French Method of Intensive Cultivation

H Herrman, 1910

What to do in August #

Carrots, Endive and Winter Spinach #

A small amount of carrot seed should be sown in August, in the open ground, to stand throughout the winter for spring use; sow some in the first week of August. Carrots from such a sowing can be sold during the next early spring. Seed must be sown on Avell-broken and prepared soil. Do not sow it too thick and rake it carefully.

At the same time sow some prickly or winter spinach, for early and general spring supply; do not sow these later than the second week in August, so that the plants will grow to a good size before winter. Do not sow earlier, especially if the ground is rich, for it is likely to get rank and may be run to seed before winter or early in spring. The ground should be well drained so as to be dry in winter.

When the leaves of the plants are about an inch wide, thin them out and get rid of all the weeds in the bed. Thin the plants regularly to a distance of about three or four inches of each other. In this way they will grow stocky and will produce large, heavy leaves.

Sowing in August will permit you to gather the spinach from October clear up to May first.

Sow a small quantity of endive, selecting such seed as you think best from some of the catalogs. When they come up, transplant some of the strongest plants.After trimming off the extreme ends of the roots and weak, straggling tops of the leaves, plant them one foot each way in good soil. Water as soon as planted and in dry weather water every two or three days until the plants have taken root.

What to do in September #

Early Cauliflower, Blanching Endive, Strawberries #

From the first of September to the last, sow cauliflower seed in the open ground, in an old hot-bed or a piece of open ground ; these will come up in about eight days, about twenty days after they come up they will be ready to place in frames, so that they may be covered with sash. Take a piece of ground the width of your frames, and cover with two inches of rotted ma- nure from some exhausted beds. Do not plant too close ; if they should happen to be, a little later on, you can again transplant some of them. If the season is an open one, you may find it necessary to pull them up and transplant them again in the same place. This will set them back a little, which is intended. Let them have air every day the weather is good, this will harden the plants so as to make them more able to stand the cold weather. Cabbage lettuce can also be planted between these cauliflower. Before cold weather sets in the sides of the frames can be banked up with manure and, when necessary, cover the tops of the sash with straw mats.

The cauliflowers will be ready to cut in April. The early cauliflower plants, which were sown in August, will be ready to be potted in paper pots or planted out in frames, about the middle or not later than the 20th of September.

Plant them in rows about three or four inches apart and allow the same distance between the rows. Do not plant them too deep, for that will have a tendency to kill them.

Just after planting, give them a little water to settle the soil to their roots, but do not water hurriedly, that you may break their leaves or run some of the earth into their hearts.

Keep the sash on for three or four days until the plants have taken root and shade them from the sun. After they have rooted the sash must be taken entirely off, and used on various occasions during the month, or say three or four weeks.

If cold nights or heavy rains follow, put on the sash as too much rain or water would make them rot.

To blanch the endive plants white, tie the leaves together. Do this in dry weather, choosing plants of good, hardy growth and those that are full in the heart. Gather up the leaves evenly in your hand, and tie them about the middle of the plant with a piece of cloth that has been torn into narrow strips. This will make them white, tender and crisp.

How to Prepare Soil for Strawberries #

September is the best time to plant strawberries. If the weather is moist it may be done any time during the month, but if the weather is very dry and hot, do not plant until the latter part of the month. Secure the best plants of any variety of your own selection. Plant these in rich ground facing the full sun, so as to ripen the berries to perfection. The rows should be fifteen inches apart and the plants the same distance apart.

What to do in October #

Winter Cabbage, Lettuce, Early Cold Frames #

Winter cabbage lettuce is a small variety, having very small hearts. It grows unusually well under sash, but it is of no use except for this purpose. Lettuce can be had all through the winter by following these instructions:

During the first of October sow the seed in the cold frames and just as soon as the two leaves make their appearance, thin them out and transplant in other cold frames. Some time dur- ing next month, November, dress around with old manure takeii from old exhausted beds. Protect the sash well from frost and heavy rains by covering with straw mats; these should be taken off during the middle of the day when the weather permits, but the sash must remain in order not to let air in on the plants. The market gardeners of Paris employ Romaine Early French cos for winter culture, in the same manner as

French cos lettuce is the same as our Grand Rapids lettuce and the early French frame the same as our Big Boston.

