You can get them on eBay for less than I paid 30 years ago when it was hard to find things!
Below is the book plate (that takes up the entire page almost!) that I found inside the front cover of Miss Tiller's Vegetable Garden and the Money She Made by It, 1873.
I am going to post information and opinions on the vegetables mentioned in the next two chapters as I find it interesting to have found a collection compiled by one person from several seed suppliers of that year! Some varieties are still available, heralded as heritage varieties newly reintroduced!
SO when the next evening came, and Rose and I sat down with leisure to think and talk, Mrs. Chose brought out a small army of catalogues.
"Some of 'em last year's," she said, coming in with her hands full, "but they'll answer your purpose about as well. Price of beans don't change much, and you won't make your fortune on novelties this year."
"What are novelties, pray?" said Rose, while I eyed the catalogues with a certain degree of mysterious veneration.
"New things that pretend to be better than the old," said Mrs. Chose. "Sometimes they are and sometimes they ain't. But except just a few for fun, it's generally safe to let other folks try 'em first. They're expensive, and risky."
"And are all these catalogues different?" said I.
"Different in spots," said Mrs. Chose. "You see everybody won't keep every thing,—save a world of trouble if they did, but they won't, can't, I s'pose. And so one man takes to Caseknife and another to Dwarf Wax."
"Dwarf Wax!" I repeated, helplessly.
"Beans," said Mrs. Chose. "Just as nobody but Vick keeps Nutting's No. I. And yet they are No. 1, every inch of them. But they're peas."
"And have I got to send to all these different men?" I said, turning over the bewildering pile of print and illustration.
"Only for some things," said Mrs. Chose. "Otherwise, choose one, and stick to him. Who have you been dealing with? Got something of a garden now, haven't you?"
"A little strip," I said. "Or, we just go to the store for what we want."
"That's a nice way to have poor vegetables and few of 'em," said Mrs. Chose; "unless it's a deal better than most village stores. You get fresher seeds from the large dealers, and truer to name. And as most of them post-pay everything right to your hands, it's just as cheap."
"What is true to name?" inquired Rose, who, by the way, had come into the new plan with all her heart.
"True to name?" said Mrs. Chose ;— 'why it's for ' Long Orange' to come up that, and not streaked. And for ' Early Blood ' not to turn out ' Yellow Ovoid,' or a make-up between the two. Or ' White Tuscarora,' all speckled with 'Red Dent.'"
I thought Rose would have hurt herself laughing,—in fact we all took our turn.
"Where am I to begin?" I said, taking up one of the- catalogues. "But dear Mrs. Chose, I don't even know some of these things by sight!' Artichokes?—never saw one in all my life!"
"If I may advise a little more," said Mrs. Chose, "having already advised so much, don't trouble yourself this year with what you don't know. Make out a list of simple things, that are, at most, only new varieties of old friends."
"I shall make bad work of the varieties," I said. "Now, Mrs. Chose, I'll tell you the thing, and you shall tell me the variety, and Rose shall write it down."
"What's your soil, first of all?" said Mrs. Chose.
"I don't know," I said, doubtfully. "Sandy something, Mr. Fogy calls it."
"Sandy loam," said Mrs. Chose. "Now, what's your neighborhood?"
"What has the neighborhood to do with our garden ?" said Rose.
"Only to buy what comes out of it," said Mrs. Chose. "And so upon them depends, partly, what you put into it. Egg-plants never get into a shanty, and cabbages and onions are shy of going above stairs in a great house. Who are your customers?"
"There's an Irish settlement," I said, considering; "and two or three village inns. A few well-off people who have no gardens, and a few country people who don't raise anything. That's about the assortment."
"Very good." said Mrs. Chose. "Now we are ready for business. You may head your list with beans."
"But here are twenty kinds," said I.
"Half a dozen will do," said Mrs. Chose. "' Early Valentine,' for very early, and then plenty of 'Dwarf Wax.' They're about as good as peas, and don't care a snap for hot weather. Then for your poles, you want 'Concord '—nice for shelling green, and early, —' Concord ' and ' Lima ' and ' Small Lima.'"
"Why have any 'Small Lima'?" I queried.
