When chickens are his hobby he can grow this same lettuce, which is also known as "chicken lettuce." Poultry cabbage (Brassica pekinensis) produces large heads to be fed whole. Poultry radishes (Raphanus sativus) are a valuable winter feed. This last is something of a curiosity, since a single root
often weighs fifteen pounds or more. Mangels (stock beets) grow up to two feet long and yellow Belgian carrots are ten to fourteen inches long. Both are fed to poultry as well as to stock.
Marine life is usually appealing to boys, and a very small pool can be both a home for aquatic pets and a water garden. It doesn't have to be large. A small wooden tub sunk into the ground can harbor a few small hardy waterlilies and interesting aquatic plants like the four-leaf water clover or dwarf umbrella palm. Second-hand bathtubs or old sinks, picked up in junkyards, can serve admirably as small water gardens.
Even though the main business of the water garden is to provide quarters for a few goldfish and a pet turtle or a collection of snails, salamanders and tadpoles, a little simple landscaping with rocks and alpine plants should go on around its rim. Consult a waterlily specialist's catalog for a list of possible aquatic plants and scavengers for such a project. They can supply both. Books on pond life will help the nature study along.
Trying to keep a pet toad in the garden is a gambling venture for a boy to undertake. The toad is a great devourer of insects, and if the young gardener has a row of snap beans menaced by Mexican bean beetles, he may be able to inveigle a toad into acting as guardian of the crop. Toad-tamers claim this can be done by building a little "toad house" in the middle of the garden. This is a matter of simply laying three small flatish stones on the ground to make three walls, with the opening facing away from the sun. A larger flat stone balances across the top to make a roof. A toad, they say, will stay in this tiny cool cave during the heat of the day, coming out at night in search of food, which, fortunately for the gardener, includes the bean beetle and many other destructive insects.
An earthworm farm is a boy-type project, too. The value of earthworms in a garden is a moot question among experts. But many authorities believe that as the worms tunnel around in the soil they not only leave it aerated and pulverized, but
also enrich it by their castings, which have a high nitrogen, phosphate and potash content.