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A Year's Residence in the
United States of America: Vol. 1
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CULTURE, MODE OF PRESERVING, AND USES OF THE
RUTA BAGA, sometimes CALLED THE RUSSIA AND SOMETIMES THE SWEDlSH TURNIP.
of the Plant.
25. IT is my intention, as notified in the public papers, to put into print an account of all the experiments which I have made, and shall make, in Farming and in Gardening upon this Island. I, several years ago, long before tyranny showed its present horrid front in England, formed the design of sending out, to be published in this country, a treatise on the cultivation of the root and green crops, as cattle, sheep, and hog food. This design was suggested by the reading of the following passage in Mr. CHANCELLOR LIVINGSTON's Essay on Sheep, which I received in 1812. After having stated the most proper means to be employed in order to keep sheep and lambs, during the winter months, he adds: "Having brought our flocks through the winter, we now come to the most critical season, that is, the latter end of March and the month of April. At this time the ground being bare, the sheep will refuse to eat their hay, while the scanty picking of grass, and its purgative quality, will disable them from taking the nourishment that is necessary to keep them up. If they fall away their wool will be injured, and the growth of their lambs will be stopped, and even many of the old sheep will be carried off by the dysentery. To provide food for this season is very difficult. Turnips and Cabbage will rot, and bran they will not eat after having been fed on it during the winter. Potatoes, however, and the Swedish Turnip, called Ruta Baga, may be usefully applied at this time, and so, I think, might Parsnips and Carrots. But, as few of us are in the habit of cultivating these plants to the extent which is necessary for the support of a large flock, we must seek resources more within our reach.'' And then the chancellor proceeds to recommend the leaving the second growth of clover uncut, in order to produce early shoots from sheltered buds for the sheep to eat until the coming of the natural grass and the general pasturage.
26. I was much surprised at reading this passage; having observed, when I lived in Pennsylvania, how prodigiously the root-crops of every kind flourished and succeeded with only common skill and care; and, in 1816, having by that time had many crops of Ruta Baga exceeding thirty tons, or about one thousand five hundred heaped bushels to the acre, at Botley, I formed the design of sending out to America a treatise on the culture and uses of that root, which, I was perfectly well convinced, could be raised with more ease here than in England, and, that it might be easily preserved during the whole year, if necessary, I had proved in many cases.
27. If Mr. CHANCELLOR LIVINGSTON, whose public-spirit is manifested fully in his excellent little work, which he modestly calls an Essay, could see my ewes and lambs and hogs and cattle, at this "critical season'' (I write on the 27th of March), with more Ruta Baga at their command than they have mouths to employ on it; if he could see me, who am on a poor and exhausted piece of land, and who found it covered with weeds and brambles in the month of June last; who found no manure, and who have bought none; if he could see me overstocked, not with mouths, but with food, owing to a little care in the cultivation of this invaluable Root, he would, I am sure, have reason to be convinced, that, if any farmer in the United States is in want of food at this pinching season of the year, the fault is neither in the soil nor in the climate.
28. It is, therefore, of my mode of cultivating this Root in this Island that I mean, at present to treat; to which matter I shall add, in another Part of ray work, an account of my experiments as to the MANGLE WURZLE, or SCARCITY ROOT; though, as will be seen, I deem that root, except in particular cases, of very inferior importance. The parsnip, the carrot, the cabbage, are all excellent in their kind and in their uses; but, as to these, I have not yet made, upon a scale sufficiently large here, such experiments as would warrant me in speaking with any great degree of confidence. Of these and other matters I propose to treat in a future PART, which I shall, probably, publish towards the latter end of this present year.
29. The Ruta Baga is a sort of turnip well known in the State of New York, where, under the name of Russia turnip, it is used for the table from February to July. But, as it may be more of a stranger in other parts of the country, it seems necessary to give it enough of description to enable every reader to distinguish it from every other sort of Turnip.
30. The leaf of every other sort of turnip is of a yellowish green, while the leaf of the Ruta Baga is of a bluish green, like the green of peas when of nearly their full size, or like the green of a young and thrifty early Yorkshire Cabbage. Hence it is, I suppose, that some persons have called it the Cabbage-turnip. But, the characteristics the most decidedly distinctive are these: that the outside of the bulb of the Ruta Baga is of a greenish hue mixed, towards the top, with a colour bordering on a red; and, that the inside of the bulb, if the sort be true and pure, is of a deep yellow, nearly as deep as that of gold.
of saving and of preserving the Seed.
31. This is rather a nice business, and should be, by no means, executed in a negligent manner. For, on the well-attending to this, much of the success depends; and, it is quite surprising how great losses are, in the end, frequently sustained by the saving, in this part of the business, of an hour's labour or attention. I, one year, lost more than half of what would have been an immense crop, by a mere piece of negligence in my bailiff as to the seed, and I caused a similar loss to a gentleman in Berkshire, who had his seed from the same parcel that mine was taken, and who had sent many miles for it, in order to have the best in the world.
32. The Ruta Baga is apt to degenerate, if the seed be not saved with care. We, in England, select the plants to be saved for seed. We examine well to find out those that run least into neck and green. We reject all such as approach at all towards a whitish colour, or which are even of a greenish colour towards the neck, where there ought to be a little reddish cast.
33. Having selected the plants with great care, we take them up out of the place where they have grown, and plant them in a plot distant from every thing of the Turnip or Cabbage kind which is to bear seed. In this Island, I am now, at this time, planting mine for seed, (27th March,) taking all our English precautions. Il is probable, that they would do very well, if taken out of a heap to be transplanted, if well selected; but, lest this should not do well, I have kept my selected plants all the winter in the ground in my garden well covered with corn stalks and leaves from the trees; and, indeed, this is so very little a matter to do, that it would be monstrous to suppose, that any farmer would neglect it on account of the labour or trouble; especially when we consider, that the seed of two or three turnips is more than sufficient to sow an acre of land. I, on one occasion, planted twenty turnips for seed, and the produce, besides what the little birds took as their share for having kept down the caterpillars, was twenty-two and a half pounds of clean seed.
34. The sun is so ardent and the weather so fair here, compared with the drippy and chilly climate of England, while the birds here never touch this sort of seed, that a small plot of ground would, if well managed, produce a great quantity of seed. Whether it would degenerate is a matter that I have not yet ascertained; but which I am about to ascertain this year.
35. That all these precautions of selecting the plants and transplanting them are necessary I know by experience. I, on one occasion, had sown all my own seed, and the plants had been carried off by the fly, of which I shall have to speak presently. I sent to a person who had raised some seed, which I afterwards found had come from turnips left promiscuous to go to seed in a part of a field where they had been sown. The consequence was, that a good third part of my crop had no bulbs; but consisted of a sort of rape, all leaves and stalks growing very high, while even the rest of the crop bore no resemblance, either in point of size or of quality, to turnips in the same field, from seed saved in a proper manner, though this latter was sown at a later period.
36. As to the preserving of the seed, it is an invariable rule applicable to all seeds, that seed, kept in the pod to the very time of sowing, will vegetate more quickly and more vigorously than seed which has been some time threshed out. But, turnip seed will do very well, if threshed out as soon as ripe, and kept in a dry place, and not too much exposed to the air. A bag, hung up in a dry room, is the depository that I use. But, before being threshed out, the seed should be quite ripe, and, if cut off, or pulled up, which latter is the best way, before the pods are quite dead, the whole should be suffered to lie in the sun till the pods are perfectly dead, in order that the seed may imbibe its full nourishment and come to complete perfection; otherwise the seed will wither, much of it will not grow at all, and that which does grow will produce plants far inferior to those proceeding from well ripened seed.
37. Our time of sowing in England is from the first to the twentieth of June, though some persons sow in May, which is still better. This was one of the matters of the most deep interest with me, when I came to Hyde Park. I could not begin before the month of June: for I had no ground ready. But, then, I began with great care, on the 2d of June, sowing, in small plots, once every week, till the 30th of July. In every case the seed took well and the plants grew well; but, having looked at the growth of the plots, first sown, and calculated upon the probable advancement of them, I fixed upon the 26th of June for the sowing of my principal crop.
38. I was particularly anxious to know, whether this country were cursed with the Turnip Fly, which is so destructive in England. It is a little insect about the size of a bed flea, and jumps away from all approaches exactly like that insect. It abounds at some times, in quantities so great as to eat up all the young plants on hundreds and thousands of acres in a single day. It makes its attack when the plants are in the seed-leaf; and, it is so very generally prevalent, that it is always an even chance, at least, that every field that is sown will be thus wholly destroyed. There is no remedy but that of ploughing and sowing again; and this is frequently repeated three times, and even then, there is no crop. Volumes upon volumes have been written on the means of preventing, or mitigating, this calamity; but nothing effectual has ever been discovered; and, at last, the only means of insuring a crop of Ruta Baga in England, is, to raise the plants in small plots, sown at many different times, in the same manner as cabbages are sown, and, like cabbages, transplant them; of which mode of culture I shall speak by and by. It is very singular, that a field sown one day, wholly escapes, while a field, sown the next day, is wholly destroyed. Nay, a part of the same field, sown in the morning, will sometimes escape, while the part, sown in the afternoon, will be destroyed; and, sometimes the afternoon sowing is the part that is spared. To find a remedy for this evil has posed all the heads of all the naturalists and chemists of England. As an evil, the smut in wheat; the wireworm; and the grubs above ground and under ground; the caterpillars green and black; the slug red, black and gray; though each a great tormentor, are nothing. Against all these there is some remedy, though expensive and plaguing; or, at any rate, their ravages are comparatively slow, and their causes are known. But the Turnip-Fly is the English farmer's evil genius. To discover a remedy for, or the cause of, this plague has been the object of inquiries, experiments, analyses, innumerable. Premium upon premium offered have only produced pretended remedies, which have led to disappointment and mortification; and, I have no hesitation to say, that, if any man could find out a real remedy, and could communicate the means of cure, while he kept the nature of the means a secret, he would be a much richer man than he who should discover the longitude; for about fifty thousand farmers would very cheerfully pay him ten guineas a year each.
39. The reader will easily judge, then, of my anxiety to know, whether this mortal enemy of the farmer existed in Long Island. This was the first question, which I put to every one of my neighbours, and I augured good, from their not appearing to understand what I meant. However, as my little plots of turnips came up successively, I watched them as our farmers do their fields in England. To my infinite satisfaction I found that my alarms had been groundless. This circumstance, besides others that I have to mention by and by, gives to the stock-farmer in America so great an advantage over the farmer in England, or in any part of the middle and northern parts of Europe, that it is truly wonderful that the culture of this root has not, long ago, become general in this country.
40. The time of sowing, then, may be, as circumstances may require, from the 25th of June to about the 10th of July; as the result of my experiments will now show. The plants sown during the first fifteen days of June grew well and attained a great size and weight; but, though they did not actually go off to seed, they were very little short of so doing. They rose into long and large necks and sent out sprouts from the upper part of the bulb; and, then, the bulb itself (which is the thing sought after) swelled no more. The substance of the bulb became hard and stringy; and the turnips, upon the whole, were smaller and of greatly inferior quality, compared with those, which were sown at the proper time.
41. The turnips sown between the 15th and 26th of June, had all these bad appearances and quality, only in a less degree. But, those, which were sown on the 26th of June, were perfect in shape, size, and quality; and though I have grown them larger in England, it was not done without more manure upon half an acre than I scratched together to put upon seven acres at Hyde Park; but, of this I shall speak more particularly when I come to the quantity of crop.
