Category Archives: Home & Garden

Planting Spinach

Spinach is the most important pot herb or green grown in the U.S. It is included in most home garden plantings. Spinach is rich in vitamin A and high in ascorbic acid, riboflavin plus some thiamine. It is also rich in iron and calcium.

Spinach thrives best during relatively cool weather. It is what we know as a short-day plant and, consequently, when grown during the long light and high temperatures of summer, develops a seed stalk very quickly. In the North it is therefore grown as a spring and fall crop and during late fail, winter and early spring in the South.

Spinach Varieties

There are many varieties listed by seeds men; some of which have curly, crinkled or savoyed leaves, while others are a lighter green with fiat leaves.

Spinach Culture

The lighter sandy and silt loam soils are preferred. Spinach is sensitive to both an alkaline and an acid soil. Soils having a pH range of 6.0-7.0 are excellent. Apply 20-30 lbs. of a 5-10-10 fertilizer per 100 sq. ft. prior to planting and then side dress with several pounds of nitrate of soda when the plants have a leaf spread of 2-3 in. Plant 1 oz. of seed per 100 ft. row and space the rows 12-15 in. apart. Plant only as much as can be used in 4-6 days and make 3-4 sowings at weekly intervals. The last planting should not mature later than mid-June or July. Fail plantings should start about Aug. Cultivation should be shallow and only sufficient to control weeds.

Spinach can be harvested as soon as 5-6 leaves have fully developed by cuing the top root just below the lowest leaves.

Spinach Diseases and Insects

Spinach blight or yellows, is a virus disease spread by aphids. Affected plants show a yellowing of the leaves and stunted, twisted plant growth. Control aphids and use resistant varieties such as ‘Virginia Blight Resistant’. This disease is most common in the fall and winter plantings. Blue mold is a disease showing yellow spots on the upper surface of the leaf and downy purple or blue mold on the underside. It is most prevalent during cool, high-humid weather. No specific control except good drainage, weed control and crowding of plants. Aphids, green soft-bodied insects usually most common in warmer weather, controlled with nicotine sulfate or a malathion dust. Be sure the spray material covers the underside of leaf.

New Zealand Spinach, Tetragonia expansa, is not a true Spinach. The plants are much branched, spreading from 21-24 ft. across and 1-2 ft. in height. The leaves are thick, dark green and are used in the same manner as true Spinach. The seeds are enclosed in a hard, rough pod.

New Zealand Spinach thrives in hot weather and, therefore, is an excellent substitute for ordinary Spinach for summer culture.

The seed germinates slowly and, therefore, may be treated for several hours in hot water prior to sowing. Some gardeners prefer to start the plants in a hotbed and then transplant them into the garden when 2-3. in. tail. Normal planting distance is 3 ft. between rows and about 2 ft. in the row. Actually, only 5-6 plants are sufficient for the average family. Cultural practices are similar to those for ordinary Spinach.

Spinach Harvesting

The tips of the branches are cutoff. New shoots will develop so that a continuing supply will be available throughout the entire season. Good growth is essential to develop soft, succulent and tender growing points.

A prostrate, succulent annual, grown as a vegetable, native to Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South America, especially for its tender young stems and leaves which are cooked and eaten like Spinach. Plants are taller, more vigorous and tougher than Spinach but it makes a good substitute for growing in hot weather. Leaves are alternate, flowers few, small and without petals, leaves ovate, often triangular, up to 5 in. long.

How to Make a Rock Garden

When rock garden was introduced to the United States from England in the Iwo’s, it soon became a craze. Those early rock gardens were developed in the English tradition, with emphasis on the beauty of composition of both rocks and plants, but after a while many of these man-made gardens became an ugly con-glomeration of rocks and stones. Soon, they were overdone, followed by a decline, but after World War II, a fresh approach was introduced in the Japanese style, with stress on openness and simplicity.

A rock garden may be defined as an out-cropping of rocks—natural or devised—where alpine plants from the mountainous regions of the world are grown. Usually it is on a slope, and although the plants chosen generally come from rocky places, usually at high elevations, many are simply low-growing perennials, annuals, bulbs, and shrubs that fit into the category.

Many gardeners are fortunate in having natural rock gardens, where their choice treasures are brought in and arranged in an artistic manner. In other instances, they are constructed with rocks—and boulders—that have been hauled in. This requires great skill, and the best are the result of the skillful execution of outstanding landscape architects and plantsmen. Unless well done, a rock garden can be an eyesore, nothing more than a mere pile of rocks among which plants are set and often allowed to grow rampant.

The natural rock garden is characterized by light, poor, gravelly, well-drained soil. In the constructed garden, this kind of soil is essential. It provides the kind of medium in which most of these plants survive. A heavy soil in winter becomes water logged. By remaining too damp, plants tend to rot, especially where winter rains are heavy. A too-rich soil promotes lush, soft growth that likewise is inclined to become winter-killed.

The artificial rock garden should be constructed with the proper growing conditions in order to display plants that generally cannot be grown elsewhere. It is intended for alpine plants, which are found growing wild on mountains between the tree line and the lower limits of snow. The rocks not only show off the plants to best advantage, but perform other important functions. They help to keep the soil cool and to conduct moisture to the plant roots. Excessive moisture through evaporation is prevented, and the soil is held by them in place. Even when all these conditions are provided, the rock garden may not fare well, but for another reason. It has to do with the length of the growing season, usually varying with that of the natural habitat of the plants.

The well-designed rock garden, especially if large, will be represented by many different kinds of topographical areas. It may have a rocky hillside and a steep slope. It may display a low plain, a hidden valley, a bog, a brook or stream, and a quiet pool, as commonly found in nature. At some point, it may even possess a high and windy mountain peak where few plants grow.

In extensive stretches, larger, bolder plants maybe used. The smaller the rock garden, the smaller the plants should be. Most rock plants are under a foot in height when full grown, but dwarf shrubs, may be up to 3 feet. Although alpine and rock plants are usually selected, others qualify if their size and height are right. They may be mat-forming or spreading and may come from meadows, woods, prairies or bogs. Many that are typical rock plants are often grown in borders with other flowers, among them Arabis, Aubrieta, Gold-dust, Cerastium, Hardy randy-tuft, Dwarf Iris, Ground Phlox, and Epimedium. These can be added to a wide variety of small bulbs and low annuals, like Sweet Alyssum, Lobelia and dwarf French marigolds.

The classical rock garden, with its need for hand and knee labor by skilled gardeners has become a thing of the past. It was intended to copy nature and to display many interesting and unusual plants, some of them rare. Today’s rock gardens have changed to meet the needs of the times. Simplicity and ease of maintenance is the keynote. Yet there are many lovely compositions that have resulted from this new concept which have combined the best and most practical elements of the British and the Japanese, the styles that have helped to mold the contemporary rock garden of today.

