George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 14 April 1785]

Thursday 14th. Mercury at 48 in the Morning—50 at Noon and 58 at Night.

Winds variable—in the Morning Easterly—then, Southerly—then Calm. Afterwards pretty fresh at So. West—Sometimes with appearances of rain—but generally clear.

Sowed the ground at Muddy hole, which had been twice plowed—once harrowed & gone over with the Hoes to break the clods.

Began to Sow the field at the House, but my Seedsman (Dolls Will) by sowing it much thicker than I intended, put 60 pints, or pounds of Clover Seed, on abt. [ ] Acres of Ground. Leaving a space of about 6 feet, I sowed half a bushel of Orchard grass Seed & five pints (or lbs.) of clover Mixed, in a breadth through the Field.

On the ground at Muddy hole I sowed 40 lbs. of clover seed. It was in tolerable good tilth considering the Season, but ought to have been in better. The field at the House had been three times Plowed—twice Rolled, & twice harrowed; upon the last of which the Seed was Sowed & was in better order than I ever expected to get it, from the unfavorable weather which we have had during the winter and Spring.

Sowed 5 rows and a small piece of the bird grass seed (sent me by Mr. Sprig of Annapolis) by the side of the Guinea grass, leaving 3 feet between the kinds; & the rows 18 Inches apart, as in the other.

At the end of the piece of a row of the Guinea grass & to the next stake I planted the everlasting Pea—one at every Six Inches.

And by the side of the bird grass but 3 feet from it, are planted two rows and a piece of the Acorn of the live Oak 6 Inches apart in the rows, & the rows 18 Inches asunder. The piece of a row I planted with the Spanish Nut.

Rid to Muddy hole Plantation with Miss Bassett.

dolls will: GW had several slaves named Doll and Will. This is probably the dower slave Will, who was made overseer of Muddy Hole farm later in the year (see entries for 19 Dec. 1785 and 18 Feb. 1786). He was probably the son of Doll, a dower slave at the River plantation.

bird grass: Poa trivialis, rough-stalked meadow grass.

mr. sprig of annapolis: Richard Sprigg of Strawberry Hill, near Annapolis. He also sent GW grass seed in 1786 and corresponded with him at various times concerning farm matters. Sprigg’s home was famous for its gardens and orchards (GW to Richard Sprigg, 28 June 1786, DLC:GW).

everlasting pea: Lathyrus latifolius, perennial or everlasting pea. It is considered an ornamental today but GW may have been trying to develop it as a field crop, as it was recommended for large yields of hay and pasture grass.

spanish nut: Castanea sativa, Spanish or Eurasian chestnut; the foreign variety best known in GW’s day, with a nut nearly as large as that of the horse chestnut (DOWNING description begins A. J. Downing. The Fruits and Fruit Trees of America; or, The Culture, Propagation, and Management, in the Garden and Orchard, of Fruit Trees Generally; with Descriptions of all the Finest Varieties of Fruit, Native and Foreign, Cultivated in this Country. New York, 1845. description ends , 262). GW had bad luck with this variety; at first the crop seemed promising but later the burs began to fall prematurely, as he advised Samuel Powel in a letter 23 Sept. 1788 (PHi: Gratz Collection).

Index Entries