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A RELIABLE GUIDE TO GARDEN MANAGEMENT, AND TO THE CULTURE OF CULINARY CROPS FOR THE TABLE.
For many years. Honorary Director of the Experimental Gardens of the Horticultural Society of Victoria. Author of “ The Fruit Garden “ The Floiver Gardenetc., etc.
A. H. MASSINA & CO., PRINTERS & PUBLISHERS, Howey Street, off Little Collins Street (Between Swanston & Elizabeth Streets).
This little book is dedicated to those who take an interest in furnishing their tables with a variety and abundance of culinary vegetables; and to those members of the household who feel a pleasurable pride in the preparation of such in the most nutritious and appetising form.
The very favourable reception by the public of the writer’s other works, “The Flower Garden,” “The Fruit Garden,” &c., has encouraged him to complete the series of cheap handbooks by adding, in this form, one on The Kitchen Garden.
Interesting as are the Floral and Fruit Departments of a Garden, it should be borne in mind that quite as much knowledge and skill are needed in producing, in the highest perfection, the numerous plants which form—or ought to form—so largely the food of mankind. Indeed, in many countries a vegetable diet forms nearly the sole sustenance of the people ; and there can be no doubt that the health and general well-being of the community in these ardent climes would be greatly improved if the vegetable kingdom were made to furnish a much larger element in the general food of the people.
But apart from its importance from an economic and hygienic point of view, the cultivation of culinary vegetables is attended with great interest and pleasure, while the field for experiment and research is a wide and fertile one.
With the writer this branch of gardening has for many years been a favourite hobby, and its pursuit has always been attended with the liveliest satisfaction and the most pleasurable success.
Avoiding the region of mere speculation, or indulgence in vague theories, the writer has confined his observations to matters and methods with which he has had personal experience; he therefore submits the book as comprehending all that is necessary for the amateur to know, with, probably, some useful hints not unworthy the attention of the professional gardener.
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Asparagus .. ..
Composts .. ..
Beans, Broad .. ..
Cow and Horse Pasture
,, Kidney .. ..
Bees and their Manage
Cucumber .. ..
ment .. .. ..
Rock or Musk Melon
Beet .. .. ..
Water Melon.. ..
Blights and Insect Pests
Culinary, Flavouring, and
Buckwheat .. ..
Cabbage Family ..
Marjoram .. ..
Borecole, or Kale ..
Mint .. .. . .
Broccoli .. ..
Parsley .. .,,
Brussels Sprouts ..
Sage .. .. ..
Cabbage .. ..
Savory .. ..
Cauliflower .. ..
Sweet Basil . . ..
Colewort and Couve
Thyme .. ..
Digging and Trenching
Savoy .. .. ..
Draining .. ..
Calendar of Garden
Egg Plants, or Aubergines 57
Operations .. ..
Garden Implements ..
Cape Gooseberry ..
General Observations on
Capsicums, or Peppers..
Manures for the Kitchen
Cardoon .. .. ..
Garden .. ..
Carrot .. .. ..
Globe Artichokes ..
Celeriac .. .. ..
Gourd, Marrow, Squash,
Celery .. .. ..
and Pumpkin Family
BY WILLIAM CLARSONi
The essential conditions to the satisfactory raising of crops of culinary esculents in these colonies are rich soils, abundance of moisture, shelter from the biting winds of winter and the scorching blasts of summer, and protection from insect pests and fungoid blights.
These conditions secured, rapid and healthy growth will result, and the produce of the soil will be characterised by excellence of the sample, whether as regards appearance, delicacy of flavour, or high nutritive value.
It will, then, be the aim of the grower to gradually get his land into the highest order—letting the operations of every month all tend toward the general improvement of the soil, so that every crop as it is taken will be found to leave the ground it occupied in a better state than it found it, and needing but little preparation for the crop which is to succeed it.
It is, unfortunately, too frequently the case with amateurs that they will go on cropping a piece of land for years without giving any attention to restoring its waning fertility, either by manuring or by a deeper digging from year to year, and thus leaving a greater depth of soil to be operated upon by the atmosphere and the enriching rains.
These pages will be read frequently by those having poor and naturally sterile soils to operate upon, or handicapped by the almost total absence of the favouring conditions referred to ; but it will only remain for them to deal earnestly and vigorously with the natural drawbacks and defects of their surroundings, always bearing in mind that the process of amelioration of the soil is naturally a slow one. A soil of poor, ^ sterile character cannot all at once be made to yield luxuriant crops, but a little patience will soon work wonders.
On the character of the natural soil of the garden, of course, everything will depend, and, as one can rarely have a choice of ground, the best must be made of that we happen to have. This may be an austere, intractable clay or clay shale, or it may be a poor loose sand. In both such cases there will be an absence of organic matter, which can be added in the shape of manure; but the first step will be to improve the general mechanical character of the mass. Clay land must be pitched up roughly in the digging or trenching, and thus allow the sun and air to crumble it to a condition when ashes, sandy soil, and other opening substances may readily be incorporated with it; or, if firewood be available, a rough kiln may be built up with lumps of clay, alternated with layers of wood, and the whole calcined or burnt. The result will form the very best substance for mixing with the soil. If of a sandy, sterile nature, it should ■ be heavily dressed with sound loam or clayey soil, and peaty deposits, such as may be got frequently on the margins of lagoons and swamps.
Soils so treated will yearly improve in character, and the annual manuring of the ground for the crops will speedily render them fit for the requirements of even the most fastidious crops or the most delicate esculents. An important point in dealing with soils is always to let the weather do the chief work, and never to attempt their treatment in wet weather, as far more harm than good is done by working land when wet. When the natural soil is moderately good, no such trouble as that here indicated will be necessary, as the ordinary digging or trenching will suffice; always bearing in mind, however, not to bring the subsoil to the surface, to the loss of the naturally improved surface soil, which would thus be buried too deeply to be reached by shallow-rooting plants.
On the ground and its treatment, of course, rests the success or failure of the gardener; and as we rarely have a choice of ground, but have to make the best of what we have or can get, the first thing to be done is to drain it properly, without which all manure and labour will be wasted.
First note the lowest point on the ground, and be careful that the eye is not deceived. Then cut drains leading in that direction into an open ditch dug along the lowest end of the ground. The depth, distance apart, and size of the drains will depend altogether upon the extent and
slope of the land, but, as a rule, you cannot overdrain naturally damp, clay land, and at all times the depth of drain should be well below that to which it is probable you may go in the process of trenching. Where the land is flat or has but little inclination, the drains should be cut about twenty feet apart. They may either be filled in with sticks or broken brick-rubbish, or, which is better, they may be built in by laying flat stones or bricks on top of miniature walls running down the sides of the drain. Better than all such contrivances, however, are pipe-drains, formed of common 1^-inch pipes laid on a hard bed, and covered with a layer of rough stones and gravel, over which the ordinary soil may be placed to the general level, and through which the excess of water may percolate to the pipes beneath.
However valuable an application manure may be to the flower garden and orchard, the use of such fertilisers in the raising of culinary vegetables is absolutely necessary. And just in proportion as these are available, with an abundarft water supply, so will the crop be valuable or useless—crisp, succulent and appetising, or dry, tough,and tasteless. But in the use of manure or other fertilisers the greatest care and judgment is necessary: whatever substances maybe available, discretion should be used in their preparation in order that their fertilising principles may be presented to the plant in such a state as to be readily taken up by the stomata of the roots and assimilated in the economy of the plant.
A pretty full notice, then, on the collection, treatment, and application of the substances chiefly used will need no apology here. These substances may be taken from the animal, the vegetable, and the mineral kingdoms, and may be said to operate chemically and mechanically—that is, either by enriching the soil with a store of plant nutriment, or by fitting tlm soil for the free range of the plant’s rootlets, or by adapting it for retention or slow percolation of water, without which no manure can be of the slightest service to a plant.
Mineral elements are chiefly used in modifying the texture of the soil. Thus, sandy deposits are of great use in rendering friable austere clay lands. On the other hand, clay is of service in rendering sandy loams retentive of moisture, and in other ways suitable for the wants of plants. Lime is one of the most generally useful of the mineral applications used by
the cultivator; and shells, gypsum, chalk, and marl, with coprolite, salt, &c., furnish extremely valuable adjuncts to the manures available from this source. From the vegetable kingdom the soil is enriched by the application of waste materials, and these are given to it either in a decomposed state, or when left in the heap to undergo the process of fermentation, or used in a fresh, green state, as when crops of buckwheat, lupins, or other special growing crops, are ploughed or dug in to furnish the soil with organic matter.
Of vegetable matter nothing like waste should be permitted. Not a leaf or stem or paring but should be taken to the pit or dungheap, and there be left to ferment and thoroughly decay.
But it is from the animal kingdom that the soil mainly receives its store of fertilising elements, and it is the proper preparation of these for the service of the plant that constitutes one of the distinguishing characteristics of the horticulturist and the farmer.
Chemical Manures.—These are applied for very special results, and consist of elements obtained in a concentrated form from the three divisions of the natural kingdoms before referred to. Nitrate of soda, nitrate of potash, sulphate of ammonia, superphosphate of lime, and sulphate of magnesia are a few of the substances used. Each is selected for the property it possesses of imparting to special plants the elements essentially necessary to their healthy growth and development; thus, sulphate of magnesia is found a specific manure for the potato, nitrates of soda and potash for the grasses and grain-yielding plants, sulphate of ammonia for root-yielding crops, superphosphate of lime a generally excellent application as a fertiliser to all soils naturally possessing a low percentage of organic matter. Common salt (chloride of sodium) is a specific manure for asparagus, sea-kale, the cabbage family, and all plants whose natural habitat is proximity to the sea-shore. By the study of these points the intelligent cultivator will find his efforts crowned with success, while those of the heedless and ignorant will result in failure. Added to these applications, omission must not be made of the important action of the atmosphere, and the rains which obtain from it their store of fertilising power and give it to the soil. From the septic properties of the soil it readily takes from the atmosphere the ammoniacal or nitrogenous principles, while it quickly absorbs from the rainfall all the fertilising gases which the showers take up from the air in their passage to the earth. Observers are often struck with the
rapid growth plants will make after a fall of rain during summer, as compared with their slow growth when artificial watering is performed ; but there is little need for surprise when we bear in mind that every gaseous emanation from the ground, whether of decaying vegetable or animal matter, or from the combustion of coal or wood, is caught by the falling rain and conveyed to the roots and foliage of vegetation ; and just in proportion to the duration of a drought, or rainless weather, so will the descending shower be the richer in plant food, and convey it to the roots in the form most easily assimilated by the plant.
Are formed of soils and manures of various qualities suited to the special requirements of plants. The chief ingredients used are peat, drift-sand, sheep or cow dung, crushed charcoal, lime, old decayed turf, bone-dust, and garden soil. Perhaps the sweetest and simplest substance for general use is the paring from the surface of an old grass paddock, the sods built up into a compact heap, with the turf side down, , and left to lie until the whole of the mass is decayed and reduced to an even, soil-like state. For the raising of seedlings of specially tender plants a light, sweet compost is very necessary, and during the early stages of a plant’s growth, until it has attained vigour and power to range its rootlets in pursuit of nutriment.
Much will depend upon the shape and inclination of the ground, but, with a view to the future economy of management, avoid all intricate shapes of beds. The main paths should be sufficiently wide to admit of the passage of a dray or hand-cart, and they should be well gravelled. Border edgings may be formed of chamomile, privet, rosemary, box, parsley, culinary herbs, or of any dwarf plant the fancy may suggest. Of whatever nature, they should be kept well-trimmed and clipped. We prefer edgings of tiles or bricks as not affording a harbour for slugs and other pests. The main portion should be easily approachable, without walking over borders devoted to flowering plants; and fruit trees should be planted sufficiently far from the paths as not to overhang. Indeed, other considerations permitting, it is advisable to avoid having the vegetable garden encroached on by fruit trees. They not only damage plants by the shade they involve, but they take from the soil a large amount of nutriment essential to the luxuriant growth of table plants. Another drawback lies in the presence of fruit trees not admitting of deep digging for culinary crops without the trees being endangered. As a rule, then, it is better to keep the plot devoted specially to the kitchen garden, thus avoiding all complication and trouble.
Having thus secured your soil against stagnant water, the next process is that of trenching, which consists in the efficient breaking up of the soil to a proper depth, in order that the roots of plants and trees may strike deeply, without the natural obstruction offered by the substratum of hard clay or rock. It is customary in trenching to place the first spit in the bottom, and bring the lower subsoil to the surface, but it will usually be found better to keep the surface soil on the top, and to merely remove it for the purpose of breaking up the subsoil. Proceed as follows:— On commencing, dig a trench, a full spade deep and three feet wide, across the piece of land you propose to work, and wheel the soil so removed to the other end of the patch ; then turn the whole of the subsoil in the trench over, to the depth of twelve inches- In this operation you may find a pickaxe necessary, but see that it is thoroughly done. Now take the first spit next the trench and turn it over, as in the ordinary digging, taking care to preserve the general level. On returning to the point at which you commenced, you will find it again necessary to break up the subsoil as in the first trench. Repeat this until your ground is all finished. As trenching has to serve for all time, it is important that it be well done, and as it cannot be done after permanently planting the ground, it is, of course, more economical that it be the very first step on forming a garden. Undoubtedly the best time for trenching land is during summer or very dry weather, and, if left to lie for some months exposed to the action of the sun and the ameliorating influences of the air, incalculable benefit will be derived by the newly trenched ground.
For all subsequent purposes digging will be all that is necessary. This is very simple, yet may be badly done; be careful, then, to observe that in digging you do not work your ground into hills and valleys. Preserve your ground of even surface ; carefully cover all weeds or manure ;
dig deeply and pulverise the clods. On commencing to dig a patch of ground, remove the soil from the first trench to that part you propose to finish on, as in trenching.
Tools used in the garden may be had of both English and American manufacture. The latter are lighter, and, as a rule, better than English articles for this climate. A spade, fork, hoe, pickaxe, scythe, rake, line, wheelbarrow, and shears will be necessary. Other useful matters will be a strong pruning-knife, budding-knife, hand-fork, trowel, and handy measuring rod. All these implements should be got of strength and durability for real work, and not of the fragile construction of toy tools. After use they should be cleaned and hung up in their proper place, and never be allowed to lie about the garden. Half the damage to garden tools is a result of exposure to the weather, which rusts the steel and rots or splits the wood. If taken care of they will last many years, and, besides, they will always be to hand when wanted. The cast steel digging forks, and the “ rat’s tooth” English make of spade, are fine strong implements which will stand , well and do excellent work in the hands of a robust man, and, indeed, are the only tools suitable for digging in land recently cleared, but in which roots and stones are apt to cause an unusual strain on the strength of the tool. Where the piece of land under treatment is so large as to make it economical to employ a horse, a light iron garden plough, with set of harrows, and an adjusting scarifier or hoe, will be necessary, and, with such, an immense amount of work can be got through in a day.
To make a durable path in the garden the soil should be taken out to the depth of about a foot below the general level, and loose stones or drain pipes should be laid down the centre in a channel formed in the bed of the path. A base of about eight inches of brickbats or broken metal should then be laid down, and over this about four inches of gravel, shells, or binding loam. Drains should be formed on either side, with brick, slate, or stone edgings, to the path—these being better than all margins formed by live plants. A good method of forming a cart track is to make the main drain on one side and a small sub-drain on the other. In this also the base is filled up with rough stone or rubble, and finer broken stone or gravel is laid over this base. In all, the chief features are the drain and the rough basement of metal to keep the path free from springs and puddles. After construction the paths should be well rolled and levelled with a line to secure the flow of surface water. A very durable permanent way may be formed by mixing fine gravel, sand, or metal screenings with hot tar, and spreading evenly over the base formed as above. With this kind of path neither weeds nor water will afford any trouble.
One of the simplest and most useful structures for the garden is the calico-covered frame. This is constructed by securing the four sides of one-inch deal boards to corner posts driven into the ground, or even an old packing case slightly tilted will serve the same purpose, the general outline being that of the frame shown below. Calico sheeting may then be procured of the required width, and should be tightly strained over a rough frame formed of tliree-inch battens. During cold weather, or when bottom heat is required during winter, this may have a quantity of stable dung thrown in, and the surface be covered with two or three inches of soil, in which the pots may be plunged; but for summer or spring use, no heat will be required, and the frame suits admirably for securing seedlings from intense sun heat. For the protection of all plants liable to suffer from exposure to the sun, and for the germination of tender seeds, nothing is more suitable than the calico-covered frame.
A very useful adjunct to the garden will be found in the hot-bed and frame for raising seedlings of melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, egg-plants, and other tender garden plants. The
annexed diagram shows a section of this bed and frame. Fresh horse-dung and litter from the stable is built up in a nice square heap of the required size, and about three feet high. When it has settled down, another layer is added, and over this a thickness of about six inches of a good garden soil is laid. The frame having been procured of the proper size, either glazed or covered with thin, oiled calico stretched
across, it is laid over the soil, and in a day or so, when the heap begins to ferment, a steady heat is imparted to the soil, which induces speedy growth of the plants contained. As the heat subsides fresh litter may be added round the old bed, and, by repeating this operation from time to time, a regular heat is kept up as long as required, or until the young plants are ready for transplanting in the open ground. Every garden should have its heap of fermenting manure, as nothing is so useful as the remains of an old hot-bed for enriching the borders in the spring.
On the necessity of mulching garden plants in these climates we have repeatedly dwelt in many portions of this book. The process is a very simple one, and the rationale of the matter so obvious, that all planters should adopt it. Worked soil, and especially where combed over with a fine rake, is usually beaten flat with the first heavy rain, and in summer speedily becomes caked on the surface and rendered almost impervious to rain ; this is especially the case with heavy, clayey land. Evaporation is rapid, the soil cracks,' and the young root fibres are torn, to the great damage of the plant, and when rain falls nearly all of it runs into the open drains, and but little finds its way to the roots. A thin coating of manure spread lightly on the beds, when newly formed and sown or planted, will keep the soil open, and it will intercept the rain as it falls, and let it gradually sink into the soil.
This mulching may consist of well-rotted dung, spent tan, seaweed, decayed turf, or other fibrous matter.
_ So clear are the advantages, the wonder is that the practice is not universal, for there can be no doubt that mulching is the sheet anchor of successful gardening in such climates as these. Very suitable for mulching beds is the dung of a cow yard or sheep paddock which has been trodden into a finely divided state during dry weather. This, if applied to the depth of an inch, keeps the soil open beneath, and every shower of rain carries the fertilising elements of the dressing to the roots of the plants. ______
We propose to offer some observations here upon the general subject of seed sowing, and the raising of plants of the various culinary vegetables treated upon in this boob. Such
observations will perhaps not be necessary with the experienced practical gardener, but to the beginner and the amateur generally they cannot fail to be of service. More than half the trouble and disappointment endured by those engaged in gardening arise from a failure to germinate many of the more delicate seeds, or in bringing the seedlings to such a robust condition as to enable them to withstand the ordeal of transferrence to the open ground. The seeds sown directly on the spot they are to occupy until the crop is harvested are : —Peas, beans, radish, carrots, parsnips, salsafy, onion, sweet corn, turnips, late melons, cucumbers, pumpkin, marrow, squashes, spinach, beet, etc.; while those it is customary to sow with a view to subsequently transplanting are :—All the cabbage and cauliflower race, celery, chilies, the cucumber, tomato, lettuce, and such of the melon, marrow, and other members of that family designed to produce an early crop, egg plant, kohl rabi, and sometimes good results are obtainable from transplanting young onion plants for an early crop when moist weather prevails.
Of the former class pretty full directions have been given when treating of each plant; but it is of the latter we desire specially to speak, for of their treatment and management in the seed bed, or frame, will mainly depend the chance of a successful issue when transferred to the open grounds The first point to be guarded against is the too thick sowing of the seed, as this is sure to involve the crowding of the young seedlings, and their consequent weakly and “drawn” up growth. As soon as the plants are sufficiently large to handle, they should be pricked out on to sheltered, rich soil, in order that they may gain vigour and be induced to throw out lateral root fibre. This, if well treated, they will do in a few weeks, when they will be ready for transferring to the open ground. In the process of transplanting, take the greatest care to avoid injuring the young roots, and, if practicable, take with each a little ball of soil. This may be done by taking up on a dull, windless day with the trowel into a basket, tray, or on to a board, carrying carefully to the selected spot, lifting into position, carefully watering if the weather is dry, and, if practicable, mulching the surface with dung, or other fibrous material. Plants so transferred will not suffer from the change, but will continue to grow on without any check or hindrance./ Of the treatment of seeds when sown in pans, or frames, the remarks upon the sowing of the seed of celery will apply to all the plants named, and we must refer our readers to that article for careful perusal.
As with the orchardist, the chief troubles to be encountered by the grower of culinary vegetables are the numerous insect pests, such as red spider, thrip, scale or coccus, aphis, bug, fly, crickets, and the larvas of destructive moths and beetles, with snails and wire worm; and the various fungoid affections having the general name of “ blight,” and known as mildew, spot, rust, canker, smut, cluster cups, and the like.
Some of these attack the plant below the soil line, at the root, and fibres, while others confine their depredations to the foliage, the stem, and the flower-head or fruit. In certain cases a preference is shown for some particular portion of the plant, as with aphides, which, as a rule, direct their attacks to the young shoots, only leaving for the matured leaves when the more tender parts have been consumed. Slugs, wire worms, and beetle larvae are surface and underground robbers.
