1. The pratense, or common clover, which is frequently found in meadows and pastures. This species thrives best on a firm heavy soil, and is raised from seed, which is usually sown between the months of February and May, in the proportion of ten or fifteen pounds per acre. If it be often sown on the same land, the crop will fail; it should therefore be changed for trefoil or lucerne.
Common clover is usually sown together with wheat, in the spring, as well as with barley and oats ; but experienced farmers generally prefer wheat; as, in dry seasons, the cloverinfrequently overpowers the oats or barley; and, if it be sown late in order to obviate this evil, it often fails, and the crop is lost for that season. It is also mixed with rye-grass; and, if mown when the latter is beginning to flower, the lower growth is considerably increased, and a great quantity of excellent grass is obtained. Another advantage arises from this expedient; for, however severe the frost may be, the clover will be completely screened from its piercing effects by the rye-grass. The common clover is in flower from May to September, and produces seeds which are known to be ripe by the stalks and heads changing their colour. Cattle, sheep, and pigs are exceedingly fond of this species, and frequently eat of it so eagerly as to become haven or Mown. That disorder, however, may be prevented by constantly moving them about the field, when turned in, so that the first ball may sink into their maw before the next be deposited. Or, if cattle be turned into clover belly-deep, they will, it is said, receive no injury by eating too freely of it; as it is pernicious only in its earlier state. Should they , nevertheless, be attacked with that dangerous swelling, they may be relieved by adopting the remedies pointed out under the article Cattle, vol. i.p. 464-5.
It deserves to be noticed, that the introduction of this beneficial plant into modern husbandry, has been attended with numerous and important advantages. Since that period, the new system of stall dates its origin. Many in-dicant farms, on the Continent, have since been converted into valuable estates ; for, as this species of clover is annually productive of three or four crops, for two years at least, it is generally . Jughed in, after the last mowing, in .autumn, and wheat or rye, immediately sown on the land, without any other manure, except what is derived from the fertilizing roots of that vegetable. Sometimes, however, gypsum is scattered on such fields during the winter.
In times of great scarcity, bread has been prepared from the flowers of the common clover. In Sweden, the heads are employed for dyeing wool of a green colour; and if mixed with alum, they yield alight, if with copperas, a dark green colour.
2. The medium, or red perennial clover, which is found in pastures, hedges, and on the sides of woods. It thrives on a rich soil, whether clay or gravel, and will even grow upon a moor, if properly cultivated. It grows spontaneously on marl but is usually reared from seed, which should be put in the ground from the middle of April to the middle of May. This species, as well as the common clover, is frequently sown together with flax, on a soil highly cultivate 1 for that purpose and, as the latter is a forward plant, it is generally removed so early as to allow the clover. time for growing. Red clover is sometimes sown by itself; but this practice is by no means to be recommended ; for the crop is liable to be lost, unless it be sheltered in its in state, during the severity of the winter.
When red clover is intended for seed, the ground ought to be carefully cleared of weeds, that the seed may be preserved pure. It is collected both from the first and second crop, but principally from the former. When one half of the field has changed its colour, by the drying of the clover heads, the reaping of them may then be commenced. In America, this is effected by two implements, which, for ingenuity and simplicity of construction, deserve to be greatly recommended : we have therefore subjoined the following dimensions.
I, 2, The shafts, 4 feet 4 inches Jong, and three feet asunder.
3, 4, The handles, 3 feet long, and 20 inches apart.
5, The fingers, or teeth, thirteen inches long.
The wheels are sixteen inches in diameter.
This machine is drawn by one horse, and guided by a man or boy; it simply consists of an open box, about 4 feet square at the bottom, and about 3 in height, on three sides ; to the fore part, which is open, fingers are fixed, similar to those of a cradle, about 3 feet in length, and so near as to break off the heads from the clover-stocks between them, which are thrown back into the box as the horse advances. The box is fixed on an axle-tree, supported by two small wheals, two feet in diameter ; two handles are affixed to the hinder part, by means of which the driver, while he manages the horse, raises or lowers the fingers of the machine, so as to take off all the heads of the grass ; and, as often as the box is filled with them, they are thrown out, and the horse goes on as before.
This instrument is called a cradle, and is made of an oak board, about 18 inches in length and 10 in breadth. The fore-part of it, to the length of 9 inches, is sawed into fingers ; a handle is inserted behind, inclining towards them, and a cloth put round the back part of the board, which is cut somewhat circular, and raised on the handle : this collects the heads or tops of the grass, and prevents them from scattering, as they are struck off by the cradle, which may be made of different sizes ; being smaller in proportion for women and children, who, by means of it, may likewise collect large quantities.
As soon as the clover is mown, it should be immediately raked into small heaps, and exposed in the field, to promote the decay of the husk, as otherwise it will be diffi-cult to obtain the seed. These heaps should be occasionally turned, especially during wet weather, It may, however, be easily ascertained, whether the husks are sufficiently rotten, or dry, by rubbing the heads or tops between the hands • when that is effected, they should be housed, and the seed threshed out when convenient, and cleared with a wire riddle. Lastly, this species is a valuable substitute for the common clover, as it continues much longer in the land.
3. The procumbens or hop-clover, or hop trefoil, which grows in dry meadows and pastures. It flowers in the months of June and July. When mixed with common clover, on light land, it makes a most excellent fodder. This plant is variously called back-grass and nonsuch.
4. The repens, or white-clover, which abounds in meadows and pastures. It also delights in light land, where it will thrive luxuri antly, if frequently rolled. It is usually sown with red clover, ryegrass, or barley, and is in blossom from May to September. It produces the sweetest hay on dry land, especially when mixed with hop-clover and rye-grass ; and possesses this advantage over the common clover, that it will admit of being irrigated. Horses, cows, and goats eat it, but sheep are not fond of it, and hogs totally refuse it.
The great utility of clover in fattening cattle is well known : we shall, therefore, conclude this article with recommending the practice of tippling, generally followed in the north of England, for preserving clover in wet seasons. This is effected by rolling up the grass, immediately after it has been mown, into bundles, or tipples of the size of a small barley sheaf. A band is then drawn out from one side, which is twisted and tied firmly round : the tipple being placed between the knees, the part above the band is drawn through the hands with a twist, and the longest grasses are pulled out, so as to tie in a knot, which finishes the point of the cone, and forms the tipple. The advantages of this practice are obvious to the most superficial observer, as the rain is carried off in manner similar to the thatch of a house; and the sun and wind thoroughly penetrate it, so as to prevent fermentation.
In Scotland, when clover is made into hay, it is formed into ricks, containing from 40 to 60 stone weight, within two or three days after it is cut; thus it remains for two or three weeks, till it is collected into long stacks, some of which consist of 10,000 stone. Few instances occur of hay pre-served in this manner, being damaged by heating ; nor is there the least danger of its taking fire.