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The importance and necessity of thorough cultivation have been constantly referred to, but it is after the seeds have germinated or the seedlings have been transplanted to their permanent positions that cultivation becomes of such great importance. The surface of the soil must not be allowed to become baked or even to form an appreciable crust.
Constant working with the hoe, rake, hand or wheel cultivator is necessary, between the rows and around the plants. This stirring and working of the soil permits the air to penetrate, thus facilitating chemical action and bacterial activity. Cultivation also destroys weeds, which otherwise absorb a large amount of the plants food, and tend to rob the growing crop of its supply of nutriments, and finally, cultivation conserves the soil moisture.
In the ordinary Home Garden, an implement such as a rake and a hoe, constitute the necessary tools needed, and of these the Rake is possibly the most useful. This should be passed backwards and forward over the ground until the soil is in a mellow condition, but where the ground has become hard below the immediate surface, other tools must supplement the work done by the Rake. Close chopping with a wheel hoe will break up this hard ground satisfactorily and put the soil in good condition.
The Wheel Hoe or Hand Cultivator where available, enables the most stubborn soil to be put into condition with a minimum of labour, but whatever implement is used for this work, the clods or lumps of earth must be broken and the finishing touches given to the surface with a Rake.