Gardening Articles



(ABOUT) Beets Feb. 15-Apr. 1 5 years 55 degrees Broccoli Feb. 15-Apr. 1 5 years 55 degrees Brussels 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 unnecessary. 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 soil. 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 away. 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.


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