II. Two Acres Of Ground Covered With Greenhouses

To cover this space with modern greenhouses would take twelve houses, each 240 ft. long and 30 ft. wide, each greenhouse covering 800 sq. yd., or about 1/6 ac. The cost of twelve such houses would be not less than 4560, and probably a good deal more, according to the quantity of piping used, and the kind of boiler, to say nothing of the cost of coal and coke needed to maintain the requisite warmth.

The cost of the plant for a 2-ac. French garden would be approximately:

300 frames and 900 lights ............450

3000 cloches at 5 per 100 ............ 150 making a total of 600, or nearly 4000 less than the capital outlay for covering 2 ac. with greenhouses.

About 1000 mats would be necessary for a French garden at a cost of about 70, but only about one-third of these would have to be replaced after the first two or three years.

Each year also about 800 tons of manure, at a cost of about 240, would have to be secured for the French garden; but as the great bulk of this manure would be available for the improvement of the soil under open-air crops year after year, it cannot be looked upon as a loss after use, but rather as a valuable asset that is never realizeable when gardening purely under glass.

The disadvantages of gardening under immovable glass structures are fairly obvious. The natural soil, if cultivated, can never be exposed to the sweetening influences of the weather, and if it should happen to be infested with Wireworms, Cockchafer grubs, Eelworms, or fungoid diseases, the expense and trouble of clearing it is sometimes enormous. On the other hand, if stages are erected, and plants are grown in pots, a large extra outlay is necessary, both as regards capital and annual expenditure for staging, pots, soils, manures, and fuel.

As to labour, it is really no more costly, and no more incessant, than in gardening under glass; but it is a little more so than in ordinary open-air market gardening as practised in the British Islands. It is just as essential, under the French system, to give the plants water, to ventilate the frames and cloches, to shade from the sun, or protect from frost, even as one must attend to these operations at all times when growing Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Melons, Ferns, Zonal Pelargoniums, or other crops under glass during the winter and spring months.

The reputation of incessant labour and ceaseless toil which has been given to French gardening in Britain by some has been obtained chiefly from those who thought to make a fortune in a miraculously short time without having to work for it, and without having had any experience in plant cultivation or the disposal of produce. With such novices failures have been numerous, but in the hands of expert cultivators, who are also business men, the French system of intensive cultivation deserves careful consideration.

For example, consider the hot season of 1911. The British market gardener had not a lettuce (cos or cabbage) to sell until about the last week in May, from the open ground, and then 25 per cent of the crop at least was wasted. And in July, with an absence of rain for twenty-four days, and the thermometer frequently showing 85° F. in the shade, there was scarcely a lettuce or a radish to be obtained in any of the big markets. If ever the British market gardener missed his chance of making money out of Lettuces it was in the summer of 1911, and no doubt in other hot summers of previous years. But the French growers who use no glass during the summer can always rely, owing to their system of cultivation, upon beautifully luscious crops of Lettuces, etc, at high prices, while their British brethren are confining their attentions to Dwarf and Runner Beans which often realize only from 6d. to 1s. per bushel.

Although some assert that there is nothing in the French system, and that it is only an old English one that has been dropped, the fact remains that the French maraicher has tender salads all the year round, and is filling his pockets with money, while in England the Lettuces, Radishes, Cauliflowers, and Carrots, etc, are usually left to the untender mercies of a fickle climate.

Amongst the many arguments used against the adoption of the French system is the one that our climate is so much worse and so much colder than that of Paris. There is not much in this, as a reference to meteorological tables will show. Paris has an average of about 21 in. of rain per annum against 24 in. at Kew and 28 in. at Rothamsted. There is very little difference in the mean temperature between Paris, Kew, and Rothamsted. Taken on the whole, Paris has the advantage of a little over 1° F. The average mean temperature of Paris for thirty-six years is recorded at 51.55° F., while London is quoted at 50.50° F. But there are many places in the United Kingdom with a higher average mean temperature than Paris.

As to sunshine, the annual average for twenty-five years at Kew is 1457.8 hr., for Rothamsted the annual average for thirty-one years is 1605 hr., and for Paris (ten years' average) 1796 hr.

The following figures show the average number of hours' sunshine at each place for every month in the year: -

Jan.

Feb.

March.

April.

May.

June.

July.

Kew - 25 Years

41.3

55.0

104.7

147.4

199.1

195.0

207.9

Rothamsted - 31 Years

53.0

71.0

120.0

166.0

194.0

2040

223.0

Paris (Pare St. Maur) - 10 Years ... ...

70.1

81.1

129.7

169.6

222.8

227.1

260.1

August.

Sept.

October.

Nov.

Dec.

Total.

Kew - 25 Years

188.6

1411

92.3

49.5

35.9

1457.8 hours.

Rothamsted - 31 Years

2040

162.0

106.0

59.0

43.0

1605.0 „

Paris (Pare St. Maur) - 10 Years ... ...

239.6

170.9

116.6

64.2

44.2

1796.0 „

It may be noted that July, 1911, beat all records for sunshine in England, 323 hr. being recorded in London against a twenty-five years' average at Kew of 207.9 hr. and a thirty-one years' average at Rothamsted of 223 hr. The month of July in some previous years also shows some high records, thus - 1881, 251 hr.; 1887, 281 hr.; 1897, 262 hr.; 1899, 265 hr.; 1904, 265 hr.; and 1906, 249 hr. These figures show that after all the British market gardener is on the whole practically as well off in the neighbourhood of London as his brother near Paris so far as climatic conditions are concerned. There is simply a difference in the methods of cultivation, and it cannot be gainsaid that the Frenchman can produce as much greenstuff with his hotbeds, frames, and cloches on 2 ac. of land as the British commercial grower can on 10 or 12 ac.

As to rent there is really no comparison. Land for vegetable growing and salads may be obtained at a rental of 2 to 4 per acre not many miles even from London. The French inaraicher, however, has to pay from 30 to 50 per acre rent to the man who "owns" the ground. To start with, the rent question alone puts the French gardener at a tremendous disadvantage.

DEMONSTRATION OF FRENCH GARDENING At the Royal Botanic Gardens.

DEMONSTRATION OF FRENCH GARDENING At the Royal Botanic Gardens, Regent's Park, 1910.

Photo. Daily Mirror.

VIEW IN THE BURHILL FRENCH GARDEN, WALTON ON THAMES.

VIEW IN THE BURHILL FRENCH GARDEN, WALTON-ON-THAMES Showing portion of 2000 lights and 10,000 cloches, with railway track.