Part 3 out of 9
Would you advise planting of pecans in commercial orchards here? Walnuts
in their proper location constitute some of California's best
improvements. After visiting some bearing paper-shell pecans here in
Fresno county, I believe a pecan orchard of choice variety would be more
desirable than a walnut orchard.
Pecans do well on moist rich land in the interior valleys where there
are sharper temperature changes than in the coast valleys, except
perhaps near the upper coast. Such planting as you propose seems
promising on lands having moisture enough to carry the nuts to full
Please give information about growing filberts.
Filberts have been largely a disappointment in California and no product
of any amount has ever been made. Good nuts have been produced in the
foothills of the Sierra Nevada and the Coast Range. Theoretically, the
places where the wild hazel grows would best suit the filbert, and so
far this seems to be justified by the little that has actually been
done, but there is very little to say about it beyond that. It requires
much more experience to lift the nut out of the experimental state.
Early Bearing of Walnuts.
Please inform me if young walnut trees grafted on black walnut stock
will produce fruit within 18 months after being planted.
It is true that the French varieties of English walnuts have produced
fruit the second summer of their growth. This does not mean, however,
that you can count upon a crop the second year. These are usually grafts
in nursery rows, and one would have to wait longer, as a rule, for trees
planted out in orchards with a chance to make a freer wood growth. This
is rather fortunate, because it is better to have a larger tree than to
have the growth diverted into bearing a small amount of fruit while the
tree is very young. We do not know any advantage in getting nuts the
second year except it be to see if you really have secured the variety
you desire to produce later.
Handling Walnut Seedlings.
What is the best time to transplant seedlings of the black walnut?
Transplant during the dormant season (as shown by absence of leaves)
when the soil is in good condition. Handle them just as you would an
apple tree, for instance.
How to Start English Walnuts.
In starting English walnuts, shall we get nursery stock grafted on
California black, or shall we start our black walnut seedlings in
nursery plats, or plant the nuts where the tree is wanted, and graft
them at two or three years? What is the advantage, if any, of the long
stock from grafting high, over the grafted root?
If we had the money to invest and were sure of the soil conditions,
etc., we should buy grafted trees of the variety we desired, just as we
would of any other kind of fruit. If we were shy of money and long on
time, we would start seedlings in nursery, plant out seedlings, and
graft later, because it is easier to graft when the seedling is two or
three years in place. We count the planting of nuts in place troublesome
and of no compensating advantage. The chief advantage known to us of
grafting high and getting a black walnut trunk is the hardier bark of
the black walnut.
I am planning to plant walnuts on rather heavy soil. I have been told to
put the nut six inches below the surface, but think that too deep, as
soil is rather heavy.
In a heavy soil we should not plant these nuts more than three inches
below the surface, but should cover the surface with a mulch of rotten
straw to prevent drying out.
Pruning Grafted Walnuts.
Should English walnut trees be pruned? I have along the roadside English
walnuts grafted on the California black, and they have grown to very
large size and the fruit seems to be mostly on the outside of the trees.
English walnuts are not usually pruned much, though it is often
desirable, and of course trees can be improved by removing undesirable
branches and especially where too many branches have started from
grafts, it is desirable that some be removed. They should be cleanly
sawed off and the wound covered with wax or thick paint to prevent the
wood from decaying.
When is the best time to remove large limbs from walnut trees?
This work with walnuts or other deciduous fruit trees should be done
late in the winter, about the time the buds are swelling; never mind the
bleeding, it does no harm, and the healing-growth over the wound is more
rapid while the sap is pushing.
In cleft grafting walnuts is it necessary to use scions with only a leaf
bud, or with staminate or pistillate buds? Is cutting the pith of the
scion or stock fatal to the tree?
In grafting walnuts it is usual to take shoots bearing wood buds, and
not the spurs which carry the fruit blossoms, although a part of the
graft containing also a wood bud can be used, retaining the latter.
Cutting into the pith of the scion or of the stock is not fatal, but it
is avoided because it makes a split or wound which is very hard to heal.
For this reason it is better to cut at one side of the pith in the
stock, and to cut the scion so that the slope is chiefly in the wood at
one side of the pith and not cutting a double wedge in a way to bring
the pith in the center.
Grafting Nuts on Oaks.
I have 10 to 15 acres of black oak trees which I wish to graft over to
chestnuts. Can grafting be done successfully?
Some success has been secured in grafting the chestnut on the chestnut
oak, but not, so far as we have heard, on the black oak. But grafts on
the chestnut oak are not permanently thrifty and productive, though they
have been reported as growing for some time. The same is true of English
walnut grafts on some of the native oaks.
Grafting Walnut Seedlings.
Would it be proper to graft one-year California black walnut seedlings
that must also be transplanted?
As the seedlings must be moved, plant in orchard and graft as two or
three-year-olds, according to the size which they attain.
Pruning the Walnut.
What is the proper time for pruning the walnut? Is it bad for the tree
to prune during the active season? I have recently acquired a
long-neglected grove in which many large limbs will have to be removed
in order to allow proper methods of cultivation to be practiced, and I
am in doubt as to the wisdom of doing this during the rise of sap.
The best time to remove large limbs to secure rapid growth of bark from
the sides of the cut, is just at the time the sap is rising. There will
be some outflow of sap, but of no particular loss to the tree. As soon
as the large wounds have dried sufficiently, the exposed surface should
be painted to prevent cracking of the wood.
Eastern or California Black Walnuts?
I am told that the Eastern black walnut is a more suitable root for the
low lands in California than the California black. Is this true?
There has been no demonstration that the Eastern black walnut is more
suitable to low moist lands than the California black walnut. Our
grandest California black walnut trees are situated on low moist lands.
Walnut Grove is on the edge of the Sacramento river with immense trees
growing almost on the water's edge. Walnut Creek in Contra Costa county
is also named from large walnut trees on the creek bank land. We have
very few Eastern black walnut trees in California and although they do
show appreciation of moist land, they are not in any respect better than
Ripening of Walnuts.
I send you two walnuts. I am in doubt if they will mature.
The nuts are well grown, the kernel fully formed in every respect.
Whether they will attain perfect maturity must be determined by an
observation of the fact and cannot be theoretically predicated. Where
trees are in such an ever-growing climate as you seem to have, they must
apparently take a suggestion that the time has arrived for maturity from
the drying of the soil. The roots should know that it is time for them
to stop working so that the foliage may yellow and the nuts mature. It
is possible that stopping cultivation a little earlier in the season may
be necessary to accomplish this purpose.
Cutting Below Dead Wood.
I have some seedling English walnut trees which are two years old, but
they are not coming out in bud this year. They are about three feet
high, and from the top down to about 10 inches of the ground the limbs
are dark brown, and below that they are a nice green. I cut the top off
of one of them to see what is the matter that they do not leaf out, and
I found that there is a round hole right down through the center of the
tree down to the green part. The hole is about three-sixteenths of an
inch in diameter. The pith of the limbs has been eaten away by some kind
of a worm from the inside. Would it be better to cut the tree down to
the green part, or let them alone?
It is the work of a borer. Cut down to live wood and paint over the
wound or wax it. Protect the pith until the bark grows over it or you
will have decay inside. If buds do not start on the trunk, take a sucker
from below to make a tree of. You could put a bud in the trunk, but it
is not very easy to do it.
Walnuts in Alfalfa.
Will the walnut trees be injured in any way by irrigating them at the
same time and manner as the alfalfa - that is, by flooding the land
between the checks? Will the walnuts make as good a growth when planted
in the alfalfa, and the ground cultivated two or three feet around the
tree, as though the alfalfa was entirely removed? Is it advisable to
plant the trees on the checks rather than between the checks?
