FRAME AND GREENHOUSE GARDENING TECHNIQUES FOR HOME FOOD PRODUCTION

WITH odd sheets of glass to trap and retain sun-heat, exclude rain and cold weather, it is possible to extend the season of various crops quite considerably. Wooden boxes with bottoms removed and provided with movable glass tops serve as miniature frames. With a 6-ft. frame, constructed of a few lengths of timber, or built up with turves, and topped with an old window frame (glazed), still more can be done. A home-made greenhouse extends the possibilities still further.

Warming the Soil.

Patches of seed bed covered with pieces of glass propped up with sticks to form inverted V shelters in the early days of the year will warm up and become dry enough after a week or so to make extra early seed sowing less risky than it would otherwise be.

If odd pieces of glass are not available, cloches with wire framework can be purchased. The soil having been made reasonably dry with their aid seed sowing can go ahead – lettuce and radish as early as January, the thinned-out crop being allowed to finish under the glass. Provided there is sufficient length of glass covering, the usual February and March sowings can all be advanced in spite of inclement weather.

If the covering is deep enough (from apex to ground) it can be used to shelter boxes of February-sown onion and leek; and tomato, celery, marrow can all be raised earlier than usual.

Ventilation and Watering.

Protection must be continued after the seedlings are up until the weather is warm enough for safe removal of the glass, which will need to be covered with sacking, strips of old carpet or something of similar nature when frost threatens.

It is important that the ends of the inverted V shelters be closed with glass, otherwise wind whistles through and the value of the protection is seriously lessened. But plants must have air, at all stages of growth, and this should be admitted whenever possible by displacing slightly the glass at that end which does not face the wind. The shelter should be closed up again before evening.

The shelters are, naturally, best able to make use of whatever sun there may be if placed beyond the reach of shade from trees, walls, fences; though it helps considerably if the position is sheltered from north and east winds. If the sun refuses to shine the glass will at least be a barrier to chill air and rain.

When watering becomes necessary the water should be given not under the glass (that would chill the air inside and give rise to damp conditions) but outside, a drill being drawn with the hoe down each side of the shelter, or inward-sloping holes about 4 in. deep made with a crowbar, and filled with water. The moisture will soak inwards, below the surface, to the roots.

Seedlings will need all the light they can get, so the glass must be kept clean, inside and out; soil splashed up by rain should be wiped off. Slugs and snails will appreciate the milder conditions – and whatever young plants there are – inside the shelter, and they must be watched for. If high winds are prevalent, the supporting sticks may need special attention.

The Box Frame.

This may be a cut-down packing case, with no cracks for wind to penetrate, with pieces of glass over the top, the latter to be cut at an angle so that it slopes to the sun – facing the south. As with an ordinary garden frame, boxes or pots of seedlings should stand high enough inside to be within a few inches of the glass.

A crack of air should be given when the weather allows, and when water is given it should have the chill taken off and not be splashed about; the atmosphere needs to be kept reasonably dry. Sacking or other material used to give additional night protection must be put on dry. And if frost comes the material must be left in position until weather is again normal.

A Garden Frame.

The dimensions of the garden frame are not important. If it is home-made the length and breadth will probably be governed by the quantity of wood and glass available for constructing the light – which is the term applied to the glass and its framework. The area might well be adapted to an old window frame, or a couple of these (Figs. and 67).

The body of the frame could be built of grass turves, each about 1 ft. long and 9 in. wide, and as thick as possible, these to be laid like the bricks in a wall so that they interlock (flat, and grass side down). To make such a frame still more weatherproof sifted house-fire ashes could be heaped up around outside the walls.

Possibilities of a Frame.

Broad beans and peas can be sown in boxes in November and wintered in the frame for planting out at the end of March for cropping in June; dwarf and runner beans in April for planting out in late May or early June for cropping in mid-July; and so on. Cauliflower sown outdoors in September could be wintered in the frame for planting out in April; they would be ready for use in early June. Lettuce, sown outdoors at the same time and wintered similarly and planted out in April, would be a welcome addition to the home food supply in May and June.

