Search just our sites by using our customised search engine
Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

CHAPTER XXIII - Kitchen Garden

In the following directions for the culture of Kitchen Vegetables, none are included which, in the climate of Britain, require the aid of artificial heat to bring them to maturity; as it is presumed, that when such are desired, an educated professional gardener will be employed, to whom the instructions here submitted, as they must necessarily be of a limited nature, might possibly be of little use. But it is confidently anticipated, that the directions which are given, if closely followed, will be found sufficient, in ordinary cases, to produce the desired result.

In choosing the situation most suitable for a kitchen garden, it will be necessary to regard the aspect, or exposure of the ground; a southern exposure being always considered much better than any other; and a gentle declivity in that direction being very desirable. It should be screened to the north and west by a plantation of forest trees; and, on these sides, the trees may be less than a hundred yards from the garden; but to the south and east, there should be no tall trees, at least within a considerable distance. It is necessary, also, that there should be a sufficient supply of water within reach; and standing, or soft water, is always to be preferred to that taken immediately from a spring or well.

The best general soil for a garden is a loam of a middling quality, partaking more of the sandy than the clayey nature. If a strong and a light soil can both be had, it will be so much the better, as the different plant may thus have the ground adapted to their respective kinds.


The best soil for cabbages is rich mould, rather clayey than sandy; and it can scarcely be too much manured, as they are an exhausting crop. The kinds generally preferred for summer use are, the small early dwarf, large curly Yorkshire, early dwarf Yorkshire, early Battersea, and early sugarloaf. These are ready for use from April or May to July; for autumn and winter, the imperial, large sugar-loaf, hollow sugar-loaf, and the long or large-sided. The large Drum, white Strasburg, the Scots, and the American cabbage, resist the severity of winter, and grow to a very large size; but they are coarse kinds. The time of sowing for the summer crop is the beginning of the August of the proceeding year. An open spot of rich light earth must be chosen, and the seeds of this, and of all the kale tribe, require a covering of no more than an eighth, or a quarter of an inch, in thickness of mould, In about six or eight weeks after the sowing, or when the plants have got several leaves, they are thinned; and those plants taken out of the seed-bed are pricked into other beds, at three inches distance every way. By these means, they have room to grow firm and shapely. In October and November, part of this crop is finally planted out, the remainder early in the following spring; and the plants are set in rows between two and three feet wide, and two feet asunder in the rows. As the cabbages advance, the earth in the rows must be stirred, and drawn round the plants; indeed the oftener the earth is stirred, the better will be the crop. In the end of April or beginning of May, the early cabbages begin to turn in their leaves, and to harden in the centre, when, if the leaves be bound close with willow twigs, or strands of bass-matting, they will be fit for use a fortnight the earlier.  If the roots and stems of a portion of this crop be allowed to remain after the tops are cut off, and the ground delved, and perhaps manured in autumn, very fine cabbages will be produced in the January and February following. For autumn and winter use, the seeds of cabbages are sown in the end of February or beginning of March, pricked out into shady borders in May, and allowed to remain there for some weeks. In June, they are finally transplanted, at the same distance as the early kinds. These cabbages come to be fit for use in the autumn months, and continue good, in sheltered situations, and in ordinary seasons, till February or March. Of the red cabbages, the dwarf dark-red kind is considered the best; it may be sown about the end of August, and planted out in the beginning of April. The white Strasburg is the variety of which the Germans chiefly make their sour krout. The long or large-sided cabbage, being rather tender, should not be sown till May, nor planted out till July.


The principal sorts are the yellow and the green; the green being considered the hardiest. They are sown about the middle of April, and planted out in June, considerably closer than the common cabbage. If savoys be wanted before winter, the seed must be sown in February, or even in the autumn before; in the last case, fine large plants will be ready for the table in September or October. The later crop affords a supply till February or March. Savoys are reckoned better when somewhat pinched by the frost.

If cabbages be planted, year after year, in the same ground, they will become sickly and stunted; it is therefore advisable to change the cabbage ground every year.


Young plants of the common cabbage are now generally used as colworts; for this purpose, either the sugar-loaf or the large York is sown about the middle or end of June, and planted out in the end of July, or beginning of August, to be ready for use in winter.


Is sown in the beginning of July; and in the course of the month of August, the young plants are set out in rows a foot and a half wide, and ten inches distance in the rows. This green will not be tender until it has endured some sharp frosts. When kale is planted out, it will be necessary to give water to the roots, should the weather be dry; no other attention is requisite, except that of drawing the earth to the stems before winter.


