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CULPEPER'S COMPLETE HERBAL
ROOT OF SCARCITY
Description. This is a species of the beet-root, and grows in the same manner. It is but lately known in England, where it grows very readily.
In Germany, where the greatest advantages have been derived from it, it is called dick reuben, (the great turnip;) dick wurzel, (the great root;) and mangel wurzel, (the root of scarcity) - because it is a literal translation of the name often given to it by the Germans, and because it is expressive of the properties of the plant which it denotes. It might, indeed, be called the root of abundance, which would be no great deviation from the German name, and which would be expressive of one of the principle properties of this plant; which is, constantly to thrive, and to produce a very great crop, even when other kinds of roots and vegetables fail, and when there is a general scarcity of forage.
Government and virtues. This root, which is under Saturn, might not be put into the class of turnips, nor into that of carrots; and although be its external appearance, and its seed, it very much resembles the beet-root, it is superior to it in every respect, and appears to form a distinct species. Its culture is so easy, its advantages as numerous, and it will answer to completely the purposes of any other forage, that it seems to deserve to be adopted every where, and to have the preference, even in the best years, over all other roots with which beasts are nourished. It may be planted in open fields, and in lanes; it will succeed in all lands, and especially in those that are moist and light. If in hard and clayey grounds it is prevented from making its way far into the earth, it will extend itself horizontally, and will produce above the surace that which the nature of the soil hinders from being produced beneath it.
This most valuable root is not affected by the vicissitude of the seasons, and has no destructive enemy; the insects, and vermin, which make ravages on all other kinds of vegetables, neither touch nor injure it. It is not attacked by blasting or mildew, and the greatest draught does not affect its vegetation; it does not injure the soil that nourishes it, but prepares it to receive, before the winter, the corn and other seeds which may be intended to be deposited in it.
Oxen, cows, and sheep, readily eat the leaves; they nourish them, and they are even fattened by them. They are given to them entire, as they come from the field. Poultry will eat them, when cut small, and mixed with bran. Even horses will like these leaves very well, and may be fed with them during the winter. Nothing more is necessary for this purpose, but to cut them small, with a proper instrument.
Milk cows, which it is intended to continue as such, may, without the least inconvenience, eat of these leaves for their whole nourishment, during eight, and even to fifteen following days. From the very first days, they will give a greater quantity of milk, and cream of the very best quality; but if they should be continued to be fed with this forage only, it would soon be apparent that they fattened at a surprising rate; in a short time the milk will diminish, and the substance turn entirely to fat. These leaves produce the same effect on sheep and oxen; from whence a judgment may be formed of the great facility with which they may be fattened, by this species of nourishment alone.
The leaves of this root will also afford to men an wholesome and agreeable food: they have not an earthy taste like beets, their taste resembles that of the cardon d'Espagne, and they may be eaten in the same manner. They may be dressed in different ways; they are considered as a kind of spinnage, and are preferred to it by many persons. They may be eaten from the spring to the month of November; by their coninual re-production, and great abundance, they are highly useful to farmers, to country people, and in all houses where there are many servants. The roots, when dressed, they may eat themselves in the winter; and they may be dressed many ways. The root of scarcity is a very good root, of an agreeable taste, much superior to red-beet, and at least equal to the turnip.
Besides these advantages, the root of scarcity possesses many others; particularly the certainty of an abundant crop, however intemperate may be the seasons.
If this root be cultivated, it will not be necessary that cattle should pasture in the meadows, and eat the produce of them during the summer; but all the grass which the meadows produce, may then be converted into hay. How much, indeed, may they not sell of it, since, even during the winter, they may at least save two thirds of it? And, in short, as the root of scarcity will render it easy to feed beasts in the stable during the whole year, this circumstance will also greatly increase the quantity of dung, which is so necesary in agriculture.
In consequence of these advantages, forage may always be kept at a moderate price; for this root yields a much greater produce than other kinds of forage, and surpasses them even in those years in which they are most favourable. When this root is become sufficiently known, cultivators will undoubtedly prefer it to all the other kinds of forage.
Dr. Lettsom, who has introduced this valuable root into our country, gives the following cogent reasons for its propagation.
As the root of scarcity is not attacked by the caterpillar, or by any other insect, its success is certain every where: it suffers nothing from the vicissitude of the seasons. Neither our own turnips, nor those of england, possess these advantages.
The leaves of the root of scarcity afford an excellent food for all kinds of cattle, during four months in the year; whilst turnips produce leaves only once a year, and even then are tought, and injured by insects.
The root of scarcity may be well preserved during eight months in the year, and are not subject to become rotten, as is the case with turnips; which, from the end of the month of March, become stringy, tough, and spungy.
There is no kind of turnips which even succeeds perfectly; they often fail entirely, especially in hard lands; they require a light, good, and sandy soil; but the root of scarcity will succeed every where; the cultivators of different kinds of lands may equally be assured of success; and farmers and laboureres may be greatly benefited by this resource.
The milk produced by cows who have been nourished for some days together with turnips, contracts a taste like tallow, or strong, sour, and disagreeable; but those who are fed with the root of scarcity, produce both milk and butter of an excellent quality.
This excellent forage will afford subsistance to all kinds of cattle, and especially at that time when grass, so useful and necessary to them, is yet scarce; and it will be seen, by their vigour and their sleekness, how much it has contributed to their health.
The root of scarcity is never disliked by cattle; they eat it always with the same avidity and the same pleasure; and they have nothing to fear from those unhappy accidents, which sometimes result from the use of turnips.
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