Walnut trees will do well, providing you do not irrigate the alfalfa
sufficiently to waterlog the trees; providing also that you do use water
enough so that the trees will not be robbed of moisture by the alfalfa.
This method of growing trees will be, of course, safer and probably more
satisfactory if your soil is deep and loamy, as it should be to get the
best results with both alfalfa and walnuts. It would be better to have
the trees stand so that the water does not come into direct contact with
the bark, although walnut trees are irrigated by surrounding them with
check levees. Planting walnut trees in an old stand of alfalfa is harder
on the tree than to start alfalfa after the trees have taken hold,
because the alfalfa roots like to hang on to their advantage. In
planting in an old field, we should plow strips, say, five feet wide and
keep it cultivated rather than to try to start the trees in pot-holes,
although with extra care they might go that way.
Walnuts in the Hills.
Will walnuts grow well in the foothill country; elevation about 600
feet, soil rich, does not crack in summer and seems to have small stones
Walnuts will do well providing the soil or subsoil is retentive enough.
If you have water available for irrigation in case the trees should need
it, they would do well, but if the soil is gravelly way down and likely
to dry out deeply and you have no water available an opposite result
might be expected. It is a fact that on some of the uplands of the coast
mountains there is a lack of moisture late in the season which
interferes with the success of some fruit trees.
To Increase Bearing of Walnuts.
We have a walnut orchard which does not bear enough nuts. The trees are
all fine, even trees, 10 and 12 years old, and we are told that the crop
was light this year because the trees were growing so vigorously and put
most of their energy into the new wood. Is there any special fertilizer
which will make the trees bear more and not prompt such heavy growth?
If your adviser is right that the trees are not bearing because of
excessive growth, it would be better not to apply any fertilizer during
the coming year, but allow the trees to assume more steady habit and
possibly even to encourage them to do so by using less cultivation and
water. If you wish to experiment with some of the trees, give them an
application of five pounds of superphosphate and two pounds of potash to
each tree, properly distributed over the land which it occupies. You
certainly should not use any form of nitrogen.
Temperature and Moisture for the English Walnut.
What amount of freezing and drouth can English walnuts stand? Under what
conditions is irrigation necessary?
The walnut tree will endure hard freezing, providing it comes when the
tree is dormant, because they are successfully grown in some parts of
the Eastern States, though not to a large extent; but the walnut tree is
subject to injury from lighter frosts, providing they follow
temperatures which have induced activity in the tree. On the Pacific
Coast the walnut is successfully grown as far north as the State of
Washington, but even in California there are elevations where frosts are
likely to occur when the tree is active, and these may be destructive to
its profit, although they may not injure the tree. You are not safe in
planting walnuts to any extent except in places where you can find trees
bearing satisfactorily. Planting elsewhere is, of course, an
enterprising experimental thing to do, but very risky as a line of
investment. Irrigation is required if the annual rainfall, coupled with
the retentiveness of the soil and good cultivation, do not give moisture
enough to carry the tree well into the autumn, maintaining activity in
the leaves some little time after the fruit is gathered.
Walnuts from Seed.
There is a reliable nursery company selling seedling Franquette walnut
trees on a positive guarantee that they will come true to type. Are
orchards of this kind satisfactory?
Walnuts do come truer to the seed than almonds and other fruits and the
Franquette has a good reputation for remembering its ancestry. Until
recently practically all the commercial walnut product of California was
grown on seedling trees. But these facts hardly justify one in trusting
to seedlings in plantings now made. The way to get a walnut of the
highest type is to take a bud or graft from a tree which is bearing that
What is the advantage of a high-grafted walnut? I am about ready to
plant 10 acres to nuts and do not know whether to purchase Franquette
grafted high on California Black or not.
The advantage of grafting English walnut high on California Black walnut
consists in securing a main trunk for the tree, which is less liable to
sunburn and probably hardier otherwise than is the stem of the English
walnut, and the present disposition toward higher grafting or budding
seems therefore justified and desirable.
Grafting and Budding the Mulberry.
What is the most approved manner of grafting mulberry trees? Am told
that they are very difficult to successfully graft.
Most propagators find the mulberry difficult by ordinary top and cleft
grafting methods. A flute or ring graft or bud does well on small
seedlings - that is, removing a ring or cylinder of the bark from the
stock and putting in its place a cylinder from the variety desired, cut
to fit accurately. For large trees this would have to be done on young
shoots forced out by cutting back the main branches, but when this is
done ordinary shield budding in these new shoots would give good
results. Cut back the trees now and bud in the new shoots in July or
Hardiness of Hybrid Berries.
How much cold will Phenomenal, Himalaya and Mammoth blackberries stand
in winter? Is it safe to plant where the temperature goes below 32
These berries are hardy to zero at least, for they are grown in northern
parts of this coast where they get such a touch once in a while. They
have also endured low temperatures in the central continental plateau
States and eastward. Whether they can endure the lowest temperatures of
the winter-killing regions of the northern border cannot be determined
in California, for we do not have the conditions for such tests. The
berries are very hardy while dormant, and probably their value in colder
regions would depend rather more upon their disposition to remain
dormant than upon what they can endure when in that condition.
Shall the old wood be cut away in pruning Himalayas?
All the old wood which has borne fruit should be cut out in the fall and
new shoots reduced to three or four from each root, and these three or
four shoots should be shortened to a length of ten or twelve feet and be
trained to a trellis or fence, or some other suitable support. Vines
which are allowed to grow riotously as they will, are apt to be
deficient in fruit bearing.
Strawberries with Perfect Flowers.
Has Longworth Prolific an imperfect bloom? I have Longworths in bearing
which apparently are perfect. Is there another strain of Longworth that
are not self-fertilizing?
The Longworth Prolific strawberry has both staminate and pistillate
elements. Possibly some other variety, because of its resemblance to
Longworth and the popularity of it, may have been wrongly given its
name. Most of the varieties which are largely grown in California are
perfect in blossom, though some of the newer varieties need association
Should the new shoots of Loganberry vines, which come out in the spring,
be left or cut away? If cut, will more shoots put out in the fall and be
sufficient for the next year's crop?
The Loganberry shoots which are growing should be carefully trained and
preserved for next year's fruiting. The old canes should be cut away at
the base after the fruit is gathered. The plant bears each year upon the
wood which grew the previous summer.
Should I plant strawberries in the spring or fall?
Whether it is wise to plant strawberry plants in the fall depends on
several things, such as getting the ground in the very best of
condition, abundance of water at all times, splendidly rooted plants,
and cool weather (which is very rare at the time plants are to be
planted, August and September). Plants may be taken with balls of earth
around the roots, and water poured in the hole that receives the plant.
After planting, each plant should be shaded from the sun; after this the
ditches must be kept full of water so the moisture will rise to the
surface; this must be done till the plant starts growth. This method can
only be used in small plantings, as it is too expensive for large
plantings, as is also the potted plant method where each plant is grown
in a small pot and transplanted by dumping out the earth as a ball with
the plant and putting directly in the ground. From potted plants, set
out in the fall, one may count on a fine crop of berries the following
spring. Strawberry plants are never dormant till midwinter, and there is
no plant more difficult to transplant when roots are disturbed in the
hot season, which usually prevails in the interior valleys of
California. To have a long-lived strawberry field and to get best
results, planting must be done in the spring, as soon as the soil can be
put in best condition to receive plants. From this a fall crop can be
expected - Answer by Tribble Bros., Elk Grove.
Blackberries for Drying Only.
What variety of blackberries or raspberries are the best for drying
purposes? Are berries successfully dried in evaporators? This is a
natural berry country. Wild blackberries are a wonder here.
