It differs from common tillage (which is always performed before the corn or plants are sown or planted) in the times of
performing it ; it is much more beneficial, and it is performed by different instruments.
Land that is, before sowing, tilled never so much (though the more it is tilled the more it will produce) will have some weeds, and they will come in along with the crop for a share of the benefit of the tillage, greater or less, according to their number, and what species they are of.
But what is most to be regarded is, that as soon as the ploughman has done his work of ploughing and harrowing, the soil begins to undo it, inclining towards, and endeavoring to regain its natural specific gravity ; the broken parts by little and little coalesce, unite, and lose some of their surfaces, many of the pores or interstices close up during the seed's incubation and hatching in the ground ; and, as the plants grow up, they require an increase of food, proportionable to their increasing bulk ; but on the contrary, instead thereof, that internal superficies, which is their artificial pasture, gradually decreases.
The earth is so unjust to plants, her own offspring, as to shut up her stores in proportion to their wants ; that is, to give them less nourishment when they have need of more ; therefore man, for whose use they are chiefly designed, ought to bring in his reasonable aid for their relief, and force open her magazines with the hoe, which will thence procure them, at all times, provisions in abundance, and also free them from intruders ; I mean, their spurious kindred, the weeds, that robbed them of their too scanty allowance.
There is no doubt, but that one-third part of the nourishment raised by dung and tillage, given to plants or corn at many proper seasons, and apportioned to the different times of their exigencies, will be of more benefit to a crop, than the whole applied as it commonly is, only at the time of sowing. This old method is almost as unreasonable as if treble the full stock of leaves, necessary to maintain silk-worms until they have finished their spinning, should be given them before they are hatched, and no more afterwards.
Nature, by what she does in the animal economy, seems to point out to us something like hoeing ; for when teeth as ploughs have tilled that soil, or mass (which is earth altered), and when the saliva and ferment of the stomach have served for stercoration to it, then, as a thing of greatest benefit, the bile and pancreas are employed to further, divide, and open, and as it were to hoe it, at the very time when it is ready to be exhausted by the greatest numbers of lacteal mouths situate in the intestines.
A plant is almost as imperfectly nourished by tillage without hoeing, as an animal body would be without gall and pancreatic juice : for roots to pass along the soil, as the soil or mass passes along the guts.
Next to hoeing, and something like it, is transplanting, but much inferior ; both because it requires a so much greater number of hands, that by no contrivance can it ever become general, nor does it succeed if often repeated ; but hoeing will maintain any plant in the greatest vigour it is capable of, even unto the utmost period of its age. Besides there is danger in removing a whole plant, and loss of time before the plant can take root again, all the former roots being broken off at the ends in taking up (for it is impossible to do it without), and so must wait until, by the strength and virtue of its own sap (which by a continual perspiration is daily enfeebled) new roots are formed, which, unless the earth continue moist, are so long in forming, that they not only find a more difficult reception
into the closing pores, but many times the plant languishes and dies of an atrophy, being starved in the midst of plenty ; but whilst this is thus decaying, the hoed plant obtains a more flourishing state than ever, without removing from the same soil that produced it.
But when the earth does continue moist, many transplanted vegetables thrive better than the species planted in seeds, because the former, striking root sooner, have a greater advantage of the fresh pulverised mould, which loses some of its artificial pasture before the seeds have roots to reach it. The same advantage also have seeds by soaking until ready to sprout before they are planted.
To both these the moisture of the earth is necessary.
It is observed that some plants are the worse for transplanting*. Fennochio removed, is never so good and tender as that which is not ; it receives such a check in transplanting in its infancy, which, like the rickets, leaves knots that indurate the parts of the fennel, and spoil it from being a dainty.
Hoeing, has most of the benefits without any inconveniences of transplanting ; because it removes the roots by little and little, and at different times ; some of the roots remaining undisturbed, always supply the moved roots with moisture, and the whole plant with nourishment sufficient to keep it from fainting, until the moved roots can enjoy the benefit of their new pasture, which is very soon.
* As most long tap-rooted plants are ; for I have often tried the transplanting of plants of St.-Foin and Lucerne, and could never find that any ever came near to the perfection that those will do which are not removed, being equally single.
Tap-rooted grasses and turnips are always injured by transplanting ; their long root once broken off never arrives at the depth it would have arrived unbroken ; as for this reason they cut off the tap-root of an apple-tree, to prevent its running downward, by which it would have too much moisture.
Another extraordinary benefit of the new hoeing* in husbandry is, that it keeps plants moist in dry weather, and this upon a double account.
First, As they are better nourished by hoeing, they require less moisture, as appears by Dr. Woodward's experiment that those plants which receive the greatest increase, having most terrestrial nourishment, carry off the least water in proportion to their augment ; so barley or oats, being sown on a part of a ground very well divided by dung and tillage, will come up and grow vigorously without rain, when the same grains, sown at the same time, on the other part, not thus enriched, will scarce come up, or if they do, will not thrive until rain comes.
Secondly, The hoe, I mean the horse-hoe (the other goes not deep enough), procures moisture to the roots from the dews, which fall most in dry weather, and those dews (by what Mr. Thomas Henshaw has observed), seem to be the richest present the atmosphere gives to the earth ; " Having, when putrefied in a vessel, a black sediment like mud at the bottom." This seems to cause the darkish colour to the upper part of the ground. And the sulphur, which is found in the sediment of the dew, may be the chief ingredient of the cement of the earth ; sulphur being very glutinous, as nitre is dissolvent ; dew has both these.
