THE DADDY SERIES FOR LITTLE FOLKS
DADDY TAKES US TO THE GARDEN
HOWARD R. GARIS
Uncle Wiggily and Alice in Wonderland, Uncle Wiggily Longears, Uncle Wiggily and Mother Goose, Uncle Wiggily's Arabian Nights
ILLUSTRATED BY EVA DEAN
MADE IN U.S.A.
M.A. DONOHUE & COMPANY
CHICAGO NEW YORK
THE DADDY SERIES
By HOWARD R. GARIS
The stories tell of a little boy and girl who go to various places with their dear Daddy. Each book contains something of value regarding nature lore, outdoor sports and animal life.
Price 50 cents per volume.
HOWARD R. GARIS
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Daddy Takes Us Camping Daddy Takes Us Fishing Daddy Takes Us to the Circus Daddy Takes Us Skating Daddy Takes Us Coasting Daddy Takes Us to the Farm Daddy Takes Us to the Garden Daddy Takes Us Hunting Birds Daddy Takes Us Hunting Flowers Daddy Takes Us to the Woods
Copyright, 1914, by R.F. FENNO & COMPANY
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DADDY TAKES US TO THE GARDEN
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I A New Game 9 II Making A Garden 20 III Upside Down Beans 34 IV The First Radish 49 V The Potatoes' Eyes 59 VI The Corn Silk 70 VII Early Tomatoes 78 VIII The Children's Market 92 IX Sammie Plants Tomatoes 102 X White Celery 113 XI Gathering Crops 123 XII Pumpkin Pie 134
A NEW GAME
"Mother, what can we do now?"
"Tell us something to play, please! We want to have some fun!"
As Harry and Mabel Blake said this they walked slowly up the path toward the front porch, on which their mother was sitting one early Spring day. The two children did not look very happy.
"What can we do?" asked Hal, as he was called more often than Harry.
"There isn't any more fun," complained Mab, to which her name was often shortened.
"Oh, my!" laughed Mother Blake. "Such a sadness! What doleful faces you both have. I hope they don't freeze so and stay that way. It would be dreadful!"
"It can't freeze," said Hal. "It's too warm. Daddy told us how cold it had to be to freeze. The ther—ther—Oh, well the thing you tell how cold it is—has to get down to where it says number 32 before there's ice."
"You mean the thermometer," said Mab.
"That's it," agreed Hal. "And look, the shiny thing—mercury, that's the name of it—the mercury is at 60 now. It can't freeze, Mother."
"Well, I'm glad it can't, for I wouldn't want your face to turn into ice the way it looked a little while ago."
"But there's no fun, Mother," and Mab, whose face, as had her brother's, had lost its fretful look while they were talking about the thermometer, again seemed cross and unhappy. "We can't have any fun!"
"Why don't you play some games?" asked Mrs. Blake, smiling at the two children.
"We did," answered Hal. "We tried to play tag, but it's too muddy to run off the paths, and it's no fun, staying in one place. We can't play ball, 'cause Mab can't throw like a boy, and I'm not going to play doll with her."
"I didn't ask you to!" said Mab quickly. "I was going to play doll by myself."
"Yes, but you'd want me to be a doctor, or something, when your doll got sick—you always do."
"I should think that would be fun," said Mother Blake. "Why don't you play doll and doctor?"
"I'm not going to play doll!" declared Hal, and his face looked crosser than ever.
"Oh, it isn't nice to talk that way," said his mother. "You ought to be glad if Mab wanted you to be a doctor for her sick doll. But perhaps you can think of something else—some new game. Just sit down a moment and we'll talk. Then perhaps you'll think of something. I wonder why it is so warm to-day, and why there is no danger of anything freezing—not your faces of course, for I know you wouldn't let that happen. But why is it so warm; do you know?"
"'Cause it's Spring," answered Hal. "Everybody knows that."
"Oh, no, not everybody," replied his mother. "Your dog Roly-Poly doesn't know it."
"Oh, yes, Mother! I think he does!" cried Mab. "He was rolling over and over in the grass to-day, even if it was all wet like a sponge. He never did that in the Winter."
"Well, perhaps dogs and cats do know when it is Spring. The birds do, I'm sure, for then they come up from the South, where they have spent the Winter, and begin to build their nests. So you think it is warm to-day because it is Spring; do you, Hal?"
"Yes, Mother," he replied. "It's time Winter was gone, anyhow. And the trees know it is going to be Summer soon, for they are swelling out their buds."
"And after a while there'll be flowers," added Mab. "Didn't we have fun, Hal, when Daddy took us hunting flowers?"
"Yes, and when he took us to the woods, and to see the different kinds of birds," added the little boy. "We had lots of fun then."
"I wish we could have some of that kind of fun now," went on Mab. "When's Daddy coming home, Mother?"
"Oh, not for quite a while. He has to work and earn money you know. He has to earn more than ever, now that everything costs so much on account of the war. Daddies don't have a very easy time these days."
"Do Mothers?" asked Mab, thinking of how she played mother to her dolls. Maybe, she thought, she could make up a new game, pretending how hard it was for dolls' mothers these days.
"Well, mothers have to do many things they did not have to do when things to eat and wear did not cost so much," spoke Mother Blake. "We have to make one loaf of bread go almost as far as two loaves used to go, and as for clothes—well, I am mending some of yours, Hal, that, last year, I thought were hardly useful any more. But we must save all we can. So that's why Daddy has to work harder and longer, and why he can't come home Saturday afternoons as early as he used to."
It was a Saturday afternoon when Hal and Mab found so much fault about not having any fun. Almost any other day they would have been in school, and have been busy over their lessons. But just now they wanted to play and they were not having a very jolly time, for they could not think of anything to do. Or, at least, they thought they could not.
"What makes it Spring?" asked Hal, after a bit, as he watched his mother putting a patch on his little trousers. Hal remembered how he tore a hole in them one day sliding down a cellar door.
"Tell us what makes Spring, Mother," went on Mab. "That will be as much fun as playing, I guess."
"The sun makes the Spring," said Mrs. Blake "Spring is one of the four seasons. I wonder if you can tell me the others?"
"Which one starts?" asked Hal.
"Spring, of course," exclaimed Mab. "You have to start with something growing, and things grow in the Spring."
"That is right," said Mrs. Blake. "Spring is the beginning of life in the world, when the flowers and birds begin to grow; the flowers from little buds and the birds from little eggs. What comes next?"
"Summer!" cried Hal. "Then's when we can have fun. The ground is dry, so we can play marbles and fly kites. And we can go in swimming and have a long vacation. Summer's the jolly time!"
"It is a time when things grow that start in the Spring," said Mother Blake. "What comes after Summer?"
"Autumn," answered Mab. "Some folks call it Fall. Why do they, Mother?"
"Because the leaves fall from the trees, perhaps. It is a time when the trees and bushes go to sleep, and when most birds fly down to the warm South. And what comes after Autumn or Fall?"
"Christmas!" cried Hal.
"Yes, so it does!" laughed Mrs. Blake. "And I guess most children would say the same thing. But I meant what season."
"It's Winter," Hal said. "Let's see if I know 'em. Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter," he recited. "Four seasons, and this is Spring. I wish it would hurry up and be Summer."
"So do I," agreed Mab. "You can't have any fun now. It's too wet to go without your rubbers, too cold to go without a coat and almost too hot to wear one. I like Summer best."
"And I like Fall and Winter," said Hal. "But let's do something Mab. Let's have some fun. What can we do, Mother?" and back the children were, just where they started.
"Why don't you get Roly-Poly and play with him?" asked Mrs. Blake.
"He's gone away. I guess he ran down to Daddy's office like he does sometimes," said Mab.
"Let's go down after him," exclaimed Hal. "That'll be some fun."
"I don't want to," spoke Mab. "I'd rather play with my doll."
"You never want to do anything I want to play?" complained Hal. "Can't she come with me after Roly-Poly, Mother?"
"Well, I don't know. Can't you both play something here until Daddy comes home? Why don't you play bean-bag?"
"We did, but Hal always throws 'em over my head and I can't reach," Mab said.
"She throws crooked," complained Hal.
"Oh, my dears! I think you each must have the Spring Fever!" laughed Mother Blake. "Try and be nicer toward one another. Let me see now. How would you like to help me bake a cake, Mab?"
"Oh, that will be fun!" and Mab jumped up from the porch, where she had been sitting near her mother's rocking chair, and began to clap her hands. "May I stir it myself, and put the dough in the pans?
"Yes, I think so."
"Pooh! That's no fun for me!" remarked Hal. "I want to have some fun, too."
"You may clean out the chocolate or frosting dish—whichever kind of a cake we make," offered Mab. "You always like to scrape out the chocolate dish, Hal."
"Yes, I like that," he said, smiling a little.
"Well, you may have it all alone this time, if I make the cake," went on Mab. Nearly always she and Hal shared this pleasure—that of scraping out, with a knife or spoon, the chocolate or sugar icing dish from which Mother Blake took the sweet stuff for the top and inside the layers of the cake. "Come on, Hal!"
Hal was willing enough now, and soon he and his sister were in the kitchen, helping Mother Blake with her cake-making. Though, to tell the truth, Mab and Mrs. Blake did most of the work.
While the three were in the midst of their cake-making, into the kitchen rushed a little poodle dog, whirling around, barking and trying to catch his tail.
"Oh, Roly-Poly, where have you been?" cried Hal. "Did Daddy come home with you?"
"Bow-wow!" barked Roly-Poly, which might mean "no" or "yes," just as you happened to listen to his bark.
