This matter has been touched upon in connection with shanking. Vines which have been systematically overcropped fall into ill-health sooner or later. It frequently happens that Vines are seen in small conservatories or greenhouses wherein a whole medley of plants is grown. The Vine rods are close together, the laterals crowded and weak, the bunches numerous but miserably small, and the colour of the Grapes is bad. Shanking, or shrivelling up of the stems of the berries, usually supervenes, and the mischief is complete. Such cases are difficult to cure, but improvement can often be effected when the case seems hopeless, providing the cultivator is prepared to content himself with fewer bundles in the future. Nothing is any use if overcropping is persistently practised. The first thing should be to get at the roots, if possible; and if they are in bad soil raise them and give them better. Then the rods should be thinned when the Vines are at rest. If they are from 1 1/2 to 2 feet apart, cut out every other one at the base. This will give a chance to the laterals which spring from those left. Not more than ten bunches should be left on the following season, and six would be better. Before the Vines start spread on the following dressing:-
Steamed bone flour, 4 parts.
Nitrate of potash (saltpetre), 3 parts.
Mix and apply at the rate of 4 oz. per square yard.
Give plenty of water and a weekly soaking of liquid manure during the growing season, and the Vines will improve.
Grapes may be kept for many weeks, and even months, if the bunches are cut with a piece of lateral, and this is inserted in a wide-necked bottle full of water. The bottles should be fixed in a sloping position, so that the Grapes hang clear. They must be placed in a cool place where the air is pure and sweet.