Field planting can be done very rapidly by boys when the force is properly organized. If the foreman is patient, boys can soon be taught to use dibbers or trowels. In heavy soils the following plan is satisfactory: Have a good foreman who understands boys, a man, a horse and a single light shovel plow to make furrows, which should not be opened faster than they are needed. A dozen boys make a convenient force. Let six of them drop plants and six set them. Designate the boys as droppers and planters, and give each a number, running from one to six. Have it understood that each boy is to drop or plant the row that corresponds with his number. The foreman walks behind the boys and sees that the work is done properly and that the boys are kept together. With this plan of organization, a dozen boys and two men will plant 40,000 to 50,000 plants in a day. If the boys are paid 50 to 60 cents and the men $1.50, the cost an acre will be about $3.
As previously indicated, it is often an advantage to water ground before transplanting. This is not possible on most farms, so that good judgment and great care must be exercised to conserve the proper amount of moisture by tillage operations. When plants are set during a protracted drouth it is sometimes necessary to use water in the holes. This is a tedious and expensive operation when large areas are to be planted, and with good management it is seldom necessary. There are occasions, however, when it must be done to avoid delay in planting. Half a pint of water poured into each hole after a little soil is drawn to the roots is sufficient. The hole is then filled with soil as moist as can be found. Watering after planting is also occasionally necessary. When this is done a small quantity of fine soil should be drawn about the plant immediately after watering to conserve the moisture.
Shading is often practiced in small areas after setting plants. It is not as essential, however, as is generally supposed. Various articles are used, as paper bags, shingles, small boxes, berry boxes and boards supported by blocks of wood.
Fig. 39. Field Transplanter.
Transplanting machines, as illustrated in Figure 39, are in general use for setting vegetables, especially cabbage and tomato plants. They do the work better and more rapidly than is commonly done by hand, and as a rule with less expense. In many sections it is impossible to secure the necessary help at the time of planting and in such localities machine planters are indispensable. They are very simple to operate, but a steady team and a careful driver are important factors. A narrow shovel opens the furrow, and the machine moves as slowly as may be necessary to enable two men or quick, careful boys, to drop the plants alternately in the narrow furrow. Shoes or rollers close the furrow, pressing the soil very firmly to the roots and stems. Water may be used with each plant if desirable. By quick work the plants may be set 15 inches apart or even closer.