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History: Gardening in Early Day Sheridan

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Spring is the time that many people look to start a garden. Gardening is a way to get outside, get some exercise, as well as growing your own tasty and healthy vegetables and fruits. Although one can purchase nearly all of the vegetables they want in the area supermarkets, there is nothing quite like growing our own.

In the early days, there were fewer fresh vegetables available in the grocery stores, so people HAD to grow their own. They not only grew some for their summer meals, but they canned the excess to be stored for the winter.

This from the Sheridan Post, Tuesday, April 24, 1917 – Plan Carefully the Home Garden. Seeds Should Be Obtained in Advance. Proportion! Needed for Ordinary Family Worked Out by Government Experts. Vegetable need for planting should be ordered at once, so as to be on hand as soon as the weather and condition of the soil make planting possible. Before ordering seed the home gardener would do well to look over his garden plot, decide on the be the location for each vegetable and determine how much seed he will require for the apace available for each variety He will find it helpful to make a rough plan of his garden on a large sheet of wrapping paper. On this plan can indicate the spaces to be used for each variety and also by means of colored pencils or symbol show where a second crop is to be planted or inter-planted between growing rows and also arrange for the second and third crops which will follow those previously harvested.

Such a plan will enable him to keep the garden busy all season, supplying fresh vegetables during the summer and producing in the late fall root and other crops for winter use. Once the heavy preliminary spading and working of the garden has been done it is about as easy to raise two or three crops as to keep the garden clean of weeds to produce only one picking. The specialists advise those who are not used to gardening or wish to have their children take an interest in the garden to hire a laborer to do the heavy preliminary spading or breaking up of the soil. This heavy work frequently disgusts novices and children who would continue to take an interest in the garden if their task was simply to find and cultivate soil already broken up.

The following amounts of seed the garden specialists of the United States department of agriculture say are needed to plant approximately 100 feet of row, or enough to supply vegetables for a family of four: Beans, snap, l pint; beans, pole Lima, one half pint; beans, bush Lima, one-half to one pint; cabbage, early, one-half ounce; carrot, 1 ounce; cauliflower, 1packet; celery. 1 packet; cucumber, one-half ounce; eggplant, 1 packet; kale, or Swiss chard, one-half ounce; parsley, 1 packet; parsnips, one-half ounce salsify 1 ounce; squash, summer, one-half ounce; squash, Hubbard type, one-half ounce. The following vegetables, the specialists say, will undoubtedly be planted in larger amounts than those just mentioned, and the amounts of seed given will be a guide for ordinary requirements. Some families may need more of the various vegetables and others would need less: Beet, 4 ounces; cabbage, late, one half to 1 ounce; corn, sweet, 1pint: lettuce, 1 ounce; muskmelon, 1 ounce; onion sets, 2 quarts; peas, garden, 2 to 4 quarts; radish, 1 to 2 ounces; spinach, in the spring one quarter pound; in fall one-half pound; tomatoes, late, one-quarter ounce; turnips, one-quarter pound, watermelon, 1 ounce. The string beans, bush Lima beans, sweet corn, lettuce, peas, and radishes will not all be planted at one time, but successive plantings two or three weeks apart will be made i as to have a fresh supply through the season.

Of early Irish potatoes 1 peck to a one-half bushel will be required, and for late potatoes one-half to 1 bushel, or more, depending upon the amount of ground available for this purpose. If possible, enough Irish potatoes should be grown to last throughout the winter. In the event that the family wishes to raise vegetables to supply current needs, and also to supply a surplus for canning, the amounts Indicated above should be considerably increased.

Youngsters can get involved in gardening as well. 4-H and FFA Clubs have gardening projects that youngsters learn to keep records, take care of their garden, and display their produce for ribbons at the county and state fair. Like this story in The Sheridan Post, March 30, 1917.

Department Of Rural Education Girls’ Garden And Canning Project. One of the girls of last summer’s Garden and Canning club la quoted as saying: “Last summer was the happiest summer I have had for a long time.” From the reports sent in to headquarters at the close of the season, one is justified in concluding the same was true of a large per cent of the members. Undoubtedly a strong factor in producing this happiness was the sense of ownership with its accompanying self-appointed task: a perfectly natural result is happiness with that combination.

Then there was added the sense of service to others— the entire family was benefited since the girls furnished fresh vegetables for family use during the summer and canned vegetables to be used in the winter; thus saving the buying of canned goods at the grocery. In some cases the girls traded their surplus vegetables’ to neighbors or other club members for eggs, chickens or other food-stuffs they were “short on”; thus- giving greater variety of food at home.

One enterprising club girl traded canned tomatoes for two little red pigs, in order that she might join the Boys’ Pork and Crop club. Another girl demonstrated the use of the immature seed pod of the radish as a canned relish, which was something entirely new to the people of her community.

On a plot of ground 132 feet by 33 feet (one-tenth acre) one girl produced 2,533 pounds of vegetables at a total cost of $7.72: which included 50 cents for rent, cost of labor at 10 cents per hour, $1.00 for fertilizer seeds, sprays, and all other items’ involving cash outlay. It cost her three-tenths of one cent to produce each pound of her vegetables.

The total market value of all her canned and fresh vegetables both both sold and used at home was $90.10. This on one-tenth of an acre! And she actually sold $24.42 worth and canned 83 quarts. The girls in the Summer Club Projects cultivate and irrigate their own garden plot (one-tenth acre); combat injurious insects and fungus diseases; keep careful records of all processes, all expenses and receipt, thereby obtaining training in business methods, and become demonstrators of the following truths: (1). Work in the home can be made pleasant, dignified and business like. (2). By growing a garden and canning vegetables the grocery bills and doctor bills can be reduced and a cash income secured. (3). The cold pack method of canning saves labor and turns out a better product (4) Through keeping accounts in the home expenses are often be reduced. (5) Team work among members increases the pleasure and the profit.

For successful canning, an expensive equipment is not necessary In fact, all the needed materials for the cold pack method are found In every home

The following story of how one girl conducted her work is very much to the point “ln the spring. I decided to take the club work again, as I enjoyed it very much last year And I think it is profitable I selected one tenth of aa acre for my garden plot, which is a part of my home garden in the early spring I prepared the seed bed by putting fertilizer on the ground, plowing it under.

I planted my first seeds in Feb 10 in window boxes. When the plants became large enough, I planted them to pots. “April 1st I planted the early garden such as radishes, lettuce and onions. May 29th, I transplanted most of my tomatoes and cabbage and a few other plants in the garden. Some of the tomatoes, which I had transplanted to pots were ten and twelve inches tall: and a few were in bloom. None of my plants were killed by the frost this year, as I was careful to keep them covered. We had our first early garden June 5th and from that time until the last of September we had an abundance of vegetables for home use, canning and sold a great many.”

July 18th I had my first tomatoes and cabbage the twenty-second My cabbage had to be treated for the worms, but my other plants were not bothered. “I canned all my vegetables by the cold pack method and have been able to can successfully every vegetable I have ever grown in my garden. I always can the vegetables the day they are harvested. By having part of the home garden we are able to have fresh vegetables when we wish and can have them earlier because the early vegetables at the grocery are too expensive, I enjoy club work a great deal. I am always learning something new.’

Recently, area schools are collaborating with Rooted in Wyoming to let elementary students learn to plant and raise vegetables. Some of these are then used in the school lunch program, giving the youngsters the freshest, best tasting food available.

So, the spring, grab some seeds, spade up some ground, or use a raised bed, and start on an adventure that will contribute to your health and maybe even lower your grocery bill.

Next week this column will feature the war gardens that were planted throughout the US during WW1.

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