George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 27 September 1764]

27. A Negro & Apprentice of Robt. Wrights began to Work upon my Mill.

Transplanted Lucerne below Garden & Sowed [ ] Rows of St. Foine.

GW tried doggedly to raise sainfoin (Onobrychis viciaefolia), also called esparcet, a crop now in very limited cultivation in the United States. It does not adapt well in areas where red clover and alfalfa will do much better, as Arthur Young knew when GW asked him for seed of the English strain in 1786. Young replied 2 Feb. 1787 that he was sending only a small quantity of seed, “for I cannot conceive that it will succeed at all with you” (DLC:GW). Young was correct. GW wrote Samuel Powel 15 Sept. 1788 that his fall planting in 1787 died by frost and his spring 1788 crop failed to come up at all (ViMtvL). Still, GW continued to plant small quantities of it, hoping to accumulate enough seed for a full crop. Despite the dissatisfaction with the plant, it was still being advertised in the American Farmer, 1 (1820), 376, for sale in Baltimore. The advertisement referred to it also as “Hundred Year’s Clover.”

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