Category Archives: Home & Garden

Fish Varieties

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


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


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


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


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


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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


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


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


  • 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


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


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


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


  • 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

How to Build a Rooftop Garden

There are many reasons one can decide on building a rooftop garden, among them; location, ornamental purposes and for the use of social gatherings. For the person in areas that do not allow for gardens around the home because of limited or no space, rooftop gardens provide the perfect solution. They can be traced back to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and became popular in modern use with the rapid and extensive growth of high-rise buildings.

The best way to determine if your rooftop makes the perfect place for a garden is to study it at intervals throughout the day to ascertain how much sun and shade the area receives at any given time, be sure to document your findings on paper to make sure that you can revisit them when necessary.

Making Preparations for your Garden

When planning your garden, think of a theme that best suits you since you will have to buy the necessary containers to house your plants, clay based ceramic pots are a favorite. Some Terra cotta pots (which are also unglazed), are chosen because they are porous hence assist with proper drainage for plants that require this. Terra cotta pots can also help with achieving a Tuscan look; if unavailable try other containers or pots that are glazed with Mediterranean colors. For those who prefer a more contemporary feel, black and white is a suitable match.

Besides pots, window boxes, 6 to 7 inch masonry beds (built-in), 18-24 inch masonry retaining walls, terrace boxes (mainly made of cedar or redwood) starting at 18 inches deep and 4 to 5 feet wide can be used. Planters or tubs; including barrels, wooden cubes and structures made from concrete and fibre glass (for a more modern look) can also be used.

The next step is to decide on which flowers or plants you will grow. Based on the results of your observation you should have an idea of what you can or cannot grow based on the plants’ need for sunlight or shade, you can also start to plan what goes where. Do research on the flora chosen or get advice from persons at your local garden center. During this stage you can also decide whether to start from planting seeds or skip to bedding plants for a faster result.

Before you start planting, try arranging your containers on the roof to see how well your pattern suits your style or taste. Experiment with them to ensure that your final arrangement adds the level of interest and sophistication you want. The best look comes from placing them at different heights to create somewhat of a layered look. Natural materials like bricks (especially if in a color that compliments your garden) can be used for elevation.

Planting Stage

Once the planning and purchasing of everything needed is over, start planting. Be sure to use the necessary fertilizers and pest control methods, both can be store-bought or homemade, organic or chemical based. Many potting mixes can be used to ensure that soil is rich and balanced for each plant or greenery chosen. Be sure to find out how each operates in the different seasons and water as needed.

Planting Apple Trees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Planting Apples

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

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

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

Apple Nutrition

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

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

Falling Apples

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

Apple Scab

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

Old Apple Trees

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

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

Vitamin C Content of Apples

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

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

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

Selecting a Location for an Apple Tree

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

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

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

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

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

Planting Banana Trees

This is one of the most popular and important tropical fruits. Long-keeping and easily shipped, it is tasty, very digestible and rich in several major minerals and some vitamins.

Banana plants are rapid-growing herbs 5 to 25 feet tall. Their stalks or trunks are succulent, being actually composed of compressed layers of leaf sheaths. After bearing once, the stalks die back to the plant’s true stem, which is an underground rhizome. New suckers on which further fruit is borne are constantly rising from a healthy, productive rhizome. On a plant that is growing well, a sucker bears within 12 to 18 months after its emergence from the soil, but the length of time required to develop fruit may vary with soil and climate.

A hole 30 by 36 inches and 18 inches deep should be prepared for planting either rhizomes or suckers. Dwarf Cavendish may be planted eight to ten feet apart; others should stand no closer than 12 to 15 feet. Plant the sucker or rhizome a foot deep, and fill the hole with a mixture of topsoil and compost or rotted manure.

While the plant is young, remove all but one sucker, which should be allowed to bear its fruit and be cut back before another sucker is permitted to grow. Older plants may be allowed to develop one new sucker every three months. A plant will grow and bear well for four to six years, after which it should be dugout, the soil enriched and new suckers or rhizome pieces planted. After its first fruit has ripened, the plant may be allowed to grow three to five suckers at a time, depending upon its vigor. All others should be cut out.

Bananas are gross feeders. Because of their heavy growth they need plenty of fertilizer and a large amount of moisture. They do best where the rainfall averages 60 to 100 inches per year. In areas where it is less than that, they will need frequent watering.

Heavy rich mulch should be maintained under the plants at all times. This may be rotted manure, compost or a mixture of manure and leaves or grass.

Because they contain no viable seeds, bananas must be propagated by separating the suckers from the parent plants or by making cuttings of the rhizomes. Suckers two to eight months old are used and are moved in March or April.

