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tude. In the middle of Florida, it may be safe to plant any time in January,
SOIL SOWING AND CULTIVATION. The land best adapted to the cucumber is a moist, warm, light, sandy loam; although sandy soil is not so productive, the finest and earliest cucumbers may be grown on it if highly and properly fertilized.* A manure rich in nitrogen will produce fruit of the desirable dark-green color. The usual method of planting cucumbers is in hills, either four or five, or even six feet apart each way, according to the nature and fertility of the soil. The land being properly plowed and harrowed, furrows are run by the plow, crossing each other at right angles. At each crossing one or two shovelfuls of good stable manure, or compost, or failing these, an equivalent quantity of any other good fertilizer is intimately mixed with the soil, and a hill, flat on
Fig. 36. top, and a little elevated above the general WHITE-SPINE surface, is made with the hoe. In a furrow one-half to one inch deep, made by the hand across the middle of the hill, sow from ten to fifteen seeds. A week later, whether any of the seeds first planted are up or not, a second sowing is made, at a sufficient distance from the first to avoid disturbing it, and always on the same side of it. A week later still, a third sowing may be made on the other side of the first. Should a frost kill the growing plants of the first seeding, before those of the second are up, plants from the second may be made available. When the plants are large enough and danger of frost has passed, thin the plants to two or
• None of the Cucurbitaceæ, which comprises Cucumbers, Squashes, Melons, etc., should be planted on land having just borne a crop of Cabbages, for tear of the soil being infested with the larvæ of the 12-spotted Squash-beetle.
three in the hill. If the seed comes up well, and the plants are crowding each other, another partial thinning may be necessary. I prefer to manure, as for cabbage, in the furrow, and to drill in the seed on beds six feet apart, and to thin so as to leave the plants finally about twelve inches apart in the row; leaving single plants, three sowings being made as before. At the first thinning, the soil should be drawn by the hoe to the stems up to the seed leaves. The earth is to be kept loose and clean between the rows by plow and cultivator, and between the plants by the hoe, until the vines have taken possession of the ground. If the plant is stopped when it has two rough leaves beyond the second, that is, if the end of the vine is pinched off, lateral fruiting branches will be emitted, which will be early in bearing and more productive than the main vine. This operation of stopping is rarely practised in extensive planting.
GATHERING AND PACKING.
If the fruits are cut instead of being pulled off, there will be no injury to the vine; nor will the cucumber wilt so rapidly. A transverse section of the fruit should be nearly round, before the cucumber is picked; but quite green and perfect in shape. None of imperfect form, short, round and contracted at the flower end, or with the slightest tendency to turn yellow, or large and overgrown, should be shipped, as they will affect the market value of the whole package. The cucumbers should be carefully laid in the crates, or be well shaken down, as directed in the chapter on “Packing,” and the crate be over-full when nailed up
The White-spined cucumber becomes white instead of yellow, when ripe. The whitest, largest and longest should be selected for seed. Cut them lengthwise into
halves, and take out the seeds and inner pulp by hand, dropping them into a barrel or pail. The mass should be stirred daily and allowed to remain four or five days, to enable fermentation to remove the gelatinous matter which surrounds the seeds. These are then washed out in several waters, thoroughly dried, and stored away in bags.
The insects which infest the cucumber are:
Second.-The Striped Cucumber-beetle (Diabrotica vittata).
Third. - The Twelve-spotted Squash-beetle or Stripedbug (Diabrotica 12-punctata).
Fourth.-The Pickle-worm (Phacellura nitidalis).
Fig. 37. CUCUMBER FLEA-BEETLE (Haltica cum cumeris.)
Fig. 39.—LARVA OF STRIPED
CUCUMBER-BEETLE. and other plants, may be driven off by freshly-slaked lime or soot.
The Striped-bug appears early in the spring as a com.
plete insect, destroying the young leaves. If numerous, these insects may be poisoned by Paris green, one part to ten of flour, before they can deposit their eggs for a new
brood, of which there are three at the South. After hatching from the egg, the duration of its larval existence is about
four weeks, during which time its injury Fig. 40.
to the roots of plants, by boring into them, may
be considerable. The past season, (Diabrotica 12 an insect was reported to have been very punctata.)
destructive to cucumber vines near Savannah, by injuring the roots. From the description it must have been the larva of the Diabrotica, or it may
have been the true wire-worm—the larva of small snapping beetles; but most probably the former. It has been
said in a recent work, “Of all the multifarious remedies proposed against the attacks of this insect, there is none so effectual, or so cheap in the end, as inclosing the young vines in boxes,
which are open at the bottom, Fig. 42.-MOTH OF PICKLE- and covered with millinet on the
top. Such boxes are made at a trivial cost, and if properly stored away each season after use, will last for many years."
The private gentleman, having half a dozen cucumber vines in his garden, may avail himself of such a
remedy, but the farmer, who fails to protect his crop by destroying the first insects by poison, in case of their visitation in devastating numbers, and to whom the alternative is offered, would probably give up the cucumber to Diabrotica, and betake himself to another crop, rather than use from forty thousand to eighty thousand boxes for the protection of from six to twelve acres.
The third of the beetles infesting the cucumber, the
(Laphrygma frugiperda.) Fig. 44.-LARVA OF GRASS-WORM. twelve-spotted Diabrotica is not so destructive as the former species.
The cucumber is the regular food plant of the Pickleworm (Phacellura nitidalis) while the more omnivorous Grass-worm (Laphrygma frugiperda) only occasionally feeds upon it. Both these lepidopterous insects become numerous too late in the season to affect the crop of the truck-farmer seriously.
THE EGG-PLANT, OR “GUINEA CQUASH.”
(Solanum melongena.) Aubergine, French ; Eierpflanze, German ; and Melanzana, Italian.
The Egg-plant is of tropical origin, and was introduced into England from Africa in 1597. It derives its common name from a small white variety which is similar in shape • and appearance to the egg of a goose.