Category Archives: Home & Garden

Planting Paprika

Paprika is one of the less pungent varieties of red pepper and is widely used as a condiment. It has long been grown for export in eastern and southern Europe and successfully cultivated in the United States. The substance giving red peppers their pungent properties is produced almost entirely in the thin papery tissues to which the seeds are attached. Even in the mild paprika pepper this is somewhat pungent. The degree of pungency of ground paprika may therefore depend on the thoroughness with which these tissues are removed. Removal of the seeds and papery tissue results in a mild product while grinding the whole fruit results in a product of more pungency. The seeds add a nutty, oily flavor. The so called Spanish paprika is the milder type.

The paprika pepper, like the more pungent varieties, is well adapted to southern warm areas from the eastern coastal plain to California. When the weather is warm and sunny, fruit is produced throughout the season and ripens uniformly. However, if there is much rainy and cloudy weather at the blooming stage, the plants sometimes fail to set fruit, and if such weather prevails late in summer the fruit will not color properly and may be damaged by disease.

The paprika pepper grows on a large variety of fertile soils but thrives best on a warm, mellow, well-drained, sandy loam or clay loam type. The plant is propagated exclusively from seed, which may be planted in seedbeds or directly in the field. In beds the seed is sown as early in spring as possible, and the seedlings are then ready to be planted in the field as soon as the danger of frost has passed. They are spaced 12 to 18 inches apart, in rows 30 to 48 inches apart. If there is favorable weather early in spring the seed may be planted directly in the field by drilling in rows three to four feet apart and covering with one inch of soil. When the plants are two to three inches high they should be thinned to stand 12 to 18 inches apart in the rows and missing places filled in as necessary. Frequent shallow cultivation is necessary, and this must be continued throughout the long growing period of the crop.

Fruits of various degrees of maturity are found on the plant in summer and fall because the flowers are produced over a long period. Only fully mature fruits should be picked. Therefore, the harvesting must extend over several months, and the field must be checked at weekly intervals when good ripening weather prevails.

Planting Corn

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

Sweet Corn Varieties

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

Sweet Corn Soils and Fertilizers

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

Sweet Corn Planting

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

Sweet Corn Cultivation

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

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

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

Sweet Corn Insects and Pests

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

Sweet Corn Diseases

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

Ornamental Grass

Some of the annual and perennial grasses are of ornamental value, when grown in single clumps. They range in height from a foot to ten feet and more. The graceful, arching stalks of the Pampas Grass and the Eulalia Grass make these excellent as conspicuous specimens. The fruit clusters of Squirrel-tail Grass or Bristly Foxtail are most interesting, and remain on the plant in good condition for weeks. Or they are cut and dried, used for winter arrangements. Ribbon Grass and Zebra Grass are particularly interesting with their striped leaves variegated with white. Blue Fescue (Fescuca ovina glauca) is used from coast to coast for its blue-green foliage and its slow, tufted habit of growth.

It is probably true that these are not used nearly enough in our gardens. The perennial sorts need practically no attention. One clump of Eulalia Grass that comes to mind as this is being written has been growing as a featured plant in our garden for 20 years. It never has any attention, merely is cut to the ground for the winter and is evident throughout spring, summer and fall lending grace and beauty to the entire garden. These grasses should be used more than they are at present.

Beekeeping

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guide to Beekeeping

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Location of Hives

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

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

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

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

Requeening

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

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

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

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

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

Duck Raising

Ducks are very easy to handle, taking less time and work than other fowl. Also, their housing needs no insulation and requires less heat than chicken housing.

One of the big dividends of duck raising is the manure. It is twice as rich in nitrogen, and contains approximately six times the phosphorus and the same amount of potash as average farm manure.

Breeds

There are egg breeds, meat breeds and ornamental breeds of ducks, and the breed you grow depends on what you expect from your birds. For eggs, the Khaki Campbells and Indian Runners are both good though neither breed produces a good bird, Khaki Campbells have averaged 365 eggs per year, per bird as opposed 260, per year for many chickens.

There are three primary meat breeds. Pekin is the bird raised commercially in the United States for meat production. This is a good quality bird. The birds reach market within eight weeks, and they are white feathered, a big advantage in the marketplace. However ducks are poor sitters and very nervous. Flocks have to be handled with care.

Aburys are popular in England for meat portions and, like the Pekins, mature in eight weeks. Although they are not as nervous, the Abury is less popular because it has feathers.