Are sown in March or April; the seedlings planted out in June preferring showery weather, or watering carefully at the root; they are earthed up in October, and are ready for use by midwinter. As they grow upright, they may be planted closer than other kinds of greens.


The seed of the early crop of cauliflower is sown about the 20th of the August of the proceeding year in beds. In September the seedlings are pricked into a dry border, near a wall, where they may be hooped over, and defended with bass mats, during the severe frosts of winter. In the month of March they are finally planted out, giving water liberally now and afterwards, should the weather be dry. They are planted in rows about two feet and a half asunder, and two feet apart in the rows; but they must have repeated hoeings, and the earth must be drawn close up to the roots and stems. To diversify the time of forming heads, some of the early cauliflowers are planted out on different successive occasions. Cauliflower will thrive the better that it have liberal supplies of the cleanings of the stable and cow-house.


There are many varieties of broccoli; but the most useful kinds are the dwarf sulphur-coloured, and the kind called green broccoli. For the autumn crop, the seed is sown in April, and planted out in the beginning of June. For a spring crop in the following year, the seed is sown late in May, or even in June; the seedlings are afterwards placed in Nursery-beds, where they remain till the middle or end of July, when they are finally transplanted in lines, two feet asunder, and a foot and a half apart in the lines. Water is given in dry weather; and they are hoed and earthed up like cauliflower. The heads of winter broccoli generally appear early in January, and continue till April. A light and deep, but rich soil, in an open situation is to be preferred for them. Sea-weed is a useful manure for broccoli, and will prevent the grubs infesting its roots.


O the khol-rabbi, or turnip-rooted cabbage, there are two varieties; the one having the stem swelling above ground; the other having this turnip-like protuberance in it. This plant may be cultivated in the same manner as broccoli: it is very hardy.


Most sorts of turnip like a sandy soil not recently manured; but the yellow Dutch turnip does best in good soil. For a spring crop, the early Dutch is usually preferred; it may be sown broadcast, in the month of April, mixing a little fine earth with the seed, to make it divide more equally. A small sowing of this kind may be made every month from April to August, in order to have them throughout the summer in a young state for the table. For a winter crop, the yellow Dutch turnip is considered superior to any other kind; it is sown thickly about the middle of July; and, if rain do not occur, frequent watering will be necessary. When the root leaves are about an inch broad, the young plants are thinned to within six or eight inches distance from each other. To prevent the ravages of the turnip-fly, it is advisable to dust quick-lime lightly over the crop while it is in the seed-leaf. Should the young planted threaten to run to flower, they may be trodden down, by gently placing the foot on the centre of the plant. If turnips be allowed to remain in the ground throughout the winter, the top leaves from excellent greens early in spring. The Swedish, the stone, and the yellow, are all likewise good winter turnips.


Carrots thrive best in a light soil, with a mixture of sand; it should be delved very deep, or even trenched, and, at the same time, well broken with the spade. Pigeon’s dung added to the carrot ground promotes their health, by preventing the attacks of insects; when any other manure is used, it should be buried deep, the roots may not touch it. In general, it is best to make the carrots the second crop after manuring. For the principal crop, the orange carrot, or the red or field carrot, is preferred; it is sown in March or April – in light soils not till the end of April or beginning of May. The seeds must be rubbed between the hands with some dry sand to separate them; and, as they are very light, a calm day must be chosen; they should be trodden in before raking. When the plants come up, several successive hoeings are given; at first with a three-inch, and latterly with a six-inch hoe. The plants are thinned either by drawing young plants for use, or by hoeing, till they are within eight or ten inches of each other, if broadcast; but if in drills, which should be a foot apart, till they are six or seven inches separate. If the hoeing is not done in showery weather, a regular watering must be given after the operation. For an early crop, the early horn-carrot is used; it is sown before the first of February, in a warm border, which must be hooped over, and covered with mats during frost. A bed of the late horn-carrot may be sown in June or July, to afford young roots in the autumn months. Carrots are taken up at the first approach of winter, cleaned, and stored up with sand in a place that will exclude the frost.


This plant requires a stronger soil than the carrot; it prefers a light loam; but any soil will do, provided it be pretty deep. The seed, which should never be more than a year old, is sown in March; the plants are afterwards thinned out to about eight or ten inches asunder, and are kept clear of weeds. When the leaves begin to decay, the roots are fit for use. They may be stored as carrots; or, as frost will not injure them, they may be allowed to remain in the ground till the beginning of February, but not longer, as then the flower-stalks begin to form, when the roots would become stringy.


