This section of the book is from the Guide To Hardy Fruits And Ornamentals book, by Thomas Joseph Dwyer, published in 1903.
Within a radius of twenty miles of the writer's home the grape is cultivated very extensively, perhaps more largely than in any other section of the country. The growers here in this fruit growing region along the Hudson River Valley and in the interior towns are, as a rule, progressive, up-to-date men, and if they excel in any particular branch of this industry it is in the perfect cultivation and production of this fruit. Here the grape is grown to perfection, the climatic conditions are conducive to the growing of the choicest and best flavored fruit, and these practical men take advantage of this opportunity and grow the fruit in a large way, and it can be safely said that one year with another it is as good a paying crop as they produce. Ten to thirty acre vineyards are no uncommon sight in these parts and the tillage so clean and thorough that during the growing and Pruning season it is. a splendid sight and inspiration to go through these plantations. I can remember the time, when an old pioneer grape grower here at my home, sold his Concord Grapes at twenty-five cents per pound in the New York City market. Of course, no such prices as these exist at the present time, nor are they likely to again; yet good remunerative prices can be obtained for a fancy high-class fruit, neatly packed in small packages. At the present time grapes are grown more largely for wine than ever before in the history of the country. It is now pretty generally understood and conceded that we can manufacture quite as good wine here in this country as we have been importing at high prices from the wine districts in France. We are pleased to be able to make this statement and to know that at last we are beginning to appreciate the possibilities that are at our own door and to take advantage of them in this available and practical way. The above remarks, are of course, principally intended for the grower for commercial purposes. It is perhaps superfluous for us to urge the cultivation of this delicious, health imparting fruit for the private garden. Every one knows what a grand fruit it is. Most all know the general adaptability of the grape to our varied conditions of soils and climates. The soil that will not produce this fruit is poor indeed and hardly fit for any other crop. It is positively the easiest to cultivate and at the same time the most grateful of all the fruits. It can be grown in so many different ways and in such a variety of nooks and corners that any one with any land at all can grow it successfully with but little trouble.
There is scarcely a yard so small, either in country or city, that room for one to a dozen or more grapevines cannot be found. They do admirably trained up to the side of any building, or along the garden fences, occupying but little room and furnishing an abundance of the healthiest of fruit.
Make the soil mellow, and plant the vines somewhat deeper than they stood in the nursery. Plant about eight feet apart by the fence or building. For vineyard, make rows eight. feet apart. For strong growing kinds, like Concord or Niagara, plant ten feet apart in the row, and for light growers, like Delaware, plant six feet apart in the row.
Dig the holes about two feet wide and fifteen inches deep, loosening the earth thoroughly in the bottom placing in two or three inches of good surface soil, then cover the roots with three or four inches of the surface soil, and with the use of the feet firm the soil about the roots; this firming of the soil is of supreme importance.
* Pruning Back
-- Before the vines are taken to the field the roots should be trimmed back to twelve inches in length; the tops should be cut back to three or four buds; two of these buds should be below the surface of the ground and one or two should be above the surface as leaders. It is desirable to place these roots in a pail of water when doing the planting in order to guard against drying out with the sun and wind. Set a stake near the leader, and as the new growth develops keep it firmly tied thereto; this is all that will be necessary for the first two years. Keep old wood trimmed off and grow your fruit on the new canes. Any manner of pruning that will admit the light and air will answer -- there is several systems and all are good for certain purposes.
* Preparation of the Soil
-- As the author noted in the beginning of his notes on Grapes, most any soil will answer for their production -- except land that is excessively wet and which is not fit for any fruit crop. In fact the grape can be grown on side hill locations that are good for little if any other use. The soil should be thoroughly plowed and harrowed and put in first class condition as previously explained for Strawberries on page 49. If you are planting in a large way, you can run deep furrows the same as you would for other heavy rooted trees or plants. This saves a large amount of labor in digging the holes.
-- This is very simple and easily done. Keep the soil loose anti free from weeds. With the proper, timely and judicious use of the improved plows and cultivators nearly all of the tillage can be done with the use of these tools, reducing the hand work to a minimum. For the first three or four years after the new vineyard has been planted, or until the vines become fully established and developed, you can with good advantage grow annual crops of low growing vegetables in connection with your grapes. Then be it remembered that it is the general practice among commercial growers to grow Strawberries between the rows of young vines for three or four years or more, and some growers utilize the ground indefinitely for some other fruit or vegetable crop. Currants is the fruit crop that is generally grown between the young vines in the row for the first two years after being planted. This practice gives us an income from our land at once, and makes the cost of labor for each crop comparatively small. Certainly more fertilizers are needed for this extensive cropping, and the grower will have to determine this for himself. Conditions and observation will be his best and safest guide along this line.
-- In the beginning, before we plow our ground for grapes, if the ground is not in a high state of fertility we should give it a liberal application of thoroughly well rotted stable manure. Eight to ten tons to the acre is none too much. With the proper and necessary use of the plow and harrow in preparing the ground this manure will be pretty thoroughly incorporated with the soil; then after the roots are well covered with soil it is beneficial to add to each plant one large forkful of this well rotted manure, and then fill in the soil; level with the surface of the ground. In this way the manure will not come in direct contact with the roots, yet they will be in a short time stimulated and benefited by it. If stable manure cannot be procured you can use raw bone meal, about 600 pounds per acre, with about 300 pounds muriate of potash, or two tons of good, unleached hardwood ashes or one ton of some complete fruit and vine manure. These should be applied broadcast before the last harrowing of the land. A double handful can be placed in each hole after the roots have been well covered with soil. In the absence of stable manure we recommend the use of wood ashes when it is a first class article, and to be such it should contain five to eight per cent. potash, two to three per cent. phosphoric acid and thirty to fifty per cent. wood lime. The after feeding of the vines as they fully develop and bear fruit will have to be attended to, using the most convenient fertilizer for this purpose and in quantities to suit the needs and requirements of the plants. A splendid practice is to apply two or three forkfuls of manure around each vine in the month of November or December of each year.
* Training the Vines
-- The vines can be trained to stakes as before recommended for the first two years and the trellis can be constructed the second Spring after planting if it is convenient to do so. The posts should be 9 feet long; the end posts about 6 inches in diameter at the small end, and the intermediate posts or stakes 4 to 5 inches. Holes four feet deep should be dug for the end posts, these end posts should be well braced. The intermediate posts should be about 2. 5 feet apart, the exact distance to be regulated somewhat by the vines, and may be set in holes, or the lower ends may be sharpened and driven down with a weighty mallet. After the posts are set and properly braced, run one wire 2. 5 to 3 feet from the ground, the upper wire about six inches from the top of the post, and the middle one half way between the two. The three wires are sufficient for any of the practical methods of training. In putting up the wires they should be fastened to the end posts by winding them twice around them, fastening with staples, and to the intermediate posts by staples. The wires should be nicely straightened, but not drawn too tight. The vines can then be trained to these wires, spreading them out at full length and uniformly over the trellis. In cold climates in the Northern States, and in fact in cold and somewhat unfavorable locations in the Middle States, the vines are untied from the wires and left lay on the ground during the winter months as an extra precaution against possible injury by the cold weather during this season.
* Summer Pruning
-- This should be done cautiously; in fact we do not recommend the practice further than the pinching back and rubbing off of weak and superfluous shoots and laterals. Severe Summer pruning is positively injurious to the welfare of the vine; the foliage is the life of the plant and to remove any great portion of it during the growing season is to weaken the vitality of the plant.
* Thinning the Fruit
-- This is of absolute necessity when we wish to produce the very choicest samples of fruit. Our vines should not be permitted to bear any fruit until the third year after being planted. The third year, strong vines with good culture ought to produce six to eight pounds. Care must be taken not to allow the vine to overbear, or it may be so injured as to never recover. Three to four tons per acre is a full average crop for the strongest growers, although good vineyards often produce without injury five or six tons per acre. The less the number of clusters this weight can be put into, the more satisfactory will be the money return from the crop. Hence it is well to thin the fruit, picking off the smallest and poorest clusters.
-- This is essential to the best results, and should not be neglected under any circumstances. Moreover, it should be done several times during the season. The best spray is the Bordeaux mixture with Paris Green added as formulated on page 11. Make the first application in the early Spring just as the buds begin to swell, and the second application when the leaves are two inches in diameter. It is also desirable to make a third application directly after the flowers have fallen. Later if you notice any indications of fungous disease or leaf beetle spray again as before.