There are three main considerations in the packing of vegetables after they have been cleaned and graded and a desirable package selected.
(1) The appearance of the product must be attractive when offered to the public. Attractiveness is secured not only by cleaning, grading and using the proper package, but the vegetables must be tastefully arranged. It often pays to place each specimen in the most careful manner. The value of skillful arrangement has been clearly demonstrated by the California fruit growers. Not only should the top layer show to an advantage, but the arrangement should be pleasing down to the bottom. A pleasing appearance may also be secured by lining the package with white paper; by using a border or cover of laced or fancy colored paper; by covering with red mosquito netting; by wrapping each specimen with soft paper; by tying bunched vegetables, as celery, asparagus, rhubarb and the root crops, with blue or red tape; and by branding or labeling wrappers, covers or packages. (229.)
(2) Honest packing is absolutely essential. This means uniformity of grade throughout the package, and it prohibits "topping." The crates or baskets should be as large as they are represented and packed full.
(3) The specimens should be placed in such a manner that they will remain firm and in position until the market is reached, to avoid bruising.
Fig. 51. Bunching Onions In The Field.
As previously indicated (224) the work of packing or bunching is sometimes done in the field. (Figure 51.) Packing requires close supervision. When a force of laborers is at work it is desirable to give each one a number and require everyone to place a slip of paper in each crate or basket giving the number of the packer. This system secures better work and makes it possible to locate careless packers when complaints are made. Packing may be done by the piece if desired.
All classes of producers find that it pays to advertise. If you have something to sell that is really good, let people know about it. If you are selling vegetables that you know will please dealer or consumer, the package should contain information telling where more vegetables of the same kind can be procured.
There are many different methods of advertising. Branding the product or the package is effective. The brand may consist of a small round or rectangular label pasted on each specimen. A New Jersey melon grower uses the following legends, printed with red ink on white paper: "Guaranteed, grown by--------------------------------,
Moorestown, N. J.," and "Jenny Lind cantaloupes, grown by-----------------------------------, Moorestown, N. J." The paper, which is about 2 inches wide and 3 inches long, requires only a moment to paste. Printed paper wrappers of various sizes and colors may be bought of special dealers. They are particularly desirable for tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and cauliflower. A common practice is to place rather large and substantial labels on the packages. Printed cards are sometimes placed immediately under the cover and occasionally in the interior of the pack. A tomato grower claims that the following statement, placed about in the middle of each half-bushel basket enables him to average 10 cents more a basket a season: "Grown by-----------------------------------, Hammonton, N. J." The crop is sold on commission in Philadelphia. If the consumer asks his grocer for another basket of Mr.-----------------------'s tomatoes, the grocer is, of course, practically compelled to buy the same kind from the wholesale dealer. Advertising of this character is always effective.
Circulars and postal cards tastefully worded and illustrated can sometimes be used to advantage. Newspaper advertisements are valued by some gardeners who sell at retail. A Minnesota grower who supplies consumers carries a newspaper advertisement for six months of the year, changing it in every issue. The market wagon should be neatly lettered. Gate bulletins are useful when vegetables are for sale at the farm.
The size of the market wagon will be determined by the number of horses to be used, character of the road, method of selling and volume of produce to be handled. The carrying capacity of a one-horse wagon should seldom be less than 1,500 pounds, and on hard, level, smooth roads, it should be from 2,000 to 3,000 pounds, especially if the vegetables are to be shipped or sold at wholesale. Wagons for two and three horses are made to carry from 1« to about 8 tons, a three-ton wagon perhaps being the most popular size. A large and satisfactory wagon recently built by a Boston market gardener weighs 4,900 pounds; the axles are 2¾ inches in diameter; the springs are 3 inches wide, front springs 18-ply and rear springs 19-ply; it is drawn by three horses hitched abreast. On it 275 bushel boxes (16×16×8 inches) of onions have been hauled to market, and at another time 350 bushel boxes of bunched beets were transported.
Fig. 52. Philadelphia Market Wagon.
Market wagons differ widely in style. The Boston platform type is highly satisfactory for hauling bushel boxes. A narrow strip along the upper edge of the bed on each side slightly tilts the outside tier of boxes toward the center of the bed, but the loads are always roped.
Fig. 53. Philadelphia Market Wagon Partly Loaded With Boxes.
A wagon used in New Jersey is made to carry 180 half or ⅝-bushel baskets. This is a typical New Jersey wagon used in hauling produce to the Philadelphia market. Figure 52 shows the type of wagon used in Philadelphia County, built to carry about 4 tons. Figure 53 shows the same type of wagon loaded with boxes. A canvas top over the driver furnishes protection in stormy weather. Figure 54 represents the type of wagon used on Long Island for hauling barrels. On the largest wagons of this type no barrels are sometimes loaded. A canvas covering is always thrown over the load for protection and to hold the barrels in place.