|CHAPTER XI. |
To prevent these inconveniences, wheat is usually sown in autumn ; hence, having about thrice the time to be maintained that spring corn hath, it requires a larger supply of nourishment, in proportion to that longer time ; not because the wheat in its infancy consumes the stock of food, during the winter, proportionably to what it does afterwards ; but because, during that long interval between autumn and spring seed-times, most of the artificial pasture is naturally lost, both in light and in strong land.
For this very reason is that extraordinary pains of fallowing and dunging the soil, necessary to wheat ; though, notwithstanding all that labour and expense, the ground is generally grown so stale by the spring, and so little of the benefit of that chargeable culture remains, that, if part of the same field be sown in the beginning of April, upon fresh ploughing, without the dung or year's fallow, it will be as great or a greater crop, in all respects, except the flour, which fails only for want of time to fill the grain.
Stale is a term for ground that has lain for some considerable time unploughed and unmoved ; and is also used, as well as in this case, for ground that lies a time after ploughing before it is sown ; and is contrary to that which is sown or planted immediately after ploughing.
The word Fresh, when joined with ploughing, is a term opposite to Stale, which is explained in the preceding paragraph, though it be there joined with the word ground.
It has also sometimes another signification when joined with the word ground ; as fresh ground, is that which is ploughed up after not having been used as arable for several years. But such land as hath not been arable for a great number of years is more commonly called new broke ground.
Poor light land, by the common husbandry, must be very well cultivated and manured, to maintain wheat for a whole year, which is the usual time it grows thereon ; and if it be sown late, the greatest part of it will seldom survive the winter, on such land ; and if it be sown very early on strong land, though rich, well tilled and dunged, the crop will be worse than on the poor light land sown early. So much do the long winter's rains cause the earth to subside, and the divided parts to coalesce and lock out the roots from the stock of provision, which though it was laid in abundantly at autumn, the wheat has no great occasion of, until the spring, and then the soil is become too hard for the roots to penetrate ; and therefore must starve (like Tantalus) amidst dainties, which may temp the roots, but cannot be attained by them.
But the new method of hoeing gives, to strong and to light land, all the advantages, and takes away all the disadvantages of both, as appears in the Chapters of Tillage, and Hoeing. by this method the strong land may be planted with wheat as early as the light (if ploughed dry), and the hoe plough can, if rightly applied, raise a pasture to it, equal to that of dung, in both sorts of land.
Because the hoe may go in it all the year, and the soil being infinitely divisible, the division which the hoe may make whilst the crop is growing, added to the common tillage, may equal or even exceed, a common dressing with dung, as I have often experienced.
Scarcely any land is so unfit, and ill prepared for wheat, as that where the natural grass* abounds ; most other sorts of weeds may be dealt withal when they
come among drilled wheat, but it is impossible to extract grass from the rows, therefore let that be killed before the wheat be planted.
The six-feet ridges being eleven, on sixty-six feet, which is an acre's breadth, ought to be made lengthways of the field, if there be no impediment against it ; and if it be a hill of any considerable steepness, then they must be made to run up and down, whether that be the length or breadth of the piece ; for if the ridges should go across such a hill, they could not be well horse-hoed, because it would be very difficult to turn a furrow upwards, close to the row above it, or to turn a furrow downwards without burying the row below it ; and even when a furrow is turned from the lower row, enough of the earth to bury that row will be apt to run over on the left side of the plough ; unless it goes at such a distance from the row, as to give it no benefit of hoeing.
These ridges should be made straight and equal, and to make them straight* all good ploughmen know how ; and they will be setting up marks to look at, plough in a line like the path of an arrow. But to make the ridges equal, it is necessary to mark out a number of them before you begin to plough, by short sticks set up at each end of the piece, and then if one ridge happen to be a little too broad, the next may be made the narrower ; for if the plough comes not out exactly at the second stick, the two ridges may be made equal by the next ploughng, or by the drlling ; but if many contigous ridges should be too wide or too narrow, it will be difficult to bring them all to an equality afterwards, without levelling the whole peice, and laying out the ridges all new.
* But if the piece be of such a crooked or serpentine form, that the ridges cannot well be ploughed straight the first time, it is best to drill it upon the level ; and then the marking wheels may direct for making the rows all parallel and equidistant, which will guide the plough to make all the ridges for the next, and all the subsequent crops as equal.
The exact height of ridges which is best I cannot determine*, a different soil may require a different height, according to the depth, richness, and pulverisation of the mould. As wheat covets always to lie dry in the winter, so there is no other way to keep it so dry as these ridges ; for when they are after the first hoeing about eighteen inches broad, with a ditch on each side of almost a foot deep, the rain-water runs off such narrow ridges as fast as it falls, and much sooner** than it is possible for it to do from broad ridges.
This is the breadth the ridges are generally left at, when the furrows are hoed from them, and thrown into the intervals.
And the deeper the soil, the more occasion there commonly is of this high situation ; because such land is wetter, for the most part, than shallow land, where we cannot make the furrows so deep nor the ridges so high*** as in deep land, for we must never plough below the staple. I see wheat on these hoed ridges flourish, and grow vigorously in wet weather, when other wheat looks yellow and sickly.
The same wide interval, which is hoed between ridges the first time, with two furrows, must have had hour furrows to hoe it on the level ; or else the furrow that is turned from the row would rise up, and a great part of it fall over to the left hand, and bury the row ; but when turned from a ridge it will all fall down to the right hand.
* I find by measuring my wheat ridges in the spring, that none of them are quite a foot high, and some of them only six inches ; but I know not how much they have subsided in the winter, for they were certainly higher when first made.
** Water, when it runs off very soon, is beneficial, as is seen in watered meadows ; but where it remains long on, or very near the bodies of terrestrial plants, it kills them, or at least is very injurious to them.
*** If we should make our ridges as high on a shallow soil, as we may on a deep soil, there would be a deficiency of mould in the intervals of equal breadth with those of a deep soil.
You must not leave the tops of the ridges quite so narrow and sharp for drilling of wheat, as you may for drilling turnips ; wheat being in treble rows, but turnips generally in single rows*. This is our method of making ridges for the first crop of drilled wheat.
But the method of making ridges for a succeeding crop, after the former is harvested, is best performed as follows : - In making ridges for wheat after wheat, you must raise them to their full height, before you plough the old partitions, with their stubble, up to
them ; for if you go about to make the ridges higher afterwards, the stubble will so mix with the mould of their tops, that it may not only be a hinderance to the drill, but also to the first hoeing ; because if the hoe-plough goes as near to the rows as it ought, it would be apt to tear out the wheat -plants along with the stubble.
In reaping, we cut as near as we can to the ground**, which is easily done, because the stalks all stand close together at the bottom, contrary to those of sown wheat.
I find this stubble, when it is only mixed with the intervals, very beneficial to the hoeing of my wheat ; but I know not whether it may be so in rich, miry land.
As soon as conveniently you can, after the crop of wheat is carried off (if the trench in the middle of each wide interval be left deep enough by the last hoeing), go as near as you can to the stubble with
* A single row taking up less of the breadth, may be afforded to have more of the ridge's depth ; because it leaves the interval. wider.
** When wheat is reaped very low, the stubble is no great impediment ; and I do this when I am forced to enlarge the breadth of my ridges, or to change their bearing, as I do when I find it convenient for them to point crossways of the field instead of lengthways ; as if one end of it be wetter than the other ; for it is inconvenient that one end of a ridge should be in the wet part, and the other in the dry ; because in that case we cannot hoe the dry end without hoeing the wet at the same time ;and whilst we attend for the wet part to become dry, it may happen that the season for hoeing the whole (if the quantity be great) may be lost.
the common plough, and turn two large furrows into the middle of the interval, which will make a ridge over the place where the trench was ; but if the trench be not deep enough, go first in the middle of it with one furrow ; which, with two more taken from the ridges, will be three furrows in each interval ; continue this ploughing as long as the dry weather lasts, and then finish by turning the partitions (whereon the last wheat grew) up to the new ridges, which is usually done at two great furrows. You may plough these last furrows, which complete the ridges, in wet weather.
On a time, when my diseases permitted me to go into the wheat-field, where my ploughs were at work, I discovered this trick, and ventured to ask my chief ploughman (or rather chief master) his reason for doing this in my absence, contrary to my directions ? He magisterially answered, according to his own (and Equivocus's) theory, which servants judge ought to be flowed before than of him they call master, saying, that as the roots of wheat never reached more than two or three inches deep, there was no need that the fine mould should be any deeper. But those shallow ridges, which were
indeed too many, producing a crop very much inferior to the contiguous deep ridges, showed, at my cost, the mistake of my cunning ploughman.
I took up a wheat-ear in harvest that had lain on the grass in wet weather, where the wind could not come to dry it, which had sent out white roots like the teeth of a comb, some of them three inches long ; none having reached the ground, they could not be nourished from any thing but the grains, which remained fast to the ear, and had not as yet sent out any blade. It is unreasonable to imagine, that such a single root as one of these, when in the earth, from whence it must maintain a pretty large plant all or most part of the winter, should descend no farther than when it was itself maintained from the flour of the grain only.
To make a six feet-ridge very high, will sometimes require more furrows ; as when the middle of the intervals are open very wide and deep then six furrows to the whole ridge may be necessary, and they not little ones ; and the season makes a difference, as well as the size of the furrows, for when the fine mould is very dry (which is best) it will much of it run to the left-hand before the plough, and also more will run back again to the left after the plough is gone past it.
