Category Archives: Home & Garden

How to Make a Greenhouse

Traditionally defined as any glass building or adjoining structure which contains plants, today’s greenhouse comes in a variety of sizes, shapes and compositions.

There are several advantages that all-year gardening greenhouses afford. Summer and fall crops yields can be stretched one season longer often through the otherwise deadly winter season. Gardeners also use their greenhouses to gain a head start on springtime planting.

Frosts, blizzards, heat waves, and other weather can be virtually ignored behind the greenhouse windows and walls. Tending fresh fruits, vegetables and ornamental flowers throughout the year is considered by many doctors to be a tranquilizer for daily stress and work tension.

Greenhouses today fall into several general attached (units adjoining the house, window box, basement, patio, or sun-porch greenhouses) or freestanding (full-sized units separate from the house, either above or partially below grade).

Attached Greenhouse

The gardener seeking to minimize construction and maintenance, and possibly even capture some heat for the house, may find that an attached greenhouse is more suitable than a freestanding be most effective, a south wall of the house could be chosen for this type of greenhouse. The spot should not be heavily shaded by trees or other buildings, but it should be protected from strong winds that could chill the greenhouse and possibly weaken it structurally. Greenhouse designers and builders agree that the most efficient use of space and solar heat gain can be obtained by making the length of an attached house about twice as great as its width.

Supplemental heating can be minimized—or eliminated entirely—by taking advantage of some features that are being incorporated into new solar and energy-efficient houses, namely, the use of multiple-layer glazing; nighttime insulating shutters, curtains and shades; and the addition of thermal mass, such as concrete, stone, or brick floors and house walls and rock-filled containers to store solar heat during the night and on cloudy days.

A truly efficient attached greenhouse can actually provide heat for the house in winter. Vents near the floor allow cool house air to enter the greenhouse, where it is warmed and then circulated back into the house by means of another vent near the ceiling of the greenhouse. Since warm air naturally rises, no fan is necessary in many instances to move this air. Such venting not only helps to warm the house, but it also permits good air glow throughout the greenhouse, raises the humidity of the house and distributes plant-loving carbon dioxide from the house to the greenhouse. Of course, vents to the house should be closed during the summer months, and vents from the greenhouse to the outdoors should be opened during this time so that neither the house nor the greenhouse gets overheated.

Although space in the attached greenhouse id limited by the upright building wall, every inch can be put to work by the use of plant benches, ground beds, eave shelves, ledges, and hanging baskets. Straight sides accommodate eave shelves better too, and they provide better ventilation and temperature control. The straight-sided houses are somewhat more expensive, however, because there is more glass area. On the other hand, slanting sides capture more sunshine.

Window Greenhouse

This variety is one of several “mini-greenhouses” designed to produce healthy flowers and herbs at a low cost. Window greenhouses are also used for starting seed in winter and spring before transplanting into the outdoor garden.

Almost any window opening into the house can be use for these small conservatories attached to a windowsill and framing. For gardeners planning to use the window greenhouse year-round, a southeast-facing window is recommended. This direction will obtain ample sunlight even in winter. Small heating units which fit into the window extension, or heating cables, may be used to keep the greenhouse sufficiently warm and insulating shutters or shades can be pulled over the glass at night.

Basement Greenhouse

From the outside a basement greenhouse looks like a sloping cold frame built against the foundation. Inside, it is an alcove in the cellar wall, and a concrete floor raised above the basement floor. Like the foundation, it is built of concrete blocks.

The floor should be at least 3.5 feet above the basement floor because of the sharp angle for the midwinter sun. The foundation wall in front should be about two inches higher than the greenhouse floor to prevent water from running out on the cellar floor to prevent water from running out on the cellar floor.

A shelf placed beneath the glass at one end is used for sun-loving plants and can be duplicated at the other end. The greenhouse should face south, southeast or southwest. With only one hot air vent in the basement, the temperature should stay between 55 and 60 °F (12.78 and 15.56 °C).

Freestanding Greenhouse

To many people, the freestanding greenhouses offer distinct advantages. Most of these greenhouses can catch sunlight from every direction, and they are more adaptable for ground beds. The more energy-efficient free-standing greenhouses have north walls built into a hillside.

The pit-type house, except for sever sub-zero (F.) weather, is sun heated. The only additional heat needed under conditions of extreme cold is usually a 200-watt electric light bulb or a small electric heater. Temperatures in the pit-type house make daily watering unnecessary. Usually only the south side is glassed in, and this is set at a 45-degree angle to admit the most sunshine. Ordinary hotbed sashes can be used.

To add warmth to the pit house, the ends and unglazed side should be double walled with about 31/2 inches of insulating material between. Doors and ventilators should also be insulated. After sunset, the glassed areas should be covered with padding or another insulated covering. When pads are used to cover the sashes, tarpaulins are rolled down over them to keep them dry. Wet padding makes poor insulation.

The Dutch door is best for the pit house because the upper half can be opened for ventilation during the winter. The door should be at the east end of the house to be better protected from prevailing cold westerly winds. A ventilating window can be placed at the west end. This is most important in the pit green-house. It should be open during the warmest hours of every day. Some pit houses use sky-light openings on the top of the unglazed side for ventilation.

