[From General View of Agriculture, 1794]
THE cultivation of this kind of corn is not general, as barley is found to answer often with more profit to the farmer: the demand for barley being great, and the price good, added to the difference of condition necessary for wheat prompts the cultivator to make the crop of barley his chief object. Wheat being infected with smut, very frequently injures its fare, and the straw not being fit for fodder, is also against its cultivation.
The seed usually sown is the red sort, and changed from one farm to another, or imported from England or Ireland; after all which it will sometimes be smutty, so that it is evident the fault must lay on the season. It is steeped a few hours before sowing, in salt water, and dulled with lime, which is considered more useful against birds and worms than against smut. It is sown several ways: first, under furrow on a summer fallow, Sometimes limed or dunged in September, or October at farthest: second, harrowed under, on clover land, with one ploughing only; this often produces the cleanest and weightiest corn, but not the greatest quantity: third, which is the most common way, after potatoes; this crop not being dug up till late in October, often protracts the sowing to Christmas, and frequently prevents the sowing of that grain.
Fair crops are sometimes got after flax, but it is rarely sown after any crops of grain, as the strength necessary for wheat would cause the preceding crop to be too luxuriant. If a stubble is dunged, and a wet season follows. it invariably happens, that the crop spends itself in straw, and is infected with smut. This grain should, however, be more generally grown, as 50001. is annually paid for flour imported. According to the condition of the land, is the allowance of seed, good soils, sown early, being better stocked with plants, with two bushels of seed to the acre, than three bushels sown at Christmas. The return is usually from 24to 36 bushels per English acre; and fold always by weight, allowing 64 lb. per bushel; which is in general heavier than the grain actually weighs, requiring 1/11th to make up the due weight. The price is from one guinea to 24 shillings per boll, of four Winchester bushels,
The lower class of inhabitants depending on this grain for bread, and the increased demand of the maltsters, makes barley the greatest favourite, and chief dependance of the farmers in this in and: more than one half of the arable land is annually sown with it, and it is found to be the best adapted to the soil and climate of any sort of grain except oats, which are hardier and bear with coarser tillage. There are but two sorts sown, the four rowed, which is only fit to malt; and the two rowed, of which the meal is used for bread.
The four rowed requires the earliest sowing, and is ripe a fortnight before the other, and is maltable as soon as fit to thresh. As it is a small grain, it does not turn out so much meal as the two rowed, which last sort requires land in greater condition, and generally bears the weightiest crop. The usual allowance of feed per acre, is from three bushels and a half to four and a half, and the average return thirty fix. The marled land of the north end of the island produces very good crops, and of a remarkable good sample.
On some rich pastures, with only two ploughings, crops of heavy clean grain are sometimes obtained; but it is most commonly sown after potatoes, the necessary manure and tiliage of which ensures a mellow rich feed bed, and a favourable return, in case the summer is not attended with l much rain. The usual feed time is from the middle of April to the middle of May. This grain is sown after wheat and pease, but never after oats, with out the lands being manured, a custom seldom in practice, except where wrack, or sea weed, is to be had, which throws good crops after any kind of corn. After potatoes in beds; it is sown on one ploughing; but after any drilled or corn crops, two or three tilths are always given. The prices have raised within these ten years, from 15 to 18 shillings, and now are as high as a guinea per boll of six bushels. The grain, not weighing its due weight of 56 lb. To the bushel, has created a custom with the maltster of allowing half a bushel to the boll, but the millers mostly buy at three cwt. to the boll.
Oats are in general cultivation, especially on the upland farms. As the meal produced from that grain forms a considerable part of the diet of the labouring people, there are many places where oats should be sown instead of barley, which would prevent having recourse to the importation of meal, a custom much too frequent. Oats are most commonly sown on a lay, or after other corn, with only one ploughing; sometimes two are given, and the feed turned under furrow: but this is too seldom practised, as the crops from this mode are mostly good. The two sorts of seed are the common white oats, and the Poland. This first is a hardy grain, and not being very liable to shake, is mostly sewn. The Poland frequently pays very well, when sown on rich land and well sheltered, but is subject to shake, and does not yield in meal superior to the common sort. The usual seed-time, is from the first of March to the middle of April. From six bushels of seed, a return of 48 is often got; but the average does not exceed five bolls of six bushels to the acre; and the price is from 12, to 14 shillings per boll, according to the weight of the grain.
are not yet much in cultivation; heavy crops have, however, been raised on some farms; but they are difficult to save, as moist weather attends the latter end of harvest.
This grain is not much sown in the south end of the island; but on the light lands of the north it makes a material part of their husbandry. Pease meliorating the soil is a good preparation for their severe barley cropping. The grey and white sorts are both in common life, and are sown in the month of April; the allowance of seed is two bushels and a half to the acre, and the return about twenty bushels.
---Very little of this grain is at present grown; formerly, before marling was so much used, rye occupied the land now sown with wheat.
---are generally, and in considerable quantities, grown in this island, the manure being chiefly appropriated to their cultivation, as they are found particularly useful for the maintenance of the inhabitants, and for the support of different species of stock. There are many different kinds of seed set, and the modes of cultivation various. On rich land, the kidney sort bear an excellent character, but are not so prolific or keep so well as others. The white and apple potatoes are good in quality, and yield a return in proportion to the tillage and manure. These sorts are better than most for the first part of the season. The pink eyes, and copper plates, are hardy and strong, admitting of coarser management. The blacks are a late sort, and keep well till August, when they are mellow; but before Christmas they are watery.
There are many other sorts cultivated by the townsmen in their crofts, but these are the sorts generally planted throughout the country.
