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|Part II. Vegetable Growing
Fall and Winter Vegetables.
It is August and what green food, good for pullets, and what vegetables, good for ourselves, can be planted at this time of the year on a southeast slope in Alameda County at late as this?
It is not late in the season; it is early. The gardening year in California breaks into the calendar on July 1st; so you are just a little ahead of the autumnal spring time which is ushered in by the early rains, usually in September or October. You can grow by starting now with irrigation or as soon as the ground is in good condition by rainfall, all vegetables except those which are strictly tender, like tomatoes, peppers, squashes, corn, beans, etc. Even those which are counted "half hardy" in Eastern catalogues are usually safe, but must be kept going along well by good cultivation during the intervals between early rains.
Good things to grow in quantity for fowls are beets, cabbages, peas. Vetches and early sown grains are often very useful. Alfalfa can also be successfully started where frosts are absent during the autumn months.
Sunshine and Moonshine in the Garden.
I intended planting some tomato, pepper and cucumber plants along the north side of the house, where they will not get any sun until about 10 a. m., but my neighbor tells me that they will not amount to anything without the morning sun. Is he right? What do you think about planting corn, potatoes and other garden truck "when the moon is right"?
There is only a sentimental difference between morning sunshine and any other kind, and we have no reason to think that the vegetable is affected thereby, as mankind sometimes is. Morning sunshine is, however, a mild article and shade-loving plants tolerate, and perhaps enjoy it, while midday and afternoon sunshine might be too fierce for them. But the plants you ask about are sun-loving, and they will be quite satisfied with the stronger kind, of which they will get enough from the middle of the morning until sunset. We invariably plant seeds "when the moon is right" - but then the moon is always right when the earth and the sun are.
Vegetables After Alfalfa.
I have three acres of alfalfa that I would like to put into garden truck. How and when, would you prepare the soil?
Plow the stuff under deeply as soon as the land is moist enough in the fall and disk harrow it. Cut out any alfalfa that tries to grow using a hoe or a disk, according to the amount that starts from roots not well covered. If this is done in September, with early rain or irrigation, let it lie about a month and plant all vegetables not injured by frost. If there is but little alfalfa you can plant immediately after plowing under.
Garbanzos After Barley.
I have some barley on dobe loam, which I hope to cut for hay in June. Then I want to raise garbanzo beans.
Garbanzos are nearer to peas than to beans. Their English name is chick-pea. You could probably get a crop by sowing in June if the land was irrigated after haying and worked well for the garbanzo planting. We doubt if you could get any kind of a start on dry plowed hay stubble, although the garbanzo will stand more dry heat after starting than any other member of the pea family we know of.
Rotating Beans and Grain.
Is it practicable to use beans for crop rotation on grain land in the San Joaquin. Valley; planting the beans in spring, raising a crop from them, if possible, plowing the vines under in the fall and subsequently seeding the same to grain?
It is a good proposition theoretically and good practically, if you can get the bean crop. On the plains the pink bean stands the heat better than others and is often very satisfactory. On low, moist land the blackeye bean (cow pea) gives good results. Beans generally dislike the dry heat of the plains, but there are places which suit them well. Most valley beans are grown on riverside lands.
Black-eye and Tepary Beans.
If black-eye beans are planted the first of April will they be off about the middle of June without water? Is there any demand and where and what time of the year? Would the Tepary bean be more profitable?
Beans are not as lively as that. If you could plant as early as April without danger of frost (and we are not at all sure about that), you might get dry beans in July; or, if the land is pretty dry, you will get dry vines without beans before that. Black-eye beans are of the cow-pea class, and they like to grow for a long season in soil that has enough moisture. Tepary beans will be more likely to succeed in dry soil. They are very small, new and fashionable, and the seed may be in good demand for planting. They are not yet staple enough to predict prices very confidently. Blackeye beans are salable as soon as harvested to any dealer.
Beans and Onions.
I have excellent sandy soil on which I should like to plant onion seed for a mature crop of onions the first year. The land has been in pasture for some twenty years. It was plowed last spring, and on one end of it several rows of beans were planted, under irrigation. The beans grew finely, and there also appeared an enormous growth of erodium.
