Kensington, Nov. 14th, 1831.
254. This last summer, I have proved that, as keep for cows, Mangel Wurzel is preferable to Swedish Turnips, whether as to quantity or quality. But there needs no other alteration in the book, than merely to read mangel wurzel wherever you find Swedish turnip; the time of sowing, the mode and time of transplanting, the distances, and the cultivation, all being the same; and the only difference being in the application of the leaves, and in the time of harvesting the roots.
255. The leaves of the Mangel Wurzel are of great value, especially in dry summers. You begin, about the third week in August, to take off by a downward pull, the leaves of the plants; and they are excellent food for pigs and cows; only observe this, that, if given to cows, there must be, for each cow, six pounds of hay a day, which is not necessary in the case of the Swedish turnips. These leaves last till the crop is taken up, which ought to be in the first week of November. The taking off of the leaves does good to the plants: new leaves succeed higher up; and the plant becomes longer than it otherwise would be, and, of course, heavier. But, in taking off the leaves, you must not approach too near to the top.
256. When you take the plants up in November, you must cut off the crowns and the remaining leaves; and they, again, are for cows and pigs. Then you put the roots into some place to keep them from the frost; and, if you have no place under cover, put them in pies, in the same manner as directed for the Swedish turnips. The roots will average in weight 10 lbs. each. They may be given to cows whole, or to pigs either, and they are better than the Swedish turnip for both animals; and they do not give any bad or strong taste to the milk and butter. But, besides this use of the mangel wurzel, there is another, with regard to pigs at least, of very great importance. The juice of this plant has so much of sweetness in it, that, in France, they make sugar of it; and have used the sugar, and found it equal in goodness to West India sugar. Many persons in England make beer of this juice, and I have drunk of this beer, and found it very good. In short, the juice is most excellent for the mixing of moist food for pigs. I am now (20th Nov. 1831) boiling it for this purpose. My copper holds seven strike-bushels; I put in three bushels of mangel wurzel cut into pieces two inches thick, and then fill the copper with water. I draw off as much of the liquor as I want to wet pollard, or meal, for little pigs or fatting-pigs, and the rest, roots and all, I feed the yard-hogs with; and this I shall follow on till about the middle of May.
257. If you give boiled, or steamed, potatoes to pigs, there wants some liquor to mix with the potatoes; for the water in which potatoes have been boiled is hurtful to any animal that drinks it. But mix the potatoes with juice of mangel wurzel, and they make very good food for hogs of all ages. The mangel wurzel produces a larger crop than the Swedish turnip.
258. IF you prefer bread and pudding to milk, butter, and meat, this corn will produce, on your forty rods, forty bushels, each weighing 60 lbs. at the least; and more flour, in proportion, than the best white wheat. To make bread with it you must use two-thirds wheaten, or rye, flour; but in puddings this is not necessary. The puddings at my house are all made with this flour, except meat and fruit pudding; for the corn flour is not adhesive or clinging enough to make paste, or crust. This corn is the very best for hog-fatting in the whole world. I, last April, sent parcels of the seed into several counties, to be given away to working men: and I sent them instructions for the cultivation, which I shall repeat here.
259. I will first describe this corn to you. It is that which is sometimes called Indian corn; and sometimes people call it Indian wheat. It is that sort of corn which the disciples ate as they were going up to Jerusalem on the Sabbath-day. They gathered it in the fields as they went along and ate it green, they being “an hungered,” for which you know they were reproved by the pharisees. I have written a treatise on this corn in a book which I sell for four shillings, giving a minute account of the qualities, the culture, the harvesting, and the various uses of this corn; but I shall here confine myself to what is necessary for a labourer to know about it, so that he may be induced to raise and may be enabled to raise enough of it in his garden to fat a pig of ten score.
260. There are a great many sorts of this corn. They all come from countries which are hotter than England. This sort, which my eldest son brought into England, is a dwarf kind, and is the only kind that I have known to ripen in this country: and I know that it will ripen in this country in any summer; for I had a large field of it in 1828 and 1829; and last year (my lease at my farm being out at Michaelmas, and this corn not ripening till late in October) I had about two acres in my garden at Kensington. Within the memory of man there have not been three summers so cold as the last, one after another; and no one so cold as the last. Yet my corn ripened perfectly well, and this you will be satisfied of if you be amongst the men to whom this corn is given from me. You will see that it is in the shape of the cone of a spruce fir; you will see that the grains are fixed round a stalk which is called the cob. These stalks or ears come out of the side of the plant, which has leaves like a flag, which plant grows to about three feet high, and has two or three and sometimes more, of these ears or bunches of grain. Out of the top of the plant comes the tassel, which resembles the plumes of feathers upon a hearse; and this is the flower of the plant.
261. The grain is, as you will see, about the size of a large pea, and there are from two to three hundred of these grains upon the ear, or cob. In my treatise, I have shown that, in America, all the hogs and pigs, all the poultry of every sort, the greater part of the oxen, and a considerable part of the sheep, are fatted upon this corn; that it is the best food for horses; and that, when ground and dressed in various ways, it is used in bread, in puddings, in several other ways in families; and that, in short, it is the real staff of life, in all the countries where it is in common culture, and where the climate is hot. When used for poultry, the grain is rubbed off the cob. Horses, sheep, and pigs, bite the grain off, and leave the cob; but horned cattle eat cob and all.