The seeds of scorzonera are sown in the middle of April, in a cool deep soil, in drills about a foot separate. Afterwards the plants are thinned out to within four inches apart. The roots may be either lifted in November, and stored as carrots, or they may remain in the ground all winter.


Salsify is sown in April, and afterwards thinned to within six or eight inches apart. A mellow and deep soil affords the best plants. The roots may remain in the ground, and be taken up as wanted throughout the winter.


A light deep soil is most suitable for the skirret, and should it be naturally moist, so much the better. In dry soils, or in long-continued droughts, watering is advisable. The seeds are sown in April, and repeated thinning and hoeing are necessary. When the leaves begin to decay in autumn, the roots are fit for use; they will not be injured by frost, and may therefore remain in the ground till wanted.


Red beet requires a light, but rich soil, of considerable depth, that has not been recently manured. The ground should be trenched, or very deeply delved, and broken small with the spade. The seed is sown in April, in drills an inch deep, and fifteen inches asunder. In autumn, beet-root is generally stored amongst sand in a cellar, or some place that will completely exclude the frost. In lifting it, great care must be taken that the roots be not anywise injured or broken, as they bleed much; for the same reason, the leaves must be cut off at least an inch above the top of the root.


This kind of beet is cultivated only for its leaves, which are used as spinach. The seeds are sown in the beginning of March, in an open spot of ground. When the plants have put out four leaves, they are hoed, and thinned out to at least four inches asunder. A month afterwards a second hoeing is given, leaving the plants about eight inches separate. The outer leaves being first picked off for use, a succession is afforded for the whole season.


This plant is propagated by means of the tubers, which are cut in the manner of potato-sets, and planted in any light soil and open situation, in the end of March. They are placed in rows three feet asunder, and a foot or fifteen inches apart in the rows. In September they are fit for use, and may be left in the ground, and dug up as wanted throughout the winter, being best when newly raised.


The varieties of the potato are very numerous; and as no particular kind will continue in perfection much more than fourteen years, new kinds are continually succeeding those that have worm out. At present, for a summer cop, the ash-leaved, early dwarf, and champion, are esteemed; and, for the winter crop, the American, large and small, and the kidney, are excellent. They will thrive in any light soil, in a free airy situation; and if quantity of produce be particularly desired, too much manure can hardly be given; but they will be of a more delicate flavour from ground not recently enriched. The potato is propagated by cuts of the tubers, leaving one or two eyes or buds to each cut, and eradicating all clustered eyes. The best shaped and cleanest potatoes are selected for this purpose; and the cuts are the better for being allowed to dry for a day or two before planting. They are planted in drills, and covered to the depth of three or four inches; and for the early crop, which may be planted in a light warm border, about the beginning or middle of March, sixteen inches between the lines, and seven or eight inches between each plant, is sufficient; but, for the principal crop, which must be planted about the middle or end of April, two feet is allowed between the rows, and from ten to fifteen inches between the plants. The only attention the crop requires is hoeing, and drawing the earth to the stems. The oftener this last operation is performed, the greater will be the produce. The early planted potatoes will be fit for use in June and July. Only a few of them should be taken up at a time as they will not keep good beyond a day or two. In autumn the principal crop will be known to be ripe, when the tops of the plants change to a yellow colour; they should then be taken up, and stored in as clean and dry a state as possible. The best way of keeping them is in heaps on the ground, covering well with straw and earth, so as completely to exclude the frost.


If peas be sown in newly-enriched ground, they will be apt to run to haums; they are therefore seldom sown till the second year after manuring. Some of the early kinds, as the Charleton, golden, and Reading, are generally sown towards the end of October, in front of the south wall; and if slightly protected by means of branches of evergreens, or old peas-haum, the crop will survive the winter, and produce young peas by the end of May. In January and February, more of the early sorts are sown for a succession; and in March and April, full crops of the later peas must be sown. Some of the smaller late kinds, as the blue, Prussian, dwarf marrowfat, Spanish dwarf, and leadman’s dwarf, if well earthed up, and the rows not too near each other, may do without sticking. Of the large and late kinds, the tall marrowfat, green marrowfat, grey rounceval, and the sugar pea, have long retained their character. The large kinds require nearly four feet distance between the rows. The young plants are frequently hoed; when they are three or four inches high, the earth is drawn to the rows; and when about eight or ten inches high, they must be sticked; the smallest kinds may have sticks three feet, the early sorts and dwarf marrowfat five feet, and the larger sorts seven or eight feet high. When branches for sticking cannot be procured, two lines of strong packthread, on each side of the rows, may be substituted. To prevent the attacks of mice, it is necessary to be careful, in sowing peas, that none be left exposed on the surface of the ground.


