Lactuca sativa The lettuce is the king of salads, and as a cooked vegetable it has its value; but as it does not compete with the Pea, the Asparagus, or the Cauliflower, we need not make comparisons, but may proceed to the consideration of

its uses in the uncooked state. Scientific advisers on diet and health esteem the Lettuce highly for its anti-scorbutic properties, and especially for its wholesomeness as a corrective. It supplies the blood with vegetable juices that are needful to accompany flesh foods when cooked vegetables are unattainable. Our summers are usually too brief and too cool to permit us to acquire a knowledge of the real value of the Lettuce, but in Southern Europe and many parts of the East it becomes a necessary of life, and those large red Lettuces that are occasionally grown here as curiosities are prized above all others because of their crisp coolness and refreshing flavour under a burning sun. The numerous varieties may, for practical purposes, be grouped in two classes--Cabbage and Cos Lettuces. They vary greatly in habit and are adapted for different purposes, the first group being invaluable for mixed salads at all seasons, but more especially in winter and early spring; the second group is most serviceable in the summer season, and is adapted for a simple kind of salad, the leaves being more crisp and juicy. A certain number of the two classes should be grown in every garden, both for their great value to appetite and health, and their elegance on the table, whether plain or dressed. In the selection of sorts, leading types should be kept in view. Some of the varieties which have been introduced have no claim to a place in a good list, because of their coarseness. Although they afford a great bulk of blanched material, it is too often destitute of flavour, or altogether objectionable. The best types are tender and delicately flavoured, representing centuries of cultivation, and the sub varieties of these types should retain their leading characteristics, though perhaps they are more hardy and stand longer, and are therefore much to be desired. Preparation of the Soil.--The Lettuce requires a light, rich soil, but almost any kind of soil may be so prepared as to insure a fair supply, and in places where fine Cos Lettuces are not readily obtained, it may be possible to grow excellent Cabbage varieties in place of them. A tolerably good garden soil will answer for both classes, and fat stable manure should be liberally used. The best way to prepare ground for the summer crop is to select a piece that has been trenched, and go over it again, laying in a good body of rough green manure, one spade deep, so that the plant will be put on unmanured ground, but will reach the manure at the very period when it is needed, by which time contact with the earth will have rendered it sweet and mellow. By this mode of procedure the finest growth is secured, and the plants stand well without bolting, as they, are saved from the distress consequent on continued dry weather. As regards drought, it must be said that the red-leaved kinds stand remarkably well in a hot summer, and although they do not rank high as table Lettuces in this country, were we to experience a succession of roasting summers they would rise in repute and be in great demand. Cabbage Lettuces bear drought fairly well, more especially the diminutive section; but where water is available Lettuces have as good a claim to a share of it in a dry, hot season, as any crop in the garden. Blanching.--A first-class strain of White Cos Lettuce will produce tender white hearts without being tied, and, as a rule, therefore, the labour of tying may be saved. The section of which Sutton's Superb White Cos is the type may be said to produce better samples without tying than with this imaginary aid to blanching. The market grower is still accustomed to tie Lettuces because they are more easily packed and travel better when tied, but when tying is practised it need not be done until one or two days before the Lettuces are cut. The coarser market kinds certainly are improved by tying, and in this case the operation must be performed when the plants are quite dry, and not more than ten days in advance of the day on which it is intended to pull them. The Bath Cos must be tied always, and when well managed the heart is white, with a pretty touch of pink in the centre. Spring-sown Lettuces may be forwarded under glass from January to March, from which time sowings may be made successively in the open ground. In any and every case the finest Lettuces are obtained by sowing in the open ground, and leaving the plants to finish in the seed-bed without being transplanted. It will, of course, occur to the practical cultivator that the two systems may be combined, so as to vary the time of turning in, and thus from a single sowing insuring a longer succession than is possible by one system only. We will suppose small sowings made of three or four sorts in January or early in February, and put into a gentle heat to start them. A very little care will keep them going nicely, and of course they must have light and air to any extent commensurate with safety. When about three weeks old, it will be advisable to prick these out into a bed of light rich earth in frames; or if the season is backward, and they need a little more nursing, prick them into large shallow boxes, containing two or three inches of soil, which will be sufficient provided it consists in great part of decayed manure, kept always moist enough for healthy growing. The next step will be to plant them out about six inches apart, with a view to draw a certain number as soon as they are large enough to be useful, leaving the remainder at nine to twelve inches, taking care to thin out in time to prevent any leaves overlapping. If Peas are being grown under glass, a few plants of an early Cabbage variety may be put out between the rows, or they may be pricked out on the borders of a Peach-house, in either case spacing the plants nine inches apart. Successive sowings made in February and March will be treated in the same way, and will need less nursing. In planting out, it is important to have the seedlings well hardened, for they are naturally susceptible to wind and sunshine, and if suddenly exposed to either will be likely to perish. Again, when first planted out their delicate leaves will attract all the slugs and snails in the garden, and the discreet way of acting is to regard a plantation of Lettuce as an extensive vermin trap, and thus, knowing where the marauders are, to be ready to catch and kill, or to destroy them by sprinklings of lime, salt, or soot, in all cases being careful to keep these agents at a reasonable distance from the plants. Sowings in the open ground from the end of March onwards should be made, not on an ordinary seed-bed, but on a plot loaded with rich manure at one spit deep, and the seed should be put in shallow drills one foot apart. From the time the young plants are two inches high they must be drawn freely for 'Cutting Lettuce,' or for planting out elsewhere; this thinning to proceed until a sufficient crop remains to finish off on the ground. The value of 'Cutting Lettuce' is better understood on the Continent than in this country. The small tender plants are in daily use, and appear in the salad bowl with Water Cress and Corn Salad, delicately dressed with delicious flavourings. After this brief digression it is necessary to add that a crowded Lettuce crop is an encumbrance to the ground; and one of the evils of the best system, that of sowing where the crop is to finish, is the tendency of the cultivator to be timid in the thinning, which should be done with a bold hand, and in good time. July and August Sowing.