262. I am to speak of it to you, however, only as a thing to make you some bacon, for which use it surpasses all other grain whatsoever. When the grain is in the whole ear, it is called corn in the ear; when it is rubbed off the cob, it is called shelled corn. Now, observe, ten bushels of shelled corn are equal, in the fatting of a pig, to fifteen bushels of barley; and fifteen bushels of barley, if properly ground and managed, will make a pig of ten score, if he be not too poor when you begin to fat him. Observe that everybody who has been in America knows, that the finest hogs in the world are fatted in that country; and no man ever saw a hog fatted in that country in any other way than tossing the ears of corn over to him in the sty, leaving him to bite it off the ear, and deal with it according to his pleasure. The finest and solidest bacon in the world is produced in this way.
263. Now, then, I know, that a bushel of shelled corn may be grown upon one single rod of ground sixteen feet and a half each way; I have grown more than that this last summer; and any of you may do the same if you will strictly follow the instructions which I am now about to give you.
1. Late in March (I am doing it now,) or in the first fortnight of April, dig your ground up very deep, and let it lie rough till between the seventh and fifteenth of May.
2. Then (in dry weather if possible) dig up the ground again, and make it smooth at top. Draw drills with a line two feet apart, just as you do drills for peas; rub the grains off the cob; put a little very rotten and fine manure along the bottom of the drill; lay the grains along upon that six inches apart; cover the grain over with fine earth, so that there be about an inch and a half on the top of the grain; pat the earth down a little with the back of a hoe to make it lie solid on the grain.
3. If there be any danger of slugs, you must kill them before the corn comes up if possible: and the best way to do this is to put a little hot lime in a bag, and go very early in the morning, and shake the bag all round the edges of the ground and over the ground. Doing this three or four times very early in a dewy morning, or just after a shower, will destroy all the slugs; and this ought to be done for all other crops as well as for that of corn.
4. When the corn comes up, you must take care to keep all birds off till it is two or three inches high; for the spear is so sweet, that the birds of all sorts are very apt to peck it off, particularly the doves and the larks and pigeons. As soon as it is fairly above ground, give the whole of the ground (in dry weather) a flat hoeing, and be sure to move all the ground close round the plants. When the weeds begin to appear again, give the ground another hoeing, but always in dry weather. When the plants get to be about a foot high or a little more, dig the ground between the rows, and work the earth up a little against the stems of the plants.
5. About the middle of August you will see the tassel springing up out of the middle of the plant, and the ears coming out of the sides. If weeds appear in the ground, hoe it again to kill the weeds, so that the ground may be always kept clean. About the middle of September you will find the grains of the ears to be full of milk, just in the state that the ears were at Jerusalem when the disciples cropped them to eat. From this milky state, they, like the grains of wheat, grow hard; and as soon as the grains begin to be hard, you should cut off the tops of the corn and the long flaggy leaves, and leave the ears to ripen upon the stalk or stem. If it be a warm summer, they will be fit to harvest by the last of October; but it does not signify if they remain out until the middle of November or even later. The longer they stay out, the harder the grain will be.
6. Each ear is covered in a very curious manner with a husk. The best way for you will be, when you gather in your crop to strip off the husks, to tie the ears in bunches of six or eight or ten, and to hang them up to nails in the walls, or against the beams of your house; for there is so much moisture in the cob that the ears are apt to heat if put together in great parcels. The room in which I write in London is now hung all round with bunches of this corn. The bunches may be hung up in a shed or stable for a while, and, when perfectly dry, they may be put into bags.
7. Now, as to the mode of using the corn; if for poultry, you must rub the grains off the cob; but if for pigs, give them the whole ears. You will find some of the ears in which the grain is still soft. Give these to your pig first; and keep the hardest to the last. You will soon see how much the pig will require in a day, because pigs, more decent than many rich men, never eat any more than is necessary to them. You will thus have a pig; you will have two flitches of bacon, two pig’s cheeks, one set of souse, two griskins, two spare-ribs, from both which I trust in God you will keep the jaws of the Methodist parson; and if, while you are drinking a mug of your own ale, after having dined upon one of these, you drink my health, you may be sure that it will give you more merit in the sight of God as well as of man, than you would acquire by groaning the soul out of your body in responses to the blasphemous cant of the sleekheaded Methodist thief that would persuade you to live upon potatoes.
264. You must be quite sensible that I cannot have any motive but your good in giving you this advice, other than the delight which I take and the pleasure which I derive from doing that good. You are all personally unknown to me: in all human probability not one man in a thousand will ever see me. You have no more power to show your gratitude to me than you have to cause me to live for a hundred years. I do not desire that you should deem this a favour received from me. The thing is worth your trying, at any rate.
265. The corn is off by the middle of November. The ground should then be well manured, and deeply dug, and planted with early York, or EARLY DWARF CABBAGES, which will be loaved in the latter end of April, and may be either sold or given to pigs, or cows, before the time to plant the corn again. Thus you have two very large crops on the same ground in the same year.