"Oh, don't get in my way, Roly!" called Mab as the little dog danced about in front of her, while she was carrying a pan filled with cake dough toward the oven. "Look out! Oh, there it goes."
Just what Mab had feared came to pass. She tripped over the poodle dog, and, to save herself from falling, she had to drop the pan of cake dough. Down it fell, right on Roly-Poly's back.
"Bow-wow-wow!" he barked and growled at the same time.
"Oh, look at him!" laughed Hal "He's a regular cake himself."
"Don't let him run through the house that way!" called Mother Blake. "He'll get the carpets and furniture all dough. Get him, Hal!"
Hal made a grab for the little pet dog, and caught him by his tail. This made Roly-Poly howl louder than ever, until Hal, not wishing to hurt his pet, managed to get him in his arms. But of course this made Hal's waist all covered with cake dough.
"Never mind," said Mother Blake, as she saw Hal looking at himself in dismay. "It will all wash off. Better to have it on your waist than on the carpets. Why, Mab! What's the matter?" for Mab was crying softly.
"Oh—Oh, my—my nice ca-cake is all spoiled," she sobbed.
"Oh, no it isn't!" comforted Mother Blake. "Only one pan of dough is spilled, and there is plenty more. The kitchen floor can easily be washed, and so can Roly Poly.
"Hal," went on his mother, "you take the dog up to the bath tub and give him a good scrubbing. He'll like that. Take off your own waist and let the water run on that. I'll wipe up the floor and you can fill another pan and put it in the oven, Mab. Don't cry! We'll have the cake in time for supper yet."
So Mab dried her tears and once more began on the cake, while Mrs. Blake cleaned up the dough from the floor. In a little while the cake was baking in the oven, and Hal came down stairs, rather wet and splattered, but clean. With him was Roly-Poly, looking half drowned, but also clean.
"Well, we did a lot of things!" said Hal, when he had on dry clothes, and he and Mab were waiting for the cake to be baked, after which the chocolate would be spread over it. "It was fun, wasn't it?"
"I—I guess so," answered Mab, not quite sure. "Did I hurt Roly when I stepped on him?"
"I guess not. He splashed water all over me when I put him in the bath tub, though. I pretended he was a submarine ship and he swam all around."
"I wish I had seen him."
"I'll make him do it again," and Hal started toward the stairs with Roly in his arms.
"No, please don't!" laughed Mother Blake. "One bath a day is enough. Besides, I think it's time to take the cake out, Mab."
When the chocolate had been spread on, and Hal had scraped out the dish, giving Mab a share even though she had said she did not want any, the front door was heart to shut.
"Here comes Daddy!" cried Mab.
"Oh, I wonder if he brought anything?" said Hal, racing after his sister.
Daddy Blake did have a package in his arms, and he was smiling. He put the bundle down on the table and caught up first Mab and then Hal for a hearty kiss.
"Well, how are you all to-day?" he asked.
"I just baked a cake," answered Mab.
"And the dough went all over Roly-Poly, and I made believe he was a submarine ship in the bath tub," added Hal. "We had lots of fun."
"Before that we didn't thought," spoke Mab. "We wanted to play something new but we didn't know what. Did you bring us anything, Daddy?"
"Yes, I brought you and Hal a new game."
"A new game? Oh, goody! May we play it now?"
"Well, you can start to look at it now, but it takes quite a while to play it. It takes all Spring, all Summer and part of the Fall."
"Oh, what a long game!" cried Hal. "What is it?"
"It is called the Garden Game," said Daddy Blake, smiling. "And after supper I'll tell you all about it."
"The Garden Game," murmured Mab.
"It must be fun," said Hal, "else Daddy wouldn't laugh around his eyes the way he does."
"Yes, I think you'll like this new game," went on Mr. Blake. "And whoever learns to play it best will get a fine prize!"
"Oh! Oh! Oh!" cried Hal and Mab in delight. They could hardly wait to find out all about it.
MAKING A GARDEN
"Now children," began Daddy Blake, as the table was cleared of the dishes, when supper had been finished, "I'll start to tell you about the garden game we are going to play."
"Oh, are YOU going to play it, too?" asked Hal in delight "Won't that be fun, Mab?"
"Lots of fun!"
Anything Daddy Blake did was fun for Hal and Mab, whether it was playing a game, or taking them somewhere.
Eagerly the two children watched while their father opened the package he had brought up from down town when he came home to supper.
"Is it some kind of a puzzle?" Hal wanted to know.
"Does it go around with wheels?" asked Mab, as she heard something rattle inside the paper.
"How many can play it?" asked Hal.
"Oh, as many as care to" answered Daddy Blake. I'm going to play it, and so is your mother, I think; and Uncle Pennywait, and Aunt Lollypop, and—no, I guess we can't let Roly-Poly play the garden game, but you two children can."
"Oh, it must be a fine game if so many can play," laughed Hal. "Hurry, Daddy, and show us what it is."
"Do you play sides?" Mab inquired.
"Yes, you can play sides," her father answered with a smile. "As I told you I'm going to give a prize to whoever plays the game best. I'll tell you about it. Now here's the first part of the garden," and, as Mr. Blake opened the paper fully, out rolled a small parcel. The string came off it, and Hal and Mab saw a lot of beans.
For a moment they looked very much disappointed.
"Oh, Daddy Blake!" cried Hal. "This isn't a new game at all! We've got a bean-bag one!"
"And we got tired of playing it to-day," went on Mab, in disappointed tones.
"This isn't exactly a bean-bag game," said Mr. Blake with a smile, "though you can make it one if you like. It's ever so much more fun than just bean-bags, for there are many other different parts to the garden game. Now if you'll sit down I'll tell you about it."
Hal and Mab saw some brightly colored pictures, among other things, in the big bag that had held the beans, and they thought perhaps they might have fun with the garden game after all.
Some of you have met Hal and Mab Blake before, on one or more of their many trips with Daddy, so I do not need to tell all of you about the children. But to those of you who read this book as the beginning of the Daddy Series I may say that the first volume is called "Daddy Takes Us Camping." In that I told you how Daddy and the two children went to live in a tent, and how they heard a queer noise in the night and—
Well, I'll leave the rest for you to find out by reading the book. Hal and Mab lived with Daddy and Mother Blake in a nice house in a small city, and with them lived Uncle Pennywait and Aunt Lollypop.
These were not their real names. Uncle Pennywait was called that because he so often said to Hal and Mab:
"Wait a minute and I'll give you a penny!"
Aunt Lollypop was more often called Aunt Lolly, and the reason she had such a queer name was because she was always telling the children to buy lollypops with the money Uncle Pennywait gave them. Lollypops, the children's aunt thought, were the best kind of candy for them, and perhaps she was right.
Then there was Roly-Poly, the funny little poodle dog, and once when Daddy Blake took Hal and Mab skating, as you may read in THAT book, Roly slid under the ice and was lost for a long, long time.
Hal and Mab just loved to go places with Daddy, to learn about the birds, trees and flowers. They had gone to the circus with him, had gone coasting, and had hunted birds with a camera to take pictures of them. There is a book about each one of the different trips Hal and Mab took with their father. They had many adventures each time they went out, and they learned many things.
Just before the story I am going to tell you now, Daddy Blake had taken the children to the woods, telling them about the different kinds of trees.
Sometimes Roly-Poly went along with Hal and Mab when Daddy started off with the children. Once Mab had a little cat that got lost up in a tree, and once her Dickey bird flew away and it was a long time before she found one she loved as much as her first singing pet.
"But I don't see how you are going to take us anywhere, so we can have fun, just with BEANS," said Hal, as he waited for his father to tell something about the new game.
"Oh, it isn't just beans," said Daddy Blake. "See here are some radishes, lettuce, carrots, turnips, potatoes, beets and—"
"Why it sounds just like a GARDEN!" cried Aunt Lollypop, coming in from the hall at that moment.
"It's a garden game, but we don't know how to play it yet," said Mab.
"That's what I'm going to teach you," spoke her father. "We are going to make a garden."
"Where?" Hal wanted to know.
"In our back yard and in the lot next door. I have hired that to use in planting our garden."
"How do you start to make a garden?" asked Hal.
"That's part of the game you and Mab must learn," said Mr. Blake. "Now I'll begin at the beginning and tell you. I think you will like this game as well as any you have ever played, for not only will it be fun, but it will give you work to do, and the best fun in the world is learning to make fun of your work. And don't forget the prize!"
"What's the prize for?" asked Hal.
"For the one who has the best little garden, whether it is Hal, Mab, Uncle Pennywait, Aunt Lolly, Mother or myself. We're all going to play the garden game!"
"What is the prize going to be?" asked Mab.
Daddy Blake thought for a moment. Then he said:
"Well, I suppose if YOU won the prize you would like it to be a nice doll."
"Oh, I'd just love it!" cried Mab with sparkling eyes.
"And Hal would want a pair of skates or maybe a sled, for I think his old one is broken," went on Daddy Blake.
"It is," answered Hal.
"So, as only one of us can win the prize, and as we would all want something different," spoke the children's father, "I think I'll make the prize a ten dollar gold piece, and whoever wins it can buy what they like with it."
"Oh, that's great!" exclaimed Hal.
"Ten dollars!" added Mab. "Why I could buy a lot of dolls for that!"
"I hope you wouldn't spend ALL that money for dolls," said Aunt Lolly.
"No, save some for candy!" laughed Uncle Pennywait. "I'll give you a penny extra as my prize."
