[From T.Quayle Agriculture of IoM, 1812]

CHAP. VII.
ARABLE LAND.

SECTION I.—TILLAGE.

THE introduction into the island of improved tools, and of the labourer who conducts them ; the instruction which the Manks servants have received under his guidance ; and the imitation, by others, of his practices, have produced visible effects. On the recently improved farms, the different operations of husbandry are neatly executed : the progress of the native farmer is indeed slow, but this does not appear to arise from any reluctance to adopt foreign fashions. Though the price of horses, and horse keeping, wages, and the price of implements have doubled within twenty years, it is admitted that actual tillage is effected at a reduced expense. Ploughing is usually performed by two horses without a driver; occasionally, where cattle are small, or the land rough or steep, by three and a driver. No plough formerly penetrated above three inches into the soil, and the ridges were crooked and narrow ; with broad headlands unturned altogether. The beneficial effects of ploughing to the depth of seven or eight inches, have in several instances been apparent, and in soils similarly circumstanced, the example will probably be followed. No seed is committed to the earth without ploughing: lazy-bed potatoes are indeed raised by the operation of the spade only, and occasionally on peaty soils, these are followed by wheat, sown immediately subsequent to the raising of the potatoe crop, without any intermediate ploughing. The reason assigned for this practice is, that the peat, which was buried at the time of the potatoe-planting, would, by the operation of the plough, be raised again to the surface, and would therefore become dry, and be reduced to mould less perfectly. On account of the rapid vegetation in summer, and of the humid climate, in no country are hand-hoeing and weeding more necessary operations ; in none, perhaps, are they more neglected. In the arable, docks, may-weed, charlock, and corn mary-gold ; in the pastures, thistles, and, above all, rag-wort, disgrace the scene. For ages these plants have been lodging their seeds; and the fences aid in distributing them. The excuse generally assigned is, the difficulty of procuring hands to weed. A little farmer honestly avowed to the Reporter, what probably in his and many instances was the fact, that his reason for not attacking the weeds was because there were so many of them.

The furrows here are generally laid according to the declivity. Hollow spots have drains made with the spade ; but water-furrows carefully forested by the plough, and cleared, by the shovel, of obstructions as they arise, as practised in the well cultivated counties of England, have not been introduced, except in a very few instances.

SECTION II.—FALLOWING.

NAKED fallows do not enter into any usual course of Manks husbandry. When the weeds cannot be got under for a spring crop, or when manure is scarce, fallowing may, occasionally be resorted to : this method has also been taken to bring in coarse land; but it has given way to paring and burning.

SECTION III.—COURSE OF CROPS.

WERE the general principle inquired into, by which the native farmer is guided, and by which evidently his course of cropping has been governed, it would be simply, to plough and raise white crops as long as the land will bear them. Occasionally the wants of his family, or his own defect of capital, or of industry, may disturb the operation ; but by this principle, so far as lies in his power, he does in fact abide.

The object in view in every country, it is apprehended, should be to discover which of the profitable plants is best adapted to the soil and climate, and with them to continue cropping, in that order of succession, and in that mode of treatment, which experience proves to yield the greatest produce. To these principles many of the insular farmers have too little adverted. Their view is immediate profit. Lime, marl, or sea-weeds are employed for the purpose of forcing their lands to produce grain, and for that object alone. On farms where improved practices have beets adopted, a more regular system, of course, takes place : beginning with a fallowing crop, or fallow, limed, or dunged, or both; and terminating with grass-seeds. After a crop or two of hay, these are surrendered to pasture. Clover is seldom sown without a mixture either of ray-grass, or of white meadow-hay (Holcus lanatus), and not often broken up from the lay of one year without top dressing. Oats are sown on old lays, or barley, after two ploughings, where sea-weed is easily procured.

In the northern district, pease are often an intermediate crop, rarely, in the middle or southern. Autumnal rains frequently intervening make the saving of this crop hazardous.

As the culture of each crop is separately to be described, their ordinary succession is alone here to be noticed.

1. Fallow, or fallow crop manured.

1. Lay oats or barley.

2. Wheat, or barley sown off.

2. Oats.

3. Clover and ray-grass, or white grass mown.

3. Fallow crop manured.

4. Second mowing, or pasture.

4. Wheat, barley, or oats sown off.—

 

5. Clover and ray, or white grass mown.

 

 

1. Fallow as before.

1. Pared and burnt for wheat, sometimes limed.

2 Wheat.

2. Oats or barley, twice ploughed and seeded.

3. Barley, twice ploughed.

3. Hay, or pasture.

4. Oats sown off.

 

5. Mown or pastured.

 

SECTION IV.—WHEAT.

