ROOT crops are now generally considered just as essential to the welfare of our bodies during the winter months as are beans, corn, and peas during the summer months. Incidentally, while it is true that some of these root crops, like beets and carrots, are more tender if stored in cans rather than sand or soil, it cannot be denied that, in the process of canning, their valuable vitamin-carrying qualities are appreciably diminished. Hence, in suggesting varieties, I have been governed by their keeping qualities under cellar-storage conditions rather than by their suitability for canning purposes.
In connection with the root crops, according to their relative vitamin-carrying qualities, turnips rank first, carrots second, and beets last. Since kohlrabi and rutabaga, or Swedish turnip, are members of the turnip family, it is safe to say that they have at least as much nutritive value.
As fifty percent. of all Americans, regardless of class, are over-fed and under-nourished, and seventy-five percent. of all diseases that attack the human body are directly or indirectly traceable to this cause, a more thorough knowledge of the nutritive value of the various vegetables would undoubtedly help us all to better health. In these statements I am sustained by a medical authority on the subject of nutrition, or rather mal-nutrition. The “tired feeling” that attacks many of us in late winter and early spring is evidence that our bodies are ill-nourished. And, since such symptoms are most prevalent during that season, it is obvious that, with all our steadily advancing knowledge of nutrition, we are not, as yet, fortifying ourselves sufficiently against winter.
The chief causes of ill-nourishment are a lack of a proper amount of vitamins and an abundance of roughage. Fat, carbohydrates and protein will sustain life. They are, however, not alone sufficient to cause the human engine to function to perfection. Roughage is needed to remove accumulations of impurities; vitamins are the factor needed to create the strong red blood essential to disease resistance.
The preparation of the ground for root crops should be deep and thorough, and plowing is preferable to spading. All weed roots which are not thoroughly buried by the plow and show above ground after dragging should be pulled out by hand and consigned to the compost heap. The ground should be disc-harrowed, dragged, and raked to as fine a condition as possible. I like to have the ground lie a few days after being prepared before planting, in order that it may settle somewhat, and if a rain follows the preparation, all the better. Land moist from rain will not need to be tramped down over the seed, as will be absolutely necessary in the case of dry soil.
As a general thing, root crops should not succeed each other, but be rotated with vine or leaf crops.
Root crops leave nothing in the soil and take largely from it. Vines and other forms of vegetables leave a large proportion of the growth to be returned to the soil, and are, for this reason, less exhaustive of fertility. Of course this is not of as much moment on the limited area of the kitchen garden, whose fertility is easily maintained by the application of animal fertilizers and the humus from a compost heap.
Sow beet seeds as early in the spring as the ground may be worked up fine and mellow. Light, well-enriched soil suits them best. The seed should be sown in drills, one foot apart, sowing the seed an inch deep and treading down the rows. When the plants are large enough, thin out to stand four to six inches apart in the rows; keep them free from weeds and the soil soft and mellow by frequent cultivations. If wanted for greens, sowings of seed may be made every two weeks up to the middle of August, or, if but an early crop of greens is wished, the ground may be used for late peas when the beets are out of the way.
The regulation packet will sow twenty feet of row. For a constant supply sow a fifteen-foot row every week from the middle of April until August first. One ounce each of an early mid-season and late sort provides enough beets throughout summer, fall and winter.
Are one of the economic vegetables, being not only exceedingly wholesome and toothsome, but, like the sweet corn, possess the advantage of being edible in root and top, the green tops being much relished by cows and horses, and the peelings and any surplus roots forming a most valuable addition to the winter ration of horse and cow. The juice of the yellow carrot, when expressed by grating the raw root and pressing the juice through a cloth, makes an excellent and harmless color for butter, giving it the much-prized golden tint of early grass butter in the spring.
