Category Archives: Home & Garden

Planting Asparagus

In the early spring the home garden offers few pleasures greater than the cutting of the luscious early spears of an established asparagus planting. It was because of its habit of producing early shoots that the ancient Greeks named the plant asparagos, meaning to swell.

Until modern times asparagus was a medicinal plant. The early and abundant supply of green spears restored men who must have struggled through the long winter upon a poorly balanced diet. But like many other medicinal plants asparagus later became a garden favorite, and its popularity is still increasing.

Asparagus Planting

It is possible to grow fine asparagus plants from seed if care is taken to see that the seedbed is properly drained and well pulverized and that the seedlings are trans-planted without too much injury to the root system. But an established planting reaches the cutting stage much sooner if one-year-old roots of the best disease-resistant varieties are used.

To establish a planting of asparagus it is best to select a site to one side of the garden. This site should be free from shade; the soil should be rich, deep and well drained. The location should be so arranged that the permanence of the planting will not interfere with the cultivation of the rest of the garden.

In the spring as early as the ground can be worked, a trench 12 inches deep and about ten inches wide should be dug along the line where the first row is to stand. In the bottom of this trench place a three-inch layer of mature compost humus. If well-rotted manure is plentiful, this may be added. This layer should then be well dug into the bottom of the trench. The second row should be made not closer than four feet from the first.

One-year-old crowns should then be placed in position about 18 inches apart and ten inches below the level of the garden. The crowns should be covered with a two-inch layer of sifted compost humus and well watered. During the summer the trench should be slowly filled with a mixture of fine topsoil and composted material. Cultivation will tend to fill the trench, but it is advisable not to do the filling too rapidly or the growing plants are likely to be stifled.

Whatever care you take in the setting our will be well repaid to you later. Careful siting is important. The careful, deep preparation of the area is of great value because the powerful fleshy roots of the asparagus plant often thrust their way five to six feet downward and spread out almost an equal distance in their search for the heavy supply of plant nutrients needed for the production of the large spears. Because of this, the plants require more garden space than their feathery brush would seem to indicate, and because of the great depth to which the roots develop, you will find it wise to see that an ample supply of rich organic matter is deeply placed before setting out the crowns.

After the planting is established it will thrive with little care for many years. But as with all vegetables, asparagus should be kept free from weeds and the damaging influence of trees, and should receive each season a liberal supply of added organic material. This supply can be arranged in two ways.

In the spring the rows should be ridged. Ordinarily this is done by drawing up to the row a good quantity of the topsoil between the rows by using a hoe. If you use compost in mead of topsoil to form these ridges, this will serve two purposes—bleaching the shoots by excluding sunlight, and adding valuable plant nutrients to the soil.

After the cutting season, it is good practice to sow a cover crop of cowpeas, soybeans, etc. These should be planted between the rows of asparagus. A cover crop of this type discourages the growth of weeds and when dug under adds greatly to the organic content of the soil.

But the organic material added during ridging is the most important. This ridge should be several inches high; if shallow, the shoots will tend to open before assuming sufficient length. Even if you decide to grow “green asparagus,” that is, unbleached asparagus, you will find it necessary to form shallow ridges to overcome the tendency of the crown to get too close to the surface. This slow upward movement is caused by the formation each year of new storage roots on the uppermost side of the crown.

Asparagus Harvesting

If a good growth is made the first year, it is possible to cut the shoots lightly the following spring, but it is generally better to encourage plant growth and to delay cutting for another season. Spears should be cut when about six inches high. Some gardeners cut them two inches below the ground level, others at the surface.

In cutting, place the knife blade close to the spear, run it downward the desired depth, and then turn it enough to cut cleanly through the spear but no more. Careless jabbing during cutting time can cause very serious injury to a planting of asparagus.

As winter approaches, the rows of asparagus should be lightly mulched with straw or similar material to prevent frost from penetrating too severely into the crowns. The brush should not be removed or burned but should remain as a part of the mulch. This mulch should be removed in the spring and the ground lightly cultivated.

Asparagus Pests and Diseases

The asparagus beetle is considered a serious menace; it is very difficult to get rid of and does much damage. But most of the serious damage done by this beetle occurs when it is allowed to overwinter in the adult stage by finding concealment in fallen sticks, trash, leaves, and the like. In this case it emerges in the early spring to feed upon the young asparagus shoots. Garden cleanliness and fall cultivation will prevent the insects from overwintering. An old method for controlling asparagus beetles was to turn chickens, ducks or guinea hens loose in the asparagus planting. These birds invariably do an efficient job of wiping out the beetles and their larvae.

