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Planting Grapes

by on Saturday, August 23, 2014 12:56 under Home & Garden.

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

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

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

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

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

Grape Propagation

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

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

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

Grape Planting

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

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

Grape Trellis

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

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

Grape Pruning

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

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

Grape Harvesting

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

Grape Insect Pests

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

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

Grape Diseases

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

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

Planting Asparagus

by on Saturday, August 23, 2014 0:55 under Home & Garden.

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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.

Planting Carrots

by on Monday, August 11, 2014 20:49 under Home & Garden.

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The carrot is one of our most common and widely grown vegetables. It grows best at mean temperatures between 600-700° F. Prolonged higher temperatures tend to produce shorter, non-blunt roots, while temperatures below 50° F. tend to make roots longer, more slender and paler in color.

California, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico are the important commercial production areas for the winter and spring crop. Most of the northern states have large acreages for summer and fall harvest, used fresh and for processing and freezing.

Carrot Varieties

Seedsmen list a large number of varieties but only a few of these listed sorts are important. Those having long, cylindrical and smooth shape include ‘Imperator’, ‘Gold Pak’, and ‘Nantes Half Long’. Other standard varieties include ‘Red Cored Chantenay’ and ‘Danvers Half Long’.

Carrot Soils

Carrots, like beets, grow best in a deep, loose sandy loam, loam or muck soil that is high infertility and water-holding capacity. Soil preparation and fertilizer recommendations outlined for beets apply equally well for carrots. Note should be made to the effect that strawy manure or raw compost should not be used because its use just prior to planting will tend to produce knobby, misshapen roots with many fibrous side rootlets.

Carrot Planting and Care

Carrot seed is slow to germinate and, there-fore, a few quick germinating radish seeds are frequently scattered in the drill to mark the rows and thus permit earlier cultivation. Sow the seed in drills in. in depth at the rate of oz. per too ft. of row. As soon as the plants reach a height of 2-3 in., thin to a spacing of 11-12 in. Space the rows 12-15 in. apart. The seed may be planted as soon as the ground can be prepared, and for continuous supply make a planting every 3 weeks until Aug. 1. This applies to the northern states. Shallow cultivation is important starting as soon as possible after planting. Commercial growers use a petroleum product Stoddard Solvent to control weeds in carrots. The use of herbicides and chemicals for weed control is, however, not recommended in the small home garden.

Carrots are most tender and sweet if harvested before the roots reach their mature size or for the long types and the shorter chantenay types. Carrots may be harvested in the late fall and stored in the same manner as recommended for beets.

Carrot Insects and Diseases

The carrot caterpillar is green banded with black and yellow markings and up to 2 in. long.

It seldom does much damage. The carrot rust fly is becoming a serious problem in some areas. The yellowish-white, legless and up to in. long larvae tunnels into the outer fleshy root. Control involves the use of a diazinon dust applied at the rate of 2 lbs. per 2 sq. ft. of soil surface. Apply to the soil before planting and then work it thoroughly into the upper 6 in. Leaf blight and carrot yellows are diseases of lesser importance that can cause some damage. Spray with Maneb. Carrot yellows, a virus, is spread by the 6-spotted leaf hopper. To control the hopper use a 4% malathion dust. Three to four applications at 7-10-day intervals starting as soon as the first leaf hoppers appear.

Planting Elderberries

by on Saturday, August 9, 2014 7:29 under Home & Garden.

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

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

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

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

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

Planting Blueberries

by on Wednesday, August 6, 2014 18:58 under Home & Garden.

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This popular insect-resistant shrub, growing six to ten feet high, bears plenty of fine-tasting fruit and adds beauty to the home when used as an informal hedge.

Blueberry Soil

The cultivated blueberry is still close enough to its wild ancestors to be appreciative only of natural, organic fertilizers. They like humus and soft, woodsy soil so much that it is almost a question of growing them organically or not growing them at all.

