Category Archives: Home & Garden

Cow Raising

With feed costs as high as they are today, keeping a cow may not save you much, if any, hard cash. But, if you like cows, are willing to spend a few hours each day feeding, watering and milking one and processing its fresh milk, then the animal will indeed reward you, with plenty of dairy products.

Proper housing is of key importance, but generally an existing outbuilding can be converted to a suitable cow barn.

Unless the cow is to be kept in a stanchion, the minimum floor area for a stable is 200 or more square feet. In northern areas, the cow stable should be wind-tight; all winter ventilation should be under control. An economical job can be done, when necessary, by nailing unslated roofing paper over the sides. A cow can stand more cold than generally realized.

The cow may be confined by some stanchion or allowed the freedom of a stall. The box stall is recommended.  Some cows can keep warmer by moving occasionally on very cold nights. Milk production has been found to increase about 10 percent when cows are kept in a stall as opposed to a stanchion.

A calf pen is required. This preferably can be a duplicate of the cow stall

Buying a Cow

A cow that is four or five years old and has had her second or third calf is generally a good choice. She will be young enough to have years of production ahead of her, and old to have shown her milk-producing. There is no reason to pay the high asked-for heavy milk producers. For a cow, the criteria should be gentleness, ease of milking and general good health.

A family milk cow will generally yield about 12 quarts daily for from eight to 12 months, consuming about 18 pounds of hay daily. Jerseys and Guernseys are most often chosen for family cows because they are smaller and do not require as much feed or give as much milk as some of the larger breeds, such as Holstein or Brown Swiss. A Jersey heifer is fit to breed from 15 to 17 months; Guernseys from 17 to 18 months; and the heavier breeds at up to 25 months. After freshening, a cow will reach maximum production during the amend month. She will then decline in production at the rate of 6 to 7 percent a month. A cow that freshens in the fall or early winter usually yield an average of 10 percent more milk and fat than one that freshens in spring or summer.

Ideally, the cow should have about two acres of pasture for summer grazing: Permanent pastures of bluegrass or mixtures of grassdrop in production in the summer and may have to be supplemented to provide a uniform feed supply. The vegetable garden can furnished with a bit of the animal’s summer feed. Cows will eat pea vines, sweet corn stalks, cabbage leaves, and sweet potato vines.

The family cow’s winter feed consists of hay and a mixture of concentrates. Alfalfa, soybean, alsike clover, or early-cut grass hay are satisfactory. A Jersey or Guernsey cow will need at least ten pounds of hay a day, and a pound of grain for each two to four pounds of milk she produces.

A mixture of ground corn and wheat bran is a good concentrate to feed with hay. Some soybean oil meal or linseed oil meal may be added to the diet of hay and grain for extra protein.

Provide a block of trace mineralized salt in a sheltered box for the cow, or add loose salt to her concentrate mix at the rate of one pound to every 100 pounds of feed.

Give the cow water at least twice daily in winter and more often in summer.

Planting Apple Trees

Cultivated in Europe for more than 2,000 years, the apple was introduced to this country soon after the Europeans first arrived. Today, Washington, New York, Michigan, California, Pennsylvania, and Virginia are the leading producers of apples. The number of trees has dropped since early in this century, but yields have remained about the same thanks to superior sites, soils and better orchard management. Per capita consumption of apples has suffered as better transportation has made citrus fruit more available. The most popular varieties are Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Rome Beauty, Jonathan, and York. Such old standbys as Baldwin, Grimes, Northern Spy, and Wealthy are losing popularity.

Apples will grow in almost any soil, but do best in a clay loam. A general rule is that they thrive in soils suited to common cereals and potatoes. A sloped site promotes air drain-age, thus minimizing frost damage, but also encourages soil erosion. Such steep sites can be grown to alfalfa sod, and the growth cut two or three times a season.

Trees must be provided with plenty of organic matter, such as a heavy mulch of alfalfa or grass clippings. Sweet clover, seeded late in July, makes an excellent winter ground cover. Leave it standing through the following summer or turn it under in spring. If the surface soil is low in fertility, rye will do better than clover but must be turned under before it develops fully, as it tends to grow woody when mature and could threaten young trees.

Mulches should be deep enough to smother the weeds beneath the branches. Increase the depth of the mulches as the years pass: a five-year-old tree can use 100 pounds of straw; trees two to four years old will need proportionately less.

Natural forms of nitrogen can be applied in the fall after the foliage has dropped. Use 21/4 pounds of dried blood or 41/2 pounds of cottonseed meal per tree. If too much nitrogen reaches a tree late in the season, the resultant growth may be susceptible to winter injury.

