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Home Vegetable Gardening

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Your Garden
With some, the home vegetable garden is a hobby: with others,
especially in these days of high prices, a great help. There are many
in both classes whose experience in gardening has been restricted
within very narrow bounds, and whose present spare time for gardening
is limited. It is as "first aid" to such persons, who want to do
practical, efficient gardening, and do it with the least possible fuss
and loss of time, that this article is written. In his own experience the
author has found that garden books, while seldom lacking in
information, often do not present it in the clearest possible way. It
has been his aim to make the present blog first of all practical, and
in addition to that, though comprehensive, yet simple and concise. If
it helps to make the way of the home gardener more clear and definite,
its purpose will have been accomplished.

First Of All
Formerly it was the custom for gardeners
to invest their labors and achievements
with a mystery and secrecy which might
well have discouraged any amateur from
trespassing upon such difficult ground.
"Trade secrets" in either flower or
vegetable growing were acquired by the
apprentice only through practice and
observation, and in turn jealously
guarded by him until passed on to some
younger brother in the profession.
Every garden operation was made to seem a wonderful and difficult
undertaking. Now, all that has changed. In fact the pendulum has swung,
as it usually does, to the other extreme. Often, if you are a beginner, you
have been flatteringly told in print that you could from the beginning
do just as well as the experienced gardener.
My garden friend, it cannot, as a usual thing, be done. Of course, it
may happen and sometimes does. You might, being a trusting lamb,
go down into Wall Street with $10,000 and make a fortune. You know that
you would not be likely to: the chances are very much against you. This
garden business is a matter of common sense: and the man, or the woman,
who has learned by experience how to do something, whether it is
cornering the market or growing cabbages, naturally does it better than
the one who has not. Do not expect the impossible. No, if you are going
to take up gardening, you will have to work, and you will have a great many
disappointments. All that I, or anyone else, could put between the two
covers of a book will not make a gardener of you. It must be learned through
the fingers, and back, too, as well as from the printed page. But, after all,
the greatest reward for your efforts will be the work itself: and unless
you love the work, or have a feeling that you will love it, probably
the best way for you, is to stick to the grocery for your vegetables.
Most things, in the course of development, change from the simple to
the complex. The art of gardening has in many ways been an exception to
the rule. The methods of culture used for many crops are more simple
than those in vogue a generation ago. The last fifty years has seen
also a tremendous advance in the varieties of vegetables, and the
strange thing is that in many instances the new and better sorts are
more easily and quickly grown than those they have replaced. The new
lima beans are an instance of what is meant. While limas have always
been appreciated as one of the most delicious of vegetables, in many
sections they could never be successfully grown, because of their
aversion to dampness and cold, and of the long season required to
mature them. The newer sorts are not only larger and better, but
hardier and earlier: and the bush forms have made them still more
generally available.
Knowledge on the subject of gardening is also more widely diffused than
ever before, and the science of photography has helped wonderfully in
telling the newcomer how to do things. It has also lent an impetus and
furnished an inspiration which words alone could never have done. If
one were to attempt to read all the gardening instructions and
suggestions being published, he would have no time left to practice
gardening at all. Why then, the reader may ask at this point, another
garden article? It is a pertinent question, and it is right that an answer
be expected in advance. The reason, then, is this: while there are
garden articles in plenty, most of them pay more attention to the
"content" than to the form in which it is laid before the prospective
gardener. The material is often presented as an accumulation of detail,
instead of by a systematic and constructive plan which will take the
reader step by step through the work to be done, and make clear
constantly both the principles and the practice of garden making and
management, and at the same time avoid every digression unnecessary
from the practical point of view. Some books again, are either so
elementary as to be of little use where gardening is done without
gloves, or too elaborate, however accurate and worthy in other
respects, for an every-day working manual. The author feels, therefore,
that there is a distinct field for the present article.
And, while I still have the reader by the "introduction" buttonhole, I
want to make a suggestion or two about using a article like this. Do not,
on the one hand, read it through and then put it away with the
dictionary and the family Bible, and trust to memory for the
instruction it may give: do not, on the other hand, wait until you
think it is time to plant something, and then go and look it up. For
instance, do not, about the middle of May, begin investigating how many
onion seeds to put in a hill: you will find out that they should have
been put in, in drills, six weeks before. Read the whole blog through
carefully at your first opportunity, make a list of the things you
should do for your own vegetable garden, and put opposite them the
proper dates for your own vicinity. Keep this available, as a working
guide, and refer to special matters as you get to them.
Do not feel discouraged that you cannot be promised immediate success
at the start. I know from personal experience and from the experience
of others that "book-gardening" is a practical thing. If you do your
work carefully and thoroughly, you may be confident that a very great
measure of success will reward the efforts of your first garden season.
And I know too, that you will find it the most entrancing game you ever
played.
Good luck to you!
 
 
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