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The ranch. (Seattle, Wash.) 1902-1914, December 01, 1902, Image 6

Image and text provided by Washington State Library; Olympia, WA

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn98047754/1902-12-01/ed-1/seq-6/

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We have written so much about clo
ver growing for the last fifteen years
that we had assumed that the farmers
who had been reading after us know
everything that we know about it, and
possibly more too. When, however,
we attend an institute, as we did last
week, the same old questions come up.
The farmers want to hear that clover
story once more. We will try and
make it so plain and simple that a
child can understand it.
First, secure seed that is not spoil
ed; in other words, seed with germi
nating power; or to put it plainer
still, clover that will grow. Any clo
ver seed will grow if you give it a
chance. Any clover seed will grow if
it has not been frozen or otherwise
spoiled. To know just what per cent,
will grow, get a soup plate from your
wife, fill it with sand; then pour wa
ter on it till it runs off. then count
out 100 clover seeds and put them on
the sand. Borrow a pie pan from her,
turn it upsidedown over it and set it
under the stove. In a week count how
many sprouts you have or how many
grains have grown. That will give
you the percent that will grow the
first year. You are likely to find in
the course of two or three weeks more
seeds sprouted. These are the seeds
that will not grow the first year, but
will grow the second, the "hard-shells"
so to speak. Now you know what
your seed will do if you give it a
chance. This seed cannot help but
grow next spring if you give it three
things: heat, air and moisture, all
three. If you give it heat and mois
ture by putting four inches of ordi
nary soil on top of it, it will not grow,
because there is no air. If you give it
air and heat by leaving it in the sack,
it will not grow because it has no
moisture. If you give it moisture and
air by putting your soup plate and pie
pan in the refrigerator where the tem
perature is below 32, it will not grow.
You must give all three, not one or
two, but all three.
Now the only question about getting
a stand of clover is furnishing these
conditions. If you do not put it over
two inches deep in lighter soils, or
over one inch deep in clay soils, it
will get all the air it needs. April ol
May will give it all the heat it needs.
Now what you want is to give it the
moisture; in other words, to so ar
range the seed bed that it will have
moisture, heat and air. If you will
thoroughly prepare the seed bed and
cover the seed from half an inch to
two inches according to the moisture
content, in the month of April or far
ther south the last part of March, you
will have the required conditions, and
that clover seed will grow. It can't
help it, and you can't keep it from
growing unless you deprive it of one
of these three conditions.
We will now point out how many
farmers fail to give these conditions.
We saw any number of farmers last
April sowing clover seed on top of the
ground. We sowed some ourselves.
We examined it and found that only
an occasional seed was growing. It
was lying on top of the ground and
was not growing, of course. It was
sown on wheat and we harrowed it
thoroughly. That clover started to
grow because we had furnished the
conditions. That sown by our neigh
bors started to grow too, but not un
til the moisture was furnished by the
May rains. Our harrowing of the
ground furnished the moisture and
gave it a start; that was all. But if
no heavy rains had come in June or
since, the clover sown on top of the
ground would have been there yet.
It would have staid there until next
year and then if undisturbed would
have grown. Why? Because moisture
was not furnished.
Clover seed will grow in very
wet springs and on very wet
land without covering. Under these
conditions sufficient moisture is fur
nished. If not furnished it will
not grow and you can't make it. Some
farmers fail to provide the conditions
by sowing it on lumpy, cloddy land.
Moisture is not furnished because the
lumps allow it to dry out before the
clover gets soaked up and ready to
start. It may possible sprout, but
through lack of moisture it will die.
There is no trouble in getting good
clover seed to grow, if you will give
it these conditions, and only those
grains that are furnished these condi
tions will ever grow.
This, however, is not the difficult
matter in practical clover farming.
Clover needs moisture, heat and air to
start growing, but to continue this
growth it must have light and heat
above as well as moisture below, and
just here is where most farmers fail.
They sow clover with "a nurse crop,"
so called. That nurse crop, generally
oats or spring wheat, is a rank grow
er and so shades the ground that the
plant cannot have sufficient light.
The leaves of the plant can't do their
work in darkness. The growth is
made through the leaf by taking up
the carbon dioxide, or as it is gener
ally called, the carbonic acid of the
air, dissolving it by means of its
green coloring matter, exhaling the
oxygen and using the carbon to build
up the plant, for this is absolutely nec
essary. Unless it gets light and plen
ty of it, the plant can't grow, and just
in proportion as the nurse crop, so
called, shuts off the light, just in that
proportion does it weaken the clover
plant, the weakness being shown by
the lack of color in the leaf. There
fore if you use a nurse crop, use one
that grows as slender in the stalk as
possible, with as narrow a leaf as pos
sible, and that matures as early as
possible. It is for this reason that we
advise sowing the earliest kind of ev
ery kind of spring grain, whether
wheat, oats or barley, when used as a
nurse crop for grass seeds. The rea
son why so many farmers succeed in