A good story is told of a mother who took an anemic daughter to a famous physician noted for his bluffness and brevity. A brief inspection, a briefer “claret,” and a wave of the hand dismissed patient and subject. A month or six weeks later the mother returned accompanied by a blooming daughter, and at the physician’s nod of approval, the mother, becoming loquacious, explained that she “gave them to her three times a day cooked and raw.” “Raw!” exclaimed the physician in amazement. When it transpired that his brief directions of claret had been understood as carrots, and they had been liberally supplied with the result of perfect recovery, whether through the medium of faith or the medicinal qualities of the vegetable, remained a matter of individual experiment, but it is an item in favour of the carrots that they are of no uncertain tonic value to animals.
To grow carrots in perfection requires a rich, deep, sandy loam, thoroughly prepared and deeply cultivated. For an early crop, the seed should be sown in April or May in drills, one foot to fifteen inches apart, scattering the seeds as thinly and evenly in the rows as possible and tramping them down. For a late crop, the seed may be sown as late as July 1st. As soon as the plants are large enough, they should be thinned to stand four inches apart in the rows and must be kept clear of weeds and well cultivated. A little nitrate of soda drilled into the soil along the rows will greatly hasten the growth, or the nitrate may be applied with a watering pot by dissolving it in water. Phosphate worked into the rows before sowing the seed is a help to rapid growth when the animal fertilizer is limited, but is not necessary in well-fertilized land. For table use, the varieties known as Oxheart, Chantenay, and Paris Forcing, all commonly classed as bunching carrots, should be selected. Danvers Half Long is a very smooth, attractive sort, and, if well cultivated and thinned sufficiently, will grow to large size and prove profitable for stock as well as for the table, as even when large they are never coarse.
The most practical manner of growing onions in the kitchen garden is by the use of sets, which may be set out early in spring in shallow drills twelve inches apart and the sets four inches apart in the drills. The ground must be deeply dug and thoroughly pulverized, and when the onions are up so they can be seen, hand weeding through the rows will be necessary. The hand-cultivator may be used to keep the space between the rows free from weeds.
Care must be taken not to allow the mature onions to form seed, as this will render them unfit for food, the seed stalk forming a woody center in the onion, which resists all efforts to cook tender. By watching the plants and breaking off all blossom stalks as they form, the onions will remain fit for use when stored for the winter.
There are no onions, however, so tender and delicate for table use as those grown from seed, which may be sown in the open ground early in March or April and thinned out to stand three or four inches apart in the rows. Or they may at first be thinned to stand from one to two inches apart, and as soon as large enough. for the table, use as young, green onions ; every other onion may be removed, allowing the remainder to mature for winter use.
A method of culture we have found very satisfactory is to sow seed in drills in August in very finely prepared ground, which must be kept well cultivated and free of weeds. A mulch of straw or other coarse litter as protection during winter should be given after the setting in of cold weather, and this should be removed in spring. Seed sown at that season gives an abundance of early onions of the tenderest and best quality, and the entire crop may be gathered in time for another sowing of seed in the following August. Onions succeed well when grown year after year on the same ground, and when the bed is well cared for one or two years, it gets in excellent tilth and is easily kept free from weeds.
By sowing onion seed in frames and transplanting in April, onions of immense size may be produced, and the labour is not much greater than that required by planting in the open ground, thinning, and giving the necessary preliminary weeding. In setting the young onions, which are very small and tender, a shallow trench is dug and the plants laid against the side of it at intervals of four inches, the earth being then filled in and pressed down against them with the hoe. The table herewith gives the acknowledged leaders among onions for home and market garden.
