XII. CULTIVATED CROPS - ROOT CROPS (cont.)
This root has been steadily rising in estimation of late years. It is peculiarly adapted for those southern parts of England where the climate is too hot and dry for the successful cultivation of the turnip. A competent authority declares that it is there easier to obtain 30 tons of mangold than 20 tons of Swedes, and that it is not at all unusual to find individual roots upwards of 20 lb in weight. In Scotland it is just the reverse, it being comparatively easy to grow a good crop of Swedes, but very difficult to obtain 20 tons of mangold. This plant is very susceptible of injury from frost, and hence in the short summer of Scotland it can neither be sown so early nor left in the ground so late as would be requisite for its mature growth. These difficulties may possibly b got over either by the selection of hardier varieties or by more skilful cultivation. Its feeding quality is said to be nearly equal to that of the swede; it is much relished by live stock-pigs especially doing remarkably well upon it; and it has the very important property of keeping in good condition till mid-summer if required. Indeed, it is only after it has been some months in the store heap that it becomes a palatable and safe food for cattle. It is moreover, exempt from the attacks of the turnip beetle. On all these accounts, therefore, it is peculiarly valuable in those parts of Great Britain where the summer is usually hot and dry-conditions of climate which are favourable to the mangold and peculiarly unfavourable to the turnip.
Up to the act of depositing the seed, the processes of preparation for mangold are identical with those described for the turnip; winter dunging being even more appropriate for the former than for the latter. The ridgelets being formed 28 inches apart, and charged with a liberal allowance of dung and guano, the seeds are deposited along the top, at the rate of about 4 lb per acre. The common drilling machines are easily fitted for sowing its large rough seeds, which should be sown from the 10th to the 25th April. The after culture is also identical with that of the turnip. The plants are thinned out at distances of not less than 15 inches apart. Transplanting can be used for filling up of gaps with more certainty of success than in the case of Swedes. But we find it much more economical to avoid such gaps by sowing a little swede seed along with the mangold. Several varieties of the plant re cultivated-those in best repute being the orange globe, the long yellow and the long red. This crop requires a heavier dressing of manure than the turnip to grow it in perfection, and is much benefited by having salt mixed with the manure at the rate of 2 or 3 cwt. per acre. The crop requires to be secured in store heaps as early in autumn as possible, as it is easily injured by frost. The following graphic description of this process is by Mr Morton of Whitfield:-
"The mode of harvesting our root crop which we have adopted for several years is this: We let the lifting, cutting off the leaves and the roots, and putting the roots into the cart-at so much per acre, according to the weight of the crop-to one man, who gets other men to join with him in the work and share in the profits; and the arrangement I require to be adopted is, that the one-horse carts, which I employ to haul the roots, shall be constantly employed, and I require from 16 to 20 loads or tons of roots to be filled hourly. The number of carts required is according to the distance of the field from the store; thus the distance from the middle of the field to the store being 15 chains, four carts are required; 22 chains require five carts; and 30 chains require seven carts.
"The mode of lifting the roots.-Five men are employed to pull up the roots; each man pulls up two rows; standing between the rows, he takes with his left hand a root from the row on his left side, and with his right hand a root from the row on his right side, and pulling both up at the same time, places them side by side, across the row where he pulled up the roots with his right had, so as to have the tops lying in the space between the two rows he has pulled up; the next man takes the two rows at the right hand of the last two rows we have just described, and he, with each of his hands, pulls up a row, and places them on the line of the row which he has pulled up with his left hand, with the root end lying towards the root end of the fist row, so that we have now four rows of roots lying close together in two rows, side by side, with their leaves on the outside of each of these rows, and the roots of each row nearly touching each other; and every four rows, when growing, are thus, when pulled, laid in two rows, root to root, occupying not more than 27 inches. Now, as the next four rows are lifted in the same way, and placed in like manner, we have a space unoccupied of three times 27 inches, or 6 feet 9 inches between each double row of roots, for the cart to go between them (viz., this double row of bulbs after they have had the leaves and roots cut off), to carry off the bulbs to the store. After the five men who are pulling the roots there follow ten women or boys, with knives made of pieces of old scythes, who, with repeated blows, cut off the leaves and roots without ever moving one of them with their hands; this is constant but not hard work, and it requires ten active women or boys to keep up with the five men pulling.
"Immediately on the heels of the cutters follow the carts between the two double rows of bulbs as they lie, having their leaves and roots cut off; and a man, one of the principals of the gang, and nine young active boys and girls, throw up the bulbs as fast as they can into the cart, the man speaking to the horse to move forward or stop as they clear the ground; when one cart is full, an empty one has been brought by one of the boys who drive the carts, and placed immediately behind the full one; so that, as he moves off with the full cart, the man calls the horse with the empty cart to move forward, and they proceed to throw the roots into the cart as fast as they did into the one that has just gone off the field.
"The pulling of the roots and the filling of the carts being the principal work, one of the leaders is in each of these departments of the work; so that, by his example, he shows those with him how he wishes them to work, and thus the work proceeds with the utmost regularity and dispatch; 20 cart-loads are hourly filled in the fields and delivered in the store; 180 to 182 loads of 22 cwt. and 23 cwt. each in a day of nine hours; thus a cart-load is filled every three minutes by 10 pairs of hands, which are pulled by five pairs of hands, and the leaves and roots cut off by 10 pairs of hands-in all 25 pairs of hands, men, women, and boys. This has been repeatedly done in a day.
"The stores are made of posts and rails, enclosing a space 9 feet apart and 4 _ feet high, and off any length, if the space will admit, and as near to where they are to be consumed as possible. The posts are 5 feet apart, let into the ground 18 inches, and 4 _ feet above, with five rails above, 4 or 5 inches wide, nailed to the inside of the posts; and each of these stores is 3 feet apart. I have 14 of them about 70 feet long each, which is sufficient to store from 1000 to 1200 tons of bulbs.
The heaps are carefully thatched, and the spaces betwixt them filled with straw to keep out frost.
It is believed that in many cases crops of turnip and mangold could be more cheaply stored by means of the portable railway than by carts, and with less injury to the land. This is especially the case with clay soils and in wet seasons. In using it, eight drills of roots are trimmed and laid in two rows, as Mr Morton describes; the rails are shifted between the pairs of rows in succession; and the roots are pitched into light trucks, which a man pushes before him to the headland, where the contents are discharged by tipping. Being here heaped up and thatched, the roots are carted to the homestead as required.
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