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.
Mr. L. Tucker - The late Mr. Downing, whose melancholy death we sincerely mourn, expressed himself much pleased with a statement made by Mr. Chorlion, describing his management of a vinery. It was in the Horticulturist of February last. I have reason to believe that all those who are attempting to grow the foreign grape under glass, were highly entertained by the article. The editor said that there were many others in the country who might, if they would, furnish a report of their experience. I was entitled to think myself in the number; and although my grapery is small, and built in a cheap manner, and the vines now growing only the third summer; and although gardeners are not to suppose that all they have to say, is worth printing, still I would like to make a few suggestions, and fondly hope, at the same time, that they will elicit from others, additional information. Not to give an account of my management in full detail, I observe that I have endeavored to follow the best examples. And now at this date, (Aug. 10,) in a cold house, the Royal Muscadine is transparent, of an amber-like color, and almost ripe; the Black Hamburgs also are rapidly coloring. The growth has been all that I could expect; the vine and fruit free from mildew, or any disease whatever.
I have expended but little money, but have given much personal attention to the vines.
The writer has been much gratified by often inspecting the grapery of Mr. H. L. Sut-dam of this village, who obtained the second premium at the agricultural (air last September. His house, though not large, is 30 feet long, of which the side of his barn makes the back wall. He has 12 vines in front, and eight or nine in the rear. This experiment is, on the whole, pronounced to be very successful. He enjoys the advantage of an open exposure, and has never been troubled with mildew. The older vines in front, are now laden with beautiful fruit, of luxuriant growth, and which in this vicinity, is the grand point of attraction for amateurs in grape cultivation.
Having occasion to go to New-York, two weeks ago, I availed myself of the opportunity, to go over to New Brighton and look into the vinery of J. G. Green, of which Mr. Chorlton has the management. The vines appeared healthy and flourishing, and were well laden with fruit; it occurred to me, however, that the number of clusters was too great for the aliment which had been furnished to the border. There is much danger of over-cropping. It is to be remembered, that these vines were put out two years ago in April last, in a very rich border, - 60 barrels of bone dust, and 40 tons of stable manure, having been used in its construction. The first summer's growth was astonishing; perhaps unparalleled in this country. It is in vain to expect a similar growth the following season, or this present season, with ordinary rates of manuring. If one half the quantity of bone dust and stable manure had been used, and a suitable lot of whole bones, or cattle's feet, or slaughter house offal, had been added, the fertility of the border would have been more permanent at less cost; and the gardener on the Island would have been, probably, quite as well satisfied at the present moment.
One word about our friend's mode of pruning. Is there not danger that the spurs or branches, as they put forth horizontally, will meet and interlock with each other? and in such a case, will not the house become too much shaded? It is the habit of some varieties to push their horizontals many inches, before the fruit is located, as in the White Muscat of Alexandria. It must, therefore, be stopped at the first bud beyond the cluster, or the allotted space will be all used up. The operator may, perhaps* flatter himself that he shall keep the fruits "at home" in future, because he has a bud on the lateral, near the main stock, for fruiting next year. But never fear a want of buds, where the vine is strong and ripe, and has laid in a good supply of organizable matter. Germs will show themselves; "nature will out," and I should like to see the experimentalist who should propose to prevent fruiting by cutting all the spurs smoothly and closely to the main stem. The preserving of an open space between the vines, in a span roof house, may not be so essential; but it is quite important in the " lean-to" graperies, so that the sunlight may be reflected from the back wall.
By a recent and careful observation, at all those points, where I have had an opportunity, I have discovered my own errors, at least in part. At the outset I failed in the border. It was deep enough and suitably drained, but organic manures were furnished too parsimoniously. There was not enough to furnish the phosphates, or a copious disengagement of nitrogen. Professor Norton's lectures in Albany, were exceedingly useful to ane. Another mistake was to allow the sash to remain with bad joints, so that a uniform temperature could not he maintained. After fitting the sash, I found a great difference. In the early part of the season, the house has been kept closed, a larger part of the day than in previous years, and with decided advantage. True, Mr. Downing says, "Plenty of sunlight, plenty of air, and plenty of moisture," are his fundamental principles for grape culture. But if the house is open too much for air, the caloric escapes, and the moisture evaporates. I have never kept mine so close before, and never before had such growth of wood, or such perfection of fruit. Being too much shaded by some forest trees, behind which the sun retires at 3 o'clock, I have laid some old Bash on the border out side, and so have obtained a temperature suited to the wants of the roots.
Under the glass, the vapor is also condensed, and the roots find a grateful moisture, to the very surface of the ground. The border is mulched with tan.
With these comments, which appear sufficiently egotistical, I conclude, observing that if others can derive any, even the smallest profit, from these speculations, I shall be satisfied. And I hope also, to offer reasons, at a future time, why many others would do well to commence the building of a vinery. A. MeSSEr.
Gcneva, Ontario co.,N Y.