In nature the blueberry plant displays its blossoms and tasty fruit in the seldom-frequented spots of forest and wilderness whose soil is covered with a rich blanket of decaying vegetation. It grows wild among the redwoods of California, on forest hillsides in New England and on the broad crests of the Appalachian ridges.

Soil should be of a pH from 5 to 5.6, which is quite acid. A liberal amount of peaty material is needed; a mulch of peat is fine. If additional acid is needed, use peat or compost made without lime to give the right acidity. The peat should be dug into the earth, and well intermixed with it.

Despite the need for moisture, blueberries require good drainage. Water should not stand on the surface. If you need to keep the water condition right, dig an open ditch or install tile drains. Cool, moist, acid conditions are needed in the soil for the best growth of roots to support the plants.

Blueberry Planting

Upon arrival of plants (rooted shrubs) for setting out, it is urgent that the roots be protected from drying. Cover them at once with soil or burlap—if unpacked. Do not expose the roots to the drying effects of sun or wind. Put the plants in a cool moist cellar or in the shade till set. Dig the hole large enough to receive roots without bending or cramping them. When the subsoil is very hard, break it up at the bottom of the hole, using a pick or crowbar if necessary. Set the plants slightly deeper than they stood in the nursery and spread all roots out naturally. Place good surface soil next to the roots and work it in with the hands. When the hole is half-filled, tamp the soil firmly. Fill the hole and tamp the soil harder. Leave loose soil on top or cover with mulch. Leave a saucer like depression at the top to catch water. If manure is used, it should be well rotted and worked into and mixed with the soil. Manure can be used on top for mulch. Never put fresh or un-rotted manure next to the roots. It may heat or dry out and hurt the roots.

Careful planting is important and should never be hastily done. In all cases, pack the soil firmly about the roots and use moist soil for the purpose. Young plants, usually eight to 15 inches high, should be planted in early spring or late fall. Space them about five feet apart, with the rows about seven feet apart. Ten- to 15-year-old bushes usually yield about 14 quarts of berries.

Blueberries are not self-pollinating, so more than one variety should be planted. Since each of the common varieties has slightly different characteristics, it is good home-garden practice to plant a selection of different types. They ripen at different times and vary slightly in flavor.

For good pollination, encourage and protect bees wherever possible.

Preferred varieties in the two chief areas of high bush blueberry production are as follows:

Michigan-Early: Earliblue; Midseason: Blue Ray, Bluecrop; Late: Jersey, Coville.

New Jersey-Early: Earliblue, Blue Ray, Ivanhoe; Midseason: Bluecrop, Berkeley; Late: Herbert, Darrow.

Some of the older varieties like Concord, Rancocas, Weymouth, and Stanley do well in the northern and middle Atlantic states, because they usually produce smaller berries than the varieties listed above.

Blueberry Pruning

In the wild, blueberry plans are pruned by the “burning over” process on the managed areas; the old stems are burnt out. But in the garden the pruning shears need to be used after four or five years from set. Varieties vary greatly in growing habits. Some of the more open and flat-topped ones like Cabot, Herbert and Pioneer need very little pruning. The upright and close-growing varieties (Weymouth, Rubel and Rancocas), on the other hand, need considerable opening to prevent them from becoming too thick and bushy. A little attention to the natural degree of openness will suggest what thinning-out to do—if any is needed. It is well to compare and contrast different modes of growth before starting the pruning.

There are two types of growth to cut out in pruning—the very slender stems which may not bear much, and the oldest and largest that have borne several years and may not bear much more, except at the tips. It is well to keep the clumps fairly open to avoid crowding and shading. More than one foot asunder for all stems is too open; less than four inches is too close.

Blueberry Planting Problems

It is important to suppress all weeds. This is best done by the liberal application of acid mulches each year—peat and oak leaves are better than sawdust or pine needles. Compost is helpful. Woodland soil is often suitable for the plants.

