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The best remedy for these maladies, so long as grain is in the blade, is the weeding-hook, and, at the moment of sowing, ashes.1 As to those diseases which develop themselves in the seed and about the root, with due care precautions may be effectually employed against them. It is generally supposed that if seed has been first steeped in wine,2 it will be less exposed to disease. Virgil3 recommends that beans should be drenched with nitre and amurca of olives; and he says that if this is done, they will be all the larger. Some persons, again, are of opinion, that they will grow of increased size, if the seed is steeped for three days before it is sown in a solution of urine and water. If the ground, too, is hoed three times, a modius of beans in the pod, they say, will yield not less than a modius of shelled4 beans. Other seeds, again, it is said, will be exempt from the attacks of maggots, if bruised cypress5 leaves are mixed with them, or if they are sown just at the moon's conjunction. Many persons, for the more effectual protection of millet, recommend that a bramble-frog should be carried at night round the field before the hoeing is done, and then buried in an earthen vessel in the middle of it. If this is done, they say, neither sparrows nor worms will attack the crop. The frog, however, must be disinterred before the millet is cut; for if this is neglected, the produce will be bitter. It is pretended, too, that all seeds which have been touched by the shoulders of a mole are remarkably productive.

Democritus recommends that all seeds before they are sown should be steeped in the juice of the herb known as "aizoüm,"6 which grows on tiles or shingles, and is known to us by the Latin name of "sedum" or "digitellum."7 If blight pre- vails, or if worms are found adhering to the roots, it is a very common remedy to sprinkle the plants with pure amurca of olives without salt, and then to hoe the ground. If, however, the crop should be beginning to joint, it should be stubbed at once, for fear lest the weeds should gain the upper hand. I know for certain8 that flights of starlings and sparrows, those pests to millet and panic, are effectually driven away by means of a certain herb, the name of which is unknown to me, being buried at the four corners of the field: it is a wonderful thing to relate, but in such case not a single bird will enter it. Mice are kept away by the ashes of a weasel or a cat being steeped in water and then thrown upon the seed, or else by using the water in which the body of a weasel or a cat has been boiled. The odour, however, of these animals makes itself perceived in the bread even; for which reason it is generally thought a better plan to steep the seed in ox-gall.9 As for mildew, that greatest curse of all to corn, if branches of laurel are fixed in the ground, it will pass away from the field into the leaves of the laurel. Over-luxuriance in corn is repressed by the teeth of cattle,10 but only while it is in the blade; in which case, if depastured upon ever so often, no injury to it when in the ear will be the result. If the ear, too, is once cut off, the grain, it is well known, will assume a larger11 form, but will be hollow within and worthless, and if sown, will come to nothing.

At Babylon, however, they cut the blade twice, and then let the cattle pasture on it a third time, for otherwise it would run to nothing but leaf. Even then, however, so fertile is the soil, that it yields fifty, and, indeed, with care, as much as a hundred, fold. Nor is the cultivation of it attended with any difficulty, the only object being to let the ground be under water as long as possible, in order that the extreme richness and exuberance of the soil may be modified. The Euphrates, however, and the Tigris do not deposit a slime, in the same way that the Niles does in Egypt, nor does the soil produce vegetation spontaneously; but still, so great is the fertility, that, although the seed is only trodden in with the foot, a crop springs up spontaneously the following year. So great a dif- ferrous in soils as this, reminds me that I ought to take this opportunity of specifying those which are the best adapted for the various kinds of grain.

1 This will only prevent the young plants from becoming a prey to snails and slugs.

2 This plan is attended with no good results.

3 Georg. i. 193. It is generally said that if seed is steeped in a solution of nitre, and more particularly hydrochloric acid, it will germinate with accelerated rapidity; the produce, however, is no finer than at other times.

4 "Fractæ." Perhaps, more properly "crushed."

5 The odour of cypress, or savin, Fée thinks, might possibly keep away noxious insects.

6 The "always living," or perennial plant, our "house-leek," the Sedum acre of Linnæus. See E. xxv. c. 102.

7 "Little finger," from the shape of the leaves.

8 He must have allowed himself to be imposed upon in this case.

9 Fée thinks that this may possibly be efficacious against the attacks of rats, as the author of the Geoponica, B. x., states.

10 Virgil, Georg. i. 111, recommends the same plan, and it is still followed by agriculturists. It is not without its inconveniences, however.

11 This is not consistent with truth, for no fresh ear will assume its place.

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