As with other forms of gardening, certain basic principles apply—scale, proportion, balance and good design, which includes a pleasing arrangement of the various parts into a harmonious whole. Most of all, it is originality and imagination that count.

Rock Garden Location

The site of the rock garden is of prime importance. If there is a natural outcropping of rocks, such as found in New England, the Appalachians, the Rockies and other mountainous areas of the country, and then select it, since there is nothing more beautiful than an arrangement of rocks placed in position by the forces of nature.

In any case, allow for full sun for at least part of the day. Yet charming rock gardens can be established on natural outcroppings where large trees, too precious to cut down, exist on the property. In such instances, the rock garden will not be gay and colorful in spring and early summer, but it can impart simple charm and a feeling of coolness. In summer, bits of color can be added with Coleus, Patient Plant, tuberous begonias, Madagascar periwinkle, fancy-leaved caladiums and Thunbergii. In early spring, before trees drop their leaves, miniature bulbs and species daffodils and tulips will unfold their pretty flowers.

Rock Garden Design

Before starting to build, whether you will plant around existing rocks or start from the beginning, make sketches on paper. A rock garden, like any other type of garden, is based on principles of design. If it is large, it will need paths and walks, or at least stepping stones and the paths should be of a winding, informal nature. Straight, rigid lines are not appropriate. Paths not only make delightful wandering, but make it possible to reach the plants in order to care for them. Unless comprised of stones, they should be covered with natural material, like pine needles, tanbark, shredded tree bark, or stone chips or pebbles. Be certain that these paths blend in with the surrounding plants.

If working with a steep slope, it will be necessary to make several terraces to hold back the soil. Areas can be leveled off every 2 feet before rocks are arranged on them. In many cases, this can add to the appeal of the rock garden, adding interest because of the level variations.

It is also a good idea to jot down on paper the positions of several plants. At this point, it is advisable to get to know their growth habits.

Rock Garden

A rock garden can be built on level ground, although it takes far greater ingenuity to make it look as if it has always been there. Some of the great rock gardens of the world, often found in botanic gardens, are made, and are so artfully executed that they have every feeling of being natural.

When choosing the location, look for a spot that receives abundant sunshine, away from the shade of large trees which cut out the sunlight and rob plants of precious nourishment and needed moisture. When dealing with a slope, this is not always possible, but sometimes, there is a choice. Keep away from artificial surroundings, since a rock garden is essentially a casual, informal type of garden expression that should harmonize with its immediate surroundings. Avoid as backgrounds high, austere wails, porches or the facades of houses, driveways and sidewalks, and a strictly formal garden, with clipped hedges and plants arranged in geometric patterns.

Exposure should also be taken into consideration. Rock garden and alpine plants are sun loving, although this does not mean full exposure to the all-day sun in some instances, especially if the shone faces south, this can be harmful in the case of winter sun and winds. One that faces east is considered ideal, but northeast, west and northwest are also excellent. When dealing with alpines from high mountaintops, north exposure, open to the sky, without any interference from trees, is recommended. This is because these small plants are covered, in their native haunts, by a thick blanket of snow all winter, and are not exposed to the sun or biting winds.

Southern exposures, particularly in the case of more rampant plants such as Ground Phlox, Aubrieta, Arabis, Gold-dust, and Dwarf Iris, are not to be neglected altogether. Many out-standing rock garden specialists have thriving sides of reeks where they present a glorious sight when in full flower. Less vigorous kinds, like small alpines, should be placed in narrow crevices where they will not be overpowered.

When designing the rock garden, avoid pockets where water collects, since good drainage is essential for success. Secure rocks well by placing them deeply. Any that are loose can cause damage when accidentally walked on. Look for rocks that are native to the region. Weathered rocks of any kind are good, but obtain stones that are irregular and asymmetrical and dark in coloring. Rounded stones are bad because they do not look natural.

Select rocks of different sizes, but avoid the use of too many. A rock garden is not a collection of rocks, but a collection of plants arranged around carefully selected and placed rocks and stones. Few types of gardening are easier to overdo than this. A mountain of rocks presents a jarring note that not even a healthy grouping of flowering plants can ameliorate.

Soiling Rock Garden

In a way, soil and construction go hand in hand. If soil is not the right kind, it can be especially prepared to meet the needs of the plants. In the case of existing rocks, poor soil will have to be scooped out and replaced with the proper mixture.

Most rock garden plants are not fussy about soil, and will grow in almost any kind, provided there is good drainage. Some plants require an acid soil; others prefer one that is alkaline. Yet most thrive in soil that ranges between pH6 and pH8. A thin, porous one is best, more so in sections of the country where rainfall is heavy.

Where droughts prevail during the growing season, the soil should be heavier and more moisture retentive to meet the needs of plants. In this case, it should be prepared beforehand with humus. Other aids consist of using mulches of fine gravel or stone chips to hold in the moisture. These will also help to prevent weeds from taking over.

A simple preparation consists of equal parts soil, coarse sand, and peat moss, leaf mold or compost. Another combines equal parts loam, leaf mold, peat moss, sand and fine gravel. Since most rock garden plants are lime-loving, add agricultural lime. Unless soil is very acid, a heavy sprinkling will do. Bone meal or superphosphate, slow-acting phosphoric fertilizers, can be added at the recommended amounts. Some rock plants do not need it, but others like Dianthus and campanulas appreciate it.

If scooping out soil in pockets and between crevices in natural rock outcroppings, dig to a depth of about a foot, where this is possible. Place a layer of stones, pebbles, or pieces of broken bricks at the bottom. Then add a layer of coarse sand or gravel before placing the soil on top. Wash each layer with the hose to make it settle firmly and eliminate air pockets.

Constructing Rock Garden

Constructing the rock garden is not the easiest task. It is advisable to do considerable reading beforehand and, where possible, employ the services of a qualified landscape architect. In either instance, observe and study rock formations in nature. The idea is not to copy them, but to receive inspiration and understand how they comprise a harmonious whole. Small rock can be lifted easily, but with larger ones you will need suitable tools. One or two crowbars will be among the handiest.

If proceeding on your own, first bring together the rocks to be used. Unless you have mastered your design so it is clearly in your mind, keep the plan sketched on a piece of paper close at hand.

