We are not tied to a desk or to a bench; we stay there only because we think we are tied.
In Montana I had a horse, which was hobbled every night to keep him from wandering; that is, straps joined by a short chain were put around his forefeet, so that he could only hop. The hobbles were taken off in the morning, but he would still hop until he saw his mate trotting off.
This book is intended to show how any one can trot off if he will.
It is not a textbook; there are plenty of good textbooks, which are referred to herein. Intensive cultivation cannot be comprised in any one book.
It shows what is needed for a city man or woman to support a family on the proceeds of a little bit of land; it shows how in truth, as the old Book prophesied, the earth brings forth abundantly after its kind to satisfy the desire of every living thing. It is not necessary to bury oneself in the country, nor, with the new facilities of transportation, need we, unless we wish to, pay the extravagant rents and enormous cost of living in the city. A little bit of land near the town or the city can be rented or bought on easy terms; and merchandising will bring one to the city often enough. Neither is hard labor needed; but it is to work alone that the earth yields her increase, and if, although unskilled, we would succeed in gardening, we must attend constantly and intelligently to the home acres.
Every chapter of this book has been revised by a specialist, and the authors wish to express their appreciation of the aid given them,particularly by Mr. E. H. Moore, Arboriculturist in the Brooklyn Department of Parks; Mr. Collingwood of the Rural New Yorker and Mr.
George T. Powell; and to thank Mrs. Mabel Osgood Wright, and also Mr. Joseph Morwitz, for many valuable suggestions; also all those from whom we have quoted directly or in substance.
We have endeavored in the text to give full acknowledgment to all,but in some cases it has been impossible to credit to the originator every paragraph or thought, since these have been selected and placed as needed, believing that all true teachers and gardeners are more anxious to have their message sent than to be seen delivering it.
In truth, teaching is but another department of gardening.
Practical points and criticisms from practical men and women,especially from those experiences in trying to get to the land, will be welcomed by the authors. Address in care of the publishers.
The Report of the Country Life Commission, with Special Message from the President of the United States, is especially important as showing the connection of Intensive Cultivation with Thrift for war time.
It tells us that:
"The handicaps (on getting out of town) that we now have specially in mind may be stated under four heads: Speculative holding of lands; monopolistic control of streams; wastage and monopolistic control of forests; restraint of trade.
"Certain landowners procure large areas of agricultural land in the most available location, sometimes by questionable methods, and hold it for speculative purposes. This not only withdraws the land itself from settlement, but in many cases prevents the development of an agricultural community. The smaller landowners are isolated and unable to establish their necessary institutions or to reach the market. The holding of large areas by one party tends to develop a system of tenantry and absentee farming. The whole development may be in the direction of social and economic ineffectiveness.
"A similar problem arises in the utilization of swamp lands.
According to the reports of the Geological Survey, there are more than 75,000,000 acres of swamp land in this country, the greater part of which are capable of reclamation at probably a nominal cost as compared to their value. It is important to the development of the best type of country life that the reclamation proceed under conditions insuring subdivision into small farms and settlement by men who would both own them and till them.
"Some of these lands are near the centers of population. They become a menace to health, and they often prevent the development of good social conditions in very large areas. As a rule they are extremely fertile. They are capable of sustaining an agricultural population numbering many millions, and the conditions under which these millions must live are a matter of national concern. The Federal Government should act to the fullest extent of its constitutional powers in the reclamation of these lands under proper safeguards against speculative holding and landlordism.
"The rivers are valuable to the farmers as drainage lines, as irrigation supply, as carriers and equalizers of transportation rates, as a readily available power resource, and for raising food fish. The wise development of these and other uses is important to both agricultural and other interests; their protection from monopoly is one of the first responsibilities of government. The streams belong to the people; under a proper system of development their resources would remain an estate of all the people, and become available as needed.
