INTENSIVE CULTURE

The value of intensive methods in the production of salads and certain vegetables is that they are ready for use some weeks earlier than if grown in the open. Instead, they are grown or started under glass and, where needed, with artificial heat. Although a greenhouse, heated or cold, is an advantage, if the amateur does not mind the trouble, such crops are obtainable without a greenhouse or heating apparatus. The use of cloches takes the place of the greenhouse, and the manure or compost heap, made up into a hotbed supplies the necessary degree of heat. A frame is necessary to enclose the hotbed, and the cloches are more convenient if of the lean-to or barn type, rather than bell glasses, as these can be added to as required to make continuous rows, and when one kind of crop is sufficiently forward, these cloches can be moved to cover new plants which mature later. The secret of tenderness in early produce is quick growth. Soil, therefore, must be rich free from fungi, pests and weeds, moist and not hard packed, so that roots can have a free run.

Constant vigilance in giving air, protecting from cold snaps, watering, and watching every stage of growth is the price of success. For general guidance the following instructions are given.

Beet: sow globe variety under cloches in January I in. deep at 6 in. intervals.

Carrot: sow thinly in frame in three fortnightly successions starting first week January.

Cauliflower: sow on hotbed in January, transfer at fourth leaf to cold frame, then to open, end of March.

Celery: sow thinly on hotbed in February, prick off early in leaf-mould and sand, put out under cloche in mid-April, then gradually harden.

Chicory: same as for seakale from crowns raised from summer-sown seed.

Endive: sow seed in open, September, transfer to cold frame, November, then place on hotbed end of January.

French Beans: sow in March, transfer to open in May; or sow under cloches in March and remove gradually when foliage fills cloche, usually in May.

Leeks: same as onions.

Lettuce: sow in frame in October, transfer to hotbed in January or in open under cloches. Give air to earliest growth in frame, to save damp- ing-off. Cover cloches with straw at nights till lettuce is established.

Mustard and Cress: sow cress two days before mustard, sow both thickly, and keep on hotbed all the time, sowing in second box as soon as first forms leaf and so on for succession.

Mint: take existing roots from outside in March and grow quickly in hotbed, near glass.

Onions: sow in January in hotbed and only remove when setts in strong growth, 6 in. high, to open, covering with cloches.

Peas: as for French beans.

Potatoes: for a small crop of new potatoes, plunge a box of seed potatoes in hotbed in January; when leaves show transplant carefully to sunny spot covered with continuous cloches till haulms touch glass, then remove cloches.

Seakale: take a root with healthy crowns, put in a pot, cover with another inverted, and bed deep enough in hotbed to allow frame to close. Water after potting.

Tomatoes: for growing outdoors start from an April sowing in boxes on hotbed in rich soil, arranging good drainage.

Turnips: same as for carrots.

Flowers: earlier plants can be secured by sowing seed in shallow pans placed under frame on hotbed, but extra care in hardening off must be taken.

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