The word _horticulture_ is one of those broad words under which much is
grouped. It includes the cultivation of orchard fruits, such as apples
and plums; of small fruits, such as strawberries and raspberries; of
garden vegetables for the table; of flowers of all sorts, including
shrubbery and ornamental trees and their arrangement into beautiful
landscape effects around our homes. Horticulture then is a name for an
art that is both far-reaching and important.
The word _gardening_ is generally given to that part of horticulture
which has for its chief aim the raising of vegetables for our tables.
Flower-gardening, or the cultivation of plants valued for their bloom in
making ornamental beds and borders and furnishing flowers for the
decoration of the home, is generally called _floriculture_.
Landscape-gardening is the art of so arranging flower-beds, grass,
shrubbery, and trees as to produce pleasing effects in the grounds
surrounding our homes and in great public parks and pleasure grounds.
Landscape-gardening, like architecture, has developed intoll as the
artist makes them on canvas, but uses natural objects in his pictures
instead of paint and canvas.
=Market-Gardening.= Formerly market-gardening was done on small tracts
of land in the immediate vicinity of large cities, where supplies of
stable manure could be used from the city stables. But with the great
increase in the population of the cities, these small areas could no
longer supply the demand, and the introduction of commercial fertilizers
and the building of railroads enabled gardeners at great distances from
city markets to grow and ship their products. Hence the markets, even in
winter, are now supplied with fresh vegetables from regions where there
is no frost. Then, as spring opens, fruits and vegetables are shipped
from more temperate regions. Later vegetables and fruits come from the
sections nearer the great cities. This gradual nearing of the supply
fields continues until the gardens near the cities can furnish what is
The market-gardeners around the great Northern cities, finding that
winter products were coming from the South and from warmer regions,
began to build hothouses and by means of steam and hot-water pipes to
make warm climates in these glass houses. Many acres of land in the
colder sections of the country are covered with heated glass houses, and
in them during the winter are produced fine crops of tomatoes, lettuce,
radishes, cauliflowers, eggplants, and other vegetables. The degree of
perfection which these attain in spite of having such artificial
culture, and their freshness as compared to the products brought from a
great distance, have made winter gardening under glass a very profitable
business. But it is a business that calls for the highest skill and the
No garden, even for home use, is complete without some glass sashes, and
the garden will be all the more successful if there is a small heated
greenhouse for starting plants that are afterwards to be set in the
=Hotbeds.= If there is no greenhouse, a hotbed is an important help in
the garden. The bed is made by digging a pit two feet deep, seven feet
wide, and as long as necessary.
The material for the hotbed is fresh horse manure mixed with leaves.
This is thrown into a heap to heat. As soon as steam is seen coming from
the heap the manure is turned over and piled again so that the outer
part is thrown inside. When the whole is uniformly heated and has been
turned two or three times, it is packed firmly into the pit already dug.
A frame six feet wide, twelve inches high on the north side and eight
inches on the south side and as long as the bed is to be, is now made of
plank. This is set upon the heated manure, thus leaving six inches on
each side outside the frame. More manure is then banked all around it,
and three or four inches of fine light and rich soil are placed inside
The frame is then covered with hotbed sashes six feet long and three
feet wide. These slide up and down on strips of wood let into the sides
of the frame. A thermometer is stuck into the soil and closely watched,
for there will be too much heat at first for sowing seed. When the heat
in the early morning is about 85 deg., seeds may be sowed. The hotbed is
used for starting tomato plants, eggplants, cabbage plants, and other
vegetables that cannot stand exposure. It should be made about eight or
ten weeks before the tender plants can be set out in the locality. In
the South and Southwest it should be started earlier than in the North.
For growing the best tomato plants, and for such hardy plants as lettuce
and cabbage, it will be better to have cold-frames in addition to the
hotbed; these need not be more than two or three sashes.
=Cold-Frames.= A cold-frame is like the frame used for a hotbed, but it
is placed on well-manured soil in a sheltered spot. It is covered with
the same kind of sashes and is used for hardening the plants sowed in
the hotbed. The frame must be well banked with earth on the outside, and
the glass must be covered on cold nights with straw, mats, or old
carpets to keep out frost.