"River transportation is not usually antagonistic to railway interests. Population and production are increasing rapidly, with corresponding increase in the demands made on transportation facilities. It may be reasonably expected that the river will eventually carry a large part of the freight that does not require prompt delivery, while the railway will carry that requiring expedition. This is already foreseen by leading railway men; and its importance to the farmer is such that he should encourage and aid,by every means in his power, the large use of the rivers. The country will produce enough business to tax both streams and railroads to their utmost.
"In many regions the streams afford facilities for power, which,since the inauguration of electrical transmission, is available for local rail lines and offers the best solution of local transportation problems. In many parts of the country local and interurban lines are providing transportation to farm areas, thereby increasing facilities for moving crops and adding to the profit and convenience of farm life. However, there seems to be a very general lack of appreciation of the possibilities of this water-power resource as governing transportation costs.
"The streams may be also used as small water power on thousands of farms. This is particularly true of small streams. Much of the labor about the house and barn can be performed by transmission of power from small water wheels running on the farms themselves or in the neighborhood. This power could be used for electric lighting and for small manufacture. It is more important that small power be developed on the farms of the United States than that we harness Niagara.
"Unfortunately, the tendency of the present laws is to encourage the acquisition of these resources on easy terms, or on their own terms,by the first applicants, and the power of the streams is rapidly being acquired under conditions that lead to the concentration of ownership in the hands of the monopolies. This constitutes a real and immediate danger, not to the country-life interests alone, but to the entire nation, and it is time that the whole people become aroused to it.
"The forests have been exploited for private gain not only until the timber has been seriously reduced, but until streams have been ruined for navigation, power, irrigation, and common water supplies,and whole regions have been exposed to floods and disastrous soil erosion. Probably there has never occurred a more reckless destruction of property that of right should belong to all the people.
"The wood-lot property of the country needs to be saved and increased. Wood-lot yield is one of the most important crops of the farms, and is of great value to the public in con trolling streams,saving the run-off, checking winds, and adding to the attractiveness of the region. [Taken up in a special chapter of this book.]
"In many regions where poor and hilly lands prevail, the town or county could well afford to purchase forest land, expecting thereby to add to the value of the property and to make the forests a source of revenue. Such communal forests in Europe yield revenue to the cities and towns by which they are owned and managed."
These revenues would furnish good roads even in the poorest and most sparsely settled districts.
There are a number of other reasons why people do not like to live outside of cities--or do not succeed in farm work. There is the difficulty of finding help. This, how. ever, rejoices the heart of the modern sociologist. Consider--we first teach our children independence and train them for everything but farm help or household services. Then we degrade the "help" below a mill "hand" so that people will not even sit at table with them at an hotel.
Next we fix a theory of conduct for them that keeps them constantly under orders and pay them wages that make it hardly possible for them to rise above the station to which we have appointed them.
Finally, when we move away from the haunts of men out to Sandtown-by-the-Puddle we blame them that they do not rush to join us. Most of them would be happier in penal servitude than in the country. The work is as hard and requires as much skill as a mechanic's work, besides personal qualities that are demanded of no mechanic, and commands half its wages.
Those who, like Henry Ford, can afford to pay mechanics' wages for help can get all they want.
Many people go to the country without plan, preparation, or vocation, to make a living. They usually start to build a bungalow but seldom get further than the bungle. Don't build anything without plan. Get a comfortable house proof against cold and heat as soon as possible and, above all, well ventilated. At present the air in the country is good, because the farmers shut all the bad air up in their bedrooms.
"The farmer works from sun to sun For the summer's work is never done."
We might add, it's never even half done--naturally. A donkey engine can work like that, but then it hasn't any brains. No man can work from sun to sun all summer and think at all or be good for anything at the end of it.
Above all things don't work long hours, even in learning, with the idea of saving that way. All up-to-date employers are agreed that an eight-hour day produces more and better results than a ten-hour day and that a twelve-hour day brings sheriffs and suicides instead of profits.
