Category Archives: Home & Garden

Tools and Equipment for Furnishings

The most expensive piece of equipment needed for making soft furnishings is a sewing machine. Although a modem swing-needle machine is preferable because of its zigzag stitching, an ordinary straight stitch machine, either hand or electric, is perfectly adequate. Always work a small piece of practice stitching on a fabric sample before starting a project, adjusting the stitch length and tension as necessary. Fit anew needle whenever necessary; machine needles become blunt very quickly, especially when sewing on synthetic blends, and a blunt needle can cause uneven stitches and puckering. Have the machine serviced by a professional repairer at regular intervals and put it away after each sewing session to prevent it from becoming covered with dust.

A steam iron is also essential. Choose a tidily heavyweight one and keep the sole plate spotlessly clean at all times. Fill the iron with distilled water (available from a pharmacy or motor accessory shop) when using the steam facility to avoid limescale forming inside the water reservoir and clogging the steam jets. A sturdy ironing board with a well-padded surface or slip-on cover is also needed.

Sewing needles come in various shapes and sizes; choose a type of needle which feels comfortable when stitching. As a general guide, betweens are short needles, sharps are slightly longer and used when tacking (basting) or gathering, straws or milliner’s needles are very long and useful when sewing through several layers of fabric.


Try to keep the necessary equipment in good order, clean and tidily stored so it is always easy to find immediately. A plastic tool box with divided trays is useful tor this purpose.

Fabric, threads and trimmings should be stored in a cool, dust-free place. Keep off cuts of fabric in self-seal plastic bags with the appropriate threads and label the bags with the date and the name of the project. This is useful in case the stitching needs to be repaired or a patch needs to be added to conceal a damaged area.


There are different types of needle threader available and these can be helpful when using fine, hard-to-thread needles. Whether or not a thimble is used when hand sewing is largely a matter of personal preference, but using one will protect the fingers.

Glass-headed pins are easy to see and handle. If the ordinary type of pin is preferred, choose a brand which is stainless and rustproof to avoid marking the fabric. Store pins in a dry place. A small horseshoe magnet is useful to retrieve pins and needles from the floor after a sewing session.

There are several types of sewing threads for both hand and machine use. Use mercerized cotton thread when sewing pure cotton and linen; core-spun thread (thread with a coating of cotton around a polyester core) for general purpose stitching; spun polyester thread on synthetic fabrics. Use tacking thread for tacking in preference to sewing thread as it breaks easily and tacking can here moved without damaging the fabric.

Good quality scissors are a real investment as they will cut accurately and stay sharp longer than cheaper ones. Drop-forged scissors are heavy, but the blades can be sharpened repeatedly over many years while the lightweight type with plastic handles are very comfortable to use. Buy a large pair with 28 cm/I I in blades for cutting out fabric, a medium-sized pair with 10 to 12.5 cm/4 to 5 in blades for trimming seams and cutting small pieces of fabric and a small pair of needlework scissors for unpicking or snipping thread ends.

Choose a fibreglass tape measure as fabric and plastic tape measures will eventually stretch and become inaccurate. A wooden metre rider or yard stick is also useful. A dressmaker’s pencil is more convenient for marking fabric than tailor’s chalk as it can he sharpened to a fine point. Choose white or yellow for marking dark fabrics and blue for light ones.

The metric and imperial measurements quoted in the following projects are not exact equivalents. Always follow just one set of measures, either centimetres or inches, to ensure perfect results. Note also that contrasting thread has been used for the stitching for clarity only; it is normal to match the colour of the thread with the dominant shade of the furnishing fabric.

Planting Gourds

These are members of the Cucumber Family belonging mostly to the genera Cucurbita, Lagenaria, and Luffa. By far the largest numbers of varying ornamental hard-shelled gourds are those originating from Cucurbita pepo ovifera which is the yellow-flowered gourd, easily distinguished from the white-flowered Lagenaria types which take a longer growing season to mature properly. Gourds can be grown in any good soil similar to that in the vegetable garden. They need as long a growing period as possible, especially L. siceraria, the reason why some gardeners in the North just do not have a sufficient number of days of hot sunshine to mature the fruits. On the other hand, Cucurbita pepo ovifera ripens easily in Zones 3 and 4.

Gourd Seeds

One should be certain at the start to obtain good viable seed from a reliable source. Seeds-men are selling gourds in 2 ways. The first is “mixed,” that is, several varieties of differently shaped gourds have been used for seed purposes and one can obtain many interesting gourds from such a package. On the other hand, the unscrupulous person will mix seed from a lot of inferior-shaped types together, and still sell them as “mixed” and be correct in so doing. Other seeds-men who have sources of seed from pure stands of Nest Egg, Striped Pear, Spoon or Miniature Bottle, will sell seeds of these types and the gardener has reasonable assurance they will produce gourds true to name. It really pays to purchase well-grown reliable seeds of this type regardless of whether they are sold as individual varieties or as “Super Hybrids Mixed.” Germination is helped if the seed is soaked in warm water for 12-48 hours before sowing. Seed will keep at least a year, (usually several), if put in a dry cool place.

