LEAF CROPS





Under leaf crops are considered also those of which the stalk or the
flower heads form the edible portion, such as celery and cauliflower.
Asparagus Brussels Sprouts Cabbage
Cauliflower Celery Endive
Kale Lettuce Parsley
Rhubarb Spinach
The quality of all these will depend largely upon growing them rapidly
and without check from the seed-bed to the table. They are all great
nitrogen-consumers and therefore take kindly to liberal supplies of
yard manure, which is high in nitrogen. For celery the manure is best
applied to some preceding crop, such as early cabbage. The others will
take it "straight." Most of these plants are best started under glass
or in the seed-bed and transplanted later to permanent positions. They
will all be helped greatly by a top-dressing of nitrate of soda, worked
into the soil as soon as they have become established. This, if it
fails to produce the dark green healthy growth characteristic of its
presence, should be followed by a second application after two or three
weeks--care being taken, of course, to use it with reason and
restraint, as directed in Chapter VI.
Another method of growing good cabbages and similar plants, where the
ground is not sufficiently rich to carry the crop through, is to
"manure in the hill," either yard or some concentrated manure being
used. If yard manure, incorporate a good forkful with the soil where
each plant is to go. (If any considerable number are being set, it will
of course be covered in a furrow--first being trampled down, with the
plow). Another way, sure of producing results, and not inconvenient for
a few hundred plants, is to mark out the piece, dig out with a spade or
hoe a hole some five inches deep at each mark, dilute poultry manure in
an old pail until about the consistency of thick mud, and put a little
less than half a trowelful in each hole. Mix with the soil and cover,
marking the spot with the back of the hoe, and then set the plants. By
this method, followed by a top-dressing of nitrate of soda, I have
repeatedly grown fine cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce and sprouts.
Cotton-seed meal is also very valuable for manuring in the hill--about
a handful to a plant, as it is rich in nitrogen and rapidly decomposes.
The cabbage group is sometimes hilled up, but if set well down and
frequently cultivated, on most soils this will not be necessary. They
all do best in very deep, moderately heavy soil, heavily manured and
rather moist. An application of lime some time before planting will be
a beneficial precaution. With this group rotation also is almost
imperative.
The most troublesome enemies attacking these plants are: the flea-
beetle, the cabbage-worm, the cabbage-maggot (root) and "club-root";
directions for fighting all of which will be found in the following
chapter.
_Asparagus:_--Asparagus is rightly esteemed one of the very best
spring vegetables. There is a general misconception, however--due to
the old methods of growing it--concerning the difficulty of having a
home supply. As now cared for, it is one of the easiest of all
vegetables to grow, when once the beds are set and brought to bearing
condition. Nor is it difficult to make the bed, and the only reason why
asparagus is not more universally found in the home garden, beside that
mentioned above, is because one has to wait a year for results.
In selecting a spot for the asparagus bed, pick out the earliest and
best drained soil available, even if quite sandy it will do well. Plow
or dig out trenches three feet apart and sixteen to twenty inches deep.
In the bottoms of these tramp down firmly six to eight inches of old,
thoroughly rotted manure. Cover with six to eight inches of good soil--
not that coming from the bottom of the trench--and on this set the
crowns or root-clumps--preferably one-year ones--being careful to
spread the roots out evenly, and covering with enough soil to hold in
position, making them firm in the soil. The roots are set one foot
apart. Then fill in level, thus leaving the crowns four to six inches
below the surface. As the stalks appear give a light dressing of
nitrate of soda and keep the crop cleanly cultivated. (Lettuce, beets,
beans or any of the small garden vegetables may be grown between the
asparagus rows during the first part of the season, for the first two
years, thus getting some immediate return from labor and manure). The
stalks should not be cut until the second spring after planting and
then only very lightly. After that full crops may be had.
After the first season, besides keeping cleanly cultivated at all
times, in the fall clear off and burn all tops and weeds and apply a
good coating of manure. Dig or lightly cultivate this in the spring,
applying also a dressing of nitrate of soda, as soon as the stalks
appear. If the yield is not heavy, give a dressing of bone or of the
basic fertilizers mentioned earlier. It is not difficult to grow plants
from seed, but is generally more satisfactory to get the roots from
some reliable seedsman.
_Broccoli:-The broccoli makes a flower head as does the cauliflower.
It is, however, inferior in quality and is not grown to any extent
where the latter will succeed. It has the one advantage of being
hardier and thus can be grown where the cauliflower is too uncertain to
make its culture worth while. For culture directions see _Cauliflower_.
