A vegetable garden is admittedly a part of any home place that has a good rear area. A purchased vegetable is never the same as one taken from a man's own soil and representing his own effort and solicitude.
It is essential to any satisfaction in vegetable-growing that the soil be rich and thoroughly subdued and fined. The plantation should also be so arranged that the tilling can be done with wheel tools, and, where the space will allow it, with horse tools. The old-time garden bed (Fig. 291) consumes time and labor, wastes moisture, and is more trouble and expense than it is worth.
The rows of vegetables should be as long and continuous as possible, to allow of tillage with wheel tools. If it is not desired to grow a full row of any one vegetable, the line may be made up of several species, one following the other, care being taken to place together such kinds as have similar requirements; one long row, for example, might contain all the parsnips, carrots, and salsify. One or two long rows containing a dozen kinds of vegetables are usually preferable to a dozen short rows, each with one kind of vegetable.
It is well to place the permanent vegetables, as rhubarb and asparagus, at one side, where they will not interfere with the plowing or tilling. The annual vegetables should be grown on different parts of the area in succeeding years, thus practicing something like a rotation of crops. If radish or cabbage maggots or club-root become thoroughly established in the plantation, omit for a year or more the vegetables on which they live.
A suggestive arrangement for a kitchen-garden is given in Fig. 292. In Fig. 293 is a plan of a fenced garden, in which gates are provided at the ends to allow the turning of a horse and cultivator (Webb Donnell, in _American Gardening_). Figure 294 shows a garden with continuous rows, but with two breaks running across the area, dividing the plantation into blocks. The area is surrounded with a windbreak, and the frames and permanent plants are at one side.
[Illustration: Fig. 293. A garden fence arranged to allow of horse work.]
It is by no means necessary that the vegetable-garden contain only kitchen-garden products. Flowers may be dropped in here and there wherever a vacant corner occurs or a plant dies. Such informal and mixed gardens usually have a personal character that adds greatly to their interest, and, therefore, to their value. One is generally impressed with this informal character of the home-garden in many European countries, a type of planting that arises from the necessity of making the most of every inch of land. It was the writer's pleasure to look over the fence of a Bavarian peasant's garden and to see, on a space about 40 feet by 100 feet in area, a delightful medley of onions, pole beans, peonies, celery, balsams, gooseberries, coleus, cabbages, sunflowers, beets, poppies, cucumbers, morning-glories, kohl-rabi, verbenas, bush beans, pinks, stocks, currants, wormwood, parsley, carrots, kale, perennial phlox, nasturtiums, feverfew, lettuce, lilies!
_Vegetables for six_ (by C.E. Hunn).
A home vegetable-garden for a family of six would require, exclusive of potatoes, a space not over 100 by 150 feet. Beginning at one side of the garden and running the rows the short way (having each row 100 feet long) sowings may be made, as soon as the ground is in condition to work, of the following:
Fifty feet each of parsnips and salsify.
One hundred feet of onions, 25 feet of which may be potato or set onions, the remainder black-seed for summer and fall use.
Fifty feet of early beets; 50 feet of lettuce, with which radish may be sown to break the soil and be harvested before the lettuce needs the room.
One hundred feet of early cabbage, the plants for which should be from a frame or purchased. Set the plants 18 inches to 2 feet apart.
One hundred feet of early cauliflower; culture same as for cabbage.
Four hundred and fifty feet of peas, sown as follows:--
100 feet of extra early. 100 feet of extra early, sown late. 100 feet of intermediate. 50 feet of dwarf varieties. 100 feet of late.
If trellis or brush is not to be used, frequent sowings of the dwarfs will maintain a supply.
After the soil has become warm and all danger of frost has passed, the tender vegetables be planted as follows:
Corn in five rows 3 feet apart, three rows to be early and intermediate and two rows late.
One hundred feet of string beans, early to late varieties.
Vines as follows:--
10 hills of cucumbers, 6x6 feet. 6 hills of early squash, 6x6 feet. 20 hills of muskmelon, 6x6 feet. 10 hills of Hubbard, 6x6 feet.
One hundred feet of okra.
Twenty eggplants. One hundred feet (25 plants) tomatoes.
Six large clumps of rhubarb.
An asparagus bed 25 feet long and 3 feet wide.
Late cabbage, cauliflower, and celery are to occupy the space made Vacant by removing early crops of early and intermediate peas and string beans.
A border on one side or end will hold all herbs, such as parsley, thyme, sage, hyssop, mints.
_The classes of vegetables._
Before attempting to grow particular vegetables, it will help the beginner to an understanding of the subject if he recognizes certain cultural groups or classes, and what their main requirements are.
Root-crops--Beet, carrot, parsnip, salsify.
The root-crops are cool-weather plants; that is, they may be sown very early, even before light frosts disappear; and the winter kinds grow very late in the fall, or may be left in the ground till most other crops are harvested. They are not often transplanted.
Loose and deep soil, free from clods, is required to grow straight and well-developed roots. The land must also be perfectly drained, not only to remove superfluous moisture, but to provide a deep and friable soil. Subsoiling is useful in hard lands. A large admixture of sand is generally desirable, provided the soil is not likely to overheat in sunny weather.
To keep roots fresh in the cellar, pack them in barrels, boxes, or bins of sand which is just naturally moist, allowing each root to come wholly or partly in contact with the sand. The best material in which to pack them is sphagnum moss, the same that nurserymen use in packing trees for shipment, and which may be obtained in bogs in many parts of the country. In either sand or sphagnum, the roots will not shrivel; but if the cellar is warm, they may start to grow. Roots can also be buried, after the manner of potatoes.
Alliaceous group--Onion, leek, garlic.
A group of very hardy cool-weather plants, demanding unusually careful preparation of the surface soil to receive the seeds and to set the young plants going. They withstand frost and cool weather, and may be sown very early. Seeds are sown directly where the plants are to stand. For early onions, however, the special practice has recently arisen of transplanting from seedbeds.
Brassicaceous group--Cabbage, kale, cauliflower.
These are cool-weather crops, all of them withstanding considerable frost. The cabbages and kales are often started in fall in the middle and southern latitudes, and are harvested before hot weather arrives.
In the northern states, these plants will all do best when started early in hotbed, frame, or greenhouse,--from the last of February to April--and transplanted to the open ground May first to June first, partly because their season of growth may be long and partly to enable them to escape the heat of midsummer. Still, some persons are successful in growing late cabbage, kale, and cauliflower, by sowing the seeds in hills and in the open ground where the plants are to mature. It is best to transplant the young plantlets twice, first from the seed-bed to boxes, or frames, about the time the second set of true leaves appears, placing the plants 24 inches apart each way, and transplanting again to the open ground in rows 4 to 5 feet apart, with plants 2 to 4 feet apart in the row. If the plants are started under cover, they should be hardened off by exposure to light and air during the warmer hours of several days preceding the final transplanting.
The most serious enemy of cabbage-like plants is the root-maggot. See discussion of this insect on pp. 187, 201.
[Illustration: Fig. 295. The white butterfly that lays the eggs for the cabbage-worm.]
The cabbage-worm (larva of the white butterfly shown in Fig. 295) can be dispatched with pyrethrum or kerosene emulsion. It must be treated very early, before the worm gets far into the head (p. 200).
The club-root or stump-root is a fungous disease for which there is no good remedy. Use new land if the disease is present (p. 208).
Solanaceous group--Tomato, egg-plant, red pepper.
These are warm-weather plants, very impatient of frost. They are all natives of southern zones, and have not yet become so far acclimatized in the North as not to need the benefit of our longest seasons.
Plants should be started early, under glass. They should be "pricked off," when the second leaves appear, 3 or 4 inches apart, into flats or boxes. These boxes should be kept in a coldframe, to which an abundance of light and air is admitted on warm, sunny days, in order to harden them off. After all danger of frost is past, and the garden soil is well warmed, the plants may be finally transplanted.
If the ground is too rich, these plants are likely to grow too late in the northern seasons.
Cucurbitaceous group--Cucumber, melon, squash, pumpkin.
All the members of this group are very tender to frost, and they must not be planted till the season is thoroughly open and settled. The plants are not transplanted, unless they are transferred from boxes or pots.
Seeds must be planted somewhat shallow from early spring to midsummer. For the earliest cucumbers and melons, seeds are planted in frames. That is, each hill is inclosed by a portable box frame about 3 feet square and usually having a movable sash cover. The cover is raised or removed in warm days, and the frame bodily taken away when all danger of frost is past. In field culture, seeds are planted an inch deep, four to six in a hill, with hills 4 by 6 feet apart, these distances being varied slightly, according to location and variety. Good cucumbers are sometimes grown in hills surrounding a barrel in which manure is placed to be leached out by successive waterings.
The omnipresent enemies of all the cucurbitaceous crops are the little cucumber beetle and the large black "stink bug." Ashes, lime, or tobacco dust occasionally seem to show some efficiency in preventing the ravages of these insects, but the only reasonably sure immunity is in the use of covers over the hills (Fig. 229) and in hand-picking (p. 202). Covers may also be made by stretching mosquito netting over arcs of barrel hoops or bent wires. If by some such means the plants are kept insect-free till they outgrow the protection, they will usually escape serious damage from insects thereafter. It is well to plant trap or decoy hills of cucumbers, squashes, or melons in advance of the regular planting, on which the bugs may be harvested.
Leguminous crops--Peas and beans.
Two cultural groups are included in the legumes,--the bean group (including all field, garden, and kidney beans, and the cowpea) comprising warm-weather plants; the pea group (including field and garden pea, the Windsor or Broad bean) comprising cool-weather plants. The former are quickly susceptible to frost and should be planted only after the weather is settled. The latter are among the earliest vegetables to be planted. The leguminous crops are not transplanted, the seed being placed where the plants are to grow.