DOUBTS have been entertained as to the period of time when the culture of this primary article of human sustenance was introduced into the island. It is supposed by some persons to have been of novel introduction; and the opinion has been fortified by a persuasion almost as general, and which continued till recently, that there are in the island but few soils on which this plant can be brought to maturity. By a document in Rymer's Foedera,1 it appears that in 1235, in the reign of Henry the Third, the petty sovereign of this island, then independent, received from the king of England a yearly grant of money, and of articles furnished by thus Irish government, on condition of his defending from pirates that part of the Irish Channel which is contiguous to the coasts of the Isle of Man. One of those articles furnished was wheat . With the command of hands and of soil, which the sovereign of this pigmy territory possessed, seeing an article which he coveted raised on land no better than his own, and by people as little advanced in civilization as those whom he governed, it seems probable that part of this tributary wheat would be consigned to mother earth ; and that he would endeavor to make his own table, at least, independent of the supplies of his powerful neighbour. This is but conjecture ; but, it is hoped, probable conjecture, Strong evidence arises of the cultivation of wheat by the islanders as early as the 14th century. It appears that they had at one time bought of the Scots a year's truce for 300 marks. Not having been able to raise the whole of this sum, they had loaded a vessel with different articles to make up the amount, and among these, was wheat. In her passage to Scotland, their vessel was intercepted by some Irishmen ; and Edward the Third, in the 26th year of his reign (1343) issues a writ close to the Chief Justice of Ireland for her liberation.2 If the necessities of the islanders were at that time so great as to prevent their raising this sum in specie, it is infinitely more probable that the wheat found on board was of their own production, than that it had been previously imported. At the time of the dissolution of monasteries, an allowance for the wheat formerly delivered to Russyn Abbey was among the conditions exacted by the officers of the crown from the tenantry;* and a rent ascertained by the then value of wheat, appears to be among the payments still made to the grantee from the crown.

In Camden's time, Dr. John Meryk, Bishop of Sodor and Man, from 1577 to 1600, enumerates wheat among the insular crops, and corn among the exported articles. 3

The culture of wheat could not, however, have been extensive. Even at this day it has not entered into the ordinary food of the inferior orders of people dwelling in the towns, and still less of the peasantry. With other English habits, in the towns especially, they begin indeed to relish the wheaten loaf. Though the culture of this grain now extends to every farm of any magnitude, yet the island appears to derive part of its supply from the English coast. 4

The seed-bed usually is either-1st, fallow ; 2d, clover-lay ; or 3d, after potatoes. To each the quantity of need is usually from two to three Winchester bushels. The fallow being prepared, and either limed or manured, receives the seed as soon after harvest as possible, it is then ploughed under, and slightly harrowed. Lay-ground receives one furrow, and the seed is well harrowed in.

On account of the late removal of the potatoe crop, the wheat which succeeds it is the last sown. If the weather be wet, as is often the case, the sowing is sometimes protracted as late as February. In this mode good crops are still obtained, and potatoes are deemed the most advantageous preparation. Early drawn turnips are also sometimes succeeded by wheat. Steeping in salt water, or brine, is universally practised, and the seed afterwards is dried by powdered lime. Dibbling is quite unknown ; and hoeing the young wheat too much neglected. Both red and white wheats are used; the red considered the hardiest. The depth of the seed does not exceed three inches. Water-furrowing in low-lying parts of fields is practised, and casting the earth out of all the furrows on the ridge is deemed good management. The benefits of rolling and spring-harrowing are well understood. Feeding off with sheep in the spring is not uncustomary, and it is here thought that no injury arises to the sample, on the contrary, that it makes the wheat taller. The ordinary commencement of reaping is about the 15th or 20th of August. When the collections of sheaves of wheat, here called stooks, are made, they usually consist of ten sheaves each. It is not the practice to top them, as it is those of oats and barley. As wheat is less subject than other grain to take heat, the stooks are sooner ready for carting. When the weather before and during harvest is rainy, blight and mildew sometimes appear, but never to any serious extent, nor are the other maladies enumerated by the Board in any degree prevalent, except indeed smut, which sometimes affects the crops, particularly of white wheat, in the southern part of the island, to a great extent; and without receiving, as some persons think, any check from steeping. Where barn-room can be afforded, wheat is housed in preference to any other grain, but the greater part is preserved abroad in round stacks, with conical tops, covered by straw rope, wrought in the usual manner in net work. These stacks contain from 100 to 200 stooks each. When thrashing was performed by the flail, it was seldom done by task-work, usually by the day, and too often by women. If done by task-work, the price at present paid is not less than 1s. 6d. by the boll. That term, when applied to wheat, signifies four bushels.