Muscovies, another meat breed, takes longer to mature, approximately ten weeks, but is larger than the Pekin and tends to be fatter. In addition, Muscovies, though only layers, are good sitters.

Ornamental breeds include Cayugas, tall Mandarins and Blue Swedish.

Starting

It is best to start with day-old ducklings rather than try to incubate fertile eggs. Put the day-old ducklings immediately under the brooder set at 90°F (2.22°C). Reduce the temperature five degrees (F.) a week until they are let out. After a few days, ventilation is vital. Ventilate enough to keep dampness down, but avoid drafts.

A 10-by-12-foot brooder house will accommodate 200 to 300 ducklings, or a temporary pen may be built in a laying house.

During their first two weeks, the ducks should get starter pellets or a starter mash thoroughly wetted; only mix as much mash as the birds will eat, extra mash will sour and the ducklings will not eat it. After two weeks, switch to growing pellets or growing mash with about a 15 percent protein content. You can use the same mixture you’re feeding your chickens. At eight weeks, switch to fattening pellets.

Ample fresh, clean water is a necessity. Running water in shallow, narrow troughs will allow the baby ducks to submerge their bills and eyes without getting their bodies wet.

Ducklings need a constant supply of fine grit. Feed separately from the mash.

If ducks are to be raised entirely in confinement, they will need three square feet per bird by the time they are six weeks old. They will also require deep litter. Straw makes good bedding material. If ranged in warm weather they can be let out after the first three weeks. Ducklings are much hardier than baby chicks. Cool temperatures make them feather out faster and eat better for smooth, plump flesh, but it’s a good idea to harden off the ducklings by admitting increasing amounts of cool air for a week prior to ranging.

On range, tall weeds or trees, or frames covered with boards and building paper, are sufficient protection from the sun and rain.

Move mash hoppers and water fountains frequently to avoid bare spots.

On small farms try to locate duck yards on gently sloping land with light sandy soil. Manure should be scraped up regularly, or a couple of inches of gravel laid down to make the yards self-cleaning when it rains. A yard 50 by 75 feet will hold 100 ducklings.

A pond or brook will reduce the amount of water hauled to your flock. The ducks don’t need a particularly large or deep pond, just one big enough to clean themselves. It should be shallow and flowing. Some farmers dam a stream and periodically flush out the resulting pond to remove manure. A settling basin is an excellent way to catch the sludge after flushing, which can then be used on your garden. Some farmers provide shallow splash pans of water which they clean frequently. This is particularly necessary during breeding season, when moisture is essential for proper hatching of the eggs.

Breeding Ducks

For a steady supply of ducks throughout the year, a breeding flock is a necessity. Select ducks for breeding carefully. Ducks should come from early hatches, have good weight, conformation and feathering. Allow approximately one drake to six ducks.

Separate your breeders from the rest of the flock, and check for general health and vitality. Ducks need about five square feet of housing space per bird, outdoor exercise in all but the worst winter weather, and swimming water to keep in top condition.

Duck eggs are incubated four weeks before they hatch (Muscovy eggs take five weeks). They require a lot more moisture than hens’ eggs and must be turned three or four times a day. Since ducks lay at night, gather eggs in the morning for best results in the mechanical breeder. Wash carefully. Have eggs at room temperature before incubating. Candle eggs at seven or eight days, and discard those with dead embryos or infertile eggs. Living embryos have the appearance of a spider floating inside the eggs.

When hatched, put the baby ducklings in the brooder as soon as they are dry and fluffy. See that ample food and water are available.

Diseases

Ducks raised in relative and in small numbers suffer little diseases. Muscovies appear to be more resilient than Pekins or Runners. If you have a flock has been suspected to have disease, don’t wait to call a vet.

Slaughtering

Properly grown Pekins weigh between five and six pounds at nine to eleven weeks. After twelve weeks or so, they won’t grow larger without out considerable extra feeding, and the meat is tough and stringy. Muscovies should not be slaughtered after 17 weeks of age for the same reason.

Dry-picking birds is best, although many commercial concerns dip the ducks in boiling water or in wax which, when cooled, peels off quite easily bringing feathers with it. If dry-picked, the birds hold their flavor better. Duck down can also be a valuable by-product for homestead. It should be treated in the same way as goose down.

Duck eggs sometimes find a good market, and duck is a popular entree in many restaurants.

