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. IN rut
CULTURE OF VEGETABLES.
Society for the Encouragement of Arts^ Manufactures, and Commercey Adelphi, London, 1808.
TlIE Gold Medal of the Society was this Session voted to J0hn Christian Curwen, Esq. M. P. of Workington-Hall, Cumberland, for his Improvements in the Culture of Vegetables. The following Communications were received from him.
I am fearful you should suppose that I am become indolent, and that the favours so .liberally bestowed oil me by the Society, had ceased1to operate as a stimulus to the further exertions of my humble endeavours to assist those objects which, by the fostering hand of the Society, have been so essentially promoted. You will excuse me for wishing to assure you that I am not idle, and to inform you that the objects which at present employ me are, I conceive, of great importance to agriculture.
The first is by experiments to ascertain the best and most productive mode of applying manure. The lecond is to determine whether the distances between
the the stitches in drill husbandry may not be greatly enlarged, without any diminution of crop.
I am strongly inclined to believe that where the ground is laid dry, that manure Can scarcely be deposited too deep; by so doing the evaporation is retarded, and consequently the manure continues for a greater length of time to furnisji nourishment t& the crop.
The increase of the distances between the stitches^ permits the power of continuing the operations of turning up the soil to a more extended period, which not only improves the tilth, but furnishes a greater* degree of moisture by exhalation, than can be yielded from ground in that state of hardness it soon required when undisturbed in summer. This evaporation & prodigious, though not perceptible to the eye: it is, however, fully demonstrated by a very ingenious experiment of the Bishop of LlandafF; and I am anxiously expected to form such conclusions from trials I am engaged in respecting its effects on vegetation, as may deserve the consideration of the Society.
My former objects of feeding cattle with potatoes, supplying milk to the poor, &c. are pursued with increased success. The use of potatoes as a food" for horses and cattle increases daily. I am, dear Sir, Your faithful and Obedient Servant, J.-CJCURWE&
ltdetsOn's Hotel, . London, April list, I807.
To Charges Tayikw, M. IX Sec.
Jdear . Sir,
It is with great satisfaction that I have the honor of again submitting the result of jny farming operations |o the consideration of the Society of Arts. Deeply impressed with a sense of the many favors conferred upon me by them, I have found myself impelled, both by gratitude and inclination, to proceed with redoubled exertion, as the best return in my power.
The liberal patronage and encouragement bestowed pn agriculture by the Society, has powerfully contributed to awaken the country to a just estimation of Its importance, as the basis of individual happiness and national prosperity; and at this moment the empire owes its preservation and security to it.
I submit with great deference the result of my recent operations. I am disposed to flatter myself that they may lead to important consequences and discoveries, highly beneficial to agriculture. The experiments I have made tend to establish the double Advantage of well cleaning and working the ground. First, as it frees the land from weeds; and secondly, as it conduces to the growth of the crop. It affords likewise a very strong demonstration in favour of using manure in its freshest state, by which not only the great usual expense of making dunghills will bt (saved, but the manure made to extend to the improvement of a third more land.
Most of the farm J occupy was in that state of foulness as to reguire, according to general practice and opinion, a succession of fallows to clean it. Be
ing unwilling to adopt a system which is attended with such loss, I determined to attempt to clean a part of it by green crops, and for such purpose to allow a much greater distance between the stitches than had ever been in practice. My first experiment on this plan was; made on a crop of cabbages; they were planted in a quincunx form, allowing four feet and a half between each plant, in order to allow room for the plough to work in all directions. I adopted this plan of field husbandry, as affording the greatest facility in cleaning the crop, though 1 believe it never was before practised. Two thousand three hundred and fifty plants were set per acre (eight thousand is not unusual in the common method,) and each plant had, by computation, an allowance of a 'stone of manure, or less than fourteen tons per acre; though the common quantity is generally from thirty to forty tons per acre. The manure was deposited as deep as the plough could penetrate, drawn by four horses, and the plant set directly above it;
The plough and harrow constructed to work betwixt the rows, were constantly employed during the summer, and the ground was as completely freed from weeds as it could have been by a naked fallow. The very surprising weight of my crop, which in October «?as thirry.five tons and a half per acre, and many of the cabbages fifty-five pounds each, were matters of surprise to all whp saw them, as Well as to me, and 1 could assign no satisfactory Reason tor the fact. The quality of the land was very indifferent, being a poor cold clay,—the manure was very deficient of the usual
quantity,—the plants when set by no means good,— in short there was nothing to justify the expectation of even a tolerable crop. I did not find any thing in the accounts from cultivators of cabbages to afford me a solution of my difficulties, or any clue to explain it. By mere accident I met with the Bishop of Landaff's experiment ascertaining the great evaporation from the earth, as related in his admirable Treatise on Chymistry; singular as it may appear, this very interesting experiment had remained for thirty years without any practical inferences being drawn from it applicable to agriculture. It appeared to m,e .highly probable, that the rapid advance in growth made after the hoeing of drilled grain, was attributable to the absorption of the evaporation produced from the earth, and was the cause of the growth of my cabbages. jWith great impatience and anxiety, as I had the honour to inform you last year, I looked forward to the ensuing season to afford me an opportunity of continuing my experiment. I had long been a strenuous advocate for deep burying of manure, though my sentiments rested chiefly on opinion; this appeared to open a field for incontestable proofs of its advantage. My cabbages were last year planted on the same plan as the former year. Fortunately I extended the same principle to rhy potatoes, which I was obliged to set on wet strong ground, from want of a choice of land. My annual quantity of potatoe ground is from sixty to seventy acres. They were set in beds three feet long and two feet broad, leaving Tour feet and a half between each bed lengthways,