"We'll talk about spending the money when the prize is won," said Daddy Blake. "Here it is," and he took from his pocket a bright, shining ten dollar gold piece. Hal and Mab looked at it.
"But everyone must work hard in the garden to win it," said Mr. Blake. "And, mind you! I may get my own prize, for I am going to work in the garden, too. We will each choose some one vegetable, and whoever raises the finest and best crop will get the prize."
"What made you think of this game for us?" asked Hal.
"Well, everyone is making gardens this year," said Daddy Blake. "You know we are at war, and in war time it is harder to get plenty of food than when we are at peace."
"Why?" asked Hal.
"Because so many men have to go to be soldiers," his father answered. "The farmers and gardeners—thousands of them—have been called away to fight the enemy, so that we, who never before helped to grow things from the earth, must begin now if we are to have enough to eat and to feed our soldiers.
"That is why I am going to have a garden—larger than we ever had before. That is why many others who never had gardens before are going to have one this year. All over vacant lots and play-fields, and even some beautiful green, grassy lawns, are being turned into gardens. They will take the places of many gardens that have been turned into battle fields. We must raise more vegetables and fruits and we must save what we raise."
"Why do we want to save it?" asked Hal, "Can't we eat it?"
"We will eat all we need," his father, "But you know that gardens and farms can only be planted, and fruits vegetables can only grow when the weather is warm. Nothing grows in the cold Winter. So we raise all we can in Summer and save what we need to eat when snow is on the ground."
"How are we going to make our garden?" asked Mab.
"And what am I going to plant?" asked Hal.
"Well, we'll begin at the very beginning," answered Daddy Blake. "The first part of any garden is getting the soil ready. That is the dirt, in which we plant the seeds, must be dug up and made soft and mellow so the seeds will grow."
"What makes seeds grow?" asked Mab.
"And why can't we plant 'em anywhere?" Hal wanted to know.
Daddy Blake laughed.
"You're going to have a lot of questions to answer about this garden game," said Uncle Pennywait. "You'll be kept busy."
"Yes, I guess so," agreed Daddy Blake. "Well I'll answer all the questions I can, for I want Hal and Mab to know how hard it is to make even one bean or radish grow from a seed. Then, when they find out that it is not easy to have good vegetables, when the bugs, worms and weeds are fighting against them, they will not waste. For waste is wicked not only in war time but always."
"Oh, Daddy!" cried Mab. "Do the worms and bugs and weeds fight the things in the garden?"
"Indeed they do," answered her father. "It is just like war all the while between the things we want to grow and the things we don't want."
"Oh, if the garden game is like war I'm going to have fun playing it!" exclaimed Hal, while Roly-Poly chased his tail around the table. I don't mean that the little poodle dog's tail came off and that he raced around trying to get hold of it again. No indeed! His tail just stayed on him, but he whirled around and around trying to get hold of it in his mouth, and he was having a good time doing it.
"There is one of the enemies you'll have to fight if you make a garden," said Daddy Blake with a smile.
"Who?" asked Hal.
"Your dog, Roly-Poly. Dogs, when they get in a newly planted garden, often dig up the seeds, just as chickens do. So from the start you'll have to keep Roly-Poly away."
"And chickens, too," said Mab. "They've got chickens next door."
"Yes, but they are kept shut up in their yard, with a wire fence around it," said Daddy Blake. "However you must keep watch. Now suppose we start and pick out what crops we want to raise for the prize of the ten dollar gold piece. I have different kinds of seeds here—corn, beans, tomatoes, radishes and others."
"I want to raise beans!" cried Mab. "Then I can have as many bean-bags as I want."
"We mustn't waste too many beans just for playing games, since beans make a good meal, especially for soldiers," said Daddy Blake. "And much of the food raised on farms and gardens will have to go to feed our soldiers. So we'll give Mab the first choice and let her raise beans. What will you choose, Hal?"
"Corn, I guess," Hal said. "I like pop corn."
"Well, we won't raise much pop corn," laughed his father. "While that is good to eat it is not good for making corn bread, and that is the kind we may have to eat if we can't raise enough wheat to make all the white bread we want."
"Why can't we raise wheat?" asked Hal.
"Well, we could grow a little, for it would grow in our garden as well as in any other soil or dirt," explained Daddy Blake. "But to raise a lot of wheat, or other grains, a big field is needed—a regular farm—and we haven't that."
"Will you take us to a farm some day?" asked Mab.
"Yes, after you learn how to make a garden," his father told him. "So you think you want to try corn; eh?" and he laid a package of that seed in front of the little boy.
"If Mab raises beans and Hal grows corn we'll have succotash at any rate," said Mother Blake. "And succotash is good to can and keep all Winter."
"Well, we may have enough to eat, after all, from our garden," said Aunt Lolly. "I think I'll raise pumpkins for my share of the new game."
"Then we can have Jack-o-lanterns!" laughed Hal. "That will be fun!"
"Now look here!" exclaimed; Daddy Blake. "I want you children to have some fun in your gardens, but is isn't ALL fun. There is going to be hard work, too, if anyone wins this prize," and he held up the ten dollar gold piece. "You may have one pumpkin for a Hallowe'en lantern, maybe, but pumpkin pies are what Aunt Lolly is thinking of, I guess."
"Indeed I am," she said. "When I was a girl we used to raise many pumpkins in the cornfield at home. So I'll raise my pumpkins between your rows of corn, Hal."
"That's the way to do it," said Uncle Pennywait.
"I think I'll raise potatoes. They're easy to grow if I can keep the bugs off them, and they'll keep all winter."
"I'll raise tomatoes," said Daddy Blake, taking out a package of tomato seeds for his part of the garden. "We can eat them sliced in Summer and have them canned, ready to stew, in Winter, I'll have to plant some seeds in the house first to raise plants that I may set them out when it is warm enough. Now, Mother, what will you grow in the garden?"
"Carrots," answered Mrs. Blake.
"Oh, then we can keep a bunny rabbit!" cried Mab. "I've always wanted a bunny."
"Well, a rabbit may be nice," said Daddy Blake. "But, as I said, this garden is not all for fun. We are going to raise as many vegetables as we can, so we will have them in the Winter to save buying them at the store. We can't afford to raise carrots for rabbits this year. There are your seeds, Mother," and he gave his wife a packet with a picture of yellow carrots on the outside.
"But there are a lot of seeds left," said Mab, as she looked at the large opened bundle on the table.
"Yes, well have to take turns planting these," her father said. "I just wanted you to pick out your prize crops first. Now we have made a start on our garden. The next thing is to get the ground ready as soon as it is warm enough. But first I think I'll start my tomato plants. I'll plant the seeds in the morning."
"Where?" asked Mab.
"In a box in the house. You may bring me in a little dirt and I'll let it dry out near the fire, for it is rather damp and cold yet in the garden."
The next day Hal and Mab brought in some dirt from the yard. It was wet and sticky but when it had been spread out on a paper under the stove it soon dried. That night Daddy Blake filled a big wooden box with the dirt, which he worked with a trowel until it was made fine and smooth.
"The first thing to learn in making a garden," the children's father said, "is to have your dirt made very fine, and to be sure that it is the right kind for what you are going to raise. Beans will grow in almost any kind of soil, but tomatoes and other vegetables must have soil which is called richer—that is it has more fertilizer in it—something which is food to the seeds and plants as bread, butter, meat and potatoes are food for us."
"Do plants eat?" asked Hal.
"Of course they do, just as I told you the trees did. Plants eat through their roots in the earth. They drink water that way, too, and through their leaves. And they breathe in the air and sunlight the same way. Plants, as well as boys and girls, need warm sun, enough water and good soil to make them grow."
"But why don't you plant the tomato seeds right in the garden?" asked Hal.
"Because it is a little too early. The weather is not warm enough and the ground is too damp. So I plant the seeds in the house and soon there will be many little tomato plants in this box, which, you children must see to it, must be kept in the sunny window, and not out in the cool air. When the plants are large enough we will take them from the box and put them in the garden in nice long rows. This is called transplanting, which means planting a second time, and is done with many garden things such as lettuce, cabbage and celery."
"But you didn't tell us what makes the seeds grow," said Mab, as she watched her father carefully smooth the soil in the box and then scatter in the tomato seeds, afterward covering them up with a piece of window glass.
"I'll tell you as best I can, though no one really knows what is in the seed to make it grow. Only Mother Nature knows that. But at least we have a start with our garden," said Daddy Blake, "and to-morrow I'll tell you, as well as I can, why a seed grows. It is time to go to bed now."
As Hal and Mab started up stairs, thinking what a wonderful thing it was to have a garden, there came a ring at the front door.
"My! Who can be calling this time of night?" asked Mother Blake, in surprise.
Hal and Mab wondered too.
UPSIDE DOWN BEANS
"Let's wait and see who it is, Hal," whispered Mab to her brother as they stood on the stairs.
"Maybe it's somebody come to find out about a garden," added the little boy. "Daddy knows lots about how to make things grow, and maybe, on account of the war, everybody's got to plant corn and beans and things."
"I don't like war and soldiers," spoke Mab, while Daddy Blake went to the front door. "I don't care when you play soldier, and make believe shoot your pop gun, but I don't like REAL guns. Maybe this is somebody come to tell Daddy to go to war."
"I hope not!" exclaimed Hal.
When Daddy Blake opened the door the children heard some one saying:
"I guess this little fellow belongs to you, Mr. Blake. I found him over in my garden, digging away. Maybe he was planting a bone, thinking he could grow some roast beef," and a man's laugh was heard. Then came a sharp little bark.