The price varies with the English market. The crop of 1810 was sold from 11. 16s. to 21. 2s. the boll; making up the weight to 69lb. per bushel, which is always demanded by the buyer, and usually requires an additional peck. Millers charge from 6d. to 9d. per bushel grinding and dressing: There are no windmills in the island ; but the work is not so perfectly done as in general in English mills.

The practice, and the term of gleaning, are unknown in this island.

The edge of the sickle is throughout jagged, and never in part or the whole sharp-cutting; the straw is separated so near the ground, that the stubble is left to be covered by the succeeding plough.

Twenty-four bushels per acre may be stated as a full average crop ; but as the severity of the winter winds often destroys the plant, and as the land is not usually in heart for wheat, it must ever be considered as a precarious crop. Spring wheat is sometimes sown, when the tillage of a farm is much behind hand. The clover sown with it is observed not to succeed so well, as with barley.

In the manufacture of bread, nothing peculiar occurs to mention. There is no assize; and the public baker charges ad libitum.

SECTION V.—RYE.

A very small quantity is grown; it is not in use even forthe valuable purpose of spring sheep-feed.

SECTION VI.—BARLEY.

This may be viewed as the staple product of the country, receiving the greatest attention, and occupying the largest portion of land. After potatoes or turnips, the land is once or twice ploughed ; stubbles, and land, to which sea-weed has been applied, twice or thrice. No barley is put in without ploughing ; and the scarifier has not been used for this purpose. Barley is sometimes sown on rich old lay, and occasionally is substituted for wheat on clover layers. It is also sometimes sown on a winter's fallow, and in that case the land receives at least three stirrings ; is well manured in the spring; and the seed is usually ploughed under. The time of depositing it commences after oat-sowing, and is continued till the middle of May, or later. Both four-rowed and two-rowed are sown; the four-rowed ripening earlier on the crude or cold soils ; the two-rowed, to which the preference in the market is given, on those in good condition. The quantity of seed is from three to four bushel's per acre, deposited at the depth of three or four inches. It is rolled, especially if grass seeds accompany it. Cutting with the sickle is the general mode practised; some have introduced the scythe, and afterwards bound the barley into sheaves. In this climate, with the change of weather, which generally takes place in the latter end of August or the beginning of September, barley requires at least a fortnight in the field after cutting. Its straw being then cut low, and generally grassy at the bottom of the sheaves, is full of moisture which renders it subject to take heat in the stack. Even in dry harvests mistakes are often made in too early stacking, before the bottoms of the sheaves are sufficiently withered, though they may wear that appearance. The stook consists of ten sheaves, set slanting to one another, with two coverers. The produce reaped varies from 50 to 26, and may be averaged at 33 bushels to the acre. This grain is not sold by weight, which may be stated at from 45lb. to 54lb. per bushel. The four-rowed is not so heavy ; it is longer and less plump, but is found to be fit for malting from the field.

The straw and awns are disposed of in feeding cattle. Although there are not any fiscal regulations or tax imposed on malt, or on beer, the profession of a maltster is unknown ; and there is not a peck of malt to be bought in the island. It is manufactured by the public brewers alone, and by a very few individuals, who make malt for their own consumption. The breweries, therefore, which are numerous, have the manufacture in their own hands.

In the year 1780, there were but seven or eight public breweries ; there are now about twenty-four in the island. With the increased competition, the quality of their beer has not improved.

The present price of barley is about 1s. a bushel ; and the careful farmers complain, that between the prize of the worst, and of the best barley, little distinction is made by the brewer. This grain ground fine, and sifted, is in universal use among the poorer classes for the purpose of bread. It is simply made into dough with water, kneaded out into thin round cakes of about fifteen inches diameter, and baked on flat cast-iron plates, called girdles or griddles, which are heated by burning under them dry fern, or furze. A barley-cake being soft, does not keep above a week. Winter-barley has been introduced for soiling ; is in several instances used, and held in great estimation. When the crop is saved, it is found in this windy climate to suffer exceedingly by shaking.

The mulcture paid on oats and barley is one twenty-fourth part.

SECTION VII.—OATS.