That's just as true of the individual worker as it is of the factory "hand." Yet most men and a few women proudly say that they "work like a horse" (it's usually not true). They don't; a horse won't work and can't work over eight hours a day steadily. Neither can you: you may keep buzzing around much longer--but the best work requires the best conditions and the best hours. You think, or you flatter yourself that you think, that it is necessary; but nothing is necessary that is stupid and wrong. It is hardly too much to say that when we are tired out or ill either we have been doing the wrong thing or doing it wrong.
There is besides, as an anti-rusticant, railroad discrimination in favor of long hauls, but the main reason that the small farms of the Eastern Coast are less settled than those farther west is the great difficulty in getting farm loans or loans on farm buildings. New York companies and others in the great cities will loan on farms west of the Alleghenies, but even the otherwise excellent eastern Building Loan Associations usually restrict themselves to places within twenty-five miles of a city. The Jewish Agricultural and Industrial Aid Society will help approved Jewish farmers to buy and build: and there is a Federal Land Bank in Springfield, Mass., which lends to some Farmers' Associations, of which some four thousand are already formed. It is hoped that the State Land Bank of New York City may improve the situation in New York for Farmers'Organizations, but "generally nearly all available funds of the local banks seem to be drawn off for investments in Wall Street."
However, it is not to be forgotten that this difficulty is reflected in the lower prices of eastern Land.
One more thing that keeps many people from the country and drives some people back to the city is the mosquito (of course there are mosquitoes in town, but we are not out as much, so we notice them less). Mosquitoes breed or rather we breed them, in still water in which there are no fish, in pools, hollows in trees, wells, etc.,and above all in old tin cans. They can no more breed without water than sharks could.
Mosquitoes do not breed in grass, but rank growths of weeds or grass may conceal small breeding puddles, and form a favorite nursery for Mamma Skeet. A teacupful of water standing ten days is enough for 250 wrigglers; their needs are modest.
Different species of mosquitoes have as well-defined habits as other birds and are classified as follows: Domestic, Migratory, and Woodland.
The common domestic or pet species breed in fresh water, usually in the house yard, fly comparatively short distances, and habitually enter houses. They winter in cellars, barns, and outhouses. Some of them are conveyors of malaria.
The Migratory Species breed on the salt marshes, fly long distances,do not habitually enter houses, and are not carriers of diseases so far as known.
Certain varieties of Woodland Mosquitoes breed only in woodland pools, appearing in the early spring, and travel a greater distance than the domestic species. They are not usually troublesome indoors.
It has been proved that malaria is transmitted only by certain species of Anopheles, one of which is the domestic mosquito.
Eliminate this one species of mosquito and the disease will disappear as a direct consequence. So if you hear that pretty little song in the house, don't swear, thank the Lord that effects always follow causes. You need never be without a bite in the house if you have a nice cesspool handy for Sis Mosquito, for each one will have a first-class feed with you every second or third day.
They are needless and dangerous pests or pets. Their propagation can be prevented by draining or filling wet areas, by emptying or screening water receptacles, and by spraying with oil where better measures are not available. Oil should be sprinkled in any cesspools, sewers, and catch basins, rain barrels, water troughs,roof gutters, marshes, swamps, and puddles that cannot be done away with. All ponds and large bodies of water should have clean sharp edges, because in shallow, grassy edges larvae of the malarial species are commonly found. Large ponds with clean edges, inhabited by fish or predatory insects, are safe; smaller ponds, if wind swept, and all ponds in the "ripple area" are safe. All rain pools,stagnant gutters, overgrown edges of large ponds, and all receptacles holding water not constantly renewed, are dangerous. You raise most of your own mosquitoes.
Now a word specially concerning this revised edition.
The farm papers are supported mainly by men with large acreage, it is the rise in value of these acres more than the rise in farm products that has pulled the land-owning farmers out of the hole that they were in up to about the year 1900. Farmers' knowledge,liking, and equipment was for big fields, half cultivated, and at first they did not like to hear that they had been wasting so much of the labor that had bent their backs. Nor did they want to hear that it would have been far more profitable to them to have cultivated a few acres and left the goats and hogs or sheep to attend to the rest as wild land until the long-expected settlers came along to buy the land at dreamland prices.
