THE VEGETABLES AND THEIR SPECIAL NEEDS
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
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 soda.
_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
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 greens.
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 purpose.
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
_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
_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
_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 start.
_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.
Brussels Sprouts Cabbage
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
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 imperative.
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 chapter.
_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
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 needed.
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 garden.
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
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 permanent position.
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 spinach.
_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 fine salad.
_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
_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 prepared.
_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 position.
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
_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 planted.
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 being wonderful.
Spinach wants a strong and very rich
soil, and dressings of nitrate show good results.
THE FRUIT CROPS
Under this heading are included:
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 ½ 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
_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
_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
_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
_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 considerable frost.
_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 works.
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.