When to Plant Gourds

Good seed should be sown in hills, 6-8 seeds per hill, after all the dangers of frost are over. It is unwise to sow too early for they simply will not grow until the soil warms up. They can be started in pots in the greenhouse 3 weeks before they are to be set out in the garden, thus gaining a few weeks on the ones planted directly in the soil. However, the roots should not be disturbed in transplanting, but the entire pot full of undisturbed roots and soil set out in one careful operation. Certainly this is the way to plant Lagenaria varieties especially in the North, and even then there may not be sufficient time for the fruit to ripen properly. All gourds should be grown in full sunshine, not in the shade.

Theoretically gourds should be trained on a trellis, up some chicken wire or over some brush to keep the fruits off the ground. Most of us do not have time for that and are willing to take our chances with a few of the fruits being marred on the ground. Seeds might be planted twice their length deep in good, friable soil. When seedlings are up the hills might be thinned to about 4 plants per hill, the hills being about 8 ft. apart. If the seed was “mixed” remember that the seedlings will show variation and one should not remove all the smallest seedlings, because these might just be the varieties with the smallest and most interesting fruits.

Fertilizers should be applied as for pumpkins and squash. The roots of gourds are very close to the soil surface hence in hoeing one should be careful not to disturb the roots. They need ample water and should be given plenty of it during drought periods.

Gourd Pruning

Pruning the vines can increase the number of fruits borne per vine. The main stem should be allowed to grow until it is to ft. long, when the end can be removed. It is on this part that mostly male flowers are borne. The lateral shoots bear mostly pistillate flowers. If the end bud of the main shoot is snipped off after the shoot is to ft. long, then the first lateral shoots have the main end buds taken off them when each shoot has developed about 4 leaves, this is sufficient for the pruning. Any sub-lateral shoots, developing after this, are allowed to grow at will. This type of pruning can aid in the production of more fruits.

Gourd Harvesting

Gourds must be thoroughly ripened on the vine before they are picked, for if picked when green or immature they will soon rot. For the varieties of Cucurbita pepo ovifera, the stem where the gourd is attached to the vine should be watched. When this starts to shrivel and dry up, then the gourd should be picked. It is best to cut them off the vine with shears, saving a few inches of stem on each gourd, rather than roughly tearing them off the vine, often severing the stem right at the end of the gourd. If roughly done, this can injure the gourd end just enough to allow disease to enter and the fruit will rot.

Ornamental Gourds

The gourds should not be left out in the field, but rather brought in and washed, often with a mild disinfectant, and set aside a few days to dry thoroughly. The idea is to wash off any soil or impurities which may have become attached to the shell. After a few days they can then be carefully waxed with any floor paste wax, and set aside for use as ornaments. Some will undoubtedly rot, but the majority, if picked when fully mature, will harden nicely and can be used for years.

The white gourds of Lagenaria siceraria should be even more carefully watched and picked just before they start to turn yellowish from too much sunshine. In the South these calabash gourds are easy to grow and to mature, but in the North it is very difficult to grow them properly. They include the Bottle, Depressed Bottle, Powder Horn, Dipper and Kettle.

Gourd Grading

Nest and Dolphin types along with many others are 2 species have green fruits with a rind that is not hard, but dry and papery. These can be a foot long and also take a long growing season. The inside pulp can be dried out and then used as a dish cloth.

It is of interest to note that markings can be made on the shells of any of these gourds when they are half ripe and growing on the vines. Thus, initials, characters, rough line sketches made at this time, eventually look as if they had actually grown on the shell. Also wires, strings or even containers can be placed around the developing fruits in such ways as to permanently change and control the shape. Thus, it is possible to have a square gourd (forced to grow within some confining square metal or concrete box). These then are the popular hard-shelled gourds.

How to Build a Water Garden

Water gardening, whether on a large or small scale, is one of the most enjoyable, fascinating and trouble-free, once initial construction and landscaping has been complete, forms of ornamental horticulture.

The attractiveness of a water garden extends over a long season. Few garden plants can compare with tropical water-lilies by providing a succession of flowers from June onwards until cut back by frost. These gardens lend themselves superbly to artificial illumination. Both the night-flowering water-lilies and the Giant Water Platter (Victoria cruziana) open their flowers at dusk, to provide a nocturnal display.

