Nothing is more interesting than to speculate on the stages by which garden vegetables of choice strains have been developed. Look at the original Brassica oleracea, and marvel at the processes by which have been evolved the garden Cabbage, the Brussels Sprouts, the Cauliflower and the Savoy. The vegetables named are modest and homely enough, but there is a fascinating study wrapped up in their leaves and flowers.
A person of receptive and inquiring mind can never sow a patch of Sprouts without a sense of gratitude to the patient and far-seeing men who devoted themselves to the task of making apparently worthless plants valuable. It was a long, slow business, and the work is yet unfinished. It may be true that the best types which we have now have reached a point at which it is difficult to effect any improvement, but it must be remembered that they have to be maintained. This is almost as difficult as developing them. All highly bred plants, whether they be Cabbages or Carnations, have a strong tendency to degenerate, and unless closely and persistently watched the stocks deteriorate with alarming rapidity.
The four vegetables named at the head of this chapter are examples, and exceedingly valuable examples, of what has been done. We realise their importance only in those seasons when cultural neglect and inclement weather have combined to deprive us of them.
The Savoy Cabbage is the early winter Green. The old tradition that it must have a frost on it before it is at its best has truth in it, though many misread it. Savoys sown in March or April, and planted 24 to 30 inches apart, either between Potatoes or in open quarters, in May or June, give useful produce in December and January.
The old Drumhead is too coarse for the modern garden, but the Dwarf Green Curled is just the thing. Early Dwarf Ulm and Suttons' Perfection are also good sorts.
Fig. 50. How To Plant Greens.
A, Green thinned and transplanted, hence sturdy.
B, trowel for lifting.
C, well planted.
D, poor, drawn plant.
E, dibber with which roots are put into a long, narrow hole - not good.
Fig. 51. How To Raise Cabbages Or Other Greens For Winter And Spring.
A, a bad start, the plants being crowded.
B, a good start, the plants having plenty of room.