Young trees have shallow root systems, and are therefore more vulnerable to shortages of water and nutrients than well-established trees. Larger trees also can rely on food re-serves in the bark and wood in hard times.

To protect trees from field mice and other small animals, place fine-mesh wire screens or wrap two thicknesses of aluminum foil around the base in the fall. Also, staking a new tree may be necessary where wind or heavy snow might cause it to grow crooked. Placing a four-inch barrier of one to two-inch crushed rock on the bottom, sides and top of the planting hole is also effective.

In late winter or early spring, while trees are dormant and before their buds begin to swell, a dormant oil spray should be applied. This mixture of 3 percent miscible oil and water smothers many insect eggs before hatching.

Planting Apples

Buy healthy one or two-year-old trees about three to five feet tall and plant them after the leaves have fallen, from late October into early November. Freshly dug trees can also be planted early in spring, but in spring land dries slowly and the growing season maybe well advanced by the time the orchard is planted. Young apple trees withstand the shock of transplanting best when they are dormant, another good reason for fall planting. By planting your trees before the ground freezes, some new growth of the roots will take place at once and the trees will have a good start on the sea-son when spring comes.

Set the trees 40 feet apart in and between the rows. Make the holes for them just large enough to accommodate the root development of each tree. Set the trees an inch lower in the ground than they stood in the nursery; a young apple tree will not root any deeper by deep planting, and may suffer for it.

Trees of at least two varieties should be planted within 50 feet of one another, because pollination of one variety by the pollen from another is usually required for the trees to bear.

Apple Nutrition

If your soil is very acid, broadcast one pound of lime and 1/2 pound of phosphate rock per tree over the entire orchard before planting. One-half this amount may well be sufficient for young trees grown in a cover crop that is mowed for mulch. If apple trees are grown in sod and mulched with non-legume hay, add dried blood or other nitrogenous fertilizer. Increase the amount with each recurring season, reaching a maximum application of two pounds of nitrogen for seven or eight-year-old trees. Apply nitrogenous material in a circle about three feet wide under the outer extremities of the branch spread.

A deficiency of nitrogen will show up as small, yellowish leaves. If the foliage rolls and scorches that indicates a lack of potassium in the soil. A liberal mulch of manure (or clover mulch to which lime has been added) mixed with the right amount of potash rock to the acre, will adjust the potassium deficiency.

Falling Apples

The fall of apples, if not in excess, is a natural phenomenon, nature’s way of removing improperly pollinated fruit. This also removes fruit that the tree could not normally bring to maturity without exhausting its nutrient supply. Two abscission periods generally occur. The “first drop” begins shortly after petal fall and lasts for two or three weeks. The so-called “June drop,” which begins a few days after the completion of the first drop, is somewhat of a misnomer since it normally spans two to four weeks anywhere from late May to early June. Excessive drop may be caused by a deficiency of boron or magnesium, or by too little moisture, and heavy applications of nitrogen may encourage drop.

Apple Scab

Apple scab spends the winter on dead fruit and dead leaves on or under the tree. It can be prevented largely by carefully removing all dead leaves and fruit to the compost heap and mulching under the tree. A dormant oil spray will also help.

Old Apple Trees

Apple trees may bear crops for 30 to 50 years. If the trunk or branches are badly rotted or about a quarter of the top is dead through disease or winter injury, it is not ordinarily worthwhile to attempt salvage. However, here’s some general advice when trying to bring new life into old neglected trees:

Cut out old wood and prune heavily to strong, new growth; remove all suckers not necessary to replace the top; prune out inter-lacing branches to open the trees to light and the circulation of air; break up the soil around the tree, working in a great deal of compost, manure and organic materials; apply organic nitrogen such as dried blood, cottonseed meal or nitrogen-rich sludge, about 25 to 35 pounds per tree; mulch heavily. Do this regularly for several seasons.

Vitamin C Content of Apples

Apples are an important source of vitamin C, although the varieties differ greatly in their level of this vitamin. While five Delicious apples provide a minimum amount of vitamin C, one could get the same amount from two Wine saps or one Baldwin. Yellow Newton and Northern Spy are other good sources. McIntosh, Jonathan and York Imperial rate low in vitamin C.

Baldwin is widely grown in the eastern United States. It is sensitive to the climatic extremes existing west of Lake Michigan, how-ever. Northern Spy, another high-C apple, is also adaptable to the midcontinent and eastern region. Northern Spy is an excellent dessert or eating apple, but is not too useful for cooking. Baldwin is just the reverse. It is good for making pies and applesauce, but not too good for eating fresh. So by planting both of those trees you will get good supplies of both cooking and eating apples that are rich in vitamin C.