Greenhouse Location

Choosing the best greenhouse site is an important step requiring several considerations. Convenience, accessibility, yard space, and general land conditions are variables to consider. Attached greenhouses enable the gardener to enter the greenhouse quickly and easily through adjoining, enclosed entrances. They best suit gardeners with little yard space, but with sunlit base—windows and sills suitable for a house “box,” or enclosed porches.

Contrary to popular belief, the precise direction in which a greenhouse faces is not a crucial consideration. Some plants in attached greenhouses grow best in a southern, southeastern or exposure, in that order. Western provides ample sunlight but lack the shade needed in summer.

Greenhouse Construction Materials

Once the style and location of your future greenhouse selected, construction materials need to be chosen. Gardeners can select from plastic, fiberglass and glass materials.

Above Ground Greenhouses

These greenhouses are made with panels that can be put together with a driver, wrench and hammer. All the parts are furnished, cut to fit in place. The glass is cut to size and is not putty glazed. It goes into glass grooves in the sash and is held weather tight with a special caulking rope.

While the prices for the materials for a prefabricated greenhouse are higher than parts such as glazing bars, sills, eaves, ridge and fittings of a conventional-type greenhouse, the time they save in labor greatly offsets difference.

Greenhouses with polyethylene film or plastic instead of glass are becoming popular for reasons of economy. They are light, so require less rigid supports, but they can rip in heavy winds and the constant exposure to strong sunlight causes them to deteriorate in a short as six months. Thin flexible films are best used as inner glazing only under thicker plastics or glass.

Fiberglass is another popular alternative in greenhouse construction. It is sturdy and transparent material, especially when coated with Tedlar. Fiberglass also makes a good heat insulator, retaining up to 70.8 times more hat than polyethylene film and some plastics. Fiberglass houses provide natural shade, even during intense sun exposure. Fiberglass has its shortcomings as well, however. It is highly flammable and often wears down reducing light transmission and increasing dust and don’t break as easily.

Rigid acrylics come closest to resembling glass, but they are easier to work with because they are five times lighter than glass and don’t break easily.

Glass has a tendency to turn brittle and crack, and while it is good-looking and clean, it is a difficult material for do-it-yourselfers to work with.

Greenhouse Foundation

The walls below the sills of the greenhouse are the hardest part to build. Masonry walls are best because they are more permanent than those of wood. They also offer some thermal mass for heat retention. Poured concrete, brick, cut stone or cinder blocks may be used. Cinder blocks provide the easiest means of building a wall. For appearance’s sake, the outside can be coated with stucco and painted. The attractiveness of a greenhouse depends a great deal upon its walls, for this is the largest solid area.

If you live in the northern United States, the walls of a prefabricated greenhouse should extend below the freezing line. This would be about 21/2 feet in most areas but may be less in the southern states and more in the far North. The footings below the ground can be of poured concrete and gravel. A conventional-type greenhouse is built with steel posts set on footings and encased in piers that extend below grade. The side walls need only go down to solid ground, a few inches below the grade.

After the greenhouse has been selected, located and constructed, the continual task of greenhouse management begins. Managing the greenhouse can be divided into two categories: controlling of the greenhouse climate and handling of the plants.

Greenhouse Heating and Cooling

In areas that seldom get colder than 20°F (— 6.67°C), more traditional greenhouses may need only an electric heater. The heater is inexpensive and can come equipped with an automatic thermostat to turn on the heating element and fan.

For colder environments, gas or hot-water heating systems arc necessary in traditional greenhouses. A no-vent gas unit for heating is highly recommended by many gardeners, since it creates no noxious fumes and costs a few hundred dollars. Coal or wood-burning furnaces can also be used to heat greenhouses.

Some suggestions for conserving fuel include keeping the greenhouse as airtight as possible; using two outside doors and having one serve as a storm door; using mulch to insulate and retain heat; installing heavy-gauge aluminum foil between the heat source and the outside wall to reflect and retain heat; and planting a windbreak of trees and shrubs nearby to retain heat and protect against wind turbulence.

The most important companion to any greenhouse heating system is ventilation. With-out fans to circulate air, the greenhouse temperature can vary from 45°F (7.22°C) on the ground, to over 90°F (32.22°C) nearby in winter. Mount the fan so that it is away from the heat source. This way, warmer air will mix with cool air and pick up moisture in the process. Proper air circulation is an important safeguard against plant infections, since it reduces fungus and mildew buildup.

Shade must be provided during summer months in the greenhouse, in order to grow plants which cannot be set outside. Bamboo or slatted matting may be spread over the glass or whitewashed.

Excessive humidity invites plant diseases and decreased fruit and flower production. Insufficient humidity in the greenhouse hastens development of flowers and fruit at the expense of leaf growth. To increase humidity, the gardener can install mist systems, plastic sheets or glass panes over seed flats or benches.

Handling of Greenhouse Plants

In caring for your plants, try to simulate all conditions favorable to the plants growth and development needs. If this demands a period of rest in the garden, a period should be allowed in the greenhouse. Sun, shade and soil requirements outdoors should be duplicated as much as possible in the greenhouse.