How to Build a Water Garden

Water gardening, whether on a large or small scale, is one of the most enjoyable, fascinating and trouble-free, once initial construction and landscaping has been complete, forms of ornamental horticulture.

The attractiveness of a water garden extends over a long season. Few garden plants can compare with tropical water-lilies by providing a succession of flowers from June onwards until cut back by frost. These gardens lend themselves superbly to artificial illumination. Both the night-flowering water-lilies and the Giant Water Platter (Victoria cruziana) open their flowers at dusk, to provide a nocturnal display.

The most important consideration before planting and construction of the garden is the site. Full sunlight is essential for successful development of nearly all the aquatic plants. If the garden is shaded, growth becomes etiolated, and less floriferous. Trees growing in the near vicinity of a pool are undesirable as the leaves tend to accumulate in the pool, releasing harmful products as they decay under water. In wind-swept locations, a windbreak of the American Arborvitae or Canadian Hemlock planted at a suitable distance on the north side will prevent damage to the more tender plants, and also assist in extending the display season.

The source of water should be relatively free of salinity as well as industrial and municipal-wastes. Where fish are desired the water should be able to sustain a flora for the small organisms which serve as fish foods; and to have optimum dissolved oxygen content of 47%.

Pool Design

The design of the pool may vary from the formal or traditional with a rectangular or circular shape to the informal or more natural form. For the smaller gardens a simple pattern is advocated, being less complicated to build and maintain. This type is more likely to blend with the landscaping of a smaller garden. Eighteen to 24 in. is an ideal depth. To accommodate shallow water and certain moisture-loving plants, cement blocks or large stones can placed under the plant containers to bring them up to the correct depth of water (2-4 in.).

Pool Construction

The best material for pool construction is concrete—preferably reinforced—poured into wooden forms. The site selected should be excavated to the necessary depth and outline. Provision for drainage should be made as this will facilitate periodic cleaning. The drain can be run to low ground or sump built nearby. Galvanized iron pipe 2-3 in. in dia. is excellent.

Puddled pools, with curved sides can be constructed. They may not possess: the permanence of a pool built with forms, but are less expensive and not so much trouble to build. They allow one to build a pool to almost any shape with a minimum of complications. After excavations are completed and provision made for drainage, the floor and sides are covered with a 3-4 in. layer of gravel or crushed stone which is then consolidated. Reinforced rod or mesh is then placed over this, layer. Six inches of concrete is then poured over the floor and sides, insuring that the reinforcing is raised evenly to work the concrete around it. The final smoothing can be carried out as the concrete commences to set. Burlap can be placed over the pool, and kept moist for a week or so in order to prevent the concrete from drying out too rapidly.

Freshly poured concrete will release a considerable amount of calcium, which subsequently causes the water in the pool to be too alkaline for both plants and fish. The pool can either be painted with one of the water-proofing com-pounds, or better still given an artificial “curing” or maturation treatment. This consists of several fillings and flushings—followed by a thorough scrubbing with a solution of vinegar—then drained and refilled for planting.

Prefabricated Pools

Prefabricated pools mainly of fiberglass com-position have become increasingly popular. They are obtainable in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, are extremely durable, and long lasting. All that is necessary is to excavate the depression to fit the pool, place in position, level and firm. Some of the more elaborate fiberglass pools are obtainable in 2 depths—to accommodate a variety of plant material. Heavy-duty polyethylene can also be used, its disadvantage being its limited length of life compared with the other types of pools. The excavated area is smoothed, all stones removed—then covered with a layer of sand. Then cover with a double thickness of the plastic film, allowing an over-lap of at least 6 in. on all sides. This can be covered with soil or better still with stones. Even the smallest garden can feature an aquatic display—wooden or metal tubs, half barrels, even kettles, can be used to provide a focal point of beauty, when planted with the smaller varieties of water plants.

Bog Gardens

A companion bog garden can enhance the pool, and provide a site to grow an extensive range of unusual plants such as the giant-leaved Gunnera manicata, bog primulas, certain native orchids and insectivorous plants, to name just a few. A bog garden does not have to be water-logged. All that is necessary is to allow the roots access to water at all times. Making an artificial bog garden is considerably less complicated than building the pool. The area selected adjacent to the pool is excavated to a depth of 12-15 in. The base can either be lined with heavy-duty polyethylene and lightly perforated or flat tiles. These are placed over-lap-ping to prevent too rapid drainage. The area is then filled with a mixture of 2 parts field soil, and 1 part coarse peat. An ideal arrangement is to provide a slow trickle of water from the pool to the bog, insuring a uniformly moist condition.