The early sorts, such as the Mazagon and Lisbon, are sown in the end of October, in front of a wall or hedge. The plants are earthed up in November, as they advance; but, in earthing up beans, it is necessary to be very careful that the earth do not fall on the centre of the plant. In severe frost some haum or fern is laid over them. In March and April, as they begin to show flower, they are kept close to the fence by means of packthread; and, in order to forward the production of pods, when the lower blossoms begin to fade, the tops of the stems are pinched off. In February and March, full crops of the late and large beans, as the Windsor, Sandwich, and long podded, are planted in drills two inches deep, allowing two and a half or three feet between the rows.


The dwarf kidney-bean requires no support from sticks, but, as it is tender, must be sown before the middle or end of April; it may then be sown in drills, from two to three feet asunder, and about three inches separate in the lines, covering with something less than two inches of soil. As the plants advance, they are hoed and cleared of weeds, a little earth being, at the same time, drawn to the stems. The most esteemed kinds, must not be sown till about the middle of May; and, as tall slight stakes must be placed for it to climb upon, the distance between the rows is generally four feet. The kidney-beans like a good, light, rich soil.


There are two kinds of spinach; the prickly-seeded, for winter, and the smooth-seeded, for summer use. The winter crop is sown, either in drills, or broadcast, in the beginning of August, when rains may be expected. A light, dry, but rich soil, in a sheltered situation, is desirable. When the plants show four leaves, the ground around them is hoed, and the spinach moderately thinned; the hoeing is repeated as the weeds grow. In February, when a few dry days may occur, the surface of the ground is stirred, the plants cleaned, and again thinned out. With this mode of treatment, and with due attention, the winter spinach should afford successive gatherings from November, and, in mild weather, throughout the winter, till April or May. The first sowing of the summer spinach is made in a sheltered border in January. If sown broadcast, it is first thinned out to three inches, and, at subsequent hoeings, to eight or ten inches apart. Successive sowings are made in February, March, and April; and these are at once thinned out to six or eight inches apart.


Asparagus is of two kinds; the red-topped, with produces the larger shoots, and the green-topped, which is considered of the more delicate flavour. The best way of propagating asparagus is by means of seed. In the month of March it is sown in shallow drills, six inches asunder, and earthed in from half an inch to an inch deep. The young plants are kept as free of weeds as possible during the summer; and in the end of October, some litter is spread over the surface of the ground to protect them from frost. In the following spring, about April, the seedlings are transplanted to the quarter in which they are to remain. The soil of this quarter must not be less than two and half feet deep; it should be light, but rich; damp ground, or a wet subsoil, would be very unsuitable; nothing is better than a sandy loam, well mixed with rotten dung, or sea-weed; and before planting a bed, it should be well trenched over to the depth of the soil, burying abundance of manure in the bottom. The seedling plants are cautiously raised with a narrow pronged fork; and when they are taken up, the roots are kept in a little earth till replanted – they being very apt to be injured by exposure to the air. A trench, about six inches deep, being prepared, the roots are carefully laid in, a foot distant from each other, the buds or crowns being kept upright, and about two inches below the surface. A foot between each ordinary trench is reckoned sufficient, but between every four rows a double distance is left for an alley. In dry weather, the new-planted beds should be carefully watered. Several hoeings, generally three, are given in the course of the summer. In the end of September, the haum decays, and is cut away; and small stable-dung or sea-weed is spread on the bed, previously stirring the surface with a fork. In spring, just before the buds begin to appear, the intervals of the beds are slightly delved over with the narrow-pronged fork, raking afterwards, with great delicacy of hand. The same practice, both for autumn and spring, is observed for the second year, it being only in the third year after planting out, or the fourth from the time of sowing, that cutting for the table is begun. In April, a few shoots may generally be cut; in May and June they will be plentiful. In the first productive season, only the large shoots are taken but in subsequent years all the shoots are gathered as they advance, till the end of the month of June. Shoots, two inches under ground, and three or four above, are the best for the table; and, in cutting them, some of the earth is first removed, in order to avoid the succeeding buds below. An asparagus quarter should not contain less than a fall of ground, as it often takes that quantity to furnish a good dish at one time.