The most important consideration before planting and construction of the garden is the site. Full sunlight is essential for successful development of nearly all the aquatic plants. If the garden is shaded, growth becomes etiolated, and less floriferous. Trees growing in the near vicinity of a pool are undesirable as the leaves tend to accumulate in the pool, releasing harmful products as they decay under water. In wind-swept locations, a windbreak of the American Arborvitae or Canadian Hemlock planted at a suitable distance on the north side will prevent damage to the more tender plants, and also assist in extending the display season.

The source of water should be relatively free of salinity as well as industrial and municipal-wastes. Where fish are desired the water should be able to sustain a flora for the small organisms which serve as fish foods; and to have optimum dissolved oxygen content of 47%.

Pool Design

The design of the pool may vary from the formal or traditional with a rectangular or circular shape to the informal or more natural form. For the smaller gardens a simple pattern is advocated, being less complicated to build and maintain. This type is more likely to blend with the landscaping of a smaller garden. Eighteen to 24 in. is an ideal depth. To accommodate shallow water and certain moisture-loving plants, cement blocks or large stones can placed under the plant containers to bring them up to the correct depth of water (2-4 in.).

Pool Construction

The best material for pool construction is concrete—preferably reinforced—poured into wooden forms. The site selected should be excavated to the necessary depth and outline. Provision for drainage should be made as this will facilitate periodic cleaning. The drain can be run to low ground or sump built nearby. Galvanized iron pipe 2-3 in. in dia. is excellent.

Puddled pools, with curved sides can be constructed. They may not possess: the permanence of a pool built with forms, but are less expensive and not so much trouble to build. They allow one to build a pool to almost any shape with a minimum of complications. After excavations are completed and provision made for drainage, the floor and sides are covered with a 3-4 in. layer of gravel or crushed stone which is then consolidated. Reinforced rod or mesh is then placed over this, layer. Six inches of concrete is then poured over the floor and sides, insuring that the reinforcing is raised evenly to work the concrete around it. The final smoothing can be carried out as the concrete commences to set. Burlap can be placed over the pool, and kept moist for a week or so in order to prevent the concrete from drying out too rapidly.

Freshly poured concrete will release a considerable amount of calcium, which subsequently causes the water in the pool to be too alkaline for both plants and fish. The pool can either be painted with one of the water-proofing com-pounds, or better still given an artificial “curing” or maturation treatment. This consists of several fillings and flushings—followed by a thorough scrubbing with a solution of vinegar—then drained and refilled for planting.

Prefabricated Pools

Prefabricated pools mainly of fiberglass com-position have become increasingly popular. They are obtainable in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, are extremely durable, and long lasting. All that is necessary is to excavate the depression to fit the pool, place in position, level and firm. Some of the more elaborate fiberglass pools are obtainable in 2 depths—to accommodate a variety of plant material. Heavy-duty polyethylene can also be used, its disadvantage being its limited length of life compared with the other types of pools. The excavated area is smoothed, all stones removed—then covered with a layer of sand. Then cover with a double thickness of the plastic film, allowing an over-lap of at least 6 in. on all sides. This can be covered with soil or better still with stones. Even the smallest garden can feature an aquatic display—wooden or metal tubs, half barrels, even kettles, can be used to provide a focal point of beauty, when planted with the smaller varieties of water plants.

Bog Gardens

A companion bog garden can enhance the pool, and provide a site to grow an extensive range of unusual plants such as the giant-leaved Gunnera manicata, bog primulas, certain native orchids and insectivorous plants, to name just a few. A bog garden does not have to be water-logged. All that is necessary is to allow the roots access to water at all times. Making an artificial bog garden is considerably less complicated than building the pool. The area selected adjacent to the pool is excavated to a depth of 12-15 in. The base can either be lined with heavy-duty polyethylene and lightly perforated or flat tiles. These are placed over-lap-ping to prevent too rapid drainage. The area is then filled with a mixture of 2 parts field soil, and 1 part coarse peat. An ideal arrangement is to provide a slow trickle of water from the pool to the bog, insuring a uniformly moist condition.

Natural Pools

Many natural pools or ponds can be utilized to create water gardens. Some of the drawbacks include aquatic weeds which can offer severe competition; varying water levels; muskrats; and stagnation. A stream can be dammed and an area excavated to provide deeper, reasonably still water conditions. Spring-fed pools are often not practical for the tropical water-lilies, due to cool water temperature. Natural pools provide the gardener with maximum scope as regards landscaping the area around the pool, emphasis being to blend the pool with the surroundings, and to create as naturalistic an effect as possible.

In states where severe frosts occur, some form of winter protection for artificial pools is necessary. Logs or any floating object will take care of the effects of alternate freezing and thawing. For large pools expansion joints every 15 to 20 ft. will greatly reduce the danger of frost damage. Provided the crowns and roots of hardy water-lilies, lotus and other hardy plants are below the frost line, they will winter over satisfactorily.