Soil

Concocting the proper soil mixtures is another important requirement for the successful greenhouse gardener. Good soil is an investment in the well-being of greenhouse crops, and it should be well fertilized and cultivated for that reason. Rich topsoil with living organisms, dead organic matter is best for hardy plant growth. Medium-texture soils, rather than fine or coarse compositions, are best for holding moisture, air and soil nutrients. Adding organic matter to sandy soils improves water and mineral retention, as well as helping loosen clay soils.

For most greenhouses, a loam soil is recommended, because of its good drainage and aeration. Greenhouse soils today are often mixes, high in organic matter content. A good mix for bench or potted plants is two parts topsoil, one part sphagnum peat moss and one part sand. Your soil mixture should always be kept fairly moist, in order to sustain the living organisms inside.

Many fertilizers and additives offer vital nutrition to organic matter in greenhouse soils. Poultry and rabbit manures are packed with nitrogen, phosphorus and humus. Both are applied at the rate of eight to ten pounds per 100 square feet of bench planting space. Sheep, cow and horse manures are organic fertilizers which add humus and make good soil conditioners.

Bone meal is a slow-releasing plant fertilizer. The steamed variety breaks down quicker for plant nutrition than raw bone meal.

Lime and wood ashes help neutralize highly acidic soils. Sawdust and wood chips complement successful potted plant propagation. The chips repel snails and provide good drainage.

Peat moss, which puts humus into the soil and holds nutrients particularly well, makes a fine soil conditioner, rather than a fertilizer. Moisten peat thoroughly before mixing into the soil. (Dry peat often resists water absorption.)

Gypsum conditions and alkalizes green-house soils. It also offers calcium to plants and indirectly to gardeners who harvest and eat them.

Vermiculite and perlite lighten dense soil and help start plant cuttings or seed. Fertilizers and plant nutrients are added after roots are established in either medium.

The salt concentration and pH level of soils must be watched carefully in the greenhouse, the state agricultural extension service will check field soil for high salt or pH levels, which can damage plant roots, cause wilting, or slow plant cutting or seedling growth. Loosening the soul and thorough watering help dissolve high concentrations.

Watering

Greenhouse gardens should be watered in the mornings of sunny days. Water should be supplied sparingly to minimize the dangers of fungus. Watering should be thorough. Watering should be withheld, if possible, in cloudy weather, since these conditions make evaporation slow and fungus spores cannot be destroyed as well as they can by hot sun rays.

Here are still more tips on proper watering in the greenhouse:

  1. Try to avoid ice-cold water. Room temperature water is preferred by most greenhouse plants.
  2. Water can run freely over the bench or tub, but be sure that roots are not left soaking.
  3. Keep soil loose for good drainage. Organic matter and sandy loam make the soil healthy and properly drained.
  4. Water plants less in winter, especially those that go into dormancy during cool weather. Their need for water decreases at these times.
  5. Avoid water softened with a commercial water softener. This water contains chemicals harmful to plants. Flushing salty or hard water usually prevents salt buildup.

Insect and Disease Control

In handling plant life in the greenhouse, special care and attention must be given to prevention of pest and disease infestation. Insects and diseases which commonly plague greenhouse crops are easy to control through the use of good-quality, clean seed and plants, in addition to the maintenance of an overall sanitary growing environment. Insects, bacteria, viruses, and fungi which thrive in “hothouse climates” can be battled by following these simple sanitation tips:

  1. Remove diseased and dead plants; keep them far from the greenhouse.
  2. Prevent wild weed growth near the greenhouse. Such growth attracts insects and promotes disease.
  3. Keep the greenhouse neat and free of plant clutter.
  4. Be certain that new plants introduced into the greenhouse don’t harbor new germs and pests.
  5. Start seed, roots and cuttings in soilless mediums. Sterile perlite, vermiculite and peat moss are commended for controlling seedling and cutting diseases.
  6. Provide proper greenhouse ventilation.
  7. Finally, avoid soaking foliage when watering. Also avoid over watering or over fertilizing greenhouse plants.

The organic greenhouse gardener can turn to several safe insect controls, dusts and sprays for disease outbreaks, especially those in the beginning stages. Commercially available controls include sabadilla, rotenone, pyrethrum, and nicotine sulfate. Many gardeners develop their own recipes for homemade pest or disease control.

Not all greenhouse or garden insects are enemies to the propagation of healthy plants, however. Ladybugs, praying mantis, lacewings, spiders, and horse hair snakes are among the many winged or crawling “comrades” in the garden who eat harmful insects.

Cool Greenhouse

In cool temperature and organic soil, bulbs such as tulips, Dutch Iris, Lilies, Daffodils, Hyacinths, Ranunculus, and Anemones are easy to grow and give fine blooms. Lettuce, radishes, Swiss chard, kale, and scallions do very well as do carrots, cauliflower, peas, red and green cabbage, and beets, if you have the extra space they require. Many herbs thrive in the cool greenhouse. A few pots or boxes of rue, sage, mint, marjoram, parsley, chives, and the like will provide garnishes for winter meals.