ONIONS OF MERIT
One packet each of an early white, large early yellow and late red generally supplies all the onions for moderate use in an average family. A packet sows 25 feet of row which, on good soil, yields 1/2
|bu. of ripe onions. An ounce of seed will sow 200
feet of row.
|Southport White Globe
|Flat Yellow Danvers
|Southport Yellow Globe
|Southport Red Globe
ONIONS AND THE MILD “BERMUDAS”
It is a fact that those varieties of onions which may be grown to extraordinary size are really not Bermuda onions at all, but certain types of Spanish onion. The Bermuda onions proper are small to medium sized flat bulbs, averaging not more than two and a half inches in diameter by one inch through. No amount of extra start can make them grow any larger because they are a very early variety, ripening within sixty days from the time seeds are sown. They are of three kinds, namely, the Bermuda Crystal Wax, a pure white bulb;
White Bermuda, a yellow skinned fellow; and Red Bermuda, the rosy-coloured companion of the other two. These Bermuda onions are notorious for their mildness and for their poor keeping qualities. There is one member of this type, however, originally from Italy, Giant White Italian Tripoli,which, after naturalization here, is called Mammoth Silver King. This is the giant variety of the pure white, flat onion; and if started under glass, it will grow to a weight of from two to three pounds.
However, even that variety is not as interesting a specimen of giant onion as the misnamed “Bermuda onions” which we see displayed on the fancy fruit stands throughout the country, and which are giant, globe-shaped, yellow-skinned fellows.
The original of this tribe was a European variety called Yellow Zittau Giant which in due time gravitated to America, and about twenty-five years ago, was introduced as American Prize-Taker. Just about the same time, the well known house of Vilmorin in France “discovered” a very much milder flavoured onion of yellow, globe-shaped type in Spain, cultivated it for a few years in France, and offered it then under the name of Giant Spanish. The late W. Atlee Burpee introduced this variety into America, and it subsequently won its place as Gigantic Gibraltar, differing from Prize-Taker in having a deeper green top, and proving more resistant to blight and mildew.
Subject as it was to considerable variation of soil, moisture, and weather conditions, this Gigantic Gibraltar in the process of better adapting itself to loamy and mucky soils became somewhat modified. This modified form is now offered by some people in the trade as Giant Denia onion.
In the meantime, working along entirely different lines, a prominent English seed concern, starting with Yellow Zittau Giant as a foundation stock, evolved that great exhibition onion called Ailsa Craig, which today plays a very important part in every vegetable exhibit on both sides of the Atlantic.
Summarizing the recognized varieties of onion that may be suitably grown for exhibition specimens, we therefore have :
- American Prize-Taker, practical for cultivation on the clay soils pretty generally throughout the country.
- Giant Denia, thriving perhaps best under irrigation, and in sections having well drained soils and a high altitude, though it also does well on muck.
- Ailsa Craig, capable of the greatest growth of any, but by far the most exacting in regard to its conditions of growth. It does particularly well on the Pacific Coast; also on deep, heavy clays and on loamy soils.
Like the carrot, they are an ornamental feature of the garden and may be grown to edge rows or beds of other vegetables if desired; they should occupy a prominent position in the garden, as their growth is lower than most other garden crops, and the beauty of the fern-like leaves makes them attractive at all times. They have not the bright color of the parsley, being much darker in foliage, but they offset that vegetable and contrast beautifully with the red foliage of the beets.
They are one of the earliest vegetables to be started in spring, and so are out of the way before the main crops must be gotten into the ground, which is a distinct advantage. The seed should be sown in drills, like the carrot, making the drills a little farther apart—about fifteen inches—and dropping the seed as evenly and sparsely in the rows as possible. The seed should be planted about one-half of an inch deep and the earth pressed down above it. The soil should be rich and deep and the after cultivation thorough and constant. As soon as the seed has germinated and the little plants large enough to distinguish, all weeds should be removed from between and each side of the rows, the cultivator taking care of those between the rows. When the plants are three or four inches high, thin out to stand six inches apart in the row. The plants pulled up may be used to plant additional rows or to fill in any vacant places in the present rows.