"Because they're earlier, great bearers, and have a quite distinct excellence of their own," said Mrs. Chose. "Call 'em ' Sieva,' and that 'll take off the only objection. They'd sell six times as fast if the seedsmen would keep to that name. Then you must plant a good many 'Case Knife'; first-class, string or shelled, green or dry, as the catalogues say. Very long pods, very many of them; thick and crisp and tender; and the dry beans better for boiling than dry 'Limas.' Then 'Giant Wax.' Later than ' Dwarf Wax,' but as fine as can be."
"How many shall I say of each kind?" said Rose, looking up from her list.
"Mark out your bean patch, and see," said Mrs. Chose. "A pint of dwarf beans will plant a row fifty feet long, and a pint of pole beans will plant seventy-five hills."
"As to beets," she went on, taking up a catalogue in her turn (I doubt if she could have kept her fingers off another minute), " an ounce of them will plant fifty feet. You want 'Bassano,' and 'Early Blood Turnip,' and 'Long Blood,' if you want long ones."
"Here are yellow beets, too," I said.
"Good," said Mrs. Chose, "but yellow; which it don't seem right for a beet to be. All a notion, I suppose; but I do like to see things look like themselves. Carrots'll give you yellow enough."
"O, I don't want any carrots," I said.
"Ever try the ' Early Short Horn ?'" said Mrs. Chose.
"Nor the 'White Vosges'?"
"Never even heard of it."
"Well, they're just two of the best things that grow," said Mrs. Close, "if they're only cooked right. I can clear a good bed of 'em myself."
"Is it worth while to bother with celery?" I questioned again.
"Worth while to have it," said Mrs. Chose. "'Turner's Incomparable Dwarf.' Mr. Henderson says that's the best."
"Corn. We've got plenty, now," I said. "No need to send for that."
"What kind ?" said Mrs. Chose, with interest.
"I don't know," I said. "Field corn of some kind, I suppose; and I guess there's a little sweet corn. Does it make much difference? I thought corn was corn?"
"Reckon it is," said my adviser, dryly: "but some corn's cobs, and some corn's custard. That's about the difference. Send to Vick for his ' Early Minnesota;' first-rate, and nobody else has it; and to Gregory for the 'Mexican'; and then get 'Crosby', or 'Trimble', or any of the other sorts for change and succession. Mexican corn must have the very middle of the season; it's neither early nor late; but it's so good that you wish it was both".
"Shall we plant any cabbage?" said I. "We don't care much about it here."
"Plant cabbage!" echoed Mrs. Chose. "Why, it's well-nigh the backbone of a market-garden. You can't possibly plant too much. 'Early York,' and Vick's 'Wheeler's Imperial,' and Gregory's 'Cannon Ball'—almost as hard-headed as your friend Mr. Fogy —and 'Winnigstadt,' and 'Fottler's Drumhead,' and 'Drumhead Savoy.' 'Early Schweinfurth' is early and large and good, but rather soft; and 'Filderkraut' and ' Early Dwarf Ulm' are excellent for home use, but hardly showy enough for market. Then you want 'Red' for pickling. And put in just as many 'Marblehead Mammoth' as you can find room for."
"Mrs. Chose!" cried I. "If I hear another name to-night, I shall turn into a cabbage myself. I feel as if I were growing 'soft,' or 'solid,' or something, every minute."
Mrs. Chose laughed, and shut up her catalogue.
"VERY good pickles", said Mrs. Chose, helping herself again (she always would have pickles for breakfast); "but not equal to the ' Improved Long Green.' They'll snap like a pipe-stem."
"Mrs. Chose," I said, while Rose jumped up, and ran for her catalogue, " I want a great many cucumbers."
"Can't have too many for me," said my gardening adviser.
"Shall we get some of those dear little early things, to begin with—and so have them all the season through?" said Rose.
"If you want to lose your time and your money, patience thrown in," said Mrs. Chose. "That's my experience. 'Dear little things' they've always been to me. I don't know whether it was my fault or theirs, but 'Early Russian' and 'Early Cluster' never did me a speck of good yet."
"But the catalogues say "I began.
"O, well," broke in Mrs. Chose, "catalogues cover the whole country, and the whole country ain't just alike. And glass and gardeners make a difference, I s'pose, though I've never tried 'em much. 'White Spine,' and ' Improved Long Green,' and 'New Jersey Hybrid,' will be early enough, if you plant 'em right, and take care of 'em. And there's something of them."
