Category Archives: Home & Garden

Planting Chrysanthemum Seeds

Chrysanthemum is a genus which has contributed several species to the flower garden. Hardy chrysanthemums are among the popular and important garden flowers oust of the long, colorful show they put on in summer and fall. By choosing carefully the hundreds of varieties, the gardeners have chrysanthemum blooming nearly all year round. They can be grown in containers and watered carefully. The dwarfs can be dug with a generous earth when in bud or flower and moved to a dull corner of the garden. Few have such a variety of color and form, are excellent for cutting.

Hardy chrysanthemums require a great maintenance to keep them in top form. If you are a person who has little time to work with, you should avoid having large plants. While they can be propagated, cuttings and seed, most gardeners will divide. Indeed, (or at most, biennial) division in spring may help keep them flowering well. When looking at the clump, you will notice many pale usually with a tuft of small leaves spreading out among the darker roots base of the plant. Each one of these can grow into a large flowering plant by cut off as many as you will need and the rest of the old clump. If you started with larger divisions, use a sharp knife and cut pieces with several new crowns. Small divisions or stolons make the best and they should be set out in full sun in compost or rotted manure, which supplemented with bone meal or sludge are heavy feeders and will benefit from dressings of compost during the growing season. They must be watered carefully at all stages of growth: Drying of the soil in the heat of summer will stunt growth and diminish flowering.

When the young plants have grown six or eight inches tall, pinch out the tip of each stem to induce side-branching. Pinch again after each six inches of growth until mid-July, after which the plants should be left alone so they form flower buds. This early pinching induces heavier flowering and helps to keep tall varieties more compact. The cushion mums, which mature at 12 inches or less, are self-branching and should not be pinched. Some varieties, such as the football and spider mums which develop very large flowers, should be disbudded to make them look really spectacular. All secondary flower buds are removed, allowing each stem only one bud at the top which opens into a flower that can be five to eight inches across. Such varieties usually bloom too late to mature before frost and the flowers can’t take heavy rains, so they are best left to florists and greenhouses. While some-times advertised as being suitable for the open garden, they are really not.

Almost everyone knows of or owns chrysanthemum plants which seem to survive and bloom year after year with little or no winter protection. Even so, the term “hardy chrysanthemum” can be misleading because too often a newly bought variety which was planted in spring and bloomed in fall dies in the winter. This is often caused by poor drainage; while mums require abundant moisture during the growing season; their soil must never be soggy in winter. Try not to plant them in heavy clays if you wish to winter them in the garden. To prevent alternate freezing and thawing, cover the plants with airy mulch such as straw, evergreen boughs or an inverted basket in winter. To be sure that choice variety survives, dig them with earth balls after frost has killed the tops and store them under light mulch in a cold frame for the winter. In spring, plant several of the stolons and compost the old plants. Treated this way, any hardy mum will grow and bloom well each season.

There are several recognized flower types of hardy chrysanthemums of which the button, pompon, decorative, and single-flowered types are most suitable for the open border. There are many named varieties to choose from in each class, so check the catalogs for those which appeal to you most. The cushion or dwarf types might be the best for busy gardeners because they do not need pinching.

Planting Blueberries

This popular insect-resistant shrub, growing six to ten feet high, bears plenty of fine-tasting fruit and adds beauty to the home when used as an informal hedge.

Blueberry Soil

The cultivated blueberry is still close enough to its wild ancestors to be appreciative only of natural, organic fertilizers. They like humus and soft, woodsy soil so much that it is almost a question of growing them organically or not growing them at all.

In nature the blueberry plant displays its blossoms and tasty fruit in the seldom-frequented spots of forest and wilderness whose soil is covered with a rich blanket of decaying vegetation. It grows wild among the redwoods of California, on forest hillsides in New England and on the broad crests of the Appalachian ridges.

Soil should be of a pH from 5 to 5.6, which is quite acid. A liberal amount of peaty material is needed; a mulch of peat is fine. If additional acid is needed, use peat or compost made without lime to give the right acidity. The peat should be dug into the earth, and well intermixed with it.

Despite the need for moisture, blueberries require good drainage. Water should not stand on the surface. If you need to keep the water condition right, dig an open ditch or install tile drains. Cool, moist, acid conditions are needed in the soil for the best growth of roots to support the plants.

