[ocr errors]

ing, and rolling; and many paying no attention at all to any of these things, either in their meadows or their pastures. Some again there are, who think they cannot overdo it, and therefore on indiscriminately, 40, 50, and even 60 large cart loads of the best and most rotten dung to the acre, upon cool, old, meadows. Such was the case in the parish of Albury, where one gentleman dressed a piece of meadow ground in the winter of 1802, with 40 large loads of rich spit dung equal perhaps to between 50 and 60 cubical loads, when half the quantity repeated at a proper interval, say the third year, would have been of more permanent benefit to the field, and been after each dressing, more productive of good hay. At Petersham, Wandsworth, Battersea, Dulwich, and Streatham, I observed similar errors, and this under a mistaken notion of making the fields for ever, or, as some expressed it, that they would not want dressing again for one while. Probably in this idea they might be also mistaken, for if the soil was near the gravel so as to cause it to burn, and the succeeding summer should prove hot and dry, this superabundant quantity of dung would rather tend to destroy the herbage altogether, in the same manner as an overdose of otherwise salutary beverage would tend to destroy the constitution; why then, if a little will be sufficient to encourage the growth of plants, are we so covetous as to force them to a premature vegetation, and thereby become, as it were, involuntary instruments in shortening their existence ?

In many of the upland grounds in the county, and in the parks in several parts of it, that have

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

perhaps been for a series of years depastured by sheep, cows, horses, or deer, I could not help remarking the extreme poverty of the major part of them. Sometimes, indeed, the ant or mole hills, the black thorn, the bramble and brier, are removed from the interior as well as close to the fence or hedge, and all is left smooth; but the grass is generally so choaked up with moss and bent, matted and interwoven together, as greatly to reduce its value, and were it left to grow for hay would not yield half a load per acre. I have been told very frequently in the course of this survey, that such grass is always sweeter for cattle, and makes mutton so much the finer flavoured. I will, for the sake of argument, admit that to be the case, but is there no difference in point of value to a proprietor, whether one or two acres will suffice to fat an ox or a sheep, or whether it must require six or eight acres, or, indeed, whether


number will fat him or them at all? I apprehend, it requires no extraordinary capacity to answer such a question. But if I am asked how such land is to be brought about so as to effect such a purpose, my answer is, by stating what has been done in similar cases, and leaving the party at liberty to adopt it or not as he pleases,

Those who are best skilled in this part of husbandry, dress their meadows or pastures every other year, at least where the scythe goes over ; but where they have a good bottom upon a kind, moist, loam, every third year is thought sufficient. No doubt the rich particles of the dung spread upon the surface is filtrated through it, and carried down into the earth by rain, or by the melting

of the snow when the dung is laid on in the autumn; but very many of those particles are lost by evaporation by the heat of the sun, and consequently never reach the roots at all. From the consideration of the great waste, and otherwise loss of so important a manure, arose the plan which I shall now submit.

DRESSING.—Early in November when the surface of the soil has been moistened by autumnal rain, a scarificator is put into the field, the tines of which are made sharp in front, and kept so every day, set about six or eight inches asunder, according to the quality and condition of the sward. This instrument may be drawn by one or two horses, having a wheel or foot in front to raise up or let the instrument deeper into the ground. With this the turf is cut asunder, and leaves a scratch of about an inch wide on the surface; the depth is regulated by the thickness of the sward, and the lowness of the roots, but five or six inches is in general the depth. This operation not only tears up a great deal of moss, separates the hide bound (if I may use the expression) coarse grasses, cutting the extreme'roots of them, which hereafter shoot out anew, having been nourished by the dung that is to follow, and the air and rains during the winter.

The dung being previously prepared, and undergone its regular fermentation and arrived at a state of perfect putrefaction, must be brought on directly, and as fast as brought must be spread, care being had that the spreader reduces the lumps as small as possible. After that is done, the work is rendered complete for the present by giving it a

[ocr errors]

good bush-harrowing made of strong black and white thorns. By this method of infusing the valuable particles of the dung to the roots of the plants, it must be evident to every one, that onethird less dung will do more real good than can be conceived, and than perhaps three times the quantity in the usual way. Hence arises a cheap and certain way of improving a large quantity of upland pasture, which at present is little more than barren. Whatever moss or rubbish the scarificator may tear up and collect, should be carefully removed to some dung heap to be hereafter mixed with it, because if it is left



in heaps it will soon destroy it.

To render the plan still more beneficial, before this bush-harrowing takes place, a few pounds of white clover, with some marl grass or cow-clover, according to the quality of the soil, should be evenly sown over the ground; the harrowing following after, and the rains together would force in the seed, and giving it another bush-harrowing and a complete rolling, either in the month of March or April following, as may be most favourable, I should not be afraid to risk my existence upon the apparent and substantial permanent improvement of the pasture.

PREPARATION.-When land has been improperly laid down, or from great neglect is become poor, foul, and barren, there is no possible mode of recovering it than by ploughing it up, well cleaning, taking a certain number of white and green crops alternately off from it, and laying it down again clean, sweet, and in good heart, without any corn crop with it, and with proper seeds. Nothing way of the

surely can be so ridiculous as to see land that is in: tended to be laid down into permanent pasture, with the seeds sown amidst a crop of corn, and that often oats, and for no other reason that I have ever heard, than that the corn shelters and nourishes the young and tender grasses.

That it nourishes them is false, for nothing can be more clear than that they rob the grass of that nourishment which is intended for the grass solely; so far from being of any use in this respect, every corn that grows is in the of the grass, and let me then ask, if that be the case, whether any one of those plants, be it wheat, barley, or oats, could exist without that very nourishment, which, if they were not there, the grass would necessarily have? But I may be told that what is food for corn, is not food for grass, and therefore no injury is done, because they will each of them draw their own proper food and no other. What proof have we that such is the fact when applied to plants in the earth? Have we not, on the contrary, the strongest reason to believe, as well from the evidence of our senses as from the knowledge we have acquired by chemistry, as to the component parts of every soil, that the soil which will nourish the one will do the same by the other ? But if it should prove otherwise, it can only be partially so: and a little more sand, chalk, or clay, in the one soil than in the other is all the difference that can be made in the quality of it.

Far different will be the case as to the nominal advantage of shelter, for it is not only nominal but highly injurious, as I hope to be able to prove.

When grass seeds are sown among corn for the

« ForrigeFortsett »