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HOME VEGETABLE GARDENING
A COMPLETE AND PRACTICAL GUIDE TO THE PLANTING AND CARE OF ALL VEGETABLES, FRUITS AND BERRIES WORTH GROWING FOR HOME USE
F. F. ROCKWELL
Author of _Around the Year in the Garden_, _Gardening Indoors and Under Glass_, _The Key to the Land,_ etc., etc.
With some, the home vegetable garden is a hobby; with others, especially in these days of high prices, a great help. There are many in both classes whose experience in gardening has been restricted within very narrow bounds, and whose present spare time for gardening is limited. It is as "first aid" to such persons, who want to do practical, efficient gardening, and do it with the least possible fuss and loss of time, that this book is written. In his own experience the author has found that garden books, while seldom lacking in information, often do not present it in the clearest possible way. It has been his aim to make the present volume first of all practical, and in addition to that, though comprehensive, yet simple and concise. If it helps to make the way of the home gardener more clear and definite, its purpose will have been accomplished.
I INTRODUCTION II WHY YOU SHOULD GARDEN III REQUISITES OF THE HOME VEGETABLE GARDEN IV THE PLANTING PLAN V IMPLEMENTS AND THEIR USES VI MANURES AND FERTILIZERS VII THE SOIL AND ITS PREPARATION
VIII STARTING THE PLANTS IX SOWING AND PLANTING X THE CULTIVATION OF VEGETABLES XI THE VEGETABLES AND THEIR SPECIAL NEEDS XII BEST VARIETIES OF THE GARDEN VEGETABLES XIII INSECTS AND DISEASE, AND METHODS OF FIGHTING THEM XIV HARVESTING AND STORING
XV THE VARIETIES OF POME AND STONE FRUITS XVI PLANTING; CULTIVATION; FILLER CROPS XVII PRUNING, SPRAYING, HARVESTING XVIII BERRIES AND SMALL FRUITS XIX A CALENDAR OF OPERATIONS XX CONCLUSION
Formerly it was the custom for gardeners to invest their labors and achievements with a mystery and secrecy which might well have discouraged any amateur from trespassing upon such difficult ground. "Trade secrets" in either flower or vegetable growing were acquired by the apprentice only through practice and observation, and in turn jealously guarded by him until passed on to some younger brother in the profession. Every garden operation was made to seem a wonderful and difficult undertaking. Now, all that has changed. In fact the pendulum has swung, as it usually does, to the other extreme. Often, if you are a beginner, you have been flatteringly told in print that you could from the beginning do just as well as the experienced gardener.
My garden friend, it cannot, as a usual thing, be done. Of course, it may happen and sometimes does. You _might_, being a trusting lamb, go down into Wall Street with $10,000 [Ed. Note: all monetary values throughout the book are 1911 values] and make a fortune. You know that you would not be likely to; the chances are very much against you. This garden business is a matter of common sense; and the man, or the woman, who has learned by experience how to do a thing, whether it is cornering the market or growing cabbages, naturally does it better than the one who has not. Do not expect the impossible. If you do, read a poultry advertisement and go into the hen business instead of trying to garden. I _have_ grown pumpkins that necessitated the tearing down of the fence in order to get them out of the lot, and sometimes, though not frequently, have had to use the axe to cut through a stalk of asparagus, but I never "made $17,000 in ten months from an eggplant in a city back-yard." No, if you are going to take up gardening, you will have to work, and you will have a great many disappointments. All that I, or anyone else, could put between the two covers of a book will not make a gardener of you. It must be learned through the fingers, and back, too, as well as from the printed page. But, after all, the greatest reward for your efforts will be the work itself; and unless you love the work, or have a feeling that you will love it, probably the best way for you, is to stick to the grocer for your garden.
Most things, in the course of development, change from the simple to the complex. The art of gardening has in many ways been an exception to the rule. The methods of culture used for many crops are more simple than those in vogue a generation ago. The last fifty years has seen also a tremendous advance in the varieties of vegetables, and the strange thing is that in many instances the new and better sorts are more easily and quickly grown than those they have replaced. The new lima beans are an instance of what is meant. While limas have always been appreciated as one of the most delicious of vegetables, in many sections they could never be successfully grown, because of their aversion to dampness and cold, and of the long season required to mature them. The newer sorts are not only larger and better, but hardier and earlier; and the bush forms have made them still more generally available.
Knowledge on the subject of gardening is also more widely diffused than ever before, and the science of photography has helped wonderfully in telling the newcomer how to do things. It has also lent an impetus and furnished an inspiration which words alone could never have done. If one were to attempt to read all the gardening instructions and suggestions being published, he would have no time left to practice gardening at all. Why then, the reader may ask at this point, another garden book? It is a pertinent question, and it is right that an answer be expected in advance. The reason, then, is this: while there are garden books in plenty, most of them pay more attention to the "content" than to the form in which it is laid before the prospective gardener. The material is often presented as an accumulation of detail, instead of by a systematic and constructive plan which will take the reader step by step through the work to be done, and make clear constantly both the principles and the practice of garden making and management, and at the same time avoid every digression unnecessary from the practical point of view. Other books again, are either so elementary as to be of little use where gardening is done without gloves, or too elaborate, however accurate and worthy in other respects, for an every-day working manual. The author feels, therefore, that there is a distinct field for the present book.
And, while I still have the reader by the "introduction" buttonhole, I want to make a suggestion or two about using a book like this. Do not, on the one hand, read it through and then put it away with the dictionary and the family Bible, and trust to memory for the instruction it may give; do not, on the other hand, wait until you think it is time to plant a thing, and then go and look it up. For instance, do not, about the middle of May, begin investigating how many onion seeds to put in a hill; you will find out that they should have been put in, in drills, six weeks before. Read the whole book through carefully at your first opportunity, make a list of the things you should do for your own vegetable garden, and put opposite them the proper dates for your own vicinity. Keep this available, as a working guide, and refer to special matters as you get to them.
Do not feel discouraged that you cannot be promised immediate success at the start. I know from personal experience and from the experience of others that "book-gardening" is a practical thing. If you do your work carefully and thoroughly, you may be confident that a very great measure of success will reward the efforts of your first garden season.
And I know too, that you will find it the most entrancing game you ever played.
Good luck to you!
WHY YOU SHOULD GARDEN
There are more reasons to-day than ever before why the owner of a small place should have his, or her, own vegetable garden. The days of home weaving, home cheese-making, home meat-packing, are gone. With a thousand and one other things that used to be made or done at home, they have left the fireside and followed the factory chimney. These things could be turned over to machinery. The growing of vegetables cannot be so disposed of. Garden tools have been improved, but they are still the same old one-man affairs--doing one thing, one row at a time. Labor is still the big factor--and that, taken in combination with the cost of transporting and handling such perishable stuff as garden produce, explains why _the home gardener can grow his own vegetables at less expense than he can buy them_. That is a good fact to remember.
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