Farm Greenhouse

While it costs almost twice as much to bring the home greenhouse up to moderate or warm temperatures in comparison with a cool house, many exciting plants can be grown that make it worthwhile. Orchids are among them. With a collection of 75 plants of different varieties, it is nice to have something in bloom every part of the year. Cymbidiums will keep as long as three months. Insects are not a serious problem. Orchids can be grown in greenhouse where it is possible to maintain even temperature and keep the atmosphere fresh and healthy.

Other flowers and plants that do well in moderate to warm greenhouse include amaryllis, azaleas, begonias, ferns and tropical foliage plants, bougainvillea, cactus and gardenias. Tomatoes, cucumbers and melons can also be grown in the warm greenhouse where temperatures are at least 60°F at night.

Beekeeping

Most people who know little about bees assume that hives have to be kept in the country where there is plenty of open space and much vegetation. While such settings are ideal, bees can be kept in much less likely places as well. Suburban backyards are usually fine (provided local laws permit and neighbors don’t mind), and even some protected small-city rooftops can be suitable for a few beehives.

If you’re interested in learning more about the how-to’s of beekeeping, here’s a short course, but it is suggested that you follow up the subject by pursuing some outside sources.

Cultures as well as many books on the subject offer beginners sound information and advice. There are on-campus and correspondence courses at most state universities, and meeting of local and state beekeepers are good places for beginners to learn some tips. Don’t neglect to visit—and learn from—experienced beekeepers in your own community.

To get started you’ll need some basic equipment, namely, a hive consisting of one or more standard (deep) boxes or supers and possibly one or more shallow supers. Each super holds ten frames, and inside each frame a thin sheet of beeswax, called foundation, on which bees build their comb. You’ll also want to buy a bottom board on which the hive stands and an inner and outer cover. Smokers to calm the bees, a hive tool to pry open the hives and separate the frames, gloves, and a hat to complete the basic equipment.

Other equipment includes bee escapes, which permit bees to exit, but not reenter supers of honey where they are not wanted; a queen excluder, which prevents queens but not worker bees from going from one super to another; a wiring board, used to embed wire in sheets of foundation to give them support; feeders that are used to feed bees honey or syrup when their own supplies run out; an extractor to remove honey from the combs; and a capping knife to slice the top layer of beeswax from the comb and release the honey.

Of course, you’ll also need bees. You can get yours by catching a swarm of wild bees or by buying packaged bees through bee supply houses. For the beginner, packaged bees are easier and safer to handle. They usually come in a three, four, five, or six-pound package that will, in a short time, grow into a bursting, energetic 85,000 bee colony. Packages arrive with a queen inside in her own apartment, and since you must transfer them at once, you need to have ready a large, empty hive in advance. Bees should be ordered in late winter so that they will arrive in early spring and have time to get established before the major honey flow begins in late June or early July.

Although there are many races of bees, the three most popular among American bee-keepers are Italian, Caucasian and Carniola bees. Italian bees are generally recommended for the beginner because they are relatively easy to work and produce good amounts of honey. They don’t produce a great amount of propolis, which can glue up the inside of hives, and seem to withstand cold well. Italians are also relatively resistant to European foulbrood, an infectious disease of bees.

You must decide on whether you want to make section (comb) honey, or extracted honey. If you choose the latter, you will need an extractor and a few additional items of equipment. Extracted honey has many advantages over comb honey. It is easier to store; easier to use in cooking; there is no wax when you eat it; and you reuse the combs in which the bees store honey as only the caps are cutoff and the honey is expelled by the centrifugal force of the extractor.

Guide to Beekeeping

Here is a method of beekeeping that is especially suitable for the small diversified enterprise that may well include gardening, fruit growing, poultry, or any other line of endeavor now practiced by millions of homeowners on relatively small holdings.

The secret is to make two standard full-depth hive bodies the home of the bees the year around. Package bees are first hived in a single full-depth body; as soon as they fill it, the second is added. Two full-depth bodies give the bees abundant room, allow them to store honey enough for their own use so that feeding should never be necessary and help prevent swarming (when a queen leaves the hive with a band of workers to start a new colony). All the complicated manipulation described in some methods is done away with. The beginner may open his hives and study his bees if he wishes, or they will do very well with no more attention than is advised in the description of seasonal operation.

Bees should be checked at midday when it is warm and the sun is bright. At this time there is good flight to and from the colony, most bees are foraging and the beekeeper will find it easier to inspect the colonies.

Light-colored, smooth-finished materials should be worn when inspecting the colonies. Rough materials irritate bees, causing them to sting more readily. The face and ankles most attract bees. A good veil and boots will protect the beekeeper against stings in these areas.

The procedure of seasonal operation, be-ginning in the spring of the year, for established colonies in two full-depth bodies, is as follows:

When settled warm weather arrives, the hives are opened to be sure that each colony has a laying queen, plenty of honey to use and is otherwise in normal condition. If an occasional colony seems short of food, honey is borrowed; that is, combs exchanged with one that has abundance. Bees should never, never be fed honey from a hive in which disease is even suspected, and many beekeepers prefer to feed sugar syrup to obviate against inter-colony spread of diseases.

