Sabine Hall 18. Decemr 1796
Without further Preface I will proceed to answer your 10th Quere, as to the Period to be prefered for planting the Pease; which will equally be a reply to the 11th, as they hinge very much together.
A Field which was planted, in the year 1794, on the 19th to the 21st May, were pulled up about the same time in August: The season warm and pretty dry. I was absent from home so long, in the Summer of that year, as to be unable to fix any accurate observation, as to the state in which they were pulled up; or the exact kind of Weather. It was done under the direction of a Person, whose judgement, as to the fitness for harvest, had my confidence; so I suppose he was not premature. My Remarks on these Pease, as they progressed, noted the time of their begining to run, to be about 43 Days from the sowing. From this scale a Person may accomodate his planting to his wish, as to the season he chooses to sow his small grain; taking into account somewhere near about ten days for winding the Vine and Pod to a state suited to the Stack. There are several variations to be noted in this Scale, generally speaking. Seasons diversify the progress of the Pease—and cool weather, in May, pro[ove]s a tardy influence—so that the object to anticipate the harvest, by putting them in the ground early in May, will probably exhibit the End defeated by the means. Upon the whole I would advise you to adopt the middle of May, for your planting season, in your first Essay. I will close the subject of your 10th & 11th Queries with a referrence, in respect to their fitness for harvest, to the 5th Paragraph in my sketch, in the Gazzette; which shews that you need not wait, if you otherwise wish, untill the Pease are all dry: If those which are yet green, are but formed in the Pod, the succulence of the Vine &c. will sustain the Grain, till they gradually dry, without any shriveling, to a perfect looking Pea, howsoever small.
My Answer to your 12th querie will explain the error in the Gazzette, which gave rise to the 13th and taking them together, I will proceed—In the Crop, alluded to in my Publication, I bestowed a single ploughing; and that it was done at the critical time of running, not of sunning, as the Printer has expressed it. When I came forward to communicate my incipient Practice, founded upon long investigated Theory, for the supposed good of my fellow man, I could but leave the Door open to subsequent experience. Further application of my postulate to the practice, has induced the change in my mode of ploughing, in my light ground; I can thereby throw up a better Ridge, to effect the purpose of presenting more surface to the influence of the Air: I therefore do now direct the cast from the Pease. It is probable that this method may be objectionable in stiff grounds, by dmitting the water that falls, too near to the roots; which may possibly injure them: this too I lay down only as a possible case merely as a Beacon before you; for I have no experience in that kind of ploughing in such Land. Both ways lie open to my Readers to be adapted to circumstances: Both are good, in even light land, and I have great reason to hope the Tryal will give the adopters of my Plan, in either [w]ay, the satisfaction of uniting profit with improvement. My new way of plowing had for some object, the purpose of preventing the grass growing among the Pease, suppossing the latter capable of growing by means of its tap root, and it’s aerial pasture, where the former can not sustain,ng to its spreading roots, & dependencies upon th[e ] soil. The productivenessplo of grass, from whatever cause, will certainly induce an occasion for more plowing; but the period of the runing is too short to admit of great increase in that way; for when the vine spreads over the ground it curbs the Anuel growth, except the Careless & Jametown weeds here & there which you may recollect my Publication appropriated some indifferent hands to pull up Early planting will stretch that period beyond 43 days, and June planting, in a warm dry summer, as was the case in the[C]rop my publication alluded to, I presume will shorten it; so that you will discover that the Labor in ploughing will vary with circumstances: The most tho will be found to be short of that which is required to cultivate the P. Corn, as one is to two, &c. not exceeding even a common summer fallow.
I will here take my leave for this time, and reserve Your Last querie for the subject of another Letter; as I believe it will, with all it’s Relations, be extensive enough to employ and sufficiently easy to be read at one time! In the mean time I am with unfeigned esteem Your very Respectfull and Most Hmble servt
DLC: Papers of George Washington.