Seven- to ten-pound cuttings of the rhizomes are removed, each with two buds, by cutting with a spade or mattock. Rhizome cut-tings can be replanted immediately or held for a few days, exposed to the air, then planted.

Bananas require about 100 days maturing after the young flower buds appear. Bananas which are cut seven to 14 days before ripening may be hung in a cool shady place to develop their flavor and sugar. Their nutritional value will be the same as that of tree-ripened fruit.

After bunches are cut down from the plant, the ends of the stalk are trimmed and the bananas are held at room temper, until thoroughly ripe. Stalks of the plants are cut back and chopped into small pieces.

Chicken Raising

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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How to Make a Greenhouse

Traditionally defined as any glass building or adjoining structure which contains plants, today’s greenhouse comes in a variety of sizes, shapes and compositions.

There are several advantages that all-year gardening greenhouses afford. Summer and fall crops yields can be stretched one season longer often through the otherwise deadly winter season. Gardeners also use their greenhouses to gain a head start on springtime planting.

Frosts, blizzards, heat waves, and other weather can be virtually ignored behind the greenhouse windows and walls. Tending fresh fruits, vegetables and ornamental flowers throughout the year is considered by many doctors to be a tranquilizer for daily stress and work tension.

Greenhouses today fall into several general attached (units adjoining the house, window box, basement, patio, or sun-porch greenhouses) or freestanding (full-sized units separate from the house, either above or partially below grade).

Attached Greenhouse

The gardener seeking to minimize construction and maintenance, and possibly even capture some heat for the house, may find that an attached greenhouse is more suitable than a freestanding be most effective, a south wall of the house could be chosen for this type of greenhouse. The spot should not be heavily shaded by trees or other buildings, but it should be protected from strong winds that could chill the greenhouse and possibly weaken it structurally. Greenhouse designers and builders agree that the most efficient use of space and solar heat gain can be obtained by making the length of an attached house about twice as great as its width.

Supplemental heating can be minimized—or eliminated entirely—by taking advantage of some features that are being incorporated into new solar and energy-efficient houses, namely, the use of multiple-layer glazing; nighttime insulating shutters, curtains and shades; and the addition of thermal mass, such as concrete, stone, or brick floors and house walls and rock-filled containers to store solar heat during the night and on cloudy days.

A truly efficient attached greenhouse can actually provide heat for the house in winter. Vents near the floor allow cool house air to enter the greenhouse, where it is warmed and then circulated back into the house by means of another vent near the ceiling of the greenhouse. Since warm air naturally rises, no fan is necessary in many instances to move this air. Such venting not only helps to warm the house, but it also permits good air glow throughout the greenhouse, raises the humidity of the house and distributes plant-loving carbon dioxide from the house to the greenhouse. Of course, vents to the house should be closed during the summer months, and vents from the greenhouse to the outdoors should be opened during this time so that neither the house nor the greenhouse gets overheated.

Although space in the attached greenhouse id limited by the upright building wall, every inch can be put to work by the use of plant benches, ground beds, eave shelves, ledges, and hanging baskets. Straight sides accommodate eave shelves better too, and they provide better ventilation and temperature control. The straight-sided houses are somewhat more expensive, however, because there is more glass area. On the other hand, slanting sides capture more sunshine.

Window Greenhouse

This variety is one of several “mini-greenhouses” designed to produce healthy flowers and herbs at a low cost. Window greenhouses are also used for starting seed in winter and spring before transplanting into the outdoor garden.

Almost any window opening into the house can be use for these small conservatories attached to a windowsill and framing. For gardeners planning to use the window greenhouse year-round, a southeast-facing window is recommended. This direction will obtain ample sunlight even in winter. Small heating units which fit into the window extension, or heating cables, may be used to keep the greenhouse sufficiently warm and insulating shutters or shades can be pulled over the glass at night.

Basement Greenhouse

From the outside a basement greenhouse looks like a sloping cold frame built against the foundation. Inside, it is an alcove in the cellar wall, and a concrete floor raised above the basement floor. Like the foundation, it is built of concrete blocks.

The floor should be at least 3.5 feet above the basement floor because of the sharp angle for the midwinter sun. The foundation wall in front should be about two inches higher than the greenhouse floor to prevent water from running out on the cellar floor to prevent water from running out on the cellar floor.

A shelf placed beneath the glass at one end is used for sun-loving plants and can be duplicated at the other end. The greenhouse should face south, southeast or southwest. With only one hot air vent in the basement, the temperature should stay between 55 and 60 °F (12.78 and 15.56 °C).

