This section is from the book "The Gardener V3", 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.
If there is to be an inside border, you will require to build up pillars from the bottom on which to rest your flue - for we advise you to build a flue so that you may apply a little fire-heat when necessary; and a flue, constructed of 6-inch glazed pipes, will answer your purpose admirably, and be much cheaper than a boiler and hot-water pipes. Had your house been larger, we would have advised you to have a boiler, as heating by hot-water is more economical in large houses - or a series of them - than flues; but for a small house such as yours, where only a little heat is wanted occasionally, we certainly think a flue, such as we have recommended, is best. It is important to have it resting on a foundation that will not sink, for the joints must be properly cemented to prevent smoke escaping; and if they are allowed to sink with a loose sinking border, the cement will crack and the smoke escape. Pillars of a single brick on bed, at each joint of the pipes, will prove sufficient support. Of course, if your border is to be wholly outside, you may save yourself this trouble.
The fireplace should be at one end, seeing that another person occupies the ground at the back of the house; otherwise the back would have been the best place for it. Never mind; just build your fireplace 12 or 18 inches below the level of the flue, and the same as you would a fireplace for a boiler. You may put it pretty well under the house, for economy's sake, and cover it over with a fire-brick cover, and lead your flue along within 2 feet of the front wall, and right out through the wall at the other end; and then lead it up, by means of a metal or other pipe, a foot or two higher than your house, and your heating apparatus is complete.
And now we will return to the border when you have laid down the drainage with a turf upside-down over it. The next thing to do is to fill in the soil; but of course the soil must be prepared beforehand. The best soil you can possibly get is turf from an old pasture; and if you dared, or could get liberty, to take a few cartloads from off the park just over the wall, you would be all right. I daresay you cannot. But you need not put on a rueful face; for we only said that such was the best kind of soil. But you have a good heap of soil which you wheeled from off the site of the house, and that will do very well for mixing along with the best you can get. The turfy material which is to be had along the sides of the turnpike roads will do capitally : we have seen it used with good results before now. As much of this as you have soil in your heap, when mixed with it, will make enough of soil to fill up 4 feet of your border; and that will be a good beginning for this year. Then you have a fine heap of horse-droppings, which your boys collected off the roads, - and for manure nothing better could be desired. You should also get some bones - a couple of barrow-loads, if possible - to furnish phosphates to the plants; for the bunches of Grapes need phosphates.
Further, some gritty matter, such as burnt rubbish, or lime-rubbish, or broken stones, is necessary to keep the whole mass open, so that the roots may run freely, and the water may not stagnate in it.
Having got these materials together, they will need some mixing before putting into the border. The turfy stuff must be chopped up into pieces, but not too finely. Having done so, put a layer of it down 6 inches thick; then a layer of the gritty material; then an inch of the manure and a sprinkling of bones; then a layer of common soil, gritty matter, manure and bones, as before, and over all a sprinkling of hot lime. Repeat this until all your material is worked up. If any urine is to be had, a good soaking should be given to the heap, for urine, especially cow's, is rich in potash salts - in order to have strong vigorous growths, without which you may look for fine fruit in vain. If you have used wood-ashes for opening material, they will also supply potash.
After your heap has lain a few weeks, it will be ready to put into the border; but in so doing it must be mixed. To do this properly, the heap should be sliced perpendicularly with the spade. Fill in the soil some inches higher than the floor level, and do not be afraid of treading it down if it is dry; but if it is the least pasty, allow it to sink of itself. Year by year you may add to the breadth of your border, until it is 16 or 20 feet, or even more, broad.
Having settled the question of soil, we must now think of plants, and how to plant them. The best kind, if you are to put in the flue - which we hope, for your own sake, you will - is Black Hamburg. This is regarded as the most desirable Grape, by the most extensive growers in this country, even for their purpose; so you can understand that it is a good one. It is, moreover, very easily grown, and is just the thing for you. We would strongly advise you to stick to this; but if you are determined to have a white one, let it be Reeves's Muscadine, or Foster's Seedling, for such vineries as yours; and we do not recommend you to grow a collection. You cannot grow any more than four plants in your house, for you must have 3 feet from plant to plant to allow them proper room. Our advice is to have three of these Black Ham-burgs. The best plants to buy are well-ripened canes of last year's raising. When you buy them, see that they are not stunted plants that have been cut back. After you have got them, water them when necessary, and keep them in the pots until they begin to grow.
When they do so, rub off all the buds as they start except two, which should be left about 4 inches from the surface of the pot; but no pruning should be done, or they may bleed; then turn them out of the pots, disentangle the roots, and plant them, with the roots spread out near the surface, as you would plant anything else. After planting give them a soaking of water at a temperature of 100° F., and mulch with rotted manure. They should be placed about 6 or 8 inches from the front wall. We are of course presuming that they are to be planted inside. If the border is wholly outside, the plants will require planting outside, and holes must be made in the front wall through which the canes will pass into the inside of the house. In this case the buds must be left further up the canes - just as far up as will allow of the plants being planted outside, and the growing buds reaching a foot or so inside the house. The holes and exposed part of the Vines should then be covered over with straw to prevent the sap getting chilled, or the wind from blowing through the holes - which ought to be 4 inches in diameter - and so chilling and stopping the growth of the young shoots.
J. H. (To he continued).