42. The sowings which were made after the 26th of June and before the 10th of July, did very well; and, one particular sowing on the 9th of July, on 12 rods, or perches, of ground, sixteen and a half feet to the rod, yielded 62 bushels, leaves and roots cut off, which is after the rate of 992 bushels to an acre. But this sowing was on ground extremely well prepared and sufficiently manured with ashes from burnt earth; a mode of raising manure of which I shall fully treat in a future chapter.
43. Though this crop was so large, sown on the 9th of July, I would by no means recommend any farmer, who can sow sooner, to defer the business to that time; for, I am of opinion with the old folk in the West of England, that God is almost always on the side of early farmers. Besides, one delay too often produces another delay; and he who puts off to the 9th, may put off to the 19th.
44. The crops, in small plots, which I sowed after the 9th of July to the 30th of that month, grew very well; but they regularly succeeded each other in diminution of size; and, which is a great matter, the cold weather overtook them before they were ripe; and ripeness is full as necessary in the case of roots as in the case of apples or of peaches.
and Preparation of the Land.
45. As a fine, rich, loose, garden mould, of great depth, and having a porous stratum under it, is best for every thing that vegetates, except plants that live best in water, so it is best for Ruta Baga. But I know of no soil in the United States, in which this root may not be cultivated with the greatest facility. A pure sand, or a very stiff clay, would not do well certainly; but I have never seen any of either in America. The soil that I cultivate is poor almost proverbially; but, what it really is, is this: it is a light loam, approaching towards the sandy. It is of a brownish colour about eight inches deep, then becomes more of a red for about another eight inches; and then comes a mixture of a yellowish sand and of pebbles, which continues down to the depth of many feet.
46. So much for the nature of the land. As to its state, it was that of as complete poverty as can well be imagined. My main crop of Ruta Baga was sown upon two different pieces. One of about three acres, had borne, in 1816, some Indian corn stalks, together with immense quantities of brambles, grass, and weeds, of all descriptions. The other, of about four acres, had, when I took to it, rye growing on it; but, this rye was so poor, that my neighbour assured me, that it could produce nothing, and he advised ma to let the cattle and sheep take it for their trouble of walking over the ground; which advice I readily followed; but, when he heard me say, that I intended to sow Russia Turnips on that same ground, he very kindly told me his opinion of the matter, which was, that I should certainly throw my labour wholly away.
47. With these two pieces of ground I went to work early in June. I ploughed them very shallow thinking to drag the grassy clods up with the harrow, to put them in heaps and burn them, in which case I would (barring the fly!) have pledged my life for a crop of Ruta Baga. It adversely happened to rain when my clods should have been burnt, and the furrows were so solidly fixed down by the rain, that I could not tear them up with the harrow; and, besides, my time of sowing came on apace. Thus situated, and having no faith in what I was told about the dangers of deep ploughing, I fixed four oxen to a strong plough, and turned up soil that had not seen the sun for many, many long years. Another soaking rain came very soon after, and went, at once, to the bottom of my ploughing, instead of being carried away instantly by evaporation. I then harrowed the ground down level, in order to keep it moist as long as I could; for the sun now began to be the thing most dreaded.
48. In the mean while I was preparing my manure. There was nothing of the kind visible upon the place. But, I had the good luck to follow a person, who appears not to have known much of the use of brooms. By means of sweeping and raking and scratching in and round the house, the barn, the stables, the hen roost, and the court and yard, I got together about four hundred bushels of not very bad turnip manure. This was not quite 60 bushels to an acre for my seven acres; or, three gallons to every square rod.
49. However, though I made use of these beggarly means, I would not be understood to recommend the use of such means to others. On the contrary, I should have preferred good and clean land and plenty of manure; but, of this I shall speak again, when I have given an account of the manner of sowing and of transplanting.
50. Thus fitted out with land and manure, I set to the work of sowing, which was performed, with the help of two ploughs and two pair of oxen, on the 25th, 26th, and 27th of June. The ploughman put the ground up into little ridges, having two furrows on each side of the ridge; so that every ridge consisted of four furrows, or turnings over of the plough; and the tops of the ridges were about four feet from each other; and, as the ploughing was performed to a great depth, there was, of course, a very deep gutter between every two ridges.
51. I took care to have the manure placed so as to be under the middle of each ridge; that is to say, just beneath where my seed was to come. I had but a very small quantity of seed as well as of manure. This seed I had, however, brought from home, where it was raised by a neighbour, on whom I could rely, and I had no faith in any other. So that I was compelled to bestow it on the ridges with a very parsimonious hand, not having, I believe, more than four pounds to sow on the seven acres. It was sown principally in this manner: a man went along by the side of each ridge, and put down two or three seeds in places at about ten inches from each other, just drawing a little earth over, and pressing it on the seed, in order to make it vegetate quickly before the earth became too dry. This is always a good thing to be done, and especially in dry weather and under a hot sun. Seeds are very small things; and though, when we see them covered over with the earth, we conclude that the earth must touch them closely, we should remember, that a very small cavity is sufficient to keep them untouched nearly all round, in which case, under a hot sun, and near the surface, they are sure to perish, or, at least, to lie long, and until rain come, before they start.
52. I remember a remarkable instance of this in sowing some turnips to transplant at Botley. The whole of a piece of ground was sown broad-cast. My gardener had been told to sow in beds that we might go in to weed the plants; and, having forgotten this till after sowing, he clapped down his line, and divided the plot into beds by treading very hard a little path at the distance of every four feet. The weather was very dry, and the wind very keen. It continued so for three weeks; and, at the end of that time, we had scarcely a turnip in the beds, where the ground had been left raked over; but, in the paths we had an abundance, which grew to be very fine, and which, when transplanted, made part of a field which bore thirty-three tons to the acre, and which, as a whole field, was the first field I ever saw in my life.
53. I cannot help endeavouring to press this fact upon the reader. Squeezing down the earth makes it touch the seed in all its parts, and then it will soon vegetate. It is for this reason, that barley and oat fields should be rolled, if the weather be dry; and, indeed, that all seeds should be pressed down, if the state of the earth will admit of it.
64. This mode of sowing is neither tedious nor expensive. Two men sowed the whole of my seven acres in the three days, which, when we consider the value of the crop, and the saving in the after culture, is really not worth mentioning. I do not think, that any sowing by drill is so good, and, in the end, so cheap, as this. Drills miss very often in the sowings of such small seeds. However, the thing may be done by hand in a less precise manner. One man would have sown the seven acres in a day, by just scattering the seeds along on the top of the ridge, where they might have been buried with a rake, and pressed down by a spade or shovel or some other flat instrument. A slight roller to take two ridges at once, the horse walking in the gutter between, is what I used to make use of when I sowed on ridges; and, who can want such a roller in America, as long as he has an axe and an augur in his house? Indeed this whole matter is such a trifle, when compared with the importance of the object, that it is not to be believed, that any man will think it worth the smallest notice as counted amongst the means of obtaining that object.
55. Broad cast sowing will, however, probably, be, in most cases, preferred; and, this mode of sowing is pretty well understood from general experience. What is required here are, that the ground be well ploughed, finely harrowed, and the seeds thinly and evenly sown over it, to the amount of about two pounds of seed to an acre; but, then, if the weather be dry, the seed should, by all means, be rolled down. When I have spoken of the after culture, I shall compare the two methods of sowing: the ridge and the broad-cast, in order that the reader may be the better able to say, which of the two is entitled to the preference.
56. It relating to what I did in this respect, I shall take it for granted, that the reader will understand me as describing what I think ought to be done.
57. When my ridges were laid up, and my seed was sown, my neighbours thought, that there was an end of the process; for they all said, that, if the seed ever came to being upon those high ridges, the plants never could live under the scorching of the sun. I knew, that this was an erroneous notion; but, I had not much confidence in the powers of the soil, poor as it evidently was, and scanty as was my supply of manure.
58. The plants, however, made their appearance with great regularity; no fly came to annoy them. The moment they were fairly up, we went with a very small hoe and took out all but one in each ten or eleven or twelve inches, and thus left them singly placed. This is a great point; for they begin to rob one another at a very early age: and, if left two or three weeks to rob each other, before they are set out singly, the crop will be diminished one half. To set the plants out in this way was a very easy and quickly performed business; but, it is a business to be left to no one but a careful man. Boys can never safely be trusted with the deciding, at discretion, whether you shall have a large crop or a small one.
59. But, now, something else began to appear as well as turnip-plants; for, all the long grass and weeds having dropped their seeds the summer before, and, probably for many summers, they now came forth to demand their share of that nourishment, produced by the fermentation, the dews, and particularly by the sun, which shines on all alike. I never saw a fiftieth part of so many weeds in my life upon a like space of ground. Their little seed leaves, of various hues, formed a perfect mat on the ground. And now it was, that my wide ridges which had appeared to my neighbours to be so very singular and so unnecessary, were absolutely necessary. First we went with a hoe, and hoed the tops of the ridges, about six inches wide. There were all the plants, then, clear and clean at once, with an expense of about half a day's work to an acre. Then we came, in our Botley fashion, with a single horse plough, took a furrow from the side of one ridge going up the field, a furrow from the other ridge coming down, then another furrow from the same side of the first ridge going up, and another from the same side of the other ridge coming down. In the taking away of the last two furrows, we went within three inches of the turnip-plants. Thus there was a ridge over the original gutter. Then we turned these furrows back again to the turnips. And, having gone, in this manner, over the whole piece, there it was with not a weed alive in it. All killed by the sun, and the field as clean and as fine as any garden that ever was seen.
60. Those who know the effect of tillage between growing plants, and especially if the earth be moved deep (and, indeed, what American does not know what such effect is, seeing that, without it, there would be no Indian Corn); those that reflect on this effect, may guess at the effect on my Ruta Baga plants, which soon gave me by their appearance a decided proof that TULL's principles are always true, in whatever soil or climate applied.
61. It was now a very beautiful thing to see, a regular, unbroken line of fine, fresh-looking plants upon the tops of those wide ridges, which had been thought to be so very whimsical and unnecessary. But, why have the ridges so very wide? This question was not new to me, who had to answer it a thousand times in England. It is because you cannot plough deep and clean in a narrower space than four feet; and, it is the deep and clean ploughing that I regard as the surest means of a large crop, especially in poor, or indifferent ground. It is a great error to suppose, that there is any ground lost by these wide intervals. My crop of thirty-three tons, or thirteen hundred and twenty bushels, to the acre, taking a whole field together, had the same sort of intervals, while my neighbours, with two feet intervals, never arrived at two-thirds of the weight of that crop. There is no ground lost; for any one who has a mind to do it, may satisfy himself, that the lateral roots of any fine large turnip will extend more than six feet from the bulb of the plant. The intervals are full of these roots, the breaking of which and the moving of which, as in the case of Indian Corn, gives new food and new roots, and produces wonderful effects on the plants. Wide as my intervals were, the leaves of some of the plants very nearly touched those of the plants on the adjoining ridge, before the end of their growth; and I have had them frequently meet in this way in England. They would always do it here, if the ground were rich and the tillage proper. How, then, can the intervals be too wide, if the plants occupy the interval? And how can any ground be lost, if every inch be full of roots and shaded by leaves?
62. After the last-mentioned operation my plants remained till the weeds had again made their appearance; or, rather, till a new brood had started up; when this was the case, we went with the hoe again and cleaned the tops of the ridges as before. The weeds, under this all-powerful sun, instantly perish. Then we repeated the former operation with the one horse plough. After this nothing was done but to pull up now and then a weed, which had escaped the hoe; for, as to the plough share, nothing escapes that.