In the case of insect pests, it should always be borne in mind that, as a rule, their natural resting-place during winter, or their hybernating period, is under the soil, and many retreat to the shelter of the earth for breeding purposes, the exceptions being scale or coccus, red spider, and thrip, all of which affect the foliage, and breed on or in the crevices of the branches. Bearing this always in mind, it will be evident that a very important use is served by keeping the soil deeply stirred, and the surface open and roughly exposed during such periods as it is not under crop. By persistently keeping the surface loose among growing crops, and by tossing it up roughly for aeration preparatory to cropping, the nidus and lame of destructive beetles and moths are dispersed, become exposed, and are largely destroyed by numerous small birds. Indeed, this method of treating the soil has been strongly recommended for the destruction of the phylloxera insect, and in many famed vine districts domestic poultry are allowed to rang6 at large during the period the vines are dormant. Another valuable cleanser of the soil from destructive insects, &c., is the lime which has been used for the purification of gas. If this gas-lime be used as a surface-dressing for a month or two before digging or ploughing, in the proportion of two tons to the acre, it will prove very destructive to many pests, and be a good general dressing for any rank-growing crop. Insects that prey upon the leaves and stems of plants may be destroyed, or their ravages greatly checked, by syringing occasionally with strong soap-suds, or the solution of Gishurst Compound, tobacco, and other insecticides ; and
choice plants may be effectually cleansed by occasional dustings with the Persian Insect Powder, or fumigation with the same substance, or tobacco. Of course, this latter process will only be practicable v/ith greenhouse— or pot plants. With valuable stock, such as beds of cauliflower, cabbage, and other seedlings—the destruction of which might mean the loss of a whole season’s crop—fumigation with tobacco or insect substance may be accomplished by constructing a light portable frame, and covering it with paper or calico, and burning the substance within for a few minutes; and some such a contrivance would be useful for many purposes in the garden Mildew and all forms of fungus blight may generally be mitigated, if not completely checked, on their first appearance, by the free dusting over with flowers of sulphur, which may be placed within several folds of muslin, and diffused over the plants by striking the parcel or bag sharply with the hand, and where large areas have to be submitted to the procesa an appliance called a sulphurator may be purchased cheaply for the purpose. Another preparation suitable for ths dressing of fruit trees inclined to canker, mildew, lichen, moss, or to rot at the ground surface, may be formed by an admixture of sulphur and quicklime, with water sufficient to make a paint-like mixture. This, applied to the stems and crevices of the branches with a stiff brush, will effectually extirpate many of the parasitic fungus growths, and will be useful in destroying the ova and larvaa of many insect pests. Phenile, gasoline, and kerosene, shaken well up with water until the fluid resembles milk, and kept well agitated during its application with the garden syringe, is used as a dressing for the orange and other myrtaceous evergreen trees affected with scale, &c., but neither of these preparations are suitable for use on vegetables cultivated for the table, their unpleasant odour and flavour being never completely dissipated. The motto of the gardener in regard to insects and other enemies of vegetation should be — “ Watch and worry,” for if a system of persistent attack be maintained on their discovery, they will be kept under, if not eradicated. Fortunately, all insects are short-lived, but their amazing powers of reproduction render constant watchfulness always essential. To neglect or overlook a small colony of aphides on a single leaf is to give them a chance of unlimited increase, while to exterminate promptly would be to relieve the garden, perhaps for years, of irritating trouble, heavy loss, and perpetual annoyance. The instant a crop of any kind shows symptoms of suffering, the cause should be promptly discovered, and not
a moment should be lost in picking it over, or well syringing with some of the preparations before mentioned.
The vegetable crops liable to attacks of mildew are the cucumber, melon, and vegetable marrow family, and the members of the onion group, leeks, chives, eschallots, &c. All these, if treated with sulphur, will start with a new growth and recover. This mildew is identical with the oidium, which was at one time such a scourge to vignerons, but which is now obviated by the systematic application of sulphur over the affected foliage. Plants most liable to aphis are cabbage, cauliflower, turnip, radish, and all the members of the Brassica family, and the broad bean. The turnip fly, or flea, also affects the cabbage family, and a small, active, winged beetle is also very destructive with potato tops and spinach. That usually harmless “ ladybird,” or spotted coccinella, has a special liking for the young foliage of the cucumber and melon group, and involves great watchfulness for its attacks on young plants. Now, it is curious that this same “ ladybird” is generally considered by scientific observers as purely insectivorous. Its recently discovered penchant for the Cucurbita family will quite remove it from the catalogue of ‘insects beneficial to vegetation.”
To summarise briefly. To deal effectively with all forms of blight timely action is necessary, and this can only be taken when a constant supervision is exercised over the garden. The very first traces of evil must be followed up and promptly treated; and it is a good plan to take an occasional leisurely stroll through the garden for the express purpose of noting such signs of abnormality as may strike the observer. There are few, if any, evils in gardening matters but what the skilful observer can meet and obviate. To sit down quietly with folded hands and lament the evil is rather tantalising; and to be perpetually haunted with the idea that one is beaten by a slug, a louse, a beetle, or a fungus, is terribly humiliating in the present days of advanced science.
This root plays a more important part perhaps than any other esculent in use as a culinary vegetable in the civilised world. It is alike welcome at the table of the prince and of the peasant, and it would be difficult to estimate the wide-spread concern of all which would attend its enforced absence from the dinner bill-of-fare for a single week. It is, in fact, to the nations of the West what the rice is to those of the East; and the famine in India through the failure of the rice in 1879 was but little less disastrous and heartrending than that which ensued years before through the failure of the potato crop in Ireland in 1847-8.
Seeing, then, the importance of the crop, its cultivation is well worth the study of all, and no apology will be needed for our dwelling at some length on the subject.
Though amazingly tractable, growing in almost any soil, study and experience have shown that to produce it in perfection certain elements must be present in. the soil, and its mechanical character must be such as to admit of the free development of the tubers.
An ordinary garden loam, which has not been exhausted by over-cropping, a newly turned-in piece of turf land, the well-worked chocolate and basaltic soils, and the alluvial uplands of the various Australian rivers, all produce good crops of potatoes. As, however, the plant is tender, and impatient of frosts, the crop should never be risked for early or late planting on the flats and valleys adjacent to streams, late September and October planting being alone to be ventured in such positions. When an early crop is desired, the spot selected should be well above the frost line, the land having an inclination to the north and east, so as to secure light, heat, and drainage.
As for other crops, the soil should be deeply worked, left to be exposed for a few weeks, and hoed over to destroy weed seedlings, a good dressing of stable or farm-yard dung having been dug in at the time of preparing the land. As to the method of planting, almost every gardener has his own fashion; but the essential feature of all is to have the tuber well covered by a depth of about four or five inches of soil, the sets being eighteen to twenty-four inches apart in the row, and the rows two feet six inches asunder. Planted closer than this, the heads of the plant soon become crowded and drawn up, and the formation of healthy, well-developed tubers is checked, and fungoid growths promoted from the absence of free circulation of air about and through the plants.
A method commonly adopted in the garden culture of the potato is the following, and it is recommended as convenient, as leaving the bed untrodden over, and light; and as being applicable to any soil, whether it has undergone a previous digging or not. Begin by turning over a couple of rows of Boil as in digging ; then stretch a line to define the row ; plant the potatoes in the trench along the line, and proceed to cover them by digging for the formation of the next row oi
trench, marking the correct distance apart by a couple of rods. Where the land is in good heart, or where it is turf land, but little manure will be needed, a light dressing of bone dust or superphosphate of lime will be sufficicient; but when the land has been previously cropped, a heavy dressing of manure should be given. This may be wheeled on and spread over the surface, digging in as the work proceeds, or it may be scattered along the trench, forming the bed whereon the “ sets” may rest.
Another plan is to thoroughly work and manure the land a week or two before planting; then to dibble in the sets during dry weather along a line at the required distance apart, lightly forking over the surface to tidy and lighten up the bed.
As soon as the growth is sufficient to indicate the line of plants, the general surface should be lightly hoed over to check weeds, and later on, when the plants have attained a height of five or six inches, a little soil should be drawn up along the rows. It is not desirable to bank up the rows too high; just sufficient soil to support the plants and to protect the tubers near the surface from the scorching sun heat. Indeed, some planters dispense altogether with the earthing-up , process, and contend that it prevents the roots getting the full benefit of rains ; but experience proves that if the plants are earthed up after rain, or when the soil is in a fairly moist condition, it serves as a great protection during drought. It is well, then, to wait till after rain, and not to attempt the process when the soil is in a very dry condition.
Another point of importance is the securing of good plump seed tubers with prominent eyes, indicative of latent vitality. By many, a nice medium-sized tuber for planting whole is preferred. Others prefer the larger ones cut in two or three. Like many other theories, both these methods are supported by a subtle chain of reasoning; but in actual practice the amateur will have to make the best of the seed tubers he has or is able to get And it will generally happen that the sample will consist of medium and large sized, some of which may be planted whole, while others will require to be cut. It will be well to expose the cut sets to the air until the cut surface is dried, or a little wood or coal ash dust may be dusted lightly over the heap.
Of the varieties of potatoes open for choice the following may be mentioned as first-class, but in these days of experiment and enterprise, new kinds are constantly announced as possessing very special merit. A safe rule for the guidance of
the amateur is to note carefully the variety which succeeds uniformly well in his district, for the potato, like many other plants, is somewhat capricious in favouring given localities.
Early Rose may fairly be placed at the head of the list, whether as a general cropper or as a potato for special early or catch-season purposes. And in the order of merit, from experience gained in the culture of an extensive collection, the following list is given:—Brownell’s Beauty, Sutton’s Magnum Bonum, Snowflake, American Magnum Bonum, St. Patrick, Pride of America, Early Peach Blow, Adirondack, Brownell’s Best, Early Vermont, Centennial, Duckmaloi Champion, Laurence’s Gem, Bresee’s Peerless and Prolific, Cambridge Kidney, Fluke, and Ashleaf Kidneys.
The Early Rose, Brownell’s Beauty, and Pride of America form a useful trio for all purposes.
To this race belongs, perhaps, the most important class of plants cultivated in our gardens for culinary use. It embraces the numerous varieties of cauliflower, broccoli, kale or borecole, savoy, colewort, Brussels sprouts, Russian greens, couve tronchouda, pickling, and the usual forms of cabbage for household use. The vigorous and robust cow cabbages and other strong growing varieties of kale form an important crop with the agriculturist at home, and are not unfrequently met with in our markets here, grown for sale as table vegetables. Not possessing the delicacy of the finer cultivated kinds, they are not bad flavoured, and are rich in the potash and other healthful elements characteristic of the race as esculents.
Indeed, it is wonderful to look upon the common cabbage (Brassica oleracea), with its garden varieties, and to observe the exceeding great difference in appearance and qualities, particularly when we compare the original types, as found on the sea-shores of Great Britain—with wavy, sea-green leaves, tending to no head or heart, and throwing up a flower stem like the common weed known as charlock or wild mustard—with the cauliflower, broccoli, or pickling cabbage.
All are gross feeders, and to grow them to any degree of perfection the soil must be thoroughly enriched with organic matter, with ready means of giving to the crop plenty of moisture during dry periods. Rapid and sturdy growth is to be attained only by the most liberal treatment in the way of manure, and by bringing on the young seedlings in a healthy, undrawn condition in the seed bed.
In the selection of varieties to grow at the various seasons or periods of the year the list given may be followed, closely observing the necessity for having plants of the leading kinds always coming forward and available for planting out on the occurrence of heavy rains or dull, moist weather.
The general remarks upon seed-sowing offered herein may be studied with great advantage as applying peculiarly to the cabbage family, and the following observations must be read by the light afforded by the chapter referred to. Practically, most of the race may be sown throughout the year in the genial climate of the coast districts, but, of course, the special season for main crops should be pretty closely observed.
During late autumn, and throughout the winter and early spring, all varieties of the cabbage may be sown in drills on beds prepared for bringing forward the seedlings, shading during the occasional hot, sunny days of autumn and spring, but only on such days, as, if the plants are too much shaded, they are drawn up in a tender condition, and succumb when planted out and fully exposed. During the summer the beds sown with seed should be in a shady spot, or sheltered from mid-day sun by artificial means, but as the sun loses its power in the evening and through the night the beds should be fully exposed.
There are two ways of preparing the seedlings for transplanting—one, to thin out in the seed bed until the remaining ones stand three or four inches apart; the other, to prick out to that distance apart on a rich bit of sheltered soil until sufficiently advanced to transfer to their permanent positions in the garden. In either case the plants should be removed with a trowel or spade, leaving a ball of earth adhering and taking care not to mutilate or break the root fibres—always selecting the close of the day or dull evenings for the work. By adopting this plan the plants rarely suffer from the change, but continue to grow on from the first. The great mistake usually made—and the practice is too common with both amateurs and market gardeners—is that of drawing the young plants with the hand from the crowded seed beds, and thus stripping the roots of the young fibre. The result is that the plant flags, and takes a week or more before it has formed rootlets afresh to sustain it and to repair the shock received by the plant. It may be taken for granted that all flagging or wilting of a newly-removed plant is a shock to the constitution of that plant, and means ghould be taken never to submit a plant to such an ordeal.
And herein is the value of a man raising his own plants. He is at all times in readiness to take advantage of a rainy day, and the opportunity would be largely wasted if he had to go to the shops for a supply, besides the risk of getting the plants wilted or injured by being deprived of their root fibre. The subsequent treatment of the advancing plants will be earthing up, and occasional hoeing to keep weeds down.
When the weather is dry, and plants are fully ready for transferring to their permanent beds, it is a good plan to make holes with a trowel and to fill each with water previous to putting in the plants. So treated, they seldom flag, and if the surface of the beds be lightly mulched with a dressing of manure, the plants will withstand a long period of dry weather.
The chief enemy of the cabbage and cauliflower is the larva of a small lavender moth and that of a tvhite butterfly. These soon riddle the plants, and render them valueless. A shower of soapy ley, in which a pint or so of kerosene or gasoline to the bucket has been thoroughly incorporated, thrown over the bed with a garden syringe, is a remedy for this pest, but it should be used long before the plants are ready for the table, as the odour of suC'h application is very offensive. Sterling varieties to sow are the following for household use:—
Cabbage.—St. John’s Day, Schweinfurt, Early Dwarf York, Wheeler’s Cocoanut, Early Jersey, Wakefield, Dwarf York, Sugar Loaf; and for heavy market gardeners’ crop, Winningstadt, Marblehead, New Drumhead, London Market, &C-
Savoy.—Drumhead and Early Green Curled, Little Pixie, Chou de Milan.
Borecole, or Kale.—Green Curled, Welsh Kale, Curled Scotch ; and for the field, Thousand Headed, a variety giving an enormous crop for sheep and cattle.
Broccoli.—Chappell’s Cream, Walcheren, Wilcove’s Late White, Knight’s Protecting and' Large Sulphur, Carter’s Mammoth.
Cauliflower,—Early London, Asiatic, Stadtholder, Walcheren, Yeitch’s Autumn Giant, Carter’s Mont Blanc.
Colewort and Couve Tronchouda.—Rosette, Hardy Green, and Portugal Cabbage—the midrib of which is the edible portion.
Brussels Sprouts.—Roseberry, Aigburth, and Carter’s Perfection.
This requires a good mellow garden soil that has been previously enriched with manure, an important point in its culture being judicious mulching for dry weather ana care m selecting the varieties suiting the season it is intended to get the crop. Of course, in this direction the grower will be pretty much at the mercy of the weather; but a careful observation of well-known laws will, in nine cases out of ten, lead him to success. There is scarcely a month of the year when the pea may not be sown, but, of course, at times of extreme heat extra precautions will have to be taken to secure a fruitful result.
Land of suitable character having been selected and had its ordinary dressing, drills should be drawn about three inches deep along the stretched line, the rows being at least three feet apart. The seed should be thinly sown, say, four or six inches apart, either in a single row, or, which is better, in a zig-zag or double line, thus Sown
in this latter fashion, the plants help to support each other, until the time for hoeing arrives, against high winds and driving rains. The process of earthing up should be performed as soon as the rows are from three to five inches in height, care being taken that the soil drawn by the hoe is in a light, friable state, so that it may trickle well around the young plants. After hoeing, staking should be done, and, except in the case of very dwarf varieties, like Beck’s and M'Lean’s Little Gem, it is well to look upon this as absolutely necessary. It may be safely affirmed that in ordinary seasons staked peas yield fully fifty per cent, more pods than unstaked ones. Being protected from injury by the wind twisting off the haulms or tossing over the rows, the plants have a chance of developing blossom and of protecting the pods from the wet and soil, which so mar the sample for market. Another advantage lies in the facility offered for gathering the crop without injury to the unripe portions; frequently with unstaked peas the work of gathering the first picking is very damaging to all chances of a subsequent crop.
A capital plan for getting late summer crops of peas is to sow the seed in trenches six inches deep, something like a celery trench. Seed so sown in December and January will often yield a very acceptable dish or two for the table late in February and throughout March. The rows get the advantage of moisture and shade until the flowering season arrives, and the application of liquid manure or water b always
effectual, and goes to the roots without being evaporated by drying winds, as would be the case when grown on the level ground. Where suitable sticks are not available for staking the rows, a cheap, coarse-meshed, galvanised wire netting may be strained for the plants to cling to ; it may be purchased cheaply, and with care will last'for many years. Perhaps one of the difficulties attending the growth of the pea is this of the general absence of any timber giving suitable branches for the purpose. As all the trees of Australia are evergreen, there is none to furnish the useful sticks afforded by the elm, hazel, lime, ash, and hornbeam of England, and it is thus that the fashion of growing peas without support has come to prevail here.
Of the kinds of peas to grow it would be difficult to mention the numerous aspirants to popular favour, but, as indicating briefly good sterling varieties, the following list will be suggestive :—Early varieties are Blue Peter, Sangster’s No. 1, Beck’s Gem, and Daniel O’Bourke. Second early and midseason are—Queen of Dwarfs, Prize Taker, Yorkshire Hero, Veitch’s Perfection, M‘Lean’s Best of All, Dean’s Dwarf, and Uncle Tom.
The dwarfer varieties should be sown early, but the latter kind are the best for late sowing, as the heat and dry weather usually prevent them running too much to haulm. Unquestionably one of the best all-round peas for all seasons is the Yorkshire Hero. It is robust in habit, a constant cropper, and of fine marrow flavour.
It is right to mention here that English and American catalogues abound with descriptions of most notable peas, some of the most remarkable being American Wonder, Bliss’s Abundance, Telephone, G. F. Wilson, Stratagem, Pride of the Market, Telegraph, Laxton’s Earliest of All, Duchess of Edinburgh, Superlative, and Laxton’s Supreme.
It must, however, be borne in mind that many of these varieties have a special value only as suiting the peculiar requirements of the growers in such cold and variable seasons as those of England, or, as being better adapted to withstand the exigencies of such climates. It is noticeable in the Australian colonies that a preference is generally given to those good sterling varieties which have stood the test of time here, and there can be no doubt that, with the selection first given, no well-managed garden in the colonies need be without peas fit for the table during every month of the year.
This is the term given to the ordinary Faba vulgaris, or garden bean, of which there are many varieties, differing but little, however, from the old green Windsor bean except in some special quality claimed for it on the score of earliness or extra prolific yield. They are all essentially plants of cool climate, being hardy and sturdy even under severe frosts. For this reason they are exceedingly popular with the English cottager, furnishing a reliable crop for the staple spring dinner of “beans and bacon,” but with the higher classes they do not usually find the same favour or appreciation, one or two dishes serving their requirements for the season.
Except in the cooler or alpine regions, the broad bean soon flags and suffers during hot weather near the coast, and for this reason it should always be sown to yield its crop not later than November. The time to sow the seed is from late in April to September; if sown earlier than the first month named it will simply run to stem growth and yield its crop no earlier, and if sown later than September it will give no result ' commensurate with the trouble of attending to it. The plant likes a strong, compact soil, richly but not recently manured. The seeds should be placed eight inches apart, and plenty of room should be left between the rows, so that the lrorsehoe or “ cultivator ” may be used if required.
A variety of the plant under notice is largely grown as a field crop in Europe for horse food, but here maize is so excellent a substitute, and yields so abundantly, that the field or “ tick ” bean is scarcely cultivated. Still, the plant affords a grand stand-by in frigid regions, withstanding the extremes of climate better than perhaps any other. In the colder parts of the Australian continent, in Tasmania and New Zealand, the horse bean thrives very well. The fly, or aphis, which attacks all varieties of the broad bean in England, necessitating a spring topping or shortening of the growth, does not affect the plants here very much.
To reach the table in perfection broad beans should be taken just as the seed is its natural size, and before it has the slightest tendency to harden, as when left so long they are dry and rather strong of flavour. In this state, served with parsley and butter and any boiled joint, they form a most enjoyable dish.
This is a very numerous family, ancl furnishes mankind with one of the most nutritious and valuable classes of food, the whole family being richer in flesh and bone forming elements than even the popular legume, the garden pea.
The term kidney bean properly embraces the scarlet runner, the French beans, of all shades of colour and variety of marking, and the true haricot, or small white bean, so popular on the European continent. Unlike the broad bean (Faba vulgaris), all the kidney beans are tender, and speedily suffer when exposed to a temperature below 40 degrees. On this account the seed should never be sown before September, unless in some warm, elevated position. If sown before the middle of September on flat-lying land, in the vicinity of creeks or water-courses, the frosty air and low temperature will usually be fatal. The first sowing having weathered the early spring, successional sowings may be made at intervals of a fortnight or three weeks. The soil should be in good heart, selecting it in a spot which has been well manured for a previous crop, as the kidney bean has an aversion to fresh fermenting dung. The drills should be three feet apart at least, and the seed should be dropped at intervals of not less than six inches. Overcrowding of plants in the row is a sure source of failure with kidney beans. Of the running beans the old scarlet is one of the most effective and yields the best flavoured pods for the table ; the Chinese runners are also popular with many, but they must be staked as soon as they reach a height of six inches. As giving the least trouble, and being prolific bearers, the Canadian Wonder, Negro, Early Dun, Robin’s Egg, can be strongly recommended. Other well-known kinds areWhite Valentine, Wonder of France, Carter’s Case Knife, Gallega, Refugee, Golden Wax, Mont d’Or, all of dwarf growth.- Pole or runner beams are:— Jersey Early Lima, Dreer’s Lima, Cranberry, Giant Wax, Southern Prolific.