Transportation facilities do not allow raising for the city market. In
your opinion, would the planting of ten acres in berries for drying be a
The blackberries chiefly grown in California are the Lawton, Crandall
and the Mammoth. The raspberry chiefly grown is the Cuthbert. There are
very few of these berries dried. It would be better to dry them in an
evaporator than in the sun, but little of it is done in this State. It
is doubtful whether it would pay to plant blackberries for drying only,
because there is such a large product flow in various places where the
berries are either sold fresh or sold to the cannery, and drying is only
done for the purpose of saving the crop if the prices for the other uses
are not satisfactory. To grow especially for drying would give you only
one chance of selling to advantage, and that the poorest.
Planting Bush Fruits.
What is the best time to set out blackberries and Loganberries?
Any time after the soil is thoroughly wet down and you can get good,
mature and dormant plants for transplanting. This may be as early as
November and may continue until February or later in some places.
Growing Strawberry Plants.
In a patch of strawberries planted this spring, is it advisable to cut
off runners or root some of them?
In planting strawberries in matted rows, it is usual to allow a few
runners to take root and thus fill the row. It is the judgment of plant
growers that plants for sale should not be produced in this way, but
should be grown from plants specially kept for that purpose.
Strawberries in Succession.
Is there any reason, in strawberry culture, when the vines are removed
at the end of the fourth year, why the ground may not be thoroughly
plowed and again planted to strawberries?
It is theoretically possible to grow strawberries continuously on the
same land by proper fertilization and irrigation. Practically, the
objection is that certain diseases and injurious insects may multiply in
the land, and this is the chief reason why new plantations are put on
new land and the old land used for a time for beans or some root crop,
so that the soil may be cleaned and refreshed by rotation and by the
possibility of deeper tillage.
Limitations on Gooseberries.
Why is it that gooseberries are not grown more in California? Is there
any reason, climatic or other, why the gooseberry should not be as
successfully grown in California as elsewhere?
There are two reasons. First, the gooseberry does not like interior
valleys, although with proper protection from mildew or by growing
resistant varieties, good fruit can be had in coast or mountain valleys.
Second, practically no one cares for a ripe gooseberry in a country
where so many other fruits are grown, and the demand is for green
gooseberries for pies and sauce, and that is very easily oversupplied.
Dry Farming with Grapes.
I have heard that they are planting Muscat grapes on the dry farming
plan. Will it be successful?
Grapes have been grown in California on the dry farming plan ever since
Americans came 60 years ago. Grapes can be successfully grown by
thorough cultivation for moisture retention, providing the rainfall is
sufficient to carry the plant when it is conserved by the most thorough
and frequent cultivation. Unless this rainfall is adequate, no amount of
cultivation will make grape vines succeed, because even the best
cultivation produces no moisture, but only conserves a part of that
which falls from the clouds. Whether grapes will do depends, first, upon
what the rainfall is; second, upon whether the soil is retentive; third,
upon whether you cultivate in such a way as to enable the soil to
exercise its maximum retentiveness. These are matters which cannot be
determined theoretically - they require actual test.
Cutting Back Frosted Vine Canes.
Vines have been badly injured by the late frosts, especially the young
vines which were out the most. Is there anything to be done with the
injured shoots now on the vines so as to help the prospects of a crop?
If shoots are only lightly frosted they should be cut off at once as low
as you can detect injury. This may save the lower parts of the shoot,
from which a later growth can be made. Frosted parts ferment and carry
destruction downward, and therefore should be disposed of as soon as
possible. Where vines have run out considerably and badly frosted, the
best practice usually is to strip off the frozen shoots so as to get rid
of the dormant buds at the base, which often give sterile shoots. A new
break of canes from other buds is generally more productive.
Dipping Thompson Seedless.
What is the process of dipping and bleaching Thompson seedless grapes?
One recipe for dipped raisins is as follows: One quart olive oil;
3/4-pound Greenbank soda and 3 quarts water are made into an emulsion,
and then reduced with 10 gallons water in the dipping tank, adding more
soda to get lye-strength enough to cut the skins, and more soda has to
be added from time to time to keep up the strength. The grapes are
dipped in this solution and sulphured to the proper color. This is the
general outline of the process. The ability to use it well can only be
attained by experience and close observation.
The Zante Currant.
Is the currant that grows in the United States in any way related to the
currant that grows in Greece? If so, could it be cured like the currant
that comes from Greece?
The dried currants of commerce are made in Greece and in California (to
a slight extent) from the grape known as the grape of Corinth. They are
not made from the bush currant which is generally grown in the United
States, and the two plants are not in any way related.
Grape Vines for an Arbor.
How shall I prune grape vines, viz: Tokay, Black Cornichon, Muscat,
Thompson Seedless, Rose of Peru, planted for a grape arbor?
You can grow all the vines you mention with high stumps reaching part
way or to the top of the arbor as you desire side or top shade or both.
You can also grow them with permanent side branches on the side slats of
the arbor if you desire. Each winter pruning would consist in cutting
back all the previous summer's growth to a few buds from which new canes
will grow for shade or fruiting, or you can work on the renewal system,
keeping some of these canes long for quick foliage and more fruit
perhaps and cutting some of them short to grow new wood for the
following year's service, as they often do in growing Eastern grapes.
Pruning Old Vines.
I have some Muscat grape vines 30 years old. Can I chop off most of the
old wood with a hatchet and thereby bring them back to proper bearing?
Not with a hatchet. If the vines are worth keeping at all, they are
worth careful cutting with a saw and a painting of all cuts in large old
wood. If the vines have been neglected, you can saw away surplus prongs
or spurs, reserving four or five of the best placed and most vigorous,
and cut back the canes of last summer's growth to one, two or three
buds, according to the strength of the canes - the thicker the canes,
the more buds to be kept. It is not desirable to cut away an old vine to
get a new start from the ground, unless you wish to graft. Shape the top
of the vine as well as you can by saving the best of the old growth.
Topping Grape Vines.
Is topping grape vines desirable?
Topping of vines is in all cases more or less weakening. The more
foliage that is removed, the more weakening it is. Vines, therefore,
which are making a weak growth from any cause whatever can only be
injured by topping. If the vines are exceptionally vigorous, the
weakening due to topping may be an advantage by making them more
fruitful. The topping, however, must be done with discretion. Early
topping in May is much more effective and less weakening than later
topping in June. Very early topping before blossoming helps the setting
of the blossoms. Topping in general increases the size of the berries.
Will pruning grape vines when they bleed injure them?
It has been demonstrated not to be of any measurable injury.
Vines and Scant Moisture.
Would it be well to sucker vines and take also some bearing canes off,
or in a dry year will they mature properly as in other years if the
ground is in good condition?
Vines usually bear drouth-stress better than bearing fruit trees. On
soils of good depth and retentiveness, they are likely to give good
crops in a dry year with thorough cultivation; still, lightening the
burden of the vines is rational. Suckering and cutting away second-crop
efforts should be done. Whether you need to reduce the first crop can be
told better by the looks of the vines later in the season.
Sulphuring for Mildew.
For two years I have not sulphured my vineyard and had no mildew. My
vines seem as healthy and thrifty as any of the neighbors' that were
duly sulphured. Have I lost anything by not sulphuring?
Certainly not. In sections where mildew is practically sure to come,
sulphur should be used regularly as a preventive without waiting for the
appearance of the disease. There are, however, many locations,
especially in the interior valley, where the occurrence of mildew is
rare in sufficient volume to do appreciable harm, and then sulphuring
should depend upon the weather, which favors mildew or otherwise. But be
always on the watch and have everything ready to sulphur immediately;
also learn to recognize the conditions under which appearances of mildew
become a menace.
