Some methods[edit | edit source]
We must not put all our time into one crop unless we are rich enough to do our own insurance; for drought, or damp; or accident,ill-adapted seed, or general unfavorable conditions may make failures of one or more crops. But in variety and succession of crops is safety and profit. In order to succeed, crop must be made to follow crop, so that the ground is used to its full capacity. To leave it fallow for even a week is to invite weeds and to lose much of the advantage of tillage, as well as so much time.
In the North, seeds of many kinds should be sown from the first of March to the first of August; in the South they should be sown m every month.
By following the simple time tables for planting you will find work ready and crops maturing and ready for sale in every month in the year.
There is an admirable table of the time to plant, given in "How to Make a Vegetable Garden," though it does embrace some weird vegetables, explaining, for instance, that pats-choi is used like chards, and that "Scolymus is sowed like Scorzonera."
One can live while waiting for the crops to come up, for many crops mature rapidly.
Specialties give employment only during a few months of each year and bring returns only at periods of the year, but the returns can be made almost immediate and the work almost continuous.
Long Island and Jersey farmers in marketing their crops sell
Spinach and Radishes in April Peas, Early Onions, and Lettuce in May Asparagus and Strawberries in June Tomatoes, Cucumbers, and Cabbage Seeds in July Early Potatoes, Peaches, and Beans in August Onions and Potatoes in September Celery in October Cauliflower in November Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts in December Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts in January Brussels Sprouts in February Brussels Sprouts in March
This order of crops can be varied to suit conditions.
"The old practice of growing vegetables in beds usually entails more labor and expense than the crop is worth; and it has had the effect of driving more than one boy from the farm. These beds always need weeding on Saturdays, holidays, circus days, and the Fourth of July.
Even if the available area is only twenty feet wide, the rows should run lengthwise and be far enough apart (from one to two feet for small stuff) to allow of the use of the hand wheelhoes, many of which are very efficient. If land is available for horse tillage,none of the rows should be less than thirty inches apart, and for late growing things, as large cabbage, four feet is better. If the rows are long, it may be necessary to grow two or three kinds of vegetables in the same row; in this case it is important that vegetables requiring the same general treatment and similar length of season be grown together. For example, a row containing parsnips and salsify, or parsnips, salsify, and late carrots would afford an ideal combination; but a row containing parsnips, cabbages, and lettuce would be a very faulty combination. One part of the area should be set aside for all similar crops. For example, all root crops might be grown on one side of the plot, all cabbage crops in the adjoining space, all tomato and eggplant crops in the center,all corn and tall things on the opposite side. Perennnial crops, as asparagus and rhubarb, and gardening structures, as hotbeds and frames, should be on the border, where they will not interfere with the plowing and tilling." ("Principles of Vegetable Gardening," page 31.)
Usually where large acreages are worked there is a tendency to devote a greater portion of tile land to one crop and sometimes a failure in this crop will mean ruin to the farmer, whereas, where small areas are used, there is generally a diversity of the higher-priced crops and a failure in one is not so likely to be disastrous.
To get the greatest production from the soil two crops can be grown in the same soil at the same time--one of which will mature much earlier than the other, thereby giving its place up just about the period of growth when the second crop would need more room. This is known as companion cropping.
"In companion cropping there is a main crop and a secondary crop.
Ordinarily the main crop occupies the middle part and later part of the season. The secondary crop matures early in the season, leaving the ground free for the main crop. In some cases the same species is used for both crops, as when late celery is planted between the rows of early celery.
Following are examples of some companion crops:
Radishes with beets or carrots. The radishes can be sold before the beets need the room.
Corn with squashes, citron, pumpkin, or beans in hills.
Early onions and cauliflower or cabbage.
Horseradish and early cabbage.
Lettuce with early cabbage."
("Principles of Vegetable Gardening," page 184.)
If fruit trees be planted, vegetables may be grown in rows. As soon as the early vegetables mature they are removed, and a midsummer crop planted. These are followed by a fall or winter crop.
Radishes, lettuce, and cabbage grow at the same time and on the area formerly used for one crop. Early potatoes and early cauliflower are followed by Brussels sprouts and celery, two crops being as easily grown as one by intelligent handling. The best beans are grown among fruit trees.
The principles of "double-cropping" are summarized by Professor Thomas Shaw, in _The Market Garden._
"Onion sets may be planted early in the season and onion seeds may then be sown. Between the rows cauliflower may be planted. Later between the cauliflower, two or three cucumber seeds may be dropped.
The onion sets up around the cauliflower may be taken out first, and the cauliflowers in turn may be removed in time to let the cucumbers develop.
"Midway between the rows of onions grown from seeds, we can plant radishes, lettuce, peppergrass, spinach, or some other early relish,which will have ample time to grow and to be consumed before harm can come to the onions from the shade of any one of these crops.
