This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V22", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In your May number you allude to those who grumble at the anticipated " fearful crop of potato weeds." I am not of that party. I welcome the volunteers. My experience has been that they excel the spring planting, and that, too, without special culture. If the " grumblers" would select a moist time and carefully transplant them to a spot where they can be regularly cultivated, my word for it the so-called potato weeds will give a good report of themselves. It is better to let them remain where they spring up, if it can be so arranged, for then there will be no check to the plant. By preserving my potato weeds I have eclipsed my friends in early potatoes, making them stare when I spoke of my ripe ones. Depend upon it, nature does not work in vain. We should study her more closely and learn her ways. To change the application, " her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace." I am petting some vigorous ones now, and expect to dig them the very first. In places they will grow up too thick, too many vines in one hill. Thin out judiciously or you will have a mass of marbles.
Plant deep in the fall and mulch heavily, and you will breakfast off your " Smiling Murphys " before it is time to do your spring planting; the tubers forming beneath the surface without tops first appearing: on the same principle that minute potatoes grow from those in the potato pile secured for the winter. Lying in the ground separately is more favorable for a larger formation. If you will pardon me, Mr. Editor, for a very abrupt changing of the subject, I would say a word on melon culture, suggested by a novel method of cultivation promulgated by a certain seed-house not a thousand miles from you, as I regard it. It is to plow the musk melon after the vines will not admit of running the cultivator, the plowing to be as for corn. I should as soon think of putting a plow in an advanced melon patch as a bull in a china shop. Melon roots run out the exact length of the vine. These should not be disturbed, for they are feeders for the plant. Hills seven feet apart, according to these same directions, would soon utterly exclude a plow, for the vines rapidly commingle that distance if in properly prepared ground. I do not say it would be too close. Raise the vines gingerly from time to time to keep them from rooting, as you would a sweet potato vine.
This rooting habit is not favorable to the fruit, robs it of nourishment. The same directions, thin to one plant at the final thinning. Let three of the most thrifty stand; at all events-two. Plow in green oats or other stubble in the fall, deep, and as lumpy as possible. Spread thoroughly rolled manure in the spring, double harrow and roll. Mark off, dig holes a foot deep, cover the bottom with pasty manure, fill in with finely pulverized dirt, hill up a moderate size,, plant your seed not very deep, an inch, and pat down the surface, - be sure of that; keep the ground loose and light; exterminate every weed; fight them like grim death; nip back and prune out. There will be useless vines springing from the crown of the plant. They are only thieves, abstracting more than they give. Keep the earth drawn up to the head of the vines. Pull off some fruit when yet very thick. Don't take off the fruit for use until it almost drops off of itself.