The seed of this Cos lettuce is sown during the early part of October. Its cultivation is the same as the early cold frame, but to avoid mistakes we repeat the plan. During the first week prepare a well-sheltered Led that faces the south ; after the earth is dug, rake carefully and on the top of this put two inches of rich compost.

Make the bed as level as you can and place the cold frames on top of this bed. Now sow the seed thinly in each frame and cover Adth half an inch of very fine soil, placing the sash on top of the frames. The seeds will come up in about four days and about two weeks afterwards the plants should be thinned out and transplanted in cold frames placed on beds prepared in the same way as for sewing the seed. These plants will take root in a few daj^s, and as the cos lettuce likes air, raise the sash a little during the day and be sure to see they are shut at night.

When cold weather arrives, cover the sash with straw mats and pack the outer sides of the frames with manure. When the cold weather has gone, remove the mats and give the plants air if the wreath er permits.

In thinning out and transplanting, the cos lettuce and early French frame lettuce can be planted in the same frames. This transplanting can be done either in January or February. Each frame should contain four early French frame lettuce to one cos lettuce. These lettuce should not be planted too close to- gether, as the ground between the lettuce plants should be sown with early carrot seeds.

The early French frame or cabbage lettuce will be ready to cut before the cos lettuce have room to develop. After the cos lettuce has been cut, take off the sash and thin out the carrots if too thick. You should continue to tie up the full-grown endive plants for blanching as directed in September.

During the early part of this month you may begin making your hot-beds for forcing asparagus, the method of which has been shown you in Chapter I. New hot-beds must be made every three or four weeks from now on till the end of March. This will furnish you a constant supply of green asparagus until the arrival of the natural crop in May.

What to do in November and December #

Cauliflower and Endive #

On dry days be sure to tie up the full-grown endive plants to whiten them.

Allow the early cauliflower plants, which are in frames for the winter, to have air every day, when the weather is mild and dry. Take the sash off in the morning and put them back in the late evening. When there is much rain, keep the sash on ; anH if the weather is mild, with rain, just raise the sash two or three inches to allow the fresh air to reach the plants.

If dead leaves should appear at any time on the plants pull them off, and keep the bed well weeded.

If you have failed to thin out and transplant the cauliflower, as told last month, be sure to do it in November.

Be on the look-out for slugs among your cauliflower plants, this is the season they attack tliem.

During December look over your cauliflower plants very carefully, and pick ofT the decayed leaves as they appear.

Each day the weather is mild and dry, take off the sash, so that the plants may have all the air possible; put them back at night.

If there is much rain, keep the sash on. If it is raining and the weather is mild, just raise the sash two or three inches on one side.

In severe cold weather, keep the sash on all of the time and covered with straw mats and bank the outside of the frames with manure.

If the Vv’eather is dry during December, continue to tie up the endive for blanchino-.

What to do in January #

Sowing Radishes and Carrots before Planting Lettuce. #

You should prepare your beds for the lettuce plants, which are to be transplanted for the last time this month. The ma- nure which you have collected during the summer and autumn can now be mixed half and half with new, fresh manure, this will make Jieat enough to push the lettuce along and just enotigh to promote the early germination of the radish and carrot seed, and force them without making them shanky and leafy.

Spread the manure evenly over the ground to the depth of nine inches. When done, set on the frames and lay about three inches of good, light garden soil inside the frames ; in this sow some of the best early forcing radish very thinly and some early carrot seed, sow both seeds evenly through the frame, press down into the earth with a spade and cover with light, rich soil to the depth of one-half inch. In some of the frames, instead of sowing carrots you may sow turnip seed.

After these seeds are planted, plant the lettuce plants family on the bed. Keep the sash on and do not give air.

The cauliflowers in the sash must have air every mild day. Just raise the sash on one side two or three inches facing the warmest side. In cold weather keep the sash closed and in severe cold weather put straw mats over the sash and back ma- imre on the outside around the franjies. In warm weather, al- lov»’ them to remain open as long as possible. This keeps them from drawing up weak or blooming out of season. You must be sure to put them down every cold day and night.