Asparagus rust is a plant disease affecting asparagus. Small reddish pustules appear first on the main stalks. These pustules, when they burst, release a fine rust-colored cloud of spores. Sometimes an entire planting is rapidly infected and dies. But the degree to which asparagus rust does damage is very largely dependent upon local conditions. The spores require dampness for germination. Areas subject to heavy dews and damp mists are poor locations for asparagus.

Asparagus Varieties

Mary Washington is a reliable, rust-resistant variety and a favorite of many gardeners. Roberts Strain is also rust-resistant and is a heavy producer. Paradise is an early variety and very productive.

How to Grow Okra

Okra is primarily a hot-weather tropical and can be grown in both northern and southern gardens. A tall-growing annual gumbo grows best in the southern states, where two crops of it can be grown near.

Okra Planting

Okra thrives in any well-kept garden soil in full sunlight. If the soil is wet, the seed tends to rot, so good soil is necessary. These woody plants can take on all the food given to them. Because okra grows rapidly, nitrogen is particularly needed. Poultry manure is splendid material for okra beds. Since it is very strong, only about one-tenth as much chicken manure as other animal manures can be used. Compost, leaf mold, peat moss, and wood ashes can be used to advantage to improve poor soil in the garden. Peat moss and leaf mold are usually acid and a slight amount of lime should be used along with either of these two materials. These soil builders should be plowed under in the winter well before the planting time, or in a small home garden they can be spaded under in the early spring.

The rows should be at least three to five feet apart. The stalks are bushy and can become quite large when well fertilized and during rainy seasons. Scatter the seed in drills or plant loosely in hills and cover to a depth of one to two inches, according to the compactness of the soil. The seed should be separated three or four inches to allow space for the development of the stems. If weather is warm, germination should take place within a few days. But if there is a heavy rainfall in the meanwhile, the soil should be lightly cultivated between the rows and the crust broken up over the seed by means of a garden rake. This is suggested where the soil contains clay or is heavy. Sandy loam will probably not need any such treatment, as the seed will come through when the soil has been drained or the water has been evaporated by the action of the sun. After plants become established, thin them to stand 15 inches apart and mulch lightly.

Okra Insects

The okra plant is not subject to attack from many insects, but the bollworm may be a problem. It bores into the pods and thus injures them. The stinkbug also attacks the pods, piercing them and extracting the juices. Since damage from the latter occurs late in the season, the loss is very little. Blister beetles and leaf beetles often feed upon the foliage of okra but these pests do little harm to the pod and scarcely influence the production of pods at all. Handpicking usually keeps these insects well under control.

Okra Harvesting

Okra pods should be harvested daily when they are one to four inches long. They should still be soft and should be only half grown if pods are eaten. If it is necessary to keep the pods 24 hours, they should be spread out and slightly moistened.

Stenciling Equipment

Materials

A variety of materials can he used for stencilling, from special stencilling paints and sticks to acrylics and latex. Each has its own properties and will create different effects.

Acrylic stencil paint: acrylic stencil paint is quick-drying, reducing the possibility of the paint running and seeping behind the stencil. Acrylic stencil paints are available in a wide range of colours, and can be mixed for more subtle shades.

Acrylic varnish: this is useful for sealing finished projects.

Emulsion (latex) paint: ordinary household vinyl emulsion can also be used for stencilling. It is best to avoid the cheaper varieties, as these contain a lot of water and will seep through the stencil.

Fabric paint: this is used in the same way as acrylic stencil paint, and comes in an equally wide range of colours. Set with an iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions, it will withstand washing and everyday use. As with ordinary stencil paint, do not overload the brush with colour, as it will seep into the fabric. Always back the fabric you are stencilling with scrap paper or newspaper to prevent the paint from marking the work surface. Gold leaf and gold size: these can be used to great effect. The actual design is stencilled with gold size. The size is then left to become tacky, and the gold leaf is rubbed over the design.

Metallic creams: these are available in many different metallic finishes, from gold to copper, bronze and silver. Apply as highlights on a painted base, or use for the entire design. Creams can be applied with cloths or your fingertip.

Oil-based stencil sticks and creams: the sticks can be used in the same ways a wax crayon, while the creams can be applied with a brush or your fingertip. With either one, there is no danger of overloading the colour, and they won’t run. The disadvantage is their long drying time (overnight in some cases); also, the colours can become muddy when mixed. Sticks and creams are also available for fabrics.

