The Grape

From the Household Cyclopedia, 1881

For the grape, the best soil is a light, loamy, dry, limestone soil, with a high and warm exposure, especially to the south. the earth should be kept well cultivated and free from weeds. The most useful fertilizers for the grape are well-rotted barn-yard manure, bone, and lime. For ordinary cultivation the best varieties are, the Isabella, Catawba, Diana, Delaware, Concord, Clinton, and the Rebecca when you have a sheltered situation. Some of the finer foreign wine-grapes, of France, Italy, and the Rhine region, may be naturalized with success in some parts of the United States; but it is hardly yet determined which are best suited for the purpose.

To plant Vines.

Vines are often either trained against the back wall or on a trellis under a glass roof. In the former case the plants are always placed inside the house; but in the latter, there are two opinions among practical men, one in favor of planting them outside, and the other inside the parapet wall.

Abercrombie says: ”Let them be carefully turned out of the pots, reducing the balls a little and singling out the matted roots. Then place them in the pits, just as deep in the earth as they were before, carefully spreading out the abres and filling in with fine sifted earth or with vegetable mould. Settle all with a little water, and let them have plenty of free air every day, defending them from very severe frost or much wet; which is all the care they will require tiff they begin to push young shoots.

Composts for Vines.

The following are the materials and proportions of a good compost, recommended by Abercrombie: Of topspit sandy leam, from an upland pasture, one-third part; unexhausted brown loam from a garden one-fourth part, scrapings of roads, free from clay, and repaired with gravel or slate, onefifth part; vegetable mould, or old tan reduced to earth, or rotten stable-dung, one-eighth part; shell marl or mild lime, one-twelfth part. The borders to be from three to five feet in depth, and where practicable, not less than four feet wide in surface within the house, communicating with a border outside of the building not less than ten feet wide.

To choose the Plants.

Vines are to be had in the nurseries, propagated either from layers, cuttings, or eyes; and, provided the plants be well rooted, and the wood ripe, it is a matter of indifference from which class the choice is made.

Speedy Mode of Stocking a New Grape House.

This mode is only to be adopted where a vinery previously exists in the open air, or where there is a friend’s vinery in the neighbourhood.

In the end of June or beginning of July, when the vines have made new shoots from ten to twelve feet long, and about the time of the fruit setting, select any supernumery shoots, and loosening them from the trellis, bend them down so as to make them form a double or flexure in a pot filled with earth, generally a mixture of loam and vegetable mould, taking care to make a portion of last year’s wood, containing a joint, pass into the soil in the pot. The earth is kept in a wet state, and at the same time a moist warm air is maintained in the house. In about ten days roots are found to have proceeded plentifully from the joint of last year’s wood, and these may be seen by merely stirring the surface of the earth, or sometimes they may be observed penetrating to its surface.

The layer may now be safely detached; very frequently It contains one or two bunches of grapes, which continue to grow and come to perfection. A layer cut off in the beginning of July generally attains, by the end of October, the length of fifteen or twenty feet. A new grapehouse, therefore, might in this way be as completely furnished with plants in three months, as by the usual method, above described, in three years.

Another Mode.

A mode of more general utility than the foregoing, is to select the plants in the nursery a year before wanted, and to order them to be potted into very large pots, baskets, or tubs, filled with the richest earth, and plunged into a tan bed. They will thus make shoots which, the first year after removal to their final destination, will, under ordinary circumstances, produce fruit.

To prune and train Vines

The methods of pruning established vines admit of much diversity, as the plants are in different situations. Without reckoning the cutting down of young or weak plants alternately to the lowermost summer shoot, which is but a temporary course, three different systems of pruning are adopted.

The first is applicable only to vines out of doors, but it may be transferred to plants in a vinery without any capital alteration. In this method one perpendicular leader is trained from the stem’ at the side of which, to the right and left, the ramifications spring. Soon after the growing season has commenced, such rising shoots as are either in fruit or fit to be retained, or are eligibly placed for mother-bearers next season, are laid in either horizontally, or with a slight diagonal rise at something less than a foot distance, measuring from one bearing shoot to the next. The rising shoots, intended to form young wood should be taken as near the origin of the branch as a good one offers, to allow of cutting away, beyond the adopted lateral, a greater quantity of the branch, as it becomes old wood; the newsprung laterals, not wanted for one of these two objects, are pinched off. The treatment of those retained during the rest of the summer thus differs: As the shoots in bearing extend in growth. they are kept stopped about two eyes beyond the fruit. The coronate shoots, cultivated merely to enlarge the provision of wood, are divested of embryo bunches, if they show any, but are trained at full length as they advance during the summer, until they reach the allotted bounds. In the winter pruning there will thus be a good choice of motherbearers.

That nearest the origin of the former is retained, and the others on the same branch era cut away; the rest of the branch is also taken off so that the old wood may terminate with the adopted lateral. The adopted shoot is then shortened to two, three, four, or more eyes, according to its place on the vine, its own strength, or the strength of the vine. The lower shoots are pruned in the shortest, in order to keep the means of always supplying young wood at the bottom of the tree.

Second method.

