It may seem to the reader that it is all very well to make a garden
with a pencil, but that the work of transferring it to the soil must be
quite another problem and one entailing so much work that he will leave
it to the professional market gardener. He possibly pictures to himself
some bent-kneed and stoop-shouldered man with the hoe, and decides that
after all there is too much work in the garden game. What a revelation
would be in store for him if he could witness one day's operations in a
modern market garden! Very likely indeed not a hoe would be seen during
the entire visit. Modern implements, within less than a generation,
have revolutionized gardening.
This is true of the small garden as certainly as of the large one: in
fact, in proportion I am not sure but that it is more so--because of
the second wonderful thing about modern garden tools, that is, the low
prices at which they can be bought, considering the enormous percentage
of labor saved in accomplishing results. There is nothing in the way of
expense to prevent even the most modest gardener acquiring, during a
few years, by the judicious expenditure of but a few dollars annually,
a very complete outfit of tools that will handsomely repay their cost.
While some garden tools have been improved and developed out of all
resemblance to their original forms, others have changed little in
generations, and in probability will remain ever with us. There is a
thing or two to say about even the simplest of them, however,--
especially to anyone not familiar with their uses.
There are tools for use in every phase of horticultural operations; for
preparing the ground, for planting the seed, for cultivation, for
protecting crops from insects and disease, and for harvesting.
First of all comes the ancient and honorable spade, which, for small
garden plots, borders, beds, etc., must still be relied upon for the
initial operation in gardening--breaking up the soil. There are several
types, but any will answer the purpose. In buying a spade look out for
two things: see that it is well strapped up the handle in front and
back, and that it hangs well. In spading up ground, especially soil
that is turfy or hard, the work may be made easier by taking a strip
not quite twice as wide as the spade, and making diagonal cuts so that
one vertical edge of the spade at each thrust cuts clean out to where
the soil has already been dug. The wide-tined spading-fork is
frequently used instead of the spade, as it is lighter and can be more
advantageously used to break up lumps and level off surfaces. In most
soils it will do this work as well, if not better, than the spade and
has the further good quality of being serviceable as a fork too, thus
combining two tools in one. It should be more generally known and used.
With the ordinary fork, used for handling manure and gathering up
trash, weeds, etc., every gardener is familiar. The type with oval,
slightly up-curved tines, five or six in number, and a D handle, is the
most convenient and comfortable for garden use.
For areas large enough for a horse to turn around in, use a plow. There
are many good makes. The swivel type has the advantage of turning all
the furrows one way, and is the best for small plots and sloping
ground. It should turn a clean, deep furrow. In deep soil that has long
been cultivated, plowing should, with few exceptions, be down at least
to the subsoil; and if the soil is shallow it will be advisable to turn
up a little of the subsoil, at each plowing--not more than an inch--in
order that the soil may gradually be deepened. In plowing sod it will
be well to have the plow fitted with a coulter, which turns a miniature
furrow ahead of the plowshare, thus covering under all sods and grass
and getting them out of the way of harrows and other tools to be used
later. In plowing under tall-growing green manures, like rye, a heavy
chain is hung from the evener to the handle, thus pulling the crop down
into the furrow so that it will all be covered under. Where drainage is
poor it will be well to break up the subsoil with a subsoil plow, which
follows in the wake of the regular plow but does not lift the subsoil
to the surface.
The spade or spading-fork will be followed by the hoe, or hook, and the
iron rake; and the plow by one or more of the various types of harrow.
The best type of hoe for use after the spade is the wide, deep-bladed
type. In most soils, however, this work may be done more expeditiously
with the hook or prong-hoe (see illustration). With this the soil can
be thoroughly pulverized to a depth of several inches. In using either,
be careful not to pull up manure or trash turned under by the spade, as
all such material if left covered will quickly rot away in the soil and
furnish the best sort of plant food. I should think that our energetic
manufactures would make a prong-hoe with heavy wide blades, like those
of the spading-fork, but I have never seen such an implement, either in
use or advertised.
What the prong-hoe is to the spade, the harrow is to the plow. For
general purposes the Acme is an excellent harrow. It is adjustable, and
for ground at all mellow will be the only one necessary; set it, for
the first time over, to cut in deep; and then, set for leveling, it
will leave the soil in such excellent condition that a light hand-
raking (or, for large areas, the Meeker smoothing-harrow) will prepare
it for the finest of seeds, such as onions and carrots. The teeth of
the Acme are so designed that they practically constitute a gang of
miniature plows. Of disc harrows there are a great many makes. The
salient feature of the disc type is that they can tear up no manure,
grass or trash, even when these are but partly turned under by the
plow. For this reason it is especially useful on sod or other rough
ground. The most convenient harrow for putting on the finishing
touches, for leveling off and fining the surface of the soil, is the
lever spike-tooth. It is adjustable and can be used as a spike-tooth or
as a smoothing harrow.