Of the uses of the kidney bean it is almost unnecessary to speak, but it is a little singular that, as a rule, the English treat the crop as practically over just when the French and Italians deem it in perfection for the table. As a rule, an English gardener will take up the rows when the pods have become stringy, or are developing seed within. That ^ is exactly the stage when the French take the seed, serving
them up in the many elegant ways they are familiar with. It is quite a common feature of the large market-places in Franee to see the newly gathered fresh seed of the beans of every conceivable colour and variation in marking. These are boiled and served as haricots, or with oil and vinegar as salads. _
When growing the crop for use in the green state it is well to strip the rows of every bean, for if any are left to mature or ripen, the plant is soon exhausted, but if kept well stripped of its pods it will continue to yield well for several weeks. To maintain the rows in a healthy, thriving condition they should be watered freely during dry weather. When grown for the sake of dried haricots the crop should be left untouched until the seed within the pod is hardening, as if left too long the pods will open and a good portion of the crop will be lost.
The soil suiting the carrot is a deep, rich, open loam which has been deeply dug and well manured for a previous crop. To add manure at the time of sowing the seed is to endanger the symmetry and regularity of the roots, fresh dung being liable to cause forkiness of growth and coarseness of flavour. Ground that has been used for celery, for melons, cucumbers, and tomatoes, crops which have usually been heavily manured, is admirably suited for the growth of the carrot, and when such are not available, the piece of land selected should be dressed with a good lot of old, decayed dung, bone-dust, or superphosphate, then be deeply dug and left to lie roughly for a month or six weeks. This, on receiving a final surface digging, will be well fitted for the reception of the seed.
With this crop, as with most others, it is better to sow in drills than broadcast, as admitting of easy cleaning or hoeing. Selecting a calm day, for the reason that wind is liable to blow the light seed to waste, the drills should be lightly defined with a blunt-pointed stick along a line at about twelve inches apart. As the seed is apt to cluster in little balls, it is well to mix with it a little wood ashes or sand, and well rub it, so as to leave each individual seed separate ; this done, sow lightly, cover over by drawing the back of the rake along the drills, and press gently down with a board or batten laid along the line. As the seed germinates slowly, and the beds are apt to be covered with weed growths before the lines of carrot seedlings are well defined, it is a safe plan to mix with the seed a little radish, turnip, cabbage, or other quick springing seed, the young plants of which will speedily define the line and aid in the operation of hoeing. Where sown on a large scale, and it is intended to use a horse-hoe, the drills must be not closer than two feet apart, and after cleaning between the drills it will be well to hoe out the seedlings, leaving them not closer than six inches apart for the robust growing kinds, and four inches apart for the small French and Early Shorthorn varieties. The varieties cultivated for household use and for a successional yield are the Early Shorthorn and French Forcing, Scarlet Longhorn, the Improved Intermediate, and the Long Red Surrey. Other varieties are catalogued from time to time, and may be tried ; but the varieties named are sterling old sorts, which cannot fail to give satisfaction.
For field culture and feeding purposes—horses, cattle, and sheep thriving well on the carrot—the White Belgian, the Altringham, and the Yellow Belgian give enormous yields, the culture, soil, and treatment being the same as for the garden varieties, except that the drills should be sufficiently wide apart to admit of the horse-hoe being used on the surface dressing. The varieties of the carrot may be classed as the Short or “ Stump-rooted,” the Short and the Longhorns, and the White and Yellow Belgian- *
For the first sowing, a moderate bed may be formed for the Early Shorthorn during July, followed in August by a larger breadth of the Scarlet Longhorn and Red Surrey. Light sowings may also be made during September and October, and if the season is favourable intermediate sowings may be made during the months of March, April, and May. If sown during the middle of summer the heat of the sun is apt to roast off the young seedlings, and only exceptionally are sm».h attempts crowned with success.
Tite general treatment described for the carrot will equally apply to that suitable for the parsnip. It, however, does not object to a soil somewhat stronger and stiffer than that suited for the carrot, but it must be fairly friable and deep if regular, nicely-shaped roots be desired. New seed of the parsnip germinates freely, and the plants must be left wider apart than those of the carrot, as their foliage is rank and spreading, and the roots are voracious feeders. The drills should be eighteen inches apart, and the seed should be well covered by fully half an inch of soil, which should be pretty firmly pressed down; the roots are improved by being left in the ground part of the winter, unless symptoms are apparent of the plants spindling up to seed, when they must be taken up, topped, and stored in soil or sand. July, August, and September will suit for the general crop of the parsnip, and March, April, and May for a catch winter crop. The Hollow Crowned, Large Guernsey, and the Student are all excellent varieties, whether for domestic use or for growing on a large scale for cattle and horse feed, for which purpose they avo little inferior to the carrot.
This embraces a wide group of plants, differing greatly in shape and character from the normal type of the onion, but all possessing in a more or less marked degree the peculiar flavour and odour of this popular vegetable. Thus we have of the true onion the flat, round, ovate, and globular shape, with brown, yellow, silver, red, or purple skins; we have the eschalot, the garlic, the chive, the tree and the potato onion, and the well-known leek, the national emblem of Wales. Taking the ordinary onion as the type, a description of the soils and method of culture suited to it will be . generally applicable to the other members of the group, varying only in such as are usually propagated by divisions of the roots rather than from seed.
Selecting a piece of rich, deeply-worked soil which had previously been well manured, or following a crop like celery —where the land had been deeply dug, well manured, and perfectly exposed to the action of the air by the successive earthing up of the crop—reduce the surface to a fine condition with a rough rake after digging. Faintly mark the drills along the stretched line by drawing a blunt stick over the surface at a distance of twelve inches apart. Sow the seed thinly and regularly along this mark, pressing down by a piece of board or batten laid over the drill, and but slightly covering the seed. It is also a good plan, when the condition of the soil admits it, to consolidate it by treading or rolling with a light roller along the line intended for the row. Some successful cultivators do not make a drill, but sow the seed lightly on the surface, pressing down afterwards with the foot or beating with the back of the spade, but we have found it better to make a slight depression or drill in which to drop the seed, as when pressed down the seeds are not likely to be displaced by a heavy shower of rain. For a general crop the Danvers, Brown Globe, the Tripoli, the Giant Rocca, and the Brown Spanish are all good. Other varieties are the Early Flat Bed, James’ Keeping, Silver Queen, and every year some new variety is catalogued, to which a trial may be given. As it sometimes happens that the main sowing may be lost by heavy rains or other accidents, many people adopt the plan of sowing the seed on specially protected beds during May or June, and transplant on the young seedlings being large enough to handle. For the main crop the latter end of July and during August is a good time to make the sowing—always adopting the drill system in preference to broadcast sowing. Should mildew attack the bed—which is soon shown by the grey, unhealthy look of the plants—dust over the bed a few handfuls of flowers of sulphur, as recommended in the chapter on Blights. On harvesting the crop see that the tops are quite withered, and that all having a tendency to thick necks be culled from the others of proper shape They may be plaited in reeves and hung up in a cool, dry outhouse, or stored in thin layers over a wooden floor, but should not be put in heaps or left in sacks, as they speedily heat and are spoiled.
Garlic may be divided and planted out in single cloves during the months of May or June, as also may eschalots and potato onions, these last named coming in well when the common onions are scarce or not obtainable. Give plenty of room to all these. The little bulblets of the tree onion may also be planted out singly, and they will give a good crop of small size suitable for pickling during the ensuing siunmn-j
This is a popular vegetable, giving a fine flavour to broths and soups, and serving well, when fully grown and nicely blanched, as a table vegetable. The seed should be sown in July or August in drills, in the same way as recommended for the onion. The young plants should be thinned out to six inches apart, and if space be available these surplus plants may be transplanted in shallow trenches, and when grown to a good size may be blanched by having soil drawn to their stems in the same way as with celery. If good soil, well worked and manured, bo selected, and care taken to clean the crop from weeds, and to water occasionally with liquid manure, fine show leeks will result, and these always find a ready sale if in excess of household requirements. Unlike onions the leek cannot be stored, but must be takei from the soil as required for uso,
Some writers state that the onion family may be repeatedly grown, season after season, on the same ground, but we cannot endorse this opinion. The failure of late years of the onion, which is the main crop of Lord Howe Island, is largely attributed to the islanders continually growing the crop on the same ground, and it is only reasonable to suppose that the onion is no exception to the general rule which prevails as to the due rotation of crops. Guano, bone-dust, and superphosphate of lime are excellent top-dressings for the onion crop when used before rain or artificial watering.
This is a vegetable which, with good and systematic culture, need never be absent from the table when joints are served specially calling for its aid. The turnip varies greatly in character, shape, colour, period of ripening, and keeping qualities, and any extra crop is always available for horses, cattle, or sheep. To grow it in good, tender, sweet condition for the table it should be sown in light, sandy, or gravelly soil, well enriched with thoroughly decomposed manure. If as a garden crop, the drills should be from twelve to fifteen inches apart, but if for field, these may be fully from two to „ three feet apart, so as to admit the passage between them of the horse-hoe or scarifier.
The crop is liable to the attack of a fly, or flea, and to the aphis during summer, and especially where the crop can receive little moisture to promote its vigorous growth. The ground in good order, and having received a good dressing of manure previous to the ploughing, the seed should be sown thinly, be lightly covered with soil, and beaten firm with the spade, or rolled with a light iron roller. As the seedlings attain their first pair of rough leaves, go over with the hoe and thin to a distance of nine inches between the plants. Give the bed a light dusting with guano previous to rain or watering; this will promote speedy growth, and carry the plants out of danger of the fly, which usually makes its attacks on the cotyledons, or seed-leaves of the young plants. Use for the table as soon as large enough to gather, as in dry weather the turnips speedily grow woolly and bitter. The varieties giving most satisfaction in the colonies are :—The White Stone, Green Top Stone, Early Eed American, Orange Jelly, White Nepaul, and Early Six Weeks Stone, the Eed Top Munich being valuable as the most early variety.
The Ruta Baga, or Garden Swede, is an excellent variety for the table ; Laing’s Purple Garden Swede being a good and successful cropper.
Beetroot is growing year by year in popular favour. To grow it well, soil of a rich description which has been manured for a previous crop, such as cabbage, celery, or turnips, should be selected. This should be deeply dug, and drills struck at a foot apart. The seed having been well rubbed to separate the clusters, it should be folded for a night in a wet towel or cloth ; this will ¡promote speedy germination—a matter oi some importance, as in dry weather the thick, chaffy covering of the seed is apt to prevent the access of moisture, and so tend to destroy its germinating powers. The seed should be pressed firmly in the drill either by the foot or by an iron garden roller a firm seed bed of friable soil being an essential to its healthy growth. As the young seedlings develop, thin out to six or nine inches, or more, apart. Keep the bed clean, and draw for use when sufficiently large. Beet is used in various ways—baked, boiled, and served up with salad. In gathering, do not cut the top and other rootlets, but cook whole, thus preserving the colour more perfectly. With this in view, baking in a warm oven is better than boiling.
The Silver Beet is used as a spinach, the midrib and foliage being very palatable. The Silesian Beet and Swiss Chard are generally preferred for this purpose. The variegated kinds of Chilian beet are great ornaments in the shubbery and mixed garden borders, and these, when blanched, are fully equal to the Sugar Beet and Swiss Chard.
Celery being so universally relished as a salad, we propose to offer rather full suggestions as to its culture. The plant is rarely seen in the Australian colonies well grown, or in anything like the state of perfection it is found in England. No plant is more tractable under good culture, and none resents neglect more ; celery at all times serves as a fair gauge of the intelligence and cultural skill of the gardener devoting his attention to culinary vegetables. It may well be said of celery, as of other plants, that if worth growing at all it is worth growing well. But more than this, the preparation of the soil for the crop, and its subsequent treatment in the process of earthing up, involves the most perfect working to a depth of two feet, and its complete exposure and aeration. Supposing these processes to have been well performed—first the digging and thorough mixture of good maaire in the trenches—next the watering and liquid manuring of the rows—then the gradual earthing up of the plants once a week or so till ready to gather—no ground can be in a better condition for receiving and growing well any succeeding crops, especially such as are impatient of, or suffer under, direct fresh manuring. A careful gardener will each season select a fresh piece of ground for the celery division, so that in time the whole area will have undergone this trenching and enriching process to a good depth.
In considering how celery is to be grown in perfection, it will be well to notice the general custom with amateurs which it is desirable should be studiously avoided. In nine cases out of ten the planter will purchase a score or so of plants from a seedsman, who will probably have had them out of the ground and exposed in bundles for a day or two. In spite of water and shading half of these will succumb to high summer temperature, unless they have been specially transplanted in the nursery to get into a nice stocky and robust growth. Or, if he has raised his own plants, he will probably have done so in a frame, box, or pan, or on a bed, shaded by a covering of calico, in all of which ways seedlings may be raised. As the plants come forward, on the first rain or dull weather, they will be taken from the crowded seed patches and planted out singly in rows. As a rule, these young seedlings will have been crowded and “ drawn” in the seed-pan or bed. and many of them will die on re-planting, or rarely give any good result. To grow celery in perfection the following system should be pursued :—First, in a shady spot, prepare the soil, which should be of a sandy nature, with a dressing of good old hot-bed dung incorporated with it. If dry weather prevail, give the bed a fair soaking so as to retain a degree of moisture throughout; let it remain till next day, then lightly rake over the surface and sow the seed thinly, passing the back of the rake gently over the surface. If no natural shade or protection be available, then a covering of calico, stretched on a batten frame, will be needed, and this should be regularly removed in the evening, or in dull, damp weather. Exposure of the bed to fierce sun heat for even half an hour will effectually cause the loss of the young germinating seedlings. As soon as these have developed perfect leaves, and are large enough to handle, they should be pricked out on a cool, rich, sheltered border, at about four inches apart, and encouraged to make strong, stocky growth, with plenty of root fibre. On the occurrence of rain these may be taken up with a ball of soil adherent, and transferred to the manured trenches prepared for them. Nothing will be required furthei than watering in dry, and shading in hot, weather for a month or six weeks, by which time the rows ought to be ready for earthing up. Where no great stock of plants is required, as is the case in a private garden, the seed may be sown in a shallow box or earthen pan. Brandy or wine cases cut in two, with holes bored in the bottom, form excellent shallow trays for sowing the seed in, and for pricking out the seedlings. A single box cut in two will serve for a hundred plants three or four inches apart. An advantage secured in bringing forward seedlings in this way is that they may ea,sily be put under shelter on hot days and exposed during mild or moist weather; and if a knife be drawn between the rows when sufficiently forward, each plant may be lifted out with the entire ball of roots unbroken and transferred to its position in the trench prepared to receive them.
To prepare the trench run the line along the plot selected, and dig out the soil to the depth of twelve inches, placing it neatly on either side, but clear from the edges, so that it may not crumble-down with ram into the trench ; then cover the bottom of the trench witn six inches of rich dung which has stood in a heap for several weeks or months. Dig this under, and if the subsoil is not of a very good nature it will be wise to add a little of the better class of .oil from the surface. When all is ready, give the rows a good soaking, and leave till next day, when the plants can be put out, using a well stretched line along the centre. Water lightly every other evening, and shade from sun glare with stretched calico, or, in its absence, with bushy spray or ua-tree branches. As the plants progress add to the nightly waterings a little liquid cow-shed drainage, or guano, dissolved in water, with a handful of salt to the bucket of solution. On commencing to earth up see that the soil does not enter the heart of the plant. This is done by grasping each plant with one hand close to the ground, and disposing the soil neatly round with the other hand, filling up to the general level afterwards with a spade. In about another three weeks the plants ought to require a second earthing up and surface levelling, the process going on at intervals until the plants are ready for taking. Celery, in England, is frequently earthed up till the ridges stand three feet high, and it is no uncommon sight to see the sticks as thick as a man’s arm, and solid throughout, with scarcely a leaf stalk to be cut to waste in preparing it for the table. _ _
There are many artificial methods of blanching celery—by boxes and drain pipes, Ac., being placed around it to keep the soil from contact—but nothing answers so well and gives so little trouble as the natural system described. Besides, it is found in the«e colonies that the artificial contrivances alluded to form the resort of crickets, caterpillars, grubs, and other pests.
As to the varieties to grow, we ^ave found the Solid White, Manchester Bed, Carter’s Perfection, and Ivery’s Nonsuch give excellent results ; but every year some new variety is catalogued as an aspirant to the place of honour. Celery may readily be grown throughout the year here if water be available, but it is generally found more satisfactory to make the first sowing in September, and continue to sow in succession at intervals of every six weeks until March. For the winter plantations the trenches should be very little depressed below the general level, and care must be taken that they are securely drained, and that no excessive water accumulation runs into the trenches from the adjoining beds. Though an almost aquatic plant, it soon rots in the ground when the soil is overcharged with moisture.
The turnip-rooted celery is a very delicious vegetable whether taken sliced for salad or boiled as a table vegetable or for flavouring soups. Unlike the ordinary celery it is not sown in trenches, but on “the flat,” and needs no earthing up or other treatment fitting it for the table. Sow in drills as described for celery, shading from sun and mulching surface of the bed with short dung, and transplant to permanent position so soon as the plants are large enough to prick out. Successional sowings may be made as with celery and for intermediate crops. The varieties usually grown are the large Erfurt and the Apple-shaped, which gives a fine base of excellent flavour.
_ There are two varieties of this plant cultivated commonly in English gardens, the round-seeded and the prickly-seeded —the former being preferred for a summer crop as standing the heat best; the latter for spring and winter culture. Both require well-enriched soil and abundance of water, for upon quick, robust growth much of the flavour of the vegetable at table will depend. The seed may be sown almost any month except the scorching period of midsummer, but if water be available the round seeded may be sown even then if protected by shading during the middle of the day. The seed may have a bed specially devoted to it, or it may be sown in rows, similar to peas. As the seed is covered with a thick husk like that of the beet, it is well to soak it for a night before sowing. In any case it should be sown thinly, so as to leave room for the full development of the individual plants without crowding; when sown too thickly the plants soon lose vigour and perish with the first hot weather. Mulching or surface dressing the bed with short dung is very beneficial to spinach, checking evaporation and encouraging the spreading of the roots. A first cutting should be ready within six weeks of sowing, and this will be followed by a second if water is available.
Besides the true spinach, the varieties above mentioned, there are several plants which yield a cutting of their young green foliage, and to which the name of spinach has been given, though in no way allied. Thus the New Zealand spinach (Tetragona expansa) is grown extensively for its excellent heat-resisting properties and general hardiness; when young and well cooked it resembles ordinary spinach. It should be sown in spring and transplanted in any out-of-the-way place where it has plenty of space to grow. It requires to be kept under control, as it soon becomes a weed. On many of the islands of the Pacific it has quite overrun the available land. #
Another form of spinach is the green tender foliage and blanched leafstalks of the silver beet. The method of culture is, of course, as ordinary beet, but when the tops are cut for this use the roots suffer, and do not attain a very large size. Another plant which is made to do duty as spinach is the green coss lettuce, which, when boiled, very closely resembles well grown spinach. _
All these vegetables may be served up to be eaten with meat, and are very appetising and nutritious when taken upon buttered toast with a poached egg laid nicely on the spinach as a cushion.
Though a little trouble is necessary on the formation and stocking of the asparagus bed, its after-management is so easy, its length of duration so great, and its spring and summer produce so delicious and nutritious, that no garden should be without it. To form a permanent bed the soil should be trenched to a depth of at least two feet, and in the process the subsoil should be thoroughly enriched with manure, bones, bone dust, or superphosphate of lime. If this work be done, and the bed shapecf in April or May, it will be in nice condition to receive the roots early in July or August.
Where drainage can be secured without, it is not a good plan to raise the bed so high above the general level as is frequently done, as by so doing nearly all the rainfall drains off into the paths, very little finding its way to the roots of the plants To stock the bed it will be necessary to get good thriving roots one year old from the seedling; these may always be obtained from a nurseryman, and are easily sent any distance without fear of injury, the cost being only a few shillings per hundred.
The roots should be planted three feet apart and a little time and pains taken in this work will be well spent.
In scooping out the hole to receive the root the centre should be left of a cone shape, and the plant should rest on the top of this cone-like centre, the roots radiating evenly down the sides, and when in position the soil may be gradually filled in to the general level. As the bed settles down after the first rain., the surface should be dressed to a depth of four inches with a compost formed of dung, ashes, and decomposed vegetable matter, which, from decay, has almost reached the nature of a rich soil. At intervals of a month a surface dressing of common salt may be given to the bed, and no better dressing can be applied than the waste brine or pickle which has done duty for a time in a butcher’s or meat-curing establishment.
In the autumn, as the plants assume a yellowish .tint, the beds should be cut over close to the ground, and receive a dressing of good manure.
Where it is desired to raise a stock of plants for subsequent use in after years, seeds should be collected in the autumn from the more robust shoots of the season, left specially for seed purposes. The berries may be kept till August, mixed with sand and rubbed in a canvas bag to separate the seed from the husks or fleshy covering. Prepare the bed of the required size, and, after soaking the seed for a couple of days, sow thinly in drills eight inches apart. The seeds will germinate in about three weeks, and the bed must be kept free from weeds by hoeing between the drills and hand-picking— thinning the plants when too thick in the drill to about six inches apart, so as to allow of the full development of the roots. August is the best month for sowing the seed. The resulting roots should be ready for transferring to the permanent beds the following June or July. Where the luxury of forced asparagus is required, strong old roots may be taken up and planted thickly in a frame over a heap of fermenting manure, and covered with soil to a depth of six inches. Within a week the shoots will begin to show, and a succession of cuttings may be taken during the spring. The roots which have been subjected to this forcing process will, however, be useless for any further purpose, and, as a rule, may be thrown away. Asparagus plants are raised so easily from seed that a stock of roots should always be available for forcing or planting purposes. Where gardeners have the appliances of a forcing-house or pit heated by hot water pipes no fermenting manure will be required, as.the roots, like sea-kale and rhubarb, will yield good cuttings for several weeks.