These enter in proportion to the fineness and freshness of the soil, and to the quantity that is so made fine and fresh by the how. How this comes to pass, and the reason of it, is shown in the Chapter of Tillage.
* Hoeing may be divided into deep (which is our horse-hoeing) and shallow, which is the English hand-hoeing ; and also the shallow horse-hoeing, used in some places betwixt rows, where the intervals are very narrow, as sixteen or eighteen inches ; this is but an imitation of the hand-hoe, or a succedaneum to it, and can neither supply the use of dung, nor of fallow, and may be properly called scratch-hoeing.
To demonstrate that dews moisten the land when fine, dig a hole in the hard dry ground, in the driest weather, as deep as the plough ought to reach ; beat the earth very fine, and fill the hole
therewith ; and after a few nights' dews, you will find this fine earth become moist at the bottom, and the hard ground all round will continue dry.
Till a field in lands, made one land very fine by frequent deep ploughings, and let another be rough, by insufficient tillage alternately ; then plough the whole field crossways in the driest weather, which has continued long, and you will perceive, by the colour of the earth, that every fine land will be turned up moist, but every rough land will be dry as powder, from top to bottom*.
Although hard ground when thoroughly soaked with rain, will continue wet longer than fine tilled land adjoining to it, yet this water serves rather to chill than nourish the plants standing therein, and to keep out the other benefits of the atmosphere, leaving the ground still harder when it is thence exhaled ; and being at last once become dry, it can admit no more moisture, unless from a long continued deluge of rain, which seldom falls till winter, which is not the season for vegetation.
As fine-hoed ground is not so long soaked by rain, so the dews never suffer it to become perfectly dry ; this appears by the plants, which flourish and grow fat in this, whilst those in the hard ground are starved, except such of them which stand near enough to the
* These experiments will show, how it is in our own power to make solstitia become in some measure humida, instead of wishing them so ; and also proves the Virgilian theory in this verse, viz., Hic sterilem exiguus ne deserat humor arenam, to be (as almost all the first Georgic is) directly contrary to truth.
hoed* earth for the roots to borrow moisture and nourishment from it.
And I have been informed by some persons, that they have often made the like observation ; that, in the driest of weather, good hoeing** procures moisture to roots, though the ignorant and incurious fancy it lets in the drought, and therefore are afraid to hoe their plants at such times, when, unless they water them, they are spoiled for want of it.
When land is become hard by lying too long unhoed, the plough in turning a deep furrow from each side of a single
* As when wheat is drilled late in very poor land, so that in the spring the young plants look all very yellow, let your hoe-plough, making a crooked line, like an indenture, on one side of a straight row of this poor wheat in the spring, turn a furrow from it, and in a short time you sill see all those yellow plants, that are contiguous to this furrow, change their yellow colour to a deep green ; whilst those plants of the same row, which stand farthest off from this indented furrow, change not their colour till afterwards ; and all the plants change or retain thier colour sooner or later gradually, as they stand nearer to, or farther from it ;and the other rows, which have no furrow near them, continue their yellow after all this row is become green and flourishing. But this experiment is best to be made in poor sandy ground, when the mould is friable, else perhaps the different colour may not appear until the furrow be turned back to the row, having lain some time to be somewhat pulverised (or impregnated) by the weather, &c. This experiment I often made on wheat drilled on the level, before I drilled any on ridges.
The ploughing on furrow in sandy or mellow ground, makes a pulverisation, which is enjoyed first by those plants that are the nearest to it ; and also delivers them from the weeds, which, though they may be very few, yet there is a vast difference between their robbing the wheat of its pasture in the row, and the wheat's enjoying both that and the whole pasture of the furrow also. I never remember to have seen a plant poor that was contiguous to a well-hoed interval, unless overpowered by a too great multitude of other plants ; and the same exception must be made, if it were a plant that required more or less heat or moisture than the soil or climate afforded.
** But to hoe with advantage against dry weather, the ground must have been well tilled or hoed before, that the hoe may go deep, else the dews, that fall in the night, will be exhaled back in the heat of the day.
row of young plants (suppose of turnips) may crack the earth quite through the row, and expose the roots to the open air and sun in very dry weather ; but if the earth wherein the plants stand be fine, there will be no cracks in it. It is therefore the delaying the hoeing too long that occasions the injury.
There is yet one more benefit hoeing gives to plants, which by no art can possibly be given to animals ; for all that can be done in feeding an animal is, what has been here already said of hoeing ; that is, to give it sufficient food, meat, and drink, at the times it has occasion for them ; if you give an animal any more, it is to no manner of purpose, unless you could give it more mouths, which is impossible ; but in hoeing a plant the additional nourishment thereby given enables it to send out innumerable additional fibres and roots, as in the glass with a mint in it, marked F, is seen ; which fully demonstrates, that a plant increaseth its mouths in some proportion to the increase of food given to it ; so that hoeing, by the new pasture it raises, furnishes both food and mouths to plants ; and it is for want of hoeing that so few are brought to their full growth and perfection*.
In what manner the sarrition of the ancients was performed in their corn, is not very clear ; this seems to have been their method,
* A ground was drilled with ray-grass and barley, in rows at five inches distance from each other ; it produced a pretty good crop of ray-grass the second year, as is usual : there was adjoining to it a ground of turnips, that were in rows, with wide intervals horse-hoed ; they stood for seed ; and amongst them there was, in room of a turnip, a single plant of ray-grass, which being hoed as the turnips were, had in every one's opinion that saw it acquired a bulk at least equal to a thousand plants, of the same species in the other ground, though that vast plant has no advantage above the other, except its singleness, and the deep hoeing.
I have seen a chickweed, by the same means, as much increased beyond its common size ; and a plant of mustard-seed, whose collateral branches were much bigger than ever I saw a whole plant of that sort : it was higher that I could reach its top, and indeed more a tree than an herb. Many other sorts of plants have I seen thus increased beyond what I had ever observed before, but none so much as those.
viz., when the plants were some time come up, they harrowed the ground, and pulled out the weeds by hand ; the process of this appears in Columella, where he directs the planting of medica to be but a sort of harrowing or raking amongst the young plants, that the weeds might come out the more easily : " Ligneis rasgtris statim jacta semina obruantur. Post stationem ligneis rastris sarriendus et identidem runcandus est ager, ne alterius generis herba invalidam medicam perimat."
They harrowed and hoed rastris ; so that the occatio and sarritio were performed with much the same sort of instrument, and differed chiefly in the time ; the first was at seed-time, to cover the seed, or level the ground ; the other was to move the ground after the plants were up.
One sort of their sarrition, was, Segets permota terra debere adobrui, ut fructicare possint. Another sort was thus : In locis autem frigidis sarriri nec adobrui, set plana sarritione terram permoveri.
For the better understanding of these two sorts of sarrition we must consider, that the ancients sowed their corn under furrow ; that is, when they had harrowed the ground, to break the clods and make it level, they sowed the seed, and then ploughed it in ; this left the ground very uneven, and the corn came up (as we see it does here in the same case) mostly in the lowest places betwixt the furrow, which always lay higher ; this appears by Virgil's cum Sulcos Šquant Sata : now when they used plana sarritio, they harrowed lengthways of the furrows, which being somewhat hardened, there could be little earth thrown down thence upon the young corn.
But the other sort of sarrition, whereby the corn is said adobrui, to be covered, seems to be performed by harrowing across the furrows, which must needs throw down much earth from the furrows, which necessarily fell upon the corn.
How this did contribute to make corn fructicare, is another question. I am in no doubt to say, it was not from covering any part of it (for I see that has a contrary effect), but from moving much ground, which gave a new pasture to the roots ; this appears by the observation of the extraordinary fructification of wheat hoed without being covered, and by the injury it receives by not being uncovered when any earth falls on the rows.
The same author says, Faba et cŠtera legumina cum quatuor digitis a terra extiterent recte sarrientur, excepto tamen lupino, cumus semini contraria est sarrito ; quoniam unam radicem habet, quŠ sive ferro succisa seu vulnerata est, totus frutex emoritur.
If they had hoed it only betwixt rows, there had been no danger of killing the lupine, which is a plant most proper for hoeing ; what he says of the lupine having no need or sarrition, because it is able of itself to kill weds, shows the ancients were ignorant of the chief use of hoeing, viz., to raise new nourishment by dividing the earth, and making a new internal superficies in it.
Sarrition scratched and broke so small a part of the earth's surface, amongst the corn and weed, without distinction, or favouring one any more than the other, that is was a dispute whether the good it did, in facilitating the runcation, or hand-weeding, was greater than the injury it did by bruising and tearing the corn : and many of the ancients chose rather to content themselves with the use of runcation only, and totally to omit all sarrition of their corn.
But hoeing is an action very different from sarrition, and is every way beneficial, no way injurious, to corn, though destructive to weeds ; therefore some modern authors show a profound ignorance, in mistaking, in translating sarrito for hoeing ; they give an idea very different from the true one : for the ancients truly hoed their vineyards, but not their corn ; neither did they plant their corn in rows, without which they could not give it the vineyard-hoeing.
Their sarculation was used but amongst small quantities of corn, and is yet in use for flax ; for I have seen the sarculum, which is a sort of very narrow hoe, used amongst the plants of flax standing irregularly ; but this operation is too tedious and too chargeable to be applied to great quantities of irregular corn.
If they hoed their crops sown at random, one would think they should have made mad work of it ; since they were not at the pains to plant in rows, and hoe betwixt them with their bidens, being the instrument with which they tilled many of their vineyards, and enters as deep as the plough, and is much better than the English hoe, which indeed seems, at the first invention of it, to be designed rather to scrape chimneys than to till the ground.
The highest and lowest vineyards are hoed by the plough ; first the high vineyards, where the vines grow, almost like ivy, upon great trees, such as elms, maples, cherry-trees, &c. ; these are constantly kept in tillage and produce good crops of corn, besides what the trees do yield ; and also these great and constant products of the vines are owing to this sort of hoe-tillage ; because neither in meadow or pasture grounds can vines be made to prosper ; though the lands be much richer, and yet have a less quantity of grass taken off it than the arable has corn carried from that.
The vines of low vineyards, hoed by the plough, have their heads just above the ground, standing all in a most regular order, and are constantly ploughed in the proper season ; these have no other assistance but by hoeing, because their heads and roots are so near together, that dung would spoil the taste of the wine they produce, in hot counties.
From these I took my vineyard scheme, observing that indifferent land produces an annual crop of grapes and wood without dung ; and though there is annually carried off from an acre of vineyard as much in substance as is carried off in the crop of an acre of corn
produced on land of equal goodness, yet the vineyard-soil is never impoverished unless the hoeing culture be denied it ; but a few annual crops of wheat, without dung in the common management, will impoverish and emaciate the soil.