Blueberry Planting

Upon arrival of plants (rooted shrubs) for setting out, it is urgent that the roots be protected from drying. Cover them at once with soil or burlap—if unpacked. Do not expose the roots to the drying effects of sun or wind. Put the plants in a cool moist cellar or in the shade till set. Dig the hole large enough to receive roots without bending or cramping them. When the subsoil is very hard, break it up at the bottom of the hole, using a pick or crowbar if necessary. Set the plants slightly deeper than they stood in the nursery and spread all roots out naturally. Place good surface soil next to the roots and work it in with the hands. When the hole is half-filled, tamp the soil firmly. Fill the hole and tamp the soil harder. Leave loose soil on top or cover with mulch. Leave a saucer like depression at the top to catch water. If manure is used, it should be well rotted and worked into and mixed with the soil. Manure can be used on top for mulch. Never put fresh or un-rotted manure next to the roots. It may heat or dry out and hurt the roots.

Careful planting is important and should never be hastily done. In all cases, pack the soil firmly about the roots and use moist soil for the purpose. Young plants, usually eight to 15 inches high, should be planted in early spring or late fall. Space them about five feet apart, with the rows about seven feet apart. Ten- to 15-year-old bushes usually yield about 14 quarts of berries.

Blueberries are not self-pollinating, so more than one variety should be planted. Since each of the common varieties has slightly different characteristics, it is good home-garden practice to plant a selection of different types. They ripen at different times and vary slightly in flavor.

For good pollination, encourage and protect bees wherever possible.

Preferred varieties in the two chief areas of high bush blueberry production are as follows:

Michigan-Early: Earliblue; Midseason: Blue Ray, Bluecrop; Late: Jersey, Coville.

New Jersey-Early: Earliblue, Blue Ray, Ivanhoe; Midseason: Bluecrop, Berkeley; Late: Herbert, Darrow.

Some of the older varieties like Concord, Rancocas, Weymouth, and Stanley do well in the northern and middle Atlantic states, because they usually produce smaller berries than the varieties listed above.

Blueberry Pruning

In the wild, blueberry plans are pruned by the “burning over” process on the managed areas; the old stems are burnt out. But in the garden the pruning shears need to be used after four or five years from set. Varieties vary greatly in growing habits. Some of the more open and flat-topped ones like Cabot, Herbert and Pioneer need very little pruning. The upright and close-growing varieties (Weymouth, Rubel and Rancocas), on the other hand, need considerable opening to prevent them from becoming too thick and bushy. A little attention to the natural degree of openness will suggest what thinning-out to do—if any is needed. It is well to compare and contrast different modes of growth before starting the pruning.

There are two types of growth to cut out in pruning—the very slender stems which may not bear much, and the oldest and largest that have borne several years and may not bear much more, except at the tips. It is well to keep the clumps fairly open to avoid crowding and shading. More than one foot asunder for all stems is too open; less than four inches is too close.

Blueberry Planting Problems

It is important to suppress all weeds. This is best done by the liberal application of acid mulches each year—peat and oak leaves are better than sawdust or pine needles. Compost is helpful. Woodland soil is often suitable for the plants.

Insect damage to blueberries is confined primarily to the blueberry fruit fly, whose eggs hatch into maggots inside the ripening berry, and the cherry fruit worm, a small red worm whose damage is usually confined to large commercial plantings. Best control of the fruit is rotenone dust, 25 pounds to the acre. It is applied five times between June and the end of harvest. Shallow cultivation also helps by imposing larvae to predator ants and birds.

The most troublesome blueberry disease is mummy berry, which causes berries to rot and fall off. Control by collecting old mummies off the ground or turning them under when cultivating.

Raising Turkey Chicks

Turkeys can be a profitable sideline for a homesteader, particularly if he can grow the green feed on which the birds thrive, and if he can sell them at retail. If not, turkeys still make good eating, and a homesteader can raise a few to dress for table use for the family.

Stand warned, however, that these birds are difficult to raise. Turkeys are highly prone to disease and they are unintelligent. When young, they often starve to death without discovering their feed is right next to them. Mature hens are no smarter. They lay their eggs standing up, killing their unhatched young. The least scare sends turkeys piling into corners where they often suffocate.

Some of the most popular breeds are the White Holland, Bronze, Bourbon Red, and Narragansett. The new, smaller Beltsville turkeys, developed by the Department of Agriculture Research Center at Beltsville, Maryland, are gaining in popularity and find a good market throughout the year. Always buy quality stock from a reputable hatchery or breeder.

Turkey Housing

For retail production, start with newly hatched turkeys or “poults.” A pen approximately 20 by 20 feet in a barn or poultry house will handle 100 to 150 poults until they are put on range at ten weeks of age. A raised wire porch the same size is necessary to keep the poults off the ground and reduce the danger of the highly infectious, fatal blackhead disease.

A good-sized electric brooder and hoppers for water and feed are other needs. Sand and shavings are usually used for litter in the poultry house. After they are two weeks old, the poults can go outside on the porch in good weather.

