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THE CULTIVATION OF THE HUCKLEBERRY. WHILE Continued efforts are made to improve the strawberry by cultivation and by new seedlings, but few have given any attention to the huckleberry, which, though not quite so easily cultivated as the strawberry, yet, no doubt, can be greatly improved. The low-bush black huckleberry bears cultivation well, and will produce much larger fruit than when grown in its natural state, but the high-bush blueberry does not take kindly to cultivation in the open field. The ground must be heavily mulched, or the bushes must be set so near together as to shut out the sun from the surface of the ground, or the bushes may be set in the shade of trees. Thus cultivated, the fruit may be improved. In setting a blueberry plantation, select the very best variety that can be found. While the fruit is on the bush mark it, so that scions may be cut from it the following spring and set in the bushes which are to form the new plantation; they will live as well as apple-tree scions, if set the last of April. By this method very good fruit can be obtained; but, no doubt, by continued efforts, seedlings from grafted fruit can be produced, which will be still better. It may be said, that as it is difficult to get seedlings from the natural fruit, it will be impossible to get them from grafted fruit, but the writer has succeeded in getting a seedling from grafted fruit. Others, if they try, may do the same, and perhaps succeed in securing a variety of better quality than any we now have.
A few bushes set in a shady corner of the garden may be made to produce all the fruit the family will need, providing the birds are shut out. To do this, set the bushes in a square, then build a frame around them and cover with a twine net. The fruit will be larger and better if, instead of stirring the soil by cultivation, the ground be covered several inches in depth with leaves or coarse hay. When grown on high, warm land, it is an improvement to cover the ground several inches in depth with swamp muck. Very good fruit can be grown, even on high land, if it is shaded and heavily mulched.
THE CURRANT WORM.
As soon as the young leaf appears, the currant worm begins his destructive work, and if permitted to have his own way will by the end of June destroy every leaf on the bushes; but if taken in season the worms are easily destroyed. A close watch should be kept on the bushes as soon as the buds open; the first leaves that appear will be very near the ground, in the centre of the bush; it is on these first leaves that the eggs are laid and the young worm first appears. As soon as it is found that the eggs are all hatched, dust on a very small amount of hellebore. This will be sure death to all the worms that are hatched. Sometimes another batch of eggs are laid two or three weeks later; these should be looked after and killed the same as the first. If the work be properly done, there will be no more worms during the season; but if carelessly done, so that a part of the worms escape, there will be a second crop one or two weeks before the fruit begins to ripen; this crop is more difficult to kill, because the worms are scattered over the bushes. Shower the bushes with water in which a teaspoonful of hellebore has been mixed with each two gallons.
AN important decision was recently made in an English court by Lord Chief Justice Coleridge and Justice Hawkins, on the legality of dishorning cattle. The case came up before them by way of an appeal from the decision of the Norfolk magistrates at the Blotfield Petty Sessions. Mr. Wiley, a Norfolk farmer,. had been summoned for having unlawfully and cruelly tortured thirty-two bullocks by dishorning them. The question was met by a decided negative by the judges to whom it was referred.
The operation of dishorning as it is ordinarily practised, and as it was practised on Mr. Wiley's farm, was pronounced by Lord Coleridge as detestably brutal, and by Justice Hawkins as a revolting operation, so torturing that he shuddered to think that men could be found to perform it.
WHILE large numbers of intelligent farmers are making investigations to ascertain what food is the cheapest and best adapted to the wants of each class of animals, but comparatively little is done by the common farmer to ascertain the cheapest and best methods of feeding the different classes of plants.
