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red clover seed. It is not so valuable as a fertilizing crop as red clover: its root and its mode of growth are different. The alsike is a perennial, like red clover. Both are shortlived perennials. You can keep red clover three or four years, and the alsike four or five years, on good soils. If you sow it on a dry and exposed knoll, and allow your cattle to feed it too close, you will not see any thing of it the next year; but, when it is sown on soil fairly well suited to it, I think
you can depend upon a good return from the alsike for four five
at least. It is more like our white clover than red clover in its growth and blossom, and must be regarded as one of the valuable additions to our forage crops. I should not want to seed down with orchard-grass, meadow-fescue, and other early grasses and red clover, without putting in some of the alsike also. If I were going to sow red clover alone, I should sow twelve or fifteen pounds of seed; but I should prefer to have eight or ten pounds of red clover and five pounds of alsike, than to have fifteen pounds of red clover. It is rather finer, rather more slender in its mode of growth; but it is very sweet and nutritious, and the cattle like it very much.
The orchard - grass has many good qualities, both as a grass to cut for hay and as a pasture-grass. It is rather coarse, if sown thin. It must be cut early, or you lose a great deal of its value. It will usually blossom about the middle of June, and ought to be cut at that time. Some complain that it does not hold in the soil as well as some other grasses; but this depends upon the quality of the land, and whether it is well adapted to it or not. It has the quality of starting earlier, after being cut or grazed off by cattle, than most of our other grasses. It is apt to grow in clusters; but this can be avoided, to a very great extent, by good cultivation of the land, and by sowing it thickly. It requires to be sown thickly,
– two or three bushels of seed to the acre, if sown alone; but a liberal mixture of other species will give a better result. The meadow-fescue is a common grass with us; and the seed can now be got in our markets at a very reasonable price, as can all of the other grasses to which I have referred. At the time when my Fourth Report was made, it was not possible to get, in our markets, a great many of the species to which I alluded; but I am very glad to say that the best
seedsmen in Boston are now well provided with most of these different seeds, which they sell at reasonable prices; and the farmer need not hesitate, therefore, to provide himself with this larger number of species on the ground that the seed is
extravagantly high. You can buy meadow-fescue at thirty cents a quart; you can buy perennial rye-grass at fifteen cents a quart. It is lower than Timothy, red-top, or orchard-grass; and the tall oat-grass is quoted at about twenty cents a quart.
The June grass, as it is commonly called with us, or Kentucky blue grass, as it is called at the West, must be regarded as one of the best pasture-grasses known. It is common all over the northern part of the country, growing indigenously
in all limestone countries lying between the thirty-fourth and the forty-fifth parallels, and coming to its highest perfection upon the rich, marly blue limestone soils of some of the central counties of Kentucky. It is said to have been found
growing there when the region was first discovered, constituting a natural pasturage that attracted vast numbers of grazing wild animals, countless herds of buffalo, elk, deer, antelopes, &c.
This grass is not so well adapted to a short rotation, and is, therefore, less suited to our mowing-lots, from the fact that it requires three or four years to become well set so as to form a close sward. This habit of growth is less objectionable as
a permanent pasture. When a soil is once well sodded with this
grass, it will endure the vicissitudes of the seasons heat and cold, sunshine and shade, droughts and floods — with wonderful persistency. It is the source of wealth in sections adapted to it; and there are pastures of it fifty years of age still luxuriant and profitable. It throws up flower-stalks but once in the season; but it starts quickly after grazing, and forms a thick green growth.
Of the late grasses, there is no better, on the whole, for land that is adapted to it, than Timothy; but if it is allowed to stand too long, as every farmer knows, it becomes hard and woody. I think we have made a mistake in allowing it to stand too long. I know very well that we cut earlier now than we did twenty years ago: we have gained, on the average, fully a fortnight over and above what was the universal practice and custom twenty years ago, and perhaps a little more than that. But where the whole farm, or the larger part of the area of the farm, is stocked with these late grasses, if you wait until the Timothy and red-top are in blossom, before you get through, a considerable part of the grasses will have become too old. The sweet juices of the grasses the sugar, gum, and other elements which add to their nutritious qualities — rapidly change in the process of ripening after the blossom is formed; or rather these elements are stored up in the seed. Unless they are cut at the proper time, the grasses very soon become hard, woody, and comparatively indigestible.
In seeding down land for pasture, the object is to have a continuous growth throughout the season. Early and late grasses are wanted; and the largest number of varieties will, other things being equal, give the best results. There is no objection to the use of any kind of grass-seed; and, with the greatest variety, the prospect of getting a close and firm-set turf is greatly increased. The English farmers are ahead of us in this respect. They seek and use all the varieties they can find, apparently, and take infinite pains to secure the best results. In order to learn of the best and most recent improvements in their practice in seeding down for pasture, a circular was sent, not long ago, to the best grass-growers in different parts of the kingdom, to ascertain their opinions, and the following mixtures are some of their returns.