Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fancy Clothing is One of the Greatest Obstacles to a Knowledge of Nature

Fancy clothing is one of the greatest obstacles to a knowledge of nature: in this regard, the farm boy has an immense advantage. It is a misfortune not to have gone barefoot in one's youth. A man cannot be a naturalist in patent-leather shoes. The perfecting of the manufacture of elaborate and fragile fabrics correlates well with our growing habit of living indoors. Our clothing is made chiefly for fair weather; when it becomes worn we use it for stormy weather, although it may be in no respect stormy weather clothing. If our clothes are not made for the weather, then we have failed to adapt ourselves to our environment, and we are in worse state than the beasts of the field. Much of our clothing serves neither art nor utility. Nothing can be more prohibitive of an interest in nature than a millinery "hat," even though it be distinguished for its floriculture, landscape gardening, and natural history.
L. H. Bailey, The Outlook to Nature, 1905

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Planning a L.H. Bailey Vegetable Garden

Need a plan for a veggie garden? Here is one directly from L.H. Bailey himself along with some timely thoughts on the satisfaction of having a garden!

As millions of people do not have gardens, so are they unaware of the low quality of much of the commercial produce as compared with things well grown in due season. Most persons, depending on the market, do not know what a superlative watermelon is like. Even such apparently indestructible things as cucumbers have a crispness and delicacy when taken directly from the vine at proper maturity that are lost to the store-window supply. Every vegetable naturally loses something of itself in the process from field to consumer. When to this is added the depreciation by storage, careless exposure and rough handling, one cannot expect to receive the full odor and the characteristic delicacies that belong to the product in nature. We must also remember the long distances over which much of the produce must be transported, and the necessity to pick the produce before it is really fit, to meet the popular desire to have vegetables out of season and when we ought not to want them. There is a time and place for everything, vegetables with the rest. Modern methods of marketing, storing and handling have facilitated transactions, and they have also done very much to safeguard the produce itself and to deliver it to the customer in good condition; but the vegetable well chosen and well grown and fresh from the garden is nevertheless the proper standard of excellence. It is a surpassing satisfaction when the householder may go to her own garden rather than to the store for her lettuce, onions, tomatoes, beets, peas, cabbage, melons, and other things good to see and to eat, and to have them in generous supply. -L.H. Bailey, The Principles of Vegetable-Gardening, 1921

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bailey on Evolution & the Rights of Others

    Evolution is the point of view of otherism and altruism.
It was the old idea that the earth is the center of the universe: this geocentric doctrine Copernicus disproved. It was the old idea that all things exist merely to please man: this hominocentric doctrine Darwin disproved.
    Every animal and plant lives for itself and apparently as completely as if man had never existed. The recognition of this fact is one of the first steps toward a real regard for the rights of others, and consequently toward elimination of selfishness. Yet we still seem to think that every animal and plant was created for some purpose other than for itself, and we are always asking what every organism is "for." -L.H. Bailey, The Outlook to Nature, 1915

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bailey on the Growing of Vegetable Plants

More sage advice from L.H. Bailey on vegetable gardening!

A Vegetable garden is admittedly a part of any home place that has a good rear area. A purchased vegetable is never the same as one taken from a man's own soil and representing his own effort and solicitude.
     It is essential to any satisfaction in vegetable-growing that the be rich and thoroughly subdued and fined. The plantation should also be so arranged that the tilling can be done with wheel tools, and, where the space will allow it, with horse tools. The old-time garden bed (Fig. 291) consumes time and labor, wastes moisture, and is more trouble and expense than it is worth.
     The rows of vegetables should be as long and continuous as possible, to allow of tillage with wheel tools. If it is not desired sow a full row of any one vegetable, the line may be made up of several species, one following the other, care being taken to place together such kinds as have similar requirements; one row, for example, might contain all the parsnips, carrots, and salsify. One or two long rows containing a dozen kinds of vegetables are usually preferable to a dozen short rows, each with one kind of vegetable.
...It is by no means necessary that the vegetable-garden contain only kitchen-garden products. Flowers may be dropped in here and there wherever a vacant corner occurs or a plant dies. Such informal and mixed gardens usually have a personal character that adds greatly to their interest, and, therefore, to their value.
... It was the writer's pleasure to look over the fence of a Bavarian peasant's garden and to see, on a space about 40 feet by 100 feet in area, a delightful medley of onions, pole beans, peonies, celery, balsams, gooseberries, coleus, cabbages, sunflowers, beets, poppies, cucumbers, morning-glories, kohl-rabi, verbenas, bush beans, pinks, stocks, currants, wormwood, parsley, carrots, kale, perennial phlox, nasturtiums, feverfew, lettuce, lilies!- L.H. Bailey, Manual of Gardening