Equipment

Stencilling does not require a great deal of special equipment; many of the items used are commonly found in most households. A few tools, however, will make the job easier.

Brushes: it is worth investing in a set of good stencil brushes. The ends of the brushes should be flat and the bristles firm, to let you control the application of paint. A medium-size brush (4 cm/11/2 in diameter) is a useful, all-purpose size, but you may want to buy one size smaller and one size larger as well. You will need a selection of household paintbrushes for applying large areas of background colour, and small artist’s paintbrushes for adding fine details. Craft knife: use for cutting out stencils from cardboard.

Cutting mat: this provides a firm surface to cut into and will help prevent the craft knife from slipping. Masking tape: as the stencil may need to be repositioned, it is advisable to hold it in place with masking tape, which can be removed fairly easily from most surfaces.

Paint-mixing container: this may be necessary for mixing paints and washes. Pencils: keep a selection of soft and hard artist’s pencils to transfer the stencil design on to cardboard. Use an ordinary pencil to mark on your object the positions of the stencils before applying.

Stencil card (cardboard): the material used to make the stencil is a matter of preference. Speciality stencil card is available waxed from specialist art stores, which means that it will last longer, but ordinary cardboard or heavy paper can also be used. It is worth purchasing a sheet of clear acetate if you wish to keep your stencil design, to reuse time and again.

Tape measure and rulers: some patterns may require accuracy. Measuring and planning the positions of your stencils before you begin will aid the result.

Tracing paper: use to trace and transfer your stencil design on to stencil card

Planting Pineapples

Pineapple was propagated vegetatively in improved forms by the Central and South American natives long before the discovery of the continent by Europeans. Then it was rapidly spread throughout the world and is now grown everywhere in the Tropics, to which it is adapted. In the United States it can be grown only in the warmest areas of the Fla. peninsula, and in well-protected garden sites along the southern Pacific coastal strip. It is a principal crop of Hawaii, and a minor one in Fla.

The plant is a herbaceous, perennial mono-cotyledon. It has a short stem or stalk, covered by the narrow sword like leaves in a tight spiral; the stem, at the time of floral differentiation, bears numerous flowers in a tight spiral just below the growing point, which continues and forms a spiral of smaller leaves above the flowering portion of the stem, known as the crown. The plant is about 3 ft. tall, and if not crowded it will spread 4-5 ft. or more with age.

The exact hardiness for the Pineapple are not truly known; in the open it has been seriously damaged at temperatures of 32° F., but under lathe or cover, plants have been reported to withstand as low as 25° F. for short periods. However, fruit is injured by a few hours below 41° F.

Three parts of the plant are commonly used in propagation. The crown, borne on top of the fruit; slips, which develop at or near the flowering stalk, and shoots or suckers, which develop in the axils of the leaves, or from below ground. Taken from the mother plant, usually after the harvest, they are dried for a week to a month before planting. They are planted upright in dibbled holes 4 to 6 in. deep. Slips are usually preferred then suckers and crowns last. An alternative method is to take the leaves from a stem, cut it into 2 or 3 portions, burying these in the soil 5 or 6 in. deep.

Planting distance in multiple plantings varies considerably, but the plants can be grown close together, as 22 in. x 22 in. in beds of several rows.

The primary concern in developing quality fruit of good size is to keep the plant growing vigorously. Up to 70 or 80 leaves should be developed before flowering to secure good fruit size; this can be obtained only with heavy fertilization. On sandy soils a pound or more of a 6-6-6 formula applied at 3 or 4 evenly spaced applications through the year are generally needed. In addition, extra nitrogen in the winter and summer is often used. A fertilizer which contains other elements, such as magnesium and trace elements, will probably give excellent results, as pineapples suffer many micro-nutrient deficiencies.

Foliar feeding is particularly easy with the Pineapple, for the basal portion of each leaf is adapted to absorb water and nutrients. A spray of 1 lb. of urea, 12 oz. of potassium sulfate, 8 oz. of calcium nitrate and 4 oz. of iron sulfate, magnesium sulfate, and calgon, plus a teaspoonful of borax, and a small amount of copper sulfate per to gal. of water sprayed on the plant at biweekly intervals will satisfy its internal needs.