The Indians fed their corn with little fishes fresh from the ocean, and as this was the best they had, no doubt they thought it was good enough. Our ancestors fed their crops with animal manures, evidently never suspecting that it was not a material exactly adapted for all crops and all soils. When they found that the same crops could not be continually grown on the same field without lessening the yield, the idea did not occur to them that the yield was lessened because the manure was not made up of the right proportions of the three elements of plant food which it is necessary to apply to the soil to force the growth of plants, and that the continued planting of the same crop had exhausted the soil of one of the elements of plant food, and left a surplus of another; but, without knowing exactly the reason why, they had found by practice, that by a rotation of crops their land would produce more, and be in a measure restored to its former condition. They had not learned that by continued planting of wheat they exhausted the nitrogen from the soil, and that by planting clover they could restore it. When commercial fertilizers were introduced, the farmer who had given no attention to the subject used them just as they chanced to be made up, without a thought that they might not be compounded to suit either his crops or his soil, and he sometimes applied a fertilizer rich in nitrogen when he needed potash, or rich in potash when his soil needed phosphoric acid. Occasionally a farmer would apply a fertilizer compounded just right for his particular soil and crop. The result was so beneficial that he was loud in his praise of the particular fertilizer he had used; but when his neighbors tried it on their land, that had been exhausted of a different element of plant food, and it proved a failure, they condemned it in the strongest terms.
Thus for the last twenty-five years a constant dispute has been kept up among the farmers as to the value of commercial fertilizers; and this is simply because they have not given the subject attention enough to understand the wants of their land and the crops they desire to grow. Nor have they learned the character of commercial fertilizers. better day is dawning. The farmers are rapidly learning that the three elements of plant food which they need to apply to their land are called phosphoric acid, potash, and nitrogen; they are also learning that these elements may be purchased separate, or mixed in different proportions to suit their wants. They are also learning, that if they would produce crops to the best advantage, it is of the highest importance that they should know if their soil is deficient in any one of the three elements more than it is in the other two. This knowledge can be obtained by careful experiments, trying many different compounds side by side. These compounds should be made up so that in one nitrogen should predominate, in another potash, and in another phosphoric acid. The nuinber of different compounds may be increased to any extent, and some of them may be made up of a part stable manure, hen manure, ashes, and other rich materials on the farm. It is by such practical tests that each farmer is to learn what his particular soil and crops want, rather than by any information he may glean from others. While it is well to read what others may write on the subject, and listen to what they say, the best and most valuable information must be gathered up by the farmer himself, by observation and practical tests on his own farm.
In purchasing fertilizers, the farmer should first make himself familiar with the terms potash, nitrogen, and phosphoric acid; he should also post himself as to the commercial value per pound of each one of them; then, by looking on the tags attached to each bag, to get the number of pounds of each element, he can easily tell if the fertilizer is worth as much or more than the selling price.
THERE is no month in the year when weeds grow and ripen their seeds so rapidly as in August; yet it is a season when the farmers pay but little attention to them, even in the garden, except where the late crops are grown. This is wrong, because by a little neglect at this season of the year the weeds are given a chance to grow and ripen their seeds in sufficient numbers to cover the land with weeds another year. It is very true that the earlier crops are not injured much by August weeds, and so the time spent in destroying them seems to be wasted, so far as relates to the profits of the present season; but it must be remembered that one hour spent in destroying weeds in August will save more than a day's labor the following season in destroying weeds that will come from their seeds if left to grow.
A few days spent in destroying the weeds in the corn and potato fields at the close of the month of August will do much to clear the farm of weed seeds; but it is only by persistent efforts that a farm can be cleared of noxious weeds. To do this, it is not only necessary to keep the hoed crops clean to the end of the season, but every fence corner and by. place should also be kept entirely clean of weeds. Around the hoed fields there is always a row of weeds sufficient to seed the whole field if left to mature; these should be mown close to the ground as soon as the blossoms appear on the earliest of them.
The farmer who decides to clear his land of weed seeds will find it very uphill work the first two years, but when he has conquered he will be astonished at the ease with which he can cultivate his crops; the hand hoe may be almost entirely dispensed with, and the work done with the cultivator and wheel hoe.
The labor of growing crops on land that has been thoroughly cleaned of weed seeds is reduced at least one half. Potatoes grown in a field overrun with weeds require at least one third more labor to harvest than those grown in a field kept free from weeds.