Salad plants and pot-herbs ("greens").
These plants are all grown for their, tender, fresh, succulent leaves, and therefore every reasonable effort should be made to secure quick and continuous foliage growth. It is manifestly expedient that they be grown in warm, mellow ground, well cultivated and copiously watered. Such small plants as cress, corn salad, and parsley may be grown in small beds, or even in boxes or pots; but in a garden where space is not too scant, they may be more conveniently managed in rows, like peas or beets. Nearly all the salad plants may be sown in the spring, and from time to time throughout the summer for succession. The group is culturally not homogeneous, inasmuch as some of the plants need special treatment; but most of them are cool-weather subjects.
The herb garden should find a place on all amateurs' grounds. Sweet-herbs may sometimes be made profitable by disposing of the surplus to the green grocer and the druggist. The latter will often buy all that the housewife wishes to dispose of, as the general supply of medicinal herbs is grown by specialists, and goes into the hands of the wholesaler and is often old when received by the local dealer.
The seedsmen's catalogues mention upwards of forty different herbs, medicinal and culinary. The majority of them are perennial, and will grow for many years if well taken care of. However, it is better to resow them every three or four years. Beds 4 feet square of each of the herbs will supply an ordinary family.
The perennial sweet-herbs may be propagated by division, although they are usually grown from seeds. The second year--and sometimes even the first year--the plants are strong enough for cutting. The common perennial sweet-herbs are: Sage, lavender, peppermint, spearmint, hyssop, thyme, marjoram, balm, catnip, rosemary, horehound, fennel, lovage, winter savory, tansy, wormwood, costmary.
The commoner annual species (or those that are treated as annuals) are: Anise, sweet basil, summer savory, coriander, pennyroyal, caraway (biennial), clary (biennial), dill (biennial), sweet marjoram (biennial).
_The culture of the leading vegetables._
Having now obtained a view of the layout of the vegetable-garden and a good conception of the leading cultural groups, we may proceed with a discussion of the different kinds of vegetables themselves. Good experience is better than book advice; but the person who consults a book is the one who lacks experience. Any printed directions are necessarily imperfect, and they may not be adaptable to the particular conditions under which the amateur works; but they ought to set him in the right direction so that he may more easily find his way. Seedsmen's catalogues often contain much useful and reliable advice of this kind.
ASPARAGUS.--The best of all early spring vegetables; a hardy herbaceous perennial, grown for the soft edible shoots that spring from the crown.
The culture of asparagus has been simplified in the past few years, and at present the knowledge required successfully to plant and grow a good supply need not be that of a professional. The old method of excavating to the depth of 3 feet or more, throwing in from 4 to 6 inches of broken stone or bricks for drainage, then filling to within 16 to 18 inches of the surface with well-rotted manure, with 6 inches of soil upon which to set the roots, has given place to the simple practice of plowing or digging a trench from 14 to 16 inches deep, spreading well-rotted manure in the bottom to the depth of 3 or 4 inches; when well trodden down covering the manure with 3 or 4 inches of good garden soil, then setting the plants, with the roots well spread out, covering carefully with soil to the level of the garden, and firming the soil with the feet. This will leave the crowns of the plants from 4 to 5 inches below the surface.
In stubborn, heavy soil the best method to pursue in making a permanent bed is to throw out all the dirt from the trench and replace with good, fibrous loam.
In setting, 1-year-old plants will prove more satisfactory than older ones, being less liable to suffer from injury to the root system than those that have made a larger growth. Two years after setting the crop may be cut somewhat, but not sooner if a lasting bed is desired, as the effort to replace the stalks has a tendency to weaken the plant unless the roots are well established. The cutting should cease in June or early July, or the roots may be much weakened. In cutting, care should be taken to insert the knife vertically, so that adjoining crowns will not be injured (Fig. 296).
[Illustration: Fig. 296. Good _(A)_ and poor _(B)_ modes of inserting the knife to cut asparagus. Some careful growers pull or break the shoots rather than cut them.]
The yearly treatment of an asparagus bed consists of cleaning off tops and weeds in the fall and adding a dressing of well-rotted manure to the depth of 3 or 4 inches, this manure to be lightly forked into the bed the following spring; or the tops may be allowed to stand for winter protection and the mulch left off. A top-dressing of nitrate of soda, at the rate of 200 pounds per acre, is often beneficial as a spring stimulant, particularly in the case of an old bed. Good results will also follow an application of bone meal or superphosphate at the rate of some 300 to 500 pounds per acre. The practice of sowing salt on an asparagus bed is almost universal; yet beds that have never received a pound of salt are found to be as productive as those having received an annual dressing. Nevertheless, a salt dressing is recommended. Two rows of asparagus 25 feet long and 3 feet apart should supply a large family with an abundance throughout the season, and if well taken care of, will last a number of years.
Conover Colossal is the variety most generally grown, and is perhaps the most satisfactory sort. Palmetto, a variety originating at the South, is also very popular.
ARTICHOKE.--The artichoke of literature is a tall, coarse perennial of the thistle tribe, producing edible flower-heads. Cardoon is a related plant.
The fleshy scales of the head and the soft "bottom" of the head are the parts used. The young suckers or shoots may also be tied together and blanched, using them like asparagus or Swiss chard. But few of these plants would be needed for a family, as they produce a number of flower-heads to a plant and a quantity of suckers. The plants should be set from 2 to 3 feet apart in the row, the rows being 3 feet apart. This vegetable is not quite hardy in the North, but a covering of leaves or barnyard litter to the depth of a foot will protect it well. The plant is perennial, but the best yield comes from young plants. If the heads are allowed to ripen, they reduce the vitality of the plant.
Artichokes have never become so popular in this country as to have produced a long list of varieties. Large Green Globe is most commonly offered by seedsmen. Edible heads should be secured the second year from seed. Seedlings are likely to vary greatly, and if one is fond of artichokes, he would do better to propagate by suckers from the best plants.
These plants make no mean decorative subjects, either massed or in a mixed border, and from the rarity of their culture are always objects of interest.
ARTICHOKE, JERUSALEM, is a wholly different plant from the above, although it is commonly known as "artichoke" in this country. It is a species of sunflower that produces potato-like tubers. These tubers may be used in lieu of potatoes. They are very palatable to hogs; and when the plant becomes a weed,--as it often does,--it may be exterminated by turning the hogs into the field. Hardy, and will grow anywhere.
BEAN.--Every garden grows beans of one kind or another. Under this general name, many kinds of plants are cultivated. They are all tender, and the seeds, therefore, should not be planted until the weather is thoroughly settled; and the soil should be warm and loose. They are all annuals in northern countries, or treated as such.
The bean plants may be classified in various ways. In respect to stature, they may be thrown into three general categories; viz. the pole or climbing beans, the bush beans, and the strict-growing or upright beans (as the Broad or Windsor bean).
In respect to their uses, beans again may be divided into three categories; viz. those used as string or snap beans, the entire pod being eaten; those that are used as shell beans, the full-size but immature beans being shelled from the pod and cooked; dry beans, or those eaten in their dry or winter condition. The same variety of bean may be used for all of these three purposes at different stages of its development; but as a matter of fact, there are varieties better for one purpose than the other.
Again, beans may be classified in respect to their species. Those species that are best known are as follows:
(1) Common bean, or _Phaseolus vulgaris,_ of which there are both tall and bush forms. All the common snap and string beans belong here, as also the Speckled Cranberry types of pole beans, and the common field beans.
(2) The Lima beans, or _Phaseolus lunatus._ The larger part of these are pole beans, but lately dwarf or bush varieties have appeared.
(3) The Scarlet Runner, _Phaseolus multiflorus,_ of which the Scarlet Runner and White Dutch Runner are familiar examples. The Scarlet Runner is usually grown as an ornamental vine, and it is perennial in warm countries, but the seeds are edible as shelled beans. The White Dutch Runner is oftener cultivated for food.
(4) The Yard-Long, or Asparagus bean, _Dolichos sesquipedalis,_ which produces long and weak vines and very long, slender pods. The green pods are eaten, and also the shelled beans. The French Yard-Long is the only variety of this type that is commonly known in this country. This type of bean is popular in the Orient.
(5) The Broad beans, of which the Windsor is the common type. These are much grown in the Old World for stock feed, and they are sometimes used for human food. They grow to one strict, central, stiff stalk, to a height of 2 to 4 or 5 feet, and they are very unlike other kinds of beans in appearance. In this country, they are very little grown on account of our hot and dry summers. In Canada they are somewhat raised, and are sometimes used in the making of silage.
(6) The cowpea, which is really a bean (species of _Vigna_), much grown in the South for hay and green-manuring, is also a very good table vegetable and one that is destined to increase in popularity for domestic use.
The culture of the bean, while of the easiest, often proves a failure as far as the first crop is concerned, from planting the seed before the ground has become warm and dry. No vegetable seed will decay quicker than beans, and the delay caused by waiting for the soil to become warm and free from excessive moisture will be more than made up by the rapidity of growth when finally they are planted. Beans will grow on most any land, but the best results may be secured by having the soil well enriched and in good physical condition.
From the 5th to the 10th of May in the latitude of central New York, it will be safe to plant beans for an early crop. The beans may be dropped 2 inches deep in shallow drills, the seeds to lie 3 inches apart. Cover to the surface of the soil, and if the ground be dry, firm it with the foot or the back of the hoe. For the bush varieties, allow 2 feet between the drill-rows, but for the dwarf Limas 2-1/2 feet is better. Pole Limas are usually planted in hills 2 to 3 feet apart in the rows. Dwarf Limas may be sown thinly in drills.