During the latter part of January sow a small lot of early French cauliflower in a hot-bed, to follow the winter standing plants or to replace any killed by the frost. See instructions in Februarv.

In dry, open weather, let some of the best full-grown endive be prepared for blanching. Let the plants be quite dry, and tie the leaves of each plant together; they will be blanched for use in a fortnight, suitable for salad.

A hot bed frame containing carrots, cauliflower and lettuce—the radishes have already been pulled.

What to do in February #

Early Cucumbers and Canteloupe; Care of Cauliflower Plants; Starting Tomatoes #

During the first month of February sow canteloupe and cu- cumber seeds. You must secure tlie best seed of tlie earliest varieties. It is best to secure seed that is three or four years old if possible, as plants grown from such seed wdlt fruit earlier than if you plant new seed which have a tendency to run too much to vine ; they often run a considerable length before fruit appears.

Make a small hot-bed of fresh stable manure in which to raise plants to the proper size to transplant into larger hot-beds during March. A small bed of one or two sash wall be suth- cient, and two carts of fresh manure will be enough for a bed of two or three sash. Secure fresh, steamy stable manure that is moist and full of heat, getting rid of the dry, long straw and exhausted’ parts before making it into a bed. If the manure is very rank, it is best to mix it well together in aheap and let it remain this way for about ten days so asto ferment equally. This wdll also allow the rank steam and fierce heat to evapo- rate. It ^dll then be of the right temperature to make into a hot-bed.

Make this hot-bed in a sheltered, well-drained spot facing the south. Make it on top of the ground the proper width to ac- commodate the frame. The sides of the bed should be well lined on all sides with fresh, hot manure which will prevent the bed from cooling.

When making the bed, allow it to be three inches wider than the frame all around. Mix the manure well when putting it on the bed and beat it down with the back of your fork ; but do not pack it too hard as it will not work as well and will be more liable to burn than if it is allowed to settle gradually by itself. Let the bed be about three feet high, and it should settle about eight inches in about aweek or two after it is made. As soon as it settles put on the frames and sash, keeping the sash closed until the heat begins to rise, then raise the sash to allow the steam to pass away. About four days after making the bed, put three or four inches of rich, light, dry earth or com- post which has been made ready under a shed.

After you have been gardening for a year you can use the old, exhausted manure for this purpose. If the bed has settled unequally, take off the frames and sash and level it, putting on the frames again. Then fill small paper pots with the same kind of earth or compost as was used for earthing the bed, place them in the frame, put on the sash and allow them to remain until the soil in the pots is warm, then sow the seed in the pots, both of cucumber and canteloupe, two in each pot and lower the pots a little into the soil.

After this keep the sash closed. Raise one corner of the sash one-half an inch whenever necessary to allow the steam arising from the heat of the bed to evaporate. This must be done to prevent any burning tendency from the great heat in the bed in its early stage.

Cover sash each evening about an hour after sunset wdth straw mats and uncover them every morning between eight and nine o’clock. Be careful in covering up with mats at night while the heat is still strong and steam continues, to raise the end of the sash about half an inch to allow the rank steam arising to pass away and to admit a moderate degree of fresh air. When this is done, be sure to allow the straw mat to bend down a little over the end where the sash is raised. This must be done especially when the plants are beginning to grow to prevent the cold air from rushing into th frame. Great care must be taken that the earth in the pots does not have too much heat. Ex- amine each day the heat in the bed and if there is any appear- ance of burning, raise the pots a little farther from the manure without disturbing the seeds or plants. In this way you can prevent all injury from too much heat if you examine the bed every day.

The plants will appear in about four days; you must then admit fresh air into the frames by raising the end of the sash a little each day.

If the soil in the pots should be dry, moisten very moderately with a little water that has had the cold chill taken off. Water about noon and only the soil around the roots, and not over the tops of the plants. After watering close the sash down for about an hour, then open up alittle and close towards evening. Continue to cover every night with straw mats. After the heat becomes more moderate, close the frames every night and un- cover each morning to allow light, sun and air to the plants. Whenever possible, admit fresh air in the daytime to strengthen the plants.

