Clover seed may be sown by hand, by hand machines,
and by the grain drill, with or without a grass-seed sowing attachment.
These respective methods of sowing will be discussed briefly here, but
since they are practically the same as the methods to
be followed in sowing grass seeds, and since they are discussed more fully in the book Grasses and How to Grow Them by the author, readers who wish to pursue the subject further are referred to the book just named. When clovers are sown by hand, usually but one hand is used. Enough seed is lifted between the thumb and two forefingers of the right hand to suffice for scattering by one swing of the same. On the return trip across the field the seed should be made to overlap somewhat the seed sown when going in the opposite direction. In other words, the seed is sown in strips or bands, as it were, each strip being finished in one round. Some sowers, more expert at their work, sow with both hands and complete the strip each time they walk over the field. When the ground is plowed in lands of moderate width the furrows will serve to enable the sower to sow in straight lines. Where the sowing is done on land sown to grain by the drill, the drill marks may be made to effect the same result. When sown on light snows, the foot-marks will serve as guides. In the absence of marks it will be necessary to use stakes to guide the sower. Four stakes are used, two of which are set at each end of the field, and these are moved as each cast is made. At each round made over the field, from 12 feet to 15 feet may be sown by the sower who sows only with one hand. The sower with two hands will accomplish twice as much. A comparatively still time should be chosen for sowing the seed by hand, more especially when grass seeds, which are usually lighter, are sown at the same time. In hand sowing much care is necessary in scattering the seed, so that each cast of the seed will spread evenly as it falls, leaving no bare spaces between the cast from the hand or between the strips sown at one time. Hand sowing, especially in the Western States, is in a sense a lost art, owing to the extent to which machine sowing is practised; nevertheless, it is an accomplishment which every farmer should possess, since it will oftentimes be found very convenient when sowing small quantities of seed, and in sowing seeds in mixtures which cannot be so well sown by machines. Hand machines are of various kinds. Those most in favor for ordinary sowing consist of a seeder wheeled over the ground on a frame resembling that of a wheelbarrow. It sows about 12 feet in width at each cast of the seed. It enables the sower to sow the seed while considerable wind is blowing and to sow it quite evenly, but it is not adapted to the sowing of all kinds of grass and clover mixtures, which it may be desirable to sow together, since they do not always feed out evenly, owing to a difference in size, in weight, in shape and in the character of the covering. When clover seed is sown with the grain drill, it is sometimes sown separately from grain; that is, without a nurse crop, and is deposited in the soil by the same tubes. But it is only some makes of drills that will do this. Clover seed, and especially alfalfa, may be thus sown with much advantage on certain of the Western and Southern soils, especially on those that are light and open in character, and when the seed is to be put in without a nurse crop. Eastern soils are usually too heavy to admit of depositing the seed thus deeply, but to this there are some exceptions. When sown with a nurse crop, the seed is in some instances mixed with the grain before it is sown. In some instances it is mixed before it is brought to the field. At other times it is added when the grain has been put in the seed-box of the drill. This method of sowing is adapted to certain soils of the Western prairies and to very open soils in some other localities, but under average conditions it buries seeds too deeply. There is the further objection that they all grow in the line of the grain plants and are more shaded than they would be otherwise. Nevertheless, under some conditions this method of sowing the plants is usually satisfactory. One of the most satisfactory methods of sowing clover seeds along with a nurse crop is to sow the clover with a seeder attachment; that is, an attachment for sowing small seeds, which will deposit the same before or behind the grain tubes as may be desired. The seed is thus sown at the same time as the grain, and in the process is scattered evenly over the surface of the ground. These seeder attachments, however, will not sow all kinds of clover and grass mixtures any more than will hand-sowing machines do the same.
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