But when such ridges have been made for wheat, and the season continues long too dry for planting it, and he stubble not thrown up, we then plough one deep furrow on the middle of each ridge, and then plough the whole ridge at four furrows more, which will raise it very high. This way of re-ploughing the ridges, moves all the earth of them, and yet is done at five furrows.
The furrows necessary for raising up the ridges must be more or fewer, in regard to the bigness of them ; because six small furrows may be less than four great ones. It is not best to plough the stubble up to the ridges, until just before planting (especially in the early ploughing,) because that will hinder the re-ploughing of the first furrows, which, if the season continues dry, may be necessary : sometimes we do this by opening one furrow in the middle of the ridge, sometimes two, and afterwards raise up the ridges again ; and when they are become moist enough at top (the old partitions being ploughed up to them), we harrow them once (and that only lengthways) and then drill them.
But if once be not sufficient to level the tops of the ridges fit for the drill to pass thereon, as it always will, unless the two last hard furrows lie so high that all the three shares of the drill cannot reach to make their channels, and in this case you must harrow again until they can all reach deep enough. Also in some sort of land, that when drilled late and very moist, will stick to the shares like pitch or bird-lime, whereby the channels are in part left open by the drill-harrow, it must be harrowed after it is drilled, because it is necessary in such land to take off the common drill-harrow in order for a man to follow the drill with a paddle, or else a forked stick, with which he frees the sheets of the adhering dirt ; this harrow being gone, much of the seed will lie uncovered, and then must be covered with common harrows, unless a drill-harrow, which was not in use when my plates were made, be placed instead of that taken off : this, with its two iron tines, will cover the seed in this case much better than common harrows, and will be no hinderance to cleansing of the sheets, the legs by which this harrow is drawn being remote from them, placed at near the end of the plank ; and note, that the most proper drill for this purpose is one that has only two shares standing a foot or fourteen inches asunder : this harrow serves for taking up the drill to turn it.
There is a necessity of ploughing the old partitions up to the new
ridges, to support their other earth from falling down by the harrowing and drilling, which would else make them level.
Our ridges, after the first time of ploughing, excel common ridges of the same height ; because these, though as deep in mould at the tops, have little of it tilled at the last ploughing ; but ours, being made upon the open trenches, consist of new-tilled pulverised mould, from top to bottom.
It is a general rule, that all sorts of grain and seeds, prosper best, sown when the ground is so dry as to be broken into the most parts by the plough. The reason why wheat is an exception to that rule is, because it must endure the rigours of winter, which it is the better able to do by the earth's being pressed, or trodden harder and closer to it*, as it is when moved wet.
But as wheat requires to have the earth lie harder on, and about it, in the winter ; so also it requires more dung (or somewhat else) to dissolve the earth about its roots, after the cold winter is past, than rye doth, those roots never were so much confined.
It is another general rule, that all sorts of vegetables thrive best, when sown on fresh tilled ground, immediately after it is ploughed.
Wheat is an exception to this rule also ; for it is better to plough the ground dry, and let it lie until the weather moistens it (though it be several weeks) and then drill the wheat : the harrows and the drill will move a sufficient part of the ground, which will stick together for defence of the small roots, during the winter, the rest
of the mould lying open, and divided underneath until spring, to nourish them.
There is a sort of binding sand, that requires not only to be ploughed dry, but sowed dry also ; or else the wheat will dwindle in the spring, and fail of being a tolerable crop.
But what I mean by dry ploughing, is not that the land should always be so void of moisture, as that the dust should fly : but it must not be so wet as to stick together*. Neither should we drill when the earth is wet as pap, it suffices that it be moist, but moister in light land, than in strong land, when we drill.
If the two furrows, whereon the treble row is to stand, be ploughed wet, the earth of the partitions must grow so hard by the spring, that the roots cannot run freely therein, unless they be dung to ferment and keep it open.
So we see a steep bank, made of wet earth, will lie fast for several years, when another made of the same earth dry, will moulder and run down very soon ; because its parts have not the cohesion that holds the other together, it continues open and more porous, and crumbles continually down.
I have seen trials of this difference betwixt ploughing dry, and ploughing wet, for planting of wheat, both in the old way and the drilling way, but most in the latter ; and never say any instance where the dry ploughing did not outdo the wet ; if the wheat was not planted thereon before the earth was become moist enough at top.
And strong land ploughed wet in November, will be harder in the spring, than if ploughed dry in August ; though it would then have three months longer to lie.
After rain, when the top of the ground is of a fit moisture for drilling, harrow it with two light harrows, drawn by a horse going in the furrow betwixt two ridges ; once will be enough, the furrow
* But the drier it is ploughed the better.
being just broke to level, or rather smooth it for the drill.
Once harrowing is generally enough, but not always.
If the veerings* whereon the next crop is to stand, be ploughed dry, we may drill at any time during the common and usual wheat-seed time, that is proper for the sort of wheat to be drilled, and the sort of land, whether that be early or late, we may drill earlier but not later than the sowing farmers. But I have had good crops of wheat drilled at all times betwixt harvest and the beginning of November.
For the benefit of the middle rows, it is better not to drill wheat on strong land before the usual season ; because the later it is planted, the more open the partitions will be for the roots of those rows to run through them in the spring : and yet if the earth of the partitions be ploughed very wet, though late, they may be harder in the spring, than those which are ploughed early and dry.
There is a sort of wheat called by some Smyrna wheat, it has a prodigious large ear, with many lesser (or collateral) ears, coming all round the bottom of this ear ; as it is the largest of all sorts of wheat, so it will dispense with the nourishment of a garden, without being over-fed, and requires more nourishment than the common husbandry will afford it ; for there its ears grow not much bigger than those of common wheat ; this I believe to be, for that reason, the very best sort for the hoeing husbandry ; next to this I esteem the white-cone wheat, then the grey-cone. I have had very good
* The word veering is, I believe, taken from the seamen, and signifies to turn ; it is the ploughman's term for turning two furrows towards each other, as they must do to begin a ridge ; and therefore they call the top of a ridge a veering ; they call the two furrows that are turned from each other at the bottom, between two ridges a henting, i. e. an ending ; because it makes an end of the ploughing ridges.
Our intervals wholly consist either of veerings or hentings ; when two furrows are turned from the rows, they make a veering ; when turned towards the rows, they are a henting, which is the deep wide trench, in the middle of an interval.
crops from other sorts, but look upon these to be the best.
It is said to grow mostly in some islands of the Archipelago, and some author describes it Triticum spica multiplici. There is another sort of wheat that has many little ears coming out of the two sides of the main ear ; but this is very late ripe, and doth not succeed well here, nor is it liked by them that have sown it ; yet I have had some ears of it by chance among my drilled wheat, which have been larger than those of any common sort. I have not as yet been able to procure any of the Smyrna wheat, which I look upon as a great misfortune : but I had some of it about forty years ago.
When wheat is planted early, less seed is required than when late ; because less of it will die in the winter, than of that planted late, and it has more time to tiller*.
Poor land should have more seed than rich land, because a less number of the plants will survive the winter on poor land.
The least quantity of seed may suffice for rich land that is planted early ; for thereon very few plants will die : and the hoe will cause a small number of plants to send out a vast number of stalks, which will have large ears, and in these, more than in the number of plants, consists the goodness of a crop**.
Another thing must be considered, in order to find the just proportion of seed to plant ; and that is, that some wheat has its grains twice as big as other wheat of the same sort, and then a bushel*** will contain but half the number of grains : and one bushel of small-grained wheat will plant as much ground as two
* To tiller is to branch out into many stalks, and is the country word that signifies the same with fructicare.
** A too great number of plants do neither tiller nor produce so large ears, nor make half so good a crop, as a bare competent number of plants will.
* Our bushel contains seventy pounds of the best wheat.
bushels of large-grained ; for, in truth, it is not the measure of the seed, but the number of the grains, to which respect ought to be had in apportioning the quantity of it to the land.
Some have thought, that a large grain of wheat would produce a larger plant than a small grain, but I have full experience to the contrary. The small grain, indeed, sends up its first single blade in proportion to its own bulk ; but afterwards becomes as large a plant as the largest grain can produce, cęteris paribus.
Farmers in general know this, and choose the thinnest smallest grained wheat for seed : and therefore prefer than which is blighted and lodged, and that which grows on new-broke ground, and is not fit for bread, not only because this thin wheat has more grains in a bushel : but also because such seed is least liable to produce a smutty crop, and yet brings grains as large as any.
I myself had as full proofs of this as can possibly be made in both respects.
It was from such small seeds that my drilled Lamas-wheat produced the ears of that monstrous length described in this Chapter. I never saw the like, except in that one year ; and the grains were large also.
And as full proofs have I seen of thin seed wheat escaping the smut, when plump large-grained seed of the same sort have been smutty.
Equivocus is the only denyer (I have heard of ) that a small grain of wheat will produce as large grains as any.
Six gallons of middle-sized seed we most commonly drill on an acre ; yet on rich land, planted early, four gallons may suffice ; because then the wheat will have roots at the top of the ground before winter, and tiller very much, without danger of the worms, and other accidents that late planted wheat is liable to.
