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.
WE now propose to finish our last article, relating to the formation of arms. Our present description, it must be borne in mind, has special reference to the vineyard, though it will do for the garden just as well; but for the latter we have another mode of forming arms, which, though somewhat tedious, is more symmetrical in form, and sufficiently interesting to fix the attention of the amateur. . It would always be the neatest mode for the garden, if we could only circumscribe a little the desire to plant a vine to-day and gather a full crop of grapes to-morrow. The process will be described in its place.
We have directed the arms to bo cut in. to at least two feet, and much shorter if the cane is not stout. We have also directed the arms to be bent to a curve, and temporarily secured in this position. Let us now refer to the accompanying illustration, a "portrait" of one of our own subjects, three years old, drawn to a scale of one inch to the foot. We have selected a short-jointed variety by way of illustration; all the lower eyes being rubbed out, those above will be about six inches apart. This will be nearly an average for the short-jointed kinds, though some will be seven and others eight inches, and even the same variety will vary a little in the length of the joints. The buds are sometimes closer the first year than the second. Precise exactness, therefore, need not be looked for in this particular. The buds, however, should in no case be left closer than six inches; neither should they be wider apart than twelve inches. It may be adopted as a general rule, as heretofore stated, to rub out every other eye in the short-jointed kinds, and leave all the eyes in the long-jointed kinds.
Let us now recur to the engraving, where the buds are six inches apart, c and d are the arms, h and g (dotted lines) show the manner of bending them to induce the buds near the trunk to break strong. We have stated that the practice is to bend the arms in the direction in which they grow, but that we have found it better to bend them in reverse order, as shown in the engraving, where it will be seen that the arm on the left is bent to the right, and that on the right is bent to the left. We find, in practice, that when the arms are thus bent the eyes near the trunk break stronger and more uniformly; and herein theory and practice agree precisely. To bend the arms, the trunk must first be securely tied to a short stake or to the lower wire. The arm must then be bent gradually and carefully; if it is stout, it must be bent carefully all along with the thumbs and fingers, just as we bend a stout wire into a curve. It will probably "snap and crack" a little, but this will do no harm, though it may frighten the novice.
In bending the arms, first tie them to the wire at the points i and k; then take hold of the ends, bend them down, and secure them with pegs, in the manner shown by the dotted lines h and g, where they are to remain till the new shoots have grown about three inches, when they are to be tied to the bottom wire. In doing all this, the buds must be kept on the upper side of the arm, as before described; and this is easily done with ordinary care, though the novice may at first find it a little awkward, which is only a polite way of saying that he may at first be a little awkward himself. We hope, however, that we have made the matter very plain. A little care must likewise be exercised in getting the arms in good position at the point where they cross each other; if any difficulty is experienced, tie them at several points near the trunk. A little practice, however, will overcome the difficulty.
The arms are bent in the ordinary way with somewhat less trouble. In this case, the arm d is bent in the direction c, and the arm c is bent in the direction d; or, in other words, they are bent in the direction in which they grow. In other respects, the treatment is precisely the same as that described above. All the buds marked n must be rubbed off; the rest must be retained. The last bud on the arm must be on the upper side. The arms in the illustration are one foot and nine inches long. The wire, w, is fifteen inches from the ground. The engraving being drawn to a scale, the reader, by using a rule, can ascertain the proportions of all the parts. We advise him to study it attentively.
WE have now brought the vine to the beginning of the third year, with the arms formed half their length. We omitted in our last to allude to the alternate vines directed to be grown with trunks three feet high to form an upper course of arms. The manner of forming the arms on these, the reader will no doubt understand, is precisely as directed in our last. The arms on both courses are formed alike. Some explanation may not be out of place here. Let us suppose the posts of the trellis to be full six feet out of the ground, as they should be. It is common to use six wires for a trellis of this height; but five answer the purpose just as well, and a considerable item of expense is saved; indeed, for a double course of arms, such as we are now describing, five wires are even better than six. Place the first or lowest wire fifteen inches from the ground, and the others fourteen inches and a quarter apart. These distances will cover a trellis six feet high. If the posts are higher, the distances may be increased a little.
The upper course of arms is to be formed on the third wire. The trellis will thus be equally divided between the upper and lower courses. We have already stated that the arms on the upper course are formed just like those on the lower course; and the treatment in other respects will be precisely alike, except other-wise specially noted. It may, and probably will happen, that all the arms on the upper course can not be formed as soon as those on the lower course. However this should prove to be in individual cases, we repeat here that no arms should be formed until good stout canes have been obtained.
Having carried the young vine along to the beginning of the third year, with the arms half formed, let us pursue seriatim the treatment of the season. The vines having been pruned and placed in the position indicated in last month's issue, the next thing in order is plowing. This must be done as previously directed, not, however, going so deep, except in the middle of the rows. Every precaution must be taken to injure the roots as little as possible; the less they are disturbed the stronger the vines will grow, and stout wood is now our principal object. The ground not reached by the plow should be forked up. If strawberries are grown between the rows, they should be forked over. The whole surface of the vineyard, in short, must be broken up. No runners should be allowed to form on the strawberries. If root crops are put in, they should only occupy the middle of the row, and be highly cultivated. The horse hoe must be used from time to time, to kill weeds and keep the soil open and mellow. It can hardly be used too often.
If the ground in the first instance was not thoroughly prepared, it may have, at the time of plowing, a top dressing of old manure, composted with muck and ashes; the Delaware, indeed, may be manured liberally every year with advantage, for it requires higher treatment than any other of our native vines. At the end of the third year we shall give some special directions for manuring the vineyard.
Let us next look to the vine. The arms are to remain bent until the new shoots have grown three inches; they must then be tied to the bottom wire. The shoots must all be trained upright except the two end ones, near d ande, (in preceding figure,) which are to form the continuation of the arms; they must be grown at an acute angle, or somewhat horizontal, tying them from time to time as they increase in growth. About the middle of June, trim off neatly and closely the piece of dead wood at the end of the arm. It should be cut close to the new shoot, and at an angle of about forty-five degrees. It will then soon heal over. About the first of September, bend these arm shoots still nearer to the wire; say within three or four inches. Then pinch out the end. The laterals must be pinched in as before directed. This will constitute the treatment of these two shoots for the season. The other shoots must be trained upright, just as directed for growing a cane during the first year, pinching out the laterals as before stated. About the middle of August pinch out the ends. This will help to ripen and increase the size of the wood and fruit.
One, or it may be, two of the end buds will break; cut off all but the lowest, and pinch this in during the first week of September, and then let them all grow undisturbed.
By referring to the last figure, there will be seen beneath the letters i and k (below the wire) two buds which have not been directed to be rubbed out. These are to be grown unchecked during the season; except that the laterals are to be pinched in as usual. They may be tied close together as they grow. The reasons for Allowing these two shoots to grow unchecked will be fully explained hereafter, though they may be found briefly indicated in an article we published about a dozen years ago. We purpose, however, to elaborate this point a little by-and-by.
The reader has doubtless been waiting anxiously to hear something about the fruit. Each shoot will probably set two bunches of fruit; some of them more; but one bunch each will be as many as the vine should bear this season, or ten bunches in all, except in the case of some vine that has shown great vigor, when a few additional bunches will serve to check its exuberance. An experienced eye will readily judge of the ability of a vine to bear a given quantity of fruit; but we are writing mainly for the inexperienced, and prefer to keep them on the safe side. As we have directed no arms to be formed except of stout wood, it will be perfectly safe to leave at least one bunch to each shoot. With this quantity the reader ought to be satisfied for the present.
Having brought the vines to the end of the growing season, we leave them till our next.