Start to work at the lowest point. After placing a layer of drainage material at the bottom, add prepared soil in that particular spot, leaving the rest to spread around the rocks when in their final position. Generally speaking, keep the largest rocks for the base. In some instances, existing soil will have to be removed to make room for these boulders. Place them on their broadest bases, making certain they are secure. When completed, more than half of each rock should be under the surface of the ground. Arrange each so it leans toward the soil in order to catch rain water. Most of the rocks will have to be concentrated in steep places to hold back the soil. Use fewer where the grade is less abrupt, and allow for large levels where quantities of vigorous rock plants will be permitted to spill over the sides. Here and there small rocks can be used to give the impression that they have tumbled down. The key of the successful rock garden is to make it look as natural as possible, rather than man-made.

Before setting each rock in its permanent position, stand back to see how it looks. Turn it around a few times, and you will discover that, what was previously the bottom, may well be on the top. At this stage, it is easier to make changes.

When completed, and before you start to plant, let the rock garden rest for a few days. Up to this point, you have been too close to it and need to get away from it. You will have the opportunity to stand back and see the rock garden from several different angles at various times of the day, under divergent condition of sunlight and shadows. Strive for unity, harmony, with pot grown plants, as is often the case nowadays, you can do the work any time during the growing season, if water is available. Set out plants when soil is moist and crumbly. Avoid a very wet soil, which tends to cake and pack the roots, cutting down on the air supply.

When planting, firm the soil around the roots. You will have to take special precaution to get rid of air between rock crevices. Work slowly, ramming the soil as you proceed. Where space permits, use 3 or more specimens of the same kind in order to produce a broad splash of foliage and color. In small crevices and nooks use small alpines. They look more endearing, and are protected from vociferous neighbors by surrounding rocks. Dwarf types, as saxifrages, primulas, aubrietas, and small achilles, can be spaced 6-8 in. apart. More spreading thymes and Ground Phlox will need at least a foot.

Always strive for informality in the rock garden. A formal rock garden does not exist in nature. Plant singly or in clumps, but never in rows. Allow an occasional plant to stray here and there. Tuck one in a sheltered crevice, another in a narrow opening between stones. Always permit some to cascade, for they impart a special charm. Bring together beguiling foliage textures and patterns, not so difficult if you put your imagination to play.

Maintaining Rock Garden

On the whole, the rock garden requires little care, no hoeing or cultivating and very little weeding, once weeds are pulled up and thick mulches are applied. A minimum of feeding is needed, since a too-rich diet will promote lush growth that tends to rot or winterkill.

Even so, like any other form of gardening, general upkeep must be practiced if the rock garden is to look its best. It can quickly become an eyesore.

In the early spring, after winter covers are removed, gradually, according to the dictates of the weather, check plants to see if they need to be firmed back. Winter thawing and heaving will loosen them, but with the hands or feet this is easily done when soil is moist, but not wet. Some plants may require replanting if they have been pushed out of the soil too much.

A light scattering of a high phosphoric fertilizer, such as 5-to-5, can be spread on the surface of the soil and scratched in with a weeder where this is permissible, if it does not interfere with plant roots. Top dress the rock garden, using a mixture of 3 parts garden soil, 1 part leaf mold or peat moss, and 1 part coarse sand. To this add a 6-in. pot of bone meal to each wheelbarrow of prepared soil.

Planting in Rock Garden

Planting the rock garden requires a special kind of skill. First, become acquainted with the different kinds of plants. Some are shy, others are vigorous. Some are very hardy, others will need winter protection. It is important to know the forms and growth habits of each, as they vary to include the prostrate, rounded, spreading and upright forms.

As a beginner, start with some of the easier kinds, but this does not imply a limited variety. In fact, much of the interest in the rock garden stems from its varied number of plants. As you become familiar with these easy kinds, brine in the more difficult. They call for more specialized attention, but they offer keener pleasure.

A harmonious composition between rocks and plants is the aim of every rock garden, be it large or small. In a way, it is no different from other forms of gardening. Colors of many rock garden plants and alpines are bright and vivid—magentas, rose-pinks, golden yellows, orange-reds. Yet this does not mean they cannot be brought together into a harmonious unit. Where colors tend to clash if placed side by side, break them up through the use of white, the “peacemaker.” Also in the unobstructed sun-shine, where rock gardens are located, bright colors go together more easily, as is often seen in tropical gardens.

Early spring is a good time to plant, but better still is late summer or early fall when most rock plants are dormant. In spring, they are making rapid growth to come into bloom.

Wall Garden

The wall garden is more difficult to construct than the rock garden, but the same principles of design are involved. In it are gown small plants that abound in crevices and on cliffs, some that are tufted, some that droop, some that cling. The early spring is the best time to build and plant the wall garden which allows enough time for roots to become firmly established before the ground freezes.

A wall garden is usually placed in front of a bank to hold back the soil behind it. To do this properly, it should be solidly built, able to with-stand the pressure exerted by freezing soil behind it. Properly made, it can be as much as 55 ft. high.

As with the rock garden, the largest rocks should be used at the bottom, and the smallest at the top. Since no mortar will be used, it is the weight of the stones, one on top of the other, that will keep the wall firm and make it last for years. It is preferable to use local stone, although exotic vines can be brought in. The kind of stone to be used will depend, in the end, on the desired effect and the overall surroundings.

The wall garden inclines backward, so that it is lower at the back than in the front. The individual stone also tilts the same way toward the bank. This way the wall is held more firmly in position and the sloping angle permits rain to seep through the crevices to reach the roots the plants as they stretch out to the soil beyond.

When gathering stones, avoid those that are rounded, and select those that are flat any narrow. The largest, that will form the foundation, need not be below the frost line, but they should be secured firmly. Place them in a sloping position that is toward the soil, to about an in. deep, which is sufficient to provide a firm hold and prevent them from moving after heavy rains or cold winter weather. The width of the base should be about one-third of the height of the wall.

The larger the wall, the larger should be the stones. First place a row of the heaviest at the base, each leaning backward. Then add a few inches of soil, and it is well to use the specially prepared mixture recommenced for rock gardens. Always place about 6 in. of this soil in back of each rock or stone. Pack is in firmly to avoid air pockets, which dry out quickly and usually result in poor growth.

The next layer of rocks will require careful placement. Do not rest a rock on top of another but between two, so that its weight is borne by the rocks and not the soil. Continue in this manner all the way to the top. Always place each rock in a horizontal position. When completed, the weight will be carried by the rocks, and there will be no vertical crevices in the dry wall. The ideal way to plant is as you go along. After the rocks arc laid and 2 or 3 in. of soil is placed over them, rest plants in position and spread out the roots, covering them with 2 or 3 in. of the soil preparation. Plant layer at a time, and be certain to tamp the soil carefully.