The first essential towards growing good salads is rich soil, and the next an abundant water supply; these, with a surface dressing of short manure mulching, will produce excellent crops in a fine succulent condition for the table. Bapid growth is, of course, the secret for producing all salad plants in a crisp, tender, and toothsome condition. All of them may be grown in the garden of any cottager who can command water, and nothing can give greater pleasure during summer than a plentiful supply of crisp, cool, salad plants. With bread and butter, or cheese, any of the plants named would often furnish an enjoyable and cheap meal, and certainly a more healthgiving one than is afforded by heavy indigestible butcher’s meat.
Endive.—This plant is little grown in the colonies, though ifc serves a very important use in Europe as a salad. It has a piquant bitter, which is very agreeable when the stems and leaves are rendered tender and crisp by blanching, and in a well-prepared salad should never be absent. In its general treatment the same system may be adopted as for cos lettuce. Sown in July, the young plants may be transferred, when large enough to handle, to the well-prepared beds, watered occasionally wdien the weather is dry, surface mulched with short manure, and encouraged to form rapid, succulent growth. The plant may be tied round with a strip of flax or bass matting to blanch the centre, or an eight-inch pot may be inverted over it, when the whole plant will be quickly blanched.
Chicory ig a sister plant to the endive, and though cultivated ehiefly for the flavour the roasted root gives to coffee, the leaves of the chicory are most generally used on the continent of Europe when blanched for salad purposes. Recently a variety known as “ Whitloef ” has been introduced to notice ; it is of larger and more fleshy or succulent growth than the older variety, and retains all its excellence as a salad plant. It is the custom to sow the seeds at nearly all seasons of the year—under protection during winter—to grow on rapidly till ready for the blanching process, which is accomplished in about three weeks, as with endive. When grown for its root, as a commercial crop, the seed should be sown in the month of August and the seedlings planted out in September at distances of eighteen inches apart, the crop being ready for harvesting in March or April. When the roots have been washed and dried they are cut into slices, and kiln-dried, and then treated as coffee berries are, by being roasted. Though formerly used more as an adulterant, the flavour of coffee so mixed has become popular, and is much preferred by many to the pure article.
The Dandelion.—This plant, again, is greatly valued in many countries, and is used as chicory is taken—the blanched leaves as a salad, and the dried and roasted roots as a coffee. High therapeutic properties are attributed by many writers, and several preparations are described in the Pharmacopoeia, the extract being valued as a fine alterative and purifier of the blood. It is propagated from seed and from cuttings of the root, but if not kept under control, soon fills, as a weed, the gardens and pastures around.
Water-cress.—This popular salad may be readily grown where it can get a watering once or twice a week, a clean, sharp, sandy soil being essential to its growth. Those living near running creeks may soon get a supply by throwing a little seed on the banks or sandy patches in the course of the creek; a few cuttings of the stems may be dibbled in a foot apart—they will readily root and spring all around. It should be regularly cut down, and not be allowed to mature its seed stems In England, and especially in Cambridgeshire and Berkshire, watercress is cultivated for the market, large tracts of country being devoted to it; the land, valueless for other purposes, fetches a high rent, and is cultivated at a good profit. The low-lying and swampy ground is intersected by ridges, which serve for walking on while gathering the crop. To grow it as a garden crop a channel should be cut from underneath the water taps, and surfaced with saad over the natural soil. This will yield several cuttings a week when the plants are established; but care should be taken that no soapsuds or house slops be allowed to get at the cress—nothing but pure water from the tap should find its way to the water course. A dressing of guano water over the patch, following next morning with a copious watering overhead, is of great value to the crop.
Nasturtium, or Indian Cress.—The young tender points of the shoots of the common nasturtium are greatly liked by many people, taken with bread and butter or cheese, as a salad. They are tender and relishable in proportion as they are grown quickly, but when stunted, or growing on poor, dry soils, they are very pungent and bitter. The young seeds are also taken when quite green, and they also form a capital pickle, and admit of being used as capers are in sauce with boiled mutton. The nasturtium grows freely from seed sown almost at any time of the year in the coast districts, but better when sown in the early spring. The points of the shoots, too, when treated as cuttings, root very readily, and that is the best way to perpetuate special varieties.
The Radish.—This is one of the most popular salad plants, and its colour and sprightly freshness adds quite a pleasant feature to the breakfast-table. But to be at all acceptable it is essential that it be grown quickly, in good sound soil, with abundance of water. Radishes ought to be in fíne crisp condition within four weeks of sowing; after that time they become soft, pithy, and bitter, some kinds however, standing age in the bed much better than others. There are white, red, and purple varieties of the round, long, and olive-shaped roots ; and the long and round Black Spanish are other valuable kinds which do not readily get pithy and coarse with age. The white-tipped scarlet and purple turnip radishes are pretty “ sports,” which give variety to the salad dish. Radishes thrive best in a light sandy loam ; heavy or clayey land not only delays their maturing but produces crops inferior in quality, flavour, and appearance. The seed should be sown thinly in drills, nine inches apart, the surface of the bed being lightly mulched with horse or cow dung to check evaporation, and to retain the rain or water from the hose or watering-can. As the seed usually germinates freely, the young plants will require careful thinning as soon as they develop the rough leaf. It this be not done they are speedily drawn up, and develop more top than root, giving a worthless result. As soon as the moie robust plants have formed serviceable roots they should be drawn for use, thus leaving more space for the remaining plants, Successional sowings may be made at intervals of three weeks, the old beds being cleared away and dug as soon as they cease to give crisp, relishable roots. Indeed, this should be done with all the Brassica family, to which the radish belongs, for if left to uselessly occupy the ground they become the breeding ground of all sorts of aphis, grubs, moths, and other pests. Where seed is desired to be saved, it is a good plan to sow the varieties on specially-allotted beds, and to thin out the plants to a foot or eighteen inches apart. The green seed pods form an excellent pickle when taken crisp and tender. The seed also serves for the purposes for which mustard seed is applied, and is given as an occasional tonic to cage birds. When sown thickly the young plants serve the same purpose as mustard, being pungent and pleasant when taken green with bread and butter or cheese. The turnip-shaped varieties are better suited than the long, tap-rooted kinds for clayey or heavy soils, and they usually retain their crispness and solidity longer. The French breakfast radish is very quick growing, and sweetly flavoured. Wood’s Early Frame is a short-topped forcing radish, and the yellow summer turnip-shaped stands the heat with little suffering. But, though there are many new varieties catalogued, all are good when well and carefully grown. An excellent white olive-shaped but very large radish is grown by the Chinese under the name of White Giant. It is well flavoured, and retains for some weeks its solidity and delicacy of flavour.
Mustard and Cress.—This old popular salad mixture may be grown at almost any time of the year in the warmer districts, and it may furnish a pleasant addition to the table even when no garden is available. To grow it perfectly sowings should be made in drills in the spring months on good soil, the rows being about a foot or eighteen inches apart. The soil should be a good sound loam, and the seed should be thickly sown about an inch deep in the drill. It will germinate in a few days, and will be ready for cutting within a fortnight, or so soon as the individual plants are showing their first pair of rough leaves. Cress is usually a week behind mustard in its period of germination, so allowance must be made for this in order to get the two ready together in perfection. The common white mustard and the triplecurled cress are the best varieties to grow, and they rarely give other than the best results. As soon as the rows have been cut over or exhausted, dig under, and if seed be required, sow or leave rows specially for that purpose. Mustard and cress may be sown in shallow boxes within the house, or inside the fold of a piece of coarse flannel, when it will speedily yield a crop if kept fairly moist and exposed to light, but not too much sunheat.
Winter Cress.—This was once extensively cultivated under the name of Herb of St. Barbara. It grows wild in England, but is strong and coarse-flavoured when not cultivated; if afforded the advantages of culture and speedy growth, it is quite equal to water-cress. The modern golden variegated variety (Barbarea vulgaris) is esteemed as a hardy decorative border plant, as well as being suitable for the table in salads. The American land cress (Barbarea prcecox) gives a good summer salad, b.ut requires to be grown on rich ground to render it tender and crisp. It is an excellent addition to made salads—that is, when cut up and dressed.
Salad.—To most people the mention of salad brings up the idea of lettuce, radishes, mustard and cress, celery and spring onions. These are served fresh, au naturel, or cut up together, dressed with vinegar and spices, with or without oil. But there are salads and salads : with the French the term salad embraces a wide range, and an English visitor to the chief markets of Paris is struck by the extent and variety of plants made to do duty for the table. And the French housewife, too, adds to the collection potatoes, peas, beans, haricots, lentels, and other vegetables left from the table, which, by the addition of oil and vinegar, form very enjoyable dishes.
However small a garden may be, it ought to contain a nice collection of the commonly used flavouring herbs. They give such a piquancy, and relish to made dishes and joints that they may be said to be the “ making” of many an appetising meal.
The chief herbs used are mint, thyme, marjoram, sage, savory, and parsley ; but others may be added to this list. Fennel is largely used for garnishing and as a flavouring with fish; sorrel is by some esteemed in salad; angelica is candied with sugar, and forms a favourite French sweetmeat.
Herbs for medicinal purposes and for distilling therefrom their essential oils are :—Peppermint, pennyroyal, rosemary, lavender, dill, saffron, anise, carraway, coriander, wormwood, rue, hyssop, basil, southernwood, chamomile, poppy, tansy, horehound, Symphytum, balm (melissa). Many of these are favourite old domestic remedies, either taken in the form of infusion or steeped in hot water and applied to wounds or painful swellings ; others are made use of to form perfume sachets, or to place in chests and drawers to give a pleasant odour to, and to keep away insect pests from, clothes.
Borage is grown for flavouring claret cup and other beverages, and also enters into salads with some people.
The more useful kitchen herbs should occupy a bed in pretty close proximity to the house, but many of those in the miscellaneous class may be planted out in the mixed shrubbery and flower beds.
Mint.—To grow this well it should occupy a pretty moist position, and a bed of rich soil should be devoted to it. Portions of the roots may be pricked in during spring a foot or so apart. It may be gathered for use as required, or it may be left till coming into bloom, when it may be cut and dried in paper bags, rubbed down, and placed in widemouthed bottles.
Sage may be grown from seed, or propagated by slips placed in the soil in spring. The plants should stand eighteen inches apart in the row, and should afford a good cutting during the first season. The Chinese use a great deal of this herb ; and for many ages past it has been accredited with possessing the healing properties whence it derives its name—salvia, to save. As a seasoning with stro.ig-flavoured meat, such as duck, goose, and pork, sage is taken, not merely from its agreeable flavour, but from the tonic and corrective qualities it possesses.
# Thyme.—Of this there are several varieties, some possessing the lemon odour and flavour more distinctly than others. The modern variegated golden thyme is one of the best for flavouring. This herb was also a great favourite with the ancients, who attributed to it great virtues as a promoter of courage and strength, the term thumos denoting those qualities. All the varieties are of the easiest culture. Slips of the young growth about two inches long may at any time be pricked in round the pots, pans, or boxes of sand. In a month or so they will be ready for planting out. For forming borders or edgings small pieces of the young growth may be pricked in six inches apart in the early spring or autumn, the soil being light or sandy at the seat of the cutting.
Savory is a well-known and useful herb, the culture of which is similar to that described for the thyme. It derives its name from the agreeable odour emitted when used in the preparation of food. Its botanical name, saturicea, is from the Arabic.
Marjoram is even more popular, its delicious and very decided aromatic qualities rendering it as great a favourite in modern times as it was with the ancients, its botanical name (origanum) being derived from oros, a mountain, and ganos, a joy, alluding to its native alpine habitat and pleasant perfume. Its culture is of the simplest, slips growing readily when pricked in sandy soil in the spring or autumn. The variety known as “ knotted” marjoram is that most grown, it being of pleasanter flavour than the simple leaved “pot” marjoram. In the autumn, or at the flowering season, the beds should be cut over and the crop dried, preparatory to bottling off for general use.
Parsley.—This common herb is usually grown from seed and as a marginal edging to other beds, for which it is not unsuitable. The curled and fern-leaved varieties are very pretty for garnishing dishes of cold joints, but all the kinds give a special flavour to boiled meats or fish when used with melted butter. The plants, when running up to seed, should be cut back, as, if allowed to flower, they are soon exhausted. It is well to make a small sowing every spring, even for home use, but if grown for the market such a course will be necessary.
Sweet Basil (Ocymum officinalis) is a plant the leaves and tops of which are used for highly-seasoned dishes, as well as in soups, stews, and sauces. It may be readily raised from seed or by cuttings, the general treatment of the plant being similar to that for marjoram.
The other herbs and medicinal plants mentioned are all as easily propagated, and may be assigned positions in the mixed shrubbery or flower garden.
In the “ Fruit Garden ” the tomato is referred to pretty fully, but, as it enters so largely into use in the culinary department as a cooked vegetable and for sauce, no apology will be necessary for our allusion to it here. The tomato has grown rapidly on the taste of Australian colonists, and there are now so many varieties suitable for the table raised of late years that, with good management, it may be had in perfection during a great part of the year.
For early fruiting plants, sow on a hot-bed early in July, and when they are sufficiently large to handle, prick off into small pots, or upon a prepared bed under shelter. These may in a few weeks be transplanted against a wall or fence with an easterly aspect, and be trained by having the leading branches tied or nailed to the fence. Fine fruit may be had in this way during September and up to Christmas from the plants.
It is well, however, to have a succession of young plants from later sowings coming forward for the general summer and autumn crop. These may be planted out against fences, or they may be afforded branched sticks, so that they may not be damaged by high winds, or by lying on the wet ground.
If the plants are yielding full crops, with a disinclination to colour, then the main shoots should be stopped, and the thick foliage be pinched out at intervals, to let light and heat to the fruit. For out-door sowing, late in August, or early in September, will be time enough.
The tomato plant grows so luxuriantly, and is of such easy culture, that it is better to thin out and divest of a good deal of foliage so as to ripen fruit quickly. Plants so treated will not bear so largely as if left to roam, but with plenty of young stock on hand they may soon be superseded by others, , which may be treated in the same way. Thus, ripe, well-coloured fruit should be available from September to May.
The tomato is so piquant and agreeable an addition to nearly all dishes and with salad, and is so healthful a fruit, that much greater attention should be paid to ripening the crop than is usually paid, as upon the perfectly matured condition of the fruit depends its flavour. The tomato is used in a great number of ways. The young green fruit, thinned from the too abundant crop, is made, like green gooseberries, into pies and tarts, or it may be pickled by being pricked over its surface with a needle or hairpin, and having scalding vinegar poured over it, and placed in a warm oven for two hours. The ripe iruit forms the ketchup or sauce, which may be kept good as a condiment for cold or hot meats for a long time. It may also be used with bread crumbs for making fresh sauce to roast meats, and for making tomato patties baked in tins. The fruit may also be fried and served up with meats; and when sliced it may be taken as a salad with oil, vinegar, pepper, and salt.
The soil suited to the tomato is a rich vegetable loam, to which a little dried cow dung or sheep dung has been added; but fresh forcing dung must not be used, as it runs the plants all to branch growth.
The tomato is a native of Mexico and South America, and it is also found in the East Indies, where it is supposed to have been introduced by the Spaniards. The Malay name is lamatte, and the Mexican Tamalt. The cultivation of the tomato among British communities is very largely increasing, and the moie we become acquainted with the many agreeable forms in which the fruit can be prepared the wider will its growth be extended.
The best varieties to grow for culinary purposes are Vick’s Criterion, Acme, Conqueror, General Grant, Victor, Trophy, and the Smooth Large Bed. As varieties suitable for dessert raw’ barter's Green-gage, Bed Currant, Yellow and Bed Cherry, and the Yellow and Scarlet Pear-shaped Tomatoes are all good. Year by year new varieties are offered; the Mikado, President Garfield, and Golden Globe are a few of the recent noteworthy kinds.
These all form nice ornamental plants, and yield abundantly of their useful seed pods for pickling and flavouring purposes. Besides, there is always a market for all the varieties, the smallest, or true Chili pepper, being alone used for grinding to make cayenne pepper. The larger varieties are used in the making of Indian chutney, curry, and other preparations, Chili paste being a very favourite condiment used at the tables of all Anglo-Indian and Australian epicures. All the varieties may be readily grown by sowing the seed under protection of a frame early in August, and transplanting to their place in the garden during the month of September. By Christmas they will be yielding a good cutting of pods, which should be taken green to allow the plants to get vigour instead of exhausting themselves ripening the fruit. In the month of February the ripe fruit may be taken, dried, and placed in covered jars or bottles, and the plants will continue to yield successional cuttings up to May. If in a dry, warm position of the garden the plants will last several years, but if exposed to frost they soon succumb, and will need to be replenished by fresh sowings in the spring. I he seasonable treatment of the capsicum plants consists in keeping the beds free from weeds, surface mulching with manure, occasional watering, and forking over the soil. The leading kinds are the following:—Sweet Spanish, Large Bell, Sweet Mountain, Long Bed, Long
bellow, Squash, Cranberry, Giant Emperor, Chili, Cherry, and Monstrous.
There are one or two varieties of very compact habit which yield a profusion of fruit, and are grown as decorative plants for the greenhouse and table.
This is another excellent vegetable which rarely finds its way to the Englishman’s table, but which is most popular on the European continent. The roots, which are in condition for use in the early autumn and throughout the winter from the spring sowing, have a rich flavour, and somewhat resemble cooked oysters; hence its name, “ vegetable oyster.” The system of culture is precisely that adopted for the parsnip and carrot. The seeds should be sown in shallow drills in July, August, or September, on good soil, and be pressed lightly with the foot for the soil to retain them in position till covered. If the seed germinate freely it will be necessary to thin out the plants in the drill to about six inches apart. The roots will be fit for the table when they have attained the thickness of the finger. They are lightly scraped to remove' the dark outer skin, thrown for an hour or so into cold water to soak, and so to remove the slightly bitter flavour, and then boiled till tender, a little salt being added to the water. They constitute a great relish when taken with cooked joints, or when served up in the French fashion upon buttered toast with white sauce, and are exceedingly nutritious for convalescents. .
This plant resembles the salsify in physical aspect, and requires the same treatment precisely. The blanched leaves, also, are largely eaten on the continent, and form an agreeable salad. The blanching is effected by turning a flower pot over the advancing heads for a few weeks after they have reached their ordinary development. The method of culture, as to soil, sowing, keeping the surface of the bed clean and loose, is just that necessary with the carrot and parsnip. The roots, when taken from the soil, speedily shrivel and spoil, unless kept in cool, moist sand; it is therefore better to leave in the soil until required for use unless the plants show an inclination to go to seed, when the tops may be shortened promptly back, and the crops gathered.
This valuable esculent, so commonly grown on the islands of the Pacific and in Northern Queensland, will grow well in the coast districts of New South Wales and in the warm valleys of the Goulburn, Murray, and other rivers north of the Dividing Range. It serves a very useful purpose at the table, being rich in nutritive elements, and, though its sweetish taste is at first not relished by the stranger, he speedily grows to like it, and finds it serve all the purposes of the common potato. It should never be planted in positions subjecting it to frost, as the vines soon suffer if exposed to as low a temperature as 40 degrees. The sweet potato is propagated by tuber? and by cuttings of the trailing vine. The ridges for their reception are formed in parallel lines, five or six feet apart, by having the soil pitched up to a height above the base of two or three feet. Along the edge or crown of this ridge the cuttings of the vine are stuck in a foot or so apart; or a long piece of the runner may be stripped of its foliage and coiled round in a depression formed at the top of the ridge, and then covered with light soil. If planted in the month of October, in good soil, the tubers will fill the top of the ridges by April, when they may be taken and stored in sand, or dug up as required. There are several kinds of sweet potatoes, differing in their foliage and in colour and flavour of the tubers when cooked. The best kind is the variety known as the pink eye, with thicker foliage than the other. The vines and foliage form excellent food for horses, cattle, and sheep, and are available in the very hottest part of the season. The taste for the sweet potato soon ripens into a love of the tuber, and those accustomed to its use seldom care for other vegetables. Eighty tons per acre is not an unusual yield in soils and climate suiting its culture.
This is a hardy vegetable, valuable from its resisting extreme cold, and though furnishing a grand “stand-by” to the farmer as a winter crop for sheep, lambs, and cattle, it is, when cooked, a very favourite table vegetable. Of late, several kinds of more delicate flavour have been raised of this turnip-rooted cabbage, which have lifted the vegetable still higher in public estimation. These are the Early White Vienna and the Early Purple. Its management in the garden is preolsely that of the cauliflower—the seed may be sown in pans or boxes during the months of July, August, and September, and again in February and March, and when the plants attain a height of three inches in the pan or box they may be transplanted to the regular rows, watered until established, and cut for table use when the bulb has reached a diameter of four inches.
This delicious and most excellent vegetable is rarely offered for sale in the market, and, indeed, may be said to be little cultivated in the Australian colonies, though one of the greatest luxuries at an English dinner-table. Like the cabbage, it has been brought by cultivation from its original condition, as found on the sea shores of Great Britain, to its present succulent and nutritious state. It is usually propagated by divisions of the roots of the old plants, but may be grown from seed, though the resulting roots from seed will not yield cuttings till the spring of the second season. Most of the nurserymen supply sea-kale roots, and in the selection care should be exercised that good, sound, plump, fresh roots be taken, and not such as have grown ligneous or woody, for from such little strong growth may be expected, their condition showing them to be exhausted and useless.
The soil should be enriched as described for asparagus, and the roots should be planted in groups of three at a distance of fully three feet apart. The beds should be planted in the month of July or August, and, as the points begin to start, half a flour barrel or a basket should be inverted over each growth of plants, and warm fermenting stable manure, to the thickness of a foot or more, should completely envelop the covering. There are special earthenware pots to be purchased for the growth of sea-kale, but any crude appliance will answer so long as it secures a warm atmosphere to the plant and a high temperature to the soil. As each cutting has been taken for the table the covering may be removed, and the plants left to their natural growth and to develop foliage. This plan will restore the impaired energies of the plant, and prepare it for the succeeding season’s crop-. The ground around the roots, too, should receive a thorough working and manuring, as the plant is rather voracious, and soon exhausts the soil. To raise plants from seed a bit of good soil should be prepared in a cool, shady part. The little capsules which usually envelop the seed as sold should be crushed in a cloth by rolling over it with some pressure a bottle or rolling-pin, and the mass be well rubbed between the hands. The chaffy matter may be blown away by pouring gently from one hand to the other, standing in the wind or current of air. Then sow thinly in drills, mulching lightly with manure or any loose fibrous matter, to protect the beds from the sun’s heat. Encourage the seedlings to make vigorous growth the first season, and they will yield good spurred roots for planting in the months of July or August following.