If it is drilled too thick, it will be in danger of falling ; if too thin, it may happen to tiller so late in the spring, that some of the ears
As to the depth, we may plant from half and inch to three inches deep. If planted too deep, there is more danger of its being eaten off by worms, betwixt the grain and the blade* ; for as that thread is the thread of life during the winter (if not planted early), so the longer the thread is, the more danger will there be of the worms**.
It is a necessary caution to beware of the rooks, just as the wheat begins to peep ; for before you can perceive it to be coming up, they will find it, and dig it up to eat the grain ; therefore you must keep them off for a week or ten days, and in that time the blade will become green, and the grain so much exhausted of its flour, that the rooks think it not worth while to dig after it.
But the rooks do not molest wheat that is planted before or a little after St. Michael ; for then there remains corn enough in the fields, which is left at harvest above ground, that rooks prefer always before corn which must cost them the labour of digging to find it.
The double row has but one partition, and that is best to be used when the land is suspected to be full of the seed of such weeds as must be taken out by the hand-hoe ; in this partition while they are young, those which come up in the very rows may be pulled out when they are grown to a proper bigness.
** Because the worms can more easily find a thread that extends by its length to five or six inches depth, than one which reaches but one inch : and besides the worms in winter do not inhabit very near the surface of the ground ; and therefore also miss the short threads, and meet with the long ones.
This partition I should choose to have a foot* wide, because I have had whole fields drilled, all at that distance, hand-hoed at the expense of four shillings per acre ; and therefore, when there is but one foot in six, it ought to cost but a proportionable price per acre.
The common width of the two partitions of the treble row is either seven or eight inches each. To find out the best distance of planting these rows, I made one of the partitions six inches, and the other nine inches ; and they being harrowed by a common harrow, whose tines covering the rows, sometimes from one side, sometimes from the other side, made those partitions yet more unequal ; in these I observed all the spring time, that in most places that outside row which was nearest to the middle row, was less than the other outside row which is farther from it** : and that that least outside row was only equal to the middle row, the other much exceeding either of these, but yet there was not this difference in all places ; because, perhaps, the hoe-plough did not in these places go so near to that row, on the side of the narrower partition, as it did to the to the outside row.
I have for some years planted my treble rows at seven inches asunder, and find them succeed better than in wider partitions : I observe that the better the land is, either by nature or culture, the less difference there is between the middle row, and the two outside ones, both at seven inch and eight inch partitions. The greatest difficulty is to determine the most proper width of partitions ; for if they are too narrow, then all the rows may suffer by injuring one
* But the difference betwixt a foot and fourteen inches is so little, that it is scarce worth while to set a drill on purpose ; but to plant these double rows at the common distance of fourteen inches, without altering the drill.
Or if the middle row be planted we can easily chop it out along with the weeds in the spring, if we find it necessary.
** This observation was before I planted my rows on high ridges.
another, before the time wherein they are supplied with fresh nourishment from the hoed intervals ; and if the partitions are too wide, the middle row will suffer by the too great distance there is for its roots to pass through, before they can enter the intervals.
The reasons of adding the middle row were, first, as an alloy to the exuberance of the other two, when they were of the Lammas sort. Secondly, when I found it necessary for constant annual crops of wheat, to enlarge the intervals, and lessen the number of ridges, I thought proper to increase the number of rows on each ridge.
Thirdly, that when part of a row was trodden out by hunters, or torn out by any accident, there might remain two rows entire, for when such accidents should happen to a double row, only one remaining in such places might be too little between wide intervals.
But the only reason for the middle row, which latest experience shows to be valid, is for the alloy it makes to the too great luxuriousness of the other two rows ; for now the ploughmen know how to hoe well, they never plough out any part of an outside row, and though we can, by raising the ridges higher, make the three rows pretty equal, yet this is not a proof that the three produce more than the two would do without the middle row, because that being left out, the one partition may be more deeply pulverised by the hand-hoe, and the weeds more easily taken out ; and the two rows must have much more nourishment than when there is a middle row.
I have lately seen such demonstrations of the difference, that I propose for the future to drill white cone wheat (which is the only sort I now plant) in double rows only, with a partition of a foot or fourteen inches.
In a large poor field, drilled with wheat in double rows, the partition not being confined, was unequal, and more unequal than is
usual, even when the partition is the parting* space, as it was here. After this wheat was taken off, I observed by the strength of the stubble, that in those places where the partition happened to be but four or five inches, the stubble was as thick and as strong as where the partition was eighteen inches, or more ; but where the rows came nearer together than four or five inches, so as to appear like one single broad row, the stubble was smaller and weaker.
Hence it may be inferred, that where this partition was widest, it gave no more nourishment to the two rows (in summer) than what was balanced by the greater distance their roots had to pass, before they could reach through to the opposite intervals ; and the wider this partition is, the fewer of the roots will pass through it, for the roots going every way from a plant, sometimes like the radii of a circle from its centre, each row, to each plant, in its opposite row being as a chord of an arch, the farther it is from each opposite plant, or centre, the fewer of the radii, or roots, will be intersected by that row.
This is from their sides ; but roots go from a corn-plant in a hemisphere like the rays of a star.
But as for the rows that approached too near together, they were stunted at first, whilst they were young, (and before they could have the benefit of hoeing) ; for the two rows having then, as it were, no partition between them, could have but half the nourishment they would have had, if the partition had been wide enough to half maintain them in their infancy.
* The parting space is that distance which the drill leaves betwixt the row it plants in going one way, and that row which it makes in returning back ; this distance cannot be supposed to be so exactly equal in all places, as those distances which are confined, as being made betwixt the shares of the drill ; for when the drill has two shares, the space or distance betwixt them cannot vary.
Because each row had nourishment from one side only, instead of two sides, which they would have had, if the partitions had been competent.
I have not as yet made a drill on purpose for quadruple rows, but I make some those rows every year with my treble drill in this manner, viz., I take off the fore-hooper, and the drill plants fourteen inches asunder, and then the horse returning back, goes on one of these two rows, and plants one more row, betwixt the other tow, and one on the outside, this makes a quadruple row ; but then its partitions are always uneven, which gives a much better direction how wide to make the partitions than if they were even ; for the farther these middle rows are from one another, the nearer they are to the outside rows, and the wider is the middle partition ; but the nearer the middle rows are to one another, the farther they must be from the outside rows. In this last case I observe, that the two middle rows, when very near together, weigh less than the one middle row on a ridge of equal height next adjoining ; but in the other case when the middle rows are nearer, viz., at the distance of six inches from the outsides, their produce is much larger than one middle row. Hence I conclude, that quadruple rows should have six inches partitions, the ridges raised high in good ground well pulverised, to keep their plants from being stunted when young ; and the land should be made pretty clean from weeds.
These three partitions being only eighteen inches, will not occasion a much greater breadth of ridges than treble rows, which have only two partitions.
Neither of the two middle rows in a quadruple row, planted on the level, is so good as the one middle row in a treble row, the partitions in both being seven inches ; and there can be no other reason for that difference, but that the one middle row has only one
partitions, and one row to pass through on each side of it, before its roots reach into the two intervals ; but each of the two middle rows have two partitions, and two rows on one side to pass, ere they reach the interval on that side ; so that the single-middle row has the benefit of two intervals, and each of the double-middle rows has only the benefit of one interval.
This difference is also a proof, that the middle rows do receive nourishment from the intervals, for else the one middle row, and each of the two would be all equal.
If by the shallowness of the soil, the narrowness of the plough, or by any other cause, the furrows are too small to raise the ridges high enough at once, you must raise them higher at twice
ploughing ; or else expect that the middle row will be the less, for want of more pasture underneath it ; because it must have narrow partitions, that is may be the nearer to the intervals, and therefore the pasture that is wanting, in the partitions on each side, cannot be supplied but from below, until the roots reach the intervals.
The middle row must not be too numerous in plants ; for then they will be the weaker, and less able to send out their roots into the intervals early in the spring ; and, indeed, if the outside rows are too thick in plants, they will rob the middle row the more when young ; and afterwards their roots will form the thicker hedges, to obstruct those of the middle row from passing so easily out of the partitions. I remember, that the roots of my row that I found had reached the interval at eighteen inches distance (which was then the full height of the plants) having first passed through another row in their way, both these rows were thin of plants ; planted late, the land made very fine, being a friable soil, all which made some little amends for the want of ridges ; this land being planted upon the level.
But yet I always find that ridges, by the advantages they have above the land that is level, do (cęteris paribus) bring the best crop and are more easily managed*.
June 19, 1731. I could never, until this year, bring my middle rows to be any thing near equal to the outside rows, but now I have done it, both in the treble and quadruple.
The earth was all thrown out of the middle of the intervals before last harvest, being first well pulverised ; then some time after harvest, this earth, when dry, was raised up to a pretty high ridge, in the middle of each interval, from whence it was taken ; and when the weather had made it sufficiently moist, the wheat was drilled thereon, with seven-inch partitions. This wheat flourished all the winter and spring, and the middle rows seem equal to the outside rows, by their colour and height, both in the triple and quadruple, all being much stronger than the adjoining sown crops, though on dunged fallows four times ploughed, and mine being without dung for many years past.
The deep pulverised mould keeps the plants strong in the winter and spring, which enables the middle row to send out its roots the more vigorously through the roots of the outside rows ; which rows, if they were on shallow mould, would bar in the roots of the middle row, because the roots are thickest near the stems.
