17 DECEMBER 1943, Page 14


AT a certain scientific farm a number of urban folk are being employed, and those with a profounder knowledge of the country are urged both to plumb and illumine their ignorance. This is deep. A man, who was in the London August blitz, spoke of the annual full moon shining at that date. His friends maintained that /here was more than one full moon in the year ; and the gardener was called in to settle the controversy. No one suggested the right number. Very few of the young people know in what direction the sun rises and sets, and a number think it passes exactly overhead. What is the raw material of hay proved an unanswerable question, though some, who had helped at a threshing, knew something about straw. The direction of the wind could never be imparted, because the pupils could not learn the points of the compass. It goes without saying that trees and birds were undistinguished. Most learners had not reached even the level of a Londoner of my acquaintance who divides birds into three classes: eagles, sparrows and domestic fowls.

Farmers' Brains Trust

In a country town last week was held an agricultural Brains Trust meeting ; and—to my surprise—farmers assembled in great force and listened with obvious admiration to the answers. Some of the points raised were of no little scientific as well as practical interest and import- ance. For example: machines are now available which will sow an artificial manure with the seed. Is this a good idea? The answer was that if this is done in an autumn sowing the premature stimulus may in the sequel destroy the seedling ; but that the quick get-away may be valuable in spring, especially late spring sowings. The Brains Trusts, which are becoming general, are quite certainly helping to dissipate the farmer's suspicion of the man of science who is not a practical farmer. Incidentally some of the men of science themselves begin to feel that artificial manures have been too highly praised and to support Jorrock's huntsman, the immortal Pigg, whose electioneering cry was "muck's your man "—only muck or its equivalent may now be supplied by the compost-pit or straw heap without the help of the animal.

Books on Flowers and Birds

A postscript should be added to an earlier note on the achievements of a Leicester philosophic society in the way of a bird census. Two humble booklets with brightly-coloured illustrations, one on flowers, one on birds, have been produced, and to my eye are better designed than any I have seen to interest and inform children. Clear, truthful, with just the right touch of ingenuousness, they would be a godsend in any elementary school. They should be re-printed, for, I believe, the supply, strictly limited by the paper control, is exhausted.

Populous Dumps Dumps of London rubbish in country places are to be condemned. They are hideous and help to multiply rats and flies but it has to be confessed that, like sewage farms, they attract birds and distribute even rare flowers. The other day a precious Spanish flower was discovered on one, and some of the elders which always spring up in such places were adorned with Virginia creepers. Plover, gulls and bunches of linnets and finches are always to be found there, as well as a good sprinkling of pheasants, which delighted especially in the nightshade which is one of the common weeds in such places and in the tomatoes which are always sown by London rubbish. At the same time dumping should not be allowed, if only because it spoils agricultural land ; and the wisdom of forbidding the practice will be put up to the planners by the local County Advisory Committees.

In the Garden The small unheated greenhouse, now very widely spread even to cottage gardens, often seems rather colder than out-of-doors. It does not keep out the frost. However, it should not be disused for this reason It keeps out the wet, which is the chief danger to such green plants as winter lettuces, and it enables plants to be tucked up under counterpanes of sacking or what not. Rhubarb, for example, may be more successfully forced than under pots out-of-doors. When to pull up spring cabbages (which will grow again and again after cutting) is always a question. One is usually advised to do it early: but poultry do not agree. Today my hens will devour the cabbage almost as greedily as their balance meal. The garden in war-time should supply " feed " and fodder, 2 well as food. Incidentally cattle are fond of Jerusalem artichokes and do

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