If a colony has died, as one will once in awhile, the dead bees are brushed from the combs and the whole hive scraped and cleaned. These combs are then given to an extra strong colony, not only to protect the combs from wax moths, but to give the strong colony more room. The exception here is a colony that has been infected by American foulbrood (AFB), a dreaded killer, or another infectious disease. Such combs and frames are best burned and the inside of the hive bodies well scorched with a blowtorch before reusing.

Normal colonies in two full-depth hive bodies will need more room at about the second month of settled warm weather or at the start of some major bloom.

The standard beehive consists of several boxes or supers, each with ten frames on which the workers build their combs. The brood is hatched in the large bottom super while the smaller upper ones are used for storing honey. As the season progresses, more storage supers are added.

States this will be at the outset of clover bloom. For the purpose of easier handling it is best to use shallow supers for this extra room, although more full-depth bodies may be used if you are capable of heavy lifting. When filled with honey the shallow super weighs about 45 to 50 pounds, the full-depth body about 80 pounds.

The rule followed in giving extra room is to add one or more supers at any time that the colony shows signs of being crowded. The term “boiling over with bees” aptly describes a crowded colony, and extra room should be given before this stage becomes acute. If there any question of when extra room is needed, it is better to give it a week early than a week late. At least one of the major causes of swarming is a crowded condition within the hive, and by giving abundant room, swarming is reduced to a minimum. The occasional swarm that does develop may be hived if convenient, but if it does get away, don’t be too concerned.

As fall approaches, the honey gathered (that in the honey supers only—don’t take any from the bottom one or two brood chambers) should be removed and the hives gradually reduced to two full-depth bodies. It is important to remember that in this method honey is never removed from the two lower bodies. The success of the whole thing revolves around having a strong colony of bees in a large self-sustaining hive.

Location of Hives

Hives should be located on hive stands four to eight inches high in a protected area. Thus, bottom boards will not be in contact with the ground when it is damp, and grass growing in the area will not shade the hives. Weeds must be kept low in the vicinity of the hives.

Bees must always have fresh water; they use it to dilute food, feed larvae and cool the hives when too warm. If there is no fresh water source, like a pond, stream or spring, within a two-mile radius of the hives, you will have to supply water for your bees.

In all sections of the country, hives should be located out of prevailing winds. In the North they will usually need some extra protection for winter. If you are located in a section having severe winters, first, determine that the hive has abundant stores. Second, reduce the entrance to prevent mice from entering and to help keep out the cold. Finally, give added protection by first wrapping the hive in a mineral wool blanket and then capping that with tarred building paper.

In the desert areas of the western states it is too warm to place colonies directly in the sunlight. The beekeeper in these areas must construct a shaded area for the hives. It must be remembered that often colonies cannot obtain enough nectar and pollen in deserts and heavily wooded areas of the country to sustain themselves through the year. Mountainous areas do not have large foraging areas, but in certain cases one colony might survive.

Requeening

Some commercial and hobby beekeepers practice annual requeening and others only requeen hives which have failing queens.

Swarming is less of a problem when there is a young queen present in the colony. She produces more of the secretions that maintain social order and has a strong colony that can withstand disease. A young queen also lays more eggs and lays them earlier in the spring and later in the fall. The best time to requeen is in August. September is a satisfactory month, but at this time not all colonies will readily accept a new queen. The common method frequenting is to first find and kill the old queen. Second, place a queen cage with a young queen in the brood nest. In a day or two the young queen will be released by the bees. This method is not recommended for beginners and those not familiar with bee behavior.

The preferred method of requeening is to introduce a young queen into a nucleus colony in mid-July. The nucleus colony should contain one frame of brood and two or three frames of bees. Under these conditions the new queen is almost always accepted. The queen in the old colony can be found and killed around August 1.

Next, the old queen’s brood nest is covered with a single sheet of newspaper. The nucleus colony is placed on top of the sheet. Over this honey supers are placed. If there are too many bees in the supers, shake them out or place a second sheet of newspaper between the nucleus and honey supers. Colony odors will be the same and the young queen will be accepted by the time the sheet is chewed away.

The beekeeper must wait a week or two before placing a queen excluder in the colony. At this time the young queen may be success-fully driven into the lower brood chamber.

How to Build a Rooftop Garden

There are many reasons one can decide on building a rooftop garden, among them; location, ornamental purposes and for the use of social gatherings. For the person in areas that do not allow for gardens around the home because of limited or no space, rooftop gardens provide the perfect solution. They can be traced back to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and became popular in modern use with the rapid and extensive growth of high-rise buildings.

The best way to determine if your rooftop makes the perfect place for a garden is to study it at intervals throughout the day to ascertain how much sun and shade the area receives at any given time, be sure to document your findings on paper to make sure that you can revisit them when necessary.