The frame need never be idle. If not filled with boxes or pots of seed or seedlings or being used to harden off plants raised in a greenhouse it could be cropped with carrot (pulled young), lettuce, radish, mustard and cress, sown in the bed. This should be of really good soil, its surface should slope at the same angle as the glass and it should be not more than about eight inches from the glass.

Pots and boxes should also be quite close to the light, raised up on empty boxes or inverted flowerpots.

Position of Frame.

The frame should face south, and should be exposed to full light; though the presence of a fence or wall to shield it from north or east winds is desirable this should not be allowed to darken it unduly. The frame should not be too close to any such shelter. Also it should stand where water is not likely to collect around it.

Frame Management.

Unnecessary watering must be avoided, a too moist atmosphere not being conducive to rapid and healthy growth. Ventilation needs care. In winter the merest crack of air during the brightest periods may be sufficient. In high summer the frame light may be removed completely during the day and replaced at night, well propped up at the front or either end.

In the spring particular care is called for in this matter, air then being given by propping up the frame light with a small pot or wedge of wood in such a manner that the opening does not face whatever wind happens to be blowing at the time.

If the wind is blowing from the back of the frame, the front should be opened slightly, and vice versa; blowing from the left side, air should be given on the right-hand side, and vice versa. To retain the day’s sun heat the frame light should be closed early in the afternoon or evening.

The glass needs always to be clean, inside and out; if there are holes or cracks to let rain through, stop them with a bit of putty.

The soil, if this is occupied by crops, should be kept loose on the surface by stirring it occasionally with a pointed stick.

Dry sacking or other material should be placed over the frame light at the first suspicion of frost and be kept in position with heavy pieces of wood or bricks, the covering to remain on until frost has departed.

A Warm Frame.

A cold (unheated) frame can be converted to a warm (heated) one by placing it on a hotbed made of stable manure and tree leaves mixed in equal parts, the warmth given out by this converting the frame into a miniature heated greenhouse.

The object of mixing leaves with the manure is to secure moderate, steady, long-lasting heat. Manure alone would give greater heat but of shorter duration. The stable manure should be less than a month old and should not contain wood shavings (as frequently used for bedding horses). The heap should be forked over three or four times in the course of a fortnight and the leaves mixed thoroughly with it.

It is then fit for making up into a bed on which the frame will stand, the bed being built up in layers, each layer firmed down by beating it with the fork. When it is finished it should exceed the area of the frame by about 18 in. in each direction, and be about 18 in. in depth. Stakes driven in at each corner, with extra ones midway along front, back and sides, form a useful guide in building it.

Heat for Three Months.

The bed made reasonably firm all over, the frame is placed upon it but without the frame light – to allow the steam to escape. At the end of five or six days a layer of soil about 9 in. deep at the front (the surface to slope at same angle as the frame light) is placed inside the frame and the frame light put on. It will take about twenty-four hours for the soil to warm through, and seed may then be sown. 2

If the seed is to be sown in boxes or pots these should be sunk to the rim or top edge in the soil. A thermometer should be kept in the hotbed frame and ventilation attended to so that the temperature does not rise above about 70 degrees.

Useful heat will be maintained for about three months. When the bed has served its turn (there would be very little difficulty in getting a good crop of cucumbers or melons from the frame in summer) the material will not be wasted. It will be as valuable as it was in the beginning for digging into the ground.

Greenhouse Crops.

A greenhouse is a glorified frame in which sun heat is trapped, and in which leek and onion and other seedlings for growing on outdoors can be raised early and with ease irrespective of weather conditions, with tomatoes to fill it all summer and well into

autumn. Its general management follows the fines laid do’n for the unheated frame. Sheets of old newspaper placed between plants and the glass will give adequate protection to the plants in the event of frost.

Heated with hot-water pipes, or a lamp – there are several excellent ones for this purpose on the market – or electrically, possibilities are really very extensive, washed from the plants. Soot and other powders applied to soil are ineffective when wet with rain, and need renewal.

Spraying with Insecticides.

In liquid form an insecticide should be applied as a fine but very thorough shower, by means of a syringe – in any of the forms obtainable (Figs. and 76). Get at the plants from all angles so that the. liquid reaches everywhere. Early morning or evening, or some other sunless period, and when rain is not likely, is the best time.