This plant is justly esteemed most valuable for use in puddings, pies, tarts, and it also makes a palatable and refreshing wine. The Americans call it “ pie plant.” The seeds, which resemble generally those of the dock, are light and chaffy, and on sowing require to be well trod in or beaten down into the drills of the seed-bed, which should be a rich, well-manured soil, to give vigour of growth to the young plants the first season. The beds should be kept free from weeds, and during very dry weather the young plants should be encouraged in growth by occasionally watering them with liquid manure. The roots produced from seed sown in August ought to be ready for transfer to the regular bed by the following August, and it is better to stock permanent plantations with robust, healthy yearlings than with older and larger roots. The plant delights in a deep, rich, and fairly moist soil, and needs, during hot, dry weather, copious watering, once a week, to promote succulent growth. On gathering the best stalks it is better to give them a sharp jerk downwards, thus tearing the skin cleanly from the roots. If broken off, the base of the stalk is liable to decay and injure the whole root. For blanching and producing early spring cuttings old roots may be taken in the month of July and placed in a cool, dark cellar or outhouse; they will speedily make young growth and for several months furnish a good cutting for pies, &c. Rhubarb so treated is very delicate-flavoured for the table, and much less acid and astringent than when grown on the open ground.
It but remains to say this esculent forms an excellent dish for the household, is highly antiscorbutic and alterative, and very beneficial to children, who usually like it very well. The rhubarb root of the Pharmacopoeia forms a large article of commerce, the English product being less valuable than the Turkey, where its culture has become an important branch of agriculture,
Early blanched rhubarb may also be produced by covering the dormant roots in the open garden in the month of August with a hour barrel or inverted basket or box, and then piling around and over it a heap of warm, fermenting manure. But the roots so treated should, about November, be re-dressed with fresh, rich soil and left to develop natural open-air growth. Should any flower stems start they should be pinched out as they appear, unless seed be wanted, when it will be desirable that the best plants be selected to produce it.
When summer and autumn fruits are plentiful and cheap, rhubarb beds should not be pulled over, as, if allowed to mature their foliage, the roots are strengthened, and will produce a good crop of vigorous leaf stalks in the ensuing spring. As a rule, rhubarb ought not to be gathered after midsummer; up to that time it has filled its use in supplying the place of Booking fruits.
This is a tuberous-rooted sunflower, which, in suitable garden soil, yields a heavy and valuable crop. It is usually made to occupy some out-of-the-way corner, and to yield for ' successive seasons, the crop depending upon the stray tubers left in the ground from the previous year ; but it is far better to cultivate it systematically by planting whole, fair-sized tubers in the month of August, at distances of three feet apart i-i the rows, and the same between the plants. The ground should be prepared as for potatoes, a good dressing of old dung being ciug in at the time of planting. Quick, healthy growth of the plants is essential to the formation of large, smooth tubers, and unless so grown there is very great waste and trouble in preparing for the table. Pared and boiled for twenty minutes they are a good vegetable for all boiled and roast meats, and they aro also served baked as potatoes, or for stuffing game birds. The soup known as Consommé Paradis ow’es its special character to the Jerusalem artichoke. On taking the annual crop from the soil, it must be transferred to cold, damp sand, or it speedily shrivels. Only the larger tubers are used for the table, the smaller or ill-shaped ones being useful for soups, stewing, or for re-planting. It is a hardy plant, yielding tubers in great abundance, and is greatly relished by most people, though having a great tendency to produce flatulence of habit
The edible, fleshy scales of the leaves of the flower of the Cynara scolymus are a great dainty with many people, but the plant has grown a little into disrepute in the colonies through the general substitution of the cardoon or Cynara cardunculus for the true artichokes, from which it differs mainly in quantity and quality of the flesh at the base and inside of the flower scales. The artichoke may be grown from seed, but it is usually propagated by offsets or divisions of the root or plant. When well established and grown on rich soil the heads are much larger, and the base of the leaves or scales thicker and more succulent. The plant wants liberal treatment with plenty of manure and moisture, and when these cannot be secured it will be better not to attempt its growth.
Before alluded to, is also a cynara, but much more hardy and robust in habit. In many parts of the colonies it forms a dense thicket of thistle-like plants of 7ft. or 8ft. in height, usually growing in the neighbourhood of creeks or rivers. It is rendered fit for the table by binding the spreading foliage closely in to the plant with calico or even haybands. It somewhat resembles celery when so blanched, but has a distinctive flavour of its own. Plants taken up with a good ball of earth at the root speedily blanch, and become tender and agreeable when placed in an ordinary forcing pit or cellar. They may also be blanched in the open ground as celery is blanched, but fresh offsets will be required to form the bed next season. It may be boiled as sea-kale, and forms a delicious dish with boiled meats.
This, again, is rarely grown for culinary purposes in the colonies. It forms, in many countries, one of the most generally used vegetables, taken boiled or roasted, with or without meat. In the United States, particularly, no dinner-table would be considered complete without sweet corn during the period it is in season, and even at other times it is present in a preserved form. So popular is it in that country that nearly forty varieties are named in the catalogues of the chief seedsmen, while only one or two are. described in those of our own. By judicious management sweet corn may be available for gathering fresh from November to April. For the first crop a score or so of small pots should be filled with good soil, and a single grain of the corn be dibbled therein. Then, when danger of night frost is past, the young plants, which up till now have been under the protection of a frame, may be put out with a good ball of soil on an elevated piece of land with a warm northerly aspect. After this, a row or two may be put in at intervals of three weeks until March. As the cobs are taken so soon as the corn is formed therein and while it is in the milky state, or soft, the crop is ready for the table within six weeks of sowing. The manner of sowing is similar to that for ordinary maize, but it may be placed a foot apart in the drill, and the rows may be about 3ft. Some of the varieties are of very dwarf habit, and the whole crop requires very little attention beyond a first hoeing and an early thinning out if the seed has been sown too thickly.
In many parts of the Australian colonies the cobs of common Indian corn are made to do service as sweet corn, and many a young family in the corn-growing districts of the Illawarra and Hunter Rivers live almost entirely on this during the short time it is in season. But the common maize is a poor substitute for the green sugar corn, bearing no more resemblance to it in delicacy of flavour than the field pea does to the d^mious marrowfats of garden culture. As a garden crop, the maize serves admirably for shade and shelter to cucumbers, marrows, and melons, which plants are commonly g.own with it in America.
This popular American variety of maize has the peculiar power of turning itself inside out on being exposed to heat in a pan or roaster. When so prepared it is a nutritious article of food, but it is also prepared by candying with sugar, or baking with butter and spices with sugar. It may be grown in the same way as described for sweet com, but, of course, must be allowed to ripen before gathering and being submitted to the “ popping” operation in the roaster.
This plant, though very popular in the East and West Indies—and, indeed, in all the warm countries—does not appear to hf.ve impressed the Australian public with a sense of its importance. Travellers homewards by the P. and 0. and the Messageries lines of steamers will be quite familiar with the vegetable, which usually forms the piece de resistance at the cabin table on the voyage after calling in at Ceylon.
The plant is essentially a warm weather delicacy, as it suffers severely if subjected, while young, to a night temperature below 50deg. Sowing should be made in October in a box, pan, or frame of pure sandy or peaty soil; when the young seedlings are tall enough to handle they should be potted off, and encouraged to form good, robust, stocky growth. In about a month or so they will be ready for transferring to their fruiting position on the open borders. A little light brushwood pegged around each plant will keep them from being twisted off or damaged by high winds. Their after-management will be of the same character as that afforded to the tomato by skilful growers.
We notice here this plant from the great service it renders as an insecticide, whether for fumigating purposes or as a decoction for applying to plants infested with aphides, bug, scale, or other nuisances of the garden. When grown as a crop for commercial purposes very special attention is necessary, and those entering upon its culture will do well to study works specially devoted to its treatment.
To grow for the purpose named, the seed should be sown on very finely-prepared soil, covering lightly. When the young seedlings have a little growth they may be pricked out in beds or in the borders, their fine foliage and bloom making them very effective as contrasting boldly with other_ plants. When they have ceased to be effective, as they will in the autumn, the plants may be cut down and dried, forming a capital destroyer of insects when used as described, either by burning or by forming a decoction with boiling water.
Hardy as this plant is, and nuisance as from neglect it frequently becomes among cultivated plants in the garden, it is rarely well grown, and too frequently left to grow in a wild condition, though always fetching a high price in the market. It is, too, in very general demand either as a condiment with roast beef, or served as sauce, when grated and boiled, with cream. To grow the horse radish well, a piece of free ground of the required size should be prepared by digging to a depth of 18 inches, and thoroughly incorporating throughout with a rich, decayed manure, taking care that perfect drainage is secured. The “sets” (which should be formed of about three inches of the crowns of the plants) may then be planted two feet apart in the month of August, or September, leaving the eye just a little below the general surface, which should be lightly mulched over with short dung. This bed will yield good roots about Christmas, and continue to do so through the season. Where much of the root is required—as for market—a succession of these beds should be formed, and the soil kept rich with manure and perfectly free from weedy growths. A naturally cool and moist place ought to be selected for this crop, which, if full justice is done to it, will Drove one of the most profitable vegetables of the garden. Beds will need renewing every year, as little reliance for a crop can be placed upon the stray, feeble growths of rootlets left in the ground or upon the beds left to take care of themselves in some out-of-the-way corner in the garden. If planted in regular rows, left to mature, and the crop taken thoroughly out of the ground when dry, there will be no stray plants left to spread like weeds over the garden. The roots so taken may ' be stored in dry sand or soil, and be ready for use as required.
The yam is also a tuber extensively grown in the islands of the Pacific as an article of food. The larger varieties sometimes attain the dimensions of three feet in diameter, and in weight of more than a hundred pounds. They are rather coarse to the cultivated taste, but necessity soon makes one enjoy the yam when properly cooked. Its growth is only practicable in the warm parts of the colonies. To grow it, hills are formed of about four feet in diameter, and eighteen inches to the crown. Several cuttings of the tubers are set on these hills, and encoura£3d to germinate, giving copious drenchings of manure water during very dry weather.
Is an arum-like plant, with tuberous roots, which are roasted on the fire, and served after the fashion of plantains. Though in the raw state the juice is acrid, and burns the lips,
by the action of heat this principle is quite removed, and the vegetable forms a nutritious article of food, which is a main element in the diet of the islanders of the South Seas. It is propagated by division of the roots, and is only adapted for moist, warm positions.
This plant is a very popular vegetable in the West Indies— under the name of “Gumbo”—and thrives well in the Sydney district, and all along the coast districts to the north as a summer crop. It is a dwarf hibiscus, yielding long pods, which, when young, are used in soups, stews, &c., and are esteemed a great delicacy, as well as being highly nutritious. Its culture is of the simplest, the young seedlings being raised like those of the tomato, and, when ready, planted out at distances of two feet apart in the row. The crop is taken as the pods attain plumpness, and before the seed core is formed.
This popular salad plant may be grown in perfection if good, soil, rich manure, and abundance of water are available.. The leading varieties are the cos, cabbage, fringed, and the purple leaved. That of the cos type is greatly preferred by foreigners, preference being given by English people to the hearting or cabbage varieties, which are less marked in flavour, though very delicate when thoroughly blanched. Lettuce may, in most districts, be sown throughout the year, except, perhaps, the very hot months and during exceptionally dry weather. If designed for planting out in rows, the seed may be sown broadcast, and the young plants carefully lifted to their permanent beds when large enough to handle. This is the better method during the autumn and spring months, but when sown for a summer crop the seed should be sown on well-prepared beds, in drills twelve inches apart, and as much between the individual plants, as, during dull or damp weather, the plants drawn out may be put in for a chance of success. Lettuce, unless kept in a thrifty, growing condition, is apt to spindle up to seed, and soon become valueless, and especially when lacking moisture during summer. Mulching with a surface dressing of manure is a part of good management, as this serves to check evaporation and to catch and hold water when applied.
There is really no reason why the fruiting season of the cucumber and melon, with other members of this useful family, should not be very much extended in these colonies. As a rule, these fruits are only obtainable in midsummer and autumn, and frequently a large portion of the crop is wasted through the early fall rains and the chilly nights preventing it from properly ripening. Thus a large portion of the summer passes away without either the melon or the cucumber being accessible to the masses, except at very high prices. In the early part of the summer very few fruits are available, and were the melon to be had cheaply at that time, it would fill a much more important use in the dessert than it does at its present fruiting season, when we have a plethora of other fruits.
The usual method of growing the cucumber in these ' colonies is one which answers well enough for the late summer and autumn crop, but some other system is necessary for producing the fruit in abundance during the warm weather of the early part of summer. At present very few of the fruit are offered, and these at great price, before the middle of the summer. All such are necessarily the produce of the frame, or of the cucumber stove, requiring gentle treatment and close protection during the early stages of the plant’s growth. Rarely in these colonies are houses devoted to the growth of the cucumber, yet it may be questioned whether any plant would better repay such attention and care. The sketches we occasionally see in English horticultural publications of cucumber culture in the old country appear to be grossly exaggerated, yet the illustrations are in every respect truthful pictures of the modern systems under which such abundant crops of excellent fruit is produced. Those splendid varieties, Long Gun, Telegraph, Marquis of Lome, Tender and True, Carter’s Model, and the last new one, Kelway’s Paragon, which are figured festooning the houses devoted to their culture, could only be grown of such perfect shape when allowed to freely range from pillar to rafter, and to let their fruit hang without resting or restraint of any kind. Nothing so injures the shape and colour of the
fruit as to allow it to grow on the ground, or in any other position than pendulous from the roof; and only in this way can perfect specimens be grown for exhibition purposes—with colour uniform throughout. A visit to the cucumber houses of Mr. Pearson of Chilwell, or of Mr. Kelway, the raiser of “ Paragon,” would greatly surprise those who have only seen the plant grown in the usual way adopted in these colonies. It is no unusual thing for English growers to fill a large house with two or three plants, and these grow so luxuriantly, and yield so abundantly, that, from a single plant, thirty or forty fine fruits are cut in one season, yielding often eight or ten pounds sterling to the grower, when very early or out of the usual season. ■
There are three modes of growing the cucumber. The first, in ridges or patches of enriched soil in the open garden; secondly, in the frame, with or without bottom heat; and, thirdly, in a forcing-house or stove devoted to the plant.
In the first case the ridges or patches are prepared by the addition of a deep dressing of well-decayed manure and fibrous turfy loam, and on this the seeds are sown direct, or the young plants, when available, are transplanted from the pots or frame in which they have been brought forward. In any case, careful watering, shading, and protection from slugs will be necessary, and as the plants progress the shoots will require stopping, so as to induce a compact and fruitful habit. This end may also be served by curling round the leading shoots, and pegging down in a constrained position, and many English growers prefer this plan to pinching out the point of the shoot, as it secures a succession. The time for sowing for summer crops in the open garden will be during the second week in September, and again for a succession during October and November. If, however, plants have been brought forward in a frame or house from seeds sown a month or so earlier, they may gradually be cooled or hardened off and planted on the beds or ridges prepared for them; they will give a much earlier crop and command a higher price in the market. For general use and outdoor growth, the Improved Sion House, the Improved Ridge, Kenyon’s Favourite, Carter’s Model, and Highland Mary are good varieties. Early mulching is essential to success in the garden culture of the cucumber.
The second method is that usually adopted by private growers and by those who supply the market with fine early cucumbers. It consists in forming a compact, four-sided heap of steadily fermenting stable dung, and is prepared in the following way :—Having procured as much stable dung as will make the bed of the size proposed, this is thrown into a compact rounded heap, being well mixed in the process by shaking out with a fork. As a rule, this heap will require to be watered liberally to induce fermentation, but care must be taken not to make it too wet, as that would check or retard fermentation. In a few days the heap should be again turned over and well mixed, being built in a heap as before. If any mildew, or “ fire-fanging,” be observable, it will be evident that the heap has not been damp enough, and water should be again supplied. This process may be repeated if the fermentation be very pronounced or violent, but, as a rule, a week or ten days will finish the preparatory stage. With the dung so prepared, the temperature of the hot-beds will remain tolerably uniform for as long as the plants require the help of the heat; but if the temperature declines too early, then it will be necessary to surround the bed with a heap, two feet wide, of fresh stable dung, so that the plants may not receive a check. In building the hot-bed, a square or oblong shape should be observed, and when settled down the height should be about three feet. It should extend a foot all ways outside the dimensions of the frame or frames to be used.» Stout stakes should be driven in the soil at the corners, and one on either side, to keep the heap from giving way. Over the surface of the bed four or six inches of good, sweet, vegetable loam, in which there is plenty of fibre present, should be spread; and over this the frame should be placed. This frame may be of the usual kind with sliding glass lights, or a rough framework of wood may be covered with oiled white paper supported with cords. When a steady, warm temperature has been established, which will usually be the second or the third day, the seeds may be sown at once in small pots or on the bed where they are to remain, or, better still, the young plants may have been brought forward on a smaller and specially prepared hot-bed or in a stove heated by hot water pipes. These young plants should be gradually hardened off a little by raising the frame on very fine days, and then transferred to their intended fruiting positions. Care will, of course, be necessary in watering and in giving air on fine genial days only, and in protecting from woodlice, slugs, and thrips, the common enemies of the cucumber plant. It will be well to preserve any spare plants in case of accident. All rambling shoots must be restrained or stopped, and it may be necessary, if dull weather prevail, and bees are not much about, to transfer the pollen from the male to the female flower by means of a feather or camel’s hair brush. Usually this will be unnecessary, as quite sufficient fruit will “ set.” The male blossom will be at once recognised by its having no thickened portion of the stem at its junction with the flower, and the female flower will be known from its having the petals springing from the embryo fruit at its base, and from its having no large organs within the corolla. If it be desired to get symmetrical fruit for show purposes, it will be necessary to lay slates underneath, or to place it in one of the glass cucumber tubes sold by the seedsmen for the purpose. The frame may be used at all seasons of the year, but greater care will be needed during the winter to keep up the temperature by the addition of fresh fermenting manure outside the edges of the hot-bed as befoie described. The necessity for this will be indicated when the temperature is falling below 60 degrees.
The third and most approved method of culture is that of devoting a house or stove specially for the plant, the temperature of which is controlled by purely artificial means in the winter; or in the cool greenhouse during summer. The plants are raised in the way before described, in pots, and are transferred to the heated borders of the house, encouraged to make vigorous growth, and the robust leaders, as they advance, carefully tied on to the trellis or wire work near the rafters of the house. The fullest light is admitted, so as to keep the functions of the foliage active, for upon this mainly depends the success of growing fine, well-coloured fruit. Under such treatment the leaves of the leading varieties of show cucumbers are commonly twelve inches in width, resembling more those of the vegetable marrow than of the cucumber as commonly seen in garden culture. Beyond keeping the temperature equable, stamping out red spider by frequent syringing with tepid water, giving plenty of light and air when the outside temperature is not below 60 degrees, stopping or restraining too rampant growths, and carefully thinning the fruit when setting too freely for the vigour of the plant, but little further care will be found necessary in the cucumber house. Especially avoid shading too much, as mildew often sets in under such treatment. Heat, light, air and moisture, with rich pasturage for the roots, are all essential to the perfect development of the cucumber, and the successful grower will be he who maintains these conditions in perfect equilibrium.
After the plants are put out, the temperature should be kept as near as possible to 70 degrees by day, and care should be taken to close the ventilators or frames early in the afternoon, so as to reserve the heat as much as possible for the night. If the temperature of the bed should exceed 95 degrees, air may be cautiously given to slightly reduce the heat.
The varieties mentioned in the early part of this article are the best forcing kinds for show purposes or for general use. They are good and constant croppers, and are of robust constitution.
THE ROCK OR MUSK MELON.
We have dwelt at great length upon the culture of the cucumber, and have been very precise as to the details of its management, because much of what is there written will refer with equal force to all plants of this family which require to be brought forward by heat. The remarks as to raising young plants, the formation of hot-beds or houses, and their management for growing the cucumber, will apply with special force to the eulture of the melon. The fruit should be abundant and cheap during early summer, when other kinds are scarce' and dear. The melon is supposed to be difficult to cultivate because it cannot be brought round, when it has suffered from neglect or bad treatment, so readily as the cucumber ; but such a reason should not be urged, as in good culture we cannot presuppose neglect or inattention on the part of the cultivator. In point of fact, the melon is quite as easily grown as the cucumber, but, as it takes much longer to ripen, and cannot be gathered until fully ripe, there are some points of culture which require very special notice. Among these, and of great importance, is the timely thinning of the fruit. The cucumber is always gathered in its fresh, immature condition, and therefore the plants may be made to bear a long succession of fruit without the exhaustion that is apparent with a melon plant, which has to mature every fruit. The melon is usually grown in the frame on a hot-bed, or if intended for out-door culture, the seedlings should be brought forward early, so as to furnish nice thrifty plants by the end of September, when they may be transferred to prepared patches or ridges as described for the cucumber.
To grow the melon for early summer use, the young plants must be put out on a hot-bed underneath a frame, precisely as directed for the early cucumbers. A better plan still is to grow them in a house specially devoted to them. The vines should be trained to a wire trellis, about twelve inches from the glass, and the fruit should be slung on a slate, or be supported in some way, to take the too great strain from the vine. The stock of plants with which the house is furnished should be raised in it, as it is found that those reared in the moist ammoniacal atmosphere of a dung-heap suffer on transference to the house heated only by hot water. The air of the house is too dry for them, and, though direct failure may not result, the plants are checked and time is lost. Indeed, without great care, the dry atmosphere will cause the leaves to wither and curl, and unless slightly shaded in bright weather they will be completely burnt up. On the other hand, plants raised in the house grow up and become accustomed to the drier condition of the air, and go on without interruption in their career. It is a most excellent plan to sow the seed singly in the smallest size pots, about two-thirds filled with sandy, peaty soil, and then to earth up the young plants until the pots are filled. It is also important not to keep the plants starving in pots, and if the bed is not ready for their reception, on the young roots reaching the side of the pots, the plant should be transferred with care to a pot one size larger. The early crops should have the help of a little bottom heat, which can be supplied with a hot water pipe along the base of the bed, or by fermenting materials. If the latter are used, they should be allowed to settle down and sweeten before the plants are put upon the surface soil overlying the dung.
The compost for the melon bed should be prepared by mixing a portion of leaf-mould with sweet, turfy loam, and a little sharp sand, to keep the whole open. Manure should not be employed, as it encourages over-luxuriant and unfruitful growth, and renders the plants liable to be attacked with canker, which is one of the worst enemies the melon has to contend with. In growing the melon in the open garden or in the frame, the plants should be kept of compact shape by having the rambling leaders stopped by pinching out the point. In growing to furnish a trellis of the house or stove, each plant must be trained with a single shoot, supported with a neat stake, until it reaches the wire trellis; then nip out the point and train the side shoots regularly over the trellis. When these laterals have reached the limit of the space available, they must be stopped, and this will cause them to break at most of the buds with young growth and bloom. It should be the object of the grower to start all the fruit at the same time, and not to allow one or two to monopolise the energy of the plant, to the detriment of succeeding crops. If the trellis is likely to become overcrowded, thin out a few of the weaker shoots, reserving the final thinning until the fruit—which should not exceed seven or eight in number—is set; but a large amount of growth must not be removed at any one time, however luxuriant the plant. In fine, open weather in the summer the female flowers will generally become fertilised by insect agency, but, as a rule—and especially for very early spring crops—it is safer to fertilise by applying the pollen of the male to the stigma of the female blossoms. The bed should have a thorough watering before the principal portion of the fertile (female) flowers expand, and then no more water should be given until the fruit has attained the size of a pullet’s egg, or, if the bed get dry, then a little dilute liquid manure may be applied to the roots only.
As the fruit is reaching maturity water should be withheld, or the fruit will crack, and the flavour be deteriorated. The time when the fruit is fit for gathering may be determined by the distinct odour of the melon being perceptible on smelling; it should then be cut off and laid on the shelf of the house for a few days until fully ripe, but care will be requisite in determining this, as, if allowed to be too ripe, the flavour and texture are much impaired. The best varieties now grown are Dell's Hybrid, Blankney Hero, Victory of Bath, in the green fleshed ; and Carter’s Pine Cream, Blockham Hall, Cox’s Golden Gem, and Munro’s Little Heath, in the scarlet fleshed division.
THE WATER MELON.
This is usually grown in the open ground from seed dibbled in on raised hills or patches of soil thoroughly enriched with manure, and resting on a good layer of well-rotted stable dung, which for a few weeks keeps the soil slightly warm by gentle fermentation. It is a better plan to raise young plants in the frame, as described for the cucumber, and to transfer to the open ground in September and October. Fruit may, in this way and by successional sowings, be obtained throughout the summer and autumn. The plant is a luxuriant grower, and requires to be kept under restraint to induce a fruitful habit. This may be done by pinching out the points of too vigorous shoots or curling them round, and so causing lateral growth to start with a profusion of bloom.
The water melon serves for food, drink, and physic to the Egyptians. It is the only medicine the common people use in ardent fevers, and when it is ripe they collect the juice and mix it with rose water and sugar; the seeds are employed to a considerable extent as food, either ground to a flour for bread, or beaten up to form an emulsion, just as are the kernels of almonds.
The water melon is grown largely in America and in these colonies among crops of maize, and the plant thrives splendidly when so sheltered from strong winds. When occupying an exposed position, it is a wise precaution to peg the rambling shoots down at intervals, as the wind is likely to blow them over and twist off the plant. Good varieties of the melon are :—
Water.—Black Spanish, Ice Cream, Mountain Sprout, Apple-seeded, Long Island, American Champion.
Rock.—Burpus’s Orange, Skillman’s Netted, Pine Apple, Nutmeg, Jenny Lind, and Little Heath.
Preserving.—Pie Melon, and Scaley Bark.
In the foregoing remarks very precise details have been given as to the cultivation of the cucumber and melon. But so important a group of culinary esculents as the vegetable marrow, custard squash, and pumpkin, with the numerous interesting and valuable varieties of these plants, deserve very full treatment here, and no apology will be needed for dwelling here further on the sound system of procedure applied to the whole family.
It must be borne in mind that, treated as garden crops, ail this group of the cucurbita family must be regarded as tender and essentially summer crops, any cold below 40 degrees Fahrenheit being adverse to all. And when grown for any early or special season they will require very special treatment in a frame or greenhouse devoted to them. These remarks apply generally to the climatic conditions of the colonies of the whole of the Australian group.
Taking the circumstances of an ordinary gardener into account, he will usually be desirous of getting early squashes and marrows for sale or for his table. To secure this he will need to bring the plants forward under some protection in the spring until the summer temperature permits him to transfer from the frames to the open ground. The following will be the method he should pursue for this purpose :—In the month of July he should build in a compact heap a pile of fresh horse-dung with the usual admixture of litter as taken from the stable bedding. When this has fermented—that is, when the violent heat has subsided—the heap may be capped with a fresh layer of dung, and covered over with four inches of good garden soil, and a frame of glass or strained calico should be laid over the whole. At intervals dibble in to the depth of an inch a few seeds of the marrow, squash, or other plant, and a single seed may be placed in each of a few small pots within the frame. If the seeds are sown by the beginning of August the plants should be ready for transference by mid-September some of them being retained for fruiting in the frames. Patches should be well prepared by having a couple of good forkfuls of decayed dung dug in at the spot, and the surface covered with good soil slightly raised above the surface, so as to afford drainage if wet weather prevail. The plants should be shaded by light, bushy branches during mid-day, the ground surface mulched with short dung, and receive an occasional watering. Plants so treated should give good cuttings of marrows or squashes; and for successions! summer and autumn crops sowings may be made of seed on patches of ground similarly prepared. The water melon, pie melon, sugar melon, rock melon, of several choice kinds, the cucumber, vegetable marrow, custard squash, pumpkin, and gourd will succeed well if planted in the open garden from mid-September to December, the later sowings requiring great attention and care in watering, mulching, and shading. Of the leading and best varieties the following may be mentioned, but such strides have of late been made in the raising of new varieties of the members of this family that it will be well for planters to keep an eye to the nurseryman’s catalogue, and gain personal experience of the new kinds offered. The varieties named are good old sorts, or such as have stood successfully trials by men qualified to give an opinion :—
In Pumpkins:—Crown, New Button, Turk’s Cap, Ironbark, Jumbo.
In Marrows :—Early Sulphur, Vegetable Cream, New Rice, Bush Custard Squash, &c.
A large fruit of the marrow, or squash family, largely cultivated in the Hunter River district is the Gramma, which must be treated in culture like the pumpkin. The fruit keeps well, and is used as a vegetable and for jam-making.
This fruit-yielding plant is treated of in the “ Fruit Garden,” but as it forms a hardy perennial plant, giving fruit of great piquancy as dessert 6r for preserving, it will be well not to omit it from this book. In all respects the cultivation of the Cape gooseberry is similar to that of the tomato, to which the reader is referred. It is so hardy, and requires so little attention, that in many parts it grows wild, having been carried into the bush by birds and other agencies. But it is when brought under systematic cultivation, with due attention paid to its requirements as to soil and manure, that it presents its highest claims to recognition as a dessert fruit.
The seeds commonly grown for the use of cage birds are Hemp, Rape, Canary, Maw and Millet. The period for sowing all these is the early spring—the months of July, August and September. Canary seed may be sown thinly on well cleaned land, well rolled when two inches above the ground, and harvested on the ear assuming a golden yellow hue. Rape and Hemp should be sown in drills two feet apart to give room for the seed heads, as the plants attain a large development. Millet gives an excellent yield, and is alike useful for cage birds and domestic poultry. The plant is somewhat tender, so the seed should not be sown before September. The Broom Millet is grown largely in some districts for the seed, and for furnishing the raw material to broom makers, an industry now naturalised in the colonies. Maw seed is the seed of the white garden poppy, which when thrashed from the capsules is collected and stained with archil, which gives it the purple shade as offered in the shops. It may be doubted if this staining process does not injure the seed; at all events, it can have no beneficial effect upon it. Birds fed upon poppy seed soon get into capital condition; it is, therefore, largely used for that purpose by exhibitors of cage birds.
The culture of this nutritious and palatable esculent is a very simple process, and the industry forms a very important branch of trade in many European cities. In Palis the Catacombs and other underground caves are made to yield an enormous supply, and at certain seasons of the year this sells at highly remunerative prices. During the spring and autumn, when the temperature is pretty equal, mushrooms may be grown on any old decomposed manure heap or exhausted liot-bed, but when required at all seasons of the year, an old outhouse, stable, loft, or other structure may be utilised where excessive fluctuations in the heat can be avoided.
To produce mushrooms at any time the following details should be closely adhered to, attention to the temperature of the bed and enveloping atmosphere being important conditions. The most essential point is the preparation of the material, which ought to consist of fresh stable manure lialf-droppings and half-short litter. The heap must be uurned over every second day for a fortnight, and then be made into ridges on the ground, or on raised shelves within the cellar or outhouse; these ridges two and a half feet wide at the bottom, two feet high, and tapering or rounding to the top, which should be about six inches in width, the length being, of course, regulated by the extent of space available. The dung should be sharply patted down by the back of the spade, so as to give it firmness. After making up the beds in this way place stakes down the centre here' and there by which to test the heat of the bed, and cover the whole lightly with hay or grass litter, In a day or two the heat from fermentation will be rather high, and this must be allowed to moderate until the temperature is reduced to about 80 degrees, just warm enough to bear the hand comfortably on the rod when it is withdrawn from the heap. The beds are then ready for spawning. This spawn may be purchased of any of the seedsmen, being usually sold in masses like bricks. It may be broken up into pieces of the size of an egg, and dibbled in all over the surface of the ridges or beds at distances of about eight inches apart and at a depth of three inches. This done, spread over the surface about an inch of mellow garden loam, and beat the surface firm with a spade. Scatter over the face of the beds a light dressing of hay or clean soft straw litter, and if in the open garden cover the whole with mats to exclude the light and to protect from heavy rains. In about five or six weeks the surface will be studded with fine mushrooms, and the bed should continue to yield for several weeks. By having fresh beds coming forward a succession of this delicious vegetable may be secured throughout the year ; though in the depth of winter some means of heating the beds and surrounding atmosphere will be required.
During the earlier stages a little tepid water may be given by means of a tine syringe; but the beds being protected from draughts of air or strong winds but little water will be needed.
Of the numerous modes of utilising the mushroom it is scarcely necessary to speak. They are taken stewed with milk, fried, or toasted, and the small or “ button ” mushroom form a pickle, which is justly esteemed as the most palatable pickle known.
The seed pods of the Martynia proboscidea form a most delicious pickle when gathered green and tender. The seed should be sown in pans under protection, or in a frame, and when the young seedlings develop the first pair of true leaves, they may be planted out at a distance of two feet apart, the general management being similar to that described for the tomato or the egg plant. For pickling, the pods should be thrown into salt and water for a day, then put into jars, and warm spiced vinegar poured over them.
This is another highly important vegetable product. Who has not heard of the famous “Buckwheat cakes” of America? They are immensely popular all over that continent, and form a very important item in the food of the people. In many parts they constitute the chief delicacy of every breakfast-table. The plant grows and yields well here, and is, indeed, one of the easiest culture, giving, too, an abundant supply of grain for fowls and other domestic animals, and maturing its seed in about two months. It may be sown as late as December, and is rarely affected by heat or drought in deeply worked ground. It is from the buckwheat that Hollands gin and schnapps are distilled, the black, triangular husks being used as packing for the cases containing the bottles sent out here. In England and on the continent the buckwheat is sown largely for bee pasturage, and it is found to yield honey of exquisite flavour. It yields a great breadth of bloom, and may be sown here at all seasons of the year for this purpose.
Sown thinly on good soil in the month of October, it matures ' its seed in February. This is ground and dressed as other grains, the resulting flour being used just as that of ordinary grains in baking. Sown thickly on poor lands, or on such as are deficient in fertility, and ploughed in when it has attained a growth of about nine inches, buckwheat greatly improves the bearing character of the soil for several years. Indeed, in many countries this system of green manuring is greatly in vogue, and constitutes one of the popular methods of land improvement, just as lupins, trifolium, and other rapid growing plants are utilised.
Though rather foreign to the purpose of the kitchen gardener, still a plot of land told off for bringing these forward will often serve a very useful purpose. The chief plants propagated for this purpose are the whitethorn, osage orange, the African boxthorn, privet, the acacia armata and tragacanth thorn. All should be sown in the autumn, on a well-manured soil, in drills eighteen inches apart, kept well weeded through the first season, when they will be ready to plant out. The after-management of the hedgerow will consist in keeping it well cut, and not allowing the individual plants to spindle up, or leaving the bottom thin and open. This cutting back should commence from the first planting, using the shears as often as any rampant growths give. promise of absorbing the whole sap supply of the plant. Such plants as the thorn, boxthorn, and osage orange may, with careful treatment, be made strong enough to check a bullock, and dense enough to stop a rabbit. Another plant much used for fencing farms and gardens in England is the bitter willow, cuttings of which are planted and encouraged to grow on, when they are crossed and grafted till they form an impenetrable fence of wicker-work.
It will be found a great convenience where much tying is required—as for sending vegetables to market, or tying to stakes various plants in the garden—to have a few robust plants of New Zealand flax. This, if planted in some out-of-the-way place, will soon grow vigorously, and furnish as much tying material as will be required for the garden. If a creek or water-course be available, a few cuttings of the basket willows (osier) or the yellow-twigged variety may be put in. These will speedily grow up to timber size, but may have an annual pruning in the autumn for the crop of twigs, or they will furnish a good supply of tough twigs at any time suitable for binding up cabbages, lettuces, radishes, celery, and other crops for the market. They also form nice smooth ties for the first tying in of vines in the spring. As illustrating their great usefulness, it may be mentioned that nearly all the vegetables which reach the London, Birmingham, and other great markets of England and the continent are made up in bundles by means of willow twigs.
Lettuce as a Cooked Vegetable.—It is not generally known that the lettuce, when boiled, is a very excellent addition to the dinner-table. Frequently during hot weather the plant spindles up for seed, and becomes too bitter for use as a salad when fresh ; if taken in this stage, boiled for twenty minutes, it is a great relish, resembling closely spinach when well cooked and served. It may be taken with the ordinary roast joints, or served on toast with poached eggs.
There are many ways of utilising this valuable esculent, and we give below several recipes, which will be worth the attention of those who care to make their homes attractable
Fresh Tomato Sauce.—Take a dozen good-sized tomatoes in a large bowl; pour over these sufficient boiling water to just crack the skin. This will then be easily removed, and the fruit should be put in a saucepan and left to simmer for ten minutes, being well stirred. Break down to a pulp ; add pepper and salt to taste. Have ready a large teacupful of bread crumbs, and boil for five minutes with the tomatoes, and serve hot. This forms an excellent addition to all hot roast joints, and when served cold it is very palatable with cold meat. Any portion left over the meal may be formed into patties if more bread crumbs be added, and then baked or browned in the oven. An onion or clove of garlic boiled with the tomatoes gives additional piquancy to the sauce.
Tomato Sauce to Keep for Use through the Year.— Take well-ripened, sound fruit and remove the skin by steaming in a bowl or basin. Beat down to a pulp and strain through coarse, strong muslin, or a hair sieve, to remove the skins and seeds. Boil gently for one pom' in a tinned vessel; then add pepper and salt, and, tied m a piece of muslin, the following spices ¡—ginger, mace, capsicums, and pimento—bruising well or breaking down with a mallet or hammer. Boil slowly for another hour, and add a small teaspoonful of tartaric acid. Have ready the required number of wide-mouthed fruit or pickle bottles, and fill as soon as the sauce is just sufficiently cool not to break the bottles. Bung down closely while the sauce is yet warm, seal over, and store away.
Tomato Puree Soup.—This is formed by beating down the required number of perfectly ripe fruit, straining, and boiling the pulps with a thin soup stock, flavouring with pepper, salt, ginger, and mace. Sippets of toast are usually served with this, which is one of the best of the many forms of serving the tomato.
To Fry Tomatoes.—Take the large flat varieties of the fruit while yet firm, cutting them in two with a sharp knife. Have already in the pan some butter or beef dripping well heated. Place the cut face of the divided fruit downwards in the pan and sharply fry until browning; then turn gently for a few minutes, and serve as a garnishing to the dish of chops or steak. The point on frying tomatoes is to serve whole rather than in the mashed-up condition they usually come ttf table. Some people pickle the unripe fruit while yet green and undeveloped, but the process is a failure, and the product possesses no tomato flavour.
It frequently happens that suburban and country gardens have attached, or near at hand, a small paddock devoted as grazing ground, or for the culture of rough crops suitable for the cow or horse. And where such is available it is an important point to put them to the best use possible. Supposing the patch to be a mere grass pasture, it will be essential to spread the dung periodically over the surface either by going over and scattering it with a garden fork, or, better still, by having a rough bush or chain harrow dragged over its surface, and occasionally dusting over it a sprinkling of the seeds of rye grass, white clover, prairie grass, or other fodder plants. Especially necessary will it be to cut out all destructive weeds, such as flat weed, Cape weed, and other pests.
When any portion is devoted to cultivation, lucerne, clover, sainfoin, carrots, swedes, and mangolds must not be overlooked, as these are a capital stand-by during winter, and at times when dry weather makes but a poor bite for the horse or cow.
Frequently pastures are ruined by the accumulation of dung and the presence of noxious weeds, which a little care will go far to obviate.
Though, as a rule, the seeds of culinary plants may be purchased cheaply and of good quality, it often happens that opportunities offer for the saving of home grown seeds. But great care will be necessary in this, as there is always danger of many varieties of marked excellence hybridising by cross fertilisation with those of inferior merit. Thus, the seed produced by a really high-class cauliflower may probably be deteriorated through the flowers being fertilised by the pollen of a cabbage, a turnip, or some other member of the Brassica family growing in the vicinity. A really excellent watermelon may probably have its seed injured by the blossom having been inoculated with the pollen of the pie-melon, marrow, or some other member of the genus. It is the careful isolation of seed-bearing plants during the blooming season which constitutes one of the chief conditions to be observed by the seed farmer. And the amateur frequently commits grave errors by ignoring the essential condition to secure purity of strain. When seed of a specially meritorious plant is desired it will be necessary to secure such from the subtle influence of bees and other insects. This is done by encompassing the flower-stalk or head with fine muslin until the seeds form, when the covering may be removed, and the plant allowed to ripen its seed. This immunity from deteriorating influences secured, the gardener will be well repaid by the high and uniform germinating qualities of the sample—a matter often very defective in purchased seeds. In saving seed the grower should mark special plants to be retained for that purpose. It is quite useless to depend for seed upon the “leavings” of a crop which has had all its finest yield gathered for the table. The first and finest pods formed on the plants of peas, kidney and broad beans; the earliest and best fruits of tomato, egg plant, cucumber, melon, marrow, &g. ; the most compact heads of cauliflower and broccoli; and the quick-hearting cabbages,lettuce, and savoys ; the most shapely and symmetrical roots of carrot, parsnip, turnip, and onions, should alone be marked for seed. Another point of importance is that of exercising ear« in allowing only the main flower stem of the desired variety to remain to mature its seed. If side shoots and weakly growths are permitted to produce seed, the high character of the produce will be lost, and nothing but disappointment can ensue.
Indeed so much importance is paid by high-class cultivators to the physical character of the seed that, notwithstanding the care exercised in growing it from specially selected plants, means are adopted for separating the light or small seed from the sample. This is done by sifting, winnowing, and picking over before sowing, and it is no uncommon thing to even submit some seeds to a floating test, by which those of the greatest density only are selected ; the lighter, or such as float on the surface, being discarded.
All this may appear to be unnecessary trouble, but the observant gardener well knows the value of such care in the choice of seeds. Everyone must have noticed the irregularity of individual plants in a seed bed—some models of vigour and health, others giving no promise of good results, and to be thinned out on the first weeding. The object gained by sub. mitting seed to a high test is to secure uniformity in vigoui, and general robustness.
In the special notes on fertilisers mention has been made of many substances available, but not sufficient has been said on the special advantages of guano, especially the Peruvian article ; nor upon certain chemieal manures which are now being manufactured in the colonies on an extensive scale. In addition to Peruvian, an excellent guano is now offered in most of the colonies from St. Francis’ Island, off the South Australian coast. The judicious use of artificial manures will go far towards securing success in the growth of culinary vegetables. As we have said before, it is quite useless to attempt to grow them in fine condition without the most liberal treatment in the shape of manure and water.
We may point out some very excellent fertilisers manufactured on a large scale by Messrs. Elliott Bros., of Sydney. These gentlemen prepare specific fertilisers for special crops, suitable for all varieties of soils, and in the case of the manure compounded for the healthy and fruitful growth of
the orange and other fruit trees, their success has been Most phenomenal. Proceeding on strict practical lines, they ascertain the deficiencies and requirements of a given soil for a special crop, and furnish a manure exactly adapted to the soil. In some cases it is found that, by reason of continuous or over cropping, soils become quite exhausted of the essential elements for the healthy growth of a crop. A soil is said to be exhausted when it fails to give paying crops under the most favourable circumstances of tillage, weather, etc. This exhaustion is brought about by the removal of the constituents needed by the plants, through'the growth and removal of crops, without any corresponding addition of their food elements. Thus, a soil may contain enough phosphoric acid in an available form for ten full crops, but after that, if none of this substance is added to the soil, the crop cannot make a full return for the labour expended upon it. A soil may thus be exhausted or deficient in only one of the several food elements, and yet it is not much better, as far as plant growth is concerned, than if all the elements were equally lacking. All crops do not exhaust soils equally —some remove more potash than others, and one requires a greater amount of nitrogen than another. This is very clearly shown by long-extended experiments. It is found by them that the plots upon which continuous crops of clover, beans, and roots have been grown without any manure, have declined more rapidly than the land devoted, o cereal grain crops. This is surprising, in so far as clover, etc., are generally considered as restorative rather than exhaustive crops. A judicious rotation of crops is as much needed to preserve the even fertility of the soil as to keep it mellow and free from weeds. It is these considerations which are taken into account by advanced agricultural chemists, and it is on these lines that Messrs. Elliott Bros, prepare the manures which have attained such favour by the growers who have used them.
