Getting Down to Earth
Color in Garden - Plate 11b

Left under these tents for several weeks they grow far more rapidly than unprotected plants. If the sun becomes hot and moisture forms on the inside, ventilation holes should be punched in the sides.

If possible, wait for a cloudy, windless day to transplant house-grown seedlings outside. If transplanting must be done during sunny weather, do it late in the day, and provide some shade from the sun for the next two or three days. Inverted baskets will do. So will shingles set into the soil on the sunny side of the plants.

When plants are set out, water them well with a water-soluble fertilizer solution. An excellent way of assuring deep moisture for roots, when the ground is very dry, is to dig a deeper hole or trench than is needed. Fill this with water so that it goes down deep. Then partly fill in with crumbly soil. Hold root of seedling in place and cover with soil. Firm dirt well around roots. Water again.

Note: These transplanting instructions also apply to larger plants purchased from nurseries.

Learning how to pick vegetables, and flowers too, is almost as important as learning how to grow them. A good garden can be wrecked by an overenthusiastic foray of an uninstructed child.

Green bean vines are easily pulled out by the roots if the youngster tugs at the beans without holding the stems with the other hand. Carrot tops often come off in the hand, leaving the carrots in the ground, if an attempt is made to pull them out of hard, dry earth without first loosening it with trowel or spade. Continuing productivity of such crops as lima beans and peas can be cut off abruptly unless the child learns to feel and assess the fullness of the pods, instead of pulling big pods at random.

The young gardener should learn to take out the largest of the radishes, beets, carrots, green onions and other root vegetables, leaving the smaller ones to continue developing. Show him how to snap off tomatoes and cucumbers instead of yanking them (and the vines, too).

Each vegetable requires a special picking technique, which you will have to suggest.

Equally important is the knowledge that many vegetables reach a briefly held perfection peak. Children should learn to recognize the perfect ripe tomato, the just right cucumber, the properly filled pod of tender peas, the solid head of lettuce and the fully developed but not overripe ear of corn.

Children must also be schooled in the art of cutting flowers instead of pulling them. They should know that certain flowers, such as pansies, sweet peas, forget-me-nots, nastur­tiums and many others, must be kept picked constantly to keep them from going to seed.