A solution of quassia and soft soap (bought in concentrated form, in small tins) is a good all-round spraying liquid. A little of the contents of the tin should be dissolved in hot or boiling water, then diluted with clear water according to the directions. The liquid is most effective applied as hot as the hand can comfortably bear.

The paraffin emulsion mentioned in the chart as a killer of fly on broad beans should be prepared first as a soapy mixture – a handful of soft soap stirred vigorously in just sufficient hot water to dissolve it, the quantity then being increased to 2 gals, by the addition of clear water, the wineglassful of paraffin going in last. The mixture should be squirted backwards and forwards in the bucket, with a syringe, and agitated similarly, or stirred, during use.

Derris preparations that are to be used in liquid form are made up in these proportions: 1 ounce of Derris powder, lb. soft soap, 3 gals, water; the soft soap to be dissolved first, in a little hot water.

Nicotine is a certain killer of green and black fly and other small animate pests – A fluid ounces of nicotine, lb. soft soap, 5 gals, water.

These fluids should not be used on lettuce, cabbage or other plants the leaves of which are to be eaten in the near future, and should not be allowed to reach these when spraying is being carried out in their vicinity, or the leaves will be tainted and most unpalatable. Nicotine, it should be noted, is a poison, though when diluted as advised in the previous paragraph its poisonous qualities are not long-lasting.

Dipping Small Plants.

Seedlings to be transplanted from seed bed or box and showing evidence of green fly can be given a clean start by dipping the tops and stems (not the roots) in liquid insecticide before they are planted out.

Fungicides.

Fungicides are for combating fungous diseases such as attack potato, tomato and other crops, and are most successful when used as preventives – that is, applied before the trouble becomes visible. Makers’ directions must be followed closely.

Every part of leaf and stem is to be coated with the spray . delivered as a fine shower through a syringe, so that a film is deposited on the under as well as the upper sides of the foliage. A windless day and no rain fix the actual time of application.

In powder form, fungicides must be distributed with the same object.

One of the best general-purpose powders, especially where mildews are being dealt with, is sulphur, generally sold as flowers of sulphur. This should be dusted over the plants when these are damp with dew, in morning or evening, or after rain, the moisture assisting the powder to adhere to foliage and stems and get on with its good work at once.

In the case of some plant diseases (potato wart disease, onion smut) the grower on whose plot they occur is required to report die matter without delay to the Ministry of Agriculture; the address is obtainable by inquiring from the local police station.

REMEDIES AGAINST ENEMIES OF VEGETABLE CROPS

BROAD BEAN Black fly on ends of shoots Nip off tips, where the pests cluster, and burn them. Also spray with paraffin emulsion – a handful of soft soap dissolved in 2 gall. of hot water plus a wincglassful of paraffin.

Damage to seedling leaves by weevils Old (not fresh) soot, or Derris powder, scattered over foliage.

DWARF FRENCH AND RUNNER BEANS Black fly Nicotine or pyrethrum, in powder or liquid form.

Yellowish patches, spots (halo blight) on seedlings, pods Destroy first plants affected, immediately noticed, to check spread of the disease.

Red-margined spots (anthracnose) on seedlings, pods Destroy first plants affected; spray with Bordeaux mixture before the pods form.

Pale – spotted foliage due to minute red spider Troublesome in prolonged dry weather; spray in evenings with clear water.

BEET Leaves tunnelled by grubs (leaf – mining fly) Leaves showing pale streaks (where grubs are tunnelling) to be picked off and burned; or grubs crushed (in their tunnels) with finger and thumb. To discourage attack, spray with quassia and soft soap solution.

Black fly on leaves Nicotine or pyrethrum, as a dusting or spray.

CABBAGE TRIBE Caterpillars on leaves Derris powder dusted over the pests. Or syringe vigorously with salt solution – handful of salt in a bucket of water.

Green fly on leaves As above. Or pyrethrum, powder or liquid.

Seedlings nibbled by fica beetle (turnip fly) Dust with old soot, or Derris or nicotine powder.

Round swellings, or galls, at base of stem – and on turnips – caused by gall weevil grubs As precautionary measure, lime the ground well before planting and reject young plants showing these swellings (each containing a white grub). Change the site for next cabbage crop.

