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Roots Turnips Beets Carrots

If there be any who still hold that this country must ultimately rival

that magnificent Turnip-culture which has so largely transformed the

agricultural industry of England and Scotland, while signally and

beneficently increasing its annual product, I judge that time will prove

them mistaken. The striking diversity of climate between the opposite

coasts of the Atlantic forbids the realization of their hopes. The

Isles, with a considerable portion of the adjacent coast of

Continental Europe, have a climate so modified by the Gulf Stream and

the ocean that their Summers are usually moist and cool, their Autumns

still more so, and their Winters rarely so cold as to freeze the earth

considerably; while our Summers and Autumns, are comparatively hot and

dry; our Winters in part intensely cold, so as to freeze the earth solid

for a foot or more. Hence, every variety of turnip is exposed here in

its tenderer stages to the ravages of every devouring insect; while the

1st of December often finds the soil of all but our Southern and Pacific

States so frozen that cannon-wheels would hardly track it, and roots

not previously dug up must remain fast in the earth for weeks and often

for months. Hence, the turnip can never grow so luxuriantly, nor be

counted on with such certainty, here as in Great Britain; nor can

animals be fed on it in Winter, except at the heavy cost of pulling or

digging, cutting off the tops and carefully housing in Autumn, and then

slicing and feeding out in Winter. It is manifest that turnips thus

handled, however economically, cannot compete with hay and corn-fodder

in our Eastern and Middle States; nor with these and the cheaper species

of grain in the West, as the daily Winter food of cattle.

Still, I hold that our stock-growing farmers profitably may, and

ultimately will, grow some turnips to be fed out to their growing and

working animals. A good meal of turnips given twice a week, if not

oftener, to these, will agreeably and usefully break the monotony of

living exclusively on dry fodder, and will give a relish to their hay or

cut stalks and straw, which cannot fail to tell upon their appetite,

growth and thrift. Let our cattle-breeders begin with growing an acre or

two each of Swedes per annum, so as to give their stock a good feed of

them, sliced thin in an effective machine, at least once in each week,

and I feel confident that they will continue to grow turnips, and will

grow more and more of them throughout future years.

The Beet seems to me better adapted to our climate, especially south of

the fortieth degree of north latitude, than any variety of the Turnip

with which I am acquainted, and destined, in the good time coming, when

we shall have at least doubled the average depth of our soil, to very

extensive cultivation among us. I am not regarding either of these roots

with reference to its use as human food, since our farmers generally

understand that use at least as well as I do; nor will I here consider

at length the use of the Beet in the production of Sugar. I value that

use highly, believing that millions of the poorer classes throughout

Europe have been enabled to enjoy Sugar through its manufacture from the

Beet who would rarely or never have tasted that luxury in the absence of

this manufacture. The people of Europe thus made familiar with Sugar can

hardly be fewer than 100,000,000; and the number is annually increasing.

The cost of Sugar to these is considerably less in money, while

immeasurably less in labor, than it would or could have been had the

tropical Cane been still regarded as the only plant available for the

production of Sugar.

But the West Indies, wherein the Cane flourishes luxuriantly and renews

itself perennially, lie at our doors. They look to us for most of their

daily bread, and for many other necessaries of life; while several, if

not all of them, are manifestly destined, in the natural progress of

events, to invoke the protection of our flag. I do not, therefore, feel

confident that Beet Sugar now promises to become an important staple

destined to take a high rank among the products of our national

industry. With cheap labor, I believe it might to-day he manufactured

with profit in the rich, deep valleys of California, and perhaps in

those of Utah and Colorado as well. On the whole, however, I cannot deem

the prospect encouraging for the American promoters of the manufacture

of Beet Sugar.

But when we shall have deepened essentially the soil of our arable

acres, fertilized it abundantly, and cured it by faithful cultivation of

its vicious addiction to weed-growing, I believe we shall devote

millions of those acres to the growth of Beets for cattle-food, and,

having learned how to harvest as well as till them mainly by machinery,

with little help from hand labor, we shall produce them with eminent

profit and satisfaction to the grower. On soil fully two feet deep,

thoroughly underdrained and amply fertilized, I believe we shall often

produce one thousand bushels of Beets to the acre; and so much

acceptable and valuable food for cattle can hardly be obtained from an

acre in any other form.

* * * * *

So with regard to Carrots. I have never achieved eminent success in

growing these, nor Beets; mainly because the soil on which I attempted

to grow them was not adapted to, or rather not yet in condition for,

such culture. But, should I live a few years longer, until my reclaimed

swamp shall have become thoroughly sweetened and civilized, I mean to

grow on some part thereof 1,000 bushels of Carrots per acre, and a

still larger product of Beets; and the Carrot, in my judgment, ought now

to be extensively grown in the South and West, as well as in this

section, for feeding to horses. I hold that 60 bushels of Carrots and 50

of Oats, fed in alternate meals, are of at least equal value as

horse-feed with 100 bushels of Oats alone, while more easily grown in

this climate. The Oat-crop makes heavy drafts upon the soil, while our

hot Summers are not congenial to its thrift or perfection. Since we must

grow Oats, we must be content to import new seed every 10 or 15 years

from Scotland, Norway, and other countries which have cooler, moister

Summers than our own; for the Oat will inevitably degenerate under such

suns as blazed through the latter half of our recent June. Believing

that the Carrot may profitably replace at least half the Oats now grown

in this country, I look forward with confidence to its more and more

extensive cultivation.

The advantage of feeding Roots to stock is not to be measured and

bounded by their essential value. Beasts, like men, require a variety of

food, and thrive best upon a regimen which involves a change of diet.

Admit that hay is their cheapest Winter food; still, an occasional meal

of something more succulent will prove beneficial, and this is best

afforded by Roots.