I cannot find either in theory or practice any other good reason for this difference, except that the vineyard-soil is more pulverised by hoeing ; and not exhausted by so much more than a competent quantity of plants, as the corn-fields in the common management are : for to speak moderately, these are exhausted by above ten times a competent number ; and if their barely-plants were such as the Equivocal Society mention (in advertisement to April), by 17,990 plants more than are absolutely necessary to produce a common crop at a tenfold increase, supposing their relation to that monstrous plant to be true : or if it be true, than one grain of Smyrna wheat produced 9792 grains at one crop, fifteen such monstrous plants on each square perch might produce forty-eight bushels on an acre ; for the grains on each plant would weight twenty ounces troy. And of all sorts of wheat that I have observed, the largest ears have the largest grains (unless blighted), though the ear does not follow the proportion of the straw, but of the nourishment.
I confess, I scarce believe the Society or their authors, in their relation of plants so prolific ; and therefore it must be no rule for our number, which may be above twenty times greater, of that or any other species of corn ; the plants may be competent to produce more than a common sown crop, and yet not exhaust an indifferent soil more than may be supplied annually from the atmosphere (as the soil of vineyards is), with the help of the same hoeing culture.
But it is no wonder that such a vast unnecessary number of plants, that are seen in sown corn, should exhaust a soil, and make dung or rest necessary to repair that unnecessary exhaustion.
The vine, indeed, has the advantage of being a large perennial plant, and of receiving some part of its nourishment below the staple ; but it has also disadvantages. The soil of the vineyard never can have a true summer fallow, though it has much summer hoeing ; for the vines live in it, and all over it, all the year : neither can that soil have benefit from dung, because though by increasing the pulverisation it increases the crop, yet it spoils the taste of the wine ; the exhaustion of that soil is therefore supplied by no artificial help but hoeing ; and by all the experience I have had of it, the same cause will have the same effect upon a soil for the production of corn, and other vegetables, as well as upon the vineyard.
All vineyards must be hoed one way or other*, or else they will produce nothing of value ; but corn-fields, without hoeing, do produce something, though nothing in comparison to what they would do with it.
Mr. Evelyn says, that when the soil wherein fruit-trees are planted is constantly kept in tillage, they grow up to be an orchard in half the time they would do if the soil were not tilled ; and this keeping an orchard-soil in arable, is horse-hoeing it.
In some places in Berkshire, they have been used, for a long time, to hand-hoe most sorts of corn, with very great success ; and I may say this, that I myself never knew or heard that ever any crop of corn was properly so hoed, but what very well answered the expense even of this hand-work ; but be this never so profitable, there are not a number of hands to use it in great quantities, which possibly was one reason the ancients were not able to introduce it into their corn-fields to any purpose, though they should not have been ignorant of the effect of it, from what they saw it do in their vineyards and gardens.
* Vines, that cannot be hoed by the plough, are hoed by the bidens.
In the next place I shall give some general direction, which by experience I have found necessary to be known, in order to the practice of this hoeing-husbandry.
I. Concerning the Depth to plant at.
II. The Quantity of Seep to plant.
III. And the Distance of Rows.
I. It is necessary to know how deep we may plant our seed without danger of burying it ; for so it is said to be, when laid at a depth below what it is able to come up at.
Different sorts of seeds come up at different depths ; some at six inches, or more ; some at not more than half an inch. The way to know for certain the depth any sort will come up at is, to make gauges in this manner : saw off twelve sticks of about three inches diameter ; bore a hole in the end of each stick, and drive into it a taper peg : let the first peg be half and inch long, the next an inch, and so on ; every peg to be half an inch longer than the former, till the last peg be six inches long ; then in that sort of ground where you intend to plant, make a row of twenty holes with the half-inch gauge ; put therein twenty good seeds, cover them up, and then stick the gauge at the end of that row ; then do the like with all the other eleven gauges : this will determine the depth at which the most seeds will come up.
In the common way of sowing it is hard to know the proper depth, because some seeds lying deep, and others shallow, it is not easy to discover the depth of those that are buried ; but I have found in drilling of black oats, that when the drill-plough was set a little deeper for trial, very few came up ; therefore it is proper for the driller to use the gauges for all sorts of seeds ; for if he drills them too deep he may lose his crop, or if too shallow, in dry weather, he may injure it, especially in summer seeds ; but for those planted against winter, there is the most damage by planting too deep.
When the depth is known wherein the seed is sure to come up, we may easily discover whether the seed be good or not, by observing how many will fail ; for in some sorts of seeds the goodness cannot be known by the eye ; and there has been often great loss by bad seed, as well as by burying good seed ; both which misfortunes might be prevented by this little trouble ; besides, it is not convenient to plant some sorts of seeds at the utmost depth they will come up at, for it may be so deep, as that the wet may rot or chill the first root, as in wheat in moist land.
The nature of the land, the manner how it is laid, either flat or in ridges, and the season of planting, with the experience of the planter, acquired by such trials, must determine the proper depths for different sorts of seeds.
II. The proper quantity of seed to be drilled on an acre, is much less than must be sown in the common way, not because hoeing will not maintain as many plants as the other ; for, on the contrary, experience shows it will always, cŠteris paribus, maintain more, but the difference is upon many other accounts : as that it is impossible to sow it so even by hand as the drill will do ; for let the hand spread it never so exactly (which is difficult to do some seeds, especially in windy weather) yet the unevenness of the ground will alter the situation of the seed ; the greatest part rebounding into the holes, and lowest places, or else the harrows in covering, draw it down thither ; and though these low places may have ten times too much, the high places may have little or none of it : this inequality lessens in effect the quantity of the seed ; because fifty seeds in room of one, will not produce so much as one will do, and where they are too thick, they cannot be well nourished, their toots not spreading to near their natural extent, for want of hoeing to open the earth. Some seed is buried (by which is meant, the laying them so deep that they are never able to come up, as Columella cautions, Ut absque ulla resurrectionis spe sepeliantur). Some
lies naked above the ground ; which, with more uncovered by the first rain, feeds the birds and vermin.
