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Vine grapes

Vine grapesThe grape should be more frequently found growing on the farmer's premises. It is of easy culture and brings almost certain reward for the care and attention bestowed upon it. It is a mistaken notion that its culture requires special skill and knowledge beyond his abilities.

There are about twenty species of wild grapes in America. Few of them, however have been fully tested under cultivation. The grapes commonly grown in, this country east of the Rocky Mountains are of native origin, but in the Pacific Coast States a number of European varieties are grown in great perfection.

Some points of interest in this connection are grouped under the following heads:

(a) Several varieties of the European wine and table grapes (Vitis vinifera) do well in California and adjoining States but fail in the Eastern States. Among these are the Tokay, Sultana, and Muscat.

(b) The best table grapes of the Eastern States have originated from the native Fox grape (Vitis labrusca). Of these the Concord is the most widely and generally grown.

(c) Hybrids of the above-mentioned species exist in large numbers. It has been found that the presence of any considerable amount of the European wine grape in any variety usually causes a corresponding loss in hardiness. The Rogers hybrids are examples of this.

(d) the Vitis riparia or the River Bank grape of the North crossed with the Vitas labrusca has furnished a few extremely hardy kinds, as the Janesville and Beta. These are a great improvement over the original River Bank variety.

(e) In the fouth there are other species that have produced good merchantable varieties. Many of these appear to be better adapted to the warm climate of the Southern States than the kinds that have come from northern stock.

The location of the vine or the vineyard should be determined, with reference to its convenience to the home and to the fitness of the soil. The preference should be given to warm, open soil, free from excess of moisture, and fairly fertile. A south or southeastern exposure will usually give greatest satisfaction. If wild vines of the same species occur in the vicinity they will be found to have planted themselves in the most congenial soil, and therefore afford a sure indication of the place to plant. This is specially true where the wild vines are succeeding well.

Drainage and breaking up the Soil for grapes - The grape is a trailing shrub, capable under favorable conditions of making an enormous growth of wood and fruit. To enable it to do its best the soil must be prepared for a corresponding growth and development of its root system: Grape roots are not found deeply embedded in the soil, but they are numerous and slender, and wander to great distances in search of an abundant supply of plant food. If the soil is hard and compact it will be difficult for the roots to find the proper food supply to produce satisfactory crops of fruit. Thus the importance of thoroughly pulverizing the surface and subsoil is apparent. The thorough pulverizing of the soil in connection with tile underdraning, is a well-known safeguard against the evil effects of excessive moisture as well as protection against excessive drouth.

The first work in preparing the site chosen for a vineyard, especially if it be on clay soil, will be its thorough under drainage dramage by tiling. The size of the tile to be used should be determined by the extent and area to be drained. Three-inch tiles will generally be found sufficiently large. They should be laid so as to afford an easy escape for the water by having an outlet in some nearby ravine or on a slope. They, should be laid at least 3 feet below the surface of the ground and in parallel lines about 2 rods (33 feet) apart. This, if well done, will effectually free the soil from any surplus water that may have been held in suspension.

After thorough drainage the ground is ready for breaking. A good breaking plow, with a second team and subsoil plow to follow in the same furrow, will be an effectual and labor-saving method of procedure. A subsoil plow should not throw the cold subsoil up to the surface, but simply loosen and allow it to remain, where it properly belongs, in the bottom of the furrow. If the site is to be prepared by hand by the use of a spade, the same rule should be observed; turn the lower spit or spade, of earth at the bottom and keep the warm surface soil on top. If in preparing the soil as above directed a liberal supply of compost or well-rotted manure is worked into it, it will be improved.

Fertilizers for the grape - As fertilizers for the grape unleached hardwood ashes and well-composted barnyard manure will be found among the cheapest and best. These are recommended both on account of cheapness and general accessibility as well as for their constituent elements of plant food. They should be used liberally and should be well mixed with the soil in its preparation before planting; they may be used afterwards as top dressing to be worked into the surface in the process of cultivation. Leaves, soap suds, old leather scraps, and lawn rakings have also been found beneficial to the growing vines.

Such coarse articles should be worked into the subsoil below the level to be affected by subsequent culture, where they will decay slowly and will not be pulled to the surface by the tools used in cultivating the vines. Commercial fertilizers of various kinds and manufacture are now accessible to who may desire to use them, but as they are well adapted to use as surface dressing, and generally with special objects in view, they may be applied at any time after the vines are planted.