The best mode of propagating sea-kale is by sowing it. The soil intended for it should be sandy and light, but mixed with fine rich mould; and of all manures for his crop, drift-ware or sea-weed is the best. The ground must be trenched at least two feet deep, and in March the seed is sown, about two inches deep; they may be set in a triangular form, six inches apart, leaving a space of two feet between the triangles. To ensure a produce, it may be as well to drop in two or more seeds into each hole, and to thin out afterwards the superfluous plants. For the first summer, no attention will be required in the culture, except that of keeping the plants clear of weeds. In November, the whole bed is covered with rotten stable-litter, as is done with asparagus. During the second year, the same plan is followed. In the third year, most of the plants will be strong enough to be blanched for use; this is done by placing blanching covers over the plants as soon as the leaves are decayed in the end of autumn, and then covering up the whole bed with stable-dung, packing it closely between the pots, and heaping it over the tops of them to the depth of six inches or more. By this mode, the sea-kale will be fit for cutting in January and February. If the heat of the litter at any time decline, which may be easily ascertained by introducing a thermometer into several of the blanching pots, some new stable-dung must be mixed with it. The blanching pots, mentioned above, are made for the purpose; they have moveable covers that fit down closely, and they are nearly as wide at top as at bottom, in order to give room for cutting such shoots as may be ready, without breaking the others. It is necessary to have from thirty to fifty of such covers. A less expensive mode of blanching is, by covering the sea-kale beds to the depth of a foot and a half with leaves as they fall from the trees in autumn, adding, over all, a very slight layer of long stable-litter, to prevent the leaves being blown about. In this manner the shoots will be very sweet and tender; but they will not be produced so early as by the former method.


The soil for onions should be light, and not recently manured; it should be well delved and broken fine, and exactly leveled. There are several varieties in use, but the Strasburg may be mentioned as being as good as any. For the principal crop, the seed is sown in February or the beginning of March; but, should the land be heavy, it is better to defer the sowing till the end of March or beginning of April. The seed is sown broadcast; a very slight covering of earth is given, and the ground is merely smoothed over with the rake. A first hoeing is given when the plants have advanced three or four inches in growth, and they are then thinned out with the hand to about four inches apart. Another hoeing is given about a month or six weeks afterwards, when the plants are singled out to about six inches square. After this the hoe must never be used, but any large weeds must be drawn out with the hand. If the weather be dry at the time of thinning, a plentiful watering must immediately afterwards be given. About the end of August, the crop will be known to be ripe by the leaves falling down. The onions are then drawn, and laid out on a gravel walk in some dry spot, and occasionally turned. In a fortnight they are generally found to be firm enough for keeping, and must be stored in a dry garret or loft, excluding them as much as may be from the air. The crop of winter onions is sown in August or beginning of September; they are thinned in the usual way, and weeds must be carefully kept down. In the spring, when the keeping onions fail, part of these may be drawn for use; the remainder will be ready in the early part of summer. About the month of May, any of the stalks which appear to be pushing a flower-stem must be thrown out, and, to check this tendency, the rest of this crop should be laid down, which is done by passing the handle of a rake horizontally along the bed, so as to strike the stems an inch or two above the bulb, and bend them flat down. Winter onions thus managed may be taken up about the end of June, and are generally firm, and keep long. For pickling, the small silver-skinned variety is best; they should be sown pretty thickly about the middle of April, in light and very poor land, as they are not required of a large size for this purpose; they need not be thinned, unless when they rise absolutely in cluster. They will be fit for use in August.


Leeks are raised much in the same way as onions. There are three varieties of them; the narrow-leaved or Flanders, the broad-leaved or tall London, and the Scotch or flag-leek; this last is by much the most hardy. They are, about the beginning of March, sown closely in beds, and in June or July are planted out in rows, first trimming off the tips of the leaves and the points of the fibrous roots. A good way is, to make a deep hole with a dibble, and merely lay in the leek plant up to the leaves, without closing the earth about it; this encourages the stem to swell and lengthen, while at the same time it blanches it. But this plan may be adopted only in moist weather, or the plants must be well watered, to ensure their taking root. If the leaves be topped two or three times during the summer, the leeks will grow to a larger size. They are ready for use in autumn and winter.


Cibols are raised from seeds, which are sown in July. The seedling plants soon appear; but, in the course of the month of October, the leaves go off, and the ground seems quite bare. In January, however, they again begin to shoot, and by March they are fit for use.


Chives are readily propagated by parting the roots, either in autumn or spring, and they will grow in any soil or situation. They should be repeatedly cut during the summer, the successive leaves produced in this way being more tender. A small bed or border thus managed will afford a sufficient supply; it will continue productive for three or four years, when a new plantation should be made.


