Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Home Vegetable Gardening 2


Having selected the garden spot, the next consideration, naturally, is what will be planted in it.
The old way was to pick out some seeds from your local supermarket or garden center, pick out a list of the vegetables most enthusiastically recommended by the garden center clerk, and then, when the time came, to put them in at one or two plantings, sowing each kind as far as the seed would go.

There is a better way--a way to make the garden produce more, to yield things when you want them, and in the proper proportions.

All these advantages, you may suppose, must mean more work. On the contrary, however, the new way makes very much less work and makes results a hundred per cent more certain. It is not necessary even that more thought be put upon the garden, but forethought there must be. Forethought, however, is much more satisfactory than hind-thought. In the new way of gardening there are four great helps, four things that will be of great assistance to the experienced gardener, and that are indispensable to the success of the beginner. They are the Planting Plan, the Planting Table, the Check List and the Garden Record.

Do not become discouraged at the formidable sound of that paragraph and decide that after all you do not want to fuss so much over your garden; that you are doing it for the fun of the thing anyway, and such intricate systems will not be worth bothering with. The purpose of those four garden helps is simply to make your work less and your returns more. You might just as well refuse to use a rototiller because the trowel was good enough for your grandmother's garden, as to refuse to take advantage of the modern garden methods described in this chapter. Without using them to some extent, or in some modified form, you can never know just what you are doing with your garden or what improvements to make next year. Of course, each of the plans or lists suggested here is only one of many possible combinations. You should be able to find, or better still to construct, similar ones better suited to your individual taste, need and opportunity. That, however, does not lessen the necessity of using some such system. It is just as necessary an aid to the maximum efficiency in gardening as are modern tools. Do not fear that you will waste time on the planting plan. Master it and use it, for only then can you make your garden time count the most in producing results. In the average small garden there is a very large percentage of waste--for two weeks, more string beans than can be eaten or given away; and then, for a month, none at all, for instance. You should determine ahead as nearly as possible how much of each vegetable your table will require and then try to grow enough of each for a continuous supply, and no more. It is just this that the planting plan enables you to do.
I will describe, as briefly as possible, forms of the planting plan, planting table, check list and record, which I have found it convenient to use.

To make the Planting Plan take a sheet of white paper and a ruler and mark off a space the shape of your garden--which should be rectangular if possible--using a scale of one-quarter or one-eighth inch to the foot. Rows fifty feet long will be found a convenient length for the average home garden. In a garden where many varieties of things are grown it will be best to run the rows the short way of the piece. We will take a fifty-foot row for the purpose of illustration, though of course it can readily be changed in proportion where rows of that length can not conveniently be made. In a very small garden it will be better to make the row, say, twenty-five feet long, the aim being always to keep the row a unit and have as few broken ones as possible, and still not to have to plant more of any one thing than will be needed.
In assigning space for the various vegetables several things should be kept in mind in order to facilitate planting, replanting and cultivating the garden. These can most quickly be realized by a glance at the plan illustrated herein. You will notice that crops that remain several years--rhubarb and asparagus--are kept at one end. Next come those that will remain a whole season--parsnips, carrots, onions and the like. And finally those that will be used for a succession of crops--peas, lettuce, spinach. Moreover, tall-growing crops, like pole beans, are kept to the north of lower ones. In the plan illustrated the space given to each variety is allotted according to the proportion in which they are ordinarily used. If it happens that you have a special weakness for peas, or your mother-in-law an aversion to peppers, keep these tastes and similar ones in mind when laying out your planting plan. Do not leave the planning of your garden until you are ready to put the seeds in the ground and then do it all in a rush. Do it in January, as soon as you have received the new year's catalogs and when you have time to study over them and look up your record of the previous year.

Every hour spent on the plan will mean several hours saved in the garden. The Planting Table is the next important system in the business of gardening, especially for the beginner. In it one can see at a glance all the details of the particular treatment each vegetable requires--
when to sow, how deep, how far apart the rows should be, etc. I remember how many trips from garden to house to hunt through catalogs for just such information I made in my first two seasons' gardening. How much time, just at the very busiest season of the whole year, such a table would have saved!

The Planting Table prepared for one's own use should show, besides the information given, the varieties of each vegetable which experience has proved best adapted to one's own needs. The table shown herein gives such a list; varieties which are for the most part standard favorites and all of which, with me, have proven reliable, productive and of good quality. Other good sorts will be found described in Part Two. Such a table should be mounted on cardboard and kept where it may readily be referred to at planting time.