In many instances, it is not possible to plant as you build. When the construction is completed, scoop out 1 or 2 trowel full of soil from a crevice, insert the roots of the plant, and replace as much of the soil as possible, pressing it firmly. Use smaller plants than you would by the other method, but also be prepared to expect some losses. Water and keep moist until plants are established.

Seeds can be sown in the wail garden in the spring. Mix the seed with moist sandy loam and press into the openings and crevices. A small piece of moss placed on the soil will help to prevent excessive drying out.

Planting Eggplants

This purple black glossy vegetable of the Nightshade family has a mild flavor similar to that of fried oysters and is often substituted for meat. A warm-season crop that produces best in hot, sunny weather, the eggplant is grown from seed as a tender annual. Eggplants can be cultivated in northern areas if started indoors and set out after danger of frost is past and protected when autumnal frosts are imminent.

Six to eight weeks before the frost-free date, seeds to be started indoors should be sown in flats and covered with 1/2 inch of mellow, well-pulverized soil kept at a temperature of 70 to 75°F. (21.11 to 23.89° C.). When the seedlings are about two weeks old, or about three inches high, they should be transplanted singly to three-inch clay pots or to flats and beds where they can stand four to five inches apart. The soil for this first transplanting should be particularly rich. A good mixture would consist of two parts rotted sod to one part compost mixed with a small amount of sand. The daytime temperature should be 65 to 70° F. (18.33 to 21.11° C.), the night time 50 to 55° F. (10 to 12.78° C.). Water carefully and check for insects.

Two weeks after the frost-free date, those seedlings growing in flats or beds should be blocked out; that is, a knife should be run through the soil midway between the plants, cutting the roots, and leaving each plant with its own block of soil. Keep these young plants lightly shaded and well watered until it is time to set them outdoors, about a week later. Mean daily temperatures for outdoor planting should be around 65 to 70°F. (18.33 to 21.11° C.) unless some protective covering (paper cones, cloches, plastic containers, etc.) is given the plants. Such protection allows the plants to beset out one to two weeks earlier.

Eggplants should be spaced 21 feet apart in rows set three feet apart and grown in a deep, rich soil that is moist but well drained. To conserve moisture and to protect the young seedlings from wind damage, a deep mulch of straw or hay should be applied in the spring. Beginning four weeks after they are set out, the plants should be fertilized with a manure/water tea once every two weeks.

Planting Elderberries

Often called elder, this plant is found member of the Honeysuckle family. There are five or more principal species, the American or sweet elder is highly recommended, it produces purple-black berries.

More than one elderberry plant can be cultivated by digging up the original and dividing the root mass into as many parts as you want plants. Suckers growing from roots can be dug and transplanted too.

Elderberries are popularly used in jams and pies. Delectable wines are produced from the plant’s fruits and flowers. The blossoms are also sometimes fried in batter and eaten like fritters, and the berries are used to make a deep red dye. An elderberry hedge will grow up to ten feet tall and produce showy and fragrant white blossoms; it is most attractive both to the property owner and to birds.

Flies are said to be repelled by the elderberry’s odor. The major known nuisance to the berry is the currant borer, which will burrow into the hollow stems of the plant and cause some damage.

Adams produces large fruit clusters and berries. Johns ripens in early August and yields vigorous growth.

Planting Grapes

Grapes are frequently prized fruit producing plants in the home garden. They need room in which to grow; they need annual and heavy pruning if they are to produce many fruits; they need spraying and fertilizing. In most areas, home-grown grapes are not difficult to grow, but they do need some sort of trellis or support. You have less opportunity to grow grapes, if you have a small garden.

They can be divided into 3 general classes as far as cultivation in the United States is concerned. Vitis vinifera is the European grape, many varieties of which are grown in southern Europe. In the United States they can be grown only in Calif., the Northwest Pacific Coast states and to some extent in Ariz. They can not be grown successfully elsewhere, but in those states they are almost the only ones grown, for they are superior to our Native American grapes and their many hybrids.

The second great group of grapes is derived from the native V. labrusca or Fox Grape, native to eastern North America. There are many hybrids of this type, some of them crossing with V. vinifera. One of the most popular of the V. labrusca hybrids is ‘Concord’, widely grown throughout the greater part of the country east of the Rocky Mountains and especially in the northern and northeastern United States.

The third group of grapes derived from V. rotundifolia, the Muscadine Grape, is grown only in the South where they will produce in the climate there and other grapes will not. Consequently, the home gardener selects the varieties he chooses to grow from one of these 3 groups, depending on the part of the country in which he lives.

Grapes prefer a sunny well-drained soil. Most of the commercial grape-growing areas in the East are located near large bodies of water which reduce the advent of frosts in the early fall, and give the fruit a chance to ripen fully. Areas near the Great Lakes, in Ark. and Mo. are in this category. Frost “pockets,” or low spots where early frosts occur, should not be used for planting grapes. Fortunately they will grow on a wide range of soils.

Grape Propagation

Many grapes are easily grown from hard woodcuttings and are then on their own roots. The home gardener can easily do this or he can layer stems on the ground. However, it is unfortunate that in many areas of the country, especially on sites of older vineyards, various diseases and insects take their toll of grapes by feeding on the roots. Recently there has been much work done in ascertaining which rootstocks arc “resistant” to these problems, and some excellent resistant rootstocks have been produced by various state and federal experiment stations. Popular varieties are then grafted on these so-called “resistant” root-stocks, with the result that the vines are far better able to grow in areas where disease and insect pests injure or destroy “own-rooted” types. It probably pays most home owners to play it safe and obtain varieties which have been grafted on resistant rootstocks.

Such plants should be watched carefully, for shoots from the roots if allowed to develop would produce grapes usually inferior to the clone grafted on them. All shoots coming from the rootstock should be removed; a rule to follow in growing any kind of grafted stock.

In New York at least, one of the best of the resistant rootstocks is ‘Couderc 3309’, but others are undoubtedly available in other areas. The local state experiment station would give the latest information on this score.

Grape Planting

One-year-old vines are the ones usually planted either in the spring or in the fall, but, if planted in the fall special care might be taken in northern areas to mound the soil about the base of the vine to prevent them being “heaved” out of the soil by alternate freezing and thawing winter weather.

Vines are usually planted about 8 ft. apart and cut back to about 2 buds. Mulch might well be placed about the plant but no fertilizer should be used at planting time. One should remember that grapes are very susceptible to injury from overdoses of fertilizers or chemicals used in weed control. Extreme care should be taken in applying these materials.