Turkey Care and Feeding

Grains are fed in addition to starter mash after the birds are two months old. Good commercial feeds for starting are available. Grain rations can be homemade if grains are raised on the homestead, or you can use a commercially made preparation. If the birds’ entire lives are spent on wire, they should have fresh green feed, such as rapeseed, oats or ladino clover, brought to them. Alfalfa, lettuce, cabbage, and other greens, less expensive than commercial pellets, can form as much as 25 percent of the ration. This can enable homesteaders to compete in price with commercial growers.

Turkeys on range will eat great quantities of forage, as well as pick up waste grain, weed seed and insects. An acre of good range generally supports 100 birds until they are six months old and ready to be slaughtered. Oats and rapeseed make fine pasture for turkeys. For permanent pastures, a good mixture is red, ladino and alsike clover with timothy and Kentucky bluegrass. During the last five weeks before slaughter, the birds need plenty of whole corn to fatten them.

An acre of good range can support about 100turkeys, provided their diet is supplemented with whole corn, commercial feed, and milk or water.

Excess milk from goats or cows can also be used in turkey feed. The liquid is used to moisten the mash. Feeders can be located inside the pen or outside in wooden troughs. Two inches of feeding space per bird is suggested.

Turkeys need water. This can be supplied by having fountains inside the pen or by attaching a water pan to the outside of the pen, allowing it to be more easily filled and cleaned.

Turkey Diseases

Turkeys are susceptible to many diseases. The most serious one is black-head which is hosted by a worm common to chickens. Symptoms are droopiness and yellow droppings. Cage cleanliness and separation of turkeys from chickens help combat the disease. Turkeys housed on a raised sun porch are resistant to the disease. Turkey manure is an excellent fertilizer, so clean up and compost the droppings weekly.

Mushroom Growing

Of the many species of edible mushrooms which grow infields and woods, only one, Agaricus bisporushas been developed as a cultivated crop in the United States. Because of the variety of conditions under which fungi grow naturally, it might be assumed that commercial production would-be a simple process but nothing could be further from the truth. No other crop is as exacting in its requirements. Profitable production requires constant attention to maintenance of favorable conditions and eternal vigilance against the inroads of insects and diseases.

Because the mushroom is a fungus and lacks chlorophyll, it cannot carry on photosynthesis and must depend upon non-living organic matter for its nutrition. Also, because it belongs to a lower order of plants having no true roots, stems or leaves, it produces no flowers or seeds and reproduction depends upon spores. Hence mushroom growing is not a matter of planting a seed to produce a plant.

The spores are borne on the gills on the under-side of the mushroom cap and one mushroom produces millions of spores. Given a favorable environment, the spores develop a threadlike mass called mycelium or spawn, which in turn, under the proper conditions, develops the fruiting bodies which are edible mushrooms.

The early steps in this process, called “spawn making,” are carried on in a laboratory under carefully controlled and sterile conditions. The spores are collected by a trained technician and placed on a potato-dextrose-yeast agar for germination. They are later transferred to bottles containing an organic medium such as tobacco stems, kafir corn, wheat or rye for continued growth. The bottles are kept at 75° F. until the threads of mycelium have covered the grain or other medium after which they are placed under refrigeration until time for use.

Because conditions for mycelia growth are also favorable to growth of molds and bacteria, the bottles are checked frequently and any which show contamination are discarded.

Only the largest producers of mushrooms prepare their own spawn; most growers purchase their supplies from companies which specialize in that function.

Before getting his spawn supply, the grower prepares his houses. A “standard” mushroom house, usually built of cinder block, is 64 ft. x 20ft. and contains 2 tiers of beds with an alley between. Each tier is 6 beds high, giving a total bed surface of approximately 4000 sq. ft. Mushroom houses are now built as “doubles,” that is, each house is wide enough for 4 tiers of beds. Because light is unnecessary for growth, the house has no windows. Temperature and air circulation are important, however, and a series of ventilators is built into the roof.

The organic matter in which the mycelium grows is called compost. In the early years of commercial mushroom production, compost was almost entirely horse manure. Following World War II, because of the scarcity of horse manure, growers adopted “synthetic compost” which is made of hay and chopped corn cobs supplemented with brewers’ grains and gypsum and small amounts of ammonium nitrate or potash.

Since 1960 a decreasing availability of corncobs and an increased number of race tracks with available manure have brought about a combination of “synthetic compost” and horse manure for mushroom compost.