REMEDIES AGAINST ENEMIES OF VEGETABLE CROPS

Attacked Attacker Remedy

CABBAGE TRIBE (cont.) Roots greatly swollen and distorted – club root disease (‘finger-and-toe’ in turnip) Lime soil before planting, and raise seedlings in well-limed seed bed. Burn cabbage roots after crop cleared. Affected part of plot not to be cropped with cabbage tribe again for 3 to 4 years.

Plants wilt – grubs attacking roots (cabbage root fly) Pull up and burn attacked plants. Sprinkle powdered calomel or naphthalene alongside rows to ward off egg-laying fly.

CARROT Roots eaten by grubs of carrot fly Naphthalene or powdered calomel dusted alongside rows immediately plants are thinned out, to ward off egg-laying fly.

Round holes bored in roots by wireworm, (grub of the click beetle) Portions of potato, turnip, old carrot, short lengths of cabbage stalk, buried 2 in. deep will attract these pests; mark the buried pieces with sticks, disinter and inspect daily – and destroy the catch.

CELERY Leaves tunnelled by grubs Deal with as under Beet.

Rusty spots spreading over foliage Spray early with Bordeaux mixture as a preventive. Badly diseased plants should be burned.

LETTUCE Green fly Spray early with pyrethrum solution.

Small holes in leaves (ring spot disease) Change the site for next lettuce crop.

Stems rotting at soil level (grey mould disease; Destroy affected plants immediately noticed. Grow next batch elsewhere on plot.

ONION White fluffy mould (white rot disease) at base of bulb, which may rot Remove and burn attacked plants at first indication.

Young plants become yellow and wilt – due to grubs of the onion fly in the bulbs Spray early, with paraffin emulsion to ward off, or scatter powdered naphthalene alongside and round rows. Pull up and burn the worst.

Shrivelled foliage, sometimes showing a fine mould (downy mildew disease); does not attack the bulbs Dust early and well with flowers of sulphur when foliage is wet with dew or after rain.

REMEDIES AGAINST ENEMIES OF VEGETABLE CROPS

Attacked Attacker Remedy

ONION {com.) Swollen stems, caused by eelworm No remedy. Onions not to be grown on same bed subsequently.

Black stripes on foliage (onion smut disease) Must be notified to Ministry of Agriculture. Onions not to be grown on same bed subsequently.

PARSNIP Grubs tunnelling inside leaves As advised under Beet.

Grub-eaten roots As advised under Carrot.

PEA Seedling leaves notched by weevils As advised under Broad Bean.

Green fly Nicotine or pyrethrum.

POTATO Brown blotches on upper surface of leaves, also on tubers. Tops destroyed; tubers rot in the ground or in store (potato blight disease) Spray with Bordeaux mixture (but not within about twelve miles of big industrial areas or foliage may be badly damaged) in early June and again three weeks later, as preventive.

Distorted, cauliflower-like, greeny-yellow growths at base of stems and on tubers (wart disease) (Fig- 83) Affected tubers and tops must be burned. Soil remains contaminated for years; only varieties known to be immune {see under POTATO in the alphabetical section) should be planted therein. Notify Ministry of Agriculture.

Sickly-looking dwarfed top growth followed by withering of lower leaves. Tops die off early. Caused by potato root eelworm No remedy. Soil remains affected at least five years. Subsequent potato crops to be grown elsewhere on plot.

Tubers scabbed, but fit to eat (scab disease) Ground not to be limed where this trouble occurs. In soil of gritty nature line planting drills with leaf mould; or sprinkle flowers of sulphur in drills.

Leaves mottled, leaf edges curl upwards, black streaks on leaves; tops may perish (virus diseases) Home-saved seed not to be planted. Where the trouble occurs plant best Scotch, Irish or other best-quality seed.

TOMATO Green-black spots on foliage, which dies and rolls up. Stem and fruit also affected (septoria disease) Spray with Bordeaux mixture immediately symptoms noticed; usually appears in June. Badly affected plants should be burned.

REMEDIES AGAINST ENEMIES OF VEGETABLE CROPS contd.

Attacked Attacker Remedy

TOMATO (com.) Brown blotches on upper surface of leaves (similar to potato blight disease) Spray with Bordeaux mixture early – not when tomatoes are ripening.