The following notes as to the work to be attended to in the kitchen garden in the various months of the year have been compiled from a series of observations extending over many years in the several Australian colonies. They may be taken as suggestive hints to be acted upon, or modified with the peculiar or abnormal seasons sometimes experienced.
This is undoubtedly the driest and most trying month of che year for the garden. But little can be done in the way of sewing or planting out in the open ground, but under shelter of the bush house or frame, a selection of cauliflower, cabbage, savoy, and celery seeds may be sown, so as to bring forward sturdy plants for transferring to the garden during the first rains of March. Kidney beans, turnips, peas, lettuce, and spinach may be sown sparingly prior to an expected shower, and the beds should be thoroughly mulched by short dung, to check evaporation.
The work of hoeing up advancing crops after watering and the earthing up of celery should be attended to. Beds should be prepared for the chief turnip crop of the season, as also for beet. Sowings may also be made of spinach and of the silver beet, which forms a nice vegetable for autumn use. The great poin; to be observed in the cultivation of culinary vegetables is that they be quickly grown, and to effect this the soil must be enriched, moisture must be afforded, and plenty of room must be given for each individual plant to develop itself. It should, indeed, be the aim of everyone possessing a garden to have it well stocked with culinary vegetables in various stages of luxuriant growth. Success will, of course, depend upon the natural character of the soil, but still more upon liberal manuring, the regular application of water, and due attention as to seasonable operations and systematic culture. Even the poorest soils may soon be made fertile by care; it is quite surprising to witness the crops produced by the naturally poor sandy soils in many districts round Sydney under the intelligent culture of the Chinese; while, near Melbourne, the dry, arid sands of the Brighton and Cheltenham districts weekly send their hundreds of loads of finely grown vegetables in the highest state of perfection for the market.
The difference between a fresh-looking, well-grown cabbage and a poorly-grown or stunted one is not merely that of appearance; in the one we have crisp, succulent, easily digestive, enjoyable food, but in the other a tough, stringy, indigestible, flavourless, and unappetising morsel. Lettuces should be sown thinly in the spot they are intended to occupy, as they are rather difficult to transplant at this season of the year. Radishes, mustard, and cress may be sown for quick growth, great attention being necessary in the way of watering and shading. Celery will require constant attention to secure a good result—it is a water-loving plant and a voracious feeder, liquid manure being essential for its healthy growth during dry weather.
The chief work in the garden should be the clearing away of all exhausted crops, and a thorough eradication of weeds before they have time for seeding. All unoccupied land should be roughly dug and thoroughly exposed to atmospheric influences during the summer.
Sometimes light showers characterise this month, and as the ground is warm germination of seeds sown is rapid and growth vigorous. Turnips for the autumn and winter crops should also be extensively sown; and successional sowings be made of French beans, carrots, parsnips, lettuce, and other salading plants. Gather all seeds as they ripen, and sow a light crop of dwarf-growing peas. Of cucumber a successional sowing may be made, and any plants ready may be put out for late fruiting. Plant out any varieties of the cabbage family that may be ready, taking advantage of dull, showery weather, and carefully mulching after planting. Leeks may be transplanted and treated in the same way as celery, and the trenches should be well manured.
A small bed of orange jelly turnips may be sown, and as they are in the second leaf they should have a watering with a dressing of guano. Sow a good crop of spinach in lines fifteen inches apart, to come in for autumn use. Plant out celery in trenches, lifting the plants with little balls of earth, and shading them until established. Sow in small beds for successional crops of all the cabbage and cauliflower family; shade and water them until fit to be pricked out. Plant out eschalots in lines eighteen inches apart. Lettuce —Sow in lines to remain, and thin out as they advance. A crop of peas should be sown in a moist place ; place sticks to all advancing crops. Potatoes—Plant out in trenches three feet apart, using a liberal supply of well-rotted manure to the roots. This is a good time to set to furnish a crop in April and May. Medium-sized tubers at this season are better for planting than cut “ sets,” as they do not shrivel in the ground. Though the soil at present may be dry, we may expect early and heavy rains. These, with the high temperature of the soil, will speedily force growth and give a good return. The best varieties to plant now are the ashleaf, fluke, and schoolmaster, the last-named being one of the very best varieties of recent int/rodnetinn. PpHs should now be formed for asparagus, rhubarb, seakale, by deep digging, rich manuring, and drainage. As these may be termed permanent crops—the beds lasting several years—a little time and trouble will be well spent in making a good job of the work. The surface of the soil may be left as rough as possible, admiting light and air to the subsoil ; and the sun’s heat with rain will soon render the ground friable and fit to plant later on. The hoe should be applied occasionally as weed seeds germinate, and this will give a good clean bed for the reception of the plants.
This should be a period of great activity. Exhausted growths of peas, beans, and other crops should be promptly removed, and preparations be made for thoroughly manuring and working the soil for winter and spring crops. Sow for a full crop of celery, quick growing peas, and for a chance crop of French beans. Where young plants are ready of cauliflower, cabbage, and celery, they should at once be got into their proper lines, taking each up carefully with a ball of earth to its roots, and mulching well after watering. If, however, none of these have been brought forward, they may be purchased by arrangement from some of the nurserymen, always selecting such plants as have not been wilted by several days’ exposure in the shops. Hoe to keep down weeds and to thin out previous sowings of turnips, always bearing in mind that where the root is the edible portion of the plant plenty of room is required for its full development.
More seed may be sown of cabbages, savoys, kale, and cauliflowers ; a good sowing may also be made of lettuces of the drumhead and cos varieties as soon as the ground has been fairly moistened to the depth of three or four inches ; any that are large enough to be thinned out should receive that attention forthwith. Peas, turnips, spinach, and radishes may be sown according to requirements, and carrots of all kinds where the soil is in proper condition ; it should be finely worked, and if possible the seed should be damped for 24 hours before sowing, as this will greatly accelerate germination. It is necessary to observe that when soaking is resorted to the soil must be kept moist until the crop is established—a disadvantage at this season of the year. Dry carrot seed, on the contrary, may safely be entrusted to perfectly dry soil; it will lie there for several weeks until rain falls in sufficient abundance to start it into growth.
Plant potatoes in trenches two feet apart, six inches deep; in heavy land sand and lime are useful. Late Rose, Snowflake, and Cambridge kidney are the best for this season of the year. Lettuce—Sow in drills for succession. This useful vegetable is grown largely in the old country, and served at table as spinach. Sow a large bed of onions in drills fifteen inches apart; this allows the hoe to be worked through them, the ground to be well manured, and the manure dug in spade deep. Sow for a crop of peas; well water the drills, if the weather prove dry, before sowing the seed, and press the soil firmly on them after covering in. A few hills of cucumbers may be sown for a late crop. Tomatoes should be well looked over for caterpillars; they are very destructive to the fruit as well as the foliage. Sticks or supports should be placed around the plants, and the lateral shoots pinched off, so that the sun and air can get to the fruit; bright, well-coloured fruit will command a far better price, and the flavour is finer, and much to be preferred to the half-green rubbish that is hawked about. If an advancing crop of carrots, parsnips, radishes, onions, turnips, or beet be allowed to grow too thickly, the result will be less than half the crop which would be obtained by judicious thinning during the early stages of the growth of the young seedling plants. All salad plants may be sown, and if plants be available, cucumbers, melons, and marrows may be set out for a chance crop. Even the American sweet corn, sugar maize, may still be sown, as, the cobs being eaten in the green, immature state, five or six weeks will suffice to bring it into table condition. Assiduously earth up celery, as its rapid growth squires, and toss roughly up for future crops all vacant land, thus giving no chance for weeds to occupy it and to shefi their seed.
Land worked now, and left roughly tossed up, benefits greatly by exposure to atmospheric influences ; and when the autumnal rains fall, the soil speedily crumbles into a nice, friable condition, and is in the best possible state to receive the seed or plants for which it is designed.
This is the season when there is a glut of tomatoes and cucumbers. These can be preserved in many ways for use during the year. Tomatoes, in addition to being used in numberless ways while fresh, when converted into sauce give a relish and piquancy to dishes which cannot be experienced in its absence. They may also be pickled, either green or ripe. A simple and economical way of dealing with cucumbers is to cure them in strong brine, in casks or jars.
This, too, is the time for getting in a stock of the various flavouring herbs, such as mint, thyme, savory, sage, &c., which may be cut when in bloom, dried carefully, and stored in any wide-mouthed bottles corked down to prevent the evaporation of the flavouring essence.
Pie-melons are also in abundance, and these may be utilised in a hundred ways; and where there are large families, the use of these will be found very economical.
A stock of pumpkins and marrows should be laid in now. Large specimens of both may be purchased at from threepence to sixpence each now, but in a few months’ time they will be sold at that price per pound. Both these useful culinary vegetables will keep well for several months if placed in a dry outhouse on wooden shelves. If left on the floor, insects are apt to eat the exterior covering, and thus endanger the keeping qualities of the fruit, or damp may affect its quality.
The weather remaining cool, it will be advisable to plant out in trenches a full supply of celery, to last up to the end of June. A month later a further planting should be made, for use after that date. A small quantity of seed may be sown now, to provide a few plants for the late spring crop. If advantage has not been taken of the moist weather to plant out cauliflowers and cabbages it should be done at once. Thfe weather being favourable, a limited breadth of potatoes may be planted, both of early and late varieties. The crops already ripe need immediate lifting, or they start into growth. Tomato plants require regulation at this season. Some of the shoots need removal, with a view to forward the ripening of the fruit. When left under a dense shade, tomatoes remain green for many weeks after they have attained full size.
March ought to be a busy month in clearing off all exhausted growths, making changes in the design of the garden, and generally digging over all unoccupied breadths of soil.
This is a busy month, as the excessive heat having given place to mild, moist, genial weather, all growth is very vigorous. Sowings should be made of broad beans and of the dwarf kinds of peas. Turnips of the quick maturing varieties —white stone, orange jelly, or snowball—may now be sown, and a light scattering be made on well-prepared soil of carrots, parsnips, and of leeks for transplanting. The potato onion, for early spring use, should now be planted. New beds may now be formed for horseradish, rhubarb, seakale, and asparagus, heavily manured for planting further on. A full breadth of cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage plants should be got out, as growth of all these will be very rapid while the Soil is still warm. Plant lightly of early rose and ashleaf kidney for winter and early spring use. Throw up roughly all land not required for winter cropping, and keep down weeds by freely hoeing.
As the winter nights lengthen, or rainy weather renders work outside impossible, the opportunity should be embraced for looking over all farm and garden tools and implements. There will be axes to re-handle and a hundred things to look to, and no tools should be about the place out of working condition. If any implements are so far damaged as to be beyond repair, and useless for any purpose, pitch them away; there is no greater nuisance about a place than a collection of broken and useless tools. Scythes, shears, hoes, axes, and other edge tools should be kept well ground and in good working trim, and, if put away, should be carefully wiped over with an oily rag. A good grindstone is an essential to every settler’s house, and it should be placed under cover so that any wet day may be utilised in sharpening up tools of all kinds. It is scarcely possible to estimate the loss resulting from dull tools, and the extra labour and strain on the muscles and temper they cause. In the bush, or when any distance from a store, it is a wise precaution for the settler to keep on hand a few spare handles for such commonly used tools as the axe, hoe, pick, &c. Such forethought will often save a day or two from being wasted, and afford useful work for those many odd times when a man is “ fooling about” with nothing to do but kill time. Although we refer here to the settler particularly, the remarks will apply equally to affairs in suburban homes.
Dig roughly all uncropped land, and prepare for planting full crops of the leading vegetables; there is no reason why our winter gardens should not be as well stocked as during the summer. Plant out celery, keeping that already planted in a rapid-growing condition by copious waterings, if the weather is dry. Make full sowings of radishes, lettuces, endive^, and other salad plants. Gather all flowering herbs, and trim up the beds, making fresh ones of mint, sage, marjoram, thyme, lavender, &c. Gather and store onions and other culinary roots, and keep down all weeds.
In the kitchen garden all exhausted crops should at once be removed to the rubbish heap, the ground roughly dug, and left fully exposed to the influence of the atmosphere, and to catch the rainfall. To leave the haulms of peas and beans, tomatoes, and other useless growths is to encourage slugs and other garden pests. Cauliflowers, cabbages, onions, turnips, and other selected plants which have been left for seed should now be cut and dried off, the seed being threshed out on a tarpaulin or piece of sacking ; and as each variety is done it should at once be labelled and stored away. The things requiring attention this month will be the following: Sow peas and broad beans, small breadth of carrots and parsnips, spinach, red and white beets ; sow a good bed or two of onions in drills, and a light sowing of a good variety of cabbage, cauliflower, and turnips, for a succession. There should also be planted out, of such plants as are ready, celery, cauliflower, cabbage, onions thinned from the beds. A few cuttings may be taken from the old tomato plants and stuck in small pots of moist sand ; when rooted they may be planted against a wall, or in some sheltered spot, as in a bush-house or frame, when they will yield a good supply of fruit during the early spring. Enough attention is not paid to the production of early spring crops of this and the cucumber; usually the summer is far advanced before a tomato, cucumber, or melon is obtainable. This is a good time to collect a good heap of fertilising materials and special compost to suit given plants; if formed now, and turned once during winter, it will be in splendid order to dress the spring beds, and to serve other purposes further on.
New plantations may be made of rhubarb, seakale, and asparagus, the beds being thoroughly enriched with well-decayed manure. Potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes should be harvested at once, but unless the latter are placed in cool sand, they will shrivel and soon be worthless; some people let the Jerusalem artichoke remain in the same spot year after year, but it is a mistake, as the tubers soon become small and useless unless grown in fresh soil every two years.
Potatoes should be stored in earthen camps, to keep cool and dry. In this way they will preserve their freshness better than when placed in large heaps in a cellar or outhouse. Securing a dry, rather elevated position for the sake of drainage, a pit may be dug a foot or eighteen inches deep, the bottom being covered with tea-tree branches. The heap of potatoes may be three feet, of a conical form, and over the sides clean straight straw be placed. Then cover with fairly dry earth to the thickness of six inches, until required for use. This is the old practice of English agriculturists with their winter stores of potatoes, turnips, mangolds, and swedes, and may be relied on as effectual here.
Horseradish may now be planted out, and a good bed of flavouring herbs should be planted out near the house.
At this time care will be necessary to have coming forward the chief culinary crops in the open ground; and, under protection, a good breadth of young seedlings for planting later on. Growth during the month of June is slow, as the nights are cold and the soil too frequently soddened with moisture ; it often happens, too, that young seedlings put out in July from protected beds will quite outgrow those put out in May and early June. Sow early in the month cauliflowers, savoys, early cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, and as they advance prick out the seedlings six inches apart on a warm sunny border till they have got “ stocky ” and robust; then, on the occurrence of fine mild weather, transplant carefully to their permanent positions.
All advancing seed-beds should be protected from cold, cutting winds, and from the force of heavy rain-storms. Indeed, a light awning may be stretched over beds of young cauliflower, cabbage, and other plants intended for transplanting. A little trouble taken in protecting these will be well repaid, as any damage occurring at this period will perhaps mean a whole season lost. Sow a main crop of broad beans, and a good sowing may be made of the best varieties of dwarf-growing peas. Sow again, on a nice warm, well-drained border of radishes, lettuces, mustard and cress, endive, and other salads. This is a good month to make fresh beds of asparagus, seakale, rhubarb ; and celery, too, may be planted in trenches, well manured, and free from chance of becoming water-logged. Advancing crops of turnips, carrots, and parsnips should be carefully hoed or thinned by hand, leaving the plants fully eight inches apart. In the sowing of seed, such as peas and beans, spinach, radishes, beet, and other plants which have to remain where they are sown, it is utter ruin to sow too thickly, and especially for winter. Beans, peas, and spinach, &c., should not be closer than six or eight inches from plant to plant, and beet should be at least ten inches apart. Slugs and caterpillars will be found troublesome, and should be promptly dealt with by sprinkling with slaked lime and soot early in the morning or late in the evening. Promptly remove all heaps of vegetable refuse which tend to harbour these and other pests, and keep the hoe going among the weeds.
Cut down the exhausted growth of asparagus, saving seed from the most robust plants for future use, if required. Give the beds their annual winter top-dressing of well-decayed manure, with a liberal sprinkling of damaged salt, whech is a specific manure for the asparagus. The present is a good time to form beds for the chief flavouring and culinary herbs, such as mint, thyme, sage, savory, marjoram, parsley, &c. The beds should be situated near the house, so as to be handy for use in the kitchen. Horseradish is such a popular condiment with roast beef, and so difficult to get when wanted— and always very dear—that no suburban garden should be without it. A bed of horseradish may be easily formed by planting the crowns a foot apart, on a piece of soil well enriched and worked to a depth of eighteen inches. Take up the tubers of Jerusalem artichokes, storing in sand the larger, and reserving the smaller bulblets for planting further on. Sow again, for successional planting a few weeks hence, of celery, giving preference to the white solid or Ivery’s Nonesuch, Salsify, scorzonera, and celeriac (or turnip-rooted celery) may also be sown on good soil; the last may be trans-« planted on the flat ground, and yields an excellent esculent for use in soups and made dishes. Clear away the exhausted haulms of peas and beans, which, if stacked for a time, form capital fodder for sheep, cattle, and horses. Burn all old cucumber, melon, marrow, and pumpkin plants, which, like the vine, frequently are attacked in the autumn with mildew. Store carrots, parsnips, swedes, and mangolds, thus leaving the ground open for the reception of other crops, and securing the roots from the attacks of grubs, wire-worms, and other enemies. Give all previously dug ground a thorough hoeing, if weeds prevail; and as crops are cleared oft' work the soil deeply, manuring well, and leaving the surface roughly exposed to the action of the atmosphere.
In the kitchen garden there is plenty to do, for the weeds will be found extremely plentiful, necessitating the continual use of the hoe. If the weather be favourable some early carrots may be sown in drills; also peas, and broad Windsor beans, radishes, endive, Ac. Continue the earthing-up of celery, and also of advancing crops. Plant out lettuces, cabbages, cauliflowers, Ac. Rhubarb plantations should have their winter dressing, by clearing off all decayed leaves and weeds, and dressing over the plants with manure. Asparagus, artichokes, and seakale should be similarly attended to. Cress and mustard may be sown. Previous sowings of onions should be thinned and transplanted. Sow early cucumbers in hot beds. In all kitchen garden work any labour bestowed upon the vegetables in the way of mulching will be found amply repaid. This constitutes the secret of Chinese success in gardening, which is the result of ceaseless care and attention, no details, however minute, being left neglected.
The time has now arrived when some contrivance should be adopted for bringing, forward, ready for early planting, seedlings of tomato, cucumber, melon, egg plant (aubergines), and such tender things. In the absence of a regular glazed frame, one formed of calico stretched on battens, and then placed over a heap of fermenting manure, will serve every purpose. If sown now, plants will be available of a nice “stocky” growth for putting out late in October, or as early as genial weather may suggest. Keep down weeds, and keep the soil open and ready to receive the main sowings when the time arrives. Finish off plantations of garnishing and seasoning herbs, and make beds of that useful but little grown plant—the horseradish. Make sowings of lettuce, radishes, mustard and cress, and other salad plants, keeping up a nice succession in a crisp, succulent state for the table.
Rhubarb roots should be got into position on well manured soil, and fresh beds may be made of asparagus and seakale ; this being fully late for such operations, no further delay should be allowed. Stake the tall growing varieties of peas, and even the dwarf sorts are better if kept well off the wet ground with a little brushy spray. Earth up celery during dry weather, and plant out for flavouring purposes. Sow St. John’s Day cabbage seed, or sugar loaf if for marketing, and have a small sowing made of carrots, parsnips, onions, leeks, turnips, beet, and spinach. For the main crops of these vegetables, late next month will be a good time, or if cold, wet weather prevail during August, the beginning of September will be suitable. Some planters risk a planting of early potatoes this month, but, as a rule, August is better, unless a very warm, genial, and protected position in the garden be available.
This should be the busiest season of the year as regards seed-sowing, for only now is it safe to venture on full sowings for the main crops of culinary vegetables. Sow, finally, a few rows of broad beans; and for full crops of peas, turnips, carrots, onions, spinach, parsnips, beet, leeks, and all the salad plants—lettuces, endive, radishes, mustard and cress, &c. Previous sowings will need the drills to be weeded, and now will be apparent the great advantage of sowing seeds in drills over the broadcast method. In the one case, where weeds prevail, they may be promptly eradicated by running a narrow hoe between the drills; while in the other, nothing short of laborious and tedious hand-picking can be effectual. Where seeds of tomatoes, cucumbers, &c., have not been sown in frames for early plants, not a moment must be lost in getting such in over gentle heat from a manure heap, and under a glass or calico-covered frame. Where young onions from early sowings are available, they may be transplanted on the occurrence of dull or rainy weather. Sow lightly of the better class of cabbage and cauliflower for transplanting further on ; and where plants are available, get out as early as possible on well manured soil. Earth up and stake the tall-growing varieties of peas; and towards the end of the month make a pretty full sowing of Canadian Wonder or pale dun French,, beans, and also of scarlet-runners. If not already done, make a general herb bed, including mint, thyme, marjoram, sage, &c.; and in some out of the way corner, on a bit of good soil, put in some sets of that useful condiment, the horseradish. Seakale and rhubarb will require to be richly manured where forced ; and asparagus beds must receive a good dressing of coarse salt or nitrate of soda, with occasional watering if dry weather prevail. Weeds must be kept down among all advancing crops; and in no case must they be allowed to mature seed.
