This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V29", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Agawam, Brighton, Empire State, Niagara, Herbert, Lindley, Martha, Lady, Barry, Wilder, Duchess, Worden, and Salem.
All the varieties had been carefully grown, under the most favorable conditions, and were labeled as gathered to prevent any possible confusion.
A general good time was enjoyed for a half hour or more, eating, admiring and comparing grapes and experiences, when on summing up, the prevailing opinion seemed to be as follows: In the three foreign varieties little difference in quality was discerned.
The Muscats were of course higher flavored and perhaps a little finer in quality, but the Black Hamburgh was considered good enough for any one.
Among the native varieties I surprised my friends by the superior quality of the Brighton, which was pronounced by all, decidedly better than any other of its class, and fully equal to any of the foreign varieties. On the other natives some differences of opinion arose, but the general opinion would seem to range the next five as follows: Empire State, Duchess, Herbert, Lindley and Worden. Greater differences of opinion arose over the Niagara than any other, some being enthusiastic in its praise, and others dis. liking it on account of its strong musky flavor.
I think too much cannot be said in favor of the Brighton grape. It is perfectly hardy, a strong healthy grower, bearing freely of large beautiful bunches and large berries. The seeds separate from the pulp when eaten, and when ripe there is not the slightest trace of acid, so that it can be eaten by invalids, and persons with sensitive digestive organs, as freely as any of the foreign varieties. It is early and hangs well, but should be bagged to keep it from the birds. The specimens presented were bagged when about half grown. This does not injure the quality in the least, but delays the period of ripening perhaps a week.
The Empire State is a new white grape of fine quality, and a strong grower, but has not yet given me any but small or straggling bunches. I hope it will improve in this as the vines grow older. The Duchess is a delicious grape of delicate organization, not desirable except in the hands of experienced cultivators.
The Herbert I find some two weeks earlier than any other of the black Rogers, coming between Moore's Early and Worden, and is very desirable in every respect. I am surprised at the Herbert, and shall plant more of it. Barry and Wilder very much alike, are full two weeks later and not as large clusters nor so good in quality as Herbert.
Of the three red Rogers, Lindley, Salem and Agawam, the Lindley is the earliest and best, giving long beautiful bunches; skin thinner than the others, berries medium, sweet and good.
Salem is the darkest in color, skin very thick, bunches medium, berries very large, sweet but somewhat pulpy.
Agawam is about half way between the two above in many respects; bunch large and under good cultivation only is it solid and full.
Worden is as superior to Concord as the latter is to Clinton or Hartford. It is early and one of the best.
Lady and Martha are two very good white grapes, the former some ten days earlier, otherwise quite similar. They have a strong flavor bordering on the Niagara, and probably cannot hold a place with that variety, which will at least double them in quantity.
What a great boon to the people is the improved varieties of hardy native grapes now grown. My early recollections of grapes are that they were sour, colicky things, requiring the sharp appetite of a robust boy to call them good, and scarce at that.
Now they are sweet, wholesome and good, and can be had in abundance by any one who has a square rod of ground and the energy to plant a few vines of the better varieties. Auburn, N. Y.