The Library of Work and Play
GARDENING AND FARMING
BY ELLEN EDDY SHAW
THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED TO THE REAL BOYS OF THIS REAL CLUB AND TO THE GIRLS WHO ARE JUST AS GOOD AS BOYS
PART I—THE GARDEN CLUB
I. The Garden Club
II. The Boys' Garden Difficulties
III. The Girls' Secret
IV. Garden Experiments Performed Indoors
V. The Work Shop End of the Garden
VI. What the Girls Made Winter Evenings
VII. Improving the School Grounds
VIII. Myron's Strawberry Bed
IX. Jack's All-Round Garden
X. Albert and Jay's Drainage Problem
XI. George's Cabbage Troubles
XII. Peter, Potatoes and Profit
XIII. Philip's Backyard
XIV. The Corn Contest
XV. The Girls' Secret Work
XVI. More About the Girls' Work
XVII. The Girls' Winter Work
XVIII. The Grand Wind-Up—Girls vs. Boys
PART II.—THE CHIEF'S GARDEN TALKS
I. The Soil
II. Plant Food
IV. The Plant Itself
V. Increasing Plants
VI. Garden Operations
VII. Common Weeds
VIII. Garden Pests
IX. Vegetable Culture
X. Flower Culture
XI. The Wild-Flower Garden
XII. Landscape Gardening
XIII. How Boys and Girls Can Make Money from Their Gardens
Dee's Garden Was a "Lovesome Thing" Frontispiece
The Way The Chief Taught His Boys to Handle Tools
Jay's Tile Drain Converted a Swamp into a Garden
Philip's Backyard Made Beautiful by Annuals and Quick-growing Vines
The Bulb Story
Constant Cultivation of the Soil Saved George's Cabbages
Jack's Rake Handle as a Measuring Stick
Albert Sowing Large Seeds Singly
Elizabeth Sowing Small Seed from the Package
Myron Transplanting His Long-rooted Strawberry Plants
Katharine Transplanting Her Flowers by a Method of Lifting
PART I—THE GARDEN CLUB
THE GARDEN CLUB
The door opened. A gust of wind and rain literally swept five boys, wet and breathless, into the room. The man at the big oak table in front of a huge open fire looked up, smiled, and said, "Off with your duds, boys! Bar the door securely, Jay, for it's a wild night. Throw a fresh log on the fire, Albert. And all line up."
For a few moments the big cheerful room seemed full of wriggling, twisting boys as great coats were pulled off and hung up carefully on pegs at the far end of the room. It was a rule here at The Chief's home that things should always be shipshape. Then the "line up" came. This was a little ceremony the boys always went through, having dropped into it quite of their own accord. They formed a line in front of the open fire with backs to it and faces toward the man. Then they solemnly saluted in military style. At this The Chief arose, saluted, and by a wave of the hand assigned each boy to his place at the table.
This little group of boys had formed itself naturally into a club. It met with The Chief every Saturday night. He was really no chief, this big, boy-loving man who had come to spend a while in this little country village, to rest and to write. The boys had named him The Chief because, as Albert said, "He could lead any tribe and tame any savage." At this Albert always laughed for he himself had been called a savage so many times he almost believed he was one.
The boys dropped into their places. Jay, or the "Little Chief" as the boys called him, sat opposite the Big Chief at the end of the table and right in front of the fire. He was slim and tall and light of foot. He could run faster, throw farther, and play better than any other boy in the village. He always led, he never bullied, he played fair, so the other boys always followed.
Albert, Jay's brother, big and heavy and as full of mischief as he could hold, took his place at The Chief's right hand. Albert called this his place of honour although knowing full well that he was there so The Chief might have him within reach. Next to Albert came George, frank-faced and bashful, sturdy and loyal. Opposite him red-headed, stubby Peter sat always on the edge of his chair, always with a bit of a smile on his face, never talking much, always agreeing good-naturedly. Beside Peter and at The Chief's left was Jack, who wriggled constantly like a young eel.
After the boys were seated and quiet, The Chief pushed back his work, a plan of his summer's garden, leaned back in his chair and said, "I think first we had better take up your reports." Then he pointed at Jay who began: "Well, when Albert and I asked father for a piece of the garden for our very own to work exactly as we pleased this summer, with no questions asked or answered, he laughed. He said that Albert wouldn't stick to it a day."
"I will, just the same," shouted out Albert quite red in the face.
"Just keep out of this, Savage, until I get through."
The man laid a restraining hand on Albert's arm and Jay continued: "But I begged father, and told him we'd always worked for him, and he might let us try for ourselves. Besides, I told him we'd not shirk his work. So finally he said we each could have the ten hills in the corn patch for the experiment, just as you wished. And then—"
"And then," broke in Albert, unable longer to contain himself, "what do you think he gave us? It's just no use trying, for he gave us an old piece of land below the barn. It's a regular old swamp; why, water stands there the whole spring long, and it takes half the summer to dry it out. Then it gets hard as a brick. Now what is the use of trying on that?"
"We'll take it just the same, and so we told father," continued Jay. "We have just got to make that old land do something."
The Chief nodded and pointed to George for his report. "Same here," began George. "My father wouldn't listen at all at the first; then he said I might have the hills of corn. He threw in also an old side slope which he thinks is too poor for any use." George sank back in his chair in a quite dejected manner.
It was now Jack's turn. "You see," he began at his lightning rate, "we haven't much land anyway, seeing as we live in the village. I can have the backyard, such as it is, but that's precious little use. It's never been used for a garden, and it's full of rock. One of our neighbours says I may have a piece of her corn patch for my corn, if I'll take care of hers, too. Of course I took her offer. Just had to."
Peter took his turn last, as usual. "We have no place at our home; too much lawn, and mother will not have it cut up. Grandfather said I might have any place I wanted in his garden if I'd really care for it myself."
"My!" said Albert, "what a snap! Your grandfather has the best garden land around here. You'll win The Chief's five dollars for the best garden; you just can't help yourself. I'd like to punch you, Peter, for having such luck."
Peter smiled a little more broadly. "Fin sorry the garden's so good, but I can't help it."
"It's all right, Peter," began The Chief; "after all, boys, I believe we are not having such bad luck. Cheer up! We are going to surprise those fathers of yours, and have a good time out of it, too. Jay and Albert have a big problem of draining; George has simply got to put that sandy slope in shape; it looks as if Jack would have to fill in for his garden; and Peter—well, some of you may beat Peter yet."
At this last Peter smiled, Jack skilfully tumbled him off his chair and Albert gave a war whoop. The Chief called his meeting to order again.
"And now, boys, I shall see you each one separately about your garden problems. Remember, not a word at home, for we are going to surprise the people. And at our next regular meeting, and at all others this winter we shall have reports on the manner in which you are going to get at your work and the way in which you will beat conditions. In this way we can keep track of each other's work. We must make our plans, too, on paper, which will help out. We have catalogues to write for, garden stakes to make, and no end of things will come up. But first you boys ought to understand a bit more than you do about the soil. It is a storehouse of good things. Knowledge of the soil is a key to this storehouse.
"We can roughly divide the soil into three classes and call these sand, clay, and humus. The ideal soil has all three of these elements in it. Sandy soil is made up, as the name itself really tells, of broken up rock masses. One can tell this sort of soil by its lightness and the ease with which a mass of it drops apart. By the word lightness one does not mean colour or weight, but looseness. A clay soil may be told by its stickiness; its power to form lumps or masses; its tendency to crack and bake under the hot sun. Such a soil is called heavy. Humus soil is made up largely of decayed animal and vegetable matter. Its presence is told by a dark, rich colour.
"In trying to improve the soil we are dealing with, we have first to think of its physical, and second, its chemical condition.
"The great needs of the soil are air and water. Just think of all soils as made up of many particles; let us say like a lot of marbles, one placed upon another. Each given mass of particles has a given air space between every particle. Again, if a marble is dipped in water a film of water remains on it a short time. Let us think of the particles as always having a film of water on them. Then, as roots and root-hairs of plants strike down among these they find the two necessities, air and water.
"Now sand is very loose and so lets the water drain down through it too rapidly. How shall we improve a sandy soil? Just add something to bind the loose sand particles together. Humus is good for this binding purpose.
"Clay absorbs much water. Then its particles squeeze tightly together and so air is shut out. Add sand to clay soils, to lighten them.
"Humus soil is very rich in nitrogen. This brings us to the chemical side of soils. There are many chemicals in soils which act as foods to plants, but only three are the essentials. If these cannot be unlocked from the soil, or are lacking, they must be supplied. These plant foods are nitrogen, potash, and phosphorus.
"The chief source of nitrogen is manure; of potash, nitrate or sulphate of potash, and wood ashes; of phosphorus, bone ash or phosphates. How can you tell when one of these is lacking? Well, first it is well to know what each one does for a plant. Nitrogen makes fine, green, sturdy growth of leaf and stalk; phosphorus helps blossoming plants; while potash makes plump fruit. If foliage looks sickly then nitrogen is needed. If one wishes a good growth of leaves, as in lettuce, nitrogen is needed. If the fruit is small and poor, supply potash; while if the flower and stalk need better growth, add phosphorus.
"Be careful in adding nitrogen. Nitrogen is the plant food which is most easily lost out of the soil. Study the soil you are dealing with, supply if possible what it lacks, and try to unlock to your seedlings the goodness already in the garden soil."
The interesting talk ended.
"Couldn't we meet oftener than just Saturdays?" questioned Jack.
"We'll see; it all depends upon how much work there is. Possibly we may have to meet Fridays, too, later on, for you have no lessons that night. Anything more, boys, before the popcorn?"
"I'd like to know," asked Peter, "if my cousin Philip, who comes from the city to grandfather's to spend almost every Saturday and Sunday, may join us too. He wants to fix up his city backyard and doesn't know how to begin."
"Bring him along next Saturday. We'll be glad to have him, shan't we, boys?"
"Don't know," blurted out Albert, "it's our club."
"Keep quiet, Albert. Let him in as long as he behaves and works. Isn't that right?" asked Jay.
"Yes," answered George and Jack.
"Then, boys, we'll have Jack's report next week, as his problem is not so difficult. If Jay and Albert drop in some day from school they shall have a book which will help them, and George needs one, too."
At this point Albert dropped off his seat in mock alarm murmuring as he fell, "Worse, much worse than school!" George dropped a heavy book on top of him to add to his comfort.
The Chief went on as if nothing had happened. "Jack and Peter, shell and pop the corn, George and Jay, crack the nuts. And you, Albert, run to the cellar for the apples. Get good ones, young man."
"Why," questioned Albert, as he picked himself up, "why must poor Albert always do the hard work, while the other fellows stay by the warm fire?" No one answered him and he slowly marched off.
Soon the corn was popped, the nuts cracked and the big red apples on deck. And then it was a quiet room save for the snapping of a shell from a half-cracked nut, and the munching of the firm apples as the boys ate. The firelight played softly over the old room bringing out strongly the big oak table, the group of boys, the silent man, throwing far back into the shadows the old rush-bottomed chairs, the short-legged rockers and the pieces of furniture at all distant from the fire.
The clock struck nine. The boys reluctantly got up from the floor and struggled into their coats. Jay unbarred the door. The man held the light high above his head sending a stream of light after them, George astride his old farm horse ready for his three-mile ride, Jay and Albert trudging after him, and Jack and Peter hand in hand on a run toward the village.
"Good-night!" they shouted back at the man, "We'll be on time next Saturday night, seven sharp. Good-night!"
THE BOYS' GARDEN DIFFICULTIES
"It's fine to see you back, Myron," began The Chief, looking at a big, good looking fellow, who had dropped quietly into his place by George. "Are you here for all the time, now?"
"Yes," replied Myron, "I got tired of the town and am glad enough to be back again."
"We are just as glad as you are. Is Philip here for Sunday?"
Philip wriggled happily beside Peter and said nothing. For Peter had impressed Philip with the fact that he must keep quiet for it wasn't very much his club anyway.
"There is business up for discussion, and two applications," began The Chief.
"Applications!" broke in Albert. "May we have those first?"
"If you can't keep still," retorted Jay, "you'll get applications all right, but of quite another sort."
The Chief passed two letters to George. George stood up, swallowed hard, for he was a bashful lad, and began. "'Will the Junior Garden Club give suggestions and practical help for the improvement of the Oldfield Centre School Grounds?' Signed 'The Teacher.'"
"Crickey!" said Albert. "That's white in her! Expert advice! I guess we will!"
"What shall we do about this?" asked The Chief.
"We just ought to do it, I think," began Jack. "There surely is no other public-spirited club in this place."
"Just so," murmured Peter.
"We ought now to have a secretary for the club, and a chairman, too. I believe to-night is the time to vote for these officers," suggested The Chief. "Suppose Jack and Philip tear up slips of paper and pass them. Then Myron and George collect, and count the ballots. We should vote for chairman first."
"What does the chairman have to do?" asked Myron.
"A chairman always calls a meeting to order and presides," answered the man.
For a few minutes they were all very busy with paper and pencil. The results were given by Myron.
"Jay has all the votes for chairman. Albert has four for secretary, and so I suppose we'll have to have him."
Albert, nothing daunted, said, "I guess you will, but I write like a hen."
"That's right, you do," chimed in Jack to Albert's apparent annoyance.
"Now, Jack, call your meeting to order and let's have these matters voted on."
"Come to order all of you. What shall we do about this school-ground business?"
"I vote," began Myron.
"Stand on your feet," advised Jay.
"No, Myron," corrected The Chief, "move—not vote."
"I move, then, that we fix up those grounds."
"Who seconds this?" and Jay looked hard at George.
"I will," he responded.
"I'm not sure, now," appealed Jay to The Chief, "I'm not sure just how to go on."
"It's this way—it has been moved and seconded that this request be granted. All in favour say 'aye'; all contrary minded 'no'. It is a vote." Jay repeated this and the boys voted, Albert, as usual, voting "no," just for fun.
"Now, if George will read the second letter——-"
"I should think," Jack half questioned, "that the secretary should read things, now we have a secretary."
"So he should, hand those papers over, George."
George, delighted, gave place to Albert, who stumblingly read. "We girls wish to garden, too. We'd like to join your club. We can do just as good work as boys. Will you take us in?"
"Not much!" went on Alfred just as if he were still reading, "Girls in our club, no siree, girls never!"
"Girls might do something," began Myron.
"But," Jack broke in, "they'd after all spoil a boys' club. Why, it wouldn't be a boys' club then."
"They might have one of their own," suggested Peter.
"And do different things," continued Philip.
"I really don't see," Jay went on, "quite how we could have them. But, I suppose, they might meet with The Chief and we could help them sometimes."
"No," said Albert, "we don't wish to get mixed up with that sort of thing. They'd run the whole club in the end."
"That's right," agreed George.
This was put to vote properly and the girls were barred out.
"You must write them a letter, Albert," concluded Jay.
"Write a letter! A letter to those girls! Never!"
"Yes you will; you are the secretary and you have to, understand," said Jay. Poor Albert, not long before so proud of his office, looked as if he'd rather be whipped than be the secretary.
"The real business to-night is to hear reports so we can do a little experimenting and testing next week," suggested the man.
"All right, we'll have George's first."
"I shall, of course," began George, "plant my corn, Country Gentleman, in with father's. We have plenty of seed corn, so I shall not have to buy any. As far as my old slope goes I have to pick all the stone off. Then I am not sure just how to drain it, for the rains from another slope above wash it all the spring and summer. I shall then put some barnyard manure on and plant it all to corn. Of course, I must plough and harrow it, too."
"Now," said The Chief, "I guess we'd better stop right here and have a little talk, for George has brought up some problems for discussion. In the first place—let us consider the draining. All George has to consider is that he has to conduct or lead the water off his land."
"But," said George, "that is what seems to me difficult."
"Have you noticed how water takes definite courses down hills? That ought to give you some help."
"I see," cried Jack, "George could make gutters for the rain to travel along and so lead the water off his garden."
"Exactly, Jack has the idea. It is really a bit of engineering. Suppose George finds the highest point, the greatest slope, of his land. From this point a gutter or furrow should be dug so that the water is made to flow off and away from his land."
"How deep shall I dig the gutter?"
"Dig it about three feet deep and fill stones right into this gutter. Two feet of stone in the gutter is about right. Water falling on a stone mass drains off properly. It would sink into an earth mass. Bring a little sketch of this with you next week, George, showing where you are going to dig the drain. Now boys, how much fertilizer do you think ought to go on this poor land of George's?"
"I was going to put on two inches," said George.
"I should think he ought to put at least four inches on," half questioned Myron.
"I'll say eight," began Philip. The boys shouted at this.
"Philip," went on the man after the laughter ceased, "is very nearly right. If George wishes to get anything from this old land at once, he must fertilize it heavily. If your father can spare a foot of fertilizer put it on." The boys all whistled.
"Now about the corn! Did you know, George, that corn is a most exhaustive crop?"
"I don't even know what you mean."
"I do," said Jack, "he means corn tires the soil."
"Just so," continued The Chief, "the soil supplies food to the plant. Some crops use up more of the soil's goodness than others. Corn is one of these. Now, George, what do you think about planting a crop that works the soil very hard, especially when the soil you are dealing with is rather poor?"
"It wouldn't be the best thing, I should say. Will you suggest good things to plant?"
"Well, potatoes, tomatoes and cabbage demand less from the soil."
"Then I choose cabbage, I'll plant that entire old slope to cabbage."
"Now, Jack, suppose you talk."
"I have decided to build a coldframe, so I can get a little earlier start with my plants; I suppose I should have begun this frame last fall. I know this—that I have to dig out my whole garden spot and fill it in. So I thought I could get a start with the coldframe while I was working at filling in. I have decided to plant lettuce, radish, beets, tomatoes, peppers and some flowers. I think I shall plant asters, stock and sunflowers."
"Why sunflowers?" asked Philip.
"I want the seed for my squirrel's feed next winter. Then, too, I think sunflowers make a pretty nice background for a garden."
"If you wish to drop in to see me before the next week's meeting we'll have plans for the coldframe worked out to explain to the boys then. You measure the space where you are going to put the frame and ask your father about the lumber. As lumber is your father's business, I should almost think you could get us some soft wood, say white-wood, for our stakes and markers," suggested The Chief.
"Of course, I can," promised Jack.
"Now Peter," said Jay.
"My garden is to be just potatoes."
"Peter and potatoes!" jeered Albert. "Oh, Peter!"
"I don't care, I'm for potatoes and profit."
"Peter always does make money. So I suppose his potatoes will turn into money, too," volunteered Philip.
"My stunt," said Myron next, "is to be strawberries. I want to raise strawberries. Mr. Marsh, on the Longmeadow Farm, has offered to give me some plants. I'll do the corn stunt; aren't you going to, Pete?"
"Of course, that was understood, and Philip will have his corn at grandfather's too, for a city backyard is no place for corn."
"Now, Albert, you may talk for both of us," said Jay.
"Our land has to be drained, but it is not exactly the same proposition that George has. Water stands on our land. We had thought of putting a drain pipe in. It seems as if there should be an easier way, but we don't know one," Albert stopped and looked at The Chief, who leaned back in his chair and thought a minute.
"I guess, boys, we had better stop and talk over the matter of drainage. There are three kinds of drains, namely: the open drain, the blind drain, and the tile drain. Each one has worked out of the other. The simplest sort and the one man first used is the open ditch. A piece of land was covered with water. A ditch was dug through the land at the place or places where water was standing. Usually a little stone is thrown into the bottom to help drain the water off.
"Such a drain put out of use quite a bit of land. So partly because of this a second sort of drain was worked out. A good body of stone was put into the drain, then earth filled in over this. Water percolating down through the soil followed along these drainage courses. Formerly it settled in spots and made boggy land. Finally a more systematic sort of drain developed from this last one. Instead of a body of stone, a drain tile was placed on the bottom of the trench.
"Straight off you boys can see which one of these three represents the best all around drain. Out in the country or where there is no need to think of utilizing every bit of land, the open drain is often seen. But where every bit of land must be used, the open drain is out of the question.
"All drains come under the head of one of these three types. After all, boys, since you can put in the tile drain would it not be wiser to do so?"
"Surely," answered Albert. "But I should think soil which has been under water for some time, as this has, would be a bit poor."
"In case you find the soil is sour, as it may be, you can sweeten it up. There is a certain farm sweetener in lime," added The Chief.
"We shall plant on our land onions, peas, and tomatoes." continued Albert. "We believe that the soil is going to be especially good for onions."
"I guess I shall have to break in again right here. Onions need a fine, rich, deep soil. To be sure moist soil is good for certain varieties of onions. That is why, I imagine, you thought your soil good. You must get this soil into better garden condition before you devote it to a crop like onions. Try a general vegetable garden this season. Work out the crop value of the soil.
"Philip, do you know what you are going to do?"
"I know that I have everything to do. I thought perhaps I should do something like this. We want that old backyard to be really pretty. The yard is a long narrow strip of land just like most city backyards. I thought I'd make a walk straight through it. I want a little fish pond at the end. I thought I'd lay out a few flower beds with paths in between them. Mother says she will buy me a few shrubs."
"I say, Chief, don't you think some of us might go up to the city and help Philip make the cement pond?" asked Albert eagerly.
"We might," murmured Jay, "if we get invited."
"Boys, it's late. We know a little of what our stunts are to be. Next week each of you bring about fifty seeds of each kind you intend to plant. Be able to tell just how these seeds should be planted. Also have the dimensions of your plots. Jack will bring some soft wood along, too. And Philip, find out, if possible just how much money you can have for shrubs. Now on with your coats! Out of my house in two seconds!"
"No food to-night is a sad blow, Chief," said Albert pretending to weep as he opened the outside door.
"This blow is sadder," replied Jack, playfully shoving Albert clean out of the door.
THE GIRLS' SECRET
A very timid little knock roused The Chief from his study of Jack's coldframe plans. The outer door gently opened and three little girls entered and advanced to where the man sat. One, the smallest of the three, was thrust forward as spokesman. Gathering herself together she began with a rush. She thrust a letter into The Chief's hands.
"This is the boys' horrid letter. We don't care particularly about belonging to a boys' club. We wouldn't now, any way. But we'd like to show those boys a thing or two and we thought perhaps you would help us. Will you?"
"Sit down, and we will work out a little plot together. But first tell me your names. I like to know the names of people with whom I plot."
The girls came close to the man. The spokesman did the introducing. "I am Delia, Peter's sister, and just as smart as he is. This," pointing to a quiet, pleasant-faced girl, "is Ethel. And the other is Jack's sister, Elizabeth."
"How many more girls belong to this company?"
"They are all outside waiting, I'll call them in if you say so. They are behind the lilac bushes. You see we were afraid some of the boys might come to see you, so we hid. For we don't wish them to know about this at all. I'll call the girls in now." So Delia ran to the door, held it wide open, and called "Come girls, he wants to meet you!"
"Come right in, girls. This one," pointing to a girl with light hair and bright eyes, "is Eloise. Her father keeps the Inn. And this is Josephine, who has no yard at all; and Helena who has plenty of ground; and this," with a grand flourish, "this is the judge's daughter, Katharine."
"I hate," said Katharine, "always being labelled; I think it's pretty hard on a girl to be tagged this way."
"If you'll sit down," began The Chief—"although there are not chairs enough—we'll get right down to business."
And then how they talked! Closer and closer they drew up to The Chief until the eight heads were so close together they seemed almost one huge head. Finally they all shouted with laughter.
"Not a word outside, mind you, not one word. Prove that girls can keep a secret."
"We solemnly promise," said Katharine for the others.
"Look," cried Elizabeth, "there comes Jack; what shall we do?"
"Out this way," quietly replied the man, almost sweeping seven happy little girls out of the door. "Now, cut and run." And off they scampered over the fields.
GARDEN EXPERIMENTS PERFORMED INDOORS
"The meeting is called to order," began Jay. "To-night, so The Chief says, each fellow has some special thing to talk about. Albert will have an accident with that bottle unless he begins right off, so tune up, Savage."
"This bottle is full of vinegar. I might have brought a lemon or anything else acid. This blue paper is called litmus paper. I got it at the drug store for ten cents. Just look right here, and you will see magic worked. I shall put some vinegar on this piece of paper. See!"
"Turned red as quick as scat!" said Jack.
"Litmus will always turn red when any acid gets on it. I've tried several acids at home. It works every time," went on Albert as if no one else had spoken.
"I cannot see what this has to do with gardens." began Philip.
"Now you keep quiet until I finish. Haven't you fellows heard your fathers talk about sour ground? Well, that means acid soil."
"Why, we have a piece of ground, where sorrel grows thick; father says that is sour," added George.
"Just a minute, Albert," broke in The Chief; "that is one way, George, that farmers tell a sour bit of land. Weeds grow thickly over such ground, but as George has said, sorrel is likely to predominate. Go on, Albert."
"Any soil may be tested with this litmus. The Chief calls this the scientific way of going at it. I was able to get a little soil from our future garden plot, and I'll find out right now if it's acid." Albert opened a small box which was full of soil that looked quite clayey. He wet a piece of litmus and buried it in the soil.
"We'll have to leave this a few minutes, and I'll finish what I have to say. If soil is very acid it has to be changed back again."
"Back again to what?" asked Jack.
"Why, back again, so it isn't acid," Albert continued, decidedly confused.
"I'll help you a bit," and The Chief came to the rescue, "Get that big bottle over there, Albert." Albert brought the bottle. In it was a liquid clear as water.
"Taste it, Peter," and The Chief handed Peter a little in a small glass.
"Why it doesn't taste like much of anything; sort of flat."
"That's it exactly, Peter. It certainly is not an acid, is it?" Peter shook his head. "It is lime water and does not belong in the acid class, but to one which is exactly opposite to the acids, the alkalies. Soils ought to be neither acid nor alkaline, but neutral, as it is called. An alkali will help make neutral an acid. If the soil is acid it is bad for your crop. Put a little lime water on the litmus which the acid has turned red."
Albert did this and the boys watched interestedly to see the effect. "Back again," sang out Jack as the red litmus changed to blue.
"Now from this you see a way to overcome the acid conditions of Albert's piece of land, if it proves to be acid."
"I see," said Jack, "lime it."
"Exactly! Now see, Albert, if the paper has changed colour."
"My, I should say it had!" and Albert held up the piece of litmus paper, now quite red from its contact with the soil.
"Well, Albert, it is pretty plain to see what you have to do. Did you find out the amount of lime to use?"
"In the book I read it said for clay soils 400-2000 pounds per acre."
"I should say," said The Chief, "for that special piece of land use about 20 bushels to the acre."
"How many pounds of lime," asked Jack, "to the bushel?"
"I can answer," grandly went on Albert, "there are 70 pounds to the bushel. So that makes 1400 pounds."
"Quite a proposition!" said Jay.
"Yes, but your land is only a half acre and so that changes matters a little. How much is lime a bushel, Jack? Ask your father, will you?"
"I think," said The Chief, "that we'll have to lay a drain pipe through your land. Anyway I shall come around in early spring and have a look at it."
"Now Peter, we'll hear from you," Jay announced.
"My work was to find out how long it took different kinds of seeds to germinate, that is sprout. I took a dozen each of different seeds, put blotters in dishes, wet the blotters, and placed the seeds on these. I kept them in a warm place in the dining room. I have made each of you fellows a copy of the table."
PETER'S GERMINATING TABLE
Beans 5-10 days. Onion 7-10 days. Beets 7-10 " Peas 6-10 " Cabbage 5-10 " Pepper 9-14 " Carrot 12-18 " Radish 3-6 " Celery 10-20 " Tomato 6-12 " Lettuce 6-8 " Turnip 4-8 "
"I'd like to know what use a germinating table is, anyway?" asked Albert scornfully.
