This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Geo. C, Whit-insville, Mass., writes: "I send to your address by this mail, a few grape vine roots, packed in damp moss, taken from a vine border I made six years ago when the vines were planted. The vines all made a strong but not an extra growth. The vine started well and made some growth and everything seemed to be going on well till about two weeks ago, when they began to •die, beginning at the top of the cane. Knowing that it was not caused by the management inside I begun to look in the border outside and found the roots in the same condition as those I send you. Would like to know the cause and a remedy. The border is well drained, two and a-half feet deep and sixteen feet wide, and is well filled with roots. The border in the Fall was covered with about four inches of stable manure; on top of that about one foot of meadow hay and all covered with shutters. The covering was not put on till it got rain enough to prevent drying before Spring. I propose to cut down the vines and see if I can get them to start from the bottom; but if I fail in that I will dig them out, turn over the border so as to get out all the old roots I can and plant young vines.
Instead of cutting down the old vines on account of the condition of the roots, would you advise taking out the old vines at once".
[On reading this we suspected it might be a case of Phylloxera, but on examining the roots sent, by a microscope, it was found that all the younger rootlets were attacked by a minute fungus spawn, apparently of an Agaricus, and seemingly precisely the same as that which attacks peach roots resulting in the disease known as "yellows," and which we found destroying the roots of Rhododendrons, as detailed in our magazine last Summer. In the case of a Norway Spruce and White Pine to which the disease was communicated from the spawn about the roots of a "yellowed" peach tree, and which evergreens had the "yellows" in consequence for two years, there was an absolute recovery when the trees were taken up and removed into new fresh soil. It is possible that if these grape vine roots are carefully lifted, cleaned, and new soil replaced around them, and then the canes severely primed, the plants would recover. This plan of lifting hot house grape vine roots is now very common in England. When there two years ago the writer saw a grapehouse in excellent condition, full of superb fruit, on the grounds of Mr.Clayton near Ryde,which had been so treated, and which Mr. Smith, the gardener said were "on their last legs " a few years ago before the practice had been applied. - Ed.G.M].