Small Farmer's Journal

or Subscribe
The Forcing of Plants

The Forcing of Plants

by Liberty Hyde Bailey

Taken from The Manual of Gardening, copyright 1932

There are three general means (aside from greenhouses) of forcing plants ahead of their season in the early spring – by means of forcing-hills and hand-boxes, by coldframes, and by hotbeds.

The forcing-hill is an arrangement by means of which a single plant or a single “hill” of plants may be forced where it permanently stands. This type of forcing may be applied to perennial plants, as rhubarb and asparagus, or to annuals, as melons and cucumbers.

The Forcing of Plants

Fig. a

In Fig. a is illustrated a common method of hastening the growth of rhubarb in the spring. A box with four removable sides, two of which are shown in end section in the figure, is placed around the plant in the fall. The inside of the box is filled with straw or litter, and the outside is banked thoroughly with any refuse, to prevent the ground from freezing. When it is desired to start the plants, the covering is removed from both the inside and outside of the box and hot manure is piled around the box to its top. If the weather is yet cold, dry light leaves or straw may be placed inside the box; or a pane or sash of glass may be placed on top of the box, when it will become a coldframe. Rhubarb, asparagus, sea-kale, and similar plants may be advanced two or four weeks by means of this method of forcing. Some gardeners use old barrels or half-barrels in place of the box. The box, however, is better and handier, and the sides can be stored for future use.

The Forcing of Plants

Fig. b

Plants that require a long season in which to mature, and which do not transplant readily, as melons and cucumbers, may be planted in forcing-hills in the field. One of these hills is shown in Fig. b. The frame or mold is shown at the left. This mold is a box with flaring sides and no top or bottom, and provided with a handle. This frame is placed with the small end down at the point where the seeds are to be planted, and the earth is hilled up about it and firmly packed with the feet. The mold is then withdrawn, and a pane of glass is laid upon the top of the mound to concentrate the sun’s rays, and to prevent the bank from washing down with the rains. A clod of earth or a stone may be placed upon the pane to hold it down. Sometimes a brick is used as a mold. This type of forcing-hill is not much used, because the bank of earth is liable to be washed away, and heavy rain coming when the glass is off will fill the hill with water and drown the plant. However, it can be used to very good advantage when the gardener can give it close attention.

A forcing-hill is sometimes made by digging a hole in the ground and planting the seeds in the bottom of it, placing the pane of glass upon a slight ridge or mound which is made on the surface of the ground. This method is less desirable than the other, because the seeds are placed in the poorest and coldest soil, and the hole is very likely to fill with water in the early days of spring.

The Forcing of Plants

Fig. c

An excellent type of forcing-hill is made by the use of the hand-box, as shown in Fig. c. This is a rectangular box, without top or bottom, and a pane of glass is slipped into a groove at the top. It is really a miniature coldframe. The earth is banked up slightly about the box, in order to hold it against winds and to prevent the water from running into it. If these boxes are made of good lumber and painted, they will last for many years. Any size of glass may be used which is desired, but a ten-by-twelve pane is as good as any for general purposes.

After the plants are thoroughly established in these forcing-hills, and the weather is settled, the protection is wholly removed, and the plants grow normally in the open.

The Forcing of Plants

Fig. d

A very good temporary protection may be given to tender plants by using four panes of glass, as explained in Fig. d, the two inner panes being held together at the top by a block of wood through which four nails are driven. Plants are more likely to burn in these glass frames than in the hand-boxes, and such frames are not so well adapted to the protection of plants in the very early spring; but they are often useful for special purposes.

In all forcing-hills, as in coldframes and hotbeds, it is exceedingly important that the plants receive plenty of air on bright days. Plants that are kept too close become weak or “drawn,” and lose the ability to withstand changes of weather when the protection is removed. Even though the wind is cold and raw, the plants inside the frames ordinarily will not suffer if the glass is taken off when the sun is shining.

COLDFRAMES

A coldframe is nothing more than an enlarged hand-box; that is, instead of protecting but a single plant or a single hill with a single pane of glass, the frame is covered with sash, and is large enough to accommodate many plants.

There are three general purposes for which a coldframe is used: For the starting of plants early in spring; for receiving partially hardened plants that have been started earlier in hotbeds and forcing-houses; for wintering young cabbages, lettuce, and other hardy plants that are sown in the fall.

Coldframes are ordinarily placed near the buildings, and the plants are transplanted into the field when settled weather comes. Sometimes, however, they are made directly in the field where the plants are to remain, and the frames, and not the plants, are removed. When used for this latter purpose, the frames are made very cheap by running two rows of parallel planks through the field at a distance apart of six feet. The plank on the north is ordinarily ten to twelve inches wide, and that on the south eight to ten inches. These planks are held in place by stakes, and the sashes are laid across them. Seeds of radishes, beets, lettuce, and the like, are then sown beneath the sash, and when settled weather arrives, the sash and planks are removed and the plants are growing naturally in the field. Half-hardy plants, as those mentioned, may be started fully two or three weeks in advance of the normal growing season by this means.

