Under the first section we will consider:
Beet Carrot Kohlrabi
Potato Salsify Turnip
Any of these may be sown in April, in drills (with the exception of
potatoes) twelve to eighteen inches apart. The soil must be rich and
finely worked, in order that the roots will be even and smooth--in poor
or ill-prepared soil they are likely to be misshapen, or "sprangling."
They must be thinned out to the proper distances, which should be done
if possible on a cloudy day, hand-weeded as often as may be required,
and given clean and frequent cultivation. All, with the exception of
leeks and potatoes, are given level culture. All will be greatly
benefited, when about one-third grown, by a top dressing of nitrate of
_Beet:_--Beets do best in a rather light soil. Those for earliest
use are started under glass (as described previously) and set out six
to seven inches apart in rows a foot apart.
The first outdoor sowing is made as soon as the soil is ready in
spring, and the seed should be put in thick, as not all will come
through if bad weather is encountered. When thinning out, the small
plants that are removed, tops and roots cooked together, make delicious
The late crop, for fall and winter use, sow the last part of June. For
this crop the larger varieties are used, and on rich soil will need six
to eight inches in the row and fifteen inches between rows.
_Carrot:_--Carrots also like a soil that is rather on the sandy
side, and on account of the depth to which the roots go, it should be
deep and fine. The quality will be better if the soil is not too rich.
A few for extra early use may be grown in the hotbeds or frame. If
radishes and carrots are sown together, in alternating rows six inches
apart, the former will be used by the time the carrots need the room,
and in this way a single 3 x 6 ft. sash will yield a good supply for
the home garden. Use Chantenay or Ox-Heart (see Chapter XII) for this
The late crop is sometimes sown between rows of onions, skipping every
third row, during June, and left to mature when the onions are
harvested; but unless the ground is exceptionally free from weeds, the
plan is not likely to prove successful.
_Kohlrabi:_--While not truly a "root crop"--the edible portion
being a peculiar globular enlargement of the stem--its culture is
similar, as it may be sown in drills and thinned out. Frequently,
however, it is started in the seed-bed and transplanted, the main crop
(for market) being sown in May or June. A few of these from time to
time will prove very acceptable for the home table. They should be used
when quite young; as small as two inches being the tenderest.
_Leek:_--To attain its best the leek should be started in the
seed-bed, late in April, and transplanted in late June, to the richest,
heaviest soil available. Hill up from time to time to blanch lower part
of stalk; or a few choice specimens may be had by fitting cardboard
collars around the stem and drawing the earth up to these, not touching
the stalk with earth.
_Onions:_--Onions for use in the green state are grown from white
"sets," put out early in April, three to four inches apart in rows
twelve inches apart; or from seed sown the previous fall and protected
with rough manure during the winter. These will be succeeded by the
crop from "prickers" or seedlings started under glass in January or
February. As onions are not transplanted before going to the garden,
sow directly in the soil rather than in flats. It is safest to cover
the bed with one-half inch to one inch of coarse sand, and sow the seed
in this. To get stocky plants trim back twice, taking off the upper
half of leaves each time, and trim back the roots one-half to two-
thirds at the time of setting out, which may be any time after the
middle of April. These in turn will be succeeded by onions coming from
the crop sown from seed in the open.
The above is for onions eaten raw in the green state when less than
half grown. For the main crop for bulbs, the home supply is best grown
from prickers as described above. Prize-taker and Gibraltar are mostly
used for this purpose, growing to the size of the large Spanish onions
sold at grocery stores. For onions to be kept for late winter and
spring use, grow from seed, sowing outdoors as early as possible.
No vegetable needs a richer or more perfectly prepared soil than the
onion; and especial care must be taken never to let the weeds get a
start. They are gathered after the tops dry down and wither, when they
should be pulled, put in broad rows for several days in the sun, and
then spread out flat, not more than four inches deep, under cover with
plenty of light and air. Before severe freezing store in slatted
barrels, as described in Chapter XIV.
_Parsnip:_--Sow as early as possible, in deep rich soil, but where
no water will stand during fall and winter. The seed germinates very
slowly, so the seed-bed should be very finely prepared. They will be
ready for use in the fall, but are much better after the first frosts.
For method of keeping see Chapter XIV.
_Potato:_--If your garden is a small one, buy your main supply of
potatoes from some nearby farmer, first trying half a bushel or so to
be sure of the quality. Purchase in late September or October when the
crop is being dug and the price is low.
For an extra early and choice supply for the home garden, start a peck
or so in early March, as follows: Select an early variety, seed of good
size and clean; cut to pieces containing one or two eyes, and pack
closely together on end in flats of coarse sand. Give these full light
and heat, and by the middle to end of April they will have formed dense
masses of roots, and nice, strong, stocky sprouts, well leaved out. Dig
out furrows two and a half feet apart, and incorporate well rotted
manure in the bottom, with the soil covering this until the furrow is
left two to three inches deep. Set the sprouted tubers, pressing firmly
into the soil, about twelve inches apart, and cover in, leaving them
thus three to four inches below the surface. Keep well cultivated, give
a light top dressing of nitrate of soda--and surprise all your
neighbors! This system has not yet come extensively into use, but is
practically certain of producing excellent results.
For the main crop, if you have room, cut good seed to one or two eyes,
leaving as much of the tuber as possible to each piece, and plant
thirteen inches apart in rows three feet apart. Cultivate deeply until
the plants are eight to ten inches high and then shallow but
frequently. As the vines begin to spread, hill up moderately, making a
broad, low ridge. Handle potato-bugs and blight as directed in Chapter
XIII. For harvesting see Chapter XIV.
While big crops may be grown on heavy soils, the quality will be very
much better on sandy, well drained soils. Planting on well rotted sod,
or after green manuring, such as clover or rye, will also improve the
looks and quality of the crop. Like onions, they need a high percentage
of potash in manures or fertilizers used; this may be given in sulphate
of potash. Avoid planting on ground enriched with fresh barnyard manure
or immediately after a dressing of lime.
_Salsify:_--The "vegetable oyster," or salsify, is to my taste the
most delicious root vegetable grown. It is handled practically in the
same way as the parsnip, but needs, if possible, ground even more
carefully prepared, in order to keep the main root from sprangling. If
a fine light soil cannot be had for planting, it will pay to hoe or
hand-plow furrows where the drills are to be--not many will be needed,
and put in specially prepared soil, in which the seed may get a good
_Radish:_--To be of good crisp quality, it is essential with
radishes to grow them just as quickly as possible. The soil should be
rather sandy and not rich in fresh manure or other nitrogenous
fertilizers, as this tends to produce an undesirable amount of leaves
at the expense of the root. If the ground is at all dry give a thorough
wetting after planting, which may be on the surface, as the seeds
germinate so quickly that they will be up before the soil has time to
crust over. Gypsum or land-plaster, sown on white and worked into the
soil, will improve both crop and quality. They are easily raised under
glass, in autumn or spring in frames, requiring only forty to fifty
degrees at night. It is well to plant in the hotbed, after a crop of
lettuce. Or sow as a double crop, as suggested under _Carrots_.
For outside crops, sow every ten days or two weeks.
_Turnip:_--While turnips will thrive well on almost any soil, the
quality--which is somewhat questionable at the best--will be much
better on sandy or even gravelly soil. Avoid fresh manures as much as
possible, as the turnip is especially susceptible to scab and worms.
They are best when quite small and for the home table a succession of
sowing, only a few at a time, will give the best results.
Previous: THE VEGETABLES AND THEIR SPECIAL NEEDS
Next: LEAF CROPS
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