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 last article was devoted mainly to the cultivation of crops between the rows of vines. The present will treat chiefly of training. It fortunately happens that the training of the vine during the first year is a matter of much simplicity, free from difficult mechanical manipulations, making no extraordinary demands upon our knowledge of vegetable physiology, and requiring only a little attention, and the exercise of ordinary intelligence. Some knowledge of vegetable laws would render the operations less tedious and infinitely more interesting; but we shall describe the mechanical operations so plainly that "none need go astray".
We will suppose the vines to have been pruned down to two or three buds, as already directed. If a trellis has not been put up, a stake four or five feet long must be placed by each vine; for the vines must under no circumstances be allowed to grow on the ground. It is a very common practice to allow them to do so; but the practice is so wholly bad, that we trust it will find no followers among those who read these articles. Place a stake, then, about two inches from each vine, and on the north side of it, and not on the south, as we have sometimes seen. The pruning and staking having been done, the next operation will be the plowing. This will be performed differently by different individuals, according as they have a system of their own, and are " set in their ways." A good plan is to set the plow from twelve to fifteen inches from the vines, and turn the furrow from them. In turning this furrow, the plow must be run sufficiently shallow to avoid injuring the roots; for no matter what may be conceded to "root pruning" when the vines have acquired age, we insist that now at least they shall not be disturbed. But to proceed. In making the return furrow, lay it against the first, so as to form a ridge.
This return furrow may be made deeper than the first: the depth of the furrows should be increased with the distance from the vines. Turn a furrow from the next row of vines in the manner first described, and lay the return furrow against it. If we have been understood, the space between two rows of vines will be laid up in ridges; these ridges are now to be broken down by running the plow through the middle of each, which will make the ground level again, as it should be.
The next operation will be harrowing. The common form of harrow we do not esteem best adapted to the purpose, the objection being to the form of the teeth. These should be somewhat in the form of cultivator teeth. The best implement that we have seen is Share's coulter harrow, of which we give an engraving; it pulverizes the soil without compacting it to the degree that the common harrow does. We have several times represented to the proprietors of this harrow, (Messrs. Haines & Pell,) the necessity for making one of a smaller size, to be worked by one horse, and we understand that they have coucluded to do so. It would in that form be still better adapted to the vineyard. When the soil is harrowed, the crop to be grown between the rows may be put in, under the conditions mentioned in our last.
Let us now turn to the vines. As soon as the new shoots have grown about four inches, select the strongest, and break the others off. If each grows equally strong, which is not often the case, select the lowest, as it is desirable to have the new shoot as low down as possible. In June the remains of the old wood should be pruned off close to the new wood; it should be cut at an angle of about 45°. In this way the new wood will grow over and cover the wound, and the trunk of the vine will grow straight. The new shoot must be tied up from the beginning, and the tieing repeated at intervals during the season. After having made a growth of four or five feet, the young shoot may, indeed, be left to grow free, but if the stake be sufficiently high, it is better to keep the growing shoot tied up.
The object of the first year's training is to obtain a single cane of stout, wellripened wood. To secure this, we should aim, as far as possible, to prevent the vine from wasting its energies in the formation of superfluous parts. One very important means to this end is the suppression of the lateral shoots, and thus directing the flow of the sap mainly in one channel. To suppress these laterals entirely, however, would result in disaster, by causing the buds to break; this, in the case of bearing wood, as will hereafter appear, would result in the loss of the crop the following year. The laterals perform an important part in the economy of the vine; we have simply to guide and control their action so as to secure more fully and certainly the object in view. The physiology of the subject will be treated of hereafter; at present we shall only describe the mechanical operations to be observed. As soon as two leaves have been formed, the lateral must be . pinched in to one leaf, leaving above this leaf about an inch of the green wood. This should be done before the second leaf has attained any considerable size; for example, when about the size of a twenty-five cent piece.
The leaf left on the - lateral will increase in size pretty fast, and the bud at its axil will rapidly develop, and finally break or grow. On old vines, this bud often produces fruit, but it never ripens in the open air. When this bud has made two leaves, the lateral must be again pinched in, so as to leave one leaf on the shoot made from the bud just described. There will now be two leaves on the lateral; one below the first pinching, and the other below the second. The second leaf will increase in size faster than the first did, and will grow larger; both leaves, indeed, will be larger than they would have been if the lateral had not been pinched in, and we may add, that in all such cases the leaf function is consequently performed more per-fectly. The bud at the axil of the second leaf will be developed, and put forth a new shoot in the manner already described. If the vine has been growing vigor-ously, this second bud will break before the season has become far advanced, and the lateral must then be pinched in again precisely as above described; otherwise it may be left to grow as it will. We have used the word lateral in the singular number, but it will be understood that the laterals are to be all treated alike.
If, through negligence, the laterals should not have been pinched in as described, they will have got to be of some size by mid season; and in this case two or three leaves should be left on, for with the size of the lateral increases the danger of bursting the bud at its base.
If, from late planting, shortness of season, or any similar cause, it is apprehended that the wood will not mature, the process of ripening may be hastened by pinching in the end of the vine, or by simply breaking down (not off) a foot or more of the end, leaving the part broken hanging to the vine. After the middle of September the vine will need no other care in regard to training. All through the season, special care must be taken that the leaves receive no injury by handling or otherwise. The ground must be stirred from time to time, and kept free from weeds. One of the best implements for this purpose is the horse-hoe, the weeding immediately around the vines being finished with the hand-hoe.
When the wood is thoroughly ripe, and the leaves have dropped of their own accord, the vines may be pruned. It will be necessary to reduce them again to three eyes, cutting about two inches above the third eye. The vines will now be ready to cover, if this should be deemed necessary; in some localities it has important advantages, and is really less laborious than at first sight would appear. Nothing more is necessary than to throw a little light mould around the vines in the form of a hillock. A little cedar or other brush thrown over them will answer the same purpose, but care must be taken not to form a harbor for mice. If the vineyard has been made in a clay soil, it will be benefited by fall plowing, which must be done as already described, except that the ground should not be harrowed, but left rough. This will complete the care of the vineyard during the first year. The method of increasing the size of the cane, forming fruit wood during the first season, and matters of a similar nature, are reserved for a future occasion.