Natural Pools

Many natural pools or ponds can be utilized to create water gardens. Some of the drawbacks include aquatic weeds which can offer severe competition; varying water levels; muskrats; and stagnation. A stream can be dammed and an area excavated to provide deeper, reasonably still water conditions. Spring-fed pools are often not practical for the tropical water-lilies, due to cool water temperature. Natural pools provide the gardener with maximum scope as regards landscaping the area around the pool, emphasis being to blend the pool with the surroundings, and to create as naturalistic an effect as possible.

In states where severe frosts occur, some form of winter protection for artificial pools is necessary. Logs or any floating object will take care of the effects of alternate freezing and thawing. For large pools expansion joints every 15 to 20 ft. will greatly reduce the danger of frost damage. Provided the crowns and roots of hardy water-lilies, lotus and other hardy plants are below the frost line, they will winter over satisfactorily.

Root Pruning

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

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

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

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

Cow Raising

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

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

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

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

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

Buying a Cow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Planting Cactus

Cactus plants, which include the fascinating bizarre cacti, are to be considered as the most specialized of all plant groups. Since they live chiefly in areas typically hot and dry they assume fantastic forms which enable them to survive in such regions of adverse conditions. The grotesque growths tend to conserve water and reduce transpiration. In the case of the cacti, leaves are dispensed with almost entirely and the stems take over the functions which the leaves on non-succulent plants perform. In the mimicry plants (stemless mesembryanthemums) the leaves have entirely lost their semblance and appear as chubby, squat conical-to-spherical plant-bodies.

The root systems of succulent plants are hardly extensive or penetrate the soil very deeply. Usually they lie just below the soil surface which enables them to make quick use of any moisture that may come their way. Thus the plants are able to store water in special tissues and rely on it when water is scarce. For this reason, they are known as “succulents” which literally means “juicy plants.”

Since succulents have learned to adapt them-selves so nicely to adverse conditions we can readily see why they make such good houseplants. Where other plants fail in the hot dry atmosphere of our living rooms, the succulents usually succeed and impart a bit of greenery the year round. People often kill succulents by kindness when they pamper them too much. However, it is wrong to believe that succulents need no attention whatsoever.

Succulents are numbered in at least 20 different plant families. There are hundreds to choose from in all imaginable shapes and forms. If only a windowsill is available it can be utilized and made attractive with these plants. It is to be remembered that succulents require lots of light; if grown in the absence of it, the plants will exhibit scrawny etiolated growth which will be more readily subject to insect attacks and plant diseases. Sun porches afford more room where more elaborate set-ups or staging can be maintained. However, if one can afford a greenhouse, no matter how small, succulents can be grown to perfection without too much fuss.

A fact to remember is to choose the container best suited for use in the home, if that is the only available location. Succulents look very attractive in glazed pottery, but care in watering must be exercised since such containers do not dry out as fast as ordinary flower pots. Small pots can be set in a large tray or metal box filled with sand, gravel or sphagnum moss, and kept moist. Frequent repotting is not necessary.

Where space is at a premium more satisfaction will be derived if the grower concentrates on a few individual groups than on a general collection.

Cactus Propagation

Succulents usually can be propagated from seed, offsets and cuttings, and by grafting. It is true that growing them from seed will require patience, especially in the case of slow-growing cacti, but on the whole many succulents will produce good growth quickly. All you need is a flower pot or seed flat (a cigar box will do), a piece of glass for cover, good porous soil, and a package of fresh seed. Seeds may be sown anytime in the year if high temperatures can be maintained, as in greenhouses, but perhaps in the average home seed-sowing should be carried on in spring and summer. A uniform temperature of 70° F. should be provided and the seed pans placed in a window with a southern exposure, where light is always available. The soil in the seed containers must never be allowed to dry out, and seed must not be planted deep—just barely covered with sand or fine gravel. Water can be applied with a fine syringe or in the case of pots, the pots watered from below by placing them in a pan of water. Generally a glass cover is placed over the box or pot to aid in conserving moisture and heat, but the glass should be painted to shade the seedlings as they appear and gradually removed so that seedlings will get accustomed to the light. Supply ventilation to the seedlings by raising the glass cover occasionally so that damping-off does not occur. Seedlings need not be transplanted until they have become large enough or when they begin to crowd each other.

