The neglect of salads may be caused by an idea that vegetables in a raw state are unwholesome. In the case, however, of both cooked and uncooked vegetables, whole-someness must surely depend on the skill with which they are grown and served. If the ingredients used as salads are crisp, tender, and succulent, none but good effects should be anticipated by people of normal digestion.
The ground for Beetroot should be prepared with some care, if possible during the previous season. Deep digging is essential to the success of the crop, as the manure used must on no account be placed near the sur-face, since to do this would cause the roots for use, not cut Copyright, Sutton & Sons to fork. Tread the ground firm in the spring, and rake it level. The manure put in should be rich farmyard or stable manure, well decayed and properly stored. These conditions of preparation apply to all ordinary plots of ground for the sowing of salads and other vegetables.
A study should be made of the special foods required by different crops, so that they may be supplied by artificial fertilisers. As a general rule, the same crops should not be allowed to exhaust the ground during successive seasons.
Sow the seeds of beetroot in drills an inch deep and twelve inches apart, drawing the drills evenly by a line, and using a triangular or a draw hoe. As soon as the seedlings are well up, thinning should begin, and must be continued at intervals until the roots stand at least nine inches apart. Beetroot and other root crops cannot be transplanted. When ready for digging, the roots should be lifted and stored in a dry cellar.
The ground for this popular salad should be fairly moist. It should be deeply dug and richly manured to obtain the best results. For an early crop of celery, seeds may be sown in a gentle hotbed during the latter part of February, in boxes of good but somewhat gritty soil. Transplant the seedlings into other boxes, and grow them on gently, hardening them off for planting out.
The trenches prepared for this purpose should be at least a foot wide, and the same distance deep, and should run north and south if possible. Put the young plants out about nine inches apart, water thoroughly, and dust with soot.
Earthing up should begin when about three-quarters of the growth has been made. Choose a fine day for the work. Chop the soil down with a sharp spade, drawing it carefully round the plants, first removing any decayed leaves or side growths. The operation will be continued as growth proceeds. Be careful to keep the soil away from the foliage of the plants. The process of blanching will take about six or eight weeks.
In growing celeriac, or turnip-rooted celery, the soil should be drawn away from the stems as they begin to swell, and be drawn up again when nearing maturity, in order to whiten them. Celeriac may be stored in a dry cellar during the winter months.
To grow chicory as a salad plant, sow the seeds out of doors in April, and thin the seedlings to six inches apart. Lift the plants the following winter, and after putting in pots or boxes, keep them in a warm, dark place, moistening when necessary overhead and at the root, by which means the leaves will become blanched quickly.
Cos and Cabbage Lettuce
Lettuces may be sown in February in hotbeds or frames, and out of doors at intervals between the middle of March and the middle of August. Sow the seeds as thinly as possible. Allow the plants to stand nine inches apart after thinning, leaving the space of a foot between the rows. Cabbage varieties are perhaps the easiest to cultivate successfully. The long-leafed (cos) lettuces need tying with raffia about half-way up the leaves when these are fully grown, with the object of rendering the hearts tender, white, and sweet to the taste.
Lettuces prefer a light rich soil. Slugs are very fond of the young plants, and should be combated as much as possible by sprinkling lime or soot around them. The freshness of, lettuces is best preserved by pulling them up by the roots, instead of cutting them off above the ground-level.
The cultivation of endive (sometimes called "Christmas salad") resembles that of chicory. The plants may be blanched by putting thin pieces of slate over their centres, or by lifting them and placing them in the dark. The leaves of endive can be cooked and eaten as winter greens.
A .Substitute for Lettuce
Corn salad, or lamb's lettuce, is not nearly as generally grown in England as it deserves, for it is a most useful substitute for lettuces when these are scarce. Seed can be sown from August to October, in drills nine inches apart, in any good garden soil, for salads for spring use, and again, if needed, in March or April. Thin the plants to at least four inches apart, transplanting the thinnings if desired.