Any of the harrows mentioned above (except the Meeker) and likewise the
prong-hoe, will have to be followed by the iron rake when preparing the
ground for small-seeded garden vegetables. Get the sort with what is
termed the "bow" head (see illustration) instead of one in which the
head is fastened directly to the end of the handle. It is less likely
to get broken, and easier to use. There is quite a knack in
manipulating even a garden rake, which will come only with practice. Do
not rake as though you were gathering up leaves or grass. The secret in
using the garden rake is _not_ to gather things up. Small stones,
lumps of earth and such things, you of course wish to remove. Keep
these raked off ahead of where you are leveling the soil, which is
accomplished with a backward-and-forward movement of the rake.
The tool-house of every garden of any size should contain a seed-drill.
Labor which is otherwise tedious and difficult is by it rendered mere
play--as well as being better done. The operations of marking the row,
opening the furrow, dropping the seed at the proper depth and distance,
covering immediately with fresh earth, and firming the soil, are all
done at one fell swoop and as fast as you can walk. It will even drop
seeds in hills. But that is not all: it may be had as part of a
combination machine, which, after your seeds are planted--with each row
neatly rolled on top, and plainly visible--may be at once transformed
into a wheel hoe that will save you as much time in caring for your
plants as the seed-drill did in planting your seed. Hoeing drudgery
becomes a thing of the past. The illustration herewith shows such a
machine, and some of the varied attachments which may be had for it.
There are so many, and so varied in usefulness, that it would require
an entire chapter to detail their special advantages and methods of
use. The catalogues describing them will give you many valuable
suggestions; and other ways of utilizing them will discover themselves
to you in your work.
Valuable as the wheel hoe is, however, and varied in its scope of work,
the time-tried hoe cannot be entirely dispensed with. An accompanying
photograph [ED. Not shown here] shows four distinct types, all of which
will pay for themselves in a garden of moderate size. The one on the
right is the one most generally seen; next to it is a modified form
which personally I prefer for all light work, such as loosening soil
and cutting out weeds. It is lighter and smaller, quicker and easier to
handle. Next to this is the Warren, or heart-shaped hoe, especially
valuable in opening and covering drills for seed, such as beans, peas
or corn. The scuffle-hoe, or scarifier, which completes the four, is
used between narrow rows for shallow work, such as cutting off small
weeds and breaking up the crust. It has been rendered less frequently
needed by the advent of the wheel hoe, but when crops are too large to
admit of the use of the latter, the scuffle-hoe is still an
indispensable time-saver.
There remains one task connected with gardening that is a bug-bear.
That is hand-weeding. To get down on one's hands and knees, in the
blistering hot dusty soil, with the perspiration trickling down into
one's eyes, and pick small weedlets from among tender plantlets, is not
a pleasant occupation. There are, however, several sorts of small
weeders which lessen the work considerably. One or another of the
common types will seem preferable, according to different conditions of
soil and methods of work. Personally, I prefer the Lang's for most
uses. The angle blade makes it possible to cut very near to small
plants and between close-growing plants, while the strap over the back
of a finger or thumb leaves the fingers free for weeding without
dropping the instrument.
There are two things to be kept in mind about hand-weeding which will
reduce this work to the minimum. First, never let the weeds get a
start; for even if they do not increase in number, if they once smother
the ground or crop, you will wish you had never heard of a garden.
Second, do your hand-weeding while the surface soil is soft, when the
weeds come out easily. A hard-crusted soil will double and treble the
amount of labor required.
It would seem that it should be needless, when garden tools are such
savers of labor, to suggest that they should be carefully kept, always
bright and clean and sharp, and in repair. But such advice is needed,
to judge by most of the tools one sees.
Always have a piece of cloth or old bag on hand where the garden tools
are kept, and never put them away soiled and wet. Keep the cutting
edges sharp. There is as much pleasure in trying to run a dull
lawnmower as in working with a rusty, battered hoe. Have an extra
handle in stock in case of accident; they are not expensive. In
selecting hand tools, always pick out those with handles in which the
grain does not run out at the point where there will be much strain in
using the tool. In rakes, hoes, etc., get the types with ferrule and
shank one continuous piece, so as not to be annoyed with loose heads.
Spend a few cents to send for some implement catalogues. They will well
repay careful perusal, even if you do not order this year. In these
days of intensive advertising, the commercial catalogue often contains
matter of great worth, in the gathering and presentation of which no
expense has been spared.

III. CROPS TO BE FOLLOWED BY OTHERS Increasing Soil Fertility Saves Water facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail