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By a more exact definition of the seasons, the year is divided into eight parts, the first of forty-five days from the date of the rising of the west wind (February 7) to the date of the vernal equinox (March

  1. , the second of the ensuing forty-four days to the rising of the Pleiades (May 7), the third of forty-eight days to the summer solstice (June 24), the fourth of twenty-seven days to the rising of the Dog Star (July 21), the fifth of sixty-seven days to the Autumn equinox (September 26), the sixth of thirty-two days to the setting of the Pleiades (October 28), the seventh of fifty-seven days to the winter solstice (December 24), and the eighth of forty-five days to the beginning of the first.[85]

1° February 7-March 24

  1. These are the things to be done during the first of the seasons so enumerated: All kinds of nurseries should be set out, the vines should be first pruned, then dug, and the roots which have protruded from the ground should be cut out, the meadows should be cleaned, willows planted and the corn hoed. We call that corn land (seges) which has been ploughed and sowed as distinguished from plough land (arva) which has been ploughed but not yet sowed, while that land which was formerly sowed and lies awaiting a new ploughing is called stubble (novalis). When land is ploughed for the first time it is said to be broken up (proscindere), and at the second ploughing to be broken down (offringere) because at the first ploughing large clods are turned up and at the second ploughing these are reduced. The third cultivation, after the seed has been sown, is called ridging (lirare), that is, when by fastening mould boards on the plough, the sown seed is covered up in ridges[86] and at the same time furrows are cut by means of which the surface water may drain off. Some farmers who cultivate small farms, as in Apulia, are wont to harrow their land after it is ridged, if perchance any large clods have been left in the seed bed. The hollow channel left by the share of the plough is called the furrow, the raised land between two furrows is called the ridge (porca,) because there the seed is as it were laid upon an altar (porricere) to secure a crop, for when the entrails are offered to the gods this word porricere is used to describe the oblation.

March 24-May 7

  1. These are the things to be done during the second season between the vernal equinox and the rising of the Pleiades. Weed the corn land, break up old sod, cut the willows, close the pastures (to the stock) and complete any thing left undone in the preceding season. Plant trees before the buds shoot and they begin to blossom, for deciduous trees are not fit to transplant after they put forth leaves. Plant and prune your olives.

May 7-June 24

  1. These are the things to be done during the third season between the rising of the Pleiades and the summer solstice. Dig the young vines or plough them, and afterwards put the land in good order; that is to say, fine the soil so that no clods shall remain. This is called fining the soil (occare) because it breaks down (occidare) the clods. Thin out the vines, but let it be done by one who knows how, for this operation which is considered of great importance is performed only on vines and not on the orchard. To thin a vine is to select and reserve the one, two and some times even three best new tendrils sprung from the stem of the vine, cutting off all the others, lest the stem may be unable to furnish nourishment for those which have been reserved. So in a nursery it is the custom to cut it back at first so that the vine may grow with a stronger stem and may have greater strength to produce fruitful tendrils: for a stem which grows slender like a rush is sterile through weakness and cannot throw out tendrils. Thus it is the custom to call a weak stem a flag, and a strong stem, which bears grapes, a palm. The name flagellum, indicating something as unstable as a breeze, is derived from flatus, by the change of a letter, just as in the case of the word flabellum, which means fly fan. The name palma, which is given to those vine shoots which are fruitful in grapes, was it seems, at first, parilema, derived from parire (to produce), whence by a change of letters, such as we find in many instances, it came to be called palma.

From another part of the vine springs the capreolus, which is a little spiral tendril, like a curled hair, by means of which the vine holds on while it creeps towards the place of which it would take possession, from which quality of taking hold of things (capere) it is called capreolus.

All forage crops should be saved at this season; first, basil, then mixed fodder (farrago)[87] and vetch, and last of all the hay. Our name for basil is ocinum, which is derived from the Greek word [Greek: ocheos] and signifies that it comes quickly, like the pot herb of the same name. It has this name also because it quickens the action of the bowels of cattle and so is fed to them as a purgative. It is cut green from a bean field before the pods are formed. On the other hand that forage which is cut with a sickle from a field in which barley and vetch and other legumes have been sown in mixture for forage, is called farrago from the instrument (ferro) with which it is cut, or perhaps because it was first sown in the stubble of a field of corn (far). It is fed to horses and other cattle in the spring to purge and to fatten them.

