« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
a permanent crop, and little labour is required after the first year; and with a few Swedes, and a half or a quarter of an acre of mangel-wurzel, for winter food, it would answer well for the small farmer, and often obviate the necessity for cabbages or other crops.
LAYING DOWN IN GRASS.
The most important preparation for laying down tillage lands in grass, is to clean and enrich the soil ; and the general, and perhaps the best mode of doing this, is by first growing a crop of mangel-wurzel, turnips, or drilled potatoes, which are to be well manured, and effectually cleaned and cultivated during summer, so as to eradicate all weeds. The following spring, put in either barley or oats, and when these are sufficiently harrowed, sow the grass and clover seeds, and run them over with a light harrow. Then roll, and if the ground be naturally stiff and adhesive, it may be well to give one turn of the light harrow after the roller, which will prevent the surface becoming hard and caky.
If the land is intended for permanent pasture, one bushel of the common, and half a bushel of Italian ryegrass, half a bushel of cock’sfoot-grass, 3 lbs. of white and 1 lb of red clover, and 2 lbs. of cow-grass, will be a good proportion, and sufficient for an acre; but a little trefoil and rib-grass might likewise be useful.
If it is only intended that the land should be kept under grass for one, two, or three years, the Italian ryegrass is decidedly preferable to all others, and three bushels of this grass, with 2 lbs. of white and 5 lbs. of red clover, will be sufficient for a statute acre. Should the soil be very rich and clean, however, somewhat less seed may suffice; and if the land is poor, and not over clean, a small addition to the above quantities might be desirable.
The above is the most usual way of laying down in grass, but many persons prefer sowing in autumn, after a fallow or fallow crop ; and in such case, a crop of early turnips, well manured, and eaten off the land, forms an excellent preparation for the grass-seeds, which, if possible, should be sown in September. They will then be sure to strike, and do well; and will form a good sward early in the ensuing spring. In any case the ground should be well harrowed and worked fine, and after the seed is sown, it should be well rolled, to consolidate and level the surface.
The kind of seed to be sown, must depend in some measure upon the nature of the soil; but too much care cannot be taken to have all the seeds of good quality, and clean and free from rubbish. Perennial rye-grass, cow-grass, trefvil, and white clover, are the kinds chiefly to be selected for permanent pasture; but where it is intended only for three or four years, red clover is the principal plant, with a proportion of the Italian and common perennial rye-grass.
For a field intended to remain four or five years in grass, the following proportions are recommended ;red clover, 12 lbs.; white clover, 6 lbs. ; trefoil, 4 lbs.; rib-grass, 2 lbs.; rye-grass, 2 pecks; and cock’sfoot and cow grass are sometimes added. The entire quantity of the mixed seeds, should be from 30 to 40 lbs. per acre, in order to ensure a good close sward of grass the next year.
Flax comes within the definition which we have given of “Green Crops,” but it is not usually included with them. It may, however, always form part of a rotation, and it has long been so cultivated very extensively in Flanders, and to a considerable extent likewise in Ireland. No crop affords so much employment, and none better repays the farmer for the care bestowed upon it; and when it is considered what large sums are annually expended in the purchase of foreign flax, whilst our own soil is equal to any for the growth of the plant, its extended cultivation would seem to be an object of national importance.
The best soil for flax is a friable loam-neither clayey nor gravelly, and such as is easily worked. Soil enriched by much manure causes the flax to grow too strong, and come coarse from the hackle. Flax of the best quality is grown after oats, from clover or pasture lea, if the ground has been laid down in good heart. Sometimes good crops are got from wheat-stubble, after potatoes; but it is never desirable to sow flax immediately after potatoes or turnips, when the ground has had a full quantity of manure.
In preparing the ground, be careful to have it deep, fine, and clear of weeds. This can only be done by ploughing twice before or during winter, harrowing effectually between the ploughings, to expose the rootweeds to the frost, and then ploughing and harrowing in spring, a few weeks before sowing, so that the seedweeds will have time to braird, and be destroyed by the final preparation for the crop.