"Oh, it's Roly-Poly!" cried Hal.
"He must have run away and we didn't miss him 'cause we talked so much about the garden," added Mab. "I wonder where he was?"
"Yes, that's my children's dog," said Mr. Blake to the man who had brought home Roly-Poly. "So he was in your garden; eh?"
"Well, yes, in the place where I'm going to make a garden. My name is Porter, I live next door. Only moved in last week and we haven't gotten acquainted yet."
"That's right," said Mr. Blake. "Well, I'm glad to know you, Mr. Porter. Hal and Mab will be pleased to have Roly-Poly back, I'm also glad to know you're going to have a garden. I'm going to start my two youngsters with one, and if Roly-Poly comes over, and digs out your seeds, let me know and I'll keep him shut up."
"I will, and you do the same with my chickens. They're bad for scratching in a garden, though I plan to keep them in their own yard. So your boy and girl are going to have gardens; are they?"
"Yes. I want them to learn all they can about such things."
"I've got a boy, but he's too young to start yet. Sammie is only five," said Mr. Porter. "Well, doggie, I guess you're glad to get back home," and he gave Roly-Poly to Mr. Blake who thanked his neighbor, asking him to call again.
"Here, Hal and Mab!" called their father. "After this you must keep watch of your pet. I guess there will be many gardens on our street this Summer, and no dogs will be allowed in them until after the things are well grown. So watch Roly-Poly."
Hal and Mab promised they would, and Mab said:
"Oh, that's a cute little boy next door. He has red hair."
"His name is Sammie," said Mr. Blake. "Now off to bed with you, toodlekins!" and he made believe Roly-Poly threw kisses from his paws to Hal and Mab.
Daddy Blake had to go away early the next morning, to be gone three days, so he did not have time to tell Hal and Mab why it was that seeds grew when planted in the ground. But before going to school on Monday the brother and sister saw to it that the glass covered box in which the tomato plants were soon to grow, was put in a sunny window.
On the way to school they looked in the big yard of Mr. Porter who lived next door. He was raking up some dried leaves and grass and a small, red-haired boy was watching him.
"Hello, little ones!" called Mr. Porter. "Have you got your garden started yet?"
"Not yet," answered Hal.
"But we got tomato seeds planted in the house," said Mab.
"Yes, and I must do that too. We'll see who'll have the finest garden," went on Mr. Porter. "How's your poodle dog?"
"Oh, we got him shut up so he can't hurt your garden," Hal said.
"Don't worry about that yet," went on the neighbor. "I haven't planted any seeds yet, and shall not until it gets warmer. So you may let your dog run loose."
"All right. I guess I will," cried Hal, running back to the house.
"You'll be late for school!" warned Mab.
"I'll run fast!" promised her brother. "Roly-Poly cried when I shut him up. I want to let him out."
Soon the little dog came running out of the barn where Hal had locked him. Over into Mr. Porter's yard ran Roly and Sammie laughed when he saw Hal's pet rolling around in the pile of dried leaves Mr. Porter had raked together.
"Roly, you be a good dog!" warned Mab, shaking her finger at him.
"I get him a cookie!" said Sammie with a laugh as he toddled toward the house.
"Sammie likes dogs," said his father as Hal and Mab hurried on to school.
Mr. Blake was away longer than he thought he would be, and it was over a week before he came back home. Each day Hal and Mab had placed the box of tomato seeds in the warm sun before going to school, moving it when they came home at noon and in the afternoon they also changed it so that the soil would always be where the warm sun could shine on it. They sprinkled water in the box, as their father had told them to do.
Then, the day when Daddy Blake came back from his business trip, Hal, looking at the tomato box, cried:
"Oh, Mab! Look! There are a lot of little green leaves here."
"Yes, the tomatoes are beginning to grow," said Daddy Blake, when he had taken a look.
"What makes the seeds grow and green leaves come out?" asked Hal.
"Well, as I said, Mother Nature does it and no one can tell how," said Daddy Blake. "But somewhere inside this tiny little thing," and he held out in his hand a tomato seed, "somewhere there is hidden a spark of life. What it looks like we can not say. It is deep in the heart of the seed."
"Do seeds have hearts?" asked Mab.
"Well, no, not exactly," her father answered. "But we speak of the middle of a tree as it's heart and I suppose the middle of a seed, where its life is, is its heart. So this seed is really alive, though it doesn't seem so."
"It looks like a little yellow stone—the kind that comes in sand," spoke Hal.
"And yet it is alive," said his father. "It can not move about now, though when it is planted it begins to grow and it can move. It can push its leaves up from under the earth. Just now it is asleep, and has no life that we can see."
"What will bring it to life and make it wake up?" asked Hal.
"The warm dirt in which it is planted, the sunlight, the air and the water you sprinkle on it," said Mr. Blake. "If you kept this seed cold and dry it might sleep for many many years, but as soon as you put it under the warm, wet soil, and set the box of dirt where the sun can shine on it, then the seed begins to awaken. Something inside it—a germ some call it—begins to swell. It gets larger—the seed is germinating. The hard outside shell, or husk, gets soft and breaks open. The heart inside swells larger and larger. A tiny root appears and begins to dig its way down deeper in the ground to find things to eat. At the same time another part of the seed turns into leaves and these grow up. It is the green leaves you see first, peeping up above the ground, that tell you the seed has germinated and is growing."
"Isn't it funny!" said Hal. "One part of the seed grows down and the other part grows up."
"Yes," said Daddy Blake. "That's the way seeds grow. Each day you will see these little tomato plants growing more and more, and, as soon as they are large enough, we will set them out in the garden."
Hal and Mab thought it was wonderful that a single, tiny seed of the tomato—a seed that looked scarcely larger than the head of a pin—should have locked up in its heart such things as roots and leaves, and that, after a while, great, big red tomatoes would hang down from the green tomato vine—all from one little seed.
"It's wonderful—just like when the man in the show took a rabbit, a guinea pig and a lot of silk ribbon out of Daddy's hat," spoke Hal.
"It is more wonderful," said Mr. Blake. "For the man in the show put the things in my hat by a trick, when you were not looking, and only took them out again to make you think they were there all the while. But roots, seeds and tomatoes are not exactly inside the seed all the while. The germ—the life—is there, and after it starts to grow the leaves, roots and tomatoes are made from the soil, the air, the water and the sunshine."
"Are there tomatoes in the air?" asked Mab.
"Well, if it were not for the things in the air, the oxygen, the nitrogen and other gases, about which you are too young to understand now, we could not live grow, and neither could plants. Plants also have to have water to drink, as we do, and food to eat, only they eat the things found in the dirt, and we can not do that. At least not until they are changed into fruits, grain or vegetables."
Hal and Mab never tired looking at the tomato plants growing in the box in the house. Each day the tiny green leaves became larger and raised themselves higher and higher from the earth.
"Soon they will be large enough to transplant, or set out in the garden," said Daddy Blake.
Two or three days after their father had told Hal and Mab why seeds grow, the children, coming home from school, saw something strange in their garden.
There was a man, with a team of horses and the brown earth was being torn up by a big shiny thing which the horses were pulling as the man drove them.
"Oh, what's that in our garden?" cried Hal to Uncle Pennywait.
"It's a man plowing," said Hal's Uncle.
"But won't he spoil the garden?" Mab wanted to know.
"He's just starting to make it," Uncle Pennywait answered. "Didn't Daddy Blake tell you that the ground must be plowed or chopped up, and then finely pulverized or smoothed, so the seeds would grow better?"
"Oh, yet, so he did," Hal said.
"Well, this is the first start of making a garden," went on Uncle Pennywait. "The ground must be plowed or spaded. Spading is all right for a small garden, but when you have a large one, or a farm, you must use a plow."
Mr. Blake owned a large yard back of his house, and next door, on the other side from where the new Porter family lived, was a large vacant lot. The children's father had hired this lot to use as part of his garden.
Hal and Mab watched the man plowing. He held the two curved handles of the plow, and it was the sharp steel "share" of this that they had seen shining in the sun as it cut through the brown soil. A plow cuts through the soil as the horses pull it after them, and it is so shaped that the upper part of the earth is turned over, bringing up to the top, where the sun can shine on it, the underneath part. The undersoil is richer and better for seeds to start growing in than the upper part, where the rain may wash away the plant-food things that are needed to make a good garden.
"But Daddy said the ground had to be SMOOTH to make a garden," said Mab. "The plowing man is making it all ROUGH."
"Yes, it does look rough now," said Daddy Blake, as he came along just then, in time to watch the man plowing. "Those long lines of overturned soil which you children see are called furrows."
"Could you plant anything in them?" asked Hal.
"Well, you could, yes. But it would not grow very well, and when the corn, beans or whatever you planted came up, you could not work around them well to cut down the weeds. It would be too rough. So after the man has plowed the ground he will harrow it."
"What's that?" asked Hal
"Well a harrow is something like a big rake," explained Daddy Blake. "There are three kinds of harrows, but they don't often use more than one kind for a garden. The man will use a tooth harrow. It is called that because it is made of iron spikes, or teeth, driven through some long beams of wood. The teeth stick through and when they are dragged over the plowed ground they make it quite smooth. When I take you to the farm I can tell you about and show you other kinds of harrows or big rakes."
It took the man with the plow the rest of the day to turn over the soil in the Blake garden, and Hal and Mab looked on every minute they had out of school. Mr. Porter's garden, next door, was plowed too.
