Advice for Growing Vegetables in Van Dieman’s Land (1828)

First published in the Colonial Advocate, and Tasmanian Monthly Review and Register (Hobart Town), 1 March 1828.

By Messrs. William Duncan and others.

CAULIFLOWER.—Plant cauliflower and brocoli [sic] plants; they should be planted in a light rich soil, in a warm part of the garden, and the ground well manured with rotten dung. Dig the ground one spade deep, and turn the manure to the bottom of the trench, and while fresh dug, get the plants, trim the ends of the long roots off, and plant them in rows two feet and a half apart, and two feet from plant to plant in the row. If the ground is dry, give them a good watering.

Note.—Instead of cutting off the whole head of a cauliflower, leave a part on, the size of a gooseberry, and all the leaves; second and even third heads will be formed; and thus they may be eaten for two or three months; when, at present by cutting the head completely off, the bed of cauliflowers is gone in two or three weeks.

CABBAGES.—Plant cabbage plants of the sugar-loaf and savoy sort; these are the best for this season; manure and dig some good ground, and set the plants two feet asunder in rows, and eighteen inches from plant to plant in the row. Some of this planting will produce good greens in winter, and the others will cabbage next spring.

CELERY.—Plant celery.—The plants should be put in trenches, to blanch for winter and spring use; the ground for the plants should be a rich deep soil, and in a dry part of the garden; dig the trenches out one foot wide and nine inches deep, and three feet from trench to trench, leaving six or eight inches of good earth in the bottom of the trench, and lay about four inches deep of good rotten dung in the trench; dig the earth and manure well together, and break all lumps with the spade; get some good celery plants, trim the ends of the roots, and cut the top of the long leaves off; plant them in a single row, along the middle of the trench, six or eight inches from plant to plant, and give each plant about half-a-pint of water.

ENDIVE AND LETTUCE.—Plant endive and lettuce plants; they should be planted on a warm border of light rich soil, in rows, a foot from plant to plant each way, and immediately give them some water.

SPINAGE [Spinach] —Sow spinage [sic] seed any time this month; the prickly sort is the best; draw shallow drills, a foot or fifteen inches apart; sow the seed thin in the drills; cover it over half an inch deep with mould; beat them earth gently down with the back part of the spade.

RADISHES.—Sow radish and lettuce seeds any time this month; the ground should be light and rich, and fresh dug; sow them on beds four or five feet wide, and rake them in.

SMALL SALAD.—Sow cress and mustard seed; it should be sown in very shallow drills, where the ground is light and fine; draw out the drill half an inch deep, and two or three inches wide, and a foot asunder from drill to drill; sow the seed quite thick in the drills, and cover it over as light as possible with fine earth, and press it gently down with the back of your hand.

CABBAGE SEED.—Sow cabbage seed of all kinds early this month, to plant out next spring, if not sown last month. Sow cauliflower seed on a warm dry border of rich earth, to plant out next spring, for a successional crop.

ONIONS —A few onions may be sown towards the middle of this month, to come in for use in the spring; and about the end of the month onion seed will be fit to cut, which should be done on a dry day; — about one dozen or eighteen heads tied up with twine or bark, and hung up in a shed to dry sufficiently to rub out. Onions planted out for seed should be three feet and a half from row to row, and eighteen inches apart in the row. They may remain when planted for seven years or longer, by manuring annually the ground where they grow, and digging in the manure; clean off all the withered and and old stalks in July. About the fifth or sixth year after planting, the seed will be better than that produced the first and second years. — Onions should be sown during this month, as they will then have acquired considerable growth before the winter frosts appear; and as the frosts set in sharp and unexpected in this country at the end of summer, a later sowing will run a great risk of being entirely destroyed, — or, on the other hand, be stinted from having attained no considerable growth before the drought of the ensuing summer. — The potatoe [sic] onion is extremely productive in this Island, and requires to be planted out in the latter end of autumn.

APPLES AND PEARS.—Any time this month apples and pears may be gathered. Great care should be taken not to bruise the fruit in gathering, and allow them plenty of room in the loft; it is well to place some wheat or other straw under them; if they are carefully packed in a cask, with saw-dust, and the cask sunk in the ground, entirely excluded from the air, they will remain good the season throughout. The appearance of the fruit upon the trees will shew when it is ripe. The apple-tree in this country is so astonishingly prolific, that instances have been known of very young trees having borne fruit the season immediately after they were grafted, before the grafts and stocks were well united, or the clay and bandages could be taken off or loosened — a circumstance almost incredible to a European. — The golden and lemon pippins, the russetans [sic], and indeed almost all the various apples bearing in England have been introduced into the Colony. Sow cherry and plum stones, or preserve them in rich loam, to sow in August, to raise stocks to graft and bud upon. Keep destroying weeds, by burning or otherwise, and clear off all young suckers from gooseberry and currant trees.

REMARKS.—As gardening is both useful and ornamental, it may not be unacceptable to offer a few remarks with regard to the soil and situation of a garden. A site for a garden should be chosen in some low situation, where the ground is moist and well sheltered on the West, by means of rising ground, high trees or bushes, or any other good protection, to shelter it front the heavy winds, which very often break large branches from the fruit trees, and shake off the fruit, and even loosen the trees at the roots. A garden should lie well open to the morning sun, or northward; the soil should be light and loose; and if inclined to be sandy, it is better than a hard stubborn soil. It is not recommended to be on a dead flat, but have a gentle descent from top to bottom, and not too much encumbered with fruit trees and bushes. A kitchen garden should be laid out in nearly square or oblong square plots, as they can be planted with all kinds of crops more regularly, and with less trouble than in any other shape. — One acre of good ground will produce vegetables sufficient for a family of eight or ten persons, and more or less in the same proportion.

Source: The Garden, For March (1828, March 1). Colonial Advocate, and Tasmanian Monthly Review and Register (Hobart Town, Tas. : 1828), p. 45. 

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