As for artificial manures, usually supplied in the form of non-odorous powders, they are principally used by market gardeners as stimulants to growing crops. A critical time is chosen, when the plant has reached a certain stage, and the tonic is then administered and either hoed or watered in. It is seldom that artificial manures are used as the bedrock of manuring, stable refuse still holding its own.
The writer's advice to women market gardeners is to employ male labour for the actual digging or ploughing of land, and then to undertake the remaining tasks themselves. Fourpence an hour is a very fair price to pay for digging, and as this work is done chiefly in the spring and autumn, there should be many weeks in the year when it will be unnecessary to spend a penny on labour, unless, of course, the holding is of considerable extent. In the latter case it will probably be a better plan to engage a man permanently, and to pay him about 18s. per week all the year round.
Artichoke (Green or Globe). There is but little demand for this vegetable, but, if you are conducting a family-hamper connection, you may have customers who will care for it. The seed should be sown at the end of March, and the plants bedded out on well-manured ground, four feet apart in each direction.
Artichoke (Jerusalem). This is hardly a profitable market crop, but may be grown for disposal in family hampers at about a penny a pound. The seed tubers should be planted in March six inches deep and a foot apart. On account of their tall stems they should be grown where a heavy shadow is not cast on other crops. Jerusalem artichokes make a capital summer windbreak, and there is more demand for the white variety than the pink.
Asparagus. When once established this is a profitable crop. It is better to commence a bed with three-year-old plants than to grow direct from seed, the price of suitable plants being four shillings or five shillings per hundred. On heavy land the asparagus beds should be raised six inches above the level of the surrounding ground, but with light soil this is not necessary.
The foundation of an asparagus bed should be carefully excavated, and, in the case of heavy soil, the use of chalk is advisable to form good drainage before a thick layer of manure is provided. The plants should be bedded in fifteen inches apart, and a bed containing two rows, with a yard between the rows, is most convenient.
Asparagus should never be cut after Midsummer Day, and in the autumn the bed should be made up with leaves and manure. In the spring a dressing of salt should be given, sufficient being used to impart a whitish surface. Seaweed, when obtainable, makes an ideal dressing.
Beans (Broad). There is always a good demand for early broad beans, a demand that slackens when peas come in season. In sheltered gardens with light soils a first sowing may be made in December, but February is the favourite month. This is a crop that is usually overcrowded, and if you draw two drills a foot apart, and sow the beans six inches apart in the drills, excellent results may be expected. Well-worked ground and liberal manuring are necessary, and an exposed situation should be chosen. Windsor Longpod, Green Longpod, and Harlington Windsor are three good varieties.
Beans (Dwarf). The dwarf French, or kidney, beans form a most profitable and easily grown crop, and provided the pods are kept well picked, the plants will be most prolific. A first sowing may be made at the end of April, and successional sowings should follow at intervals. It is a good plan to sow in drills twenty inches apart, with eight inches between each bean. To carry the plants through a summer drought plenty of manure should be provided. Ne Plus Ultra, Negro Longpod, and Canadian Wonder are three good varieties.
Beans (Runner). The runner bean is one of the most prolific crops, and by successional sowing the bearing period may often be extended well into October. In small gardens where large pods are required, the plants should be trained on poles, but market gardeners, who grow for bulk rather than size, do not use these supports, their plan being to pinch out the leaders of the plant con-
Salting an asparagus bed. This work is done in the early spring, and sufficient agricultural salt is used to give the bed a whitish appearance tinuously, thus encouraging the formation of a compact bush.
For the best results deep, wide trenches should be dug and half-filled with well-decayed manure before the soil is replaced. The seed should not be sown closer than a foot apart, except when the plants are to be raised without sticks, when seed may be sown in a double drill, with ten inches between each seed in either direction. Scarlet Runner, Painted Lady, and the Czar (white seeded) are three good varieties, and the new climbing French bean, which is string-less, is worthy of attention.
Beet. This is a splendid market garden crop, and may be used as an item in family hampers for seven months consecutively The soil should be well worked and friable, and the site chosen one that was heavily manured for the crop of the previous season. Beet abominates fresh manure, which causes misshapen roots.
April and May are the best months for sowing seed. The crop is best grown in drills a foot asunder, and when sowing the garden line should be adjusted along the drill, and holes should be made with a blunt stick nine inches apart. Into each hole three seeds should be dropped. When the seedlings appear, they should be thinned till only one is left at each hole.
Beets for winter supplies are lifted in the late sum mer and stored in a clamp, which is made by excavating soil to the depth of a foot and lining the pit with straw; the roots are then laid in and heaped up conically; more straw is used to cover the heap completely, and over all a thick layer of soil is placed.
Beet drawn when immature is acceptable for salading.
Borecole, or Kale. This is a coarse-growing vegetable raised for cutting in winter. The seed is sown in April, and the plants bedded out two feet apart in July. Rich, well-tilled land is needed for this crop, which should be treated much like other members of the cabbage family.
"Cottager's Kale" is a favourite variety, but the vegetable is hardly dainty enough to be included in family hampers.