09 April 2012

Market Gardening


(photo link) (click the picture to see an enlarged view)

—The market garden is a specialty which many a young man thinks he can master, but in which he often fails for want of knowing the conditions requisite for success. The market gardens within six miles from Boston are worth often more than a thousand dollars per acre for purposes of cultivation. Capital, therefore, is one of the greatest requisites for success in this business; but, in addition, there must be good soil, and that within easy reach of a good market.

—The market garden implies the highest cultivation. A very large amount of manure is to be applied to a small amount of land. Twenty to thirty cords to the acre, every year, is not uncommon, and for a garden of ten or a dozen acres a two-horse team is kept going nearly every day to draw manure, to say nothing of the carting of the produce, which, if skillfully marketed, will amount to from eight hundred to a thousand dollars per acre.

—With the conditions absolutely necessary for success in market gardening, one must have a natural tact for it, and this implies habits of industry and a keen eye, together with some years of experience, so as to be familiar with the infinite details of the business. Within five or six miles of a large city both the market and the manure wagon can make two trips or more a day, if necessary, and this is often the case.

—The number of hands required to run a market garden within five or six miles of the city will be about one man to the acre in summer, and a horse for every three acres, and the crops most frequently produced are the bulky but valuable ones, such as lettuce, spinach, radishes, dandelions for greens, beets, early cabbages, onions, kale, horseradish, celery, the early crops being followed by later ones on the same land, such as squashes, melons, tomatoes, cauliflowers, carrots, parsnips, etc. Dandelions and rhubarb occupy the land for the whole year, but with most other things two crops are grown on the same land, and sometimes even three or four crops a year are raised on the same ground.

—As to gardens, or farms, devoted to market gardening, at a greater distance from the market, say from eight to twelve or fifteen miles, the conditions are different. Land is cheaper, ranging from one to two hundred dollars per acre, the cost of hauling manure and produce is much greater, and the management varies accordingly. The capital required will be less, and the crops raised, such as need less manure, and are in general less bulky, like beans, pease, asparagus, early potatoes, strawberries and other small fruits, squashes, late cabbages and turnips, cucumbers for pickles. The market wagon will make fewer trips, say three or four times a week in summer, only once or twice in winter.

—While market gardens near the city will require a working capital of five to eight hundred dollars per acre, to be invested in tools, teams, buildings, hot beds, manure, etc.: those lying at a greater distance may be worked with a capital of from one hundred to two hundred dollars per acre, and the force required for efficient working will be less, say on an average one man and a horse for every two or three acres.

[Thomas’s Farmer's Almanac]

Hauling Potatoes to Market (photo link)

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