Generally speaking, watering is not carried out to a great extent in our large market gardens. Not only is the labour expensive, but to be effective it must be continuous: It is folly to swamp a row of plants one day, and to neglect them for the remainder of the week. There are some crops, of course, that inevitably must be watered, such as lettuce, radish, seedling cabbages, and so on, and for them a water-barrow should be used.
A water-barrow with strong frame and wrought-iron wheels, to hold twenty gallons, costs about 30s. complete. It is merely used for conveying water from one part of the garden to another, and has no pumping device. A garden engine of the same capacity, with a pump that will throw water forty feet, would cost nearly five pounds, and, in the writer's opinion, is not a necessity.
The practice usually followed by market gardeners is to mulch those crops most susceptible to drought. The mulch is composed of littery stable manure, and is scattered loosely along the drills so that the roots are covered. A light mulching will not only prevent evaporation but it will also keep the surface of the ground open, so that hard caking is avoided. Peas and beans at the critical time when the blossom is setting benefit by a mulch, and tomatoes, marrows, and such subjects are treated in a similar way.
In all gardens, large or small, there is a goodly amount of waste matter, and by
To get the best results from mamcrop peas the ground should be well trenched and liberally manured. When opening the trench the sub'soil should be turned over skilful treatment it can be turned to very useful account. The haulm of potatoes, beans, and peas, the green tops of root crops, weeds (excepting those with tap roots), outside leaves and stumps of cabbage crops, leaves from the trees, and the scrapings from ditch-bottoms have each a certain utility.
A. very good plan is to institute in an out-of-the-way corner a permanent heap where all such waste may be thrown. If the soil is inclined to be at all heavy, the household ashes may well find their way to the same spot. Every month or six weeks the whole heap should be turned over with a garden fork, and if a little lime is mingled with the matter it will assist the rotting process.
As required, and when ready, the well-decayed material from this rubbish-heap may be wheeled on to the land and either dug or ploughed in, and in this way it will yield a high manurial value. In the writer's opinion, waste matter so used is more productive than if it were burned and the ashes scattered on the gound, though bonfire ashes are of rich value, of especial use with onion crops.
The lady's ideal costume for gardening consists of a tight-fitting blouse and a short, comfortable skirt, with a woollen cap, or, at all events, headgear that will not be affected by the wind. Strong boots are also necessary, those with high tops, such as are made for shooting and golfing, being most serviceable. Strong leather gloves are also advisable, but if they are dispensed with, it is a good plan to fill the space under one's nails with common yellow soap before gardening. A wash at the end of the day will remove all traces of the garden.
Cucumber. It is very doubtful if cucumbers can be made a profitable side line in a market holding, for with the indoor varieties a good deal of heat and constant attention are needed. The usual plan is to sow the seed in March or early April, using small pots, and placing a single seed in each. A bottom heat of at least 700 is necessary, and when the plants are sufficiently large they are bedded out.
If frames are used, the bed is made up from soil consisting of leaf mould, well-decayed manure, and rich loam, and a deep root-run is necessary. The plants must be kept continually moist, the supply being regulated according to the weather conditions, and when about four leaves have been made, the top of the plant should be pinched out. Air should be admitted to the frame according to the prevailing temperature.
Cucumbers are usually grown in low greenhouses, in beds of soil running down the sides of the house, the shoots being trained up to wires or strings. Heat is imperative, and is usually supplied by means of hot-water pipes running beneath the soil. From time to time, as required, rich soil is added to the beds, and liquid manure is supplied frequently during the fruiting season.
Ridge cucumbers are sown in April, and planted out in the open garden at the end of May or beginning of June on a richly prepared bed. The top of each plant is pinched out, and the strands are pegged down to the ground as they grow.
Varieties: Perfection and Cuthill's Black Spine. Ridge varieties: Excelsior and Stockwood Ridge.
Garlic. This is a crop well worth growing, the bulbs being appreciated by all cooks for flavouring. February and March are the best months for planting, the seed bulbs being set two inches beneath the surface in well-worked ground, a foot apart and in drills a foot asunder. Seed garlic costs 8d. per pound.
Horseradish. This crop requires well-worked and richly manured ground. The young roots should be planted in March a foot apart, with their heads just under the surface, and the produce should be lifted in the autumn, a proportion being kept back for planting another season.
Leek. The leek is one of the mainstays of the market garden during the winter months, and is a vegetable that is becoming increasingly popular. The old-fashioned plan of growing in trenches after the manner of celery need only be followed on very light land, market growers, as a rule, contenting themselves with drawing earth up to the plants to blanch them.
The seed should be sown in March in a finely worked bed; the drills should be a foot apart, and thin sowing is advisable. As the seedlings mature, they should be transplanted into a bed that has been enriched liberally with manure, the drills being twenty-four inches apart, with twelve inches between the plants. The first leeks should be ready in September, and by transplanting seedlings from time to time during the early summer months a supply of produce should be available till the end of February. An abundance of water is necessary for the seedlings when first bedded out.
Varieties: Musselburg, the Lyon, and London Flag.
Lettuce. There is a constant demand for this wholesome vegetable, and by making sowings of seed every three weeks a regular supply may be obtained. Cabbage lettuce is much grown by gardeners for the early summer markets, but cos varieties mature the better in hot weather.
The seed is sown thinly in well-prepared beds, and the seedlings are transplanted when sufficiently large into rich, deeply worked soil. Too much manure, within reason, cannot be given, and the plants should be set out nine inches apart. Cos lettuce is tied round with broad strips of bast when it begins to form heart.
It is an excellent plan to raise lettuce as a
Good pea'sticks should be well feathered with twigs, and should be set up so that the vines may be well supported at the top. To set sticks in the form of an inverted letter V is a mistake
" catch crop " on the tops of celery trenches and in similar positions, to utilise the ground set aside eventually for maturing another crop. Lettuce is a crop that demands regular watering in dry weather to bring it to perfection, as everything depends upon unchecked development.
In preparing the seed-bed, well-decayed manure, ashes from a bonfire, dry fowls' droppings, and pig manure are advisable. The ground should be deeply worked and well pulverised, and if a top dressing of soot and salt- sufficient to dust over the surface is applied before levelling, so much the better.
The seed-bed may be made firm either by treading or by utilising a light garden roller, and the seed should be sown thickly in drills a foot apart and about half an inch deep. The bed should then be raked over finely, and the whole patted down with the back of a spade.