Making Preparations for your Garden

When planning your garden, think of a theme that best suits you since you will have to buy the necessary containers to house your plants, clay based ceramic pots are a favorite. Some Terra cotta pots (which are also unglazed), are chosen because they are porous hence assist with proper drainage for plants that require this. Terra cotta pots can also help with achieving a Tuscan look; if unavailable try other containers or pots that are glazed with Mediterranean colors. For those who prefer a more contemporary feel, black and white is a suitable match.

Besides pots, window boxes, 6 to 7 inch masonry beds (built-in), 18-24 inch masonry retaining walls, terrace boxes (mainly made of cedar or redwood) starting at 18 inches deep and 4 to 5 feet wide can be used. Planters or tubs; including barrels, wooden cubes and structures made from concrete and fibre glass (for a more modern look) can also be used.

The next step is to decide on which flowers or plants you will grow. Based on the results of your observation you should have an idea of what you can or cannot grow based on the plants’ need for sunlight or shade, you can also start to plan what goes where. Do research on the flora chosen or get advice from persons at your local garden center. During this stage you can also decide whether to start from planting seeds or skip to bedding plants for a faster result.

Before you start planting, try arranging your containers on the roof to see how well your pattern suits your style or taste. Experiment with them to ensure that your final arrangement adds the level of interest and sophistication you want. The best look comes from placing them at different heights to create somewhat of a layered look. Natural materials like bricks (especially if in a color that compliments your garden) can be used for elevation.

Planting Stage

Once the planning and purchasing of everything needed is over, start planting. Be sure to use the necessary fertilizers and pest control methods, both can be store-bought or homemade, organic or chemical based. Many potting mixes can be used to ensure that soil is rich and balanced for each plant or greenery chosen. Be sure to find out how each operates in the different seasons and water as needed.

Planting Jerusalem Artichokes

The Jerusalem artichoke, a large, potato-shaped tuber, is characterized by its sweet nut-like flavor. Contrary to popular notion, it neither tastes nor looks like the green or globe artichoke, and is not even related to it botanically.

Jerusalem is actually a corruption of the Italian girasol, meaning “turning to the sun,” and this artichoke is really a prolific member of the Sunflower family.

Jerusalem Artichoke Culture

Jerusalem artichokes grow in almost any type of soil that gets a little sun-shine, including sandy soil. They are free from disease, highly productive and completely frost-hardy, but spread very rapidly, and unless cultivated with some care, will become trouble-some as weeds. For this reason, it is best to give them an out-of-the-way planting a reasonable distance from other vegetables or flowers. To check spreading, dig roots in late fall or early spring and thoroughly remove them.

Planting artichoke tubers is very much like planting potatoes, and is done from cut pieces each having a seed or “eye.” Unlike potatoes, this frost proof vegetable can be set out in the fall as well as early spring. A good location may be along the garden edge where the six-to eight-foot-tall artichokes won’t overshadow other plants. They are also useful where their screening effect and large, colorful blooms will improve the landscape. (Some grow to heights of a modest 12 feet or so!)

In two rows, plant one medium piece per hill, a foot apart, in two or three-foot rows. In beds, set tubers four by four feet apart. As indicated, plants multiply quickly and soon choke out any venturesome weeds. Mulching is a good idea in row plantings, and compost applications maintain desirable fertility—although soil and climate extremes won’t stop this persistent plant.

With the arrival of spring, tubers left in the ground should be dug either for eating or replanting. If an increased supply is wanted, some may simply be left to multiply.

Native to the Americas, Jerusalem artichoke is cultivated for its fleshy tubers which are fine, nutritious and low-starch substitutes for potatoes.

A 25-foot row will supply the average family for one year.

Jerusalem Artichoke Nutritional Value

The artichoke is 100 percent starchless. It stores its carbohydrates in the form of insulin rather than starch and its sugar as laevulose the way most healthful fruits and honey do. It has practically no caloric value. Because of these facts, medical authorities strongly recommend it as a substitute for other carbohydrates on the diabetic’s menu, and in the diet of all who should or must restrict their starch and caloric intake.

The Jerusalem artichoke offers a good source of some minerals and vitamins (particularly potassium and thiamine)—a result of its being a plant-world union of tuber roots and luxuriant sunflower growth.

Table Flower Decorations

A garland is a lovely way to decorate a table indoors or out — for a special occasion such as a wedding or christening reception, a birthday, or any other celebration. You can make the garland to loop across the front of the table, to encircle the rim, or to drape on all four sides of a free-standing table. Long, leafy stems work extremely well for this type of decoration. With its pliable stem and mass of bright green leaves; this forms a natural garland, and makes an attractive instant decoration, even without the addition of flowers.

Smilax is usually sold to order in bundles of 5 stems. Keep the stem ends in water until just before you assemble the garland, and the foliage should stay fresh for several days. Mimosa, gypsophila and spray chrysanthemums all make a good accompaniment for a bright, summery look.

GARLAND TIPS

Floral and foliage garlands are very simple to make and as they are almost invariably composed of short-stemmed plant materials, they can utilize clippings from larger designs. Side shoots of delphinium cut from stems arranged in a pedestal design; individual spray-chrysanthemum flowers that formed too dense a cluster; florets and leaflets that would come below the water level in a vase— you can form them all into posies and hind them on to a garland using silver wire.

