|CHAPTER X. |
All sorts of land, when made fine by tillage, or by manure and tillage, will serve to produce turnips, but not equally : for chalky land is generally too dry (a turnip being a thirsty plant), and they are so long in such dry poor land before they get into rough leaf, that the fly is very apt to destroy them there ; yet I have known them succeed in such land, though rarely.
Sand and gravel are the most proper soil for turnips ; because that is most easily pulverised, and its warmth causeth the turnips to grow faster, and so they get the sooner out of danger of the fly ; and such a soil, when well tilled and horse-hoed, never wants a sufficient moisture, even in the driest weather, and the turnips, being drilled, will come up without rain, and prosper very well with the sole moisture of the dews, which are admitted as deep as the pulverisation reacheth ; and if that be to five or six inches, the hottest sun cannot exhale the dews thence in the climate of England : I have known turnips thrive well in a very dry summer, by repeated horse-hoeing, both in sand, and in land which is neither sandy nor gravelly.
When I sowed turnips by hand, and hoed them with a hand-hoe, the expense was great, and the operation not half performed, by the deceitfulness of the hoers, who left half the land unhoed, and covered it with earth from the part they did hoe, and then the grass and weeds grew the faster : besides, in this manner a great quantity of land could not be managed in the proper season.
When I drilled upon the level*, at three feet intervals, a trial was made between those turnips and a field of the next neighbour's, sown at the same time, whereof the hand-hoeing cost ten shillings per acre, and had not quite half the crop of the drilled, both being measured by the bushel, on purpose to find the difference**.
In the new method they are more certain to come up quickly ; because in every row half the seed is planted about four inches deep***, and the other half is planted exactly over that, at the depth of half an inch, falling in after the earth has covered the first half. Thus planted, let the weather be never so dry, the deepest seed will come up ; but if it raineth (immediately after planting,) the shallow will come up first ; we also make it come up at four**** times, by mixing our seed, half new and half old (the new coming a day quicker than the old) ; these four comings up give it so many changes for escaping the fly, it being often seen that the seed sown over night will be destroyed by the fly, when that sown the next morning will escape; and vice versa;***** or you may hoe-plough them when you see the fly is like to devour them ; this will bury the
* It is impossible to hoe-plough them so well when planted upon the level, as when they are planted upon ridges ; for if we plough deep near to the row, the earth will come over on the left side of the plough, and bury the young turnips ; but when they stand in ridges, the earth will almost all fall down on the right side into the furrow in the middle of the interval.
** And I have since found that turnips on the same land, planted on ridges with six-feet intervals, make a crop double to those that are planted on the level, or even on ridges, with three feet intervals.
*** Turnip-seed will come up from a greater depth than most other sorts of seeds.
**** I have seen drilled turnip-seed come up daily for a fortnight together, when it has not been mixed thus, the old with the new.
***** I have had the first turnips that came up all destroyed by the fly, and about a fortnight afterwards more have come up and been hoed time enough, and made a good crop.
greatest port of those enemies ; or else you may drill in another row, without new ploughing the land.
This method has also another advantage of escaping the fly, the most certain of any other, and infallible, if the land be made fine as it ought to be ; this is to roll it with a heavy roller across the ridges, after it is drilled, and closing up the cavities of the earth, prevents the fly's entrance and exit, to lay the eggs, hatch or bring forth the young ones to prey upon the turnips, which they might entirely devour if the fly came before they eat more than the first two leaves, which, being formed of the very seed itself, are very sweet ; but the next leaves are rough and bitter, which the fly does not love. I have always found the rolling disappoint the fly, but very often it disappoints the owner also, who sows at random ; for it makes the ground so hard that the turnips cannot thrive, but look yellow, dwindle, and grow to no perfection, unless they have a good hoeing soon after the leaves appear ; for when they stand long without it, they will be so poor and stunted, that the hand-hoe does not go deep enough to recover them ; and it is seldom that these rolled turnips can be hand-hoed at the critical time ; because the earth is then become so hard that the hoe will not enter in, without great difficulty, unless it be very moist, and very often the rain does not come to soak it until it be too late ; but the drilled turnips being in single rows, with six-feet intervals, may be rolled without danger : for the ground never so hard, and the hand-hoe will easily single them out, at the price of sixpence per acre or less (if not in harvest), and the horse-hoe will in those wide intervals plough at any time, wet or dry, and though the turnips should have been neglected till stunted, will go deep enough to recover them to a flourishing condition.
