itself,
will set three or four times the number of bunches it can properly
mature_. As a result of these facts, the following system of pruning
has been developed and must be followed for sure and full-sized crops.
(1) At time of planting, cut back to three or four eyes, and after
these sprout leave only one (or two) of them, which should be staked
(2) Following winter (December to March), leave only one cane and cut
this back to three or four eyes.
(3) Second growing season, save only two canes, even if several sprout,
and train these to stake or trellis. These two vines, or arms,
branching from the main stem, form the foundation for the one-year
canes that bear the fruit. However, to prevent the vine's setting too
much fruit (see second principle above) these arms must be cut back in
order to limit the number of fruit-bearing canes that will spring from
(4) Second winter pruning, cut back these arms to eight or ten buds--
and we have prepared for the first crop of fruit, about forty bunches,
as the fruiting cane from each bud will bear two bunches on the
average. However these main arms will not bear fruiting-canes another
year (see first principle above) and therefore:
(5) At the third winter pruning, (a) of the canes that bore fruit, only
the three or four nearest the main stem or trunk are left; (b) these
are cut back to eight or ten buds each, and (c) everything else is
ruthlessly cut away.
Each succeeding year the same system is continued, care being taken to
rub off, each May, buds or sprouts starting on the main trunk or arms.
The wood, in addition to being cut back, must be well ripened; and the
wood does not ripen until after the fruit. It therefore sometimes
becomes necessary to cut out some of the bunches in order to hasten the
ripening of the rest. At the same time the application of some potash
fertilizer will be helpful. If the bunches do not ripen up quickly and
pretty nearly together, the vine is overloaded and being damaged for
the following year.
The matter of pruning being mastered, the question of training is one
of individual choice. Poles, trellises, arbors, walls--almost anything
may be used. The most convenient system, however, and the one I would
strongly recommend for practical home gardening for results, is known
as the (modified) Kniffen system. It is simplicity itself. A stout wire
is stretched five or six feet above the ground; to this the single main
trunks of the vine run up, and along it are stretched the two or three
arms from which the fruiting-canes hang down. They occupy the least
possible space, so that garden crops may be grown practically on the
same ground. I have never seen it tried, but where garden space is
limited I should think that the asparagus bed and the Kniffen grape-
arbor just described could be combined to great advantage by placing
the vines, in spaces left for them, directly in the asparagus row. Of
course the ground would have to be manured for two crops. A 2-8-10
fertilizer is right for the grapes. If using stable manure, apply also
ashes or some other potash fertilizer.
If the old-fashioned arbor is used, the best way is to run the main
trunk up over it and cut the laterals back each year to two or three
The most serious grape trouble which the home gardener is likely to
encounter is the black-rot Where only a few grapes are grown the
simplest way of overcoming this disease is to get a few dozen cheap
manila store-bags and fasten one, with a couple of ten-penny nails,
over each bunch. Cut the mouth of the bag at sides and edges, cover the
bunch, fold the flaps formed over the cane, and fasten. They are put on
after the bunches are well formed and hasten the ripening of the fruit,
as well as protecting it. On a larger scale, spraying will have to be
resorted to. Use Bordeaux, 5-5-50, from third leaf's appearance to
middle of July; balance of season with ammoniacal copper carbonate. The
spray should be applied in particular just before every rain--
especially on the season's growth. Besides the spraying, all trimmed-
off wood, old leaves and twigs, withered bunches and grapes, or
"mummies," and refuse of every description, should be carefully raked
up in the spring and burned or buried. Also give clean culture and keep
the main stems clean.
The grape completes the list of the small fruits worth while to the
average home gardener. If you have not already experimented with them,
do not let your garden go longer without them. They are all easily
obtained (none costing more than a few cents each), and a very limited
number will keep the family table well supplied with healthy
delicacies, which otherwise, in their best varieties and condition,
could not be had at all. The various operations of setting out, pruning
and spraying will soon become as familiar as those in the vegetable
garden. There is no reason why every home garden should not have its
few rows of small fruits, yielding their delicious harvests in
A CALENDAR OF OPERATIONS
One of the greatest difficulties in gardening is to get things started
ahead at the proper time, and yet upon the thoroughness with which this
is done the success of the garden must depend, in large measure.