_Brussels Sprouts:_--In my opinion this vegetable leaves the
cabbage almost as far behind as the cauliflower does. It is, if
anything, more easily grown than cabbage, except that the young plants
do not seem able to stand quite so much cold. When mature, however, it
seems to stand almost any amount of freezing, and it is greatly
improved by a few smart frosts, although it is very good when
succeeding the spring crop of cauliflower. It takes longer to mature
than either cabbage or cauliflower.
_Cabbage:_--Cabbage is one of the few vegetables which may be had
in almost as good quality from the green-grocer as it can be grown at
home, and as it takes up considerable space, it may often be advisable
to omit the late sorts from the home garden if space is very limited.
The early supply, however, should come from the garden--some people
think it should stay there, but I do not agree with them. Properly
cooked it is a very delicious vegetable.
What has already been said covers largely the conditions for successful
culture. The soil should be of the richest and deepest, and well
dressed with lime.
Lettuce is grown with advantage between the rows of early cabbage, and
after both are harvested the ground is used for celery. The early
varieties may be set as closely as eighteen inches in the row, and
twenty-four between rows. The lettuce is taken out before the row is
needed.
The late crop is started in the outside seed-bed about June 1st to
15th. It will help give better plants to cut back the tops once or
twice during growth, and an occasional good soaking in dry weather will
prove very beneficial. They are set in the field during July, and as it
often is very dry at this time, those extra precautions mentioned in
directions for setting out plants, in the preceding chapter, should be
taken. If the newly set plants are dusted with wood ashes, it will be a
wise precaution against insect pests.
_Cauliflower:_--The cauliflower is easily the queen of the cabbage
group: also it is the most difficult to raise. (1) It is the most
tender and should not be set out quite so early. (2) It is even a
ranker feeder than the cabbage, and just before heading up will be
greatly improved by applications of liquid manure. (3) It must have
water, and unless the soil is a naturally damp one, irrigation, either
by turning the hose on between the rows, or directly around the plants,
must be given--two or three times should be sufficient. (4) The heads
must be protected from the sun. This is accomplished by tying up the
points of leaves, so as to form a tent, or breaking them (snap the mid-
rib only), and folding them down over the flower. (5) They must be used
as soon as ready, for they deteriorate very quickly. Take them while
the head is still solid and firm, before the little flower tips begin
to open out.
_Celery:_--This is another favorite vegetable which has a bad
reputation to live down. They used to plant it at the bottom of a
twelve-inch trench and spend all kinds of unnecessary labor over it. It
can be grown perfectly well on the level and in the average home
garden.
As to soil, celery prefers a moist one, but it must be well drained.
The home supply can, however, be grown in the ordinary garden,
especially if water may be had in case of injurious drouth.
For the early crop the best sorts are the White Plume and Golden Self-
blanching. Seed is sown in the last part of February or first part of
March. The seed is very fine and the greatest pains must be taken to
give the best possible treatment. The seed should be pressed into the
soil and barely covered with very light soil--half sifted leaf-mould or
moss. Never let the boxes dry out, and as soon as the third or fourth
leaf comes, transplant; cut back the outside leaves, and set as deeply
as possible without covering the crown. The roots also, if long, should
be cut back. This trimming of leaves and roots should be given at each
transplanting, thus assuring a short stocky growth.
Culture of the early crop, after setting out, is easier than that for
the winter crop. There are two systems: (1) The plants are set in rows
three or four feet apart, six inches in the row, and blanched, either
by drawing up the earth in a hill and working it in about the stalks
with the fingers (this operation is termed "handling"), or else by the
use of boards laid on edge along the rows, on either side. (2) The
other method is called the "new celery culture," and in it the plants
are set in beds eight inches apart each way (ten or twelve inches for
large varieties), the idea being to make the tops of the plants supply
the shade for the blanching. This method has two disadvantages: it
requires extra heavy manuring and preparation of soil, and plenty of
moisture; and even with this aid the stalks never attain the size of
those grown in rows. The early crop should be ready in August. The
quality is never so good as that of the later crops.
For the main or winter crop, sow the seed about April 1st. The same
extra care must be taken as in sowing under glass. In hot, dry weather,
shade the beds; never let them dry out. Transplant to second bed as
soon as large enough to develop root system, before setting in the
permanent position.