Garlic has a bulbous root, mad up of a dozen or fifteen smaller bulbs, called cloves; it is propagated by detaching the cloves, and planting them. The soil should be light and dry, well delved, and broken fine. The sets are placed four inches distant from each other in every direction, and between two or three inches deep. The smaller the cloves, the more healthy and productive will be the plants. They are put in in February or March; about the middle of June the leaves are tied in knots, to prevent the stronger plants from running to flower. The crop is taken up in August, when the leaves begin to wither. The roots are tied in bunches and hung in a dry room for use.


The culture of the shallot is very similar to that of garlic. They are planted about the middle of October, the ground having been previously manured with old well-rotted dung, mixed with house-ashes. The crop is taken up in the end of summer, when the leaves become discoloured, and the bulbs are hung up in nets, in a cool airy place, for use.


Artichokes may be planted in any open situation. They are propagated by means of rooted slips, or suckers, taken off at the time of the spring dressing, in the beginning of April. They like a light loam, cool, but dry, and which is at the same time rich and deep. In preparing for this crop, the soil should be trenched to the depth of three feet, and manure should be liberally supplied at the bottom of the trench. The plants may be placed four feet apart every way; and at the end of the first season after planting, a small and late crop of artichokes may generally be cut in October. In the second year they will be plentiful; and in autumn, as soon as all the heads are gathered, the whole stalks are broken down close to the ground. In November, a portion of earth is drawn towards each plant, and some long dung, peas-haum, or the like, is laid around, but kept at some distance from the stems and leaves of the plants. In March or April, the litter and earth are removed, the stocks are examined, and two or three of the strongest and best shoots being selected for growing up, the rest are detached. Every season, at the winter dressing, some small rotted dung or fresh sea-weed should be dug into the ground. It is advisable to renew the artichoke plantation every six years.


The best soil for cardoons is one that is light, and not too rich; but it ought to be deep. The seed is sown in the middle or end of May, in small hollows, about three inches deep, and four feet distant from each other every way. Two or three seeds are placed in each hollow to ensure a crop, but only the strongest plant is allowed to remain. The cardoon requires a good deal of water, and in very dry weather, this should be copiously supplied. In September when the leaves will be large, they are tied up with hay or straw bands for blanching, leaving only the top free, but a dry day must be selected for the purpose; at the same time a hillock of earth is formed around each plant to the height of a foot or eighteen inches, and this is smoothed on the surface, that the rain may run off, and not fall into the centre of the plants. As they advance in growth, additional bands of straw are added, and the earth is raised higher. They will be ready for use in two months after the commencement of the blanching. In severe frost, the tops are covered with haum or long litter.


Of each of the two kinds of lettuce, the coss, also called the Roman and ice, and the cabbage lettuce, there are many varieties. Of the coss lettuces, the Egyptian green, the white coss or Versailles, and the royal cape lettuce, are esteemed; of the cabbage lettuces, the imperial and grand admiral, or admiral. The large Roman and the Cilicia lettuces are those chiefly used in soups. The seed is sown broadcast, and merely raked into the ground. A small sowing may be made in January, the seedlings being transplanted in March. A considerable crop is sown in the end of February, and the principal sowing is in March and April. A part of each crop should be regularly transplanted, to come in season immediately after those left in the seed-bed; they are fittest for transplanting when they have four or six leaves; and they are placed from ten to fifteen inches apart, according to the size they are likely to attain. To forward the cabbaging of coss lettuce, the leaves may be tied together in the manner practiced with endive. If the winter be not very severe, lettuces will stand without much injury, close by the foot of a south wall, and be fit for use in January, February, and March.


The green curled-leaved and the white curled-leaved are the best kinds; the green curled-leaved, being the most hardy, is used for the latest crops. The seed, which must be scattered thinly, is sown some time between the middle of May and middle of June; another sowing is made in July. When the seedlings are three or four inches high, they are transplanted into a well-prepared bed of rich soil, in rows a foot asunder, at the distance of ten inches from each other in the row. In dry weather, watering is necessary. The blanching must next be commenced; it is accomplished, when the plants are perfectly dry, by tying up the heads with strands of bass-mat; some nicety is requisite in gathering the leaves together in regular order, so as not to cross each other, and in rejecting such leaves as are unhealthy. The plants are, at first, tied two inches below the top, afterwards about the middle of the plant. In three weeks or a month, they will be found to be sufficiently blanched; but as they will continue in this state fit for use only a fortnight, a few plants must be tied up every week in order to their being ready for use in succession. After October, the mode adopted is, to make some trenches, and to sink the plants in them nearly to the head, where they will become sufficiently blanched in four or five weeks. Additional plants may be sunk in the trenches every fortnight, when the weather happens to be so mild and dry as to permit it. Endive thus blanched in the earth must be dug out with the spade.


