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.
In Milton County, Georgia, I recently visited a grape vine of unusual size. It was thirty two inches in circumference; one foot from the ground the bark and sap-wood sound and healthy, but the heart for several inches deep was rotted out.
The vine was trained on an arbor or scaffolding about six feet from the ground, or high enough for a man to walk erect under it. It covered fully a quarter of an acre. The vine is twenty-seven years old, and has no care taken of it, except to keep the scaffolding from falling down. It was in full bearing when I visited it, August 12th, and must have had between two and three hundred bushels of grapes. The man who owned it said he thought there was enough to make five or six barrels of wine, but he did not have the time to spare to make it, and did not know how to do it, even if he had. I do not know what the variety is. He called it the Florida grape.
The berries and bunch are about the size of the Delaware; the bunch is very compact and shouldered, berries black, with blue bloom; not being ripe, I could not tell about the flavor. He said it was good, but I should not suppose very good, yet was quite palatable in its then unripe state. I should say it belonged to the Aestivalis amily, and might be Norton's Virginia.
There are other vines in the neighborhood, which were raised from cuttings of this, that are quite large, not as large as the parent, but bid fair to be in time.
Close by, on a similar scaffolding or arbor, was an Isabella vine, also quite large, old and un-cared for. The berries on the arbor (what few there are) were nearly ripe, but almost all had rotted and dropped off; part of the vine had run up into a couple of oak trees that stood near it, and strange to say, were loaded with perfect bunches, hardly a rotten grape being on them. The fruit was from ten to thirty feet from the ground, and looked better than any Isabella grapes I had ever before seen.
This would go to prove the theory of high culture to be correct, and I mean to try an experiment in growing grapes in that way, and to commence next season.
Another thing I noticed was the entire neglect of the ground on which those vines grew; not a spade or plough had been used, or a pound of fertilizers given them, or even a weed been cut down around them for years.
This year our grapes rotted very badly, as did almost all the grapes in this vicinity, except those on young vines; they rotted also, but not so bad as on the old ones.
This is an exact copy of a photograph of a cluster weighing one pound, picked from a four year-old vine, bearing 22 bunches, weighing in the aggregate 14 pounds; See page. 8.