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The celery-pit is usually made twenty-four feet or twelve feet wide, two feet deep at the sides, covered with boards supported by posts and purlines, and the boards covered with sufficient litter to keep out frost. The celery is dug in November, and stowed away, placing a little earth over the roots, and will keep well through the winter if well aired and cared for, airing it frequently. It needs to be kept dry, to be protected from frost, and kept as cool as may be without freezing
The spinach-house, or cellar, is similar in appearance to the squash-house; the shelves, however, are only fourteen inches apart: as we do not need to work between them, it is made partly under ground. As the temperature required for spinach is 30° to 35°, we need no stove, but good ventilators, and protection from frost by double walls, and covering of meadow hay, &c.
The cellar for storage of roots should be well drained and frost-proof, and provided with windows or doors for free ventilation in suitable weather. Apples and onions keep well in barrels in a cool, dry cellar; the other roots do well in bins piled about four feet deep, with openings in the sides and bottom for slight circulation of air, and a light covering of hay over them, to prevent them from wilting. They keep fresher if covered with sand, or earth, to prevent evaporation, but this is not generally practised. Roots intended for winter marketing are often washed in the fall, and put in barrels and headed up, and then stored in a cool cellar. They come out fresh and clean at any time in winter when thus stored. The temperature of the cellar should range from 35° to 40°. If much warmer, vegetation and decay will result. The cellar of a house is not well adapted to the purpose, being too warm: especially if provided with a furnace for heating the house, as is often the case. Moreover, the vegetable cellar in spring is inevitably encumbered more or less with decaying vegetables, which are most unwholesome in the air of the dwelling.
Where many roots are raised for feeding to stock, and where cellar room is wanting, it will not cost very much to pit them. The pit is usually made four feet wide, by ploughing the land and shovelling out the loam at each side; the roots are piled in a ridge about three feet deep, and lightly
covered with straw or sedge, over which six inches of loam are placed, well beaten with the back of a shovel. When cold weather comes on, pile on enough litter to keep out frost; provide air-holes every rod in the length of the pit, for ventilation. Plough a deep furrow around the pit, to carry off surface water.
The manure used on the market-garden is mostly horsemanure, with some night-soil and hog-manure. Land intended for early cabbages and greens is usually manured in the fall with coarse manure, ploughed under. The manure applied in spring is worked as fine as possible so as to be available at once for plant-food. When the horse-manure is very coarse or strawy, it is used thus for hot-beds in its fresh state; but in summer it should either be thrown into a cellar to be trampled by hogs, or composted with night-soil and loam in the field. When handled in this way it does not heat excessively, and makes a manure that cannot be excelled for forcing a rapid growth of vegetables.
The tools used for market-gardening are some of them not much known elsewhere; the seed-sower most approved is the revolving brush, a modification of the Willis machine. The scuffle-hoe or shove-hoe is much used in running between the rows of greens, onions, and beets; land can be tilled with this tool almost as cheaply as by the cultivator and horse, and the rows are only fourteen inches apart where it is used.
The garden-marker is a very convenient tool for marking the places for transplanting celery, cabbages, lettuce, &c. It is a wheel about four feet in diameter, provided with handles like a wheel-barrow; the tire is provided with movable pegs which can be adjusted at such distances asunder as are required for the various plants in question. When the land has been properly prepared, it is only necessary to trundle this tool along the row, and the pegs mark the places where plants are to be set.
The preparation of the land for garden crops is a point that requires the application of considerable skill. The best gardeners plough rather deeply, ten or twelve inches; the land endures drouth better when thus handled than when shallow ploughing is practised. Many of them run a subsoil plough after the common large plough every second year, to loosen the subsoil. To make the land mellow and fine enough for most
garden crops, it should be harrowed and rolled after ploughing, and then ploughed, harrowed, and rolled again. The roller is an indispensable tool in the garden, and is most useful in packing the surface of the soil just enough to prevent excessive evaporation in time of drouth. For this purpose it is often made to follow the cultivator in the celery field, in dry weather.
Weeds have little chance to be very troublesome in a well ordered garden. The continual hoeing and ploughing kill the few that come up, and no skilful gardener will suffer them to go to seed on his land, and the manure is suffered to ferment before being applied to the land in order to destroy the seeds it always contains. The only very troublesome weeds are those which grow and mature their seeds very rapidly, such as purslane, chickweed and the like. Even these will yield to thorough culture.