Grape Trellis

Grapes must have a means of support. The old-fashioned grape arbor was one method of supplying this, but there are so many other ornamental vines now available that if an arbor is used in the garden, a vine more decorative than the grape is usually selected. Grapes are easily grown on a wire trellis consisting of 2 wires, attached to sturdy posts about 10 ft. apart. One wire should be about 30 in. above the ground, and the second about 36 in. above the first.

The vine is trained to a single stalk with a branch trained each way on the 2 wires, often referred to as the 4-arm Kniffin System. Although there are other methods of training grapes, this is by far the most popular system and the easiest one to use for the home gardener.

Grape Pruning

This is best done in winter or very early spring before the sap begins to flow. If the pruning is done late in spring the cut ends will “bleed” profusely and, although there is no evidence to prove this is harmful to the vines, certainly it does not seem to be desirable if it can be avoided by pruning while the vines are dormant. Pruning when the vine is in leaf just removes so many food manufacturing organs from the plant and this is decidedly harmful when done at this time.

Grapes are borne on shoots that grow from buds on 1-year-old canes. The whole idea is to allow just enough of these to develop to produce the number of grapes that the vine will reasonably support. If left unpruned, the vine will get very woody, clogged with dead wood, and will produce far too many small, poorly-developed bunches of grapes. To maintain a vigorous vine, reduce the old wood to a minimum and replace this with young canes.

Grape Harvesting

Grapes grown in the home garden should not be picked until fully ripened on the vine. This brings up the problems in some areas of birds eating the berries before they are picked. We have been very troubled with this situation, but finally corrected it merely by throwing a large piece of saran cloth or netting over the 6 ft. trellis, covering the vines from ground to top on both sides. In this way, the grapes receive normal amounts of sunshine and air and one can check the ripening process. The cloth is put over the 2-wire trellis about 3-4 weeks before the fruits normally ripen. This is another good reason for growing grapes on a simple 2-wire trellis, for this is very easily covered, whereas a large arbor would not be.

Grape Insect Pests

Like other fruits, grapes require that a specific schedule for pest control be followed in order to produce a profitable crop. Early in the season flea beetles cat the buds, grape plume moth cripples the buds and cane girdler cuts off the new shoots. A dormant spray with insecticide kills the eggs of the plume moth and controls the grape scale and the cottony maple scale. Sprays of insecticide control the leaf-eating insects and the grape tomato gall which makes globular galls on the leaves and stems. Japanese beetle, rose chafer and the light-loving beetle have a strong liking for grape foliage. Insecticides give control without excessive residue.

Grape phylloxera, which is primarily a root aphid, nearly prohibits the culture of European grapes on their own roots. In America, American varieties or others grafted on them are grown. Spraying with insecticide helps to check the gall-making form on the leaves. The most important insect pest of the fruit is the grape berry moth. The first generation eats the leaves and buds and the second and third generations eat the berries. When preparing to pupate they cut and fold parts of the leaf to form a shelter. A single worm may infest several berries. Careful spraying with insecticide, especially when the berries are about half grown, is necessary.

Grape Diseases

Black rot is a serious fruit disease although it is also present on the leaves and canes. Infected fruit becomes hard and brown before it dries to the well-known mummies in which the disease overwinters. Destruction of infected fruit and sprays with fungicide just before and just after bloom is effective. Downy mildew infections on the leaves are controlled by the above treatment.

A regular schedule prepared by local authorities in pest control should be followed.

Planting Nectarines

The Nectarine, though differing somewhat in appearance and flavor, is actually of the same species as the Peach, Prunus persica, and has been known in the Old World for more than 2000 years. It originated as a natural mutation of the Peach and occasionally in peach orchards a tree will develop which produces nectarines. The Nectarine is one of the most interesting phenomena in horticulture. The trees may grow from peach pits and peach trees may grow from nectarine pits. Peach trees produce nectarine fruits by bud mutation and nectarine trees produce peach fruits by the same mutations. Also, both the peach and nectarine trees can produce individual fruits that are part Nectarine and part Peach.

Nectarine Culture and Adaptation

The Nectarine is grown wherever the Peach is grown and the culture is the same for both. Trees and blossoms of the Nectarine are indistinguishable from those of the Peach. All cultural procedures recommended for the Peach apply to the Nectarine.

Nectarine Varieties

Modern varieties of nectarines are the result of controlled breeding and the fruits are far superior to those that appeared early in the history of the industry. All major varieties are self-fruitful and so do not require cross-pollination. The breeding program at the Va. Agricultural Experiment Station has produced ‘Lexington’, ‘Redchier’, ‘Cavalier’, ‘Pocahontas’, ‘Cherokee’ and ‘Redbud’. The N.J. Agricultural Experiment Station produced a series of white-fleshed varieties called ‘Nectarese’, ‘Neetaheart’, ‘Neetacrest’ and ‘Nectalate’ and, more recently, a yellow-fleshed series called the ‘Neetaree.’ Private breeders in Calif. have developed excellent varieties and the N.Y. Experiment Station is presently developing new varieties. Modern nectarine varieties are larger than those developed a few years ago and are more resistant to attacks of brown rot fungus. One old variety from Europe is ‘Rivers Orange’ and, although it is small, the excellent dessert quality keeps it on the nursery list.

Nectarine Thinning

Nectarine fruits must be thinned heavily to attain good size and flavor. The fruits must be spaced at least 8 in. apart and, as with the Peach, the thinning should be completed no later than the period of final fruit drop which occurs about a month after bloom.

Nectarine Harvesting

The Nectarine softens rapidly and is best if picked while in a firm condition. If allowed to soften on the tree, the fruit will bruise easily and become mushy and difficult to handle. When picked in a firm-ripe condition the fruit handles easily and will ripen to a soft condition, with excellent quality, within a day or two.

Nectarine Pest Control

The smooth skin of the Nectarine makes it more vulnerable to insect and disease attacks than the Peach. It is much like the Plum in this respect, but with modern materials and varieties, the control of pests is much more satisfactory than was the case previously. As with the Peach and all other stone fruits, the Nectarine is subject to borer attacks in the trunk at the soil line.

Preparing Surface for Covering

Once the previous wall and ceiling decorations have been removed the next task is to restore any defects in the surfaces to be covered, and then to prepare them so that they present the perfect substrate for successful paperhanging.

The first step is to put down some heavy-dory plastic sheeting on the floor to catch splashes, and then to wash down the hare wall and ceiling surfaces thoroughly with strong household detergent or sugar soap (all-purpose cleaner), working from the bottom upon walls, and then to rinse them off with clean water, working this time from top to bottom on walls. Turn off the electricity supply first in case water gets into light switches and socket outlets (receptacles). Leave the surfaces to dry out thoroughly.

Next, repair defects such as cracks, holes and other surface damage which may have been concealed by the previous decorations, or even caused by their removal.