IN the uplands, oats form the principal crop, and are indeed in general cultivation. The small common white oats, provincially called " Placket," are sown on inferior soils ; the potatoe-oats on those in better condition. The latter answer well,; frequently affording more profit than wheat or barley. The common sort is sown on one ploughing, either from lay or stubble ; and seldom is rolled. The potatoe-oat pays amply for additional tillage, may be sown later, and ripens earlier.

Its treatment resembles that of barley. Since its introduction, the Poland oat, which has a thicker husk, and is liable to shake, has given place to it. Five or six bushels may be stated as the usual allowance of seed; but it is observed that five bushels on the uplands afford as thick a plant as six near the shore. The produce per acre from four to eight bolls of six bushels. The latter quantity is esteemed a good crop ; but in favourable seasons, ten bolls of potatoe oats have been obtained on lands in good condition. The straw and chaff are con-sumed by the stock; and what is grown on lay land, having grass at the bottom, is held little inferior to coarse meadow hay.

Great part of this crop is consumed at home in horse-food. When in constant employ, a peck a day is given them at two meals; with cut straw in three meals, wetted in the manger. Oatmeal is used by the lower classes for pottage, which is made by boiling the meal in water. In this operation it imbibes more water than barley-meal, and is made thicker than ordinary water-gruel. It is eaten with milk, and forms the usual morning repast of the lower classes. This dish appears also to be in general use in the north of England, and in Scotland, and is by no means unpalatable. Some persons also bake the meal into bread, in the same mode as the barley meal. The oat-cakes are either thick or thin, according to the fineness of the sifting of the meal, and preserve good for a month. These are reckoned amongst luxuries ; being dearer than the barley-cakes, they appear less frequently in the cottager's stores.

The present price of common oats is about 20s. of potatoe oats, about 22s. or 24s. per boll of six bushels, weighing from 32 to 40lb.

SECTION VIII.-PEASE.

SOWING peas in course, as a crop, is only practised in the northern district, where the soil is more adapted to their growth, and where they prove better boilers than in the south. More white than grey are sown. Neither drilling, dibbling, nor rolling is practised : nor is sufficient attention given to weeding. The application of lime to this plant is thought to prevent their boiling well. The time of sowing is from the beginning of March to the end of April ; the quantity of seed, from a bushel and a half to three bushels per acre, and the depth two or three inches. Harvesting is performed by the sickle, sheaves are made and formed in heaps of ten or twelve each : the produce extremely variable, in some years 40 bushels per acre of clean sound pease have been obtained ; in others, scarcely the seed has been returned, and that a bad sample. The straw is used as fodder, and for littering stock ; the stubbles treated as other spring-crops, but rarely thought to afford a sufficiently prepared seed bed for wheat. Pease bear a steady price of 8s. per bushel ; are seldom, if ever, employed as an ingredient in bread making.

SECTION IX.—BEANS.

THOUGH beans have been found among the best preparations for wheat, and afford an opportunity of cleaning the land, by ploughing the intervals and hand-hoeing the rows, better than is afforded by any other spring-sown crop, yet they are not here in general use. The moist weather, which closes the insular harvest, has occasioned the loss of one or two crops, and deters others from pursuing ill fortune. One farmer persists in their cultivation on a small scale ; and vends among his neighbours the surplus of his produce beyond his own consumption. In 1811, but two other instances of the field culture of beans fell under the Reporter's observation, each on a diminutive scale, but neither of them unpromising.

SECTION X.—TARES.

SOME few attempts to grow winter tares have failed either from the late period of their being sown, peculiarly unfavourable seasons, or from deception in the seed: most probably from the latter cause. This valuable plant is here seldom sown, and prejudices against it almost universal are entertained. When a sample of seed is hereafter procured, ou which depen-dance can be placed as genuine, if it prospers, and ma-tures its seed in the island, some benefit to its agriculture, by the introduction. of probably the most feeding spring-plant, will be conferred by the importer. Spring tares are frequent: the produce is usually consumed by working horses, and given as a mid-day bait. Tares are found useful in affording a supply of food between the first and second cutting of clover and ray-grass. No observations have been made on their properties in soiling, so as to ascertain their comparative profit, or the additional quantity of muck produced. A small portion is sometimes set off for seed ; but for the most part it is imported. Making them into hay in this climate has been, very properly, rarely attempted. For cattle-fatting, no experiment is known to have been made ; nor has salt been employed in their preservation.

SECTION XI.—LENTILS.

LENTILS are here known but by name ; and buck-wheat very rarely has been sown.

SECTION XII.—TURNIPS.