The second method is to head The natural leader so as to cause it to throw out two, three, or more principal shoots; these are trained as leading branches, and in The winter-pruning are not reduced, unless to shape them to The limits of the house, or unless the plant appears too weak to sustain them at length. Laterals from these are cultivated about twelve inches apart, as mother-bearers; those in fruit are stopped in summer, and after the fall of the leaf are cut into one or two eyes. From the appearance of the motherbearer, thus shortened, this is called spur-pruning.

Third method.

The third plan seems to flow from taking the second as a foundation, in having more than one aspiring leader, and from joining the superstructure of the first system immediately to this in reserving well-placed shoots to come in as bearing wood. Thus, supposing a stem which has been headed to send up four vigorous competing leaders, two are suffered to bear fruit and two are divested of such buds as break into clusters, and trained to the length of ten, twelve, fifteen feet or more, for motherbearers, which have borne a crop, are cut down to within two eyes of the stool or legs, according to the strength of the plant, while the reserved shoots lose no more of their tops than is necessary to adjust them to the trellis. To prune Vines to advantage. In pruning vines leave some new branches every year, and take away (if too many) some of the old, which will be of great advantage to the tree, and much increase the quantity of fruit. When you trim your vine, leave two knots and cut them off the next time, for usually two buds yield a bunch of grapes. Vines thus pruned have been known to bear abundantly, whereas others that have been cut close to please the eye have been almost barren of fruit.

To mature Grapes by Incision of the Vine Bark.

It is not of much consequence in what part of the tree The incision is made, but in case the trunk is very large the circles ought to be made in the smaller branches. All shoots which come out from the root of The vine or from the front of the trunk, situated below the incision, must be removed as often as they appear, unless bearing wood is particularly wanted to fill up The lower part of The wall, in which case one or two shoots may be left.

Vines growing in forcing houses are equally improved in point of size and flower, as well as made to ripen earlier, by taking away circles of bark. the time for doing this is when the fruit is set and the berries are about the size of small shot. the removed circles may here be made wider than on vines growing in the open air, as the bark is sooner renewed in forcing houses, owing to the warmth and moisture in those places. Half an inch will not be too great a width to take off in a circle from a vigorous growing vine, but I do not recommend the operation to be performed at all in weak trees.

This practice may be extended to other fruits, so as to hasten their maturity, especially figs, in which there is a most abundant flow of returning sap, and it demonstrates to us why old trees are more disposed to bear fruit than young ones. Miller informs us that vineyards in Italy are thought to improve every year by age till they are fifty gears old. For as trees become old the returning vessels do not convey the sap Into the roots with the same facility they did when young. Thus by occasionally removing circles of bark we only anticipate the process of nature. In both cases stagnation of the true sap is obtained in the fruiting branches, and the redundant nutriment then passes into the fruit.

It often happens after the circle of bark has been removed, a small portion of the inner bark adheres to the alburnum. It is of The utmost importance to remove this, though ever so small, otherwise in a very short space of time the communication is again established with the roots, and little or no effect is produced. Therefore, in about ten days after the first operation has been performed, look at the part from whence The bark was removed, and separate any small portion which may have escaped the knife the first time.

To prevent the Dropping off of Grapes.

Make a circular incision in the wood, cutting away a ring of bark about the breadth of the twelth of an inch. the wood acquires greater size about the incision, and the operation accelerates the maturity of the wood, and that of The fruit likewise. The incision should not be made too deep and further than the bark, or it will spoil both in the wood and the fruit.

To retard the Sap.

At certain periods preventing or retarding the mounting of The sap tends to produce and ripen the fruit. An abundance of sap is found to increase the leaf buds and decrease the flower buds. A process to retard sap has long been employed in the gardens of Montreuil. The practice is to divaricate the sap as near The root as may be, by cutting off the main stem and training two lateral branches, from which the wall is to be filled. Another process of interrupting the rising of the sap by separating the bark has been long in practice in vine-forcing houses; this is done when the grapes are full grown, and is found to assist the bark in diminishing the aqueous and increasing the saccharine juice.

To destroy Insects in Vines.

the red spider is the grand enemy to the vine; after every winter’s pruning and removal of the outward rind on the old wood anoint the branches, shoots and trellis with the following composition, the object of which is the destruction of their eggs or larvae:

Boil the above in 8 English gallons of soft river water till it is reduced to six.

Lay on this composition, milk-warm, with a painter’s brush, then with a sponge carefully anoint every branch, shoot and bud, being sure to rub it well into every joint, hole and angle. If the house is much infected the walls, flues, rafters, etc., are also to be painted over with the same liquor. Watering over the leaves and fruit at all times, except the ripening season, is the preventive recommended and which all gardeners approve.

To protect Grapes from Wasps.

Plant near the grapes some yew-trees, and the wasps will so far prefer the yew-tree berries as wholly to neglect the grapes.

To take off Superfluous Suckers from Shrubs.

Many flowering shrubs put out strong suckers from the root, such as lilacs, syringa, and some of the kinds of roses which take greatly from the strength of the mother plant, and which. if not wanted for the purpose of planting the following season should be twisted off or otherwise destroyed.