There are two varieties, one with hollow, the other with solid stalks – the solid stalk is generally preferred; another variety, with large red stalks, is also esteemed. Celery must be sown at several different times, in order to ensure a succession or plants fit for transplanting at various seasons. The first sowing is commonly made about the end of March or beginning of April, in a sheltered border; the next about the beginning of May, on a moist border. About the end of April, the plants of the first sowing will be ready for pricking into nursery beds of rich earth, in which they may stand three or four inches separate. Water is given, and the plants are shaded from the sun for a few days. A quantity of every successive sowing should be thus pricked out, in order to strengthen them. Towards the end of May, the most forward plants may be transplanted into trenches for blanching. In dry weather, at this season, water is given freely both to the transplanted plants and those left in the seed-bed. The usual mode of transplanting and blanching is the following: - Trenches are formed at the distance of three or four feet from each other, a foot and a half wide, and about a foot in depth. The soil in the bottom of this trench is delved and worked fine, and a little rotten dung is mixed with it. The soil for celery should be deep and rich, somewhat moist, yet of a light nature. The earth taken from the trench is laid in ridges on each side, ready to be drawn in as wanted. The plants, having the tops of the long leaves cut off, and any side-shoots removed, are placed in the bottom of the trenches, at the distance of four or five inches from each other; as they advance in growth, the earth is drawn in towards them, perhaps once in ten days, taking care to do this in dry weather, and not to cover the centre of the plants with soil. When the plants rise considerably above the surface of the ground, the earth laid in ridges will be exhausted; a new trench must, therefore, now be opened between each row, for a supply of soil to continue the earthing up till the leaf stalks of the celery be blanched to the length of from eight to fourteen inches. The last sowing is destined to stand the winter; and the soil into which this is finally transplanted, should be as dry as possible. In severe weather, peas-haum or loose litter is thrown over the beds. In lifting the plants for use, it is proper to dig deep, that the main root may not be injured.


These may be sown, thickly, in close drills, on a warm border, at the bottom of a south wall, about the middle of March. Throughout the summer they should be sown once a-fortnight, as they are used only while quite young and tender. Besides the plain sort of garden cress, there is a variety with curled leaves, which, being the more hardy of the two, may be sown later in the season. This kind requires to be thinned out to half an inch asunder. The white mustard is the best kind for sowing along with the garden cress, and for using in salad.


The French sorrel thrives best in a light sandy soil. It is easily propagated by means of offsets, or by seeds; if in the first way, the plants are placed a foot apart. The only attention the crop requires is that of cutting off the flower stems in the month of July. The plants should be renewed every four or five years. Common sorrel thrives best in a shady border. It is easily raised from seed sown early in spring.


There are the spindle-rooted and turnip-rooted radishes; of the turnip-rooted variety, there is a white and a red kind. The short-topped purple or the pink radish, both spindle-rooted, may be sown for the earliest crop in the beginning of November, in a sheltered border; and they will be ready for drawing early in March. More seed is sown in December and January, and sowings are continued once a-fortnight until April, in order to secure a succession of young roots. Any sort of soil will suit this plant. In the end of March, should the weather happen to be very dry, the crops must be regularly watered; a slight covering of fern is useful early in spring, when sharp frosts occur; it may be raked off in the day time, and restored at night. If radishes are to be drawn small, they may stand at two inches apart; but if it be intended that the roots should grow large, they must be allowed twice that distance. The turnip-rooted radish is sown in February or March, and thinned out with a small hoe to within six inches apart.


A fresh, but poor soil, is better for this plant than a rich one. The seeds may be sown in April, in drills about two inches deep. The plants must have a support, as the stalks will grow to the height of six or eight feet. The seeds will be ready for use in August or September. There is also a dwarfish variety, which may be allowed to spread on the ground.


A few plants only of this are sufficient. It may be raised from seeds sown in autumn, or by parting the roots. The stems should be two or three times cut over in summer.


