There are many varieties of the turnip, which are cultivated, both for feeding cattle, and for culinary purposes; but we shall enumerate only the principal, namely :
1. The Oval, Common White-stock, or Norfolk Turnip.
3. The Purple-stock resembles the first variety, excepting that its size is somewhat smaller ; the rind is of a dark-red or purple colour; and its pulp is also more close and firm, than that of the Common Norfolk turnip. It withstands the severity of winter, without receiving material injury, and is more succulent in the spring; but, not being relished by cattle so well as either of the two preceding varieties, it is not generally cultivated.
4. The Ruta-baga, or Swedish turnip, is one of the most valuable roots of the kind. Its inside is either white or yellow; which colour, however, does not affect its quality: it is more hardy than either of the preceding varieties, and suffers no injury from the most intense cold. - As this turnip, when allowed to seed near the Oval, or Norfolk white, produces numerous varieties; it has been conjectured, that a new sort may, by a judicious intermixture, be obtained, which will probably acquire from the one, a sufficient degree of hardiness, to resist the winter; and, from the other, an increase of size, as well as a quicker growth.
5. The Hastings is a new variety, imported, several years since, from Tibet, in Asia, by Governor Hastings. - This plant has not been hitherto cultivated to any extent ; but it appears, as far as we can ascertain, to be one of the most wholesome and profitable roots of this species.
Turnips, in general, succeed better in light soils, consisting of a mixture of sand and loam, than in very rich or heavy lands : - the crops of the latter will be rank, and run to flower at too early a period of the spring ; though their weight may not be perceptibly diminished.
These roots are raised from seed, which ought to be changed annually, or every second year, without exception; as it is apt to degenerate, and the quality of the roots will consequently be impaired. The season for sowing, varies according to the time of feeding : thus, if the turnips be intended for feeding cattle from December to February, the seed must be committed to the ground from the middle of May to the end of June; but, in case they be designed to supply food till May, it should not be sown before the latter end of July, or early in August.
The quantity of seed depends upon the method of culture; for, if it be broad-cast, 2 lbs. per acre will be necessary : but a more advantageous mode is that of Drilling, in rows three feet asunder, which requires only one pound of seed. Although we have given an account, vol ii. pp. 166-82, of the most valuable Drill-machines, yet as two implements of this description have lately been contrived, for the express purpose of drilling turnips, we have been induced, from their remarkable simplicity, and practical utility, to furnish our readers with a complete account and delineation of such improvements.
In the year 1801, the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, etc. granted a premium of 10 guineas and a silver medal, to the Rev. T. C. Munnings, for his invention of a Turnip-drill, of which he communicated a model, accompanied with a narrative of experiments, to determine " the comparative advantage of the drill or broad-cast method, in the cultivation of turnips." - It consists of a tin box, resembling the shape of a barrel, which is fixed to the axis of a wheel about 22 inches in diameter, and vertical with such box; dropping the seed, during its revolutions, through certain small apertures, which are in the middle of the barrel, about 14 inches asunder.
Description of the Turnip-Drill, invented by the Rev. T. C. Munnings.
[Plate I. Supplement.] Fig. 1. - A, the wheel with an iron rim.
B, the tin barrel, or seed-box, which is fixed to the axis of such wheel.
C, the opening, through which the seed is introduced into the box; and which is afterwards closed by a cover.
D, a semi-circular plate of tin, the design of which is to exclude all impurities from the seed-box.
E, E, the two handles of the ma-chine.
Fig. 3. - F, represents the seed-box on a larger scale.
G, the holes in the tin box, through which the seed falls upon the. land.
H, part of. the axis of the wheel, to which the seed-box is fixed.
Mr. Munnings considers his-drill for turnips, as much superior to any other, from the single circumstance of its depositing the seed so instantly after the plough, as entirely to preserve the good effects of the first evaporation : and he conceives, that such evaporation contributes to the uniform vegetation of minute seeds. Thus, in the six acres of his drilled plants, there was not a deficiency of six square yards; though, on three acres of broad-cast, before rain fell, not one half, perhaps not one-third, of the seeds vegetated. He is fully persuaded, that the drill-method, in the cultivation of turnips, will, in all seasons, be superior to the broad-cast; but, that the very great and striking difference between the two methods, will most effectually be perceived in a season of uncommon drought.
The second drill machine is, that contrived by Thomas Andrew Knight, Esq. of Elton, near Ludlow; on whom the Patriotic Society above mentioned, in 1801, conferred their silver medal.
Description of Mr. Knight's Drill-Machine for Sowing Turnip-Seed.
[Plate II. Supplement.]
Fig. 2. - A, is an iron wheel; which, running on its edge, formed by two concave sides, makes the groove, into which the seeds fall.
B, a wheel, that moves on the same axis as that marked A, and turns the wheel C, which gives out the seed, by means of a strap.
D, the tube, through which the seed passes, and falls into the channel made by the iron wheel.
E, are the feet of the implement.