On the upland farms, and on coarse soils, they still adhere to the ancient mode of cultivation, termed lazybed. The land is laid out in butts or beds, from fix to ten feet wide, allowing from two to three feet for interval or furrow; the manure is then spread on the surface, and the potatoe cuttings placed at ten inches distance from one another on the dung, and covered with the earth dug out of the interval; when the plants begin to appear above ground, a second covering out of the fame interval, of finer mould, is thrown on, which destroys the weeds, and does no injury to the potatoes. There two coverings do not exceed four inches deep over the sets: they are then kept hoed and weeded, till the potatoe blossoms covering the surface, do not allow the weeds to rise again. Another method is, to plough the dung under, allowing an interval for earthing. The furrows are broken and levelled by hacks or mattocks; the sets are then planted with dibbles or sticks; having feet like spades, are pressed into the land easily to the depth of four inches. After the sets are dropped in, the holes are filled up with rakes: the earthing, hoeing, and weeding, is the same as the lazy bed. Another method is, to dig the dung under, as is practised in gardens; set with a dibble, and not to give a covering of mould, but hoe and weed as often as the weeds appear; from 15 to 20 bushels per acre, is the usual allowance of sets: the return depending on the care of hoeing and weeding, is various; from 160 to 200 bushels is about the common return; but sometimes with extraordinary care,300 bushels have been obtained.
Drilling potatoes is practised on many farms, but it is remarked that the crops are not so great as those grown on beds, though a better opportunity to hoe and weed certainly should plead in favour of that mode. The time of planting, is from the latter end of March to the middle of May, the earliest set producing the most mealy potatoes, but the greatest crops are raised from those planted about the first of May. The digging up is performed with three fined forks, which subject the potatoes to less risk of cutting than spades or ploughs. A good hand can act up eight heaped bushels in a day without the assistance of a picker; 1s. 2d. per bushel is considered a fair price on the field, but the expence of carting and storing increases the price in spring, frequently as high as two shillings. To prevent injury from the front, it is necessary to cover them carefully with straw, but the safest way of preservation is in heaps in the field, packing draw closely round them about fix inches thick, and covering the straw with earth a foot thick at the sides, and two feet at top, observing to build the heaps as sharp as possible, and to place the grass side of the sods to the outsides. This, when well beat with the back of a spade, and coped sharply at the top, will effectually keep potatoes from injury of either frost or rain.
This root appears to be well suited to the climate of this island, and very good crops have been raised within. these few years on some estates; but the potatoe crop is so great a favourite, that dung cannot be afforded for their cultivation: however, turnips are gradually rising in repute. The seed is always sown in drills well dunged, and wherever they have been cultivated, great attention has been paid to their tillage, manure, and hoeing. The return has in general been profitable. though their cultivation is attended with extraordinary expence. The common winter feed is the sort sown.
---have been tried, and found not to answer. Crops of carrots have been also grown both for horses and cows, but were so very expensive to keep clean of weeds in moist summers, that they are now gone into disuse.
Different kinds of winter cabbage have been grown for the feeding of milking stock, and were found very convenient. The manure demanded for the culture of potatoes, is the chief reason why there last mentioned crops do not enter more rapidly into general cultivation.
---The growth and manufacture of flax is very general throughout the whole island, almost every farmer and cottager growing a little, both for the use of their families and exportation. The linen cloth is particularly retell manufactured, and finds a ready fate in England, where 50001. Worth is annually exported: the price from the loom is from one shilling to one and six-pence per yard. The feed is usually sown in April, and kept weeded till it completely covers the land. By the middle or latter end of July, it is pulled and laid in water for a week, by which time the pith is petrified, and will suffer the bark or flax to part easily. It is then spread on a pasture to dry, till it is found by examination, to be fit for scutching or dressing. It is then dressed at twills for that purpose, of which there are many on the different streams, and is then ready for spinning; for cloth of one shilling per yard, it is spun without any other preparation, but heckled when intended for finer. The watering is extremely troublesome and disagreeable, if the weather is wet, a long series of which will ruin the crop.--It is too precarious to cultivate on a large scale in so moist a climate, but small parcels are easily managed. The allowance of seed is about eighteen gallons per acre, but rarely so much as an acre is sown by any one person. When the season favours, the profit is sometimes as high as five pounds per acre; but it frequently happens, that it scarcely clears itself. Artificial grasses thrive well when sown along with flax, the pulling acting as a partial hoeing. It is always sown on land in good condition, and not after any crop of grain. Potatoes or drilled crops are excellent preparatives for flax.
In consequence of a scheme for boiling flax, instead of watering, recommended in the fifth volume of the Bath Papers, an experiment was tried, but the expence of boiling was greater than the value of the flax.
Hemp is only sown in gardens or very rich plots of land, and very rarely seen cultivated in fields.
SOWN grades are now so essentially necessary, that every farm, both upland and lowland, sow grass seeds with their spring crops. The improvement of red clover in particular is great, whether the crop is consumed by grazing or for hay. It is the general opinion, that eating it off with stock, is less injurious to the land than mowing. The roots of clover have a fertilising effect on the soil, and if the land is well stocked with clover, a plentiful crop of wheat follows.
On account of improving the quality of the hay, ray-grass seed is mostly sown along with the clove.. This grass is justly considered a great impoverisher, and requires the land to be in good condition, or the crop will be trifling; and the injury to the soil great. White hay feeds are sometimes sown in place of ray-grass, and are accounted better when intended to be laid down for pasture. Ten pounds of red clover, and two bushels of ray-grass feeds, is the usual allowance per acre for a hay crop. For pasture, six pounds of red, two pound of white clover, and four pounds of trefoil seeds, with three bushels of white hay seeds, will form a good sward, if the soil has received its due cultivation, and not exhausted by too many crops, an error too general in this island. The price of well saved hay is from two to three pounds per ton.