While the quality of the roots are much improved by leaving in the ground over winter, enough for immediate use may be stored in damp sand or earth in the cellar, or they may be dug and piled in pits in the ground and covered with a mound of earth and boards to shed rain, but the cellar will be found more convenient, as in case of severe weather it will be found almost as difficult to get into the heaps as to dig the roots from the open ground.
The best variety to plant is the Large Sugar or Hollow Crown, and one ounce of seed will plant one hundred feet of drill.
Growing potatoes in a back or in a typical suburban garden is usually not advised because it is urged that, given the same amount of space, other crops are apt to be more profitable. That is true if potatoes are not really “grown” ; yet it is in fact possible almost any season, if you meet every requirement of this exacting crop—for it is exacting —and do your part in making conditions favourable, to dig hills where eight to fifteen smooth, high-quality potatoes roll out. And then potatoes are worth while.
If you are planting only a few rows or a few bushels of seed it is most important that every potato has a record of high performance back of it, or in other words that it comes from good seed, of a variety suited to the locality and that it be planted free from disease and kept that way as far as possible. Irrespective of the variety, by all means get certified or hill selected potatoes for your seed, and be sure they are not potatoes merely sold for seed.
Many a grower has found that high prices are not always a reliable guide in buying seed stock.
There are a few outstanding varieties from which the gardener should select the type he wishes to plant. For cool, moist regions and a deep rich soil with plenty of rainfall and cool weather, Green Mountain for late planting will give large yields of the highest quality; for the early planting Irish Cobbler, a blocky white-skinned tuber, will prove admirable. Where the crop has to contend with hot, dry periods during the summer, nothing will give better results than some variety of the “Rural” group. Among these are to be found such common favorites as Rural New Yorker, Carmen No. 3, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Golden Petosky. Here, too, such early varieties as Early Ohio and Irish Cobbler will give general satisfaction. If a few of the earliest type are wanted, a row or two of Triumph will give edible potatoes a week or ten days before Irish Cobbler or Early Ohio.
After having located the potatoes for seed, and while waiting for winter to pass, it is well to select the place for the potato patch. A rich, loose, sandy loam will give best results. It should be full of organic matter. To make sure of this, if possible, cover it during the winter with well rotted manure to a depth of two or three inches and plow or spade early in the spring, later thoroughly mixing up the soil and manure and working the soil just previous to planting to a depth of about eight inches. Thorough pulverizing of the soil will afford a loose plant bed, unlock the necessary plant food, and help to retain an abundance of moisture so necessary for big yields.
For early potatoes the earlier they can be planted the better, while the late ones can be planted from May until July, depending on the locality. When the tubers are dormant, preferably at least a month before planting, treat them for scab and other disease carried on the outside of the tubers. This consists in immersing the tubers in a solution of corrosive sublimate for an hour and a half, but no longer. Place the potatoes to be treated in a wooden barrel or other container and cover with the poison solution. The amount needed will vary with the quantity of potatoes to be treated, but an ounce of corrosive sublimate powder dissolved first in a quart of boiling water and then added to seven and one half gallons of water will be sufficient to treat a couple of bushels.
After soaking the tubers for an hour and a half take out and spread them out to dry. Potatoes so treated should never be eaten or used for stock food.
After treating, place them in a cool place and about three or four weeks before planting time spread them out on the floor of a room or crib where they will be exposed to the light each day. Of course they must not be allowed to freeze. In a short time the vigorous tubers will produce tough green sprouts which will grow about a quarter of an inch long and then cease growing. Tubers which produce fine spindling sprouts or none at all should be discarded. Green-sprouting potatoes in this manner will make early potatoes mature ten days earlier and give a more uniform vigorous stand. For late potatoes remove from storage and spread out in the light where they first begin to show signs of sprouting.
In cutting, the slice under the stem end should be cut off first, cutting about one half inch deep. Then examine the cut surface, if it is white it may be used for seed, but if it has dark spots in it, about a quarter inch under the skin, discard; for this is an indication of wilt, a common potato disease which causes the early death of the plant. After making this initial cut the tubers should be cut into pieces about the size of a hen’s egg with at least one green sprout to each piece.