Tests have shown that most of the vitamin C in apples is right in or under the skin, and the skin can contain five times as much of the vitamin as the flesh. It is interesting that small apples are richer in vitamin C than large apples; small apples have more area of skin per pound of fruit, and this greater percentage of skin is probably the cause of the higher vitamin C content. It is fortunate that apples lose very little of their vitamin C in storage. If stored at 36°F. (2.22°C.), Baldwin apples will lose no vitamin C over a period of five or six months. However, if the storage temperature gets up to 45° F (7.22° C), some of the vitamin content will be lost.

Selecting a Location for an Apple Tree

Each variety does best in certain regions of the country. In the Northeast, the Great Lakes keep the growing season cool and summer rainfall is usually dependable. Growers in the central Atlantic region worry more about rainfall. Warmer temperatures dictate that most orchards be placed at fairly high elevations in the Appalachians. Warm temperatures in the Ohio Basin region cause more importance to be placed on a sufficient rainfall; droughts tend to be quite serious. Soils that can hold water well to a depth of three to four feet will minimize the threat of damage. In the north central states, cold winters are the grower’s main concern. Cold-resistant varieties have been developed, and include Haralson, Honeygold, Red Baron, Joan, Secor, Anoka, and Regent. Sunny summers and relative freedom from spring frost damage make the West Coast an excellent apple-growing area, although large orchards often must be irrigated.

In general, the primary consideration determining what variety can be grown is temperature. Talk with growers in the immediate area and extension service agents about the dangers of spring frost, in particular, and the suitability of temperature the rest of the year.

A persistent heavy wind may render a site unsuitable, making spraying difficult and affecting fruit set. The best sites are elevated rolling or sloping fields; low-lying areas tend to collect cold air.

Although they cost a bit more initially, dwarf apple trees offer several advantages to the home orchardist. Most standard apple varieties take five to ten years to bear fruit; dwarf trees bear from one to three years after planting. A dwarf produces an average of one to three bushels (50 to 150 pounds) of fruit per season—plenty for the average family—and the fruit is as large as or larger than that of the standard tree. Because they grow only six to eight feet high – 15 feet in the case of semidwarfs – dwarfs are easy to spray and pick from. They also require much less space; you can plant six dwarfs in the amount of space required for one standard tree.

Gardeners interested in growing some of the colorful old apple varieties of yesteryear, either for their superior regional adaptability or exceptional taste, should consider grafting scions of old varieties like American Beauty, Rhode Island Greening and Cox Orange. Individuals and groups who raise these old favorites can often be traced through local nurseries, horticultural societies or county agricultural extension offices. Other old-time varieties that once flourished in backyards and small orchards include Ben Davis, Black Gilliflower, Blue Pearmain, Esopus Spitzenburg, Maiden’s Flush, Pound Sweet, Twenty Ounce, and Fameuse.

Planting Ginger

Ginger is a biennial or perennial herb to the tropics and cultivated in tropicales in both hemispheres. The plant flowers and produces fruit. The rhizomes underground stem has a characteristic, pungent taste, to some extent in medicine, but its principal commercial use is in flavoring foods, confections and carbonated beverages.

Ginger is believed to be native to the warmer parts of Asia, where it has been cultivated from early times. The plant rapidly spread to the West Indies, South America, Australia, and Africa. Ginger has been recognized as a spice for thousands of years. Ancient Greeks and Romans welcomed the flavoring agent from southern Arabia, by way of the Red Sea. It has also been savored through history in India. Long ago, this herb was considered medicinally valuable in treatment of digestive disorders, although most growers value it to-day for its use as a condiment.

Ginger is an exhaustive crop and requires fertile soil with good drainage. The rhizomes are likely to rot in poorly drained soil, and the plant will not thrive in gravel or sand. For maximum growth, much rain and high temperatures during the growing season are required, and it is therefore best grown in tropical and subtropical regions.

The rhizomes are harvested early in winter, and the crop should not be replanted until early in spring. Ginger is readily propagated from small divisions of the rhizomes, each division containing at least one bud or “eye.” In Florida, these may be planted in February or early March about three inches deep and about 16 inches apart in rows two feet apart. The plants come up slowly and in the early stage of growth are much benefited by some protection from the sun. Cultivation and hoeing sufficient to control weeds are necessary. As the season advances and the rhizomes enlarge, the plant develops numerous leaf-stalks, followed in fall by flower stalks.

