The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening tours by J.C. Loudon 1831-1842
Chapter: From London to Sheffield in the Spring of 1839

Farmland weed indicators

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Farming.- On the surface of the farm lands, throughout the tract in question, with the exception of those parts where commons have been enclosed, there is, perhaps, no great change recognisable at a distance. The surfaces of moist meadows are still, at this season, yellow with the blossoms of the crow-foot, an indication that they are not sufficiently drained; and the dry gravelly surface of grass lands about Lichfield and Shenstone are, at this season, white with the downy seeds of the dandelion, a proof that they have not been sufficiently manured, or clayed, or sown down with such grasses and clovers as will form a thick matting on the surface, and subdue, and ultimately starve out, the dandelion. As to agricultural practices from London to Derby, the clumsiest forms of ploughs may still be seen, drawn with from three to five horses in a line, at a snail's pace; and on gravelly soils, preparing for turnips, more especially in the neighbourhood of Shenstone, the heaps of couch grass ready to be burned, are as thick as the heaps of dung ready to be spread abroad should be. In short, we saw such very bad farming in the neighbourhood of Lichfield and Shenstone, that it is difficult to conceive how the farmers can pay any rent worth mentioning, and live comfortably. In the whole course of our tour we did not see a single Finlayson's harrow, an implement calculated to work wonders on any soil, but more especially on such as have never been ploughed to a proper depth, or are filled with couchgrass. On all such soils, it is an admirable substitute for the harrow, the plough and the subsoil plough.