Planting Peanuts

The Peanut, Arachia hypogaea, is one of the important crop plants of the world, but it is not usually considered a subject for home garden growing. Groundnuts (or peanuts) are mentioned in some of the earliest colonial records, yet whether peanuts were grown by the Indians is still questionable. It is believed that the Peanut is native to Brazil and Peru, but it is grown throughout the world wherever long hot summers are common.

A leguminous annual plant, the Peanut is sometimes known as a goober as well as a ground nut. Growing 12 to 18 in. tall, with alternate compound leaves of 4 leaflets, there are 2 general types. The one more generally grown is the Runner Peanut, in which the vine like plant sprawls, requiring a considerable amount of space. The other, the Bunch Peanut, is bushier and essentially upright growing. The bunch type is more often grown by those who harvest the tops for forage.

The gynophores or fruit stalk of the Peanut is commonly called the peg, and is considered part of the peanut fruit. The shell or seed portion of the fruit is called the nut or pod. The Peanut differs from most legumes in that the fruit matures underground and the gynophores or peg is elongated.

The Peanut actually can be grown in all but the northern tier of states from Me. to Minn., but it requires such a long season of heat to ripen its underground fruits that it is seldom grown except as a novelty north of Val. from Zone 5 south the Peanut is commercially important.

The Peanut first became known for its flowering and fruiting habits which attracted widespread attention. Flowers are of 2 kinds, one showy, yellow, pea like and sterile, and the other also yellow but fertile. After pollination occurs, the stalks on which are the fertile flowers curve down and penetrate the soil, carrying the fertilized ovary beneath the surface where it ripens, becoming what is called a peanut.

A warm sandy loam with a pH of about 7.0 is best for peanut growing. Clean culture is practiced to keep down weeds and to conserve soil moisture. The Peanut yields heavy in a hot dry summer. It is normally planted in drills 30 in. apart in the row.

Three major varieties are recognized, ‘Virginia Runner’, ‘Improved Spanish’ and ‘Valencia’. Variations, however, occur within the variety, so it is not easy to distinguish between varieties.

The peanut plant has a fruiting period of about 2 months, so it is not easy to determine when the crop should be dug. If digging is done in time to save the earlier-formed pods, later ones will be immature. If it is delayed, early-formed pods of Spanish peanuts will sprout, while ‘Virginia Bunch’ early pods are left in the soil. The object is to dig the crop when the largest number of mature pods can be saved.

Peanut-digging plows with fingerlike bars that lift the vines from the soil are used. A newer digger, when tractor drawn, lifts and shakes 2 rows of vines at a time leaving them on top of the ground. After they are allowed to wilt, the vines arc formed into windows. Machines are used for picking the peanuts from the vines. In some growing areas peanut fields are grazed by hogs which do an excellent job of gleaning the fields.

When grown commercially the Peanut is subject to attack by leaf hoppers, corn earworm and certain soil pests, such as wireworms and grubs of the June bug. Stem rot, sometimes called white mold, wilt or blight is a trouble-some fungus in commercial plantations. Caused by Sclerotinium rolfsi, it attacks the plant at the soil line, being easily recognized by the white fuzzy growth that spreads along the stems. The fungus overwinters in the soil on organic matter as small resting bodies called sclerotia. With favorable spring weather they germinate and spread rapidly on crop debris. Nuts from stem-rot infected pegs do not cling, remaining in the soil during harvesting. In a severe infection more than half the crop may be lost.

Ornamental Grass

Some of the annual and perennial grasses are of ornamental value, when grown in single clumps. They range in height from a foot to ten feet and more. The graceful, arching stalks of the Pampas Grass and the Eulalia Grass make these excellent as conspicuous specimens. The fruit clusters of Squirrel-tail Grass or Bristly Foxtail are most interesting, and remain on the plant in good condition for weeks. Or they are cut and dried, used for winter arrangements. Ribbon Grass and Zebra Grass are particularly interesting with their striped leaves variegated with white. Blue Fescue (Fescuca ovina glauca) is used from coast to coast for its blue-green foliage and its slow, tufted habit of growth.

It is probably true that these are not used nearly enough in our gardens. The perennial sorts need practically no attention. One clump of Eulalia Grass that comes to mind as this is being written has been growing as a featured plant in our garden for 20 years. It never has any attention, merely is cut to the ground for the winter and is evident throughout spring, summer and fall lending grace and beauty to the entire garden. These grasses should be used more than they are at present.

Planting Ginseng

A fleshy-rooted herbaceous plant native to this country, ginseng was at one time of frequent occurrence in shady, well-drained sites in hardwood forests from Maine to Minnesota and southward to the Carolinas and Georgia.