Before being placed in the house, the compost must go through a curing process during which it is turned several times and water added. In this way it is broken down by the bacteria present and is both chemically and physically conditioned for the growth of mushrooms. The composting process requires from 1-3 weeks depending upon the material used and the rate of bacterial action. Over-composting or under-composting can have adverse results on the mushroom crop. The experienced grower knows by the appearance and feel of the compost when it is ready to go into the house; no definite rule can be laid down for this process.

After the beds have been filled to a depth of 6 or 8 in., the compost must go through a pasteurization period known as the “sweat out” or “cook out.” The house is closed tightly except that doors are opened at intervals to replenish the supply of oxygen. Fans are installed to aid in bringing all parts of the house to a uniform temperature. The heat generated by bacterial action in combination with the moisture, causes the temperature in the compost to rise and the resulting pasteurization brings about a final conditioning as well as killing insect and disease organisms which have come into the house in the filling process.

The “cook out” is a critical step in the preparation for a mushroom crop. Much depends upon the condition of the compost when it is put into the house. The bacterial action depends upon the moisture and carbohydrate content of the compost; if conditions are not right, the temperature may rise too rapidly or too slowly. If the temperature does not go high enough disease organisms are not killed. On the other hand, an extremely high temperature can cause chemical changes in the compost which can result in a poor crop. Since air temperature is no indication of the compost temperature, thermometers or Thermo-couples are placed in the beds and checked frequently.

A uniform compost temperature of 140° F. throughout the house is considered sufficient to kill animal pests and molds. As the compost heat approaches this point, heat is usually added in the form of steam to equalize the air temperature and the bed temperature and the house is held at this point for from 4 to 6 hours. The temperature is then allowed to drop slowly, preferably not more than 5° per 24 hours.

When the compost is placed in the beds, it has a strong odor of ammonia. By the time the temperature has dropped to 125° F. after the peak heat, no ammonia should be noticeable. The compost temperature is then allowed to drop to 75° F. before spawning. The entire “cook out” requires from 7 to 10 days.

The spawn is then broadcast on the beds and the mycelium grows into the compost in whitish-gray threads. During the “spawn running” period, the temperature is maintained at not more than 75° F. and the compost should have a water content approaching 70%. Water is applied as a fine spray rather than as a heavy stream and not in quantities that will cause the compost to become soggy. Transparent plastic is sometimes placed over the beds to maintain a satisfactory moisture level in the compost during the spawn run. From 2 to 3 weeks are required for the spawn to grow through the compost.

While the mycelium will grow in the compost it will not develop into the fruiting stage and produce mushrooms until a thin layer of soil (called “casing soil”) has been placed on top of the compost.

Preparation of the casing soil is again a most careful process. Since the mushrooms derive no nutrient from the soil, the physical characteristics of good casing soil are more important than its chemical composition. It must hold water without becoming waterlogged and must remain friable on the beds without “caking.” Topsoil meets these requirements better than subsoil. This means that in areas of concentrated mushroom growing, long-range programs of rebuilding topsoil must be planned.

Although the chemical content of topsoil is not important, its degree of acidity affects the crop. It should test between 7.5 and 7.8 on the pH scale. Spawn laboratories maintain soil-testing services for their customers. If the pH tests below 7, lime is added. Mushrooms tend to produce acid in the soil and the addition of lime neutralizes the acids and aids in preventing the growth of green molds.

The soil is screened in the field to remove stones and debris and is then transported to the wharf at the mushroom house where it must undergo sterilization.

One cause of crop failure in the mushroom industry is the presence of nematodes which are present in all soils and all raw compost. At least 2 species are especially injurious to mushroom mycelium. The soil as it comes from the field may also be infected with organisms which cause mushroom diseases known as “bubbles,” verticillium spot, and “mat” disease (all familiar terms to the mushroom grower but merely names to the inexperienced).

Heating the soil to 180° F. by passing live steam through it will destroy nematodes as well as other animal and disease organisms. Some chemicals such as chloropicrin have also been found effective and chemical sterilization of soil has replaced steaming to some extent. After sterilization, the soil is placed in a clean bin or on a concrete wharf and covered to prevent recontamination.

When the mycelium has grown through the compost, about t in. of soil is placed on top of the beds and leveled off. Again there must be constant attention to watering, temperature and ventilation.

Mushrooms begin to appear as “pinheads” about 3 weeks after casing. The temperature must be held at no more than 70° F. and preferably between 50 and 65° F. The lower temperatures improve mushroom production and discourage the growth of insect and disease organisms.

Throughout the growing period the grower must be alert to invasions by disease or insects. Optimum conditions for mushrooms arc also favorable to growth of molds and weed fungi, hence the precaution to prevent contamination by spores in spawn, compost and soil. Malformed or diseased mushrooms are removed.

