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soiling purposes, and if intended for seed, 12 stone will be sufficient.
All farm animals are fond of vetches, and thrive upon them freely, and pigs will fatten upon them. They are well suited for milch-cows, causing them to give a good supply of butter; and they afford excellent feeding for horses.
The winter vetch, if sown in September or October, will be a very valuable food for cattle, particularly for sheep, early in the spring; and the best way is, to cut and carry it to the fields or folds where the sheep are kept. This prevents them from treading upon and breaking the stems of the plants, which they would do if allowed to eat the crop on the ground. For hay, vetches should be cut after the blossom has fallen off, and before the pods have made much progress.
Rape, will flourish on a wider range of soils than the turnip; it requires less cultivation and less manure, and may therefore be grown where the turnip cannot be profitably cultivated. Rape is generally used for soiling, or for feeding sheep; but it is also cultivated for the seed. It is so hardy, that sow or plant it when or where you will, it is sure to make a struggle for existence; and although any particular climate may not be favourable to its cultivation for seed, yet as a green crop for winter or spring feeding, rape is always valuable, yielding an abundant supply of nutritious food, at a season when turnips and mangel-wurzel are usually exhausted, and before the winter vetch, clover, or Italian rye-grass, are ready for use.
One great advantage of rape is, the facility with which it can be produced on inferior soils, on which an early crop may often obviate the necessity of a naked summer fallow; for the rape may be eaten upon the ground by sheep in the month of September, so as to admit of a crop of wheat being sown afterwards. It is also of great use in the process of reclaiming bog, and
other waste land. By sowing such lands with rape, and feeding it off with sheep, a proper mixture of useful grasses may be introduced, and the ground be thus brought to a state of permanent fertility.
Rape is particularly valuable to the farmer, affording a crop between harvest and spring. It will often yield a good cutting in October, when the frosts have stripped the clover of its leaves, and before the turnips are fit for use: and will come in afterwards in spring, when the turnips are exhausted, and before the winter vetches are sufficiently forward.
As an intermediate crop, rape may be cultivated in various ways. If the crop which it is to succeed is still on the ground, a seed-bed may be made in June, and the rape can be transplanted out, after the removal of the previous crop. If grown after vetches, the rape plants should be put in, ridge by ridge, as the vetches are cut, giving the ground a dressing of manure; but in a majority of cases, the vetches will be off the ground in time to sow the rape. Rape may in like manner succeed a corn crop, first ploughing and manuring the stubble. In Flanders, where rape culture is practised upon an extensive scale, the stubble is ploughed twice, and the rape plants are covered in by the plough, having been previously laid at proper distances upright in the furrow. This is an expeditious method, and is there found to answer well.
It is usual where clover has not been sown, to take a crop of rape after flax, the flax being always off the ground sufficiently early to allow of sowing the rapeseed, without having recourse to transplanting. In this case, after the flax stubble has been ploughed, and harrowed fine, the manure is laid on the surface, and a slight covering of mould thrown over it from the furrows; the seed is then sown at the rate of 15 lbs. to the statute acre, and covered with earth from the furrows. In this way excellent crops of rape are produced, which give five or six weeks' feeding at the worst season of the year, and the ground is left clear for a spring crop.
Rape may also be sown without manure, on a stubble, on which a crop of turnips could not be expected; for
although it may not afford much keep during the winter, yet the manure deposited by the sheep whilst eating it, and the benefit derived from the roots when ploughed in, will be of great advantage to the land.
Rape sown exclusively for its seed, must be kept at a greater distance apart than when intended for soiling, or feeding by sheep. On the poorer soils the plants may be left at eight or ten inches apart, but on rich soils they must stand at twelve or fifteen inches distant. When the crop is intended for seed, the time for sowing is about the middle of August, and for reaping, the middle of July following, provided the season be favourable.
