What To Grow - Part 2
( Originally Published 1909 )
This delicious vegetable should be grown in every garden large enough to give it room. Just gathered from the stalk, it has a delicacy of flavor which the corn obtained in the market never has, unless bought fresh from the grower.
Sweet corn does best in a soil of sandy loam, highly manured. Work it deeply, that the roots may have a chance to penetrate with ease to a considerable depth.
Plant in hills three feet apart for the small-growing early sorts, and four feet apart for the tall, strong-growing kinds like Stowell's Evergreen.
At the north, corn can be planted with safety about the middle of May, but not earlier. In cold, backward seasons, it may be well to defer planting until the twentieth of the month, or even later, as the seed often fails to germinate in a cold, wet soil.
Begin to cultivate it as soon as the plant has made four or five leaves. Keep up this treatment until ears begin to form. One secret of success in the culture of this plant is in keeping the soil always light and open. Air must be admitted to its roots freely, and they must have a chance to spread without difficulty, as they could not in a soil not worked enough to make it friable and mellow.
Plant for a succession of crops, at intervals of ten days or two weeks. By a wise selection of varieties, this delicious vegetable can be enjoyed for several weeks, or up to the coming of frosty weather.
Probably the best very early variety, is Cory, sweet, tender, and productive.
Early Minnesota is a general favorite be-cause of its many excellent qualities.
Dreer's First of All is another early sort that deserves especial mention for its quick development and exceedingly delicious flavor.
A variety of recent introduction that promises to become a standard is Stabler's Early. This is considerably larger than other early kinds, and has a peculiarly rich, sweet flavor and is remarkably tender.
A standard late variety is Country Gentle-man. It is equal in quality to Stowell's Ever-green, but does not remain in condition for table use for so long a time as that variety does. Because of this peculiarity, Stowell's Evergreen is probably the most popular variety of corn ever grown. For flavor, tenderness, and sugary sweetness it cannot be excelled, and when we add to these merits its long-keeping quality we have in it the ideal corn for table use. If one can grow but one variety, by all means let this be the one.
Stowell's Evergreen is an excellent variety for drying. When dried by exposure to the sun, whose warmth seems to condense the sweetness rather than dissipate it, this corn retains much of the delightful flavor which characterizes it when fresh, and will be found far superior to much canned corn.
This vegetable can be started in the hot-bed to good advantage. I would advise making little pots for it out of thick paper, about the size of the ordinary teacup. Fill with rich, light soil. Put four or five seeds in each pot.
When the ground is warm, and not before, these pots can be set directly into the soil, where they will soon decay. In this way the tender roots of the plants will escape disturbance, a matter of considerable importance. When it is safe to plant them out—after all danger from frost is over—set in hills four feet apart each way. Be sure that the soil is very rich. An early and vigorous growth must be encouraged.
Plant for a succession.
If the cucumber beetle attacks the plants, sprinkle with land plaster, or fine road-dust, into which tobacco powder has been thoroughly mixed.
Early White Spine is one of the best very early sorts. It has a delicious flavor, and is very tender and productive.
For late use, and for pickling, Emerald deserves a place near the head of the list. This variety is exceedingly productive, its fruit is very attractive in appearance, being long, dark green, and perfectly smooth, and its quality is exceptionally fine because of solidity, tenderness, and superior flavor.
One of the standbys of the garden. Very early crops are secured by sowing in the hot-bed where it speedily matures, but plants so grown lack the delicacy and flavor of garden-grown ones.
To grow lettuce satisfactorily, the soil must be rich and quick. If it makes slow development, it will be tough and lacking in fine flavor.
Seedlings can be transplanted from the hot-bed, if sowings can be made in the open ground. Sow at intervals of ten days or two weeks for a succession of crops. By a judicious selection of varieties and proper culture this vegetable can be enjoyed throughout the season.
White Cos is excellent for an extra early sort. Big Boston is one of the best for a general crop, being crisp, sweet, and tender, with that peculiar buttery flavor which makes this vegetable so enjoyable when grown to perfection. It retains its good qualities throughout the season, and is, I think, the best all-around variety for use at the north.
These grow best in a soil of light loam, made very rich. If possible, secure a location fully exposed to the sun. It should be well worked to the depth of a foot at least.
