Sage is a shrubby perennial, the fresh and dried leaves of which are used extensively for flavoring meats.
It is propagated by cuttings, layers, division of the plants and from seed. If preferred, the plants may be started under glass, and transplanted to the open when weather conditions are favorable. A common method is to sow in the open, and thin as may be necessary. Sage is often grown as a second crop, following peas, cabbage or other early vegetables. The plants are hardy in the milder sections, but mulching with manure is important in the North for winter protection. A plantation will produce profitable crops for several years, when a new area may be set by dividing the roots. The usual distances for planting are 12 by 12 inches. Only one picking should be made the first year, or the plants will be greatly weakened. In subsequent years three pickings may be made in a season without serious detriment.
Salsify, also known as the "oyster plant" or "vegetable oyster," because of its flavor, is not generally used by vegetable consumers. The plant is native to southern Europe, biennial, but grown as an annual for the roots, which may be left in the ground all winter without danger of injury from freezing. The roots are long, tapering gradually, and seldom more than 2 inches in diameter at the top. They are cooked like parsnips, used in stews and soups, and sometimes in salads.
The culture is practically the same as for parsnips. Seeds are sown in the open ground as early as possible in the spring, in rows 1 foot or more apart, and the plants thinned to 4 or 5 inches. The soil should be deep, rich and friable, sandy loams being preferred. Rigid thinning is essential to secure roots of good size. The seeds (botanically fruits) are much elongated, and for this reason difficult to sow with a drill. Market gardeners ordinarily dig some of the roots in the fall and store like parsnips. The remainder of the crop is left in the ground all winter and removed in the spring as soon as the frost is out of the ground.
There are two kinds of savory, Summer (Satureia hortensis) and Winter (Satureia montana). The former is an annual; the latter a hardy perennial. Both species are grown for their leaves, which when fresh and green are used for seasoning. They may be started from seed sown under glass or in the open ground. The plants should stand 6 to 12 inches apart in the row with sufficient space between rows to use the wheel hoe or horse cultivator. When dried, the leaves and tender stem tips are used for culinary purposes during the winter.
The shallot produces small, compound bulbs, called cloves. Instead of being inclosed in a thin membrane, as with the garlic, they are separate when mature. The flavor is somewhat milder than that of the onion. Any good onion soil will produce good shallots. The culture is the same as for onions.
This plant, which is considered native to southwestern Asia, was probably introduced into Europe during the fifteenth century. There is no assurance that it was known to the Greeks or Romans.
With the exception of cabbage (which with propriety may be classed by itself), spinach is the most important crop grown for "greens" in the United States. In the North it was formerly a standard frame crop, but southern competition has made it of little importance there as a forcing crop, compared with lettuce and several other vegetables. It is grown mainly as a spring crop from sowings made in the fall. Spinach is grown on a very large scale about Norfolk, Virginia.
The Rhode Island Experiment Station (R. I. Sta. Bul. 41) has divided the varieties into four groups.
Norfolk, or Bloomsdale Spinach. "Plants more or less vase-form, leaves broad, thick and supported by their stalks, so that they do not naturally rest upon the ground. Blossom stalks appear at an early age." The Norfolk Savoy and other varieties belong to this class.
Round-Leaved Spinach. "Plants compact in habit of growth, with leaves conspicuously rounded in outline and formed close to the ground. Tissue firm, color dark green, blossom stalks formed rather tardily. A slow-growing spinach as compared with the other types." The well-known Victoria belongs to this class.
Thick-Leaved Spinach. "Plants large, leaves long and spreading out upon the ground, ends and lobes of leaves more or less pointed. A highly prized type of spinach, both for spring and fall planting, on account of its large size and rapid growth." Long Season is a good representative of this class.
Prickly Seeded Spinach. "Plants variable, leaves often with long and slender stalks and rather narrow blades. Seeds with hornlike projections. This . kind of spinach is not readily sown with ordinary seed drills." Prickly Seeded is a standard variety of this group.
New Zealand Spinach (Tetragonia ex-pansa).
Mountain Spinach (Atriplex hor-tensis) are not generally known among vegetable growers.
A very rich, constantly moist soil is required to grow a heavy crop of spinach. In soils of moderate fertility the plants become spindling and the production light. Composted stable manures are especially valuable. The fertilizer employed should contain a high percentage of nitrogen. Mixtures used at Norfolk supply about 8 per cent of nitrogen, 2 to 5 per cent phosphoric acid and 2 per cent potash. They are used at the rate of about one ton an acre, applied in portions at different times throughout the season. The general practice is to make the fall sowings in low beds, 5 to 9 feet wide. This method provides perfect surface drainage. The rows, which should be 10 to 14 inches apart, are drilled lengthwise of the beds and the plants thinned 4 to 6 inches apart. It is important to sow in good time, so that the plants will become thoroughly established before winter. September 25 is the favorite time for sowing at Norfolk, although drilling begins about September 1 and continues until November 15. From 15 to 30 pounds of seed are required to the acre. Frequent tillage with the wheel hoe is just as essential as for other cultivated crops. In the North a mulch of manure or other material is valuable in affording winter protection, although in many districts this is not considered necessary. A push or shuffle hoe is often used in cutting the roots when the crop is gathered. The plants must be trimmed of dead leaves to secure attractiveness when placed on the market. Half-barrel hampers and light ventilated barrels are generally used in marketing the southern crop. Early summer pickings may be secured in the North by sowing as soon as the ground can be prepared.