Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 371: 352-353

Tools

Pliny: Natural History

dici. relinqui debent in laeto solo vel umido vel riguo, eaque aqua pluvia rigari aut1 publica. utilissimum, si malae herbae, arare, dein cratire, sarire,2 florem ex fenilibus atque e praesepibus feno dilapsum spargere priusquam cratiantur, nec primo anno rigari, nec pasci ante secunda fenisecia, ne herbae 259vellantur obtrituque hebetentur. senescunt prata restituique debent faba in iis sata vel rapis vel milio, mox insequente anno frumento, rursusque inarata3 tertio relinqui, praeterea quotiens secta sint siciliri, hoc est quae feniseces praeterierunt secari; est enim in primis inutile enasci herbas sementaturas. herba optima in prato trifolii, proxima graminis, pessima nummuli siliquam etiam diram ferentis; invisa et 260equisaeti est, a similitudine equinae saetae.4 secandi tempus cum spica deflorescere coepit atque roborari; secandum antequam inarescat. Cato ‘Fenum,’ inquit, ‘ne sero seces; prius quam semen maturum sit secato.’5 quidam pridie rigant; ubi non sunt rigua, noctibus roscidis secari melius. quaedam partes 261Italiae post messem secant. fuit hoc quoque maioris

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Book XVIII

involves very little outlay; it requires the following remarks to be made about it. Land should be left in grass where the soil is rich or damp or watered by streams, and the meadows should be watered by the rainfall or by a public aqueduct. If there are weeds, the best plan is to plough up the land and then harrow and hoe it, and sprinkle it with seed fallen out of the hay from haylofts and from mangers before the weeds are harrowed; and it is best not to irrigate the land in the first year, nor to use it for grazing before the second cutting of the hay, so that the grass may not be torn up by the roots or trodden down and weakened. Meadows go off with age, and need to be revived by sowing in them a crop of beans or turnip or millet, and afterwards in the following year corn, and in the third year they should again be left fallow; and moreover every time they are cut they should be gone over with the sickle, for the purpose of cutting all the growth that the mowers have passed over; for it is very detrimental indeed for any weeds to spring up that will scatter seeds. The best crop in meadow land is trefoil, the next best grass; money-wort is the worst, and it also bears a terrible pod; horse-hair,a named from its resemblance to horses’ hair, is also a hateful weed. The time for mowing is when the stalk has begun to shed its blossom and to grow strong; the grass must be cut before it begins to dry up. ‘Do not mow your hay too late,’ says Cato; ‘cut it before the seed is ripe.’R.R. LIII. Some farmers irrigate the fields the day before mowing, but where there is no means of doing this it is better to mow when there are heavy falls of dew at night. Some parts of Italy mow after harvest. Mowing was also a more expensive operation in

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938