Plant in hills five feet apart, each way. Do not be in too great a hurry to get the seed into the ground, as the seedling plants are very ten-der and a slight frost—even a chill—often proves the death of them. About the middle of May is quite early enough to plant them at the north. Previous to planting it is well to mix a shovelful of good manure with the soil in each hill. Work it over until it becomes part of the original soil. When the plants are about a foot long, pinch off the tips to make them branch. See that they never suffer for water. If you can conveniently do so, apply liquid manure occasionally.
A few plants for early fruiting can be started in the hot-bed in paper pots, as advised for cucumbers, but great care will have to be taken to prevent them from damping off. Give ventilation in pleasant weather by raising the sash slightly. This will allow the moisture in the air to pass off while admitting fresh air. Be very careful not to allow cold winds to strike the young plants. If the sun is strong enough to wilt them, cover the glass with cheesecloth during the middle of the day.
If the beetle attacks the plants treat as advised for cucumber. It is a good plan to prevent the beetle from getting at them by placing boxes covered with netting about the young plants, when first set out.
It is an open question as to which kind of melon is most popular. Perhaps one enjoys as much popularity as the other. The rich, aromatic sweetness of the muskmelon appeals to one, while his neighbor declares the sugary, juicy, melting tenderness of the watermelon to be the perfection of all that is desirable in fruit. It is simply a question of taste in the gastronomic sense of the term. Every garden ought to contain both kinds.
Perhaps the most popular variety of musk-melon at present is Rocky Ford. This sort is of the netted type, medium in size, with a flavor unsurpassed in sweetness and rich quality, its flesh firm and fine-grained, but with a delicious, melting tenderness which reminds one of a perfectly ripe peach.
Defender is another superior variety. This has the same meritorious qualities of Rocky Ford in a great degree, but its flesh is a rich yellow while that of the other is a light green. On this account it is more attractive for table use.
Nutmeg was not so long ago our most popular variety of this class of the melon family. It deserves cultivation today, because of its rich flavor and remarkable sweetness and the ease with which it is grown. It is also very productive.
Among the watermelons, Mountain Sweet deserves prominent mention. It grows to large size, and is very solid as to flesh, with a most delicious flavor. It melts in one's mouth.
Sweetheart is vigorous and productive, flesh bright red, crisp and sugary, and of that peculiar melting quality which makes this class of melon so popular.
Ice Cream is a well-known sort whose merits have made it a standard variety. Its flesh is very firm, juicy, and sweet.
Of the yellow-hearted sorts, Yellow Ice Cream is the only one I care to recommend. Most other yellow-meated kinds are coarse and lacking in flavor.
It is generally supposed by the amateur gardener that there is some " knack" about mushroom-growing that only the skilful and experienced gardener can attain. In this he is mistaken. Anyone can grow this delicious vegetable in shed or cellar, provided the temperature can be kept at from 55° to 65°.
Horse-manure is used in making the beds for the reception of spawn. Work it over at intervals of three or four days, until it is evenly mixed. Never use it just as it comes from the stable. Get the straw from bedding out of it as well as you can, leaving nothing but the clear manure. Never allow it to get wet. This is important.
Make the bed about ten inches deep. Pack the manure down well. Insert a thermometer and when it registers 8o° or 90°, put in the spawn. Break the spawn into pieces about the size of a silver quarter, and put a piece in holes four or five inches deep, and about ten inches apart. Cover evenly, and wait for about ten days, then examine. If the spawn was good and fresh, and has done its work properly by sending out its thread-like filaments through the soil in all directions, cover the bed with fresh earth of a loamy nature and press it down well. Put on this soil to about the depth of two inches. Keep the temperature as even as possible. Avoid frequent and abrupt changes from heat to cold.
Follow these directions carefully, and it will not be long before you have a bountiful crop of this most enjoyable vegetable.
Great care should be taken in getting the best spawn possible. Buy only of reliable dealers.
This vegetable grows in almost any soil that is well worked and thoroughly manured. Sow as soon as the weather seems to be settled. Sow in rows, and thin out, if too thick. At least three inches should be allowed between the plants. Cultivate frequently, and keep down all weeds if you want a good crop.
There are just three varieties I would advise for general culture—Weathersfield Red, Yellow Danvers, and Silverskin.
The two first-named sorts are excellent keepers. The Silverskin is best for late summer and fall use. It has a white, tender, juicy flesh, very mild in flavor, therefore better liked by most persons than the stronger kinds. For pickling purposes, this variety is extensively grown by sowing it thickly, and gathering it when about half grown.
This vegetable is much used in seasoning soups, and for garnishing roasts, fish, and other meat dishes. Sow in May, in rows a foot apart. Cover the seed with about half an inch of soil. Being rather slow to germinate, it is a good plan to soak the seed in warm water for a few hours before sowing it.
Parsley can easily be carried over winter, in pots, in the window-garden. For this purpose, make a late sowing, and set half a dozen seedlings in a seven or eight inch pot. The housewife who takes pride in the attractive appearance of the table will highly appreciate it in winter, when it is difficult to find material for the garnishing of roasts and fish courses on sale. A pot of parsley is more attractive than many of the plants used for window decoration, therefore it may be made to do double duty.
Summer Green is a strong grower, admirably adapted to summer use. Its foliage is large, finely curled, and of a rich green color which makes it very attractive.
Curled Perpetual has very tender, crisp leaves, much crimped and curled. This is the best variety for winter use.
This is another of the vegetables which would be more highly prized if persons would only allow themselves to become familiar with its good qualities. As it is, this vegetable is quite extensively grown and finds a ready sale in the city markets, but many home gar-dens are without it.
The parsnip does well in almost any soil, if it has been spaded up to the depth of a foot and a half. Unlike most vegetables, it does not develop its finest flavor in a soil of extreme richness. It requires one of moderate richness only, and is best when only of medium size. Plants forced by rich soil to large and rapid growth are lacking in sweetness, and soon become tough and stringy.
Sow the seed in the open ground as early in the spring as it can be worked well. Sow in rows, and thin out to about four inches apart.
This plant is improved by our fall frosts. Late in the season—just before the ground is likely to freeze and stay frozen—dig the roots, and let them lie exposed to sunshine for two or three days before you store them away Then pack in boxes of dry sand, and put in a cool place.
The best variety is the Hollow Crown.
If the writer of the book could have but one vegetable, the pea would be his choice. It is so rich in flavor, so easily grown, so prolific, and so adapted to all gardens, that it deserves a place at the head of the list of desirable plants for garden culture.
Sow as early in the season as the ground can be worked. It is a plant that likes to make a good growth of roots before hot weather comes. Sow in rows, and sow deeply. It is a good plan to make trenches six inches deep, and sow the seed in them, covering, at first, with about an inch of soil. As the plants reach up, draw in more soil about them, and continue to do this until all the soil thrown out from the trench has been returned to it. In this way, the plants get their roots down deep in the soil where it will be moist in hot weather.
Keep the plants. well cultivated.
The tall-growing sorts must have some kind of support. They take more kindly to brush than anything else, but as this is not always obtainable, a good substitute can be made of coarse-meshed wire netting. At first it may be necessary to train the young plants out and in among the meshes, to encourage them to take hold, but after a little they will develop tendrils which will twine themselves about the wires, and no further training will be necessary.
First among the very early peas I would place Nott's Excelsior. It is very productive, and has a flavor much superior to the ordinary early pea.
Gradus, or Prosperity, is also very productive, and of excellent quality.
Thomas Laxton is a comparatively new sort whose merits we are just becoming familiar with. It is a wrinkled pea, and, like all the wrinkled varieties, it has a sweetness not found among the smooth kinds.
For a medium variety, Advancer is as good as any kind I have any knowledge of. It is prolific, has large pods, and its flavor is delicious.
For late peas, I would recommend but two varieties, Telephone and Champion of England. I would confine my choice to these two sorts simply because they combine all the good qualities of the other varieties described in the catalogues in a wonderful degree. They have that rich, sugary, delicious flavor which makes this vegetable so universal a favorite; they are exceedingly productive, and they are adapted to almost all localities. If there are any better sorts I do not know what they are.
This vegetable is sometimes called gumbo. Its green seed pods, when not too long and old, make an excellent dish, cooked, alone or with tomatoes. They are also useful for soup foundations. Sow the seed in rows two and a half feet apart and allow several inches between the plants. Cultivate thoroughly between the rows and keep cutting off the pods as they reach edible size. The growth of new pods is thus stimulated.