Grape Sugar in Canned Grapes.
How can I prevent the formation of grape sugar in canned grapes?
Take care that the syrup is of the same density as the juice of the
grape when the fruit and the juice are placed together in the can. The
density of the syrup and the juice are, of course, to be obtained by the
use of the spindle, the same arrangement employed for determining when
the percentage of sugar in the grape juice is right for raisin-making or
for wine-making. Whatever the density of the juice, make the syrup the
same by the use of the right amount of sugar.
Part II. Vegetable Growing
California Grown Seed.
Which are the best garden seeds to use, those raised in Ohio and the
East or those raised in Washington and Oregon or those raised in this
It has been definitely shown by experience and experiment that is does
not matter much where the seed comes from, providing it is well grown
and good of its kind. There is no such advantage in changing seed from
one locality to another as is commonly supposed. Besides, it is now very
difficult to tell positively where seed is grown, because California
wholesale seeds are retailed in all the States you mention, and the
contents of many small packets of seeds distributed in California went
first of all from California to the Eastern retailers, who advertise and
sell them everywhere.
Cloth for Hotbeds.
Would cloth do to cover a hotbox to raise lettuce, radishes, etc., for
winter use where we get a very heavy rainfall?
Yes, if you make the cloth waterproof for its own preservation from
mildew and other agencies of decay. The following recipe for
waterproofing cloth is taken from our book on "California Vegetables":
Soften 4 1/2 ounces of glue in 8 3/4 pints of water, cold at first; then
dissolve in, say, a washboiler full (6 gallons) of warm water, with 2
1/2 ounces of hard soap; put in the cloth and boil for an hour, wring
and dry; then prepare a bath of a pound of alum and a pound of salt,
soak the prepared cloth in it for a couple of hours, rinse with clear
water and dry. One gallon of the glue solution will soak about ten yards
of cloth. This cloth has been used in southern California for several
years without mildewing, and it will hold water by the pailful. Where
the rain is heavy and frequent, the cloth should be well supported by
slats and given slope to shed water quickly. Of course, this is only a
makeshift. Glass would be more satisfactory and durable in a region of
much cloudiness and scant sunshine; the greater illumination through
glass will make for the greater health and growth of the plants.
Soil for Vegetables.
Some of my soil bakes and hardens quickly after irrigation, but I have
an acre or so of sandy soil. Would this be best for garden truck and
Sandy, loamy soil is better than the heavy soil for vegetables and
berries, if moisture is kept right, because it can be more easily
cultivated and takes water without losing the friable condition which is
so desirable. A heavier soil can, however, be improved by the free use
of stable manure or by the addition of sand, or by the use of one or
more applications of lime at the rate of 500 pounds to the acre, as may
be required - all these operations making the soil more loamy and more
Vegetables in a Cold, Dark Draft.
What vegetables will thrive in localities where the sun shines only part
of the day? I have a space in my garden that gets the sun only between
the hours of 11 and 5, thereabouts; I would like to utilise those places
for vegetables if any particular kind will grow under such conditions.
The soil apparently is good, of a sandy nature, with some loam. The
place is high and subject to much wind.
You can only definitely determine by actual trial what vegetables will
be satisfactory under the shade conditions which you describe. You may
get good results from lettuces, radishes, beets, peas, top onions, and
many other things which do well at rather a low temperature, while
tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc., would probably be worthless. Your
soil is probably satisfactory and you can easily keep the moisture right
by being careful not to use as much water as you would in open sunshine.
The behavior of the plants will be directly dependent upon the
temperature and the sunshine which they receive under the conditions
What is the best time for planting Jerusalem artichokes?
Jerusalem artichoke tubers are planted in the spring after the ground
has become warm and the heavy frosts are over. The planting may be done
in rows far enough apart for cultivation, the tubers being set about a
foot apart in the row. This tuber grows like a potato, but is more
delicate than the potato. It is inclined to decay when out of the
ground, but will not start growth as early as the potato, and therefore
it is not desirable to start it early in the winter if the winters are
cold and the ground apt to be very wet. Do not cut the tubers for seed
as you would potatoes.
I have land that will grow magnificent artichokes. Two plants last year
(variety unknown) produced heavy crops of buds, but the scales opened
too wide and allowed the center to become fibrous and were unsalable. Is
this due to climate, lack of sufficient water, or to not having the
Many artichokes which are planted should really be put in the ornamental
class - they are either a reversion from a wilder type in plants grown
from the seed or they never have been good. In order to determine which
varieties you had better grow on a large scale, it is desirable to get a
few plants of the different varieties as offered by seedmen. In this way
you would find out just what are considered best in different parts of
the State, and propagate largely the ones which are best worth to you.
By subdivision of the roots you get exactly the same type in any
quantity you desire - ruling out undesirable variations likely to appear
Is the Globe artichoke a profitable crop to raise commercially? Near
Pescadero a company has been formed to raise it for Eastern shipment. Is
it a very profitable crop to raise? Are certain varieties worthless?
Considerable quantities of Globe artichokes are grown in southern and
central California for Eastern shipment. There is a limit to the amount
which can be profitably shipped, because people generally, at the East,
do not know the Globe artichoke and how to eat it, but more of them are
learning the desirability of it every year. There are species which are
only ornamental, as a bad weed.
What is the average commercial yield of asparagus to the acre in
California? Also, how long it takes asparagus to come into full bearing,
and what yield could be expected after two years' growth? Is asparagus
resistant to moderate quantities of alkali in the soil?
The yield of asparagus is from one to four tons of marketable shoots per
acre, according to age and thrift of plants, etc., the largest yields
being on the peat lands of the river islands. On suitable lands one
ought to get at least two tons per acre. Roots may yield a few days'
cuttings during their second year in permanent place; the third year
they will stand much more cutting, and for several years after that will
be in full yielding. Asparagus enjoys a little salt in the land, but one
would not select what is ordinarily called "alkali land" for growing it
- not only because of the alkali but because of the soil character which
We have a small field of beans, and would like to know which is the best
and most profitable way to crop them.
Cultivate the beans so that the plants may have plenty of moisture to
fill the pods, then let them dry and die. Gather the dry plants before
the pods open much, and let them dry on a clean, smooth piece of ground
or on the barn floor. When they are well dried, thresh with a flail,
rake off the straw, sweep up the beans and clean by winnowing in the
wind or with a fanning mill with suitable screens.
Should beans be hoed while the dew is on the vine?
Beans had better be hoed with the dew on them than not hoed at all. The
only objection to hoeing with the dew on is that the hoer will get his
feet wet, the vines will become untidy from adhering dust, with a
possible chance of the leaves becoming less effective and the
pollination of the blossom rendered less liable to occur.
Beans as Nitrogen Gatherers.
I grow string beans in my rotation to restore nitrogen, but I see it
stated that not all beans are valuable for this purpose. Are the common
bush varieties nitrogen gatherers?
Probably they are all doing it in various degrees. Pull up or dig up a
few plants when growing actively, not too early nor too late in the
season, and look for nodules on the roots. Number and size considered
together will measure their activity in this line in your soil.
I want to plant beans of different varieties. The land is rich, black
loam with a little sand. When is the best time to plant? If planted
early, what shall we do to keep the weevils out of them?