63. Now, I think no farmer can discover in this process any thing more difficult, more troublesome, more expensive, than in the process absolutely necessary to the obtaining of a crop of Indian Corn. And yet, I will venture to say, that, in any land, capable of bearing fifty bushels of corn upon an acre, more than a thousand bushels of Ruta Baga may, in the above-described manner, be raised.
64. In the broad-cast method the after culture must, of course, be confined to hoeing, or, as TULL calls it, scratching. In England, the hoer goes in when the plants are about four inches high, and hoes all the ground, setting out the plants to about eighteen inches apart; and, if the ground be at all foul, he is obliged to go in again in about a month afterwards, to hoe the ground again. This is all that is done; and a very poor all it is, as the crops, on the very best ground, compared with the ridged crops, invariably show.
65. This is a third mode of cultivating the RUTA BAGA; and, in certain cases, far preferable to either of the two others. My large crops at Botley were from roots transplanted. I resorted to this mode in order to insure a crop in spite of the fly; but, I am of opinion, that it is, in all cases, the best mode, provided hands can be obtained in sufficient number, just for a few days, or weeks, as the quantity may be, when the land and the plants are ready.
66. Much light is thrown on matters of this sort by describing what one has done one's self relating to them. This is practice at once; or, at least, it comes much nearer to it than any instructions possibly can.
67. It was accident that led me to the practice. In the summer, of 1812, I had a piece of Ruta Baga in the middle of a field, or, rather, the piece occupied a part of the field, having a crop of carrots on the one side and a crop of mangle wurzle on the other side. On the 20th of July the turnips, or rather those of them which had escaped the Fly, began to grow pretty well. They had been sown in drills; and I was anxious to fill up the spaces, which had been occasioned by the ravages of the fly. I, therefore, took the supernumerary plants, which I found in the unattacked places, and filled up the rows by transplantation, which I did also in two other fields.
68. The turnips, thus transplanted, grew, and in fact, were pretty good; but, they were very far inferior to those which had retained their original places. But, it happened, that on one side of the above-mentioned piece of turnips, there was a vacant space of about a yard in breadth. When the ploughman had finished ploughing between the rows of turnips, I made him plough up that spare ground very deep, and upon it I made my gardener go and plant two rows of turnips. These became the largest and finest of the whole piece, though transplanted two days later than those which had been transplanted in the rows throughout the piece. The cause of this remarkable difference I, at once, saw, was, that these had been put into newly-ploughed ground; for, though I had not read much of TULL at the time here referred to, I knew, from the experience of my whole life, that seeds as well as plants ought always to go into ground as recently moved as possible; because at every moving of the earth, and particularly at every turning of it, a new process of fermentation takes place, fresh exhalations arise, and a supply of the food of plants is thus prepared for the newly-arrived guests. Mr. CURWEN, the Member of Parliament, though a poor thing as to public matters, has published not a bad book on agriculture. It is not bad, because it contains many authentic accounts of experiments made by himself: though I never can think of his book without thinking, at the same time, of the gross and scandalous plagiarisms, which he has committed upon TULL. Without mentioning particulars, the "Honourable Member" will, I am sure, know what I mean, if this page should ever have the honour to fall under his eye; and he will, I hope, repent, and give proof of his repentance, by a restoration of the property to the right owner.
69. However, Mr. CURWEN, in his book, gives an account of the wonderful effects of moving the ground between plants in rows; and he tells us of an experiment, which he made, and which proved, that from ground just ploughed, in a very dry time, an exhalation of many tons weight, per acre, took place, during the first twenty-four hours after ploughing, and of a less and less number of tons, during the three or four succeeding twenty-four hours; that, in the course of about a week, the exhalation ceased; and that, during the whole period, the ground, though in the same field, which had not been ploughed when the other ground was, exhaled not an ounce! When I read this in Mr. CURWEN's book, which was before I had read TULL, I called to mind, that, having once dug the ground between some rows of part of a plot of cabbages in my garden, in order to plant some late peas, I perceived (it was in a dry time) the cabbages, the next morning, in the part recently dug, with big drops of dew hanging on the edges of the leaves, and in the other, or undug part of the plot, no drops at all. I had forgotten the fact till I read Mr. CURWEN; and I never knew the cause till I read the real Father of English Husbandry.
70. From this digression I return to the history, first of my English transplanting. I saw, at once, that the only way to insure a crop of turnips was by transplantation. The next year, therefore, I prepared a field of five acres and another of twelve. I made ridges in the manner described for sowing; and, on the 7th of June, in the first field, and on the 20th of July, in the second field, I planted my plants. I ascertained to an exactness that there were thirty-three tons to an acre, throughout the whole seventeen acres. After this, I never used any other method. I never saw above half as great a crop in any other person's land; and though we read of much greater in agricultural prize reports, they must have been of the extent of a single acre, or something in that way. In my usual order, the ridges four feet asunder, and the plants a foot asunder on the ridge, there were ten thousand, eight hundred and thirty turnips on the acre of ground, and, therefore, for an acre to weigh thirty-three tons, each turnip must weigh very nearly seven pounds. After the time here spoken of, I had an acre or two at the end of a large held, transplanted on the 13th of July, which probably weighed fifty tons an acre. I delayed to have them weighed till a fire happened in some of my farm buildings, which produced a further delay, and so the thing was not done at all; but, I weighed one waggon load, the turnips of which averaged eleven pounds each; and, several weighed fourteen pounds each. My very largest upon Long Island weighed twelve pounds and a half. In all these cases, as well here as in England, the produce was from transplanted plants; though, at Hyde Park, I have many turnips of more than ten pounds weight each from sown plants, some of which, on account of the great perfection in their qualities, I have selected, and am now planting out, for seed.
71. I will now give a fill account of my transplanting at Hyde Park. In a part of the ground, which was put into ridges and sown, I scattered the seed along very thinly upon the top of the ridge. But, however thinly you may attempt to scatter such small seeds, there will always be too many plants, if the tillage be good and the seed good also. I suffered these plants to stand as they came up; and, they stood much too long, on account of my want of hands, or, rather, my want of time to attend to give my directions in the transplanting: and, indeed, my example too; for, I met not with a man who knew how to fix a plant in the ground; and, strange as it may appear, more than half the bulk of crop depends on a little, trifling, contemptible twist of the setting stick or dibble; a thing very well known to all gardeners in the case of cabbages, and about which, therefore, I will give, by and by, very plain instructions.
72. Thus puzzled, and not being able to spare time to do the job myself, I was one day looking at my poor plants, which were daily suffering for want of removal, and was thinking how glad I should be of one of the CHURCHERS at Botley, who, I thought to myself, would soon clap me out my turnip patch. At this very time, and into the field itself, came a cousin of one of these CHURCHERS, who had lately arrived from England! It was very strange; but literally the fact.
73. To work Churcher and I went, and, with the aid of persons to pull up the plants and bring them to us, we planted out about two acres, in the mornings and evenings of six days; for the weather was too hot for us to keep out after breakfast, until about two hours before sunset. There was a friend staying with me, who helped us plant, and who did, indeed, as much of the work as either Churcher or I.
74. The time when this was done was from the 21st to the 28th of August, one Sunday and one day of no planting, having intermitted. Every body knows, that this is the very hottest season of the year; and, as it happened, this was, last summer, the very driest also. The weather had been hot and dry from the 10th of August; and so it continued to the 12th of September. Any gentleman who has kept a journal of last year, upon Long Island, will know this to be correct. Who would have thought to see these plants thrive? Who would have thought to see them live? The next day after being planted, their leaves crumbled between our lingers like the old leaves of trees. In two days there was no more appearance of a crop upon the ground than there was of a crop on the turnpike road. But, on the 2d of September, as I have it in my memorandum book, the plants began to show life; and, before the rain came, on the 12th, the piece began to have an air of verdure, and, indeed, to grow and to promise a good crop.
75. I will speak of the bulk of this crop by and by; but, I must here mention another transplantation that I made in the latter end of July. A plot of ground, occupied by one of my earliest sowings, had the turnips standing on it in rows at eighteen inches asunder, and at a foot asunder in the rows. Towards the middle of July I found, that one half of the rows must be taken away, or that the whole would be of little value. Having pulled up the plants, I intended to translate them (as they say of Bishops) from the garden to the field; but, I had no ground ready. However, I did not like to throw away these plants, which had already bulbs as large as hen's eggs. They were carried into the cellar, where they lay in a heap, till (which would soon happen in such hot weather) they began to ferment. This made the most of their leaves turn white. Unwilling, still, to throw them away, I next laid them on the grass in front of the house, where they got the dews in the night, and they were covered with a mat during the day, except two days, when they were overlooked, or, rather, neglected. The heat was very great, and, at last, supposing these plants dead, I did not cover them any more. There they lay abandoned till the 24th of July, on which day I began planting Cabbages in my field. I then thought that I would try the hardiness of a Ruta Baga plant. I took these same abandoned plants, without a morsel of green left about them; planted them in part of a row of the piece of cabbages; and they, a hundred and six in number, weighed when they were taken up in December, nine hundred and one pounds. One of these turnips weighed twelve pounds and a half.
76. But, it ought to be observed, that this was in ground which had been got up in my best manner; that it had some of the best of my manure; and that uncommon pains were taken by myself in the putting in of the plants. This experiment shows, what a hardy plant this is; but, I must caution the reader against a belief, that it is either desirable or prudent to put this quality to so severe a test. There is no necessity for it, in general; and, indeed, the rule is, that the shorter time the plants are out of the ground the better.
77. But, as to the business of transplanting, there is one very material observation to make. The ground ought to be as fresh; that is to say, as recently moved by the plough, as possible; and that for the reasons before stated. The way I go on is this: My land is put up into ridges, as described under the head of manner of sowing. This is done beforehand. Several days; or, It may be, a week or more. When we have our plants and hands all ready, the ploughman begins and turns in the ridges; that is to say, ploughs the ground back again, so that the top of the new ploughed ridge stands over the place where the channel, or gutter, or deep furrow, was, before he began. As soon as he has finished the first ridge, the planters plant it, while he is ploughing the second: and so on throughout the field. That this is not a very tedious process the reader needs only to be told, that, in 1816, I had fifty-two acres of Ruta Baga planted in this way; and I think I had more than fifty thousand bushels. A smart hand will plant half an acre a day, with a girl or boy to drop the plants for him. I had a man, who planted an acre a day, many a time. But, supposing, that a quarter of an acre is a day's work. What are four days' work when put in competition with the value of an acre of this invaluable root? And what farmer is there, who has common industry, who would grudge to bend his own back eight or twelve days, for the sake of keeping all his stock through the spring months, when dry food is loathsome to them, and when grass is by nature denied?
78. Observing well what has been said about earth perfectly fresh, and never forgetting this, let us now talk about the act of planting; the mere mechanical operation of putting the plant into the ground. We have a setting-stick, which should be the top of a spade-handle cut off, about ten inches below the eye. It must be pointed smoothly; and, if it be shod with thin iron, that is to say, covered with an iron sheath, it will work more smoothly, and do its business the better. At any rate, the point should be nicely smoothed, and so should the whole of the tool. The planting is performed like that of cabbage plants; but, as I have met with very few persons, out of the market gardens and gentlemen's gardens in England, who knew how to plant a cabbage plant, so I am led to suppose, that very few, comparatively speaking, know how to plant a turnip plant.
