The Vegetable Garden
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
" It is unfortunate that so many farm gardens are ruined at the outset by inferior seed. In the country," writes A. B. Ross of Pennsylvania, '' we depend on the country store for our seed far too much, and we are careless. Look out for the gaudily illustrated seed box. If you knew its hoary and shameless record you might believe in total depravity. Old seed, inferior seed, everything that makes the garden third rate, is hidden in the little 5-cent envelope. And, if your congressman gets the government to send you garden seed, vote against him; he hasn't enough sense to be allowed at large in Washington. Just why it is that our great agricultural department does not put out better garden seed, I cannot understand. In our farming work we have had invaluable and most accurate assistance from the government for several years; it would be hard to over-estimate the benefit, but as for the garden seed, we will have none of it.
"As a matter of fact, there is no such thing as cheap seed. Twenty dollars a pound for cauliflower seed the Long Island truckers pay, and are glad of the chance to get it. They could buy for $5 a pound, but they could not afford to take that seed as a gift. Start in right. Make up your mind to pay a good price for good seed, and pay it without a whimper. There is no use in sowing trouble and disappointment.
"Write for catalogs to reliable seed houses. You will find their advertisements in the better-class farm journals and magazines. When you get the catalogs, get to work. The study of catalogs is much harder work than planting the garden. Apparently seed houses lack sense of both humor and proportion. About everything they advertise is recomended so highly that choosing just which to plant is as difficult as threading a needle in the dark.
"I wish to pay a tribute to a man in Iowa for his courage. I have never used his seed, because when I got his catalog I had supplied myself with about all I needed. But his style in commenting on his wares is refreshing. He has not the least hesitation in condemning some of the seeds he lists; and when he has something which he thinks is of high grade, he says so with the same wholesome candor. After all, if you study it out, there is considerable shrewd sense in his frank- ness. It inspires trust. I wish that some of the eastern seed houses would inculcate that same spirit. It would save the poor worried buyer a lot of trouble.
" The safest seed house, however, is your own garret. When you raise something which grades high, be sure to save and cure your own seed; and always try to save an extra supply to provide against the hard luck of a bad season.
" The seed houses are beginning to realize more and more the necessity of growing some of their seed in the north, under invigorating climatic conditions. In comparative experiments I have found that seed from far north gave plants that would make more vigorous growth, yield better quality of garden stuff and resist drouth, frost, and disease better than their southern competitors. Bush beans, for instance, from eastern and from northern seed were planted side by side, a late frost did not seriously injure the one set of plants, but almost totally destroyed the other.