Cucumbers for hothouse cultivation may be raised as described in Part 10, page 1287, of Every Woman's Encyclopaedia, and can be planted on mounds of soil in the borders of a cucumber-house, or on the same mounds made up on match-boarding laid upon benches, the planks overlapping slightly from back to front.
The bottom-heat temperature should be about 700, and the day temperature of the house about 700 in the morning, rising to 8o° or 900 in the afternoon, when the house should be saturated with moisture by syringing and damping down. Red spider is a deadly enemy of the cucumber, and must be kept in check by this means, as it can flourish only under conditions of dry warmth. Other insect pests, such as aphides and thrip, can be destroyed easily by fumigation.
To ensure tender and juicy fruits, the cucumber should be grown quickly; the atmosphere of the house, therefore, must be kept as close as possible. In large houses, with plenty of light and moisture, very little ventilation will be needed beyond what finds a natural access.
Training can be done on wires stretched lengthwise across the house, and secured to holdfasts placed 10 inches apart, and the same distance from the glass.
In planting cucumbers, it is best to bury the stems to the extent of an inch or two, as fresh roots will probably be emitted from them. These should be covered at once with fine soil. The plants should be top-dressed whenever necessary, using good, rich soil. Artificial stimulants may also be given with advantage, in the form of artificial fertilisers or liquid manure mixed with soot.
Cucumbers growing on wires stretched lengthwise across the greenhouse. To ensure tender, juicy product. cucumbers should be grown quickly
Copyright, Sutton &■ Sons
For winter-bearing, the plants should be allowed to grow to the top of the trellis, and then the leader may be pinched out. Such buds as are not required to form shoots may be rubbed off with the finger and thumb, keeping the knife for cutting the fruit only.
Cucumbers for winter bearing should be planted in September, but if not required before Easter, planting in December is early enough.
Where there is a large, light house and a night temperature of 6o°, tomatoes may be had for the table all the year round. Recent efforts in cultivation have improved the tomato to an immense extent, and it is not unlikely that it will take its place among favourite dessert fruits in the near future. Meanwhile, it is an essential ingredient in the salad-bowl.
Tomato plants may be raised from either seed or cuttings. The latter method produces good, strong plants if the cuttings are struck in August, either in pots on a shelf in the greenhouse or under a handlight, and then grown on steadily. These plants will begin bearing in early spring.
Plant the stock while young either in narrow pits, large pots, or in boxes, according to convenience. The receptacles, of whatever sort, should be well drained, and filled with turfy loam, sandy rather than heavy, and enriched with a little manure. Top-dressing the plants, and stimulating them with special manure, will be needful as time goes on.
The tomato-house should be wired as for a vine, and the wires placed nine inches from the glass. A span-roof house is the most generally suitable. When the stem is six inches high, pinch out the leader, and from the shoots which break away two can be selected and trained up the roof, 15 inches apart.
Rub off the side shoots as they appear, and pinch out the leader again as soon as the first cluster of flowers appears. Keep the next leader when it breaks away, and repeat the process until the shoot grows up to the top of the house. By this method of pinching, as in the case of cucumbers, the strength of the plant will be conserved.
Ward off attacks of the tomato disease by keeping the house well ventilated and not too moist, and by spraying with liver of sulphur, dissolving one ounce of potassium sulphide in a quart of hot water, and adding two and a half gallons of cold water to the fluid. Any leaves found to be diseased should be removed at once and burnt.
Tomatoes under glass are sometimes slow to get fruit, especially during dull weather. If the house is watered and closed early, and a few bunches of flowers are then gently shaken, or the pollen transferred with a camel-hair brush, the desired result will soon be obtained.
When the fruit shows signs of ripening, remove sufficient leaves to let the sun in to colour them. A few shoots here and there may be allowed to grow when the bottom fruits are taken off, as a fresh crop may thus be produced, and the season consequently prolonged.
Tomatoes in the open air are a precarious crop in England, but, given a good summer, they should be successful if grown in the most sunny part of the garden, against a wall facing south for choice. Seeds may be sown in February or March, in pots or pans, the young plants being hardened off very gradually, and planted out not earlier than the second or third week in May, making up mounds of good, light soil for the purpose.
Keep the growth to a single stem, or to two at the most. In the former case the plants should be two feet asunder; in the
Fatter there should be a space of 15 inches between the stems. Early ripening should be the cultivator's aim; a smaller crop properly ripened off will be of much greater value than a heavier one, if ripening has been delayed in the latter case.
If sudden dropping be observed, this is due to soil-exhaustion, and though the plants may sometimes be revived by watering or mulching, they are seldom fit for much afterwards. To avoid the risk such failure, therefore, it is needful that the plot prepared for tomatoes should be sufficiently supplied with nitrogen and potash, by using suitable manures.
Watering: and Staking:
A four-foot stake should be placed behind each plant at planting time, and tying up must be attended to regularly. All side shoots should be rubbed off as they appear, so that the energy of the plants may be directed into the main stem. Each leader may be pinched as a cluster of flowers appears, but the unstopped plants will probably bear as freely as those which have been pinched. If the plants have to be grown in a confined space, or on a very low-wall, pinching back is advisable.
An excellent variety of this popular salad plant, which can now be had for table all the year
Copyright, Sutton & Sons
In dry weather, water must be given in plenty, and a mulching of manure will be found of great benefit. Keep down weeds with the Dutch hoe, which will at the same time aerate the soil and sweeten it.
As the fruits swell and begin to ripen, any leaves in the neighbourhood should be removed, to let in as much sunshine as possible. The Liter fruits may be assisted to ripen and be protected from the risk of frost by gathering them and placing in a sunny window, or on the shelf of a greenhouse if available.