A large number of the varieties of both the green-podded and the wax-podded beans are used almost exclusively as snap beans, to be eaten with the pod while tender. The various strains of the Black Wax are the most popular string beans. The pole or running beans are used either green or dried, and the Limas, both tall and dwarf, are well known for their superior flavor either as shelled or dry beans. The old-fashioned Cranberry or Horticultural Lima type (a pole form of _Phaseolus vulgaris_) is probably the best shell bean, but the trouble of poling makes it unpopular. Dwarf Limas are much more desirable for small gardens than the pole varieties, as they may be planted much closer, the bother of procuring poles or twine is avoided, and the garden will have a more sightly appearance. Both the dwarf Limas and pole Limas require a longer season in which to mature than the bush beans, and only one planting is usually made.
The ordinary bush beans may be planted at intervals of two weeks from the first planting until the 10th of August. Each planting may be made on ground previously occupied by some early-maturing crop. Thus, the first to third plantings may be on ground from which has been harvested a crop of spinach, early radish, or lettuce; after that, on ground where early peas have been grown; and the later sowings where beets or early potatoes have grown. String beans for canning are usually taken from the last crop.
One quart of seed will plant 100 feet of drill of the bush beans; or 1 quart of Limas will plant 100 hills.
Limas are the richest of beans, but they often fail to mature in the northern states. The land should not be very strong in nitrogen (or stable manure), else the plants will run too much to vine and be too late. Choose a fertile sandy or gravelly soil with warm exposure, use some soluble commercial fertilizer to start them off, and give them the best of culture. Aim to have the pods set before the droughts of midsummer come. Good trellises for beans are made by wool twine stretched between two horizontal wires, one of which is drawn a foot above the ground and the other 6 or 7 feet high.
Bean plants are not troubled by insects to any extent, but they are sometimes attacked by blight. When this occurs, do not plant the same ground to beans again for a year or two.
BEET.--This vegetable is grown for its thick root, and for its herbage (used as "greens"); and ornamental-leaved varieties are sometimes planted in flower-gardens.
Being one of the hardiest of spring vegetables, the seed may be sown as early in the spring as the ground can be worked. A light, sandy soil is the best on which to grow beets to perfection, but any well-tilled garden land will raise satisfactory crops. On heavy ground the turnip beet gives the best results, as the growth is nearly all at or above the surface. The long varieties, having tapering roots running deep into the soil, are liable to be misshapen unless the physical condition of the soil is such that the roots meet with little obstruction. A succession of sowings should be made, at intervals of two to three weeks, until late summer, as the beets are much more desirable in their young stage than when they have become old and woody. The mangel-wurzel and the sugar-beet are usually grown as a field crop, and will not enter into the calculations of the home garden.
In order to hasten the season of the extra-early crop of beets, the seeds may be sown in boxes or in the soil of a hotbed in February or March, transplanting the small plants to the open ground at the time the first sowing of seed is made. As the flat or turnip-rooted varieties grow at the surface of the ground, the seed may be sown thickly, and as the more advanced roots are large enough to use they may be pulled, leaving room for the later ones to develop, thus growing a large quantity in a small area and having a long season of small beets from one sowing.
For winter use the late July-sown seed will give the best roots, growing through the cool months of the fall to a medium size and remaining firm without being tough or stringy. These may be dug after light frosts and before any severe cold weather, and stored in barrels or boxes in the cellar, using enough dry dirt to fill spaces between the roots and cover them to the depth of 6 inches. These roots, thus packed in a cool cellar, will be fit to use through the entire winter months. When it can be had, florists' or sphagnum moss is an excellent medium in which to pack roots for winter.
The early round or turnip varieties (Fig. 297) are best for early and summer use. The long blood beets may be used for storing, but these require a longer season of growth.
BROCCOLI.--is almost identical with the cauliflower, except that it usually requires a longer season and matures in the fall. It is grown more generally in Europe than in this country. The special merit of broccoli is its adaptability for late summer planting and its rapid growth in the late season. It is said that a large proportion of broccoli is used in the manufacture of pickles. The culture is the same as for cauliflower,--deep, moist soil well enriched, cool weather, and the destruction of the cabbage worm.
BRUSSELS SPROUTS.--The plant is grown for the buttons or sprouts (miniature cabbage heads) that grow thickly along the stem (Fig. 298). It should be more generally known, as it is one of the choicest of the cabbage family, and may be had at its best after the season for cauliflower has passed. It is the better for being touched by the fall frosts. The buttons should be cut off rather than broken. The very small hard "sprouts" or buttons are the best. The culture is essentially the same as for late cabbage or broccoli. One ounce will sow 100 feet of drill, or make upward of 2000 plants. Set plants in field 2 to 3 feet apart, or dwarf varieties closer. They require the entire season in which to grow.
CABBAGE.--The cabbage is now so extensively grown as a field crop, from which the market is supplied, and the plants require so much room that many home-gardeners incline to give up its culture; but the early varieties, at least, should be grown at home.
For an early crop in the North, the plants must be started either in February or early March, or the previous September and wintered over in coldframes. This latter method was once a common practice by gardeners near large cities, but the building of greenhouses to replace the many hotbeds of the market-gardener has changed the practice in many localities, and now most of the early cabbages in the North are grown from seed sown in January, February, or March. The plants are hardened off in March and early April and planted out as early as possible. The private grower, or one with a small garden, may often procure his early plants from the market-gardener much cheaper than he can grow them, as usually only a limited number of early cabbage plants are wanted; but for the midseason and main crop, the seed may be sown in May or June in a seed-bed, setting the plants in July.
The seed-bed should be made mellow and rich. A good border will do. The seed is sown preferably in rows, thus allowing thinning of the plants and the pulling of any weeds that germinate. The young plants will well repay attention to watering and thinning. The rows should be 3 or 4 inches apart. When the plants are large enough to transplant, they may be planted where early vegetables have been grown. Set the plants from 18 to 24 inches apart in the row, the rows being 3 feet apart for the medium-growing kinds. One ounce of seed will furnish about 2000 plants.
All cabbages require deep and rich soil, and one that holds moisture well. Regular cultivation should be given so that moisture may be saved and the growth be continuous.
For early planting, the number of varieties is limited to three or four. For an intermediate crop the list is more extended, and the late varieties are very numerous. The early list is headed by the Jersey Wakefield, a variety that heads very quickly, and, although not one of the solid kinds, is generally grown. The Early York and Winnigstadt are good varieties to follow it. The latter especially is solid and of very good quality. For the midseason, the Succession and All Season are of the best, and for the winter supply the Drumhead, Danish Ball, and Flat Dutch types are leaders. One of the best of the cabbages for table use is seldom seen in the garden--the Savoy cabbage. It is a type with netted leaves, making a large, low-growing head, the center of which is very solid and of excellent flavor, especially late in the fall, when the heads have had a slight touch of frost. Savoy should be grown in every private garden.
The best remedy for the cabbage worm is to kill the first brood on the very young plants with Paris green. After the plants begin to head, pyrethrum, kerosene emulsion, or salt water may be used. On a small area, hand-picking may be recommended (p. 200).
The maggot is the most serious cabbage pest. After studying the seventy odd remedies proposed, Slingerland concludes that six are efficient and practicable: growing the young plants in closely covered frames; tarred paper cards placed snugly about the base of the plants to keep the fly away; rubbing the eggs from the base of the plant; hand-picking of the maggots; treating the plants with emulsion of carbolic acid; treating them with carbon bisulfide. The insecticidal materials are injected or poured into the soil about the base of the plant (pp. 187, 201).
The club-root, which causes the roots to become greatly thickened and distorted, is difficult to manage if cabbages or allied plants are grown continuously on land in which diseased plants have been raised. Changing the location of the cabbage or cauliflower patch is the best procedure. If very different crops, as corn, potatoes, peas, tomatoes, are grown on the land, the disease will be starved out in two or three years (p. 208).
There are many ways of storing cabbages for winter and spring use, none of which are uniformly successful. The general subject is discussed on p. 158. On this point T. Greiner writes as follows: "I have heretofore piled a lot of cabbages cut from the stump in a conical heap in the field, and covered them with clusters of the outer leaves cut off with a piece of the stump. The leaves are carefully placed over the heap in shingle fashion, so as to shed water. Cabbages thus piled and covered may be left out until real winter weather sets in. But I find that slugs and earthworms frequently infest the cabbages thus stored, and do a good deal of damage. It might be well to place a solid floor of lime or salt upon the ground, and then pack the cabbages upon this. If to be left out after severe freezing has set in, one should put additional covering, such as straw, corn-stalks or marsh hay, over the whole heap." Mr. Burpee's little book, Cabbage and Cauliflower for Profit, written by J.M. Lupton, a prominent cabbage-grower, suggests the following plan for early winter sales: "Take the cabbages up with the roots on, and store in well-ventilated cellars, where they will keep till mid-winter. Or stack them in some sheltered position about the barn, placing one above the other in tiers, with the roots inside, and covering deeply with seaweed; or if this cannot be obtained, something like cornstalks may be used to keep them from the weather as much as possible (Fig. 299). When thus stored, they may be obtained any time during the winter when prices are favorable."
CARROT.--While essentially a farm crop in this country, the carrot is nevertheless a most acceptable garden vegetable. It is hardy and easily grown. The extra-early varieties may be forced in a hotbed, or seed may be sown as soon as the ground is fit to work in the spring. The stump-rooted, or half-long varieties (Fig. 300), are sown for the general garden crop.