* It is no small advantage in this management, that whether the veering or the henting be left in the interval by the hoe-plough, all the furrows in a whole field lie continually open ; so that the master cannot be cheated by his ploughmen, who might otherwise persuade him they ploughed deep when they plough shallow. But in common ploughing, all the furrows may be shallow, except the last two of every ridge, which has, perhaps, forty furrows. Thirty-eight of which lying always covered, it is not easy to know how deep they are ploughed ; and of all the villanies of English plough-servants, this trick of ploughing too shallow has undone the most farmers.
When the plants of the middle row are too numerous for the pasture of the partitions, for want of a sufficient depth of pulverised earth, they are weak and unable to send out their roots vigorously enough to reach the intervals in time ; also when the plants of the outer row are too numerous on a shallow mould, the roots of these, which are always thickest near the bottom of the stems, make a septum or hedge betwixt the roots of the middle (or inner) row and the interval, this very much obstructs their passage ; but when the pulverised mould is deep under the outside row, then the roots of it are thinner below, and admit the roots of the middle row to pass through, among, and between them, there.
If the riddle row did not receive benefit by its roots from one or both of the intervals, then a middle row that had partitions of eight or nine niches on a high ridge would exceed one that had partitions of seven inches, the former having more room on each side of it ; but it is just the contrary, for the latter exceeds the former, which it could not do, but from the nourishment it receives from the intervals.
But if the hoe-plough does not at the first hoeing go deep and near to the rows, the subsided earth will, especially in strong land, be as a wall to confine the roots of all the rows from entering the interval in the spring and summer, which is the time they require most nourishment from it.
Experience has shown me this year, that this is the reason that the middle row falls short of, or equals the outside row ; for in about sixty acres of wheat I now have near ripe, there is not one row, whether triple or quadruple, wherein the middle row, or rows, do not succeed according as they are managed, by the one or the other method, viz., where any middle or inner row has a competent number of plants, standing on a competent thickness of sufficiently well pulverised earth, and its outside row the same whereunto the hoe-plough has gone deep and very near, such middle row equals the outside row ; but wherever any of these circumstances are
wanting, the middle row falls short more or less in proportion, as more or fewer of them are wanting. The middle row having more pasture underneath it, may stand the nearer to the outside rows, without being stunted in the winter or spring, and, therefore, may be as well and better nourished by seven-inch partitions, than by those much wider and thinner, though equally pulverised ; and then being of equal strength, will send out its roots the sooner into the intervals, by how much it stand nearer to them. Besides, I find that seven-inch partitions may be hand-hoed early in the spring, and the rows being so near together, prevent the weeds from thriving in the partitions when they are not hoed ; and when poppies do come in them, they always thrust out their heads into the intervals for air, and may be very easily pulled out.
The first hoeing is performed by turning a furrow from the row.
We are not so exact as to the weather in the first hoeing ; for if the earth be wet the hoe-plough may go the nearer to the row, without burying the wheat ; and the frost of the winter will pulverise that part of the furrow, which is to be thrown to the wheat in the spring, although it was hoed wet.
The word furrow signifies the earth that is thrown out, as well as the trench from whence it is thrown by the plough.
Neither is it necessary to be very exact as to time, but it must never be until the wheat has more than one blade ; and it may be soon enough, when it has four or five leaves, so that it is done before, or in the beginning of winter.
But if the wheat is planted very late, it may not be hoeable before the winter is past ; nor is there such a necessity of hoeing the late planted before the great frosts are over, as there is of the early planted ; for the later it is planted the less time the earth has to subside and grow hard.
Note. By winter we do not mean only those months that are properly so reckoned, but also such other months which have hard
frosts in them, as January, February, and sometimes the beginning of March.
The greatest fault you can commit in hoeing, is the first time, when the furrow is turned from the row, not to go near enough to it , nor deep enough. You cannot then go too near it, unless you plough it out or bury it with mould, and do not uncover it ; nor too deep, unless you go below the staple of the ground.
Servants are apt to hoe too far from the rows, going backwards and forwards in the middle of the intervals, without coming near the rows ; this loses most of the benefit of hoeing, and is very injurious to the present crop, and also to the two succeeding crops ; for then there will be a deficiency of pulverised earth, and nobody can suppose that the hoed earth can be of any benefit to the rows before the roots reach into it ; and when it is far off, few of the roots reach it at all, and those than do reach, come here too late to bring the plants to their full perfection ; therefore, if the first furrow was not near enough nor deep enough, plough a second furrow at the bottom of the former, which will go deeper than the first, and break the earth more, besides taking away from the rows such unmoved ground which the first ploughing may possibly have missed. If this cannot be conveniently done soon after the first hoeing, do it before the ridge is turned back in the spring.
Always leave the furrows turned up, to make ridges* in the middle
* Though the ridge in the middle of the interval should, for want of sufficient mould, or otherwise, be too low to give shelter, yet there is generally some earth falls to the left of the hoe-plough, and lodges upon that part which is left on the outside of the row ; which, notwithstanding that part be very narrow (as suppose two or three inches) yet a small quantity of earth lying thereon, so near to the outside row, gives an extraordinary shelter to the young wheat plants that grow in it.
Shelter is a great benefit to wheat, but yet nourishment is more ; for in the winter I see the wheat plants upon the most exposed part of the ridge flourish, when single plants in the bottom of the furrow are in a very poor languishing condition, without any annoyance of water, they being upon a chalk bottom.
of the intervals during the winter ; and then the hollow furrows or trenches next the rows, being enriched by the frost* and rains**, the wheat will have the benefit of them earlier in the spring, than if the trenches had been left open in the middle of the intervals.
The outside rows of wheat from which the earth is hoed off, before or in the beginning of winter, and left almost bare until the spring, one would think should suffer by the frost coming so near them***,
* Frost, if it does not kill the wheat, is of great benefit to it ; water, or moisture, when it is frozen in the earth, takes up more room than in its natural state ; this swelling of the ice (which is water congealed) must move and break the earth wherewith it is mixed ; and when it thaws, the earth is left hollow and open, which is a kind of hoeing to it. This benefit is done chiefly to and near the surface ; consequently the more surface there is by the unevenness of the land, the more advantage the soil has from the frost.
This is another very great use of the ridge left in the middle of the interval during the winter ; because that ridge and its two furrows contain four times as much surface as when level. This thus pulverised surface turned in, in the spring hoeing, enriches the earth in proportion to its increase of internal superficies, and likewise proportionably nourishes the plants whose roots enter it ; and that part of it wherein they do not enter, must remain more enriched for the next crop, than if the soil had remained level all the winter.
** It is a vulgar error that the winter rains do not enrich the earth, and is only thought so because we do not see the effect of them upon vegetables, for lack of heat in that season. But some farmers have frequently observed, that one half of a ground ploughed up just before winter, has produced a crop of barley as much better than the other part ploughed up at the end of winter, as is the difference of a dunging, even when there has been very little frost.
*** In very light land, perhaps, we must not hoe quite so near to the rows of wheat as in strong land, for fear the winter should lay the roots bare, and expose them too much to the cold ; but then we may be sure that in this case the roots will reach the interval at a greater distance than in strong land ; yet such very light land is not proper for wheat.
or for want of pasture, but it appears to be quite contrary, for where the hoe has gone nearest to a row, its plants thrive best ; the earth, which the frost hath pulverised, being within the reach of the young short roots, on that side of the row from the top to the bottom of the trench, nourishes then at first, and before the plants have much exhausted this, as they grow larger in the spring, the ridge from the middle of the interval is thrown to them, having a perfectly unexhausted pasture to supply their increasing bulk with more nourishment.
The row standing as it were on the brink of this almost perpendicular ditch, the water runs off quickly, or doth not enter but a very little way into this steep side ; so that the earth at the plants being dry, the frost doth not reach quite to all their roots to hurt them, though the distance from the air to the roots be very short, and dry earth doth not freeze as wet doth, neither is this ditch must exposed to the cold winds.
The spring hoeing is performed after the great frosts are passed, and when the weather will allow it ; and then turn* the ridge from** the middle of the interval to the rows on each side, by two furrows as near as can be, without covering the wheat ; in doing which have regard to the row only, without looking at the middle of the
interval ; for it is no matter if a little earth be left there, the next
* It is an errant mistake of the vulgar, when they imagine that the immediate benefit of fresh earth to plants is from that part which remains uppermost ; for it is from turning the impregnated pulverised side downwards, to be fed on by the roots, that gives the pabulum or nourishment of the fresh earth to plants, the other side being turned upwards, becomes impregnate also in a little time.
** But note, that when we see weeds coming up near the row in the spring, we plough again from the rows (and sometimes can plough within one inch of the row) before we turn down the mould from the middle of the interval.
hoeing, or the next save one,* will move it.
As to how many times wheat is to be hoed in the summer after this spring operation, it depends upon the circumstances** and condition of the land*** and weather**** ; but be the season as it will, never suffer the weeds to grow high, nor let any unmoved earth lie in the middle of the intervals long enough to grow hard ; neither plough deep near the rows in the summer, when the plants are large*****, but as deep in the middle of the intervals as the staple will allow ; turning the earth towards the wheat, especially at the last hoeing, so as to leave a deep wide trench in the middle of each interval.