--From sowings made during these months the supply of Lettuce from the open ground may be extended throughout the autumn, and even into December or January should the weather prove favourable. The main conditions essential to success are, the use of quick-growing varieties, sowing in good soil where the heads are to mature, and early and severe thinning. The thinnings may be transplanted if required. Winter Lettuces are produced and provided for in various ways. In some places Lettuces stand out the winter without covering, and turn in early in the spring. But in other districts they seldom survive the winter without protection, even when the sparrows spare them. The summer sowings will afford supplies to a late season of the year, and the crop that remains when frost sets in may be preserved with slight and rough protection. But for the profitable production of Winter Lettuces frames are a necessity, and care must be taken not to promote a strong growth, for after a term of mild winter weather a sudden and severe frost will probably annihilate those that are in a too thriving condition. In the least likely places, however, it is well to have a small plantation of Winter Lettuces in the open, and to give some rough protection in bad times, as these often prove of great advantage, and even outlive frame crops which have been allowed to get too forward by the aid of warmth and a rich soil. For winter and spring use sowings should commence in August and be continued, according to requirements, until the middle of October, after which it is waste of time and seed to sow any more. The August and September sowings may be made partly on an open border and partly in frames, but the October sowings must be in frames only, for winter may overtake them in the seed-leaf. The seedlings must in all cases be thinned and pricked out as soon as large enough, and should be planted in fine soil, free from recent manure, being carefully handled to avoid needless check. Some should be planted in frames on beds of light soil near the glass, at three inches apart, and when these meet they must be thinned for the house as may be necessary: the remainder of the thinnings may be put out on warm borders at six inches, and, if quite convenient, a crop should be left in the seed-bed at six inches. From the frames, the supplies will be ready in time to follow those from late summer sowings, and thus through the winter until the frames are cleared out for the work of the spring. The frame crop must have plenty of air, and be kept as hardy as possible, but with moisture enough to sustain a steady healthy growth. If roughly handled in the planting, or a little starved in respect of moisture, the plants will rise from the centre just when they ought to begin to turn in, and the first few days of warm sunshine will start them in the wrong way. As to those wintered out, there are many ways of protecting them, and when success has crowned the effort there will be a crowded plant. It will be necessary, therefore, to transplant at least half the crop by lifting every other one. This must be done with care, as though they were worth a guinea each. By transplanting early in March to a piece of rich light ground in a warm spot, and doing the work neatly and smartly, the result will be a valuable crop of early Summer Lettuce, while those that remain will help through the spring. Forcing.--Lettuces do not force well; but as they are so constantly in demand, it is a matter of importance to grow them in every possible way. Nice promising plants from August and September sowings may be selected from the frames, and planted on gentle hot-beds from November to January, and will do well if tenderly lifted. The Commodore Nutt and Golden Ball are the best of the Cabbage varieties for forcing. The Cos varieties do not differ much as to forcing, none of them being well adapted for the purpose; but the Superb White Cos may be brought to fine condition by taking time enough, so as to make a very moderate warmth suffice. On sunny days the heat should not exceed 75 deg.; but 65 deg. is sufficient, with a night temperature of 45 50 deg.. One other method of providing small delicate salading may be adopted to meet emergencies. On the barrows of itinerant greengrocers in Paris the thinnings of Lettuce crops form part of the general stock, and in this country we do not sufficiently utilise this young tender stuff. But we have now in view the use of Lettuce in a still earlier stage of growth. By sowing rather thinly in boxes, kept under glass, a dense growth is produced in a short time which can be cut in the same manner as Mustard. For this purpose Sutton's Winter Gathering is especially valuable, or one of the best White Cos varieties should be sown. MAIZE and SUGAR CORN Zea Mays Maize is a tender plant of great beauty that may be grown as a table vegetable, a forage plant, or a corn crop; but in the last-named capacity it is rarely profitable in this country, owing to the brevity of our summers. As an ornamental plant it is entitled to consideration, and the more so because, while adorning the garden with its noble outlines and splendid silken tufts, it will at the same time supply to the table the green cobs that are so much valued when cooked and served in the same manner as Asparagus. There is a simple rough and ready way of growing Maize, the first step towards which is to prepare a deep rich soil, in a sunny and sheltered situation. Late in April or early in May dibble the seeds two inches deep, in rows two feet asunder and one foot apart in the rows. When the plants have made some progress, remove every other one, these thinnings to be destroyed or planted at discretion. Plants may also be started under glass by sowing seeds in gentle heat in April. Prick off into pots and gradually harden for transfer to the open. The crop will almost take care of itself when the weather is warm enough to suit it. But a deluge of water may be given during the hottest weather. In its native country, and indeed wherever Maize thoroughly thrives, it is dependent on frequent storms.

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