Freestanding Greenhouse

To many people, the freestanding greenhouses offer distinct advantages. Most of these greenhouses can catch sunlight from every direction, and they are more adaptable for ground beds. The more energy-efficient free-standing greenhouses have north walls built into a hillside.

The pit-type house, except for sever sub-zero (F.) weather, is sun heated. The only additional heat needed under conditions of extreme cold is usually a 200-watt electric light bulb or a small electric heater. Temperatures in the pit-type house make daily watering unnecessary. Usually only the south side is glassed in, and this is set at a 45-degree angle to admit the most sunshine. Ordinary hotbed sashes can be used.

To add warmth to the pit house, the ends and unglazed side should be double walled with about 31/2 inches of insulating material between. Doors and ventilators should also be insulated. After sunset, the glassed areas should be covered with padding or another insulated covering. When pads are used to cover the sashes, tarpaulins are rolled down over them to keep them dry. Wet padding makes poor insulation.

The Dutch door is best for the pit house because the upper half can be opened for ventilation during the winter. The door should be at the east end of the house to be better protected from prevailing cold westerly winds. A ventilating window can be placed at the west end. This is most important in the pit green-house. It should be open during the warmest hours of every day. Some pit houses use sky-light openings on the top of the unglazed side for ventilation.

Greenhouse Location

Choosing the best greenhouse site is an important step requiring several considerations. Convenience, accessibility, yard space, and general land conditions are variables to consider. Attached greenhouses enable the gardener to enter the greenhouse quickly and easily through adjoining, enclosed entrances. They best suit gardeners with little yard space, but with sunlit base—windows and sills suitable for a house “box,” or enclosed porches.

Contrary to popular belief, the precise direction in which a greenhouse faces is not a crucial consideration. Some plants in attached greenhouses grow best in a southern, southeastern or exposure, in that order. Western provides ample sunlight but lack the shade needed in summer.

Greenhouse Construction Materials

Once the style and location of your future greenhouse selected, construction materials need to be chosen. Gardeners can select from plastic, fiberglass and glass materials.

Above Ground Greenhouses

These greenhouses are made with panels that can be put together with a driver, wrench and hammer. All the parts are furnished, cut to fit in place. The glass is cut to size and is not putty glazed. It goes into glass grooves in the sash and is held weather tight with a special caulking rope.

While the prices for the materials for a prefabricated greenhouse are higher than parts such as glazing bars, sills, eaves, ridge and fittings of a conventional-type greenhouse, the time they save in labor greatly offsets difference.

Greenhouses with polyethylene film or plastic instead of glass are becoming popular for reasons of economy. They are light, so require less rigid supports, but they can rip in heavy winds and the constant exposure to strong sunlight causes them to deteriorate in a short as six months. Thin flexible films are best used as inner glazing only under thicker plastics or glass.

Fiberglass is another popular alternative in greenhouse construction. It is sturdy and transparent material, especially when coated with Tedlar. Fiberglass also makes a good heat insulator, retaining up to 70.8 times more hat than polyethylene film and some plastics. Fiberglass houses provide natural shade, even during intense sun exposure. Fiberglass has its shortcomings as well, however. It is highly flammable and often wears down reducing light transmission and increasing dust and don’t break as easily.

Rigid acrylics come closest to resembling glass, but they are easier to work with because they are five times lighter than glass and don’t break easily.

Glass has a tendency to turn brittle and crack, and while it is good-looking and clean, it is a difficult material for do-it-yourselfers to work with.

Greenhouse Foundation

The walls below the sills of the greenhouse are the hardest part to build. Masonry walls are best because they are more permanent than those of wood. They also offer some thermal mass for heat retention. Poured concrete, brick, cut stone or cinder blocks may be used. Cinder blocks provide the easiest means of building a wall. For appearance’s sake, the outside can be coated with stucco and painted. The attractiveness of a greenhouse depends a great deal upon its walls, for this is the largest solid area.

If you live in the northern United States, the walls of a prefabricated greenhouse should extend below the freezing line. This would be about 21/2 feet in most areas but may be less in the southern states and more in the far North. The footings below the ground can be of poured concrete and gravel. A conventional-type greenhouse is built with steel posts set on footings and encased in piers that extend below grade. The side walls need only go down to solid ground, a few inches below the grade.

After the greenhouse has been selected, located and constructed, the continual task of greenhouse management begins. Managing the greenhouse can be divided into two categories: controlling of the greenhouse climate and handling of the plants.

Greenhouse Heating and Cooling

In areas that seldom get colder than 20°F (— 6.67°C), more traditional greenhouses may need only an electric heater. The heater is inexpensive and can come equipped with an automatic thermostat to turn on the heating element and fan.