79. You constantly hear people say, that they wait for a shower, in order to put out their cabbage plants. Never was there an error more general or more complete in all its parts. Instead of rainy weather being the best time, it is the very worst time, for this business of transplantation, whether of cabbages, or of any thing else, from a lettuce plant to an apple tree. I have proved the fact in scores upon scores of instances. The first time that I had any experience of the matter was in the planting out of a plot of cabbages in my garden at Wilmington, in Delaware. I planted in dry weather, and, as I had always done, in such cases, I watered the plants heavily; but, being called away for some purpose, I left one row unwatered, and it happened, that it so continued without my observing it till the next day. The sun had so completely scorched it by the next night, that when I repeated my watering of the rest, I left it, as being unworthy of my care, intending to plant some other thing in the ground occupied by this dead row. But, in a few days, I saw, that it was not dead. It grew soon afterwards; and, in the end, the cabbages of my dead row were not only larger, but earlier in loaving, than any of the rest of the plot.
80. The reason is this: if plants are put into wet earth, the setting-stick squeezes the earth up against the tender fibres in a mortar-like state. The sun comes and bakes this mortar into a sort of glazed clod. The hole made by the stick is also a smooth sided hole, which retains its form, and presents, on every side, an impenetrable substance to the fibres. In short, such as the hole is made, such it, in a great measure remains, and the roots are cooped up in this sort of well, instead of having a free course left them to seek their food on every side. Besides this, the fibres get, from being wet when planted, into a small compass. They all cling about the tap root, and are stuck on to it by the wet dirt, in which state, if a hot sun follow, they are all baked together in a lamp, and cannot stir. On the contrary, when put into ground unwet, the reverse of all this takes place; and, the fresh earth will, under any sun, supply moisture in quantity sufficient.
81. Yet, in July and August, both in England and America, how many thousands and thousands are waiting for a shower to put out their plants! And, then, when the long-wished-for shower comes, they must plant upon stale ground, for they have it dug ready, as it were for the purpose of keeping them company in waiting for the shower. Thus all the fermentation, which took place upon the digging, is gone; and, when the planting has once taken place, farewell to the spade! For, it appears to be a privilege of the Indian corn to receive something like good usage after being planted. It is very strange, that it should have been thus; for, what reason is there for other plants not enjoying a similar benefit; the reason is, that they will produce something without it; and the Indian corn will positively produce nothing; for which the Indian corn is very much to be commended. As an instance of this effect of deeply moving the earth between growing crops, I will mention, that, in the month of June, and on the 26th of that month, a very kind neighbour of mine, in whose garden I was, showed me a plot of Green Savoy Cabbages, which he had planted in some ground as rich as ground could be. He had planted them about three weeks before; and they appeared very fine indeed. In the seed bed, from which he had taken his plants, there remained about a hundred; but, as they had been left as of no use, they had drawn each other up, in company with the weeds, till they were about eighteen inches high, having only a starved leaf, or two, upon the top of each. I asked my neighbour to give me these plants, which he readily did; but begged me not to plant them, for, he assured me, that they would come to nothing. Indeed, they were a ragged lot; but, I had no plants of my own sowing more than two inches high. I, therefore, took these plants and dug some ground for them between some rows of scarlet-blossom beans, which mount upon poles. I cut a stick on purpose, and put the plants very deep in the ground. My beans came off in August, and then the ground was well dug between the rows of cabbages. In September, mine had far surpassed the prime plants of my neighbour. And, in the end, I believe, that ten of my cabbages would have weighed more than a hundred of his, leaving out the stems in both cases. But, his had remained uncultivated after planting. The ground, battered down by the successive heavy rains, had become hard as brick. All the stores of food had been locked up, and lay in a dormant state. There had been no renewed fermentations, and no exhalations.
82. Having now said what, I would fain hope, will convince every reader of the folly of waiting for a shower in order to transplant plants of any sort, I will now speak of the mere act of planting more particularly than I have hitherto spoken.
83. The hole is made sufficiently deep; deeper than the length of the root does really require; but, the root should not be bent at the point, if it can be avoided. Then, while one hand holds the plant, with its root in the hole, the other hand applies the setting-stick to the earth on one side of the hole, the stick being held in such a way as to form a sharp triangle with the plant. Then pushing the stick down, so that its point goes a little deeper than the point of the root, and giving it a little twist, it presses the earth against the point, or bottom of the root. And thus all is safe, and the plant is sure to grow.
84. The general, and almost universal fault, is, that the planter, when he has put the root into the hole, draws the earth up against the upper part of the root, or stem, and, if he presses pretty well there, he thinks that the planting is well done. But, it is the point of the root, against which the earth ought to be pressed, for there the fibres are; and, if they do not touch the earth closely, the plant will not thrive. The reasons have been given in Paragraphs 51 and 52, in speaking of the sowing of seeds. It is the same in all cases of transplanting or planting. Trees for instance, will be sure to grow, if you sift the earth, or pulverize it very finely, and place it carefully and closely about the roots. When we plant a tree, we see all covered by tumbling in the earth; and it appears whimsical to suppose, that the earth does not touch all the roots. But, the fact is, that, unless great pains be taken, there will be many cavities in the hole where the tree is planted; and, in whatever places the earth does not closely touch the root, the root will mould, become cankered, and will lead to the producing of a poor tree.
85. When I began transplanting in fields in England, I had infinite difficulty in making my planters attend to the directions, which I have here given. ''The point of the stick to the point of the root!'' was my constant cry. As I could not be much with my work-people, I used, in order to try whether they had planted properly, to go after them, and now-and-then take the tip of a leaf between my finger and thumb, if the plant resisted the pull, so as for the bit of leaf to come away, I was sure that the plant was well fixed; but, if the pull brought up the plant out of the ground; then I was sure that the planting was not well done. After the first field or two, I had no trouble. My work was as well done, as if the whole had been done by myself. My planting was done chiefly by young women, each of whom would plant half an acre a day, and their pay was ten pence sterling a day. What a shame, then, for any man to shrink at the trouble and labour of such a matter! Nor let it be imagined, that these young women were poor miserable, ragged, squalid creatures. They were just the contrary. On a Sunday they appeared in their white dresses, and with silk umbrellas over their heads. Their constant labour afforded the means of dressing well, their early rising and exercise gave them health, their habitual cleanliness and neatness, for which the women of the South of England are so justly famed, served to aid in the completing of their appearance, which was that of fine rosy-cheeked country girls, fit to be help-mates, and not a burden, of their future husbands.
86 But, at any rate, what can be said for a man that thinks too much of such a piece of labour? The earth is extremely grateful; but it must and will have something to be grateful for. As far as my little experience has enabled me to speak, I find no want of willingness to learn in any of the American workmen. Ours, in England, are apt to be very obstinate, especially if getting a little old. They do not like to be taught any thing. They say, and they think, that what their fathers did was best. To tell them, that it is your affair, and not theirs, is nothing. To tell them, that the loss, if any, will fall upon you and not upon them, has very little weight. They argue, that, they being the real doers, ought to be the best judges of the mode of doing. And, indeed, in most cases, they are, and go about their work with wonderful skill and judgment. But, then, it is difficult to induce them cordially to do any thing new; or any old thing in a new way; and the abler they are as workmen, the more untractable they are, and the more difficult to be persuaded that any one knows any thing, relating to farming affairs, better than they do. It was this difficulty that made me resort to the employment of young women in the most important part of my farming, the providing of immense quantities of cattle-food. But, I do not find this difficulty here, where no workmen are obstinate, and where, too» all one's neighbours rejoice at one's success, which is by no means the case amongst the farmers in England.
87. Having now given instructions relative to the business of transplanting of the Ruta Baga, let us see, whether it be not preferable to either the ridge-sowing method, or to the broad-cast method.
88. In the first place, when the seed is sown on the ground where the plants are to come to perfection, the ground, as we have seen in Paragraph 40 and Paragraph 47, must be prepared early in June, at the latest; but, in the transplanting method, this work may be put off, if need be, till early in August, as we have seen in Paragraphs 74 and 75. However, the best time for transplanting is about the 26th of July, and this gives a month for preparation of land, more than is allowed in the sowing methods. This, of itself, is a great matter, but, there are others of far greater importance.
89. This transplanted crop may follow another crop on the same land. Early cabbages will loave and be away; early peas will be ripe and off; nay, even wheat, and all grain, except buckwheat, may be succeeded by Ruta Baga transplanted. I had crops to succeed Potatoes, Kidney Beans, White Peas, Onions, and even Indian Corn, gathered to eat green; and, the reader will please to bear in mind, that I did not sow, or plant, any of my first crops, just mentioned, till the month of June. What might a man do, then, who is in a state to begin with his first crops as soon as he pleases! Who has his land all in order, and his manure ready to be applied!
90. Another great advantage of the transplanting method is, that it saves almost the whole of the after-culture. There is no hoeing; no thinning of the plants; and not more than one ploughing between the ridges. This is a great consideration, and should always be thought of, when we are talking of the trouble of transplanting. The turnips which I have mentioned in Paragraphs 72 and 73 had no after-culture of any sort; for they soon spread the ground over with their leaves; and, indeed, after July very few weeds made their appearance. The season for their coming up is passed; and, as every farmer well knows, if there be no weeds up at the end of July, very few will come that summer.
91. Another advantage of the transplanting method is, that you are sure that you have your right number of plants, and those regularly placed. For, in spite of all you can do in sowing, there will be deficiencies and irregularities. The seed ' may not come up, in some places. The plants may, in some places, be destroyed in their infant state. They may, now and then, be cut off with the hoe. The best plants may sometimes be cut up and the inferior plants left to grow. And, in the broad-cast method, the irregularity and uncertainty must be obvious to every one. None of these injurious consequences can arise in the transplanting method. Here, when the work is once well done, the crop is certain, and all cares are at an end.
92. In taking my leave of this part of my treatise, I must observe, that it is useless, and, indeed, unjust, for any man to expect success, unless he attend to the thing himself , at least till he has made the matter perfectly familiar to his work-people. To neglect any part of the business is, in fact, to neglect the whole; just as much as neglecting to put up one of the sides of a building, is to neglect the whole building. Were it a matter of trifling moment, personal attention might be dispensed with; but, as I shall, I think, clearly show, this is a matter of very great moment to every farmer. The object is, not merely to get roots, but to get them of a large size; for, as I shall show, there is an amazing difference in this. And, large roots are not to be gotten without care, which, by the bye, costs nothing. Besides, the care bestowed in obtaining this crop, removes all the million of cares and vexations of the winter and spring months, when bleatings everlasting din the farmer almost out of his senses, and make him ready to knock the brains out of the clamorous flock, when he ought to feel pleasure in the filling of their bellies.
93. Having now done with the different modes of cropping the ground with Ruta Baga, I will, as I proposed in Paragraph 49, speak about the preparation of the land generally; and in doing this, I shall suppose the land to have borne a good crop of wheat the preceding year, and, of course, to be in good heart, as we call it in England.
94. I would plough this ground in the fall into ridges four feet asunder. The ploughing should be very deep, and the ridges well laid up. In this situation it would, by the successive frosts and thaws, be shaken and broken fine as powder by March or April. In April, it should be turned back; always ploughing deep. A crop of weeds would be well set upon it by the first of June, when they should be smothered by another turning back. Then, about the third week in June, I would carry in my manure, and fling it along in the trenches or furrows. After this I would follow the turning back for the sowing, as is directed in Paragraph 50. Now, here are four ploughings. And what is the cost of these ploughings? My man, a black man, a native of this island, ploughs with his pair of oxen and no driver an acre and a half a day, and his oxen keep their flesh extremely well upon the refuse of the Ruta Baga which I send to market. What is the cost then? And, what a fine state the ground is thus brought into! A very different thing indeed is it to plough hard ground from what it is to plough ground in this fine, broken state. Besides, every previous ploughing, especially deep ploughing, is equal to a seventh part of an ordinary coat of manure.