Planting Sunflower Seeds

The sunflower is a tall, coarse annual herb that resembles a colossal daisy. Commercially it is one of the most important herbs in the world today. The plant is grown as an ornamental or for its seeds, which are a valuable source of vitamins and minerals.

The sunflower is native to the Americas. The Indians used its seeds as a source of meal, and the sun-worshipping Incas of Peru attached a religious significance to it and used the plant as an accessory in their religious rites.

The Spanish conquistadores and other visitors to the New World carried the seeds of the “floure of the Sunne” back to their home-lands where the exceptional nutritional worth of the plant was at first ignored.

From the point of view of the gardener, growing sunflowers is an enjoyable occupation. When the plants are young, their heads will turn to face the sun each morning. There are many varieties, including some that do not produce seed. These are used chiefly as ornamentals. Some flowers resemble giant black-eyed Susans, while others are huge, beautiful pompons resembling chrysanthemums.

The head of the giant sunflower is packed protein-rich seeds suitable for both livestock human consumption.

Sunflower Planting and Culture

Sunflowers very well with mild, organic fertilizers, and have few insect pests, so seldom need LI sprayed. For giant-sized heads, space them at least three or four feet apart, but for option of seed, space them more closely.

Grown on a large-scale, sunflowers can be valuable cash crop. They will grow on any land that will produce a fiat corn. A light loam is preferable to a wet soil. The field should be prepared by and smooth harrowing.

The soil should be tested for ground limestone applied if necessary. The pH should be between 6 and 8. There are plenty of nutrients and manure applied at the rate of ten tons per acre, three pounds of seed per acre, using corn planter. Space the seeds at intervals in rows 36 to 42 inches apart. These should be cultivated twice.

As the plant matures, the head will grow the stalks may need some kind of a gentle looping of two or three others which will help the plants withstand winds. In a small garden, sunflowers planted in the back or along the side of the property.

Sunflower Harvesting

Sunflowers can be harvested if the backs of the seed heads are dry. At this time, the inner rows are iced drying. To harvest, cut off about a foot of the stalk attached that are tied together, and the heads hung barn or loft to dry. When thoroughly the seeds by rubbing the heads. If stored in airtight containers, the vitamins will remain for a long time.

Sunflower is a remarkably versatile plant. Each part of the plant has its use: the entire plant can be used for livestock and poultry, the flowers, yellow dye; the pith of the stalks can make paper or be used as a mounting medium. Since it has a specific flower than cork, pith also can be used as life preservers and belts.

Sunflowers is used primarily as a protein-rich livestock, sunflower seed and oil are also eaten by people. The seeds can be used like nuts or ground into a meal and used in baking or as a supplement to a variety of dishes. Sunflower seeds are increasingly sold as a snack which is particularly popular in Russia. Industrially the oil is used in the manufacture of soaps, candles, burning oils, Russian varnishes, and Dutch enamel paint.

Sunflower Varieties

The most interesting sunflowers are those that produce seed. While these come in dwarf, semidwarf and tall varieties, the best kinds for the average gardener or homesteader are the common garden sun-flower (H. annuus) and the giant sunflower (H. giganteus), also called the Indian potato. The common garden sunflower sometimes reaches heights of ten to 12 feet, with blossoms one foot or more in diameter. The plants are widely cultivated in the United States, the Soviet Union, India, South America, Canada, and Egypt. It is the state flower of Kansas.

The giant sunflower is a strong-growing perennial that climbs to 12 feet or more and bears a huge flower packed with big seeds suited for harvesting and eating. Most popular and widely grown of the giant varieties is the Mammoth Russian, which matures in about 80 days. Besides being the largest and tallest of all sunflowers, it bears big, striped seeds that are thin-shelled, meaty, and rich in both flavor and food value. The plants’ towering, husky stalks make excellent screens or field back-grounds. When grown close together, their broad leaves block the sun from weeds.

Sunflowers suitable for growing in the flower garden are the small-seed types such as thin-leaved sunflower (H. decapetalus) and ashy sunflower (H. mollis). These grow from three to five feet high and branch freely from the leaf axils, producing many small flower heads rather than a single large one. The seed is about one-third the size of a corn kernel.

Petals can be shades of yellow, mahogany and purple, and some flowers have a broad band of a contrasting color around the center. All make very good cut flowers for large arrangements. These sunflowers are especially attractive to the smaller seed-eating birds such as goldfinches and chickadees, which will harvest the seeds themselves. Hummingbirds will visit them for nectar and small insects. Color Fashion, Autumn Beauty and Italian White are single-flowered mixtures. Teddy Bear grows to three feet, produces fully double yellow flowers, and is one of the best for cutting.