Finally, treat the wall and ceiling surfaces with a coat of size or diluted wallpaper paste, and leave this to dry before starting paperhanging. Size seals porous plaster, providing a surface with absorption, and also makes it easier to slide the pasted lengths of wall covering into position on the wall.

Wash wall surfaces with sugar soap (all-purpose cleaner) or detergent, working from the bottom up , then rinse them with clean water, working from the top down

Wash ceilings with a floor mop or squeegee, after disconnecting and removing light fitting.. Again, rinse off with clean water.

Fill cracks, holes other detects in the wall and ceiling surfaces as appropriate, leave the filler to harden and then sand the repair down flush.

Apply a coat of size or diluted wallpaper paste to wall and ceiling surfaces that are to be papered, and leave them to dry before starting paperhanging.

CROSS-LINING

If the wall surface is in poor condition, has been previously decorated with gloss paint or is being decorated with a thin fabric wall covering, it is best to hang lining(liner) paper first. This is usually hung horizontally rather than vertically, with butt joints between lengths and with ends and edges trimmed just shun of adjacent ceiling and wall surfaces. Use the same type of paste for the lining paper as for the subsequent wall covering.

MEASURING AND CUTTING TO LENGTH

1. For quick and easy calculations, mark the length of the pasting table at 30 cm/12 in intervals using a pencil and metal straight edge.

2. Measure the length of wall covering needed for the drop, including trim allowances., and mark this on the paper. Cur the first piece to length.

PASTING WALL COVERINGS

1. Face the light to make it easy to spot any unpasted areas – they look dull, nor shiny. Apply a generous hand of pastedown the centre of the length.

2. Align one edge of the wall covering with the edge of the pasting table, then brush the paste out towards that edge from the centre band.

3. Draw the length across to the other edge of the table, and apply paste out to that edge Rio. Check that there are no dry or thinly pasted areas.

4. Continue pasting until the end of the table is reached. Then lift the pasted end of the wall covering and fold it over on itself, pasted side to pasted side.

5. Slide the paper along the table so the folded section hangs down. Paste the rest of the length and fold the opposite end over on itself.

Planting Tulips

Tulips are bulbous plants which are natives of the Old World, where they occur in an area extending from the Mediterranean region to Japan. There are some 60 species and several thousand horticultural forms. They are doubtless the most popular bulbous garden plants.

Species of Tulips

These tulips have been derived from wild species, and generally breed true from seed. Species tulips, also known as botanical tulips, are not generally grown in quantity as are the garden tulips. Most are early flowering and prefer a dry, sunny location. They are planted in groups in the border or rock garden. Among the best species are the dwarf T. dasystemon with violet and yellow flowers; lady tulip (T. Clusiana) with striped flowers; T. biflora with white and yellow flowers; and the many cultivars of T. Fosteriana, including Red Emperor or Madam Lefeber with bright red flowers, Gold Beater with golden flowers and Pinkeen with orange flowers.

Garden Tulips

Flowers of the breeder tulips appear in May and can be recognized by their rounded base and square-edged sepals and petals.

They spread them over Europe. Since then the Dutch have been the great breeders of tulips. Most garden tulips were derived from innumerable crosses with the species T. Gesneriana and T. suaveolens, and the thousands of named forms which have since arisen. Garden tulips are divided into groups as follows:

Breeder Tulips

These are tall-stemmed tulips which bloom in May. The flowers are distinctive in that they have a rounded base, while the sepals and petals have square ends. The Dutch varieties have oval or cup-shaped flowers mostly in shades of brown, purple bronze, or red, but the base of the flower is white or yellow, and often stained blue, green or blue black. The English varieties have ball-like flowers, the base of which is yellow or white but not stained with any other color.

Cottage Tulips

These are tall-stemmed, May-blooming tulips with self-colored, mostly pointed or rounded sepals and petals. The flowers in general have a square or somewhat rounded base and pointed or rounded tip.

Darwin Tulips

These are the tallest of the self-colored May-flowering tulips. They may be recognized by the flower which has a somewhat rectangular base, while the sepals and petals are square-tipped or rounded.

Early Tulips

These are the first of the tulips to bloom and follow close behind crocuses. They are chiefly dwarf in habit and may have single or double flowers in a variety of colors. Typical of the early tulips is the Ducvan Thol.

Griegii Tulips

These tulips have mottled or striped leaves and bloom later than most other types.

Lily-Flowered Tulips

These are tall-stemmed, May-flowering tulips with the sepals and petals distinctly long-tipped.

Mendel Tulips

These are medium-early flowering tulips derived from crossing the Ducvan Thol with the Darwin varieties.

Triumph Tulips

These are tall, early-flowering tulips, blooming just after the early tulips.

Tulip Planting and Culture

In selecting tulips for the garden, the background must be considered. For instance, a yellow tulip would seem to be an intruder in front of a pink-flowered dogwood or a flowering crab apple tree, but would be fine near the violet blue racemes of Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda).Matching the flowers of tulips with those of flowering shrubs and trees can be fun.

Tulips seem to be at their best in the garden growing with other plants, such at pansies, bluebells, forget-me-nots, rock cress, lungwort, Jacob’s-ladder, English wallflower, bleeding-heart, doronicum, and the often harsh basket-of-gold. But they may also be plant together in groups in a bed or border to pro-duce striking color schemes.

The bulbs grow best in well-drained light loam. The soil should be deep and enriches with plenty of well-rotted manure or compose to insure good plant growth and large flower, over a period of several years. Fertilizers such as bone meal, cow or sheep manure, or corn-post are excellent dressings. Tulips will usually do better and bloom earlier in the sun than in half shade. Large bulbs may be planted deeper than small ones. The ideal depth is from four to six inches and they should be about four to nine inches apart. If bulbs are planted too deep, they weaken as they push through the soil, but if planted too shallow, they may be heaved out of the soil, or possibly frozen. When setting the bulbs in the soil, give a half twist as though screwing the bulb into the soil; this assures that the base of the bulb is in direct contact with the soil.

Never cut the green leaves at any time, these leaves feed the bulb with new food to be stored for the next season. When the leaves begin to turn yellowish at the base and have a withered appearance, they can be pulled out easily from the soil. The bulbs are then more or less cured and may remain in the ground for at least two more seasons or even a third if the flowers have appeared well the last season.

Lifting and Storing Bulbs

Lack of flower development is a sign that the bulbs should be reset. Lifted bulbs may be reset in new bed immediately, or they may be stored for the fall planting. Tulip bulbs do not usually last for years in the ground without special requirements. Left in the ground, they may rot during the summer from too much moisture or beaten by rodents who love the juicy pulp.