Farmers know not the depth that is enough to bury their seed, neither do they made much difference in the quantity they sow on a rough, or a fine acre ; though the same that is too little for the one, is too much for the other ; it is all mere chance-work, and they put their whole trust in good ground, and much dung, to cover heir errors.
The greatest quantity of seed I ever heard of to be usually sown, is in Wiltshire, where I am informed by the owners themselves, that on some sorts of land, they sow eight bushels of barley to an acre ; so that if it produce four quarters to an acre, there is but four grains for one that is sown, and is a very poor increase, though a good crop ; this is on land ploughed once,and then double-dunged, the seed only harrowed into the stale and hard ground, it is like not two bushels of the eight enters it to grow ; and I have heard, that in a dry summer, an acre of this scarce produces four bushels at harvest.
Stale ground, is that which has lain some considerable time after ploughing, before it is sown, contrary to that which is sown immediately after ploughed ; for this last is generally not so hard as the former.
But in drilling, seed lies all at the same just dept, none deeper, nor shallower than the rest ; here is no danger of the accidents of burying, or being uncovered, and therefore no allowance must be made for them; but allowance must be made for other accidents, where the sort of seed is liable to them ; such as grub, fly, worm, frost, &c.
Next, when a man, unexperienced in this method, has proved the goodness of his seed, and depth to plant it at, he ought to calculate what number of seeds a bushel, or other measure or weight
contains : for one bushel, or one pound of small seed, may contain
double the number of seeds, of a bushel, or a pound of large seed of the same species.
This calculation is made by weighing an ounce, and counting the number seeds therein ; then weighing a bushel of it, and multiplying the number of seeds of the ounce, by the number of ounces of the bushel's weight ; the product will show the number of seeds of a bushel near enough : then by the rule of three, apportion them to the square feet of an acre ; or else it may be done, by dividing the seeds of the bushel by the square feet of an acre ; the quotient will give the number of seeds for every foot : also consider how near you intend to plant the rows, and whether single, double, treble, or quadruple ; for the more rows, the more seed will be required╣.
Examine what is the produce of one middle-sized plant of the annual, but the produce of the best and largest of the perennial sort ; because that by hoeing will be brought to its utmost perfection ; proportion the seed of both to the reasonable product, and when it is worth while, adjust the plants to their competent number with the hand-hoe, after they are up ; and plant perennials generally in single rows ; lastly, plant some rows of the annual thicker than others, which will soon give you experience (better than any other rule) to know the exact quantity of seed to drill.
III. The distances of the rows is one of the most material points, wherein we shall find many apparent objections against the truth; which, though full experience be the most infallible proof of it, yet the world is by false notions so prejudiced against wide spaces between rows, that, unless these common (and I which I could say,
* The narrow space (suppose seven inches) betwixt double, treble, or quadruple rows ; the double having one, the treble two, and the quadruple three of them, are called partitions.
The wide space (suppose of near five feet) betwixt and two of these double, treble, or quadruple rows, is called an interval.
only vulgar) objections be first answered, perhaps nobody will venture so far out of the old road as is necessary to gain the experience, without it be such as have seen it.
I had a good crop of barley the first year ; the next year, two crops of broad clover, where that was sown ; and where hop clover was sown, a mixed crop of that and St.-Foin, and every year afterwards a crop of St.-Foin ; but I am since, by experience, so fully convinced of the folly of these, or any other such mixed crops, and more especially of narrow spaces ; that I have demolished these instruments (in their full perfection) as a vain curiosity, the drift and use of them being contrary to the true principles and practice of horse-hoeing.
Although I am satisfied that every one who shall have seen as much of it as I have will be of my mind in this matter, yet I am aware that what I am going to advance will seem shocking to them, before they have made trials.
I lay it down as a rule (to myself) that every row of vegetables, to be horse-hoed, ought to have an empty space or interval of thirty
inches one side of it* at least, and of near five feet in all sorts of corn.
In hand-hoeing there is always less seed, fewer plants, and a greater crop, cŠteris paribus, than in the common sowing ; yet there the rows must be much nearer together than in horse-hoeing ;
* We call it one row, though it be a double, treble, or quadruple row ; because when they unite in the spring, they seem to be all single ; even the quadruple then is but as one single row.
Observe, that as wide intervals are necessary for perfect horse-hoeing, so the largest vegetables have generally the greatest benefit by them ; though small plants may be considerable benefit from much narrower intervals than five feet.
The intervals may be somewhat narrower for constant annual crops of barley than of wheat ; because barley does not shut out the hoe-plough so soon, nor require so much room for hoeing, nor so much earth in the intervals, it being a lesser plant, and growing but about a third part of the time on the ground ; but he that drills barley, must resolve to reap it and bind it up in sheaves ; for if he mows it, or does not bind it, a great part will be lost among the earth in the intervals ; yet I think that six feet ridges for barley in quadruple rows, are more profitable, especially on a thin soil.
Now upon further experience, I choose ridges of five feet and a half ; or if the land be rich, five feet ridges for constant annual crops of barley and of oats ; but narrower for a single crop, i. e., when the following crop is to be sown on the level.