"Well," Peter replied thoughtfully, "it gives you an exact knowledge of the time to expect your seedlings to poke up. Now suppose radish came up in four days. The carrot you had planted didn't come up and after twelve days, discouraged, you plant more seed. Now two days later the first carrots you sowed begin to appear. If you had known that it took carrots from 12 to 18 days to germinate you'd not have made the mistake of planting again so soon. I think of another reason," went on Peter warming up to his subject. "Suppose you planted beet seed. You waited ten days; nothing happened; you wait two more and still no seedling appears; something is surely wrong and you plant over again."
"What could be wrong," asked Philip.
"The seed might be poor," replied Peter. "George has been testing seed," said Jay, "and he might tell us about it now, couldn't he, Chief? It seems to come in here." The Chief nodded.
"I have been finding out whether certain seeds which I happen to have on hand are worth planting or not. If any of you fellows have seed and wish to find this out, you can easily enough. So you can be sure whether old seed is worth planting. Now it happens that father had some of his last year's corn and some from four years ago. So I took 100 seeds of each. If you test small seed like lettuce, The Chief says 50 seeds will do. These I put on blotters just as Pete did his. Of course, I kept them separate. From last year's seed 90 seeds sprouted out of the 100, or 9/10 of them. And that equals 90 per cent. If all seed was 90 per cent. good it would be all right to use, I think. Now when I looked at the four-year-old seed, what do you think? Only five seeds had started. That makes only 1/20, or 5 per cent. Of course, no one would care to use seed where only 5 per cent. of the seed sprouted."
"Is there any real percentage of germination that seeds should have?" Jack asked eagerly.
"Yes," replied The Chief, "although value as you see from George's experiment is lost by age. The real standard germination value for corn is 87 per cent., for beans 90, for turnips 90, for peas 93, etc. You can see that the per cents. for these vegetables run high. So do not use seeds when the per cent. has dropped too low.
"Has George found out the time when other seeds lose value?" asked Peter. "I did not work this table out because I did not have the old seed to work with," replied George, "but The Chief gave me a book to look it up in. I have printed on our press the table. So you fellows may each have a copy." George handed the sheets around the table.
It happened that The Chief had a little old printing press that he had presented to the Club. Club real estate, Albert called it.
AGE OF SEEDS FOR PLANTING PURPOSES
2-3 years. 3-4 years. 5-6 years. 8-10 years. Corn Tomato Beet Pea (5-6) Cucumber Celery Pepper Lettuce Radish (4-5) Melon Carrot Onion Turnip (3-6) Squash Bean Parsley Pumpkin
"Now, George," Albert begged, "give us a table of germinating per cents."
"Not much, each fellow can work out the value of his own old seeds and see if they are worth using."
"I think George is right," began The Chief after the laugh at Albert's expense ceased. "Perhaps you'd like to try the effect of depth of planting on corn. Here are some boxes of earth. George, you plant six kernels of corn one inch deep and mark the box with your name and the depth on it, Peter, plant the next box with six kernels at two inches. Albert, try three inches, and Jack, four inches. It will be your business, Myron, to drop in here each half day and note the first appearance of corn in the different boxes."
The result of this experiment, which took about two weeks in all, was as follows:
DEPTH OF PLANTING TIME TO COME UP 1 in. 8-1/2 days 2 in. 10 " 3 in. 12 " 4 in. 13-1/2 "
This experiment showed the boys that seeds too deeply planted are hindered in progress.
"Myron, you may take the floor now," signalled Jay.
"I have worked out and printed for you the amount of seed necessary to plant a certain space. I have printed my table just as George did. 'H' stands for hills and 'D' means drills."
"What is a drill?" asked Philip.
"Why a drill is a furrow. You can make a drill with a rake handle, or a hoe. We can show you better when we get outdoors, Philip," Myron answered quite condescendingly.
MYRON'S SEED-ESTIMATE TABLE
NAME METHOD OF PLANTING QUANTITY OF SEED HILLS OR DRILLS Bean (Bush) D 1 qt. for 100ft. Beet D 1 oz. " 50ft. Cabbage H 1 oz. " 2000 plants Carrot D 1 oz. " 100 ft. Corn H 1 qt. " 100 hills. Lettuce D 1 oz. " 120 ft. Musk melon H 1 oz. " 60 hills. Onion D 1 oz. " 100 ft. Parsley D 1 oz. " 150 ft. Pea D 1 oz. " 100 ft. Pepper D 1 oz. " 2000 plants. Potato H 1 peck " 100 hills. Pumpkin H 1 oz. " 30 hills. Radish D 1 oz. " 100 ft. Tomato H 1 oz. " 1000 plants. Turnip D 1 oz. " 150 ft.
"This table is all right, I suppose," began Philip, "but if a fellow doesn't know quite how far apart to plant his cabbage, say, I can't see how this table helps much."
"I took it for granted," Myron answered, "that you fellows know a little about things. But if a person didn't know what you ask, Philip, I suppose this table isn't much good. Shall I call all the tables in, Chief?"
"Not at all, Myron, this is a good table so far as it goes. Next time each of you boys look up this matter. Perhaps you can work out a good scheme for such information."
"Now, Philip, we'd like to hear about your shrub money and then we'll have time to see Jack's coldframe plans, before club time is over," at which Jay settled back in his chair as if club work was a strain on a fellow after all.
"I may have one dollar to spend. I have decided to buy three shrubs. I shall plant one by itself; the two others together in a clump. I wanted forsythia, but I have finally decided on Japan snowball and Van Houtte's spirea."
"Why?" asked Albert.
"You see the forsythia shows up best against a dark background because of the bright yellow flowers. I have no good setting for such a shrub. Then, too, it blossoms so very early in the spring, in April you know, that it seemed to me, since I must plant this spring, I'd disturb less a later flowering shrub. I chose the Japan snowball because it's less liable to have lice than some others and because it looks well all by itself on the lawn. That spirea is a specially good variety of spirea because it does well almost anywhere, and also it is very showy and the foliage is handsome all summer long. Some shrubs look scrubby after awhile."
"Where did you get all this knowledge, Philip?" asked Albert, half enviously.
"I made it my business to know. I hunted up shrubs in a catalogue, then I called on a florist, and we had a shrub talk together."
"Now, I call that getting down to real work," Jay remarked. Philip looked happy and Peter nearly tilted his chair over in his pleasure for he evidently felt the city was making good.
"Now, Jack, bring on the coldframe."
"I have my drawing right here," began Jack, spreading it out on the table while the boys crowded about. "You look at the drawing as I explain. Myron and Jay have promised to help me make it. It will be a coldframe this year; next fall I shall change it into a hotbed."
"How?" broke in Albert.
"I shall dig out the soil from the coldframe. Then I shall put in two feet of manure and cover it with four inches of soil. This spring about all I can do is to mix into the soil some well-rotted manure. I guess I shall put in about three inches in all. I guess I can explain," continued Jack, delighted at this opportunity to air his newly acquired knowledge. "The Chief has talked this over with me. It all depends upon what you wish to use the frame for. I want to use mine to get an early start this spring, so I make the bed rich and depend on the sun's rays mostly for heat. This, then, is a coldframe. The sloping glass frame helps you see. But next winter I hope to really get results out of this frame, so I have to supply extra heat. The layer of manure underneath gives this. I then have a hotbed. If I just wish to keep plants along, ready to force next spring, then the sun's rays would be enough for that work without the layer of heat."
"I see, thank you, and why do you say layer of heat? I should call it a layer of manure."
"Because it is heat, isn't it? And anyway real gardeners call it that. We may as well use the right names; don't you think so, Chief?"
"Surely, Jack. It's our business to know right terms. Each line of work has its own language. Jack has done a good piece of work so far. We shall have most of our next meeting in the workshop. Jack, Myron and Jay are going to work on this frame. You other fellows will be able to make stakes and dibbers enough for the crowd."
"What is a dibber?" asked Albert.
"That is for you to look up. If you have any old rake or hoe handles bring them along for dibber making. Good-night, boys."
Off into the night they scampered—a jolly, sound lot of lads.
THE WORKSHOP END OF THE GARDEN
"Before we go to the workshop we might take up the methods of planting our vegetables. Then if any fellow has worked out a table, Peter, the star printer, may strike off copies for all of us," began Jay, after calling the meeting to order. "I'd be glad to hear from any of you fellows who have done anything on this matter."
All was quiet. Finally Myron arose and began to read from a paper covered with writing. "The carrot—common name of the Daucus Carota—a biennial, indigenous to Europe, believed by some botanists to have been derived from the common wild carrot."
"Where'd you copy that stuff? No table can be made from that! Imagine a fellow out planting carrots and reading before he sows: The carrot—a bi—bi what, biped, did you say, Myron?"
Albert chuckled away and Myron dropped into his seat saying angrily, "I tried hard, anyway. It took me a whole evening to copy just the carrot."
"I should think it might have. Has any fellow a really simple table?"
"I've worked at it," Peter replied modestly. "I think I have something here that will really be of use." At this Peter spread out on the big table a neat piece of work.
PETER'S OUTDOOR PLANTING TABLE
NAME DEPTH TO DISTANCE APART PLANT SEEDS FURROWS Bean (Bush) 2 in. 12-20 in. 3 ft. Beet 1-1/2 in. 4-9 in. 12-15 in. Cabbage 1/2 in. 20-24 in. 3 ft. Corn 1-1/2 in. 3 ft. 3-4 ft. (hills) Lettuce 1/2 in. 6-8 in. 12-18 in. Musk melon 1 in. 4-6 ft. 4-6 ft. (hills) Onion 1/2 in. 4-12 in. 10-12 in. Parsley 1/2 in. 6 in. 1 ft. Pepper 1/2 in. 18 in. 2 ft. Potato 5 in. 12-18 in. 24-36 in. (hills) Pumpkin 1-1/2 in. 8-10 ft. 8-10 ft. (hills) Radish 1/2 in. 3 in. 6-8 in. Tomato 1/2-1 in. 3 ft. 3 ft. (hills) Turnip 1/2 in. 6 in. 12 in.
"That's all right," and The Chief laid a hand on Peter's shoulder and he smiled across at Myron.
"Each one of you boys ought to know how to make a working plan of his garden. I showed Jack how to make his coldframe plan. It is well done. Now gather about the table and I will make a plan of a supposed garden."
"I will lend you mine and you might make a drawing of that," craftily suggested Albert.
"No, young man, you are to make your own. Let us suppose for the sake of an easy problem that we claim our garden is to be on a square piece of land, forty feet by forty feet. In drawing to a scale, one takes a certain small measure to stand for a foot. If we take an inch to be a foot, then the entire forty-foot length would have to be forty inches. That is a pretty good large drawing. Let us take something smaller and say one-eighth of an inch equals a foot, thus 1/8 in. = 1 ft. So we shall have a length and a width of five inches.
"The first step in the actual drawing is to find the centre of your given piece of drawing paper. See, I just make short lines or portions of diagonals through the centre as shown right here in what I call Drawing I. Draw a vertical line through the centre extending to the top and the bottom of the paper. Now draw a horizontal line through the centre to the extreme left and right of the sheet. Now measure up from the centre on the vertical line the half width of the garden. If the centre is to stand for the centre of the garden, then the garden itself would extend up, down, and to the right and left of its centre, just 20 ft. or 2-1/2 in. in a plan with scale 1/8 in. to 1 ft. So measure up from the centre along the vertical line just two and one-half inches and place a dot. Letter this dot A. Do this same thing down the vertical line and we have dot B. Also measure the same distance along the horizontal to left, calling the dot D and along the right calling the last dot C. Now draw a horizontal line 5 in. long through A with 2-1/2 in. either side of the dot. This gives you one side of your garden or a 40-ft. length. Do a similar thing through dot B. Through C and D draw similar lines. We now have the outline of our garden of 40 ft. square. We have on our paper, though, a square 5 x 5 in.
"I have decided to have a circular bed in the centre of the garden which shall be 10 ft. in diameter. Therefore, the radius of the circle should be 5 ft. or 5/8 in. Get a pair of compasses for that, Jack. Now I shall swing the circle. But I wish a 2-ft. path all about this circular garden. If the path is 2 ft., then I must set my compasses on 2/8 in. more or now make the 5/8 in. into 7/8 in. Let us swing another circle with the same point as a centre.
"It strikes me that if I should lay my garden out into four squares, the combination of squares, central circles and straight main paths would look incongruous. So I shall cut the central points of the four square beds off by swinging circles. Have patience and you will see, for the general plan is in my mind just as it ought to be in the mind of any person who is to make a garden. Now swing another circle with a radius of 1 in., and still another the radius of which shall be 1-1/8 in.
"Now we come to stage two of this working drawing (Drawing II). I wish a 4-ft. path going down to the centre bed from the points A, B, C and D. Place your ruler, Jay, on point A, for you may draw now. Measure to the right of A 1/4 in. and to the left 1/4 in., and place dots at these points. You have the width of your 4-ft. paths. Do this same thing at points B, C and D. Number these points 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. With very light lines connect points 1 and 3, 2 and 4, 5 and 7, 6 and 8. Where the line 1-3 cuts the second circle from the centre, letter the intersections E and F. The intersections of 2-4 mark G and H, of 5-7 I and J, and of 6-8 N and L. You now see the outline of these paths running through the garden. Let us border each path with two 1-ft. borders. So place the ruler at point 1 and mark off two 1/8 in. spaces by dots. Do the same at points 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. Connect the opposite dots by light lines.
"Now let George take the third stage (Drawing III). Go right over the inside circle so as to make it stand out boldly. Strengthen line 1 to E, 2 to G, 3 to F, 4 to H, 5 to I, 6 to N, 7 to J and 8 to L. Now these circles should be strengthened and lines erased that interfere. That leaves curve EI, GJ, LH, and FN standing out clearly. You see in the drawing one-half the garden plan erased and all right.
"After Myron has erased every line (Drawing IV), you will see the garden plan in all its neatness. Place the measurements on the drawing. It looks well, does it not, boys?
"These are the steps. Any of you can work out your plan if you have one to work out."
"Now boys, for the shop! Myron, Jay and Jack are to work on the coldframe. Peter will have an evening's work printing this planting table. Albert will tell us the use of the dibber and make you one each from all these old handles."
Albert, assuming a grand oratorical manner, gave the boys the benefit of his search for knowledge. "A dibber is a pointed tool, usually a stick, used to make holes for planting seeds, bulbs, setting out plants and transplanting of seedlings."
Off they all trooped to a little workshop back of the man's home. Soon the boys were hard at work, sawing, whittling, and setting up type.
Here are directions for what the boys made.
DIRECTIONS FOR MAKING A COLDFRAME
Hemlock was the wood Jack used. The lumber for sides and ends is one inch thick while strips marked A and B are one and one-fourth inches thick. Cut out pieces 14 in. x 5 ft. 7 in., and 10 in. x 5 ft. 7 in., for the back and the front. Cut two pieces 14 x 36 in. and shape them according to drawing for the ends. Nail these four pieces together to form the frame. The sides should be nailed to the ends. Use ten-penny nails and drive them slantingly.
Saw out strips A two inches wide and as long as the slanting edge of the end of the frame. Be careful with this measurement not to measure the slanting edge of the end piece only, but to include with it the thickness of both front and back pieces. Saw out two more pieces two inches wide and as long as the frame is wide at the bottom. Make strip B 2-1/2 in. x 5 ft. 7 in.
Lay out notches marked A by dividing top and bottom edges of front and back into three equal spaces. Cut notches to receive strips marked A. Nail strips A in place, also B. To make a neat piece of work the ends of strips A should be planed slightly slanting to make them exactly even, or "flush" with front and back boards. The real object of strips A is to keep the frame from bulging at the centre.
Jack had three common single window sashes, 22-in. x 3 ft. which made an excellent cover for the frame. These should be placed in position and fastened to strip B with two-inch butts. Notice the sashes project over the front so as to carry the water away from the frame. The sash should be fastened to the frame, putty side out.
The stake may be made of soft wood or hard. It is a good one to use in staking off the garden. It is entirely a piece of knife work. The dimensions are clearly given on the working plan. If the stake is made 12 inches instead of 14 inches, it may be used as a foot rule in measuring off furrows.
THE BOY'S GARDEN REEL
A piece of wood (ash is suitable for this work), 11-3/8 x 4-1/2 x 1/2 in. is needed. Draw pencil lines lengthwise and widthwise through the centre of this piece. From the centre measure out one inch in both directions, placing dots. These give the central points for centre cut.
Measure from the four corners of the piece 3 inches along the length. Connect by line the opposite dots. This gives the line marked 4-1/2 in. in the diagram. It shows the beginning of the cut to the centre line. One inch above these lines draw other lines straight across the wood. Find centre of these. Place a dot one-half inch on both sides of each from centre. This gives the one-inch end cuts. Cut this up to one-half inch of each corner. This makes a large substantial garden reel.
A PLANT STOOL OR TABOURET
The materials needed are four pieces 18 x 3 x 7/8 in. planed, for legs; one piece 14 x 14 x 7/8 in., planed, top; two pieces 8-1/2 x 1-3/4 x 7/8 in., planed, lower braces; one piece 8-1/2 x 8-1/2 x 7/8 in., planed, upper brace. Use chestnut, white wood, white oak, mahogany, cherry or birch. You will need also 2-in. blued screws, round head, for fastenings.
To construct the stool make with the two 8-1/2 x 1-3/4 x 7/8 in. pieces the lower braces, a lap joint. Find the mid-line of each piece by measuring 4-1/4 in. from the ends. From this line lay off two other lines parallel to it and at a distance of 7/8 in. to the right and left. This makes a 1-3/4 in. square in the centre of each piece. Now transfer these lines down the edges of the lower brace pieces. Saw on the inside of the lines down one-half the thickness or saw and chisel down to one-half. It is necessary to saw on the inside of the lines or a loose joint will result. The joint must be exactly in the middle and all arms must be equal in length when completed. Brads or finishing nails should be used to hold the joint in place. This lower brace is 7 in. up from the floor or bottom of the stool. In the picture the screws, which hold the brace, show plainly.
Now lay off an octagon, with a diameter of 8-1/2 in. on the 8-1/2 x 8-1/2 x 7/8 in. piece, sawing off the corner pieces so as to just fit the leg. Glue and screw this to the under sides of the top piece, placing the grain across that of the top wood. Warping is thus prevented. This brace acts as a support to which the upper ends of the legs are firmly screwed and glued. A 3/16 in. gimlet hole should be bored for each screw or the wood will split. The holes should not be deeper than 1-1/2 in. if the screws are to hold firmly. Try drawing the screws across a cake of soap and see if they will not be applied more easily.
To be sure that the legs go on exactly rigid it would be well to draw lines diagonally through the centre of the under surface of the top piece. The legs are to be attached at right angles to these diagonals. After the legs are screwed to the upper and lower braces sandpaper the entire stool. Do this lengthwise to the grain, never across. Then stain and wax.
WHAT THE GIRLS MADE WINTER EVENINGS
While the boys were making their pieces of garden apparatus the girls were at work also. They met with The Chief at Katharine's house and made a number of pieces of garden apparatus. The directions for making these are given so that other children may make some too.
DIRECTIONS FOR MAKING SEED ENVELOPES
Cut paper 7-1/2 in. by 5-3/4 in.; place it the long way of the paper going from front to back of the desk or table at which you work.
Measure from the upper left corner down 1-3/4 in., and place point 1; 3-1/4 in. farther down place point 2. Measure from the upper right corner down 1-3/4 in. and place point 3; 3-1/4 in. farther down place point 4.
Measure from the upper left corner toward the right 1-1/4 in. and place point 5; 3-3/4 in. farther toward the right place point 6. Measure from the lower left corner toward the right 1-1/4 in., and place point 7; 3-3/4 in. farther toward the right place point 8.
Draw dotted lines through 1 and 3, 2 and 4, 5 and 7, 6 and 8.
Measure 1/4 in. toward the right from points 5 and 7 and place a dot. Draw full lines toward the left to the intersection of the dotted lines. Measure 1/4 in. down from 1 and 3, and place dots. Draw full lines upward to the intersection of the dotted lines. Measure 1/4 in. up from points 2 and 4, place dots, and draw full lines downward to the intersection of the dotted lines.
Draw a full line from points 6 and 8 to the intersection of dotted lines.
Cut on full lines.
Fold on dotted lines.
Fold A, B, and C, in this order, and paste, leaving D for flap to be pasted down when the envelope has been filled with seeds.
DIMENSIONS OF MARKERS
The right marker is 3-1/2 in. long. The distance from head to central point of notch is 1/2 in. The distance between notches, or from the central point of one notch across the marker to the central point of the other, is 3/8 in. The width is 1/2 in. and the thickness 1/8 in.
The middle marker is 4-1/2 in. long, 1/2 in. wide, and 1-1/16 in. thick. Allow about 5/8 in. for the pointing at the end.
The left marker is rather larger and stronger; it, too, may be pointed and not notched, so acting as a good pot-marker. Make it 5 ins. long, 7/8 in. wide, and 3/15 in. thick. The line between the notches measures 5/8 in. and is 1 in. from the top of the marker.
A GARDEN SIEVE—MATERIALS
2 small boards 13 x 2-1/2 x 1/2 in. 2 small boards 7 x 2-1/2 x 1/2 in. 2 strips of wood 12 x 1/2 x 1/4 in. 2 strips of wood 8 x 1/2 x 1/4 in. Fine wire netting 13 x 8 in.
Make the framework of a box without a lid, using the 13-inch pieces for the sides and 7-inch pieces for ends, putting the ends between the side pieces. Use the wire netting for the bottom of the box, nailing it on with the strips of wood. Paint the sieve with two coats of dark green paint.
A BULB FLAT
The dimensions of the box are the same as those for the sieve except for the depth, which is three inches instead of two and a half inches. Of course the bottom is wood with three drainage holes bored in it. A flat may be constructed without the drainage holes as shown in the cut. In this case make the bottom of small pieces of wood leaving an inch space between each piece. This is Eloise's kind of a bulb box.
A GATHERING BASKET FOR FLOWERS
The materials needed are:
8 spokes, 10 ins. long, of number 6 reed. 3 weavers of number 2 reed. 12 weavers of number 3 reed. 31 spokes, 20 in. long, of number 4 reed.
Directions.—Split four spokes of number 6 reed exactly in the centre, and slip the remaining four through the slits in the first group.
Double a number 2 weaver and slip the loop over the upper vertical group and with the pairing weave go around each group four times. Next, separate the spokes in groups of two and continue the pairing weave until four more rows have been woven in. Then separate the spokes by ones and weave until the diameter is 4-1/2 in.
Cut all off that remains of the number 2 weaver, and insert 3 weavers of number 3 reed. Continue with the triple weave to a diameter of 9 in.
Cut off the ends of the spokes and insert 31 spokes, 20 in. long, of number 4 reed; one on each side of the spokes, except the first; in this instance insert but one.
Use the side which has been next the weaver for the inside of the basket, letting rough ends come on the outside of the basket. Turn the spokes up, and hold in place with one row of quadruple, weave over three spokes and back of one, using the number 3 reed. With the same reed put in eleven rows of plain weave, over one spoke and under the next. Next, one row of quadruple and follow with seven rows of double weave, over two and under one, and finish with one row of quadruple weave.
For the first row of the border carry number 1 spoke back to number 2 spoke, or the next spoke at the right, and out; number 2 spoke back of number 3, and out. Continue once around the basket.
For the second row carry number 1 spoke over number 2 and 3, and down; number 2 over 3 and 4 and down, and so on around.
For the third row carry number 1 over number 2 and down; number 2 over number 3 and down. This may be continued until you have formed a roll over the entire edge.
If handles are desired, on each side of the basket insert a piece of number 9 reed for the foundation of these. The end of a number 3 weaver is woven in at the left of the foundation under the third row from the top of the basket, and the long end of the weaver is twisted around the foundation to the other side of the handle. Here it is pushed down inside the basket on one side of the handle and over again on the other side of the handle, three rows from the top, making a loop inside. The weaver is then laid close beside the first twist and follows it across to the opposite side. Now it goes in under the third row on the left of the handle and out on the right side. Each row of twisting must follow close beside the last. Six or seven rows will cover the foundation. The end is fastened off by bringing it inside the basket again where it is cut off.
This flower basket may be made without the handles. But they add much to it without being a great deal of extra work.
Take two pieces of the wood you have chosen:
A, 6-1/2 x 6-1/2 x 1/4 in. and B, 7 x 7-1/2 x 1/4 in.
Construction.—True up each piece to the given dimensions, and sandpaper carefully. Be careful to stroke the wood always with the grain—never across the fibres.
Next make a shadow-piece, or gnomon, as it is called. Get a thin piece of the same kind of wood as is used in piece A, and lay it out as follows: With the fibres running in the direction AB, beginning at point A construct an angle equal to the latitude of the place where the dial is to be used. For example, if the latitude of a town is 41 degrees construct the angle D 41 degrees, or if it is 42 degrees, let D be 42 degrees. Then cut from A to C, and sandpaper carefully. Take the wooden shadow-piece and fasten it to the centre of piece A. Fasten by two brads or small nails about 3/4 inch or 1 inch long, or glue it. Place piece A over piece B so that a margin of 1/4 in. will be left on all sides.
Place A so that the fibres will run at right angles to B to prevent the boards from warping. These two pieces may be fastened together by driving a brad in each corner, or gluing, or both.
Use almost any kind of wood, as white wood, cherry or white oak.
Two pieces of wood 8 x 1/2 x 1-1/2 in. are needed for the cross pieces. These should be planed. There are needed also four little pieces as feet or pads. The dimensions of these should be 1-1/2 x 1-1/2 x 1/2 in.
To make this stand, draw a line across the two long pieces 4 inches from either end. Lay off two other lines parallel to this 5/8 inch to the right and left. Transfer these lines down the edges by the aid of the try square. Saw on the inside of these lines down one half the thickness, or 1/4 inch. Chisel out for a half-lap joint.
The sawing and chiseling should be done carefully. It is necessary to saw on the inside of the lines or a loose joint will be had. Doubling the passage of the saw through the wood will often make the difference of 1/8 inch.
After these are made to fit, the upper ends may be rounded down by chisel and compasses, or bevelled, using the plane.
Use 7/8-inch brads or finishing nails, four in each pad or foot to fasten pads to the arms. The pads should project 1/8 inch from ends and sides. To finish the work nicely so the rest will both look well and stand exposure, apply a suitable stain. Allow it to stand at least thirty minutes. Then rub down with a cloth to an even stain. It is better to allow the stain to stand a day or so. This gives time for the stain to set before applying the wax. Otherwise, some of the stain will be loosened and removed when waxing and a lighter shade of stain will result.
The measurements are easy since the scale is one-half inch. That is, as you measure the line in the working plan you allow one whole inch for every one-half inch you measure on that. So, if a line measures three and one-half inches, make the line for your box seven inches. This is the real height of the box. Notice some lines have their real measures given at the side.
Directions for making are as follows:
Fold a piece of paper large enough for one of the sides and sketch one-half the outline on one of the folds. Cut to line and then draw the other half. This will give perfect balance. Cut two pieces of wood from this pattern by placing it on the wood and tracing.
Draw a line parallel to each side 3/8 inch in on the pattern for a new pattern for the other two sides. These sides will need to be 3/4 inch narrower, 3/8 inch on each side, as they must fit between the other two sides. If wood of different thickness is used it will be double the thickness.
Use a coping saw to cut out the base. The tapering sides may be cut to lines by saw, plane or chisel. The curve at the base may be bored by 1/2-inch auger, and in this way a better curve may be had.
Use 1-1/4-inch brads or finishing nails. A little glue added will make a firmer box. A much larger box after the same pattern will make a beautiful holder for a larger plant or shrub, using, of course, thicker wood.
Two small cleats should be nailed and glued from the inside to support a bottom. The bottom will give better service if it does not entirely fill the space. Let it be the proper length but allow a space of an inch on both sides for dirt and leaves to fall through and out.