It will bother you a good deal to find the onions grown from seed in land which grows such a lot of filaree (erodium). It would be easier to kill down a lot of it by plowing and disking until April, and then set the field with transplanted seedling onions from a seed bed which you can start in February, according to the conditions of soil and weather. We would prefer to put the whole piece in beans the first year and keep cultivating to clean the land for a try at onions next year. Beans will largely kill the weeds in their rows, which onions will not do, and therefore require a lot of hand work in the rows, which is very expensive. If you conclude to try beans you can wait until March to plow under the growth of erodium. After that disk the land to kill more weeds and keep a good surface in preparation for the bean planting, which must wait until after danger of frost is over, early in May. Then keep down the summer growth of weeds by frequent cultivation. Land which gives such a free growth of erodium will bring plenty of beans without fertilizing.
Can I plant beets for stock food in August and make a success of them if I irrigate before planting, and when could I expect to commence to feed them?
There is more risk in getting a good stand of beets in August than earlier or later, because of the danger of high, dry heat. The beet is more tender at germination than at other times. But if you wet down well and plant a little deeper (if your soil is light and friable) than you would in winter you ought to do well, if you get good strong seed. Afterward, irrigate as may be required to keep the beet growing. Do not wait for rain until the growth stops and then start it again with water. You ought to have well grown beets for feeding in January.
Growing Stock Beets.
How early and deep would you plant beets on fairly heavy, subirrigated soil - with no prospect of any surface water? And what variety is best to be fed to milch cows? When could it be expected they would be ready to feed if planted March 10? At harvest time, could I plow them out readily?
It will take from four to six months to get a good large stock beet - according to the amount of moist heat they have to grow with. On moist land you can plant all the year, as the plant is little affected by frost, but - beet seed is rather apt to rot unless there is heat enough to start it quickly. Plant thinly in drills about 2 1/2 feet apart for horse cultivation - using about five pounds of good seed to the acre. Take the Long Red Mangel or the Yellow Tankards; they get great size and make much of their growth above ground so you can easily harvest them for stock. Sugar or other small beets cost too much to handle for stock.
Transplanted Beets and Onions.
Would it be advisable to transplant in September after sweet potatoes had been dug from a sandy, decomposed-granite soil? I have trouble getting them up in hot weather. And would September be too late to set onions to use dry?
All kinds of beets are transplanted readily during the rainy season, by growing the seedings in light soil, from which they could be easily lifted without much loss of roots. If they are then planted with a dibble, or otherwise, so the long thread-like roots will hang deep in the moist soil, they catch on very easily. This can be done on the Coast in September if rains are early or if the soil is well wet down by irrigation. In the interior it will depend upon how fierce the September heat and drouth are. If you start the seeds with partial shade and then harden them to the sun and moisten the land well after the potatoes are dug you ought to get a better stand by transplanting than from the seed at that season. You can turn about the same trick with onions and in about the same way; that is, by transplanting seedlings started in August in a partially shaded seed bed. You ought to get a mature early onion, like the Red Wethersfield, if you can keep the soil moist enough to grow the plant and then dry enough to mature it. You need to learn whether this is possible in your locality or not by trying it.
The Corn Ear Worm.
I would like to know what to do for the grub that crawls in through silk of corn and bores a path on outside of cob.
Though much effort has been put forth to save the corn from the "ear worm," no satisfactory prescription was announced. If the corn is silking when the moths are flying the ears will be more or less affected. Corn planted very early or late, which does not come into condition while the moth is active is likely to have little trouble. But in 1915 two treatments were confidently announced. M. L. Germain of Los Angeles secured 90 per cent of sound ears by powdering them with arsenate of lead powder just when tasseling out. Samuel Haigh of San Jose saved all but one ear on a full row by spraying, as soon as the silk -appeared, with one tablespoonful of creolin to one gallon of water. The adjacent row, not sprayed, was all wormy.
Is it desirable to soak onion seed in water before planting? I have tried three packages so far, but they wither away and die.
