Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Leaf Crops - Special needs and care (part 2)

Leaf Crops - In this post : Chicory, Chervil, Chives, Cress, Chard, Dandelion, Endive, Kale, Lettuce, Mushroom, Paesley, Rhubarb, Sea-Kale, Spinach

This also is little grown. The Witloof, a kind now being used, is however much more desirable. Sow in drills, thin to five or six inches, and in August or September, earth up, as with early celery, to blanch the stalks, which are used for salads, or boiled. Cut-back roots, planted in boxes of sand placed in a moderately warm dark place and watered, send up a growth of tender leaves, making a fine salad.

Curled chervil is grown the same as parsley and used for garnishing or seasoning. The root variety resembles the stumprooted carrot, the quality being improved by frost. Sow in April or
September. Treat like parsnip.

Leaves are used for imparting an onion flavor. A clump of roots set put will last many years.

Another salad little grown in the home garden. To many, however, its spicy, pungent flavor is particularly pleasing. It is easily grown, but should be planted frequently--about every two weeks.
Sow in drills, twelve to fourteen inches apart. Its only special requirement is moisture. Water is not necessary, but if a bed can be started in some clean stream or pool, it will take care of itself. Upland cress or "pepper grass" grows in ordinary garden soil, being one  very first salads. Sow in April, in drills twelve or fourteen inches apart. It grows so rapidly that it may be had in five or six weeks. Sow frequently for succession, as it runs to seed very quickly.

Chard:--See Spinach.


This is an excellent "greens," but as the crop is not ready until second season from planting it is not grown as much as it should be. Sow the seed in April--very shallow. It is well to put in with it a few lettuce or turnip seed to mark the rows. Drills should be one foot apart, and plants thinned to eight to twelve inches.
The quality is infinitely superior to the wild dandelion and may be still further improved by blanching. If one is content to take a small crop, a cutting may be made in the fall, the same season as the sowing.

This salad vegetable is best for fall use. Sow in June or July, in drills eighteen to twenty-four inches apart, and thin to ten to twelve inches. To be fit for use it must be blanched, either by
tying up with raffia in a loose bunch, or by placing two wide boards in an inverted V shape over the rows; and in either case be sure the leaves are dry when doing this.

Kale is a non-heading member of the cabbage group, used as greens, both in spring and winter. It is improved by frost, but even then is a little tough and heavy. Its chief merit lies in the fact that it is easily had when greens of the better sorts are hard to get, as it may be left out and cut as needed during winter--even from under snow. The fall crop is given the same treatment as late cabbage. Siberian kale is sown in September and wintered-over like spinach.

Is grown in larger quantities than all the other salad plants put together. By the use of hotbeds it may be had practically the year round. The first sowing for the spring under-glass crop is made in January or February. These are handled as for the planting outside--see Chapter VIII.--but are set in the frames six to eight inches each way, according to variety. Ventilate freely during the day when over 55 give 45 at night. Water only when needed, but then thoroughly, and preferably only on mornings of bright sunny days.
The plants for first outdoor crops are handled as already described. After April 1st planting should be made every two weeks. During July and August the seed-beds must be kept shaded and moist. In August, first sowing for fall under-glass crop is made, which can be matured in
coldframes; later sowings going into hotbeds.
In quality, I consider the hard-heading varieties superior to the loose-heading sorts, but of course that is a matter of taste. The former is best for crops maturing from the middle of June until September, the latter for early and late sowings, as they mature more quickly. The cos type is good for summer growing but should be tied up to blanch well. To be at its best, lettuce should be grown very rapidly, and the use of top-dressings of nitrate are particularly beneficial with this crop. The ground should be light, warm, and very rich, and cultivation shallow but frequent.

