Mustard (Brassica)

522. Importance

Mustard is a member of the cabbage family. It is used as a salad plant, often with cress, and also for greens. The seeds are used in the manufacture of the mustard of commerce. This plant is often grown in home gardens and to a limited extent for commercial purposes.

523. Culture

In the North the seed may be sown at any time from early spring until fall to obtain a succession of young tender leaves. It is customary to sow as soon as possible in the spring for the early summer crop, in July or August for the fall crop and in September for the spring crop. Southward it is often started in the fall, for cutting early in the spring. The sowings are made in drills a foot or more apart, and then thinned to 5 or 6 inches in the row. White London is perhaps the best variety for the North; Southern Giant Curled is popular in the South. Chinese is a broad-leaved variety, producing a large amount of herbage.

Okra Or Gumbo (Hibiscus Esculent Us)

524. Importance

This hot weather perennial is grown to a considerable extent in the South, and in a limited way in the North. The young, tender pods are used mainly in soups and stews, although they are excellent when boiled and served hot or cold as a salad.

525. Culture

In the South the sowings are made in the open ground; in the North the plants should be started under glass, the seed sowed in pots, inverted sods or in other devices, so the shift to the field may be made without disturbing the roots. The planting distances depend upon the vigor of the varieties, but ordinarily 2×3 feet apart provides sufficient space. The soil should be warm and fertile. Several varieties are in cultivation. For a detailed discussion on the culture and uses of this crop, see Farmers' Bulletin No. 232.

Onion (Allium Cepa)

526. History

The onion has been grown once remote antiquity. The oldest historic records frequently refer to its culture and its use as an article of food. It probably originated in the southern part of Europe or in countries bordering on the Mediterranean Sea. A great variety of types has been developed. The most marked progress in the breeding of the modern globular bulb has been made within the last 25 years.

527. Botany

The onion belongs to the lily family, which also includes the asparagus. It is generally a biennial, although some forms, as the multipliers, are perennial. Usually it is grown as an annual for the bulbs, and sometimes for the tops, which are used in seasoning. True stems are not produced. The portion above the bulb is often as valuable for food as the bulb itself. The bulbs are variable in color, being white, yellow, red and intermediate shades of these colors. The seed stalks are long, slender and hollow. They bear dense, showy, round heads of small white or lilac-colored flowers. Instead of producing flowers, some forms, as "tree" and "top onions," produce clusters of sets or bulblets which are planted to produce bunching onions or mature bulbs. The seeds are black, angular and flattened.

528. Importance

This is one of the most important vegetables in the world, being grown in nearly all countries and ranking third in commercial importance in the United States. (U. S. D. A. Farmers' Bulletin 354, p. 5). Fourteen million bushels, valued at $10,000,000, were grown in this country in 1908. The annual importations from Spain, Egypt, Bermuda and the South Sea Islands amount to about 1,400,000 bushels. Its wide adaptation to different soils and climatic conditions and its general use the year round for culinary purposes properly give it a place among our most useful vegetables. It is universally planted in the home garden and the commercial areas occupy thousands of acres. The crop offers special inducements for the employment of intensive methods, as the possibilities of profit are greater than for most classes of vegetables.

529. Varieties

In the selection of varieties the following factors should be considered: (1) Time of maturity. Earliness is often an important matter. (2) The size of the bulb. (3) Color of the bulb. The eastern markets prefer yellow and white onions, although a considerable, quantity of red onions is grown and sold in the East. Red onions sell best in the Middle West. (4) The shape of the bulb. Globular-shaped onions are preferred on all markets. (5) The quality of the bulbs. The foreign types are known to be milder and more tender than the domestic sorts. (6) Keeping qualities. American onions keep much better than the foreign types. (7) Soil adaptation. (U. S. D. A. Farmers' Bulletin 354, p. 29.) Yellow and red onions are especially well adapted to muck soils. Red and brown varieties thrive on prairie soils, and all classes do well on sandy loams and light soils. Bermuda, Spanish, and Egyptian types flourish on the deep, rich alluvial soils. (8) The yielding power. Some varieties produce many more bushels an acre than others. (9) Climatic adaptation. (10) Shipping qualities, or the degree of injury or damage sustained from bruises. (11) Purpose for which the onions are grown, whether for large bulbs, pickling or bunching.

American Varieties

Danvers (Danvers Yellow, Round Yellow Danvers, Yellow Globe Danvers) is the most largely grown of the yellow onions. It is produced extensively in nearly all regions where the crop is grown from seed sown in the open ground. The bulbs are solid and of good form, although not so distinctly globular as some other varieties. Danvers is an old sort that has been very popular for many years.

South port Yellow Globe is grown to a great extent in many sections. The bulbs are larger and more globular in form than Danvers. It is an attractive sort and a good keeper.