Well-enriched, mellow loam, deeply dug or plowed, is best suited to the requirements of carrots. The seed for the main crop may be sown as late as July 1. Sow thickly, thinning to 3 to 4 inches in the row. The rows, if in a garden that is hand-worked, may be 12 inches apart. If the cultivation is performed with a horse, the rows should be from 2 to 3 feet apart. One ounce will sow 100 feet of drill.
CAULIFLOWER.--This is the choicest of all vegetables of the cabbage group, and its culture is much the most difficult. While the special requirements are few, they must be fully met if good results are to be expected.
The general culture of cauliflower is much like that of cabbage, except that the cauliflower, being more tender, should be more thoroughly hardened off before setting out, the heads must be protected from hot suns, the plants must never suffer for moisture, and the greatest care must be taken to secure only highly bred seeds.
It is essential that the plants be set out as early as possible, as the warm weather of June causes them to make imperfect heads unless the soil is filled with moisture. No garden crop will so well repay the cost and time of thorough irrigation, either by running the water between the rows or applying it directly to the plants. When it is impossible to furnish water and there is danger of losing the soil moisture, it is a good plan to mulch heavily with straw or some other substance. This mulch, if put on just after a heavy rain, will hold the moisture for a long time. Cauliflower prospers best in a cool climate.
When the heads begin to form, the outside leaves may be brought together and tied above the head, excluding the direct sunshine and keeping the head white and tender. Fig. 301 shows a good head.
No vegetable will respond more quickly to good culture and well-manured soil than the cauliflower, and none will prove such an utter failure when neglected. It is imperative that care be taken to destroy all the cabbage worms before the leaves are tied in, as after that it will be impossible to see or reach them. From 1000 to 1500 plants may be grown from 1 ounce of seed. Good cauliflower seed is very expensive.
For winter crop, seeds may be started in June or July, as for late cabbage.
Erfurt, Snowball, and Paris are popular early varieties. Nonpareil and Algiers are good late kinds.
CELERIAC.--A form of the celery plant in which the tuberous root is the edible part (Fig. 302). The tuber has the celery flavor in a pronounced degree, and is used for flavoring soups and for celery salad. It may be served raw, sliced in vinegar and oil, or boiled.
The culture is the same as given for celery, except that no earthing or blanching is required. About an equal number of plants are obtained from the same weight of seed as from celery seed. Celeriac is extensively used abroad, but, unfortunately, little known in America.
CELERY.--Although celery has now become a staple vegetable with all classes of people, the home-gardener is likely not to attempt its culture; yet it is not difficult to raise in small quantities in most any good garden land. While the commercial celery is largely grown on reclaimed swamp lands, such areas are not at all essential to its cultivation.
The self-blanching varieties have simplified the culture of celery so that the amateur, as well as the expert, may have a good supply at least six months of the year. The so-called new culture, which consists of setting the plants close together and causing them to shade each other, can be recommended for the garden when a supply of well-rotted manure is to had, and when any amount of water is available. This method is as follows: Fork or spade into the soil a large quantity of manure to the depth of 10 to 12 inches; pulverize the soil until the ground for the depth of 4 to 6 inches is in very fine condition. Then set the plants in rows 10 inches apart and the plants but 5 or 6 inches apart in the rows. It will be seen that plants set as close as this will soon fill the soil with a mass of roots and must have large amounts of plant-food, as well as a large quantity of water; and the making of such a bed can be recommended only to those who can supply these needs.
The common practice in home gardens is to plow or dig a shallow trench, setting the plants in the bottom and hoeing in the soil as the plants grow. The distance apart of the rows and plants will depend on the varieties. For the dwarf varieties, such as White Plume, Golden Self-blanching, and others of this type, the rows may be as close as 3 feet and the plants 6 inches in the rows. For the large-growing varieties, as Kalamazoo, Giant Pascal, and, in fact, most of the late varieties, the rows may be 4 1/2 to 5 feet apart and the plants 7 or 8 inches in the row.
The seed for an early crop should be sown in February or early in March in shallow boxes, which may be placed in a hotbed or sunny window, or sown directly in the soil of a hotbed. Cover the seeds thinly and press the soil firmly over them. When the seedling plants are about 1 inch high, they should be transplanted to other boxes or hotbeds, setting the plants 1 inch apart in rows 3 inches apart. At this transplanting, as with the following ones, the tall leaves should be cut or pinched off, leaving only the upright growth, as with the utmost care it is almost impossible to prevent the outside leafstalks from wilting down and dying. The roots should also be trimmed back at each transplanting in order to increase the feeding roots. The plants should be set as deep as possible, care being taken, however, not to allow the heart of the plant to be covered up. The varieties usually grown for an early crop are the so-called self-blanching varieties. They may be made fit for the table with much less labor than the late crop, the shade required to blanch the stalks being much less. When only a few short rows are grown in a private garden, screens of lath may be made by driving stakes on each side of the row and tacking lath on, leaving spaces of an inch or more for the light to enter; or each head may be wrapped in paper, or a tile drain pipe may be set over the plant. In fact, any material that will exclude the light will render the stalks white and brittle.
The seed for the main or fall crop should be sown in April or early May in a seed-bed prepared by forking short well-rotted manure into a fine soil, sowing the seed thinly in rows 8 or 10 inches apart, covering the seed lightly and firming over the seed with the feet, hoe, or back of a spade. This seed-bed should be kept moist at all times until the seed germinates, either by close attention to watering or by a lath screen. The use of a piece of cloth laid directly on the soil, and the bed wet through the cloth, is often recommended, and if the cloth is always wet and taken off the bed as soon as the seed sprouts, it may be used. After the young plants have grown to the height of 1 or 2 inches they must be thinned out, leaving the plants so that they do not touch each other, and transplanting those thinned--if wanted--to other ground prepared in the same manner as the seed-bed. All these plants may be sheared or cut back to induce stockiness.
An ounce of seed will furnish about three thousand plants.
If in a private garden, the ground on which the fall crop is usually set will likely be that from which a crop of some early vegetable has been taken. This land should be again well enriched with fine, well-rotted manure, to which may be added a liberal quantity of wood ashes. If the manure or ashes is not easily obtained, a small amount may be used by plowing or digging out a furrow 8 or 12 inches deep, scattering the manure and ashes in the bottom of the trench and filling it up almost level with the surface. The plants should be set about the middle of July, preferably just before a rain. The plant bed should have a thorough soaking shortly before the plants are lifted, and each plant be trimmed, both top and root, before setting. The plants should be set from 5 to 6 inches apart in the rows and the earth well firmed around each one.
The after-cultivation consists in thorough tillage until the time of "handling" or earthing up the plants. This process of handling is accomplished by drawing up the earth with one hand while holding the plant with the other, packing the soil well around the stalks. This process may be continued until only the leaves are to be seen. For the private grower, it is much easier to blanch the celery with boards or paper, or if the celery is not wanted until winter, the plants may be dug up, packed closely in boxes, covering the roots with soil, and placed in a dark, cool cellar, where the stalks will blanch themselves. In this way celery may be stored in boxes in the house cellar. Put earth in the bottom of a deep box, and plant the celery in it.
Celery is sometimes stored in trenches in the open (Fig. 303), the roots being transplanted to such places in late fall. The plants are set close together and the trenches are covered with boards. A wider trench or pit may be made (Fig. 304) and covered with a shed roof.
CHARD, or SWISS CHARD,--is a development of the beet species characterized by large succulent leafstalks instead of enlarged roots.
(Fig. 305). The leaves are very tender and make "greens" much like young beets. They are cultivated exactly like beets. Only one variety is offered by most seedsmen in this country, though in France and Germany several varieties are grown.
CHICORY is grown for two purposes,--for the roots and for the herbage. "Barbe de capucin" is a salad made from young shoots of chicory.
The Magdeburg chicory is the variety usually spoken of, it being the one most extensively grown. The roots of this, after being ground and roasted, are used either as a substitute or an adulterant for coffee.
The Witloof, a form of chicory, is used as a salad, or boiled and served in the same manner as cauliflower. The plants should be thinned to 6 inches. In the latter part of summer they should be banked up like celery, and the leaves used after becoming white and tender. This and the common wild chicory are often dug in the fall, the leaves cut off, the roots packed in sand in a cellar and watered until a new growth of leaves starts. These leaves grow rapidly and are very tender, making a fine salad vegetable. One packet of seed of the Witloof will furnish plants enough for a large family.
CHERVIL.--The chervil is grown in two forms,--for the leaves, and for the tuberous roots.
The curled chervil is a good addition to the list of garnishing and seasoning vegetables. Sow seeds and cultivate the same as parsley.
The tuberous chervil resembles a short carrot or parnsip. It is much esteemed in France and Germany. The tubers have somewhat the flavor of a sweet potato, perhaps a little sweeter. They are perfectly hardy, and, like the parsnip, the better for frosts. The seed may be sown in September or October, as it does not keep well; or as soon as the ground is fit to work in the spring, it being slow to germinate after the weather becomes hot and dry. One packet of seed will give all the plants necessary for a family.
COLLARDS.--This is a name given to a kind of kale, used when young as greens; also to young cabbages used in the same way.
The seed of any early cabbage may be sown thickly in rows 18 inches apart, from early spring to late fall. The plants are cut off when 6 or 8 inches high and boiled as are other greens.
The kale, or Georgia collards, is grown in the South, where cabbages fail to head. It grows to the height of 2 to 6 feet, furnishing a large quantity of leaves. The young leaves and tufts that arise as the old leaves are pulled off make excellent greens.
CIVES.--A small perennial of the onion family, used for flavoring.