getting a stand of clover when putting
it on rye or winter wheat or oats and
using these as grasses, is because the
constant cropping of the grass by the
cattle keeps down the "strangling
crop" dor that after all is the true
name of the nurse crop so called), and
permits the young plants to have the
light they so much need. Weeds act
in the same way, and the only reason
why we sometimes recommend sow
ing some kind of grain with clover
when the land is very foul instead of
giving it the full use of the land, is
because it is more satisfactory to mow
oats for hay than weeds to prevent
their strangling the clover.
Another reason why we object to
sowing any kind of clover with rank
growing spring grain is because when
grown as a grain crop these are re
moved about the 15th of July
and the full blaze of the hot sun is al
lowed to fall on the delicate, sickly
clover plants that have been strug
gling for an existence. This is just
like taking a boy out of the sick room
and making him do a full day's work
in the harvest field. . This explains
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why so many stands of clover appar
ently good up to that time perish. It
does not, however, explain it fully.
These crops have been making very
heavy drafts on the soil moisture. It
requires 500 pounds of water to make
a pound of dry oats; wheat and bar
ley about 400. Our readers can read
ily see why when the supply of mois
ture is short, the clover is robbed, con
sequently has little root development,
and no wonder it dies when the nurse
crop is removed, unless the ground is
full of moisture. This explains why
heavy rains during harvest save a
prime stand of clover which would
otherwise perish.
If our readers who are planning to
have a stand of clover next year will
read this over two or three times till
they fully understand it and then put
it in practice, we will not have half
the complaints we have had in years
past of failures in the stand of clover
from various causes. Bear in mind
that clover that has germinating pow
er will germinate if given the condi
tions of germination; that the main
thing required in the spring is mois
ture, and that it must be put down in
the soil deep enough to get the mois
ture, but not so deep as to exclude the
air. Bear in mind further, that the
seeds absorb the moisture from the
particles of soil around them. Hence
they must be in close contact with
that soil, which can only take place
when a good seed bed has been pre
pared. That is, when the soil is fine
ly pulverized, so that the clover seed
can get right up next to the particles
of soil and get the moisture that it
needs. A thoroughly prepared seed
bed is one of the first requisites, there
fore, in securing a stand of clover.
Where you can get your seed bed so
thoroughly prepared that every grain
will grow, you don't need more than
five pounds of clover seed to the acre.
We usually recommend eight pounds,
because we are talking to men, many
of whom don't prepare their seed bed;
some because the circumstances are
such that they can't do it. In these
cases you must sow pretty nearly
twice as much seed as you expect to
grow.—Wallaces' Farmer.
Without presuming to decide the
question authoritatively on the best
time to plant trees, spring or fall, I
would say that farmers should avail
themselves of both seasons, for hardy
trees like apples and pears can be
successfully planted in spring and au
tumn. . . • •
There are several good reasons why
fall should be preferred to spring.
(1) The soil is generally in better con
dition; it is warmer and drier, and
more susceptible of being worked
thoroughly and comminuted. Early
in the spring the soil is very likely to
be cold and saturated with water. If
the planter waits until it is thorough
ly dry and warm before plowing and
fitting it will bring the planting rath
er late, and the new rootlets will hard
ly be in condition to reach out and
supply the trees with sufficient moist
ure to make rapid growth should an
early drought occur. (2) Work is
generally less crowding in the fall
than in the spring. In the spring the
farmer has the ground to prepare and
spring grain to sow; and by the time
seeding is accomplished the weeder
and cultivator must be brought into
use to keep down the weeds and the
soil mellow; then the maturing clover
urges him to leave all work and se
cure his winter fodder. No, the farm
er cannot find much spare time for
planting trees for future income in
the work-driven springtime, therefore
postpones from year to year the ful
fillment of his often expressed de
termination to grow more fruit.
But how is it with the professional
fruit grower? Has he much time for
tree planting in the spring? He gen
erally has some of his plantations of
small fruit to renew, has the pruning
of his various species of fruits, per
haps the grafting over of some va
rieties that have not proved true to
name, or satisfactory on his soil, and
then, just as soon as the ground is in
order to work, he must keep the har
row and cultivator running among his
fruit trees and plants, and his spray
ing outfit active to prevent insects
and fungi from doing their destruc
tive work.
Hardy trees, like apples and pears,
planted the last of October or first of
November in this climate, when the
soil is dry, on well drained land nat
urally or artificially, the fine earth
settles among the roofs and by the
time the forces of nature arouse into
renewed activity, under the vivifying
rays of the early spring sun, the root
lets are ready to shoot forth and ab
sorb plant-food to sustain the new
growth of trees, and by the time that
summer drought ensues are prepared
to take up moisture from the soil to
replace the water evaporated from
leaves and bark.
The strongest argument I have
heard against fall planting is the
known tendency of trees, during the

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