Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to Wilson Cary Nicholas, 16 April 1810

To Wilson Cary Nicholas

Monticello Apr. 16. 10.

Dear Sir

On enquiry of mr Randolph I find his process for rolling his seed corn in plaister varies a little from what I told you. he first dilutes the tar with water stirred into it to such a consistency as will make the plaister adhere. corn is then put into a trough & diluted tar poured on it & stirred till the whole of the grains are perfectly coated. there must be no surplus of the tar more than covers the grains. then put the plaister in and stir the whole until the corn will take up no more, & remains dry enough to be handled. he observed that if the corn was rolled in pure tar & then plaistered, it would become as hard as marbles & would be very late in coming up, & sometimes not come up at all. he takes this process from some Northern practice. I wish you may recieve this in time to correct my imperfect statement of it to you.

Yours affectionately

Th: Jefferson

RC (CSmH: JF); below signature: “W. C. Nicholas esq.”; endorsed by Nicholas; notation in pencil at foot of text: “This wan [i.e., was] in an envelope filed in Reid Sanders’s hand and was probably given to him by some of his Nicholas Kin on his trip to the White Sulphur about ’60 A.G.S.” PoC (MHi); endorsed by TJ.

Coating seed corn with tar and plaster protects it from predatory animals until it germinates.

Index Entries

  • agriculture; and coating seeds with tar and plaster search
  • agriculture; use of gypsum in search
  • corn; seeds of, protected by tar and plaster search
  • gypsum (plaster of paris); used to protect seed corn search
  • Nicholas, Wilson Cary (1761–1820); letters to search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); and seed protection search
  • seeds; corn search
  • tar; protects seed corn search