The vintage images used on this page are derived from government agency victory garden posters and advertisements.
Header graphic created from a
1918 US Food Administration Victory Garden Poster
The person sporting the giant cabbage is unknown.
The prize-winning cabbage is a "Matanuska Valley Dwarf Cabbage"
The photo is from a vintage Time/Life Magazine
Gardening Wisdom That has Been Passed Down for Generations
Some bits of wisdom may be absolutely true, some not-so-true, but all are valuable. Can't hurt to test the theories. Much of folklore has it's "roots" in fact.
The experience of the elders can't be discounted, even if science doesn't back it up. I like to feel like i've kept old-fashioned gardening wisdom alive in my own garden. When i see a giant tomato, or a plant growing where science says it shouldn't, i'm diving into the hearsay and folklore. As with anything to do with Nature, there's sometimes a blurry line between folklore, science, and religious belief. Sometimes things just work, but not for the reasons you think.
Tomato and Cucumber plants can't stand each other. Nver plant them together. Fact.
This feud betwen
veggies has gone on since The Garden of Eden was planted.
About those tomatoes...
they need at least 6 hours of full sunlight. Plant in a completely different place each year so the soil can recover. Tomatoes are heavy feeders that deplete the soilís nutrients, so you have to move them around to get a big crop.
Toughen Up Your Tomatoes
I was told that you need to treat tomato plants a little stricter and not coddle them. It's not really abuse. In order to have strong tomato plants and abundant harvests, you need to avoid babying them. Overwatering can choke the roots of the plant and also result in a poorly developed root system. Allowing the soil to dry out a little between waterings encourages the plant to reach out and grow deep roots, making for a stronger, healthier plant. So water your tomatoes less frequently (2-3 times a week) but more deeply so that the water seeps down into the soil.
Over-fertilizing and adding too much nitrogen will make your tomato plants grow lots of big foliage, but not many tomatoes. I practically ignore mine except for checking which tomatoes are getting ripe and whether blight has gotten to them.
Wait for your soil to be warm (after last expected frost date) to plant your tomatoes. Plant on an overcast, cloudy day to avoid transplant shock.
Plant deep - Plant them deep so that the roots will grow strong, and they won't do a lot of that toppling thing. The little hairs growing on the stems will grow into roots when planted under the soil.you can plant your tomato plants half as deep as their height and they will produce roots along buried stems anyway. I've tried this with gangly looking seedlings with weak stems, and it works. I got a stronger, bushier, plant that's no shorter than it would have been if planted shallow. They're just better supported by soil. Place the tomato plant in and pinch or clip off all of the layers of leaves, except for the top one or two groups of leaves. Bury it up to that point.
Sprinkle a handful of crushed egg shells into each deep planting hole. The eggshells provide lots of calcium, and tomatoes love that. The calcium from the egg shells is absorbed by the roots and into the stems of the tomato plants. If you have yellowing tomato plants, you probably have a calcium deficiency. When you boil eggs, donít throw away the water, itís full of calcium from the egg shells, so let the water cool off and water your tomato plants and others with it. Lots of plants love the eggshell treat. A nursery owner told me to add a Tums tablet, which contains calcium into the planting hole to prevent seedling transplant shock. Plain tabs. Save the fruity ones for yourself.
Water in the morning or
early evening and water from underneath the tomato plants.
Stagger your plantings
To help space out produce throughout the year, the generations before us would sow seeds in intervals. We know it as succession planting. It's a simple method thatís been around for centuries. Sow seeds roughly 14 days apart to maximize garden space and guarantee a constant supply of harvest.
Plant your garden rows crooked,
not straight - you'll squeeze in more plants. True and proven.
Square foot gardening is an example of staggering or re-shaping rows to
get more plants in a garden bed.
caterpillars and other wormy things
Spray cabbage and other vegetables that are worm targets with onion juice. Grate an onion and mix it with water, then spray down your veggies
Kill those suckers....
Cornmeal in a salt shaker to sow seeds
Sow tiny seeds by mixing seeds with an equal amount of cornmeal. This allows seeds to be distributed more evenly, and for the placement of the seeds on the soil to be more visible against the light background of the cornmeal. Some folks say you can also sow seeds using a shaker full of dry rice. The seeds stay separated..... but I think the cornmeal sows more evenly.
Get the Slugs Drunk
Place a shallow pan of beer in the garden to help trap slugs and snails. Apparently, slugs are attracted to beer and they will crawl into the pan and drown. Don't scoff..... it's been proven to work, but not for reasons given. Researchers at Colorado State conducted an experiment. They set out 16 different brands of beer, and one was non-alcoholic. Slugs did, indeed, drown. But more slugs visited and were drowned by the non-alcoholic beer. It wasn't the beer, it was the fermented yeast they were after, and there was more of it in the poser-beer.
Upcycle old pantyhose (do people still wear that?) by using them in the garden. Soft and stretchy, strips cut from pantyhose work great to tie up tomatoes. They don't damage fragile stems. They are also useful for storing onions and bulbs after they are harvested and cured.
Hare from your Hairbrush
An old-time garden tip for keeping rabbits out of the garden is to scatter some hair from your hairbrush around the garden. They'll smell human and skedaddle out of your garden. Not At All True. I am tortured by these leaf-chomping, burrowing, poop machines on an regular basis. I've disproven this theory and others. I've also placed my dog's hair from her brush, so they're pretty much not scared of anything. They laugh at this idea and others, like urine and sonic repellents. The only sure-fire and safe way of ridding yourself of this pest is your dog. I've smugly accepted my dog's "gift" of rabbit carcass upon her return from nocturnal hunting trips in the gardens. They may be cute, but they cost me time and and new plants every spring. Right now, they are about 8 inches long with huge appetites, and can squeeze in anywhere.
