“Make a ’mato garden,” was Sammie’s answer as his father picked him up. “I put seeds in ground and make more ’matoes grow.”
“But you musn’t do it out here,” said Mr. Porter, trying not to laugh, though Sammie was a queer sight. “Besides, I told you not to pick my tomatoes. You have wasted nearly a quart. Now come in and your mother will wash you.”
Into the house he carried the tomato-besmirched little boy, while Hal and Mab pulled in the express wagon with what were left of the vegetables. Sammie had squeezed three of the big, ripe tomatoes into a soft pulp letting the juice and seeds run all over.
“And a tomato has lots of juice and seeds,” said Mab as she and Hal told Daddy and Mother Blake, afterward, what had happened.
“Yes, nearly all vegetables have plenty of seeds,” said their father. “Mother Nature provides them so there may never be any lack. If each tomato, squash or pumpkin or if each bean or pea pod only had one seed in, that one might not be a good one. That is it might not have inside it that strange germ of life, which starts it growing after it is planted.
“So, instead of one seed there are hundreds, as in a watermelon or muskmelon. And nearly all of them are fertile, or good, so that other melons may be raised from them.
“You see I only bought a small package of tomato seeds, and yet from them we will have hundreds of tomatoes, and each tomato may have a hundred seeds or more, and each of those seeds may be grown into a vine that will have hundreds of tomatoes on, each with a hundred seeds in it and each of these seeds—”
“Oh, Daddy! Please stop!” begged Mab with a laugh. “It’s like the story of the rats and the grains of corn!”
“Yes, there is no end to the increase that Mother Nature gives to us,” said Daddy Blake. “The earth is a wonderful place. It is like a big arithmetic table—it multiplies one seed into many.”
The long Summer vacation was now at hand. Hal and Mab did not have to go to school, and they could spend more time in the garden with their mother, with Uncle Pennywait or Aunt Lolly, while Daddy Blake, every chance he had, used the hoe often to keep down the weeds.
“There is nothing like hoeing to make your garden, a success,” he told the children.
“Do they hoe on big farms?” asked Hal.
“Well, on some, yes. I’ll take you children to a farm, perhaps before the Summer is over, and you can see how they do it. Instead of hoeing, though, where there is a big field of corn or potatoes, the farmer runs a cultivator through the rows. The cultivator is like a lot of hoes joined together, and it loosens the dirt, cuts down the weeds and piles the soft, brown soil around the roots of the plants just where it is most needed. But our garden is too small for a horse cultivator—that is one drawn by a horse. The one I shove along by hand is enough for me.”
Of course Hal and Mab did not spend all their time in the garden. They sometimes wanted to play with their boy and girl chums. For though it was fun to watch the things growing, to help them by hoeing, by keeping away the weeds and the bugs and worms, yet there was work in all this. And Daddy Blake believed, as do many fathers, that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” So Hal and Mab had their play times.