Insect damage to blueberries is confined primarily to the blueberry fruit fly, whose eggs hatch into maggots inside the ripening berry, and the cherry fruit worm, a small red worm whose damage is usually confined to large commercial plantings. Best control of the fruit is rotenone dust, 25 pounds to the acre. It is applied five times between June and the end of harvest. Shallow cultivation also helps by imposing larvae to predator ants and birds.

The most troublesome blueberry disease is mummy berry, which causes berries to rot and fall off. Control by collecting old mummies off the ground or turning them under when cultivating.

Fish Varieties

by on Tuesday, August 5, 2014 6:26 under Home & Garden.

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Choose the freshest fish you can find. If necessary, substitute another variety with similar qualities and use this guide to experiment with varieties you are unsure of.

Lean Fish

Bream

  • Round fish, saltwater
  • Firm, moist texture; delicate, sweet flavour
  • Fry, grill, bake, steam
  • Substitute: Red Mullet, John Dory

Brui

  • Flat fish, saltwater
  • Fine texture; delicate flavour
  • Fry, grill, hake, steam, poach
  • Substitute: other flat fish

Cod

  • Round fish, saltwater
  • Flaky texture; mild flavour
  • Grill, bake, steam, and poach
  • Substitute: Haddock, Halibut

Haddock

  • Round fish, saltwater
  • Soft, moist texture; mild flavour
  • Grill, hake, steam, poach
  • Substitute: Cod, Halibut

Hake

  • Round fish, saltwater
  • White flesh with good flavour
  • Grill, bake, steam, and poach
  • Substitute: Cod, Haddock

Halibut

  • Flat fish, saltwater
  • Firm, moist texture; mild, sweet flavour
  • Grill, hake, steam, poach
  • Substitute: Plaice, Sole

John Dory

  • Flat fish, saltwater
  • Flaky texture; nutty sweet flavour
  • Poach, bake, grill, and steam
  • Substitute: Brills, Halibut

Plaice

  • Flat fish, saltwater
  • Fine texture; delicate flavour
  • Fry, grill, hake, steam
  • Substitute: Sole, other flat fish

Sea Bass

  • Round fish, saltwater
  • Flaky or firm flesh; mild flavour
  • Grill, fry, bake
  • Substitute: Salmon, Grey Mullet, John Dory

Skate

  • Flattened body with large fins (wings), saltwater
  • Flaky, well-flavoured flesh
  • Fry, grill, poach, steam

Sole (Dover and Lemon)

  • Flat fish, saltwater
  • Fine texture; delicate flavour
  • Fry, grill, bake, and poach

Turbot

  • Flat fish, saltwater
  • Succulent; firm yet tender; superb flavour
  • Bake, grill, poach, steam
  • Substitute: Brills, John Dory

Moderately Lean Fish

Grey Mullet

  • Round fish, saltwater
  • Delicate, easily digested flesh
  • Fry, grill, poach, and bake

Monkfish

  • Round, saltwater
  • Firm texture; sweet, similar to lobster
  • Fry, grill, hake, poach, stew
  • Substitute: Cod, Halibut

Red Mullet

  • Round fish, saltwater
  • Delicate texture with excellent flavour
  • Grill, bake, fry
  • Substitute: Trout

Swordfish

  • Thick central hone, saltwater
  • Firm, meaty texture; mild flavour
  • Grill, bake, steam, and poach
  • Substitute: Dogfish/Rock Salmon, Tuna

Trout

  • Round fish, freshwater
  • Tender, flaky texture; delicate flavour
  • Fry, grill, bake

Tuna

  • Thick central bone, saltwater
  • Some varieties are more oily
  • Firm, meaty texture; strong flavour
  • Bake, steam, poach, and grill
  • Substitute: Swordfish, Rock Salmon

