I know of no addition to a country home from which such a large amount of satisfaction can be obtained at so small an outlay as from a grapery for growing the different varieties of foreign grapes. It has been proved that none of these fine varieties can be cultivated with any satisfaction in any part of the northern or even middle states, except under glass. In California and some other states and territories west of the Mississippi the varieties of the European grape have been extensively grown in the open air. There the conditions of climate are such as to make their culture a success equal to that attained any where in Europe. Besides the luxury of the grape as a table fruit, no finer sight can be seen, and there is nothing of which an amateur gardener may be more proud than a grapery in which the vines are loaded with ripe fruit. And as this can be obtained at a trifling original outlay, and with but little attention in the cultivation afterwards, I will briefly describe how to do it.
Our climate is particularly well adapted to the cultivation of vines under glass without fire heat, and the wonder is that cold graperies are not in more general use even by people of moderate means than they at present are. We built one for our own use on the plan shown on page 92; it answering for a greenhouse as well as for a grapery. The dimensions are 50 feet long by 25 wide. It is finished in very good style, and cost but little more than $1,000. It was planted in June, and the third year from planting we cut upwards of 300 lbs. of fruit from it; the next season it yielded nearly double that quantity. The building was begun by setting locust posts four feet apart; on these was framed the sill, on the front of which were placed upright sashes two and a half feet in hight, and on these the gutter. From the gutter was sprung the bars, ten inches apart each way, running on the east side clear to the ridge pole; on the west framed to within 2 feet of it, so as to give room for lifting sashes. These were two feet wide by six long. To these sashes, eight in number, were attached Hitch-ing's patent ventilating apparatus, which by turning a crank opens these sashes from one to twenty-four inches, as desired. The front sashes may be made so that every alternate one can open outward. The glass used is known as second quality English or French, 8 x 10 inches, and put in without the use of any putty on the top of the glass, the manner of glazing being to "bed" the pane in soft putty, pressing it down tightly, and then tacking in the glass with large glazing points about the size shown in Fig. 58; we find it an excellent plan in glazing to turn up the edge of these points as in fig. 59, so that they can catch under the edge of the lapping pane to keep it in place, otherwise it would slip down, and give a great deal of trouble. Glaziers will not use the points in this way unless compelled to do so, as it takes a somewhat longer time. Glass should never be lapped more than a quarter of an inch, if much more, the water gets between the laps, and when it freezes the glass is cracked. With these instructions about the erection of the glass and wood-work, any intelligent mechanic should be able to build from the plan given. Provision for water should be made by building a cistern inside the grapery, say four feet deep by eight feet in diameter, or that capacity in an oblong shape would be better. This cistern can be supplied by water from the roof, having a waste-pipe for overflow. These general directions for such a structure as shown in the cut, are equally applicable for almost any size or kind of grapery. Many are built in the form of a "lean-to," that is, placed against any building or fence, using such for the back wall of the grapery. This would necessitate only the low front wall, which need not be more than one foot from the ground, if the width is but ten or twelve feet, but a path would require to be sunk inside to give room to stand upright. The sketch, Fig. 60, shows an outline of a "lean-to" grapery twenty feet wide, nine feet high at back and two feet in front. Such a structure, (exclusive of the "border,") may be put up roughly at a cost not exceeding $4 per running foot, without heating apparatus. Its aspect may be any point from east to south-west.
Fig. 58. Tin.
Fig. 59. Bent Tin.
Fig. 60. - Lean-To Grapery.
I recollect that some dozen years ago a German jeweler in Jersey City, N. J., grew a splendid crop of Black Ham-burgs on vines which had been planted against the rear fence of his city lot, by placing against the fence some old sashes eight feet long. It was rather a bungling sort of an arrangement and awkward to get at, but it served the purpose of ripening the Hamburg grapes, which could not have been done without the glass. When one contemplates the erection of a complete range of graperies, the services of a competent garden architect should be engaged. The border of the one we have in use was begun by excavating the natural soil to the depth of twenty-inches and fifteen feet in width, for the length of the grapery on each side. The inside was left untouched, the borders being entirely outside. The bottom of the excavation was graded from the front of the building to the outside of the borders, with a fall of about an inch to a foot, so that thorough and rapid drainage would be sure to be attained. At the extremity of each border a drain was built to carry off the water. The whole bottom was then cemented over so as to prevent the roots from penetrating the subsoil. This pit was then filled to the depth of about two feet, (four inches being allowed for settling), with a compost which was previously prepared by mixing about three parts of turf taken from the surface of a rather shaly pasture, one part of rotten stable manure, and one part of lime rubbish.