Onion seed must be fresh and good. Soaking the seed in water is desirable especially if you are sowing in a dry soil or late in the season when the soil is likely to become dry, but there is a great deal of onion seed on the market which is not good and soaking will have little effect upon it. Your onions should grow without withering away, if you succeed in getting a start with the plant. Dying is generally due to lack of moisture in a light sandy soil, or sometimes too much water if the soil is inclined to be heavy and sticky.
Following instructions given in "California Vegetables," I sowed onion seed thickly in a bed about the first of September, to transplant them in February. However, the plants are already the required six or eight inches in height and are beginning to be badly crowded. I expect to transplant them in the Feather River bottom in a rather light, sandy soil. Will it do to transplant them now?
Transplant whenever you get a few days of moist air-that is, not in dry wind. If your land is not subject to overflow you ought to get a good early crop, for the light soil will take care of the rain easily and the crop will stand considerable freezing weather.
Requirements of Onion Growing.
What variety of onion is best for commercial production in California; are onions adapted to early spring planting in an adobe soil containing some humus and a trace of sand and fitted for irrigation if necessary, and is it possible for one industrious man to care for two acres without extra help except for emergencies?
Onions are successful on a strong, retentive loam, which is probably what you describe as "adobe with some humus and sand." Onions will grow, but they are harder to handle on a hard, cracking adobe. The onions chiefly grown are Red Wethersfield for early and Yellow Danvers for main crop. Growing the seedlings on a sandy seed bed and transplanting when three or four inches high is the best way to get a good stand and escape a lot of labor in weeding. A man can handle two acres well enough if he knows how to make his head save his back in planting and cultivation.
I have thought of planting garlic on gravelly loam. When is the proper time to plant and harvest it? Should it be handled like onions?
During the war garlic rose to 10 cents a pound wholesale in sacks. It is usually 3 to 4 1/2 cents. Garlic is not grown from seed, for the plant seldom flowers or grows seed. It is propagated by separating the "cloves" or bulblets which compose the cluster and which are held together by the silvery skin. Tear the cluster apart and plant the parts of it separately just as you would onion sets. This can be done at any time from fall to spring in this climate, providing the soil is not cold and water soaked. Set in October in properly moist soil, it gives you garlic for early summer; set in February to April, it gives you a late summer and early fall crop, if it is not pinched out by summer drouth for lack of cultivation or irrigation, if needed. A deep, mellow soil is best. In the garden, plant the bulblets six inches apart in rows a foot or so apart for hoeing; in the field make the rows twice as far apart to use a cultivator.
Kindly advise me when to plant peanuts and how to raise then in the field.
Plant, after frost danger is past, in rows 3 to 4 feet apart and 16 to 20 inches in the row. Cover three to four inches. Cultivate about the same as corn, not allowing any weeds to grow in them and keeping the ground loose and mellow, and when the spikes begin to form they should not be disturbed. They require a sandy soil and should not be permitted to suffer from lack of moisture, though irrigation should be practiced in a way to prevent the ground from caking around them. (See also Part II, Vol. 1.)
Too Many Pop-Peanuts.
I have just harvested my peanut crop and so many of the nuts have no kernels. The ground was an old chicken pen, so was well fertilized.
The land was too heavily manured. Direct manuring for peanuts should be avoided because the plant is too actively stimulated, makes too rank growth and fails to fill the shells.
Growing Field Peas.
Can I grow Canada peas in the San Joaquin Valley and how?
You can grow Canada peas as a winter crop for forage, or you can start about February and make a seed crop in the early summer. Field peas do not like dry heat and therefore should be finished off before the dry season advances too far. For forage they may be broadcast on the hard land and covered with a shallow plowing. For seed the land should be well tilled first and the seed drilled in rows about two and a half feet apart to allow cultivation until the vines reach out too far.
Commercial Pepper Growing.
How will growing large peppers for sale green and dried do in the Paso Robles region?
