Gardening Articles


Under this heading are included: Bean, dwarf Bean, pole Corn Peas Cucumber

Egg-plant Melon, musk Melon, water Okra Pepper Pumpkins Squash Tomato Most of these vegetables differ from both the preceding groups in two important ways. First of all, the soil should not be made too rich, especially in nitrogenous manures, such as strong fresh yard-manure; although light dressings of nitrate of soda are often of great help in giving them a quick start--as when setting out in the field. Second, they are warm-weather loving plants, and nothing is gained by attempting to sow or set out the plants until all danger from late frosts is over, and the ground is well warmed up. (Peas, of course, are an exception to this rule, and to some extent the early beans.) Third, they require much more room and are grown for the most part in hills. Light, warm, "quick," sandy to gravelly soils, and old, fine, well rotted manure--applied generally in the hill besides that plowed under, make the best combination for results. Such special hills are prepared by marking off, digging out the soil to the depth of eight to ten inches, and eighteen inches to two feet square, and incorporating several forkfuls of the compost. A little guano, or better still cottonseed meal, say 1/2 to 1 gill of the former, or a gill of the latter, mixed with the compost when putting into the hill, will also be very good. Hills to be planted early should be raised an inch or two above the surface, unless they are upon sloping ground. The greatest difficulty in raising all the vine fruits--melons, etc.-- is in successfully combating their insect enemies--the striped beetle, the borer and the flat, black "stink-bug," being the worst of these. Remedies will be suggested in the next chapter. But for the home garden, where only a few hills of each will be required, by far the easiest and the only sure way of fighting them will be by protecting with bottomless boxes, large enough to cover the hills, and covered with mosquito netting, or better, "plant-protecting cloth," which has the additional merit of giving the hills an early start. These boxes may be easily made of one-half by eight-inch boards, or from ordinary cracker-boxes, such as used for making flats. Plants so protected in the earlier stages of growth will usually either not be attacked, or will, with the assistance of the remedies described in the following chapter, be able to withstand the insect's visits. _Beans, dwarf:_--Beans are one of the most widely liked of all garden vegetables--and one of the most easily grown. They are very particular about only one thing--not to have a heavy wet soil. The dwarf or bush sorts are planted in double or single drills, eighteen to twenty-four inches apart, and for the first sowing not much over an inch deep. Later plantings should go in two to three inches deep, according to soil. Ashes or some good mixed fertilizer high in potash, applied and well mixed in at time of planting, will be very useful. As the plants gain size they should be slightly hilled--to help hold the stalks up firmly. Never work over or pick from the plants while they are wet. The dwarf limas should not be planted until ten to fourteen days later than the early sorts. Be sure to put them in edgeways, with the eye down, and when there is no prospect of immediate rain, or the whole planting is fairly sure to be lost. _Beans, pole:_--The pole varieties should not go in until about the time for the limas. Plant in specially prepared hills (see above) ten to twenty seeds, and when well up thin, leaving three to five. Poles are best set when preparing the hills. A great improvement over the old-fashioned pole is made by nailing building laths firmly across 2 x 3-in. posts seven or eight feet high (see illustration). To secure extra early pods on the poles pinch back the vines at five feet high. _Corn:_--For extra early ears, corn may easily be started on sod, as directed for cucumbers. Be sure, however, not to get into the open until danger from frost is over--usually at least ten days after it is safe for the first planting, which is seldom made before May 1st. Frequent, shallow cultivation is a prime necessity in growing this crop. When well up, thin to four stalks to a hill--usually five to seven kernels being planted. A slight hilling when the tassels appear will be advisable. Plant frequently for succession crops. The last sowing may be made as late as the first part of July if the seed is well firmed in, to assure immediate germination. Sweet corn for the garden is frequently planted in drills, about three feet apart, and thinning to ten to twelve inches. _Cucumber:_--This universal favorite is easily grown if the striped beetle is held at bay. For the earliest fruits start on sod in the frames: Cut out sods four to six inches square, where the grass indicates rich soil. Pack close together in the frame, grass side down, and push seven or eight seeds into each, firmly enough to be held in place, covering with about one and a half inches of light soil; water thoroughly and protect with glass or cloth, taking care to ventilate, as described in Chapter VIII. Set out in prepared hills after danger of frost is over. Outside crop is planted directly in the hills, using a dozen or more seeds and thinning to three or four. _Egg-plant:_--The egg-plant is always started under glass, for the Northern States, and should be twice transplanted, the second time into pots, to be of the best size when put out. This should not be until after tomatoes are set, as it is perhaps the tenderest of all garden vegetables as regards heat. The soil should be very rich and as moist as can be selected. If dry, irrigating will be necessary. This should not be delayed until the growth becomes stunted, as sudden growth then induced is likely to cause the fruit to crack. Watch for potato-bugs on your egg-plants. They seem to draw these troublesome beetles as a magnet does iron filings, and I have seen plants practically ruined by them in one day. As they seem to know there will not be time to eat the whole fruit they take pains to eat into the stems. The only sure remedy is to knock them off with a piece of shingle into a pan