Drilled turnips, by being nowhere but in the rows, may be more easily seen than those which come up at random, and may therefore be sooner singled out by the hand-hoe; which is another advantage ;
because the sooner* they are so set out, the better they will thrive.
Drilled turnips coming all up nearly in a mathematical line, it is very rarely that a charlock or other like weed comes up in the same line, amongst them, unless it be drilled in with the turnip-seed, of which weeds our horse-hoed seed never has any ; there being no charlock in the rows, nor any turnip in the intervals ; we know that whatever comes up in the interval is not a turnip, though so like it, that at first coming up, if promiscuously, it cannot easily be distinguished by the eye, until after the turnips, &c. attain the rough leaf, and even then before they are of a considerable bigness, they are so hard to be distinguished by those people who are not well experienced, that a company of hand-hoers cut out the turnips by mistake, and left the charlock for a crop, of a large field of sown turnips. Such a misfortune can never happen to drilled turnips, unless wilfully done, be they set out every so young.
Young turnips will enjoy the more of the pasture made by the ploughing, and by that little pulverisation of the hand-hoe, without being robbed of any pasture by their own supernumerary plants.
Three or four ounces of seed is the usually quantity to drill ; but at random, three or four pounds is commonly sown, which coming thick all over the ground, must exhaust the land more than the other, especially since the sown must stand longer before the hoers can see to set them out.
The six-feet ridges, whereon turnips are drilled in single rows, may be left higher than for double rowed crops ; because there will be more earth in the intervals, as the single row takes up less.
* The sooner they are made single the better ; but yet when they are not very thick, they may stand till we have the best convenience of singling them, without much damage ; but when they come up extraordinary thick, it will be much more difficult to make them single, if they are neglected at their very first coming into rough leaf.
There is not prefixed time for planting turnips ; because that must be according to the heat or richness of the land ; for some land will bring them as forward, and make them as good, when planted the beginning of August, as other land will when planted in May ; but the most general time is a little before, and a little after midsummer.
Between these rows of turnips, I have planted wheat in this manner, viz., about Michaelmas, the turnips being full grown, I ploughed a ridge in the middle of each of their intervals, taking most of the earth from the turnips, leaving only just enough to keep them alive ; and on this ridge drilled my crop of wheat*, and towards the spring pulled up my turnips, and carried them off for cattle.
As I have formerly drilled wheat between rows of turnips ; so I have since had the experience of drilling turnips between rows of barley and rows of oats, as mentioned in my Preface. I have had them in the intervals between six-feet ridges, and between four-feet ridges, and between those of several intermediate distances ; but which of them all is the best, I leave at present undetermined. I shall only add, that the poorer the land is, the wider the intervals ought to be ; and that in the narrow it is convenient at the hoeing to leave more earth on that side of each interval, whereon the turnips are to be drilled ; and this is done by going round several intervals with the hoe-plough, without going forwards and backwards in each immediately ; but in the wide intervals the earth may be equal on both sides of them.
I will propose another method of drilling, which may be very advantageous to those who sow their barley upon the level, and sow
* This wheat being thus drilled on the new ridges, made in the intervals between the rows of turnips, being well horse-hoed in the spring, proved a very good crop ; it was drilled in treble rows, the partitions seven inches each.
turnip-seed amongst it at random, as they do clover, which is of late a common practice in some places. The barley keeps the turnips under it, and stunts them so much, that they are useful in the winter or spring chiefly by the food their leaves afford to sheep, their roots being exceeding small ; and for this small profit they lose the time of tilling the ground, until after the turnips are eaten off, which is a damage the Anti-Virgilians think greater than the profit of such turnips. To prevent which damage they may drill them in rows at competent distances, and horse-hoe them, and set them out as soon as the barley is off : this will both keep the ground in tilth fit for another crop of spring corn, and cause the turnips to grow large enough (especially if harvest be early, and the winter prove favourable) for feeding of sheep in a moveable fold to dung the ground into the bargain.