The Check List is the counterpart of the planting table, so arranged that its use will prevent anything from being overlooked or left until too late. Prepare it ahead, some time in January, when you have time to think of everything. Make it up from your planting table and from the previous year's record. From this list it will be well to put down on a sheet of paper the things to be done each month (or week) and cross them off as they are attended to. Without some such system it is almost a certainty that you will overlook some important things. The Garden Record is no less important. It may be kept in the simplest sort of way, but be sure to keep it. A large piece of paper ruled as follows, for instance, will require only a few minutes' attention each week and yet will prove of the greatest assistance in planning

The above shows how such a record should be kept. Of course, only the first column is written in ahead. I want to emphasize in passing, however, the importance of putting down your data on the day you plant, or harvest, or notice anything worth recording. If you let it go until tomorrow it is very apt to be lacking next year.
Try these four short-cuts to success, even if you have had a garden before. They will make a big difference in your garden; less work and greater results.


Jan. 1st--Send for catalogs. Make planting plan and table. Order seeds.
Feb. 1st--Inside: cabbage, cauliflower, first sowing. Onions for plants.
Feb. 15th--Inside: lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, beets.
March 1st--Inside: lettuce, celery, tomato (early).
March 15th--Inside: lettuce, tomato (main), eggplant, pepper, lima beans, cucumber, squash; sprout potatoes in sand.
April 1st--Inside: cauliflower (on sods), muskmelon, watermelon, corn. Outside: (seed-bed) celery, cabbage, lettuce. Onions, carrots, smooth peas, spinach, beets, chard, parsnip, turnip, radish. Lettuce, cabbage (plants).

May 1st--Beans, corn, spinach, lettuce, radish.
May 15th--Beans, limas, muskmelon, watermelon, summer squash, peas, potatoes, lettuce, radish, tomato (early), corn, limas, melon, cucumber and squash (plants). Pole-lima, beets, corn, kale, winter squash, pumpkin, lettuce, radish.

June 1st--Beans, carrots, corn, cucumber, peas, summer spinach, summer lettuce, radish, egg-plant, pepper, tomato (main plants).

June 15th--Beans, corn, peas, turnip, summer lettuce, radish, late cabbage, and tomato plants.
July 1st--Beans, endive, kale, lettuce, radish, winter cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and celery plants.
July 15th--Beans, early corn, early peas, lettuce, radish. Aug. 1st--Early peas, lettuce, radish.
Aug. 15th--Early peas, lettuce, radish in seed-bed, forcing lettuce for fall in frames.
Sept. 1st--Lettuce, radish, spinach and onions for wintering over.
NOTE.--This list is for planting only (the dates are approximate: see
note I at the end of the chapter). Spraying and other garden operations may also be included in such a list. See "Calendar of Operations" at end of book.



Asparagus, seed April-May
Asparagus, plants April
Bean, pole May 15-June 10
Bean, lima May 20-June 10
Beet, late April-August
Carrot, late May-July
Corn, late May 20-July 10
Cucumber May 10-July 15
Egg-plant, plants June 1-20 Leek

Bean, dwarf May 5-Aug 15
Kohlrabi[4] April-July
Lettuce[4] April-August
Peas, smooth April 1-Aug 1
Radish April 1-Sept 1
Spinach April-Sept 15
Turnip April-Sept

Beet, early April-June
Broccoli, early[4] April
Borecole[4] April
Brussels sprouts[4] April
Cabbage, early[4] April
Carrot April
Cauliflower[4] April
Com, early May 10-20
Onion sets April-May 15
Peas April 1-May 1
Crops in Sec. II.

Beet, late July-August
Borecole May-June[2]
Broccoli May-June[2]
Brussels sprouts May-June[2]
Cabbage late May-June[2]
Cauliflower May-June[2]
Celery, seed April
Celery, plant July 1-Aug 1
Endive[4] April-August
Peas, late May 15-Aug 1


1 In the vicinity of New York City. Each 100 miles north or south will make a difference of 5 to 7 days later or earlier.

2 This is for sowing the seed. It will take three to six weeks before plants are ready. Hence the advantage of using the seed-bed. For instance, you can start your late cabbage about June 15th, to follow the first crop of peas, which should be cleared off by the 10th of July.

3 Distances given are those at which the growing plants should
stand, after thinning. Seed in drills should be sown several times as thick.

4 Best started in seed-bed, and afterward transplanted; but may be sown when wanted and afterward thinned to the best plants.


It may seem to the reader that it is all very well to make a garden with a pencil, but that the work of transferring it to the soil must be quite another problem and one entailing so much work that he will leave it to the professional market gardener. He possibly pictures to himself some bent-kneed and stoop-shouldered man with the hoe, and decides that after all there is too much work in the garden game. What a revelation would be in store for him if he could witness one day's operations in a modern market garden! Very likely indeed not a hoe would be seen during the entire visit. Modern implements, within less than a generation, have revolutionized gardening.