95. In the broad-cast method I would give the same number of previous ploughings, and yt the same seasons of the year. I would spread the manure over the ground just before I ploughed it for sowing. Then, when I ploughed for the sowing, I would, if I had only one pair of oxen, plough about half an acre, harrow the ground, sow it immediately, and roll it with a light roller, which a little horse might draw, in order to press the earth about the seeds and cover them too. There need be no harrowing after sowing. We never do it in England. The roller does all very completely, and the sowing upon the fresh earth will, under any sun, furnish the moisture sufficient. I once sowed, on ridges, with a BENNETT's drill, and neither harrowed nor rolled, nor used any means at all of covering the seed; and yet I had plenty of plants and a very fine crop of turnips. I sowed a piece of white turnips, broad cast, at Hyde Park, last summer, on the eleventh of August, which did very well, though neither harrowed nor rolled after being sown. But, in both these cases, there came rain directly after the sowing, which battered down the seeds; and which rain, indeed, it was, which prevented the rolling; for that cannot take place when the ground is wet; because, then, the earth will adhere to the roller, which will go on growing in size like a rolling snow-ball. To harrow after the sowing is sure to do mischief. We always bury seeds too deep; and, in the operation of harrowing, more than half the seeds of turnips must be destroyed, or rendered useless. If a seed lies beyond the proper depth, it will either remain in a quiescent state, until some movement of the earth bring it up to the distance from the surface, which will make it vegetate, or, it will vegetate and come up later than the rest of the plants. It will he feebler also; and it will never be equal to a plant, which has come from a seed near the surface.
96. Before I proceed further, it may not be amiss to say something more respecting the burying of seed, though it may here be rather out of place. Seeds buried below their proper depth, do not come up; but, many of them are near enough to the surface, sometimes, to vegetate, without coming up; and then they die. This is the case, in many instances, with more than one half of the seed that is sown. But, if seeds be buried so deep, that they do not even vegetate; then they do not die; and this is one cause, though not the only cause of our wondering to see weeds come up, where we are sure, that no seeds have fallen for many years. At every digging, or every ploughing, more or less of the seeds, that have formerly been buried, come up near the surface; and then they vegetate. I have seen many instances in proof of this fact; but, the particular instance, on which I found the positiveness of my assertion, was one of Parsnip seed. It is a very delicate seed. It will, if beat out, keep only one year. I had a row of tine seed parsnips in my garden, many of the seeds of which fell in the gathering. The ground was dug in the fall, and, when I saw it full of parsnips in the spring, I only regarded this as a proof, that parsnips might be sown in the fall, though I have since proved, that that is a very bad practice. The ground was dug again, and again, for several successive years; and there was always a crop of parsnips, without a grain of seed ever having been sown on it. But, lest any one should take it into his head, that this is a most delightful way of saving the trouble of sowing, I ought to state, that the parsnips coming thus at random, gave me a great deal more labour, than the same crop would have given me in the regular way of sowing. Besides, the fall is not the time to sow, as my big and white Parsnips, now selling in New York market, may clearly show; seeing that they were sown in June! And yet people are flocking to the Western Countries in search of rich land, while thousands of acres of such land as I occupy, are lying waste in Long Island, within three hours' drive of the all-consuming and incessantly increasing city of New York!
97. I have now spoken of the preparation of the land for the reception of seeds. As to the preparation in the case of transplantation, it might be just the same as for the sowing on ridges. But, there might, in this case, be one more previous ploughing, always taking care to plough in dry weather, which is an observation I ought to have made before.
98. But, why should not the plants, in this case, succeed some other good crop, as mentioned before? I sowed some early peas (brought from England) on the 2d of June. I harvested them, quite ripe and hard, on the 31st of July; and I had very fine Ruta Baga, some weighing six pounds each, after the peas. How little is known of the powers of this soil and climate! My potatoes were of the kidney sort, which, as every one knows, is not an early sort. They were planted on the 2d of June; and they were succeeded by a most abundant crop of Ruta Baga. And, the manure for the peas and potatoes served for the Ruta Baga also. In surveying my crops and feeling grateful to the kind earth and the glorious sun that produce these, to me, most delightful objects, how often have I turned, with an aching heart, towards the ill-treated Englishmen, shut up in dungeons by remorseless tyrants, while not a word had been uttered in their defence by, and while they were receiving not one cheering visit or comforting word from SIR FRANCIS BURDETT, who had been the great immediate cause of their incarceration!
99. As to the quantity and sort of manure to be used in general, it may be the same as for a sowing of rye, or of wheat. I should prefer ashes; but, my large crops in England were on yard-dung, first thrown into a heap, and afterwards turned once or twice, in the usual manner as practised in England. At Hyde Park I had nothing but rakings up about the yard, barn, &c., as described before. What I should do, and what I shall do this year, is, to make ashes out of dirt, or earth, of any sort, not very stony. Nothing is so easy as this, especially in this fine climate, I see people go with their waggons five miles for soaper's ashes; that is to say, spent ashes, which they purchase at the landing place (for they come to the island in vessels) at the rate of about five dollars for forty bushels. Add the expense of land-carriage, and the forty bushels do not cost less than ten dollars. I am of opinion, that, by the burning of earth, as much manure may be got upon the land for half a dollar. I made an experiment last summer, which convinces me, that, if the spent ashes be received as a gift at three miles distance of land-carriage, they are not a gift worth accepting of. But this experiment was upon a small scale; and, therefore, I will not now speak positively on the subject.
100. I am now preparing to make a perfect trial of these ashes. I have just ploughed up a piece of ground, in which, a few years ago, Indian corn was planted, and produced, as I am assured, only stalks; and those not more than two feet high. The ground has, every year since, borne a crop of weeds, rough grass, and briers, or brambles. The piece is about ten acres. I intend to have Indian corn in it; and, my manure shall be made on the spot, and consist of nothing but burnt earth. If I have a decent crop of Indian corn on this land, so manured, it will, I think, puzzle my good neighbours to give a good reason for their going five miles for spent ashes.
101. Whether I succeed, or not, I will give an account of my experiment. This I know, that I, in the year 1815, burnt ashes, in one heap, to the amount of about two hundred English cart-loads, each load holding about forty bushels. I should not suppose that the burning cost me more than five dollars; and there they were upon the spot, in the very field, where they were used. As to their effect, I used them for transplanted Ruta Baga and Mangle Wurzle, and they produced full as great an effect as the yard-dung used in the same land. The process of burning earth into ashes, without suffering the smoke to escape, during any part of the process, is a discovery of Irish origin. It was pointed out to me by Mr. WILLIAM GAUNTLETT of Winchester, late a commissary with the army in Spain. To this gentleman I also owe, England owes, and I hope America will owe, the best sort of hogs, that, I believe, are in the world. I was wholly unacquainted with Mr. GAUNTLETT, till the summer of 1815, when happening to pass by my farm, he saw my hogs, cows, &c. and, when he came to my house he called, and told me, that he had observed, that I wanted only a good sort of hogs to make my stock complete. I thought, that I already had the finest in England; and I certainly had a very fine breed, the father of which, with legs not more than about six inches long, weighed, when he was killed, twenty-seven score, according to our Hampshire mode of stating hog meat weight; or, five hundred and forty pounds. This breed has been fashioned by Mr. WOODS of Woodmancut in Sussex, who has been, I believe, more than twenty years about it. I thought it perfection itself; but, I was obliged to confess, that Mr. GAUNTLETT's surpassed it.
102. Of the earth burning I will give an account in my next PART of this work. Nothing is easier of performance; and the materials are every where to be found.
103. I think, that I have now pretty clearly given an account of the modes of sowing and planting and cultivating the Ruta Baga, and of the preparation of the land. It remains for me to speak of the time and manner of harvesting, the quantity of the crop, and of the uses of, and the mode of applying the crop.
and manner of harvesting.
104. This must depend, in some measure, upon the age of the turnips; for, some will have their full growth earlier than others; that is to say, those which are sown first, or transplanted first, will be ripe before those which are sown, or transplanted latest. I have made ample experiments as to this matter; and I will, as in former cases, first relate what I did; and then give my opinion as to what ought to be done.
105. This was a concern in which I could have no knowledge last fall, never having seen any turnips harvested in America, and knowing, that, as to American frosts, English experience was only likely to mislead; for, in England, we leave the roots standing in the ground all the winter, where we feed them off with sheep, which scoop them out to the very bottom; or we pull them as we want them, and bring them in to give to fatting oxen, to cows, or to hogs. I had a great opinion of the hardiness of the Ruta Baga, and was resolved to try it here, and I did try it upon too large a scale.
106. I began with the piece the first mentioned in Paragraph 46. A part of them were taken up on the 13th of December, after we had had some pretty hard frosts. The manner of doing the work was this. We took up the turnips merely by pulling them. The greens had been cut off and given to cattle before. It required a spade, however, just to loosen them along the ridge, into which their tap-roots had descended very deeply. We dug holes, at convenient distances, of a square form, and about a foot deep. We put into each hole about fifty bushels of turnips, piling them up above the level of the surface of the land, in a sort of pyramidical form. When the heap was made, we scattered over it about a truss of rye-straw, and threw earth over the whole to a thickness of about a foot, taking care to point the covering at top, in order to keep out wet.
107. Thus was a small part of the piece put up. The 14th of December was a Sunday, a day that I can find no Gospel precept for devoting to the throwing away of the fruit of one's labours, and a day which I never will so devote again. However, I ought to have been earlier. On the Monday it rained. On the Monday night came a sharp North-Wester with its usual companion, at this season, that is to say, a sharp frost. Resolved to finish this piece on that day, I borrowed hands from my neighbours, who are always ready to assist one another. We had about two acres and a half to do; and it was necessary to employ one half of the hands to go before the pullers and loosen the turnips with a spade in the frosty ground. About ten o'clock, I saw, that we should not finish, and there was every sign of a hard frost at night. In order, therefore, to expedite the work, I called in the aid of those efficient fellow labourers, a pair of oxen, which, with a good, strong plough, going up one side of each row of turnips, took away the earth close to the bulbs, left them bare on one side, and thus made it extremely easy to pull them up. We wanted spades no longer; all our hands were employed taking up the turnips; and our job, instead of being half done that day, was completed, by about two o'clock. Well and justly did MOSES order, that the ox should not be muzzled while he was treading out the corn; for, surely, no animals are so useful, so docile, so gentle as these, while they require at our hands so little care and labour in return!
108. Now, it will be observed, that the turnips here spoken of, were put up when the ground and the turnips were frozen. Yet they have kept perfectly sound and good; and I am preparing to plant some of them for seed. I am now writing on the 10th of April. I send off these turnips to market every week. The tops and tails and offal go to the pigs, to ewes and lambs, to a cow, and working oxen, which all feed together upon this offal flung out about the barn-yard, or on the grass ground in the orchard. Before they have done, they leave not a morsel. But, of feeding I shalI speak by and by.
109. The other crop of turnips, I mean those which were transplanted, as mentioned in Paragraphs 72 and 73, and which, owing to their being planted so late in the summer, kept on growing most luxuriantly till the very hard frosts came.
110. We were now got on to the 17th of December; and, I had cabbages to put up. Saturday, Sunday and Monday, the 21st, 22nd and 23rd, we had very hard frost, as the reader, if he live on this Island, will well remember. There came a thaw afterwards; and the transplanted turnips were put up like the others; but, this hard frost had pierced them too deeply, especially as they were in so tender and luxuriant a state. Many of these we find rotted near the neck; and, upon the whole, they have suffered a loss of about one half. An acre, left to take their chance in the field, turned out, like most other games of hazard, a total loss. They were all rotted.
