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The progressive farmer and southern farm gazette. (Starkville, Miss.) 1910-1920, July 30, 1910, HOUSEKEEPER'S SPECIAL., Image 2

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87065610/1910-07-30/ed-1/seq-2/

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Commercial Fertilizers, Their Use
and Abuse.
That THE INJUDICIOUS use of commercial
fertilizers has been the cause of a great deal
of the depleted state of much land in the
South is certainly true. But I get letters from
farmers in some sections saying that they do not
believe in commercial fertilizers. One writes that
he will use lime in the improvement of his soil at
rate of two tons an acre, and will feed stock and
make manure, but he does not want to have any
thing to do with commercial
This simply shows that he
fails to understand the essen
tial matters connected with
the restoration and mainten
ance of the productiveness of
the soil. He has seen that men
have grown poor while annual
ly growing cotton on the same
land with a little dribble of
Professor Massey. a low-grade fertilizer, and
charges this poverty of soil to the fact that they
used commercial fertilizers, when it was due to
ignorant methods in farming and a neglect of the
means for maintaining the humus in the soil.
He proposes to use lime to enrich his land, but
while lime has a valuable and important part to
play in farming, lime will never make poor land
rich. Lime is not properly a fertilizer at all, and
is not used as a fertilizer, though we often see it
advertised as such. All of our cultivated goils
have plenty of lime in them for all the use plants
make of lime as food. We use lime to sweeten
the soil when it has become sour. We use it on
lands that abound in insoluble potash, such as
most of the red lands of the Southern Piedmont,
for lime has the power to release potash in the
soil. We use it to hasten the nitrification of or
ganic matter in the soil, but we must maintain
this by a proper rotation of crops and the use of
animal manures. Lime is very useful in a good
rotation of crops, but used with the idea that it
is a fertilizer, we can soon run the land down to
a totally unproductive state through its use.
Stable manure is excellent, of course, and
few of us can get enough of it. But stable ma
nure alone will not maintain the phosphoric acid
and potash in the soil. Every growing animal
takes phosphorus to form its bony system, and
thus carries phosphorus oft the farm.
In fact, phosphorus is the one element that we
must add to all of our old soils in some artificial
way. We need never buy an ounce of nitrogen,
for we can maintain our supply of this and in
crease the amount in our soils through the grow
ing of the legumes and feeding them to cattle,
but we cannot get the phosphorus from the air,
and in some soils, especially the sandy soils of
the Atlantic Coast, potash is also needed. If a
man is situated like Dr. Dietrich was on his little
farm in Pennsylvania so that he can afford to buy
ana ieea grain grown on the land or other peo
ple, he can avoid the purchase of any plant food
in a fertilizer. But such situations are rare, and
most of us must restore the wasted phosphorus
and potassium in commercial fertilizers.
When these are used for the purpose of in
) creasing the production of peas and clover or
other legume crops, the feeding of which will
give us the needed supply of manure, it will be
found that liberal applications will pay exceed
ingly well.
But because thousands have been putting 200
pounds an acre of the poor 2—8—2 fertilizer on
cotton year after year, and have thus reduced the
fertility of their soil, this makes no cause for the
abandonment of chemical fertilizers. For the lit
tle 200 pounds of 2—8—2 had in its less than 24
pounds of plant food to go over a whole acre, and
this was at once used up in the start and the
plants made strong enough to draw still further
on the plant food in the soil, and the natural re
sult is a depletion of the fertility of the soil.
Then all that is produced is sold off.
It is this use of commercial fertilizers that I
do not believe in. But I do believe in the heavy
use of phosphoric acid, and in many soils of pot
ash, to give us more of the legumes to feed and
more humus-making manure. The broad asser
tion that you do not believe in commercial fer
tilizers simply shows that you are ignorant of the
needs of plant life and of our old soils.
A Batch of Garden Notes.
□E ARE NOW at the height of the summer
production in the garden. I have now
fourteen varieties of vegetables ready for
use uii the table, and every one the product of
my own labor, and gathered daily by my own
The latest to come in were the eggplants, but
these are producing rapftlly. Good eggplants are
largely a matter of heavy manuring, for it is use
less to try to grow them without this. The
ground where they were planted was heavily ma
nured in the spring, and after the plants were set
they were mulched with manure on the surface
to keep the soil moisture in, and on this I ap
plied a liberal dressing of a fertilizer of a higher
grade than our cotton farmers ever dream of, for
it runs 7—6—5, and is the piixture the Norfolk
truckers are using heavily. Of course, to get the
7 per cent of nitrogen, there is a large amount of
nitrate of soda used in it, and it makes things
lump surely.
We have been having more tomatoes than we
can consume since the first week in July, and but
for the cool and backward spring, I would have
had them in June. But being very busy about
James C. Austin of New Salem
Township purchased a pure-bred
Guernsey bull four years ago and be
gan to grow cattle along with his com
and cotton and other crops. He is not
growing any less com or cotton, but is
actually growing more and in larger
quantities per acre, and conseqently
receiving a greater profit per acre.
And he is now raising and selling fif
teen to twenty head of dairy cows each
year at on average of $SO per head.
He grows the forage for winter feed
ing on his place, exchanges his cotton
seed for meal, makes ISO to 200 tons