Chestnut was the wood Helena used. It was stained and later waxed and polished. A beautiful permanent brown stain may be had on chestnut or white oak by applying strong ammonia to it with a brush and later sandpapering down and waxing. White wood is another good wood to use, but a stain will have to be applied to white wood, as ammonia will not act on it. A strong solution of permanganate of potash put on with a brush will darken any wood; it has no fumes.
IMPROVING THE SCHOOL GROUNDS
During the first days of early spring The Chief and his boy assistants looked over the school grounds to see what should be done for its improvement.
The school was situated on a triangular piece of land right in the fork of two roads. The land was elevated; so much so that the building stood on a real slope; it was practically a road bank. This slope was washed by spring rains leaving large rocks exposed to view. The country road was especially poor at this section. There were deep gullies in it; the gutters were full of leaves and rock. About the school building was a comparatively level spot covered with rock. No trees grew here; a little grass struggled up each year, soon to lose heart and die.
"It seems to me," said Albert thrusting his hands deep down into his pockets, "that we have our life work here."
"Not at all," announced The Chief, "this is just the sort of thing which confronts most country schools."
Sitting on a rock The Chief gathered his clan in solemn conclave. At the close of the conference Jay marched into the schoolhouse and wrote the following headings on the board:
I. Constructing a wall to form an embankment. II. Cleaning the grounds and making a lawn. III. Planting of trees. IV. Preparation and planting of the flower garden. V. Cleaning and mending the road.
These headings represented the general lines of work the conclave had decided were the right ones, the most pressing ones to begin on.
First all the stones were picked up. The smaller boys and girls made little heaps of the small stones, while the larger rocks, requiring strength to move, were left to the older boys and girls. To some rocks the boys were obliged to take the pickaxe and crowbar. These were rolled, dragged and carted to the gutter at the bottom of the bank.
A sand bank of this description where the wash is great always needs an embankment of some sort to hold the soil in place. So the boys built a stone wall. They made this wall of the stones picked from the grounds. First the height was decided on. This was to be two feet. They drove stakes, one at the beginning, and so on for every five feet of extent. After leveling, two inches was measured from top of each stake down and a cord was strung along from stake to stake. Previously, to be sure that the stakes were at the same level, one of the boys, squatting down on the ground so that his eye was on a level with the stake nearest him, looked or "sighted" along the stakes. Where one stake seemed to rise up above the others it was hammered down a little to fall into line. Thus a straight line or top level for the wall was obtained. The wall itself was not difficult to build. It meant only the selection of stones and firming them into place.
Close to the wall there was a strip of level land; then the slope arose from this quite gently. After the stones were picked off the boys raked the ground all over fine, free from lumps and small stones.
One evening in the village store George's father offered to plough and harrow the entire grounds if Jack's father would give the grass seed. The bargain was sealed. But after all, this sandy soil was no sort of soil to plant grass seed in. The father of one of the girls gave to the school a few loads of good soil. This was spread over the slope to a depth of about a foot. Again they raked it all over smooth, filling in and making as pleasing a grade as possible.
The Chief told them it would have been far better if they could have had two feet of good soil. Grass needs all of that. Another way to have improved the soil conditions would have been to plant corn or potatoes on this ground for one year. With such a crop the boys and girls would have been constantly working it, stirring it up. This improves soil.
After the soil was spread the next thing was to make it firm. This was done in three ways. One day the teacher decided that for gymnastic work they might all turn out and tramp the soil. Up the bank they stamped, then down by the old drive to the road again, and up the bank.
Another way was by using tamping sticks. The boys made these sticks from old broom handles, to the ends of which they fitted solid pieces of board about ten inches square. Some were merely nailed upon the ends of the broom handle; but this method was insecure. The others were made with holes in the centre of the boards of the same diameter as the handles. These sticks were used to tamp the soil or spank it down. But on the day when an old farmer, stopping to watch the work, offered his roller, there was great rejoicing. Between classes, during recesses and at any odd time the slope was rolled. One boy in the very beginning pushed the roller but not after that, for when it was explained to him he understood why he should pull the roller. First, because pulled there are no foot prints left; and secondly, one slips and makes bad places on the lawn when pushing.
Next came the seed sowing. The allowance of seed was one quart to each 300 square feet. Jack's father chuckled when his son refused absolutely the variety he offered him. "No, sir, I do not wish Kentucky Blue Grass. It takes three years to get good results from it. The results are all right."
"Thanks," murmured the highly entertained father.
"We can't wait three years, we must have speedy results. I wish a recleaned mixture, and no chaff in it."
"Very well, young man, I wish to know two things: First, where did you get your knowledge? And second, where does my pay come in?"
"The Chief told me what book to read to understand about lawns. As for the pay, you made your bargain with George's father. Anyway I should think it would be pay enough to see a fine lawn in a public place made from your grass seed."
"Right you are, young man. Go on, read and read. But remember to work as well."
They chose a rather cloudy day for the planting, and a day when the wind did not blow. Grass seed is so fine it will blow all about if the wind is stirring. Grass seed is sown broadcast, that is, scattered by the hand. It is not sown in drills.
It was a pleasure to watch the sowing, for it was done right. First, the sowing hand was held low, the person stooping down. Some seed was taken with the fingers. Then the sowing arm was swung freely in a semi-circle. After going over the ground once, a second sowing was made at right angles to the first. A second relay of boys and girls came out and raked the sown ground all over. A third relay then rolled the ground. Do you see that there was little opportunity then for the seed being blown off the surface of the ground?
The children were delighted when a gentle rain, followed by several warm days came right after the sowing. A soaking rain or a series of cold damp days might have spoiled the work. The only way to have a good lawn from a poor piece of land is to do a thorough piece of work. Patching up means constant patching.
The paths and driveway to the school were just rock masses. The first thing was to clear out all the rock. Then loads of ashes were brought from the houses of the different children. All the parents were glad to get rid of the ash-dumps in the backyards. All kinds of carts were brought into use. For a week no boy dared appear without a load of ashes.
All these ashes were dumped into the drive and paths. Then the whole ash layer was rolled and rolled. It finally made a good solid kind of walk.
It was the business of the tree-planting committee to have two saplings ready by Arbor Day and to know themselves just how to plant. In the start of this work, committees had been formed. Now these committees were supposed to know exactly how to do the work and to procure the necessary material for it. It was not the duty of the committee to do all the work; by no means, or the others would not have known how to work.
Two trees were to be planted, one little maple near the building; another, a buttonball tree, down on the lower grade. A maple was chosen because it was easy to get from the woods and also because the maple is such a good all-round tree. Then later, because of a cold wind exposure on one side of the schoolhouse it was decided to plant a screen of little poplar trees. This was to shut off an unsightly view which could not be remedied in any other way.
One of the girls on the tree committee suggested a poplar in place of the maple. She was voted down. Now if quick results had been wished, of course the poplar would have been the tree to have chosen. That was why the poplars were chosen for screening purposes. But for permanence the maple, the oak, the buttonball are all better. The poplar shoots up quickly, to be sure, but again it sheds its leaves early in the season. Its life is not as long as the oak's. There are more reasons, too. But if you must have quick results, here is a trick. Plant first a poplar then a maple or some other tree and so on. Later the poplars may be cut out and you have left the fine sturdy, long-lived trees. At the same time the poplars have tided over that in-between period. We sometimes weary of waiting for an oak to grow sizable.
The tree planting was left until May because of the state Arbor Day. The maple and buttonball or plane-tree were dug up by the boys in the woods the morning of Arbor Day. The trees were chosen from a rather open part of the wood. It is better to choose trees from the open places than from the denser woods. Trees thus selected are far more likely to grow on being transplanted into a place similar to that from which they came. The boys chose trees about five feet tall. The smaller the tree the better. The following directions were the ones agreed upon:
(1) Dig a hole large enough and deep enough to accommodate the roots without cramping. Allow so that the tree shall sit one inch lower than it did before.
(2) Place the topsoil on one side of the hole; on the other the poorer subsoil. If the topsoil is very poor, get some good, rich, black soil.
(3) Place good soil in the bottom of the hole.
(4) Put the tree on this layer, spreading the roots out carefully.
(5) Shovel rich soil over the roots. See that it goes in between the roots. Don't be afraid to use your fingers for this work.
(6) The poorer soil goes in on top.
(7) Tramp the soil down with your feet, making firm about the tree trunk.
(8) If the planting comes late in the warm weather make the soil into a soft mud with plenty of water, in this form washing it in between and about the roots, all roots and rootlets come in direct contact with the mud.
(9) Last of all cut the tree back, shortening the larger branches about one-quarter their length.
After planting the boys kept the trees soaked with water, thus making it possible for the young saplings to have plenty of water. As the spring went on the little maple prospered but the plane-tree started to put out a few sickly looking leaves and finally died in midsummer. Just what was the trouble? Supposedly these two trees were planted according to the same directions. It finally came out that the boys who planted the plane-tree had not cut off the bruised rootlets. These rootlets being in a bad condition rotted and affected the entire root. Another mistake was the failure of the boys to put the good soil about the roots, and they had made the hole a little too small for the entire root area. Well, it simply went to show that such a piece of work must be done right and carefully, if success is to be certain. These were the reasons why our boys lost one of their Arbor Day trees. The Chief told the children that it might have been done over then, but that spring was the better time, because the transplanted tree has the good long feeding season ahead of it, and therefore has an opportunity to get over the shock and to get accustomed to its new surroundings before winter is on. Trees planted in the fall should not be cut back. Leave this until the next spring.