Pineapples are not too particular as to soil, except that it must be well drained; light sandy soils are best, but will require greatest fertilization. Watering should be shallow, with mulches recommended to keep down weed competition and hold water near the surface of the soil.

Pineapple Family

Pineapple does well in full sun if maximum temperatures are not too high; it can also be grown quite satisfactorily in partial shade. It should not be planted exposed to winds, as the heavy fruit and shallow root system make it particularly subject to blowing over.

As the inflorescence appears, the flowers open from the base toward the tip, taking about 20 days to complete. The petals are violet or purplish, and wither after bloom. All pineapples are self-incompatible (will not set seed with their own pollen) so that the fruit on an isolated plant or a field of the same variety develops without seed forming. The edible portion of the fruit is made up of the fused bract, corolla and ovarian portions of the flower, the petals and stamens having dried and dropped, and is a sorosis. If cross-pollinated, hard, bony seeds form in the ovary, deep in the flesh.

The Pineapple may be induced to bloom rather easily by spraying the central growing point with naphthalene acetic acid (NAA). It seems to be a little more effective if applied during cool weather, and hence might be used as a spring spray to insure fruit development through the best part of the summer. It should not be used unless there are sufficient leaves on the plant to bring the fruit through in best condition and size. Commercially it is used primarily to induce all of the plants to bloom at the same time, so that harvest is simpler. The single flower cluster emerges from the basal rosette of leaves and matures 15 to 32 months from planting. If, after harvest, the original plant is left in place, flowering occurs annually in the so-called ratoon crops which follow. Ratoon crops have more than a single fruit, but not more than 2 or 3 should be avowed to develop. The plant will exist for many years, although in commercial practice — fields are taken beyond the first or second ratoon crop, because the fruits tend to be smaller and less perfect.

Temperature affects the time of first fruiting to a marked degree. Slips planted in the fall seldom fruit until the second summer following. Crowns will probably take somewhat longer to develop a good plant than slips. Drought and adverse weather during the year may delay the appearance of the inflorescence the next season, or cause it to be smaller than normal. Time from flowering to ripening is lengthened by cool weather. Thus, though fruits usually mature in summer, they may be delayed until exposed to damaging winter temperatures.

There are numerous varieties of Pineapple. ‘Cayenne’ is the main commercial variety of Hawaii, and is sometimes used in Fla., but ‘Red Spanish’ and ‘Abachi’ are preferred there.

The latter has a rich flavor and is yellow fleshed; ‘Red Spanish’ is more acid and less sweet, with yellowish-white flesh. Nematodes may devitalize the plant; fumigation of the planting site will be beneficial. Mealy bugs, thrips and mites also attack the plant, especially the former. A water spray of malathion will control mealybugs; sulfur dusts most thrips and mites. Control of ants will minimize mealy bug attacks. Weeds are perhaps the greatest enemy of Pineapple. Paper and black polyethylene sheets, or mulches may be used beneficially to keep weeds down in a close-planted bed. Hoeing should be as shallow as possible.

Planting Cauliflowers

Cauliflower can be difficult to grow however, the proper preparation will minimize failure. Soil, location of the vegetable bed (which determines the amount of sunshine the crop will receive), the time of year it is planted and how it is cared for once cultivation begins all play an important part in whether you reap big healthy heads of cauliflower or ‘button’ heads (very small crops). The most basic rules are always ensure soil is deep and rich, observe each type’s growing season and water regularly but, more is required.

From the onset, identify a spot that will serve as your vegetable bed, it should be one that gets full sunshine. Make sure that soil is evenly moist, well-drained and healthy. Using the remains or fruits and vegetables for compose is a good organic start to health soil. Simply leave them to rot in the bed them mix the mush into the soil. Store bought organic and non-organic fertilizers or soil mixes can be used if preferred. The soil’s pH balance should range from 6.0 to 7.0.

For early varieties, start indoors approximately one month before the time the last frost is anticipated. Once 6 inches tall, move them to the bed or garden, be sure that the external environment is 50°F. When transplanting, all of the plant should be covered just before their bottom leaves are reached. Use the soil to build a ‘saucer-like’ structure of soil around each; this will help to seal in moisture.

For a fall harvest seeds must be sown directly into their permanent place. Seeds should be planted in clusters of four with each cluster set two feet apart. Watch as each seedling sprouts and remove anything except the sturdiest one from the group.

