This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
We place tar more dependence on the kind of vine for planting than we do in the formation of the border. If we could get nothing better than some vines said to be grown for two years in pot, before we would plant such vines, we should be strongly inclined to grow them one season ourselves in pots or tubs, and get them into a proper condition for planting out. I do not deny that even weak, poor plants, will grow the first season after planted out in the border, and make as good canes in size as we could desire; but the chapter does not end here. We want the glass case again to see where the roots have gone to that such plants have produced. They are in the border, it is true, but if you could see them, they are nothing more than a lot of tap roots gone direct down to the bottom of the border; and our humble experience is, that many men have been stumbling all their lives against the border without ever considering the action of the root. This is a long subject we are getting into, but for the present we will not tax your patience further on this point; but if you are going to plant vines this spring, get such ones we have been describing, and Bacchus will crown you King of Horticulture for all future time.
Now for the second secret we promised to tell you; and this lies in a little fact in the management of the vine, ripened wood. There are two fundamental principles in the successful cultivation of the vine never to be lost sight of, and which, in our opinion, stands first of all other considerations, namely, a fine strong healthy plant to start with, and a full determination to have all the wood such plants produce, thoroughly well ripened. There is a question now that naturally suggests itself, and that is, "How are we to know when such wood is thoroughly ripened?" You may answer me by saying, "When the wood becomes fully browned, and the eyes or buds plump and full." Ah, my friend, if this is all, it only shows your want of experience, for this much is often seen accompanied with green foliage. Wood is never ripened as long as any portion of a green leaf holds to the vine! Vines cut down by frost when the foliage is green have not ripened their wood. You may bo satisfied, in your opinion, that they are ripened enough to sustain no injury, and that you will get a good crop the next season; but we tell you, emphatically,.that every green leaf that falls off through frost, is so much less in the weight of your bunches of grapes the next season.
To obviate this it becomes necessary to think and act intelligently. Growths must be measured and restricted, watched attentively at the latter end of the season, and checked or stopped accordingly; and if proper attention is given to the admission of plenty of air, after all tender growths are matured and hardened, much of the tendency to late growth will be avoided. There is much more difficulty experienced in preventing a late or second growth in houses early forced than cold houses, because the wood in the former gets ripened pretty well before the heat of summer sets in, and the heat and moisture thrown into such borders induce a second growth in the roots of early forced vines, and starts them into a second, or what we may properly call a natural growth. In this fact comes the tug of war. If the sap gets up and the vines make a growth, such vines for the next season are in a far worse condition than poorly ripened canes in a cold vinery, and are liable to produce much less the following season. When such is discovered in early forced vines, it is much the safest and best plan to let the vines break again, and prune them in as soon as the second sap is fully up, and treat them in every respect the same as vines started early.
This will do the vines no harm, but, on the contrary, do them good, simply because'they will then get a season of natural growth which will much invigorate their constitutions. This act of second pruning, however, requires a positive knowledge of the exact time when it should be done. If done too quick, the vine so cut back will not break at all, and will stand over for the next spring, and when then put to work will refuse to move one jot where it ought to move, but will push out of the old wood at every possible point before it will break out of the young wood where it was cut back to, because the sap being stopped, and checked in green wood, has no perfected channels to work through. To guard against this second or late growth in forced vines, requires very rigid attention; and the growth should be checked back on its first appearance, for if allowed to grow a while, the power of the sap will overpower all mechanical operations with the fingers. The wood of all vines then, to be well ripened, is indicated by the leaves turning yellow as they do in the natural forests, and drop down of their own accord.
We may then rest ourselves, assured that Nature has done her own work in her own way, and the bounteous supply given us the next season will teach us the truth, that no wood is well ripened but that which Nature ripens in accordance with her own natural law, and in this lies our secret number two.
[Editorially speaking, Mr. Meadow, we can keep a secret as well as a woman, "or any other man," and our readers have the best evidence of that fact right before their eyes. Send us all the horticultural secrets; we know how to keep them. Yes, we are fond of growing grapes, and we are putting up lots of new graperies, with inside borders too, properly drained; but we never filter them, Mr. Meadow; couldn't think of it. We have grown vines and other plants in glass cases, and seen such wonders as you would hardly believe. You are emphatically right about selling vines for fifty cents a-piece. No man can afford to grow a first-rate vine for that sum, let his facilities be what they may; yet poor vines will continue to be grown for that price, simply because the great mass will more readily buy a poor vine at fifty cents than a good one at a dollar, notwithstanding the latter is immensely the cheapest. We wish our friends would look that fact seriously in the face. We desire to see vines and trees put down to the lowest paying price, but we do not expect nurserymen to grow first-class vines or trees for nothing.
Now' we have kept your secret so well, Mr. Meadow, be encouraged to tell us some more. - Ed].