F, represents six lengths of a jack-chain, which Mr. Knight finds to cover the seed remarkably well; and which he believes to be preferable to any kind of harrow ; as it can never become obstructed by the loose straw generally occurring on the surface of land recently manured.
G, I, the seed-box.
H, H, the handles of the machine.
Fig. 3, is a section, on a larger scale, of the seed-box G, in Fig. 2. - The wheel marked C, is the same in both figures : it is fixed on the axis of the cylinder I, the surface of which is perforated with holes, as at K, for the distribution of the seed. Such cylinder revolves within a groove, at the bottom of the box; in which it is so firmly fixed, that no seed can pass through, without being delivered by the holes K.
L, is a small brush, rubbing against the cylinder, for clearing out any seeds that may remain in the holes. - The seeds fall into the tube beneath the cylinder, whence they are conveyed into the furrow or channel, made by the indenting rim of the iron wheel; being then covered with soil by the loose chains above described.
Fig. 4. - A front view of the. wheel, exhibiting its edge: the angle forming that edge must be made more or less acute, and the strength of the machine in proportion to that of the soil. Mr. Knight has, sometimes, added weights of lead over the axis of the wheel ; but he observes, that they will seldom be required: having tried the instrument on different soils, with equal success. Great advantage may be derived from sowing turnips with it, at the time when horses, now commonly employed for such purpose, are otherwise engaged. In this respect, a few days are frequently of importance ; as the plants, in consequence of fortunate rains, obtain a remarkable superiority over those which have been sown a few days later.
The labour of using this machine is so easy, that a workman usually drills four statute acres, or somewhat more, in one day ; the rows being at the distance of 18 or 20 inches, and the plants six inches apart in the row. - It is necessary either to harrow the ground across, or to roll it, previously to the instrument being used, that the labourer may see the rows he has made; but, Mr. Knight remarks, that he always found the crop to succeed better, after the roller, than after the harrow, even in very strong lands.
When the turnips have Jive leaves, they must be hoed, and thinned so as to be six inches apart, whether sown by the drill or broad-cast method ; in the course of another month, or sooner if the weather prove, wet, the hoeing ought to be repeated, and the plants be left (according to some agriculturists), at least 14 inches asunder. These roots must likewise be kept clear of all weeds; for which purpose a horse-hoe is usually employed: but, as many farmers, in distant parts of the island, may not be provided with that implement, we have annexed the following figures of a plough, employed chiefly in the county of Roxburgh, for the express purpose of cleaning turnips. It consists of two ploughs, which are of a size considerably less than those in common use : each of them without the small stilt or handle, but joined together with wooden and iron bars; so that both instruments may be fixed at any requisite distance, for taking the earth from turnips: on being brought closely together, they form a common double-miould-board-plough, that may be advantageously used for passing between the drills, and forming the ridges.
Fig. 1, is a view of the plough, when ready for removing the soil from turnips (as it appears to a person standing on one side and to wards its front) ; each beam hav-ing its distinct coulter, and feathered sock. - A, B, is a strong iron rod, formed into a screw, for the greater part of its length : this screw, being affixed to the left hand beam at A, passes through the other beam, to which it is attached by means of two nuts with handles, marked a and b; and, when firmly screwed on each side of such beam, it fixes both at any distance required.
C, and D, are two wooden (or sometimes iron) bars, that are fixed in a similar manner to the left-hand beam, and passed through the other, where they are secured by wedges.
E, is a bar of iron, which is likewise inserted through both beams; being perforated with holes, for fixing the bridle, by which the plough is drawn. The mould-boards are fastened to the sheaths by hinges, and are placed at any requisite width, by means of two iron pins, f and g; which, descending through the beams, pass through holes made in a thin iron bar, fixed to the inside of each mould-board. - F, and G, are the two feathered socks.
Fig. 2, is a bird's-eye view of the same implement ; in which the manner of altering the mould-board may be more clearly perceived. - When the plough is employed in this way, it is drawn by two horses.
Fig. 3, is another view of the plough, from above; when the two beams are brought into contact, forming one double-mould-board-plough. In such case, the coulters are removed; the two socks are taken off; and that marked H, is put upon the points of both the sheaths, so as to clean the bottom of the furrow between the drills, while it to keep the two sheaths firmly together. The machine is now drawn by one horse. - The advantages derived from the use of this implement are great ; as double the work of a common plough may thus be performed; and, as the machine does not, like the latter, lay the soil too much upon the drill. - Sometimes, the Roxburgh plough is made with two additional moveable mould-boards, which are suspended by hooks ; when the two beams are separated, as in Fig. l, and 2. In this case, it will set up two drills at once ; though it ought then to be made proportionally stronger, and to be drawn by two horses.