It is best to plant immediately after cutting, one piece in a place in rows twenty to thirty inches apart, spacing the pieces about twelve inches distant in the row. For small gardens rows may be placed as close as eighteen inches. Cover the pieces from three to five inches deep and keep the soil loose over the patch until the growths appear. Level cultivation, all the time keeping a shallow dust mulch, will conserve the moisture and keep the plants growing vigorously.
When plants are eight inches tall spray them thoroughly with Bordeaux into which lead arsenate has been placed. Bordeaux mixture is made in small quantities by dissolving three level tablespoonfuls of copper sulfate in about a quart of hot water and then pouring into a large jar or wooden bucket and adding sufficient water to make three quarts. Next mix ten level tablespoonfuls of hydrated lime with a quart of water and pour into the copper sulfate solution, stirring all the time. This is Bordeaux ready for use. To control the potato bugs stir into this quantity six level tablespoonfuls of powdered lead arsenate. To make larger quantities all that is necessary is to multiply the amounts of the various ingredients.
Bordeaux will stimulate the plants and keep them green and vigorous after unsprayed vines have died. When poison is added, potato bugs are controlled at the same time. At least three applications of Bordeaux should be made, about ten days to two weeks apart, during the growing season. By thorough spraying, many Indiana farmers have secured from twenty-two to thirty-five bushels more potatoes per acre.
At digging time it is a wise gardener who goes into his patch and selects a few of the most vigorous hills with a large number of smooth uniform potatoes for his seed stock another year. These should be kept in a cool, moist place during the winter.
For very early use, the seed may be sown in hotbeds or frames and a second crop sown in the open ground, in a sunny, sheltered position, in April. The seed may be sown at intervals of two or three weeks up to the first of September. Sow in thoroughly prepared ground in shallow drills ten inches apart and thin to stand two inches apart in the rows, permitting, of course, more space for the larger summer and winter varieties.
There are three reasons why radishes grow “pithy”, i. e. : (1) improper soil, (2) growing the wrong variety for a given season, (3) not thinning out.
First, as to the soil. The “ideal” for this particular vegetable is a well enriched loam, with a slight admixture of clay; one that is rich in humus and almost devoid of clay will grow as brittle and as handsome a radish as any one may want, but it will be practically tasteless. On the other hand, in a stiff clay devoid of humus the development of the radish will be so slow that it becomes woody or, during a sudden hot spell, spongy and pithy; and it also tends to make side roots.
For all practical purposes radishes may be divided into early, mid-season, and late sorts. Among the early varieties some of the best behaved are Rapid Red, Crimson Giant Forcing, Scarlet Globe, Sparkler, French Breakfast, Long Scarlet Short
Top, and White Icicle. It is a peculiar fact that the handsomest radishes are also the ones showing the most fickle tendencies. Among those named, Sparkler (which is the finest strain of Scarlet Turnip White Tip) , and French Breakfast, its olive-shaped companion, will become pithy much more quickly under contrary conditions of soil and season than any of the rest.
Long Scarlet Short Top has a white-tipped associate, Long Brightest Scarlet or Cardinal. Within the short period of twenty-four hours, on rich muck soil I have known this latter to turn from a perfect looking, though comparatively tasteless crop, to a pithy, useless one. So rapid is the deterioration of this variety that the growers themselves frequently are not aware that the perfectly good radishes they marketed yesterday are unfit for market to-day.
The varieties named, and in the order given, with fair soil and weather conditions, should become ready for use in from eighteen to twenty-five days, up to May 1st.
There are really only three varieties that deserve to be called heat-resisting, mid-season sorts. One is Chartier, or Shepherd, which is a long red radish, ready for pulling from July 1st to 15th from seeds sown May 1st to 15th. Other claims to the contrary notwithstanding, I have found Long White Vienna, or Lady Finger, no better than Icicle.