The reader may remember that in a previous chapter (Chapter IV) the
importance of accurately planning the work ahead was emphasized. I
mentioned there the check list used to make sure that everything would
be carried out, or started ahead at the proper time--as with the sowing
of seeds. The following garden operations, given month by month, will
serve not only as a timely reminder of things to be done, but as the
basis for such a check list. The importance of the _preparations_
in all matters of gardening, is of course obvious.
Probably one of the good resolutions made with the New Year was a
better garden for the coming summer. The psychologists claim that the
only hope for resolutions is to nail them down at the start with an
_action_--that seems to have more effect in making an actual
impression on the brain. So start the good work along by sending at
once for several of the leading seed catalogues.
_Planting Plan_. Make out a list of what you are going to want
this year, and then make your Planting Plan. See Chapter IV.
_Seeds_. Order your seed. _Do it now_ while the seedsman's
stock is full; while he is not rushed; while there is ample time to
rectify mistakes if any occur.
_Manures_. Altogether too few amateur gardeners realize the great
importance of procuring early every pound of manures, of any kind, to
be had. It often may be had cheaply at this time of year, and by
composting, adding phosphate rock, and several turnings, if you have
any place under cover where it can be collected, you can double its
value before spring.
_Frames_. Even at this season of the year do not fail to air the
frames well on warm days. Practically no water will be needed, but if
the soil does dry out sufficiently to need it, apply early on a bright
_Onions_. It will not be too early, this month, to sow onions for
spring transplanting outside. Get a packet each of Prizetaker, Ailsa
Craig, Mammoth Silver-skin, or Gigantic Gibraltar.
_Lettuce_. Sow lettuce for spring crop under glass or in frames.
_Fruit_. This is a good month to prune grapes, currants,
gooseberries and peach trees, to avoid the rush that will come later.
_Hotbeds_. A little early for making them until after the 15th,
but get all your material ready--manure, selected and stacked; lumber
ready for any new ones; sash all in good repair.
_Starting Seeds_. First part of the month, earliest planting of
cabbage, cauliflower and lettuce should be made; and two to four weeks
later for main early crop. At this time also, beets and earliest
_Tools_. Overhaul them all now; order repairs. Get new catalogues
and study new improvements and kinds you do not possess.
_Poles and brush_. Whether you use the old-fashioned sort (now
harder to obtain than they used to be) or make your "poles" and use
wire trellis for peas, attend to it now.
_Fruit_. Finish up last month's work, if not all done. Also
examine plum and cherry trees for black-knot.
_Hotbeds_. If not made last of February, should be made at once.
Some of the seed sown last month will be ready for transplanting and
going into the frames; also lettuce sown in January. Radish and carrot
(forcing varieties) may be sown in alternating rows. Give much more
air; water on bright mornings; be careful not to have them caught by
suddenly cold nights after a bright warm day.
_Seed-sowing under glass_. Last sowing of early cabbage and early
summer cabbages (like Succession), lettuce, rhubarb (for seedling
plants), cauliflower, radish, spinach, turnip, and early tomatoes;
towards last of month, late tomatoes and first of peppers, and egg-
plant. Sweet peas often find a place in the vegetable garden; start a
few early, to set out later; they will do better than if started
outside. Start tomatoes for growing in frames. For early potatoes
sprout in sand.
_Planting, outside_. If an early spring, and the ground is
sufficiently dry, sow onions, lettuce, beet, radish, (sweet peas),
smooth peas, early carrot, cabbage, leek, celery (main crop), and
turnip. Set out new beds of asparagus, rhubarb and sea-kale (be sure to
try a few plants of the latter). Manure and fork up old beds of above.
_Fruit_. Prune now, apple, plum and pear trees. And this is the
last chance for lime-sulphur and miscible-oil sprays.
