Imágenes de páginas

which to deposit the nut; and the still further fact of the increased facility afforded in harvesting, as will appear when we come to treat of that branch of the subject.

About the 10th to the 20th of May is the time for planting. If the land is thin and needs manuring, open furrows three feet apart, and strew in a hundred to a hundred and twenty-five pounds of Pernvian guano, or from a hundred and fifty to two hundred pounds of superphosphate of lime. The former is generally used, because of the greater certainty of getting a pure article, but nothing can be better than the latter when well prepared. The furrow is then to be ridged over and the whole surface thrown into three-feet beds, which should be reduced to within two or three inches of the general level of the field. Then mark off the rows, and at distances of eighteen inches plant two seeds, covering them an inch to an inch and a half deep-not more.

In ten days to two weeks, according to the weather, the young plants begin to come up. As it is very important to get a good start, the missing hills should be replanted at the earliest moment. It is the custom of some planters to put an extra quantity of seed in every fourth or fifth row, to furnish plants for transplanting, if needed; if not needed, they can be thinned out.

As soon as the grass makes its appearance give a light plowing, throwing the earth from the vines, and following with the hoe, thoroughly removing all the grass from the row. Plow again as soon as the grass reappears, this time using a double shovel or cultivator, and the hoe as before directed. If the season should prove to be very wet, a tbird working may be necessary, making use of the cultivator and hoe again.

Next comes, the time for laying by, the vines having extended nearly half way across the space between the rows. This is done by running a mold-board once in the middle between the rows, and drawing the earth up to the rows with the hoe, care being taking not to cover the vines and to disturb their position as little as possible, as the fruit will now be forming. It will be necessary also to guard against making the bed too high. When there is grass in the row it must be pulled up by hand. Soon after this the vines will cover the whole ground, and repress every other growth, unless it may be a chance weed that escaped notice at the former working.


The time for harvesting the crop is from the 15th to the 30th of October, immediately after the first frost. When the crop is forward, or when it is an object to get a portion of it early in market, the operation may be commenced in the latter part of September; but the longer the vines continue to grow, the greater will be the number of sound pods. Select a time when the weather is settled and favorable, and with threepronged hoes loosen the vines along the rows. Hands follow the digger, pull up the vines, shake the dirt from them, and leave them in the same place. In dry weather they will be sufficiently cured in two days to be shocked. Showery weather, though it may somewhat delay the curing, does no injury

One of the advantages of shallow culture becomes apparent in harvesting. When the fruit is deposited only a few inches below the surface, the vine is detached from its position with little or no loss; when the depth is greater, the stems or pedicels are liable to be broken off.

In shocking, provide stakes seven feet long, made sharp at both ends;

then las two fence rails on the ground as a fonndation, but with supports underneath to afford free access to the air. The stakes are stuck in the gronnd at convenient intervals between the rails, the stacks built up around them, and finished off by a cap of straw to shed the rain. The diameter of the stack is made to conform to the spread of a single vine.

After remaining about two weeks in the stack the picking should be begun, taking off none but the matured pods. These are to be carried to the barn, and prepared for market by completing the drying process, and then fanning and cleaning.

The most tedions part of the work is the picking. An expert discrimi. nates at a glance between the mature and immature pods, but cannot pick more than two and a half or three bushels per day. A machine to perform the operation would be a most valuable invention. Unless the management in the barn is carefully conducted, there is great danger, Fliere there is much of a bulk, that the peas will become heated und nouldy. The condition in which the early deliveries are often received at market renders this caution quite necessary. In fact, there is as much slovenjiness in the handling of this crop as there is in regard to any other; perhaps more, for the reason that so many inexperienced persons engage in the culture every year. Uutil the pods are thoroughly seasonet!, the bulk should be frequently stirred and turned over.

A certain classification, in respect to quality, obtains in peanuts as in erery other article of agricultural produce. The descriptive terms in general use are “ inferior,” “ ordinary," • prime,” and “ fancy ;” but these are not so definite as to admit of no intermediate grades. Assuming prime to be the standard, and that the prime are $2 75 per bushel, then inferior will be worthi, say, $1 to $1 50; ordinary, $4 to $2 50; and fancy, 83. Seed peanuts always command an extra price, ranging from $3 25 to $3 50. These were the current prices for the crop of 1803.


