Author of " Small Holdings for Women," "Flower Culture for Profit," etc.

Only a Small Garden Needed - The Qualifications Necessary - Prospects Plainly Put - Choice of a

District and Site - Suitable Soil

Of recent years the stress of competition has driven women to create professions undreamed of a decade ago. Fresh vocations have been brought into being by the keenness of modern existence, and among them is the system of the intensive culture of vegetables and fruits, more popularly referred to as the " new " French gardening.

I quote the word " new " advisedly, for intensive culture in itself is by no means a product of modern science, having been practised by the market gardeners of Paris for centuries. It is new only in the sense of its introduction into this country, and as a British industry it is even now only some five or six years old.

It is interesting to note that one of the foremost French gardens in this country was that started at Henwick, near Newbury, by two ladies, and the comparatively light manual labour of the intensive system makes it particularly adaptable as a horticultural profession for women.

Primarily, the object of intensive culture is to obtain produce out of season, when it may be reasonably expected that it will realise inflated prices. Incidentally, only a small garden is needed, for it would be humanly impossible personally to supervise a large one in full working order.

As for the profit to be contemplated, not to say expected, it is difficult to express in figures, for everything depends upon the individual circumstances. It is a definite fact, however, that as much as 600 per acre has actually been earned as gross revenue from a French garden in this country. Of the failures we naturally hear nothing, but the fame of this wonderful success has been spread far and near.

There is a beauty in candour that will not be denied, and before proceeding further it will be as well to decide upon the answer to the adamant question : What hope is there of a lady making a comfortable living from a French garden ?

To be frankly and brutally candid, I give it as my opinion that there is no hope at all unless the lady has considerable capital, is possessed of shrewd business instincts, and has an innate passion for gardening and similar pursuits, each qualification to rank for importance in the order expressed here.

For a lady to go blindly into the profession of French gardening is literally tempting Providence, for even to the experienced the venture is in the nature of a business gamble. Certainly too much care cannot be taken, and, with this end in view, I strongly advise those of my readers who elect to follow this infant calling to serve a period of studentship at an established holding where intensive cultivation is practised. Such studentships are frequently advertised in the gardening journals, but should the aspirant be unable to trace such an advertisement she should herself make it known in the trade press that she is seeking lessons.

Capital Required

Referring again to the question of capital, 100 would speedily be liquidated in a small French garden on manure, frames, bell-glasses {cloches), and other necessary impedimenta, to say nothing of labour, by no means a small matter at the commencement-then the founder of the venture and her dependents must exist in the meantime, and even if the garden were started in the late summer little or no return could be expected for four or five months.

Personally, I have every confidence in the success of French gardening in this country, and my object in writing so plainly of the difficulties is not so much to warn as to enlighten. There are many amateur gardeners who possess the fixed idea that with a few cloches, at eighteenpence each, a fortune is to be made. It is to correct this erroneous impression that I have put the matter so bluntly.

Having realised that serious problems must be faced, and being willing to challenge them, the first step of the would-be lady French gardener must be to select a suitable site for her project. An acre and a half would suffice amply for a commencement, and if an option on additional ground could be arranged, it would be a distinct advantage. The site itself to be ideal should be open to the south, preferably on a slight slope in that direction, sheltered from the east and north.

The soil should be of medium consistency, not too light or chalky nor, on the other hand, too heavy. Cold, callous clay that lies so wet and stodgy during the winter should be avoided, and there is nothing to better sound loam with a gravel subsoil.

In addition to the agricultural standpoint, the question of supplies and market must also be considered carefully. Comparative proximity to a town is essential, and as no city demands luxuries - the product of the French garden is invariably a luxury - to the same extent as the metropolis, one of the home counties should be fixed upon. In Middlesex - surely the capital of cabbages - - excellent land is obtainable. Surrey offers many advantages, but rents are by no means low. Then there are Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and Berkshire.

Quite apart from the market, proximity to a town invariably means lower charges for manure. On the banks of the Grand Junction Canal water-borne manure from London and certain Midland cities is to be purchased at from 2S. 6d. to 3s. 6d. per ton at the canal wharfs. Down in Surrey, where the railway company enters into the matter, the figure rises to from 6s. to 7s. 6d. per ton, delivered.

General view of the French garden and vegetable farm at Henwick, near Newbury. This was one of the first intensive culture gardens in Great Britain, and affords an excellent example of the success which may be achieved by ladies in this system of gardening

General view of the French garden and vegetable farm at Henwick, near Newbury. This was one of the first intensive culture gardens in Great Britain, and affords an excellent example of the success which may be achieved by ladies in this system of gardening