The soil for horse-radish should be rich and deep. It is propagated by cuttings of the knotty parts of the root, provided these be furnished with one or two eyes. They are planted in February or March, in lines, leaving a foot and a half between each line. The sets are placed at the depth of at least a foot. The roots are not used till the second year, and then they are raised only as they are wanted. The bed will last for four or five years, care being taken, in digging the roots, to leave the original set, or stock, untouched.


The curled parsley is the preferable variety. It may be raised in drills on the edge of a border. The seeds, which lie for a month or six weeks in the ground before springing, may be sown in February or early in March. In order to have fresh parsley leaves throughout the winter, some larch or beech branches may be laid over the parsley borders; and in hard weather, above these are spread dry bean-haum, fern, or reeds.


Angelica is easily raised from seed, which should be sown soon after it is gathered. It grows best in a moist soil, and thrives exceedingly well by the side of a ditch. Though a biennial plant, it may be made to continue for several years, by cutting down the flower stem before it ripen to seed.


The kind cultivated for the table is called monk’s rhubarb. It is propagated by means of offsets, which should be planted any time between November and February, in good soil, at the distance of three feet from each other. If the rhubarb plants be covered in November with a good deal of stable-litter, the leaves will shoot up every early in spring, and their stalks will be improved by the blanching they will in this way receive.



The red kind is preferred for kitchen use; and the lighter and poorer the soil is, the better will the sage plants stand the winter. It is propagated in the spring by slips, and in the summer by cuttings. The cuttings should be five or six inches long, stripped of all the lower leaves, and plunged nearly to the top in the earth, being at the same time well watered. The plants should be removed every three or four years.


Clary is propagated by seeds sown in spring, transplanting the seedlings, in the summer months, to fifteen inches apart.


Spearmint is the kind required for culinary purposes, peppermint being little used, except for distilling. These mints like a moist soil, and are readily propagated by slips in spring, by parting the roots in autumn, and by means of cuttings in summer. In the latter end of summer, when the spearmint is coming into flower, it may be gathered, dried gradually in the shade, and kept for winter use. As mint plants are sometimes destroyed in very severe frost, it is advisable to cover them slightly with peas-haum or fern before winter.


Thyme grows best in a light dry soil that has not been recently manured; it is propagated by parting the roots, planting slips, or by sowing the seed in spring.


Sweet-marjoram, or knotted-marjoram, is propagated by seed, a little of which should be sown every spring. Pot-marjoram is easily propagated by slips or cuttings, and is sufficiently hardy to withstand out winters. Winter sweet-marjoram requires a sheltered border and a dry soil. It is a perennial plant, and is propagated by parting the roots in autumn. For winter use, both the kinds of sweet-marjoram should be dried slowly in the shade, and afterwards hung up in a dry place.


Winter savory is propagated by slips, or by cutting of the young roots, and also by seeds. It is hardy, and continues good for several years, especially in poor soils. Summer savory must be sown every spring, in shallow drills, thinly; the drills being eight or nine inches apart.


In a dry loamy soil, tarragon proves quite a hardy plant; but it is apt to perish in a wet situation. It is easily propagated by parting the roots, or by planting in the spring young shoots with only two or three fibres.


Tansy is extremely hardy, and will grow in any soil. It is easily propagated at any season by parting the roots.


A poor dry soil is most suitable to hyssop. It may be propagated in the spring months by seeds, by rooted slips, and by cuttings.


Costmary does best in a dry soil. It is propagated by parting the roots in autumn.


Rosemary is easily propagated by slips or cuttings in spring. It should be planted in a dry soil, in a sheltered situation; but if its roots enter the crevices at the base of an old wall, the plant will not be injured by the severest frosts.


Lavender is propagated by cuttings, in young slips, any time in the spring months. It should be planted in a dry, gravelly, or poor soil.


Balm is readily propagated by parting the roots, preserving two or three buds to each piece; or by slips, either in autumn or spring. In order to have young leaves all the summer, some of the stalks should be cut down every month. The balm plantation need not be renewed oftener than every third or fourth year.


The seeds of coriander should be sown in autumn, and the plants afterwards thinned out to five or six inches asunder.


The caraway is a biennial plant, and should be sown soon after the seed is ripe, in autumn, thinning out the plants the next spring, to within four or six inches apart. A moist soil suits the caraway the best.


Samphire is not easily cultivated; it seems to succeed best in a rich light soil, having sand and gravel mixed with it. It must be in a well-sheltered situation, and requires to be freely watered in dry weather, till the roots have struck deep among the soil. If a few plants can be induced to take root in an old wall, or on an artificial rock-work, they will have a good chance of remaining.

Return to our Practice of Cookery Index page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus