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.
Spring has come, with its birds and blossoms. The wild flowers and the peach-bloom are scenting the air with their perfume; and the song of the blue-bird is heard in the grove: the long winter is past, and the work of the Vine-dresser has already begun.
Owning a small vineyard on the west bank of the "White Water," containing about 2000 vines, chiefly Catawba, a variety of the Vitis labrusca, or common Fox Grape, - and having some knowledge and experience of the mode of cultivating this luscious fruit, as well as of the process of making the Wine, I have made free to send for publication my present remarks, on the mode and manner of cultivating the Vine in this part of Indiana.
' Having become satisfied that the German mode of pruning or cutting down the old canes, to one single cane and spur, was not suitable to the nature and habits of our native varieties; for the purpose of testing whether long or short pruning, and fall or spring was the best time to prune the vine, last fall I pruned about one half of the vineyard to two canes or bows, leaving two spurs for next season's wood, whilst the other half I left until this spring, when it was pruned in the same manner; and I have now finished the operation including the pruning, staking, bowing and tying, and the vines are ready for the development of the young buds, many of which are considerably swelled, and putting forth their young leaflets to the Sun.
The vines were planted about four feet apart each way; are eight years old, having fruited four times within this term of time; and as yet, I have perceived no difference between those pruned in the fall and spring, both being equally healthy. I intend allowing them to grow freely, without cutting back the top, so that they may form a crown or coronal to cover the bloom and fruit from the rain and sun. Last season the excessive rain of early summer washed off and destroyed more than half the blossoms, and when the hot sun came out on the remainder, they became mildewed and dropped from the vine.
In the months of February and March, we prune, stake and tie, - in April we prepare the vineyard for hoeing, - in May the young buds have burst, and the young leaves with the tender blossoms are all out, and liable to the frosts of May. June comes, and the young leaves have gathered strength and size, the fruit is forming on the vine, but the mildew is then considered dangerous, and the rot in July is lying back ready to destroy the last hope of the Vintage.
PINUs STROBUs PENDULA.
Being an "Amateur," to a great extent, I have been gathering around me many of the choicest* varieties of the Fox species, and have planted in a favorable situation the Slips and Rootlets sent me by my friends, in order to test their qualities, as well as the productiveness of each when they mature their fruit; and now I have about fifty different varieties, running from the Vitis labrusca, or common Fox, to the Vitis Vinifera, or Wine Grape of Europe. I have also several seedlings of the Catawba, as well as some vines from seeds sent from Germany, that may fruit this year.
Some two years ago, I trenched and excavated a piece of ground, throwing out the cold yellow clay, and placing at the bottom old bones, filling up with a compost of stable manure, loam and sand, into which I planted the young vines; the result of which is now strong branching canes; running from 20 to 40 feet in length.
The Grey Fox, of which I have several varieties, is esteemed a most excellent grape, and worthy of special attention. A few of these are reported to me by those who have fruited them, as being little inferior to the Sweet Water, or Royal Muscatine.
My Diana, Rebecca, Concord and Herbemont, have done well this past season, and in another year I expect to have the pleasure (Deo volente) of sending you a box of choice bunches, to feast your viniferous friends.