Mature ginseng plants are between ten and 20 inches high, with five-fingered leaves and small yellow green flowers that develop over a three-year maturation cycle.

Although most claims of the medicinal properties of ginseng roots are not widely accepted in this country, the herb has become a popular item in health food stores today, and is commonly consumed in teas and as a food flavoring.

Ginseng takes its name from the Chinese word, sclzinseng, meaning man shaped. This refers to the form ginseng roots often assume. Ancient Chinese medicine regarded ginseng as tonic, stimulant and carminative.

First cultivated in America in the eighteenth century, the herb was valued as a commodity sought by Indians and Americans like. Today, the wild ginseng trade has inclined, but domestic cultivation has inert and many by-products are commonly fox gourmet shops and health food stores thin out the country.

One serious problem in cultivating ginseng is the length of time it takes to grow a marketable root. The seed may take from 18 to 24 months to germinate, even longer for the plant to mature. Gardeners who start with immature plants must often wait four to six years.

Another consideration is the quality soil required to successfully cultivate ginseng. The soil must be fairly light and well fertilized with woods earth, rotted leaves or fine bone meal, with the bone meal applied at a rate of one pound to each square yard. It is planted in spring as early as the soil can be worked to advantage. It is placed six in. apart each way in the permanent beds or by six inches in seedbeds, and the seeds are transplanted to stand six to eight in. apart when two years old. The roots of ginseng plants, especially in woodland, are some damaged by mice. Protection from rodents may be necessary. The beds should all times be kept free from weeds and the surface of the soil slightly stirred whenever it shows signs of caking. In winter it should be applied when freezing weather begins and removed early in spring.

The root should be collected only when it will be plumpest after drying. The roots are plunged into hot water, and steamed. This makes them appear semitransparent, enhancing their value for exportation.

Most people consider the Chinese claim of ginseng’s medicinal value to be mythology. In the United States, the herb is still cultivated mainly for export to China. Russians, however, are trying to verify Chinese through research and promotion of their herb, which they possesses medicinal qualities similar to ginseng, particularly as a relaxant.

Planting Gooseberries

Gooseberries are fine fruits for home although more popular in Europe, resistant American varieties have wed. In addition to their intolerance, European varieties of gooseberry are more susceptible to mildew.

One-year-old stock should be planted either in late spring. Some gooseberries will tolerate cold winters better than others. Too much nitrogen in the soil produces green growth. Plant bushes four to six feet apart, in rows. Trim the tops back. A thick straw protects the planting through the berry bushes and can also increase layering—covering a length of about three inches of soil. Allow the branch with at least three buds. The covered portion will settle down, and later the branch can be cut back.

Widely cultivated in Europe, several winter-hardy varieties of green and white gooseberries are also available to the American gardener. Bushes which are shaded need more severe pruning than those in direct sunlight. Mildew is a constant threat.

Gooseberries are a potential threat to white pines because of the white pine blister rust which they may carry. In areas where white pines are important and grow profusely, the propagation of currants and gooseberries is prohibited or controlled.

Gooseberry Harvest

Gooseberry picking traditionally calls for heavy leather gloves or other protection against the prickly thorns. Run your hand along the length of the branch and catch the crop in a container placed below the branch. Leaves and other extraneous debris can be removed by winnowing later.

Gooseberry Pests

Mildew is the most serious disease affecting gooseberries. Bushes planted where there is good air circulation will be less susceptible to infection. Anthracnose is also a goose-berry enemy.

Gooseberry Varieties

Welcome is a hardy variety which is resistant to anthracnose. Pixwell is easy to harvest because the fruit hangs away from thorns. Old favorites include Downing, Oregon Champion, Red Jacket, and Poorman.

Planting Cactus

Cactus plants, which include the fascinating bizarre cacti, are to be considered as the most specialized of all plant groups. Since they live chiefly in areas typically hot and dry they assume fantastic forms which enable them to survive in such regions of adverse conditions. The grotesque growths tend to conserve water and reduce transpiration. In the case of the cacti, leaves are dispensed with almost entirely and the stems take over the functions which the leaves on non-succulent plants perform. In the mimicry plants (stemless mesembryanthemums) the leaves have entirely lost their semblance and appear as chubby, squat conical-to-spherical plant-bodies.

The root systems of succulent plants are hardly extensive or penetrate the soil very deeply. Usually they lie just below the soil surface which enables them to make quick use of any moisture that may come their way. Thus the plants are able to store water in special tissues and rely on it when water is scarce. For this reason, they are known as “succulents” which literally means “juicy plants.”

Since succulents have learned to adapt them-selves so nicely to adverse conditions we can readily see why they make such good houseplants. Where other plants fail in the hot dry atmosphere of our living rooms, the succulents usually succeed and impart a bit of greenery the year round. People often kill succulents by kindness when they pamper them too much. However, it is wrong to believe that succulents need no attention whatsoever.