While the mushroom is not a garden crop, strictly speaking, still it is one of the most delicious of all vegetables for the home table, and though space does not permit a long description of the several details of its culture, I shall try to include all the essential points as succinctly as possible, (1) The place for the bed may be found in any sheltered, dry spot--basement, shed or greenhouse-- where an even temperature of 53 to 58 degrees can be maintained and direct sunlight excluded. (Complete darkness is not necessary; it is frequently so considered, but only because in dark places the temperature and moisture are apt to remain more even.) (2) The material is fresh horse-manure, from which the roughest of the straw has been shaken out. This is stacked in a compact pile and trampled--wetting down if at all dry--to induce fermentation. This process must be repeated four or five times, care being required never to let the heap
dry out and burn; time for re-stacking being indicated by the heap's steaming. At the second or third turning, add about one-fifth, in bulk, of light loam. (3) When the heat of the pile no longer rises above 100 to 125 degrees (as indicated by a thermometer) put into the beds, tramping or beating very firmly, until about ten inches deep.
When the temperature recedes to 90 degrees, put in the spawn. Each brick will make a dozen or so pieces. Put these in three inches deep, and twelve by nine inches apart, covering lightly. Then beat down the surface evenly. After eight days, cover with two inches of light loam, firmly
compacted. This may be covered with a layer of straw or other light material to help maintain an even degree of moisture, but should be removed as soon as the mushrooms begin to appear. Water only when the soil is very dry; better if water is warmed to about 60 degrees. When
gathering never leave stems in the bed as they are likely to breed maggots. The crop should appear in six to eight weeks after spawning the bed.

This very easily grown little plant should have at least a row or two in the seed-bed devoted to it. For use during winter, a box or a few pots may be filled with cut-back roots and given moderate temperature and moisture. If no frames are on hand, the plants usually will do well in a sunny window.
Parsley seed is particularly slow in germinating. Use a few seeds of turnip or carrot to indicate the rows, and have the bed very finely prepared.

This is another of the standard vegetables which no garden should be without. For the bed pick out a spot where the roots can stay without interfering with the plowing and working of the
garden--next the asparagus bed, if in a good early location, will be as good as any. One short row will supply a large family. The bed is set either with roots or young plants, the former being the usual method.
The ground should first be made as deep and rich as possible. If poor, dig out the rows, which should be four or five feet apart, to a depth of two feet or more and work in a foot of good manure, refilling with the best of the soil excavated. Set the roots about four feet apart in the row, the crowns being about four inches below the surface. No stalks should be cut the first season; after that they will bear abundantly many years.
In starting from seed, sow in March in frames or outside in April; when well along-about the first of June--set out in rows, eighteen by twelve inches. By the following April they will be ready for their permanent position.
Manuring in the fall, as with asparagus, to be worked in in the spring, is necessary for good results. I know of no crop which so quickly responds to liberal dressings of nitrate of soda, applied first just as growth starts in in the spring. The seed stalks should be broken off as fast as they appear, until late in the season.

When better known in this country, sea-kale will be given a place beside the asparagus and rhubarb, for, like them, it may be used year after year. Many believe it superior in quality to either asparagus or cauliflower.
It is grown from either seed or pieces of the root, the former method, being probably the more satisfactory. Sow in April, in drills fourteen inches apart, thinning to five or six. Transplant in the following spring as described for rhubarb--but setting three feet apart each way. In the fall, after the leaves have fallen--and every succeeding fall-- cover each crown with a shovelful of clean sand and then about eighteen inches of earth, dug out from between the rows. This is to blanch the spring growth. After cutting, shovel off the earth and sand and enrich with manure for the following season's growth.

For the first spring crop of this good and wholesome vegetable, the seed is sown in September, and carried over with a protection of hay or other rough litter. Crops for summer and fall are sown in successive plantings from April on, Long-Standing being the best sort to sow after about May 15th. Seed of the New Zealand spinach should be soaked several hours in hot water, before being planted.
For the home garden, I believe that the Swiss chard beet is destined to be more popular, as it becomes known, than any of the spinaches. It is sown in plantings from April on, but will yield leaves all season long; they are cut close to the soil, and in an almost incredibly short time the roots have thrown up a new crop, the amount taken during the season being wonderful.
Spinach wants a strong and very rich soil, and dressings of nitrate show good results.
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