When setting in late June or July, be sure to put the plants in up to
the hearts, not over, and set firmly. Give level clean culture until
about August 15th, when, with the hoe, wheel hoe or cultivator, earth
should be drawn up along the rows, followed by "handling." The plants
for early use are trenched (see Chapter XIV), but that left for late
use must be banked up, which is done by making the hills higher still,
by the use of the spade. For further treatment see Chapter XIV.
Care must be taken not to perform any work in the celery patch while
the plants are wet.
_Corn salad or Fetticus:_--This salad plant is not largely grown.
It is planted about the middle of April and given the same treatment as
spinach.
_Chicory:_--This also is little grown. The Witloof, a kind now
being used, is however much more desirable. Sow in drills, thin to five
or six inches, and in August or September, earth up, as with early
celery, to blanch the stalks, which are used for salads, or boiled.
Cut-back roots, planted in boxes of sand placed in a moderately warm
dark place and watered, send up a growth of tender leaves, making a
fine salad.
_Chervil:_--Curled chervil is grown the same as parsley and used
for garnishing or seasoning. The root variety resembles the stump-
rooted carrot, the quality being improved by frost. Sow in April or
September. Treat like parsnip.
_Chives:_--Leaves are used for imparting an onion flavor. A clump
of roots set put will last many years.
_Cress:_--Another salad little grown in the home garden. To many,
however, its spicy, pungent flavor is particularly pleasing. It is
easily grown, but should be planted frequently--about every two weeks.
Sow in drills, twelve to fourteen inches apart. Its only special
requirement is moisture. Water is not necessary, but if a bed can be
started in some clean stream or pool, it will take care of itself.
Upland cress or "pepper grass" grows in ordinary garden soil, being one
of the very first salads. Sow in April, in drills twelve or fourteen
inches apart. It grows so rapidly that it may be had in five or six
weeks. Sow frequently for succession, as it runs to seed very quickly.
_Chard:_--See _Spinach.
Dandelion:_--This is an excellent "greens," but as the crop is not
ready until second season from planting it is not grown as much as it
should be. Sow the seed in April--very shallow. It is well to put in
with it a few lettuce or turnip seed to mark the rows. Drills should be
one foot apart, and plants thinned to eight to twelve inches.
The quality is infinitely superior to the wild dandelion and may be
still further improved by blanching. If one is content to take a small
crop, a cutting may be made in the fall, the same season as the sowing.
_Endive:_--This salad vegetable is best for fall use. Sow in June
or July, in drills eighteen to twenty-four inches apart, and thin to
ten to twelve inches. To be fit for use it must be blanched, either by
tying up with raffia in a loose bunch, or by placing two wide boards in
an inverted V shape over the rows; and in either case be sure the
leaves are dry when doing this.
_Kale:_--Kale is a non-heading member of the cabbage group, used
as greens, both in spring and winter. It is improved by frost, but even
then is a little tough and heavy. Its chief merit lies in the fact that
it is easily had when greens of the better sorts are hard to get, as it
may be left out and cut as needed during winter--even from under snow.
The fall crop is given the same treatment as late cabbage. Siberian
kale is sown in September and wintered-over like spinach.
_Lettuce:_--Lettuce is grown in larger quantities than all the
other salad plants put together. By the use of hotbeds it may be had
practically the year round. The first sowing for the spring under-glass
crop is made in January or February. These are handled as for the
planting outside--see Chapter VIII.--but are set in the frames six to
eight inches each way, according to variety. Ventilate freely during
the day when over 55 give 45 at night. Water only when needed, but
then thoroughly, and preferably only on mornings of bright sunny days.
The plants for first outdoor crops are handled as already described.
After April 1st planting should be made every two weeks. During July
and August the seed-beds must be kept shaded and moist. In August,
first sowing for fall under-glass crop is made, which can be matured in
coldframes; later sowings going into hotbeds.
In quality, I consider the hard-heading varieties superior to the
loose-heading sorts, but of course that is a matter of taste. The
former is best for crops maturing from the middle of June until
September, the latter for early and late sowings, as they mature more
quickly. The cos type is good for summer growing but should be tied up
to blanch well. To be at its best, lettuce should be grown very
rapidly, and the use of top-dressings of nitrate are particularly
beneficial with this crop. The ground should be light, warm, and very
rich, and cultivation shallow but frequent.