A few seeds of cucumbers, melons, marrows, squashes, tomatoes, and egg plants may be sown under frames late this month, so as to form nice stocky plants for use in putting out early—late in September. Give asparagus beds a good topdressing of manure and a sprinkling of salt; put the covers over the dormant roots of seakale, and surround with fermenting manure. This and asparagus may be forced.for early use by taking up the roots and planting out on a hotbed covered with frame. If done on a large scale, these vegetables sell at very high prices in the market, and the wonder is that the tables of our wealthy people are not more frequently graced by forced vegetables, as are the tables of successful people in England. It is one of the most lucrative branches of the cultivator’s art in England and on the Continent to produce early potatoes, cucumbers, rhubarb, asparagus, seakale, strawberries, and mushrooms ; indeed, the Channel Islanders of Jersey and
Alderney now almost exclusively devote their attention to this special branch of industry.
In the kitchen garden, from the low temperature usually prevailing during this month, growth of all plants will have been slow, and especially on moist, low grounds, which are usually so favourable to rapid growth. But a change is rapidly coming, and happy will be the man who has under shelter, and coming nicely forward, a good collection of young seedlings of all the brassica or cabbage family, for transferring to the open ground oh-the occurrence of more open and genial weather. Cauliflower, cabbage, savoy, and others of this family should be got out on the earliest return of mild weather. Stake carefully all advancing crops of peas, so as to keep them well above the wet ground we may expect during August. Give a final top-dressing to beds of asparagus, as the young shoots may be expected to be pushing next month. Also, prepare to surround seakale and rhubarb roots with warm fermenting manure—whether the roots be covered »vith pots or with bent hoops. If desired, and appliances are at command, asparagus, seakale, and rhubarb may be forced for early use by placing either in artificially heated pits or on soil covered with heaps of fermenting manure, protected by frames of glass or calico. Give every attention to the advancing rows of peas, beans, and other hardy autumn sown vegetables—this will consist of lightening the adjacent soil by occasional hoeing, earthing up, staking, &c. Sow on a warm border, well mulched with light compost or manure, a few radishes of the turnip and long kinds, but sow very thinly, or thin out on the seedlings coming up. But first in importance, perhaps, will be the deep digging and manuring all vacant garden land—-leaving it rough on the surface. This will render it in prime condition for future use later, in the month and during September.
Continue to sow the crops recommended for last month, and hoe up peas, beans, and potatoes. Beet, onions, salsify, scorzonera, carrots, parsnips, peas, and French beans may be sown for the full summer crop, but as the sun at this period has great power, mulching should always be practised. Indeed, this surface dressing of the soil may be really called the sheet anchor of success in gardening. It checks evaporation, obviates the necessity of catering, and maintains the soil in an open condition, and of equable temperature. Get out advanced plants of tomatoes, marrow, cucumber, and
melon plants, and sow for successional crops seeds of all these. The marrow and pumpkin thrive well under the slight shade afforded by maize, and if the sugar corn be selected for this use it will afford a twofold crop. Plant also for a main crop at a fair depth, Early Rose, Snowflake, Brownell’s Beauty, etc. In the warmer districts the sweet potato thrives very well, it being usual to plant cuttings of the vine rather than the tubers.
Steps should be taken to establish crops of capsicums, chillies, and tomatoes, both by sowing seed and by planting out well-hardened plants ; the protection of a few evergreen branches or fern sprigs should be afforded them until danger of frosts is over. Amongst vegetables not appreciated as they ought to be may be named egg-plant and the custard squashes; the latter are every way superior to marrows, and yet are not so generally grown; moreover, the plants occupy much less space, so that for small gardens they ought to be preferred.
With potatoes it will be well, if no experience has been had , of varieties, to plant a few of each, so as to test the suitability of a given kind to the soil. It is often found that a variety doing well in one district does not give satisfaction in another; thus, Early Rose, which is one of the best “ all round” potatoes, is found in many districts to fail utterly. Nothing but actual experience can determine the best kind for a district. Look to seakale, rhubarb, and asparagus where being forced, and keep up the heating material. By the end of the month the asparagus bed should be showing signs of shooting ; give a heavy dressing of salt, or if seaweed be available give a light dressing, after forking carefully over. Hoe up advancing crops of peas and beans, and thin all beds of turnips, parsnips, and carrots, leaving the plants fully six or eight inches apart. Stake all tall-growing peas, and it will be well, where the broad beans have made a great growth, to run a cord from end to end of the row, so as to protect them from the influence of high winds. Cucumber, melon, marrow, squash, tomato, and pumpkin plants should be brought forward by sowing under cover of a frame, or under some kind of protection, so as to be ready to plant out on the first settled mild weather. Cabbage, cauliflower, savoy may be sown, and any plants which may be ready should be got into position at once, always selecting a dull day for the operation. Keep the hoe going, as at this period of the year weeds are growing rapidly, and need constant care to keep them in check.
No time should be lost in sowing cucumbers, melons, and marrows for the full garden crop. In localities exposed to late spring frosts a little night protection will be needed, but the time for frosts is fast passing away. All frame-raised plants of these, and of tomatoes, capsicums, etc., should be transferred to the open garden, to their fruiting positions. Tomatoes will be tolerably forward where steps were taken to get early plants. A sheltered situation is required for these, and, if possible, a fence or light stakes are an advantage, as it enables the grower to secure the robust plants from being broken off by high winds, and keeps the fruit well off the ground and exposed to the sun to ripen early. Where this precaution is not taken, a great deal of the fruit never ripens, or is spoiled. Sow full crops of peas, French beans, and all the leading vegetables; also, sow celery seed, and prick out, for early planting in trenches, the more advanced plants of previous sowings, and prepare new trenches by digging and enriching with good manure. Onions, where too thick, may be gone over, and the surplus plants pricked out on a new bed, as if there be abundant moisture in the soil it will ensure success. Sow about every third week of peas of approved kind, and on the return of dry weather keep the liquid manure-can going on beds of rhubarb, artichokes, and other strong-growing vegetables. Asparagus beds should now be yielding full crops, and it will be well to cut for table all the strong shoots, leaving the weaker growths only to develop. Earth up advancing crops, such as potatoes, beans, and cabbages, and carefully treat the rows of celery—first by pressing the soil around the plant, and then by drawing in with the rake or hoe ; thin carrots, parsnips, and turnips to a distance apart suiting their requirements : eight or twelve inches for turnips, and six inches for carrots, etc. To allow these to grow too thickly is to ruin the prospects of the crop, the distances named being quite the minimum at which the individual plants should stand apart. Prick out on to a cool, shady bed seedling cabbage, cauliflower, etc., which may be ready in the pots or pans, leaving each plant eight inches apart, and mulching the surface. On the first rain, after the plants have gained a little strength, they should be transferred, with the balls of earth attached to their roots, to their final position in the garden rows; lettuce plants especially should have been prepared in this way for transplanting, as, if left to flag much, they rarely recover or yield a luxuriant growth. All salad plants should be urged on to quick growth and speedy development, as only then are they crisp, tender, and enjoyable ; radishes (turnip and long) and the delicious French breakfast radish should be sown freely, as also should mustard and cress ; endive should be earthed up, and blanched by tying in the heads of the plants as they advance towards maturity. Another sowing should be made of sugar maize, the “green corn ” of Americans; and again, at intervals of a fortnight, so as to keep up a good successional yield. This excellent and nutritious vegetable is gradually gaining the taste of English people, and will soon be as popular in the colonies as in America, where, during the summer and autumn, it is never absent from the table. The cobs are ready for use when the corn is solidifying, or just when it may be squeezed to a pulp between the finger and thumb. Sowings may also be made of pop-corn in the same way; it affords a. favourite sweetmeat when roasted and treated with sugar. The peanut may be grown with ease on light sandy soils, and it is not too late to sow for the autumn ' crop; drills or hills should be formed, and the seeds sown eighteen inches apart, and as the plants advance a little earth should be drawn around them. After flowering the stalks turn down and penetrate the soil to a depth of some inches, and bear the pod containing the peanuts. The crop is taken in the autumn, carefully dried, and stored for use.
Attend to growing crops; sow a large crop of French beans to come in autumn ; plant out celery in trenches eighteen inches apart. The trenches should be one foot in depth, and eighteen inches wide; dig in six inches of manure in the bottom. The plants will require shading during the day until established ; any light material will do for the purpose ; well water the plants at the time of planting. Leeks should be planted out in trenches the same way as celery, and when well blanched and boiled as a vegetable are delicious, and, next to the onion, highly nutiitious. Tomatoes in bloom should be stopped a joint or two above the blossom ; sticks to support them should be placed around them in the same manner as peas ; if they are growing rank and are not blossoming, withhold water, and give the plants a check. A sowing of peas may be made after a shower. Yorkshire Hero will be a good sort. Sow for successional crops of cucumbers and vegetable marrows; stop or pinch out the tops of those crops already growing, to produce laterals that will show fruit; give
plenty of water in dry weather in the evening. Sow cabbage and cauliflower in beds, shading the seed beds until the plants are strong enough to bear the sun, then prick them out in a bed well prepared, six inches apart; water them and give shade, and in a month or so they will be ready to plant out in lines two feet every way. Be careful in removing the plants at this season of the year. Take up each plant (cauliflowers especially) with a trowel—you will then get a ball of earth with each plant, and a month will be gained by this method— instead of pulling them and planting them with their naked roots. Early London cauliflowers and St. John’s Day cabbage will suit well for the purpose. The soil should be moved between the growing crops, and all vacant land should be dug and manured, so as to be ready to crop when a shower comes.
At this time of the year the dry weather will usually
seriously affect most crops by showing a lessened growth and flagging leaves of cabbages, turnips, potatoes, etc., so that the hose or watering-pot must be brought extensively into use, together with mulching, for cucumbers, seed beds, lettuces, and celery. Sowing, where water is not available, must be suspended until sufficient rain falls to moisten the soil. Peas can be sown in deep soils by watering the drills thoroughly previous to putting in the seeds ; the same remark applies to kidney beans, Dutch runners, beet, etc. Hoe deeply among crops of potatoes, and earth them at an early stage of growth ; plant late sorts in the cool districts. Cucumbers should have their runners thinned, stopped, and pegged down so that the wind may not disturb them. Transplant cabbages, and Brussels sprouts, in rows, eighteen inches apart each way. Earth up advancing crops, after loosening the soil deeply with the hoe. Cauliflowers—Break down the leaves over the most forward to prevent the sun from injuring the colour; liquid manure would be beneficial to them. Keep the hoe industriously employed between all advancing crops; any plants intended for seed should have stakes placed so as to prevent them from being broken. If small salads, as radish, etc., are sown, choose a moist, shady border, where the drying winds and sun cannot reach them, and water them daily.
Sow large breadths of French beans in lines three feet apart. Spinach—Sow a good crop of this cooling vegetable in drills, eighteen inches apart. Plant out tomatoes and celery in trenches. Rhubarb should have waterings of liquid manure twice a week. Asparagus should be allowed to rest, and on no account cut the stalks off until the autumn ; the beds should be thoroughly watered with liquid manure, adding a little salt with the liquid; this will be the means of the plants forming strong crowns for next spring. Sow for an autumn crop a line of Lima beans, and next to marrowfat peas, this delicious vegetable is first-class. It is not so well known as it deserves to be. Gather herbs and dry them in the shade. Stop cucumber and melon vines as they advance. Support tomatoes with sticks as they grow, and pinch out the tops lust above the blossoms. Give plenty of water in dry weather. Sow for succession cauliflower and cabbage in small beds, shaded for the purpose, until the plants are ready for transplanting. Dig up all vacant pieces of ground, and keep the soil stirred between all growing crops. All rubbish and weeds should be got together and burned, and the ashes applied to the land and forked in ; this, where the soil is heavy, will help to bring it into good heart for turnips and autumn crops of potatoes.
If the young seedlings of cabbages, cauliflowers, etc., have * been carefully treated, as we have so often suggested, by being pricked off into rich beds of fibrous soil to attain strength, then they may be transplanted any evening, lifting each with a trowel and keeping the ball of soil at the roots undisturbed, and planting promptly in well-watered beds. Additional seeds of peas and kidney beans may be sown, and the rows watered and mulched, and a small area of land may be sown with orange jelly or early red American stone turnip, as, if favourable weather prevail, a crop of this esculent is pretty certain ; but the main sowings for autumn and winter use should not be made before the end of February. The chief point to attend to in the culture of the turnip is thinning out, as the plants get the rough leaf; this is more efficiently done by the hoe when sown in drills, and that method should be preferred to sowing broadcast. The best manure for a top-dressing for the _ turnip-crop is Peruvian guano dusted over prior to or during rain, and when the young plants have got their second leaf; but dried fowl-dung beaten to powder is perhaps more available, and it is an excellent fertiliser. Celery, whether in seed beds or trenches, should not be allowed to suffer from drought, copious waterings once a week at this season being necessary if rain holds off. The plant is a gross feeder, and can do with “any amount” of manure and water. The method of covering the trenches with boards to shield from the sun is to be condemned, as it weakens the growth by drawing up the plants. Nothing more than a few light branches of ti-tree should be used, just sufficient to check the direct rays of the sun without interfering with the vigour and robustness of the plant. Fresh sowings of sugar-maize should be made every three weeks or so, to keep up a constant supply of this popular vegetable for the table ; and as the crop is gathered the old stems should be cleared away. Keep up a supply of salads for the table—radishes, mustard and cress, lettuce, and endive—the last-named being regularly tied up to promote its blanching. Cucumber and marrow plants, for an autumn yield of healthy fruit, should be put out as before recommended, on patches enriched by having a barrow-load of good dung dug in at the spot selected. Tomato plants will require branches stuck around them up which to ramble, thus exposing their fruit to the sun, and keeping it clear of the soil. The plants of cucumbers, melons, marrows, and pumpkins should have their rambling growths stopped by pinching out the shoot at the second joint; or, better still, by gently coiling round the shoots and pegging down. This will frequently induce blossom to break at nearly every joint, and a much more fruitful result is obtained than from plants allowed to grow on uninterruptedly over the garden.
Thebe is no more interesting subject to the cottager than that of bee-keeping; but, to secure success, the required attention must be paid to the hive and to the necessities of its occupants. And, when we say attention, we mean a steady, regular looking at the hives, and a close observation of what is going on within, and an intelligent compliance with the requirements indicated. The fashion of hiving a swarm of bees in a candle—or gin—case, and then leaving them to their fate, can only result, in nine instances out of ten, in a steady deterioration of the stock, and a profitless honey harvest, if, indeed, any be available at the end of the season.
We propose to briefly sketch out the course anyone should adopt who proposes to enter upon the industry of bee-keeping, and, if our instructions are carried out with even ordinary fidelity, the bee-keeper will, at all events, have no cause to blame himself. There are, of course, unfavourable seasons when, from the exceeding dryness of the weather, or extremes of heat or cold, no precautions can secure the safety and profitable yield of the stock, but it is rarely that good management and watchfulness fail to reduce these to a minimum. Bee-keeping, like every other industry, has its drawbacks, and requires to be entered upon with no extravagant hopes of profit, but with a fair assurance that, with care and attention, nine years out of ten good results will accrue.
The first essential to success is that the hive be placed in a district within easy range of pasturage for the bees; for, though they will wander for miles in the pursuit of flowers, so much time and labour is involved in the search that no accumulation of honey is the result, and many of the workers perish of fatigue in winging their flight with their burden homewards. Indeed, unless there be fields and gardens within a distance of a few hundred yards, it is labour aud time lost to attempt bee-keeping. This first essential attended to, the next is the hive or system of housing the insects. The common plan of taking the first box to hand, regardless of the previous purpose to which it has been devoted, is radically bad. It may have held soap, or candles, or mustard, and have been imperfectly cleaned; or, supposing it to be clean, it may be too large, or too small, or out of all proportion to the requirements of the insects. Indeed, nothing but a properly constructed hive will suit for the' profitable keeping of bees, and these are so cheap or so readily made that several ought to be kept in readiness for hiving swarms as opportunity occurs.
It is to be presumed that the amateur intending to keep bees will purchase his first stock from some neighbouring beekeeper, or answer some of the numerous advertisements which appear in the season of swarms for sale. The month of October is the best period to enter upon the industry. He should purchase some of the advertised hives, all of which have some special merit. The old form of straw hive is good, as, being a poor conductor of heat, the temperature within is kept pretty equable; but the Nadir hive, and some recent American varieties, are very good, and much more economical in management than the straw hives. If one of these be obtained, anyone may, in a leisure hour, make one on the same model.
In beginning bee-keeping, it is of all importance to commence well; and those who may have stocks, and purpose starting on a new course of management, will give attention to the following remarks. Arrangements should be made for the purchase of a stock, or a swarm may be taken, when discovered, and placed in the hive selected.
The Taking of Swarms.—As a rule these will be found on the branch of some low shrub, rarely very high, and rarely on the ground. Usually the bees leave the hive about ten o'clock, and generally on a calm, sunny day, a single cloud passing over seeming to affect the general intention of the bees as to swarming. By evening the cluster of bees will be pretty quiet, and may be taken very easily in the following manner:—Spread a sheet or table-cloth on the ground underneath the swarm. Bend down the branch or bush to the ground, and with a sharp blow jerk the bees on to the cloth. Clap the inverted box over the swarm, and leave them for an hour or so, until they have settled. Then tie the corners of the sheet or cloth over the top of the box, and carry the whole to where it is intended the hive shall stand, and gently draw out the cloth from under the bees. A board projecting two inches all round the hive should be placed underneath on the bench or table, and a groove should be cut in this footboard to form the entrance to the hive.
The general operations may be summarised as follows:—
January.—Protect the hives from intense sun-glare, and occasionally water profusely the ground around the bee-house or hive. Swarms coming off during this month are seldom of much use, and, if taken, may be returned to the hive, giving additional room by adding supers or inverted glasses, wherein the workers may deposit their honey. All the choicest spare honey should be removed before the comb gets discoloured from the bees passing over it.
February.—Unless in a very favourable season there is little pasturage for the bees in this month, and now will be apparent the value of any plants sown for their special use, such as a great breadth of mignonette, peas, beans, or other garden crops which are abloom.
March.—In this month rain usually falls copiously, and many of the indigenous shrubs and trees start into bloom; but, should the season be exceptionally dry, artificial feeding must be resorted to.
April.—If any hive or stock should be observed working in a listless, unearnest way, flying in and out without any apparent object, it may be surmised that it is without a queen bee, and should be united to a good active hive, if such be available. This may be accomplished by inverting the faulty •hive at night, sprinkling over the inmates a little syrup formed with beer and sugar, and then removing close to the hive it is intended to strengthen.
May.—This is not a very active month with bees, unless in exceptional seasons. The hives may be lifted at night, and ¿ill débris and dead bees removed from the floor or bottom board. On sunny days the bees will be observed busily ■engaged in the work of honey-getting.
June.—Usually in this month the bees are in a state of repose, and advantage should be taken to remove any fallen combs and other matters offensive to the order-loving inmates. In this, and indeed in all operations with bees, the greatest care should be taken to avoid all noise and bustle ; a quiet firmness of purpose is requisite in all dealings with "bees. Any hive in an undesirable position may this month be removed to a place more suitable, as the bees are not very active at their work.
July is also a month of inactivity with bees, and a careful inspection of the hive should be made to see that neither moths, mice, nor ants are doing mischief.
August.—During this month it is sometimes necessary to feed the stock. A little sugar dissolved in weak beer or water may be placed in shallow pans adjacent to the hive.
September.—Towards the close of this month a close inspection should be made of the stocks, and where any are found weakly, with a mass of dirty or impure comb, they may be united to other stocks by driving. With vigorous, healthy stocks, towards the close of the month a swarm may be given off ; but it will be better to afford them additional space by either adding a bell-glass or super. If the weather should be unsettled and adverse to the bees seeking honey, place within the hive or on the ledge little cardboard boxes of oatmeal mixed with sugar.
October.—This should be one of the most active periods of the year for honey-getting, as many fruit trees, with the acacias and other indigenous trees, will be in full bloom. Keep a lookout for swarms, as those thrown off during this month are always stronger than later ones. If no breadth of pasturage be available for bees, sow mignonette extensively in every available space ; this plant is much liked by the bees, and the honey it yields is of a most delicious flavour. The famed honey of Narbonne, in France, owes its special character to the mignonette and other sweet odour-yielding plants which are sown for the special use of the bees.
November.—This, too, will be a honey-getting month with the bees, and any stock observed to be in a listless, unthriving condition should be inspected to ascertain, if possible, the cause. This may be the absence of a queen bee, or she may be feeble and out of health; or it may be owing to the presence' of ants, mice, or other intruders. Have in readiness hives for any swarms which may be drawn off, also stands prepared ready to receive the hives as the swarms are taken. If swarms are desired curtail as much as possible the space with strong stock.
December.—The only care requiste this month will be the taking of swarms as given off, and the occasional deprivation of the bees of their honey as soon as the combs are well sealed over. .
As in bee-keeping the most careful master will occasionally get stung, it may be well to mention that strong tobacco juice and ammonia rubbed over the wound, after removing the sting, will speedily alleviate the pain.
Some bee-keepers, or, rather, one class of them, try to improve the condition of their hives by contracting their space during the autumn and winter—that is, by shutting off, and outside the line of the bees’ action, so many bars of comb. The hives are thus contracted and made less so many months of the year—autumn and spring. Whatever end this practice may serve it does not strengthen the population of hives ; it does not increase their number of bees in autumn, and that is a point of prime importance. Far better fill a good-sized house with bees than break it up or break it down by contraction for the comfort of a smaller number. Advanced apiarians who follow the swarming system of management strengthen their stocks in autumn by adding to them the population of other hives. In good seasons the honey hives make the other strong, and in poor seasons the bees of the weak hives make the strong ones stronger.