Category Archives: Home & Garden

Planting Peas

Peas are high in food value and rich in vitamins A, the B group and C. It is of very ancient origin being grown and used by the ancient Greeks and Romans. The Garden Pea is very sensitive to heat and thrives only in cool weather. In the South it is grown during the fall and winter and in the North in the spring. In the North late plantings for maturity in the fall are seldom satisfactory. In hot weather growth is retarded, insects and diseases are a problem, pollination is poor resulting in pods with few, if any, seeds.

Pea Varieties

The many listed varieties of peas are classified as dwarf or tall, smooth or wrinkle seeded, and edible podded. Recommended dwarf sorts are ‘Alaska’ (smooth-seeded), ‘Little Marvel’, ‘Laxtonian’ and ‘Progress’. Tall varieties are ‘Treezonia’ and ‘Alderman’. ‘Wanda’, 24-30 in. plant, is the most resistant variety to heat. Edible podded peas of excellent quality are ‘Mammoth Melting Sugar’, 50-60 in. plant, and ‘Dwarf Gray Sugar’, 26-32 in. plant.

Pea Soils and Fertilizers

Peas can be grown in a variety of soil types. For very early planting a sandy or silt loam is preferred, but for a later planting a well-drained clay loam is ideal because of its cooler temperature. The soil reaction for acidity should test from 6.0 to 6.5 pH.

If manure is used it must be well rotted or else worked into the soil in the previous fall. The Pea is a legume and, consequently, absorbs nitrogen from the air. This is of relatively little importance with the quick-maturing dwarf varieties. If manure has been used, broadcast15-20 lbs. per 100 sq. ft. of a 5-to-5 commercial fertilizer and thoroughly mix into the soil. If no manure was used, increase the fertilizer application by 10 lbs. In some cases, it may be advisable to side dress in bands 2 in. from row with nitrate of soda, 2-3 lbs. per 100 ft. of row, at the time of pod set. For peas the soil should be thoroughly prepared and fertilized to provide a fine friable seedbed.

Planting Peas

Peas should be planted as early as the soil can be properly prepared and, therefore, are usually one of the first crops planted in the home garden. While the smooth-seeded sorts such as ‘Alaska’ will stand lower temperatures than the wrinkled sorts, both must be planted early to obtain a good succession for harvest, e.g. ‘Alaska’ matures in 55-60 days, ‘Little Marvel’ and ‘Laxtonian’ in 60-63, ‘Freezonia’ 63-65, ‘Wanda’ 70-72 and ‘Alderman’ 74-76. This procedure is preferred to several succession plantings of 1 variety.

Dwarf sorts are planted 24-30 in. apart between rows and 2-in. spacing will provide a good stand of plants in the row. Seed should not be planted deeper than 1 or 2 in. For tall varieties it is a common practice to space the rows 30-36 in. apart and the seeds are planted in double rows. Make 2 parallel drills 6 in. apart and 4 in. deep. Sow the seed and cover the seed with 2 in. of soil. Gradually fill the drill as the plants come up. The object of this double row is to provide space between the drills for the brush or wire trellis needed to support these tall varieties. It also makes more efficient use of space in the garden. The same planting procedure should be used for single row culture.

Supports should be placed at planting time and may consist of (1) brush, 4-5 ft. high after the stems have been pushed into the soil for a distance of 12-18 in. The brush should be well-branched and close enough together to provide a ready hold for the pea-vine tendrils. (2) Chicken wire, 4-5 ft. high, stretched as tight as possible between posts placed at 8-10 ft. intervals. The advantage of chicken wire is that after cleaning it can be rolled up and stored for the next year. Brush is not so easy to obtain and dispose of at the end of the season.

Pea Cultivation

Peas require sufficient shallow cultivation to control weeds. Where brush or wire trellis is used hand weeding is necessary in the row. Commercial growers use the selective herbicide, Premerge, as a pre- and post-emergence chemical to control weeds. This is not recommended for use by the home gardeners.