111. This loss arose wholly from my want of sufficient experience. I was anxious to neglect no necessary precaution; and I was fully impressed, as I always am, with the advantages of being early. But, early in December, I lost a week at New York; and, though I worried my neighbours half to death to get at a knowledge of the time of the hard weather setting in, I could obtain no knowledge, on which I could rely, the several accounts being so different from each other. The general account was, that there would be no very hard weather till after Christmas. I shall know better another time! MAJOR CARTWRIGHT says, in speaking of the tricks of the English Boroughmongers, at the "Glorious Revolution," that they will never be able to play the same tricks again; for, that nations, like rational individuals, are not deceived twice in the same way.
112. Thus have I spoken of the time and manner of harvesting, as they took place with me. And, surely, the expense is a mere trifle. Two oxen and four men would harvest two acres in any clear day in the latter end of November; and thus is this immense crop harvested and covered completely for about two dollars and a half an acre. It is astonishing, that this is never done in England! For, though it is generally said, that the Ruta Baga will stand any weather; I know by experience, that it will not stand any weather. The winter of the year 1814, that is to say, the months of January and February, were very cold, and a great deal of snow fell; and in a piece of twelve acres, I had, in the month of March, two thirds of the turnips completely rotten; and these were amongst the finest that I ever grew, many of them weighing twelve pounds each. Besides, when taken up in dry weather, before the freezings and thawings begin, the dirt all falls off; and the bulbs are clean and nice to be given to cattle or sheep in the stalls or yards. For, though we, in general, feed off these roots upon the land with sheep, we cannot, in deep land, always do it. The land is too wet; and particularly for Ewes and Lambs, which are, in such cases, brought into a piece of pasture land, or into a fold-yard, where the turnips are flung down to them in a dirty state, just carted from the field. And, again, the land is very much injured, and the labour augmented, by carting when the ground is a sort of mud-heap, or rather, pool. All these inconveniences and injuries would be avoided by harvesting in a dry day in November, if such a day should, by any accident, be found in England; but, why not do the work in October, and sow wheat, at once, in the land. More on this after cropping another time.
113. In Long Island, and throughout the United States, where the weather is so fine in the fall; where every day, from the middle of October to the end of November, (except a rainy day about once in 16 days) is as fair as the fairest May-day in England, and where such a thing as a water-furrow in a field was never heard of; in such a soil as this, and under such a climate as this, there never can arise any difficulty in the way of the harvesting of turnips in the proper time. I should certainly do it in November; for, as we have seen, a little frost does not affect the bulbs at all. I would put them in when perfectly dry; make my heaps of about fifty bushels; and, when the frost approached, I mean the hard frosts, I would cover with corn-stalks, or straw, or cedar boughs, as many of the heaps as I thought I should want in January and February; for, these coverings would so break the frost, as to enable me to open the heaps in those severe months. It is useless and inconvenient to take into barns, or out-houses, a very large quantity at a time. Besides, if left uncovered, the very hard frosts will do them harm. To be sure, this is easily prevented, in the barn, by throwing a little straw over the heap; but, being, by the means that I have pointed out, always kept ready in the field, to bring in a larger quantity than is used in a week, or thereabouts, would be wholly unnecessary, besides being troublesome from the great space, which would thus be occupied.
114. It is a great advantage in the cultivation of this crop, that the sowing, or transplanting time, comes after all the spring grain and the Indian Corn are safe in the ground, and before the harvest of grain begins: and then again, in the fall, the taking up of the roots comes after the grain and corn and buckwheat harvests, and even after the sowing of the winter grain. In short, it seems to me, that the cultivation of this crop, in this country, comes, as it were expressly, to fill up the unemployed spaces of the farmer's time; but, if he prefer standing with his arms folded, during these spaces of time, and hearing his flock bleat themselves half to death in March and April, or have no flock, and scarcely any cattle or hogs raise a few loads of yard-dung, and travel five miles for ashes and buy them dear at the end of the five miles; if he prefer these, then, certainly, I shall have written on this subject in vain.
of the Crop.
115. It is impossible for me to say, at present, what quantity of Ruta Baga may be grown on an acre of land in this island. My three acres of ridged turnips, sown on the 26th of June, were very unequal; but, upon one of the acres, there were six hundred and forty bushels; I mean heaped bushels; that is to say, an English statute bushel heaped as long as the commodity will lie on. The transplanted Turnips yielded about four hundred bushels to the acre: but, then, observe, they were put in a full month too late. This year, I shall make a fair trial.
116. I have given an account of my raising, upon five acres in one field, and twelve acres in another field, one thousand three hundred and twenty bushels to an acre, throughout the seventeen acres. I have no doubt of equalling that quantity on this Island, and that, too, upon some of its poorest and most exhausted land. They tell me, indeed, that the last summer was a remarkably fine summer; so they said at Botley, when I had my first prodigious crop of Ruta Baga. This is the case in all the pursuits of life. The moment a man excels those, who ought to be able and willing to do as well as he; that moment, others set to work to discover causes for his success other than those proceeding from himself. But, as I used to tell my neighbours at Botley, they have had the same seasons that I have had. Nothing is so impartial as weather. As long as this sort of observation, or inquiry, proceeds from a spirit of emulation, it may be treated with great indulgence; but, when it discovers a spirit of envy, it becomes detestable, and especially in affairs of agriculture, where the appeal is made to our common parent, and where no man's success can be injurious to his neighbour, while it must be a benefit to his country, or the country in which the success takes place. I must, however, say, and I say it with feelings of great pleasure, as well as from a sense of justice, that I have observed in the American farmers no envy of the kind alluded to; but, on the contrary, the greatest satisfaction, at my success; and not the least backwardness, but great forwardness, to applaud and admire my mode of cultivating these crops. Not so, in England, where the farmers (generally the most stupid as well as most slavish and most churlish part of the nation) envy all who excel them, while they are too obstinate to profit from the example of those whom they envy. I say generally; for there are many most honourable exceptions; and, it is amongst that class of men, that I have my dearest and most esteemed friends; men of knowledge, of experience, of integrity, and of public-spirit, equal to that of the best of Englishmen in the worst times of oppression. I would not exchange the friendship of one of these men for that of all the Lords that ever were created, though there are some of them very able and upright men too.
117. Then, if I may be suffered to digress a little further here, there exists, in England, an institution which has caused a sort of identity of agriculture with politics. The Board of Agriculture, established by Pitt for the purpose of sending spies about the country, under the guise of agricultural surveyors, in order to learn the cast of men's politics, as well as the taxable capacities of their farms and property; this Board gives no premium or praise to any but "loyal farmers," who are generally the greatest fools. I, for my part, have never had any communication with it. It was always an object of ridicule and contempt with me; but, I know this to be the rule of that body, which is, in fact, only a little twig of the vast tree of Corruption, which stunts and blights and blasts all that approaches its poisoned purlieu. This Board has for its Secretary, Mr. ARTHUR YOUNG, a man of great talents, bribed from his good principles, by this place of five hundred pounds a year. But, Mr. YOUNG, though a most able man, is not always to be trusted. He is a bold asserter; and very few of his statements proceed upon actual experiments. And, as to what this Board has published, at the public expense, under the name of Communications, I defy the world to match it as a mass of illiterate, unintelligible, and useless trash. The only paper, published by this Board, that I ever thought worth keeping, was an account of the produce from a single cow, communicated by Mr. CRAMP, the jail-keeper of the County of Sussex; which contained very interesting and wonderful facts, properly authenticated, and stated in a clear manner.
118. ARTHUR YOUNG is blind, and never attends the Board. Indeed, sorrowful to relate, he is become a religious fanatic, and this in so desperate a degree as to leave no hope of any possible cure. In the pride of our health and strength, of mind as well as of body, we little dream of the chances and changes of old age. Who can read the "Travels in France, Spain, and Italy," and reflect on the present state of the admirable writer's mind, without feeling some diffidence as to what may happen to himself!
119. LORD HARDWICKE, who is now the President of the Board, is a man, not exceeding my negro, either in experience or natural abilities. A parcel of court-sycophants are the Vice-Presidents. Their Committees and Correspondents are a set of justices of the peace, nabobs become country-gentlemen, and parsons of the worst description. And thus is this a mere political job; a channel for the squandering of some thousands a year of the people's money upon worthless men, who ought to be working in the fields, or mending "His Majesty's High-Ways."
120. Happily politics, in this country, have nothing to do with agriculture; and here, therefore, I think I have a chance to be fairly heard. I should, indeed, have been heard in England: but, I really could never bring myself to do any thing tending to improve the estates of the oppressors of my country; and the same consideration now restrains me from communicating information, on the subject of timber trees, which would be of immense benefit to England: and which information I shall reserve, till their tyranny shall be at an end. Castlereagh, in the fulness of his stupidity, proposed, that in order to find employment for "the population," as he insolently called the people of England, he would set them to dig holes one day and fill them up the next. I could tell him what to plant in the holes so as to benefit the country in an immense degree; but, like the human body in some complaints, the nation would now be really injured by the communication of what, if it were in a healthy state, would do it good, and add to its strength, and to all its means of exertion.
121. To return from this digression, I am afraid of no bad seasons. The drought, which is the great enemy to be dreaded in this country, I am quite prepared for. Give me ground that I can plough ten or twelve inches deep, and give me Indian corn spaces to plough in, and no sun can burn me up. I have mentioned Mr. CURWEN's experiments before; or, rather TULL's. For he it is, who made all the discoveries of this kind. Let any man, just to try, leave half a rod of ground undug from the month of May to that of October; and another half rod let him dig and break fine every ten or fifteen days. Then, whenever there has been fifteen or twenty days of good scorching sun, let him go and dig a hole in each. If he does not find the hard ground dry as dust, and the other moist; then let him say, that I know nothing about these matters. So erroneous is the common notion, that ploughing in dry weather lets in the drought!
122. Of course, proceeding upon this fact, which I state as the result of numerous experiments, I should, if visited with long droughts, give one or two additional ploughings between the crops when growing. That is all: and, with this, in Long Island, I defy all droughts.
123. But why need I insist upon this effect of ploughing in dry weather? Why need I insist on it in an Indian corn country? Who has not seen fields of Indian corn looking, to-day, yellow and sickly, and, in four days hence (the weather being dry all the while,) looking green and flourishing; and this wonderful effect produced merely by the plough? Why, then, should not the same effect always proceed from the same cause? The deeper you plough, the greater the effect, however; for there is a greater body of earth to exhale from, and to receive back the tribute of the atmosphere. Mr. CURWEN tells us of a piece of cattle-cabbage. In a very dry time in July, they looked so yellow and blue, that he almost despaired of them. He sent in his ploughs; and a gentleman, who had seen them when the ploughs went in on the Monday, could scarcely believe his eyes when he saw them on the next Saturday, though it had continued dry all the week.