The Forcing of Plants

Fig. e

One of the simplest types of coldframes is shown in Fig. e, which is a lean-to against the foundation of a house. A sill is run just above the surface of the ground, and the sashes, shown at D, are laid on rafters which run from this sill to the sill of the house, A. If this frame is on the south side of the building, plants may be started even as early as a month before the opening of the season. Such lean-to frames are sometimes made against green-houses or warm cellars, and heat is supplied to them by the opening of a door in the wall, as at B. In frames that are in such sunny positions as these, it is exceedingly important that care be taken to remove the sash, or at least to give ample ventilation, in all sunny days.

The Forcing of Plants

Fig. f

A different type of lean-to structure is shown in Fig. f. This may be either a temporary or permanent building, and it is generally used for the protection of half-hardy plants that are grown in pots and tubs. It may be used, however, for the purpose of forwarding pot-plants early in the spring and for the protection of peaches, grapes, oranges, or other fruits in tubs or boxes. If it is desired merely to protect the plants through the winter, it is best to have the structure on the north side of the building, in order that the sun may not force the plants into activity.

The Forcing of Plants

Fig. g

Another structure that may be used both to carry half-hardy plants over winter and for starting plants early in spring is shown in Fig. g. It is really a miniature greenhouse without heat. It is well adapted for mild climates. The picture was made from a structure in the coast region of North Carolina.

SmallFarmersJournal.com is a live, ever-changing subscription website. To gain access to all the content on this site, subscribe for just $5 per month. If you are not completely satisfied, cancel at any time. Here at your own convenience you can access past articles from Small Farmer's Journal's first forty years and all of the brand new content of new issues. You will also find posts of complete equipment manuals, a wide assortment of valuable ads, a vibrant events calendar, and up to the minute small farm news bulletins. The site features weather forecasts for your own area, moon phase calendaring for farm decisions, recipes, and loads of miscellaneous information.

Spotlight On: Livestock

Work Bridle Styles

Work Bridle Styles

Here are fourteen work bridle styles taken from a 1920’s era harness catalog. Regional variants came with different names and configurations, so much so that we have elected to identify these images by letter instead of name so you may reference these pictures directly when ordering harness or talking about repairs or fit concerns with trainers or harness makers. In one region some were know as pigeon wing and others referred to them as batwing or mule bridles.

A Greenhorn Tries Draft Horses

A Greenhorn Tries Draft Horses

by:
from issue:

We have tried a workhorse, and for our needs he has proven quite satisfactory as well as satisfying to use. Thus we feel it is possible for someone with little or no experience to learn to care for and use a horse or a team for farm and woods work, although, obviously, this is not a process to be undertaken lightly. One of the basic aims of the farm operation for us is self-sufficiency, and we thought that the horse would be more efficient than a tractor in achieving this aim.

The Equine Eye

The Equine Eye

by:
from issue:

The horse’s head is large, with eyes set wide apart at the sides of his head; he seldom sees an object with both eyes at the same time and generally sees a different picture with each eye. In the wild, this double vision was a big advantage, making it difficult for a predator to sneak up on him. He can focus both eyes to the front to watch something, but it takes more effort. Only when making a concentrated effort to look straight ahead does the horse have depth perception as we know it.

Fjordworks: Horse Powered Potatoes

Fjordworks: Horse Powered Potatoes

This is the account of how one farm put more horse power into the planting, cultivation, and harvesting of its potato crop. Ever since we began farming on our own in 1994 one of our principle aims has been the conversion of our farm operation to live horse power wherever feasible. This has meant replacing mechanized tools such as tractors and rototillers and figuring out how to reduce human labor as we expanded upon the labor capacity of our work horses.

Living With Horses

Living With Horses

by:
from issue:

The French breed of Ardennes is closer to what the breed has been in the past. The Ardennes has always been a stockier type of horse, rude as its environment. Today the breed has dramatically changed into a real heavy horse. If the Ardennes had an average weight between 550 and 700kg in the first part of the last century, the balance shows today 1000kg and more. Thus the difference between the Ardennes and their “big” sisters, the Brabants in Belgium, or the Trait du Nord in France, has gone.

Big Logs at Tarn Hows

Big Logs at Tarn Hows

by:
from issue:

Simon and his elder sons Simon, Keith, and Ian, with their Belgian Ardennes horses, work good timber in bad places. The felling and extraction operation at the Lake District beauty spot of Tarn Hows was done in often appalling weather, and in the full glare of publicity. It must rank as one of the most spectacular pieces of horse logging, or indeed of commercial horse work done in these islands in recent years.

