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 our last we left the vines pruned at the end of the second year, and placed in their winter quarters, from which we now propose to bring them forth; that is to say, as soon as the frost is out of the ground.
We have stated that something more than pruning or shortening in the arm is necessary in order to develop the buds equally, and we now propose to explain the simple process by which this is done. Under ordinary circumstances, the buds will break strongest near the ends of the arms, and weakest near the trunk; and the tendency of these weak shoots will be to grow weaker year by year, until at last little or no fruit at all will be produced, No after treatment will give them size and vigor. If, however, the buds near the trunk are induced to break strong when the arm is originally formed, a suitable channel for the sap will be formed, through which it will continue to circulate under ordinary good treatment. Too much importance can not be attached to this particular part of the subject; it would be difficult to calculate the number of pounds of grapes annually lost by neglecting to establish the proper points for the full and vigorous development of fruit wood. Now let us see how this is to be done. The gradual formation of the arms will do much to accomplish this purpose, and it is for this reason that we discourage leaving them of their full length. Something in addition to this, however, is useful, and even necessary.
By bending the arm the sap vessels at certain points will be compressed, and the flow of the sap in a measure controlled. What is to be done, therefore, is to bend the end of the arm towards the ground, and secure it there. This may be done by a string or wire and a peg, or in any better way that the reader's ingenuity may suggest; a long hooked peg will answer the purpose very well. Before bending the arm the trunk of the vine must be firmly tied in its place, but the tieing must be so done as to avoid having the string act as a ligature. The degree of curvature to be given should be sufficient to move the arm considerably out of a straight line; it should, withal, be a graceful curve, to disarm criticism; it matters not whether it be in the nature of a parabola or a compound circle. This, however, only en passant, for readers who are very nice in matters of taste. The degree of curvature may be judged of very well by an examination of the engravings which will accompany our next article, and which should have been given with this.
The curving of the arms not only compresses the sap vessels, as already stated, but it places the buds near the trunk at the highest point of the flow of the sap; and this, the reader will understand from what has been stated heretofore, greatly encourages the growth of the bods at this point; for they are placed, for the time being, somewhat in the condition of the buds near the end of the arm.
The arms having been bent, they are to remain so till the new shoots have grown about three inches, when they are to be placed horizontally, and tied securely to the bottom wire. If the vines have been grown as directed, the buds will be on opposite sides of the arm; this, in fact, is their natural position, but it is frequently altered by careless tieing. The arms must be so tied that one row of buds shall be on the upper side, and the other on the lower. In short-jointed varieties of the grape, such as the Delaware, Rebecca, etc., all the lower buds must be rubbed out; otherwise the shoots will be too much crowded. In long-jointed kinds, such as the Union Village, Concord, etc., both the upper and lower buds may be allowed to grow. In this case, the arm may be tied on the upper side of the wire, and the arm slightly twisted so as to bring the buds on the sides. The shoots will naturally grow upright, but in some cases they may need a little assistance. The young shoots must be handled with the greatest care, as they are exceedingly brittle; and a gap once made in the arm is not easily filled.
After the arms are fully established, so much care will not be necessary.
The arms are usually bent in the direction in which they grow; but we have found the best results to proceed from an opposite course; that is to say, bending them in reverse order. We fear, however, that the reader will not understand this without the assistance of illustrations, and therefore leave it till our next.