Author of "Small Holdings for Women," "The Farmers' Friend" etc.
Employed - Watering - Flowers that Pay to Grow
On the largest of our floral farms, where from forty to seventy acres are devoted to the cultivation of blooms for market, the land is first well broken with a light digging plough; it is then rolled, to pulverise any clods of soil, and after
They will resort to the more primitive method of working the land, and the spade or digging-fork will take the place of the plough. Now, to what lengths can a woman be expected to go when the question of digging arises ? There are many who declare that digging is no part of a lady's handiwork; but, at the same time, the writer has known many who could dig as truly and as thoroughly as any man. Candidly, digging to the experienced person is a very different matter from the same work to a greenhorn, for it is one of those tasks where knack has a considerable sway. The easy movement of a practised hand compared with the graceless efforts of a beginner, who wastes energy at every stroke, is most noticeable.
The first consideration of the lady who would dig and delve should be to cultivate the correct style, just as she would do for swimming or tennis. This is half the battle, and when the proper method has been acquired, the stiffness in the limbs and the pain in the small of the back will quickly disappear; added to which, the actual physical labour will be greatly reduced.
The initial rule is to stand well up to the work, not exactly over the spade or fork, but close to it. Place the tool at the point where it is to enter the ground, not in a perfectly vertical position, but at a slight angle. The right hand should be palm downwards on the handle of the tool, the left hand at a convenient point on the haft, palm inwards. The left foot should be on the left shoulder of the blade, the weight of the body being supported upon the right foot. Obviously, for left-handed folk, the positions are reversed, but it is advisable, where possible, to cultivate the right-handed position, for it is by far the easier and more comfortable of the two.
Now, with the foot and hands, force the blade of the spade or tynes of the fork to their full depth in the ground; it is of the utmost importance to dig deeply from a culture point of view, and there must be no careless shallow spits. Raise the tool with the soil upon it, turn the soil over, and, throwing it slightly forward, break up any clods as you level off. Move to the next spit, and proceed as before.
It will, of course, be understood that land in which flowers are to be raised is usually finer and in better heart than rough ground for the culture of the majority of vegetables, and for this reason it should be quite feasible for the accomplished lady gardener to do much of her own digging. Let her first thoroughly grasp the professional style, and she should be able to use her spade effectively for some hours at a time without undue fatigue.
Some land - the heavier class, as a rule - is better when dug with a spade, but the lighter staples may be turned with a fork, which is naturally the more simple tool. For sound digging, a fork with four tynes should be used, and flat tynes are better than round ones.
Next to digging, hoeing is of the utmost importance, and to grow flowers on a large scale, where the plants are set out in drills, frequent hoeing is necessary. The uses of the hoe are threefold. Primarily, it checks embryo weeds; secondly, it promotes healthy root action of the plants themselves; thirdly, it keeps the surface of the soil open and porous, thus assisting in the even supply of moisture.
As a general rule, a draw hoe is used. It will be four inches in width, half-moon in shape, and it will be mounted on a swan-neck to set it at the required angle. When buying such a tool, one should order a fourinch, half-moon, swan-neck hoe, and the cost, including an ash handle, should not exceed eighteenpence. Another class of hoe employed is that known as the Dutch hoe. This is worked with a pushing motion, but it requires a good deal of experience to master the tool thoroughly. A four-inch Duch hoe would cost about the same as a draw hoe.
A Hand Cultivator
A tool now being much used in our flower-gardens is the "Buco" hoe. This is an implement of Canadian origin, consisting of three or five tynes, each pronged and mounted at the end of a long handle. It is drawn between the rows of plants, and its effect is like that of a cultivator used by our farmers. With a "Buco" an enormous area can be covered in a day, and the tool does its work most effectively.