It is desirable to plant beans as early as you can without encountering
danger of frost killing. No particular date can be mentioned for
planting because the dates will vary in different locations according to
the beginning of the frost-free period. The best way to escape weevil is
to sell most of the beans as soon as harvested, treating those which you
retain for seed, or for your own use, with bisulphide of carbon vapor or
by gently heating to a temperature not above 130 degrees, which, of
course, must be done carefully with an accurate thermometer so as not to
injure germinating power. Unless you know that beans do well in your
locality, it would be wise to plant a small area at first, because beans
are somewhat particular in their choice of location in California, and
one should have practical demonstration of bearing before risking much
upon the crop.
The Yard-Long Bean.
I wish to ask about the very long bean which I think was introduced from
China into California. I remember seeing one vine when I was living in
California which I think must have been 20 or 30 feet long and had
hundreds of pods and each of these pods were from 2 to 3 feet long. Are
these beans generally considered eatable? Would they be at all suitable
to get as a field bean which the hogs eat?
You probably refer to the "yard-long" pole bean. It is a world variety
and may have come to California from China as you suggest, but it has
also been well known for generations in Europe and was brought thence to
the Eastern States at some early date. It is generally accounted as an
unimportant species and certainly has not risen to commercial account in
California. The beans are edible and the whole plant available for stock
feeding, but there is no doubt but that the growth of some of the
cowpeas would be preferable as a summer field crop for hog pasture.
Why the Beans are Waiting.
Can you tell me why pink beans which were planted early in Merced
county, irrigated four times, hoed four times and cultivated, have no
beans on them? The vines look finely.
Probably because you had too much hot, dry wind at the blooming. This is
one of the most frequent troubles with beans in the hot valley, but the
pink bean resists it better than other varieties. As the heat moderates
you are likely to get blossoms which will come through and form pods,
and then the crop will depend upon how long frost is postponed. You have
also treated the plants a little too well with water and cultivation.
You had better let them feel the pinch of poverty a little now; they
will be more likely to go to work.
What is the best way to prepare land for Black-eye beans? How much seed
is required per acre, and what is the estimated cost of growing them?
The soil is a well-drained clay loam.
The cost of growing is not particularly different from other beans, and
will vary, of course, according to the capacity and efficiency of the
plows, harrows, teams, tractors, men, etc. Every man has to figure that
according to his conditions and methods of turning and fining the land.
Sow 40 pounds per acre in drills 3 feet apart, and cultivate as long as
you can without injuring the vines too much. Sowing must of course be
done late, after the ground is warm and danger of frost is past, though
the plowing and harrowing should be done earlier than that.
Blackeye Beans are Cow Peas.
I sent for some Blackeye cow peas; they look like Blackeye beans. Am
sending you a sample of what I got. What are they?
Yes, they are in the cow pea group, but there are other cow peas which
would not be recognized as having any relation to them. All cow peas
are, however, beans, and they have not much use for frost. They are not
hardy like the true pea group.
Growing Horse Beans.
Does the soil need to be inoculated for horse beans? I intend to plant
five acres about January 1, on the valley border in Placer county and
they get heavy frost in the morning. Does frost hurt them? How shall I
California experience is that horse beans grow readily without
inoculation of the seed. Quite a good growth of the plant is being
secured in many parts of the State, particularly in the coast region
where the plant seems to thrive best. It is one of the hardiest of the
bean family and will endure light frost. How hardy it will prove in your
place could be told only by a local experiment. Whether it can be
planted after frost danger is over, as corn is, and make satisfactory
growth and product in the dry heat of the interior summer must also be
determined by experience.
The horse bean is a tall growing, upright plant which is successfully
grown in rows far enough apart for cultivation, say about 2 1/2 feet,
the seed dropped thinly so that the plants will stand from 6 inches to 1
foot apart in the row.
Growing Castor Beans.
Give information on the castor oil bean; the kind of bean best to plant,
when to plant and harvest, the best soil, and where one can market them.
Castor bean growing has been undertaken from time to time since 1860 in
various parts of California. There is no difficulty about getting a
satisfactory growth of the plant in parts of the State where moisture
enough can be depended upon. Although the growing of beans is easy
enough, the harvesting is a difficult proposition, because in California
the clusters ripen from time to time, have to be gathered by hand, to be
put in the sun to dry, and finally threshed when they are popping
properly. The low price, in connection with the amount of hand work
which has to be done upon the crop, has removed all the attractions for
California growers. There is also, some years, an excess of production
in the central West, which causes prices to fall and makes it still more
impracticable to make money from the crop with the ordinary rates of
labor. The oil cannot be economically extracted except by the aid of the
most effective machinery and a well equipped establishment. Oil-making
in the rude way in which it is conducted in India would certainly not be
Legume Seed Inoculation.
Is there any virtue in inoculating plants with the bacteria that some
seed firms offer? I refer to such plants as peas and beans.
If the land is yielding good crops of these plants and the roots are
noduled, it does not need addition of germs. If the growth is scant even
when there is enough moisture present and the roots are free from
nodules, the presumption is that germs should be added. Speaking
generally, added germs are not needed in California because our great
legume crops are made without inoculation. Presumably, burr clover and
our host of native legumes have already charged the soil with them. If,
however, such plants do not do well, try inoculation by all means, to
see if absence of germs is the reason for such failure or whether you
must look for some other reason. If the results are satisfactory, you
may have made a great gain by introduction of desirable soil organisms
which you can extend as you like by the distribution of the germ-laden
soil from the areas which have been given that character by inoculation
of the seed.
Beans on Irrigated Mesas.
Would white and pink beans do well on the red orange land at Palermo
with plenty of water? I have in mind hill land, the hills being very red
and running into a dark soil in the lower part. How many beans could I
get per acre?
Probably nothing would be better for the land or for the future needs of
the trees than to grow beans. An average crop of beans, for the whole
State and all kinds of beans, is about one ton to the acre. What you
will get by irrigation on hot uplands we do not know. Beans do not like
dry heat, even if the soil moisture is adequate. They do not fructify
well even when they grow well. The pink bean does best under such
conditions. All beans, except horse beans, must be brought up after
frost dangers are all over, and this brings them into high heat almost
from the start in such a place as you mention. You should find out
locally how beans perform under such conditions as you have, before
undertaking much investment.
Leases for Sugar Beets.
I have land in Yolo county that has made an average yield yearly of from
12 to 18 sacks of wheat and barley. A beet sugar company proposes
renting this land and plant it to sugar beets and I would prefer not to
consider any agreement of less than five years' duration. The particular
point that I would like to have you advise me on is the effect sugar
beet has upon the soil.
You certainly have good soil, and it is not strange that a sugar company
should desire to rent it for its purposes. There is, however, a great
question as to whether it would be desirable to run to beets continually
for five years. Beets make a strong draft on some components of the
soil, and it is a common experience that they should not be grown year
after year for a long period, but should take their place in a rotation,
in the course of which one or two crops of beets should be followed by a
crop of grain, and that if possible by a leguminous plant like alfalfa
or an annual legume like burr clover used for pasturage, and then to
beets again. Beets improve soil for grain, because of the deep running
of the root, and because beet culture is not profitable without deep
plowing and continuous summer cultivation. This deepens and cleans the
land to the manifest advantage of the grain crop, but still the beet
reduces the plant food in the soil and some change of crop should be
made with reference to its restoration. We would much prefer to lease it
for two years than for five years of beet growing.
Topping Mangel Wurzels.
Does it harm the mangel wurzels if their tops ore cut off once a month?
Removing leaves will decrease the size and harden the tissues of the
beet root. If you wish to grow the plant for the top, the root will
continue to put out leaves for you for a time; if you grow it for the
size and quality of the root, you need all the leaf-action you can get,
therefore do not reduce the foliage.
Blooming Brussels Sprouts.
Are Brussels sprouts male and female? Some of my plants are flowering
and show no signs of sprouts, while those that are not, show some small
eyes at stem that look like young sprouts.