ABOUT thirty years have elapsed since the introduction of turnips as an article of field culture in this island. At present it is extending, but not in the degree they merit. They are sown in all soils, except in those imperfectly drained ; always in ridges, never broad-cast.

Before winter, the land receives one ploughing, and two or three in spring, is well harrowed, rolled, and cleaned between the tilths. Early in June, it is ready for drawing the ridges, which are from two to three feet asunder. The manure is then led in ; compost is preferred ; and where lime is mixed, the effect is considered favorable. The single drill is universally used in depositing the seed, which is done in moist weather, or late in the evenings. About two pounds of seed are used by the acre, and the different sorts of field-turnips sown. Showers almost always take place here in the end of June.

In seasons of unusual drought, if the land be also in a dry state, vacancies certainly take place in the rows ; occasionally the caterpillar makes his ravages in this island; but the fly never. When the leaves are well formed, a light plough, with one horse, takes a little mould from the sides of the ridges, and the hand-hoes are applied, thinning the plants to about nine inches asunder. At a fortnight's interval, they receive a second hand-hoeing, intended merely to chop out, where the plants are double, which is soon finished. As soon as the plants are recovered, and get upright, by some farmers a light furrow is thrown towards them ; and before harvest, they receive another earthing with the plough. By others, the scarifier, or triangular harrow, is passed through the intervals, as it is supposed that the earthing up to the plant is often injurious. The mould gathered up to the root perhaps encourages the top, and diminishes the size of the bulb. For the most part this crop is drawn to fatten cattle, and for milch-cows in the house. In some dry grounds, young stock are served with turnips in an adjoining field, never on the land where they grew ; nor are they dedicated to sheep-feed, at least not generally. The quantity of rain falling at that season rendering the ground poachy, the defect of hurdles, and the want of market for so many fat sheep at once, prevent the application of the turnip to its usual and most valuable purpose. Sheep of the Manks breed have, besides, a disrelish for turnips, and several attempts to fat them with this root are reported to have been unsuccessful ; probably from its being given to sheep taken at once from the mountain in a state of starving, without the precaution being observed of drawing the root a few days before it was used, in order to diminish its succulence. No particular mode of storing and preserving turnips has been put into practice. The crop following them is thought by some farmers to exceed that following potatoes ; and the reason is assigned of the land's admitting a ploughing or two later, and more perfect cleaning. Others hold just the opposite opinion. As no comparative experiments have been carefully made and registered, this question, which produces much controversy, must be left undecided.

SECTION XIII.—COLE SEED.

Some experiments have been here made in the culture of this plant, used as cattle-feed between turnips and the growth of grasses, but as yet to no extent, though the opinion entertained of it is favorable. No attempt to save the seed has been made ; nor is it to be wished that there should, the climate being ill adapted to its maturing or preservation.

SECTION XIV.—CABBAGES.

A trial of cabbages has been made by different individuals, but the continual rains in winter injured the hardier sorts, and they appear to have given way to turnips. They were planted in ridges, but wider than those of turnips ; were hoed in the same way, having one ploughing for earthing up, and two hand-hoeings. They were cut and carried off, and before cleaning the land for the ensuing crop, the sheep consumed the sprouts. No particular effect of exhausting the land was noticed.

SECTION XV.—SWEDISH TURNIPS.

No distinction is here made in the management of Swedish and common turnips, except that the former take precedence, and but of a very few days, in sowing. A greater proportion of dung is also allotted. Transplanting has been tried: admitting later tillage, and being equally productive, the practice was approved, but has not become general. These are reserved for the last consumption, and bear being housed in larger quantities than the common turnip. Peat-land it observed to be favorable to their production.

Swedes are, by one gentleman, used in considerable quantities as horse-food: they are sliced, and found to be both palatable to the animal, and to agree well with him when in full work.

SECTION XVI.—KHOL-RABIE, &c.

THE khol-rabie, and other plants enumerated in the Board's instructions, are almost all unknown, with the exception of the thousand-headed cabbage, which has been tried as an article of field-culture ; it was managed as the other kinds, in three-feet ridges, at thirty inches apart, and prospered ; but the gathering in so wet a climate was thought troublesome. Carrots, indeed, have also been repeatedly tried, usually in ridges, at thirty inches apart. No account of their produce has been preserved, except of one broad-cast crop in the Castletown Vale, on strong loam. It had been merely harrowed, and most insufficiently weeded. Full one-third of the crop was stolen. The produce brought home and measured was at the rate of 130 bushels per acre. This crop was but slender ; but the root was good and sound. Their culture continues, though not extensively ; the soil in general being considered as too stony for their production,

SECTION XVII.- POTATOES.