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Bailey's View on Growing Annuals

Liberty Hyde Bailey wrote that, "The best gardener is one who does the most gardening by the winter fire.” And here we are folks. Nursery catalogs are filling mailboxes and the big box stores are moving out the half-off Christmas decorations for the Burpee display. Here is some timeless advice from America's Father of Modern Horticulture regarding annuals as we get ready for another growing season.

ANNUAL plants are those that you must sow every year. From seed to seed is only a year or less. Annual plants probably comprise half the flowering plants of the world. They quickly take advantage of the moving seasons,— grow, blossom and die before they are caught by the blight of winter or of the parching dry season. They are shifty plants, now growing here, then absconding to other places. This very uncertainty and capriciousness makes them worth the while. The staid perennials I want for the main and permanent effects in my garden, but I could no more do without annuals than I could without the spices and the condiments at the table. They are flowers of a season: I like flowers of a season.
    Of the kinds of annuals there is almost no end. This does not mean that all are equally good. For myself, I like to make the bold effects with a few of the old profuse and reliable kinds. I like whole masses and clouds of them. Then the other kinds I like to grow in smaller areas at one side, in a half experimental way. There is no need of trying to grow equal quantities of all the kinds that you select. There is no emphasis and no modulation in such a scheme. There should be major and minor keys.
    The minor keys may be of almost any kind of plant. Since these plants are semi-experimental, it does not matter if some of them fail outright. Why not begin the list at "A" and buy as many as you can afford and can accommodate this year, then continue the list next year? In five or ten years you will have grown the alphabet and will have learned as much horticulture and botany as most persons learn in a college course. And some of these plants will become your permanent friends.
    For the main and bold effects I want something that I can depend on. There I do not want to experiment. Never fill a conspicuous place with a kind of plant that you have never grown.
    The kinds I like best are the ones easiest to grow. My personal equation, I suppose, determines this. Zinnia, petunia, marigold, four o'clock, sunflower, phlox, scabiosa, sweet sultan, bachelor's button, verbena, calendula, calliopsis, morning-glory, nasturtium, sweet pea,—these are some of the kinds that are surest and least attacked by bugs and fungi. I do not know where the investment of five cents will bring as great reward as in a packet of seeds of any of these plants.
    Before one sets out to grow these or any other plants, he must make for himself an ideal. Will he grow for a garden effect, or for specimen plants or specimen blooms? If for specimens, then each plant must have plenty of room and receive particular individual care. If for garden effect, then see to it that the entire space is solidly covered, and that you have a continuous maze of color. Usually the specimen plants would best be grown in a side garden, as vegetables are, where they can be tilled, trained and severally cared for.
    There is really a third ideal, and I hope that some of you may try it,—to grow all the varieties of one species. You really do not know what the China aster or the balsam is until you have seen all the kinds of it. Suppose that you ask your seedsman to send you one packet of every variety of cockscomb that he has. Next year you may want to try stocks or annual poppies, or something else. All this will be a study in evolution.
    There is still a fourth ideal,— the growing for gathering or "picking." If you want many flowers for house decoration and to give away, then grow them at one side in regular rows as you would potatoes or sweet corn. Cultivate them by horse or wheelhoe. Harvest them in the same spirit that you would harvest string beans or tomatoes: that is what they are for. You do not have to consider the "looks" of your garden. The old stalks will remain, as the stumps of cabbages do. You will not be afraid to pick them. When you have harvested an armful your garden is not despoiled. - L.H. Bailey, Country Life in America, Volume 4, 1903 (see the full article here: ANNUALS )