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.
Our correspondent, William Saunders, advertises to construct graperies on terms which must command numerous customers. Four dollars and a half for each running foot is so reasonable, when combined with Mr. S.'s experience, that we ask the attention of our readers to his propositions.
Glass houses for exotic grapes are now built for reasonable prices, and their culture is extending accordingly. Here again the requisites of a properly prepared soil are paramount. A free, sandy loam is the best for a basis, if manures are applied let them be well decomposed and thoroughly incorporated. Bone dust and charcoal may be freely mixed with the soil, but these latter arc not indispensable. Neither is it necessary to make an extensive border at the outset. A border 6 or 8 feet wide and 2 1/2 or 3 feet in depth will afford a sufficient nourishing medium for a number of years; and additions can be made from time to time as circumstances seem to indicate its requirement. This gradual addition to a border is preferable to making it larger at first, as in the latter many of the principal advantages of a good border are lost before it is reached by the roots.
In choosing plants, select young healthy stocks - one year from the cutting is preferable to older plants; cut them down at planting to a couple of inches, and when they push into growth disbud all shoots but the strongest. Let them grow at will, do not remove a healthy leaf or twig until growth is completed for the season. If the plants have done moderately well they will have grown from 15 to 25 feet. In November prune down to 8 or 10 feet lengths. This much for the first season. The second year's growth will show a portion of fruit, leave but one bunch to a shoot. If any of the shoots indicate an exuberance of growth over the others, check it by pinching out the point, but only to equalize growth, the more foliage the better the crop. Do not be deterred from taking a slight crop the second year by any fear of destroying the future health of the plant. To form rich composts for borders, and stimulate, and pinch and prune and cut back a grape vine for 4 or 5 years before allowing -it to fruit, is a waste of time and means, altogether unjustifiable, and no one having the slightest pretensions to culture would find it profitable to do so.
Those who are less fortunate, or less skillful than their neighbors, sometimes find it convenient to make a virtue of a necessity, by decrying the results which they cannot attain. It is only the ordinary practice of good gardeners to fruit grapes the second year after planting, and continue fruiting each succeeding year without fear of losing a crop or weakening their plants.
The growth during the third and following years, require the same general treatment. The greater the amount of foliage, provided it is under the influence of light, the healthier the plant and the greater the crop which it will mature. Close pruning during summer is more frequently the cause of badly colored grapes, than all others combined.