of manure annually, and is emphatic
in his statement that there is more
money in cattle than there is in cot
ton. And Mr. Austin is not neglect
ing cotton, either, for he this year put
over one hundred tons of good, fine
manure on his cotton land, and his
com crop is fine. He has added to
his gross income $750 to $1,000 an
nually, of which half at least, accord
ing to his own reckoning, is net profit.
—T. J. W. Broom, in Monroe (N. C.)
—■ ■ 1
other matters, I neglected spraying early enough,
and the result has been more rotten tomatoes and
more boll worms than I ever had.
And on the corn the boll worms have taken a
large toll, for some ears are almost eaten up. 1
hope that the later corn will escape, for the early
corn is about the first thing the boll worini can
find. I have Borne tomatoes grown from seed
sown outdoors that are now loaded with green
fruit and not a boll worm hole nor a rotten fruit
to be seen. So we have to pay the toll for easi
The best snap beans I have tried are the Sliver
Wax. I planted these last year early, and the
first beans were a disappointment, as they Beemed
scaaty. But when they got well down to work
they beat any bean I have ever had, for the same
vines continued to give us snaps till the middle
of August. The pods are a golden yellow color,
and never rust as some wax beans do.
The plot where I dug early potatoes that made
at rate of 3 50 bushels an acre Is now growing
Stowell's Evergreen sugar corn, and in a little
while I will sow spinach between the rows of
All the refuse In the way of vegetable matter
that grows in the garden 1 will return to the soil
after rotting it down. As fast ub the cars of corn
ure cut, I pull out the stalks, for I do not want
any stumps in the garden, and pile the Btalks
with the potato tops and peavlnes and sprinkle
with lime in an out-of-the-way corner to rot.
Then the garbage from the kitchen goes on the
same pile, and by next spring I expect to have a
mass of humus-making material to go back on
the garden.
People ask me how to get rid of nut grass, and
I tell them the only way is not to allow it to
grow. My land was infested with it, but I have
kept at its daily, and already have to hunt for
stray plants. These I pull out and throw in the
sun to wither. Just outside the fence it is still
very thick, but it is evident that one can banish
it from cultivated ground if he keeps everlast
ingly at it.
The worst thing I have to contend with is a
green brier of the smilax family that has a deep
running stem under ground and shoots up every
where. I am keeping this chopped off nt the
ground, knowing that no roots can long survive
if not allowed to make green leaves above ground.
Making a garden from a lot that has lain vacant
for years and covered with all manner of weeds
is a serious task, but the weeds can lie conquered
if we give them no quarter.
1 have two varieties of okra. One, the Perkins
Mammoth, is of the White Velvet class. The
other is a dwarf green-podded sort that is much
earlier than the Mammoth. Both are excellent
for soups. The tender green pods can be put in
the sun to dry and then will keep In cotton flour
bags for winter, and then they come In finely to
help out the soup.
On a sunny border 1 have beds of parsley and
sage, for I grow sage from seed every year, giv
ing the old plants to any one who wants to keep
the bushes in the garden, but I get more sage,
and better, from the seed.
Brussels sprouts are now making buds along
the stems, and In the fail these wilt make little
heads the site of a small walnut and are among
the finest things for the winter table, as they are
Improved by frost.
How the Other Fellow Beats Us.
HE BEATS US, especially in the Northwest,
because there they have always had to con
tend with the labor scarcity, and have been
compelled to economise in human labor and use
teams and machinery of the best sort. They have
thus made one man s labor far more productive
than we have In the South, where It Is one man
and one plow continually. One man with a team
of horses does more work in the cultivation of
the hoed crops than three men singly with three
mules golug four times in a row whsr« they
should go but once.
'I hey beat us. too, in the superior intelligence
of their laborers. Their farm hands are paid
larger wages than In the South, and are as cheap,
or cheaper, at that than the labor In the South,
for they stick at It in an intelligent way day after
day, and do not run off for every baptising and
every excursion and every Saturday afternoon as
the darkey will.
I lectured once at an institute In northern
Pennsylvania only a tulle and a half south of the
New \ ork line. 1 had a large, well-dressed, in
telligent and attentive audience, and was told
that three-fourths of the bright-looking men In
the audience were farm hands who got $:'5 to $30
a month and board and washing, and were all
looking forward to the day when they could have
farms of their own. It la thia class of farm
hands, with good teams and improved Imple
ments, that make the greater figures produced
per capltu on tho Northern and Western farms.
1 hen. too, they farm, and are not single crop
pers with all their eggs In one basket. They
feed stock and make a profit out of them and get
manure, and are uot eternally asking what fer
tilizer and how much per ucre, us do too
many men in the South who are working the soil
and thinking they are farming, while they are
simply gambling with fertilizers, in a climate
where there Is always the Impending shadow of
an untimely frost in the early fall, the Iowa farm
er makes more corn mid feeds more stock than
wo do In tho splendid climate of tho South, where
no froBt nor summer hot wind ever blights tho
corn, while the Iowa man is In danger of both.
To the three needs the Kdltor gives, | would
add: More use of the brain and more study of
improved methods of farming; better laborers,
and loss of slavish dependence on the fertilizer
There is Just as much beauty visible to us In
the landscape as we are prepared to appreciate,
not a whit more.—Thoreau.

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