Pea Harvesting

The pods are hand-picked when the seeds are beginning to fill out the pods. Quality in peas is associated with tenderness and high sugar content. During maturity of the seed the sugar content decreases rapidly with an increase in starch. Fully matured pods will contain peas that are tough and flat in flavor. Peas that are harvested at peak quality and then exposed for 4-5 hours to high temperatures, 75° F. plus, will also lose their sweetness and tender texture.

Pea Insects

Pea aphid, a rather large green plant louse, sucks the juice first from the growing tip but eventually from the entire plant. It can be controlled by dusting with malathion, Diazinonor dimethoate. Do not feed treated foliage to cattle. Pea weevil is brownish with white, black and gray markings. Adults feed on blossoms and larvae burrow into green seed which are most troublesome in western states. Control by parathion spray using 8% emulsion concentrate or 2% emulsion concentrate 1 pt. per 100 gal. Use parathion with caution. Do not apply later than 10 days before harvest.

Pea Diseases

Powdery mildew, a fungus, most serious during hot, humid weather, forms a dense white or grayish coating on the leaves. Dusting with sulfur-lime gives fair control. Root rots caused by several different fungi which live over in the soil are frequently serious in reducing the stand of plants. The basic control lies in crop rotation, planting in well-drained and aerated soils and possibly treating the seed prior to planting with Spergon or Arasan. Wilt is another fungus disease common to peas and is soil borne. Infected plants show a downward curling of the leaves, a wilted appearance resulting in stunted growth. Control is same as for root rot.

Planting Aloe Seeds

Grown mainly outdoors in the warmer climates, aloe vera remains among the most popular houseplants. Famous for its medicinal qualities, aloe vera is used to soothe skin irritation, hair care and cosmetics. To grow the plant most persons will start with a ‘pup’ which is a cutting from a mature aloe vera plant. The main reason for this is that they tend to grow a little faster. However, using seeds is also a good option considering that mature plants from seeds do not take considerably longer.

When growing aloe vera from seeds, on average you need aloe vera seed, potting soil, compost, plastic planting tray, 3-inch pots, sand, peat and water. To start, mix peat and sand, then use the moist mixture to fill the plastic planting try. Seeds must be sown on top of the mixture then covered by sprinkling compost over them.

Caring for the Aloe Seed after Planting

The tray must then be placed in a location with temperatures between 70°F and 78°F. Trays must be exposed to sufficient light since this will significantly help the seeds to germinate. Sunlight is essential for germination however, a brown discoloration can result from sunburn so light should be indirect.

Without over watering, ensure that the soil is always moist. It can take anywhere between one to four months for germination to start. Once the seedlings have grown large enough to hold without breaking, the 3-inch pots filled with potting soil should be used to transplant them. Pots are used as the permanent beds for aloe vera because they are often grown for ornamental purposes in and around the home.

When using pots, make sure that the potting soil is well-drained and sandy. Some gardeners prefer to use terracotta (unglazed, clay-based ceramic) pots because they are porous. Making sure that there is a drainage hole can be a good step. Commercial pre-packaged or propagation mixes aid good drainage and are recommended where available. Most will have granite grit or coarse sand as well as extra perlite in them. Succulent and cacti mixes tend to eliminate the guess work as well.

In cold areas or seasons, the pots should be stored indoors (whether in the home or a greenhouse) and kept as warm as possible since they are intolerant of heavy snow and frost. Aloe Vera is resistant to most insects so pest control is relatively easy however, scale insects, aphid species and mealy bugs can damage them.

When watering potted plants, it is important that gardeners allow plants to dry completely before watering them again to avoid sogging which will undermine their health and overall growth. During cold months plants tend to dry out slower than normal so reduce watering.

Watch your aloe vera plants for new shoots when they begin to mature. Once shoots are 3 to 4 inches tall they should be removed to their own pots or they will suck the life from their ‘mother plant’. This is characterized by the mature plant turning bright green and spreading its leaves horizontally instead of upward. Leave newly potted plants for 3 weeks before watering, turning grey or brown shortly after repotting is normal and not a sign that they need water.

Planting Cucumbers

A member of the Cucumber family, native to tropical Africa, the watermelon needs a long, dry growing season.