Oily Fish

Carp

  • Round fish, freshwater
  • Soft, flaky texture; mild flavour
  • Bake, grill, fry, steam
  • Substitute: Cod, Haddock

Herring

  • Round fish, saltwater
  • Moist and tender; rich flavour
  • Grill, bake, fry
  • Substitute: Mackerel

Mackerel

  • Round fish, saltwater
  • Moist and tender or firm texture; rich, distinctive flavour
  • Grill, bake, fry
  • Substitute: Herring

Salmon

  • Round fish, freshwater/saltwater
  • Flaky, tender texture; rich flavour bake, grill, steam, poach
  • Substitute: Large Sea Ttrout

Sea Trout/Salmon Trout

  • A round fish, saltwater
  • Moist, flaky texture; mild flavour
  • Grill, bake, fry
  • Substitute: Salmon, Rainbow Trout

Chicken Raising

by on Wednesday, July 23, 2014 1:32 under Home & Garden.

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Chickens are probably the most popular animals on the small farm since they produce both meat and eggs and contribute valuable manure to the compost pile. Raising chickens can be especially economical if you can raise your own grain for feeding; and if allowed enough room and access to range they seldom sicken or have the diseases that plague commercial poultry-raisers who keep thousands of birds in close confinement.

Chicken Breeds

In general, you can buy egg breeds, meat breeds and what art called general-purpose breeds. This means that the bird produces a fair number of eggs per year and also possesses a good configuration for meat production-large size, a broad breast and rapid growth.

Rhode Island Reds, and White, Barred and Plymouth Rocks are popular general-purpose breeds for the homestead. They are good layers, producing large brown eggs. Other breeds, such as Cochins/Light Brahmas and especially Araucanas, are popular because they are good setters. These birds also tend to be seasonal layers, so you will get a large egg production in spring which will slacken off as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder.

For most efficient egg production, buy White Leghorns or Leghorn crosses. These are the breeds used by professional poultry men. Since they are bred-for laying, cost per dozen eggs is low but leghorns make poor meat birds. Any chicks will have to be purchased or raised from fertile eggs in an incubator or under a banty that will set them.

For meat production, Cornish and Cornish crosses are best. They reach a large size quickly, have white breasts, yellow skin and white pin-feathers which make them a good market bird. Egg production is low, however, and since they eat more, cost per dozen eggs is high.

There are numerous other fancy and unique breeds which you might like to try on your farm. You can also buy banties or ban-tams in many breeds. These are miniature chickens, bred for small size from larger species. They are popular on the homestead because they are good insect-catchers, don’t take up much room and are fierce setters who will even set eggs from non-broody hens.

You can usually find a local hatchery that stocks White Leghorns and perhaps some other breeds and will sell you a few chicks. Although you can occasionally buy pullet and cockerel trios (two pullets and a cock) of more exotic breeds from local poultry fanciers, the widest selection can be found in catalogs of mail-order poultry houses. Addresses of these concerns are available from most farm and poultry magazines.

Raising Chickens

Probably the best way to start is with day-old chicks, bought mail-order or locally. Chicks are sold in either straight-run or sexed batches. Straight-run means that you take your chances on how many pullets versus cockerels you will be sent; but remember that you can always slaughter extra cocks or pullets at the end of the summer when you select your layers and breeders for the next season.

The area for starting chicks should have 1/2 square foot of space per bird. It should be deeply littered—use a litter that will not raise a dust, such as peanut hulls, ground corncobs or peat moss. Straw is not a good litter for chicks. Cover the litter with newspaper for a few days; if you don’t, the chicks will eat it.

A heat lamp should provide warmth for the chicks; the temperature two inches and floor should be 95°F. (35°C.). Temperature can be regulated by raising and lowering the light. Provide a circular enclosure for chicks; they will pile up in the corners of a rectangular structure and smother if frightened.