When Hal and Mab went to the fence to see how Mr. Porter's ground looked they saw little Sammie standing near. The red-haired boy was looking at something on the ground.
"What is it?" asked Hal.
"Big snake," was the answer. "I don't like a snake. I'm goin' home," and he started to run.
"Oh, a snake!" cried Mab. "I don't like snakes either;" and she turned to go away.
"Where's the snake, Sammie? Show me!" said Hal.
"See him crawlin'?" and red-haired Sammie pointed. "I guess he goin' to bite! I run!" and away he started, but he fell down on the rough ground. He did not cry, however, but picked himself up and kept on.
"That isn't a snake!" called Hal with a laugh, "It's only a big angle worm. That won't hurt you, Sammie! Don't be afraid."
"Dat no snake?" the little boy wanted to know.
"No. Only a fish worm. Don't you remember how we went fishing with Daddy, Mab?" asked her brother.
"Yes, I do. But I thought it was a snake."
Hal had jumped over the fence and picked up the worm. It was a large one and had been crawling about the newly-plowed field.
"Oh, I don't like 'em," said Mab with a little shiver.
"Worms are good," said Mr. Porter coming out into his garden.
"You mean good for fishing?" asked Hal
"Yes, and good for gardens, too. They wiggle through the ground and sort of chew it up so it does not get so hard. The earth around the roots of trees and plants ought to be kept loose and dug up so the air and water can get through easier. So worms in a garden help to make the plants grow."
"I didn't know that," said Hal, as he put down the big worm, which at once began to crawl slowly along, stretching itself out until it was almost twice as big as at first.
In a few days the weather was much warmer, and the soil in the two gardens began to dry out. The man came with the spiked, or tooth, harrow, and his horses dragged this over the ground several times. Soon the soil was quite smooth, the big lumps or clods of earth being broken up into little fine chunks.
"But it must be finer yet for some things, like lettuce and tomatoes," said Mr. Blake. "So I'll use a hand rake."
"Can't we help too?" Hal wanted to know.
"Yes, I want you and Mab to do as much garden work as you can. In that way you'll understand how to make things grow. And remember the more you work around in the garden, digging up the earth above the roots of your plants, keeping the weeds cut down, the better your things will grow. Making a garden is not easy work, but, after all think what a wonderful lot the seeds and plants do for themselves. Still we must help them."
"When can I plant my beans?" asked Mab.
"Well, pretty soon now. Make your part of the garden, where you are going to plant your beans, as smooth as you can. Then mark it off into rows. You should plant your beans in rows with the rows about two feet apart, and put the beans in each row so they are about four inches, one from the other. That will give the plants room enough to spread."
"How do I plant my corn?" asked Hal.
"Well, corn must be planted a little differently from beans," answered Daddy Blake. "You should have your rows from two to three feet apart and each hill of corn should be from a foot to a foot and a half from the next hill."
"Does corn only grow on a hill?" asked Hal.
"Oh, no," laughed his father, "though on some farms and gardens the corn may be planted on the side of a hill. What I mean was that after your corn begins to grow, the ground is hoed around the corn stalks in a sort of little hill. That is done to keep it from blowing over, for corn grows very tall, in the West sometimes ten and twelve feet high.
"However that is yellow or field corn, from which corn meal is made. The kind you are going to plant, Hal, is called sweet corn, such as we eat green from the cob after it is boiled. That may not grow so high. But in a day or so it will be time for your corn and beans to be planted, for Spring is now fully here and the weather is warm enough."
Hal and Mab worked hard in their gardens. They raked the ground until it was quite smooth. Daddy Blake, his wife, Aunt Lollypop and Uncle Pennywait also raked and smoothed the parts of the garden where they were going to plant their seeds. Sometimes the older folks helped the children.
Next door Mr. Porter was planting his garden, and red-haired Sammie thought he was helping. At least he picked up the stones and threw them at the fence. If Roly-Poly had been there maybe Sammie would have thrown the stones for the little poodle dog to run after. But Roly had been sent away for a few weeks, until the gardens had begun to grow. For Roly never could see a nicely smoothed patch of ground without wanting to dig in it, and spoil it.
"We'll bring him back when the garden things are larger and well-enough grown so he can not hurt them," said Daddy Blake.
Hal and Mab planted their corn and beans. Daddy Blake showed his little girl how to punch holes in the brown earth along a straight row which her father made with the rake handle, and into the holes she dropped the beans, covering them with earth so that they were about two inches down from the top. Hal's corn did not have to be planted quite so deep, and he dropped five kernels in a circle about as large around as a tea-saucer. This circle would, a little later, be hoed into one big hill of corn.
"How long before my beans will grow?" asked Mab.
"And my corn?" Hal wanted to know.
"Well, beans begin to grow almost as soon as they are in the ground," answered her father, "but you can't see them until about a week. Then the little leaves appear. Hal's corn will take longer, maybe ten days, before any green shows. You must be patient."
Hal and Mab tried to be, but each day they went out in the garden and looked at where they had planted their beans and corn in the garden rows.
"I don't believe they're EVER going to grow," said Mab at last. "Maybe some worms came and took my seeds. I'm going to dig some up and look."
"Don't," begged Hal.
But Mab did. With a stick she poked in the earth until she saw something that made her call:
"Oh, Hal! Look. My beans are all swelled up like a sponge."
Hal looked, Mab had dug up one bean. It had swelled and split apart, and inside the two halves of the bean something green showed.
"Oh, Mab! Cover it up, quick!" he cried. "The beans are growing—they're sprouting! Cover it up, quick!"
And Mab did. Now she was sure her beans were growing.
Two mornings afterward she went out into her part of the garden before starting for school. She saw something very queer.
"Oh, Daddy! Hal!" cried the little girl "My beans were planted wrong! They're growing upside down! The beans are all pushed upside down out of the ground. Oh, my garden is spoiled!"
THE FIRST RADISH
Daddy Blake came hurrying out of the house as Mab called. Hal, who was anxiously looking to see if any of his corn had come up, ran over to his sister.
"What is the matter?" asked Mr. Blake. "Did Roly-Poly come home and scratch in your garden?"
"No. But look at my beans!" wailed Mab. "They're all upside down."
It did seem so. Along the rows she had so carefully planted in her garden could be seen some light green stems, some of them curved like the letter U upside down. And sticking out of the brown earth were the beans, split open in two halves.
"Who did it?" asked Mab, tears in her eyes.
Daddy Blake looked and laughed.
"Did you do it?" his little girl wanted to know. "Did you upside down my beans, Daddy Blake?"
"No, Mother Nature did that for you, Mab."
"Then I don't like Mother Nature!"
"But she had to," explained Daddy Blake. "All the beans I know anything about grow that way. After the bean is planted the heart or germ inside starts to sprout, and sends the root downward. At the same time the leaves begin to grow upward and they take with them the outside husk of the bean which is of no more use. The plant wants to get rid of it, you see, and as there is no room under ground for it, where it might be in the way of the roots, the leaves bring it up with them. For a time after the bean has been pushed out of the ground it keeps the tender leaves from being hurt. Then the bean dries and drops off—that is all that is left of it, for the germ, or heart, has started growing another plant, you see.
"So don't worry, Mab. Your beans are all right, even if they do seem to be growing upside down. That is the only way they know. From on your beans will grow very fast."
And so they did. Daddy Blake told the children that beans are ready to eat sometimes within six weeks after the seeds are planted. The beans are not ripe, of course, and some are green, while others are yellow, or wax beans. Inside the pods, which are almost like peas, are small green beans. If they were allowed to stay on the vines the green beans inside the pods would get hard and ripe, some turning white like the beans which boys and girls stuff into cloth bags to play games with, and other beans turning a sort of brownish red, with a white spot on.
"Some bean vines like to climb poles," said Daddy Blake, "and others are what are called bush-beans, growing as peas grow. That is the kind we planted, as I did not have time to get the poles. Then besides string beans, which is the sort in your garden, Mab, there are the larger or lima beans, which are very good to eat. I have planted some of them, and we will have them for dinner with your corn, Hal, when it grows."
"Will my corn grow upside down like Mab's beans?" Hal wanted to know.
"Oh, no," answered Mr. Blake. "Corn sprouts and grows from the bottom. In another week you ought to see some tiny green spears, like blades of grass, coming up through the brown soil. It is then that crows like to come along, pull up the green stalks and eat the soft kernel of corn which is still there, fast to the root."
"How are we going to keep the crows away?" asked Hal.
"Well, I think none will come here, as our garden is in the city and so near the house," said Mr. Blake. "Crows are more plentiful in the country and—"
"I know how to keep them away!" cried Mab.
"How?" asked her brother.
"You take an old coat and a pair of pants and stuff 'em with straw, and fasten 'em on a stick in the field."
"Oh, you mean a scare-crow!" cried Hal.
"Yes," said Mab. "Could I make a scare-crow for my beans, Daddy?"
"I hardly think you'll need it, Mab," her father said with a laugh. "Beans are not eaten by crows. But you will have to begin to hoe away the weeds soon, and work around your rows of bean plants. Nothing makes garden things grow better than keeping the weeds away from them, and keeping the soil nicely pulverized and damp."
"What do the weeds do to the beans?" asked Mab.
"Well, the weeds grow faster than the beans, and if the weeds are too near they would keep off the sunlight. Weeds also eat out of the soil the food that the beans need, so if you let weeds grow in your garden your bean plants would starve. It is just the same as if some big giant sat beside you at the table and took from your plate nearly everything Mother put on for you to eat.