Cucumber Planting and Culture

Soil, for good watermelons, should be light, fertile, deep, and well drained. A pH of 5.5 to 6.5 is preferred. Preparation of the soil should begin the fall before planting. At that time, turn under manure to a depth of six to eight inches. If there is a plentiful supply of manure on hand, dig in an inch layer of it all over the watermelon bed. If the supply is limited, a few forkfuls maybe dug into the hills, and left to decompose during the winter, so that the nutrients have time to leach down into the soil to a depth where the vine’s deepest roots will find them. A handful of phosphate rock and one of greensand or granite dust may be incorporated into the hills at the same time. Lime should not be used unless the pH is below 5.

In cool areas, or where the growing season is short, seed may be started indoors in peat or compressed manure pots and moved to the garden when all danger of frost is past. A greenhouse or hotbed makes it possible to start the seed eight weeks before field-planting time. If they must be started in the home, sow them just six weeks before field planting. Otherwise they will become leggy. Plant three or four seeds in each pot and thin to one vine. Later, when setting out plants, place three pots in each hill. After the vines have made a foot or two of growth, thin each hill to one or two vines.

If seeds are to be started directly in the garden, space hills six to 12 feet apart, depending upon the variety planted and the fertility of the soil. On rich soil with high summer temperatures, the plants will grow and fruit rapidly. In the South, practically all are started in the open. Seeds are planted ten to 14 days before the last expected frost, so that the seedlings will come up as soon as possible after the frost. If there is any danger that frost may overtake the seedlings, make two plantings in each hill a week apart, putting in half the seeds each time. A total of eight to ten seeds should be planted in each hill in a circle that is 13 inches in diameter. Cover the seeds with an inch of soil. After the first true leaves appear on the young plants, reduce the number plants to four or five per hill. Gradually thin them as they grow larger, until only one or two long vines are left.

Cucumber Mulching

Watermelon vines should be mulched to keep down the weeds, but the mulch should not be applied until the soil is thoroughly warm. In the meantime, keep the area clean with hay or chopped leaves. Spread them in over the entire watermelon mulch and draw the mulch up to the base. This should be done before fruits begin to form, because the small fruits may be damaged by handling. The best time to apply mulch is after a rain.

Cucumber Thinning

Commercial growers often thin on the vines in order to produce larger, more uniform melons and to speed ripening when no more than two melons are left on each plant. In the home garden, the vines may be premixed to set more fruit, but late-set fruit should be removed. When too few hot days are left for maturing fruit, all blossoms should be removed from the plants before they begin to develop. The sooner these are removed, the more plant energy will be diverted the development of the early-set fruit.

Cucumber Harvesting

Melons are most flavorful when permitted to ripen on the vine. Experience is the best judge of ripeness and none of the many ways advanced to choose a ripe melon is infallible. According to Mark Twain, a green melon says “pink” or “pank” when thumped with the knuckles; a ripe one says punk.” A less subjective way to determine ripeness is to take a look at the melon and vines. The fruit is apt to be ripe when the underside turns from white to yellow and at least three tendrils on each side of the melon are dead.

Cucumber Varieties

Charleston Gray adapts to climates throughout the United States. It has an 85-day maturation period, and is fiber-free and disease resistant. Dixie Queen is wilt resistant and requires 90 warm days to reach maturity. Fordhook Hybrid bears small-seeded fruits and is hardy in the North. Also recommended for the North are Crimson Sweet, New Hampshire Midget, Golden Midget, and Sugar Baby. They are well adapted to cool climates and have growing periods of 65 to 90 days.

Raising Turkey Chicks

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

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

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

Turkey Housing

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

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

Turkey Care and Feeding

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

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

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

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

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

Turkey Diseases

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

Planting Parsnips

In the East and North, this root vegetable can be left in the ground all winter and dug up as needed for cooking. Freezing seems to improve the texture and gives parsnips a sweeter, more delicate taste. In southern and western states where winters are mild, parsnips should be planted in fall and grown for a winter crop, because spring planting extends the warm growing season too long, making the parsnips woody and tasteless.

