What To Grow - Part 3
( Originally Published 1909 )
This vegetable is considered by the house-wife as one of the most important of all garden vegetables, because of its usefulness in seasoning soups and salads, and as a basis for pickles. chow-chow, piccalilli, and various other appetizing condiments which the good cook takes delight in making.
The larger sorts are mainly used for pick-ling, because of their thicker flesh and milder flavor. The smaller kinds are favorites for flavoring soups and sauces.
Ruby Giant is a large-growing sort much used in making mangoes and for pickling.
Long Red Cayenne has a very pungent flavor, and is the standard variety used in soups and sauces.
Other desirable sorts are Golden Dawn, for mango-making and chow-chow, and Sweet Spanish, for use in salads.
This plant can be started in the hot-bed, or seed can be sown in the open ground in May. Set the plants about eighteen inches apart, in rich, light soil.
The soil best suited for the production of a potato of the best quality is one of rich, light, sandy loam, although the vegetable can be grown very satisfactorily in almost any soil. But on land heavy with clay, and not well drained, it never attains the size, flavor, and general excellence which characterizes it when grown in a soil better suited to its requirements. In such a soil it is often rough and scabby, therefore not very attractive to the eye, though it may be fairly well flavored and mealy when cooked.
It pays to make a special effort to give the potato a soil to its liking, if one cares to grow it to perfection. By mixing sand, old mortar, muck,—anything that has a tendency to lighten and make porous,—with a heavy soil, much can be done to improve the productiveness and quality of this vegetable. Good cultivation is also an important factor in the case.
Being a gross feeder, manure should be used liberally: If barnyard fertilizer is used, it should be old and thoroughly rotted, and well mixed with the soil. Never dump it into the hill, as I have seen some persons use it, without pulverizing, and without an effort to work it into the soil so perfectly and evenly that no clear manure can come in contact with the tubers. Fresh manure should never be used.
The best commercial fertilizers for the potato are plaster, lime, superphospate of lime, and bone meal. The dealer of whom one purchases his fertilizers should be consulted as to the quantity to be used on the space devoted to this vegetable, and his advice should be strictly followed. No general directions as to the amount to be used can be given because fertilizers vary in strength.
Plant as early in spring as the ground can be worked to advantage, in rows three feet apart, and a foot apart in the row. Cover with about three inches of soil. Cultivate thoroughly, drawing the soil about the plants as they increase in size.
The Colorado beetle will be pretty sure to attack the plants early in the season. Often it will be found on sprouts just peering through the soil, therefore one must be on the watch for this destructive enemy from the very beginning. If allowed to do its deadly work without prompt interference, the tender young plants will soon be ruined. Paris green is the standard remedy. A tablespoonful to a pailful of water is about the right proportion to use. Apply it with a sprayer. See that it gets to all parts of the plant.
It is a good plan to go among the vines during the day and rap them with a stick, causing many of the larger beetles to fall to the ground where they can be crushed with the hoe, or trampled under foot. This pest multiplies with astonishing rapidity, and reaches development in so short a time that the importance of preventing the young beetles from maturing will be readily understood after a little experience with them.
Many growers of the potato combine Bordeaux mixture with Paris green in spraying, as spoken of in the chapter on Insecticides and Fungicides. The copper sulphate has a tendency to prevent blight and scab, they claim. If the soil on which your potatoes are planted is low, or heavy, it may be well to try this method.
Early Rose is perhaps the best early sort. Beauty of Hebron is good sized and matures quickly. Early Ohio is edible before it ripens. Burbank's Seedling is a medium early sort. Rural New York No. 2 heads the list of late varieties, because of its keeping qualities.
Sweet potatoes require more warmth and a well drained or sandy soil. They form a very important crop in the South. Planting consists of two operations. In the spring, the tubers are placed four to six inches under the soil in hot-beds or in other warm location where a number of shoots or "slips" sprout from each. In about a month, when the shoots are several inches above the ground, they are cut off and planted in the garden row eighteen inches apart. To aid growth, these rows should be in the form of broad ridges. If the parent potatoes are left in the ground another lot of sprouts will grow. Dig up the crop before the first autumn frost is due.
Probably few amateur gardeners will attempt the culture of this vegetable because of its rampant habit of growth. In the average small garden it will occupy room which might better be given over to other plants. But if economy of space does not have to be considered, it is well to have a few hills of it to furnish material for the good old pumpkin pie which always seems to have a finer flavor if made from pumpkins of one's own growing.
Give it a rich, light soil—one of sandy loam, if possible. Plant in May, after the ground has become warm, in hills at least eight feet apart, having two or three plants to a hill.
The young plants must be protected from frost and the squash beetle. Dusting them with land plaster or road dust will drive away this enemy, or they may be covered with netting. A cone of paper placed over the plants on a cold night will prevent injury from frost.
After some fruit has set, cut off the end of the vines to prevent further production, thus throwing the strength of the plant into the development of the fruit already set.
The best sort for garden culture is the Sugar or New England Pie Pumpkin. This is small, with a firm, fine-grained flesh of great sweetness. It makes excellent pies. It is a good keeper if gathered before frost touches it, and stored in a rather cool, dry place. The cellar is generally too damp for it. An airy, frost-proof loft is a better place in which to keep it.
Not much space will be required for growing this favorite vegetable, as large quantities can be grown in small space. As it soon matures, it will be out of the way early in the season, and the ground originally given up to it can be planted with other vegetables.
A light, sandy soil is the ideal one for the radish. Quickness of growth is very important. It must be hurried ahead as rapidly as possible, and this is best done by making the soil very rich, and choosing a location fully ex-posed to the sun. Use old, well-decomposed manure, and work it thoroughly into the soil, which should be turned over and over until it is as fine as it can possibly be made. Sow the seed in rows four inches apart. Cover lightly. In order to. have a succession, continue to sow seed at intervals of a week or ten days.
For a very early crop, sow in hot-bed, where the plants can be allowed to remain until they mature.
Best varieties, Scarlet Turnip, White Globe, and Early Red.
Radishes can be grown for winter use by sowing in September or October. They can be kept for some time by packing in sand, and storing away from reach of frost. They should not be placed in a warm cellar, as a high temperature will cause them to wilt, and, after a little, to start into growth. Under either of these conditions, they will be worthless. A root cellar, in which the temperature is but little above the frost-point is the best place for them.
One of the most delicious of vegetables for late fall and winter use is salsify, more commonly known as vegetable oyster, because it has a flavor somewhat similar to that of the bivalve.
It can be kept as long and as satisfactorily as the parsnip by, digging it in November, just before the ground is likely to freeze for the winter, packing it in sand, and storing in the cellar. A quantity should always be left in the ground for use in spring.
Grow in light soil, well manured, and deeply worked. It can be sown any time after the ground is in working condition. Sow in rows, leaving about four inches between the plants. There are but few varieties, of which Sandwich Island Mammoth is the best for general culture.
This favorite vegetable is easily grown if given a rich and mellow soil.
There are summer squashes, and fall or winter ones. The summer varieties are edible only when full-grown, but unripe. They last but a short time. The late sorts must be well ripened to be palatable. They will keep through the winter in excellent condition if stored in a dry place which is cool, but not enough so to admit frost in cold weather. The cellar is not the place for them, being too damp, as a general thing. They are almost sure to rot there. The air of the place in which they are kept must be dry.
The best summer sorts are the Crookneck and Long Island Bush. The standard variety for winter use is the good old Hubbard, which has not been improved on in the last twenty-five years. This is very rich in quality, tender, sweet, and thick meated. It is fine for pie making. Give the culture advised for melons.
This vegetable cannot be omitted from any garden without leaving one open to the charge of not living up to his privilege. Perhaps no other is so generally useful. It can be prepared in so many ways that the housewife who has a generous supply of it will feel herself equal to almost any emergency along culinary lines.
To secure an early crop, start the plants off in the hot-bed. This is quite necessary at the north, if one would get the full benefit of the plant, as many sorts, grown from planting in the open ground, will not mature their crop before frost comes.
Do not set the seedlings from the hot-bed out in the ground until there is no longer any danger of frosty weather, as they are very tender. It may be necessary to cover them on cold nights, after they are set out, even if the temperature does not go low enough for frost, as a chill will injure them almost as much as an actual freeze, so delicate are they.
Have the soil fine and rich. Set the plants about two feet apart. I have grown my best crops by training the plants on trellises. This keeps the fruit off the ground, thus preventing rot, and it enables the sun to get at it, thus hastening ripening. It will be necessary to tie the branches firmly, and with a stout string, as, when well set with fruit, they will be much too heavy to support themselves. In the case of late sorts, I find it advisable to cut off the ends of the branches after they have set considerable fruit. This stops the further production of fruit, and throws the strength of the plant to the development of the early setting, and greatly expedites matters. A plant allowed to have its own way will go on blooming and setting fruit until frost comes, and, as a natural consequence, it will be so late in perfecting its crops that quite likely none of it will ripen fully before cold weather comes.
If, at the coming of cold weather, your plants are well set with fully grown but only partially ripened fruit, pull them up by the roots, hang them on the sunny side of a building, and let the warmth and sunshine of pleasant days finish the ripening process as it will, very satisfactorily. Hang a blanket or some-thing similar over the vines at night.
Tomatoes can be kept until Christmas in a cool, dry room, by spreading them on racks or shelves, so they will not touch each other.
The standard variety is Ponderosa, a large, solid-fleshed, tender and finely-flavored kind which bears enormous crops. Early Freedom is a quick-maturing sort which ripens several weeks ahead of Ponderosa.
This plant can be grown as a by-crop by sowing it among the corn or potatoes. Simply scatter the seed over the ground, and rake it in. Sow at intervals of two weeks for a succession. The white turnip is edible only when full grown. After that it soon becomes pithy and stringy. But the Rutabaga, or yellow turnip, is quite unlike its relative in this respect. It keeps sweet and tender until late in the winter. It will be found much more satisfactory for table use than the white kind. It keeps best in cool cellars or pits.
The crop intended for late fall and winter use should be grown from seed sown in August.