In Florida the roots may be harvested early in December. This is readily accomplished with a garden fork. The soil is shaken off, the top cut off close to the rhizomes and the fibrous roots removed. To facilitate removal of the soil, it is advisable to break the rhizomes into several branches, or “hands.”

Ginger grows well in a greenhouse with a 75° F. (23.89° C.) temperature. It needs a large pot and a lot of water and responds well to applications of liquid compost or manure.

The rhizomes, collected when young and green are washed and scraped before being preserved in syrup or as a tasty preserve which is exported mainly from the West Indies and China. Ginger candy, made from sliced sections of ginger preserved in sugar, is a favorite among children and adults alike.

Planting Bonsai Trees

This is a centuries-old method of trees dwarfing developed by the Chinese, that is fast becoming a popular hobby in the Western world. In short, it permits you to grow in a flower bowl.

Bonsai isn’t a difficult art. What it requires even more than skill is patience, since fully mature specimen may take ten years longer to produce.

Some plants are especially well adapted to bonsai dwarfing. Among these are junipers, Japanese maple, cypress, Mugho pine, and cryptomeria. In general, evergreens need feeding, pruning and training, but deciduous varieties are sturdier and take shape faster. Deciduous kinds also show the change of seasons; their leaves turn color in the fall and artistically trained, their bare winter form is as lovely as when they are full leaved in the summer. (One caution: use small-leaved types because the foliage is not reduced in proportion to the trunk.)

In any case, whether you choose to grow a biblical cedar-of-Lebanon, a colorful fire thorn shrub or anything from an elm or pomegranate to a yew or even a giant sequoia (scale: 1 inch to 25 feet), the method is the same.

You can start with cuttings or by layering but experienced growers usually recommend seeds. You may be able to get very tiny seedlings from some nurseries, or dig them up while on a tramp through the woods. Sandy loam is best for starting seeds. Keep them outdoors if possible, sheltered from hot sun and wind.

Before potting, gently peel the dirt from the roots—the Chinese use chopsticks for this—and cut back the taproot about one-third with sharp scissors or pruning shears. Remove any old, dead parts of roots.

Do this operation quickly, in a cool room; a damp basement is excellent.

After transplanting, keep the plants inside, for several days, then gradually expose to outdoor conditions. Thereafter, any insects that push through the bottom of the pot should always be cut away. You can also start pruning the tops lightly at this time, to develop a pleasing shape.

After this, your evergreens will require an inside planting every three to five years, and flowering and fruiting-runts yearly. Spring is the best time for each transplanting. Use only a slightly crier pot each time; any container with drain holes is suitable.

Always make up a fresh soil mixture, and prune the roots fairly vigorously. Cut back the thick roots irregularly and thin out the smaller ones to encourage the forming of a dense system.

Most bonsai experts use strictly arpnic fertilizers. You will probably have to work out your own fertilizing program to fit the needs of your specific plants. Most Chinese and Japanese growers advise very dilute applications of liquid fish fertilizer monthly or perhaps more often, except when the plant is dormant. But others say feeding only three or four times a year is plenty. Excessive feeding will result in too vigorous growth, and you’ll have a pot-splitting giant instead of an elegant dwarf.

If a tree looks weak, a sprinkling of high-nitrogen dried blood will perk it up. For regular feedings, very weak manure tea is as good as fish fertilizer. Occasional light sprinklings of manure compost are also excellent. Just enough fertilizer to keep the tree looking healthy is all that is necessary.

Water only when the soil feels dry to the touch, and don’t overwater. The soil should never be either bone-dry or waterlogged. In dry, hot weather, you may have to water two or more times a day. (Some Oriental growers, incidentally, use extremely porous soil and water five or six times daily, on the theory that starving the plant by leaching out fertility elements makes for slower, more compact growth.) Syringe the foliage now and then to remove dust and soot.

Bonsai do best outdoors, although many people have had fine success raising them entirely on sunny windowsills. They need abundant light, with some protection from the hot afternoon sun. Exposure to the elements makes the strongest trees, so let them spend as much time outdoors as possible—they provide a beautiful focus of interest for a patio, balcony or walled garden. You can, however, bring them indoors for a few days at a time if you put them in a cool spot away from heat sources.

Planting Broccoli

Broccoli is a hardy, fairly quick-maturing crop which belongs to the Cabbage family.

Broccoli prefers coolness and moisture. In the regions of the country where summer arrives early, it will be most successful if planted as a fall crop. However, certain gardeners contend that it thrives best as a two-season crop for both spring and fall.

