Formerly it was the custom for gardeners to invest their labors and
achievements with a mystery and secrecy which might well have
discouraged any amateur from trespassing upon such difficult ground.
"Trade secrets" in either flower or vegetable growing were acquired by
the apprentice only through practice and observation, and in turn
jealously guarded by him until passed on to some younger brother in the
profession. Every garden operation was made to seem a wonderful and
difficult undertaking. Now, all that has changed. In fact the pendulum
has swung, as it usually does, to the other extreme. Often, if you are
a beginner, you have been flatteringly told in print that you could
from the beginning do just as well as the experienced gardener.
My garden friend, it cannot, as a usual thing, be done. Of course, it
may happen and sometimes does. You _might_, being a trusting lamb,
go down into Wall Street with $10,000 [Ed. Note: all monetary values
throughout the book are 1911 values] and make a fortune. You know that
you would not be likely to; the chances are very much against you. This
garden business is a matter of common sense; and the man, or the woman,
who has learned by experience how to do a thing, whether it is
cornering the market or growing cabbages, naturally does it better than
the one who has not. Do not expect the impossible. If you do, read a
poultry advertisement and go into the hen business instead of trying to
garden. I _have_ grown pumpkins that necessitated the tearing down
of the fence in order to get them out of the lot, and sometimes, though
not frequently, have had to use the axe to cut through a stalk of
asparagus, but I never "made $17,000 in ten months from an eggplant in
a city back-yard." No, if you are going to take up gardening, you will
have to work, and you will have a great many disappointments. All that
I, or anyone else, could put between the two covers of a book will not
make a gardener of you. It must be learned through the fingers, and
back, too, as well as from the printed page. But, after all, the
greatest reward for your efforts will be the work itself; and unless
you love the work, or have a feeling that you will love it, probably
the best way for you, is to stick to the grocer for your garden.
Most things, in the course of development, change from the simple to
the complex. The art of gardening has in many ways been an exception to
the rule. The methods of culture used for many crops are more simple
than those in vogue a generation ago. The last fifty years has seen
also a tremendous advance in the varieties of vegetables, and the
strange thing is that in many instances the new and better sorts are
more easily and quickly grown than those they have replaced. The new
lima beans are an instance of what is meant. While limas have always
been appreciated as one of the most delicious of vegetables, in many
sections they could never be successfully grown, because of their
aversion to dampness and cold, and of the long season required to
mature them. The newer sorts are not only larger and better, but
hardier and earlier; and the bush forms have made them still more
generally available.
Knowledge on the subject of gardening is also more widely diffused than
ever before, and the science of photography has helped wonderfully in
telling the newcomer how to do things. It has also lent an impetus and
furnished an inspiration which words alone could never have done. If
one were to attempt to read all the gardening instructions and
suggestions being published, he would have no time left to practice
gardening at all. Why then, the reader may ask at this point, another
garden book? It is a pertinent question, and it is right that an answer
be expected in advance. The reason, then, is this: while there are
garden books in plenty, most of them pay more attention to the
"content" than to the form in which it is laid before the prospective
gardener. The material is often presented as an accumulation of detail,
instead of by a systematic and constructive plan which will take the
reader step by step through the work to be done, and make clear
constantly both the principles and the practice of garden making and
management, and at the same time avoid every digression unnecessary
from the practical point of view. Other books again, are either so
elementary as to be of little use where gardening is done without
gloves, or too elaborate, however accurate and worthy in other
respects, for an every-day working manual. The author feels, therefore,
that there is a distinct field for the present book.
And, while I still have the reader by the "introduction" buttonhole, I
want to make a suggestion or two about using a book like this. Do not,
on the one hand, read it through and then put it away with the
dictionary and the family Bible, and trust to memory for the
instruction it may give; do not, on the other hand, wait until you
think it is time to plant a thing, and then go and look it up. For
instance, do not, about the middle of May, begin investigating how many
onion seeds to put in a hill; you will find out that they should have
been put in, in drills, six weeks before. Read the whole book through
carefully at your first opportunity, make a list of the things you
should do for your own vegetable garden, and put opposite them the
proper dates for your own vicinity. Keep this available, as a working
guide, and refer to special matters as you get to them.
Do not feel discouraged that you cannot be promised immediate success
at the start. I know from personal experience and from the experience
of others that "book-gardening" is a practical thing. If you do your
work carefully and thoroughly, you may be confident that a very great
measure of success will reward the efforts of your first garden season.
And I know too, that you will find it the most entrancing game you ever
Good luck to you!

INSECTS AND DISEASES AND METHODS OF FIGHTING THEM IV. CROPS THAT MAY FOLLOW OTHERS facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail