War Vegetable Gardening and Home Storage of Vegetables

Aug 21, 2012 by

Here we have a vintage gardening book from 1918 written by the National War Garden Commission! Though written almost 100 years ago it is packed full of gardening and vegetable storage tips.  I guess the saying what’s old is new again.. ..fits here. This book covers just about everything for the backyard gardener, from soil preparation to plant care to storage of your crop.

Here are a few paragraphs on how to grow potatoes to give you  a feel for this timely book:

      “DIRECTIONS FOR VEGETABLE GROWING POTATOES    As one of the staple needs of the household Potatoes are entitled to special attention in Home Gardening and Community Gardening. In selecting for seed it is desirable to choose medium to large, smooth, shallow-eyed potatoes. The best seed will produce the best crop. Potatoes grow best in sandy loam or in a gravel loam. Heavy, sticky clay or loose sand is not desirable soil. Potatoes should not be grown in the same place in the garden in which they were grown the previous year. A rotation of three or four years is desirable. Preparation of the soil should be done with care. The ground should be worked with plow, spade and hoe, to a depth of 8 or 10 inches, and should be thoroughly broken up or pulverized, then thoroughly worked with a steel-toothed rake. This preparation is of great importance and should not be slighted. Attention to details is necessary to success.
One of the most common diseases affecting seed potatoes is scab. This attacks the skin of the potato, causing it to thicken, and giving it a scabby appearance. It is carried through the winter, in soil, in manure and on the potatoes themselves. For Properly cut seed potatoes. each piece has two good eyes and is about the size of a hen’s egg.  To control this affection it is important that potatoes should be rotated with other crops as to location, and the same soil not used for potatoes except at intervals of three or four years. A simple remedy, easily applied, is to soak the seed potatoes before planting, in a solution of Formalin and water. This solution is made of 1 ounce of Formalin (40 per cent formaldehyde), mixed in 2 gallons of water. In this mixture soak the uncut potatoes for two hours, and spread them out to dry. The solution can be used on as many lots of potatoes as desired. Seed potatoes should be spread out in a room in which they will be exposed to strong light for two weeks before cutting, to start sprouts and detect poor seed. If large potatoes are used cut them into pieces weighing from 1 to 2 ounces, each piece having at least two eyes. If potatoes are scarce and expensive the pieces may be cut to a single eye. Do not cut the seed until it is to be planted.
For planting, prepare trenches or furrows from 3 to 5 inches deep and from 24 to 36 inches apart. Plant seed pieces 3 inches deep for early potatoes and 5 inches for late varieties. The seed pieces should be 14 to 18 inches apart in rows, the smaller the pieces the closer the planting. Fill the trench with dirt, firming it in order that the moisture may be brought in contact with the seed pieces to assist in the process of germination. Usually potatoes should not be planted as late as the first week in July very far north of the Mason and Dixon line except in sections where it is known that they will mature before freezing weather arrives. As soon as the potato plants come up begin cultivating them. The cultivation should begin before they come up if a crust forms. Cultivate or hoe every week during the season, to keep the surface in good condition. When the plants are young work the soil up around them to support the plants. Potatoes are subject to diseases and insects which are scheduled on page 21. Take precautions to keep these from getting a start. Follow instructions as to spraying.  Fig 15 – On the left is shown tuber sprouted in warm, dark storage place. Such spouts sap vitality and decrease yield. On the right is green sprouted tuber. By this latter method the tuber retains its vitality and a good yield is insured. and keep at it during the season. It is better to spray before trouble appears than to take chances. Dig early potatoes when they are of the size desired. Late potatoes, for storing, should not be dug until the leaves and stems are dead, or until the skin is so firm that it Hiay not easily be rubbed off. “



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