It is propagated by division of the root. It may be planted in a permanent place in the border, and, being completely hardy, will remain for years. The leaves are the parts used, as the roots are very rank in flavor. The leaves may be cut frequently, as they readily grow again.
CORN SALAD.--This is one of the earliest spring salad vegetables, coming into condition with spinach, and needing the same culture.
Sown in the fall, and covered with straw or hay when cold weather sets in, it will start into rapid growth when the covering is removed in March or April. Or the seed may be sown in early spring, and plants will be fit to use in six or eight weeks. One packet of seed will suffice for a small family.
CORN, SWEET OR SUGAR.--This is the characteristic American table vegetable, and one that every home-gardener expects to grow. Too often, however, only one planting of one kind is made. The ears come to edible maturity almost simultaneously, and a short season is the result.
The first planting of sweet corn should be made from May 1 to 10, planting early, intermediate, and late varieties at the same time, then at intervals of two weeks until the middle of July, when the late varieties should be planted, thus having a succession from the first crop until October.
The soil for corn should be fertile and "quick." The coarser manure left from the preparation of the ground for small crops may be used to good advantage. Corn for the garden is better planted in drills, the drills 3 feet apart, dropping the seed from 10 to 12 inches apart in the drills. One quart of seed will plant 200 hills.
For extra early, Marblehead, Adams, Vermont, Minnesota, and Early Corey are favorites. A most excellent extra early yellow sweet corn, with kernels looking like small field corn, is Golden Bantam; the ears are small and would probably not attract the market buyer, but for home use the variety is unexcelled (Plate XXIV). For later crop, Crosby, Hickox, Shoe Peg, and Stowell Evergreen are now popular.
CRESS.--Two very unlike species of plants are grown under the name of cress,--the upland-cress and the water-cress. There are still other species, but not much known in this country.
The upland cress, or the true pepper grass, may be grown on any garden soil. Sow early in the spring. It makes a rapid growth and can be cut in from four to five weeks. Succession of sowings must be made, as it runs quickly to seed. The curled variety is the one usually grown, as the leaves may be used for garnishing as well as for 'salads. One packet of seed will be sufficient for each sowing. Any good soil will do. Sow thickly in drills 12 to 18 inches apart. In summer it runs to seed quickly, so that it is usually grown in spring and fall.
The water-cress is more exacting in its culture, and can be successfully grown only in moist places, such as edges of shallow slow-running creeks, open drains, or beds excavated near such streams. A few plants for private use may be grown in a frame, provided a retentive soil is used and attention given to watering the bed often. Watercress may be propagated from pieces of the stem, used as cuttings. If one is fond of water-cress, it is well to colonize it in some clean creek or pool. It will take care of itself year by year. Seeds may also be used for propagating it.
CUCUMBER.--The custom of putting down cucumber pickles in the home kitchen is probably passing out; but both the pickling and the slicing cucumbers, especially the latter, are still an essential part of a good home garden. A stale or wilted cucumber is a very poor article of food.
For early use, the cucumber is usually started in a hotbed or coldframe by sowing the seed on pieces of sod 4 to 6 inches square, turned grass side down. Three or four seeds are placed on or pushed into each piece of sod and covered with 1 to 2 inches of fine soil. The soil should be well watered and the glass or cloth placed over the frame. The roots will run through the sod. When the plants are large enough to set out, a flat trowel or a shingle may be slipped under the sod and the plants moved to the hill without check. In place of sod, old quart berry-boxes are good; after setting in the hill the roots may force their way through the cracks in the baskets. The baskets also decay rapidly. Flower-pots may be used. These plants from the frames may be set out when danger of frost is over, usually by the 10th of May, and should make a very rapid growth, yielding good-sized fruits in two months. The hills should be made rich by forking in a quantity of well-rotted manure, and given a slight elevation above the garden--not high enough to allow the wind to dry the soil, but slightly raised so that water will not stand around the roots.
The main crop is grown from seed planted directly in the open, and the plants are grown under level culture.
One ounce of seed will plant fifty hills of cucumbers. The hills may be 4 to 5 feet apart each way.
The White Spine is the leading general-purpose variety. For very early or pickling sorts, the Chicago, Russian, and other picklings are good.
The striped beetle is an inveterate pest on cucumbers and squashes (see page 201).
The name gherkin is applied to small pickling cucumbers. The West India gherkin is a wholly distinct species, but is grown like cucumbers. (Fig. 306.)
DANDELION.--Under domestication the dandelion has been developed until quite unrecognizable to the casual observer. The plants attain a large size and the leaves are much more tender.
Sow in spring in well-manured soil, either in drills or in hills 1 foot apart. A cutting of leaves may be had in September or October, and some of the stools may stand until spring. The delicacy of the leaves may be improved by blanching them, either by the use of boards or earth. One trade packet of seed will supply a sufficient number for a family. The whole plant is destroyed when the crop of leaves is taken.
The seed may be selected from the best field-grown plants, but it is better to buy the French seed of the seedsmen.
EGG-PLANT.--The egg-plant or guinea squash has never become a popular home-garden product in the North. In the South it is better known.
Unless one has a greenhouse or a very warm hotbed, the growing of egg-plants in the North should be left to the professional gardener, as the young plants are very tender, and should be grown without a check. The seed should be sown in the hotbed or the greenhouse about April 10, keeping a temperature of 65 to 70. When the seedlings have made three rough leaves, they may be pricked out into shallow boxes, or, still better, into 3-inch pots. The pots or boxes should be plunged to the rim in soil in a hotbed or coldframe so situated that protection may be given on chilly nights. The 10th of June is early enough to plant them out in central New York.
The soil in which egg-plants are to grow cannot well be made too "quick," as they have only a short season in which to develop their fruits. The plants are usually set 3 feet apart each way. A dozen plants are sufficient for the needs of a large family, as each plant should yield from two to six large fruits. The fruits are fit to eat at all stages of growth, from those the size of a large egg to their largest development. One ounce of seed will furnish 600 to 800 plants.
The New York Improved Purple is the standard variety. Black Pekin (Fig. 307) is good. For early, or for a short-season climate, the Early Dwarf Purple is excellent.
ENDIVE.--One of the best fall salad vegetables, being far superior to lettuce at that time and as easily grown.
For fall use, the seed may be sown from June to August, and as the plants become fit to eat about the same time from sowing as lettuce does, a succession may be had until cold weather. The plants will need protection from the severe fall frosts, and this may be given by carefully lifting the plants and transplanting to a frame, where sash or cloth may be used to cover them in freezing weather.
The leaves, which constitute practically the whole plant, are blanched before being used, either by tying together with some soft material (Fig. 308) or by standing boards on each side of the row, allowing the top of the boards to meet over the center of the row. Tie the leaves only when they are dry.
The rows should be 1-1/2 or 2 feet apart, the plants 1 foot apart in the rows. One ounce of seed will sow 150 feet of drill.
GARLIC.--An onion-like plant, the bulbs of which are used for flavoring.
Garlic is little known in this country except amongst those of foreign birth. It is multiplied the same as multiplier onions--the bulb is broken apart and each bulbule or "clove" makes a new compound bulb in a few weeks. Hardy; plant in early spring, or in the South in the fall. Plant 2 to 3 inches apart in the row.
HORSERADISH.--Widely used as an appetizer, and now grown commercially. As a kitchen-garden vegetable, this is usually planted in some out-of-the-way spot and a piece of the root dug as often as needed, the fragments of roots being left in the soil to grow for further use. This method results in having nothing but tough, stringy roots, very unlike the product of a properly planted and well-cared-for bed. A good horseradish root should be straight and shapely (Fig. 309).
The best horseradish is secured from sets planted in the spring at the time of setting early cabbage, and dug as late the same fall as the weather will permit. It becomes, therefore, an annual crop. The roots for planting are small pieces, from 4 to 6 inches long, obtained when trimming the roots dug in the fall. These pieces may be packed in sand and stored until wanted the following spring.
In planting, the roots should be set with the upper end 3 inches below the surface of the ground, using a dibber or sharp-pointed stick in making the holes. The crop may be planted between rows of early-sown beets, lettuce, or other crop, and given full possession of the ground when these crops are harvested. When the ground is inclined to be stiff or the subsoil is near the surface, the roots may be set in a slanting position. In fact, many gardeners practice this method of planting, thinking that the roots make a better growth and are more uniform in size.
KALE.--Under this name, a great variety of cabbage-tribe plants is grown, some of them reaching a height of several feet. Usually, however, the name is applied to a low-growing, spreading plant, extensively used for winter and spring greens.
The culture given to late cabbage is suitable. At the approach of severe freezing weather a slight protection is given in the North. The leaves remain green through the winter and may be gathered from under the snow at a time when material for greens is scarce. Some of the kales are very ornamental because of their blue and purple curled foliage. The Scotch Curled is the most popular variety. Let the plants stand 18 to 30 inches apart. Young cabbage plants are sometimes used as kale. Collards and borecole are kinds of kale. Sea-kale is a wholly different vegetable (which see).
Kales are extensively grown at Norfolk, Va., and southward, and shipped North in winter, the plants being started in late summer or in fall.
KOHLRABI is little known in the United States. It looks like a leafy turnip growing above ground.
If used when small (2 to 3 inches in diameter), and not allowed to become hard and tough, it is of superior quality. It should be more generally grown. The culture is very simple. A succession of sowings should be made from early spring until the middle of summer, in drills 18 inches to 2 feet apart, thinning the young plants to 6 or 8 inches in the rows. It matures as quickly as turnips. One ounce of seed to 100 feet of drill.