_Mushroom:_--While the mushroom is not a garden crop, strictly
speaking, still it is one of the most delicious of all vegetables for
the home table, and though space does not permit a long description of
the several details of its culture, I shall try to include all the
essential points as succinctly as possible, (1) The place for the bed
may be found in any sheltered, dry spot--cellar, shed or greenhouse--
where an even temperature of 53 to 58 degrees can be maintained and
direct sunlight excluded. (Complete darkness is _not_ necessary;
it is frequently so considered, but only because in dark places the
temperature and moisture are apt to remain more even.) (2) The material
is fresh horse-manure, from which the roughest of the straw has been
shaken out. This is stacked in a compact pile and trampled--wetting
down if at all dry--to induce fermentation. This process must be
repeated four or five times, care being required never to let the heap
dry out and burn; time for re-stacking being indicated by the heap's
steaming. At the second or third turning, add about one-fifth, in bulk,
of light loam. (3) When the heat of the pile no longer rises above 100
to 125 degrees (as indicated by a thermometer) put into the beds,
tramping or beating very firmly, until about ten inches deep. When the
temperature recedes to 90 degrees, put in the spawn. Each brick will
make a dozen or so pieces. Put these in three inches deep, and twelve
by nine inches apart, covering lightly. Then beat down the surface
evenly. After eight days, cover with two inches of light loam, firmly
compacted. This may be covered with a layer of straw or other light
material to help maintain an even degree of moisture, but should be
removed as soon as the mushrooms begin to appear. Water only when the
soil is very dry; better if water is warmed to about 60 degrees. When
gathering never leave stems in the bed as they are likely to breed
maggots. The crop should appear in six to eight weeks after spawning
the bed.
_Parsley:_--This very easily grown little plant should have at
least a row or two in the seed-bed devoted to it. For use during
winter, a box or a few pots may be filled with cut-back roots and given
moderate temperature and moisture. If no frames are on hand, the plants
usually will do well in a sunny window.
Parsley seed is particularly slow in germinating. Use a few seeds of
turnip or carrot to indicate the rows, and have the bed very finely
prepared.
_Rhubarb:_--This is another of the standard vegetables which no
home garden should be without. For the bed pick out a spot where the
roots can stay without interfering with the plowing and working of the
garden--next the asparagus bed, if in a good early location, will be as
good as any. One short row will supply a large family. The bed is set
either with roots or young plants, the former being the usual method.
The ground should first be made as deep and rich as possible. If poor,
dig out the rows, which should be four or five feet apart, to a depth
of two feet or more and work in a foot of good manure, refilling with
the best of the soil excavated. Set the roots about four feet apart in
the row, the crowns being about four inches below the surface. No
stalks should be cut the first season; after that they will bear
abundantly many years.
In starting from seed, sow in March in frames or outside in April; when
well along-about the first of June--set out in rows, eighteen by twelve
inches. By the following April they will be ready for their permanent
position.
Manuring in the fall, as with asparagus, to be worked in in the spring,
is necessary for good results. I know of no crop which so quickly
responds to liberal dressings of nitrate of soda, applied first just as
growth starts in in the spring. The seed stalks should be broken off as
fast as they appear, until late in the season.
_Sea-Kale:_--When better known in this country, sea-kale will be
given a place beside the asparagus and rhubarb, for, like them, it may
be used year after year. Many believe it superior in quality to either
asparagus or cauliflower.
It is grown from either seed or pieces of the root, the former method,
being probably the more satisfactory. Sow in April, in drills fourteen
inches apart, thinning to five or six. Transplant in the following
spring as described for rhubarb--but setting three feet apart each way.
In the fall, after the leaves have fallen--and every succeeding fall--
cover each crown with a shovelful of clean sand and then about eighteen
inches of earth, dug out from between the rows. This is to blanch the
spring growth. After cutting, shovel off the earth and sand and enrich
with manure for the following season's growth.
_Spinach:_--For the first spring crop of this good
and wholesome vegetable, the seed is sown in September,
and carried over with a protection of hay
or other rough litter. Crops for summer and fall
are sown in successive plantings from April on, Long-Standing
being the best sort to sow after about May
15th. Seed of the New Zealand spinach should be
soaked several hours in hot water, before being
planted.
For the home garden, I believe that the Swiss chard beet is destined to
be more popular, as it becomes known, than any of the spinaches. It is
sown in plantings from April on, but will yield leaves all season long;
they are cut close to the soil, and in an almost incredibly short time
the roots have thrown up a new crop, the amount taken during the season
being wonderful.
Spinach wants a strong and very rich soil, and dressings of nitrate
show good results.





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