Vetch (vicia) is so called from its quality of conquering (vincire) because this plant, like the vine, has tendrils by means of which it creeps twisting upward on the stalks of lupines or other plants where it clings until it over-tops its host.

If you have irrigated meadows, proceed to water them at this season, as soon as you have saved the hay.

During droughts water your grafted fruit trees every evening. They probably derive their name, (poma), from their appetite for drink (potus).

June 24-July 21

  1. During the fourth season between the summer solstice and the rising of the Dog Star most farmers make their harvest, because it is claimed that to mature properly corn should be allowed fifteen days to germinate and shoot, fifteen days to bloom and fifteen days to ripen.

Finish your ploughing: it will be more profitable in proportion as the earth is ploughed warm, when the land is broken up, fine it, that is, work it again in order that all the clods may be reduced, for at the first ploughing large clods are always turned up. This is the time also to sow vetch, lentils, the small variety of chick peas, pulse (ervilia) and the other things which we call legumes, but which others, as for example the Gauls, call legarica, both of which names come from the practice of picking their fruit (legere) because they are not cut but gathered.

Work the old vines a second time and the young ones thrice, especially if there are any clods left.

July 21-September 26

  1. During the fifth season between the rising of the Dog Star and the autumn equinox thresh your straw and rick it, continue the harrowing of your fallow land, prune your fruit trees, and mow your irrigated meadow the second time.

September 26-October 28

  1. The authorities advise you to begin to sow at the commencement of the sixth season immediately after the autumn equinox and to keep it up for the following 91 days, but not to attempt to sow any thing after the winter solstice, unless it is absolutely necessary, because seed sown before the winter solstice germinates in seven days, while that sown later hardly ever sprouts for 40 days.

In like manner the authorities say that you should not begin your sowing before the equinox, lest continued rains cause the seed to rot in the ground. The best time to plant beans is at the setting of the Pleiades, but gather the grapes and make the vintage between the equinox and the setting of the Pleiades. Immediately afterward begin to prune the vines, to propagate them and plant fruit trees, but in those regions where the frost comes early it is better to postpone these operations until the following spring.

October 28-December 24.

  1. These are the things to do during the seventh season between the setting of the Pleiades and the winter solstice. Plant lilies and crocuses and propagate roses, which may be done by making cuttings about three inches in length from a stem already rooted, set these out and later, after they have formed their own roots, transplant them. The cultivation of violets has no place on a farm because they require elevated beds for which the soil is scraped up and these are damaged or even washed away by heavy rains, thus wasting the fertility of the land. At any time of the year between the rising of the west wind and the rising of Arcturus (February-September) it is proper to transplant from the seed beds thyme, an herb, which owes its name, serpyllum, to its creeping habit (quod serpit). This is the season also to dig new ditches, clean the old ones, and to prune the trees in the arbustum and the vines which are married to them, but be careful that you suspend most of your work during the fifteen days before and after the winter solstice: it is fitting, however, to set out some trees during this period, as, for example, elms.

December 24-February 7

  1. These are the things to do during the eighth season between the winter solstice and the rising of the west wind. Drain the fields, if any water is standing on them, but if they are dry and the land is friable, harrow them. Prune the vines and the orchard. When it is not fitting to work in the fields then those things should be done which can be done under cover during the winter twilight.

All these rules should be written out and posted in the farmstead and the overseer especially should have them at the tip of his tongue.

Of the influence of the moon on agriculture

  1. The lunar seasons also must be considered. They are divided into two terms, that from the new moon to the full, and that from the full moon to the next moon, or until that day which we call intermenstruus, or the last and the first of a moon, whence at Athens this day is called [Greek: henae kai nea] (the old and the new), though the other Greeks call it [Greek: triakas] the thirtieth day. Some agricultural operations may be undertaken with more advantage during the increase of the moon, others during the decrease,[88] as, for example, the harvest or cutting of wood."

"I observe a practice which I learned from my father," said Agrasius, "not only never to shear my sheep, but not even to have my own hair cut on the decrease of the moon, for fear that I might become bald."

"What are the quarters of the moon," said Agrius, "and what bearing have they on agriculture?"

"Have you never heard in the country," said Tremelius, "the lore about the influence of Jana (Diana) on the eighth day before her waxing, and again on the eighth day before her waning; how certain things which ought to be done during the increase can be done to better advantage in the second quarter than the first, and that what ever is fitting to do on the wane of the moon can be better done when her light is less? This is all I know about the effect of the four quarters of the moon upon agriculture."

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