LEEK.--The leek is little grown in this country except by persons of foreign extraction. The plant is one of the onion family, and is used mostly as flavoring for soups. Well-grown leeks have a very agreeable and not very strong onion flavor.
Leek is of the easiest culture, and is usually grown as a second crop, to follow beets, early peas, and other early stuff. The seed should be sown in a seed-bed in April or early May and the seedlings planted out in the garden in July, in rows 2 feet apart, the plants being 6 inches apart in the rows. The plants should be set deep if the neck or lower part of the leaves is to be used in a blanched condition. The soil may be drawn towards the plants in hoeing, to further the blanching. Being very hardy, the plants may be dug in late fall, and stored the same as celery, in trenches or in a cool root-cellar. One ounce of seed to 100 feet of drill.
LETTUCE is the most extensively grown salad vegetable. It is now in demand, and is procurable, every month in the year. The winter and early spring crops are grown in forcing-houses and coldframes, but a supply from the garden may be had from April to November, by the use of a cheap frame in which to grow the first and last crops, relying on a succession of sowings for the intermediate supply.
Seed for the first crop may be sown in a coldframe in March, growing the crop thick and having many plants which are small and tender; or, by thinning out to the distance of 3 inches and allowing the plants to make a larger growth, the plants pulled up may be set in the open ground for the next crop.
Sowings should be made in the garden from April to October, at short intervals. A moist location should be chosen for the July and August sowings. The early and late sowings should be of some loose-growing variety, as they are in edible condition sooner than the cabbage or heading varieties.
The cabbage varieties are far superior to the loose-growing kinds for salads. To be grown to perfection, they should have very rich soil, frequent cultivation, and an occasional stimulant, such as liquid manure or nitrate of soda.
The cos lettuce is an upright-growing type much esteemed in Europe, but less grown here. The leaves of the full-grown plants are tied together, thus blanching the center, making it a desirable salad or garnishing variety. It thrives best in summer.
One ounce of seed will grow 3000 plants or sow 100 feet of drill. In the garden, plants may stand 6 inches apart in the rows, and the rows may be as close together as the system of tillage will allow.
MUSHROOM.--Sooner or later, the novice wants to grow mushrooms. While it is easy to describe the conditions under which they may be grown, it does not follow that a crop may be predicted with any certainty.
Latterly, careful studies have been made of the growing of mushrooms from spores and of the principles involved in the making of spawn, with the hope of reducing the whole subject of mushroom growing to a rational basis. A good idea of this work may be had by reading Duggar's contribution on the subject in Bulletin 85 of the Bureau of Plant Industry, United States Department of Agriculture. In this place, however, we may confine ourselves to the customary horticultural practice.
The following paragraphs are from "Farmers' Bulletin," No. 53 (by William Falconer), of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (March, 1897):--
Mushrooms are a winter crop, coming in from September till April or May--that is, the work of preparing the manure begins in September and ends in February, and the packing of the crop begins in October or November and ends in May. Under extraordinary conditions the season may begin earlier and last longer, and, in fact, it may continue all summer.
Mushrooms can be grown almost anywhere out of doors, and also indoors where there is a dry bottom in which to set the beds, where a uniform and moderate temperature can be maintained, and where the beds can be protected from wet overhead, and from winds, drought, and direct sunshine. Among the most desirable places in which to grow mushrooms are barns, cellars, closed tunnels, sheds, pits, greenhouses, and regular mushroom houses. Total darkness is not imperative, for mushrooms grow well in open light if shaded from sunshine. The temperature and moisture are more apt to be equable in dark places than in open, light ones, and it is largely for this reason that mushroom houses are kept dark.
The best fertilizer for mushrooms, so far as the writer's experience goes, is fresh horse manure. Get together a lot of this material (short and strawy) that has been well trampled and wetted in the stable. Throw it into a heap, wet it well if it is at all dry, and let it heat. When it begins to steam, turn it over, shake it well so as to mix thoroughly and evenly, and then tramp it down solid. After this let it stand till it again gets quite warm; then turn, shake, trample as before, and add water freely if it is getting dry. Repeat this turning, moistening, and trampling as often as it is needful to keep the manure from "burning." If it gets intensely hot, spread it out to cool, after which again throw it together. After being turned in this way several times, and the heat in it is not apt to rise above 130 F., it should be ready to make up in the beds. By adding to the manure at the second or third turning one-fourth or one-fifth of its bulk of loam, the tendency to intense heating is lessened and its usefulness not at all impaired. Some growers prefer short manure exclusively, that is, the horse droppings, while others like a good deal of straw mixed in with this. The writer's experience, however, is that, if properly prepared, it matters little which is used.
Ordinarily the beds are only 8 to 10 inches deep; that is, they are faced with 10-inch-wide hemlock boards, and are only the depth of this board. In such beds put a layer of fresh, moist, hot manure, and trample it down firm until it constitutes half the depth of the bed; then fill up with the prepared manure, which should be rather cool (100 to 115F.) when used, and pack all firmly. If desired, the beds can be made up entirely of the prepared manure. Shelf beds are usually 9 inches deep; that is, the shelf is bottomed with 1-inch boards and faced with 10-inch wide boards. This allows about 8 inches for manure, and 1 inch rising to 2 inches of loam on top. In filling the shelf beds the bottom half may be of fresh, moist or wettish, hot manure, packed down solid, and the top half of rather cool prepared manure, or it may be made up of all prepared manure. As the shelf beds cannot be trodden and cannot be beaten very firm with the back of the fork, a brick is used in addition to the fork.
The beds should be spawned after the heat in them has fallen below 100 F. The writer considers 90 F. about the best temperature for spawning. If the beds have been covered with hay, straw, litter, or mats, these should be removed. Break each brick into twelve or fifteen pieces. The rows should be, say, 1 foot apart, the first one being 6 inches from the edge, and the pieces should be 9 inches apart in the row. Commencing with the first row, lift up each piece, raise 2 to 3 inches of the manure with the hand, and into this hole place the piece, covering over tightly with the manure. When the entire bed is spawned, pack the surface all over. It is well to cover the beds again with straw, hay, or mats, to keep the surface equally moist. The flake spawn is planted in the same way as the brick spawn, only not quite so deep.
At the end of eight or nine days the mulching should be removed and the beds covered with a layer of good loam 2 inches thick, so that the mushrooms can come up in and through it. This gives them a firm hold, and to a large extent improves their quality and texture. Any fair loam will do. That from an ordinary field, wayside, or garden is generally used, and it answers admirably. There exists an idea that garden soil surfeited with old manure is unfit for mushroom beds because it is apt to produce spurious fungi. This, however, is not the case. In fact, it is the earth most commonly used. For molding the beds the loam should be rather fine, free, and mellow, so that it can be easily and evenly spread and compacted firmly into the manure.
If an even atmospheric temperature of from 55 to 60 F. can be maintained, and the house or cellar containing the mushroom beds is kept close and free from drafts, the beds may be left uncovered, and should be watered if they become dry. But no matter where the beds are situated, it is well to lay some loose hay or straw or some old matting or carpet over them to keep them moist. The covering, however, should be removed just as soon as the young mushrooms begin to appear above ground. If the atmosphere is dry, the pathways and walls should be sprinkled with water. The mulching should also be sprinkled, but not enough to cause the water to soak into the bed. However, if the bed should get dry, do not hesitate to water it.
MUSTARD.--Almost all the mustards are good for greens, though white mustard is usually best. Chinese mustard is also valuable.
Seed should be sown in drills, 3 to 3-1/2 feet apart, and covered with a half inch of soil. The ease with which they may be grown, and the abundance of herbage which they yield, mark their special utility. Sow very early for spring greens, and in late summer or early September for fall greens.
MUSKMELON.--The most delicious of all garden vegetables eaten from the hand, and of simple cultivation; but like many another plant that is easy to grow it often fails completely. The season and soil must be warm and the growth continuous.
The natural soil for melons is a light, sandy loam, well enriched with rotted manure, although good crops may be grown on land naturally heavy if the hills are specially prepared. When only heavy soil is available, the earth where the seeds are to be planted should be thoroughly pulverized and mixed with fine, well-rotted manure. A sprinkling of leafmold or chip-dirt will help to lighten it. On this hill from ten to fifteen seeds may be sown, thinning to four or five vines when danger of insects is over.
The season may be advanced and the damage from insects lessened by starting the plants in hotbeds. This may be done by using fresh sod, cut into 6-inch pieces, placing them grass-side down in the hotbed, sowing eight to ten seeds on each piece, and covering with 2 inches of light soil. When all danger of frost is over, and the ground has become warm, these sods may be carefully lifted and set in the prepared hills. The plants usually grow without check, and fruit from two to four weeks ahead of those from seed planted directly in the hill. Old quart berry-boxes are excellent to plant seeds in, as, when they are set in the ground, they very quickly decay, causing no restriction to the roots.
Netted Gem, Hackensack, Emerald Gem, Montreal, Osage, and the Nutmeg melon are popular varieties. One ounce of seed will plant about fifty hills.
OKRA.--A plant of the cotton family, from the green pods of which is made the well-known gumbo soup of the South, where the plant is more extensively grown than in the North. The pods are also used in their green state for stews, and are dried and used in winter, when they are nutritious, and form no little part of the diet in certain sections of the country.
The seeds are very sensitive to cold and moisture, and should not be sown until the ground has become warm--the last week in May or the first of June being early enough in New York. The seed should be sown in a drill 1 inch deep, the plants thinned to stand 12 inches in the row. Give the same culture as for corn. One ounce will sow 40 feet of drill. Dwarf varieties are best for the North. Green Density and Velvet are leading varieties.
ONION.--A few onions, of one kind or another, give character to every good kitchen-garden. They are grown from seeds ("black seed") for the main crop. They are also grown from sets (which are very small onions, arrested in their development); from "tops" (which are bulblets produced in the place of flowers); and from multipliers or potato onions, which are compound bulbs.
The extremely early crop of onions is grown from sets, and the late or fall crop is grown from seed sown in April or early May. The sets may be saved from the crop harvested the previous fall, saving no bulbs measuring over three-fourths of an inch in diameter, or, better, they may be purchased from the seedsman. These sets should be planted as early as possible in the spring, preferably on land that has been manured and trenched in the fall. Plant in rows 12 inches apart, the sets being 2 or 3 inches in the row. Push the sets well down into the ground and cover with soil, firming them with the feet or a roller. In cultivating, the soil should be thrown towards the tops, as the white stems are usually sought as an indication of mildness. The crop will be in condition to use in three to four weeks, and may be made to last until small seed onions are to be had. Tops or multipliers may also be used for the early crop.
In growing onions from seed, it is only necessary to say that the seed should be in the ground very early in order that the bulbs make their growth before the extreme hot weather of August, when, for want of moisture and because of the heat, the bulbs will ripen up while small. Early in April, in New York, if the ground is in condition, the seed should be sown thickly in drills from 12 to 16 inches apart, and the ground above the seeds well firmed. Good cultivation and constant weeding is the price of a good crop of onions. In cultivating and hoeing, the soil should be kept away from the rows, not covering the growing bulbs, but allowing them to spread over the surface of the ground. When the crop is ready to be harvested, the bulbs may be pulled or cultivated up, left to dry in double rows for several days, the tops and roots taken off, and the bulbs stored in a dry place. Later in the season they may be allowed to freeze, covering with chaff or straw to hold them frozen, and kept until early spring; but this method is usually unsafe with beginners, and always so in a changeable climate. Onion seed should always be fresh when sown--preferably of the last year's crop. One ounce of onion seed will sow 100 feet of drill.
One of the recent methods of securing extra large and also early bulbs from seed is to sow the seed in a hotbed in February or early March, and transplant to the open ground in April. A bunch of onions, for eating from hand, is shown in Fig. 310.
The Danvers, Prizetaker, Globe, and Wethersfield are favorite varieties, with the addition of White Queen or Barletta for pickling.
PARSLEY.--This is the most universal of garnishes. It is used also as a flavoring in soups.
The seed is slow to germinate, and often the second or third sowing is made, thinking the first is a failure; but usually after what would seem a long time the young plants will be seen. When sown in the open ground, it should be thinned to stand 3 or 4 inches in the row, the rows being 10 to 12 inches apart. A few plants in a border will give a supply for a large family, and with a little protection will live over winter.
Roots may be lifted in the fall, put into boxes or old cans, and grown in a sunny window for winter use. The Curled parsley is the form commonly used.
PARSNIP.--A standard winter and spring vegetable, of the easiest culture in deep soil (Fig. 311).
Parsnips are the better for the winter's freeze, although they are of good quality if taken up after the fall frosts and packed in soil, sand, or moss in the cellar.
The seed, which must be not over one year old, should be sown as early as possible in well-prepared soil, firmed with the feet or roller. As the seed germinates rather slowly, the ground often becomes crusted or baked over the seeds, in which case it should be broken and fined with a garden rake. This operation often means the success of the crop. Radish or cabbage seeds may be sown with the parsnip seed to mark the row and break the crust. One ounce of seed will sow 200 feet of drill. Thin to 6 inches apart in the row.
PEA.--Perhaps no vegetable is planted in greater expectancy than the pea. It is one of the earliest seeds to go into the ground, and the planting fever is impatient.
There is great difference in quality between the smooth and the wrinkled peas. The first are a little the earliest to be planted and to become fit for use, and on that account should be planted in a small way; but the wrinkled sorts are much superior in quality.
The early crop of peas may be forwarded by sprouting the seeds indoors. Soil may be made too rich or strong for peas.
For the kitchen-garden the dwarf and half-dwarf varieties are the best, as the tall kinds will need brush or wire to support them, causing considerable trouble and labor and not being as neat in appearance. The dwarf varieties should be planted four rows in a block, each row being only 6 or 8 inches apart. The peas on the two center rows may be picked from the outside. Leave a space of 2 feet and plant the same.
The tall varieties yield a larger crop than the dwarfs, but as the rows must be made from 3 to 5 feet apart, the dwarf ones, which are planted only 6 to 8 inches apart, will give as large a yield on the same area. Always plant double rows of the tall varieties; that is, two rows from 4 to 6 inches apart, with the brush or wire between, the double rows being from 3 to 5 feet apart, according to varieties.
At the time of the first planting only the smooth varieties should be sown, but by the middle of April in New York the ground will be warm and dry enough for wrinkled sorts. Succession crops should be sown that will come to maturity one after the other, extending the season six or eight weeks. If a further supply is wanted, the early quick-maturing varieties may be sown in August, usually giving a fair crop of peas in September and early October. In the hot weather of midsummer they do not thrive so well. One quart of seed will plant about 100 feet of drill.
PEPPER.--The garden pepper is not the pepper of commerce; it is more properly known as red pepper (though the pods are not always red), chilli, and capsicum. The pods are much used in the South, and most Northern households now employ them to some extent.
Peppers are tender while young, although they will endure a heavy frost in the fall. Their culture is that recommended for egg-plants. A small seedsman's packet of seed will be sufficient for a large number of plants, say two hundred. The large bell peppers (Fig. 312) are the mildest, and are used for making "stuffed peppers" and other dishes. The small, hot peppers are used for seasoning and sauces.
POTATO.--The potato is rather more a field crop than a home-garden product; yet the home-gardener often desires to grow a small early lot.
The common practice of growing potatoes on elevated ridges or hills is wrong, unless the soil is so wet that this practice is necessary to insure proper drainage (but in this case the land is not adapted to the growing of potatoes), or unless it is necessary, in a particular place, to secure a very early crop. If the land is elevated into ridges or hills, there is great loss of moisture by means of evaporation. During the last cultivating the potatoes may be hilled up slightly in order to cover the tubers; but the hills should not be made in the beginning for the main crop if land and conditions are right.
Land for potatoes should be rather loamy in character, and ought to have a liberal supply of potash, either naturally or supplied in the drill, by means of an application of sulfate of potash. See that the land is deeply plowed or spaded, so that the roots can penetrate deeper. Plant the potatoes 3 or 4 inches below the natural surface of the ground. It is ordinarily best to drop the pieces in drills. A continuous drill or row may be made by dropping one piece every 6 inches, but it is usually thought best to drop two pieces about every 12 to 18 inches. The drills are far enough apart to allow good cultivation. If horse cultivation is used, the drills should be at least 3 feet apart.
Small potatoes are considered not to be so good as large ones for planting. One reason is because too many sprouts arise from each one, and these sprouts are likely to crowd each other. The same is true of the tip end or seed end of the tuber. Even when the tip is cut off, the eyes are so numerous that one secures many weak shoots rather than two or three strong ones. It is ordinarily best to cut the potatoes to two or three eyes, leaving as much tuber as possible with each piece. From 7 to 10 bushels of potatoes are required to plant an acre.
[Illustration: XXV. The garden radish, grown in fall of the usual spring sorts.]
For a very early crop in the garden, tubers are sometimes sprouted in the cellar. When the sprouts are 4 to 6 inches high, the tubers are carefully planted. It is essential that the sprouts are not broken in the handling. In this practice, also, the tubers are first cut into large pieces, so that they will not dry out too much.
The staple remedy for the potato bug is Paris green, 2 pounds or more of poison to 150 to 200 gallons of water, with a little lime. For the blight, spray with bordeaux mixture, and spray thoroughly. Bordeaux mixture will also keep away the flea beetle to a large extent.
RADISH (Plate XXV).--In all parts of the country the radish is popular as a side-dish, being used as an appetizer and for its decorative character. It is a poor product, however, if misshapen, wormy, or tough.
Radishes should be grown quickly in order to have them at their best. They become tough and woody if grown slowly or allowed to stay in the ground too long. A light soil, well enriched, will grow most of the early varieties to table size in three to five weeks. To have a supply through the early months, sowings should be made every two weeks. For spring use, the French Breakfast is still a standard variety (Fig. 313).
For summer, the large white or gray varieties are best. The winter varieties may be sown in September, harvested before severe frosts, and stored in sand in a cool cellar. When they are to be used, if thrown into cold water for a short time they will regain their crispness.
Sow radishes thickly in drills, 12 to 18 inches apart. Thin as needed.
RHUBARB, OR PIE PLANT.--A strong perennial herb, to be grown in a bed or row by itself at one end or side of the garden. It is a heavy feeder.
Rhubarb is usually propagated by division of the fleshy roots, small pieces of which will grow if separated from the old established roots and planted in rich mellow soil. Poor soil should be made rich by spading out at least 3 feet of the surface, filling with well-rotted manure to within 1 foot of the level, throwing in the top soil and setting the roots with the crowns 4 inches below the surface, firming them with the feet. The stalks should not be cut for use until the second year. See that the plant does not want for water when it is making its heavy leaf growth. In fall, coarse manure should be thrown over the crowns, to be forked or spaded in lightly when spring opens.
In growing seedling rhubarb, the seed may be sown in a coldframe in March or April, protected from freezing, and in two months the plants will be ready to set in rows, 12 inches apart. Give the plants good cultivation, and the following spring they may be set in a permanent place. At this time the plants should be set in well-prepared ground, at a distance each way of 4 to 5 feet, and treated as those set with pieces of roots.