There are two rery distinct varieties of the peanut, known respectively by the names of the Virginia, and the Carolina or African. The cliversity between them, however, does not amount to a specific difference, the chief characteristics being that the one has a large pod and bean, and the other a small one. The Virginia is cultirated almost exclusively for eating, while the Carolina is principally used for the manufacture of oil, which cannot be distinguished from olive oil, and is, accordingly, sold as such. The standard weight of the Virgiuia peanut is twentytwo pounds to the bushel; that of the Carolina twenty-eight pounds. In the markets they are always sold by weight.


A matter of primary importance is to provide seeds of good quality for planting; and in order to be assured of their excellence, the planter should either raise them himself, or buy them of a person on whose fidelity he can rely. If, after the vines are dug and they are lying in the field, they shonld be exposed to frosty weather, the germinating principle would be destroyed or impaired. As a merchantable article, lowerer, their value is not at all affected. Neither should the nuts become the least heated or mouldy; nor should they be picked off the vines while wet, or before they are thoroughly cured. It is obvious. therefore, that the most careful attention is requisite in this matter. Previous to planting, the pods should be carefully shelled and every faulty bean thrown out; not even the membrane inclosing the seed should be ruptured. It takes about two bushels of peanuts in the pod to plant an acre.


The relativo profits of peanuts and other leading crops of the district of country in which they are sei erally grown may be determined with a near approximation to accuracy. Assuming that the average yield of cotton to the acre is half a bale, or two huudred and twenty-five pounds, and that it is worth twenty-five cents a pound, the aggregate proceeds would be $36 25. An average cro; of tobacco does not exceed six hundred pounds, nor the average price $10 per hundred; the gross proceeils would, therefore, amount to $60. Au average crop of peanuts is fifty bushels per acre, which may be put at $2 50 per bushel, aggregating $125; so that it appears that at one-half the price, or one-halt the product, the peanut is as profitable as either cotton or tobacco. So far as regards the expense of preparation and culture, the difierence between peanuts and cotton is inconsiderable; but the picking of the cotton is by far more tedious and laborious than gathering the peanuts. As to tobacco, the crop is never off the hands of the planter, and the cultiration is the most expensive of the three, leaving, therefore, less clear



The peanut crop is justly considered exhausting, but not more so, it is believed, than either of the others with which we have compared it. Planters who have been long engaged in the culture say.that the samo ground may be planted for a succession of years, provided the vines are restored to the soil, and a moderate application is annually made of guano or other fertilizer. Cotton, under a similar system, may be planted on the sainc land for an indefinite period without diminution of product.

Tuo vines of the peanut make a large quantity of very nutritions provender, which is eaten with avidity by cattle. If the crop is dug before frost, it is equal in value to any other forage plant. As the pods are picked off, the vines should be placed under shelter, secure from the weather.

On account of the profit of the crop, it has taken the place of tobacco to a considerable extent in places where the soil is adapted to it. This is the case in the large tobacco-growing counties of Amelia, Nottoway, Halifax, and Brunswick, besides others of less uote. Ilow far north the culture may be extended to advantage is at present a matter of con. jecture; but in the tide-water district of Maryland, and also in Delaware and the southern part of New Jersey, it well deserves a trial.

[ocr errors][merged small]

The potato (Solanum tuberosum) is a native of the table-lands of the Andes of South America. Centuries ago it was found by travelers growing wild in Chili, at Cuzco in Peru, at Quito in Ecuador, and in the forests of Bogota in New Granada, 8,094 feet above the level of the sea. Potatoes have been cultivated at Quito from time immemorial, and are among the finest in the world. This city is situated on an extensive plain, at an elevation of 10,233 feet. The mean temperature of the climate throughout the year is about sixty degrees Fahrenheit, and varies from this but little at any particular season. The country has the appearance of perpetual spring. There are no sudden changes from heat to cold, no violent storms of rain and wind. The land is refreshed by distilling dews and gentle showers.

The soil of these table-lands, which are the uplifted beds of an ancient ocean, is generally composed of disintegrated rocks and shells, of the detritus of the monntains, and of vegetable mold, and belongs to the geological formation of the secondary or the tertiary period. It is, therefore, light, porous, and friable, and contains large proportions of sand, lime, and vegetable substances. It is also naturally well drained, though retentire of sufficient inoisture, and, from its elerated and airy location, is cool and moderately dry.