"So, in order that you might grow well and strong, we would have to take the giant away. It's the same with weeds. They are the bad giants that eat the good things in the soil which our plants need. I'll get you and Hal each a little hoe to use in your garden."
Mab's beans grew very fast and soon the two green leaves on each plant were quite large. Then other leaves appeared. By this time Hal's corn had begun to show green above the earth, and he was anxious to hoe the dirt around it up into hills, as he had been told he must do.
"It is too soon now, though," his father said. "If you work around plants when they are too young you would kill them. They must be allowed to get their roots well down into the ground, to begin eating and drinking. A little baby, at first, does hardly anything but eat and sleep, so that it may grow fast. Plants need to do the same thing. I'll tell you when it is time to hoe."
Aunt Lolly and Uncle Pennywait, as well as Daddy Blake, had planted their parts of the garden, and the land around the Blake house looked smooth and brown, with, here and there, a little green showing.
"I know what I'm going to do with that ten dollar gold piece prize when I win it," said Uncle Pennywait.
"What are you going to do?" asked his wife.
"I'm going to buy ice cream," said Uncle Pennywait. "I never yet had all the ice cream I wanted. But I will when I get that ten dollars."
"Ten dollars is an awful lot of ice cream!" said Mab, sighing.
"He's only joking," laughed Aunt Lolly. "You children mustn't let him win the prize. Keep busy in your gardens, and get it yourselves."
Hal and Mab did, hoeing away each afternoon when school was out. Daddy Blake showed them how to cut off the weeds that grew in between the rows of corn and beans. The earth was chopped up fine, for the children were told that earth which is made fine holds water, or moisture, longer than when it is in big chunks.
"And plants need to drink water from the soil, as well as through their leaves when it rains," said Daddy Blake. "A plant can no more get along without water to drink than you children can."
"Oh Daddy!" cried Mab, running in the house from her garden one day. "A lot of my bean leaves have holes in them. Has Hal been shooting his pop gun at them?"
"No," said Hal. "I didn't! I wouldn't shoot your beans, Mab."
"Well, something did!" cried Mab. "Will my beans be spoiled, Daddy?"
"I don't know. I hope not. We'll take a look."
As Mab had said many of the leaves did have holes in them. Daddy Blake looked carefully and found some little bugs on the undersides of the bean plants.
"Ha!" he cried. "Here is the enemy!"
"It sounds like war to hear you say enemy," spoke Hal.
"Well, if you have a garden you have to make war on the weeds, bugs and beetles," said Mr. Blake. "A bean-leaf beetle is eating your plants, Mab."
"Can't we make him stop, Daddy?"
"Yes, we'll spray some poison on the leaves, so that when the beetles eat them the poison will kill them," said Mr. Blake.
"But if you poison the beans won't they poison us when we eat them?" Hal wanted to know.
"The rain will wash off all the poison the beetles do not eat," answered his father. "Besides there are no beans on Mab's plants yet. By the time the bean pods come I hope we shall have driven the beetles away."
Mr. Blake mixed some poison called arsenic in a can of water and sprinkled it on Mab's bean plants. In a few days the beetles had died, or they went away, not liking the taste of the poisoned leaves, and Mab's beans were allowed to grow in peace. That war was over. But other bugs and worms came in the Blake garden, and Daddy Blake, Uncle Pennywait and Aunt Lolly, as well as the children and their mother, were kept busy. The cut worms got in among the cabbages, and many a nice plant was gnawed off close to the ground, dropping over and wilting away until it died. The cut worms came up out of the ground and ate the tiny cabbage stalks close to the earth.
"We shall have to put collars on the cabbage plants," said Daddy Blake, as he looked at some which were killed.
"Put collars on cabbages—how?" asked Mab.
"I'll show you," said her father.
He took some tough paper and made a sort of hollow tube around the stalk of each cabbage plant, tying the paper with string. One end was shoved down in the ground, the other being close up around the lowest cabbage leaves, until it did look as though the plant had on a high, stiff collar.
"The worms can't bite through the paper—or at least they hardly ever do," said Daddy Blake, "and after a while the cabbage stalk will get so strong that the worms can not do it any damage."
By this time many things were growing in the Blake garden. The tomato plants had been set out, and for the first day or so had been kept covered with pieces of paper so the strong sun would not wilt them. They had been used to living in the house, where they started to grow, and transplanting made them tender. But soon they took root in their new soil and began to grow very fast.
Hal and Mab hoed and raked their gardens. When it did not rain they watered their corn and beans, and they were anxious for the time to come when they could really eat some of the things they had grown. Daddy Blake said Mab's beans might be ready to pick green, so they could be boiled, in about six weeks, but Hal's corn would not be ready for ten weeks. Then the ears would be filled out enough so they could be boiled and eaten with salt and butter. Corn grows more slowly than beans.
"When will we have anything to eat from our garden?" asked Mother Blake one day, when the Summer sun had been beaming down on the green things for a week.
"Well, we'll see," said her husband. "Come with me, Hal and Mab. I'll take you to the garden and we'll see what we can find."
"My beans aren't ready yet," said Mab.
"And there are only little, teeny ears of corn on the stalks in my garden," Hal said.
"We'll see," said Daddy Blake.
He led the children to a plot of earth he himself had planted. Hal and Mab saw some dark green leaves in long rows.
"Pull up some of them," directed Daddy Blake.
Hal did so. On the end of the leaves, growing down in the ground, was something round and red.
"It's a little beet!" cried Mab, clapping her hands in delight.
"No, they're radishes!" exclaimed Hal. "Aren't they, Daddy?"
"Yes, those are red early radishes. Here are some white ones over here for you to pull, Mab. They are called icicles."
Mab gave a cry of delight as she pulled up some long, white radishes. They did look a little like icicles.
"Radishes grow very quickly," said Daddy Blake. "They are ready to eat in about five weeks after the seeds are planted—sooner even that the quickest beans. But of course radishes do not keep over winter. They must be eaten soon after they are pulled, and they make a good relish with bread and butter. We'll have some for dinner."
And the Blakes did. It was the first thing they had from their new garden, and Hal and Mab, who were allowed to eat a few, thought the radishes very good.
Just as the children were getting up from the table one morning, to go out and hoe a little among the corn and beans before going to school, they heard a barking, whining, growling noise out in the yard, and the voice of Sammie Porter could be heard crying:
"Oh, stop! Stop! Go on away! You're bad! Oh, come take him away! Oh! Oh!"
"Something has happened!" cried Daddy Blake, jumping up from his chair. "I hope Sammie isn't hurt!"
THE POTATOES' EYES
Hal and Mab ran after their father as he hurried out into the yard. They could hear Sammie crying more loudly now, and above his voice sounded a growling and barking noise.
One part of the fence, between the Blake yard and that where Mr. Porter had made his garden, was low, so that the two children could look over. They saw Sammie standing near the fence, greatly frightened, and looking at a tangle of morning glory vines in which something was wiggling around and making a great fuss.
"Oh, what is it?" asked Hal.
"It's a—it's a lion!" cried the frightened Sammie. "A great—great big lion, all fuzzy like!"
"Oh, it couldn't be a lion, Sammie," said Mr. Blake. "Tell me what it is that scared you."
"'Tis a lion," said Sammie again. "He ran after me an' I ran an' he ran in the bushes an' he's there now. He barked at me!"
"Ho! If he barked it's a DOG," cried Hal. "Where is he, Sammie?"
"In there," and Sammie pointed to the tangle of morning glory vines. Just then Mab saw something that made her call out:
"Why it is a dog. It's OUR dog—Roly-Poly!"
"Are you sure?" asked her father. "Roly is over at Mr. Thompson's house you know," for the little poodle had been sent away while the garden was being made. Mr. Thompson had planted nothing, having too small a yard.
"I don't care!" exclaimed Mab. "I DID see Roly. He's in the bushes there—under the morning glories."
"Well, if it's your dog Roly I would not be so frightened of HIM," said Sammie. "Only I thinked he was a LION."
"Here, Roly! Roly-Poly, come on out!" cried Hal, and out came a very queer-looking dog indeed. It was Roly, but how he had changed. He was all stuck over with leaves, grass and bits of bark from the trees. He certainly did "fuzzy," as Sammie had said, and not at all like the nice, clean poodle he had been.
"Oh, whatever is the matter with him?" cried Mab.
"He's got a lot of leaves stuck on him," added Hal. "Come here, Roly, and I'll pull 'em off for you."
Roly came running over to Hal, but when the little boy tried to get the leaves, grass and bits of bark off his pet he found out what was the matter.
"Roly's all stuck up in fly paper!" cried Hal. "Look!"
"In fly paper?" asked Mr. Blake. "Are you sure?"
"Yes, he must have sat down in some fly paper, and it stuck to him all over, and then he rolled in the leaves and grass," answered Hal.
"And then the leaves and grass stuck to the fly paper," added Mab. "Oh, you poor Roly-Poly!"
The little poodle dog must have known how he looked, and he must have felt quite badly, for he just stretched out at the feet of Hal, who had jumped over the fence, and he howled and howled and howled, Roly-Poly did.
"I wonder how it happened?" asked Mr. Blake. "But we must take Roly-Poly in the house and wash him. Then he'll feel better and look better. Did he scare you very much, Sammie?"
"A—a little bit. When I saw him in our yard, all fuzzy like, I thought sure he was a lion."
Mrs. Porter came out, having heard her little boy crying, and when she saw Roly-Poly she laughed.
Then she said:
"You poor dog. Come over and I'll squirt the hose on you. That will take off some of the fly paper."