Lifting

The first or second week in June is a good time to remove tulip bulbs. By this time the late Darwins have finished blooming. If you are too busy at the time, the bulbs may be removed as late as the end of the month. But, the sooner the better, as the stems will be firmer, and there will be less chance of their breaking. Stem and bulb must remain intact for proper curing.

Use a spade to lift the bulbs from the ground. A garden fork does not give the necessary protection during the lift. Insert the spade least four inches from each tulip stem. Force the spade straight down to a depth of six inches.

Then, gently press down upon the handle, pushing outward, until the ground heaves and the plant moves. Bring the bulb to the surface and carefully shake it free of dirt, taking care not to snap off the stem. The new bulbs need the nourishment stored in the stem now that their soil food supply has been cut off.

Place your stemmed bulbs neatly in a pile until all have been taken up. If it is bright and sunny, protect the tender bulbs with a damp sack or heavy paper. Never expose tulip bulbs to the direct rays of the sun.

Hilling In

After your bulbs have been dug and each variety placed upon a separate pile, remove them to a protected part of your garden. In a vacant spot, dig a trench long and deep enough to accommodate all the bulbs. Carefully lay the bulbs in the trench and, before hilling in, stake or number each variety so you will know which is which when you lift them later.

Cover the bulbs with at least six inches of soil, but allow the green stems to remain exposed to the hot sun. As the sun dries the stalks, the food supply gradually trickles down to the bulbs. There, it is stored for next year’s growth.

Removing

In about a week or two, as soon as the stems have turned yellow, remove the bulbs from the trench. Never allow them to remain hilled in more than three weeks, or they will rot. Run your fingers through the loose dirt after lifting, to get all the tiny bulblets that might have broken off. Spread the bulbs out on a flat surface in a heavy shade to dry for about an hour. Then continue removing the bulbs from the stems and casings.

As you begin your work you will notice that the bulbs are encased in a thick, brown pouch of cloth like fiber. Tear this apart, and remove all bulbs found among the different layers. No bulblet is too small to save. Even the tiniest grows to a reasonable size in one year. Besides the parent bulb, you will find as many as four or five bulblets with each stem. These smaller bulbs should be planted separately in the fall.

When the pouch is completely empty, throw it on a pile with the discarded stems. Later, this can be added to your compost heap or mulching material.

As the bulbs are removed from their casings, it is wise to place them immediately in trays specially built for tulip bulbs. These trays are nothing more than large squares with two-inch-high sides, and bottomed with heavy window screening to prevent the loss of tiny bulblets. If you have several different varieties, you might partition off the squares and save room. Some sort of legs in the form of one-inch blocks should be nailed under each corner to allow a good circulation of air through the moist bulbs.

Don’t forget to tag the trays if you have several varieties of tulips. This information will enable you to plant different arrangements in your beds next fall to create striking color effects in spring.

Storing Tulips

As soon as you have finished this phase of work, take the bulbs indoors immediately. Set the filled trays in a warm, dry place. The attic floor of your home or garage is excellent. Place the trays on the floor individually. That is, don’t pile one on top of the other. And don’t worry about the heat concentrating too heavily over the bulbs during the hot summer. It won’t hurt them a bit. The hotter it is, the drier the air will remain. Tulip bulbs must be kept completely dry to prevent rotting.

Roll the bulbs back and forth in the trays several times during the first two weeks of curing to prevent moisture from gathering among the bulbs. One turning per week for the following month will finish the job. It is best to allow the bulbs to remain in their tram until planting time.

If your bulbs are bothered by mice, be sure to set traps or tack another sheet at window screening across the tops of the tress. Mice love the taste of tulip bulbs, and can eat away quite a few by fall.

Soft Furnishing

Most ready-made items of soft furnishing arc expensive, but you can make them just as well at home and much more cheaply. Curtains and drapes, Hinds and shades, cushion covers and bed linen require the minimum of sewing skills and little in the way of equipment beyond a sewing machine and an iron.

The choice of fabric plays a major part in setting the style of a room, creating accents of colour to enliven a neutral decor or coordinating different elements. Colour is an important consideration when furnishing a room light shades while dark and vivid shades will generally close it up. Many people play safe by choosing neutral shades which, although easy to live with, can look rather dull and impersonal.

The ideal colour scheme is usually basically harmonious one, with interest added by the judicious use of contrasting or complementary colours for some elements of the design. Soft furnishings, such as cushions or blinds and shades, chosen in fabrics to contrast with the overall colour scheme, can add just the right amount of colour to brighten up a room.

Making soft furnishings at home is the perfect way to experiment with colour and make a visual statement. Most items require a few metres (yards)of fabric at the most. A good point to bear in mind when selecting fabric is that there are no hard-and-fast rules, apart from trying not to mix too many different colours and patterns in one setting. Most good stores will supply swatches of furnishing fabrics without charge for colour matching at home.

Another consideration is that the chosen fabric should he suitable for the intended purpose – for example, heavyweight cloths will make up into good curtains and cushion covers, hilt will be too stiff and unyielding to make a successful bed valance.

Cotton is the fabric most commonly used for soft furnishings, often with small amounts of synthetic fibres added for strength and to improve crease resistance. Linen is extremely strong, although expensive and inclined to crease badly; the addition of both cotton for economy and synthetics to help prevent creasing is usual. Both cotton and linen shrink when laundered, and you should take this into account when estimating the amounts that you require. Some furnishing fabrics are pre-shrunk during manufacture, and you should also always check this when purchasing.

Man-made fibres have different properties, depending on their composition, but the majority resist creases and shrinking. Their most common use for soft furnishings, apart from being added to cotton and linen blends, is for making easy-care nets and sheer curtains (drapes) which are lightweight and launder well.

Fabrics suitable for making soft furnishings are as follows:

Brocade: cotton, cotton/synthetic blend or acetate with a woven self-pattern created by areas of different weaves. Used for making formal curtains and drapes and cushion covers. Calico: inexpensive, medium-weight woven cotton, either dyed or printed, or sold unbleached. Used for curtains and blinds (shades), in particular. Chintz: glazed, medium-weight furnishing cotton, traditionally printed with patterns of roses and other flowers, birds and animals.

Gingham: inexpensive checked fabric woven from cotton or cotton/polyester blends. Often used for making soft furnishings for kitchens.

Hand-woven fabric: heavyweight or medium-weight cotton with an irregular, rather rough weave. Used for curtains and drapes, cushion covers and bedspreads.

Linen union: hardwearing, heavyweight fabric made from linen with some added cotton, often printed with floral designs. Suitable for curtains and covering upholstery.

