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.
In my former communication I promised to write again, when the blight of June, and rot of July had passed away. The month of June opened with the vineyard in excellent order, the fruit well set, and everything indicating an extraordinary crop; but the frost of the 4th came in all the severity of the month of March, and although only slightly injuring my vines, destroyed the hopes of many other amateurs, who had embarked in the culture of this luscious fruit. During the latter end of the month of July, I visited several vineyards in the adjoining county of Franklin, more or less affected with the rot, and many wholly destroyed by the frost, for the present years crop.
The mildew or blight bad done almost no damage, but a yellow bug not unlike the lady-bug stung a large number of the under bunches, leaving a blue wound on the berry, causing it to wilt and fall off, as a general thing. In some vineyards the sour-rot had destroyed every vestige of a crop, and now nothing was to be seen but decaying fruit and yellow leaves. Many of the Germans mourned over the vines as if for the loss of their children. None of the theories regarding the causes of the mildew rot, blight, etc., seem to account for the results.
My Rebecca has six bunches, which have already begun to color, but being the first year of bearing the bunches are small. My Concord is a most thrifty vine, with branches and berries large and plump, which even the severe drought of last month failed to wilt or injure.
Two grape-vines of the White-Fox have fruited, and for the purpose of giving them a distinctive name, I have called one the "Helen" and the other "Frank." The grapes are large and round, and indicate at least that one of them will be a good table grape. These, with my Mammoth Catawba, I had trained upon a wall, which may account for their large size, increased, no doubt, by regular watering during the drought.
Sulphur strown on quick lime, has been tried, and found to be a partial remedy for the mildew and for destroying the lady-bug which stings the fruit during the evening. It may help what is called the dry-rot, which some think is the result of the injury. For the bitter-rot no remedy has been found.
All of my seedlings are doing well, and although a majority of my slips failed to root this \ season, still, I flatter myself that there are enough to show the quality of the new vines. Among my rambles in Franklin, I met several Germans who spoke with much delight of the rich white and black grapes of the old country, and their intention of trying them in their new home. [The old story. - Ed].
I have tried the sweet White-water, Black Hamburg, and the Black Prince, with the usual result of a failure.
My vineyard will yield about 300 gallons, but were I setting out a new one, I would set the vines not less than six feet apart, and double bow every thrifty vine.
In small fruits, my strawberries did very little good this season, while my raspberries have been a success, from the Black-cap of the fields, to the rich Antwerp, Catawissa, Burton and Wilder. This being the first year of my Lawton blackberry fruiting, I am well pleased with the promise it makes, much more so than with the fruit of some of your honest Eastern venders, who send out extra-choice varieties, for which they charge large prices, and give you small berries, almost worthless for what you wanted them for.
OonnersvilU, Ill., Augusts, 1859.