Now the rush is on! Plan your work, and _work your plan_. But do
not yield to the temptation to plant more than you can look out for
later on. Remember it is much easier to sow seeds than to pull out
_The Frames_. Air! water! and do not let the green plant-lice or
the white-fly get a ghost of a chance to start. Almost every day the
glass should be lifted entirely off. Care must be taken never to let
the soil or flats become dried out; toward the end of the month, if it
is bright and warm, begin watering towards evening instead of in early
morning, as you should have been doing through the winter. If proper
attention is given to ventilation and moisture, there will not be much
danger from the green plant-louse (aphis) and white-fly, but at the
first sign of one fight them to a finish. Use kerosene emulsion,
tobacco dust, tobacco preparations, or Aphine.
_Seed sowing_. Under glass: tomato, egg-plant and peppers. On sod:
corn, cucumbers, melons, early squash, lima beans.
_Planting, outside_. Onions, lettuce, beet, etc., if not put in
last month; also parsnip, salsify, parsley, wrinkled peas, endive.
Toward the end of this month (or first part of next) second plantings
of these. Set out plants of early cabbage (and the cabbage group)
lettuce, onion sets, sprouted potatoes, beets, etc.
_In the Garden_. Cultivate between rows of sowed crops; weed out
by hand just as soon as they are up enough to be seen; watch for cut-
worms and root-maggots.
_Fruit_. Thin out all old blackberry canes, dewberry and raspberry
canes (if this was not done, as it should have been, directly after the
fruiting season last summer). Be ready for first spraying of early-
blossoming trees. Set out new strawberry beds, small fruits and fruit
_Keep ahead of the weeds_. This is the month when those warm,
south, driving rains often keep the ground too wet to work for days at
a time, and weeds grow by leaps and bounds. Woe betide the gardener
whose rows of sprouting onions, beets, carrots, etc., once become green
with wild turnip and other rapid-growing intruders. Clean cultivation
and slight hilling of plants set out are also essential.
_The Frames_. These will not need so much attention now, but care
must be taken to guard tender plants, such as tomatoes, egg-plant and
peppers, against sudden late frosts. The sash may be left off most of
the time. Water copiously and often.
_Planting, outside_. First part of the month: early beans, early
corn, okra and late potatoes may be put in; and first tomatoes set out
--even if a few are lost--they are readily replaced. Finish setting out
cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower, beets, etc., from frames. Latter part of
month, if warm: corn, cucumbers, some of sods from frames and early
squash as traps where late crop is to be planted or set.
_Fruit_. Be on time with first sprayings of late-blossoming
fruits--apples, etc. Rub off from grape vines the shoots that are not
_Frequent, shallow cultivation!_
Firm seeds in dry soil. Plant wax beans, lima beans, pole beams,
melons, corn, etc., and successive crops of lettuce, radish, etc.
Top-dress growing crops that need special manure (such as nitrate of
soda on onions). Prune tomatoes, and cut out some foliage for extra
early tomatoes. Toward end of month set celery and late cabbage. Also
sow beans, beets, corn, etc., for early fall crops. Spray where
necessary. Allow asparagus to grow to tops.
_Fruit._ Attend to spraying fruit trees and currants and
gooseberries. Make pot-layers of strawberries for July setting.
Maintain frequent, shallow cultivation. Set out late cabbage,
cauliflower, broccoli, leeks and celery. Sow beans, beets, corn, etc.,
for late fall crops. Irrigate where needed.
_Fruit_. Pinch back new canes of blackberry, dewberry and
raspberry. Rub off second crop of buds on grapes. Thin out if too many
bunches; also on plums, peaches and other fruit too thick, or touching.
Pot-layered strawberries may be set out.
Keep the garden clean from late weeds--especially purslane, the hot-
weather weed pest, which should be always _removed_ from the
garden and burned or rotted down.
Sow spinach, rutabaga turnip, bush beans and peas for last fall crop.
During first part of month, late celery may still be put out. Sow
lettuce for early fall crop, in frames. First lot of endive should be
tied up for blanching.
_Fruit_. Strawberries may be set, and pot-layered plants, if
wanted to bear a full crop the following season, should be put in by
the Thin out and bag grapes.
_Frames_. Set in lettuce started in August. Sow radishes and
successive crop of lettuce. Cooler weather begins to tell on late-
planted crops. Give cabbage, cauliflower, etc., deeper cultivation.
"Handle" celery wanted for early use.
