Coal and coke ashes contain no plant food; in no way may either be regarded as a manure or fertilizer. But they have much value where clay or other heavy soil is to be dealt with, sifted ashes dug in generously and deeply helping to break the ground up and keep it broken up so that it is more inclined to crumble. The drainage of ground thus dealt with is greatly improved.
The ashes do not need weathering. They may be dug in (after sifting) straight from the house fires or stokehold. They cannot serve the foregoing purposes if left scattered on the surface; they must be mixed in with the soil to the depth of I ft. at least. They should not be used where potatoes are to be planted, or the skins of these may be scratched and scabbed by the sharp particles. Neither should they be added to light soil, or this will be made still lighter.
Sifted dry ashes will keep slugs and snails away from lettuce and other plants; ashes lose their value in this respect whilst wet, regaining it when the particles again become dry and sharp.
They can be used for mounding up around plants which require such protection in winter; for mounding up around the outside of a garden frame to make this more weatherproof; and for surfacing paths, a roller being used to compress diem after rain.
Wood Ash. Ash that results from the burning of wood and woody refuse of all kinds – tree and hedge prunings, old pea and bean sticks, cabbage stalks, dead stems of Jerusalem artichoke dock and other coarse weeds, diseased potato tops – is in a quite different category. It is rich in potash; potato, onion, beet and tomato especially derive benefit from this. The wood ash should be kept dry
Also like the tomato it can be planted outdoors in a warm position against a south-facing fence or wall, or fruited in a sunny greenhouse in pots.
It grows about 2 ft. to 3 ft. in height and is bushy in nature. Varieties include White (nearest in shape and colour to an egg). Long Purple (fruits sometimes 9 in. long), New York Purple. Mixed seed also is sold.
Ready for Use. During summer and autumn. Outdoor season lasts until September.
How and When to Sow. Plants need to be raised in hotbed frame or warm greenhouse; seed to be sown February to March, thinly, in light soil in a small flower pot or shallow seed box; temperature 65 to 75 degrees. Cover pot or box with a sheet of glass, and paper, until the first seedlings appear.
Potting On. Transfer the seedlings when 2 in. high singly to small pots. When these have become almost filled with roots, shift on into 6-in. diameter pots. If they are to be grown on in the sunny greenhouse, shift again to a larger size. Potting soil to consist of 2 parts good soil, I part sifted leaf-mould or quite old manure, and a sprinkling of silver sand.
Staking, Syringing. Nip off the top of each plant when about 6 in. high; this will encourage side shoots and bushy growth. Give each a 3-ft. stake, and tie with raffia, but not tightly, as growth extends upwards. Syringe with clear water of the same temperature as the greenhouse, morning and afternoon; this encourages growth and discourages attack by red spider.
Planting Outdoors. In a warm summer the egg plant will do well outdoors, in rich soil, at the foot of a south-facing fence or wall, planted out in June.
Gathering the ‘Eggs.’ These are ready for gathering when fully coloured, tomato-fashion.
Preparing for Table.
Wipe the ‘eggs’ with a damp cloth before eating raw or cooking. They are a luxury, not a high value food.