THIS valuable root, appearing on the table of all ranks of people nearly every day in the year; and constituting the principal part of the sustenance of the humbler classes, is universally cultivated. The manure raised on the farm is, by the most numerous class of cultivators, almost exclusively devoted to potatoes hence probably arises the comparative neglect of turnips, as it is only on the larger farms, and principally in the vicinity of Douglas, that due attention is paid to the latter.

Whether the soil is wrought by plough or spade, whether its quality be good or indifferent, when well manured the potatoe every where thrives. Frequently coarse loam produces the sweetest potatoes. In rough, heathy, and peat land, where the staple is a spade-graft deep, they are found the cheapest method of commencing improvements. Lazy-beds are there, and in coarse bottoms, much preferred. The manure is spread at the rate of from fifty to eighty single-horse cart loads per acre, in the month of April, on beds, here called butts, from nine to twelve feet wide, with intervals of from two to three feet. The potatoe-cuttings are then placed on the manure, and covered with the earth dug out of the intervals. Sometimes the manure is ploughed in, and the sets placed with a dibble, then slightly covered. When the plants begin to appear, a second covering out of the same interval is given : they are then hoed once or twice, 'till the stems become sufficiently luxuriant to cover the ground. The mode formerly most in use was to trench under the dung, with the spade, eight or ten inches deep ; then set with the dibble, and keep the land at the surface loose by the hoe. Ridging, with from 24to 30 inches, sometimes three feet intervals, with single rows, is now the most prevailing method; occasionally with double rows, with five feet and a half intervals. The land is prepared as for turnips; being, however, so much earlier wanted, it is seldom in such good order. Another method is to plough in the manure in wide lands, dibble the sets twelve - inches apart, in rows of three feet distance, and afterwards manage entirely with the hoe. In the parishes in which fern abounds, potatoes are raised by its assistance in the following method. In the month of July, butts of the usual dimensions, and with the usual intervals, are traced on grass land designed for next year's potatoes. The fern-plant, being then in full luxuriance, is cut, brought home, and spread on these butts, to the height of about six or eight inches. There it remains during the autumn, winter, and 'till the season for planting potatoes in the spring. The grass shooting up in the mass of fern, in some measure secures it from being blown away. In the mean time, the intervals between the butts are ploughed. The sets, when prepared, are laid on the fern, covered by the spade from the intervals with earth in the usual manner, and occasionally a sprinkling of lime is laid on the fern, at other, times on the butts, between the first and second earthings. It is thought that potatoes raised with fern are superior in quality, and not much inferior in quantity, to those raised by manure ; and that in the succeeding crop of barley, little, if any, distinction can be traced between that which fellows potatoes, raised by means of fern, and in the ordinary methods. In place of fern, furze-tops are occasionally used in the spring in the same manner and with the same effect. Both these modes are borrowed from the Irish.

It is always usual to cut the seed into sets, except in scarce years, when small potatoes are planted, cutting off a slice. Many different species are in use. In the early part of the year, the kidney, and round potatoes are preferred, the black are found most fit for general use, and most abundant ; and the apple sort, though least productive, are valued on account of their preserving well, and being excellent for the table from the beginning of April 'till July. A new potatoe has recently been introduced of a pale red colour, called the Cork red; and probably originating in Ireland. It is of a large size, good flavor, and preserves well. The flower also is pale red, inclining to purple, which soon drops off, and during the four years of their being cultivated by the gentleman who introduced them, not one apple has succeeded. His crop of 1810, planted under unfavourable circumstances, in four feet ridges and single rows, spread so much as completely to cover the intervals, and produced nearly 15 ton per acre. When the potatoes are a few weeks above ground, it is usual to sprinkle over the butts or rows with fresh lime, in the proportion of 150 or 180 bushels on the acre. The effect of this application is thought to be an improvement in the mealiness and bulk of the root. It is followed by the triangular harrow between the rows, which cleans and pulverizes the soil. If sea-weed be applied fresh to the potatoe as manure, it is found to communicate its taste to this root ; but, if previously reduced to compost by lime and other additions, sea-weed is reckoned amongst its most valuable assistants.

In some instances, where the black sole or black rock has appeared in fields cultivated in the lazy-bed method, after raising the earth in the trench, and throwing it on the butts, the black-rock has been taken up in the trenches, and carried wholly away.