Garlands can be composed on a central core. According to the weight of the plant materials, this may vary from tightly coiled paper ribbon, thin string, twine or wire, to thick rope or even a roll made of wire-mesh netting filled with off cuts of absorbent stem-holding foam. This latter core has the advantage of providing fresh flowers in a garland with a source of moisture.

It will save time just before the event if you make up the posies in advance. Choose materials that will contrast well with the bright foliage of the garland. Cut the flower stems short, using 5 or 6 pieces of gypsophila, 2 small snippings of mimosa, and either 1 or 2 spray chrysanthemums, according to their size. Gather the stems together and bind them with silver wire.

You can space the posies as close together or as wide apart on the garland as you wish, so make up as many as you will need. As a general rule, the smaller the table, the smaller the gap should be between the flowers. Once you have assembled the posies, place them in a shallow howl of water before attaching them to the garland.

Measure the length, of garland needed for the side drapes and mark the centre. With the stems of the first posy towards the end of one of the lengths of foliage, hind the posy to the main stem with silver wire. Bind on more posies in the same way, reversing the direction of the stems when you reach the centre of the draped garland. Repeat the decoration with the remaining lengths of garland, but without reversing the direction of the flowers of the side trails.

Pin the garland to the cloth, adjusting the fall of the drape so that it is equal on all sides, and pin on the side trails. Check that the garland hangs well. Sometimes the weight of the posies will cause it to twist, with the flowers facing inwards. If this happens, pin the garland to the cloth at intervals. Pin lengths of ribbon to the corners, and tie more lengths into bows and attach to the centres of the drapes.

A garland of dried flowers, wired on topper ribbon and finished off with an extravagant bow, makes a beautiful table decoration. The garland will retain its crisp and colourful appearance throughout the day, and can be carefully packed away and used another time.

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.

Planting Beans

To the average home gardener the word bean implies only two types, the kidney, snapper string bean and the lima beans, both of which belong to the genus Phaseolus and are native to the Americas. There are, however, a large number of other types, many of which are native to the Old World and include broad beans, soybeans, and Southern Pea Bean, Velvet Bean, Mung Bean and Tepary Bean, to list a few. Beans, as a group, constitute crop plants that are worldwide in culture to provide food for man and animals, to improve soils, for ornament and in some instances, e.g., soybeans, for industrial uses.

Snap or String (Phaseolus vulgaris) are cultivated more generally than any other crop of the bean tribe both for its edible pod and its dried seed. It is a very important home-garden crop in all sections of the U.S. Commercially large acreages are grown for the fresh market, for canning and freezing, and for dry beans.

Bean Varieties

Bean varieties are listed under hundreds of names, many of which are synonymous and are of little importance. Beans may be classified according to:

  1. Use. (a) snap beans for the edible pod, (b) green shell, for the still green immature seed, and (c) dry shell or ripe seed.
  2. Color of pod as green or yellow wax.
  3. Habit of growth, namely dwarfs or bush and climbing or pole. The following varieties are recommended for home garden planting:
    • Green-podded bush—’Tendercrop’, ‘Tender-green’, ‘Contender’, and ‘Harvester.’
    • Wax-podded bush—Pencil Pod’, ‘Cherokee’ and ‘Brittle Wax.’
    • Green-podded—’Kentucky Wonder.’
    • Wax-podded—’Kentucky Wonder Wax.’

Bean Soils and Fertilizers

Beans will grow satisfactorily in most all types of soil but do best in well-drained, warm, sandy loam and loam soils. Growth of the plant is slow and stunted in soils that are either too acid or alkaline and thus a soil pH of 5.5-6.5 is best. Thorough soil preparation is important.

Beans will respond to a normal application of well-rotted animal manure or compost if available, 20-30 bu. per 1000 sq. ft. If no manure is used, increase the fertilizer amount by two lbs.

Bean Planting

Beans are tender to frost and usually are planted after that danger has passed. The seed germinates slowly in soils of a temperature of 60° F. and if lower they may rot. Cold, wet soils result in poor stands. In the North 2-3 or more plantings are made to provide a continuous harvest. In the far South additional plantings are possible.

Bush varieties are planted in drills 1-2 in. deep and 24-30 in. apart. The plants should stand about 2-3 in. apart in the row. Pole beans are planted in hills, 4-5 seeds per hill, and spaced at 24-36 in. between hills. For most varieties the poles should be at least 6 ft. long. Various types of trellises can also be used satisfactorily. Eight or ten hills are adequate for the average family.

Bean Cultivation

Frequent shallow cultivation should be practiced basically to control weeds and to prevent a caking of the soil surface. Commercial growers have used the chemical Premerge or Sinox as a selective herbicide. Again it is not advisable for the home gardener to use these chemicals because they can cause severe damage if not used properly.

Bean Harvesting

Kidney or snap beans are hand picked before the pods are full grown and while the seeds are very small. Harvesting of green-shell sorts is delayed until the seeds have reached full size but are still soft and succulent.

Lima beans (Phaseolus limensis). The lima bean is very tender and, therefore, sensitive to frost and cold or wet soils.