He must also take care that the barley be not such as Equivocus relates in p. 199, of his Essay for August, " Good barley where the ear has been equal in length to the straw it grew on." For such would be very difficultly reaped ; unless the ears were a foot long.
But it is now found that, in a wet harvest, the best way is not to bind up drilled barley or oats ; but instead thereof, to make up the grips into little heaps by hands, laying the ears upon one another inwards, and the stubble ends outwards, so that with a fork that hath two fingers and a thumb, it is very easy to pitch such heaps upon the wagons without scattering or wasting any of the corn.
It is also seen that when reapers take care to set their grips with the butt-ends in the bottoms of the intervals, and the ears properly on the stubble, they will so stand up from the ground as to escape much better from sprouting than mowed corn.
because, as the hand moves many times less earth than the horse, the roots would be sent out in like proportion ; and if the spaces or intervals where the hand-hoe only scratches a little of the upper surface of them should be wide, they would be so hard and stale underneath that the roots of perennial plants would be long in running through them ; and the roots of many annual plants would never be able to do it.
An instance which shows something of the difference between land-hoeing and deep hoeing is, that a certain poor man is observed to have his cabbages vastly bigger than any body's else, though their ground be richer and better dunged ; his neighbours were amazed at it, until the secret at length came out, and was only this, as other people hoed their cabbages with a hand-hoe, he instead thereof dug his with a spade ; and nothing can more nearly equal* the use of the horse-hoe than the spade does.
And when plants have never so much pabulum near them their fibrous roots cannot reach it all before the earth naturally excludes them from it ; for to reach it all, they must fill all the pores**, which is impossible. So fare otherwise it is, that we shall find it probable that they can only reach the least part of it, unless the roots could remove themselves from place to place, to leave such pores as they had exhausted, and apply themselves to such as were unexhausted ; but they not being endowed with parts necessary for local motion (as animals are) the hoe-plough supplies their want of
* The hoe-plough exceeds the spade in this respect, that it removes more of the roots, and cuts off fewer, which is an advantage when we till near to the bodies of plants that are grown large.
** The roots of a mint, set a whole summer in a glass, kept constantly replenished with water, will, in appearance, fill the whole cavity of the glass ; but by compressing the roots, or by observing how much water the glass will hold when the roots are in it, we are convinced that they do not fill a fourth part of its cavity ; though they are not stopped by water, as they are by earth.
feet ; and both conveys them to their food, and their food to them, as well as provides it for them ; for, by transplanting the roots, it gives them change of the pasture, which it increases by the very act of changing them from one situation to another, if the intervals be wide enough for this hoeing operation to be properly performed.
The objections most likely to preposses people's minds, and prevent their making trials of this husbandry, are these :
First, They will be apt to think, that these wide, naked spaces, not being covered by the plants, will not be sufficient to make a good crop.
For answer, We must consider, that though corn standing irregular and sparsim, may seem to cover the ground better than when it stands regular in rows, this appearance* is a mere deceptio visus ; for stalks are never so thick on any part of the ground as where many come out of one plant, or as when they stand in a row ; and a hoed plant of corn will have twenty or thirty stalks**, in the same quantity of ground where an unhoed plant, being equally single, will have only two or three stalks. These tillered hoed stalks, if they were planted sparsim all over the interval, it might seem well covered, and perhaps thicker than the sown crop commonly is ; so that though these hoed rows seem to contain a less crop, they may contain in reality a greater crop than the sown, that seems to exceed it ; and it is only the different placing that makes one seem greater and the other less than it really is ; and this is only when both crops are young.
* For the eye to make a comparison between a sown crop and such a hoed crop, it ought when it is half-grown to look on the hoed crop across the rows, because in the other it does so, in effect, which way soever it looks ; but whatever appearance the hoed crop of vegetables (of as large a species as wheat) makes when young, it surely, if well managed, appears more beautiful at harvest than a sown crop.
** I have counted fifty large ears on one single hoed plant of barley.
The next objection is, that the space or interval not being planted, much of the benefit of that ground will be lost ; and therefore the crop must be less than if it were planted all over.
I answer, it might be so, if not horse-hoed ; but if well horse-hoed, the roots can run through the intervals ; and having more nourishment, make a greater crop.
The too great number of plants, placed all over the ground in common sowing, have, whilst it is open, an oportunity of wasting, when they are very young, that stock of provision, for want of which, the greatest part of them are afterwards starved ; for their irregular standing prevents their being relieved with fresh supplies from the hoe. Hence it is that the old method exhausting the earth to no purpose, produces a less crop ; and yet leaves less pabulum behind for a succeeding one, contrary to the hoeing-husbandry, wherein plants are managed in all respects by a quite different economy.
A third objection like the two former is, that so small a part of the ground, as that whereon the row stands, cannot contain plants or stalks sufficient for a full crop.
This some authors endeavour to support by arguments taken from the perpendicular growth of vegetables, and the room they require to stand on ; both which I having answered elsewhere, I need not say much of them here ; only I may add, that if plants could be brought to as great perfection, and so to stand as thick all over the land, as they do in the hoed rows, there might be produced at once many of the greatest crops of corn that ever grew.
But since plants thrive, and make their produce in proportion to the nourishment they have within the ground, not to the room they have to stand upon it, one very narrow row may contain more plants than a wide interval can nourish and bring to their full perfection by all the art that can be used ; and it is impossible a crop should be lost for want of room to stand above the ground, though it were less than a tenth part of the surface*.