Bright, cheerful soft-furnishing fabrics make an excellent foil to a plain floor covering.

Madras: hand-woven pure cotton originating from Madras in India. Usually dyed in brilliant colours, often with a woven pattern of checks, plaids and stripes.

Poplin: a lightweight or medium-weight cotton, either plain or printed. Sateen: cotton or cotton/synthetic fabric with a slight sheen. Curtain lining is usually made of lightweight cotton sateen.

Sheeting: extra-wide fabric for making bed linen. Usually woven from a mixture of 50 per cent cotton and 50per cent polyester or other man-made fibre, making it easy-care.

Ticking: heavy woven cloth with narrow stripes. Originally used for covering pillows, mattresses and bolsters, but today used as a decorative fabric in its own right.

Velvet: heavy fabric made from cotton or cotton/synthetic blends with a cut pile, used for formal curtains and cushion covers. Corduroy (needle cord)is similar, but here the cut pile forms regular ridges down the cloth.

Voile: light, semi-transparent cotton or synthetic fabric. Used for sheer curtains and bed drapes.

Luxurious fabrics used for curtains or drapes, cushions and upholstery are often the ideal medium for adding patterned elements to a room’s decor.

Blues and greens are naturally cool, receding colours, ideal for well-lit south-facing rooms, but can be warmed by splashes of contrast in orange and yellow.

Duck Raising

Ducks are very easy to handle, taking less time and work than other fowl. Also, their housing needs no insulation and requires less heat than chicken housing.

One of the big dividends of duck raising is the manure. It is twice as rich in nitrogen, and contains approximately six times the phosphorus and the same amount of potash as average farm manure.

Breeds

There are egg breeds, meat breeds and ornamental breeds of ducks, and the breed you grow depends on what you expect from your birds. For eggs, the Khaki Campbells and Indian Runners are both good though neither breed produces a good bird, Khaki Campbells have averaged 365 eggs per year, per bird as opposed 260, per year for many chickens.

There are three primary meat breeds. Pekin is the bird raised commercially in the United States for meat production. This is a good quality bird. The birds reach market within eight weeks, and they are white feathered, a big advantage in the marketplace. However ducks are poor sitters and very nervous. Flocks have to be handled with care.

Aburys are popular in England for meat portions and, like the Pekins, mature in eight weeks. Although they are not as nervous, the Abury is less popular because it has feathers.

Muscovies, another meat breed, takes longer to mature, approximately ten weeks, but is larger than the Pekin and tends to be fatter. In addition, Muscovies, though only layers, are good sitters.

Ornamental breeds include Cayugas, tall Mandarins and Blue Swedish.

Starting

It is best to start with day-old ducklings rather than try to incubate fertile eggs. Put the day-old ducklings immediately under the brooder set at 90°F (2.22°C). Reduce the temperature five degrees (F.) a week until they are let out. After a few days, ventilation is vital. Ventilate enough to keep dampness down, but avoid drafts.

A 10-by-12-foot brooder house will accommodate 200 to 300 ducklings, or a temporary pen may be built in a laying house.

During their first two weeks, the ducks should get starter pellets or a starter mash thoroughly wetted; only mix as much mash as the birds will eat, extra mash will sour and the ducklings will not eat it. After two weeks, switch to growing pellets or growing mash with about a 15 percent protein content. You can use the same mixture you’re feeding your chickens. At eight weeks, switch to fattening pellets.

Ample fresh, clean water is a necessity. Running water in shallow, narrow troughs will allow the baby ducks to submerge their bills and eyes without getting their bodies wet.

Ducklings need a constant supply of fine grit. Feed separately from the mash.

If ducks are to be raised entirely in confinement, they will need three square feet per bird by the time they are six weeks old. They will also require deep litter. Straw makes good bedding material. If ranged in warm weather they can be let out after the first three weeks. Ducklings are much hardier than baby chicks. Cool temperatures make them feather out faster and eat better for smooth, plump flesh, but it’s a good idea to harden off the ducklings by admitting increasing amounts of cool air for a week prior to ranging.

On range, tall weeds or trees, or frames covered with boards and building paper, are sufficient protection from the sun and rain.

Move mash hoppers and water fountains frequently to avoid bare spots.

On small farms try to locate duck yards on gently sloping land with light sandy soil. Manure should be scraped up regularly, or a couple of inches of gravel laid down to make the yards self-cleaning when it rains. A yard 50 by 75 feet will hold 100 ducklings.

A pond or brook will reduce the amount of water hauled to your flock. The ducks don’t need a particularly large or deep pond, just one big enough to clean themselves. It should be shallow and flowing. Some farmers dam a stream and periodically flush out the resulting pond to remove manure. A settling basin is an excellent way to catch the sludge after flushing, which can then be used on your garden. Some farmers provide shallow splash pans of water which they clean frequently. This is particularly necessary during breeding season, when moisture is essential for proper hatching of the eggs.

Breeding Ducks

For a steady supply of ducks throughout the year, a breeding flock is a necessity. Select ducks for breeding carefully. Ducks should come from early hatches, have good weight, conformation and feathering. Allow approximately one drake to six ducks.

Separate your breeders from the rest of the flock, and check for general health and vitality. Ducks need about five square feet of housing space per bird, outdoor exercise in all but the worst winter weather, and swimming water to keep in top condition.

Duck eggs are incubated four weeks before they hatch (Muscovy eggs take five weeks). They require a lot more moisture than hens’ eggs and must be turned three or four times a day. Since ducks lay at night, gather eggs in the morning for best results in the mechanical breeder. Wash carefully. Have eggs at room temperature before incubating. Candle eggs at seven or eight days, and discard those with dead embryos or infertile eggs. Living embryos have the appearance of a spider floating inside the eggs.

When hatched, put the baby ducklings in the brooder as soon as they are dry and fluffy. See that ample food and water are available.

Diseases

Ducks raised in relative and in small numbers suffer little diseases. Muscovies appear to be more resilient than Pekins or Runners. If you have a flock has been suspected to have disease, don’t wait to call a vet.

Slaughtering

Properly grown Pekins weigh between five and six pounds at nine to eleven weeks. After twelve weeks or so, they won’t grow larger without out considerable extra feeding, and the meat is tough and stringy. Muscovies should not be slaughtered after 17 weeks of age for the same reason.

Dry-picking birds is best, although many commercial concerns dip the ducks in boiling water or in wax which, when cooled, peels off quite easily bringing feathers with it. If dry-picked, the birds hold their flavor better. Duck down can also be a valuable by-product for homestead. It should be treated in the same way as goose down.

Duck eggs sometimes find a good market, and duck is a popular entree in many restaurants.