"Oh, let me squirt it!" cried Hal. "Roly loves to be squirted on! Let me do it!"
"I'm going to help," added Mab.
"An' me, too!" called Sammie.
"They'll drown the poor dog," spoke Mr. Blake, laughing. "I guess I'd better take a hand in this myself."
"What's the matter?" asked Aunt Lolly from the back steps. "Is the house on fire?" She was always afraid that would happen.
"No, it's just Roly-Poly and some sticky fly paper," answered Mr. Blake. "He must have run home to get a bath after he got all tangled up in the sticky stuff at the Thompson house."
By using the hose, and by greasing the fly paper, which really loosened it more than water did, and then by using soap suds and a brush, Roly-Poly was finally cleaned. Then on their way to school Hal and Mab stopped at the Thompson home to find out what had happened.
"Roly-Poly was very good, all the while he was here," said Mrs. Thompson, "though at first he was lonesome for you. He would have run back to your house if I had let him out, but I knew he might make trouble in your garden so I kept him here.
"This morning I put some of the sticky fly paper around the house and left a window open in the room where Roly was sleeping. The wind must have blown the sticky paper on his curly coat of hair and this so frightened him that he jumped out of the window and ran back home to you."
"Only he went in the yard next door, instead of in ours," said Mab, "and he hid under the morning glory vines."
"And on his way," added Hal, "he rolled in dried leaves and grass until he was all covered, and he looked twice as big as he is now."
"And Sammie thought he was a lion," went on Mab.
"Are you going to bring Roly-Poly back to me to keep?" asked Mrs. Thompson.
"Thank you, no," answered Hal. "Daddy says our garden is growing so well now that Roly can't do much harm. Besides we're going to teach him he mustn't dig holes, to hide his bones, in places where we have things planted. So we'll keep Roly now."
"And we're much obliged to you for being so nice to him," added Mab, "and we're sorry he spoiled your fly paper."
"Oh, I have plenty more fly paper," laughed Mrs. Thompson. "I'm only sorry poor Roly was so stuck up. Good-bye!"
Hal and Mab hurried on to school, laughing over what had happened to their pet poodle. When their lessons were done they went back to their garden, anxious to see if Roly had been good, and had not dug up any corn or beans.
"Everything is all right," said Mab, as she looked at her bush beans, which were now in blossom. Soon the blossoms would drop off and in their places would come tiny bean pods.
"Oh, see Uncle Pennyweight!" cried Mab, when she had found that Roly was peacefully sleeping on the shady porch. "What's he doing?"
"Planting something, I guess," replied Hal after he had looked at his growing corn, and hoed around a few hills.
"And Aunt Lolly is working in her part of the garden," went on Mab. "I wonder if they'll win that ten dollar gold piece prize, Hal?"
"I hope one of us wins it, Mab. If I win I'll give you half."
"And I'll give you half if I win, 'cause you helped me hoe my beans one day when there was so many weeds in 'em."
Daddy Blake had put the ten dollar gold piece in a little box on the dining room mantle, and every day Hal or Mab looked to make sure the prize was there.
"What you doin' Uncle Pennywait?" asked Mab as she and her brother went over to the vacant lot next door, where part of the Blake garden had been planted.
"I'm taking the eyes out of the potatoes," answered Uncle Pennywait.
"Eyes out of potatoes!" cried Hal. "I didn't know they had any."
"Of course they have!" laughed his uncle. "Else how could they see to get out of their brown skin-jackets when they want to go swimming in the kettle of hot water?"
"Oh, he's only fooling us; isn't he Aunt Lolly?" asked Hal. His aunt was hoeing some weeds away from between the hills of cucumbers she had planted, for she was going to raise some of them, as well as pumpkins, which last had been planted in between the rows of Hal's corn.
"Well, Uncle Pennywait may be fooling you a little," said Aunt Lolly, "but I did see him cutting some eyes from the potatoes."
Hal and Mab looked at one another. They did not know what to think now. It was seldom that both Aunt Lolly and Uncle Pennywait joked at the same time.
"Come over here and I'll show you," called Uncle Pennywait when he had laughed at the funny looks on the faces of the two children. "See," he went on, "these are the 'eyes' of the potato, though the right name, of course, is seeds."
He pointed to the little spots you may see on any potato you pick up, unless it is one to small to have them. The spots are near the ends and in the middle, and they look like little dimples. Some of them may look very much like eyes, and that is what most gardeners and farmers call them, but they are really the potato's seeds.
Mab and Hal watched what Uncle Pennywait was doing. He had a basket in which were some large potatoes and these he was cutting into chunks, letting them fall into another basket. In each chunk their uncle cut the children noticed several "eyes."
"What are you doing?" asked Hal.
"I am getting ready to plant a second crop of potatoes," said Uncle Pennywait. "The first ones I planted in my garden were early ones. Soon we will be eating them on the table. They are not the kind that will keep well all winter, and I am planting that kind now. I am going to win the ten dollar prize by raising a bigger crop of potatoes than you can raise of corn or beans, little ones," and he smiled at Hal and Mab.
Then he went on cutting the eyes out of the potatoes, while the children watched him. They saw that each potato chunk had in it two or three of the queer dimple-spots.
"A potato is not like other things that grow in the garden," said Uncle Pennywait. "It does not have its seeds separate from it, as beans have theirs in a pod, or as corn has its kernels or seeds on a cob, or a pumpkin or apple has seeds inside it. A potato's seeds are part of itself, buried in the white part that we cook for the table, and each potato has in it many seeds or eyes.
"Of course I could plant whole potatoes, one in each hill, but that would be wasting seed, so I cut the potatoes up into chunks and plant the little chunks, each one with two or more seeds in it."
"And do you only plant one chunk?" asked Mab.
"No, I drop in two or three, according to the size and the number of eyes. This is done so that if one set of seeds doesn't grow the other will. Now you watch me."
Uncle Pennywait had smoothed off a nice bit of his garden where, as yet, he had planted nothing, and into the long earth-rows of this he now began to plant his potato seed. He walked along the rows with a bag of the cut-up pieces hung around his neck, and as he dropped in the white chunks he covered them with dirt by using a hoe.
"When my potatoes grow up into nice green vines, and the striped bugs come to have a feast on them, you may help me drive the bad creatures away," said Uncle Pennywait to the children. "In fact some of my early potatoes need looking after now."
"Are there bugs on them?" asked Mab, when her uncle had finished his planting.
"Indeed there are! Come and I'll show you."
Over they went to the early-potato part of Uncle Pennywait's garden. There, on many of the green vines, were a lot of blackish and yellowish bugs, crawling and eating the leaves.
"We'll just give them a dinner of Paris Green," said Uncle Pennywait, "and they won't eat any more of my vines."
"What's Paris Green?" asked Mab.
"It is a deadly poison, for grown folks or children as well as bugs, and you must never touch it, or handle it, unless I am with you, or your father is near," said Uncle Pennywait. "Here is some of it."
He showed the children a bright, green powder, some of which he stirred into a sprinkling pot full of water. This water he sprayed over the potato vines.
"The poison in the water goes on the potato leaves," explained Uncle Pennywait, "and when the bugs eat the leaves they also eat the poison, and die. We have to kill them or they would eat away the leaves of the vines until they all died, and we would have no potatoes. The potato bugs are very harmful, and we must get rid of them."
Then he let Hal and Mab sprinkle the potato vines with the Paris Green, afterward making the children carefully wash their hands so there would be no danger.
"Is that the only way to drive away the potato bugs?" asked Hal.
"Sometimes farmers go through their potato field and knock the bugs from the vines into a can full of kerosene oil," said Uncle Pennywait, "or they may use another poison instead of Paris Green. But the bugs must be killed if we are to have potatoes."
Just then Mab saw Aunt Lolly going into her garden with a bottle in her hand.
"Are you going to poison bugs too?" asked the little girl.
"No, I am going to make a cucumber grow inside this," was the answer.
"Make a cucumber grow in a bottle?" exclaimed Hal. "Why, how funny!"
"Let's go see!" cried Mab, and together they ran over to Aunt Lolly's garden.
THE CORN SILK
"Maybe this is another joke, like the eyes of the potatoes," said Hal to his sister, as they ran along.
"That wasn't a joke—the eyes were REAL, though they couldn't see nor blink at you," Mab answered.
"The potato eyes must see a little, else how could they find their way to grow up out of the dark ground?" Hal wanted to know.
"Well, my beans didn't have any eyes, and they grew up," Mab answered. "Even if they did grow upside down, or I thought they did," and she laughed. "But let's see what Aunt Lolly is doing."
Uncle Pennywait's wife was out among the cucumber vines now. She had planted them about the same time Hal had put in the five kernels of corn in each hill.
Aunt Lolly's cucumber seeds had also been planted in hills, so there would be a raised mound of earth for the roots to keep moist in, and in order that the vines, at the start, would be raised up from the other ground around them. Now the cucumber plants were quite lengthy, running along over their part of the garden, and in some places there were growing tiny little pickles—or they would be pickles, when put in salt, vinegar and spices.
"Are you really going to make a cucumber grow in a bottle?" asked Mab as she saw her aunt, with a bottle in her hand, stooping over one of the vines.
"I really am," was the answer. "It is only a little trick, though, and really does no good. But I thought you children would like to see it."
"How are you going to do it?" asked Hal.
"You see this little cucumber, or pickle," spoke Aunt Lolly, and she showed one to Hal and Mab. "Well now I'm going to slip it inside this bottle, but not pull the pickle from the vine. If I did that the cucumber would stop growing and die."
