The Experimental Farm

“On Thursday afternoon the weather- which has been none too good so far- tempted me to pay a long-meditated visit to the Experimental Farm. The lawns were a vivid green, and although the trees were just breaking bud, the scene was delightful as the sun shone through the ranks of white birch and other trees. 

‘The long perennial border, with its edging of Siberian Scilla, blue as the sky above, was awakening, and Iris Paeonias, and other plants were pushing up to greet the spring; the white blooms of the Arabis, one of the hardiest and earliest of the class were just showing. The crocuses were gone. A clump of leaves, like giant daffodils, attracted my attention; I turned up the label to find it was an Eremurus. Now I have never seen an Eremurus in bloom, so I must visit the Farm when this giant lily blooms later on. 

‘Behind this border was a bed where all “the lesser beauties” of the garden grew: Jacob’s Ladder, Columbines of sorts, Sweet Rocket or Dame’s Violet, and Oriental Poppies among them. 

‘Here I was joined by Mr. George Brown, who took me over the Orchard. Perhaps the most interesting trees were a number of young ‘Melba’ apples, which Mr. Brown assures me are destined to be the apples of the future. They were grown from single buds, grafted into hardy stocks and are now about four feet high. Growing among the trees were lines of rhubrab (sic), some of which- the new Rhuby, originated at Ottawa- had stalks of a glowing red and very distinct; the other was a local variety, with a good deal of green in it, but of a mild flavor and requiring little sugar. All had been raised from seed and kept true by a rigorous selection. 

‘The poultry pens next claimed attention and Mr F. Gregory who was working among them promised me the results of the tests when concluded, for the benefit of my readers. I gathered that some of the hens had an annual production of over 280 eggs to their credit. The big incubator was in operation in a special house and its electric fan to keep the warm air in circulation, kept up a monotonous subdued roaring…

‘Leaving the hatchery I made my way to the glasshouse (Anglice, ‘greenhouse’) which has been erected since my last visit. Here, I believe Mr. Tinney is in charge, though I had not the pleasure of making his acquaintance. Instead of the usual display of tender plants, plots of ripening grain met my gaze; for this is where the plant breeding experiments are carried on. In one corner I noticed a fine pot of lilies, and correctly guessed them to be Lillium regale: it is a new lily and (I have read) was discovered in China about ten years ago. I was afterwards shown a photo of this plant with 28 blooms on one stalk.

The Apiary and Laboratory of Plant Pathology were next visited, and will form the subject of tomorrow’s notes.”

Newsy Notes by Agricola. “The Experimental Farm.” The Charlottetown Guardian, May 18 1929.

Turnips: Their Cultivation

“There is no crop on your farm which can so ill bear delay at this time as your turnips, and unless you can afford to throw away the labour you have expended, and to forgo the benefit of a good supply of turnips for your stock, do this when it should be done, and do it well. If you are shorthanded, get every man woman and child who can lift a hoe, or pull a weed, go to work in earnest, and the job will soon be accomplished; and what is more your children will become expert at turnip culture on which all successful farming in this island will before long depend: and remember that a good turnip hoer never takes his eyes from the ground until called to dinner; recollect this yourselves, and impress it on the children, and there will be no stopping to talk, nor ceasing work to gaze at every passerby, by which so much time is often lost.

Image by WikimediaImages from Pixabay

Source: James Horsefield Peters, Hints to the Farmers of Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown: JJ Pippy, 1851), p32.

Timely Notes on Topics Connected With Silver Fox and Mink Farming

The Guardian Charlottetown. May 5th, 1951.

“During the past ten years the production of ranch mink in the United States and Canada has rapidly increased. Over four times as many mink are now raised on Canadian and American fur farms as ten years ago. From 1940-1945 the average yearly production in the United States and Canada was 525,000 and the estimated 1950 production is close to 2,000,000 in the United States and 350,000 or more in Canada. About ten years ago the first mutation mink made their appearance but in very small quantities, Standards being the vast majority of the pelts to reach the auction companies. Today the situation is different as more mutations were produced last season than the standard dark mink type. A number of these different colors have been popular with the trade and profitable to the breeders but some have not been a paying investment and have been bred at a loss.” 


April 27, 1949

“This afternoon brought our farmers the end of their wood-splitting. From a window, where we sat comfortably at our mending, we saw last sticks being thrown to the heap, and the base of it made neat and compact, and then much as we would stop to regard and admire a fresh-gathered bouquet, the men paused to view their handiwork before leaving the scene of it, the lengthy and toilsome task over at last. ‘It’s remarkable,’ James commented of it when he came in to supper, ‘how much of a chore a fellow can get done, if he only is content to keep at it. A few minutes each day, Ellen, given over to some work or another, will one day give one ‘something done’ to be proud of. You know that was quite a heap of blocks to start at and we with only small time to give to it – some days not as much as a dozen sticks made, but,’ and he drew a happy sigh, ‘just by sticking at it- there it’s done!’”


Wood as Fuel

“There has recently appeared the results of investigations into the wood-fuel supply by the Dominion Fuel Board, and while it contains little that is new to us who are extensive wood users, still, the repetition of some of the outstanding facts may remind us of matters that we have left undone in conserving this source of heat. 

A woodlot in Queens County, PEI.

“Consumption of wood as a household is about one cord per head of population in Canada and therefore constitutes an important item in the fuel bill. The use of wood is primarily confined to the rural districts and to towns near the source of supply for it is inferior to coal in fuel value and, on account of its bulk, costs more to transport.

“From information gathered, it may be shown that there has been for the past twenty years; a continuous shrinkage in the farmers’ woodlots which constitute the chief source of supply. To such an extent has depletion proceeded that split rail fences and even roadside and hedgerow trees are now a considerable item in the fuel wood supply. 

“This depletion is not attributable to any lessening of acreage as a general thing, but to the lack of foresight and care, principally due to the grazing of livestock which has served to prevent germination of seeds, killed off seedlings and injured standing timber. This is a point in which we display much apathy.

“The tendency today, largely due to these conditions, is to the use of coal and oil and this when accentuated will add considerably to Canada’s fuel problems.

A woodlot in Queens County, PE.

“Experience in other places has shown that the rehabilitation of run down wood-lots will require fifteen to twenty years of the most expert care and only a meagre yield of one quarter (or at most one half) of the normal producing capacity can be realized in the interval. The wood-lot owner has, in the main, still to be educated in the proper method of wood-lot management, and as this can only be made effective after many years training there seems to be no prospect of marked improvement in fuel production from wood-lots in the near future: rather, I imagine, the reverse.”

Newsy Notes by Agricola. February 28, 1929.