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.
The time is fast approaching when everything connected with our early vinery must be put in readiness for another season's forcing. The usual routine is generally gone through with no doubt a measure of success; but is it not possible in some instances to make a little deviation from the trodden path to insure with greater certainty a crop of fruit?.
Our early vinery, I am sorry to say, is showing the same effects as hundreds have done in various places before it. It has been forced so that the system of the Vines is completely worn out; and although I believe that it is not impossible for them to be again renewed, it would not pay to do that; and it is preferable to try the common practice of tearing them out in due time and replanting with young Vines.
The Vines in question are not yet pruned, and it was on this subject that I have been tempted to pen these few lines. I was very much pleased with a saying of our Editor's on pot-Vines, that more depended upon the way in which the Vines had been prepared than all else besides, which was just what I was convinced of myself; and that the same theory might also be applied in many cases in our early vineries to advantage, at least in worn-out ones such as ours; and I believe there are many like it throughout the country. Looking at the Vines, you will find that on this year's wood the best of the eyes are a good way from the permanent rod - from G inches to 1 foot, or perhaps a little more. Now in the usual mode of pruning, all the shoots would be shortened in to an eye that can scarcely be seen. This is the most approved way of pruning, and I quite admit that it looks much in keeping with first-class cultivation; but in the case of worn-out Vines such as ours, I question very much whether it is the best method to adopt.
If I cut or prune in all the Vines I refer to in this way, they will no doubt break well enough; but, may I ask, will they show bunches so freely? [Very weak Vines will not. - Ed.] Now if I leave the shoots a little longer, as I intend doing - for Vines can be disbudded more freely by-and-by, as I only mean to take another crop off - they will show more bunches probably than the Vines can carry. In this will be the difference between the two modes of pruning. I will have so many more chances for getting bunches to show, at least from the one compared with the other. I hold that it is not scientific to prune Vines to cause an extra strain upon the plant to produce fruit, when naturally it is storing up material in the shoots already formed, showing it in the prominent round buds which are annually cut off, without ever, may I say, being in any way taken notice of. Robert Mackellar.