This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
A correspondent at Newark, N. Y., writes: "We mailed you to-day some sample grapes. They are taken from one branch of a Concord vine, which for the past three or four years has borne grapes double the size of the balance of the vine, and has borne as many. Can you give any reason for it? If you will give us your opinion of it, and send copy of paper, we will be very thankful".
[This is the most remarkable variation in the grape that we have ever seen. The dark blue berries were three inches in circumference. The main stalk (rachis) was double the thickness of an ordinary grape, and the whole appearance was that of an unusually large and well developed Black Hamburg as raised under glass.
By the last paragraph, we take it our correspondent is not a regular reader of the Monthly, but this was apparent by his sending the grapes in a box of wet moss. One of our regular readers would surely have understood that, to prevent fermentation, we should keep fruits as dry as possible, so that they would not shrivel. The moisture added to these caused rapid putrefaction, and the size and color of the berries, is all we can note. The flavor and allied qualities are, of course, out of the question.
The case we take to be one of bud variation, not uncommon in the vegetable kingdom. Among flowers it is well known. Some of our best and most popular varieties of roses have been obtained in this way. The branch which makes the departure is taken for propagation, and is usually persistent enough to reproduce itself under these circumstances.
Ihe same attention to getting new varieties from bud variation, has not been given to fruit as to flowers; although the most experienced pomolo-gists know of them. Variations worthy of selection may often be had from sportive branches. We have in Pennsylvania, an apple called the Penn, which is certainly superior to the ordinary Baldwin, and retains its superior character under propagation, yet it is well known to have come originally from a Baldwin tree; and the Seckel is notorious for its numerous varieties, none of which are from seeds, but must have been obtained from sporting branches; or, as physiologist would say, by bud-variation. The subject is one of great interest, and deserves more attention than it has received from fruit growers.
In regard to the special case before us, we can only say further, that if the fruit is as good in quality as the Concord, the owner has stumbled on a fortune; and the sooner he commences to propagate from that branch, the better. All this is, of course, supposing that the branch is in a perfectly natural condition. Very large berries have been obtained by gardeners taking off a ring of bark, or by - which is the same thing - allowing a wire of a label to grow into the wood; but as " three or four years " is given as a successive period for the large fruit, we take it for granted that the statement is made in good faith, that the branch is in a natural condition. - Ed. G. M].