Beets Feb. 15-Apr. 1 5 years 55 degrees
Broccoli Feb. 15-Apr. 1 5 years 55 degrees
Sprouts Feb. 15-Apr. 1 7 years 55 degrees
Cabbage Feb. 1-Apr. 1 7 years 55 degrees
Cauliflower Feb. 1-Apr. 1 7 years 55 degrees
Celery Feb. 15-Apr. 1 8 years 50 degrees
Corn Apr. 1-May 1 2 years 65 degrees
Cucumber Mar. 15-May 1 10 years 75 degrees
Egg-plant Mar. 1-Apr. 15 7 years 75 degrees
Kohlrabi Mar. 1-Apr. 1 7 years 55 degrees
Lettuce Feb. 15-Apr. 1 5 years 55 degrees
Melon, musk Apr. 1-May 1 7 years 75 degrees
Melon, water Apr. 1-May 1 7 years 75 degrees
Okra Mar. 15-Apr. 15 3 years 65 degrees
Onion Jan. 15-Mar. 15 3 years 50 degrees
Pepper Mar. 1-Apr. 15 5 years 75 degrees
Squash Mar. 15-Apr. 15 7 years 75 degrees
Tomato Mar. 1-Apr. 15 5 years 75 degrees
The temperatures required by the different varieties will be indicated
by the table above. It should be kept as nearly as possible within ten
degrees lower and fifteen higher (in the sun) than given. If the nights
are still cold, so that the mercury goes near zero, it will be
necessary to provide mats or shutters (see illustrations) to cover the
glass at night. Or, better still, for the few earliest frames, have
double-glass sash, the dead-air space making further protection
VENTILATION: On all days when the temperature within the frame runs up
to sixty to eighty degrees, according to variety, give air, either by
tilting the sash up at the end or side, and holding in position with a
notched stick; or, if the outside temperature permits, strip the glass
off altogether.
WATERING: Keep a close watch upon the conditions of the soil,
especially if you are using flats instead of planting directly in the
soil. Wait until it is fairly dry--never until the plants begin to
wilt, however--and then give a thorough soaking, all the soil will
absorb. If at all possible do this only in the morning (up to eleven
o'clock) on a bright sunny day. Plants in the seedling state are
subject to "damping off"--a sudden disease of the stem tissue just at
or below the soil, which either kills the seedlings outright, or
renders them worthless. Some authorities claim that the degree of
moisture or dampness has nothing to do with this trouble. I am not
prepared to contradict them, but as far as my own experience goes I am
satisfied that the drier the stems and leaves can be kept, so long as
the soil is in good condition, the better. I consider this one of the
advantages of the "sub-irrigation" method of preparing the seed flats,
described above.
TRANSPLANTING: Under this care the little seedlings will come along
rapidly. When the second true leaf is forming they will be ready for
transplanting or "pricking off," as it is termed in garden parlance. If
the plants are at all crowded in the boxes, this should be done just as
soon as they are ready, as otherwise they will be injured by crowding
and more likely to damp off.
Boxes similar to the seed-flats, but an inch deeper, are provided for
transplanting. Fill these with soil as described for frames--sifted
through a coarse screen (chicken-wire size) and mixed with one-third
rotted manure. Or place an inch of manure, which must be so thoroughly
rotted that most of the heat has left, in the bottom, and fill in with
Find or construct a table or bench of convenient height, upon which to
work. With a flat piece of stick or one of the types of transplanting
forks lift from the seedling box a clump of seedlings, dirt and all,
clear to the bottom. Hold this clump in one hand and with the other
gently tear away the seedlings, one at a time, discarding all crooked
or weak ones. Never attempt to pull the seedlings from the soil in the
flats, as the little rootlets are very easily broken off. They should
come away almost intact. Water your seed-flats the day previous to
transplanting, so that the soil will be in just the right condition,
neither wet enough to make the roots sticky nor dry enough to crumble
Take the little seedling by the stem between thumb and forefinger, and
with a small round pointed stick or dibber, or with the forefinger of
the other hand, make a hole to receive the roots and about half the
length--more if the seedlings are lanky--of the stem. As the seedling
drops into place, the tips of both thumbs and forefingers, by one
quick, firm movement, compress the earth firmly both down on the roots
and against the stem, so that the plant sticks up firmly and may not be
readily pulled out. Of course there is a knack about it which cannot be
put into words--I could have pricked off a hundred seedlings in the
time I am spending in trying to describe the operation, but a little
practice will make one reasonably efficient at it.
In my own work this spring, I have applied the "sub-irrigation" idea to
this operation also. The manure placed in the bottom of the boxes is
thoroughly watered and an inch of soil put in and watered also, and the
box then filled and the plants pricked in. By preparing a number of
flats at one time, but little additional work is required, and the
results have convinced me that the extra trouble is well worth while.
Of the early cabbage and cauliflower, not two plants in a thousand have
dropped out.
Ordinarily about one hundred plants are put in a 13 x 19 inch flat, but
if one has room and is growing only a few plants for home use, somewhat
better plants may be had if fifty or seventy-five are put in. In either
case keep the outside rows close to the edges of the flats, as they
will have plenty of room anyway. When the flat is completed, jar the
box slightly to level the surface, and give a thorough watering at
once, being careful, however, to bend down the plants as little as
possible. Set the flats close together on a level surface, and, if the
weather is bright, shade from the sun during the middle of the day for
two or three days.
From now on keep at the required temperature and water thoroughly on
bright mornings as often as the soil in the flats gets on the dry side,
as gardeners say--indicated by the whitening and crusting of the
surface. Above all, give all the air possible while maintaining the
necessary temperature. The quality of the plants will depend more upon
this than anything else in the way of care. Whenever the temperature
allows, strip off the sash and let the plants have the benefit of the
rains. A good rain seems to do them more good than any watering.
Should your plants of cabbage, lettuce, beets or cauliflower by any
chance get frozen, do not give them up for lost, for the chances are
that the following simple treatment will pull them through: In the
first place, shade them thoroughly from the sun; in the second, drench
them with cold water, the coldest you can get--if you have to break the
ice for it, so much the better. Try, however, to prevent its happening
again, as they will be less able to resist subsequent injury.
In hot weather, where watering and ventilation are neglected, the
plants will sometimes become infested with the green aphis, which under
such conditions multiplies with almost incredible rapidity.
HARDENING OFF: For five days or a week before setting plants in the
field they should be thoroughly hardened off. If they have been given
plenty of air this treatment will mean little change for them--simply
exposing them more each day, until for a few nights they are left
entirely without protection. They will then be ready for setting out in
the open, an operation which is described in the next chapter.

4889. A Chapter Of Afterthoughts Which The Reader Cannot Afford To Miss facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail