Field Forcing Vegetables
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
The forcing of early vegetables has become a business of considerable magnitude, and a person may well ask, Does it pay, and, if so, can I hope to succeed? "My own work," says E. E. Adams of Essex county, Ontario, " has been growing for early market tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, beans, muskmelons, and sweet corn in the field, not under glass. Plants of all but corn are, of course, started not in hotbeds, but in glass houses heated by steam.
"In preparing the soil for growing these plants in the houses I usually pile up sods taken from either sandy or clay loam fields, and pile up with alternate layers of fresh horse manure, letting this stand over winter and cutting up fine as early in the spring as possible. This gives a soil containing a large amount of fiber; it does not dry out quickly, and in decomposing feeds the plants for a consider-able time.
" The soil for field culture should be fairly rich in humus, clover or well-decayed manure being turned under in the fall. Either of these will be well incorporated in the soil by the following May.
" Tomato and cucumber seeds are sown in moderately rich soil in flats the latter part of February. Tomato plants are pricked out into other soil in two or three weeks, being given at this time a soil space of 4 x 6 inches, and then again moved the latter part of April or first week in May into veneer sections 5 x 5 x 5 inches with no bottoms, or, they can be moved into flats for convenience in handling. The flats I use are 12 x 22 inches inside and 5 inches deep. These flats are placed upon the benches and the plants grown to the desired size, then moved and covered with cotton. I put eight plants to each tray. This cotton cover keeps cold winds off the plants, and also assists in hardening the plants before being set out in the field.
I prefer to water thoroughly, being careful to see that all portions of the bench soils or flats are evenly wetted. Water is run on with a half-inch hose with no nozzle, not with heavy pressure, but gently. When transplanting time comes, usually about May 20, it is found very convenient to handle the flats in a wagon, sending them to, the field quickly.
"Before setting in the field after plowing the soil, which is a light sand, and after using disk and smoothing harrows, it is well to mark out straight rows and plow furrows about 5 inches deep, in which the plants may be placed after being care-fully cut from the flats, giving them 3/ feet in the row, and rows 5 feet apart. These furrows may be filled in at once by a man or a boy following up, with a hoe and drawing the soil around the plants.