Bean Insects

Both the Mexican bean beetle (a copper-colored, 16-spotted ladybird-type beetle) and the larvae (orange-yellow and fuzzy) feed on the leaves and pods. Larvae are found largely on the underside of leaf. You can control these insects by dusting at 7-8 day intervals and up to 4-5 days prior to harvest with rotenone dust, malathion or methoxychlor. It is important to cover underside of leaves and apply in early morning when plants are damp with dew. Leaf hoppers are green, very small insects that fly quickly when disturbed. Both adults and nymphs attack leaves causing a curling and yellowing condition.

Bean Diseases

Anthracnose, a fungus, attacks the stems, leaves and pods causing elongated, sunken, dark red cankers. The disease is carried from year to year with the seed and the only control is in using western-grown seed; also, do not cultivate or work with the beans when the plants are wet. Bacterial blight appears on the leaves as brown blotches surrounded by a reddish-yellow halo. Control is the same as for anthrax-nose. Mosaics are caused by several types of virus. The affected plants are stunted and have crumpled and yellow-molted leaves. Control lies in controlling aphids which carry the disease and using resistant varieties such as ‘Contender’, ‘Toperop’, ‘Kentucky Wonder’ or ‘Blue Lake.’ Rust shows up as red to black pustules on the leaves, causing leaves to dry up and fall off, carried over from year to year in plant refuse. Burning old bean plants, using varieties which show some resistance, and dusting the plants with sulphur or maneb are possible controls. In the case of pole beans, treat the poles with formaldehyde—1 pt. to 5 pts. of water. Downy mildew on lima beans shows up as a downy white growth. Dust with copper-lime or use maneb as directed on the container.

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.

Planting Corn

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

Sweet Corn Varieties

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

Sweet Corn Soils and Fertilizers

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

Sweet Corn Planting

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

Sweet Corn Cultivation

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

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

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

Sweet Corn Insects and Pests

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

Sweet Corn Diseases

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

Planting Yuccas

Yucca is usually thought of as a desert or semidesert plant, confined to dry areas of the South and the southwestern desert, but several yuccas are surprisingly hardy in the cool, moist regions of the North.

Yuccas are very handsome plants. Nearly all of the 40-odd species have stiff, swordlike silver green leaves, growing in a clump at ground level. From this clump arises a single leafless stalk bearing a magnificent spike of highly fragrant, waxy flowers.

Yuccas blend handsomely in borders, contrast beautifully with the shapes of both evergreen and deciduous shrubs, and can be planted to stand as majestic sentinels on either side of an entrance gate or door. They also serve well lining a driveway, fence or terrace wall, or as a dramatic living sculpture against low, craggy rocks. Finally, yuccas can be grown in tubs and moved around for special effects.

Yuccas Planting and Culture

All yuccas require a sunny and fairly dry location with a light, sandy or gritty well-drained soil. Digging a deep hole and filling it with a sand-humus mixture will take care of this. Apply compost, bone meal and dried manure to the plants once each year. Watering should rarely, if ever, be necessary. Drought produces a lovely foliage and stem patina on desert-type plants. Yuccas generally flower only in alternate years, but the flowers last four to six weeks.

Yuccas are easy to propagate. They can be increased by seed, rhizome or stem cuttings, or by digging offsets from the side of an established plant.

In nature, the yucca is pollinated by a small white moth, the pronuba. This night-flying insect deposits her eggs in the seed vessel of a blooming yucca, and then fertilizes the plant with pollen from another yucca. When the pronuba grubs hatch out, they find a goodly supply of seeds to eat, but leave plenty to produce more yuccas. Scientists call the yucca-pronuba relationship a perfect example of symbiosis, the mutual interdependence of two things in nature.

Yuccas Types

Two species have trunks. The Joshua tree (Y. brevifolia) grows up to 40 feet high, its branches twisting into grotesque shapes. The Spanish bayonet (Y. aloifolia) is about 20 feet tall, and has very sharp-pointed, long leaves and spectacular white or purple-tinged flowers. Neither of these will stand wet winters, and they grow only in the South.

Blooming yucca then fertilizes the plant with pollen from another yucca. When the pronuba grubs hatch out, they find a goodly supply of seeds to eat, but leave plenty to produce more yuccas. Scientists call the yucca-pronuba relationship a perfect example of symbiosis, the mutual interdependence of two things in nature.

Our-Lord’s-candle (Y. Whipplei) has short basal leaves but sends up great creamy spikes, bearing many blooms. It will not stand frost or wet soil.

Northern gardeners who have never grown the hardy yuccas are missing plants that add great beauty and accent to gardens. One of the best yuccas for northern gardens is the Adam needle (Y. filamentosa), sometimes calm needle palm. It is a deep-rooted, tough-fiberish and some plant that has no trouble in New England winters. Its flower may rise 12 feet or higher. Y. flaccida is a similar species.

Other yuccas for the North are soapweed, and Y. data, both good as far north as southern Minnesota, good drainage and shelter against harsh wind are provided. Y. gloriosa is reportedly able to withstand city smog.