Planting Currants

These Ribes species are not nearly as popular as they used to be for 2 reasons. In the first place, the fruits must be processed as soon as they are picked. Secondly, most Ribes species have proved susceptible as alternate hosts to the White Pine blister rust disease and there are definite restrictions placed (by Federal Quarantine Acts) against growing them in many states and counties. The home gardener who wants to grow currants (or gooseberries) should first write his State Experiment Station to ascertain whether it is permissible to grow them in his area.

Currants are grown in bush form, in normal garden soil. They are hardy well north of where apple trees are grown. These shrubs take little care. They might be mulched to help with the weed problem. The application of well-rotted manure not only acts as mulch but a fertilizer as well. The application of commercial fertilizers is usually not worth the effort except on very poor soils, but plants in the home garden frequently respond well to addition of nitrogen in the form of a complete fertilizer. They should be spaced about 5 ft. apart. All canes over 3 years old should be removed. Fruits should be used as soon as they are picked, but they can remain on the bush for a week or so in an almost fully ripe condition.

Currants are propagated commercially by hardwood cuttings taken in the fall after the leaves have dropped. The home gardener can easily obtain a few extra bushes merely by layering a few branches.

As for varieties, ‘Red Lake’ is an excellent one for the home garden. ‘Wilder’ produces more heavily and so is preferred for commercial plantings. Fifty percent of the currants grown in the U.S. today are grown in N.Y. ‘White Imperial’ is the best white-fruited variety, and ‘White Grape’ is sometimes listed by nurseries.

The black over-wintering eggs and San Jose scale are killed by dormant sprays of insecticide. Insecticide is effective if thoroughly applied to the curled leaves. Currant borer which tunnels and kills the canes and currant stem girdlers which cause the new canes to break near the tip in early summer are checked by sprays of insecticide when the adults are active, but butting and burning the infested canes is advised. Imported currant worms, the larvae of a sawfly, are voracious caters when the leaves are about full grown. Spray with insecticide but do not use insecticides that may leave harmful residue on the harvested fruit. Plant bugs and San Jose scale may infest currant.

Currant Diseases

Brown or purplish spots on the leaves indicate infection by currant anthracnose, and fungicide gives good control. Blister rust, which is more important on White Pine, occurs as bright orange spots on Currant leaves in midsummer. Fungicide is advised. Before planting currants, check with local authorities concerning restrictions.

A South African bulbous plant similar to Gladiolus, belonging to the iris Family, is related to Antholyza. Flowers are red and yellow borne in spikes and grown from bulbs planted in the spring.

Planting a Coconut

The coconut, Cocos nucifera, as a cultivated plant has wide distribution in tropical and subtropical regions in both hemispheres. Probably native to subtropical Asia, it was brought to Latin America by the Portuguese and Spaniards, and now grows throughout the tropical world.

The trees, sturdy and wind resistant, have leaning trunks which may reach 80 or more feet in height. They are beautiful large palms which are unexcelled in importance among fruit-producing trees of the world. The millions of acres of planted coconuts yield food, drink and fiber. The oily meat of the nut, termed copra when dried, is important in world trade. It is the source of dried coconut, and of coconut oil used extensively in soaps and cooking. The fiber of the husks goes into cordage, brushes and coarse matting. The nut shells become house-hold utensils. The leaves are used in mats and thatching. Sugar, alcohol and vinegar are also obtained from the coconut.

Coconuts are grown to a limited extent in southern Florida, southern Calif and Hawaii. Several varieties are available from nurserymen. Propagation is by seed, in some cases planted in nurseries, more often where the tree is to grow. The unhusked nut (the seed) is placed on its side and only partially covered with soil. Germination takes place in 4-5 months if the soil is moist.

For nut production distance between trees is about 25 feet. Bearing starts when the tree is about 6 years old and the yield increasing gradually for 12-14 years.

If climatic conditions are right, a coconut palm will grow and bear well in many types of soil. Water supply limits both growth and yield. The Coconut cannot survive under water-logged conditions; on the other hand, the roots must be able to reach a constant supply of water. The original home of the Coconut was probably along the coast, and the general belief is that it does better near the sea. That this isn’t necessarily true is indicated by high-yielding plantations many miles inland. Although the Coconut will not thrive when the water available is as salty as the sea, it can stand much more salt than many other plants.

When one or more nutritional elements are deficient, the palm does not grow well. The chemical elements that may be in short supplying the soil are nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and iron, occasionally calcium and zinc.