What induces me to propose this improvement is, that a gentleman ploughs up his barley-stubble and transplants turnips therein, and hand-hoes them with success. By the proposed way all the expense of transplanting (which must be considerable) will be saved ; and the setting out cannot be more than an eighth of the labour of hand-hoeings ; and I conjecture the horse-hoed turnips may be as good ; for they, though stunted, having their tap-roots remaining unmoved below the staple of the land, their horizontal roots being supplied with moisture from the tap-roots, immediately take hold of the fresh ploughed earth, as soon as it is turned back to them : whereas the transplanted having their tap-roots broken off, and their horizontal roots crumbled in the holes wherein they are set, must lose time, and be in danger of dying with thirst, if the weather proves dry.
Also this way seems better than the common practice of sowing turnips upon once ploughing after wheat ; because the wheat land commonly lies longer unploughed by six or eight months than barley land ; and therefore cannot be in so good tilth for turnips as barley land may, unless the former be of a more friable nature, or
much more dunged than the latter. Besides these wheat-turnips are uncertain, in respect to the fly that often destroys them at their first coming up, which misfortune happened the autumn 1734, to almost all that were sown in that manner.
I have observed that barley sown on the level, and not hoed, overcomes the turnips that come up amongst it ; but that turnips which come up in the partitions of treble rows of my ridges of horse-hoed barley, grew so vigorously, as to overcome the barley. And this was demonstrated at harvest in a long field, one side of which had borne turnip-seed, and the drilled ridges of barley crossing the middle of it, and both ends of the field having barley sown on the level, one end of every ridge crossed the turnip-seed part of the field for about ten perch of their length.
I observed also that the turnips near the edges of the lands of sown barley, adjoining to the hoed intervals, grew large, but not so large as those in the partitions on the ridges, their intervals being hoed on each side of them.
But different from this have I seen shattered turnip-seed coming up in the like partitions of drilled wheat, on the very same sort of land, so miserably poor and stunted, that they scarce grew a hand's breadth high, when those turnips which the hoe left in the sides of the intervals, and at the narrow edges of the unhoed earth of the interval sides of the rows of wheat, grew large ; and the wheat was good also. But I do not remember how the middle row of it succeeded.
This last experience of the turnips among the wheat was got by this accident : The wheat was drilled after drilled turnips on ridges of a different size. The turnips were all pulled up before the ground was ploughed for the wheat ; but as turnip-seed never comes all up the first year, enough remained of this to come up (though thinly) in the wheat, to show exactly where every row had been drilled ; whereupon the observation was made.
When turnips are planted too late to have time and sun for attaining to their full bulk, some drill a double row, on each six-feet ridge, with a partition of fourteen inches ; but I am told, that in this double row the turnips do not, even at that late season, grow so large as those planted at the same time in single rows ; though the double row requires double the expense in setting out ; and there will be less earth hoed by the breadth of fourteen inches of the deepest part of the ridge ; and consequently the land will be the less improved for the next crop. We need not to be very exact, in the number* or distance** we set them out at. We contrive to leave the master-turnips (when there is much difference in them), and spare such when near one another, and leave the more space before and behind them ; but if there be three master-turnips too near together, we take out the middlemost.
Turnips that were so thick as to touch one another when half grown but means of well hoeing their wide intervals, have afterwards grown to a good bigness, and by thrusting against one another became oval instead of round.
It is beneficial to hoe turnips (especially the fist time) alternately, viz. to hoe every other interval, and throw the earth back again, before we hoe the other intervals ; for by this means the turnips are kept from being stunted ; it is better to have nourishment given them moderately at twice, than to have it all at once, and be twice as long before a repetition***.
* The least number will be the largest turnips, yet we should have a competent stock, which I think is not less than thirty on a square perch.
** The distance need not to be regular, for when a turnip has six inches of room on one side, and eighteen inches on the other side, it is almost as well as if there was on foot on each side ; though then it would be equally distant from the two turnips between with it stood.
*** Sometimes, when turnips are planted late, this alternate hoeing suffices without any repetition ; but when they are planted early, it will be necessary to hoe them again, especially if weeds appear.
Because this alternate hoeing does not at all endanger the roots, by being dried by the sun ; for whilst one half of the roots have moisture, it is sufficient, the other half will be supplied from those, so that they will soon take hold of the earth again after being moved by the hoe.