* If at the next hoeing, we turn another furrow towards the row (which is seldom done) then it is the next that moves the remaining earth left in the middle of the interval ; but if the next hoeing be from the row (as it generally is) then that covers the middle of the interval, and then it is the next hoeing after that, that turns all the earth clean out of the middle of the interval toward the rows.
** If the land was not sufficiently tilled or hoed in the precedent year, it will require the more hoeings in the following year.
*** The poorer the land is, the more hoeings should it have.
**** A wet summer may prevent some of the hoeings that we should perform in a dry summer.
***** Our hoeing deep near the plants when small, breaks off only the ends of the roots ; but after the roots are spread far in the interval, the greatest part of them being then on the right-hand side of the hoe-plough, might hold fast on that side, and not be drawn out, and then the whole roots would be broken off close to the bodies of the plants ; therefore at the second deep hoeing, that turns a furrow from the row in the summer, we go about four or six inches further off from the row than the time before ; but we go nearer or further off, according to the distance of time between those two hoeings ; yet we may hoe shallow near to the plants at any time, without injury to their roots, but on the contrary, it will be advantageous to them.
We augment our wheat crops four ways ; not in number of plants, but in stalks, ears, and grains.
The first is by increasing the number of stalks from one, tow, or three, to thirty or forty to a plant, in ordinary field land.
And we augment the crop, by bringing up all the stalks into ears, which is the second way ; for if it be diligently observed, we shall find that not half* the stalks of sown wheat come into ear.
I saw an experiment of this in rows of wheat that were equally poor, one of these rows was increased** so much, as to produce more grains than ten of the other, by bringing up more of its stalks into ears, and also by augmenting its ears to a much greater bigness, which is the third way ; for whatever Varro means by saying that the ears remain fifteen days in vaginis, it is pretty plain that the ears are formed together with the stalks, and will be very large or very small, in proportion to the nourishment given them.
Like as the vines, if well nourished, bring large bunches of
grapes ; but if ill nourished, they produce few bunches, and those small ones, and many claspers are formed, which would have been bunches, if they had had sufficient nourishemnt given them at the proper time.
The last and fourth way of augmenting the produce of wheat plants, is by causing them to have large and plump grains in the ears ; and this can no way be so effectually done, as by late hoeing, especially just after the wheat is gone out of the blossom, and when such hoed grains weigh double the weight of the same number of
* If a square yard of sown wheat be market out, and the stalks thereon numbered in the spring, it will be found that nine parts in ten are missing at harvest.
** These rows were drilled a foot asunder, not hoed, and were, by the shallowness and wetness of the soil, very poor in the spring ; and then, by pouring urine to the bottom of this row, it was so vastly increased above the rest.
unhoed, (which they frequently will,) though the number of grains in the hoed are only equal, yet the hoed crop must be double.
Thus by increasing the number of stalks*, bringing more of them up into ear**, making the ears larger***, and the grain plumper and fuller of flour****, the
* The same plant that when poor sends out but two or three tillers, would, if well nourished by the hoe or otherwise, send up a multitude of tillers, as is seen in the hoed wheat and sown wheat.
** Mr. Houghton relates eighty ears on one single plant of wheat, and a greater number has been counted lately in a garden ; those eighty reckoned to have fifty grains a-piece, made an increase of four thousand grains for one : but I have never found above forty ears from a single plant in my fields ; yet there is no doubt, but that every plant would produce as many as Mr. Houghton's of the same sort, with the same nourishment. But I should not desire any to be so prolific in stalks, lest they should fail of bringing such a multitude of ears to perfection. The four hundred ears, that I numbered in a yard, were not weighed, because they we told before ripe, and the greatest weight of wheat that ever I had from a yard, was the product of about two hundred and fifty ears, and some of them were small.
*** I have numbered one hundred and nine grains in one ear of my hoed cone-wheat, of the grey sort. And one ear of my hoed Lammas-wheat has been measured to be eight inches long, which is double to those of sown wheat. I have some of these ears now by me, almost as long, the longest being given away as a rarity ; and indeed it is not every year that they grow to that length, and it is always where the plants are pretty single. But there is no year wherein one ear of my hoed does not more than weigh two of the sown ears, taking a whole sheaf of each together without choosing. The sheaves of the hoed are of a different shape from the other ; almost all the ears of the hoed are at the top of the sheaf ; but most of the other are situate at the lower part, or near the middle of the sheaf.
*** Seed cone-wheat, coming all out of the same heap, planted all at the same time, and on land of the same sort, adjoining near together, the wheat that was sown produced grains so small, and that which was drilled so very large, that no farmer or wheat buyer would believe them to be of the same sort of wheat, except those who knew it, which were many. One grain of the drilled weighed two of the sown, and there was twice the chaff in an equal weight of the sown, being both weighed before and after the wheat was separated from the chaff.
hoeing method makes a greater crop from a tenth* part of the plants, than the sowing method can.
The fact of this nobody can doubt of, who has observed the different products of strong and of weak plants, how the one exceeds the other.
Equivocus, in his Advertisement to April, quotes authors who affirm, that a single grain of Smyrna wheat produced 9792 grains ; one grain of barley 18,000, and one bean 1050 beans, but it is reckoned a very great increase, when our sown fields produce a ten-fold crop, that is, ten grains for one that is sown ; which is 9782 less than the increase of wheat by that author related.
The greatest difference of having an equal crop from a small number of strong plants, and from a great number of weak one, is that the soil is vastly less exhausted by the former than by the latter, not only from the latter's exhausting more in proportion to their number when young, and while each of them consumes as much nourishment as each of the small number ; but also from the different increase that a strong plant makes by receiving the same proportion of food with a weak one. For it appears from Dr. Woodward's experiments, that the plant which receives the lest increase carries off the greatest quantity of nourishment in proportion to that increase ; and that it is the same with an animal, all who are acquainted with fatting of swine know ; for they eat much more food daily for the first two weeks of their being put into the sty than they do afterwards when they thrive faster ; the fatter they grow, the less they eat.
Hence, I think it may be inferred, that a plant, which by never having been robbed or stunted by other plants, is strong, receives a
* But though a too great number of plants be, upon many accounts, very injurious to the crop, yet it is best to have a competent number ; which yet needs not be so exact, but that we may expect a great crop from twenty, forty, or fifty plants, in a yard of the triple row, if well managed.
much greater increase from an equal quantity of food, than a number of weak plants (as thick ones are) equalling the bulk of the single strong plant do.
And this of the doctor's have I have seen by my own observations confirmed in the field, in potatoes, turnips, wheat, and barley ; a following crop succeeds better after an equal crop consisting of a bare competent number of strong plants, than after a crop of thick weak ones, cęteris paribus.
Thus the hoed crops, if well managed, consisting of fewer and stronger plants than the sown crops of equal produce, exhaust the ground less, whereby, and by the much (I had almost said infinitely) greater pulverisation of the soil, in different good land may, for any thing I have yet seen to the contrary, produce profitable crops always without manure or change of species, if the soil be proper for it in respect of heat and moisture ; and also as crops of some species by their living longer by their greater bulk or different constitution, exhaust more than others, respect ought to be had to the degree of richness of the soil that is to produce each species.
The sowing and hoeing husbandry differ so much both in pulverisation and exhaustion, that no good argument can be drawn from the former against the latter, especially by Equivocus, whose works demonstrate him to be more ignorant of both than any author that (I believe) ever wrote of husbandry before him, and it is to be hoped that ever will after him ; the design of Equivocus in writing being only to defame, not to instruct.
All these advantages will be lost by those drillers, who do not overcome the unreasonable prejudices of the inexperienced, concerning the width of intervals.
In wide intervals we can raise a good crop, with less labour, less seed, no dung, no fallow, but not without a competent quantity of earth, which is the least expensive of any thing given to corn. The earth of a whole good acre being but about the tenth part of the
common expense ; and of indifferent land the twentieth, and such I count that of five shillings and sixpence per acre.
The crop enjoys all the earth, for betwixt the last hoeing and the harvest there remains nothing but space empty of mould, in the middle of the intervals.
In our five-feet* intervals, it is not necessary that we keep the roots from passing through all the mould, (if the wheat be of a proper sort,) for they will always leave a sufficient pasture for a succeeding crop, because it is impossible for them to come into contact with it all in one year ; but the more pasture is made by frequent hoeing the more will be left unexhausted.
It is an objection, that great part of those wide intervals must be lost because the wheat roots do not reach it ; but as we generally turn the mould towards the row, at the last hoeings, there is no part of it above two feet distant from even the middle row, and seventeen inches from either of the outside rows.
They do reach through the all the mould (as shall be proved by-and-by) and yet may leave sufficient pasture behind ; because it is impossible for them to come into contact with all the mould in one year, no more than when ten horses are put into a hundred acres of good pasture, their mouths come into contact with all the grass to eat it in one summer, though they go all over it, as the vine roots go all over the soil of a vineyard without exhausting it all ; because those roots feed only such a bare competent quality of plants, which do not overstock their pasture.
* We call them five-feet intervals, though they are but four feel ten inches broad ; these being the widest that we find are proper for wheat ; but it is not to be imagined that we can be so exact, to make our ridges or intervals to an inch. Yet we make the ridges as exact as we can width the plough, and the intervals as even as we can, by guiding the drill exactly on the middle of the top of each ridge.
