Hoeing, or Horse-hoeing, in the drill-husbandry, is the breaking or dividing of the soil by tillage, while the corn, or other plants, are growing ; it differs from the common mode of cultivation, which is always performed before the grain, etc. is sown, and is far more beneficial to the crop than any other method.
Horse-hoeing is practicable only on lands that are easily ploughed ; and it is from inattention to this circumstance, that it has not been attended with success, and has, in many parts of England, fallen into contempt.
Having already, p. 1/1 of this volume, described Mr. Cooke's ingenious hoise-hoe, and given ample directions for its use, we shall, in this place, mention only such implements as have not been specified in the article Drilling, and which merit particular notice.
A horse-hoe on a new plan was contrived a few years since by the ingenious Mr. Ducket, whose inventions we have had frequent occasion to mention. It is made wholly of iron (including the carriage) ; and consists of two common plough-shares, which work from twenty to twenty-four inches of ground in breadth, accordingly as they are winged. These are fixed by means of wedges into a twisted beam, and the whole is put together with such strength, that they may be worked with four horses, at any depth required. Mr. Ducket applies his hoe to various purposes, but chiefly to the eradicating of pea, bean, and other stubbles, in order to prepare them for the plough ; and so effectually does the implement answer, that the corn may be sown, even though the soil should not have been previously ploughed.
In the 2d vol. of Dr. Anderson's Recreations in Agriculture, we meet with an account of an improved method of horse-hoeing ; which is stated to be performed in the most perfect manner, merely by the aid of a double-mould-board-pimigh. It is particularly calculated for the clearing of weeds, etc. from cabbages, round which the earth is heaped, so as to make those plants thrive with uncommon luxuriance. For a minute account of this operation, the reader will consult the work before quoted ; where its superiority over Mr. Tull s horse-hoeing system is pointed out, and the subject illustrated with cuts.
The best season for hoeing good land is, two or three days after rain has fallen, or as soon after as the soil will notad here to the hoe, when at work. Light, dry lands, indeed, may be dressed at almost any time; but the season for hoeing strong clay-soils, is very frequently short and precarious. Hence it will be useful to point out the proper juncture. There is a period between the time of the clay-soils running together so as to form puddles, in consequence of superfluous moisture, and that of their consolidating into hard cakes from great drought; when they are sufficiently tractable. This is the proper season; and whatever land is then hoed, will not cake together, till it has been again penetrated by rain ; in which case the operation is to be repeated at the time just mentioned, and as often as is necessary, till the growing crop begins to cover the soil; when it will in a manner screen the surface of the land against the intense heat of the sun ; and consequently in a great measure prevent the inconveniencies attendant on the consolidation of the soil, during dry weather.
By this successive hoeing, the land will be brought into a high state of improvement; and, if the weather prove favourable, good crops will be obtained, while, by a contrary practice, the soil is rendered useless ; and, from the stagnation of the water, becomes a public nuisance.