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.
THE ground being now prepared for the reception of the vines, it becomes necessary to consider the best mode of planting them. The act of planting is one of the most interesting and important operations in the whole management of the vine; it constitutes, with thorough preparation, the foundation upon which the superstructure is to be reared; and the superstructure will prove durable and fulfil its purpose, just in proportion as the foundation is well laid. The functions of the root will occupy us at another time; at present, our object will be to get the vine properly in its place. It is usually the case that a few general directions are given for all kinds of planting alike; but in our own practice we always make a distinction, which we shall here explain. Though the object is the same in all, the manipulation is somewhat different in each. We shall divide the subject into, 1. Cuttings; 2. Layers; 3. Eyes; 4. Thomery. If the ground has been prepared as directed, it will only be necessary to dig holes sufficiently large to receive the roots; if it has not been so prepared, it will be necessary to dig holes at least four feet square and two or three feet deep; or, better, a trench four feet wide.
The ground between the rows can be trenched after the vines are planted; but it is always best to prepare the soil before planting. We shall suppose the ground has been prepared according to our directions, and proceed accordingly.
It is important that a bed of fine soil be prepared for the immediate reception of the roots; no raw or acrid manure should be allowed to come in contact with them. For this purpose we always prepare a compost. It may be composed of "rotted sods," old '"headlands," or good garden soil, mixed with charcoal dust, vegetable mold, and a little fine manure, not less than two years old. This must be worked up fine, or passed through a coarse sieve. A peck or more of this compost should be deposited at each hole, or at intervals along the trench.
Being thus prepared, let us ascertain how deep the vines are to be planted. We have already entered an emphatic protest against deep planting; and we take occasion to repeat it. Except for the Thomery, the roots should be placed about four inches beneath the surface; in sandy, gravelly soils,they may be placed even six inches deep; but our general rule is, plant four inches deep. There is more danger of getting them too deep than too shallow. The reason for placing the roots at this depth will be given hereafter.
Now let us proceed to the act of planting, first, the cutting. Cuttings usually have two layers of roots; sometimes there are three, the third or bottom one being feeble, and often decayed. In all cases, cut clean up under the second layer of roots, shorten in all long, straggling, non-fibrous roots, and remove all that are decayed. The vine is now ready for planting. In the case of cuttings, the roots composing the upper layer are to be placed within four inches of the surface, and the hole must be dug deep enough to accommodate the lower layer. Spread an inch or so of compost in the bottom of the hole; with the left hand collect the upper layer of roots, and hold them up and around the stock of the vine; spread out the lower layer of roots, and with the hand, as the compost is added, work it in and around the roots, so that all interstices are filled in; next fill in with soil till the upper layer of roots is reached; then put in some compost, on which spread out the roots, and fill in as before. All this is really not so troublesome as it seems; it is, however, all things considered, much the cheapest mode of planting a cutting that we have any knowledge of, as it is by far the best.
The usual practice is, to dig a small hole, crowd in the vine, and fill up so as to force the roots in a mass against the stock. The results in after years correspond with the planting.
Let us next take a layer. In this case the roots are disposed along a foot or more of the stock, and are inclined to be long and non-fibrous, as layers are usually made. They should all be cut in, and decayed portions entirely removed. Let the hole be sufficiently large to receive the roots when spread out, which, as before, are to be about four inches deep. Put in a layer of compost, and spread out the roots right and left, giving them, as you approach the collar of the vine, a fan shape, so that they spread at that point in all directions; cover the roots with compost, working it in by hand as before, and then fill up with soil. The layer is thus planted.
The eye will next claim our attention. The operation is substantially as before; the manipulation, however, is more simple, and the planting sooner performed. Prepare a hole sufficiently large to receive the roots. Shorten in and cut out decayed roots, as before directed; in this case, however, there will be less root-pruning necessary, because a really well-grown eye is nothing but a mass of the most beautiful fibrous roots; but all eyes are not well grown, and must be root-pruned accordingly. Put in a layer of compost; spread out the roots in all directions; cover with compost, and work in as before; then fill up with soil, and the eye is planted. An eye can be planted in less than half the time of a layer or cutting.
We now come to the Thomery, This mode of planting embraces some peculiarities. We may remark here, that it is neither intended for nor adapted to the vineyard. Its proper place is the garden, or the wall, or the side of a house, barn, or similar position. At present we have only to do with the planting of the vines according to this system. We will suppose the border to have been trenched and prepared as heretofore directed. As the vines in this system are to be planted two feet apart, it will be necessary to dig a trench the length of the trellis or row, the trench to run east and west. This trench should be two feet wide and six inches deep, the earth to be thrown up in a ridge on the south side of the trench, there to remain during the season. We have now a trench of the required length, six inches deep, which is to remain open for the year, and in this trench the vines are to be planted precisely as directed above; that is to say, they are to be planted four inches deep in the open trench. The most direct mode of proceeding is to throw out ten inches of soil, and then plant the vines, covering them four inches, which will leave the trench open a depth of six inches, the surplus soil to be ridged up on the south side of the trench.