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System of Agriculture.

The system of agriculture pursued in this colony, does not materially differ from that which prevails in this country. During the earlier stages of these settlements, the hoe-husbandry was a necessary evil; but the great


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increase in the stock of horses and cattle, has at last almost completely superseded it; and the plough-husbandry is now, and has been for many years past, in general practice. In new lands, indeed, the hoe is still unavoidably used during the first year of their cultivation, on account of the numerous roots and other impediments to the plough, with which lands in a state of nature invariably abound; but excepting these occasions, and the instances of settlers who are unable to purchase horses or oxen, and consequently adhere to the original mode of cultivation from necessity, the hoe-husbandry is completely exploded. Until the year 1803, eighteen years after the foundation of this colony, the plough-husbandry was confined to a few of the richest cultivators, from the exorbitant price of cattle. At that period, however, the government herds had so considerably multiplied, that the then governor (King) recommended the adoption of the plough-husbandry in general orders, and tendered oxen at £28 per head, to be paid either in produce or money, at the end of three years, to all such settlers as were inclined to purchase them. This custom has been followed by all his successors; but as no abatement has been made in the price of them, and as they can be obtained at one-third the amount elsewhere, such only of the colonists now avail themselves of this indulgence, as have


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no ready means of purchase, and are allured by the length of the credit.

Wheat, maize, barley, oats, and rye, are all grown in this colony; but the two former are most cultivated. The climate appears to be rather too warm for the common species of barley and oats; but the poorer soils produce them of a tolerably good quality. The skinless barley, or as it is termed by some, the Siberian wheat, arrives at very great perfection, and is in every respect much superior to the common species of barley; but the culture of this grain is limited to the demand which is created for it by the colonial breweries; the Indian corn, or maize, being much better adapted for the food of horses, oxen, pigs, and poultry. The produce too is much more abundant than that of barley and oats; and the season for planting it being two months later than for any other sort of grain, the settler has every motive for giving it the preference. Wheat may be sown any time from February to July, and even as late as August, if that month happens to be moist; but the best months are April, May, and June. The creeping wheat, however, may be sown in the commencement of February; as should it become too rank, it can easily be kept down by sheep, which are found to do this sort of wheat no manner of injury. To the farmer, therefore,


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who keeps large flocks of sheep, the cultivation of the creeping wheat is highly advantageous; since in addition to its yielding as great a crop as any other species of wheat, it supersedes the necessity of growing turnips or other artificial food for the support of his stock during the severity of the winter, when the natural grasses become scanty and parched up by the frost. The red and white lammas, and the Cape or bearded wheat, are the species generally cultivated. June is the best month for sowing barley and oats, but they may be sown till the middle of August with a fair prospect of a good crop. Indian corn or maize may be planted from the end of September to the middle of December; but October is the best month. It is, however, a very common practice among the settlers on the fertile banks of the Hawkesbury and Nepean, to plant what is called stubble corn; that is, to plant it among the wheat, barley, and oat stubbles, as soon as the harvest is over, without ploughing or breaking up the ground. Maize is frequently planted in this way until the middle of January, and if the season proves sufficiently moist, yields a very abundant crop. The usual manner of planting it is in holes about six feet apart: five grains are generally put in each of these holes. The average produce of this grain on rich flooded lands, is from eighty to a hundred bushels per acre.


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Wheat in the same situations yields from thirty to forty bushels; and barley and oats, about fifty bushels an acre. On forest lands, however, the crops are not so productive, unless the ground be well manured; but the wheat, barley and oats, grown on this land, are much heavier and superior in quality. The difference of the weight of wheat grown in forest and flooded lands, is upon an average not less than 8 lbs. per bushel. The former sort weighing 64 lbs. and the latter only 56 lbs.

The wheat harvest commences partially about the middle of November, and is generally over by Christmas. The maize, however, is not ripe until the end of March, and the gathering is not complete throughout the colony before the middle of May.

notePotatoes, cabbages, carrots, parsnips, turnips, pease, beans, cauliflowers, brocoli, asparagus, lettuces, onions, and in fact every species of vegetables known in this country, are produced in this colony; many of them attain a much superior degree of perfection, but a few also degenerate. To the former class belong the cauliflower and brocoli, and the different varieties of the pea; to the latter the bean and potatoe. For the bean,


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in particular, the climate appears too hot, and it is only to be obtained in the stiffest clays and the dampest situations. The potatoe, however, is produced on all soils in the greatest abundance, but the quality is not nearly as good as in this country. In this respect, however, much depends on the nature of the soil. In stiff clays the potatoes are invariably watery and waxy, but in light sands and loams, they are tolerably dry and mealy. Manure also deteriorates their quality, and in general they are best when grown on new lands. Potatoes are in consequence very commonly planted in the fields, as a first crop, and are found to pulverize land just brought from a state of nature into cultivation more than other root. An abundant crop of wheat, barley, or oats, may be safely calculated to succeed them; more particularly if a light covering of manure be applied at the time of their planting.

The colony is justly famed for the goodness and variety of its fruits: Peaches, apricots, nectarines, oranges, grapes, pears, plums, figs, pomegranates, raspberries, strawberries, and melons of all sorts, attain the highest degree of maturity in the open air; and even the pineapple may be produced merely by the aid of the common forcing glass. The climate, however, of Port Jackson, is not altogether congenial to the growth of the apple, currant, and gooseberry;


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although the whole of these fruits are produced there, and the apple, in particular, in very great abundance; but it is decidedly inferior in quality to the apple of this country. These fruits, however, arrive at the greatest perfection in every part of Van Diemen's Land; and as the climate of the country to the westward of the Blue Mountains, is equally cold, they will without doubt attain there an equal degree of perfection; but the short period which has elapsed since the establishment of a settlement beyond these mountains, has not allowed the nltramontanians to make the experiment.

Of all the fruits which I have thus enumerated as being produced in this colony, the peach is the most abundant and the most useful. The different varieties which have been already introduced, succeed one another in uninterrupted succession from the middle of November to the latter end of March: thus filling up an interval of more than four months, and affording a wholesome and nutritious article of food during one-third of the year. This fruit grows spontaneously in every situation, on the richest soils, as on the most barren; and its growth is so rapid that if you plant a stone, it will in three years afterwards bear an abundant crop of fruit. Peaches are, in consequence, so plentiful throughout the colony, that they are every


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where given as food to hogs; and when thrown into heaps, and allowed to undergo a proper degree of fermentation, are found to fatten them very rapidly. Cider also is made in great quantities from this fruit, and when of sufficient age, affords a very pleasant and wholesome beverage. The lees, too, after the extraction of the juice, possess the same fattening properties, and are equally calculated as food for hogs.

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