Succulents are numbered in at least 20 different plant families. There are hundreds to choose from in all imaginable shapes and forms. If only a windowsill is available it can be utilized and made attractive with these plants. It is to be remembered that succulents require lots of light; if grown in the absence of it, the plants will exhibit scrawny etiolated growth which will be more readily subject to insect attacks and plant diseases. Sun porches afford more room where more elaborate set-ups or staging can be maintained. However, if one can afford a greenhouse, no matter how small, succulents can be grown to perfection without too much fuss.

A fact to remember is to choose the container best suited for use in the home, if that is the only available location. Succulents look very attractive in glazed pottery, but care in watering must be exercised since such containers do not dry out as fast as ordinary flower pots. Small pots can be set in a large tray or metal box filled with sand, gravel or sphagnum moss, and kept moist. Frequent repotting is not necessary.

Where space is at a premium more satisfaction will be derived if the grower concentrates on a few individual groups than on a general collection.

Cactus Propagation

Succulents usually can be propagated from seed, offsets and cuttings, and by grafting. It is true that growing them from seed will require patience, especially in the case of slow-growing cacti, but on the whole many succulents will produce good growth quickly. All you need is a flower pot or seed flat (a cigar box will do), a piece of glass for cover, good porous soil, and a package of fresh seed. Seeds may be sown anytime in the year if high temperatures can be maintained, as in greenhouses, but perhaps in the average home seed-sowing should be carried on in spring and summer. A uniform temperature of 70° F. should be provided and the seed pans placed in a window with a southern exposure, where light is always available. The soil in the seed containers must never be allowed to dry out, and seed must not be planted deep—just barely covered with sand or fine gravel. Water can be applied with a fine syringe or in the case of pots, the pots watered from below by placing them in a pan of water. Generally a glass cover is placed over the box or pot to aid in conserving moisture and heat, but the glass should be painted to shade the seedlings as they appear and gradually removed so that seedlings will get accustomed to the light. Supply ventilation to the seedlings by raising the glass cover occasionally so that damping-off does not occur. Seedlings need not be transplanted until they have become large enough or when they begin to crowd each other.

Most succulents can be multiplied by off-shoots which usually appear at the base of the mother plant or anywhere along the stems. Cuttings can be made almost anywhere—from tips, lateral branches, from leaves, and in many cases just tiny fragments of portions of stems such as ribs and tubercles of cacti. Cuttings generally root easily and produce a mature plant more quickly than seedlings. When making cuttings use a clean sharp knife or razor blade. Heal the cutting in a dry, shaded place until a skin or callus is formed; the time will vary with the species from one week to a month or more, depending on the size of the cut. The wider the cut the longer it will require to heal over. Cuttings can be rooted in a mixture of sand and soil but more preferably in pure sand or vermiculite, and as soon as roots form the rooted plants can be planted in the regular way. As a precaution, do not keep the rooting medium too wet from the beginning as rot may set in and spoil your effort. In that case, the cutting will have to be cut back to healthy tissue and calloused over.

Cacti and spurges are usually grafted in order to speed maturity of these plants. There are other reasons, too, such as to save a plant when only a small piece is available which would not easily make a cutting, or to develop more decorative and bushy plants, and to raise varieties that are considered difficult to grow on their own root. Still another reason is to preserve abnormal forms such as crests and monstrosities which are greatly sought by connoisseurs.

Although it is possible to graft other succulents besides the cacti, like spurges and stapeliads, there is really no point gained. Before attempting grafting remember that only related plants can be grafted. A Spurge cannot be grafted onto a Cactus or vice-versa—only species within their respective families.

There are 3 kinds of grafts commonly employed—the cleft, the flat and the side. All thin-stemmed plants are suitable for cleft-grafting while the thick and globose types require a flat graft. The side-graft is usually employed on thin-stemmed plants although it can be used with success on the chubby kinds too. In cleft-grafting the stock (the rooted plant upon which the scion will be placed) is cut back to a desired height, depending on what effect is desired for the plant later on. The Christmas Cactus, which bears pendent stems, naturally would look more effective grafted on a stock at least 6-12 in. tall. A slit is made at the top of the stock about an inch deep. The stem of the scion is then cut on 2 sides to form a wedge and inserted into the split of the stock. Firm the graft into the desired position and run a cactus spine or two through the united portions; then wrap some cord or raffia around the graft, just taut enough to hold the scion in place but not so tight as to cut into the stock.

In the flat graft, both scion and stock should be of approximately the same width at the intended union. After selecting the 2 plants, make a smooth transverse cut on each specimen and then place the scion on the severed stock, pressing the 2 flat surfaces firmly together. The scion can be held in place with 2 large-sized bands or string run over the top of the scion and underneath the flower pot, or by the use of flexible wire bent in “U” shape.