Harvest and store onions. Get squash under cover before frost. From the
15th to 25th sow spinach, onions, borecole for wintering over. Sow down
thickly to rye all plots as fast as cleared of summer crops; or plow
heavy land in ridges. Attend to draining.
_Fruit_. Trees may be set. Procure barrels for storing fruit in
winter. At harvest time it is often impossible to get them at any
Get ready for winter. Blanch rest of endive. Bank celery, to be used
before Christmas, where it is. Gather tomatoes, melons, etc., to keep
as long as possible. Keep especially clean and well cultivated all
crops to be wintered over. Late in the month store cabbage and
cauliflower; also beets, carrots, and other root crops. Get boxes,
barrels, bins, sand or sphagnum moss ready beforehand, to save time in
Clean the garden; store poles, etc., worth keeping over; burn
everything else that will not rot; and compost everything that will.
_Fruit_. Harvest apples, etc. Pick winter pears just before hard
frosts, and store in dry dark place.
_Frames_. Make deep hotbeds for winter lettuce and radishes.
Construct frames for use next spring. See that vegetables in cellar,
bins, and sheds are safe from freezing. Trench or store celery for
spring use. Take in balance of all root crops if any remain in the
ground, except, of course, parsnip and salsify for spring use. Put
rough manure on asparagus and rhubarb beds. Get mulch ready for
spinach, etc., to be wintered over, if they occupy exposed locations.
_Fruit_. Obtain marsh or salt hay for mulching strawberries. Cut
out old wood of cane-fruits--blackberries, etc., if not done after
gathering fruit. Look over fruit trees for borers.
Cover celery stored last month, if trenched out-of-doors. Use only
light, loose material at first, gradually covering for winter. Put
mulch on spinach, etc.
_Fruit_. Mulch strawberries. Prune grape-vines; make first
application of winter sprays for fruit trees.
set about procuring manures of all kinds from every available source.
Remember that anything _which will rot_ will add to the value of
your manure pile. Muck, lime, old plastering, sods, weeds (earth and
all), street, stable and yard sweepings--all these and numerous others
will increase your garden successes of next year.
It is with a feeling in which there is something of fear that I close
these pages--fear that many of those little things which become second
nature to the grower of plants and seem unimportant, but which
sometimes are just the things that the beginner wants to know about,
may have been inadvertently left out. In every operation described,
however, I have tried to mention all necessary details. I would urge
the reader, nevertheless, to study as thoroughly as possible all the
garden problems with which he will find himself confronted and to this
end recommend that he read several of the many garden books which are
now to be had. It must be to his advantage to see even the same
subjects presented again from other points of view. The more familiar
he can make himself, both in theory and in practice, with all the
multitude of operations which modern gardening involves, the greater
success will he attain.
Personally, the further I have gone into the growing of things--and
that has now become my business as well as my pleasure--the more
absorbingly interesting I find it. Each season, each crop, offers its
own problems and a reward for the correct solution of them. It is a
work which, even to the beginner, presents the opportunity of deducting
new conclusions, trying new experiments, making new discoveries. It is
a work which offers pleasant and healthy recreation to the many whose
days must be, for the most part, spent in office or shop; and it gives
very substantial help in the world-old problem of making both ends
Let the garden beginner be not disappointed if he does not succeed, for
the first season or two, or possibly three, with everything he plants.
There is usually a preventable reason for the failure, and studious
observation will reveal it. With the modern success in the application
of insecticides and fungicides, and the extension of the practice of
irrigation, the subject of gardening begins to be reduced to a
scientific and (what is more to the point) a sure basis. We are getting
control of the uncertain factors. All this affects first, perhaps, the
person who grows for profit, but with our present wide circulation of
every new idea and discovery in such matters, it must reach soon to
every remote home garden patch which is cared for by a wide-awake
Such a person, from the fact that he or she is reading a new garden
book, I take the reader to be. I hope this volume, condensed though it
is, has added to your fund of practical garden information; that it
will help to grow that proverbial second blade of grass. I have only to
add, as I turn again to the problems waiting for me in field and under
glass, that I wish you all success in your work--the making of better
gardens in America.