Market-gardens have not as yet been irrigated to any great extent in Massachusetts. Some of the most successful gardeners of Arlington apply water only to their hot-beds and early cucumbers; a few of them use the large hose, however, in the field to water their early cabbages and lettuce, and late cauliflowers and celery in time of drouth. And there are some who water their strawberry beds with profit.
There is good reason to believe that this practice is profitable and likely to increase; in some seasons the rainfall is sufficient for the growth of vegetation; but we often get a month or six weeks almost rainless, with hot, dry winds, very trying to the succulent vegetation of gardens. When water is applied, it should be put on in sufficient quantity to thoroughly soak the ground to the depth of the roots; and as soon as it has soaked in, the land should be cultivated or hoed.
Frequent sprinkling of the surface is objectionable : it makes a crust upon the surface, and draws the tender rootlets to the surface, where they are likely to dry up if not constantly watered. To water land effectually requires an inch in depth applied every five days, or 27,000 gallons per acre. To apply this amount of water with an 11-inch hose and a head of 40 feet would require about seven hours. If a inch hose were used with the same head it would require about six times as long to apply the same quantity. Where water may be cheaply had and applied there is little doubt
that it will in many cases well repay the trouble. But wherever it is applied the land should have good drainage, otherwise a heavy fall of rain, coming after an artificial watering, might injure the crops. The land, if heavily manured and thoroughly tilled, will endure drouth pretty well without watering. Water, however, is indispensable to the management of the hot-bed and greenhouse; and many gardeners not within reach of public works, or a natural head, have found their account in erecting private water works, driven by a windmill or small steam-engine.
In no particular is the skill of the gardener more conspicuous than in the raising or selection of his seeds. It is well known that the seed-store is in general the last resort, and often the source of bitter disappointment and serious loss. In making this statement I would not be understood as casting any reflection upon the character of the seedsmen: they are many of them most reputable and honorable men, for whom personally I entertain great respect. The trouble is not with them so much as it is with the buyers of seeds, who are not willing to pay the price for good seed which it costs to raise it. The care required to produce really good cabbageseed, or lettuce-seed, or onion-seed, would not be repaid by the prices which these seeds command in the market. The result is that the best gardeners raise their own seed for their own use, or for exchange with such neighbors as they can trust to raise for them some other variety. Of course this is attended with great trouble and expense, but it is the only sure way of receiving the full reward of one's labor in a very laborious calling.
Another most important part of the business is the washing, packing, and assorting of the crops for market. This is usually done under the eye of the gardener himself, or only intrusted to some experienced and trusty man. It is an old maxim of trade that goods well put up are already half sold. In no trade is this more true than in the vegetable and fruit trade : clean, neat, well-washed, attractive goods always sell quickly, at good prices; while carelessly prepared stock, that is really as good, will be hard to dispose of at a fair price.
The wash-house, provided with tubs, convenient benches, and sufficient shelter for the preparation of the crops for the market-wagon, is the necessary appendage of every market
garden. Upon the convenient arrangement of this department much of the economy of the labor of preparing the crop depends.
There are some problems connected with the management of the market-garden which need investigation by scientific as well as practical men. One of these is the nature of the disease in the cabbage family known as “club-root:" its appearance is too well known to need description, but its nature is little understood. It is the practice of gardeners to plant the cabbage only one year in three or four upon the same land in order to avoid this disease; but in the year when the land is cabbaged it is often made to carry a good crop of late cauliflowers after the cabbages, which could not be done the year following.
Another question which is little understood by the gardeners is how to prevent mildew in the lettuce-beds: we are altogether in the dark in regard to its nature and the causes that produce it, and are very much at its mercy in raising lettuce.
The use of artificial fertilizers also needs to be more fully tested: it seems highly probable that the root-crops could be grown with greater profit by using a moderate dressing of manure combined with a potassic fertilizer, than by using the usual heavy dressing of manure alone.
The practice of irrigation, too, needs to be more generally tried. Those farmers who have used water most, are confident that it is profitable to continue its use upon field-crops, even where its application involves considerable expense
The question is often asked, " Is not market-gardening a very profitable business?” There is no doubt that many skilful men have found it so; and it is equally true that many not so skilful have had to toil very hard at it for a living, and that others have lost money and grown poor in attempting it without proper preparation. The labor and care required for success in gardening are more incessant than in other kinds of farming: the gardener gets little respite from his cares, either in winter or on Sunday. And if he sometimes makes money faster than his brother farmers who depend on their cattle, he does it at the sacrifice of a good deal of comfort and by dint of much care and hard work.