This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Take barrels and bore holes around the middle, and one hole large enough to admit the nose of your watering pot. Fill the barrels with stones as high as the rows of holes, and fill in with good, rich, fine earth to the top, in which plant cucumbers, melons, squashes, tomatoes, etc. One barrel will be enough of each kind.
Be sure to have one flat stone lean over the large hole, where you will pour in water until it runs out of the holes you have made, and which will prevent the earth from filling this large hole up. Range the barrels around your yard, and plant your seeds. Keep the barrels filled with water up to the holes, and you have all the requisites for rapid, healthy growth, air, heat and moisture. You can raise all the vegetables you will need, in the greatest perfection, and which will last until late in the autumn, as they can easily be covered on frosty nights. Cucumbers and tomatoes may hang over the barrels, cutting them off when they reach the bottom. Melons may be tied to the wall fence. The stones have an important service in holding up the earth, and absorbing the heat during the day, which they give out at night, keeping the water at an even temperature. You will be astonished at the result if you have never tried it. - The Prairie Farmer.