In the 4th vol. of the Letters and Papers of the Bath and West of England Society, we find an account of a peculiar and. very successful cultivation of turnips; by J. Kirkpatkick, Esq. of the Isle of Wight. He states, that a Mr. Cubitt Gray, of Southrepps, Norfolk, never harrows his land, till it is to be ploughed again; but leaves it as open as possible, in order to warm it; conceiving that land can never be too warm or dry for turnips; in consequence of which, he has uniformly, for the last 16 years, had the best crops ; even though the sowing season was dry. - Notwithstanding every precaution, it frequently happens in turnip-fields, that large spots remain barren : we have, therefore, subjoined the following representation of a simple instrument invented by Mr. Gray, for the purpose of filling up such vacant spaces from the adjoining parts of the same field; and which has also been em ployed for transplanting other vegetables
The handle A, must be held with the left hand ; and the short handle B, drawn up with the right. The transplanter should next be put over the vegetable intended to be taken up, and forced into the ground with the foot : it is then to be twisted round, and carefully drawn up, so that the earth may adhere to the root. A hole should; in the mean time; be made by an assistant, furnished with a similar instrument, for the reception of the turnip; the root be conveyed in the first transplanter ; and deposited in the cavity : after which, the right hand being kept steady, the left must be gradually raised; when the earth and plant will be left in the hole undisturbed.
Turnips are subject to the depredations of numerous inserts, and particularly to those of the following, namely :
1. The Black Canker; which see.
2. The Black Fly; an insect which may be prevented from attacking turnips, by sowing them between beans ; or, by adding one-fifth part of radish-seed to the former, and rolling it into the ground. The steeping of turnip-seed in water, for 24 hours previously to sowing, is likewise believed to secure the future roots against injury ; but the most efficacious method appears to be that adopted by the late Earl of Or-ford (Annals of Agriculture, vol. xiv.) : it simply consists in immersing the seed in train-oil, during the night before it is sown. The roots do not acquire any ill taste; and seven gallons of such oil are stated to be sufficient for steeping a quantity of seed that will cover 200 acres. - See also vol. ii. p. 315.
3. The Slug, to which we refer.
4. The Worm, an insect feeding upon the root ; in consequence of which, the plant gradually withers, and at length perishes. - No certain remedy has been hitherto devised for destroying this depredator; but it has been conjectured, that its ravages may be prevented, by manuring the soil with soapboiler's ashes.
The turnip is one of the most valuable roots raised for culinary, or economical purposes. - Its young tops, when boiled, afford a good substitute for greens; and, though nutritive, they are somewhat flatulent; which property may, however, be corrected by the addition of pepper and vinegar. More wholesome, and easy of digestion, are the Swedish Turnips; but they should not be long kept in heaps; being thus apt to become rank, and, consequently, still more indigestible. - Mixed with wheaten flour, and properly baked, the Ru-ta-baga furnishes a nutritious kind of BRead. - See vol. i. p. 329.
Farther, Knolles are very useful as a fallow-crop; and for fattening cattle of every kind. Thus, if sheep be fed with them in the manner directed p. 59, of this vol. they will thrive uncommonly, and iheir flesh will acquire a delicate flavour. With the mercenary view of obtaining the greatest profit, some sheep-breeders in Lincolnshire extract the lore-teeth of culled ewes, and turn them into the field, where they speedily fatten on tops, without biting the roots. Turnips likewise afford an invigorating food to horses ; and, when into small pieces, these animals will be induced to eat chaff, and other provender, with a good appetite. Such food not only pre-serves them in health, but also saves the expence of corn: their coats are thus rendered perfectly smooth ; and, if the Ruta-baga be used, it is eminently calculated to cure the grease. - Cows devour both the tops and roots of turnips, with equal eagerness; and, as their milk is apt to acquire a peculiar flavour from the former, the butter obtained from it may be rendered perfectly sweet, by mixing one quart of boiling water with eight of the new milk, immediately on its arrival in the dairy ; after which it may be put into the usual vessels to stand for cream. - See also vol. i. p. 406.
Lastly, the roots of turnips being of such extensive utility, different means of preserving them from frost, and decay, have been contrived; and of which the following appears to be the most suc-cessful. After drawing the turnips in February, and cutting off the tops and tap-roots (which may be given to sheep), Mr. Varlo directs them to be exposed on dry soil, for a few days: a layer of straw should next be spread on the ground ; and, on this, a stratum of turnips, about two feet thick : other layers of straw and roots are then to be formed alternately, till the top be carried to a point; the edges of the straw being turned up, to prevent the turnips from rolling out. The whole should now be covered with straw, which will serve as a thatch ; one load being sufficient for 40 tons of roots. Thus managed, the turnips will be effectually sheltered against the frost; and may, for several months, be kept in a sound state.
Turnep. - In November, 1801, a patent was granted to Mr. William Jackson, for a machine or drill designed to sow turnips. - By this contrivance, turnip, rape, or similar small round seeds, may be drilled at any requisite distance: it may farther be adapted to the width of any furrow; and, by means of certain ingenious machinery, the seed may be deposited either under such furrow, or upon the ground. - Our limits not permitting us to detail the constituent parts of Mr. Jackson's drill, we can only state, that his implement unites cheapness with utility, and may be purchased for the small price of ll. 11s. 6d.: hence we refer the reader to the 16th vol. of the " Repertory of Arts" etc. where the specification is illustrated with an engraving.