The superficies of the fibrous roots of a proper number of wheat plants bear a very small proportion to the superficies of the fine parts of the pulverised earth they feed on in these intervals ; for one cubical foot of this earth may, as is shown in p. 68, have many thousand feet of internal superficies. But this is in proportion to the degree of its pulverisation ; and that degree may be such as is sufficient to maintain a competent number of wheat plants without over-exhausting the vegetable pasture, but not sufficient to maintain those, and a great stock of weeds besides, without over-exhausting it. And this was plainly seen in a field of wheat drilled on six-feet ridges, when the south ends of some of the ridges, and the north ends of others, had their partitions hand-hoed and cleansed of weeds early in the spring, the opposite ends remaining full of a small species of weeds, called crow-needles, which so exhausted the whole intervals of the weedy part of the ridges, that the next year the whole field being drilled again with wheat exactly in the middle of the last intervals, the following crop very plainly distinguished how far each ridge had its partitions made clean of those small weeds in the spring from the other end where the weeds remained till full grown. The crop of the former was twice as good as that of the latter, even where both were cleansed with weeds the next spring. This crop standing only upon that part of the mould which was furthest from the rows of the precedent crop, proves that the roots both of the wheat and weeds, did enter all the earth of the former intervals.
It was also observable, that where the partitions of two of the six-feet ridges had been in the precedent year cleansed of weeds, and those of the adjoining ridges on each side of them not cleansed, the row that was the next year planted exactly in the middle of the intervals between those two ridges, was perceivably better than either of the two rows planted in the intervals on the other side of each of them. The reason of which difference must be, that the middle of the interval that was between the two cleansed ridges
was fed on by the wheat only, and by no weeds ; but the other two intervals were fed on by the wheat on one side, and by both the wheat and the weeds on the other side of each.
There were in that same field several ridges together than had the ends of their rows of wheat ploughed out by the hoe-plough, and their other ends cleansed of weeds. This was done on purpose to see what effect a fallow would have on the next crop, which was indeed extraordinary ; for these fallowed ends of the ridges being horse-hoed in the summer, as the other ends were, and the intervals of them made into ridges, the following year produced the largest crop of all ; this crop was received in 1734.
These several different managements performed in this field, showed by the different success of the crops in each sort, what ought to be done, and which is the best sort of management.
This field, indeed, is some of my best land ; and by all the experiments I have seen on it, I do not find but that by the best management never omitted in any year, it might produce good annual crops of wheat always, without assistance of dung or fallow ; but it would be very difficult for me to get hands to do this to the greatest perfection, unless I were able constantly to attend them.
But now it being thus proved, that the mould of my widest intervals, that lies in the furthest off from the partitions, is exhausted by the roots of the small weeds that grow in the partitions, and also by the roots of the wheat of the rows ; what can be the sense of Equivocus when he affirms in pages 37 and 38 of his Essay for July, that at the distance I put my rows of wheat, I may drill over a field for five or six years running, without ever putting it in one and the same place ? But this gross error proceeds from his ignorance of the nature of roots, and of the proportion they bear to the other parts of their respective plants, imagining, with my ploughmen, that the roots of wheat extend not above two or three inches from the stalks, though the above experiment proves that the
roots both of the wheat and weeds had exhausted that part of the mould of the six-feet ridges that was the furthest off from the rows, else the wheat that was drilled where only wheat grew on each side of the precedent year's intervals, would have been no better a crop than that where grew wheat and weeds too ; neither would that wheat whose mould whereon it stood had neither wheat nor weds on either side of it the precedent year, have been the strongest of all. These intervals were four feet ten inches wide, the two partitions of the triple rows being seven inches wide each.
The whole pulverised earth of the interval being pretty equally fed on by the former crop, it is no matter in what part of it the following crop is drilled : I never drill it but on the middle of the last year's interval, because there is the trench whereon the next year's ridge is made with the greatest conveniency. But there may be some reason to suspect that the plants of the rows exhaust more nourishment from that earth of the intervals which is furthest from their bodies, than from that which is nearest to them, since their fibrous roots at the greatest distance from the roots are most numerous. By these the plants, when at the greatest bulk, are chiefly maintained.
It must be noted, that the above experiments would not have been a full proof, if the weeds had been suffered to grow in the partitions of the more exhausted ends in those ridges, in the year wherein the difference appeared.
It may also be noted, that a mixture and variety of bad husbandry are useful for a discovery of the theory and practice of good husbandry ; but it is a great misfortune that our servants are apt to show us the experiments of the bad, in greater quantities than is for our profit, for since their authority over us is become absolute, their will is our law ; and though they let us see that they can do one as well as the other when they please, we must be content with that quantity of each which they think proper to do for us ; unless we can manage our agriculture with our own proper hands, and with
the product of our land and labour maintain that class of people in idleness and luxury.
But for Equivocus to pretend to write a general system of Agriculture without any competent knowledge of roots (or which he shows himself perfectly ignorant), is as presumptuous as if he should pretend to a great mathematician and surveyor without understanding the four first rules in arithmetic.
And I have plainly proved, that the roots of cone-wheat have reached mould at two feet distance, after passing through another row, at a foot distance from it, the plants being then but eighteen inches high, and but half grown.
Farmers do not grudge to bestow three or four pounds in buying and carriage of dung for an acre ; but think themselves undone, if they afford an extraordinary eighteen penny-worth of earth to the wide intervals of an acre ; not considering that earth is not only the best, but also the cheapest, entertainment that can be given to plants. For at five shillings and sixpence rent, the whole earth belonging to each of our rows costs only sixpence, i. e. a penny for a foot broad, and six hundred and sixty feet long ; that being the sixty-sixth part of an acre*
And if for constant annual wheat crops you make fewer than eleven rows on four-perch breadth, you will always increse the expense of hoeing ; becasue then two furrows will not hoe one of those intervals, and you will also thereby lessen the crops, but improve the land more. And if you increase that number of rows, you will thereby increase every expense ; for there must be two furrows to hoe a rarrow interval, and an increase of the quantity of seed, and the labour in uncovering, weeding, and reaping, and also.
* But the vulgar compute this expense of a foot breadth of ground, not only as of the rent, as they ought, but as an eleventh part of their own usual charges added to the rent. And there is land enough in England, to be had at the rent of five shillings and sixpence the acre, that is very proper for wheat in the hoeing-husbandry.
you will less improve the land, and lesen the crops after the first year.
If the intervals are narrower in deep land, though there might be mould enough in them, yet there would not be room to pulverise it.
If narrower in shallow land, though there were room, yet there would not be mould enough in them to be pulveised.
The horse-hoe well aplied, doth suply the use of dung and fallow ; but it cannot suply the use of earth, though it can infinitely increse the vegetable pasture of it by pulverising it, where it is in a reasonable quantity ; yet if the intervals be so narrow that nearly all the earth of them goes to make the partitions raised at top of the ridges, there will be so little to be pulverised that you must return to fallowing, and to the dung car, and to all the old exorbitant charges*.
Eight acres, part of a ground of twenty acres, drilled with intervals of three feet and a half, brought a good crop ; but the second year, not being hoed, the crop was poor ; and the third crop made that land so foul and turfy, that it was forced to lie for a fallow, there being no way to bring it into tilth, without a summer ploughing¹, when the rest of the same piece, in wider intervals, being constantly hoed, continued in good tilth, and never failed to yield a good crop, without missing one year.
* The objections against these wide intervals are only for saving a penny-worth or two of earth in each row, or a few groats worth of it in an acre ; by saving of which earth they may lose, in the present and succeeding crops, more pounds.
* This narrowness of the intervals, if the damage of it be rightly computed, would amount to half the inheritance of the land ; and was occasioned by the wilfulness of my bailiff, who, drilling it upon the level, ordered the horse to be guided half a yard within the mark, because he fancied the intervals would be too wide, if he followed my directions.
In another field there is now a sixth crop of wheat, in wide intervals, very promising, though this ground has had no sort of dung to any of these crops, or in several years before them : the last year's crop was the fifth, and was the best of the five, though a yard of the row yielded by eighteen ounces and three quarters, and the third crop yielded twenty ounces weight² of clean wheat in the same spot ; but it was because the spot where the twenty grew, was then a little higher than the rest, which in two years became more equal, and the thin land was more deficient in that third crop, than the thick land exceeded the thin in the fifth crop.
In the thick the hoe-plough went deeper, and consequently raised more pasture there ; but then it went the shallower in the thin, and when the land became of a more equal depth the fifth year, the plough and hoe-plough went deeper : all the piece being taken together ; for the crop could be but in proportion to the different pasture, allowing somewhat for the more or less seasonableness of the year.
If it should be demanded from whence the soil can be supplied with vegetable matter, to answer what is carried off by these
** Wheat before harvest, standing in rows with wide intervals between them, may not seem to the eye to equal a crop of half the bigness dispersed all over the land, when sown in the common manner ; and yet there is more deceit in the appearance of those different crops, whilst they are young, and in grass ; we should therefore not judge of them then by our imagination, but as we do of the sun and moon nigh the horizon, viz., by our reason.
Imagination often deceives us, by arguments false, or precarious ; but reason leads us to demonstration, by weights and measures. Yet this prejudice will vanish at harvest before weighing ; for then all those wide intervals that were bare, will be covered with large ears interfering to hide them quite, and make a finer appearance than a sown crop. But it is observed, that the cone-wheat makes the finest show when you look on it lengthways of the rows, both at harvest, and a considerable time before harvest.
constant crops of wheat, that the land be no consumed by them, Mr. Bradley, and his correspondent, would give a very ready answer, by saying, that vegetables are nourished by air, and that the earth serves for little else than to keep them fixed and steady ; therefore the wheat receiving its augment from the air, could not consume any part of the earth ; this would be an easy, good solution, were it possible to be true.