For colder environments, gas or hot-water heating systems arc necessary in traditional greenhouses. A no-vent gas unit for heating is highly recommended by many gardeners, since it creates no noxious fumes and costs a few hundred dollars. Coal or wood-burning furnaces can also be used to heat greenhouses.

Some suggestions for conserving fuel include keeping the greenhouse as airtight as possible; using two outside doors and having one serve as a storm door; using mulch to insulate and retain heat; installing heavy-gauge aluminum foil between the heat source and the outside wall to reflect and retain heat; and planting a windbreak of trees and shrubs nearby to retain heat and protect against wind turbulence.

The most important companion to any greenhouse heating system is ventilation. With-out fans to circulate air, the greenhouse temperature can vary from 45°F (7.22°C) on the ground, to over 90°F (32.22°C) nearby in winter. Mount the fan so that it is away from the heat source. This way, warmer air will mix with cool air and pick up moisture in the process. Proper air circulation is an important safeguard against plant infections, since it reduces fungus and mildew buildup.

Shade must be provided during summer months in the greenhouse, in order to grow plants which cannot be set outside. Bamboo or slatted matting may be spread over the glass or whitewashed.

Excessive humidity invites plant diseases and decreased fruit and flower production. Insufficient humidity in the greenhouse hastens development of flowers and fruit at the expense of leaf growth. To increase humidity, the gardener can install mist systems, plastic sheets or glass panes over seed flats or benches.

Handling of Greenhouse Plants

In caring for your plants, try to simulate all conditions favorable to the plants growth and development needs. If this demands a period of rest in the garden, a period should be allowed in the greenhouse. Sun, shade and soil requirements outdoors should be duplicated as much as possible in the greenhouse.


Concocting the proper soil mixtures is another important requirement for the successful greenhouse gardener. Good soil is an investment in the well-being of greenhouse crops, and it should be well fertilized and cultivated for that reason. Rich topsoil with living organisms, dead organic matter is best for hardy plant growth. Medium-texture soils, rather than fine or coarse compositions, are best for holding moisture, air and soil nutrients. Adding organic matter to sandy soils improves water and mineral retention, as well as helping loosen clay soils.

For most greenhouses, a loam soil is recommended, because of its good drainage and aeration. Greenhouse soils today are often mixes, high in organic matter content. A good mix for bench or potted plants is two parts topsoil, one part sphagnum peat moss and one part sand. Your soil mixture should always be kept fairly moist, in order to sustain the living organisms inside.

Many fertilizers and additives offer vital nutrition to organic matter in greenhouse soils. Poultry and rabbit manures are packed with nitrogen, phosphorus and humus. Both are applied at the rate of eight to ten pounds per 100 square feet of bench planting space. Sheep, cow and horse manures are organic fertilizers which add humus and make good soil conditioners.

Bone meal is a slow-releasing plant fertilizer. The steamed variety breaks down quicker for plant nutrition than raw bone meal.

Lime and wood ashes help neutralize highly acidic soils. Sawdust and wood chips complement successful potted plant propagation. The chips repel snails and provide good drainage.

Peat moss, which puts humus into the soil and holds nutrients particularly well, makes a fine soil conditioner, rather than a fertilizer. Moisten peat thoroughly before mixing into the soil. (Dry peat often resists water absorption.)

Gypsum conditions and alkalizes green-house soils. It also offers calcium to plants and indirectly to gardeners who harvest and eat them.

Vermiculite and perlite lighten dense soil and help start plant cuttings or seed. Fertilizers and plant nutrients are added after roots are established in either medium.

The salt concentration and pH level of soils must be watched carefully in the greenhouse, the state agricultural extension service will check field soil for high salt or pH levels, which can damage plant roots, cause wilting, or slow plant cutting or seedling growth. Loosening the soul and thorough watering help dissolve high concentrations.


Greenhouse gardens should be watered in the mornings of sunny days. Water should be supplied sparingly to minimize the dangers of fungus. Watering should be thorough. Watering should be withheld, if possible, in cloudy weather, since these conditions make evaporation slow and fungus spores cannot be destroyed as well as they can by hot sun rays.

Here are still more tips on proper watering in the greenhouse:

  1. Try to avoid ice-cold water. Room temperature water is preferred by most greenhouse plants.
  2. Water can run freely over the bench or tub, but be sure that roots are not left soaking.
  3. Keep soil loose for good drainage. Organic matter and sandy loam make the soil healthy and properly drained.
  4. Water plants less in winter, especially those that go into dormancy during cool weather. Their need for water decreases at these times.
  5. Avoid water softened with a commercial water softener. This water contains chemicals harmful to plants. Flushing salty or hard water usually prevents salt buildup.