The side graft requires no special operation beyond slicing one side of both scion and stock and holding the 2 joints in place. When grafting operations are completed, set the plants in a warm shaded place so that the cut surfaces will not dry out too rapidly, preventing perfect unions. Inspect all grafts regularly each day to note whether union has formed properly. After grafted plants have become established only normal care is necessary.

Cactus Varieties

The most popular members of the Cactus Family are the mammillarias, better known as “pincushion” or “nipple” cacti. They are mostly small globular to cylindrical plant-bodies covered with nipple like tubercles with clusters of spines on their tips where the areoles appear. The small bell-shaped flowers appear as a crown on top of the plant and in some species a circle of colorful scarlet-to-crimson fruits will develop simultaneously.

There are over 300 different kinds described and every one is a gem, but the most popular are those which bear colorful descriptive names such as the Old Lady, Powder Puff, Bird Nest, Feather Ball, Ladyfingers, Thimble, Snowball, Fishhook and Golden Stars. They can be readily supplied by Calif. nurserymen who grow them by the thousands.

Planting Pomegranate Trees

The Pomegranate (Punicagranatum) makes an unusually attractive shrub or small tree for the yard, seldom growing beyond 10-12 ft. high. It is free of pests and diseases in the arid regions where it is best adapted, but the shiny green foliage is likely to be attacked by fungus diseases in the more humid regions of the South and Southeast. Although these diseases have not been studied, neutral copper sprays should effectively protect against most of them.

The Pomegranate is a deciduous plant, and even in the warmer areas of the Southeast where average winter temperatures are reasonably high it will drop its leaves through the winter period, although new growth may start before all other leaves are off. In areas with a marked winter period, leaf fall occurs in the fall and the trees remain dormant until spring. The species appears to have very little chilling requirement and is therefore vigorous growing even in warm areas. The dormant tree withstands temperatures of 10° to 15° F., and, with protection, can be grown in areas with even lower minimums.

Pomegranates are easily grown from seed, which are pressed out of the surrounding fleshy tissue, and planted shallowly in a prepared seedbed or flat. Seedling plants are almost invariably very inferior in quality, some being extremely acid. Named varieties are recommended. The Pomegranate is so easily propagated by dormant woody cuttings that any other method of propagation seems unnecessary. Budding, grafting and layering of the simpler kinds can be used if desired. Because they are so universally grown on their own roots from cuttings, no information on rootstocks is available.

The plants may be grown close together in a hedgerow, or as free-standing trees. Standard trees need be no more than 12-16 ft. apart.

Pomegranates tend to sucker very freely, and if the suckers are not removed the plant soon becomes a shrub, usually a dense spiny thicket unless thinned out annually. Except for the removal of suckers and strong water sprouts, pruning consists mostly of thinning out excessively dense growth. A multiple trunk system is easily developed by using 5 or more suckers to develop the top. Two-year or older wood is fruitful and should be retained. Heavy thinning back may be used to keep the plant small.

Pomegranates respond to normal watering practices for yard shrubs; they are somewhat drought-resistant, but best production and appearance results when they do not suffer long drought periods.

Fertilizer requirements are less than for many other fruit plants; if the bright green foliage starts to yellow, light applications of nitrogenous fertilizers are indicated. If the plants become chlorotic, especially in the Southeast, applications of a complete fertilizer with added micronutrients as for citrus may prove beneficial.

This plant is adapted to a variety of soils, from heavy to light; only poorly drained areas need to be avoided. It is more tolerant to saline soils than most other fruit trees.

One of its chief attractions as an ornamental is the relatively large, bright orange-red flowers, which bloom in the spring and continue to nearly midsummer. The fruit matures from late July to Sept., depending upon average growing temperatures through the developmental period, and hangs on the trees until winter. As it colors it adds materially to the ornamental value of the plant. Fruits not used should be cut off, as they eventually split, become subject to molds and rots, and are unsightly.

The fruits are normally from 3-4 in. in dia., roughly globose to subglobose in shape, with a persistent tubular calyx. The arils, which are from white to red, the latter being preferred, are encased in the leathery skin. If the calyx end of the fruit is cut off, the skin cut through in 4 or 5 sectors around the fruit, it may be pried open exposing the arils most effectively. The membranous skin separating groups of arils is highly astringent, and should not be eaten.

Few Americans are fond of the fresh fruit, but the expressed juice is used fresh, in cookery, and makes a very delightful jelly.

Two varieties are generally available. ‘Wonderful’ yields a large fruit, more or less blushed with light red over a straw-colored base. The arils are pinkish red, the seeds small and soft, and the quality very good. ‘Ruby’ fruits are somewhat smaller, but the fruit is usually fully colored medium red; the arils are bright red, but the seeds are slightly larger and harder, and the flesh more acid.

