There were no signs of rain, and though the ground was a little moist in some parts of the garden Daddy Blake thought all the growing things would be better for a wetting from the hose. So he attached it to the faucet and let Hal and Mab take turns sprinkling. As the drops fell on the thirsty ground there floated up a most delicious smell, like the early spring rain, which helps Mother Nature to awaken the sleeping grass and flowers.
“I guess my corn is wet enough,” said Hal, after a bit. He had only been sprinkling a little while when he heard one of his boy friends calling him from the street in front.
“Oh, your corn isn’t half wet enough,” laughed Daddy Blake. “It is almost better not to water the garden at all than not to give it enough, for it only hardens the dirt on top. Give the corn a good soaking, just as if it had rained hard. A good watering for the garden means about two quarts of water to every square foot in your plots. Don’t be afraid of the water. Your plants will do so much better for it. But don’t spray them too heavily, so the dirt is washed away. Let the hose point up in the air, and then the drops will fall like rain.”
Hal kept the hose longer, giving his corn a good wetting, and he could almost see the green stalks stand up straighter when he had finished. They were refreshed, just as a tired horse is made to feel, better, after a hot day in the streets, when he has a cool drink and is sprinkled with the hose.
“Roly, get out the way or you’ll be all wet!” cried Mab, as the little poodle dog ran around her beans when she was watering them.
“Bow-wow!” barked Roly, just as if he said he didn’t care.
“Well, if you want to get wet—all right!” laughed Mab. “Here it comes!”
She pointed the hose straight at Roly and in a second he was wet through.
“Ki-yi! Ki-yi! Ki-yi!” he yelped as he ran out of the garden. “Bow-wow! Ki-yi!”
“Well, it will cool him off, and I guess he wanted it after all,” said Daddy Blake. “But Roly is a good little dog. He only dug once in the garden since he came back, but I tapped him on the end of his nose with my finger, and scolded him, and he hasn’t done it since.”
The next day Daddy Blake took Hal and Mab to the garden again, and showed them how he was building little wooden frames under his tomatoes to keep the red vegetables off the ground where they might lie in the mud and sand and get dirty.
“The frames help to hold up the vines so they will not break when the tomatoes get too heavy for them,” said Mr. Blake.
“Plants have lots of trouble,” said Hal. “You have to put their seeds in the ground, keep the weeds away from them, hoe them, water them, and keep the bugs and worms away. Is there anything else that can happen to things in a garden, Daddy?”
“Yes, sometimes heavy hail storms come and beat down the plants, or tear the leaves to ribbons so the plants die, and bear nothing. This often happens to corn, which has broad leaves easily torn by hail.”