Most succulents can be multiplied by off-shoots which usually appear at the base of the mother plant or anywhere along the stems. Cuttings can be made almost anywhere—from tips, lateral branches, from leaves, and in many cases just tiny fragments of portions of stems such as ribs and tubercles of cacti. Cuttings generally root easily and produce a mature plant more quickly than seedlings. When making cuttings use a clean sharp knife or razor blade. Heal the cutting in a dry, shaded place until a skin or callus is formed; the time will vary with the species from one week to a month or more, depending on the size of the cut. The wider the cut the longer it will require to heal over. Cuttings can be rooted in a mixture of sand and soil but more preferably in pure sand or vermiculite, and as soon as roots form the rooted plants can be planted in the regular way. As a precaution, do not keep the rooting medium too wet from the beginning as rot may set in and spoil your effort. In that case, the cutting will have to be cut back to healthy tissue and calloused over.

Cacti and spurges are usually grafted in order to speed maturity of these plants. There are other reasons, too, such as to save a plant when only a small piece is available which would not easily make a cutting, or to develop more decorative and bushy plants, and to raise varieties that are considered difficult to grow on their own root. Still another reason is to preserve abnormal forms such as crests and monstrosities which are greatly sought by connoisseurs.

Although it is possible to graft other succulents besides the cacti, like spurges and stapeliads, there is really no point gained. Before attempting grafting remember that only related plants can be grafted. A Spurge cannot be grafted onto a Cactus or vice-versa—only species within their respective families.

There are 3 kinds of grafts commonly employed—the cleft, the flat and the side. All thin-stemmed plants are suitable for cleft-grafting while the thick and globose types require a flat graft. The side-graft is usually employed on thin-stemmed plants although it can be used with success on the chubby kinds too. In cleft-grafting the stock (the rooted plant upon which the scion will be placed) is cut back to a desired height, depending on what effect is desired for the plant later on. The Christmas Cactus, which bears pendent stems, naturally would look more effective grafted on a stock at least 6-12 in. tall. A slit is made at the top of the stock about an inch deep. The stem of the scion is then cut on 2 sides to form a wedge and inserted into the split of the stock. Firm the graft into the desired position and run a cactus spine or two through the united portions; then wrap some cord or raffia around the graft, just taut enough to hold the scion in place but not so tight as to cut into the stock.

In the flat graft, both scion and stock should be of approximately the same width at the intended union. After selecting the 2 plants, make a smooth transverse cut on each specimen and then place the scion on the severed stock, pressing the 2 flat surfaces firmly together. The scion can be held in place with 2 large-sized bands or string run over the top of the scion and underneath the flower pot, or by the use of flexible wire bent in “U” shape.

The side graft requires no special operation beyond slicing one side of both scion and stock and holding the 2 joints in place. When grafting operations are completed, set the plants in a warm shaded place so that the cut surfaces will not dry out too rapidly, preventing perfect unions. Inspect all grafts regularly each day to note whether union has formed properly. After grafted plants have become established only normal care is necessary.

Cactus Varieties

The most popular members of the Cactus Family are the mammillarias, better known as “pincushion” or “nipple” cacti. They are mostly small globular to cylindrical plant-bodies covered with nipple like tubercles with clusters of spines on their tips where the areoles appear. The small bell-shaped flowers appear as a crown on top of the plant and in some species a circle of colorful scarlet-to-crimson fruits will develop simultaneously.

There are over 300 different kinds described and every one is a gem, but the most popular are those which bear colorful descriptive names such as the Old Lady, Powder Puff, Bird Nest, Feather Ball, Ladyfingers, Thimble, Snowball, Fishhook and Golden Stars. They can be readily supplied by Calif. nurserymen who grow them by the thousands.

Solid Wood Floor Installation

Securing loose boards

For suspended wood floors — boards laid over floor joists — start by lifting the old floor covering and checking that all the boards are securely fixed to their joists, and that they are reasonably flat and level. Loose hoards will creak annoyingly: when walked on, and raised edges or pronounced warping may show as lines through the covering.
Use either cur nails or large oval-headed nails to secure loose hoards, and then recess their heads slightly using a nail punch.

