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.
If the sides of the trench are made a little sloping, the wash, even during heavy rains, will be trifling, and do no harm. The reason of this open trench will become apparent in the subsequent treatment of the vines. Stakes should always be put in at the time of planting, when we can see where to put them; if put in afterwards, the roots are disturbed, and often very much injured. In Bright's system, in the Thomery, and, indeed, in all systems where close planting is the rule, it is better to open a trench than to dig holes.
It will be seen, that though the manipulation differs somewhat in each case, the general object is the same in all. We aim to prepare a suitable bed for the reception of the roots, to spread them out naturally, to fill up all interstices, and to have the roots at a suitable depth. In filling up the holes, the soil, as it is put in, should be lightly " firmed," compacted, or pressed gently with the foot, so as to prevent too much sinking; but care mast be taken not to pack it hard. We do not design at present to do any thing more than describe the simple operation of planting the vine. It will be necessary, however, at the time of planting, to cut all the vines down to two or three eyes; this is indispensable, no matter what system of training may be adopted. Planting should not be done when the ground is wet; when it will crumble freely in the hand it is in good condition. As a general thing, no watering is necessary at the time of planting; if the ground is very dry, and water is needed, let it be given before the last two inches of soil are put in. All unnecessary exposure of the roots must be avoided. A good plan is to have a couple of wet cloths at hand; place the vines on one, and cover them with the other; they can thus be carried along, a dozen or so at a time, without exposure.
They can also be put in a box and covered with damp moss, or any other convenient plan can be adopted.
There are many systems of training the vine, some of which require the vines to be planted at certain distances apart. This part of the subject, as well as the best time to plant, will be treated in our next article.
IN the plan we have adopted, we come next to the consideration of the distance at which the vines should be planted, and the distance of the rows from each other. Some plant a foot apart; others a dozen feet or more. In determining these points we must take a number of things into consideration. It may be assumed that compact, short-jointed kinds should be planted closer than coarse, long-jointed kinds; hence we have found it in practice a bad plan to plant vines of dissimilar growth promiscuously in the same row. Where there is a necessity for planting several kinds in the same row, those of similar growth should, as far as possible, be planted side by side. By discriminating in this way, not only will much labor be saved, but the trellis will present a much more sightly appearance. The system of training adopted will, in some cases, determine at once the distance at which the vines should be placed in the rows; for instance, if Mr. Bright's system be adopted, the distance will be one foot only, that being one of its distinctive features; if the Thomery, the vines will be two feet apart. In the vineyard, different persons recommend, where arms or standards are used, that the vines be planted from six to twelve feet apart.
We have tried various distances with horizontal arms, and have realized the best results thus far with the vines four feet apart. With such rampant growers as the Concord, however, we are inclined to think that six feet will be found none too much. When vines are grown to stakes, they are usually planted from two to four feet apart. The nature of the soil, too, must be taken into consideration in determining the distance at which to plant. It seems clear to us that a poor soil can not sustain as much growth as a rich one; yet some leading authorities say, "the richer the soil the greater the distance." Our experience, however, compels us to say, with the greatest respect for these authorities, " the poorer the soil the greater the distance." In a soil prepared as we have directed, and where the " arm" system is adopted, we should say not more than four feet for such vines as the Delaware, Isabella, Rebecca, etc, and not more than six for such as the Concord, Herbemont, Union Village, etc.; and even a closer classification might be made with advantage. In the bow and renewal system, the vines may be planted two or three feet apart, according to the kind of soil and vine; how much closer, our experience does not yet enable us to say.
In the "arm" system, however, our general rule is four feet. On trellises, of course, the vines must be planted in rows; these rows may be straight, or they may have a slight curve. Where stakes are used for the bow or renewal system, the vines may be planted in rows, squares, or the quincunx.
The Thomery is so little understood that we append an illustration. Fig. 1 indicates the manner of planting a layer on this system, C being the earth thrown out of the trench, and laid up for the season. Fig. 2 shows a row of vines planted in this way. D, D,'D, are vines that have made one season's growth; F is a vine just beginning to grow, two of the shoots having been rubbed off; B B, B, are vines pruned back to three eyes, but not yet started; C is the earth from the trench. Now this trench is not made immediately by the side of the trellis, but some five or six feet from it, and a portion of the vine laid down each year until the trellis is reached. If all the vine were laid down at once, it might not be uniformly furnished with roots for its whole length. This repeated layering, and its supposed advantages, we shall explain and discuss hereafter.
Having fixed upon the distance at which the vine shall be planted in the rows, it remains to determine the distance of the rows from each other. This point, again, must be determined by the height of the trellis, which we think- should in no case exceed six feet. It may be laid down as a general rule, that the width of the rows and the height of the trellis should be so regulated that the sun, in the month of September, shall freely strike the earth at the bottom of the vines. This will be found to secure the genial warmth of the sun and a free circulation of air, indispensable to the early and proper ripening of both wood and fruit. It matters but little how hot the air may be, provided the air be in motion. Sudden changes and cold currents the vineyardist should look upon with dread. With the rule above laid down, we think each one can determine for himself the distance at which the rows of his vineyard'should be placed.