Brussels sprouts ought to form the sprouts without flowering, just as a
cabbage heads without flowering. Those plants which show flowers have
been stopped by drought or otherwise, and have taken on prematurely the
second stage of growth which is productive of seed and is undesirable
from the point of view of growing heads.
I desire to know the different methods by which the celery is bleached,
and particularly whether boards or other material other than earth is
used for this purpose.
There is some blanching of celery with boards, cloth wrappings,
boot-legs, old tiles, sewer pipes, etc., in market gardens in different
parts of the State, but the great commercial product of celery for
export is blanched wholly by piling the light, dry earth against the
growing plant. As we do not have rains during the growing season and as
the soil on which celery is chiefly grown is particularly coarse in its
texture, there is no rusting or staining from this method of blanching.
It shakes out clean and bright. Conditions which make earth-blanching
undesirable in the humid region do not exist here.
Corn in the Sacramento Valley.
Is it practical to raise corn in the Sacramento volley? Are the soil and
climatic conditions suitable?
The success of corn on plains and uplands in the Sacramento valley has
not yet been fully demonstrated, although good corn is grown on river
bottom lands, and it is possible that much more may be done with this
grain in the future than in the past. Corn does not enjoy the dry heat
of the plains, and even when irrigated seems to be dissatisfied with it.
How far we shall succeed in getting varieties which will endure dry heat
and still be large and productive will ere long be determined by the
experiments which are in progress. The old Sacramento valley farmer has
been justified to some degree in his conclusion that his is not a corn
country. Still it may appear so later.
Plant Corn in Warm Ground.
I also put in a lot of corn and none of it came up. The ground was damp
and rather cold, as well as being alkali.
Corn should never be planted in cold, wet ground - in fact, very few
seeds should be. Besides, corn has no use for alkali.
Sweet Corn in California.
I have been informed that sweet corn cannot be raised in this part of
the country, an account of worms eating the kernels before the ear has
matured. Is there any method of overcoming this difficulty?
You have been correctly informed concerning the difficulty in growing
sweet corn. Although many experiments have been made, no method of
overcoming this pest has yet been demonstrated. For this reason canning
of corn is not undertaken in this State, and for the same reason most of
the green corn ears sold in our markets have the tops of the ears
amputated. It is sometimes possible to escape the worm by planting
rather late, so that the ears shall develop after the moth, which is
parent of the worm, has deposited its eggs.
Give information on growing hot-house cucumbers, and also if you think
it would pay me to go into the business in southern California.
Forcing of cucumbers has been undertaken for a number of years in
California and formerly was considered unprofitable because cucumbers
grown in the open air in frostless places came in before the forced
product could be sold out at sufficiently high prices to make the
venture profitable. Recently, however, owing to our increased population
in cities and larger demand of products out of season, forcing becomes
more promising and is worthy of attention. Forcing of cucumbers in
California can be done at very much less expense, of course, than
elsewhere, because of the abundance of winter sunshine and the fact that
sufficiently high temperatures can be secured in glass houses with
exceedingly little if any artificial heat: The chances of growing
cucumbers out of season for shipment eastward and northward can be
discussed with the officers of the California Vegetable Growers' Union,
which has offices and warehouse in Los Angeles.
I have a piece of red so-called orange land which has produced excellent
wheat. Will you give information about its adaptability to cucumbers?
Are there pickle factories in the State which would demand them in
quantities, and is there much other demand for them? About when should
they be planted, and how much water would they need?
The cucumber needs a retentive soil which does not crack and bake, and
such a soil is made by abundance of organic matter. Your orange soil,
unless heavily treated with stable manure and given plenty of time for
disintegration, would probably give you distressful cucumber plants, if
it has come right out of wheat-growing. Besides, cucumbers do not like
dry heat, even if the soil be kept moist by irrigation. Oranges will do
well under conditions not favorable to cucumbers. Cucumber plants must
come up after danger of frost is over. The amount of water they require
depends upon how moist the soil is naturally, and as the crop is chiefly
grown on moist river lands and around the bay, it is chiefly made
without irrigation. Such lands have a cucumber capacity equal to the
consumption of the United States, probably, and the pickle factories can
usually get all they can use at a minimum transportation cost.
Large-scale plantings should only be made by men who know the crop and
have definite information or contract for what they can get for it.
Ginger in California.
We have ginger roots in a growing condition with sprouts and bulbs
growing an them, but we do not understand how to raise the plants.
Growing ginger in California in a commercial way has not been worked
out, although roots have been introduced from time to time. Plant your
roots in the garden, just as you would callas, where you can give them
good cultivation and water, as seems to be necessary, and note their
behavior under these favorable conditions before you undertake any large
investment in a crop.
Licorice Growing in California.
I have for some time been seeking far some information as to the method
of preparation for market and sale of licorice roots. I have a lot of
them and have never been able to find a market, and do not know how they
are prepared for market.
Licorice was first planted in California about 1880 by the late Isaac
Lea, of Florin, Sacramento county. Mr. Lea grew a considerable amount of
licorice roots and gave much effort to finding a market for it. He found
that the local consumption of licorice root was too small to warrant
growing it as a crop; that the high price of labor in digging the roots,
and the high cost of transportation of the roots to Eastern markets
would make it impossible for him to undertake competition in the Eastern
markets with the Sicilian producers, unless, perhaps, he could build an
extracting factory and market licorice extract, the black solid which is
sold by the druggist, and which the Sicilians produce in large
quantities. The preparation of licorice root is simply digging and
drying, but the preparation of the extract requires steam extractors and
condensers. California could produce licorice, for we have a good
climate for it. If it is grown on light, sandy loams, it could be pulled
from the ground by the yard at rather small expense, and yet, one should
not undertake the production unless he wished to put in much time and
money in working up economical production and marketing in competition
with the foreign product, produced by cheap labor and with the advantage
of processes well known and established by long usage. Experiments
should be circumspectly undertaken, for licorice is one of the worst
weeds in the world, and extremely difficult of eradication probably.
Give information regarding the planting and raising of lentils. Can they
be grown in the Sacramento valley in the vicinity of Colusa, and at a
Lentils are as easily grown in California as common peas, and will do
well as a field crop if started during the rainy season, as they are
hardy enough to survive our ordinary valley frosts. With respect to
lentils, it may be said that excellent as these legumes are for many
purposes, they do not seem to be well known to American consumers, and
therefore the amount to be grown is limited, until you know who will buy
larger quantities of them at a good price.
Canada Peas for Seed.
I want to raise Canada peas for the seed. In what month of the year is
the best time to plant them; also how many pounds to the acre to be
sowed broadcast on rolling land in Napa?
Broadcast from 80 to 100 pounds of seed per acre as soon as you can get
the ground into good condition. What you get will depend much upon how
late spring rains hold this year. We should only try a small area this
year to see what happens, for you probably should have started earlier
in the season. On uplands it will always be a question whether your soil
will hold moisture enough to mature a good seed crop.
Growing Niles Peas.
How shall I plant and handle a crop of Niles peas?
Niles peas are hardy and will make a good crop on any good soil, if
planted early in the season so as to make the main part of their growth
before the heat of the summer comes on. Under garden conditions they
can, of course, be grown all summer.
I have lettuce plants that have been transplanted to head. Occasionally
I find a head that has withered away and upon examining it find it
rotted away at the stem. Can you suggest a remedy for it?
Your lettuce plants are destroyed by the "damping, off" fungus. It would
be preventable by reducing the amount of moisture until the transplanted
plant had opportunity to re-establish itself in the soil and thus come
into condition to take water. The chance of it could also be reduced by
using a certain amount of sand in connection with the soil, unless it is
already very sandy, and by a shallow covering of sand on the surface
around the plants after they are reset, in order to prevent too great
accumulation of moisture.