Caring for the Cauliflower Plants

Cauliflower plants require an estimated 1 inch of water weekly especially when small so that soil can be kept evenly moist. Where rainfall occurs to provide this water, avoid watering again to avoid sogging or water logged plants. Once the flower head (referred to as a button or curd) reaches egg size, start blanching. Blanching is a process used to protect the heads from the sunlight and moisture which will result in them being pure white. If the process is not done then heads will have a yellowish-green discoloration.

There are two blanching options. You can either pull the outer leaves over the head and bound them with an elastic band or loop soft or heavy twine around the leaves and tie them over the head after gently lifting them to cover it. Neither head nor foliage should be wet when blanching since the locked in moisture can rot the plant.

The time it takes cauliflower to grow will depend on the type that was planted. As a rule, harvest them once they are full however, this must be done before the sections start to loosen up. Careful observation once heads grow to 3 or 4 inches in width is necessary.

If you grow other plant, another tip that can result in a great harvest is a three year crop rotation especially if peas and beans where grown in the soil before since such soil is bound to be nutrient rich.

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.

Bees

Bees play an important role in nature’s scheme of things. There are some 5,000 species of bees in North America. Most of them are important only to wild plants, but several hundred pollinate cultivated crops (over 100 species, for instance, visit alfalfa).

Value of Bees

The value of those which pollinate only wild plants should not be minimized: they help to keep vital cover on millions of acres not used for farming.

Once we took pollination of our crops for granted. But it’s a different story today. In the past 50 years, under the pressures of a growing population, more and more land was put under cultivation. But the more crops we planted, the faster we destroyed the basic means for full crop return. Forests were cut down, woods and wasteland destroyed and burrows ripped up, destroying the homes of the wild bees.

Concentrated plantings of one crop overlarge acreages left the bees no wild plants to live on when the crop was not blooming; with nothing to fill in the gap in their food supply, they starved and disappeared practically overnight. And when indiscriminate spraying with powerful insecticides came along, the wild bees per acre could almost be counted on the fingers of one hand.

We simply do not have enough honeybees. Farmers in every state, according to the Department of Agriculture, could benefit by having more hives on or near their farms. Some areas need two or three times the number of hives they now have, to insure adequate pollination of the crops grown there.

This is where an increase in wild bees would be of immense help. Such an increase would bolster the efforts of hard-working domestic honeybees and show up in a direct rise in crop yields.

Wild Bees

Wild bees have certain characteristics that make them more valuable than their domesticated cousins. They are hardier, working in cold, rainy or windy weather, when honeybees will not venture from their cozy hives. Thus, they provide good sets of seed and fruit even in bad weather. In parts of New England and eastern Canada, this is especially important to apple growers, for the weather is usually bad there during apple-blooming time.

Practically all wild bees form no colonies, in the sense that the honeybee does. The exception to this is the bumblebee who lives in a colony of some 50 to 500 individuals, with a queen and worker castes. Many new drones and queens are produced each year, but only the fertilized queens live through the winter, each one forming a new colony in the spring.

The other wild bees are solitary dwellers. Each female functions both as queen and worker. She builds her own nest, sealing her eggs in cells with honey-moistened pollen balls for the young to feed on. Once this is done, she has no further contact with her offspring.

Wild bees will nest almost anywhere. Sweat bees and mining bees construct underground burrows. Carpenter bees and leaf cutters chisel their nests in timber, or use old beetle boles. Some wild bees nest in the natural channels of hollow or pithy-stemmed plants; others take their homes in abandoned snail shells or cavities in porous rocks.

The majority, however, is soil nesting. Almost any type of soil, moist or dry, loose or packed, flat or vertical, can be their home. Alkali bees, in some areas the major pollinators alfalfa, nest in fairly sandy soil, often in “communities” of several thousand nests less than an inch apart. Seed growers, knowing that communities like these will insure pollination of their alfalfa for two miles around, protect them from disturbance. If small pieces of land are left unfarmed near the alfalfa fields, the alkali bees will also spread to them and establish new communities there in one season.

Tests by various experiment stations showed that on a cultivated plot situated next to overgrown land, wild bees were four times as numerous as on tilled plots surrounded by other tilled land. To increase your wild bees you can preserve some uncultivated or eroded land specifically for bees. Sometimes bee broods found on land that is to be tilled can be moved into these areas. On cropland, avoid working, flooding or trampling the burrows of ground-nesting bees whenever possible.