Provide starter mash in small feeders, allowing one-inch-per-chick feeding space. Keep feeders constantly three-fourths full. A constant supply of fresh water is a must; plastic waterers screwed on regular fruit jars are sufficient. Provide two one-gallon waterers for seven chicks.

When the chicks arrive, dip the beaks of each into the water and put them in the closure. Make sure they are all in good condition—hatcheries have different procedures for reporting losses and provide extra chicks to cover deaths en route.

Feeders and waterers should be wavier daily. After the first few days, remove newspaper from the litter. A small night-light of 15 watts should be provided. Reduce the heat in the enclosure 5° F. (2.78° C.) each week until it reaches the outside temperature.

After a month, your chicks are ready move to larger quarters. Allow 3/4 square of space per bird. A five-gallon waterer for each 100 chicks and three inches of feeding space per bird are necessary. Birds can feed a commercial or home compounded or growing mash at this time.

Chicken Diseases

Most books on chickens list many diseases to which the birds are prone. However, allowing plenty of room in the chicken house and access to range keeps chickens pretty healthy.

One problem you may encounter is cannibalism. This can be due to many causes—crowding, too much heat or light, boredom, bad diet. Cannibalism starts when one bird picks another and draws blood, usually in the vent region; the whole flock may join in and kill the affected bird. Some chickens are sold debeaked to prevent cannibalism, and pine tar rubbed on the affected area as soon as signs of cannibalism appear is quite effective. If you allow your chickens to range and give them plenty of room, many causes of the problem disappear.

Other diseases are common to other forms of poultry as well.

Chicken Slaughtering

Your flock can be managed so that unwanted hens and roosters can be slaughtered for specific purposes. Medium heavy birds can be killed for fryers at eight to ten weeks, broilers at 12 weeks, roasters at six months. Older birds are used for stews or soups.

There are a number of ways to kill chickens. You can use an axe, chop off the chicken head, and allow it to run around or thrum about under a bushel basket until it has bled death. A method that uses fewer bushel baskets is recommended to those who plan on picking their birds. Hang the chicken upside down by a cord attached to its legs. With a thin knife, slash the jugular vein at the site of the head just on top of the neck. Insert in blade into the mouth and thrust through the roof of the mouth to pierce the brain located in the back of the head. This method loosens the feathers on the bird and makes them easier to pick.

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Planting Mango Seeds

by on Monday, July 21, 2014 1:04 under Home & Garden.

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Mangoes are fruit trees of great antiquity in Southeast Asia, and are part of the Sumac family. The mango (M. indica) is cultivated throughout the tropics in both the Eastern and Western hemispheres.

Attaining a height of 90 feet, it is a handsome, round-topped tree with lance-shaped, alternate leaves, eight to 14 inches long. The flowers are small, pink white and usually in terminal clusters. The large, red or yellow-orange fruit is drupe like, fleshy and aromatic. It is very juicy but extremely perishable.

Mango Culture

Mangoes are propagated either by seed or grafting. Grafting is preferred because when used the new planting will be true to type. With seed planting, an entirely different type may grow.

When planting, be sure the soil is rich in compost and manure. Dig a large hole to accommodate the new tree. Irrigate the new planting at least twice a week in dry areas. When mature, the trees require wide spacing, at least 30 by 30 feet. Bearing of fruit takes at least five to seven years.

Mango Diseases and Pests

The ambrosia beetle is a cylindrical insect which bores in the limbs and trunk of mango trees and spreads a fungal infection. The best prevention against fungal spread is to prune the diseased portions and burn them.

Red, mango, wax, and shield types of scale insects spread fungal diseases that may kill off the planting. A dormant-oil spray and the introduction of ladybugs to the orchard are good precautions against disease.

Anthracnose, a fungal disease evidenced by spots on flowers and fruits, can be controlled by cutting out the infected branches and burning them. Stem rot, believed to be caused by a lack of moisture, will disappear if trees are kept well ventilated and watered. Dry, light brown leaf tips, caused by tip burn, are best controlled by proper watering, mulching and application of potash.

