This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Some years ago there was much enthusiasm in our country over cold graperies, by which the European grape could be grown under glass; for it is almost superfluous to say no long-continued success has ever followed its culture out of doors. It requires the moister air of a glass house to bring it to its greatest perfection. For some reason the under-glass culture of this grape has declined. But there are good reasons why it should be popular. It is true there is now so great a variety of good fruits at all seasons of the year, as compared with a few years ago, that those who desire fruit simply without regard to variety have much to choose from. But those who like nice things will still regard a well-grown bunch of the foreign grape as among the chief of table luxuries. We doubt, for the reasons already given, whether this artificial culture can ever be made profitable as a commercial speculation; but those who garden for the sake of the pleasures or luxuries gardening brings, will find much of these in a well-managed cold grapery.
Where there are already houses established, there is much to be done at the coming season of the year.
The fruit in cold vineries will now be of a size fit for thinning. In those cases where the bunches are intended to hang long on the vines they should be thinned out more severely than, those expected to be cut early. A close, compact bunch favors mildew and early decay.
Fine, rich color is always esteemed as one of the criterions whereby to judge of the excellence of a fruit. Sunlight is of first importance, but it is not generally known that this is injurious when in excess. In a dry atmosphere, with great sun-heat, where the evaporating process goes on faster than the secretive principle, what should become a rich rosy blush in a fruit, is changed to a sickly yellow; and the rich jet black of a grape become a foxy red. Some grape-growers of eminence, in view of the facts, shade their vineries during the coloring process; but others, instead, keep the atmosphere as close and moist as possible. The latter course detracts from the flavor of the fruit. The best plan is that which combines both practices.
In so far as the open air kinds are concerned, grapes first coming in bearing should not be permitted to perfect large crops of fruit while young. It is excusable to fruit a bunch or so on a young vine, "just to test the kind," but no more should be permitted till the vine has age and strength. Vigorous growth and great productiveness are the antipodes of the vegetable world. Encourage as much foliage as possible on the vines, and aim to have as strong shoots at the base as at the top of the cane; this can be done by pinching out the points of the strong shoots after they have made a growth of five or six leaves. This will make the weak ones grow stronger. Young vines grow much faster over a twiggy branch, stuck in for support, than over a straight stick as a trellis, and generally do better every way. Where extra fine bunches of grapes are desired, pinch back the shoot bearing it to about four or five leaves above the bunch. This should not be done indiscriminately with all the bunches. Too much pinching and stopping injures the production of good wood for next season.
These hints are for amateurs, who have a few vines on trellises; for large vineyard culture, though the same principles hold good as far as they go, they will vary in their application.
Watch newly planted fruit trees. If they have but a few weak leaves only, it shows the roots have been injured; then prune them severely, which will make them grow freely. It should be a main object to make all transplanted trees not merely have leaves, but have new shoots at the earliest possible moment. If they are growing'very well, they may be allowed to perfect a few fruit. Over bearing on a newly planted tree is, however, one of the best ways of making it stunted for years.
Strawberries, when grown in hills, - the most laborious but most productive method of growing them, - should have runners cut off as they grow, and the surface soil kept loose by shallow hoeings occasionally. Short litter, half rotted as a mulch, is also beneficial. Lawn mowings are often applied, but with little benefit. Where they are grown in beds, they should not be too thick, as they starve one another, and the crop next year will be poor.
Blackberries are not always ripe when they are black. Leave them on till they part readily from their stalks.
Currants are so easily grown as to require few hints for their management. If they throw up many suckers, take out a portion now, instead of waiting till winter to cut them away. The currant borer is a great pest, eating out the pith of the young shoots, and causing them to grow poorly, and bear but small fruit next year. Gummy "fly-paper" is, we think, the best thing to catch them.
Gooseberries should have the soil, and even the plants, if it were practicable, shaded a little. Dry air about them is one great cause of mildew.