Fill some of the paper pots with rich, dry compost and set them in the frame till the next day so that the soil will become warm, into these are to be potted the seedling plants; raise the plants with your finger with all the roots as entire as pos- sible, and with as much of the soil as adhers to the fibres. The pots filled with soil being ready, make a little concave soil, place the plants in the hollowed part, with the roots toward the cen- ter and cover the roots and stems an inch with soil. Water very little and plunge the pots into the soil in the bed again close to one another, filling up the places between the soil and letting every part of the bed within the frame be covered with as much earth as will prevent the rising of the rank steam immediately from the manure, which would destroy the plants.

In two or three days the plants will have taken root, al- though sometimes they take root within twenty-four hours if the bed is in good condition. After the plants are well rooted, if the earth is dry, give them a little water at the warmest time of the day. The best time is when the sun shines. Repeat watering occasionally and \ery moderately as the earth in the pots becomes dry and seems to need it, always using water that has had the chill taken off and always in great moderation.

Examine the best in the bed very carefully in about two weeks and if the bed has lost much of its heat, apply a lining of fresh, hot manure on the outside. If the heat has not be- come greatly lessened, line only one side, pntting it on the back of the bed, and in about a week line the front. This manure on the outside should be about twelve or fifteen inches ^nde and should be covered with two inches of earth to prevent the rank steam of the new manure from coming up and entering into the frame, which would prove fatal to the plants. By applying this hot manure at the proper time and renewing it when neces- sary, you can keep the bed at a proper temperature of heat and of sufficient duration to keep the plants growing freely until ready for planting out into the other beds.

When the first two rough leaves appear about two or three inches broad and they have commenced to run, they will be ready to be transplanted out permanently into the larger beds.

For the first transplanting proceed as follows: During Feb* ruary there are usually some mnter beds which have been used for lettuce which now have nothing growing in them. First of all, take away the soil from the top of the old bed and break up the old manure which is not yet exhausted, mix an equal part of new, hot manure with this and remake the beds; when made, put the frames on, spread on about five inches of good earth, then put on the sash immediately. When the heat has fallen to the level of eighty-five degrees Fahr., one inch into the soil, transplant the canteloupe into this bed. Cucumbers should be transplanted in exactly the same way.

The early cauliflower plants in the frames should be given plenty of air each warm day by taking the sash entirely off. At the end of a month, if the weather is warm and settled, trans- plant some of the strongest plants to the bed where they are to remain permanently. Plant them in rich, well-manured ground thirty inches each way. If the weather is cold and un- settled, do not plant until next month.

Tomatoes should be raised in a hot-bed in February and as soon as they are ready, replant them out into the frames which have held the lettuce and which are partly exhausted. The plants should be about two inches apart. When they are fair size they should be potted into large paper pots, kept in the frames and planted out in the open ground in May, after there is no longer any danger of frost.

What to do in March #

Care of Early Cucumbers and Canteloupes—How to make a Mint Bed #

Be sure to examine your cucumber and melon hot-beds, mak- ing sure that their heat is well maintained, so as to keep the plants growing freely. Keep the heat moderate and the plants will set well and will show fruit plentifully.

If the heat lessens, add a new lining of fresh stable manure to the back or front of the bed as required, but if the heat is steady, line only one side at a time, adding on the other side about ten days later; make the lining about a foot wide and allow to run up about five inches on the sides of the frames; cover the top with earth to the depth of about tw^o inches to keep the steam down.

Allow the beds to have plenty of air whenever you can. Raise one end of the sash about one or two inches, depending a great deal on the state of the weather. On sunny, warm days allow more air than on cold and cloudy days; always close the sash in the evening before sundown. Keep the sash closed at all times when it is cold. Water the beds whenever needed, but only on warm, sunny days and water very little, the best time to water is around the noon hour.

Cover the sash every evening with your straw mats just after sundown, and uncover again in the morning about an hour after the sun is up or just as soon as the sun shines on the sash fully.

All the early plants, especially the cucumbers, raised last month will now have begun to run and show fruit ; as soon as they do, train the vines regularly over the surface of the bed at equal distances and peg thein down neatly. Be careful at this early stage to set or impregnate the fruit blossoms or fe- male with the male flowers.