Handling Winter Melons.
Give particulars regarding harvesting, storaging, and shipment of winter
melons. How do you harvest and pack them for distant market?
There is no particular system in the handling of winter melons. They are
gathered into piles on ground where water will not gather and covered
with the trash of the vines on which they grow. They will keep for
months in this way, as our autumn temperatures do not freeze them. Other
growers collect them in open sheds shaded from sun and rain, and still
others put them into barns or shallow cellars under buildings, etc. The
melons are very durable and seem disposed to keep in any old way. The
melons are shipped in large packing cases with slat sides, or in the
smaller slat crates that are used for summer cantaloupes. No packing is
used, generally. If it seemed necessary, a little clean straw would be
How can I tell when a watermelon is fully ripe? What is the method used
by growers in picking for commercial shipping?
Gently press the sides of a melon and if it crackles a little bit, all
right; if it makes no sound then go to another. Commercial pickers look
at the little spiral between the melon and the nearest leaf. If it is
withered they pick the melon, if fresh, pass it until next picking.
Growing Onion Seed and Sets.
Will you give localities of the leading production of onion seed or dry
sets in your State?
Onion seed is grown in several parts of the State, largely in the Santa
Clara valley adjacent to the city of San Jose. Onion sets are largely
produced in Orange county, near Los Angeles, for eastern shipment, for
which purpose they are grown under contract.
I am raising some onions from bottom sets and as they are growing nicely
and are beginning to swell at the bulb some advise me to cut the tops
off and some advise me to bend them over or tramp them down.
Do not cut off the tops of the onions. If they seem to be overgrowing
and not disposed to ripen the bulb, the top can be broken down, thus
partly arresting the vegetative energy of the plant and causing
Onions from Sets.
Will onion sets planted in July grow and mature in the fall months?
Good onion sets grown during the winter and spring should be mature by
July and if planted after drying would proceed to make a full growth of
large onions if growing conditions should be right for them; that is,
the soil moist and the temperature not too high.
How Many Crops of Onion Seed?
Does the growing of onion seed exhaust adobe land, and if so, how many
years' cropping before it requires rest or fertilizing?
The growth of any seed crop, including cereal grains, of course, makes a
supreme draft upon soil fertility. How long a certain soil can stand it,
depends upon the amount of fertility it has when the draft begins. The
best rough way to tell how it is going, is to watch the growth and crop,
when moisture conditions are known to be favorable. If you get a good
growth of the plant it is still good to make the seed.
Onions from Seed.
Will onions from seed mature the same season if they are irrigated? Some
tell us they will not, so we would be very much pleased to hear from
Onions grown from the seed do fully develop during the growing season
following the planting of the seed. In fact, nearly all California
onions are grown in that way. Our growing season is so long that we do
not need to use onion sets to any extent, as they do in short-summer
Dry Farming with Chili Peppers.
If I set chili pepper plants down six or eight inches lower than the
surface of the ground and fill in as the plants grow larger, will this
help in case I could not get water enough? My soil is a deep sandy loam.
We have had between five and six inches of rain. Do you think water
every fifteen days would be enough?
On such light soil as you mention, the plants can be planted deeply and
a certain amount of soil brought up to the plants by cultivation without
injury. As this plant has a long growing season and matures its crop
rather late, you will undoubtedly need irrigation. Probably irrigation
twice a month will be sufficient in connection with good cultivation,
but you will have to watch the plants and apply the water as it seems to
be needed, rather than by a specific scheme of days.
I would like information regarding the curing of peanuts. Should they be
bleached, and, if so, how is it done? Does bleaching affect the keeping
It is not usual to bleach peanuts. They should be grown in such light
soil that they will not be stained, and the common method of curing is
to dig or plow up, throw the vines, with nuts attached, into windrows
and allow them to lie a week or ten days for drying. Then the nuts are
picked into sacks and cleaned before shipment in revolving drums,
followed by a grain fan which throws out the light nuts and other
rubbish. Bleaching would not destroy the keeping quality probably, but
it would destroy the flavor and the germinating power. The latter would
not matter, except with such nuts as you wish to keep for seed, because
the roasting destroys the germinating power also, but sulphuring, which
would reduce the flavor, would give the product a bad name. Possibly
some growers do bleaching, but, if so, they have to be pretty careful
about it. The cost of the operation would also be a bar to profit, for
peanuts are grown on a narrow margin owing to competition with
importations grown with cheap labor.
Adobe and Peanuts.
Is adobe land good for the peanut? Is it harder to start than in other
soils or not?
It is not good at all. Peanuts require the finest, mellowest loam with
sand enough to prevent crust, and moisture even and continuous. The
surface must be kept loose so that the plant can bury its own bloom stem
and the under soil light and clean so that it will readily shake from
the nuts and not stain them. Adobe is the worst soil you could find for
What would be the most profitable potato to plant in the Salinas valley,
and how small can a potato be cut up for planting? How many eyes should
each piece contain in order to make a good growth and be profitable?
Probably the best potato for your district would be the Burbank, which
is largely grown near Salinas and brings the highest price. It is
customary to cut a medium-sized potato in two pieces and a large one in
four pieces. One can be very economical of seed by smaller cutting, but
it would require the most favorable conditions to bring a vigorous
growth. Probably pieces weighing not less than two ounces would be best
under ordinary conditions. Potatoes which are rather small may be used
for seed if well matured and have good eyes. It is dangerous, however,
to use the small stuff - too small for sale. Unless the soil and
moisture conditions are extra favorable, the growth will be weak and
How many sacks of potatoes are to be planted to an acre, and how many
eyes are to be left in a seed? If, for instance, we plant seed with
three eyes, how many potatoes should we get from that vine?
Potatoes are planted all the way from five to fifteen sacks to the acre,
probably about ten sacks being the average. There is no particular
number of eyes specified in preparing the seed, according to common
practice. Good medium-sized potatoes are generally cut in two pieces
crosswise, and large potatoes in four pieces, cutting both ways. There
is no definite relation between the number of eyes planted and the
number of potatoes coming from them. This has been the subject of
innumerable experiments, and the conclusion is that the crop is more
dependent upon good soil and favorable growing conditions than upon any
way of preparing the seed.
Northern Potatoes for Seed.
Do you regard northern-grown seed potatoes sufficiently better to make
it worth while paying freight on them from the State of Washington?
Experience seems to indicate the superiority of northern-grown seed
potatoes, not only in this State, but on the Atlantic Coast, and they
are largely depended upon. Systematic demonstration by comparative tests
has been made by the Vermont station and preference for northern-grown
seed seems, to be justified.
I have ten acres of land in Placer county which I propose to put into
potatoes next spring. It has been recommended to me to put potatoes in
as early as January. It seems to me that January is rather early;
however, it is said that this land is in the orange belt and practically
free from frost.
Whether you can plant potatoes to advantage in January or not depends
upon the temperatures which you are likely to meet after that date, also
whether the ground is warm enough in January, because there is no
advantage in planting in cold ground nor in soil that is too wet at the
time. The earliest potatoes, of course, come from planting much earlier
than January; usually as soon as the ground is moistened enough in the
autumn. The potato will stand some frost, but autumn planting is not
feasible in places which are under hard freezing or receive too much
cold rain water.
Potatoes Should be Planted Early.
I have Early Rose potatoes planted about May first. The tops look fine,
but there are few potatoes and small, and, though not developed, have
commenced growing a second time, sprouts starting from the new potatoes.
When should I plant and what care should they have?
