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 have abundant and sufficient proof that the vine will grow strongly, and ripen its wood thoroughly, and produce fruit plenteously, when it is supplied with proper nutriment in a liquid state. I have propagated vines from eyes, and placed them in pots containing about a peck of soil; they have produced rods in the same season from twelve to eighteen feet in length; they bore the following season in the same soil an abundant crop. The health of the vine, then, is promoted and sustained by a free passage of liquids in contact with the roots. I have frequently observed the facility with which it extends its roots along brickwork, or other rough, gritty material.
Were I about to make a vine-border in a situation not naturally adapted for the vine, I would proceed as fallows: It should be fifteen feet wide; the soil should be removed to the depth of eighteen inches in front of the house, with a gentle slope outward until the depth was thirty inches at the outside of the border, where a drain three and a half feet deep by two feet wide should run the whole length of the border, the bottom having a gradual fall to a well at the lower end four feet in diameter and three feet deeper than the drain, the upper end to have an opening level with the soil of the border. The drain should be of brickwork, and covered with loose tiles or oak-slabs, that could be easily removed to furnish means of examining the state of the drain when occasion might require. The side of the drain next the border should be pigeonholed to admit the roots when they shall have extended across the border. The use of the drain is to supply the roots with liquid manure slowly flowing along the bottom into the well, which should be occasionally emptied, and the contents again applied at the upper end.
The liquid should only be applied when the vines were in active .growth, and if possible at such a temperature as was best conducive to their healthy growth: it should be entirely withheld when the grapes begin to color. To each plant I would allow a separate compartment If a vine was to be planted under each rafter of the house, then at the center of each light a rough brick-on-edge wall should be built across the border to the drain. In the bottom of each compartment I would have a layer of stones or brickbats, or other rough material, from eight to ten inches deep; on this I would lay the soil two feet deep, which should have been well prepared many months before.
The soil which I recommend as well adapted for the growth of the vine is one-fourth part light turfy loam, one-fourth well decomposed rich farm-yard manure, one-fourth leaf mold, one-eighth river sand, and one-eighth old lime mortar - all being well mixed and thoroughly incorporated by means of frequent turnings. I prefer propagating the vine from eyes taken from healthy, fruitful plants. I can then depend upon the sorts I plant, and thus avoid, when they begin to bear, the too frequent annoyance of finding that one sort has been planted for another. Having obtained in this way good strong one year old plants, I would plant them about the beginning of March; the soil should be carefully removed from the roots, except such as may adhere to the small fibres; the larger roots should be regularly spread out, and the longest cut back; the roots should be laid upon and covered with light, rich, sandy soil, to promote the growth of young fibres. And here I would observe that the front wall of the house should be built on arches, through which the plants may be brought into the house.
The length to which the vine may be cut back will be considered its future stem; but this will entirely depend upon the construction of the house, as only one eye should be allowed to push to produce the future fruitful rod.
Suppose we have been enabled to raise our own plants, and have a greater number than is roquired for planting, the overplus should be brought into the house, with a view to have good grapes the first season. As vines can be successfully grown in pots, I shall here relate my mode of practice. About the first of January the eye is cut with an inch of wood above and below it, and put in a small pot, commonly called a 60 or 3-inch pot; the soil most suitable for it is good leaf-mold and sand. When all are prepared, they are placed in a hot-bed or Cucumber frame; the eyes will soon burst into leaf, after which young roots will be protruded, and the lengthening of the shoot will soon follow. To encourage their growth they should be shifted into 8-inch pots. The soil may now be that previously recommended; they remain in these pots until they have grown from eighteen inches to two feet in length, and then they should be finally shifted into 16-inch pots. When shifted, the plants should be placed so low in the pot that it may not bo more than two-thirds filled with soil.
The necessity of ample drainage need not be insisted on; the beat place to grow these vines is in a pit sufficiently wide for the extension of the rod, and heated by hot water pipes, over which the pots should be placed within a foot of their surface. The mild heat from the pipes will excite the roots, and cause strong and healthy growths, which should be trained not nearer to the glass than two feet Great care should be taken that, on all favorable occasions, a due circulation of air is kept up, so that strong short-jointed rods, with plump, well developed buds may be produced. They should be duly supplied with wa nd once a week with clear liquid manure, at a temperature the same as that in which the re placed.
When sufficient length of wood has ripened, the water may be gradually with as soon as the foliage gives indication that maturity is accomplished, the pots may be re • a south wall to be laid on their sides, and the rods nailed to the wall the pots being kept dry by covering them with any suitable material About a month before they are taken in to force, the early formed buds on the rods are removed to the length of five or six feet from the pot; the rod is then coiled down upon the soil in the pot, and secured with strong pegs. The length of the rods on which the bearing buds are left may be from six to eight feet, but I would not advise more than five or six bunches to be grown on one v ne. The pot will now be filled up with the compost It is a good practice to paint the rods annually before forcing, with a composition of clay, lime, and soot, to which may be added a large portion of sulphur, the effluvium of which tends greatly to prevent the attacks of red spider and thripa.