In The Garden and On The Farm
In the spring many a gardener spends as much time fussing over a hotbed as he would over a baby's bed. But by following the method perfected by Dr. V. T. Stoutmeyer (U. S. Dept. Agriculture) one can sow seeds in basement seed boxes, go on a vacation for four or five weeks, and return to find plants ready to set out. Method consists of artificial light, plus heat thermostatically controlled, plus automatic watering. Soil is kept continually moist and uncompacted by water which is lifted by means of a wick from a reservoir below the box.
Purslane ("pusley"), common garden weed, succumbs readily to kerosene spray (I qt. per 100 sq. ft.). Carrots, sprayed after they make two to four true leaves, are uninjured while all weeds are killed. Last year, most of N. Y. State's carrot crop, and much of California's, was so treated. ( 100 ft. of row takes 1 qt.) Tests are under way to determine effect on other vegetables.
Don't forget that new insecticide, sodium selenite (E-W, Jan. '47 issue). Applicable only to flowers, it makes plants poisonous to voracious insects, instead of poisoning through spray-contact.
* In good rose-growing soil, air is completely changed once an hour to a depth of 8 inches, according to tests made at Ohio State U. Such soil is coarse, and full of pores to hold air and water. Proper proportion is 25~/o air pores, 251/c water pores and 5096 solid matter, so surface must not become compacted. Two obvious remedies are cultivation and mulch (straw, manure, peat moss, grass)
But Ohio State U. experts describe a simpler way to prevent compacting of surface soil, especially in vegetable gardens. After crops are well started, seed of a New Zealand lawn grass called Chewing fescue can be sown between rows. This rapid grower (which does not mind shade) will cover ground with a live mulch, keep soil in a granular condition ' let in air and water and die out in the fall, when its remnants, spaded under, will enrich soil.
40 Soviet scientists have developed a method of using gases in smoke to increase carbon dioxide in atmosphere breathed by plants. Hothouse shrubs and vegetables "fertilized" with factory smoke (fed from furnaces to reservoir, thence through pipes to hothouse) flourished better than ever, and their fruit was improved in quality. Now being tried on a larger scale at a state farm near Moscow. In future this discovery may prove of value to farmers in industrial areas.
A sensational "new crop" which can be grown anywhere that frost reaches down less than two or three inches, is called Ramie. May replace cotton in the south where it is being grown extensively in Florida Everglades. It leaves residue of value to livestock and is considered superior to other synthetic or natural textile materials. Ibis unusual South China import is eight times stronger than cotton or silk; takes commercial dyes (and holds color better) ; gives off no lint; washes well, dries quickly, resists mildew, absorbs perspiration and permits removal of most stains.
Farm facts from the Agricultural Census: There are fewer and larger farms. Mechanization is increasing. Productivity is up a fifth per acre, and a third per man. With total acreage under cultivation only slightly increased, farmers are producing a third more than before the war with 10% less labor. The nature of farming is changing. Subsistence farming and barter are giving way to farming for high income crops grown on larger, highly mechanized farms by those who look upon the work as a "business" requiring study of soil conditions, fertilizers, better seed and stock, participation in co-ops, etc. For those who can I t regard farming from this new angle, the migration to "town" continues. Since the 1920 census, 500,000 farms have disappeared (20,000 per year).
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