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.
Since the introduction more prominently before the public of the Delaware grape, I notice several cultivators are beginning to make calculations of the relative expense of in and out-door culture of the vine, and to date, from the advent of a good hardy variety, the decline and fall of those rapidly multiplying institutions, cold graperies.
After fifteen years' experience in both ways of producing grapes, I think I am not a very rash prophet when I predict, through your pages, that in coming years ten persons will adopt cold vineries to one that abandons the use of them after having fairly tested their advantages. That such institutions will creep very slowly into Kelly's Island, or any other locality so highly favored in point of climate, is freely admitted; but as governmental securities in the stock market will always command higher rates than individual obligations, in proportion to the interest they give, on account of their greater reliability, so vineries will always have a great advantage over out-door culture on account of the certainty of the crop. It is an easy thing (I find it a very easy thing) to protect out-door vines from being winter killed and all that, but it is not very easy when a vine is in full flower and leaf to protect it from an untimely frost; and it is at such a time, when his neighbors are mourning over "blighted promises," that the owner of a vinery takes up his scissors to thin out his superabundant crop, with a proper appreciation of the value of glass. I trust no enthusiastic grower of the Concord, or Diana, or Delaware will think me ignorant of the specialty which he trumpets.
I have seen them all in their perfection. I have got them all, and forty other varieties, local celebrities besides, and in the possession of them, have felt induced to double the size of my grapery. If the subject is not too trite for your pages, I propose to suggest the plan of a plain, inexpensive grapery, with some of its advantages.
The size I would make about 40 by 22 feet. This is large enough for any family use, and will readily yield from 800 to 1,000 clusters of grapes per year. The cost would vary according to the price of materials; here, it is about ten dollars a foot, or $400 for the building when entirely completed. The roof consists of 56 sashes, 8 by 10 double-thickness glass, each sash containing 24 panes; the upper sash laps over the lower one, and the whole are nailed down without pulleys or slides, ventilation being otherwise provided for; sashes one light high run along the sides of the building between the studding; a window and door occupy one end of the building, two or four windows the other. The windows are hinged and open outwards, and are fastened, when either open or shut, with a button. A square opening in each gable, with the end windows, gives sufficient ventilation. The windows and these openings are provided with fine wire gauze to exclude insects. The openings also have a board covering fixed inside in a slide, and with a handle attached to raise or lower the board at pleasure, the handle being perforated at small intervals with holes to slip over a staple to confine at the elevation desired.
The ridge pole should be about 12 feet high, the sides of the building about 4 feet The advantage of elevating the latter thus is, that it gives a large internal atmosphere, not subject to sudden change of temperature. It also at once elevates the vines out of the way. The sash bars should be at least 1 1/2 inches deep by 1 inch wide, with a light cross bar screwed on the under side midway to prevent springing or settling of the frame. Tin eave troughs should be provided on both sides, to prevent saturation of the border when not desirable, and to conduct the water by a pipe to a large tank or open vessel inside, where it is always at hand, and becomes attempered for use. When the water is not wanted inside, the pipe can be detached. The outside of the building may be matched and planed, and neatly painted; the inside lined with matched but rough boards, and whitewashed. No filling in is necessary, and tan is specially objectionable, as it soon dry rots the framework.
A strong wire should be fastened along each side of the building, and from these, at intervals of two feet, wires pass through a staple in the ridge pole. At the ends of the buildings staples can be placed 15 inches below the glass, and strong wires be run from them across the building, passing through some wooden supports depended from the rafters. Great additional firmness is also obtained by some fine wire ligatures around the point where the upright and horizontal wires cross each other. The rafters should be in size about 3 by 5 inches, and run from the plate to the ridge pole, with strips nailed on the side to support the sashes, which, in consequence of the lap, do not rest on the same plane. The whole ingenuity of the builder should be taxed to prevent leaks or drip; and if the aquaria cement, lately advertised, will do this, and stick where putty is so prone to fly off, we shall hereafter say a good word for it.
A building of the size given would require 8 by 10 oak sills resting on stone pillars, and one cross sill in the centre, with a support upon it to the ridge pole, and the whole should be suitably braced.