* Mr. Houghton calculates, that a crop of wheat of thirty quarters to an acre, each ear has two inches and a half of surface ; by which it is evident, that there would be room for many such prodigious crops to stand on.
And a quick-hedge, standing between two arable grounds, one foot broad at bottom, and eighteen feet in length, will, at fourteen years growth, produce more of the same sort of wood, than eighteen feet square of a coppice will produce in the same time, the soil of both being of equal goodness.
This seems to be the same case with our hoed rows ; the coppice, if it were to be cut in the first years, would yield perhaps ten times as much wood as the hedge ; but many of the shoots of the coppice constantly die every year, for want of sufficient nourishment, until the coppice is fit to be cut ; and then its product is much less than that of the hedge, whose pasture has not been overstocked to such a degree as the coppice-pasture has been ; and therefore brings its crop to greater perfection than the coppice-wood, which has eighteen times the surface of ground to stand on ; the hedge has the benefit of hoeing, as often as the land on either side of it is tilled ; but the coppice, like the sown corn, wants that benefit.
It is no great wonder that astronomers take notice of those parts of plants alone which exist within that element where they are accustomed to make their stellary observations ; or treat of them only as they regard their zenith, not inquiring what is done by the roots within the earth's dark recesses, or how much of her dimensions is necessary to employ them in their office.
But I should have thought Mr. Laurence a better philosopher, than to be so much imposed upon by that quibbling fallacy of Mr. Bradley's about the perpendicular growth of plants, as to call it a demonstration. " And as to hills, though they measure near twice as much as the plain ground they stand upon, yet the produce of the one can be no more than the produce of the other." (see Mr. Laurence's New System, p. 63.)
It is very likely, that reverend gentleman may have had opportunities (unless he preaches no better than he ploughs) of seeing all his parishioners stand perpendicularly in his church, as in a row ; but his tithe might put him in mind, that many acres of space, or surface, more than the church's area, are necessary for their nourishment ; without which, hunger would soon bring them from their perpendicular pasture to an horizontal one ; and he might perform his last office for them all at once.
And just so it is with plants though these gentlemen, by their arguments about them, seen to think otherwise ; else they would not attempt to calculate the quantity of the earth's surface necessary for them, by the manner of their growth ; it being nothing to the purpose, whether it be perpendicular or not : but it is true, that perpendicular plants have most benefit by hoeing ; because by that posture they admit the hoe to come the oftener amongst them.
In wide intervals there is another advantage of hoeing, I mean horse-hoeing (the other being more like scratching and scraping
than hoeing) ; there is room for many hoeings* ; which must not come very near the bodies of some annual plants, except whilst they are young ; but in narrow intervals this cannot be avoided at every hoeing. It is true, that in the last hoeings, even in the middle of a large interval, many of the roots may be broken off by the hoe-plough, at some considerable distance from the bodies ; but yet this is no damage, for they send out a greater number of roots than before ; as in the Mint marked F, in Chap. I., appears.
In wide intervals those roots are broken off only where they are small, for though they are capable of running out to more than the length of the external parts of a plant ; yet it is not necessary they should always do so, if they can have sufficient food nearer to the bodies** of the plants.
And these new, young, multiplied roots are fuller of lacteal mouths than the older ones, which makes it no wonder that plants should thrive faster by having some of their roots broken off by the hoe ; for as roots do not enter every pore of the earth, but miss great part of the pasture, which is left unexhausted, so when new roots strike out from the broken parts of the old, they meet with that pasture which their predecessors missed, besides that new pasture which the
* But if it should be asked how many, we may take Colnmella's rule in hoeing the vines, viz. Numerus autem vertendi soli (bidentibus) definiendus non est, cum quanto crebrior sit, plus prodesse fossionem conveniat. Sed impensarum ratio modum postulat.-Lib. 4, cap. 5.
Neither is it altogether the number of hoeings that determine the degrees of pulverisation ; for, once well done is twice done, and the oftener the better, if the expense be not excessive.
Poor land, be it never so light, should have the most hoeings ; because plants, receiving but very little nourishment from the natural pasture of such land, require the more artificial pasture to subsist on.
** All the mould is never so near to the bodies of plants as it is when the row stands on a high six-feet ridge, when the middle of the interval is left bare of earth at the last hoeing ; for then all the mould may be but about a foot, or a foot and a half distant from the body of each plant of a treble row.
hoe raises for them ; and those roots which the hoe pulls out without breaking and covers again, are turned into a fresh pasture ; some broken and some unbroken, all together invigorate the plants.
Besides the plants of sown corn being treble in number to those of the drilled, and of equal strength and bulk, whilst they are very young, must exhaust the earth whilst it is open, thrice as much as the drilled plants do ; and before the sown plants grow large, the pores of the earth are shut against them, and against the benefit of the atmosphere ; but for the drilled, the hoe gives constant admission to that benefit ; and if the hoe procures them (by dividing the earth) four times the pasture of the sown, during their lives, and the roots devour but one half of that, then though the hoed crop should be double to the sown, yet it might leave twice as much pabulum for a succeeding crop. It is impossible to bring these calculations to mathematical rules, but this is certain in practice, that a sown crop, succeeding a large undunged hoed crop, is much better than a sown crop that succeeds a small dunged sown crop. And I have the experience of poor worn-out heath-ground, that having produced four successive good hoed crops of potatoes (the last still best) is become tolerable good ground.