Though the earth on each side the row be left as narrow as possible*, yet it is very profitable to hoe that little with a bidens**, called here a prong-hoe, for this will be sure to let out all the roots into the intervals, even such as run very nearly parallel to the rows. Some of these prong-hoes have three teeth, and are reckoned better as a tridens than a bidens ; but this in only a mellow ground.
This alternate way of hoeing plants, that grow in single rows , is of such vast advantage, that four of these, which are but equal to two of the whole hoeings in labour, are near equal to four whole hoeings in benefit ; for when one side is well nourished, the other side cannot be starved***.
Besides, where a great number of turnips are to be hoed, the last hoed may be stunted, before the first are finished by whole hoeings.
In this alternate hoeing, the hoe-plough may go deeper****, and nearer to the row, without danger of thrusting it down on the left side, whilst the plants are very small ; because the earth on the
* I do not think that we can go nearer to the plants with the hoe-plough, than within three inches of their bodies.
** We ought not to use the bidens for this purpose, before the perpendicular roots are as big as one's little finger.
*** But yet sometimes the weeds, or other circumstances, may make it proper to give them a whole hoeing at first.
*** This deep ploughing, so near to the row, is very beneficial at first ; but afterwards when the plants are grown large, and have sent their roots far into the intervals, it would almost totally disroot them ; and they being annuals, might not live long enough for a new stock of roots to extend so fare as is necessary to bring the turnips to their full bigness.
Note, At the last hoeing, we generally leave a broad deep trench in the middle of each interval.
other side of the row always bears against it for its support. But in the whole hoeing, there is an open furrow left the first time on both sides of the row, and there is danger of throwing it into one furrow in ploughing the other ; or if the row is not thrown down, it may be too much dried in hot weather, by the two furrows lying too long open. Yet when the turnips are large before hoeing, we need not fear either of these dangers in giving them a whole hoeing ; as I have found by experience, even when there has been left on each side of the row only about three inches breadth of earth ; though it is not best to suffer it to lie long open*.
Dry weather does not injure turnips hen horse-hoed, as it does sown turnips ; the hand-hoe does not go deep enough to keep the earth moist, and secure the plants against the drought, and that is the best season for horse-hoeing, which always can keep the roots moist.
But if some sorts of earth have lain so long unmoved as to become very hard before the first hoeing, the hoe going very near to the rows on each side, may cause such hard earth whereon the rows stand, to crack and open enough to let in the drought (i. e. the sun and air) to the roots in very dry weather. In this case it is best to horse-hoe alternately, as is directed in a preceding page.
Dung and tillage together will attain the necessary degree of pulverisation, in less time than ploughing can do alone ; therefore dung is more useful for turnips, because they have commonly less time to grow than other plants.
Turnips of nineteen pounds weight I have several times heard of, and of sixteen pounds weight often known ; and twelve pounds may be reckoned the middle size of great turnips. And I can see no
* But if the weather prove wet, we always suffer those furrows to lie open until the earth by dry enough to be turned back again to the row, without smearing or sticking together ; unless such weather continue so long, that the weeds begin to come up, and then we throw back the furrows to stifle the weeds, before they grow large, though the earth be wet.
reason why every turnip should not arrive to the full bigness of its species, if it did not want part of its due nourishment.
The greatest inconvenience, which has been observed in the turnip husbandry, is when they are fed off late in the spring (which is in many places the greatest use of them) there is not time to bring the land in tilth for barley, the loss of which crop is sometimes more than the gain of the turnips : this is entirely remedied by the drilling method ; for by that, the land may be almost as well tiled before the turnips are eaten, or taken off, as it can afterwards.
If turnips be sown in June, or the beginning of July, the most experienced turnip-farmers will have no more than thirty to a square perch left in hand-hoeing, and find that when more are left, the crop will be less ; but in drilling the rows at six-feet intervals, there may be sixty* to a perch ; and the horse-hoe, by braking so much more earth than the hand-hoe does, can nourish sixty drilled, as well as thirty are by the sowing method, which has been made appear upon trial ; but, I think, about forty or forty-five better than sixty on a perch ; and the number of plants should always be proportioned to the natural and artificial pasture which is to maintain them ; and sixty turnips on a square perch, at five pounds each (which is but a third of the weight of the large size of sheep turnips), make a crop of above eighty quarters to an acre**.
* Yet I think sixty too many, unless the soil be rich, and very well pulverised.
