This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V27", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
It has long ago been noted that a grape vine will grow faster when growing over a tree than when trained in any other way. Some observers have from this fact tried to grow grapes successfully on trees, but have always failed. But the observation is of value. We have to try to find out why the grape grows well over trees, and then imitate in our usual practice, so far as we can, the conditions which contribute so much to the growth of the vine in other instances. Mr. Meehan pointed out many years ago, in a paper before a scientific association, what those conditions were. Mr. Crawford, of Cuyahoga Falls, O., has recently called attention to the value of these facts, and it will be be very useful to repeat here what Mr. Crawford says :
"The grape rarely falls when allowed to climb over trees. It matters not what kind of trees, or, whether they be living or dead, if they only have branches that the tendrils can take hold of. Astonishing crops are produced in this way, even on vines that receive no care. The most successful cultivators in the world plant trees and vines together so that the latter may have a suitable support. Many unskilled farmers have blundered into the same method and have had abundant success. A vine will make twice the growth in a tree that it will in a trellis, and where an effort is made to have it occupy both, it is always found that its main energies are expended in the tree. A newly planted vine should have brush instead of a stake, as it has no means of clinging to the latter. If the tendrils can find nothing to take hold of, they continue in motion for a time, reaching in all directions, and this is exhausting to the vine. For this reason skilled gardeners often cut off the tendrils. When growing vines on stakes I have often driven lath nails in convenient places for the accommodation of the tendrils.
"Although grapes do so well on trees without much care, let no one suppose that he can accomplish anything by planting vines at the roots of established trees. The soil being preoccupied, the vine will not have a fair chance. Plant it at a distance from the tree to be covered, and after it has made some growth it may be brought to the branches, where it will take care of itself. On nearly every farm there are worthless trees that might be made to carry bushels of grapes".