124. To perform these summer ploughings, in this Island, is really nothing. The earth is so light and in such fine order, and so easily displaced and replaced. I used one horse for the purpose last summer, and a very slight horse indeed. An ox is, however, better for this work; and this may be accomplished by the use of a collar and two traces, or by a single yoke and two traces. Tull recommends the latter: and I shall try it for Indian corn as well as for turnips.1 Horses, if they are strong enough, are not so steady as oxen, which are more patient also, and with which you may send the plough-share down without any of the fretting and unequal pulling, or jerking, that you have to encounter with horses. And as to the slow pace of the ox, it is the old story of the tortoise and the hare. If I had known in England, of the use of oxen, what I have been taught upon Long Island, I might have saved myself some hundreds of pounds a year. I ought to have followed TULL in this as in all other parts of his manner of cultivating land. But, in our country, it is difficult to get a ploughman to look at an ox. In this Island the thing is done so completely and so easily, that it was, to me, quite wonderful to behold. To see one of these Long Islanders going into the field, or orchard, at sun-rise, with his yoke in his hand, call his oxen by name to come and put their necks under the yoke, drive them before him to his plough, just hitch a hook on to the ring of the yoke, and then, without any thing except a single chain and the yoke, with no reins, no halters, no traces, no bridle, no driver, set on to plough, and plough a good acre and a half in the day; to see this would make an English farmer stare; and well it might, when he looked back to the ceremonious and expensive business of keeping and managing a plough-team in England.
125. These are the means, which I would, and which I shall, use to protect my crops against the effects of a dry season. So that, as every one has the same means at his command, no one need be afraid of drought. It is a bright plough-share that is always wanted much more than showers. With this culture there is no fear of a crop; and though it amount to only five hundred bushels on an acre, what crop is half so valuable.
126. The bulk of crop, however, in the broadcast, or random, method, may be materially affected by drought; for, in that case, the plough cannot come to supply the place of showers. The ground there will be dry and keep dry in a dry time; as in the case of the supposed half rod of undug ground in the garden. The weeds, too, will come and help, by their roots, to suck the moisture out of the ground. As to the hand-hoeings, they may keep down weeds to be sure, and they raise a trifling portion of exhalation; but, it is trifling indeed. Dry weather, if of long continuation, makes the leaves become of a bluish colour; and, when this is once the case, all the rain and all the fine weather in the world will never make the crop a good one; because the plough cannot move amidst this scene of endless irregularity. This is one of the chief reasons why the ridge method is best.
of, and mode of applying the crop.
127. It is harder to say, what uses this root may not be put, than what uses it may be put to, in the feeding of animals. They are eaten greedily by sheep, horn cattle, and hogs, in their raw state. Boiled, or steamed (which is better) no dog that I ever saw, will refuse it. Poultry of all sorts will live upon it in its cooked state. Some dogs will even eat it raw; a fact that I first became acquainted with by perceiving my Shepherd's dog eating it in the field along with the sheep. I have two Spaniels that come into the barn and eat it raw; and yet they are both in fine condition. Some horses will nearly live upon it in the raw state; others are not so fond of it.
128. Let me give an account of what I am doing now (in the month of April) with my crop.
129. It is not pretended, that this root, measure for measure, is equal to Indian corn in the ear. Therefore, as I can get Indian corn in the ear for half a dollar a bushel, and. as I sell my Ruta Baga for half a dollar a bushel at New York, I am very sparing of the use of the latter for animals. Indeed, I use none at home, except such as have been injured, as above mentioned, by the delay in the harvesting. These damaged roots I apply in the following manner.
130. Twice a day I take about two bushels, and scatter them about upon the grass for fifteen Ewes with their lambs and a few wether sheep, and for seven stout store-pigs, which eat with them. Once a day I fling out a parcel of the refuse that have been cut from the roots sent to market, along with cabbage leaves, and stems, parsnip fibres, and the like. Here the working oxen, hogs, cow, sheep and fowls, all feed as they please. All these animals are in excellent condition. The cow has no other food; the working oxen a lock of hay twice a day; the Ewes an ear of Indian corn each; the pigs nothing but the roots; the fowls and ducks and turkeys are never fed in any other way, though they know how to feed themselves whenever there is any thing good to be found above ground.
131. I am weaning some pigs, which, as every one knows, is an affair of milk and meal. I have neither. I give about three buckets of boiled Ruta Baga to seven pigs every day, not having any convenience for steaming; and two baits of Indian corn in the ear. And, with this diet, increasing the quantity with the growth of the pigs, I expect to turn them out of the stye fatter (if that be possible) than they entered it. Now, if this be so, every farmer will say, that this is what never was done before in America. We all know how important a thing it is to wean a pig well. Any body can wean them without milk and meal; but, then the pigs are good for nothing. They remain three months afterwards and never grow an inch; and they are, indeed, not worth having. To have milk, you must have cows, and cows are vast consumers! To have cows, you must have female labour, which, in America, is a very precious commodity. You cannot have meal without sharing in kind pretty liberally with the miller, besides bestowing labour, however busy you may be, to carry the corn to mill and bring the meal back. I am, however, speaking here of the pigs from my English breed; though I am far from supposing that the common pigs might not be weaned in the same way.
132. Sows with young pigs, I feed thus: boiled Ruta Baga twice a day. About three ears of Indian corn apiece twice a day. As much offal Ruta Baga raw as they will eat. Amongst this boiled Ruta Baga, the pot-liquor of the house goes, of course; but, then, the dogs, I dare say, take care, that the best shall fall to their lot, and as there are four of them pretty fat, their share cannot be very small. Every one knows, what good food, how much meal and milk are necessary to sows which have pigs. I have no milk, for my cow has not yet calved. And, then, what a chance concern this is; for, the sows may perversely have pigs at the lime when the cows do not please to give milk; or, rather, when they, poor things, without any fault of theirs, are permitted to go dry, which never need be, and never ought to be the case. I had a cow once that made more than two pounds of butter during the week, and had a calf on the Saturday night. Cows always ought to be milked to the very day of their calving, and during the whole of the time of their suckling their calves. But, "sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." Let us leave this matter till another time. Having, however, accidentally mentioned cows, I will just observe, that, in the little publication of Mr. CRAMP, mentioned above, as having been printed by the Board of Agriculture, it was stated, and the proof given, that his single cow, gave him, clear profit, for several successive years, more than fifty pounds sterling a year, or upwards of two hundred and twenty dollars. This was clear profit; reckoning the food and labour, and taking credit for the calf, the butter, and for the skim milk at a penny a quart only. Mr. CRAMP's was a Sussex cow. Mine were of the Alderney breed. Little, small boned things; but two of my cows, fed upon three quarters of an acre of grass ground, in the middle of my shrubbery, and fastened to pins in the ground, which were shifted twice a day, made three hundred pounds of butter, from the 28th of March to the 27th of June. This is a finer country for cattle than England: and yet, what do I see!
133. This difficulty about feeding sows with young pigs and weaning pigs, is one of the greatest of hindrances to improvement; for, after all, what animal produces flesh meat like the hog? Applicable to all uses, either fresh or salted, is the meat. Good in all its various shapes. The animal killable at all ages. Quickly fatted. Good if half fat. Capable of supporting an immense burden of fat. Demanding but little space for its accommodation; and yet, if grain and corn and milk are to be their principal food, during their lives, they cannot multiply very fast; because many upon a farm cannot be kept to much profit. But, if, by providing a sufficiency of Ruta Baga, a hundred pigs could be raised upon a farm in a year, and carried on till fatling time, they would be worth, when ready to go into the tatting stye, fifteen dollars each. This would be something worth attending to; and, the farm must become rich from the manure. The Ruta Baga, taken out of the heaps early in April, will keep well and sound all the summer; and, with a run in an orchard, or in any grassy place, it will keep a good sort of hog always in a very thriving, and even fleshy state.
134. This root, being called a turnip, is regarded as a turnip, as a common turnip, than which nothing can be much less resembling it. The common turnip is a very poor thing. The poorest of all roots of the bulb kind, cultivated in the fields; and, the Ruta Baga, all taken together, is, perhaps, the very best. It loses none of its good qualities by being long kept, though dry all the while. A neighbour of mine in Hampshire, having saved a large piece of Ruta Baga for seed, and having, after harvesting the seed, accidentally thrown some of the roots into his yard, saw his hogs eat these old roots, which had borne the seed. He gave them some more, and saw that they eat them greedily. He, therefore, went and bought a whole drove, in number about forty, of lean pigs of a good large size, brought them into his yard, carted in the roots of his seed Ruta Baga; and, without having given the pigs a handful of any other sort of food, sold out his pigs as fat porkers. And, indeed, it is a fact well known, that sheep and cattle as well as hogs will thrive upon this root after it has borne seed, which is what, I believe, can be said of no other root or plant.
135. When we feed off our Ruta Baga in the fields, in England, by sheep, there are small parts left by the sheep; the shells which they have left after scooping out the pulp of the bulb; the tap root; and other little bits. These are pecked out of the ground; and when washed by the rain, other sheep follow and live upon these. Or, in default of other sheep, hogs or cattle are turned in in dry weather, and they leave not a morsel.
136. Nor are the greens to be forgotten. In England, they are generally eaten by the sheep, when these are turned in upon them. When the roots are taken up for uses at the home-stead, the greens are given to store-pigs and lean cattle, I cut mine off, while the roots were in the ground, and gave them to fatting cattle upon grass land alternately with Indian corn in the ear; and, in this way, they are easily and most profitably applied, and they come, too, just after the grass is gone from the pastures. An acre produces about four good waggon loads of greens; and they are taken off fresh and fresh as they are wanted, and, at the same time, the roots are thus made ready for going, at once, into the heaps. Pigs, sheep, cattle; all like the greens as well as they do the roots. Try any of them with the greens of white turnips; and, if they touch them, they will have changed their natures, or at least, their tastes.
137. The Mangle Wurzle, the cabbage, the carrot, and the parsnip, are all useful; and, the latter, that is to say, the parsnip, very valuable indeed; but, the main cattle-crop is the Ruta Baga. Even the white turnip, if well cultivated, may be of great use; and, as it admits of being sown later, it may often be very desirable to raise it. But, reserving myself to speak fully, in a future part of my work, of my experiments as to these crops, I shall now make a short inquiry as to the value of a crop of Ruta Baga, compared with the value of any other crop. I will just observe, in this place, however, that I have grown finer carrots, parsnips and Mangle Wurzle, and even finer cabbages, than I ever grew upon the richest land in Hampshire, though not a seed of any of them was put into the ground till the month of June.
138. A good mode, it appears to me, of making my proposed comparative estimate, will be to say, how I would proceed, supposing me to have a farm of my own in this Island, of only one hundred acres. If there were not twelve acres of orchard, near the house, I would throw as much grass land to the orchard as would make up the twelve acres, which I would fence in in an effectual manner, against small pigs as well as large oxen.
139. Having done this, I would take care to have fifteen acres of good Indian corn, well planted, well suckered and well tilled in all respects. Good, deep ploughing between the plants would give me forty bushels of shelled corn to an acre; and a ton to the acre of fodder for my four working oxen and three cows and my sheep and hogs, of which I shall speak presently.
140. I would have twelve acres of Ruta Baga, three acres of early cabbages, an acre of Mangle Wurzle, an acre of carrots and parsnips, and as many white turnips as would grow between my rows of Indian corn after my last ploughing of that crop.
141. With these crops, which would occupy thirty-two acres of ground, I should not fear being able to keep a good house in all sorts of meat, together with butter and milk, and to send to Market nine quarters of beef and three hides, a hundred early fat lambs, a hundred hogs, weighing twelve score, as we call it in Hampshire, or two hundred and forty pounds each, and a hundred fat ewes. These, all together, would amount to about three thousand dollars, exclusive of the cost of a hundred Ewes and of three Oxen; and, I should hope, that the produce of my trees in the orchard and of the other fifty-six acres of my farm would pay the rent and the labour; for, as to taxes, the amount is not worth naming, especially after the sublime spectacle of that sort, which the world beholds in England.