In the latter case, seeds are sown in late winter, one-half inch deep in flats and placed in a warm, sunny window or greenhouse. Seedlings can be set out early in spring, as soon as the garden soil can be worked. Later, when most danger of severe frost has passed, more seeds are sown directly in the garden. When stalks are three or four inches tall, thin the plants or transplant them so that they stand 18 to 24 inches apart in the row.

The transplanted broccoli can be harvested throughout the spring and early summer.

Broccoli that is direct-seeded may mature during a cool, early autumn morning. Thus, with a little planning, you can grow fresh-picked garden broccoli throughout growing season.

Broccoli is not a greedy feeder. It does best in a moderately rich soil, provided soil is well drained and easy to work, thrives in soils ranging from sand and clay peat. It is a thirsty vegetable, though, requires plenty of moisture.

The plant form of broccoli consists of thick main stalk, at the end of which develop central cluster of tiny, dark green flower buds.

Stem, buds and leaves are edible, but the leaves are less tender than the stem and buds and usually discarded.

Some watchfulness is necessary to see that the greenish heads are harvested well before the flower buds expand and dry out. After the head has been cut the side shoots will continue to form smaller heads and provide a steady and heavy harvest over a considerate period. All heads should be cut off in such a manner that a fairly long stub of stem mains on the plant.

After the central head of broccoli has been cut for food, a number of small lateral roots will develop in the axils of the remaining leaves. These shoots also produce flower bum which are edible. The welcome harvest of this important, easy-to-grow vegetable will last for several weeks. From four to six cuttings stems and buds may be expected from the stalk.

Root Pruning

Root pruning is practiced to encourage the development of fibrous roots which are the plants’ suppliers of food and water. Plants that are being readied for transplanting or that need invigorating, and trees whose roots are over-taking gardens, lawns and paths are often root pruned.

When fruit trees consistently fail to set fruit, though all other conditions are favorable, the grower may resort to root pruning. In the fall a trench about two feet deep and six feet from the trunk is dug around the tree. The trench exposes the big anchor roots for cutting. If no big roots are found, there is very likely a wild taproot that must be located and cut. Any ornamental tree that has spread its roots out into areas where they are not wanted can be treated in the same way. A metal or cement barrier set in the trench will prevent subsequent spread.

When planning to move a deciduous shrub, it’s a good idea to prune its roots by forcing a sharp spade into the soil during the summer. In response to the pruning, the plant will develop more roots and so become easier to take up fall. Sometimes judicious root pruning force a recalcitrant flowering shrub into a system of root pruning and sometimes used to keep tub plants small.

In the nursery, trees and shrubs are lifted several times or planted wide apart, roots pruned regularly until they are sold. These methods force trees and shrubs to mass of fibrous roots rather than a few wide-spreading ones that would make it difficult to move and establish successful nurseries, special machines are used to roots under as well as around the plant.

Preparing Garden Soil

The key to any successful gardening is good soil preparation. Inadequate attention to preparation at the outset is difficult to remedy once the plant has put down its roots and become established.

First of all, it is extremely important to clear the soil of perennial weeds. If only one piece of many of these remains, it will soon re-grow and, if the roots become entwined in those of the climber, could become impossible to eradicate. Once the planting area is completely cleared, however, it is not such a difficult task to remove weed seedlings and keep the bed and the plants clear from then on.

Digging is important, too, as it breaks up the soil, allowing moisture and air to enter, both being vital to the well-being of the plant. The process also allows the gardener to keep an eye out for any soil pests. Dig the soil some time before you intend to plant thebe; digging in autumn and planting in early spring, after checking for any emerging weeds, is ideal.

As you dig the soil, incorporate well-rotted organic material. Not only does it provide food for the plants but it also helps to improve the structure of the soil. The fibrous material helps to breakdown the soil to a crumbly consistency, which allows free drainage of excess water and, at the same time, acts as a reservoir to hold sufficient water for the plants without water-logging them.

The final breaking down of the soil with a rake is more for aesthetic appeal than usefulness; the planting area will look more attractive if it has a smooth finish than if it is left rough.

If possible, prepare an area of at least1-1.2 m/3-4 ft in diameter, so that the roots can spread out into good soil as they grow.

Soil conditioners

Most gardens have patches where, for whatever reason, there is less moisture than elsewhere. If you improve the soil and select plants that are able to thrive in dry conditions, however, this need not be a problem.

