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Wondering when to plant timothy grass? Want to learn more about Percherons? Need help with profitable wheat growing? Getting dairy cows ready to show? For advice on these and all of your farming questions, look to the Southern Planter and Farmer, now available on Virginia Chronicle.

Devoted to agriculture, horticulture, livestock, and household arts, the Southern Planter and Farmer (later called the Southern Planter), established in Richmond in 1840, endured as the go-to publication for all things farming until its close in 1973. Published at 223 Governor Street, its notable personnel included Westmoreland Davis, governor of Virginia from 1918-1922, who served as publisher of the Southern Planter from 1912 until his death in 1942. With essays on farm management, planting methods, and livestock care, an array of beautiful illustrations and photographs, and a wealth of farm-related advertising, the Southern Planter was, during its lifetime, the most widely read farming paper in the southeast.

Here is just a small sample of the countless questions you can find answers to in the Southern Planter:

When should I plant alfalfa?

According to the July 1941 Southern Planter, August is the best time to seed alfalfa. Make sure to have the soil tested for acidity and use enough lime to raise the pH to between 6.5 and 7.5, then fertilize liberally.

What is the best breed of cow to keep?

The Southern Planter of April 1893 offered the following advice: If the object is to breed for beef and rich pastures are available in the summertime and corn feed available in winter, choose the Shorthorn. If feeding conditions are not as prime, keep Devons instead. If the breed is intended for milk production and there is plenty of feed throughout the year, pick Holsteins, but if feeding conditions are not as abundant, Ayrshires may be a better choice. If the herd is to be used for butter making, no breed equals the Jersey.

How do I get the most return from my small garden?

For those wondering how to make the most of a small planting area, the August 1906 Southern Planter suggested planting lettuce with asparagus, black-eyed peas with cucumbers, and navy beans between sweet potato rows.

How do I raise ducks?

The Southern Planter of 15 January 1932 recommended that you raise ducks away from other poultry, as the habits of ducks are different from those of chickens. The Indian Runner is the best breed for eggs, while Pekin Ducks are the best for meat. Ducks seldom use a house and prefer a grassy plot of ground in an out-of-the-way corner or under a tree. During laying season, corn should be fed in addition to a mash mixture.

What are the benefits of having Dorsets?

As explained by the Southern Planter of August 1906, Dorset sheep thrive in semi-mountainous areas and do exceptionally well on arable lands. The breed is docile and fine with confinement. They are long-bodied, graceful, and present an attractive appearance. A striking characteristic of the Dorsets is their large curling horns, common to both males and females.

What's the best method for treating leather?

Leather goods exposed to moisture and bad weather should be dressed with something that will help prevent cracking. If leather shoes get wet, leave them in a warm room to dry, away from the heat source and never in a hot place. As soon as wet shoes are removed, apply some grease or oil to them. Effective leather softeners include glycerin and olive oil, but never use salt or saltwater on your leather goods.

What are the requisites of a first-class draft horse?

The Southern Planter of December 1907 described a first-class draft horse as having a good, big foot, wide at the heel and short in the cannon bone. It should also have a big body, with ribs well-sprung from the backbone, be full in the chest, and wide in the stifles. It must stand straight on all four legs and not wobble. It is preferable that it be short from the withers to the croup and long from the point of its shoulders to the breech.


For answers to all of your agricultural questions, search the Southern Planter and Southern Planter and Farmer on Virginia Chronicle today!

Kelley Ewing

Senior Project Cataloger

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