Your potatoes act peculiarly because of intermittent moisture - the
plant being arrested by drought and then starting again, which is very
undesirable. To avoid this, potatoes should be planted earlier so as to
get a large part of their growth during the rainy season. If planted
late the ground should be well wet down by irrigation, and then plowed
and cultivated, and irrigation should be used while the plant is growing
well. If this is done, potatoes can be successfully grown by irrigation,
but if the land is allowed to become dry the plant is arrested in its
growth for a time and a second and undesirable growth is started.
I find in potato writings of forty years ago that the seed from the
potato balls which form on the tops of the plants is recommended for
growing the best potatoes. In later books I find no mention of them and
all are advised how to cut the tubers to get seed potatoes.
The seed of the potato plant which is found in the "balls" which develop
on the tops of the plant is only valuable for the origination of new
varieties, with the chance, of course, that most of them will be
inferior to the tubers produced by the plant which bears the seed.
Therefore, these seeds are of no commercial importance. There has also
sometimes developed upon the top of the plant what is called an aerial
tuber, which is even of less value than the seed ball, because it does
not contain seed nor is it good as a tuber.
Forty years ago there was a great demand for newer and better kinds of
potatoes which has, since that time, been largely supplied, and
commercial potato-growing consists in multiplying the standard varieties
which best suit the soil and the market. This is done by planting the
tuber itself, which is really a root-cutting and therefore reproduces
its own kind. Those who are originating new kinds of potatoes still use
seed from the balls, either taking their chances by natural variation
or, by hybridizing the blossoms, increasing the chances for variation
from which desirable varieties are taken by selection, to be afterward
multiplied by growth from the tubers.
Seed-Ends of Potatoes.
Is it bad practice to plant the seed-ends of potatoes?
The seed-end of the potato is the least valuable part of it, but it is
better probably to plant than to reject it.
The Moon and Potato Planting.
Is there any foundation to the oft-repeated story about potatoes in the
light of the moon running to tops and the dark of the moon to spuds?
If we paid any attention to the moon in planting, we should plant in the
dark of the moon so as to give the plant opportunity to make use of
whatever additional light the full moon afforded.
Planting Whole Potatoes.
One man states the only way to cut seed is to take a potato and cut the
ends off and not divide the potato any more; or, in other words, a whole
potato for each seed.
Good results are obtained by planting whole potatoes, but in that case
there is no advantage in removing the ends.
How to Cut Seed Potatoes.
Would it pay in returns to use large potatoes for seed in preference to
Large potatoes are better than culls, but medium-sized potatoes are
better than either. Many experiments have been made to determine this.
At the Arkansas station whole tubers two to three inches in diameter
yielded 18 per cent more than small whole tubers three-quarters to one
and one-quarter inches in diameter, and large cut tubers yielded 15.8
per cent more than small cut tubers.
Cutting Potatoes to Single Eyes.
Some say only one eye to a piece; others say several eyes - which is
In one experiment potatoes cut to single eyes with each piece weighing
one-sixteenth of an ounce yielded 44 bushels to the acre, while single
eyes on two-ounce pieces yielded 177 bushels to the acre. Experiments in
Indiana showed that the yield usually increased with the weight of the
set and that the exact number of eyes per cutting is relatively
Can potatoes be treated in any way before planting to prevent the new
ones from being what is called "scabby"?
There are two successful treatments for scab in potatoes. One is dipping
in a solution of corrosive sublimate. Dissolve one ounce in eight
gallons of water and soak the seed potatoes in this solution for one and
one-half hours before cutting. This treatment kills the scab spores
which may be upon the exterior of the potatoes. More recently, however,
to avoid danger in handling such a rank poison as corrosive sublimate,
formaldehyde has been used, and one pint of commercial formaldehyde, as
it is bought in the stores, is diluted with thirty gallons of water, and
potatoes are soaked in this for two hours. Thirty gallons of this dip
ought to treat about fifty bushels of potatoes.
Double-Cropping with Potatoes.
I am told that here two crops of potatoes can be raised by planting the
second crop in August. I have five acres which will be ready to dig in
July. Can I dig these Potatoes and use them for seed at once for another
crop, or won't they grow? I have a crop of barley, and as it is heading
out now, I want to put potatoes on the ground after I take the barley
off. I have plenty of water to irrigate.
If your potatoes ripen in July and you allow those which you desire for
seed to lie upon the ground and become somewhat greenish, they are
likely to sprout well for a second crop. They should not, however, be
planted immediately. Whether you get a second crop successfully or not
depends upon how early the frosts come in your district. Whether you get
potatoes after barley or not depends also upon how much moisture there
remains in the soil. By irrigating thoroughly after harvesting the grain
and then plowing deeply for potatoes, you would do vastly better than to
plant in dry ground and irrigate afterward.
When to Plant Potatoes.
I have been puzzled to understand Potato growing in California. Do you
have more than one cropping season, and if so, about what dates are they
Every month in the year potatoes are being put into the ground and being
taken out of the ground somewhere in California. We have, then,
practically a continuous planting and harvesting season. There is,
however, a division possible to make in this way: Plantings undertaken
in September and October are for winter supplies of new potatoes, which
begin about the holidays and continue during the winter. There is also
in southern California a planting beginning in January, which might be
called the earliest planting for the main crop, and other plantings for
the main crop in the central and northern parts of the State begin in
February and continue until May, according to the character of the land;
that is, whether it is upland, on which the planting is earlier, or
whether it is lowland along the rivers where excessive moisture may
render the land unsuitable until April or May. The harvesting of the
main crop then begins in May and continues during the whole of the
summer, according to the character of the land cropped over, lapping the
planting time for early potatoes first mentioned. It is also true by use
of properly matured seed one can secure, in some places, two crops a
year, if there is sufficient inducement therefor. Thus it comes about
that we are continually planting and digging potatoes according to local
conditions and the possibility of selling advantages.
Advise me how to keep my potatoes. What is the best way? Would a dark
room be suitable? Some people are digging holes in the ground to put
Potatoes, if properly matured and free from disease, will keep for a
considerable time in dark rooms kept as cool as possible. They must be
kept away from the reach of the moth, which is parent to the worm
producing long black strings inside of the potato. If they are
thoroughly covered with boards or sacking or straw, so as to keep the
moth from reaching the potato, they may be held for a long time in the
open air, and covering with earth, as your neighbors are doing, will be
all right until the rains come and cause decay by making the soil too
wet. The main point is to keep the tubers as cool as possible and out of
reach of the potato moth.
What is the yield per acre of potatoes on the best land around Stockton,
Cal., where work is done properly; also what is the yield for potatoes
along the coast?
The average yield of potatoes in California, taking the whole acreage
and product as reported by the last United States census, is 147 bushels
to the acre. In Stockton district, on good new reclaimed land the yield
has been reported all the way from 300 to 800 bushels per acre - the
crop declining rapidly when continued on the same land. One year's crop
in the Stockton district was estimated at 45,000 acres averaging 125
sacks per acre. The coast yield would be more like the general average
for the State as first given.
New Potatoes for Seed.
Can I plant American Wonder potatoes for the first crop, and let enough
of them mature to use for seed for the second crop, to be planted the
first or middle of July?
It is possible to use potatoes grown the same year as seed for the later
crop, providing you let the potatoes mature first by the complete dying
down of the vines, and second by digging the potatoes allow them to lie
in the open air, with some protection against sun-burning, until the
potatoes become somewhat greenish. If this is the case the eyes will
develop and seed will grow, while without such treatment you might be
disappointed in their behavior. Of course, the question still remains
whether it would be desirable to do this or to plant some later variety
earlier in the season when the growing conditions would be better.