Non-fruiting ornamental forms with pink, white-frilled, double flowers are available. Also, a very dwarf form, which bears typical but tiny fruits, is offered.

Planting Corn

Sweet Corn is adapted to a wide range of climatic conditions and, consequently, is grown in all sections of the U.S. It is grown for the fresh market in both the southern and northern regions, but by far the largest acreage in the North is grown for processing and freezing. This crop grows best during hot weather and is frost-tender.

Sweet Corn Varieties

Each seed company lists many varieties; therefore it is difficult to suggest varieties that are available in all sections. Most of the older varieties such as ‘Golden Bantam’ and ‘Country Gentleman’ have been replaced by hybrids such as ‘Sugar and Gold’, ‘Golden Beauty’, Earlibelle’, ‘Butter and Sugar’, ‘Gold Cup’, ‘Golden Cross Bantam’, and ‘Jubilee’, listed in order of maturity. ‘Country Gentleman’ and ‘Stowell Evergreen Hybrids’ are popular white varieties. There are many other varieties that are excellent and therefore it is recommended that seed catalogues be checked for those that are listed for a particular region.

Sweet Corn Soils and Fertilizers

Sweet Corn is grown on all types of soil. A well-drained sandy loam to a silt loam is preferred. This plant has a very deep and extensive root system. Deep and thorough soil preparation is therefore important. Three to four bu. of well-rotted manure per two ft. of row worked into the soil will improve the water-holding capacity of the soil and provide some plant food.

Sweet Corn Planting

Sweet Corn is injured by frost and the seed germinates poorly in cold wet soil. Planting should be delayed until these conditions are satisfactory. Some gardeners start the seed in paper bands or pots in the hotbed and then transplant into the garden to get corn a week or two earlier than by direct planting out of doors. Sweet Corn can be planted in hills or in drills. Hills should be spaced 18 to 24 in. apart in the row and the rows spaced at 36 in. Three plants are adequate per hill. In drills the rows are spaced at 36 in. and the plants thinned to stand6-8 in. apart. Crows and starlings may scratch out the seed just prior to its germination. The seed should be treated with a crow repellent which can be purchased at a garden center.

Sweet Corn Cultivation

Cultivation of Sweet Corn is similar to that of other garden crops, namely shallow and sufficient to control weeds. Where corn is planted in hills, black plastic 18 in. wide may be placed over the row with holes for each hill. This not only controls weeds but also tends to conserve soil moisture. Herbicides are widely used in commercial corn plantings for the control of weeds. The most satisfactory material is Atrazine, but again this is very selective and cannot be recommended for the home gardener with a few short rows of Sweet Corn.

The removal of suckers and hilling of corn plants is not necessary or recommended Harvesting

Highest quality, sweetness and tenderness of the kernel are reached when harvested in the milk stage of maturity. At this stage the kernel is soft and succulent. As the kernel content changes to a doughy consistency it loses its sweetness and increases in toughness. Flavor and succulence are quickly lost after picking if exposed to high temperatures, say 75° to 80° F. At these temperatures 30-50% of the sugar may revert to starch in 4-5 hours. At temperatures of 32°-38°F, the original quality may be retained for several days.

Sweet Corn Insects and Pests

Corn earworm, a stout striped worm, feeds in the silk and kernels near tip of ear. Although they do not survive freezing, they migrate northward and are destructive when the ears are maturing. Spraying or dusting the silk at 2 or 3 day intervals with insecticide is safe and effective. European corn borer and southern corn borer tunnel stalks and eat kernels. Spraying with insecticide when the stalks are first visible in the whorl and repeating in 7-10 days should give good control. White grubs and wireworms eat the seed and roots and soil treatment with insecticide is desirable following sod. Corn flea beetle spreads bacterial (Stewart’s) wilt disease and, following mild winters when the beetle survives, a careful spraying program with insecticide on early corn is recommended. Army worm can strip the leaves from corn in a short time. They are most destructive in late summer and a thorough treatment of corn and surrounding vegetation with insecticide is advised. Chinch bug is destructive in Midwestern corn fields but seldom needs special control in home gardens. Stalk borer bores into stalks when they are small and ruins them. Spraying is seldom practical. Japanese beetles eat the silk but can be handpicked successfully if sprays for other insect pests are not used.

Sweet Corn Diseases

Bacterial wilt is described under flea beetle. Corn smut produces large, grayish-white galls called “boils” which usually ruin the ear. The “boils” contain a mass of spores. Fungicides are impractical and cutting and burning before the spores mature is suggested for home gardens. Treated corn seed is recommended for planting using fungicide on home grown seed.