The root is taken up with three-tined forks : on the butts this is well performed, and the ground broken fine. In the ridges, a light furrow from each side is sometimes taken, and the remainder dug with forks. This is quicker, but not so clean work. When house-room cannot be given, the potatoes are secured in heaps, covered with straw six inches thick ; afterwards with a body of earth a foot thick at the sides, two feet at top, well pressed and closed with the back of the spade.

The produce varies with the quality and condition of the land, and the season. Potatoes are sold by the boll of sixteen up-heaped pecks. On lazy-beds, in coarse land, thirty bolls per acre is considered a fair return : off the ploughed land, 40 bolls ; but from 80 to 100 bolls have been obtained from ridges well managed. Potatoes form the principal article in the diet of the poor; and are also used for horses, cows, fatting cattle, and particularly for swine, which are chiefly reared by the aid of this root. To sheep, they have never been given. Steaming and boiling have had some trifling trial. For cattle, they are often sliced ; for horses given with cut straw, and sometimes a little salt sprinkled over them. When cattle, fatting with turnips, cloy of that food, potatoes are given them with good effect, 'till their appetite for turnips returns. Drying potatoes for keeping has not been practised, nor have starch or bread been manufactured from them, at least not in any considerable quantities.

The value of potatoes used as cattle-feed, of course increases as the spring advances, but it has been observed that they shrink in measure. A quantity, which when taken up measured 40 boll, has been found to reach but 36, when remeasured in April.

SECTION XVIII.—CLOVER.

CLOVERS are generally cultivated. The seed is sown with a mixture of ray-grass, or white-hay seeds (Holcus lanatus), and trefoil, on young wheat with a spring harrowing; or with oats, or barley, at their seed time. It thrives well with flax ; twelve pounds of red clover seed is the quantity sown on an acre with ray-grass ; proportionably less if accompanied with other small seeds. Its consumption is usuaily in hay. No comparative experiments between the effect of feeding off or mowing, or on soiling, are known to have been made. Some attempts have been made to save the seed of red clover, and although the cleaning it was ill understood, the seed produced well. Saving white clover-seed has not been attempted. It is indigenous ; and when sown, its seed is always mixed with the red, when pasture for any length of time is intended. Clover-lays, when sown with wheat, give a clean heavy sample ; but they are here thought not to produce grain so large, or to be so productive, as in more pulverized tillage. The ground being rarely sufficiently harrowed, numerous plants must necessarily perish.

SECTION XIX.—TREFOIL.

IN laying down with clover, trefoil seed is often intermixed ; but no instance is known of this seed being sown alone.

SECTION XX. RAY-GRASS.

To this plant the Manks farmer appears much at-tached ; in land laid down for hay or pasture, it generally bears a part ; in the latter it disappears in a few years, its place being supplied by natural grasses. As long as the plant is worth cutting, the scythe is em-ployed ; it is then surrendered to the stock, and furnishes by its early spring-shoot a valuable pasture for sheep and lambs. One bushel of clean seed, with clover and other seeds, is the allowance per acre. Equally weighty seed, but not dressed, collected from stable-hay, is often sown from two to four bushels per acre. The Manks farmer is thoroughly convinced of the injurious consequences to his land arising from successive hay crops of ray, but thinks he cannot substitute any other plant which will assist his clover in furnishing hay of equal quality. It is probable that the plant is suffered to mature its seed too much before it meets the scythe. All experiment was made on a newly sown field, which had been divided into two parts ; when the ray-grass was just coming into flower, half the field was cut, and the cutting repeated. The other half was heavily stocked the whole season. In the following year the mown portion carried the best grass.

SECTION XXI.—SAINFOIN, &c.

A GENERAL opinion prevails that this invaluable plant does not prosper north of York. Some few attempts have been made to raise it in this island; hitherto they have been abortive. Another is now making near the town of Ramsey, which, it is hoped, may be attended with success. If the climate of the island be not decisively unfavorable, it contains soils which seem well suited to sainfoin. Dry loams, on lime-stone, and deep bodies of schistus, broken into small fragments, and covered with silty mould about eight inches in depth. Each of these would give admission to the penetrating root of this plant, and on these soils no water rests.

The other plants, with regard to which enquiry is directed, are not usually cultivated here. Burnet has, indeed, in one instance, been sown, and succeeded. In April 1809, 6 lb. of seed per acre, sown with clover and ray-grass, on spring-corn, produced a plant, which in the following winter wore a promising appearance ; but the pasture has since been kept hard stocked, both winter and summer, and had no attention paid to it.

Wild hops grow luxuriantly, and furnish flowers with which small brewings of beer have been made, it is said, successfully. But the cultivation of the hop in so windy a climate, and where poles are not to be procured, is not likely to be attempted.