With the improved implements which we have for cultivating crops, the weeds could be kept down with much less labor than formerly, so there is less excuse for having weeds now than there was in the days of our fathers; yet it is very doubtful if the average farmer keeps his land any cleaner of weeds than did his ancestors. Every farmer should try to keep the weeds down during the entire season. After the first of August all weeds that are four or more inches high should be pulled up and carried from the field; for, if left, the first rain will set them out again so they will grow as fast as before pulled.
THIS grass is permitted to overrun many farms simply because the farmers do not try to kill it at the right season of the year; if cut off every day in the spring of the year it seems to make it grow the better. The reason is because at this season it is making a very rapid growth, and so after the root is deprived of a top, in a very few hours it sends up another shoot, or perhaps a half a dozen. But there is a season when this grass does not grow; it is at this time that it can be easily killed if deprived of a top. The last week in July and the first week in August the roots are at rest, when if deprived of a top they will die, and by the end of hot weather will begin to decay.
The easiest way to cut off the tops in land that is free from stones is to sharpen a common hoe, and with it cut the grass about an inch below the surface of the ground. Care should be taken not to pull any of the roots above the surface of the ground, because every root that reaches out of the ground will live until the growing season commences. A good crop to plant to kill this grass is Indian corn, but a better crop is late cabbage; this crop needs frequent hoeing at just the right season to kill the grass. Never try to kill this grass when the
IT is said that he who makes two blades of grass grow where only one grew before is a public benefactor, but this admits of some doubt, if to make the additional blade grow it costs twice as much as it is worth. The true benefactor is he who increases the products of the farm with the least increase of expenses.
IN selecting a location for a dwelling house, a gravelly soil should be sought for, and an elevation sufficient to secure good drainage on all sides. Never build in a valley with a meadow on both sides, because in such locations damp air is constantly passing from one meadow to the other, thus rendering the house damp and unhealthy, especially for children.
WHILE our homes should be surrounded with beautiful shade trees, care should be taken not to set them so near the house that they will shut out the light and sunshine; flowering shrubs and dwarf trees should be set immediately around the dwelling, and the larger trees set just far enough away to afford a partial shelter from the winter winds and the scorching rays of a summer sun.
THE most successful farmers are those who realize the importance of thoroughly understanding their business, and who are making continual efforts to gather important facts, proving their value by practical tests. In fact, they have a small experiment station on their own farm, and thus ascertain the wants of their own particular soil, and the crops they can grow to the best advantage.
He who tries to grow crops on land that is not best adapted for their growth, or crops which he does not take enough interest in to learn to grow to full perfection at the least possible cost, drags a clog, the friction of which will prevent any profit, if it does not cause an actual loss.
As the liquid manure contains more plant food than the solid, it pays to keep, at all seasons of the year, a sufficient amount of absorbents under cover to absorb all the liquid manure of the farm. No better or cheaper absorbent is within easy reach of the farmer than fine dry muck, but it should be dug out, and exposed to the action of the air and frost two or three years before wanted for use.
THE farmer's home should be to his family the happiest place on earth; for no other occupation offers so good facilities to furnish the children with healthy food and pure air, and few occupations give the father better opportunities to spend the long winter evenings with his family. With good health and leisure hours, during the winter evenings, wise parents will plan home entertainments which will be so thoroughly enjoyed by the whole family that home will be a paradise on earth, and no member will have the least desire to seek the saloon or the street for enjoyment.
WITH Our present means of heating our houses, we can make home more attractive by introducing a few choice pot plants, without fear of losing them by the frosts of winter. Beautiful flowering plants in a home have a harmonizing influence. The members of the family gather around the opening buds of some rare plant, and as they unitedly watch the expanding flowers their minds are drawn together upon a single object. This has a direct tendency to unite them more firmly in friendship and love.
It is always best to look on the bright side. He who has two gardens, one on dry and the other on wet land, should visit that on dry land in wet weather, and the one on wet land in dry weather; then he will see both when in their best condition. But if he should reverse his visits he will be seeking the dark side, and will lose sight of the silver lining.
THE farmer who has a place for every farm tool, and keeps them all in place when not in use, will be able to accomplish much more labor than he who never has a place for anything, and never knows where to find a tool when he wants it, unless he remembers where he last used it.
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