“Oh, Hal! That isn’t the way to do it!” cried Daddy Blake, when he had watched his little boy walking along the cabbage row for a while, dropping the plants, the roots of which were afterward to be covered with the brown earth.
“Why not?” Hal asked.
“Because you must only drop one plant in a place. You are letting two and three fall at once. You mustn’t make a bouquet of them,” and his father laughed. “Only one cabbage plant in a spot.”
“Am I doing it right?” asked Mab, who was on the other side of the cabbage plot.
“Well, not exactly. Hal dropped his too close together and yours are too far apart. The cabbage plants ought to be about two and a half feet apart, in rows and the rows should be separate one from the other by about twenty inches. Here, I’ll cut you each a little stick for a measure. You don’t need to worry about the rows, as Uncle Pennywait marked them just the right distance apart as he made them.”
So after that Hal and Mab measured, with sticks Daddy Blake gave them to get one cabbage plant just as far from the one next to it in the row as Daddy Blake wanted. Then, with a hoe, the children’s father covered the roots with dirt and the cabbages were planted, or “set out,” as the gardener calls it.
“Now let me take a look at your corn and beans,” said Mr. Blake to the two children, when the cabbages had been left to grow. “I want to see who has the best chance of winning that ten dollar gold prize.”
“Hal’s corn is very nice,” said Mab.
“And so are her beans,” added Mab’s brother kindly. “I guess maybe she’ll get the prize.”
“Well, it will be quite a little while before we can tell,” spoke Daddy Blake. “Corn and beans will not be gathered until Fall, though we may eat some of Hal’s corn earlier, for he has some rows of the sweet variety which can be boiled and gnawed off the ears.”
Daddy Blake found a few places in Mab’s bean patch where the useless weeds needed hoeing away, so they would not steal from the brown earth the food which the good plants needed.
“And one or two of your corn hills could be made a little higher, Hal,” said his father. “If you look at the corn stalks you will see, down near where they are in the ground, some little extra roots coming out above the earth. In order that these roots may reach the soil, and take hold, the dirt must be hoed up to them.”
Mr. Blake showed the children what he meant, and Mab cried:
“Those roots are just like the ropes we had on our tent when we went camping.”
“That’s it,” said Daddy Blake. “These roots keep the tall corn stalks from blowing over just as the ropes keep the tent from falling down.”
“Oh, look!” cried Mab, as she passed one stalk of corn that was larger than any of the others. “There’s something growing on this that’s just like my doll’s hair. I’m going to pull it off.”