Chipped or composted bark has little nutritional value, but makes a good mulch when spread on the surface, by reducing water evaporation and discouraging weeds. It will break down in time. Farmyard manure is rich in nutrients but often contains weed seed; it is a good conditioner. Garden compost (soil mix) is also very good as a conditioner and has good nutrient value. Leaf mould, made from composted leaves, also has good nutritional value and is an excellent conditioner and mulch. Peat is not very suitable as it breaks down too quickly and has little nutritional value.

Tending The Soil

1. Using a chemical spray is the only way to be sure of completely eradicating perennial weeds. Use a non-persistent herbicide, which breaks down when it comes into contact with the soil. It is vital always to follow the instructions on the pack exactly, not only for the obvious safety reasons but also to ensure you use the correct dose to kill all the weeds in the area first time.

2. If the turf to be removed does not include perennial weeds, or the soil is friable enough for the weed’s roots to be removed by hand, it is safer to remove the turf by slicing it off with a spade. Stack the turf in a heap, grass-side down, and use them as compost (soil mix)when they have broken down.

3. Dig over the soil ‘and, as you dig, remove any weed roots and large stones. Double dig, if the subsoil needs to be broken up. Add as much well-rotted organic material as you can to the soil before it is planted, in order to improve its condition.

4. Add the compost (Soil mix) or manure to the soil as you dig, or spread it over the top after all weed roots have been removed, and fork it in.

5. If you dig in the autumn, leave the soil for the winter weather to break down; at any other time, break the soil down by hand into a reasonably fine tilth. Use a rake or hoe to break down the larger lumps of soil, until the bed has an even appearance

Planting Mustard

Mustard is a weedy annual herb belonging to the Cruciferae family. Mustard is related to a number of vegetables, such as cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. The plant has large, thick, jagged leaves of a dark green color and is found in most temperate regions of the world.

There are many species of mustard plants, three best known for their commercial black, grown for the proof table mustard, white, its pungent seed, and brown, grown for use as a potherb.

The plant has been used in condiments for centuries. It is mentioned in the New Testament scriptures. The ancient Greeks and Romans employed it for many of the purposes for which it is still used. The oldest known recipe for preparing mustard was written by Columella, a native of Gades in the first century A.D. The English herbalist Parkinson described the grinding of mustard seed using a quern “with some good vinegar to make it liquid and running.”

Mustard is an easy crop to grow. All the common varieties are annuals and will grow from seed. White mustard (also referred to as yellow mustard) is best adapted to a rather heavy type of sandy loam and light adobe soil. The darker variety requires an even lighter, sandier loam. The crop needs only limited rainfall, preferably distributed so that the seed can mature during a period of dry weather.

Seed should be sown two weeks before the last spring frost. Seed for a fall crop should be sown at least six weeks before the first autumn frost. An alfalfa or grain seeder can be used for planting larger crops once the ground is harrowed. About three pounds of the darker seed or four pounds of the lighter seed are required per acre.

In most areas, the first planting will be ready for harvesting about August. The crop must be harvested while the seedpods are fully grown, yet closed, because the pod will shatter when it is fully ripe. The crop may be cut with mowers and dried in the sun. It can then be threshed with a pickup harvester when dry; or it can be cut and bound with a grain binder, cured in the field and then threshed with a modified grain thresher.

The taller, black mustard plant seeds are smaller than those of the white mustard plant. Average yields per acre range from 115 to 548 pounds. Individual growers, however, have reported yields as high as 1,500 pounds. Mustard is grown most successfully for commercial purposes in the western United States, since it is an annual crop that yields early returns and can be easily handled by equipment available on larger farms. In other localities, it is advisable to grow small trial acreage.

For home gardeners, it would be inadvisable to plant mustard in the garden or flower border. It self-sows very easily and might become a pest.

Besides the commercial value of mustard seed, the plant’s leaves, which are an excellent source of A and C vitamins, can be used as salad greens. In addition, their bulk and fiber tend to produce a mild laxative effect.

Powder made from the seed is used as a salad dressing, for flavoring meat and preparing pickles. In making mustard, turmeric can be added to color and add aroma.

Medicinally, mustard has been used in many ways. It has been used as a relief for aches, fevers, coughs, asthma and also for liver, stomach and throat pain. Mustard liniment consists of camphor oil and a volatile mustard-seed.

Planting Cherry Trees

Many home gardeners will find, after due consideration, that they do not wish to grow cherries, for 2 reasons. Birds can, and frequently do, eat a major part of the crop. Also, cherries have a tendency to split if periods of heavy rains coincide with ripening. It’s practically impossible for the gardener to control either one of these hazards. Birds like blueberries, but these can be covered with netting. However, covering entire trees with netting just is not practical.