The ripening of the crop ought to be carefully attended to, for it will change very quickly, if the weather be hot, and will probably require to be cut in patches throughout the field. It must also be well watched from birds, as soon as the pods begin to fill. The crop must on no account be allowed to get too ripe, and if lodged, should be cut even under-ripe, in preference to letting it lie upon the ground. It must be reaped with great care, and then put erect in shocks to dry and ripen in the fields. When carried, it must be kept upright, and shaken as little as possible until placed on the sheet: it is then to be beaten out with long poles. Sufficient hands should be engaged for the day it is likely to be fit for thrashing, which requires expedition; as the crop must be carried to the sheet, thrashed, and cleaned, the same day, in order to guard against risk from rain. Should the seed be at all damp, when brought to the granary, spread it thinly on the floor till perfectly dry.
There is no portion of the rape-plant that may not be turned to a profitable account. Its value for soiling and feeding has been already noticed. The seed is used for crushing, by which large quantities of oil are extracted from it; and the rape-cake is very valuable as a manure. In Flanders, the manure from which the rape itself is generally raised, is urine, with the rapecakes dissolved in it. The pods and parts broken off in
thrashing, are as acceptable to cattle as hay; and the haulm or stems may be used as litter, or for the bottoms of stacks, &c. In Holland, the haulm is burned into ashes for manure, which is found to be very valuable.
LUCERNE AND SAINFOIN.
Lucerne, and Sainfoin, are each valuable crops. Both should be sown in clean ground, in drills, from twelve to eighteen inches apart, in order that they may be dug between and kept free from weeds. Both are tap-rooted, and require a loose dry undersoil ; limestone, gravel, or chalk is the best. They are both perennial, and bear crops for about fifteen years in succession, and stand transplanting well; but if the soil is not kept loose and clean, these crops will soon deteriorate, and be seriously injured.
The seed may be sown in a seed-bed in April, and the plants put out in September, or else early in the following spring, as shall be deemed best in each case. Sainfoin is to be treated in the same way, and is suited to the same kind of soil as lucerne: a wet bottom would ruin either, but they will flourish on light land, if dry and warm. If cut early, they will yield four crops in the year; and an acre will feed four cows, from the 1st of April to the end of November, and afford a good deal of hay besides.
Lucerne and sainfoin thrive best in a dry climate, and require care and attention in weeding and keeping clean; and clover is therefore, perhaps, on the whole, to be preferred as a general crop. Lucerne is nevertheless much cultivated in some districts, on account of its durability, and abundant produce; and for the small farmer it appears to be particularly eligible, whenever the soil is suitable for its growth. A deep friable loam on a dry substratum is the best, and on such soil it may certainly be cultivated to advantage.
Chalky soils are found to be particularly favourable for sainfoin, and large quantities of it are grown in Wilts, Hants, and Dorset, and the other chalk districts in
the south of England, where it is held in high estimation by the farmers of every grade.
The land for these crops should be well prepared by trenching or deep ploughing, and a previous fallow, or fallow crop. When a small quantity only is required, it is better to have the soil deeply trenched with the spade, manuring it well at the same time. Deep tillage is indispensable for these plants, which derive their nourishment from long tap-roots, that penetrate the earth to the depth of two and three feet, in quest of nourishment.
If transplanted from seed sown the previous spring, half a pound of seed upon a nursery-bed, four or five feet wide and twenty paces long, will give a sufficiency of plants for an acre. The quantity of seed generally used, when sown in drill, is about twelve pounds per statute acre. The latter end of March, or the beginning of April, are proper periods for sowing. When delayed too long, the plant is apt to be destroyed by the fly.
The first year after sowing or transplanting, there will generally be three good cuttings; the first in the end of May or beginning of June, the second in July or August, and the third in October; and always cut the moment the flower-buds appear. In the second year, the first cutting ought to commence the first week in May; and again, at intervals of forty days, for four cuttings. The third year, and every year after, the first cutting should begin about the middle of April, according to the earliness or lateness of the season; taking care to begin the cutting early, as it is to be continued for forty days, and the latter cuttings would else be too far advanced. There will thus be four or five good cuttings in the year, equal to any crop of vetches, and without waste. After the last cutting, the earth between the rows should be well dug and cleaned, and a little manure would be very useful whenever it can be spared.
There is perhaps no summer crop better adapted for cottage husbandry than lucerne, where the soil is suitable. A quarter of an acre will support a cow from the Ist of May to the 1st of November, and it gives no unpleasant taste to milk or butter. It may be considered