George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 2 August 1762]

2. Philip Fletcher came to making Bricks.

Sowed a Bushel of Buckwheat in Sandy grd. at Ch[arle]s C[rai]ks.

Philip Fletcher was paid £14 10s. for making 78,000 nine-inch bricks, 2,125 tiles for the garden wall, and 1,080 nine-inch-square flooring tiles (General Ledger A description begins General Ledger A, 1750–1772. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , folio 130).

After this early trial of Fagopyrum esculentum, buckwheat, GW appears to have neglected it as a crop for many years. He next begins to experiment with it when he receives 50 bushels from Leven (Levin) Powell of Loudoun County, as he notes in his entry of 1 Dec. 1786. When Powell sent him several more bushels in April 1787, he included a letter advising GW on raising the crop and explaining that it was fed to cows and horses as a meal mixed with straw or chaff. GW planned to use it both as livestock feed and as green manure to be plowed under. Seven years later he was still learning how to raise the crop. When the Whiskey Rebellion called him into rural Pennsylvania in 1794, he paused at Reading to write William Pearce at Mount Vernon some observations he had made on the methods used by Pennsylvania farmers. Eventually he gave up buckwheat completely, believing that it depleted as much as it enriched the soil.

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