ORGANIC GARDENING TECHNIQUES: HORSE-RADISH

A condiment made of the shavings or scrapings of a good thick root of horse-radish, to accompany meat, is an appetizing addition to the bill of fare. The large, coarse-looking leaves are not eaten; all the value lies in the long, straight, fat stick of a yellowish root. The plant has no objection to shade, but this must not be day-long nor heavy; it does object to poor dry soil. Propagation is by pieces of root (sets or crowns) which nurserymen sell by the dozen, though not more than a half-dozen are likely to be required normally. Horseradish has phenomenal powers of spreading, and once a stock is introduced to a piece of ground it is likely to be there for good.

Ready for Use. Roots are ready for lifting in October.

Soil Preparation.

To secure worth-while roots the small patch of ground is prepared by digging to the depth of a foot at least and at that depth forking in some manure, or leaf-mould or decayed material from the vegetable refuse heap or pit. If the top soil is thin and poor, leaf-mould mixed with it will ensure satisfactory results.

When and How to Plant.

Pieces of root of any length – as short as 3 inmay be planted. If these have buds at the top only one should be allowed to remain to each piece. If they are broken pieces of root, the top should be cut across squarely and a bud will form after planting. They are to be planted upright, bud or square-cut end to the top, in holes 1 ft apart, during February or March.

The holes, about 10 in. deep, are made with a crowbar or strong stake, and into each a piece of root is dropped so that it goes right to the bottom. The root is then covered in with soil. In quick-drying ground it is advisable to make the holes at the bottom of a 4-in. deep drill, so that no water (when it is given) runs to waste.

Watering and Hoeing.

With plenty of moisture available the roots fatten up well to between 1 in. and 2 in. in diameter. Regular hoeing will keep down weeds, and the powdery surface which the hoe leaves will help the soil to retain moisture.

Lifting the Roots.

All the roots should be dug up, unbroken, by November, the spade being used carefully; broken pieces left in are likely to become a nuisance – spreading new growth where it is not wanted.

Storing for Winter.

The ground cleared and the tops cut or twisted off, the roots are stored anywhere under cover in sifted fire ashes or sand slightly moist.

Preparing for Table.

Washed or scrubbed, roots can be scraped as wanted. Surplus shavings can be dried in a slow oven and kept in a corked jar or bottle.

KALE (BORECOLE)

One of the most valuable and hardy of the winter greens, especially for late winter when other greenstuff is scarce, kale should be represented on every piece of vegetable ground. Vigorous in growth, hard frost actually improves the eating qualities of the generously produced leaves or sprouts, one plant giving many pickings over a long period. It thrives in rich, firm soil.

Varieties include Hardy Sprouting, Curled Scotch, Tall Curled, Drumhead (with solid cabbage top), Russian, Thousand-headed, Cottager’s and Asparagus, the last two specially useful for late spring.

An ounce of seed yields about 1,000 plants. Seedlings appear in ten days after planting.

Ready for Use.

November and the surface is wet) until it no longer on to March or April.

Soil Preparation.

Kale follows well after a crop of beans or peas for which the ground has been well dug and enriched; with rubbish cleared away and the top 2 in. broken up with the fork, no further preparation is necessary. Recent deep digging is not desirable, firm ground being an essential. With a loose root run growth is apt to be sappy and less resistant to frost. If the site is not in good heart deep digging cannot well be avoided. Plenty of decaying greenstuff should be mixed in 1 ft. down, and superphosphate of lime scattered over the dug surface, 2 ounces to die square yard, and raked in. Preparation is completed by treading or rolling the site (not when feels spongy.

When and How to Sow.

To secure a supply over the longest. possible period small sowings are made at intervals from March to May – the earlier sowings for early winter pickings, the later ones for the main winter and spring crop.

Seed is sown as thinly as possible, in -2-in. deep drills in the seed bed, this first being watered if dry. Seedlings are transplanted about 4 in. apart and later planted out, a few at a time, in the prepared row or rows. Or they may be thinned out in the seed bed to stand 4 in. apart, remaining there until wanted for planting out.

Asparagus kale and cottager’s kale for the production of numerous shoots in late spring, can be sown as late as early July in the rows where the plants are to remain, and there thinned out (without any transplanting) to 2 ft. apart. In this case, to save wastage of seed, three or four seeds should be dropped together at 2-ft. intervals, this also simplifying thinning out.

Planting Out.

Kale occupies a fair amount of space, 2 ft. apart in rows 2 ft. apart, but as very little indeed of the plant is wasted no objection can be taken to it on that account.

Plants for final setting out should be lifted, with a trowel, from moist ground; diis enables them to come away with plenty of soil adhering to the roots, a factor which is worth attention. They receive no check and get away at once in dieir new quarters.

If the planting site is at all dry, deep trowel-holes should be made and then filled with water. When this has soaked away the plants are dropped in and the ground made firm around each by treading it with the boot heel. The holes need to be of sufficient depth to take the whole of the bare stem, so that the lowest leaves are level with die surface.

Watering and Hoeing.

The plants will take up a good deal of water if this is available; if it is not, growth suffers. The watering can must not remain idle so long as rain holds off. The day after each watering, either the Dutch or draw hoe should be used to loosen the surface, even though there may be no weeds to uproot. If watering is not possible, the hoe will help by fining down the surface and blocking up air holes, thus preventing the evaporation of whatever moisture tiiere may be in the soil.

Gathering Leaves and Shoots.

A plant is not stripped of its greenstuff all at once. A few leaves and shoots are broken off at a time, and others taken as they develop, up and down the stem, undl the plant has no more to offer. It has then done its job. Uprooted and burned on the rubbish heap, bare stem and roots will become wood ash – which is to be kept dry (so that the potash which it contains shall not be washed out) undl wanted for raking or forking into a bit of dug ground previous to sowing or planting.

Preparing for Table.

Leaves and shoots (or sprouts) should have thick stem ends removed, tiien be washed, and left in salt water for a few minutes before boiling. Since kale is available when other greens have been used up or have been ruined by hard frost, it is an invaluable winter food.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus