This section is from the book "The Gardener V2", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
In reply to Mr Cramb, p. 39, for January, I maystate that it was respecting the dry spot on Grapes when undergoing the stoning process, that I advocated less water to be given, which I still hold to be good advice. As to the gangrene that Mr Cramb talks of as having injured his Grapes, never having seen it, of course I know nothing of its effects.
Mr Cramb need have no misgivings of himself, as I never had any idea of attributing unworthy motives to him regarding the Madresfield Grape. I believe what he says in describing how the Grape behaved with him. All I contend for is that it has succeeded we'll with others.
As Mr Cramb wants facts, I request him to turn to page 275 of ' The Gardener ' for June 1S71. He will there see an account written by Mr Temple regarding the Madresfield Court and Golden Champion Grapes as grown at Pit-carlie. Mr Temple states that the bunches when ripe would weigh from 4 lb. to 6 lb. each. This is more than the belauded Grapes grown at Cyrfartha. Mr Cramb will also see what I consider a true description of the Grape at page 411 for September 1871.
Another fact is that Mr Barron of Chiswick grows the Madresfield Grape very successfully in a cold house. I do not, however, think that the proper place for it. A writer in the ' Chronicle ' last year, in giving an account of Chiswick, stated that he was amazed on entering the house where the Madresfield Grape was grown to see such a crop.
Now, as the Madresfield Court Grape has been grown in great perfection in England, Ireland, and Scotland, I think I may be permitted to anticipate that it may still be so grown.
The Muscat Hamburg, when it first came out, met with much opposition, as Mr Cramb knows. I remember seeing it shown in Oxfordshhe grown on its Own roots, in beautiful condition, weighing 4 lb. a bunch. I have also seen it do very badly. Grafted on the Black Hamburg it does well. Some stock may yet be found to suit the Madresfield Court, and probably prevent failures.
At page 39 for January, Mr Hunter gives an account of his failure with the Madresfield Court. I merely allude to this, as Mr Hunter states that he watered his Vines sparingly, on purpose to ripen the wood. I consider that bad advice. Vines require more water than many imagine. Last year we had nearly GO inches of rain. Vines growing in an outside border of course had it all. Well, I can measure canes 3 inches round, ripened as hard, comparatively as oak. Out of fifty Vines I had not one red-spider that I could see. Leaves measuring 16 inches by 14 inches. Peaches in pots grown in the Vine-houses, ripened in May. W. Hutchison. Llwyndu Court.
In reference to the several questions that have arisen of late concerning the above Grape, permit me to give the few truthful and positive facts which have presented themselves during my experience with it. In so doing, it is not with the intention of raising any further discussion upon the merits of the Grape, or in any way to oppose or question the statements made against it by our able and worthy contributor, Mr Cramb, and others, but simply to state how the Grape has done with me, as reference has been made to this place.
"With me, I assure you, Madresfield Court has not as yet merited the somewhat severe and perhaps rather hasty stigma given by Mr Cramb in the 'Gardener' for August 1872. I have it planted in an outside border, at the cool end of a Muscat vinery, which I think is the proper place for it, as I find a moderately high temperature suits it best to bring it to perfection; while at the same time it does exceedingly well under a cooler treatment, by the side of our more general varieties, as I have several Vines of it planted in a late vinery with inside border. I have not as yet seen in either cases any sign or trace of the spotty gangrene spoken of by Mr Cramb and others. Since the first time I saw the account of the spot taking it, as described in the 'Gardener,' I have been on the alert for it, but am pleased to state that I have not seen anything of the kind. Should it visit me during the forthcoming season, I will at once inform the readers of the 'Gardener.'
I find it to be a very free and vigorous grower, bearing large and well-shaped bunches, setting as free as the Black Hamburg, with fine berry and colour, being of good flavour when fully ripe. This I believe Mr Cramb can testify, from the specimens exhibited by me at the Cardiff exhibition in August last, and which he had the opportunity of judging, the three bunches in question weighing 12 lb. 7oz., cut from a Vine bearing ten bunches, averaging 3 lb. per bunch. Not that I wish in making this statement to speak in laudatory tones of the specimens exhibited, or either to have the merits of the Grape belauded or based upon it - decidedly otherwise, - but simply refer to them as showing how the Grape has behaved with me. As a late-keeping Grape I would not recommend it, but as an intermediate or midsummer Grape it is with me all that can be desired. I quote the following notes taken of its keeping qualities, - on the 18th of October I cut it in good condition, and the remainder I cut on the 14th of November, somewhat shrivelled. Its not being a late-keeping grape does not affect its character as a good useful Grape of fine appearance and. flavour for its time.
May not the evil experienced by Mr Cramb and others arise from untimely ventilation? There are cases " not a few," I believe, when congratulating ourselves upon careful and tender nursing in the way of a well-heated heavily-moistened atmosphere, that we are at the same time fostering the enemy, assisting it in its lurking depredations till too late for any practical remedy; but as Mr Cramb has wisely stated, time may solve the present difficulty, and which I think ought to be solved in the case of our new Grapes before they are sent out to the public.
I would just remark by way of explanation regarding the two stands of Grapes exhibited by me at the Cardiff exhibition referred to by Mr Cramb, p. 39, for January, could I have had my own way, the two stands would not have been exhibited; but being to some extent obligated by the desires of my employers, and having written to the committee as to its being in accordance with their rules, permission was granted: hence the result.
I fully concur with Mr Cramb that such proceedings press heavily upon brother gardeners having perhaps less means; but still I would inform Mr Cramb, with all our means we have no particular choice in the matter, as the Grapes Mr Cramb sees every year at Cardiff are cut from the same Vines year after year, and from the one vinery, the other vineries being started very early and very late. Hy. Berteam.