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.
There seems to be great difficulty found in growing grapes and plants together. I have had good success in growing both, and will give my experience to your correspondents, hoping it may be of some benefit to them.
Grapes and plants can be grown together in the one house, whether it be used as an early or late vinery. 1 am convinced that either house may be run and kept at any temperature the person in charge may deem proper, even from the forcing of roses or any other plant requiring a high temperature down to any kind of half hardy plants, and have good satisfaction from both, if he has ever had practice with the vine.
Now J. H. in his article says he keeps his temperature from thirty-five to forty degrees in order to keep his vines dormant and the plants just growing, which may be all that he cares to do, or has ever tried to do. Now whoever will try my system will find it give satisfaction.
Taking the late vinery - after the vines are well ripened and pruned - take them from the wires, laying them along the front of the house, about nine inches from the boards, wall, or glass, keeping them as near the ground as possible, so that they may be covered entirely over with soil about four inches deep. This covering of soil will keep them back much longer, and also prevent the mice from eating the eyes. After covering them form a box around them, building in front as high as is needed to cover the stem of the vines, and about twelve inches wide. Then board over the top so that they are entirely closed in. If your house has a glass front then loosen a few panes of glass so that they may be easily removed on a warm day to let in ventilation. If made of boards, make sliding ventilators; if walls, then put in round tin ones, with a cap to let in or out. This done, you can turn on your heat and run the houses to any temperature you like, without any ill effect to the vines. Now the main thing is to watch that they do not get too cold. This is done by leaving the top board loose, so that on severe nights you have the advantage of raising it two or three inches to allow it to be kept just within the freezing point.
The same system answers for the early vinery, only they need not be covered with soil.
Perhaps some will say: How shall we get old vines down in that position ? A vine is easily put in any position, and once or twice down there is no trouble. I have always found it best to put them down, whether the house be used for any thing or not-, for in starting a vinery they should be bent in the shape of a bow, which causes the eyes to push or break more regularly than if they were tied straight up the house. I would also advise J. C. S. to take out his old vines and replace them with young ones, first being careful to prepare a suitable border, as that depends greatly on the success of grape growing. If J. C. S. would start his own vines from single eyes in February, planting them in the border in the latter part of May, by careful attention he can average two or three bunches from each vine he wishes to fruit the following year. This is done by planting extra thick - every alternate vine being the one to fruit - allowing it to make a run of six feet, then pinch and keep it there in order to swell the wood and buds, allowing at the same time the permanent vine to make all the cane it can to encourage it with root action. 1 have the past year replanted the vinery on this place with vines started from single eyes last March, and they average from fourteen to twenty feet.
I intend fruiting every alternate vine, allowing it to stand until such time as the permanent vine is strong enough to fill its place, or a good rod from top to bottom, giving good crops, and with the boxing back, a good show of any plants you choose to grow. If an early vinery is started in February, it will be the middle of March or beginning of April before they will injure the plants by shading too much, and by that time the half-hardy plants may be set with safety in protected cold frames and pits, allowing the more tender plants to remain until such time as the weather is suitable for them to be set out of doors, and found to be no more injured than if the glass was covered with white-wash or canvass.
If you find this of any service to the Monthly I will give my experience on the formation of vine borders and their growth in general.