At the beginning of this month make new hot-beds and sow more cucumber and canteloupe seed. About the middle or to- ward the latter end of this month sow again in order to have a supply of young plants, either to plant into new beds or to take the place of such plants that have died.

If you intend raising asparagus roots for future use in hot- beds this is now the time to sow the seed. The seed can be sown in the middle of the month in good, rich ground. Sow m drills an inch deep and six inches apart. The plants will come up in a month to six weeks, when they should be watered occasionally in specially dry weather to strengthen and push their growth. The bed must be kept carefully weeded during the summer months.

This is the time to make your mint beds, so to have a full supply for forcing in the early spring.

The plants can be propagated either by parting the roots or by slipped roots of the young, spring plants being taken up with plenty of root, also by cutting during April and May

But this month the best way is to part the roots.

Plant in rows about six inches apart and five or six inches distant in the rows, also water them well to settle the soil closely around the roots.

To propagate mint by roots get a quantity of old roots, part them, then make drills with a hoe six inches apart, place the roots in the drills, cover them about an inch deep with the earth and then rake the ground.

The roots can be procured in February or the beginning of March or in October and November. The plants will thrive in almost any soil or situation. They will quickly take root and grow very freely, producing a crop the same year, and these roots will produce a crop annually for many years.

For forcing purposes the roots must be dug up, the ground ■will be found to be full of them ; spread them very thickly on exhausted lettuce beds, and cover with about two inches of soil. These plants will grow rapidly and be ready for cutting in a short time.

Dress the strawberry beds this month if you have failed to do so up to this time. The sooner you do it the better, but do not litter tbeui down as yet. The beds being clear of litter, loosen the earth between the plants and then add a little of very rich, black earth to the beds, it will strengthen the plants and they will flower strongly and produce large fruit. About the middle of this month is the best time to put on the sash, as recommended. Litter them down when they have nearly finished flowering, not before, as the litter gets damp and at- tracts the frost if they become too far advanced. The fruit will be ready for the last week in May or the first of June, when there is a good demand for them.

The frame of a hot bed before asparagus has been placed for forcing.

What to do in April and May #

Cauliflowers and Cucumbers #

The early cauliflower plants in the hot-beds should have the earth raked up to their stems in April. This will give them a stronger and more vigorous growth. The sash must still be kept over these at night and during cold, rainy weather. When the days are warm or when there are warm rains the plants should be exposed to the air. AVhen they are pretty well ad- vanced in growth towards the end of this month or the first of next, the sash can be removed altogether. If any of the wintei standing cauliflower plants in the frames were not transplanted last month, you must do it now as directed.

The cauliflower plants should now be at their best, so must be carefully watched and attended.

Keep the beds in moderate heat by applying fresh manure whenever necessary. This was explained in the two preceding chapters.

The plants should be moderately watered about twice a week. Either in the morning or afternoon will be the best time to water at this season of the year. The plants will also demand having fresh air whenever the weather is mild, if the sash are kept on when the sun is warm it will destroy the plants. It is well to raise one end of the sash each warm morning about nine o’clock being early enough, as the weather becomes warmer raise the sash two or three inches more each time.

The sash must be put down each evening about five or six o’clock, and on cold evenings they must be closed an hour earlier.

The plants must be shaded on every hot, sunny day between eleven and two o’clock. It will be very well to keep covering the sash with mats during this month ; as a rule, cover up to- wards sunset and uncover them in the morning. The early cu- cumbers should now be in full bearing, but continue to set the young fruit notwithstanding, as it blossoms. It is best to do this either on the day that the flower expands or on the fol- lowing day, but do it in the forenoon. This is absolutely nec- essary. Refer to cucumbers in March and April.

What to do in June #

How to Manage the Canteloupe—How to Manage the Cucumbers—Care of Cauliflower, Now Perfect #

The canteloupe plants that are now in the frames, should still be moderately shaded in the middle of the day; that is, when the sun shines strongly, and particularly so where the plants do not stand the sun well. The mid-day sun is likely to exhaust the juices of the vines and’ roots, which would greatly check the young fruit.