If the ground be stiff, the roller should be used after the harrow, to break the lumps; then, before sowing, use the small seed-harrow, or one that has short close pins, to level the surface. After sowing, a double turn of the seed-harrow will give sufficient coveringthen roll. If the ground is not naturally dry, a water furrow will be necessary. The Dutch sow thickly, by which means they have fine flax; and the stalks bearing only a few pods or bows, the seed is all equally ripe; whereas, when thinly sown, the flax is coarse, having branchy tops, with seed unequally ripe.
Too much pains cannot be taken in weeding. This is one great cause of the superiority of the Dutch and Belgian flax', not a weed, large or small, is there ever allowed to remain, and the crop pays well for all the labour bestowed upon it. Weeding should be done when the plant rises about three inches. The weeders will often press it down, by sitting to weed; but they should take care not to twist or swirl it, or flatten it different ways; as that cracks the young stalk, which seldom recovers, while by merely pressing it one way it will soon start up again.
The time for pulling, is when about two-thirds of the
stalk turn yellow, and lose the leaves. By pulling green, the dressed flax appears finer, but it is weaker, and deficient in weight. When any of the crop is lying, it should be pulled and kept by itself; and care should be taken to sort and keep the long, middling, and short, separate. This is particularly attended to on the Continent, and is a means of enhancing the value to the spinner, and consequently to the grower. Flax should never be pulled when it is wet; and it should lie two or three days in handfuls, or small sheaves, before steeping; and the sheaves should be tied very loose.
The watering should be done with soft water. The best way is to fill the pit from a river or stream, then stop the run and steep as soon as you please ; but if you can only get spring or hard water, fill the pit a week before steeping, that the sun and air may warm and soften it. Never let in any fresh water, unless to supply leakage, which should be carefully guarded against. The Dutch set the flax nearly upright in the water, with the tops down; they then cover it with mud, and in some places with boards, in framework, to keep out the light. Clean straw might answer the purpose as well, if pressed down with sods or stones; and the straw would afterwards form excellent manure, when saturated with the flax-water.
Every grower of flax should know when it is properly watered, this being very important in the management of the crop. Directions on this point can hardly be given, as the time necessary varies according to the nature of the water, the state of the weather, and the ripeness of the plant when pulled. The time varies from six or seven, to twelve or fourteen days; and the medium may be near the proper proportion in ordinary cases. Wash the flax in clean water, on taking it out of the pit, which gives it a uniformity of colour.
It may be noticed here, that every barrel of water, from a flax-pit, is equal in value to a cart-load of farmyard manure, for top-dressing. The flax-water should therefore be carefully preserved for the land, and not a drop of it should be allowed to run to waste.
Every flax-grower knows when it is fit for lifting,
which must be done on a dry day, and the drier it is the better. There is much loss in the mill when the flax is not perfectly dry. If not taken soon to the mill, it is improved by putting it into small stacks, loosely built, with bramble or stones at the bottom, to let the air circulate.
Milling and hand-scutching are important operations, which are carefully attended to by the flax-growers on the Continent. Great care ought to be taken in rolling the flax. It should go through different sets of rollers, of varied dimensions in the grooves, from large to small, so that the shove or woody part will be minutely broken ; which will make it more easily scutched, and less liable to be wasted, as it is the long unbroken shoves that tear away the flax. The same care should be taken in breaking or crigging the flax, for handscutching.
The saving of the seed is also an important consideration. On the Continent, the growers have both good flax and good seed from the same crop. Their general practice is to dry the flax in the field, like grain, and stack it till the following spring. If saved for the oil-mill, the seed ought to be nearly ripe ; and this may be permitted without injury to the fibre-the Dutch say with advantage. Whether the seed be ripe or unripe, it will be a shameful waste to allow it to rot in the lint-holes, when it is capable of forming valuable feeding for cattle. There is no other food superior to it, for milk, butter, and fattening: but it ought always to be ground, and with the husk, as the seed alone is apt to purge the animals.
How much wet waste land is there that might be turned to profit, if planted with Osiers, which are so useful to the farmer, and often so profitable for sale ? Hurdles, baskets, and a great variety of useful articles, are all made from this little twig; which, although so soft and pliable, is yet hardy in its growth; and it is