of water and kerosene. Egg-plants are easily burned by Paris green, and that standard remedy cannot be so effectively used as on other crops; hellebore or arsenate of lead is good. As the season of growth is very limited, it is advisable, besides having the plants as well developed as possible when set out, to give a quick start with cotton-seed meal or nitrate, and liquid manure later is useful, as they are gross feeders. The fruits are ready to eat from the size of a turkey egg to complete development. _Melon, musk:_--The culture of this delicious vegetable is almost identical with that of the cucumber. If anything it is more particular about having light soil. If put in soil at all heavy, at the time of preparing the hill, add sand and leaf-mould to the compost, the hills made at least three feet square, and slightly raised. This method is also of use in planting the other vine crops. _Melon, water:_--In the warm Southern States watermelons may be grown cheaply, and they are so readily shipped that in the small home gardens it will not pay to grow them, for they take up more space than any other vegetable, with the exception of winter squash. The one advantage of growing them, where there is room, is that better quality than that usually to be bought may be obtained. Give them the hottest spot in the garden and a sandy quick soil. Use a variety recommended for your particular climate. Give the same culture as for musk melon, except that the hill should be at least six to ten feet apart each way. By planting near the edge of the garden, and pinching back the vines, room may be saved and the ripening up of the crop made more certain. _Okra:_--Although the okra makes a very strong plant--and incidentally is one of the most ornamental of all garden vegetables-- the seed is quickly rotted by wet or cold. Sow not earlier than May 25th, in warm soil, planting thinly in drills, about one and a half inches deep, and thinning to a foot or so; cultivate as with corn in drills. All pods not used for soup or stems during summer may be dried and used in winter. _Peas:_--With care in making successive sowings, peas may be had during a long season. The earliest, smooth varieties are planted in drills twelve to eighteen inches apart, early in April. These are, however, of very inferior quality compared to the wrinkled sorts, which may now be had practically as early as the others. With the market gardener, the difference of a few days in the maturing of the crop is of a great deal more importance than the quality, but for the home garden the opposite is true. Another method of planting the dwarf-growing kinds is to make beds of four rows, six to eight inches apart, with a two-foot alley between beds. The tall-growing sorts must be supported by brush or in other ways; and are put about four feet apart in double rows, six inches apart. The early varieties if sown in August will usually mature a good fall crop. The early plantings should be made in light, dry soil and but one inch deep; the later ones in deep loam. In neither case should the ground be made too rich, especially in nitrogen; and it should not be wet when the seed is planted. _Pepper:_--A dozen pepper plants will give abundance of pods for the average family. The varieties have been greatly improved within recent years in the quality of mildness. The culture recommended for egg-plant is applicable also to the pepper. The main difference is that, although the pepper is very tender when young, the crop maturing in the autumn will not be injured by considerable frost. _Pumpkin:_--The "sugar" or "pie" varieties of the pumpkin are the only ones used in garden culture, and these only where there is plenty of ground for all other purposes. The culture is the same as that for late squashes, which follows. _Squash:_--For the earliest squash the bush varieties of Scallop are used; to be followed by the summer Crookneck and other summer varieties, best among which are the Fordhook and Delicata. For all, hills should be prepared as described at the beginning of this section and in addition it is well to mix with manure a shovelful of coal ashes, used to keep away the borer, to the attack of which the squash is particularly liable. The cultivation is the same as that used for melons or cucumbers, except that the hills for the winter sorts must be at least eight feet apart and they are often put twelve. _Tomato:_--For the earliest crop, tomatoes are started about March 1st. They should be twice transplanted, and for best results the second transplanting should be put into pots--or into the frames, setting six to eight inches each way. They are not set out until danger of frost is over, and the ground should not be too rich; old manure used in the hill, with a dressing of nitrate at setting out, or a few days after, will give them a good start. According to variety, they are set three to five feet apart--four feet, where staking or trellising is given, as it should always be in garden culture, will be as much as the largest- growing plants require. It will pay well, both for quality and quantity of fruit, to keep most of the suckers cut or rubbed off. The ripening of a few fruits may be hastened by tying paper bags over the bunches, or by picking and ripening on a board in the hot sun. For ripening fruit after frost see Chapter XIV. A sharp watch should be kept for the large green tomato-worm, which is almost exactly the color of the foliage. His presence may first be noticed by fruit and leaves eaten. Hand-picking is the best remedy. Protection must be made against the cutworm in localities where he works. All the above, of course, will be considered in connection with the tabulated information as to dates, depths and distances for sowing, quantities, etc., given in the table in Chapter IV, and is supplemented by the information about insects, diseases and harvesting given in Chapters XIII and XIV, and especially in the Chapter on Varieties which follows, and which is given separately from the present chapter in order that the reader may the more readily make out a list, when planning his garden or making up his order sheet for the seedsman.

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