"So it shall be, then," said Rose, noting the names. "We'll try them all, for fun."
"Yes, but you mustn't plant 'em all together," said Mrs. Chose, " or you may have to eat 'em together, too. Some things mix."
"They shall have the four corners of the garden," said Rose, laughing. "Now, Aunt Bethia—what's next?"
"Finish your breakfast, child," said Mrs. Chose. "That's next."
"O! I have," said Rose. "And I want our seeds just as soon as I can get them. We'll have cress, of course, and egg-plants."
"Curled." said Mrs. Chose, referring to the cress. "And 'Improved N. Y. Purple' and 'Black Pekin,' and ' Green Japanese.' 'Early Long' is good, too, and ' Long White' are excellent, but they're not so large."
"But Rose," I said, " we don't want egg plant seed. You know we always buy our plants, ready to set out."
"Just as well raise 'em yourself, and have 'em plenty, and good, and cheap," said Mrs. Chose. "Start 'em in any warm room."
"What's ' Kohl Rabi'?" said I.
"Compound of cabbage and turnip," said Mrs. Chose. "Good and useful."
"Then comes lettuce."
"There's a host of good early kinds," said Mrs. Chose. 'Tennis Ball,' and ' Early Egg,' and ' White Silesia,' and ' Simpson.' Then for hot weather, 'Malta Drumhead' is good, and 'Neapolitan,' and 'Asiatic,' and the 'Cos' varieties. 'All the Year Round' has a name, but I haven't tried it."
"Just look at the melons!" said Rose. "1 didn't know there could be so many kinds."
"Every one to his taste about melons," said Mrs. Chose; "but I like 'Sill's Hybrid' and the old 'Persian.' 'White Japanese' is a fine new one, and 'Skillman's Netted' comes early."
"Four kinds," said Rose, writing them down.
"That's only musks," said Mrs. Chose. "For waters, there's nothing like the 'Orange,' to my fancy."
"They don't praise it much," I said, looking at the catalogue.
"No, they don't," said Mrs. Chose. "But I can't see why seedsmen should know everything—any more than the rest of the world. It's the best water-melon I ever saw. Not as big as it might be; but rich, and fruity, and handsome. And when frost comes, you can pick 'em off and store 'em in the house, and they'll keep till Christmas."
"' Okra' we don't know anything about," said Rose, reading the name next in order.
"Then learn," said Mrs. Chose. "Won't sell much in a country market, I guess; so you need only plant for ourselves. And if you want to sell water-melons, you must grow the old-fashioned big ones—' Mountain Sprout' or 'Ice-cream.'"
"What a name!" I said. "Is it like it at all?"
"About as like as it is to pumpkins," said Mrs. Chose. "Color favors it, of course.
"Put down plenty of onions, my dear. 'Long Yellow,' and ' Danvers' and ' White Portugal,' are all good keepers and croppers; and 'Silver Skin' is better to eat and to look at, and not quite so sure. Then I'd get a few quarts of onion sets, unless you saved some last year."
"Plenty of them in the house," I said. "And parsley we have in the garden. Parsnip seed we want."
"' Hollow Crown ' and 'Early Round," said Mrs. Chose.
"For market," said Mrs. Chose, pushing aside her plate, and giving herself to the seed business in earnest, "plant all the early peas you can get in. 'Nutting's No. 1,' 'Queen of the Dwarfs,'' Little Gem,' are all excellent. And 'Tom Thumb' is good, and 'Carter's First Crop,' but they're not so large. 'Caractacus' is fine, they say, but never did quite so well with me. Then for second early, ' Epicurean,' and 'Premier,' and ' Eugenie,' and ' Princess Royal.' You'll have to study the prices, and then the height of the peas,—whether you can afford the money for dear ones, or the time to stick tall ones."
"But Mrs. Chose," I said, "aren't late peas good, too?"
"First-rate," said our lodger, reaching back to the stand for her knitting; "only they're not so sure a crop. Dry weather'll stint 'em, and damp weather'll mold 'em; or they'll get miffed at some other weather they don't happen to fancy ; so it's generally safe (for profit) to let peas slide on into beans. But I'd have some 'Veitch's Perfection,' and maybe 'Champion of England;' and you can plant 'Eugenie' almost all the season through.