Insect and Disease Control

In handling plant life in the greenhouse, special care and attention must be given to prevention of pest and disease infestation. Insects and diseases which commonly plague greenhouse crops are easy to control through the use of good-quality, clean seed and plants, in addition to the maintenance of an overall sanitary growing environment. Insects, bacteria, viruses, and fungi which thrive in “hothouse climates” can be battled by following these simple sanitation tips:

  1. Remove diseased and dead plants; keep them far from the greenhouse.
  2. Prevent wild weed growth near the greenhouse. Such growth attracts insects and promotes disease.
  3. Keep the greenhouse neat and free of plant clutter.
  4. Be certain that new plants introduced into the greenhouse don’t harbor new germs and pests.
  5. Start seed, roots and cuttings in soilless mediums. Sterile perlite, vermiculite and peat moss are commended for controlling seedling and cutting diseases.
  6. Provide proper greenhouse ventilation.
  7. Finally, avoid soaking foliage when watering. Also avoid over watering or over fertilizing greenhouse plants.

The organic greenhouse gardener can turn to several safe insect controls, dusts and sprays for disease outbreaks, especially those in the beginning stages. Commercially available controls include sabadilla, rotenone, pyrethrum, and nicotine sulfate. Many gardeners develop their own recipes for homemade pest or disease control.

Not all greenhouse or garden insects are enemies to the propagation of healthy plants, however. Ladybugs, praying mantis, lacewings, spiders, and horse hair snakes are among the many winged or crawling “comrades” in the garden who eat harmful insects.

Cool Greenhouse

In cool temperature and organic soil, bulbs such as tulips, Dutch Iris, Lilies, Daffodils, Hyacinths, Ranunculus, and Anemones are easy to grow and give fine blooms. Lettuce, radishes, Swiss chard, kale, and scallions do very well as do carrots, cauliflower, peas, red and green cabbage, and beets, if you have the extra space they require. Many herbs thrive in the cool greenhouse. A few pots or boxes of rue, sage, mint, marjoram, parsley, chives, and the like will provide garnishes for winter meals.

Farm Greenhouse

While it costs almost twice as much to bring the home greenhouse up to moderate or warm temperatures in comparison with a cool house, many exciting plants can be grown that make it worthwhile. Orchids are among them. With a collection of 75 plants of different varieties, it is nice to have something in bloom every part of the year. Cymbidiums will keep as long as three months. Insects are not a serious problem. Orchids can be grown in greenhouse where it is possible to maintain even temperature and keep the atmosphere fresh and healthy.

Other flowers and plants that do well in moderate to warm greenhouse include amaryllis, azaleas, begonias, ferns and tropical foliage plants, bougainvillea, cactus and gardenias. Tomatoes, cucumbers and melons can also be grown in the warm greenhouse where temperatures are at least 60°F at night.

Planting Cranberries

The Cranberry of commerce (Vaccinium macrorarpon) is a small evergreen plant native to eastern and northeastern North America, creeping over the ground with rooting runners about 3 ft. long and bearing upright branches about 6 in. tall on which the fruits are borne in the fall. Cranberries are produced commercially in Mass., Wisc., N.J., Wash. and Ore. with present annual estimates for the states in the above order of 573,000 barrels, 400,000 barrels, 159,000 barrels, 66,000 barrels, and 139,000 barrels, for a total U.S. crop of 1,337,000 barrels. A barrel of cranberries weighs about 100 lbs.

It has been estimated that 25% of the crop is sold as fresh fruit, and there is a tendency for this to show a slow but rather steady decline, year by year. About 25% of the crop is used in making cranberry juice cocktail and this market is steadily and almost rapidly increasing. The remaining 50% of the crop is sold as strained and whole-berry sauces, cranberry-orange relish and various other products. It is of interest to know that one of the large grower-owned Massachusetts cooperative-selling organizations handled 85% of the U.S. crop in 1964 with gross sales of $45,000,000.

This huge industry is centered on the small farms on and near Cape Cod. It is here that soil and water conditions, combined with just the right climate, are ideal for cranberry production. The home gardener does not customarily make his own cranberry bog so a quick description here of the methods used for producing cranberries commercially will be sufficient.

The cranberry planting must be in a bog or similar area where there is plenty of acid water, and arrangements must be made so that the bog can be flooded with this water at an31 time. This usually means there must be facilities for storing large amounts of water at a higher level than the bog or that there is a stream with ample water of the right kind and it can be pumped to flood the bog. Flooding is necessary for the good growth of the plants, to aid in insect control, and to aid in frost protection as well as to keep the plants from being injured by winter cold. The soil must be acid, preferably of a pH of 4.5-5.0. If one looks around carefully near a cranberry bog one will find growing naturally on cranberry soils.