142. I am, you will perceive, not making any account of the price of Ruta Baga, cabbages, carrots, parsnips, and white turnips at New York, or any other market. I now, indeed, sell carrots and parsnips at three quarters of a dollar the hundred by tale; cabbages (of last fall) at about three dollars a hundred, and white turnips at a quarter of a dollar a bushel. When this can be done, and the distance is within twenty or thirty miles on the best road in the world, it will, of course, be done; but, my calculations are built upon a supposed consumption of the whole upon the farm by animals of one sort or another.
143. My feeding would be nearly as follows. I will begin with February; for, until then the Ruta Baga does not come to its sweetest taste. It is like an apple, that must have time to ripen 5 but, then, it retains its goodness much longer. I have proved, and especially in the feeding of hogs, that the Ruta Baga is never so good, till it arrives at a mature state. In February, and about the first of that month, I should begin bringing in my Ruta Baga, in the manner before described. My three oxen, which would have been brought forward by other food to be spoken of by and by, would be tied up in a stall looking into one of those fine commodious barns' floors which we have upon this island. Their stall should be warm, and they should be kept well littered, and cleaned out frequently. The Ruta Baga, just chopped into large pieces with a spade or shovel, and tossed into the manger to the oxen at the rate of about two bushels a day to each ox, would make them completely fat, without the aid of corn, hay, or any other thing. I should, probably, kill one ox at Christmas, and, in that case, he must have had a longer time than the others upon other food. If I killed one of the two remaining oxen in the middle of March and the other on the first of May, they would consume 266 bushels of Ruta Baga.
144. My hundred ewes would begin upon Ruta Baga at the same time, and, as my grass ground would be only twelve acres until after hay-time, I shall suppose them to be fed on this root till July, and they will always eat it and thrive upon it. They will eat about eight pounds each, a day; so that for 150 days it would require a hundred and twenty thousand pounds weight, or two thousand four hundred bushels.
145. Fourteen breeding sows to be kept all the year round, would bring a hundred pigs in the Spring, and they and their pigs would, during the same 150 days, consume much about the same quantity; for though the pigs would be small during these 150 days, yet they eat a great deal more than a sheep in proportion to their size, or, rather bulk. However, as they would eat very little during 60 days of their age, I have rather over-rated their consumption.
146. Three cows and four working oxen would, during the 150 days consume about one thousand bushels, which, indeed, would be more than sufficient, because, during a great part of the time, they would more than half live upon corn-stalks; and, indeed, this, to a certain extent, would be the case with the sheep. However, as I mean that every thing should be of a good size, and live well, I make ample provision.
147. I should want, then, to raise five hundred bushels of Ruta Baga upon each of my twelve acres; and, why should I not do it, seeing that I have this year raised six hundred and forty bushels upon an acre, under circumstances such as I have slated them. I lay it down, therefore, that, with a culture as good as that of Indian corn, any man may, on this Island (where corn will grow) have 500 bushels to the acre.
148. I am now come to the first of July. My oxen are fatted and disposed of. My Lambs are gone to market, the last of them, a month ago. My pigs are weaned and of a good size. And now ray Ruta Baga is gone. But, my ewes, kept well through the winter, will soon be fat upon the 12 acres of orchard and the hay-ground, aided by my three acres of early cabbages, which are now fit to begin cutting, or, rather, pulling up. The weight of this crop may be made very great indeed. Tea thousand plants will stand upon an acre, in four feet ridges, and every plant ought to weigh three pounds at least. I have shown before how advantageously Ruta Baga transplanted would follow these cabbages, all through the months of July, and August. But, what a crop of Buck-wheat would follow such of the cabbages as came off in July! My cabbages, together with my hay fields and grain fields after Harvest, and about 40 or 50 waggon-loads of Ruta Baga greens, would carry me along well till December (the cabbages being planted at different times); for my ewes would be sold fat in July, and my pigs would be only increasing in demand for food: and the new hundred ewes need not, and ought not, to be kept so well as if they were fatting, or had Iambs by their side.
149. From the first of December to the first of February, Mangle Wurzle and white turnips would keep the sheep and cattle and breeding sows plentifully; for the latter will live well upon Mangle Wurzle; and my hundred hogs, intended for fatting, would be much more than half fat upon the carrots and parsnips. I should, however, more probably, keep my parsnips till spring, and mix the feeding with carrots with the feeding with corn, for the first month, or fifteen days, with regard to the fatting hogs. None of these hogs would require more than three bushels of corn each to finish them completely. My other three hundred bushels would be for sows giving suck; for the ewes, now and then in wet weather; and for other occasional purposes.
150. Thus all my hay and oats and wheat and rye might be sold, leaving me the straw for litter. These, surely, would pay the rent and the labour; and, if I am told, that I have taken no account of the mutton and lamb and perk that my house would demand, neither have I taken any account of a hundred summer pigs, which the fourteen sows would have, and which would hardly fail to bring two hundred dollars. Poultry demand some food; but, three parts of their raising consists of care; and, if I had nobody in my house to bestow this care, I should, of course, have the less number of mouths to feed.
151. But, my horses! Will not they swallow my hay and my oats? No: for I want no horses. But, am I never to take a ride, then? Ay, but, if I do, I have no right to lay the expense of it to the account of the farm. I am speaking of how a man may live by and upon a farm. If a merchant spend a thousand a year, and gain a thousand, does he say, that his traffic has gained him nothing? When men lose money by farming, as they call it, they forget, that it is not the farming, but other expenses that take away their money. It is, in fact, they that rob the farm, and not the farm them. Horses may be kept for the purpose of going to church, or to meeting, or to pay visits. In many cases this may be not only convenient, but necessary, to a family; but, upon this Island, I am very sure, that it is neither convenient nor necessary to a farm. "What!" the ladies will say, "would you have us to be shut up at home all our lives; or be dragged about by oxen." By no means; not I! I should be very sorry to be thought the author of any such advice. I have no sort of objection to the keeping of horses upon a farm; but, I do insist upon it, that all the food and manual labour required by such horses, ought to be considered as so much taken from the clear profits of the farm.
152. I have made sheep, and particularly lambs, a part of my supposed stock; but, I do not know, that I should keep any beyond what might be useful for my house. Hogs are the most profitable stock, if you have a large quantity of the food that they will thrive on. They are foul feeders; but they will eat nothing that is poor in its nature; that is to say, they will not thrive on it. They are the most able tasters in all the creation; and, that which they like best, you may be quite sure has the greatest proportion of nutritious matter in it, from a white turnip, to a piece of beef. They will prefer meat to corn, and cooked meat to raw; they will leave parsnips for corn or grain; they will leave carrots for parsnips; they will leave Ruta Baga for carrots; they will leave cabbages for Ruta Baga; they will leave Mangle Wurzle for cabbages; they will leave potatoes (both being raw) for Mangle Wurzle. A white turnip they will not touch, unless they be on the point of starving. They are the best of triers. Whatever they prefer is sure to be the richest thing within their reach. The parsnip is, by many degrees, the richest root; but, the seed lies long in the ground; the sowing and after culture are works of great niceness. The crop is large with good cultivation; but, as a main crop, I prefer the Ruta Baga, of which the crop is immense, and the harvesting and preserving and application of which are so easy.
153. The farm I suppose to be in fair condition to start with. The usual grass seeds sown, and so forth, and every farmer will see, that, under my system, it must soon become rich as any garden need to be, without my sending men and horses to the water-side to fetch ashes, which have been brought from Boston, or Charleston, an average distance of seven hundred miles! In short, my stock would give me, in one shape or another, manure to the amount in utility of more than a thousand tons weight a year of common yard manure. This would be ten tons to an acre every year. The farm would, in this way, become more and more productive; and, as to its being too rich, I see no danger of that; for a broad-cast crop of wheat will, at any time, tame it pretty sufficiently.
154. Very much, in my opinion, do those mistake the matter, who strive to get a great breadth of land, with the idea, that, when they have tried one field, they can let it lie, and go to another. It is better to have one acre of good crop, than two of bad or indifferent. If the one acre can, by double the manure and double the labour in tillage, be made to produce as much as two other acres, the one acre is preferable, because it requires only half as much fencing and little more than half as much harvesting, as two acres. There is many a ten acres of land near London, that produce more than any common farm of two hundred acres. My garden of three quarters of an acre, produced more, in value, last Summer, from June to December, than any ten acres of oat land upon Long Island, though I there saw as fine fields of oats as I ever saw in my life. A heavy crop upon all the ground that I put a plough into is what I should seek, rather than to have a great quantity of land.
155. The business of carting manure from a distance can, in very few, if any cases, answer a profitable purpose. If any man would give me even horse dung at the stable door, four miles from my land, I would not accept of it, on condition of fetching it. I say the same of spent ashes. To manure a field often acres, in this way, a man and two horses must be employed twenty days at least, with twenty days wear and tear of waggon and tackle. Two oxen and two men do the business in two days, if the manure be on the spot.
156. In concluding my remarks on the subject of Ruta Baga, I have to apologize for the desultory manner in which I have treated the matter; but, I have put the thoughts down as they occurred to me, without much time for arrangement, wishing very much to get this first part in the hands of the public before the arrival of the time for the sowing of Ruta Baga this present year. In the succeeding parts of the work, I propose to treat of the culture of every other plant that I have found to be of use upon a farm; and also to speak fully of the sorts of cattle, sheep, and hogs, particularly the latter. My experiments are now going on; and, I shall only have to communicate the result, which I shall do very faithfully, and with as much clearness as I am able. In the meanwhile, I shall be glad to afford an opportunity, to any persons who may think it worth while to come to Hyde Park, of seeing how I proceed. I have just now (17th April) planted out my Ruta Baga, Cabbages, Mangle Wurzle, Onions, Parsnips, &c. for seed. I shall begin my earth-burning in about fifteen days. In short, being convinced, that I am able to communicate very valuable experiments; and not knowing how short, or how long, my stay in America may be, I wish very much to leave behind me whatever of good I am able, in return for the protection, which America has afforded me against the fangs of the Boroughmongers of England; to which country, however, I always bear affection, which I cannot feel towards any other in the same degree, and the prosperity and honour of which I shall, I hope, never cease to prefer before the gratification of all private pleasures and emoluments.
Of the Treatise on Ruta Baga,
AND OF PART I.
1 Since the above paragraph was written, I have made a single ox-yoke; and, I find it answer excellently well. Now, my work is much shortened; for in forming ridges, two Oxen are awkward. They occupy a wide space, and one of them is obliged to walk upon the ploughed land, which, besides making the ridge uneven at the top. presses the ground, which is injurious. For ploughing between the rows of turnips and of Indian corn also, what a great convenience this will be! An ox goes steadier than a horse, and will plough deeper, without fretting and tearing; and he wants neither harness-maker nor groom. The plan of my yoke I took from TULL. I showed it to my workman, who chopped off the limb of a tree, and made the yoke in an hour It is a piece of wood, with two holes to receive two ropes, about three quarters of an inch in diameter. These traces are fastened in the yoke merely by a knot, which prevents die ends from passing through the holes, while the other ends are fastened to the two ends of a Wiffle-tree, as it is called in Long Island, of a Wipple-tree, as it is called in Kent, and of a Wippance, as it is called in Hampshire. I am but a poor draftsman; but, if the printer can find any thing to make the representation with, the following draft will clearly show what I have meant to describe in words. —
When the corn (Indian) and turnips get to a size, sufficient to attract the appetite of the ox, you have only to put on a muzzle. This is what Mr. TULL did; for, though we ought not to muzzle the ox "as he treadeth out the corn" we may do it, even for his own sake, amongst other considerations, when he is assisting us to bring the crop to perfection.