=Care of Hotbed and Cold-Frame.= If the sun be allowed to shine brightly
on the glass of a cold-frame or hotbed, it will soon raise the
temperature in the hotbed to a point that will destroy the plants. It is
necessary, then, to pay close attention to the bed and, when the sun
shines, to slip the sashes down or raise them and place a block under
the upper end to allow the steam to pass off. The cold-frame also must
be aired when the sun shines, and the sashes must be gradually slipped
down in mild weather. Finally, they may be removed entirely on sunshiny
days, so as to accustom the plants to the open air, but they must be
replaced at night. For a while before setting the plants in the open
gardens, leave the sashes off night and day.
While the hotbed may be used for starting plants, it is much better and
more convenient to have a little greenhouse with fire heat for this
purpose. A little house with but four sashes on each side will be enough
to start a great many plants, and will also give room for some flowers
in pots. With such a house a student can learn to manage a more
extensive structure if he gives close attention to airing, watering, and
keeping out insects.
=Sowing.= The time for sowing the different kinds of seeds is an
important matter. Seeds vary greatly in their requirements. All need
three conditions--a proper degree of heat, moisture, and air. Some
seeds, like English peas, parsnips, beets, and radishes, will germinate
and grow when the soil is still cool in the early spring, and peas will
stand quite a frost after they are up. Therefore we plant English peas
as early as the ground can be worked.
But if we should plant seeds like corn, string (or snap) beans,
squashes, and other tender plants before the ground is warm enough, they
Seeds cannot germinate in soil that is perfectly dry, for there must be
moisture to swell them and to start growth. The oxygen of the air is
also necessary, and if seeds are buried so deeply that the air cannot
reach them, they will not grow, even if they are warm and moist.
The depth of planting must vary with the character and size of the seed.
English peas may be covered six inches deep and will be all the better
for such covering, but if corn be covered so deep, it hardly gets above
the ground. In planting small seeds like those of the radish, cabbage,
turnip, lettuce, etc., a good rule is to cover them three times the
thickness of the seed.
In sowing seeds when the ground is rather dry, it is a good plan, after
covering them, to tramp on the row so as to press the soil closely to
the seeds and to help it to retain moisture for germination, but do not
pack the soil if it is damp.
In spring never dig or plow the garden while it is still wet, but always
wait until the soil is dry enough to crumble freely.
=What Crops to grow.= The crops to be raised will of course depend upon
each gardener's climate, surroundings, and markets. Sometimes it may pay
a grower, if his soil and climate are particularly suited to one crop,
to expend most of his time and energy on this crop; for example, in some
sections of New York, on potatoes; in parts of Michigan, on celery; in
Georgia, on watermelons; in western North Carolina, on cabbage. If
circumstances allow this sort of gardening, it has many advantages, for
of course it is much easier to acquire skill in growing one crop than in
On the other hand, it often happens that a gardener's situation requires
him to grow most of the crops known to gardening. Each gardener then
must be guided in his selection of crops by his surroundings.
=Care of Crops.= The gardener who wishes to attain the greatest success
in his art must do four things:
First, he must make his land rich and keep it rich. Much of his success
depends on getting his crops on the market ahead of other growers. To do
this, his crops must grow rapidly, and crops grow rapidly only in rich
soil. Then, too, land conveniently situated for market-gardening is
nearly always costly. Hence the successful market-gardener must plan to
secure the largest possible yield from as small an area as is
practicable. The largest yield can of course be secured from the richest
Second, the gardener must cultivate his rich land most carefully and
economically. He crowds his land with products that must grow apace.
Therefore he, least of all growers, can afford to have any of his soil
go to feed weeds, to have his land wash, or to have his growing crops
suffer for lack of timely and wise cultivation. To cultivate his land
economically the gardener must use the best tools and machines and the
best methods of soil management.
Third, to get the best results he must grow perfect vegetables. To do
this, he must add to good tillage a knowledge of the common plant
diseases and of the ways of insects and bacterial pests; he must know
how and when to spray, how and when to treat his seed, how and when to
poison, how and when to trap his insect foes and to destroy their
Fourth, not only must the gardener grow perfect vegetables, but he must
put them on the market in perfect condition and in attractive shape. Who
cares to buy wilted, bruised, spoiling vegetables? Gathering, bundling,
crating, and shipping are all to be watched carefully. Baskets should be
neat and attractive, crates clean and snug, barrels well packed and well
headed. Careful attention to all these details brings a rich return.
Among the gardener's important crops are the following:
=Asparagus.= This is a hardy plant. Its seed may be sowed either early
in the spring or late in the fall. The seeds should be planted in rows.
If the plants are well cultivated during the spring and summer, they
will make vigorous roots for transplanting in the autumn.
In the fall prepare a piece of land by breaking it unusually deep and by
manuring it heavily. After the land is thoroughly prepared, make in it
furrows for the asparagus roots. These furrows should be six inches deep
and three feet apart. Then remove the roots from the rows in which they
have been growing during the summer, and set them two feet apart in the
prepared furrows. Cover carefully at once.
In the following spring the young shoots must be well cultivated. In
order to economize space, beets or lettuce may be grown between the
asparagus rows during this first season. With the coming of cold weather
the asparagus must again be freely manured and all dead tops cut off.
Some plants will be ready for market the second spring. If the bed is
kept free from weeds and well manured, it will increase in
productiveness from year to year.
=Beans.= The most generally planted beans are those known as string, or
snap, beans. Of the many varieties, all are sensitive to cold and hence
must not be planted until frost is over.
Another widely grown kind of bean is the lima, or butter, bean. There
are two varieties of the lima bean. One is large and generally grows on
poles. This kind does best in the Northern states. The other is a small
bean and may be grown without poles. This kind is best suited to the
warmer climates of the Southern states.
=Cabbage.= In comparatively warm climates the first crop of cabbage is
generally grown in the following way. The seeds are sowed in beds in
September, and the plants grown from this sowing are in November
transplanted to ground laid off in sharp ridges. The young plants are
set on the south side of the ridges in order that they may be somewhat
protected from the cold of winter. As spring comes on, the ridge is
partly cut down at each working until the field is leveled, and
thereafter the cultivation should be level.
Early cabbages need heavy applications of manure. In the spring, nitrate
of soda applied in the rows is very helpful.
Seeds for the crop following this early crop should be sowed in March.
Of course these seeds should be of a later variety than the first used.
The young plants should be transplanted as soon as they are large
enough. Early cabbages are set in rows three feet apart, the plants
eighteen inches apart in the row. As the later varieties grow larger
than the earlier ones, the plants should be set two feet apart in the
In growing late fall and winter cabbage the time of sowing varies with
the climate. For the Northern and middle states, seeding should be done
during the last of March and in April. South of a line passing west from
Virginia it is hard to carry cabbages through the heat of summer and get
them to head in the fall. However, if the seeds are sowed about the
first of August in rich and moist soil and the plants set in the same
sort of soil in September, large heads can be secured for the December
=Celery.= In the extreme northern part of our country, celery seeds are
often sowed in a greenhouse or hotbed. This is done in order to secure
plants early enough for summer blanching. This plan, however, suits only
very cool climates.
In the middle states the seeds are usually sowed in a well-prepared bed
about April. The young plants are moved to other beds as soon as they
need room. Generally they are transplanted in July to rows prepared for
them. These should be four feet apart, and the plants should be set six
inches apart in the row. The celery bed should be carefully cultivated
during the summer. In the fall, hill the stalks up enough to keep them
erect. After the growing season is over dig them and set them in
trenches. The trenches should be as deep as the celery is tall, and
after the celery is put in them they should be covered with boards and
In the more southern states, celery is usually grown in beds. The beds
are generally made six feet wide, and rows a foot apart are run
crosswise. The plants are set six inches apart, in September, and the
whole bed is earthed up as the season advances. Finally, when winter
comes the beds are covered with leaves or straw to prevent the plants
from freezing. The celery is dug and bunched for market at any time
during the winter.
By means of cold-frames a profitable crop of spring celery may be
raised. Have the plants ready to go into the cold-frames late in October
or early in November. The soil in the frame should be made very deep.
The plants should make only a moderately rapid growth during the winter.
In the early spring they will grow rapidly and so crowd one another as
to blanch well. As celery grown in this way comes on the market at a
time when no other celery can be had, it commands a good price.
In climates as warm as that of Florida, beds of celery can be raised in
this way without the protection of cold-frames. A slight freeze does not
hurt celery, but a long-continued freezing spell will destroy it.
Some kinds of celery seem to turn white naturally. These are called
self-blanching kinds. Other kinds need to be banked with earth in order
to make the stalks whiten. This kind usually gives the best and crispest
=Cucumbers and Cantaloupes.= Although cucumbers and cantaloupes are very
different plants, they are grown in precisely the same way. Some
gardeners plant them in hills. However, this is perhaps not the best
plan. It is better to lay the land off in furrows six feet apart. After
filling these with well-rotted stable manure, throw soil over them. Then
make the top flat and plant the seeds. After the plants are up thin them
out, leaving them a foot or more apart in the rows. Cultivate regularly
and carefully until the vines cover the entire ground.
It is a good plan to sow cowpeas at the last working of cantaloupes, in
order to furnish some shade for the melons. As both cucumbers and
cantaloupes are easily hurt by cold, they should not be planted until
the soil is warm and all danger of frost is past.
Cucumbers are always cut while they are green. They should never be
pulled from the vine, but should always be cut with a piece of the stem
attached. Cantaloupes should be gathered before they turn yellow and
should be ripened in the house.
In some sections of the country the little striped cucumber-beetle
attacks the melons and cucumbers as soon as they come up. These beetles
are very active, and if their attacks are not prevented they will
destroy the tender plants. Bone dust and tobacco dust applied just as
the plants appear above the ground will prevent these attacks. This
treatment not only keeps off the beetle, but also helps the growth of
=Eggplants.= Eggplants are so tender that they cannot be transplanted
like tomatoes to cold-frames and gradually hardened to stand the cold
spring air. These plants, started in a warm place, must be kept there
until the soil to which they are to be transplanted is well warmed by
the advance of spring. After the warm weather has fully set in,
transplant them to rich soil, setting them three feet apart each way.
This plant needs much manure. If large, perfect fruit is expected, the
ground can hardly be made too rich.
Eggplants are subject to the same bacterial blight that is so
destructive to tomatoes. The only way to prevent this disease is to
plant in ground not lately used for tomatoes or potatoes.
=Onions.= The method of growing onions varies with the use to which it
is intended to put them. To make the early sorts, which are eaten green
in the spring, little onions called _sets_ are planted. These are grown
from seeds sowed late in the spring. The seeds are sowed thickly in rows
in rather poor land. The object of selecting poor land is that the
growth of the sets may be slow. When the sets have reached the size of
small marbles, they are ready for the fall planting.
In the South the sets may be planted in September. Plant them in rows in
rich and well-fertilized soil. They will be ready for market in March
or April. In the more northerly states the sets are to be planted as
early as possible in the spring.
To grow ripe onions the seeds must be sowed as early in the spring as
the ground can be worked. The plants are thinned to a stand of three
inches in the rows. As they grow, the soil is drawn away from them so
that the onions sit on top of the soil with only their roots in the
As soon as the tops ripen pull the onions and let them lie in the sun
until the tops are dry. Then put them under shelter. As onions keep best
with their tops attached, do not remove these until it is time for
=Peas.= The English pea is about the first vegetable of the season to be
planted. It may be planted as soon as the ground is in workable
condition. Peas are planted in rows, and it is a good plan to stretch
wire netting for them to climb on. However, where peas are extensively
cultivated they are allowed to fall on the ground.