Since accurate flooding of the bog is essential, it should be on flat land, with all the miscellaneous weed plants removed. It is also necessary to have facilities for draining the bog rather promptly, for if it is flooded when the plants are growing, the water should not be allowed to remain on the plants for more than 24 hours. This then necessitates a series of drains and ditches and a low spot where the water can runoff at the proper time.

In preparing the soil, the final operation is to apply 3-4 in. of sand over the entire bog area, for it is in this that the new cuttings are stuck. The sand acts as mulch and reduces water loss from the soil, aids in restraining weed growth and in the early spring and fall when danger from frost is imminent, it gives off some heat at night and so aids somewhat in frost protection. It should have a pH of 4.5.

Cuttings are taken just before growth starts in the spring. In order to do this a well-grown stand is mowed or cut with a scythe and the clippings stuck in the soil at 10-in. intervals each way, usually 2-3 per hill. Some growers merely broadcast the clippings and disc them in but this takes a great deal more cuttings than is normally necessary. Setting out cuttings is done in late April, May or June but usually May is best.

After planting, the bog is flooded for a day or two so that the water will firm the cuttings in place, then drained and of course weeded for the remainder of the summer. Normally the planting will bear its first crop the 4th year. After picking, the longest upright branches are cut back and a covering of sand about s in. deep is placed over the field to aid in the roots becoming well established. Then the bog is flooded to just above the tops of the plants for the winter. Flooding is usually done in Mass., about Dec. or whenever the sand remains frozen all day, and the bog is drained in May.

Flooding the bog is sometimes necessary in late spring after growth has started to prevent the young buds from being killed by late frosts. Usually a partial flooding only is necessary, for the water will give of a certain amount of heat at night. It is obvious to see then why quick flooding and draining are necessary. Flooding is sometimes used as a means of controlling insect pests and in the early fall is also needed to protect a crop from freezing. Picking usually starts in Mass., on Labor Day and continues until around Oct. 20.

The bog is resanded at intervals every 3-4 yrs., applying anywhere from 1-4. in. of sand depending on circumstances.

It is these two varieties that make up 93% of the acreage in Mass. ‘Me Farlin’ is the chief variety on the Pacific Coast, and in Wisc. ‘Me Farlirt’, ‘Bennett’ and ‘Searr’ are the most important. Of course, there are other varieties being introduced and tried, but these are the ones most used at present. It is also important that only one variety be planted to a bog where flooding is done all atone time, for varietal differences in growth, ripening periods and disease resistance are such that more than this is impractical.

Picking the berries is usually done with scoops by hand or sometimes by machine. The berries are collected in boxes and taken to the canneries where the chaff is blown out and the good berries sorted from the bad. At present, most of the “fresh” crop is sold and used by Christmas. The business is one that has been growing in recent years, since more and more uses for cranberries and their products are being strenuously advertised by the large growers’ cooperatives.

Cranberry growing is a commercial operation requiring specific equipment and expert knowledge and not a home garden activity. Expert advice from local authorities on pest control is advised.

Cranberry Insect Pests

Cranberry fruit worm which cats the berries and black-headed or other fire worms which kill leaves and flowers are among the most destructive. Span worms and gypsy moth which eat the leaves and girdler which destroys the stems are locally important. Blunt-nosed leafhopper, the vector of false blossom disease must be controlled. Flooding and intensive use of insecticides are the recognized control treatments.

Planting Orange Trees

The common or sweet orange has many popular varieties of commercial importance. The orange can be grown commercially only in warmer parts of Florida, California, the Mississippi Delta and the lower Rio Grande Valley, many varieties are suited for greenhouse growing in the North. Citrus fruits, including the orange, will grow in any well-drained soil, but prefer a medium loam.

Orange Tree Culture

Orange trees, like all citrus trees, are evergreen and can be planted any time of the year except in the months of December, January and February. The best time to plant an orange tree is in March, April or May,

When you are ready to plant your orange tree, dig a hole about three feet deep and three feet wide. Place your tree upright in the centre of the hole. Then fill in with soil, packing tightly but gently around the ball, filling the hole to about one inch below the bud union, or the place the tree was grafted to the roots. Water well, putting in enough water to get right down to the roots.

Orange Tree Pruning

Pruning causes new growth which produces better fruit. All old growth that has died back should be cut off. All branches that cross each other and cause damage by rubbing should be thinned out to eliminate that condition.