This is true of the small garden as certainly as of the large one: in fact, in proportion I am not sure but that it is more so--because of the second wonderful thing about modern garden tools, that is, the low prices at which they can be bought, considering the enormous percentage of labor saved in accomplishing results. There is nothing in the way of expense to prevent even the most modest gardener acquiring, during a few years, by the judicious expenditure of but a few dollars annually, a very complete outfit of tools that will handsomely repay their cost. While some garden tools have been improved and developed out of all resemblance to their original forms, others have changed little in generations, and in probability will remain ever with us. There is a thing or two to say about even the simplest of them, however,--especially to anyone not familiar with their uses.
There are tools for use in every phase of horticultural operations; for preparing the ground, for planting the seed, for cultivation, for protecting crops from insects and disease, and for harvesting.

First of all comes the ancient and honorable spade, which, for small garden plots, borders, beds, etc., must still be relied upon for the initial operation in gardening--breaking up the soil. There are several types, but any will answer the purpose. In buying a spade look out for two things: see that it is well strapped up the handle in front and back, and that it hangs well. In spading up ground, especially soil that is turfy or hard, the work may be made easier by taking a strip
not quite twice as wide as the spade, and making diagonal cuts so that one vertical edge of the spade at each thrust cuts clean out to where the soil has already been dug. The wide-tined spading-fork is frequently used instead of the spade, as it is lighter and can be more advantageously used to break up lumps and level off surfaces. In most soils it will do this work as well, if not better, than the spade and has the further good quality of being serviceable as a fork too, thus combining two tools in one. It should be more generally known and used. With the ordinary fork, used for handling manure and gathering up trash, weeds, etc., every gardener is familiar. The type with oval, slightly up-curved tines, five or six in number, and a D handle, is the most convenient and comfortable for garden use.

For areas large enough for a large rototiller, it will be your best purchase. There are many good makes. The requirements are that it should turn a clean, deep furrow. In deep soil that has long been cultivated, plowing should, with few exceptions, be down at least to the subsoil; and if the soil is shallow it will be advisable to turn up a little of the subsoil, at each plowing--not more than an inch--in order that the soil may gradually be deepened.


The spade or spading-fork or rototiller will be followed by the hoe, or hook, and the iron rake. The best type of hoe for use after the spade is the wide, deep-bladed type. In most soils, however, this work may be done more expeditiously with the hook or prong-hoe. With this the soil can be thoroughly pulverized to a depth of several inches. In using either, be careful not to pull up manure or trash turned under by the spade, as all such material if left covered will quickly rot away in the soil and furnish the best sort of plant food.

The rototiller and likewise the prong-hoe, will have to be followed by the iron rake when preparing the ground for small-seeded garden vegetables. Get the sort with what is termed the "bow" head instead of one in which the head is fastened directly to the end of the handle. It is less likely to get broken, and easier to use. There is quite a knack in manipulating even a garden rake, which will come only with practice. Do not rake as though you were gathering up leaves or grass. The secret in using the garden rake is not to gather things up. Small stones, lumps of earth and such things, you of course wish to remove. Keep these raked off ahead of where you are leveling the soil, which is accomplished with a backward-and-forward movement of the rake.
The tool-house of every garden of any size should contain a seed-drill. Labor which is otherwise tedious and difficult is by it rendered mere play--as well as being better done. The operations of marking the row, opening the furrow, dropping the seed at the proper depth and distance, covering immediately with fresh earth, and firming the soil, are all done at one fell swoop and as fast as you can walk. It will even drop seeds in hills. But that is not all: it may be had as part of a combination machine, which, after your seeds are planted--with each row neatly rolled on top, and plainly visible--may be at once transformed into a wheel hoe that will save you as much time in caring for your plants as the seed-drill did in planting your seed. Hoeing drudgery becomes a thing of the past. There are so many, and so varied in usefulness, that it would require an entire chapter to detail their special advantages and methods of use. The catalogs describing them will give you many valuable suggestions; and other ways of utilizing them will discover themselves to you in your work.

Valuable as the wheel hoe is, however, and varied in its scope of work, the time-tried hoe cannot be entirely dispensed with. It is essential in work such as loosening soil and cutting out weeds. The heart-shaped hoe is especially valuable in opening and covering drills for seed, such as beans, peas or corn. The scuffle-hoe, or scarifier, is used between narrow rows for shallow work, such as cutting off small weeds and breaking up the crust. It has been rendered less frequently needed by the advent of the wheel hoe, but when crops are too large to admit of the use of the latter, the scuffle-hoe is still an indispensable time-saver. There remains one task connected with gardening that is dreaded by everyone. That is hand-weeding. To get down on one's hands and knees, in the blistering hot dusty soil, with the perspiration trickling down into one's eyes, and pick small weedlets from among tender plantlets, is not a pleasant occupation. There are, however, several sorts of small weeders which lessen the work considerably. One or another of the common types will seem preferable, according to different conditions of soil and methods of work. Personally, I prefer the Cape Cod style weeding tool. You skim the blade underneath the surface and cut the weeds off at the root. It is a fast efficient way of keeping your beds free of weeds.