Spread the mats over the sash when the sun is very strong, but do not use heavy ones, that would darken the plants too much. They should only be put on in mid-day, say from eleven to three.

Give the plants plenty of fresh air each day by raising the sash on one end. Water very little every week or two. Keep the soil moderately wet, especially when the plants are setting their fruit. If there is too much humidity it would prevent them setting and make them turn yellow. After they are set they may be watered more freely. It is never wise to water too much, as too much water would prove harmful to the roots and the stem of the jDlants and would make them rot and decay.

Continue to cover the sash each night with the light mats till about the middle of the month.

Strawberries must be well supplied wit hwater in dry weather, as the plants ^viW soon be in blossom.

The watering should be repeated each day in very dry weather about the middle of this month. This is absolutely essential, but the principal crop of strawberries will now be set- ting and beginning to swell and while the berries are taking their growth the plant should be encouraged by keeping the earth in the beds just a little moist. You will be able to see the advantage of this in the increased size of the fruit and in the quality of it. Never water, however, unless the sun is very strong and the fruit requires it.

Be sure to take good care of the cucumber plants in the frames. The}^ s-hould be kept well supplied with water and fresh air.

These plants in hot weather should be watered every two or three days. In the morning, afternoon or towards evening is the best time of the day during this month.

Give the j)lants air each day by raising one end of the sash, You should, however, close the sash at night during all of this month.

On warm ,sunshiny days it will be better during the hottest time to shade the plants with garden mats or possibly a loose straw litter spread over the sash will answer the purpose.

Keep watching the early cauliflower plants every now and then. Pull the larger leaves over the heads, as they appear ready to be cut. The plants that are still growing or those that are partly flowering should be well watered during very dry weather; this will keep the plants growing and will produce larger heads.

Hollow a ditch around each plant to hold good waterings, applying it gradually, so it will moisten the earth as far as the roots- extend. They will need no more watering and the little ditch can again be filled with water.

What to do in July #

Sowing Endive seed—Planting Dwarf Kidney Beans—Sowing Carrot Seeds #

This is the month that endive seed should be sown in order that you may raise a supply of plants for use at the end of au- tumn for the principal winter crop.

►Select some good, green curled seed, selected from some seed catalog, that vail prove the best variety for your regular sup- ply during the winter . Sow this variety twice at different times during this month. Sow the first seed between the first and tenth, and the second about the twentieth. The seed should bo thinly sown, trodden down and evenly raked.

Water occasionally in dry weather, so as to start the plants growing early. They will also come up regularly if watered.

It would he well to plant a late crop of dwarf kidney beans. The seed must be planted the first week in July, again about the fifteenth and then on the last of the month. This will al- low you to gather them until the first of January.

They may be planted in almost any kind of ground. Plow the ground and plant the beans in rows.

If the weather should be very hot at this time and the ground very dry, it would be well to water the drills before planting the seeds or you could soak the seeds for five or six hours and then plant the seeds immediately. Do not soak the beans, however, unless the ground is very dry, the better plan would be to water the drills only. Plant the seeds imme- diately and cover with earth to the depth of an inch.

During the first week of this month it will be well to sow carrot seed; this will give carrots in the autumn and winter. Choose a light piece of ground, plow, and sow the seeds mod- erately heavy and rake evenly. When the plants have come up an inch or two, thin them to a distance of six or eight inches.

The cucuin!)ers in your frames will now require care. The sash must either be opened wide, or taken off entirely on warm days, if the weather is not favorable or there is much rain you must still use the sash, but give plenty of hee air above. When tiie weather is dry water plentifully and when the sash are kept on, raise one end of the sash so as to allow fresh air to the plants.

When plants have just been reset, water only in dry weather until they have taken root. Water all beds where seeds have just been planted only in dry weather. This is also true where small plants are just coming up. At this time of the year and in sunny weather it is best to water in the morning or late in the evening. The best hours in the morning will be between sunrise and nine o’clock, and between the hours of four and eight in the evening. Watering at this time is very much more effective, as the moisture has time to settle gradually into the soil before the plants are exposed to the hot rays of the mid- day sun.