Parsnip Planting and Culture

Since parsnip is a long-season crop, seed should be sown as early in spring as possible. Fresh seed should be secured each year. Slow to germinate, the seed should be soaked overnight before being planted out in a rich, deeply spaded, light soil. A generous amount of compost or some other humus should be added to enrich them and to provide good aeration and uniform distribution.

Plant the seed thickly in rows, inches apart. Radish seed should be alongside to mark the rows and keep the crust from hardening. It is wise to mulch the planting as the soil must remain cool during the long germination period seed are in danger of drying out.

As the radishes become of edible size, pick them and weed and thin the parsnip seedlings six inches apart. Cultivate cleanly all until the foliage touches between the rows.

Parsnip Harvesting

Parsnips may be harvested when the ground has little else to offer may remain in the ground over winter dug up during a thaw, or they may bed just before the ground freezes harden stored in a root cellar for winter use. In the ground until spring, dig as needed to new tops start to grow; then dig all rain and store them in a cold place to sprouting. After the growth, the roots lose flavor and soon become lean and limp as well as tough and stringy.

Planting Apricot

With an individual and superior flavor, ripening a week or two earlier than peaches, apricots deserve space in every orchard. They are as easy to grow as peaches and, requiring the same temperature, frequently outlive them. Deep, fertile, well-drained soil of fine texture is best for apricots. Loam to clay loam soils are preferable to sandy soils which tend to warm early. Shallow hardpan should be avoided, and wet subsoil can kill the apricot tree.

As the apricot belongs to the Plum family, it is a simple matter to graft plum, peach or apricot scions on the same stock. If early, middle and late-ripening varieties are used, one can have fruit from the same tree all season long—an ideal arrangement for gardeners with limited land.

The stocks on which apricots are budded affect their adaptability. Those whose host tree is a myrobalan plum stand heavy soils better; those on seedling peach and apricot stocks are best for hungry overporous land.

One drawback to apricot culture is that the flower buds, which open very early, risk being injured by late spring frosts. To overcome this, select a cool and not overly sunny spot, planting in a northern or western exposure to delay the opening of the buds. Avoid full shade. Where possible, an eastern aspect should be avoided because the morning sun does not allow frostbitten buds to recover gradually, as they can when the sunlight does not strike them immediately.

Try to plant apricots at some distance from the vegetable garden and strawberry patch. Tomatoes, potatoes, Persian melons, and strawberries all harbor verticillium wilt, which causes blackheart in apricot trees.

Apricot trees should be planted in early spring before the buds begin to swell. In California they are planted between the middle of January and the first of March. Throughout the rest of the country they should be planted as soon as the soil can be prepared.

Two-year-old, six-foot whips are good for planting. The average apricot tree covers a circle 25 to 30 feet in diameter when fully grown; this means that apricots should be set at least this distance apart, and eventually they will need this space available to them on all sides. But shorter-lived brambles and bush fruits may be planted closer to them until they need their full room.

One self-pollinating apricot tree will yield 200 to 250 pounds of fruit in a good year. If fruit is to be dried, five pounds of fresh fruit will yield one pound dried. The best types are:

Perfection and Goldrich are excellent large-fruited cultivars. Alfred and Curtis, which are resistant to most diseases, can be grown in northern regions where spring frosts are not too severe.

Blenheim is the leading California cultivar. Moorpark is an old English, home-garden variety. Scout is not self-pollinating.

Early Golden has large fruits, almost as big as peaches, and is an old-time reliable sort.

Kok-pshar, Manchu and Zard are three recent introductions from central and northern China. These extra-hardy cultivars are suited to climates where winter temperatures dip as low as -40°F (-40°C).

Several varieties suited to the Great Plains region have been developed by the South Dakota Experimental Station.

Young fruits should be thinned rigorously; otherwise, lean years may alternate with fruiting years. Important: When they are half-grown, snip out one of every two fruits that touch.

Multi-variety trees—apricot, peach and plum on one tree—are recommended for the garden that is limited in area.

Apricots, both dried and fresh, contain large quantities of vitamin A (7,500 units in three fresh fruits; 13,700 units in 100 grams dried fruit) and moderate quantities of the B vitamins, as well as some iron and calcium.