Practically all the commercial peppers, excepting those grown everywhere in market gardens, are produced near the coast in southern California. That district has a very long frost-free season and a certain amount of moisture in the air which seems to favor this plant. It would not be wise to undertake commercial production in the Paso Robles district without having tested the behavior of the plant on a small scale. It would be necessary to plant very much later at Paso Robles because of the spring frosts, and whether the season is long enough to get a full development of the plant and drying in the open air, as they do in Orange county, before frosts in the autumn, would be the point to be determined. Peppers are started in the seed bed and plants set out in rows far enough apart for horse cultivation, say, three or four feet, so that the ground may be kept well cultivated during the growing season. If you cultivate one way, the plants can stand two feet apart in the rows. Grown in a good locality and handled expertly, the crop is sometimes quite profitable, but the demand is limited and the Anaheim district seems to have no difficulty in fully supplying it. For these reasons also, you should proceed carefully.
Bell Peppers in Winter.
Will you tell me when and how to plant bell Peppers for home use by the end of February and first part of April?
Peppers will only stand light frosts and will only hold over in nearly frostless places. This they are most apt to do in what are called the frostless belts, near the coast in southern California. If you box in a few plants with boards and cloth cover you may get fruit at these dates from holdover plants, grown the previous summer, unless you are in a very frosty place.
What causes the tubers on the potato plant instead of below the ground? This plant appeared in a small patch of potatoes and was the only one to act so. There was no sign of any tubers below the surface of the ground.
The plant has "aerial tubers," some of them quite two inches in length. They come about in this way: normally the the potato tuber is an enlargement of an underground stem, formed by the action of the return flow of the sap of the plant. The upward flow of sap is largely through ducts in the central parts of the aerial stems. The downward flow of sap, after its elaboration by the leaf-surfaces is through the tissue which lies just under the skin or bark of the stem and it deposits its burden in the tuber underground. When this tissue is dried or injured in some way so that the return flow of sap cannot pass along to making tubers underground it goes to work above the injuries and makes tubers in the air. The tubers are simply modified stems, either above or below ground, as conditions may determine. When tubers form above there are none below and, for the reason stated, there cannot be. Injury to the stem may be mechanical - such as a scrape with the hoe, the work of an insect or a local disease zone, perhaps. Fortunately, it is of rare occurrence
Potatoes After Corn.
What is the best method to use in clearing off standing corn stover? I have thirty-five acres of it. I do not desire to pasture the land, as I wish to plant an early spring crop of potatoes, and I fear the fresh manure will cause disease.
You can probably get all the coarse stuff free by rolling and disking more cheaply than in any other way, but we would not fear for potatoes the amount of well scattered manure that you will get from feeding down. We would put on a good bunch of stock and hurry it off so as to plow under the trash as soon as possible and plow again for potato planting.
Potatoes "Going to Tops."
Why do some potatoes all grow to top and have a great number of diminutive potatoes that also sprout and grow more small potatoes?
Excessive top growth of potatoes is generally due to over-stimulation of the plant during its early life. This may be due to excessive use of stable manure and sometimes to the lack of adaptation of the variety to the local conditions. Where this excessive top growth occurs small potatoes form but are not adequately enlarged by return flow from the top in process of maturing because the plant starting vigorously with too much moisture became afterwards too dry and then starting again caused the small potatoes, after becoming abnormally checked in growth, to break out with secondary tubers.
Growing Seed Potatoes.
How are good seed potatoes grown?
After you get good clean seed potatoes and land free from eelworms or other potato pests, the way to grow good seed potatoes is exactly the same as growing good potatoes for eating; by good prior tillage, sufficiently deep planting, constant cultivation to retain regular moisture in the soil (and by irrigation during the normal top growth if necessary) then when tubers are well formed, stop irrigation but cultivate to prevent the soil from too sudden drying out and to keep the tuber well covered from exposure to the sun and the potato moth until it is fully matured. Select seed potatoes not alone by suitable size and form of individual tubers, but from hills which bear the greatest number of good tubers. It should be a question of hill selection as well as tuber selection when one is working on a scale which allows him to exercise this greater effort. Of course too little attention is paid to such careful selection for seed purposes. We have sometimes seen potatoes sold for seed potatoes which were not respectable pig feed.
