Image from page 199 of "An encyclopædia of agriculture [electronic resource] : comprising the theory and practice of the valuation, transfer, laying out, improvement, and management of landed property, and the cultivation and economy of the animal and veg
Title: An encyclopædia of agriculture [electronic resource] : comprising the theory and practice of the valuation, transfer, laying out, improvement, and management of landed property, and the cultivation and economy of the animal and vegetable productions of agriculture, including all the latest improvements, a general history of agriculture in all countries, and a statistical view of its present state, with suggestions for its future progress in the British Isles
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156 HISTORY OF AGRICULTURE. Pari I. (fig. 126.) China, Dr. Abel observes, from the great extent of latitude contained in its boundaries, and from its extensive plains and lofty mountains, partakes of the advan- tages and defects of many climates, and displays a country of features infinitely varied by nature. Every thing artificial, however, has nearly the same characters in every province.
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965. TJie soil varies exceedingly : it is in many parts not naturally fertile ; but has almost every where been rendered so by the application' of culture and manure for- suc- cessive ages. 966. The landed property of China is considered as the absolute right of-the emperor : but the sub-proprietor, or first holder, is never turned out of possession as long as he continues to pay about the tenth part of what his farm is supposed capable of yielding; and, though the holder of lands is only considered as a tenant at will, it is his own fault if he is dispossessed. If any one happens to hold more than his family can con- veniently cultivate, he lets it to another, on condition of receiving half the produce, out of which he pays the whole of the emperor's taxes. The greater part of the poor peasantry cultivate land on these terms. In China there are no immense estates, no fisheries are let out to farm. Every subject is equally entitled to the free and uninter- rupted enjoyment of the sea, of the coasts, of the estuaries, of the lakes and rivers. There are no manor lords with exclusive privileges, nor any game laws. 967. The agricultural products of China extend to every useful vegetable. There is scarcely a grain, a fruit, a tree, or a culinary vegetable of Europe, or the rest of the world, that they do not cultivate; and they have a number peculiar to themselves. Fowl and fish are not extensively reared, as the chief articles of diet are vegetables. Rice is the common grain of the country ; a species of cabbage, the universal culinary vegetable ; swine, the most abundant live stock ; and tea, the chief plant of export. 968. The tea districts of China extend from the 27th to the 31st degree of latitude. According to the missionaries, it thrives in the more northern provinces ; and from Kaempfer it appears to be cultivated in Japan as far north as lat. 45°. It seems, according to Dr. Abel's observation, to succeed best on the sides of mountains, where there can be but little accumulation of vegetable mould. The soils from which he collected the best specimens consisted chiefly of sandstone, schistus, or granite. The land forming the Cape of Good Hope consisting of the same rocks, and its geographical position corresponding to that of the tea districts of China, Dr. Abel considers it might be grown there, if desirable, to such an extent as to supersede the necessity of procuring it from China. It grows well in St. Helena and Rio Janeiro, and will grow any where in a meagre soil and moderate temperature. 969. The culture of the tea plant in China has been given by various authors. It is raised from seeds sown where the plants are to remain. Three or more are dropped into a hole four or five inches deep ; these come up without further trouble, and require little culture, except that of removing weeds, till the plants are three years old. The more careful stir the soil, and some manure it; but the latter practice is seldom adopted. The third year the leaves are gathered, at three successive gatherings, in February, April, and June, and so on till the bushes become stinted or tardy in their growth, which generally happens in from six to ten years. They are then cut-in to encourage the production of fresh shoots.
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