It is one of the popular errors that vines for graperies should be two or three years old; the age of a vine usually has but little to do with its size, and if grape-vines are properly grown the first year from cuttings, they will be quite as good for planting as if two or three years old. In fact it is a question whether a vine grown from a cutting in March, and planted in June, is not quite as good as one a year older. Our experience has shown that there is hardly a perceptible difference in the two at the end of the season; as such vines, however, are too tender to be shipped far, we generally recommend buying one year old vines that may be planted in April, May, or June, having ripened shoots about three feet in length. These vines are all grown in pots the previous season, and when received the soil should be shaken off entirely, and the roots spread out in the border without injuring them. The root, it will be understood, is planted outside in the bor-der, and the shoot taken inside, through an.opening in the walls. This is made of brick or stone, and should be left open at every three feet, the distance at which the vines should be planted; if the wall is of wood, it can easily be cut to suit the size of the vine. The plants we used were strong one-year-old vines, and were set about June 1st. By October they had grown to over twenty feet in length. The varieties used were nine-tenths Black Hamburg, with a few Muscats and Frontignans, all of which have done exceedingly well.
In November they were cut back to the bottom of the rafter, or about three feet from the ground, and quickly reached the top again the second year, with firm, well-ripened wood. In November they were again pruned back to about three feet above the foot of the rafter, or six feet from the ground. On this shoot was produced the fruit referred to, (the third year from the time of planting). We prune any time in November or December after the leaves have fallen, and cut the shoot back to about four feet from top of the rafter, or about sixteen feet from the ground.
Every December we lay the vines down along the front wall after being pruned, covering them completely with soil until May, when they are then taken up and tied to the wires, which are l|16 galvanized iron, and run across the rafters 15 inches apart and 15 inches from the glass. The training followed is what is called the "spur" system, which is simply to allow one cane or shoot to each rafter, (or at three feet apart), and pruning the side shoots or "bearing wood" annually back to one eye. In the summer treatment of the cold grapery, the principle must never be lost sight of, that to keep the vines in perfect health, a temperature of not less than 70° at night, with 10° or 15° higher during the day is always necessary. Any rapid variation downward is certain to result in mildew. The floor of the grapery should be kept dashed with water at all times, unless in damp weather, from the time the buds start in May, until the fruit begins to ripen in September, except during the period the vines are in flower, when it should be dispensed with until the fruit is set. If the weather is dry, copious watering is necessary for the border outside. The summer pruning of the grapery consists simply in pinching off the laterals, or side shoots which start from where the leaf joins the stem, to one leaf. Every winter three inches of the best well-rottei stable manure is spread over the border, and over that six inches of leaves or litter; this is raked off in spring, and the manure forked in, the object being to feed the roots from the top of the border. This same treatment we give our hardy grapes with excellent results.
I am a good deal of a utilitarian, and am very apt to make even my luxuries "pay" when it is practicable to do so; and though we would hardly think of selling our grapes that have been grown for private use, yet I do not scruple to make the glass that shelters them do double duty by using it in winter to shelter our half-hardy roses from November to May. Those that do not make rose-growing a business, as I do, can nevertheless profit by my example, and use the cold grapery for many purposes during the winter months when it is not needed for the grape-vines. Besides roses, all plants of a half-hardy character may be kept there, such as Pomegranates, Crape Myrtles, Pampas Grass, Tritomas, Carnations, etc., care being taken that the pots or tubs in which they are planted are plunged in leaves, tan, or some such substance, so the roots do not freeze. The cold grapery makes an excellent poultry-house in winter, only if put to that use, care must be taken that the buried vines are secure against the scratching of the hens.