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When to plant vegetable garden

The importance of having good seeds has already been declared. They must not only grow, but grow into what we have bought them for - be true to name. Without the latter quality we cannot be sure of good gardens, and without the former they will not be full ones. A meagre "stand" from seeds properly sown is a rather exasperating and discouraging experience to encounter.

The cost for fertilizing and preparing the land is just as much, and the cost of cultivating very nearly as much, when the rows are full of thrifty plants or strung out with poor ones. Whether you use ten cents' worth or ten dollars' worth, the best seed to be had will be the most economical to buy - to say nothing of the satisfaction that full rows give.

And yet good seedsmen are more thoughtlessly and unjustly abused in the matter of seed vitality than in any other. Inexperienced gardeners seem universally to have the conviction that the only thing required in seed sowing is to cover the seed with soil. What sort of soil it is, or in what condition, or at what depth or temperature the seed is planted, are questions about which they do not trouble themselves to think.

Two conditions - moisture and warmth - are necessary to induce germination of seeds, no matter how full of life they may be; and as was shown in the preceding chapter the different varieties have some choice as to the degree of each, especially of temperature. This means of course that some commonsense must be used in planting, and when planting outdoors, where we cannot regulate the temperature to our need, we simply must regulate our seed sowing to its dictates, no matter how impatient we may be.

To insure the best possible germination, and thus the best gardening, we must, first of all then, settle the question of temperature when sowing out-of-doors. For practical work it serves to divide the garden vegetables into two groups, though in planting, the special suggestions in the following chapter should be consulted.

Sow from the end of March to the beginning of May, or when plum and peach trees bloom, the following:

Beet, Cabbage, Carrot, Cauliflower, Celery, Endive, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Onions, Parsley, Parsnip, Peas, Radish, Spinach, Turnip, Water-cress.

Sow from the beginning of May to the middle of June, or when apple trees bloom, the following:

Beans, Corn, Cucumber, Melon musk, Melon water, Okra, Pumpkin, Squash, Tomato.

Getting the seed to sprout, however, is only the first step in the game; they must be provided with the means of immediately beginning to grow. This means that they should not be left to germinate in loosely packed soil, full of air spaces, ready to dry out at the first opportunity, and to let the tiny seed roots be shriveled up and die.

The soil should touch the seed - be pressed close about it on all sides, so that the first tiny tap root will issue immediately into congenial surroundings where it can instantly take hold. Such conditions can be found only in a seed-bed fine but light enough to pack, reasonably rich and sufficiently moist, and where, in addition to this, the seed has been properly planted.