Such is the native home of the potato, where it grows spontaneously, renewing itself from year to year from its tubers and seeds. It retains the verdure of its foliage unimpairerl throughout the entire season, and when its tubers and seeds are fully matured, it dies, not of any injury from external influences, but because its period of life has terininated.

From this brief history of the habits of the potato, the following principles may be deduced: 1. That the location for its culture should be elevated and airy. 2. Tl:at the climate should be temperate, not subject to extremes of heat and cold, nor violent storms of wind and rain, having a mean temperature of about sixty degrees. 3. That the soil sliould be ligut, well drained, and composed of the proper proportions of sand, lime, and regetable mold. .

These principles lie at the foundation of the successful cultivation of the potato. If they are regarded, good crops may be expected ; if they are neglected, the result will be poor crops, degeneracy, and disease of the plant. Altlıough the potato is of tropical crigin, (trcpical in its latitude Though not in climate,) and has its favorite locality, in which it will grow with certainty and in perfection, yet such is its adaptability that it may be grown, by careful culture, with tolerable success, from Pata conia to Labrador, and from the Cape of Good Hope to Iceland.


There are difficulties to be encountered in the cultivation of the potato, when removed from its native locality, which are unavoidable, and can be overcome only in part by a thorough knowledge of its origin and habits. The most formidable of those are the diseases of rust, curlod leaf, and rot. The first two are only the incipient stages of the latter, and the causes and remedies are the same in each.

It is generally believed that debility is a predisposing cause of the potato rot, and usually, if not always, preliminary to its attacks. It may be induced in various ways:

1. By planting small and imperfectly matured tubers.—Tubers may be small in consequence of the feeble constitution of the plant, or because they were formed late in the season, and, therefore, had not sufficient time to attain full size and maturity. It is a law well established in the vegetable kingdom, and also in the animal, that like produces like. By this it is not meant that the offspring will be exactly like the parent in every particular, but simply that it will more resemble it than any other variety. If, then, we plant a tuber which is small and the result of feeble growth, wo cannot, by any principle of reproduction, expect anything, as a general result, but a small' and feeble offspring. This may not always be fully realized at once, but sooner or later it will come.

In the case of imperfectly matured tubers it is well knowu by all that potatoes, when used before they are ripe, are unpalatable, hard, and watery. These qualities result principally from the absence of starch, which, according to the analysis of Professor Payen, made with seven varieties of the potato, constitutes about seventeen parts out of the twenty-six parts of the whole solid or dry matter contained in the tuber-seventy-four parts of the tuber being water. The starch, when converted into sugar by the process of germination, furnishes food for the young plant in the early stages of its growth, and before it has throwy out roots by which it may draw any nourishment from the earth,

Now, if the tuber does not contain a proper amount of starch, in con. sequence of its imperfect maturity, the young plant cannot get the necessary nourishment, and of course must be feeble and stinted during the period of its growth; and this shock to its constitution cannot be overcome by any amount of fertility of soil from which it may afterwards derive its food. Hence imperfection and debility will be the result, and a foundation will be laid for future disease. A remedy for this debility may be found by yearly selecting and planting full-sized and perfectly matured tubers.

2. By planting tubers cut very small.Tubers are often cut into very small pieces, containing perhaps only one or two eyes at most. It is obvious that pieces so small can contain only a very small quantity of starch for the nourishment of the young plant. It must, therefore, struggle through this critical period of its existence in a starved con. dition, and we cannot reasonably suppose that it will ever be able to overcome this want of “a good start” at the commencement of life, by any subsequent cultivation, however good it may be. “ Small potatoes." says C. E. Goodrich, "and those cut very small, are certainly very ob. jectionable in a physiological point of view. The sprouts, until they are well out of ground, and their leaves expanded, draw all their food from the mother potato. If this is small, or has a great many eyes in proportion to its size, it cannot throw up strong shoots."

And further, admitting that the pieces are sufficiently large to contain all the starch necessary for healthy germination and growthh, yet in many instances they suffer a partial decay before germination, while lying in the ground, and the starch is changed from its healthy condi. tion, in consequence of the absorption of water and noxious substances, through the lacerated organs of the cut tubers.

The tuber is a thickened portion of a branch, growing out of the stalk

« AnteriorContinuar »