Other diseases affecting the tomato but less common outdoors are dealt with under TOMATO in the alphabetical section.

SLUGS,

SNAILS Soot fresh from the chimney scattered around (not on) lettuce and other plants will keep slugs and snails at bay. Orange peel placed white-side down on ground will attract them for easy gathering and annihilation. Also destroy with 1 ounce powdered meta and 3 lb. bran, mixed, placed in small heaps (eggcupful); put down in evening, with flat stone or something similar over each small heap to hide it from birds.

CUTWORM Sometimes known as surface caterpillars, the larva; of turnip and other moths eat through stems of cabbage, lettuce, etc.., at soil level. Fork in naphthalene, 2 ounces per sq. yd. Also search for them in soil (just below surface) where they are obviously at work.

LEATHERJACKETS Destructive, underground grubs of the crane fly (daddy-long-legs). Deal with as for Cutworm. Specially numerous in newly dug grassland.

WOODLICE Destructive to top growth of seedlings. Put down pieces of old, rotting board and flat stones as attractive hiding places. Inspect daily and destroy the tenants.

FIELD MICE Trap in large jam-jars half filled with water and sunk rim-deep between rows of newly sown pea, bean, etc..

Destructive underground larva; of the click beetle. Deal with as for Cutworm. Also as advised under CARROT. . – be applied, immediately after mixing, to the soil, the effect being to destroy the microscopic fungoid organisms which flourish in the conditions just mentioned.

The watering can (or other metal vessel ifsed for mixing or applying) should be well washed out afterwards.

Soil Fumigants.

These are for gassing insect pests in the soil, flaked naphthalene being quite effective. When plants occupy the ground, the best that can be done is to fork or hoe the naphthalene into the surface. The real opportunity presents itself during deep digging, when crops are off the ground.

When Seedlings Damp Off.

The condition of damping off – when seedlings flop over and are seen to be affected at soil level – is induced by too moist conditions and overcrowding. The fungicide to use in this case is sold under the name of Cheshunt compound – use 1 ounce of the powder in 2 gals, of water, the powder being dissolved in a little hot water. The solution should

The naphthalene can then be mixed throughout the top foot of soil as digging proceeds, at about 3 ounces per sq. yd. The fumes rise, and penetrate sideways, and are very bad indeed for the health of wireworms, leather)ackets and other undesirables.

Crops Moved On.

Soil pests and such diseases as club root can be dodged to some extent by following a system of rotation in cropping, no vegetable to occupy the same portion of the plot in successive years. Thus potatoes would not follow potatoes but be planted in the ground occupied die previous year by cabbage and others of the cabbage tribe; cabbage crops would follow after onion, shallot, pea, bean; whilst these latter would occupy the site vacated by potatoes.

Fumigating Frame, Greenhouse.

For the dispatch of insect pests in frame and greenhouse various excellent fumigating materials are on the market, with detailed directions for use; with the required burning apparatus in the case of liquid nicotine. Tobacco shreds or papers placed in a flowerpot on the floor of the greenhouse and lighted are equally effective. Flaked naphthalene can also be employed, burned over a lamp sold specially for the purpose.

The dose depends on the size of the structure; thus, naphthalene would be used at the rate of about 4 ounces per thousand feet cubic content. The latter is arrived at by multiplying length of the greenhouse by the breadth, then multiplying the figure that results by die height. The height is, for this purpose, the distance between the floor and a point halfway to the top, or ridge.

When and How to Fumigate.

A fine, calm evening is the time to carry out the operation, with all ventilators shut and any crevices covered with sacking. The material or lamp, as the case may be, is set burning and the operator retires without loss of time, locking the door behind him and placing wet sacking against its bottom edge.

The vapour should be given twelve hours to do its work. Ventilators are then opened, the fumes are allowed a couple of hours to disperse, then the plants are syringed with warm water to clear them of debris. To make a good job of it the same procedure should be repeated three evenings later.

In dealing with a pest-infested frame, the simplest plan is to clear it of plants and to burn a saucer full of sulphur inside, the frame light to be closed and covered with sacking to imprison the fumes. The following JH day all inside parts of the 15 frame should be syringed forcefully with very hot water containing as much soap and soda as can be dissolved in it.

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