The fact that Grapes can be grown in the open air in many parts of Great Britain scarcely needs to be stated, for most people must have observed Vines on cottage walls at some time or other. Unfortunately, the quality of the examples generally seen is not such as to encourage the extension of open-air Grape growing. The Vines are rarely tended with any skill. In many instances they are never touched with the pruning knife, and as a result the growth becomes very rank, the wood is immature, and the fruit is poor. Under the best of management ripe Grapes can never be ensured; under bad treatment failures are as certain as the day. At the same time, it must be confessed that there is something attractive in no uncommon degree about a Vine on a house wall; and if any person has a mind to try his fortune with one, there is no reason why he should not do so.
In the case of outdoor Vines the best system of training, in my opinion, is to take subsidiary rods at right angles from the main vertical one, about 18 inches apart, and allow them to run to the extremities of the wall. Fruiting laterals can be taken from these, and trained up in the same direction as the leading rod. It is a mistake to allow these laterals to run away at will. They should be stopped and thinned just the same as if the Vines were under glass. It is just as important in the open air as in a vinery, nay more so; for in the former case the difficulties of getting the wood ripe are greater. Many people who are disappointed of a crop of ripe bunches utilise the Grapes for making wine. Miller's Burgundy and Royal Muscadine are two of the best for open-air culture.
E, making up bed and planting Vine. 1, Drainage; 2, turves grass side downwards; 3, layer of soil; 4, Vine with roots spread out and covered with soil.
It may be interesting to refer to one or two very large Vines and bunches of Grapes. Three of the largest Vines in existence are that at Hampton Court, which was planted in 1769 and covers about 2,000 square feet; the Black Hamburgh at Manresa House, Roehampton, which is about thirty-five years old and has 2,000 feet run of rod; and the Vine at Cumberland House. With respect to bunches, the largest on record weighed 26 lb. 4 oz. The variety was Trebbiano, shown by Mr. Curror of Eskbank. The bunch was 2 feet 3 inches long, and the same across the shoulders - a Goliath indeed. Another gigantic bunch was shown by Mr. Dickson of Arkleton. It weighed 25 lb. 15 oz., but I believe that the grower asserted that it weighed 26 lb. 8 oz. when first cut, and claimed that some berries were lost in transit from vinery to show. The variety was White Nice. Mr. Roberts of Charlville Forest grew a bunch of Gros Guillaume weighing 28 lb. 5 oz., and Mr. Hunter of Lambton exhibited a bunch of Black Hamburgh weighing 21 lb. 12 oz. All these are little short of astounding.