The children wished later that they had used something else for a screen. The poplar trees grew fast but of course did not fill out as evergreens and shrubs do. So, after all, the hedge of shrubs would have acted as a better screen. Had they chosen evergreens these would have made a better wind-break in the winter season for the exposure was north, cold, and windy. Such work, though, is worth while, because we learn so many better ways of doing things.
The flower garden was almost entirely the girls' work. In the first place the school had no money. Seeds do cost something. But the amount of seed which can be purchased for one dollar is amazing. Peter's grandfather, hearing of the school's needs, gave a dollar. This was money enough to buy seeds of ageratum, zinnia, dwarf nasturtium, California poppy and verbena besides some others. Most schools have interested friends.
All along the sides and front of the schoolhouse close to the building the nasturtiums were planted. The ground was hard packed. The plough had left the soil untouched near the building. So the boys spaded this up. All the stone was picked out. Good soil was brought from the woods, fertilizer from the barn and it was all worked thoroughly in.
Stakes had to be made. An easy stake to make is one from a lath. Mark off 18-inch lengths or such lengths as are required. Make one end pointed for about six inches; sandpaper. You have a good stake, that is, a good temporary one. These were driven in to the outer edge of these nasturtium strips at distances of four feet and strung with three cords four inches apart. The cords should be carried about the stakes in a groove made for this purpose. Thus the cord will be held and not slip up or down. Thus strung off, border beds will not be stepped on or run over by cats and dogs.
The nasturtiums were planted four inches apart, in drills one foot apart. Just two rows were planted. The first row was six inches from the front edge, then a foot space left, then another drill. Finally one foot was left between that and the foundation of the building.
The girls of the fourth grade made the drills with the hoe handle. The children of the first and second grades cut out pieces of paper in inch lengths. Four of these placed along in a row gave the right distance for planting the seeds. The nasturtium seeds were soaked over night. And since the soil was warm and mellow, it helped.
Along the walks ageratum was planted in the following manner to serve as a border. A drill was made as if for lettuce planting. The seeds were sown in the same way as for that vegetable. When the plants were an inch high they were thinned to six inches apart.
The zinnia was planted according to Helen's way of planting and told by her under the girls' planting in a later chapter.
The verbenas, as the other flowers, were planted in early May. They were planted one-fourth inch deep and six inches apart in drills one foot apart.
The poppy bed was made fine, very fine, by much raking. Then the seed was sown as the grass seed was, that is, by the method we term broadcast sowing. These plants were thinned later so as to stand about eight inches apart. But the plants thinned out were not used again, for these poppies will not stand transplanting. This bed was simply one gorgeous red in August.
In the early spring days the gutters were cleaned out thoroughly. The road patching was quite a different matter. These country roads, like those of many places, were just dirt roads. Now earth is poor material for road construction. But if drainage is properly looked out for, and the earth road is smooth from rolling, earth roads make, after all, fine roads for summer travel.
It was suggested that rock be filled in, and the earth over this. But when the boys considered how deep cuts would be formed in such a mend by wagon wheels, this was given up. Then it was decided to fill in with layers of rock mass. Myron brought a load of slate for this purpose. But slate, while it makes a smooth road, does not stand wet weather well. So Myron had to return his slate to the road-side bed from which he had taken it. Then The Chief told the children briefly about road materials; how soft limestone makes too weak roads for loads, how easily they wash and wear; how granite, because of its being made up of several materials, is poor, too; how flint and quartz, while hard, are brittle, and are not sufficiently tough; and that sandstone was impossible. Then he told them that good gravel, tough limestone and trap-rock were good road materials. Roads need materials having hardness, toughness and cementing qualities.
By taking a trip to a gravel bed, some three miles out of town, the boys were able to get gravel for their patchwork. They did not merely fill in the breaks but dug out the road bed straight across wherever a break occurred until they came to good road. Coarse gravel was put at the bottom up to six inches of the top surface. This was packed down and rolled. At the same time it was watered until mud rose or flushed over the top surface. Finally pebbles from about a half-inch size to coarse sand were laid on and rolled thoroughly.
This is the way these lads fixed one piece of poor roadway.
It happened that one of the farmers near by tethered his cow on the school grounds during the summer. One of the girls gave a workable solution for this problem. This was it: the boys should come back in relays all summer long and keep the grass so short that no cow could get a nibble from their new lawn. This was done and it worked.
When the subject of the care of the flower garden arose it was easily settled. The girls gladly divided themselves off into committees. Each committee's business was that of weeding, picking and distributing the flowers. The prophecy that there would be blossoms enough to supply the homes, the churches and the sick proved true. To be sure the garden did not look so well in the fall as in early summer, but it took only a short time to fix up the grounds when school re-opened.
Plans were made for another spring during the first weeks of school. The lawn would need a little more work done on it, an oak should be planted, a group of shrubs put in. But the foundation work had been done.
And one day when the news was brought that the town was going to put the first strip of real macadam road by the schoolhouse, a deafening shout went up.
MYRON'S STRAWBERRY BED
One fine day in early April Myron spaded up his strawberry bed. The bed was made in a sunny spot, on moist but not soggy soil, land excellent for strawberry culture because the year before it was part of a potato field. Following The Chief's advice he had spread over the bed only a very light covering of well-rotted manure. Myron first measured off his garden bed driving stakes in at the four corners. Then he strung off the bed with stout garden cord. "Now," he said to himself, "I know exactly what I have to do." Then going to one corner of the space with his back toward all the rest of the bed he began his work.
He had a fine spading fork which he had bought a few days before. Grasping the top of the handle with his right hand, with the left midway down the handle, he pressed the prongs of the fork with his left foot vertically into the ground. Then lowering the top of the handle toward the ground and backward, he slipped his left hand down the handle to about a foot from the prongs, and drew up the spading fork with earth on it. This earth he threw a little forward and with the prongs broke up the lumps. He continued this until all the work was done.
Then he looked at his spading fork, his brand new fork, and found the prongs quite bent, "The Chief told us to buy decent tools, but I thought I'd save a little money. Well, I'll break up some of these lumps a bit with my hoe and see how that will stand a little work." The land Myron's father had given him was very good indeed, rich and light, so that work of lump breaking was really very slight, yet it made the new hoe-blade rattle in its socket.
After this work had been thoroughly done the boy took his rake and started making fine the soil for the bed. Myron had learned well how to handle his tools. These lessons of handling tools The Chief had taught the boys for he felt that a tool should be a skilful instrument in the hand. "A gardener should wield his hoe as well as a surgeon does his scalpel," The Chief had often said. So the boys were proud of really knowing how to work.
After looking proudly at the fine, smooth bed the boy shouldered his tools and marched off to the village.
Do not think that you can save money by purchasing poor tools. It is quite impossible, because always one has either to buy new and better ones, or mend and remend the poor ones. The lad found out that a good trowel costs at least 50 cents although a smaller one called a transplanting trowel may be had for 15 cents; cast steel rake, 50 cents (10 teeth), 75 cents (14 teeth); hoe, 50 cents; Dutch hoe, four inches, 40 cents; spading fork, $1.25, and weeder 10 cents.
That afternoon armed with cord, stakes, a tape, and the plan of the bed, Myron started to mark it off for the plants. After tacking his plan up on the fence post he began the measuring. The piece of ground was 5-3/4 feet wide by 6 feet long. Beginning at one edge of the garden he measured in six inches along the width. The same thing was done from the opposite edge. Stakes were driven in at these two points and a cord stretched between. The same thing was done from the other two ends. So Myron had two cords extending down the length of his garden each six inches from the edge of the patch. These cords are lettered A A and D D in his plan. B B is 15 inches from A A; C C is 15 inches from D D.
The next thing was to get the position of each plant in the bed. This is the way it was done: beginning with A A, measure from the upper stake nine inches down the line and place a small stake. This is the place to set the first plant. From this, measure and place stakes at one-foot distances. There will be five plants down the line. Down B B, measure fifteen inches and place a stake. This gives the position for the first plant, then, as before, place stakes at one-foot intervals. C C is marked off similar to A A; and D D to B B. In all Myron then had places for twenty plants.
As the work was finished Myron looked up to see Jack's face peeping over the fence. "How do you like my strawberry bed?"
"It's all right," Jack replied, "especially the strawberry plants. They look very promising."
"Quit your fooling, and come in and see this bed face to."
As Jack went over the fence he stopped to look at the plan. "I say, Myron, this shows a plan's of some use to a man. What do you mean by succession crops?"
"That stands for the sort of seed you keep sowing at intervals and so getting several crops a season. I shall put in radish and lettuce. I am to supply our own table all summer. Father is not going to sow either of these. He is depending on me."
The trip to Longmeadow Farm for strawberry plants was one of pleasure and profit to Myron. The boys used to say that while old Mr. Mills had a crust inches deep, underneath this he was as fine as the strawberries he raised. I. Constructing a wall to form an embankment. II. Cleaning the grounds and making a lawn. III. Planting of trees. IV. Preparation and planting of the flower garden. V. Cleaning and mending the road.
"Strawberry plants are worth," said the old gentleman, "about two cents apiece. I will give you your plants if you will do two things. First, during this season, you are to pinch all the blossoms as they appear, off the plants. Secondly, I wish to experiment with a new variety of berry to see if it is good for this locality. I wish you to take five of these plants and try the experiment with me. Do you agree?"