Planting Clematis

by on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 10:53 under Home & Garden.

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The many clematis species and hybrids are not as popular in America as they are in Great Britain and parts of Europe, yet if the plants shown at our great spring flower shows are a criterion, they certainly are not to be neglected here. About 230 species are widely distributed throughout the temperate regions of the world. One hundred species and hybrid varieties are being commercially grown in America and probably nearly twice that number are offered in Europe. One English nurseryman alone lists 130.

Clematis is native chiefly in the northern temperate regions of the world. Three of the American species are excellent garden plants and from Europe are likewise important, but in the following list it will be noted that to species and botanical varieties which are natives of Asia also make good ornamentals. It is the large-flowered hybrids which seem to capture the public fancy, and it is these which are forced for display purposes in the shows. There are of course herbaceous species as well as woody species.

Although the first man-made hybrid was probably made in 1830, it was not until about 1858 that the first large-flowered hybrid of C. lanziginosa originated (C. x jackmanii), and this started many an enthusiastic hybridizer in his efforts to obtain large-flowering varieties. Although a century has elapsed since growers first became interested in the hybrids, we do have fairly accurate records of where and when these originated. These vines are frequently not the easiest to grow properly. They need an alkaline or limestone soil, some shade, and frequently they respond well if in some way the lower parts of the stems are protected from breakage and mechanical injury. It is at this point that disease frequently enters the plants, and when injury does occur, disease enters and is often quickly followed by destruction of the plant.

The leaf stalks act as tendrils in clinging to supports. Clematis flowers have no true petals. It is the large, brilliant-colored sepals which are so interesting. Actually, some of those species and varieties with medium-sized to small flowers make the best general ornamentals. Clematis paniculata, C. montana rubens, C. texensis are all in this class, as is the variety ‘Huldine’ with 4 whitish sepals and an over-all dia. of about 4 in. A poorly grown plant of ‘Nellie Moser’ may have flowers only 4 in. across, whereas, one that is well grown would have flowers twice that size. Clematis climb by attaching their leaf stalks about the means of support. They have opposite, usually compound, leaves, with either solitary flowers or flowers in clusters.

Clematis Propagation

The behavior of seed is variable. It may be stored dry in airtight containers in a cool place for up to a year and then processed. If in doubt concerning its behavior, stratify for 3 months at 40° F., then sow. Softwood cuttings usually root well, best taken from young shoots in the greenhouse in Jan. or Feb. Sometimes the large-flowered hybrids are grafted or layered, but own rooted plan always preferable to others.

Goat Raising

by on Monday, July 14, 2014 22:50 under Home & Garden.

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Goat keeping is very simple, and the equipment for the “backyard dairy” is just as simple: A stanchion and a manger for feeding are the basic requirements. You may wish to add a milking stand, attached to the wall.

By their nature, goats are affectionate and gentle. They are highly intelligent and can be taught almost any trick that can be taught a dog. The milk they give is easier to digest than cow’s milk. Also, goats are easier to handle and less expensive than cows.

Goat Breeds

There are five principal breeds of dairy goats in America.

  • Nubians are of English, African and Oriental origin. They are characterized by large size, long drooping ears, arched nose, and any color or combination.
  • French Alpines range from white to black spotted. Ears are upright, face dished.
  • Saanens are of Swiss origin. They are white, of good size, with short, erect ears, dished or straight faces.
  • Toggenburgs are a Swiss breed. They are medium-large; brown in color with light markings down the face, on legs and under body; ears short and erect; face dished.
  • La Manchas are very calm goats and excellent milk producers. They have small, almost unnoticeable external ears and long, straight faces.