The other two varieties that will really stand heat are White Strasburg and White Stuttgart, both white-skinned, firm-fleshed, summer varieties, differing somewhat in shape and—though very little—in time of maturity. From seeds sown early in May they will give good returns during August, when every other variety goes on strike.
There are two distinct classes of the large-growing winter kinds : one that keeps well and one that does not. The Chinese varieties, of which White Chinese, or Celestial, and Chinese Rose Winter are the best-known, will grow woody or spongy after December 1st, no matter what soil produced them. On the other hand, the European varieties of the Spanish type will require longer to develop and will not grow so large, but will be firm-fleshed until away late into spring. Now just as there is a likelihood of planting early radishes too late so also may the mistake be made of planting the winter varieties too early! In the latitude of New York the best time is about July 1st to 15th; i. e., when you would sow winter turnips. An earlier sowing may yield a larger root, but not one fit for the table.
The last, though not the least important, point in radish growing is the need of proper thinning out and transplanting. Most home gardeners ( and even professionals, for that matter) seem to forget that good radish seed, such as is sent out by every reliable seed house, grows better than 90 per cent. In consequence about ten times as much seed in a row as that row can hold in the way of well-developed radishes is usually sown.
Even when planted with the greatest precaution, every row of radishes will hold too many seedlings; and crowded rows, while not directly responsible for pithy roots, help a great deal to bring this condition about. Therefore, thin out determinedly; allow for the small round kinds one to two inches apart in the row; for the long and mid-season varieties, at least four inches apart in the row, six inches being better for both White Strasburg and White Stuttgart; winter radishes should be at least six inches apart; for the Chinese varieties, eight inches is better.
RADISHES FOR ALL SEASONS
One packet sows 30 feet of row. An ounce each of an extra early round and long white, plus a packet of a summer and winter variety, will pro-vide for the whole year.
FIRST ROOTS BEADY IN
|50% READY DAYS LATER
|SIZE OF TOPS
|Extra Early Scarlet Turnip
|8-10 small leaves
|6-8 medium leaves
|6 small leaves
|6 small leaves
|4-6 small leaves
|Crimson Giant Globe
|8-10 large leaves
|Vick’s Scarlet Globe
|8-10 large leaves
|White Olive Shaped
|6-8 small leaves
|Scarlet Olive Shaped
|6-8 medium leaves
|6 sm all leaves
|8-10 large leaves
|Long Scarlet Short Top
|8-10 large leaves
|8-10 large leaves
|big tops big tops
|White Chinese or Celestial
Round Black Spanish
|large leaves and tops med. leaves, large top
SALSIFY OR VEGETABLE OYSTER
Salisfy requires the same culture as carrots and parsnips. Sow early in spring in drills fifteen inches apart, scattering the seed an inch deep and treading down the rows. Thin to stand four to six inches apart in the rows and keep clear of weeds and the soil well worked and mellow. Salsify maybe used in the fall or left in the ground over winter, being used early in spring, when it first appears in market. A supply for the winter may be dug and kept in boxes of moist earth or sand in the cellar if desired. When left in the ground, it should be dug before growth begins in the spring. It succeeds best in a light, mellow soil. The Mammoth Sandwich Island is the best variety to grow, Long White is also a good variety.
Are usually grown as a catch crop to follow.after some other crop which has failed to prosper or has matured and been gathered. For winter use, they need not be sown before the middle of July or the first of August. Any good garden soil will grow the turnip, as it is not particular as to soil or location. For garden culture, the seed should be sown in shallow drills fifteen inches apart and the plants thinned to stand four to six inches apart in the row.
Popular sorts to grow, among the early kinds are Snowball, Purple Top Strap Leaf and Purple Top White Globe. The most widely planted among the better keeping winter sorts or Rutabagas is American Purple Top Yellow.