It will be apparent that the time of starting Vines must depend upon the time that ripe fruit is wanted. Those who are growing their Grapes in a greenhouse will find it best to let them start naturally in April. If the Vines do not show signs of breaking then, gentle heat may be applied if it is at command. In vineries with a proper heating system it is possible to have Grapes ripe in March, but it would be necessary to start early in the previous November in order to ensure this. Vines thus forced early are soon worn out. The market men generally content themselves with fruiting them once, throwing them away afterwards, and filling their place with young canes, of which care is taken to provide a constant supply. Approximately, it is safe to allow Black Hamburgh five months from start to finish, and Muscat of Alexandria six. With the desire of putting information as respects temperature before my readers in the most compact form, I have prepared what I believe to be an original table, showing the proper temperatures at various stages of growth.

Stage of Growth.

Day Temperature.

Night

Temperature.

Starting

55° to 65°

50°

Buds swelling

60° to 70°

55°

In leaf

65° to 70°

60°

In flower

70° to 75° (with sun 10° more)

65° to 70°

After flowering and setting

70° to 75° (with sun 10° more)

60° to 65°

Berries swelling

80° to 90°

65° to 70°

Stoning

70° to 80° (with sun 10° more)

60° to 65°

Re-swelling

80° to 90°

60° to 70°

Colouring

80° to 90°

65° to 70°

These temperatures are suitable for Black Hamburgh, Foster's Seedling, Buckland Sweetwater, Alicante, Madresfield Court, and Gros Maroc. Muscat of Alexandria should have 5° more at each stage.

Syringing Grape Vines At Start Time

There has been much discussion on the question of syringing Vines at starting time. The fact that many highly successful growers practise it is sufficient proof that there is nothing very bad about it; on the other hand, it is certainly not indispensable. Most growers will follow the course which they have found to answer, in spite of arguments. Whether or not syringing be practised when the Vines are breaking, it may be pursued afterwards at the various stages of growth, although most cultivators lay the syringe aside while the plants are in flower. A free use of the syringe ensures a moist, agreeable atmosphere, thus keeping red spider in check, and incidentally putting a curb on mealy bug. In all cases it is best to use clean rain water for syringing, as there is less risk of spotting.

Tying The Grape Vine Shoots

I must not forget to say a word on this subject. It is often a difficult one, because of early mistakes. For instance, there are cases in which two or more shoots spring nearly simultaneously from the spur. Now, we have seen that although a system of culture is sometimes practised which allows two shoots to develop from each spur, the general practice is to permit only one. Assuming that we are going to have one only, it would be a mistake to allow two or more to develop. As a matter of fact, it is best to remove the superfluous ones when they are 1/2 inch long or thereabouts. This is termed disbudding. When the chosen one has reached the glass it will have to be tied down into position on the wires, which, by the way, should be 18 inches from the glass. This tying down is veir delicate work, as the shoots are liable to break off, and thus make an ugly gap. It is best done by degrees, depressing the shoot a little one day, tying it, and leaving it; then depressing it a little more. If the Vines threaten, as they usually do, to break more strongly from the upper than the lower part of the rods, they should be removed from the wires and the tops coiled, so as to check the flow of sap.

Fig. 74. - Grape Alicante
Fig. 74. - Grape Alicante

Fertilisation, Or Setting Grape Vines

I have mentioned that it is usual to put the syringe aside when the Vines are in flower - a period when the house, with its pleasant, blossomy odour and cool atmosphere, is most agreeable.

Some growers do not hesitate to use the syringe for dispersing the pollen; but amateurs might easily overdo this, and will perhaps be wise to rely on shaking the rods, or circling the bunch with the fingers and drawing the hand gently down. Even this is not really necessary if the weather be bright and the atmosphere not saturated with moisture, as the warm, dry breezes flowing through the ventilators will scatter the pollen and ensure setting.