Since its first publication "Agriculture for Beginners" has found a welcome in thousands of schools and homes. Naturally many suggestions as to changes, additions, and other improvements have reached its authors. Naturally, too, the authors have busied themselves in devising methods to add to the effectiveness of the book. Some additions have been made almost every year since the book was published. To embody all these changes and helpful suggestions into a strictly unified volume; to add some further topics and sections; to bring all farm practices up to the ideals of to-day; to include the most recent teaching of scientific investigators—these were the objects sought in the thorough revision which has just been given the book. The authors hope and think that the remaking of the book has added to its usefulness and attractiveness.
They believe now, as they believed before, that there is no line of separation between the science of agriculture and the practical art of agriculture. They are assured by the success of this book that agriculture is eminently a teachable subject. They see no difference between teaching the child the fundamental principles of farming and teaching the same child the fundamental truths of arithmetic, geography, or grammar. They hold that a youth should be trained for the farm just as carefully as he is trained for any other occupation, and that it is unreasonable to expect him to succeed without training.
If they are right in these views, the training must begin in the public schools. This is true for two reasons:
1. It is universally admitted that aptitudes are developed, tastes acquired, and life habits formed during the years that a child is in the public school. Hence, during these important years every child intended for the farm should be taught to know and love nature, should be led to form habits of observation, and should be required to begin a study of those great laws upon which agriculture is based. A training like this goes far toward making his life-work profitable and delightful.
2. Most boys and girls reared on a farm get no educational training except that given in the public schools. If, then, the truths that unlock the doors of nature are not taught in the public schools, nature and nature's laws will always be hid in night to a majority of our bread-winners. They must still in ignorance and hopeless drudgery tear their bread from a reluctant soil.
The authors return hearty thanks to Professor Thomas F. Hunt, University of California; Professor Augustine D. Selby, Ohio Experiment Station; Professor W. F. Massey, horticulturist and agricultural writer; and Professor Franklin Sherman, Jr., State Entomologist of North Carolina, for aid in proofreading and in the preparation of some of the material.
CONTENTS CHAPTER I. THE SOIL SECTION PAGE I. Origin of the Soil II. Tillage of the Soil III. The Moisture of the Soil IV. How the Water rises in the Soil V. Draining the Soil VI. Improving the Soil VII. Manuring the Soil CHAPTER II. THE SOIL AND THE PLANT VIII. Roots IX. How the Plant feeds from the Soil X. Root-Tubercles XI. The Rotation of Crops CHAPTER III. THE PLANT XII. How the Plant feeds from the Air XIII. The Sap Current XIV. The Flower and the Seed XV. Pollination XVI. Crosses, Hybrids, and Cross-Pollination XVII. Propagation by Buds XVIII. Plant Seeding XIX. Selecting Seed Corn XX. Weeds XXI. Seed Purity and Vitality CHAPTER IV. HOW TO RAISE A FRUIT TREE XXII. Grafting XXIII. Budding XXIV. Planting and Pruning CHAPTER V. HORTICULTURE XXV. Market-gardening XXVI. Flower-gardening CHAPTER VI. THE DISEASES OF PLANTS XXVII. The Cause and Nature of Plant Disease XXVIII. Yeast and Bacteria XXIX....