Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/630

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

islands—Eleuthera, for instance—have considerable depth of soil; but it is when growing on the bare, rocky ground described above that the sisal is said to produce fiber of the best quality.

Given the land, the next step is to clear it, and the method of clearing varies according to the character of the vegetation. If

PSM V38 D630 Swash west side of andros.jpg
"Swash," West Side of Andros.

it is "pine-yard" a fire is started, which burns off the May-pole; the pines are then cut down, and either made into charcoal or laid in rows across the fields and allowed to decay; if coppet, the trees and shrubs are cut down with axes or cutlasses, according to their size, and the brush is then burned.

While his land is being cleared, the planter should be getting his plants ready. As usually obtained, they are fresh from the "pole" and only from one to four inches in height. These are too small to put out in the fields, so they are set out in beds of cave earth until they get to be eight or ten inches high. When taken from these nurseries their rootlets are carefully trimmed off, and they are then planted every eight or nine feet in rows that are about ten feet apart. Thus an acre of ground usually contains from five to six hundred plants. In order to facilitate carrying the leaves out of the field, the latter is divided by roads into sections of about one hundred acres each.

After planting, it is not very long before the fields will have