Field borders, fencerows, ditch banks, and the sides of roadways should be planted to nectar-producing plants. Kudzu and bicolor or Lespedeza cuneata make excellent bee pasturage, or use whatever is suitable for your region. Pithy-stemmed plants like elderberry, sumac and tree-of-heaven make fine nesting sites. They provide erosion protection and food and cover for other wildlife, too. Multiflora rose fences are very good, and bunch-type perennial grasses along the tops of banks are soil stabilizers as well as nesting sites.

Trees for windbreaks and stream bank protection that also provide bee food and homes include the Russian olive, American Elm, catalpa, honey locust, basswood, sycamore, wild plum, and many others. In wood lot management, make sure bee trees are not cut down.
Bee plants are often synonymous with soil-saving plants. The legumes used for green manures, orchard cover crops and in rotations provide bee food in plenty. Often a small planting of clover may be all that is necessary, with regular crop plants, to sustain a goodly population of wild bees all year. Improved pastures and grassed waterways should have some clover in their planting mixtures.

Bumblebees will nest in cans containing a handful of mattress stuffing or similar material, hung up in sheltered places in your outbuildings. Certain other species can be induced to set up housekeeping in cans with lids and entrance spouts, partially buried in well-drained soil. Some farmers break open her trees in the woods, carrying the bees home in any handy container to be set up in suitable places around their farms. When walking through your fields, you can break over the stalks of hollow-stemmed plants like canebrake, teasel, milk-thistle, and wild parsnip, to provide nesting and hibernating places.

Some species of native bees are more efficient pollinators than honeybees. Red clover blooms, having little nectar and the pollen at the bottom of a deep corolla tube, are often passed up by the honeybee; but the long-tongued bumblebee does an excellent job on them. Honeybees can steal the nectar from alfalfa blooms without “tripping” them to release the pollen. But alkali, leaf cutter and bumblebees are pollen collectors who trip every blossom they visit.

On rangelands, where it is impractical to supply honeybees for pollination, wild bees have a big responsibility to keep the range plants reproducing year after year. Every range reseeding program should include adapted legumes and other honey-producing plants to increase the wild bees, and thus improve the fodder and fertility of the range.

Honeybees (Domestic)

The honeybee is a social insect. The queen, drone and worker bees cannot live alone. All members of the honeybee colony divide labor to facilitate work, and there is never a time when the whole colony sleeps. Honeybees take rest periods throughout the day.

The single function of the drones (males) is to mate with the queen. They become sexually mature at ten to 12 days. During the afternoon, virgin queens fly to “drone congregation areas” where mating takes place. Drones die in the mating process and are not present in the colony during the winter.

The queen is the most important part of the colony for two reasons—she lays eggs to ensure the survival of the colony and controls the social order of the colony with the chemical substances she secretes. The queen is different from worker bees in that she has no wax glands, no pollen baskets on her hind legs and no modifications on her forelegs. She is also larger and her abdomen is longer and more slender.

Worker bees are female and perform all other tasks for the colony. The worker bee cleans cells, at first, and later feeds larvae. Her next duty is to guard the hive. After these tasks are completed, the worker bee begins to work in the fields. The ability of the worker bee to change from one task to another insures the survival of the colony. She lives for six weeks during the peak honey season, and six months in the winter.

There are three races of domestic (honey) bees: Carniolans, Caucasians and Italians.

Carniolan bees of the Alpine strain can be distinguished by their dark gray abdominal segments with bands of white hairs. These bees are the finest gray bees in existence and the largest of hive bees. The Alpine strain is less inclined to swarm than other bees and is extremely prolific.

Carniolans are very gentle, quiet on the combs, good breeders, and have a long life. These bees are economic consumers of stores, honest workers and winter-hardy. They build regular combs with white cappings well suited for comb honey production. They are brave in defending their hives, but gentle to humans.

Carniolan queens are darker than the workers, and drones are large and gray colored with or without visible bands.

Caucasian bees are somewhat parallel or merit a good second to the Carniolans in comb honey production. The Mountain Gray Caucasian can be compared to the Alpine Carniola except it is smaller and intensely populating. The Caucasians are more immune to American foulbrood than other standard bees.

Italian bees are most commonly used in America and enjoy a high productivity. “Pure “Italians” are three banded. Extra-yellow strains of four bands are found in the United States. The queens are yellower than the workers, and the drones are darker.

Italian bees are more reliable in their swarming habits, but are really no better or worse than other honeybees. However, these bees may rob and may be a menace. Their defense of their home is normal and they are fair in accepting new queens. In general, Italians are known for their good dispositions.

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.

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 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.