When the onions are well grown, turnips can be sown midway between their rows."
So we get two crops of onions, besides cauliflowers, cucumbers, and turnips off the same place. Weeds won't have much chance in soil treated like that.
"Multum in Parvo Gardening" (Samuel Wood) claims L 620 ($3100) from one acre by the expenditure of considerable capital in growing fruit against brick walls--it cost over $3100 to prepare the land,of which the walls cost $2300. In this system the fruit trees are pruned and trained till they look like firemen's ladders.
"In the suburbs of Paris, even without such costly things with only thirty-six yards of frames for seedlings, vegetables are grown in the open air to the value of L 200 per acre." ("Fields,Factories and Workshops," page 80.)
"At the present time, for fully 100 miles along the Rhone, and in the lateral valleys of the Ardeche and the Drome, the country is an admirable orchard, from which millions worth of fruit is exported,and the land attains the selling price of from L 325 ($1625) to L 400 ($2000) the acre. Small plots of land are continually reclaimed for culture upon every crag." (Same, page 133.)
In California we hear (from George P. Keeney) that while good truck and fruit lands usually sell for $25 to $350 per acre, the land with full-bearing fruit or nut trees often sells at $1000, and even up to $2000 per acre. There is no reason why any intelligent persons should not make their land increase in the same way.
The London Daily News reports that in one year, which was not a good season for all crops, on a half acre of land, Mr. Henry Vincent, of Brighton, England, raised the following products:
2660 cabbages, 70 bushels spinach, 950 cauliflowers, parsley, 1460 lettuces, 660 broccoli, 16 bushels potatoes, 19-1/4 bushels Brussels sprouts, 106-1/2 gallons peas, 120 gallons artichokes, flowers, 267 vegetable marrows, 2976 carrots, 264 bundles radishes, 14 gallons French beans, 12 gallons currants' 95-1/2 punnets mustard, 27 pounds mushrooms, rhubarb, 948 bushels sprout tops, 38 dozen leeks, 1150 plants, 11-1/4 gallons broad beans, 97 bundles sea-kale, 978 bundles of asparagus-kale, 504 beet roots, 2913 gallons gooseberries, 219 bundles mint, 20 bundles sage, 18 bundles of fennel, thyme, besides one cartload of stones.
Mr. Vincent explains how he came to go into intensive cultivation: "A few years ago the doctors said if I did not go out more I could not live. Very well, just at that time there was an outcry about the land not paying for cultivation. I could not understand this, for as a boy at seven years of age I had to go out to farm work, therefore I never went to school. Anyhow I thought something was very wrong if the land would not pay; so, to compel myself to go out in the fresh air, I took an allotment on the Sussex Downs to work in the early morning before my daily duties began. I might say that I am a waiter, and have been in my present situation forty years, so you can understand I could not know much of land or garden work I could not see my way clear in the few spare hours I get to take more than half an acre of land to garden early, especially as I started knowing practically nothing about such work, but I can manage to do my half acre all alone.
"My garden is situated on the Brighton Race Hill ridge, and twelve years ago it was but four inches of soil on chalk, but I now have a foot of soil on the whole of the half acre, and year by year my profits increase.
"Yes, get the men to stop on the land in this country. We ought not to have workhouses. Every man could live, and live well, if he could get the land, and would work it as it should be worked.
"Farmers and landowners grumble because the land does not pay. Now for the fault. It is quite evident it is not the land, therefore, it must be the fault of the man. Very well, get the land from these landed proprietors, by sale preferred, and let it out to men, not by 1000 acres, as no man can farm well a thousand acres in England; let the farms be greatly reduced, and then the land can be treated as it should be. Most of us have children, and we all know how we love and treat them. Treat the land in the same manner, feed it, and keep it clean, and you will have no cause to complain. The land of old England is as good as it ever was.
"I have serious thoughts of opening a kind of school for people who would like to make $500 a year on an acre. It is to be done, and done easily. I do know that one man alone can manage two acres, and at the end of this year I shall be able to tell how much more he can manage alone, so under my system one can gain L 4 a week off two acres and do all one's self.
"If the land will produce over one hundred pounds per year per acre,is it not wrong for a man to have, say, 500 or 1000 acres which in no way can he properly manage; as, in the first place, he cannot feed such an acreage, let alone keep it clean and gather in his crops?"
In truth, what an acre may produce depends on time, place, and circumstances The product of the best acre of land so situated that its product could be sold at retail in a near-by market, and which has been cultivated under the best management for a term of years,would provide a very comfortable living. The product of other acres,measured by what they produce to the cultivator in living, declines through various grades down to almost nothing on the acre far from railroads or difficult of access.
While in quantity and quality the least favored acre could be made to produce as much as one best situated, yet, almost none of its production would be available to sell, while the product of the favorably located acre could be sold as rapidly as grown.