SECTION XXII.—HEMP AND FLAX.

SMALL patches of hemp are seen in gardens and low moist bottoms, belonging to cottagers, but of course of small extent ; nor does any thing particular occur to mention in its management. The male hemp is separately gathered and exposed to the rain and dews. That so little attention is paid to this plant, is the more to be regretted, as the import for the use of their fishing boats and other purposes is a heavy and increasing tax on the island. The small quantity of Manks hemp raised is usually converted into nets, sold at the same price as those manufactured of foreign hemp, but much preferred. The islanders never have attempted to spin and weave their own into cloth.

Flax is more generally sown, though seldom in any considerable quantities together : Many farmers and substantial cottagers sow as much as their family occasions require ; depositing the seed, at the rate of about 13 gallons to the acre ; often after potatoes, as early in, March and April as the land admits culture In situations where earlier tillage cannot be applied, the sowing is sometimes delayed 'till May. This plant requires complete pulverization of the soil, and is therefore considered as a good nurse for grass-seeds, to which the subsequent pulling of the flax communicates the benefit of a hoeing. Sufficient attention is by no means paid here to the weeding. When pulled green, from which the finest thread is produced, it is first tied into small sheaves, then thrown into water, in which it is kept down by weights for about a week or ten days, 'till found to be sufficiently steeped. Ponds are preferred to running streams for this purpose ; but if the water, in which the flax is immersed, have in it any impregnation of peat, this process is tedious, and the maceration is found to proceed more slowly. It is safer to give too little than too much watering, as in the former case, the defect may be supplied by keeping the flax for a longer period of time afterwards on the ground. When it is thought to have remained in the water a sufficient length of time, it is taken out and spread on a pasture, 'till it is found by examination in a state dry enough for sending to one of the mills, of which there are several on different streams in the island. When the plant is left to attain maturity before pulling, the seed is saved by rippling the heads by means of an iron comb. These are rendered perfectly dry by spreading on a floor, and in the sun ; the stems are then watered in the usual manner. Flax is also allowed to stand 'till dead-ripe, then pulled and set in small sheaves 'till thoroughly withered. It is then stacked as corn, thrashed in the spring, watered, and managed in the usual manner. When flax is permitted to ripen its seed, it exhausts the land more than wheat, and perhaps more than hemp itself ; and under circumstances the least unfavorable, this plant restores to the soil which produces it nothing as manure. Its cultivation, therefore, and peculiarly the raising its seed, seems best adapted to countries underpeopled ; where land is rich as well as plentiful. Home-saved seed is not in equal esteem with that imported. The plant growing from the former proves often spotted, the effect of which continues on the thread and on the linen. The head of the plant also spreads more into branches, and consequently the waste in dressing is more considerable than that of the plant produced from foreign seed.

As the plots of land dedicated to flax are of small extent, and the labor attending its culture and manufacture almost wholly domestic, any statement of expenses or profit would be merely conjectural. The cottagers occasionally hire land in good tilth, for the purpose of growing flax, the rent of which they pay in labour: For the land and tillage they are charged at the rate of 6. per acre, or thereabouts, by the farmer. It is thought a tolerable crop, when eight pounds of manufactured flax are the produce of a quart of seed ; but double that quantity, and upwards, is sometimes obtained. Though little flax is sold in retail, the present price in the rough may be stated at one shilling ; heckled at one shilling and sixpence per pound. No instance is known of flax succeeding flax on the same spot.

SECTION XXIII.—LIQUORICE, &c.

The liquorice plant is indigenous in the rich sands, at the northern extremity, and the north-west shore of the island. It pervades the sheep-pastures, and that animal is said to thrive by browsing on it. No attempt to cultivate, or manufacture its juice, has been made. Camomile, carraway, and coriander, are not known beyond the garden ; nor has the cultivation of teazils been yet introduced.

Footnotes

1 Vol I. p. 342. See Appendix A. No.II.

2 Prynne's Animadv. on the 4th Inst. Cap. 69, p. 385.

3 MS. Hist. of the Isle of Man, p. 28, in the Reporter's possession.

4 Camden's Britannia, edition 1696, p. 1051.

5 See Tables of Importation of Grain, Appendix B. No. 1 and 2. To supply a quantity of grain equal to the importation into the island in the year 1810, the President of the Agricultural Society calculates that there would be requisite the produce of 115 acres of wheat, 302 acres of barley, and 316 acres of oats.—President's Report, 1811, page 109.

 


 

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