If given good care and well manured, the plants will live for years and yield abundantly. Two dozen good roots will supply a large family.
SALSIFY, or VEGETABLE OYSTER (Fig. 314).--Salsify is one of the best of winter and early spring vegetables, and should be grown in every garden. It may be cooked in several different ways, to bring out the oyster flavor.
The seed should be sown as early in the spring as possible. Handle the same as parsnips in every way. The roots, like parsnips, are the better for the winter freeze, but part of the crop should be dug in the fall, and stored in soil or moss in a cellar for winter use.
SEA-KALE is a strong-rooted perennial, the shoots of which are very highly prized as a delicacy when blanched.
Seed should be sown in a hotbed early in the spring, plants transplanted to the garden when from 2 to 3 inches high, and given good cultivation through the season, being covered with litter on the approach of winter. The young stalks are blanched early the following spring by covering with large pots or boxes, or by banking with sand or other clean material. The Dwarf Green Scotch, Dwarf Brown, and Siberian are among the leading varieties. Sea-kale is eaten much as asparagus is. It is highly prized by those who know it.
Sea-kale is also propagated by cuttings of the roots 4 or 5 inches long, planted directly in the soil in spring. The plant being perennial, the early shoots may be bleached year after year.
SORREL of the European garden sorts may be sown in spring, in drills 16 inches apart in beds, or 3 to 3-1/2 feet apart in rows. After the plants are well established they should be thinned to 10 to 12 inches apart in the rows. They are perennial, and may be kept growing in the same place for several years. Broad-leaved French is the most popular variety.
SPEARMINT is prized by many persons as a seasoning, particularly for the Thanksgiving and holiday cookery.
It is a perennial and perfectly hardy, and will live in the open garden year after year. If a supply of the fresh herbage is wanted in winter, remove sods of it to the house six weeks before wanted. Place the sods in boxes, and treat as for house plants. The plants should have been frosted and become perfectly dormant before removal.
SPINACH.--The most extensively grown of all "greens," being in season in earliest spring, and in fall and winter.
The earliest spinach that finds its way to market is produced from seed sown in September or October, often protected by frames or other means through the severe winter, and cut soon after growth starts in early spring. Even as far north as New York spinach may stand over winter without protection.
Spinach is forced by placing sash over the frames in February and March, protecting the young leaves from severe freezing by mats or straw thrown over the frames.
Seed may be sown in early spring for a succession; later in the season seed of the New Zealand summer spinach may be sown, and this will grow through the heat of the summer and yield a fine quality of leaves. The seed of this kind, being very hard, should be scalded and allowed to soak a few hours before sowing. This seed is usually sown in hills about 3 feet apart, sowing four to six seed in each hill.
The spring and winter spinach should be sown in drills 12 to 14 inches apart, one ounce being sufficient for 100 feet of drill. Remember that common spinach is a cool-weather (fall and spring) crop.
SQUASH.--The summer squashes rarely fail of a crop if they once escape the scourge of the striped beetle. The late varieties are not so certain; they must secure a strong start, and be on "quick" fertile warm land in order to make a crop before the cool nights of fall (Fig. 315).
[Illustration: Fig. 315. One of the so-called Japanese type of squash (_Cucurbita moschata_).]
The time of planting, method of preparing the hills, and after-culture are the same as for cucumbers and melons, except that for the early bush varieties the hills should be 4 or 5 feet apart, and for the later running varieties from 6 to 8 feet apart. From eight to ten seeds should be planted in each hill, thinning to four plants after danger from bugs is over. Of the early squashes, one ounce of seed will plant fifty hills; of the later varieties, one ounce will plant but eighteen to twenty hills. For winter use, varieties of the Hubbard type are best. For summer use, the Crooknecks and Scallop squashes are popular. In growing winter squashes in a Northern climate, it is essential that the plants start off quickly and vigorously: a little chemical fertilizer will help.
Pumpkins are grown the same as squashes.
SWEET-POTATO is rarely grown north of Philadelphia; in the South it is a universal garden crop.
Sweet-potatoes are grown from sprouts planted on ridges or hills, not by planting the tubers, as with the common or Irish potato. The method of obtaining these sprouts is as follows: In April, tubers of sweet-potatoes are planted in a partially spent hotbed by using the whole tuber (or if a large one, by cutting it in two through the long way), covering the tubers with 2 inches of light, well-firmed soil. The sash should be put on the frames and only enough ventilation given to keep the potatoes from decaying. In ten or twelve days the young sprouts should begin to appear, and the bed should be watered if dry. The sprouts when pulled from the tuber will be found to have rootlets at the lower end and along the stems. These sprouts should be about 3 to 5 inches long by the time the ground is warm enough to plant them out on their ridges.
The ridges or hills should be prepared by plowing out a furrow 4 to 6 inches deep. Scatter manure in the furrow and plow back the soil so as to raise the center at least 6 inches above the level of the soil. On this ridge the plants are set, placing the plants well in to the leaves and about 12 to 18 inches apart in the rows, the rows being from 3 to 4 feet apart.
The after-cultivation consists in stirring the soil between the ridges; and as the vines begin to run they should be lifted frequently to prevent rooting at the joints. When the tips of the vines have been touched by frost the crop may be harvested, the tubers left to dry a few days, and stored in a dry, warm place.
To keep sweet potatoes, store in layers in barrels or boxes in dry sand, and keep them in a dry room See that all bruised or chilled potatoes are thrown out.
TOMATO.--The tomato is an inhabitant of practically every home garden, and everybody understands its culture (Fig. 316).
The early fruits are very easily grown by starting the plants in a greenhouse, hotbed, or in shallow boxes placed in windows. A pinch of seed sown in March will give all the early plants a large family can use. When the plants have reached the height of 2 or 3 inches, they should be transplanted into 3-inch flower-pots, old berry boxes, or other receptacles, and allowed to grow slowly and stocky until time to set them out, which is from May 15 on (in New York). They should be set in rows 4 or 5 feet apart, the plants being the same distance in the rows.
Some support should be given to keep the fruits off the ground and to hasten the ripening. A trellis of chicken-wire makes an excellent support, as does the light lath fencing that may be bought or made at home. Stout stakes, with wire strung the length of the rows, afford an excellent support. A very showy method is that of a frame made like an inverted V, which allows the fruits to hang free; with a little attention to trimming, the light reaches the fruits and ripens them perfectly (Fig. 317). This support is made by leaning together two lath frames.
The late fruits may be picked green and ripened on a shelf in the sun; or they will ripen if placed in a drawer.
One ounce of seed will be enough for from twelve to fifteen hundred plants. A little fertilizer in the hill will start the plants off quickly. The rot is less serious when the vines are kept off the ground and the rampant suckers are cut out. Varieties pass out and new ones come into notice, so that a list is of small permanent value.
TURNIPS and RUTABAGAS are little grown in home gardens; and yet a finer quality of vegetable than most persons know could be secured if these plants were raised on one's own soil and brought fresh to the table. They are usually a fall crop, from seed sown in July and early August, although some kitchen-gardens have them from spring-sown The culture is easy.
Turnips should be grown in drills, like beets, for the early crop. The young plants will stand light frosts. Choose a rainy day for planting, if practicable. Cover the seed very lightly. Thin the young plants to 5 to 7 inches in the row. Sow every two weeks if a constant supply is desired, as turnips rapidly become hard and woody in warm summer weather. For the fall and winter crop in the North,
"On the fourteenth day of July, Sow your turnips, wet or dry."
In many parts of the northern and middle states tradition fixes the 25th of July as the proper time for sowing flat turnips for winter use. In the middle states, turnips are sometimes sown as late as the end of August. Prepare a piece of very mellow ground, and sow the seed thinly and evenly broadcast. In spite of the old rhyme, a gentle shower will then be acceptable. These turnips are pulled after frost, the tops removed, and the roots stored in cellars or pits.
For the early crop, Purple-top Strap-leaf, Early White Flat Dutch, and Early Purple-top Milan are the favorite varieties. Yellow-fleshed sorts like Golden Ball are very fine for early table use, when well grown, but most eaters prefer white turnips in spring, although they occasionally patronize the yellow varieties in the fall. Yellow Globe is the favorite yellow fall turnip, though some persons grow yellow rutabagas and call them turnips. For late crop of white turnips, the same varieties chosen for spring sowing are also desirable.
Rutabagas are distinguished from turnips by their smooth, bluish foliage, long root, and yellow flesh. They are richer than turnips; they require the same treatment, except that the season of growth is longer. Fall-sown or summer-sown bagas should have a month the start of flat turnips.
Except the maggot (see cabbage maggot,), there are no serious insects or diseases peculiar to turnips and bagas.
WATERMELON.--The watermelon is shipped everywhere in such enormous quantities, and it covers so much space in the garden, that home-gardeners in the North seldom grow it. When one has room, it should be added to the kitchen-garden.
The culture is essentially that for muskmelons (which see), except that most varieties require a warmer place and longer period of growth. Give the hills a distance of 6 to 10 feet apart. Choose a warm, "quick" soil and sunny exposure. It is essential, in the North, that the plants grow rapidly and come into bloom early. One ounce of seed will plant thirty hills.
There are several white or yellow-fleshed varieties, but aside from their oddity of appearance they have little value. A good watermelon has a solid, bright red flesh, preferably with black seeds, and a strong protecting rind. Kolb Gem, Jones, Boss, Cuban Queen, and Dixie are among the best varieties. There are early varieties that will ripen in the Northern season, and make a much better melon than those secured on the market.
The so-called "citron," with hard white flesh, used in making preserves, is a form of watermelon.