Cherries are of 3 general types—sour cherries(varieties of Prunus. cerasus) which are mostly self-fertile; Sweet Cherries (varieties of P. avium) which are not self-fertile, but need other varieties for cross-pollination; and the Duke cherries, supposed to be crosses between the sour and the sweet, which also need other cherries for cross-pollination. Since the home gardener frequently considers planting the Sweet Cherry, he must also surmount the hurdle of needing several trees of different varieties to insure having a crop. Often this is a greater undertaking than the cherries are worth.

The main sweet cherry-growing areas of the U.S. are the Pacific Coast states, chiefly Calif., Ore. and Wash., western N.Y. and western Mich. The chief sour cherry-growing areas are northern Ohio, western N.Y. and the Hudson Valley, western Mich., Wise. and Colo.

All cherries bloom early in the spring, before the leaves appear, and hence the flowers are susceptible to killing by late frosts. The Sweet Cherry is about as hardy as the Peach; the Sour Cherry is slightly more hardy. All cherries are susceptible to various virus diseases, and one should be certain that, in purchasing trees, virus-free plants are purchased, the under stock as well as the tops.

Propagation is by budding on either P. avium, the Mazzard Cherry, or P. mahaleb, the Mahaleb Cherry. The latter is cheap and easy to work, but the Mazzard Cherry is the superior under stock, and trees on this stock should be obtained if possible, for they make much better trees.

Sweet cherries should be planted 30 ft. apart, sour cherries about 25 ft. apart and ‘Morello’ cherries about 18 ft. apart.

As for pruning, sweet cherries are pruned the least. These trees usually grow taller than those of the sour cherries and they just do not seem to demand the careful pruning required by many other kinds of fruit trees. Little pruning is necessary on sour cherries, especially if crossed branches and weak branches are removed as they appear.

Cherry Cross-Pollination

One should be as careful with cherries as with plums in the cross-pollination requirements. All sweet cherries require cross-pollination and the chances are that it is these which would be selected for the home garden. Varieties which have proved good pollinizers for other sweet cherry varieties are ‘Black Tatarian’, ‘Grant’, ‘Seneca’ and ‘Lyons’. It should be remembered, too, that varieties like ‘Bing’, ‘Lambert’, ‘Napoleon’ and ‘Emperor Francis’ are all inter-sterile, one with the other.

The Duke cherries. ‘Reine Hortense’ and ‘Royal Duke’, are self-sterile and either sour or sweet cherries can be used as pollinizers for these. The sour cherries are mostly self-fertile.

Cherry Fertilizers

Fertilizers might be applied in the early spring at about the time the buds burst. A 3-4-year-old tree in a cultivated orchard might be given. If it is over two years old it might be given 5 lbs. Trees growing in sod, which receive more and sweeter cherries because they grow into larger trees, would also receive heavier applications, might be used. Tent caterpillars infest cherry in the spring, and other caterpillars are occasionally troublesome.

Cherry Diseases

Brown rot causes lesion on twigs and rot on ripening fruit. Bacterial leaf spot in which the spots often drop out, causing a shot-hole effect. Attacks both sweet and sour cherries and defoliates the trees. Spraying with fungicide when petals fall and after harvest is helpful. A fungus leaf spot or yellow leaf is controlled by fungicide in early and late applications. Black knot develops on sour cherries. Virus diseases discourage the growing of cherries in some areas. Destroying infected trees and controlling insects are the only remedies.

Planting Celery

Celery and closely related Celeriac both belong to the genus Apium of the Carrot or Umbelliferae Family which includes some 20 species of herbs that are best adapted to the northern temperate zone.

Celery is one of the more difficult crops to grow in the home garden because it requires more detailed care than most other crops. It is a cool weather plant and, therefore, in the south it is grown as a winter and spring crop and farther north as a summer and fall crop.

The more important commercial production areas are located in Calif., Fla., and Ariz. in the south and N.Y., N.J., Mich., Ohio, Pa., and Wash. in the north.

Celery Varieties

Green varieties have increased in importance and the so-called yellow or self-blanching types have decreased in use during the past 20 years. The most important green varieties are ‘Utah’, of which there are number of strains, ‘Giant Pascal’, ‘Summer Pascal’ and ‘Fordhook’. Varieties in the self-blanching category are ‘Golden Self Blanching’, ‘Wonderful’ or ‘Golden Plume’, ‘Michigan’ and ‘Detroit Golden’.