In a very poor field were planted potatoes, and in the very worst part of it, several lands had them in squares a yard asunder ; these were ploughed four ways at different times ; some other lands adjoining to them, of the very same ground, were very well dunged and tiled ; but the potatoes came irregularly, in some places thicker, and in others thinner ; these were not hoed, and yet at first coming up, looked blacker and stronger than those in squares not dunged, neither that year, or ever, that I know of ; yet these lands brought a good crop of the largest potatoes, and very few small ones amongst them ; but in the dunged lands, for want of hoeing, the potatoes were not worth the taking up ; which proves, that in those plants that are planted so as to leave spaces wide enough for
repetitions of hoeing, that instrument can raise more nourishment to them than a good coat of dung with common tillage.
Another thing I have more particularly observed, viz., that the more successive crops are planted in wide intervals and often hoed, the better the ground does maintain them ; the last crop is still the best, without dung or changing the sort of plant ; and this is so visible, in parts of the same field, where some part having a first, some other part a second, the rest a third crop growing all together at the same time ; which seems to prove that as the earth is made by this operation to dispense or distribute her wealth to plants, in proportion to the increase of her inner superficies (which is the pasture of plants), so the atmosphere, by the riches in rain and dews, does annually reimburse her in proportion to the same superficies, with an overplus for interest : but if that superficies be not increased to a competent degree, and by frequent repetitions of hoeing, kept increasing (which never happens in common husbandry) this advantage is lost ; and, without often-repeated stercoration, every year's crop grows worse ; and it has been made evident by trials, which admit of no dispute, that hoeing, without dung or fallow, can make such plants as stand in wide intervals, more vigorous in the same ground, than both common dunging and fallowing can do without hoeing.
This sort of hoeing has in truth every year the effect of a summer-fallow, though it yearly produce a good crop.
This is one reason of the different effects plants have upon the soil ; some are said to enrich it, others to burn it (i. e. to impoverish it) ; but I think it may be observed, that all those plants which are usually hoed, are reckoned among the enrichers ; and though it be certain that some species of plants are, by the heat of their constitution, grater devourers than those of another species of equal
bulk ; yet there is reason to believe, that were the most cormorant plant of them all to be commonly hoed, it would gain the reputation of an enricher or improver of the soil, except it should be such as might occasion trouble, by filling it full of its shatterred seeds, which might do the injury of weeds to the next crop ; and, except such plants, which have a vast bulk to be maintained a long time, as turnip-seed*.
But this must be intended of the deep horse-hoeing ; for turnips that stand for seed are such devourers, and feed so long on the soil, that though they are hand-hoed, such a shallow operation doth not supply the usual thickness of those plants with pasture sufficient to raise their stems to half their natural bulk ; and they leave so little of that pasture behind them, that the soil is observed to be extremely impoverished for a year or two, and sometimes three years after them ; but it is other wise with my horse-hoed turnip-seed ; for I never failed of a good crop of barley after it was sown on the level in the following spring, though no dung had been used on the land where the turnip-seed grew for many years. And also my barley-crops thus sown after two successive crops of turnip-seed without a fallow between them, are as good as those sown after a single crop of it. For I have several times made these turnip-seed crops annual, that is, to have two crops of it in two years, which would in the old way require three years, because this crop stands about a year on the ground, and is not ripe until midsummer, which is too late to get that land into a tilth proper to plant another seed-crop on it the same summer ; neither can the soil be able to bear such another crop immediately after being so much exhausted and unploughed for a whole year, except it be extraordinary rich, or much dunged. However two crops of turnip-seed immediately succeeding one another, is what I never knew or heard of, except
* Turnips run to seed not till the second summer.
my own that were horse-hoed ; and of these the second crop was as good as the first ; their stalks grew much higher than they usually do in the common way, and though the number of plants was much less, their produce was so valuable, that the Vicar's agent declared, he made twenty shillings per acre of his tithe of a whole field which he tithed in kind. The expense of these crops was adjudged to be answered by the fuel of the threshed stalks. It must be noted, that the extraordinary value of these crops arose, not from a greater quantity of seed than some common crops, but from their quality, experience having brought this seed into great esteem, on account of its being perfectly clean and produced by large turnips of a good sort, and of a proper shape ; for those that are not well cultivated are very apt to degenerate, and then their seed will produce turnips of a small size, and of a long rapy ill shape.
The wider the intervals are the more earth may be divided, for the row takes up the same room with a wide or a narrow interval ; and therefore with the wide, the unhoed part bears a less proportion to the hoed part than in the narrow.
And it is to no purpose to hoe where there is not earth to be hoed, or room to hoe it in.
There are many ways of hoeing with the hoe-plough ; but there is not room to turn two deep clean furrows in an interval that is narrower than four feet eight inches ; for if it want much of this breadth, one at least of these furrows will reach and fall upon the next row, which will be very injurious to the plants, except of grown St.-Foin, and such other plants that can bear to have the earth pulled off them by harrows.
Thus much of hoeing in general may suffice ; and different sorts of plants requiring different management , that may more properly be described in the Chapter where particular vegetables are treated of.
It may not be amiss to add that all sorts of land are not equally proper for hoeing ; I take it that a dry firable soil is the best. Untractable wet clays, and such hills that are too steep for cattle to draw a plough up and down them, are the most improper*.
That it is not so beneficial to hoe in common fields, is not in respect of the soil, but to the Virgilian principles, which have bound the owners to unreasonable customs of changing the species of corn, and make it necessary to fallow every second, third, or fourth year at furthest.
* For by hoeing across the hill, the furrow turned against the declivity cannot be thrown up near enough to the row above it ; and the furrow that is turned downwards will bury the row below it.