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A patch of daisies with a yellow center and white petals. A view of gardening from a homemaker.

As a homemaker who dreams of her garden, we will be visiting the book Amateur Gardencraft: A Book For the Home-Maker and Garden Lover. Written by Eben E. Rexford, it was published 1912, and then procured from Project Gutenberg.

I would love for you to come along with me on a new series we have here at The Cultivation of Cozy.

A Literary Journey

Let us journey through various books of days gone by and visit relevant chapters in our lives as homemakers. We will explore gardening, sewing, home crafts and handiwork, and recipes.

I will note when there are excerpts from the book we are speaking of, and when I am speaking with you. Cozy up with your warm beverage in a comfy chair and join me, won’t you?

Just a note!

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Homemaking and Gardening

Excerpt: Homemaking is a process of evolution. We take up the work when everything connected with it is in a more or less chaotic condition. Probably without any definite plan in mind.

The initial act in the direction of development suggests almost immediately that something else can be done to advantage. In this way we go on doing little things from day to day.

Until the time when we discover what wonderful things have been accomplished by patient and persistent efforts. Then we are surprised and delighted at the result.

If we were to plan it all out before beginning it, very likely the undertaking would seem so intimidating that it might discourage us. This is why a homemaker dreams of her garden.

The process takes place so gradually, as we work hand in hand with nature, that work becomes play.

A Homemaker Who Admires

This place casts off the bareness which characterizes the beginning of most home. Until it becomes a thing of beauty that seems fill every nook and corner with the essence of ourselves.

Labor can be connected with the undertaking is that of love which carries with it a most delightful gratification as it progresses.

In proportion as we infuse into it a desire to make the most of any and everything that will attract, and please, and beautify, we reap the reward of our efforts.

The home that somebody has made for us never appeals to us as does the one into which we have put ourselves. Bear that in mind, and be wise, O friend of mine, and be your own homemaker.

A field of wildflowers inspiring the dreams of a homemaker and her gardening.

Spring Work In the Garden

Excerpt: Not much actual work can be done in the garden, at the north, before the middle of April. But a good deal can be done toward getting ready for active work as soon as conditions become favorable.

Right here let me say, that it is a most excellent plan to do all that can be done to advantage as early in the season as possible, for the reason that when the weather becomes warm, work will come with a rush, and in the hurry of it quite likely some of it will be slighted.

Always aim to keep ahead of your work.

Your garden may be small—so small that you do not think it worth while to give much consideration to it in the way of making plans for it—but it will pay you to think over the arrangement of it in advance.

The Revolutionary Act of Making a Garden

“Making garden” doesn’t consist simply in spading up a bed, and putting seed into the ground. Thought should be given to the location and arrangement of each kind of flower you make use of.

The haphazard location of any plant is likely to do it injustice, and the whole garden suffers in consequence.

Make a mental picture of your garden as you would like to have it, and then take an inventory of the material you have to work with, and see how near you can come to the garden you have in mind.

Learning is a Lifelong Endeavor

Try to find the proper place for every flower.

Study up on habit, and color, and season of bloom, and you will not be likely to get things into the wrong place as you will be almost sure to do if you do not give considerable thought to this matter.

Orderliness and system in the garden as well as in the house, can only come by knowing your plants, and then locating them so that each one of them will have the opportunity to make the most of itself.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Beds can be spaded as soon as the frost is out of the ground, however it is not advisable to do more with them at that time.

If the ground is worked over when wet, the only result is that you get a good many small clods to take the place of large ones.

Slow and Steady

Nothing is gained by being in a hurry with this part of the work.

The pulverization of the soil can only be accomplished successfully after it has parted with the excessive moisture consequent on melting snows and spring rains.

Therefore let it lie as thrown up by the spade until it is in a condition to crumble readily under the application of hoe or rake.

Shrubs and Borders

Shrubs can be reset as soon as frost is out of the ground. Remove all of the defective roots when this is done.

Make the soil in which you plant them quite rich. Amend with compost if necessary.

If any changes are to be made in the border, plan for them now. Decide just what you want to do. Don’t allow any guesswork about it.

When you “think out” these things the home grounds will improve year by year, and you will have a place to be proud of.

A Homemaker With A Plan

The planless system which many may follow, never gives satisfactory results. It gives one the impression of something that started for somewhere but never arrived at its destination.

Old border plants which have received little or no attention for years will be greatly benefited by transplanting at this season.

Cut away all the older roots, and make use of none that are not strong and healthy. Give them a rich soil. Most of them will have renewed themselves by midsummer.

If you do not care to take up the old plants, cut about them with a sharp knife and remove as many of the old roots as possible.

Care of Lawn and Garden

The lawn should be given attention at this season. Rake off all unsightly refuse that may have collected on it during winter. Give it an application of some good fertilizer.

It is quite important that this should be done early in the season, as grass begins to grow almost as soon as frost is out of the ground, and the sward should have something to feed on as soon as it is ready for work.

Tending and Pruning

Next go over all the shrubs and see if any need attention in the way of pruning. But don’t touch them with the pruning knife unless they really need it.

Then cut out old wood and weak branches, if there are any, and thin, if too thick, but leave the bush to train itself. It knows more about this than you do!

Get racks and trellises ready for summer use. These are generally made on the spur of the moment, out of whatever material comes handiest at the time they are needed.

Such hurriedly constructed things are pretty sure to prove eyesores.

The gardener who takes pride in his work and his garden will not be satisfied with makeshifts, but will see that whatever is needed, along this line, is well made, and looks so well that he has no reason to be ashamed of it. It should be painted a dark green or some other neutral color.

Not wholly in the busy world, nor quite

beyond it, blooms the garden that I love.

Tennyson

Border Planting

Go over the border plants and uproot all grass that has secured a foothold there.

Then a space of a foot should be left about all shrubs and perennials in which nothing should be allowed to grow.

But if any plants seem out of place, take them up and put them where they belong. If you cannot find a place where they seem to fit in, discard them.

The garden will be better off without them, no matter how desirable they are, than with them if their presence creates color-discord.

Lovely Flowers

Peonies can be moved to advantage now. If you cut about the old clump and lift a good deal of earth with it, and do not interfere with its roots, no harm will be done.

But if you mutilate its roots, or expose them, you need not expect any flowers from the plant for a season or two.

Get stakes ready for the Dahlias. These should be painted some unobtrusive color. If this is done, and they are taken proper care of in fall, they will last for years. This is true of racks and trellises.

Have All The Things You Need

Provide yourself with a hoe, an iron-toothed rake, a weeding-hook, a trowel for transplanting, a wheel-barrow, a spade, and a watering-pot.

See that the latter is made from galvanized iron if you want it to last. Tin pots will rust out in a short time.

Take your watering-pot to the tinsmith and have him fit it out with an extension spout. Be sure it is one that can be slipped on to the end of the spout that comes with the pot. Let this be at least two feet in length.

This will enable you to apply water to the roots of plants standing well back in the border. Get it just where it will do the most good. But a short-spouted plant will not do this unless you take a good many unnecessary steps in making the application.

Be sure to send in your orders for seed and plants early in the season. You should have everything on hand and ready for putting into the ground when the proper time comes to do this.

A brown and white rabbit observed in a field of wildflowers.

Until Next Time!

Such a fascinating read! I truly loved getting a chance to share that with you. So many beautiful books from years long ago to love anew.

Tell me what you think, in the comments below! Did you enjoy this excerpt? Are there other topics you would like me to cover in this series?

I’d love to know what treasure trove of vintage writing you would like me to explore next! Until next time!

one last thing…

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A homemaker picking apples from her orchard.

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