Spring Vegetable Gardening

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Spring Vegetable Gardening

by

F. Leeth

In May gardening begins

in earnest. April weather is too uncertain for

many vegetables to be planted in the open and

even early May cannot be trusted far. By the end

of the month, however, practically the first planting

of everything we wish to include in our program

is in the ground.

Tomato plants must be guarded

carefully against frost, at least until after

the middle of May. If there is the slightest indication

of an impending frost they should be covered.

Quart berry bones make ideal coverings

if the plants are not too large, and they also

are convenient to put on and take off. A good

rule for the gardener to follow is to set out

just a few tomato plants early, that their care

may not be a burden, reserving the majority of

them to be put out after the middle of the month.

Cold, wet weather is detrimental

to eggplant, as it is strictly a hot-weather vegetable.

It should not be transplanted in the garden until

danger of frost is past.

Beans are also very sensitive

to cold, but it is necessary to get them in the

ground as soon as possible, especially certain

varieties that is slow to mature. The lima bean

is in this latter class, while the bush snap bean

comes to maturity in a few weeks. It is wise to

plant beans sparingly until there is little danger

of their getting frosted.

Peppers, pimentoes, and cucumbers

are also very susceptible to frost, as also are

melons and squashes.

On the other hand, beets, carrots,

parsnips, onions, cabbage, and broccoli are quite

hardy, and should be in the ground by early May.

By this time the second plantings

of peas, radishes, lettuce, spinach, and onions,

should be in progress, repeating as often as desired,

at least until July, or as long as garden apace

holds out.

There are many varieties of very

fine squashes, and where space permits it is well

to raise at least three of them. The crooked neck

summer squash, scorned by many, is delicious if

properly prepared. They must be taken from the

vines while the outer shell and the seeds are

very tender; otherwise they are not good. After

cutting them into quarter-inch thick slices, skin,

seeds, and all, and dipping them in batter or

dusting them with flour and frying until tender,

they taste very much like eggplant, and are not

nearly so hard to raise. For winter use the little

acorn squash is ideal, and there are many ways

they may be prepared. One especially good method

of preparing them is to remove the seeds through

a small opening in the side, stuff them with sausage,

replace the cap, and bake. These are for individual

servings, as the squashes naturally are quite

small. The larger winter squashes such as the

Green Mountain, Hubbard, and banana, are also

desirable varieties.

After middle May the sweet potato

plants are in line for setting out. A well-fertilized

soil is advocated. Applying the manure in a row

and ridging the earth up over it, is a satisfactory

method. Sweet potatoes are better in every way

when planted on a ridge of soil than when set

out on level ground. The plants need plenty of

moisture until they are well started, after which

they thrive best if hot, dry weather prevails.

Weeding is all the cultivating the ridge-planted

potatoes require.

Where space permits potatoes

and sweet corn should be included in the planting

program. Potatoes may be planted from the first

of May until July with good results. Sweet corn

planted at intervals during that time also insures

the gardener that popular item on the menu over

a long period.

Broccoli is a vegetable fast

gaining popularity, and it is easily grown. The

young plants greatly resemble cabbage plants and

are easily confused with them. Broccoli may be

set out anytime during May, but the early part

of the month is preferable. It will bear until

cold weather if it is not allowed to go to seed.

Celery is easily grown, contrary

to the belief of many. Early May should find the

first plants in the ground. Celery thrives best

with plenty of moisture, although after the plants

are well started they will grow fairly well otherwise.

Celery intended for winter storage is not set

out until the middle of June. That will give plenty

of time for thrifty stocks to develop. Celery

must be cultivated well, keeping it free of weeds.

Do not hill it in its early stages, but when about

half grown begin to hill gradually, being careful

not to pull the earth between the stocks of the

plant.

A few turnip seeds sown now for

Summer and Fall, reserving for a larger planting

in late July for winter storage, is a good rule

to follow.

Seed stalks are now forming on

the rhubarb. The rapidity with which they grow

is nothing short of magic, and they must be pulled

out as fast as they appear if it is desired to

continue the satisfactory growth of the plants.

Otherwise the plant diverts its strength toward

developing its seeds.

A “melon patch,” although it

may be on a small scale, is an interesting garden

venture. Melons thrive in sandy soil, but may

be grown without it. A shovelful of well-rotted

cow manure mined well into the soil of each hill

accelerates the growth of the plant and increases

the number of melons. In a small space, muskmelons

are preferable, as they do not “run” over so much

territory as watermelons.

Care should be taken to separate

as widely as possible, melons, squashes, pumpkins,

cucumbers, and others of that family, as any one

grown near the other may ruin both as to flavor.

Different varieties of squash, for instance, may

be grown together without great harm, although

seeds from them may not be satisfactory for planting

next season.

Perhaps the most important garden

work for the growing months ahead is weeding and

cultivating. A neglected garden is a sorry sight

and a poor producer. Weeds, if not curbed, take

the strength from the ground, growing out of all

proportions compared to the vegetable growth and

choking them out altogether. Hoeing the moist

earth around the plants serves almost the same

purpose as a shower, and for the time at least;

it kills or is a setback to the weed growth.

 


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