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.
The following inquiries and answers from the London Gardeners* Chronicle, will be interesting to many of our readers, and satisfactory to those who do not inquire: What is "vital force!" Will you, or some one of your readers, explain the modus 'operandi by which it is believed, by physiologists, the young plant gets through the surface of the ground? Is it due to the effect of a mechanical force in the plant, acting with a continuous yet infinitely slow motion, or, in ether words, a mere slow thrust? [Yes.] Or is there any chemical action upon the surrounding soil' by which the soil is caused to expand, and so a passage is opened through it for the prisoner ready to escape? The marvellous phenomenon of a young mushroom bursting through the hard surface of the ground, without any breaking or bruising of its outer skin, has long puzzled your constant reader, A Bumpkin, Ross. [Its cells multiply and expand irresistibly under the influence of vital force].
Keeping late Grapes is an interesting subject to those who at one season have a superabundance. We find the following rational suggestions in a late London journal; though they do not differ essentially from former recommendations in this periodical, they are practical and important, and just now seasonable: -
"There is one point respecting the mode by which Mr. Bandars keeps his late grapes which deserves special notice. The grapes, when ripe, are not permitted to remain on the vines; Mr. S. considering that when once, the fruit is ripe, it can be better and more economically preserved, when cut and kept in a suitable room, than by letting them remain on the vines. His practice is, therefore, with the last houses of Muscats, etc. - say towards the middle of December - to out the fruit with the weed attached to the bunch; the cut end of the shoot is closed over with sealing-wax, and the hunches are taken to a dry and dark room, where they are suspended from the ceiling on rods which are placed across the room, and on temporary tressels: the bunches must on no account touch each other, and will require looking over once in a week, to remove any berries which may happen to get mouldy among them. Mr. Sandars informed us he has practised this for years, and keeps the grapes without shrivelling, and in very good condition for the table, until the beginning of March, by which time the early forced grapes are ripe.
There can be no doubt that after grapes are once ripe they will keep better when cut in the manner described and hung in a dry dark room where a uniform temperature of something like 40O can be maintained, than when allowed to remain on the vines. The great drawback to keeping grapes through the winter is damp and the action of the sun's rays, which, by exciting a circulation in the sap of the vines, tends to produce decay in the ripe fruit. We were ourselves forcibly reminded of this at the end of last February with a house of the St. Peter's. The mild warm weather of that month put the sap in motion, and we found it even exude from the berries, which rapidly decayed in consequence, Now had these grapes been cut previously, and kept according to the plan of Mr. Sandars, this would not have happened, and the grapes would, we doubt not, have kept till the end of March. The economy of the system must be obvious to all; the expense of firing houses with retarded grapes is great, particularly in wet weather, as air must be given largely at the same time, and this expense is increased when, as often is the case, only a few grapes are left, as they are Just the same trouble.
We need not say, as an additional recommendation, that when the fruit is out the house can be used for a variety of purposes, which would be impossible when it contained the fruit. As the best plan for fruit rooms is now often discussed, we hope a dry compartment for the above and other similar purposes will be connected with it, as one of the most useful garden structures which could be built where fruit has to be kept, and which no good garden should be without".