There are many sorts of peas, differing both in quality and in time of
production. The first to be planted are the extra-early varieties. These
are not so fine as the later, wrinkled sorts, but the seeds are less apt
to rot in cold ground. Following these, some of the fine, wrinkled sorts
are to be planted in regular succession. Peas do not need much manure
and do best in a light, warm soil.
=Tomatoes.= There is no vegetable grown that is more widely used than
the tomato. Whether fresh or canned it is a staple article of food that
can be served in many ways.
By careful selection and breeding, the fruit of the tomato has in recent
years been much improved. There are now many varieties that produce
perfectly smooth and solid fruit, and the grower can hardly go amiss in
his selection of seeds if he bears his climate and his particular needs
Early tomatoes are started in the greenhouse or in the hotbed about ten
weeks before the time for setting the plants in the open ground. They
are transplanted to cold-frames as soon as they are large enough to
handle. This is done to harden the plants and to give them room to grow
strong before the final transplanting.
In kitchen gardens tomatoes are planted in rows four feet apart with the
plants two feet apart in the rows. They are generally trained to stakes
with but one stalk to a stake. When there is plenty of space, however,
the plants are allowed to grow at will and to tumble on the ground. In
this way they bear large crops. During the winter the markets are
supplied with tomatoes either from tropical sections or from hothouses.
As those grown in the hothouses are superior in flavor to those shipped
from Florida and from the West Indies, and as they command good prices,
great quantities are grown in this way.
In the South the bacterial blight which attacks the plants of this
family is a serious drawback to tomato culture. The only way to escape
this disease is to avoid planting tomatoes on land in which eggplants,
tomatoes, or potatoes have been blighted. Lime spread around the plants
seems to prevent the blight for one season on some soils.
At the approach of frost in the fall, green tomatoes can easily be
preserved by wrapping them in paper. Gather them carefully and wrap each
separately. Pack them in boxes and store in a cellar that is close
enough to prevent the freezing of the fruit. A few days before the
tomatoes are wanted for the table unpack as many as are needed, remove
the paper, and allow them to ripen in a warm room.
Tomatoes require a rich soil. Scattering a small quantity of nitrate of
soda around their roots promotes rapid growth.
=Watermelons.= As watermelons need more room than can usually be spared
in a garden, they are commonly grown as a field crop.
A very light, sandy soil suits watermelons best. They can be grown on
very poor soil if a good supply of compost be placed in each hill. The
land for the melons should be laid off in about ten-foot checks; that
is, the furrows should cross one another at right angles about every ten
feet. A wide hole should be dug where the furrows cross, and into this
composted manure should be put.
The best manure for watermelons is a compost of stable manure and
wood-mold from the forest. Pile the manure and wood-mold in alternate
layers for some time before the planting season. During the winter cut
through the pile several times until the two are thoroughly mixed and
finely pulverized. Be sure to keep the compost heap under shelter.
Compost will lose in value if it is exposed to rains.
At planting-time, put two or three shovelfuls of this compost into each
of the prepared holes, and over the top of the manure scatter a handful
of any high-grade complete fertilizer. Then cover fertilizer and manure
with soil, and plant the seeds in this soil. In cultivating, plow both
ways of the checked rows and throw the earth toward the plants.
Some growers pinch off the vines when they have grown about three feet
long. This is done to make them branch more freely, but the pinching is
A serious disease, the watermelon wilt, is rapidly spreading through
melon-growing sections. This disease is caused by germs in the soil, and
the germs are hard to kill. If the wilt should appear in your
neighborhood, do not allow any stable manure to be used on your melon
land, for the germs are easily scattered by means of stable manure. The
germs also cling to the seeds of diseased melons, and these seeds bear
the disease to other fields. If you treat melon seeds as you are
directed on page 135 to treat oat seeds, the germs on the seeds will be
destroyed. By crossing the watermelon on the citron melon, a watermelon
that is resistant to wilt has recently been developed and successfully
grown in soils in which wilt is present. The new melon, inferior in
flavor at first, is being improved from season to season and bids fair
to rival other melons in flavor.
Next: Flower Gardening
Previous: Planting And Pruning