** I have had turnips upon poor undunged land that weighed fourteen pounds a-piece ; but these were only such as had more room than the rest. I have seen a whole wagon-load of drilled turnips spread on the ground, wherein I believe one could not have found one that weighted so little as six pounds ; or it the rows had been searched before they had been pulled up, they would have weighed seven or eight pounds a-piece one with another ; we weighed some of them that were thirteen, some fourteen pounds each, and yet they stood pretty thick. There might be, as I guess, about fifty on a square perch ; but this crop was on sandy land not poor, and was dunged the third or fourth year before, and had every year a hoed crop of potatoes, or wheat, until the year wherein the turnips were planted.
When turnips are planted late (especially upon poor ground) they may be a grater number than when planted early ; because they will not have time enough of heat to enjoy the full benefit of hoeing, which would otherwise cause them to grow larger.
The greatest turnip improvement used by the farmer, is for his cattle in the winter ; one acre of turnips will then maintain more than fifty of meadow or pasture ground.
It is now so well known that most cattle will eat them, and how much they breed milk, &c. that I need say nothing about it.
Sheep always refuse them at first, and unless they have eaten them whilst they were lambs, must be ready to starve before they will feed on them ; though when they have tasted them, they will be fatted by them. And I have seen lambs of three weeks old scoop them prettily, when those of a year old (which are called tegs) have been ready to die with hunger amongst them ; and for three or four days would not touch them, but at last eat them very well.
In some places, the greatest use of turnips (except for fatting oxen and sheep) is for ewes and lambs in the spring, when natural grass is not grown on poor ground ; and if the artificial grass be then fed by the common manner, the crop will be spoiled ; and it will yield the less pasture all the summer. I have known farmers, for that reason, obliged to keep their ewes and lambs upon turnips (though run up to seed) even until the middle of April.
There are now three manners of spending turnips with sheep, amongst which I do not reckon the way of putting a flock of sheep into a large ground of turnips without dividing it ; for in that case the flock will destroy as many turnips in a fortnight, as would keep them well a whole winter.
The first manner now in use is, to divide the ground of turnips by hurdles, giving them leave to come upon no more at a time than
they can eat in one day, and so advance the hurdles farther into the ground daily, until all be spent ; but we must observe, that they never eat them clean this way, but leave the bottoms and outsides of the turnips they have scooped in the ground. These bottoms people pull up with iron crooks, made for that purpose ; but their cavities, being tainted with urine, dung, and dirt from their feet, though the sheep do eat some of the pieces, they waste more, and many the crooks leave behind in the earth ; and even what they do eat of this tainted food, cannot nourish them so well as that which is fresh and cleanly.
The second manner is, to move the hurdles every day, as in the first ; but that the sheep many not tread upon the turnips, they pull them up first, and then advance the hurdles as far daily as the turnips are pulled up, and no farther. By this means there is not that waste made as in the other way ; the food is eaten fresh and clean, and the turnips are pulled up with less labour than their pieces can be*.
The third manner is, to pull them up, and to carry them into some other ground in a cart, or wagon, and there spread them every day, on a new place, where the sheep will eat them up clean, both leaf and root. This is done when there is land not far off which has more need of dung than that where the turnips grow, which perhaps is also too wet for sheep in the winter, and then the turnips will, by
* I have seen three labourers work every day with their crooks, to pull up these pieces, which was done with much difficulty, the ground being trodden very hard by the sheep ; when one person, in two hours' time, would have pulled up all the whole turnips daily, and the sheep would have eaten them clean ; but so many of those pieces were dried and spoiled, that after the land was sown with barley, they appeared very thick upon the surface, and there could not be much less than half the crop of turnips wasted, notwithstanding the contrivance of these crooks.
the too great moisture and dirt of the soil, spoil the sheep, and in some soils given therm the rot ; yet such ground will bring forth more and larger turnips than dry land ; and when they are carried off and eaten on ploughed ground in dry weather, and on greensward in wet weather, the sheep will thrive much better ; and that moist soil, not being trodden by the sheep, will be in much the better order for a crop of corn. And generally the expense of hurdles and removing them being saved, will more than countervail the labour of carrying off the turnips.
These three ways of spending turnips with sheep are common to those drilled, and to those sown in the random manner ; but they must always be carried off for cows and oxen ; both which will be well fatted by them and some hay in the winter. The management of these is the business of a grazier.