"Peppers we've got," I said, reading on. "And pumpkin seed—plenty. Radishes?"
"' Red Turnip,'" said Mrs. Chose, firing up her needles. "' New French Breakfast,' 'Scarlet Olive-shaped,' ' Long White Naples,' for summer; 'Chinese' for winter."
"Salsify, we don't know either," said Rose.
"Very passable summer oysters," said Mrs. Chose. "And when you get spinach, my dear, let it be 'Round' and 'New Zealand.' The prickly 's too prickly to live."
"Crooknecked Squash ?" I queried.
"'Early Bush Crook' is very good," said our adviser. "'Cocoanut' is a grand little summer squash. Get 'Hubbard ' for winter, and 'Turban' and 'Yokohama' for fall. "' American Turban '—not 'French.' What sort of tomatoes did you have last year?"
"I don't know," I said. "Just tomatoes."
"Two inches across?" said Mrs. Chose. "Wrinkled, watery, and fond of their skins?"
"The very kind !" said Rose, with a groan. "We got the plants from Mr. Fogy."
"It's astonishing to me," said Mrs. Chose, laying down her knitting, "why people take the worst when they can have the best. Now I've raised many Fiji tomatoes that weighed more than two pounds, and one that weighed more than two pounds and a half. Solid right through, and peel like a peach, without a bit of hot water."
"' Two pounds and a half!' 'Without hot water!'" cried Rose and I in different notes of admiration. And Rose immediately wrote down ' FIJI' in large capitals.
"Raised my own plants, too, without either glass or gardener," said Mrs. Chose. Nothing better for late than 'Fiji,' and for early, 'Crimson Cluster' is about the best I ever tried. It's a solid, fine flavored little tomato, the season through, and ripens very early, and bears well. Last year, I set out 'Crimson Cluster' and 'Boston Market' and 'Orangefield' and 'General Grant' side by side, the same day. Plants all about the same size. And 'Crimson Cluster' was first ripe. Those are all you need send for. I've got seed of 'Pear' and 'Grape' for pickles and sweetmeats; and 'White Apple' for anything; and the Trophy seed they make such a fuss about. We'll give it a good trial."
"Turnips last," I said.
"A few early and a great many late," said Mrs. Chose. "' Strap-leaf Red-top' is good for either; and 'Golden Ball' and 'Orange Jelly' and 'White Globe' for late. 'Aberdeen' and 'Cow Horn' are good for market, and 'Long French' the nicest for home."
"But don't people who go to market want things for home ?" said Rose.
"People who go to market," said Mrs. Chose, "sometimes leave their sense at home; and so they think first of filling their baskets, and don't care what they stick in if it only sticks out. Large, cheap, good—that's the market order of excellence for country customers. So all the little good things we plant, we must count to eat ourselves."
"I WISH the seeds were here!" I said, about twenty-four hours after the list had gone. "I want to set to work."
"Then set to work," said Mrs. Chose. "There's enough to do."
"But I mean in my garden."
"Sooner you get your muck drawn, the sooner you'll be ready to dig," said Mrs. Chose, casting on stitches with marvelous celerity. "Sooner you get your boxes ready, the sooner you'll be ready to sow."
"Boxes?'' questioned I.
"Yes," said Mrs. Chose. "Seed-boxes, seed-pots, seed-pans."
"We've got a good many old rusty milk pans about the house," said Rose, innocently. "They could just as well hold the seeds as not. I suppose the rust wouldn't get through the papers, if they were kept dry."
"Bless the child!" said Mrs. Chose, with an amused face. "What simpletons folks are about what they don't understand! How many milk pans do you think it'll take to hold your seeds in that shape? I mean earthen seed-pans, to plant 'em in. Tin pans ain't good for much, in my experience. Use everything else you've got, first."
"We've got several butter tubs and such things," said I.
"Flour barrels, too, haven't you?" said Mrs. Chose, dryly. "You don't want anything a bit deeper than four inches, and two's deep enough. Tomatoes ain't orange trees, nor oleanders. What's the shallowest thing you've got, except a tea-saucer?"
"A few flower pots," suggested Rose.
"They'll do for some things, said Mrs. Chose. "Got any old soap boxes, or boxes of any kind?"