Ask A Teamster Hauling Horses

Ask A Teamster: Hauling Horses

For a claustrophobic animal like the horse, being confined to a small box while speeding down the highway at 60 miles per hour is a mighty unnatural experience. Luckily, equines are adaptable animals and are likely to arrive in good condition – if – you make preparations beforehand and take some precautions. Here are some tips to help your horse stay healthy, safe, and comfortable while traveling.

Living With Dairy Goats

Living With Dairy Goats

by:
from issue:

Dairy goats are different than other types of livestock, even Angora goats. They are independent, unimpressed by efforts to thwart their supremacy of the barnyard (or your garden), and like to survey the world from an elevated perch. Though creatures of habit, they will usually pull off some quite unexpected performance the minute you “expect” them to do their usual routine. For the herdsperson who can keep one step ahead of them, they are one of the most enjoyable species of livestock to raise and ideal to small farms.

Sheep A Logical Choice

Sheep: A Logical Choice

by:
from issue:

Sheep have numerous uses on a smallholding. They are excellent grazers and are ideal at revitalizing old pastures as well as an excellent follower of the cows in a rotational grazing system. Cropping the grass at 2-3 inches that the cows have left at 8 inches encourages new growth in the spring. Their manure is usually in pellet form and is spread throughout a pasture as they graze. A sheep shares a ton a year of fertilizer with the earth.

Fjordworks Horse Powered Potatoes Part 2

Fjordworks: Horse Powered Potatoes Part Two

These types of team implements for digging potatoes were the first big innovation in horse powered potato harvesting in the mid-19th century. Prior to the horse drawn digger the limitation on how many potatoes a farmer could plant was how many the farm crew could dig by hand. The basic design of these early diggers works so well that new models of this type of digger are once again being manufactured by contemporary horse drawn equipment suppliers.

New York Organic Grazing Dairy

New York Organic Grazing Dairy

by:
from issue:

Our farm, here in the center of New York State, consists of 101 acres, about 90 in grass, the rest some woods and swamp. It is inhabited by forty-six jersey cows, twelve breeding ace heifers, one bull, and because it is calving season — an increasing number of calves. Also, four Belgian mares and a couple of buggy horses. Last, and possibly least — the farmer, farmer’s wife, and five grown children.

Boer Goats

Boer Goats

by:
from issue:

The introduction of the Boer Goat has stirred up a lot of interest in all sectors of agriculture. The demand for goat meat exceeds the supply; goat meat is the most consumed meat in the world. One of the main points about South African Boer Goats is that out of all meat goat breeds the Boer is the top meat producer whereas in the cattle business you have over 100 breeds of beef cattle that all compete for the beef dollar.

Chicken

The Best Chicken Pie Ever

by:
from issue:

She has one more gift to give: Chicken Pie.

Horseshoeing Part 1B

Horseshoeing Part 1B

Since the horse is useful to man only by reason of his movements, his foot deserves the most careful attention. The horse-shoer should be familiar with all its parts. Fig. 3 shows the osseous framework of the foot, consisting of the lower end of the cannon bone, the long pastern, the two sesamoid bones, the short pastern, and the pedal bone.

Walsh No Buckle Harness

from issue:

When first you become familiar with North American working harness you might come to the erroneous conclusion that, except for minor style variations, all harnesses are much the same. While quality and material issues are accounting for substantive differences in the modern harness, there were also interesting and important variations back in the early twentieth century which many of us today either have forgotten or never knew about. Perhaps the most significant example is the Walsh No Buckle Harness.

Plans for Hog Houses

Plans for Hog Houses

by: ,
from issue:

Missouri Sunlit Hog House: This is an east and west type of house lighted by windows in the south roof. A single stack ventilation system with distributed inlets provides ventilation. Pen partitions may be of wood or metal. This plan takes the place of the original Missouri sunlit house since many farmers had difficulty in building it.

Horseshoeing Part 1C

Horseshoeing Part 1C

The horn capsule or hoof is nothing more than a very thick epidermis that protects the horse’s foot, just as a well fitting shoe protects the human foot. The hoof of a sound foot is so firmly united with the underlying pododerm that only an extraordinary force can separate them. The hoof is divided into three principal parts, which are solidly united in the healthy foot – namely, the wall, the sole, and the frog.

The Anatomy of Thrift: Harvest Day

On the Anatomy of Thrift Part 2: Harvest Day

On the Anatomy of Thrift is an instructional series Farmrun created with Farmstead Meatsmith. Their principal intention is instruction in the matters of traditional pork processing. In a broader and more honest context, OAT is a deeply philosophical manifesto on the subject of eating animals. Harvest Day is the second in the series, which explores the ‘cheer’ that is prepared on the day of slaughter, and dives deep into the philosophy and psychology of our relationship to animals.

Journal Guide