There are two things to be kept in mind about hand-weeding which will reduce this work to the minimum. First, never let the weeds get a start; for even if they do not increase in number, if they once smother the ground or crop, you will wish you had never heard of a garden. Second, do your hand-weeding while the surface soil is soft, when the weeds come out easily. A hard-crusted soil will double and triple the amount of labor required. It would seem that it should be needless, when garden tools are such savers of labor, to suggest that they should be carefully kept, always bright and clean and sharp, and in repair. But such advice is needed, to judge by most of the tools one sees.

Always have a piece of cloth or old bag on hand where the garden tools are kept, and never put them away soiled and wet. Keep the cutting edges sharp. There is as much pleasure in trying to run a dull lawnmower as in working with a rusty, battered hoe. Have an extra handle in stock in case of accident; they are not expensive. In selecting hand tools, always pick out those with handles in which the grain does not run out at the point where there will be much strain in using the tool. In rakes, hoes, etc., get the types with ferrule and shank one continuous piece, so as not to be annoyed with loose heads. Spend a few cents to send for some implement catalogs. They will be a great source of information, even if you do not order this year. The Internet is also an excellent source for finding the best garden tools. A few dollars spent in getting the best will save you much more in the future.


The devices and implements used for fighting plant enemies are of two sorts:--(1) those used to afford mechanical protection to the plants; (2) those used to apply insecticides and fungicides. Of the first the most useful is the covered frame. It consists usually of a wooden box, some eighteen inches to two feet square and about eight high, covered with glass, protecting cloth, mosquito netting or mosquito wire. The first two coverings have, of course, the additional advantage of retaining heat and protecting from cold, making it possible by their use to plant earlier than is otherwise safe. They are used extensively in getting an extra early and safe start with cucumbers, melons and the other vine vegetables. Simpler devices for protecting newly-set plants, such as tomatoes or cabbage, from the cut-worm, are stiff aluminum, cardboard or tar paper collars, which are made several inches high and large enough to be put around the stem and penetrate an inch or so into the soil. For applying poison powders the home gardener should supply himself with a an EPA approved powder gun. If one must be restricted to a single implement, however, it will be best to get one of the EPA approved hand power, compressed air sprayers. These are used for applying wet sprays, and should be supplied with one of the several forms of mist-making nozzles, the non-cloggable automatic type being the best. Extension rods for use in spraying trees and vines may be obtained for your sprayer. For operations on a very small scale a good hand-syringe may be used, but in general, it will be best to invest a few dollars more and get a small tank sprayer, as this throws a continuous stream or spray and holds a much larger amount of the spraying solution. Whatever type is procured, get a brass machine--it will out-wear three or four of those made of cheaper metal or plastic, which succumbs very quickly to the, corroding action of the strong poisons and chemicals used in them.

Of implements for harvesting, beside the spade, prong-hoe and spadingfork already mentioned, very few are used in the small garden, as most of them need not only long rows to be economically used, but tractors also. Running the hand-plow close on either side of carrots, parsnips and other deep-growing vegetables will aid materially in getting them out. For fruit picking, with tall trees, the wire-fingered fruit-picker, secured to the end of a long handle, will be of great assistance, but with the modern method of using low-headed trees it will not be needed.
Another class of garden implements are those used in pruning--but where this is attended to properly from the start, a good sharp jack-knife and a pair of pruning shears will easily handle all the work of the kind necessary. Still another sort of garden device is that used for supporting the plants; such as stakes, trellises, wires, etc. Altogether too little attention usually is given these, as with proper care in storing over winter they will not only last for years, but add greatly to the convenience of cultivation and to the neat appearance of the garden. Various contrivances are illustrated in the seed catalogs, and many may be home-made--such as a stake-trellis for supporting beans. As a final word to the intending purchaser of garden tools, I would say: first thoroughly investigate the different sorts available, and when buying, do not forget that a good tool or a well-made machine will be giving you satisfactory use long, long after the price is forgotten, while a poor one is a constant source of discomfort. Get good tools, and take good care of them. And let me repeat that a few dollars a year, judiciously spent, for tools afterward well cared for, will soon give you a very complete set, and add to your garden profit and pleasure.

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