Apricot Insect Control

Branch and twig borers may be frustrating to many apricot growers. These brown or black beetles are about 1/2 in. long and are cylindrical. They can be found burrowing into fruit buds or limb jointures causing the branches to die and the trees to become weakened.

Prune off infected twigs from smaller fruit trees and remove all pruning from the vicinity of the tree as soon as possible. If infested wood is held for fuel, dipping it for a moment in stove oil will kill the larvae under the bark. Maintain as much vigor as possible in the orchard to eliminate these pests. This is accomplished by a sound system of mulching and tree feeding to encourage the vitality of the tree.

Cankerworms or measuring worms are wingless crawling insects which lay their eggs in the spring and fall in the limbs of trees. These slender, dark green worms chew on the edges of the leaves while they attack the apricot trees. Since these worms do not have wings in their egg-laying adult stage, they must crawl up the trunks of the trees to deposit the eggs of the next brood. By placing a band of sticky material like Tangle foota or an inverted funnel of window screen around the trunk, the moths will be prevented from climbing the tree.

The small greenish insect covered with a powder like substance that can be seen crawling up the twigs of apricot, plum and prune trees is the mealy plum aphid. Should it strike, the foliage will become curled from loss of vital plant juices, the tree will become weak and stunted, and the fruit will split. Fruit is often spoiled by being covered by the sooty mold that is excreted.

Aphids can destroy trees that are unhealthy and weak. Best control for the organic gardener is to revitalize his tree by the use of organic fertilizers.

The brownish snout beetle feeds in curved excavations and lays its eggs in the plum curculio. It also devours leaves and petals until the fruit appears.

Planting Chrysanthemum Seeds

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

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

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

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

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

Planting Sunflower Seeds

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

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

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

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

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

Sunflower Planting and Culture

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

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

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

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

Sunflower Harvesting

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

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

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

Sunflower Varieties

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

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

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

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

Preparing for Paperhanging

Unrestricted access is a must for paperhanging. When working on just the walls, move all the furniture to the centre of the room and cover it with dust sheets (drop cloths). When tackling the ceiling too, it is best to remove all the furniture completely if there is space to store it elsewhere in the house; otherwise group it at one end of the room so that most of the ceiling can be done, and then move it to the other end to complete the job.

Next, take down curtains and Hinds (drapes and shades) and remove wall-or ceiling-mounted tracks. Turn off the electricity supply at the mains, then disconnect and remove wall or ceiling light fittings as necessary, covering the bare wire ends thoroughly with insulating tape before restoring the power supply to the rest of the house. In the USA, ceiling roses, wall switch plates and socket outlets can be unscrewed and removed without disconnecting the wall receptacles or switches. Isolate, drain, disconnect and remove radiators, and unscrew their wall brackets. Call in a professional electrician or plumber for these jobs if you are unsure of how to do them safely.

Take down pictures, and remove other wall-mounted fittings such as shelves and display units. To make it easy to locate the screw holes afterwards, push a matchstick (wooden match) into each one.

Start paper hanging at the centre of a chimney beam (fireplace projection) if the wall covering has a large, dominant pattern. Otherwise start next to the door so the inevitable pattern break can be disguised above it.

Work outwards from the centre of a dormer window so the design is centred on the window recess.

If the walls and ceiling are at present painted, they need washing down to remove dirt, grease, smoke stains and the like. If they are decorated with another wall covering, this will have robe removed and any defects in the surface put right. Finally, they need sizing — treating with a diluted coat of wallpaper adhesive to even out the porosity of the surface and to help to improve the ‘slip’ of the pasted wall covering during hanging.

Measuring up

The next job is to estimate how many rolls of wall covering will be needed to decorate the room. If using a material that comes in standard-sized rolls, simply measure the room dimensions and refer to the charts given here for the number of rolls needed to cover the walls and ceiling. They allow for atypical door and window area; fewer rolls are needed for a room with large picture windows or wide door openings. If using a paper-backed cloth covering which comes in a non-standard width, measure up each wall, and ask the supplier to estimate what length of material you will need; such materials are too expensive to waste. Walls are sufficient roils with the same hatch coverings in the USA vary in width number; colours may not match exactly and length but arc usually available in-between hatches.

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.


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.