The soil in this our case cannot be supplied in substance but from the atmosphere. The earth which the rain brings can do it alone if it fall in great quantity ; for by water it is plain the earth which nourished Helmont's tree was supplied ; for the tin cover of the box wherein it stood, prevented the dews from entering.
Dews must add very much to the land thus continually tilled and hoed ; for they are more heavily charged with terrestrial matter than rain is, which appears from their forcing a descent through the air, when it is strong enough to buoy up the clouds from falling into rain ; and dew, when kept in a vessel long enough to putrify, leaves a greater quantity of black matter at the bottom of the vessel than rain-water does in a vessel of the same bigness, filled with it until putrified.
Dews at land, I suppose are first exhaled from rivers and moist lands, and from the expirations of vegetables ; most of the dew that falls on it is re-exhaled from untilled land ; but most of that which falls on well tilled or well hoed land, remains therein unexhaled ; so that the untilled ground helps by that means to enrich and augment the tilled, contrary to that of Virgil : Nec nulla interea est inaratę gratia terrę : for if an acre be tilled two years together without sowing it will become richer by that tillage, than by lying unploughed four years, which may be easily proved by experience*
* Non igitur Fatigatione, quemadmodum plurimi cediderunt, Nec Senio, sed nostra scilicentInertia minus benigne nobis arva Rsondent. Col. Lib. 11, cap. 1.
But, then, as to rain, the sea being larger than all the land (and its waters by their motion becoming replete with terrestrial matter), it is not unlikely that more vapour is raised from one acre of sea, than from one hundred acres of land. Hence it is very probable, that islands are continually gaining from the deep, by means of rain, which that vapour (breaking against mountains) produces.
Some have been so curious as to compute the quantity of rain that falls yearly in some places in England, by a contrivance of a vessel to receive it ; and it is found in one of the driest places, far from the sea, to be fourteen inches deep, in the compass of a year ; in some places much more ; viz., at Paris, nineteen inches ; in Lancashire, Mr. Townly found, by a long continued series of observations, that there falls above forty inches of water in a year's time.
Could we as easily compute the true quantity of earth in rain water, as the quantity of water is computed, we might, perhaps find it to answer the quantity of earth taken off from our hoed soil annually by the wheat.
But if land sown with wheat be not hoed, its surface is soon incrustate, and then much of this water, with its contents, runs off, and returns to the sea, without entering that ground ; and in summer, a great deal of what remains is exhaled by the sun, and raised by the wind, both in summer and winter.
Some there are who think it a fatal objection, that the more an interval is hoed, the more weeds will grow in it ; and that the hoe can produce, or (as they say) breed in it as many weeds in one summer, as would have come thereon in ten years by the old husbandry. But by this objection they only maintain, that the hoe can destroy as many weeds in one summer, as the old husbandry can in ten years.
And they might add, that since all weeds that grow where the hoe comes, are killed before they seed, and that few of those which grow
in the old husbandry are killed* before their seed be ripe and shed ; these objectors will be forced to allow that our husbandry will lesson a stock of weeds more in one summer than theirs can do to the world's end ; unless they believe the equivocal generation of weeds, that which opinion nothing can be more absurd.
Some object against my method of weighing a yard or a perch in length of a row, saying, this does not determine the produce of a whole field.
I did not weigh this yard as different from the other yards round about it, for I had much difficulty to determine which row I should choose it in ; when I was going to cut it in one row, it still seemed that another was better, and I question whether I did choose the best at last.
is more effectual than dung. This is certain, that neither dung nor fallow has been near the part wherein my experiments were made.
I answer, that they judge right, if the produce of the whole field be not of equal goodness ; but if it be not, it must be because one part of the field is richer, or differently managed from the other part : for the same causes that produce twenty ounces of clean wheat upon one yard, must produce the same quantity upon every yard of a million of acres.
When the crop of half a field is spoiled by sheep, not hoed at all, or improperly, it would be ridiculous to compute the whole field together for an experiment. We might, indeed, weigh the poorest, to prove the difference of the one from the other, to try (as they sometimes seem to do) how poor a crop we can raise ; but my design was to try how good a crop I could raise with a tenth part of the common expense.
And I have often weighed the produce of the same quantity of ground* of all sorts of sown wheat, both the best and the worst, but never have found any of the sown equal to the best of my drilled; indeed we have none of the richest land** in our country within my reach, that being not above one mile.
* I allow two square yards of their crops to one yard in length of my triple row.
** I am sorry that this farm, whereon I have only practised horse-hoeing, being situate upon a hill that consists of chalk on one side, and heath-ground on the other, has been usually noted for the poorest and shallowest soil in the neighbourhood.
In contradiction to this description, Equivocus, in p. 31 of his Essay for July, describes it as follows : viz., " We know he author's farm, called Prosperous, is a rich soil, and lies on a flat, which retains moisture more than up-land declining ground (especially sandy or gravelly) will."
Which of these two opposite repugnant descriptions is true cannot be difficult to determine.
As a yard in length of my triple row of the third successive crop of wheat, without dung or fallow, produced twenty ounces of wheat ;
As to its lying on a flat contrary to a hill, it is both known and seen to be one of the highest farms in all that part of the county of Berks where it lies ; it may be seen at ten or twelve miles distance, and was a more remarkable eminence before the trees were blown down by that memorable storm in the year 1703.
The bulk of the land belonging to this farm is, on the south side, for near a mile in length, always called Bitham Hills, and are, for the most part, declining grounds, a sort of graciles Clivi, being all on a chalk ; in dry weather the whole staple looks of a white colour, it is full of small flints, and smaller chalk-stones : below these hills is a bottom, where are some grounds upon a chalk also, but had not then been used in hoeing, having lain with St.-Foin thirteen or fourteen years. On the west side all the land is called East Hills, being on the east of the farms to which they all formerly belonged. On the north-west side is a high field, called Cook's Hill, and is the only field of my farm that is not upon a chalk ; it is a very wet spewy soil of very little value, until I made it dry by ploughing across the descent of the hill. Every body knows that chalk is not apt to retain moisture ; and as to the richness of the soil of my farm, if Equivocus could make that out to be true, I could easily forgive all the other falsities of his description, though it is scarce possible that any thing can be more false.
This soil is all too light and shallow to produce a tolerable crop of beans.
This farm was made out of the skirts of others ; great part of the land was formerly a sheep down ; and whilst the whole was kept in the Virgilian management (usual for such land) it had the full reputation of poverty. The highest part of it used to be sown (as I have been well informed) with oats once in two or three years upon the back, and if the summer proved dry, the crop was not worth the expense of that once ploughing. The generality of farmers were then of opinion, that if this should be thoroughly tilled and pulverised, it would become so light that the wind would blow the staple away ; but the contrary happened, for it being ploughed five times instead of once, it produced good barley and other corn, and never has returned to its former degree of lightness since, and this was above fifty years ago. And now tillage and foreign grasses are come into fashion, enclosed lands, which do not rot sheep, (as not one foot of mine is wet enough or rich
which, allowing six feet to the ridge, is about six quarters* to an acre ; and allowing seven inches to each partition, and two inches on each outside, is, in all, eighteen inches of ground to each triple row, and but just one-fourth part of the ridge. Now if, in the old husbandry, the crop was as good all over the ground, as it was in these eighteen inches of the triple row, they must have twenty-four quarters to an acre ; but let them dung whilst they can, they will scarce raise twenty-four gallons of wheat the third year, on an acre of land of equal goodness ; and let them leave out the dung, and add no more tillage in lieu of it, and I believe they will not expect three quarters to an acre, in all the three years put together.
enough to do,) are become of greater value than formerly. And besides they allow that my farm is one-third better for a tenant than when I took it in hand, and yet I should be glad to let if for half the rent that rich land is let for.
Should Equivocus tell a person who never was at London, that the monument stands in Smithfield, or than London-bridge is upon Holborn-hill, it would not be more notoriously false than his description of my farm is.
And that no part of the true description of that odious crime (the plain term for which ought not to be given by or to an Englishman, except to one as vile as Equivocus) might be wanting ; he, for the collective body of his Society, pronounces in the plural number, We know, &c. So that it is not ignorantly, but wilfully committed, by endeavouring to impose upon the world, for a truth, what they know to be false, with intent to deceive.
He seems to have written his false description of my farm for no other end than to accuse me of that very crime of which he himself is, in this relation of him, indisputably guilty ; for if the nature and situation of my land had been as he says, it would have made nothing for his purpose in any other respect.
That Society, by publishing this and many other notorious falsities, seems fond of being publicly known to be infamous authors of no veracity, and not to be credited by any body who is not willing to be deceived ; but pity it is their particular members should lose their merited renown, for want of a proper list of names and additions.
* Eight bushels make a quarter.
The mean price of wheat, between dear and cheap, is reckoned five shillings a bushel ; and therefore an acre that would produce every year, without any expense, eight bushels, would be thought an extraordinary profitable acre ; but yet a drilled acre, that produces sixteen bushels of wheat, with the expense of ten or fifteen shillings, is above a third part more profitable.