"That's it," said Mrs. Chose. "Cut 'em in two, or in three, or in four; any how, so they won't be more than four inches; board up the bottom and leave the top, and that's done. Then amuse yourself making labels."
"Has everything got to be labelled?" I asked, in some dismay.
"How do you mean to tell 'Early' from 'Late,' ' Dwarf Ulm' from ' Improved Drumhead,' 'Little Pixie' from 'Cannon Ball,' 'Long Purple ' from 'Black Pekin,' or 'Tennis Ball' from 'White Silesia' ?" said Mrs. Chose, laying down her knitting.
What answer could we give but silence?
"Don't you want to know what you're eating?" pursued our lodger. "Don't you like to give things a foot, that want it, and save your ground over plants that'll make six inches do?"
Again silence—only Rose laughed uncontrollably. Our counsellor laughed too.
"It's good sense for all," she said, " whether it sounds like it or not. By the time you've got boxes and labels and muck all ready, I'll warrant we'll find something else to do."
"The ground's too frozen, and the muck as well," I said.
"All the better for hauling," said Mrs. Chose. "The frost ain't deeper than a pickaxe. My dear, in gardening, if you wait until everything's just right, something will be sure to be just wrong."
That, at least, was sense that I could understand, and forthwith I marched off to the kitchen, and despatched Asa that very night to engage a team.
"But I suppose you'll allow, Mrs. Chose," said I, as I came back to the sitting-room. "I suppose even you will allow that I can do nothing to-night."
"No such thing," said our indefatigable lodger. "There's always something to do, "Map out your garden, make your plan, straighten out your ideas."
There was no doubt my ideas needed it; but whether "mapping out" (a thing I never did in my life) would do the business, was, at least, an open question. However, I got pencil and paper and set to work, drawing first (by advice) a plan of last year's small attempt at a garden, and then " straightening" my ideas to a parallel with the lines and divisions of the new garden that was to be.
"Keep all your vegetables playing puss in the corner," remarked Mrs. Chose, with more decision than clearness. "Never plant 'em two years in a place. Let beans follow corn, and corn potatoes, and peas come after beets, carrots, and parsnips."
It was pretty work. Happily I knew the exact size of our garden lot, and had no need to wait until next day for measurements, so we planned and replanned, and arranged and changed, and studied and considered, until we were tired.
"Give all the early things a warm spot," said Mrs. Chose. "Put your tomatoes well in the sun, and egg plants and melons in the hottest place you've got. Never plant late peas in a dry strip—melons 'll make more of it, and put the beans where they'll have plenty of air. Peas go in first of all, so get that ground ready first. Then potatoes and tap roots."
"We haven't got enough potatoes to plant," said Rose.
"Get some of your namesakes, then," said Mrs. Chose. "'Early Rose' is one of the best kinds for home or market that I know. Not quite equal, not better, anyway, than 'Early Fluke,' but bigger, and that goes far. 'Early Goodrich,' is fine, too, and 'White Peach Blow' is first-class late."
"Let's try 'em all," said Rose, laughing, as she wrote down the names.
"What puzzles me," said Mrs. Chose, is how in the world you've kept a garden and grown no experience! What did you sow? Where did you get your plants?"
"Why we just sowed what we happened to have, or what the store happened to have," said Rose, in some disgust. "And bought plants of Mr. Fogy."
"What he happened to have, I s'pose," said our lodger. "I know what they were. All the Fogys like the kinds that were stored up in the ark, if they can get 'em. Yellow field corn, and watery potatoes, and peas like small shot."
"We'll give him some new ideas," said Rose.
"No you won't," said Mrs. Chose, "because he won't take 'em. It's the only thing he won't' take if he can get it free, except good counsel."
"You've known him before, then ?" said I.
"Not this branch," said Mrs. Chose. "There's some of the family everywhere, in my experience. They're about equal to sorrel for creeping along under ground and striking root. Now, Miss Tiller, folks who mean to see their muck drawn in the morning, must go to bed overnight. That's the second letter in the gardener's alphabet."
"What's the first?" inquired I.
"The first is that you must see it drawn," said Mrs. Chose, rolling up her knitting. "The master's eye is about as important as if he had but one, like Polyphemus."