Blackening of Potatoes.
I planted potatoes last year, but they were small and some of them were black in the center, though they looked all right on the outside. What is the best kind to plant?
This may be fusarium wilt. If so, some that are less affected will show only a dark brown circle a little way from the skin when the seed end is cut off. If this is the trouble, don't plant any potatoes close to the place you had them last year, till several seasons have starved the fungus. Early Rose and Burbanks brought from disease-free sections are the standard. If black circles on inside show in the seed potatoes, don't plant them, for they will infect the soil. Strands of the fungus close the water tubes of the plant and cause premature wilting. Never plant very small potatoes - that's what makes them "run out."
I send sample of potatoes grown on subirrigated land. They are good size and perfect flavor, but many have the defect of skin as shown by the sample sent. I am told by some it is due to too much moisture.
It is not merely moisture; your potatoes were attacked in the ground by potato scab and during or after harvesting received the eggs of the tuber moth. The flat blotches are the scab, the excavations and tunneling near the surface are the work of the potato worm. Use the ground for hay or grain and put your potatoes on new ground, after soaking the seed in formalin (1 pint to 30 gallons of water) for an hour and a half, just before planting. To escape the moth, throw earth toward the row a little at the last cultivation but do not "hill up" too much. Never allow the tubers to be exposed after digging. The moth will also attack them in the sack; therefore sacks should be well covered with straw or litter or placed at once in dark storage.
Potatoes Scabby and Hollow.
My land is new, broke out of old stock pasture, and very rich. Some of my potatoes are scabby and others hollow-hearted.
Treatment for scab is given in Part II, Vol. 1. Very rich soils are more addicted to the production of scabby potatoes than land not rich in humus. The cause of hollow-heart in potatoes is overrichness of the soil and the plants given too much room to develop. To prevent hollow-heart in potatoes where the soil is very rich, they should be planted closer together.
Sweet Potatoes in Heavy Soil.
Is it practicable to grow sweet potatoes under irrigation on heavy clay soil containing considerable lime, provided organic matter were worked in?
You might do well enough for home use with sweet potatoes on such soil after you had lightened it up enough as you propose, but such soil is not naturally adapted to make a handsome product, as is required in commercial production.
Gophers and Seed Potatoes.
What is the best way to prevent gophers from attacking potatoes when planted?
We know no way except to kill the gophers. We know of nothing which could be added to the potato which would repel the pest without destroying the seed.
Tomatoes Dropping Blossoms.
Can you give reason for a tomato plant dropping the fruit buds after they have blossomed out in a nice healthy flower? How can I stop it?
See the discussion in Part II, Vol. 1. Sometimes better setting of fruit can be induced by pinching or topping off the shoots a distance above the bloom. Sometimes good results are reported by fertilizing with phosphatic and potassic manures, free from nitrogen - if the land is too rich therein. The main point, however, is to guard against too rapid growth by using very little water, or by allowing excessive moisture to escape by slacker cultivation.
Water Cress in California.
I have bought a little place with a number of springs on it. I recently read an article saying that water cress could be profitably raised wherever one had a spring.
Water cress (Nasturtium officinale) grows wild in California, having been introduced at some remote period, for one is apt to find it now on the margins of slow-flowing streams and rivulets and along the outflow from springs or uplands. If your springs are running free, the chances are that you may already have it growing. It looks a little like spinach, and it has a mild peppery flavor. If you do not find it you can get seeds from the seedsmen, start the plants in the moist margin of the rivulet and after the plants are up let the water rise higher so as to flood the roots. By making new, zig-zag ditches, just a little off the level or contour line, so that water will run very slowly, you can grow any amount of cress that you can find use or sale for, and pluck it continuously from the old roots; but we would not advise you to have anything to do with it in a commercial way until you know more about it. It is used for garnishing, for salads, for boiling as greens, etc. There is little chance of selling cress except in cities, and there is small chance of profit far away from city consumers because the cress will wilt before you can deliver it.