Orange Tree Types

Mandarins, as well as tangerines, are species of orange. There are early and late-ripening varieties, as well as midseason ones.

Raising Sheep

Sheep are a warm and friendly addition to any homestead. They are easy to care for and for you to manage and they repay their owners with meat and wool harvests. They produce marketable meat in less than half the time that cattle require, and are much easier to hatchet.

Breeds of sheep can be broken down into four main types: fine-wools, medium-wools, wools, and meat-types.

The fine-wools are adaptable to many different environments and are frequently found in the Southwest. Rambouillet is a fine-wool, yielding eight to 12 pounds of fleece. It is an open-faced breed, which means wool does not grow on or near the eyes. Rambouillets will breed any time of the year. Debouillet is another variety of medians which also produces an excellent wool crop. Of the medium-wools, the Columbia, the breed of American origin, is the most popular. Sheep of this breed are large in size and Corriedales, a New Zealand breed, produce heavy fleeces and mature early. Theney and Lincoln are the favored breeds of long-wool variety. They are known for their adaptability to cold, wet climates.

The large, popular Hampshire is recognizable by its black face and narrow muzzle. Suffolk and Shropshire are other large varieties bred for meat production.

Housing Sheep

Only simple accommodation is needed for a flock of sheep. A three-sided structure is sufficient in regions where winter is not too severe. You should provide approximately 15 square feet per sheep in a closed-off shelter. Indoor and outdoor feeders, provision for free-choice fresh water and salt must be made to maintain a healthy flock. Good bedding of straw on the floor of the shelter will insulate the building during the water and if freshened periodically it will prevent the sheep’s wool from becoming soiled and ratted.

The biggest chore of the spring season is clearing the shelter of the manure and straw bedding which has accumulated over the winter. The manure can be used as fertilizer, or sold to someone else who can make use of it. A thorough cleaning of the shed floor and application of fresh bedding will start the new season.

On the homestead, sheep should not be run with cattle or hogs, although they can be kept near goats. Good meadow fencing is necessary to keep predators out and contain the flock.

Feeding Sheep

Sheep will be quite content to act as meadow lawn mowers by feeding on forage grasses. The best pastureland can support as many as 15 ewes and their lambs per acre. If land is too poor to provide enough food by itself, use a supplement of grain feed. One-third to one-half pound per day per ewe of corn, oats, milo, or barley should be fed. Feedlot sheep (those without access to pasture) should be fed at least two to four pounds of hay and about a pound of grain per head per day. A mixture of 60 percent oats, 25 percent corn or sorghum grains and 15 percent wheat bran is recommended.

Be sure to rotate forage pastures to prevent the ewes from contracting worms. Commercial wormers should be administered to sheep once every six months to insure against internal parasites. An alternative to a commercial product for worming is diatom flour fed free-choice with salt.

Sheep Disease

Reject all animals with disease symptoms, when purchasing sheep. Foot rot is a bacterial disease which causes the hoof to separate from the underlying tissues. Afoot infected with the disease will carry an odor of decay. Mastitis is another condition to check for when buying sheep. Lumps or hardness in the udder indicate its presence and ewes infected with it will be unable to nurse offspring. Also beware of spreading or missing teeth, an indication of age.

Good nutrition and management will prevent practically all sheep diseases. Liver fluke can be avoided by keeping sheep away from stagnant water. Anthrax, the worst killer, can be prevented by not letting your sheep graze closely on sparse late summer pastures. Anthrax germs live in the soil and on short grass and can be picked up by the animal.

Traditionally, sheep were dipped in a disinfectant to control parasites. Today, however, many sheep men have stopped dipping their sheep. Most dips contain arsenic or DDT, neither of which is safe for animals. Stay away from phenothiazine too – this powerful worm-killer affects the sheep’s body growth and metabolism, and may well be responsible for today’s big lamb losses and the increase in “mystery” diseases. Pasture rotation is a better preventive of worms and parasites.

Sheep Breeding

Breeding activity varies among breeds and even between individuals within a breed. Many types have a restricted season based on day length, temperature, and the age of the ewe. In most cases, the breeding season occurs between late July and early December. Within this season, ewes over nine months old enter heat every 16 to 17 days with each estrus lasting about 72 hours. The duration of pregnancy is approximately 145 days so that late fall breeding will result in lambs arriving in late March or April.

One ram introduced into a flock will service 30 ewes. The rams should be marked at the time of breeding by painting the brisquet (lower chest) of the ram with artists’ oil paint diluted with motor oil. Change the color on the brisquet every 16 days for easy detection of ewes which come into estrus after the initial breeding. The marking of the ewes by the rams during mating allows the shepherd to approximate when lambing will occur and to detect in-fertile rams.