Pumpkin and other hard seeds
When growing pumpkins and other plants with hard seeds, it is often difficult to get the seeds to germinate. Use sand paper or emery boards to sand the edges of the seeds to thin the hard seed coat. Afterwards, when the seeds are soaked in water, it is easier for the water to get past the woody exterior and into the inside of the seed, speeding up germination.
Better than wooden stakes
Wooden stakes are often used in gardens to mark rows or support plants. After a short life, they rot and break. Replace those wooden stakes with metal fence posts that are used for installing fencing on farms and in gardens. The posts are four feet long. They have a triangular piece of metal on one end that is called an anchor plate, and that is pushed into the soil and stabilizes the post. You put the posts in by stepping on the top of the anchor plate, or using a rubber mallet. These posts usually cost under $1.50 each at a farm and garden store. Good Advice. I've used them in fencing off sections of the garden. I've spent a fortune on bamboo and plastic-coated steel plant stakes. I'm surprised this didn't occur to me before.
Harvest Rainwater - I've seen plenty of buckets in backyards when i was growing up, and I thought it was just where you disposed of empty buckets. It's likely your grandma used old buckets or even a discarded bathtub to store rainwater for watering the garden. Not everyone had a spigot in or near their gardens, especially in cities, and rain barrels weren't A Thing in the old-time gardens. "Waste-not-want-not" was a big factor in designing a serious garden.
Grounded somewhat in science, after centuries of being labeled superstition and folklore, there is something to this method of farming and gardening. Observing the cycles of the moon and the way that it affects both people and plants can help to determine when to plant and harvest. I have taken note of the full moon and the weather's effects on birds and animals. There are subtle, but definite behavior changes during moon cycles. Traditional moon planting is based on crop observations of farmers for centuries.
Science may not fully understand why planting by the moon works, but hard farming and gardening evidence suggests that indeed it does. Native Americans and other ancient cultures did their spring planting, succession planting, and harvesting according to the moon's phases. It is true that seeds germminate quicker and plants respond with positive growth during certain moon phases. Who cares why?
An Australian experiment was conducted on annual flower seedlings planted during different moon phases. One group was sown during Full Moon phase, which is an incorrect moon planting phase for leafy annuals. The second group was sown two weeks later, during the New Moon phase. The younger seedlings planted in the correct moon phase have not only had a better germination rate, but they caught up with, or surpassed the ones sown two weeks earlier. Both were sown in the same seedling mix, and both received the same amount and type of care. This a common occurrence with germinating seed, so it seems that one should always try to sow seed in the correct moon phase for its type.
It is easiest to think of the phases of the moon as something only Nature pays attention to. There is a link between the flow of tree sap, which is in tune with the rhythms of the moon.
In a waxing moon, when light increases
towards a full moon, sap flow is drawn up.
With a waning moon, when the light is
decreasing as the moon changes from a full to a new moon, the sap flow is
The last quarter phase is a time to avoid planting and focus on improving the soil.
A Little About Moon Phase Gardening
The New Moon
The New Moon is the wet period of the cycle. It is the most likely time for rainfall and that makes it the best time for transplanting and planting out vegetables with above-ground parts that are harvested and eaten.
Rain or heavy dew comes with the new moon, its a good time to plant.
Transplant your seedlings during the new moon and the beginning of the waxing moon.
Just before the new moon transplant fruit trees, strawberries, and landscape trees, to take advantage of the heavier dew and moisture.
The Full Moon - A very busy time in the garden.
The Full Moon's gravitational pull draws water up into the root system of plants. It is also pulls water into the sky and usually signals a period of clear, dry weather.
Plant root vegetables during the full moon and the first week of the waning moon.
Itís also a good time for taking cuttings and dividing plants.
Harvest season usually comes with the full moon of September. The full moon often brings with it fair weather and wind ó time to harvest seeds and grain. Plan to harvest within a week of the full moon, to avoid the damp dews that come as the cycle moves closer to the new moon.
The full moon of September often brings frost in the mountains. Cover your tender plants before the full moon, and during the waning moon.
Harvest herbs with high
volatile oil content at the full moon, when the plant's oils are strongest.
The gravitational pull of the moon coupled with the dry weather enhance
the volatile oil content of the herbs like basil, sage, thyme, and mint.
Cut fragrant flowers during the full moon for optimal fragrance.
The waning period one
week before the new moon is usually dry. This is the best time to mulch
the garden, weed, prune fruit trees,
Coffee, Tea and Bananas
Teabags and Epsom Salts
|There are hundreds of
folktales, superstitions and hearsay gardening advice. I'll never get
through them all, especially since there's a subset of garden truth and
wisdom that's hidden and practiced within particular cultures. Like the Italian
immigrants and their fig trees.... Science isn't everything
in a garden.... most times it's not even considered important.
I believe in science, but I also believe in the moon phases and solstice effects on planting times and methods. Taste tests might tell you which beer slugs prefer to drown in, or why some plants love bananas with their tea, but a gardener who has success with some of these unscientific gardening hints and produces prize-winning roses or The Wold's Largest Cabbage doesn't care that there's no real scientific proof behind it. The proof is in their harvest. And, whether we believe in them or not, thankfully, they will continue to pass that wisdom along.
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collecting vintage garden and farming graphics like those on this
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