Volume 65: Macarthur-Onslow correspondence, 1846-1929: No. 431
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Department of Agriculture, N. S. Wales.
IN consideration of the difficult tasks often taken by novices in silk culture, and in sympathy with their want of knowledge and experience, to meet inquiries the following suggestions and notes for their assistance are submitted:-
In the very first place it is not desirable, rather than discuss the "rearing of silkworms: (which is in any case premature at this moment), to point out, first, to seekers for information, the far greater importance of "growing plenty of mulberry" to supply the large quantities of leaf that will assuredly be in demand, whether for the rearer's own use or for sale to others, who, if food leaf should be available, would buy the leaf and raise the silkworms. This demand for leaf is quite as certain to happen as that wheat grown in a new quarter is sure of finding a mill to grind it.
The kinds of mulberry best to grow in any particular locality can only be learned by reference to competent authority. As the Government has already determined and proclaimed that the growing of silk is a "public purpose" within the meaning of the Land Act of 1884, and has appointed a superior officer to attend specially to inquirers, owners of land, farmers, and others generally, should communicate in writing with the Department of Agriculture, in Macquarie-street, stating their desires and intentions, the character and extent of ground, their purpose to devote to the growth of the mulberry so much land and much money if necessary, climate locality and aspect, soil, if fenced, &c., which would receive due attention.
Probably this line of action would materially lessen people's labours and mistakes, as well as contribute to their success.
While the mulberry trees are growing, persons of both sexes seeking the addition of a merchantable and profitable fresh source of gain from their land should obtain practical instruction and experience in the pruning and general management of mulberry trees while the trees are yet young, as well as their treatment afterwards, besides learning proper and economical methods of rearing worms from the egg (or after hatching if supplied with young live worms) through the various stages of caterpillar while feeding, and during their moults, &c., to the cocoon, moth, and egg again.
Much that would be instructive and useful to any inquirer may be learned by carefully reading the Report on Silk Culture by Walter Scott Campbell, Esq., F.L.S., published by the Government.
Every idea or project should be discarded and discouraged of beginning silk growing or even a mulberry plantation on any smaller scale that would be fully adequate to yield a sensible beneficial monetary return. It is time effort should be avoided which would necessarily be abortive and unproductive, and discredit the industry, as has so often been the case already. It is manifest that to grow a single potato, or a single plant of corn, or of any vegetable or fruit as an experiment, it only trouble without profit, beyond the mere pleasure of seeing them grow.