“I didn’t know that,” said Hal, as he put down the big worm, which at once began to crawl slowly along, stretching itself out until it was almost twice as big as at first.
In a few days the weather was much warmer, and the soil in the two gardens began to dry out. The man came with the spiked, or tooth, harrow, and his horses dragged this over the ground several times. Soon the soil was quite smooth, the big lumps or clods of earth being broken up into little fine chunks.
“But it must be finer yet for some things, like lettuce and tomatoes,” said Mr. Blake. “So I’ll use a hand rake.”
“Can’t we help too?” Hal wanted to know.
“Yes, I want you and Mab to do as much garden work as you can. In that way you’ll understand how to make things grow. And remember the more you work around in the garden, digging up the earth above the roots of your plants, keeping the weeds cut down, the better your things will grow. Making a garden is not easy work, but, after all think what a wonderful lot the seeds and plants do for themselves. Still we must help them.”
“When can I plant my beans?” asked Mab.
“Well, pretty soon now. Make your part of the garden, where you are going to plant your beans, as smooth as you can. Then mark it off into rows. You should plant your beans in rows with the rows about two feet apart, and put the beans in each row so they are about four inches, one from the other. That will give the plants room enough to spread.”
“How do I plant my corn?” asked Hal.
“Well, corn must be planted a little differently from beans,” answered Daddy Blake. “You should have your rows from two to three feet apart and each hill of corn should be from a foot to a foot and a half from the next hill.”
“Does corn only grow on a hill?” asked Hal.
“Oh, no,” laughed his father, “though on some farms and gardens the corn may be planted on the side of a hill. What I mean was that after your corn begins to grow, the ground is hoed around the corn stalks in a sort of little hill. That is done to keep it from blowing over, for corn grows very tall, in the West sometimes ten and twelve feet high.
“However that is yellow or field corn, from which corn meal is made. The kind you are going to plant, Hal, is called sweet corn, such as we eat green from the cob after it is boiled. That may not grow so high. But in a day or so it will be time for your corn and beans to be planted, for Spring is now fully here and the weather is warm enough.”
Hal and Mab worked hard in their gardens. They raked the ground until it was quite smooth. Daddy Blake, his wife, Aunt Lollypop and Uncle Pennywait also raked and smoothed the parts of the garden where they were going to plant their seeds. Sometimes the older folks helped the children.
Next door Mr. Porter was planting his garden, and red-haired Sammie thought he was helping. At least he picked up the stones and threw them at the fence. If Roly-Poly had been there maybe Sammie would have thrown the stones for the little poodle dog to run after. But Roly had been sent away for a few weeks, until the gardens had begun to grow. For Roly never could see a nicely smoothed patch of ground without wanting to dig in it, and spoil it.