She had a bottle with a neck large enough so the pickle would go in it. The bottle was an odd shape.
"The pickle will grow large and completely fill the bottle," went on Aunt Lolly. "It will grow because it is not broken off the stem, and the bottle, being glass, will let in the sunshine. The neck is also large enough so air can get in, for without air, sunlight and the food it gets through the stem the pickle would not live.
"But as it grows it will swell and fill every part of the bottle and it also will grow just to the shape of the bottle, so that in the Fall, when it can't grow any more, because of the strong glass, I can break the bottle and I will have a pickle shaped just like it, curves, queer twists and everything else."
"Oh, how funny!" cried Hal "I wonder if I could grow an ear of corn in a bottle?"
"No," answered his aunt. "An ear of corn has to grow inside the husk, and you could not, very well, put a bottle over that."
"Could I over one of my beans?" asked Mab.
"Well, you might, but it would have to be a very long and thin bottle, for a bean is that shape when it has grown as large as it will ever get. So I don't believe I'd try it, if I were you. Ill let you each have one of my pickles to grow inside a bottle."
Hal and Mab thought this would be fun so they found other bottles with which to do the funny trick of making cucumbers grow inside the glass.
"I wish Daddy would give a prize for the funniest shaped cucumber," said Mab, when she had fixed her bottle with a pickle inside it.
"Maybe he will," spoke her brother. "We'll ask him."
But when Daddy Blake came home that evening he had a package in his arms, and the children were so interested about what might be in it that they forgot to ask for the cucumber prize.
"What are you going to do now?" asked Mab.
"I'm going to take you and Hal down to the garden and show you how to set out cabbage plants," said Daddy Blake.
"But we've got some cabbage plants!" cried Hal.
"Yes, I know. But these are a kind that will get a head, or be riper, later in the Fall. This is Winter cabbage that we will keep down cellar, and have to eat when there is snow on the ground, for cabbage is very good and healthful. We can eat it raw, or made into sauer-kraut or have it boiled with potatoes. We must save some cabbage for Winter and that is the kind I am going to plant now."
"And may we help?" asked Mab.
"Yes, come on to the garden."
Daddy Blake had asked Uncle Pennywait, that day, to smooth off a plowed and harrowed place ready for the cabbage plants to be put in that evening, and the long rows, dug in the brown soil, were now waiting.
"Where did you get the cabbage plants?" Mab wanted to know. "Did you grow them in a little box down at your office, Daddy, as we did the tomatoes here?"
"No, Mab, not quite that way, though I might have done that if I had had room. I bought these cabbage plants in the market on my way home. Some farmers, with lots of ground, plant the cabbage seed early in the spring in what are called 'hot-frames.' That is they are like our tomato boxes only larger, and they are kept out of doors. But over the top are glass windows, so the cold air can not get in. But the warm sun shines through the glass as it did through our tomato box, and soon the cabbage seeds begin to sprout.
"Then the plants grow larger and larger, until they are strong enough to be set out, as the tomatoes were. In this way you can grow the vegetables better than if you waited until it was warm enough to put the seed right out in the garden, and let the plants grow up there from the beginning. Putting the seeds in the hot frame gives them a good start. Now we'll set out the cabbage plants, and you may both help."
Daddy Blake gave Hal and Mab each a small handful of the little cabbage plants, some of which had two and others three light green leaves on. There were also small roofs, with a little wet dirt clinging to them, from where they had been pulled out of their early home in which they first grew.
"Oh, Hal! That isn't the way to do it!" cried Daddy Blake, when he had watched his little boy walking along the cabbage row for a while, dropping the plants, the roots of which were afterward to be covered with the brown earth.
"Why not?" Hal asked.
"Because you must only drop ONE plant in a place. You are letting two and three fall at once. You mustn't make a bouquet of them," and his father laughed. "Only one cabbage plant in a spot."
"Am I doing it right?" asked Mab, who was on the other side of the cabbage plot.
"Well, not exactly. Hal dropped his too close together and yours are too far apart. The cabbage plants ought to be about two and a half feet apart, in rows and the rows should be separate one from the other by about twenty inches. Here, I'll cut you each a little stick for a measure. You don't need to worry about the rows, as Uncle Pennywait marked them just the right distance apart as he made them."
So after that Hal and Mab measured, with sticks Daddy Blake gave them to get one cabbage plant just as far from the one next to it in the row as Daddy Blake wanted. Then, with a hoe, the children's father covered the roots with dirt and the cabbages were planted, or "set out," as the gardener calls it.
"Now let me take a look at your corn and beans," said Mr. Blake to the two children, when the cabbages had been left to grow. "I want to see who has the best chance of winning that ten dollar gold prize."
"Hal's corn is very nice," said Mab.
"And so are her beans," added Mab's brother kindly. "I guess maybe she'll get the prize."
"Well, it will be quite a little while before we can tell," spoke Daddy Blake. "Corn and beans will not be gathered until Fall, though we may eat some of Hal's corn earlier, for he has some rows of the sweet variety which can be boiled and gnawed off the ears."
Daddy Blake found a few places in Mab's bean patch where the useless weeds needed hoeing away, so they would not steal from the brown earth the food which the good plants needed.
"And one or two of your corn hills could be made a little higher, Hal," said his father. "If you look at the corn stalks you will see, down near where they are in the ground, some little extra roots coming out above the earth. In order that these roots may reach the soil, and take hold, the dirt must be hoed up to them."
Mr. Blake showed the children what he meant, and Mab cried:
"Those roots are just like the ropes we had on our tent when we went camping."
"That's it," said Daddy Blake. "These roots keep the tall corn stalks from blowing over just as the ropes keep the tent from falling down."
"Oh, look!" cried Mab, as she passed one stalk of corn that was larger than any of the others. "There's something growing on this that's just like my doll's hair. I'm going to pull it off."
"No, you mustn't do that," her father said. "That is corn silk."
"Oh, I know what it is," said Hal. "It's brown stuff and sometimes when you're eating corn it gets in your mouth and tickles you."
"Corn silk isn't brown until it gets old and dried," said his father. "At first it is a light green, like this. And the silk is really part of the corn blossom."
"I didn't know corn had a blossom," said Mab.
"Yes," said her father, "it has. Part of the blossom is up top here, on these things that look like long fingers sticking out," and he pointed to the upper part of the stalk. "On these fingers grows a sort of fine dust, called pollen, and unless this falls down from the top of the corn stalk, and rests on the silk which grows out from the ear, there would be no more corn seed. Or, if corn seed, or kernels, did form on the ear, they would be lifeless, and when planted next year no corn would grow from them. The pollen dust and the silk must mingle together to make perfect ears of corn, so don't pull off the silk, even if you do want to make it into hair for your doll."
Mab promised she would not, though she loved the feel of the soft corn silk. Then she and Hal noticed where some of the light yellow pollen had already been blown by the wind down on the silk to help make the perfect ear of corn.
As the children walked along through the garden with Daddy Blake they heard voices over the fence where Mr. Porter lived. Then they heard Sammie calling:
"Oh, Daddy! Look what I got! It's a big green bug, an' Roly-Poly is barkin' at him! Come quick!"
"I hope Roly-Poly isn't making any more trouble as he did with the fly paper," said Mr. Blake as he walked toward the fence.
"What's the matter, Mr. Porter?" asked Mr. Blake, looking over the fence where Sammie's father was working in his garden. "Has our little poodle dog been scratching up your plants?"
"Oh, no. Roly is very good. He seems to know we want the thing's in our gardens to grow, and he only walks carefully between the rows, and doesn't scratch a bit," answered the neighbor.
"What is he barking at now?" asked Mab, for the little poodle dog had crawled under the fence and had gone next door, as he often did. He was standing near red-haired Sammie now.
"He's barkin' at a big, green bug," said the little boy.
"A green bug; eh?" spoke Mr. Porter. "Maybe we'd better see what it is," he added, speaking to Daddy Blake.
"I rather think we had. There are so many bugs, worms and other things trying to spoil our gardens, that we must not let any of them get away."
"He's a awful big bug, almost as long as Roly's tail," called Sammie from where he stood near a tomato plant.
"Well, Roly's tail isn't very big," laughed Daddy Blake. "But a bug or worm of that size could eat a lot of plant leaves."
"Don't touch it—Daddy will kill it!" called Mr. Porter to his little boy. But Sammie had no idea of touching the queer bug he had seen, and at which the poodle dog was barking.
"Oh, it's one of the big green tomato worms!" exclaimed Mr. Blake when he saw it. "They can do a lot of damage. I hope they don't get in my garden. We must kill as many as we can," and he knocked the worm to the ground and stepped on it. Roly-Poly barked harder than ever at this, thinking, perhaps, that he had helped get rid of the unpleasant, crawling thing.
"We'll look over your tomato patch and see if there are any more worms," suggested Mr. Blake to his neighbor.
"Yes, and then I'll come and help you clear your plants of the pests," said Mr. Porter. "We want to have our gardens good this year, so we won't have to spend so many of our pennies for food next Winter."
A few more of the green worms were found on the tomato vines, and there were more on Daddy Blake's. So many were found that he could not be sure he had knocked them all off.
"I think I will have to spray the plants with Paris Green as I did the potatoes," he said. "The tomatoes will not be ready to pick—even the earliest—for some weeks and by that time the poison will have been washed off by the rain."
"Making a garden is lots of work" said Hal, next day, when he and Mab had helped their father spray the tomato plants.