Laying hardboard

Covering the existing boards with a hardboard underlay is an alternative to floor sanding as a way of ensuring a smooth, flat surface ideal for thin sheet coverings. Lay the boards in rows with  the joints staggered from row to row, and pin them down with hardboard pins driven in at 15 dojo in spacings. Lay separate strips above pipe runs.
If preparing to lay glazed ceramic or quarry tiles on a suspended wood floor, put down exterior-grade plywood.

Sanding floors

Where old floorboards are very uneven, or it is planned to leave them exposed but they are badly stained and marked, hire a floor sanding machine. This resembles a cylinder (reel) lawnmower, with a dorm to which sheers of abrasive paper are fitted. A hag at the rear collects the sawdust; however, always wear a face mask when sanding floors. Also hire a smaller disc or halt sander for finishing off the room edges.

If necessary, drive any visible nail heads below the surface before using the sander. When sanding floorboards, always raise the drum at the end of each pass to prevent the abrasives from damaging the boards while the
machine is stationary

LAYING A HARDWOOD FLOOR

1. If hardboard sheets are used as an underlay for a new floor covering, start by punching in any raised nail heads all over the floor.
2. Nail the headboard sheets to the floorboards at 15 cm/6 in intervals along the edges and also 30 cm/12 in apart across the face of each sheet.

SANDING FLOORBOARDS

1. Use a floor sander to smooth and strip old floorboards. Drape the flex (cord) over one shoulder and raise the drum before starting the machine up.
2. using coarse abrasive paper, nun the machine or an angle of 4D° to die board direction to begin with, first in one direction and then at right- angles to the original passes.
3. Then switch to 2 medium-grade abrasive and run the sander hack and forth parallel with the board direction. Finish (AI will, fine-grade abrasive.
4. Use a smaller disc or belt sander 10 strip areas close to the skirting’s (baseboards) and door thresholds, where rho larger drum sander cannot reach

PREPARING SOLID FLOORS

Ground floors of solid concrete are prone to two main problems: cracking or potholing of the surface, and rising damp caused by a failure in the damp-proof membrane within the floor structure. Cracks and depressions may show through new floor coverings, especially thinner types such as sheet vinyl, while dampness will encourage mould growth beneath the covering.

Relatively narrow cracks can he patched with a repair mortar of 1 part cement to 3 parts sand, or an exterior-quality masonry filler. It the floor surface is uneven or pitted, it can be covered with a thin layer of self-smoothing compound. The mixture is made up in a bucket, poured on to the floor surface, and trowelled out to a thickness of about 3 mm/Vs in. The liquid finds its own level and dries to give a hard, smooth surface which cane walked on in about 1 hour. For best results, leave it to dry for at least 24 hours before laying your floor covering over it.

An alternative approach is to cover the concrete with a floating floor of chipboard (particle board), if raising the floor level will not cause problems at door thresholds. The boards can he laid directly on the concrete over heavy-duty polythene (plastic) sheeting, which acts as a vapor harrier. If additional insulation is required, put down polystyrene (plastic foam) hoards firsthand lay the new flooring over them. Treat damp floors with two coats of a proprietary damp-proofing liquid.

LAYING A SELF-SMOOTHING COMPOUND

1. Sweep the concrete floor clear of dust and debris. Then scrub away any parches of grease with strong detergent solution. The surface is very dusty or appears unduly porous, seal it by brushing on a generous coat of diluted PVA building adhesive(white general-purpose adhesive).

2. Mix up the self-smoothing compound in a bucket, following the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to ensure that the mix is the right consistency and is freeform lumps. Starting in the corner farthest from the room door, pour the compound out on to the floor surface to cover an area of about 1 sq mill sq ft.

3. Use a plasterer’s trowel to smooth the compound or to a thickness of about 3 mm or 1/8 in. Mix, pour and level further hatches as required.

LAYING A CHIPBOARD FLOOR

1. You can level and insulate a concrete floor by laying a floating floor of chipboard (particle board) over it.
Put down heavy-duty polythene (plastic) sheering first.

2. Tape the sheet to the walls; this will be hidden behind the new skirting (baseboard) later. Then carefully butt-joint 25 mm/ 1 in polystyrene (plastic foam) insulation boards.
Cover the insulation with tongued-and-grooved flooring-grade chipboard. Use cut pieces to fit as necessary, and add a tapered threshold (saddle) strip at the door.