Lambing Sheep

As the time for delivery nears, the demands on the mother’s necessitate a slight increase in feeding. Some shepherds include about a pint (1 pound) of molasses in the ration against lambing paralysis. Lambing paralysis is characterized by stiff limbs in the mother which leads to listless walking, twitching muscles, grinding teeth, and even death. Overly fat ewes are especially susceptible to this condition. For this reason, be careful not to overfeed during the early gestation period.

Wheat in the ewe’s ration prevents limb disease in unborn lambs. Deficiencies in vitamin E and selenium are the causes of disease.

Lambing time is the most demand in all periods in the shepherd’s schedule. It is to prepare for it by stocking up on necessary supplies such as clean towels, iodine (used when cutting the cord), a sharp alcohol, and cotton swabs. These items should be placed in a can or other sealable and kept in the shed where they will be when lambing starts.

Cold drafts and wind can hinder a successful birth and result in the loss of a lamb. The usual labor lasts an hour. Allow the ewe to conduct the delivery unassisted for the first 45 minutes, or slightly longer if things are progressing normally. To assist the ewe, pull on the emerging lamb’s front two legs only when the ewe is contracting. There are frequent complications in birth; many lambs do not emerge hoof first. After disinfecting and lubricating your hands with alcohol and petroleum jelly, try to dislodge any limbs bent within the womb. This insures a comfortable delivery and prevents internal injuries to the mother.

The first few hours of life are critical for the newborn lamb. As soon as the lamb is completely dropped, begin to rub it briskly with clean towels or other cloths to get its circulation going. Lambs can also be immersed in warm water to get their bodies functioning. The anal passage should be wiped and the nose cleaned with cotton swabs to aid breathing. Cut the cord about six inches from the lamb’s body and douse the area with iodine. The cord itself will dry up and fall in a week’s time.

It is very important that the lamb nurse as soon as possible after birth. Try to encourage it to suckle by placing your finger in its mouth and, when it begins to suck, transferring it to the mother’s udder. Give the ewe’s nipple a few determined pulls to start the flow of colostrum. If there is no milk or if the lamb will not cooperate, have a bottle of substitute handy. Three cups milk, one tablespoon sugar, one beaten egg, and one tablespoon cod-liver oil will do the trick.

After one week to ten days it is time to dock the lamb. At birth, it has a long tail resembling a dog’s tail. To prevent feces build-up, the tail is clipped with a special docking instrument. Cut it about two inches from the rump. Apply iodine and, to stop the bleeding, wrap a string tightly around the wound. A walk in cool air will encourage the blood to clot. After 15 minutes, the string can be removed. Lambs will frequently be traumatized by the pain, but they will resume normal activity in a few hours.

Lambs will begin feeding about two weeks after birth. Offer them a creep feeder, fashioned to allow only small-headed animal’s access to the feed. The ewe and lamb should be fed separately for the first few days after birth, or until the lamb is strong enough to ward off the jealous advances of other mothers.

Shearing Sheep

Sheep are shorn in the spring but, in special cases, they may be shorn in early summer, or in autumn, as preparation for breeding.

Shearing the ewes before lambing frees the birth passage and keeps the wool from being soiled. Shearing can best be learned from someone who is an old hand at the art. Sheep will yield approximately ten pounds of wool per animal.

Slaughtering Sheep

To slaughter your sheep, you need a .22 rifle, a special table or butchering “cradle,” a meat saw, sharp butchering knives, containers for catching the blood, and a large sink in which to wash the carcass.

For about a day prior to slaughtering, withhold feed but not water from the animal. This will prevent the stomach from being too full and will make removal of the gut much simpler. Clean and assemble your equipment, then lead the sheep from its pen to the butchering table. Handle the animal gently, placing one hand under its throat and the other hand under the opposite flank.

Shoot the sheep in the center of the forehead. Lift the body onto the table and, with a sharp, pointed knife, slit the throat. Let the blood drain out into a container beneath the table.

Split the throat and remove the windy and esophagus. Skin hind legs and remove the hooves. Make an incision in these legs bet, the tendons and string cord through it. You can now hang the carcass and continue skin the sides.

The intestines are removed through an incision made in the belly wall. The viscera, removed, the paunch and liver cut out, and diaphragm cut so that the heart and lungs be removed.

Wash the carcass in tepid water. Cover with netting, and hang it in a cool place for a day or two. The pelt should be covered wino salt and hung over a fence to dry before tanned.

Raising Turkey Chicks

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

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

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

Turkey Housing

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

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

Turkey Care and Feeding

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

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

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

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

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

Turkey Diseases

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