The best way of making sure that insects and diseases cause little damage lies in providing optimum growing conditions. Coconut and similar palms are known to be infested with 35different scale insects and mealy bugs. Many of them are held in check by natural enemies but occasionally spraying with insecticide when crawlers are active is necessary. Consult local authorities for latest recommendations. Weak or injured trees are susceptible to attack by borers which can be cut out, probed with a wire or treated with a special borer paste. Avoid trunk injuries which attract borers. Bacterial bud rot, a disease of buds and other tender parts, requires drastic eradication, even to removing and burning the infected tree. Other rots may appear, but they are seldom common or serious.

Planting Brussels Sprouts

This vegetable has been grown near Brussels, Belgium, since the fourteenth century, hence its name. It is a minor crop in America even though its popularity has in-creased during the past 30 to 40 years.

It is an erect single-stalked plant, developing buds or small heads (sprouts) in the axils of the leaves. These heads or sprouts when fully developed are 1-2 in. in dia. and resemble miniature heads of cabbage. They are mild in flavor, rich in vitamins as well as calcium andiron.

Brussels Sprouts Varieties

The better types for the home gardener are: ‘Long Island Improved’, ‘Catskill’ and ‘Jade.’ ‘Half Dwarf’ is a standard variety in Calif.

Brussels Sprouts Culture

The general cultural requirements for brussels sprouts are about the same as for Cabbage and cauliflower. The plant will stand considerable freezing and can be harvested in the fall until severe freezes occur. The best quality sprouts are obtained in the fall with the sunny days and light frost at night. Brussels sprouts are grown as a fall crop.

The plants are spaced 24-30 in. apart in the row and 30-36 in. between rows. Seed planted in the outdoor seedbed in late May should produce strong transplants for their permanent place in the garden by late July. Soil preparation and fertilization is the same as for Cauliflower and Cabbage except that this crop is not as sensitive to high soil acidity as Cauliflower. Too much nitrogen and hot weather tend to produce sprouts that are loose, open, not compact and of poor quality.

Brussels Sprouts Buckleya

The sprouts begin forming first in the axils of the lower leaves, approximately 2-3 months after transplanting. In harvesting, the first picking should not be delayed after the lower leaves begin to turn yellow. In picking, the lower leaf below the sprout is broken off and the sprout is removed by breaking it away from the stalk. As the lower leaves and sprouts are removed the plant continues to push out new leaves at the top and in the axil of each leaf a bud or sprout is formed. In this manner sprouts may be harvested for a period of 6-8weeks.

Brussels Sprouts Storage

The sprouts will keep well in storage at 32° F. and a high relative humidity of 9o-95% for a period of 4 to 6 weeks. The whole plant is removed from the garden just prior to severe freezes and placed in the storage pit or storage cellar.

Brussels Sprouts Disease and Insects

Most of the pests of Cabbage and Cauliflower also attack brussels sprouts and the control measures are the same.

Planting Avocado Trees

In Florida, Southern California and other frost-free regions, the avocado is a practical fruit and shade tree for the home grounds, thriving either in or out of the lawn area. A heavy mulch or cover crop should be maintained beneath the tree to conserve soil moisture and keep weeds in check. Avocado flowers are borne in winter, when subfreezing temperatures will destroy the crop. Its bearing habit is cyclical; heavy crops are invariably followed by lighter yields. Protection must be provided from strong winds and intense dry heat.

Planting Avocados

Avocados are planted from November through May. The planting hole should be at least twice as large as the root ball, to give the tender roots room to establish themselves.

In the bottom of the hole, place two shovels full of well-rotted compost mixed with the same quantity of good topsoil, preferably a rich sandy loam. If the hole is three feet deep, these amounts could be increased. Add enough topsoil to bring the top of the ball of roots level with the ground. Place the tree on this in the center of the hole and fill in with good soil in which some compost is mixed. This will put humus in the soil. Firm the mixture around the ball of roots as the filling in proceeds. When the hole is almost filled in, have a gentle stream of water from the hose run in to settle the soil, so there will be no air pockets. Let the water run long enough so it will reach down below the ball of roots, then fill in with more soil to bring it up to ground level. Make a basin around the tree to hold water. Give a thorough watering once or twice a week until the newly planted tree is established. When it has put out eight or nine inches of new growth, once in two weeks should be enough to water unless the soil has very free drainage and the weather is very hot. Keep the water running for 45 to 60 minutes. Temperatures and soil conditions vary in different districts. No set of rules can be given that will be used to cover all sections, and a little experience will show what the right amount is. If there is good drainage any excess water will drain away.

As the trees grow, additional feeding may be given by applying a trowel full of blood meal and two of bone meal once in six weeks during spring and summer. Do not apply after August, for the new growth may be nipped in sections where there is danger of frost. Always give deep watering after applying fertilizer.

