“I’ll raise tomatoes,” said Daddy Blake, taking out a package of tomato seeds for his part of the garden. “We can eat them sliced in Summer and have them canned, ready to stew, in Winter, I’ll have to plant some seeds in the house first to raise plants that I may set them out when it is warm enough. Now, Mother, what will you grow in the garden?”
“Carrots,” answered Mrs. Blake.
“Oh, then we can keep a bunny rabbit!” cried Mab. “I’ve always wanted a bunny.”
“Well, a rabbit may be nice,” said Daddy Blake. “But, as I said, this garden is not all for fun. We are going to raise as many vegetables as we can, so we will have them in the Winter to save buying them at the store. We can’t afford to raise carrots for rabbits this year. There are your seeds, Mother,” and he gave his wife a packet with a picture of yellow carrots on the outside.
“But there are a lot of seeds left,” said Mab, as she looked at the large opened bundle on the table.
“Yes, well have to take turns planting these,” her father said. “I just wanted you to pick out your prize crops first. Now we have made a start on our garden. The next thing is to get the ground ready as soon as it is warm enough. But first I think I’ll start my tomato plants. I’ll plant the seeds in the morning.”
“Where?” asked Mab.
“In a box in the house. You may bring me in a little dirt and I’ll let it dry out near the fire, for it is rather damp and cold yet in the garden.”
The next day Hal and Mab brought in some dirt from the yard. It was wet and sticky but when it had been spread out on a paper under the stove it soon dried. That night Daddy Blake filled a big wooden box with the dirt, which he worked with a trowel until it was made fine and smooth.
“The first thing to learn in making a garden,” the children’s father said, “is to have your dirt made very fine, and to be sure that it is the right kind for what you are going to raise. Beans will grow in almost any kind of soil, but tomatoes and other vegetables must have soil which is called richer—that is it has more fertilizer in it—something which is food to the seeds and plants as bread, butter, meat and potatoes are food for us.”
“Do plants eat?” asked Hal.
“Of course they do, just as I told you the trees did. Plants eat through their roots in the earth. They drink water that way, too, and through their leaves. And they breathe in the air and sunlight the same way. Plants, as well as boys and girls, need warm sun, enough water and good soil to make them grow.”
“But why don’t you plant the tomato seeds right in the garden?” asked Hal.
“Because it is a little too early. The weather is not warm enough and the ground is too damp. So I plant the seeds in the house and soon there will be many little tomato plants in this box, which, you children must see to it, must be kept in the sunny window, and not out in the cool air. When the plants are large enough we will take them from the box and put them in the garden in nice long rows. This is called transplanting, which means planting a second time, and is done with many garden things such as lettuce, cabbage and celery.”