I do not know that I ever had an acre yet, that was tolerably well managed in this manner, but what produced much more.
That which is ill done, I reckon as not done : want of skill and want of will are much the same thing. My agriculture having been carried on by common day-labourers without anybody to inspect them (except when my diseases suffered me to attend them, which for several years last past has been very seldom), cannot be expected to be all well managed, for though they can do it well when they please, yet their will being above control, I must be content with their doing some tolerably well every year.
* It is commonly said, that a farmer cannot thrive, who, for want of money is obliged to sell his wheat under five shillings a bushel ; but if he will sell it dear, he must keep it when it is cheap : and his way of keeping it is in the straw, using his best contrivances to preserve it from the mice.
The most secure way of keeping a great quantity of wheat, that ever I heard of, is by drying it. When I lived in Oxfordshire, one of my nearest neighbours was very expert in this, having practised it for great part of his life. When wheat was under three shillings a bushel, he bought in the markets as much of the middle sort of wheat as his money would reach to purchase. He has often told me, that his method was to dry it upon a hair-cloth in a malt-kiln, with no other fuel than clean wheat-straw, never suffering it to have andy stronger heat than that of the sun. The longest time he ever let it remain in this heat was twelve hours, and the shortest time about four hours ; the damper the wheat was, and the longer intended to be kept, the more drying it requires ; but how to distinguish nicely the degree of dampness, and the number of hours proper for its continuance upon the kiln, he said was an art impossible to be learned by any other means than by practice.
But perhaps it may be asked why I do not carry on my new husbandry by house servants ? This indeed might be a proper question in other countries, but is not here ; for husbandry servants of all sorts have now attained to such a thorough knowledge of their own arbitrary power given them over their masters by our statues, (which are new laws,) and the judgments thereupon, that I would not keep ploughmen in my house, though it were to get a new farm yearly ; especially since the famous judgment given publicly by some country magistrates, that encourages the most disorderly servants against fear of punishment for the most enormous crimes they can commit against their masters (those strictly capital only excepted, which are triable before the king's judges and a jury). It is not proper for me to report this case, in regard to the respect I bear to all magistrates, and to those four (which were the number) in particular. Nor will I believe there was either party or prejudice in it, whatever may have been my many of the hearers on that trial insinuated.
For my own part, I always chose to suffer under my labourers, and house-servants too, when I formerly kept them, rather than to suffer more by complaining, as I apprehended my neighbours generally did ; and therefore no magistrate ever had any trouble upon my account.
About three or four and twenty years ago, wheat being at twelve shillings a bushel, he had in his granaries, as I was informed, five thousand quarters of dried wheat, none of which cost him above three shillings a bushel.
This dried wheat was esteemed, by the London bakers, to work better than any new wheat that the market afforded. His speculation which put him upon this project was, that it was only the superfluous moisture of the grain that caused its corruption, and made it liable to be eaten by the weevil ; and that when this moisture was dried out, it might be kept sweet and good for many years ; and that the effect of all heat of the same degree was the same, whether of the straw or of the sun.
Besides, my diseases now prevent my complaining, though I should have hopes of redress, and will not permit me to travel so far as to the nearest magistrate ; and he who sends one servant to complain of another, is likely to make but little of his cause : or what adequate satisfaction can be had for the greatest damage done to the master by the servant, who takes care, by spending all his exorbitant wages, as most of them do, not to be worth a farthing ?
There are also other objections, peculiar to my case, against house-servants. One is, that they have made it a custom to leave their service whenever they please, which is commonly at the spring of the year, when they are by farmers reckoned not to have earned more than their diet ; for then they must have half a year's wages from Michaelmas, and afterwards they can, in another service, have almost a whole year's wages for the remaining summer half year ; if you will not consent to let them go, and comply with such terms, they will make them much worse by spoiling or killing your cattle, or by other private devices, in which they are better skilled than in their proper business.
But this is only a misfortune common to all English agriculture ; but what is peculiar to my scheme is, that when servants go away, I must be continually teaching new ones, when I can find them, both which my confinement and want of health make difficult.
This objection is not quite so strong against day labourers, because they are paid by the week, and being settled, married men, have not so much choice of services as the single, unsettled have.
Upon these accounts the day-men do not impose so hard terms as the other. When I have taught them my scheme, they will continue to work for me as long as my service is more beneficial to them than
As a proof, he would show that every grain of his wheat would grow after being kept seven years.
He was a most sincere, honest yeoman, who, from a small substance he began with, left behind him about forty thousand pounds, the greatest part whereof was acquired by this drying method.
any other they can get ; and as long as I will forbear to find much fault with what they do, or at least forbear to speak to them of their faults otherwise than in a very humble, persuasive manner ; with these terms I would gladly comply, if it were only to purchase that peace and quiet which are necessary to my infirmities, and incompatible with keeping ploughmen in my house.
This precarious condition we are in as to hands, under the present regulation, is very discouraging to every new scheme that requires labour ; but the thing that is most detrimental to perpetual crops of wheat, is the deceit and idleness of the weeders, that are necessary to cleanse the partitions and rows from weeds, by hoes, or hands, or both, especially after they have been a year or two neglected, their shattered seed, in that case, overstocking the ground. These weeders are the same sort of people that Mr. Duck describes as hay-makers, their tongues are much nimbler than their hands ; and unless the owner, or some person who faithfully represents him, and is hard to be found, works constantly amongst them, they will get their heads together half -a-dozen in a cluster, regarding their prattle more than the weeds ; great part of their time they spend in play, except a few of them who bring their own work with them, some their sewing, some their knitting, and these must be paid for doing their own work upon my land. This wrong I have seen done both to myself and my neighbours ; and it has put me upon endeavouring to find a way of disappointing the weeders, viz., by planting wheat sometimes upon a fallow without dung for one crop only ; and this is done in the following manner : - After a crop of barley sown upon the level, or broad cast, had immediately succeeded several successive horse-hoed crops of wheat, this barley stubble was fallowed in the spring, tilled in the summer, and after St. Michael ploughed up into ridges of different sizes, none under four feet, nor any above five feet ; then drilled with white cone-wheat in triple rows, by my nusual umber of wheat drill, having
its marking-wheels set nearer together according to the different sizes of the ridges. The partitions not being infested with weeds, no weeders were employed thereon, but the intervals were horse-hoed. The crop of wheat was good, it appeared like a sown crop in thickness at top before it was reaped, except that the ears were much larger, and there were few under ears. It was indeed on some of my best land, but has had no dung or manure since the year 1720, and this crop was in the year 1734.
By this means the weeders being convinced that it was possible for me to make a shift to go on with my hoeing scheme without employing them, they are brought now to better terms, viz., to hoe the two partitions of the triple row, and also all the earth that is left by the hoe-plough on each side of the row, and to cleanse all the row from weeds ; for all this work they agree for the price of a penny a score, i. e. twenty perch in the length of a row, which in the six-feet ridges amounts to one shilling and ten pence per acre. At this price they earn almost double the common wages ; and yet, if they work by the day, it will cost me double of this price to have it worse done ; so great a difference there is between their working for me, and working for themselves. The weeders generally are women and boys, and even these sometimes earn men's wages, so that I have plenty of them, and choice ; for they make an interest to be employed. It is only necessary for me to take care that they do their work well, and to oblige them in the bargain to amend what they do amiss ; and for that end, the rows that each person or company undertake are separately known. I given them the same price for oats and barley as for wheat, and the same for double rows as for triple ; because as the former are less troublesome they hoe them the deeper.
They use for this work hoes of hour inches' breadth, very thin and well steeled ; their thinness keeps them from wearing to a thick edge, and prevents the necessity of often grinding them. Such hoes are in use with some gardeners near London. They need not be
afraid of drawing these little hoes across the rows of young wheat to take out the few weeds that come therein at the early hoeing ; for whilst the wheat-plants are small it may be an advantage to cut out some of the weakest, as they do of turnips ;f or I perceive there are oftener too many plants than too few. But the thing that causes the greatest trouble in cleansing the rows, is when the seed is foul, (i. e. full of seeds of weeds,) therefore I cleanse my seed-wheat by drawing it on a cloth on a table, which makes it perfectly clean.
This hand-hoeing should be performed about the end of March or beginning of April, before the wheat is spinldled (i. e. run up to stalks), and if the weather be dry enough, you may go lengthways of the ridges with a very light roller to break the clods of the partitions, whereby the hoe will work the better.
If there should afterwards more weeds come up, they must not be suffered to ripen ; and then the soil will be every year freer from weeds.
This hand-hoeing of the rows should be done at the proper time, though it happen, by late planting, that the horse-hoe has not gone before it ; for it may be, that the weather has kept out the horse-
hoe ; and the earth may not be dry deep enough in the intervals for the hoe-plough, but deep enough in the partitions for the hand-hoe.
And the expense of this hand-work on he rows would be well answered, though there should not be one weed in them ; and so it would be, if a second hand-hoeing were bestowed on the partitions of every crop of wheat not suspected of being too luxuriant.
If after the last horse-hoeing there should be occasion for another hoeing of the intervals, where the narrowness of them, and the leaning of tall wheat make it difficult or dangerous to be performed by the hoe-plough, a slight shallow hoeing may be performed therein by the hand-hoe with ease and safety, at a very small expense, which would be more than doubly repaid in the following crops.