Within each of these breeds there are grade classifications such as purebred, recorded grade, American, and crossbred. A purebred goat is one whose parents are registered as the same breed. A recorded grade goat has only one registered parent with the other one being of mixed or even unknown breed. American goats are the result of three successive crossings of a grade goat with a purebred. When two purebred goats of different breeds are mated, the result is a crossbreed. In addition to these types, there is the unrecorded grade goat whose parentage is unknown.

As with any animal, the purebred type is the most valuable goat though it will not always produce more milk than an unrecorded or crossed type. The main advantage to any of the graded goats over the unrecorded ones is that you have proof of the goat’s age, records of its parentage, and perhaps even some information on the dame’s milk production. A purebred, grade, American, or crossbred goat costs a bit more than one that has no papers, but at least you know what you are getting.

Buying horned goats is usually ill-advised, because of the harm they can cause. Horn growth can be stopped when the kids are tiny by applying dehorning paste or cauterizing the small from buds.

Goat Milking

Goat’s milk is more easily digested than cow’s milk because of its smaller, more easily assimilated fat globules. For the same reason, it is also more nourishing, for people are nourished not by what they swallow but by what they digest. Tuberculosis does not exist among goats, so their milk needs no pasteurization and runs no danger of losing its vitamins or having its calcium salts altered by heat.

Many people start to use goat’s milk to help them through an illness, and then develop a taste for it. Goat’s milk is sweet and pleasant to the taste. Goats are particularly discriminating in their feeding habits. The doe is odorless and clean and nearly always produces high-quality milk.

A good doe will give three to four quarts of milk a day-plenty for most families’ needs. To produce this amount of milk about four pounds of hay and two pounds of grain daily are required. You should purchase two or more goats, however, and by having them freshen (produce milk) at different times of the year, a reasonably constant milk flow can be maintained throughout the entire year.

Goat Breeding

Young females may be bred to freshen at 14 or 15 months of age if the well developed. The gestation period is approximately 5 months. Fine, purebred males are available within driving distance of most communities.

The average suburban lot can provide, much of the maintenance for goats, unsprayed leaves and trimmings from family gardens will go far to meet the feed requirements. Add alfalfa hay, or any good leguminous hay, with a light grain ration and the goats will thrive at nominal cost.

Feed represents the major portion goat-raising budget. Goats, like cattle sheep, are ruminants. They have stomachs that lets them store large amounts in one compartment while “chewing their cud” (breaking down plant fibers adding the enzymes needed to extract). For this reason, goats should have regular access to hay, grass, bark, and roughages.

There are various commercial rations prepared specifically to insure proper nutritive goats. Hay and grain make good feed, with the proper protein and mineral (especially calcium) supplements. Organic garden can add kelp, molasses, cider vinegar, and other nutrients to their feed.

Goat Manure

The goat also converts into high-grade manure. The goat’s digestive system is such that few if any weed seeds through her undigested. The composition of goat manure is about the same as that of manure, but of course varies depending the kind and quality of feed she receives. Disregarding minerals and some other similar nutrients, goat manure will contain about:

  • Water – 64 percent
  • Nitrogen – 1.44 percent
  • Potassium – 1 percent
  • Phosphorus – 0.22 percent

The manure of the goat, being dry and is clean and odorless. In fact, the dairy doe is perhaps the cleanest of any animal, and premises can be absolutely free of any if reasonably sanitary conditions are-rained.

Goat Housing

Goats do not require costly housing. Only a few essentials must be remembered: House them in a clean, dry, free from drafts but well ventilated stay, they will stand almost unlimited cold in any climate.

Minimum space requirements for a goat is approximately 20 square feet per animal, sand or gravel floors are desirable since they remain dry and are easy to clean when the goat house or pen is scoured each spring and fall.

Bedding can be made from sawdust, straw even ground cornstalks. Old bedding makes excellent contribution to the compost heap. Stock fencing is often preferred in manger construction. A keyhole manger is one way to minimize hay, since the shape discourages goats from eating uneaten hay.

Goats require a constant supply of clean water. Salt and mineral blocks are essential.