Vegetables need plenty of water to develop their roots and leaves.
Vegetables do not grow well in dry soil; the soil of the beds must always be moist.
In the dry season, each bed of 10 square metres needs about 7 watering cans full of water every day.
Watering can be done either with a watering can or by irrigation.
Your watering can should have a rose with very fine holes.
Like that, you can get the water everywhere onto the leaves, the plant will be well watered and you use less water.
The seedlings in the nursery bed, which are delicate, will not be damaged.
If you have a lot of water, you can also water by irrigation.
The water flows along ditches dug between the beds. This is a very good way of watering for vegetables whose fruits are eaten, for example, tomatoes.
22. Weeding and earthing up
Watering a lot means that weeds will grow. Furthermore, the water compacts the soil and a hard layer of earth may form.
Weeds take the nourishment (mineral salts) of the vegetables out of the soil. Weeds must be removed often.
This is what cultivating is for. Cultivating is done with the pulling hoe.
By cultivating you break up the layer of dry earth that keeps air out of the soil.
23. Earthing up means heaping up soil around the base of the plant.
Like that, the roots of tomatoes and beans, as well as tubers, like potatoes, can grow well.
With certain plants, for example leeks, covering up part of the plant with earth keeps the plants white and prevents them from becoming tough.
Cultivate oflen, so as to remove all weeds and loosen the soil.
In order to protect the soil from the sun and to enrich it with organic matter, cover the soil with straw or herbage. This is called mulching.
When you water. the soil will stay damp and the herb age will rot.
Certain vegetables are softer and sell at a better price when they are blanched. You can prevent them turning green by tying together the leavesfor example, endives; or by covering the base of the plant with earthfor example, leeks. This is discussed in paragraph 53.
26. Putting up shelters
In regions where the sun is very hot, or the rain very heavy, the young plants must be protected. Over every vegetable bed, put up a shelter made of palm fronds or matting.
When the young seedlings are too close to each other, they do not grow well. They do not find enough nourishment in the soil and their leaves do not have enough room to develop.
Leave only the strongest plants and remove the others. This is called thinning.
When you take out the seedlings that are small, diseased or misshapen, be very careful not to damage the seedlings which remain in the beds.
At the end, pack down the earth around the base of the plants and water them.
Vegetables with long and weak stems, for example beans and tomatoes, need stakes.
A stake is a stick firmly embedded in the earth. It is best to use hard wood, which does not rot.
Certain vegetables, like tomatoes, beans, eggplant, need pruning.
Nip off surplus buds. Then there will be more fruits and they will be bigger.