Consequently, all the faults in the book there were, and some more besides, have been picked out by these critics. It is surprising as well as a notable compliment to the agricultural experts who revised the first edition that, with one exception, no material error or omission has been pointed out.
The more so because there is absolutely no limit to the advances in methods and results in doing things, and in growing things, all born of intelligent toil. Your suggestions may help the world to better and bigger things. If you will listen at the 'phone you may sometime hear a conversation like this:
"Hello, this is Mrs. Wise, send me two strawberries, please." "You'd better take three, Madam, I've none larger than peaches to-day." "All right; good-bye."
You may sometime see that kind of strawberry in New Jersey at Kevitt's Athenia, or Henry Joralamon's, or in the berry known by various names, such as Giant and different Joe's. But lots of people have failed in their war garden work even on common things; lots more ought to have failed but haven't--yet. Years ago, we, the book and its helpers, started the forward-to-the-land movement which has resulted in probably two million extra garden patches this war year.
I have had carloads of letters, at least hand carloads, about the book, but not one worker who even tried to follow its counsels has reported failure.
So don't let us have a wail from you because your "garden stuff never comes up." Of course it doesn't; you have to bring it up, just like a baby. That's what I've been crying for long years in the wilderness ever since the first edition of this book. The Three Acres may be bought on credit but eternal vigilance is the price of Liberty and crops. To raise good crops costs time and attention and sweat of body and of brains.
Here is a chunk of wisdom out of the excellent Garden Primer (which you can get free by asking me for it):
"One hour a day spent in a garden ten yards long by seven wide will supply vegetables enough for a family of six"; but the value of this remark lies in the application of it. If you figure a bit on that you will find that ten minutes a day will provide enough for one person, but six hours once a week won't do. Six hours a day will bring up a baby; but two days a week is criminal neglect for the other five days. If you once let the weeds get a good start, say after a rain, they will make even the angels swear. It's regular attention that the baby and the garden and your education and your best girl will require.
If you want more minute instructions about how to grow each vegetable, put in words that anybody can understand without getting a headache or a dictionary, look up "The Garden Yard" by the Author.
It is in nearly all libraries now, and it is the only book that makes perfectly plain everything that a plain man needs to know about growing plain things
So there is little to add in this new edition except to reinforce what was not strong enough. In the present jumping market to revise the prices quoted would be absurd, but it may be noted that, as in the prices of 'cowers, the minimum prices are still about correct,but the maximum prices have jumped almost out of sight. Every year there are more and more very wealthy people who will pay nearly any price for the very best. The world seems to be dividing into those who have to count their pennies and those who couldn't count their thousands. Of course, where war has prohibited the importation of the strong bulbs and roots needed for forcing flowers, the prices are about what any one who has any chooses to ask. Monopoly can always get its own price.
This New Edition does not attempt to bring prices quoted up to date.
In these times not even a stock exchange telegraph ticker can do that. Prices of goods in general have advanced at least 80 per cent.
By the day that this book is off the press they may have decreased,or more likely advanced some more. The next day they may slump.
Prices of labor advance more slowly and do not slump so fast. Wages of men gardeners have risen perhaps 50 per cent in the last ten years, but women and children have learned to do much of the work.
They do the work cheaper because most of them have some one on whom they can partly depend for support.
Similarly, when an example of total product given in the earlier edition is still typical and has stood investigation, it is not discarded in favor of a more modern instance.
It would have been easy to have revised all the figures, but of little advantage to our readers. For example, it is encouraging to the citizen to know that the average wheat yield per acre has increased more than two bushels since the first edition of this book, but it would not help the garden maker. The increase of possible products tends to counterbalance the increased cost of labor. So only the musty parts have been cut out of the book, which is more needed now than ever.