Moss-Land, an expression used in Scotland, and also in various parts of England, for denoting what is more properly called a Morass, Bog, or Fen.
The theory of mosses is foreign to our plan ; and as we have already stated the most approved methods of cultivating swampy soils, under the respective heads above mentioned, and also under the articles Marsh and Moor ; we shall now give the substance of an ingenious method of converting mosses into rich vegetable mould, proposed by Mr. John Smith, of Swindrig Muir, Ayrshire, Scotland; who published a small pamphlet on this subject, at Edinburgh, in 1798.
The first step will be to mark out proper main-drains for carrying off all superfluous moisture; at the same time taking care to preserve an accurate level. These drains should be eight feet wide at the top, four feet and a half deep, and gradually contract to two feet and a half in width at the bottom: they serve both to drain the soil, and to divide the field into inclosures, comprising from six to ten Scotch acres.
The ridges are next to be marked regularly, formed with a gentle declivity, and not too high; being six or seven yards in breadth, and worked with a spade in the following manner. A space of about 20 inches, in the middle of each ridge, remains untouched : on each side of which a furrow is made, and turned upon such central spot, so as to cover it completely. The labourer then continues to cut the moss with a spade to the width of about 13 inches, and to turn it over in the same manner as if it had been ploughed, till he arrives at the division -furrow; which ought to be about two feet in width, cut out, and thrown upon the sides of the ridges. The depth of this furrow varies according to circumstances ; but it should be so regulated, as to answer the purpose of collateral trenches, serving to conduct the water into the main-drains.
All the ridges must now be top' dressed with shell-lime, in the proportion of from 160 to 200, or 220 Winchester bushels ; which should be spread on the land during the summer, and (if possible), immediately after it has been slaked; because the lime, when acted upon by heat, the autumnal rains, and the winter frosts, putrifies more speedily, and thus prepares a proper mould.
The first and most beneficial crop-to be raised from mosses, will be potatoes; for which purpose, beds from five to six feet broad should be marked out in the spring, across the ridges, with intervening furrows or trenches, about two feet in width. These beds must be covered with a thin layer of dung, on which the potatoe cuttings are placed, about 12 inches asunder ; the whole is spread with a thin stratum of moss, that is succeeded by another layer, as soon as the potatoes appear above the surface of the ground. No hoeing or other cultivation is necessary, till the crop be taken up, which seldom amounts to less than 320Winchester bushels.
When the potatoes are removed, the ridges should be formed a second time, in the manner above described ; and the division-furrow cleared out, for the reception of oats, which are sown in the spring, and covered in by means of a small harrow drawn by two men. The amount of the crop is asserted to be, in general, about 60 Winchester bushels per acre; the grain being in all respects equal to that produced on other soils. So beneficial, indeed, are the effects of lime, in consolidating and ameli orating the moss, that fire, and even six, successive crops of oats have been obtained, without any appearance of its bring exhausted ; that often at the end of the second, and always of the third year, it acquires sufficient firmness to be ploughed by two horses, to within two touts or stitches of the division-furrow. Farther, the seed should he harrowed in by horses and, when the oats are ripe, they may be removed from the field in carts, without the moss sinking or rendering the carriage difficult.' Such is theoutline of Mr. SMiTHs method, which deserves to be more generally known, espe-cially in lancashire and those bounties that abound with mo-.
rasses or fens. We cannot,. however, pmit to intention, that some intelligent farmers conceive this mode of cultivation to be practi-cable only on shallow mosses; though in the essay above cited, Mr. Smith states that he has suc-cessfully practised itwith such as were fourteen feet in depth.