Celery Soils and Fertilizers

No garden crop grown is such a rich feeder as Celery. The soil must have depth, mellowness, and an abundant supply of moisture. A well-drained muck or peat soil is ideal but most home gardeners will find a sandy loam soil that is well supplied with organic matter to be very satisfactory. A heavy clay soil should be avoided. The soil pH should range between 5.8 and 6.7.

For sandy loam soils, bushels of animal manure or well-decomposed compost should be thoroughly plowed or spaded into the soil to a depth of 7-8 in. Celery is a heavy feeder and a poor forager and, therefore, in addition to the manure or compost it is advisable to broadcast, at the time of plowing or spading.

Raising Celery Plants from Seed

Most home gardeners will find it more desirable to buy plants from a dealer or commercial grower. Celery seed is small, germinates slowly and must have careful attention as to temperature and soil moisture during the germination period.

The seed should be planted in a very light sandy soil, preferably in drills 11-12 in. apart. After the seed is covered a piece of burlap or even a newspaper is placed over the flat or container to help maintain uniform moisture of the soil during the germination period. Temperatures of 70-75°F. are optimum.

The young seedlings are very delicate and spindly until they reach a height of I-1-2 in. When the second true leaves appear the plants should be transplanted into a good potting soil 11-12 in. apart. Maintaining a uniform moisture and temperature is very important introducing a good stocky plant. Temperature exposure of 50° F. or below, for 7 days or more, will result in premature seed-stalk development. Some 8-9 weeks are necessary before plants are ready for out-of-door planting.

Celery Planting and Care

The garden soil should be fine, smooth, moist and fairly firm and the plants stocky, 4-5in. tall with plenty of roots. Out-of-door planting should be delayed until danger of frost is past. Planting distance, 5-6 in. in the row and 24-30 in. between rows. In planting set the plants level with the crown of the plant or not deeper than they were in the flat or seedbed. The young plants should be watered daily until they are well established.

Shallow cultivation should start as soon as possible after planting in order to control weeds and to maintain a thin, loose surface of the soil.

Celery will respond to several applications of nitrate of soda during the growing season. Each application of 3-4 lbs. per too ft. of row should be placed several inches from the plants on both sides and then lightly worked into the top surface of the soil. Watering will help to make the fertilizer available to the plants.

Celery Blanching and Harvesting

Blanching means the loss of green color and since it is known that the green color of plants contains higher vitamin A content than non-white parts the demands for blanched celery has materially decreased.

Blanching of the self-blanching or early types is usually done by the use of wide rolls of heavy building paper boards which are placed on either side of the row of Celery and then held together by wire hooks.

For the late varieties the most satisfactory method of blanching is to gradually pull soil around the plant until only the top of the leaves show above the mound. No soil must be allowed to fall into the heart of the plant. This type of blanching should not be done until late in the fall or when the plants are fully grown. Placing hay or straw over the hilled row will mean that the plants can be kept until early winter.

There is no definite stage of maturity at which Celery must be harvested. Its best quality is attained when the plants have reached full size. In harvesting the plants are cut off below the surface of the soil with a large knife. Pull off the outside stalks and use them for celery soup or flavoring.

Celery Storage

The fall crop of Celery may be stored for periods of 4-8 weeks. Perhaps the most practical method for the home gardener is in using a trench in the garden area. Three to 4 rows of Celery are packed tight and upright in the trench. Boards are set against the side and over the top of the trench. Hay or straw is then placed over the boards and as colder weather sets in a layer of soil is placed over the hay. Cold frames may also be used to store Celery for short periods.

Celery Diseases and Insects

Celery is subject to a number of diseases and insects, but only a few are generally of importance. Early and late blight are carried over from year to year in the seed and on old Celery plant refuse. In the home garden the most satisfactory control is the use of a copper-lime dust or Bordeaux mixture (4 oz. copper sulphate, 4 oz. hydrated lime to 3 gals. of water) as a spray applied at weekly intervals.

Bacterial leaf spot, root rot and yellows are other diseases which may be important. Insects that may be important are the carrot rust fly and the tarnished plant bug. The latter insect may be controlled with dimethoate. Be sure to read the label.

Two physiological disorders are frequently important, namely, black heart and cracked stem. Black heart first shows as a tip burn on young leaves and then spreads to the heart tissue of the plant which in severe cases is killed and turns black. This condition probably is due to deficiency of calcium and an imbalance of other nutrient elements in the soil. Cracked stem results in brownish cracks and lesions on the inner and outer surface of the leaf petiole. This condition can be controlled by adding small amounts of borax, to the fertilizer used prior to planting or in applying borax as a solution near the base of the plant.