Do not cut off lower branches. They protect the trunk from sunburn. There are preparations on the market with which to paint the trunk for sun protection.

No pruning is required except to keep the tree in shape, well balanced and symmetrical in growth. In old trees keep all dead wood cut out. Never expose large bare branches to the sun as they are easily sunburned.

Cultivation should not be done near the roots, as they resent being disturbed. Keep a mulch of compost, leaves or old steer manure on the ground around the trees throughout the year. There will have to be several fresh applications of compost, as it will wash into the soil. The mulch should be three to four inches deep. Keep it several inches away from the trunk of the tree. Water the trees well before putting on the mulch.

Varieties of Avocados

Duke is a hardy variety for interior valleys and colder districts. It has a green, oval fruit of pleasant flavor. The tree is large, well branched and is one of the fastest growing avocados, with the fruit ripening in September and October.

Fuerte has a fruit of fine quality and is the leading commercial variety. The tree is large and spreading, and it grows well in the California coastal belt. It ripens in various localities anywhere from November to May.

The fruit of the Edranal variety has a rich, nutty flavor, and does not discolor when fully ripe. The tree is of upright growth, excellent for the home garden, as it requires less room than other varieties. It has large fruit with small seed and ripens from May to August.

Anaheim has a large, green, oval fruit that ripens from May to August. The tree is of upright growth and bears heavily.

Hass has one of the longest ripening seasons and produces a heavy crop each year. This purple black avocado is of fine flavor, and is perhaps the leading summer-ripening avocado grown commercially. It is excellent in the California coastal and foothill areas, ripening from May through October.

Ryan has fruit of finest quality and ripens after Fuerte, bearing a heavy crop each year. The fruit, pear shaped and green, ripens from May to October.

Nabal is particularly good in coastal areas. The fruit is round with seed and smooth skin. The flesh is rich and of exceptionally fine flavor, ripening from June to September.

Pueblo is a very fine home variety which is hardy to frost. From November to January the small trees bear heavy crops of large dark pear-shaped fruit with superior flavor.

Nutritional Value of Avocados

Avocados are rich in vitamins A, C and E. Other nutrients include thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, potassium, calcium, and iron. Avocados are high in unsaturated fatty acids. Because of their high unsaturated fatty acid content, they are credited with the ability to lower the cholesterol level in the bloodstream.

Avocados also make fine potted plants in-doors. To start the seed, place it large end down in the mouth of a jar full of water. Insert toothpicks in the seed. When a root forms and shoots appear, it is ready to pot. Grow near a sunny window, and pinch of terminal growth to prevent spindliness.

Rose Center Piece Flower Arrangement

A basket of roses and Peruvian lilies makes a beautiful gift — perhaps for a special birthday, anniversary or Mother’s Day. It would also add a lovely touch of colour and interest to a window sill, a fireplace or an otherwise dull corner that you feel needs cheering up. The basket, painted to tone with the flowers, would be ideal to use afterwards as a container for yarns, sewing materials or bath preparations.

DIRECTIONS:

1. Gather together your materials: a shallow basket with a handle, a waterproof liner such as a plastic box, a block of absorbent stem-holding foam (soaked beforehand),narrow florist’s adhesive tape, scissors, long-lasting foliage such as eucalyptus and flowering shrub, flowers such as roses and Peruvian lilies, florist’s scissors, secateurs(pruning shears), paper ribbon and a stub wire (floral pin). Prepare the basket to co-ordinate with the flowers that you are using, if you wish; the one shown here was painted in stripes of pink gloss paint, to add a touch of sparkle to the arrangement.

2. Put the liner in the basket and place the block of foam in it. Cut 2 strips of adhesive tape and crises-cross them over the foam and down on to the sides of the basket, to hold the foam firmly in place. Arrange the tallest stems of foliage to make a fan shape at the back of the basket. Cut progressively shorter stems for the centre and front, positioning them so that they droop and trail over the rim.

3. Arrange the roses to make a gently rounded shape in the basket, alternating the colours (pink and pale yellow were used here) so that each complements the other to create an attractive effect.

4. Add the Peruvian lilies, cutting some individual flowers on short stems and positioning them close against the foam. Fill in the gaps with short sprays of flowering shrub.

5. Unfurl the twisted paper ribbon by pulling it out gently from one end.

6. Cut the length of ribbon required and tie it into a bow. Gently ease the loop until it looks neat, and trim the ribbon ends by cutting them at a slant. Thread the stub wire through the hack of the loop, and twist and insert the 2 ends into the foam at the front of the basket. Spray the flowers with a fine mist of cool water, and keep the foam moist by adding a little water to it at least once a day.