In proportion to the amount of care it requires, the grape will produce more pleasure and profit than any other of our temperate climate fruits. It needs only a warm soil and sunny exposure, and, preferably, an elevation above the general lay of the land in order to do well. As to training, stakes or trellises may be used or the vines trained over a porch or window. Pruning consists in cutting off all but one or two buds at each stem each autumn. The new shoots that come from the buds left will produce abundant crops, usually one to three clusters.
Usually the vines are trained to trellises and allowed to extend only 6 to 12 feet, according to the variety. This allows of planting the vines as close as 6 feet in the row for small varieties such as the Delaware, and 8, 10, and I2 feet for the larger growing kinds. Some growers plant large varieties 16 feet apart. Trellises are much more popular in America than stakes. These are made with stout posts and No. io galvanized wire, generally. Some trellises are made horizontal and others vertical. Each style has its advocates. Usually two arms are allowed to each vine trunk, and trained in opposite directions at right angles to the main stern. Where the trellis is horizontal, the vines are allowed to droop over the wires. Where the trellis is vertical, the vines are trained upward.
Volumes have been written on the training of grapes, but any grower can evolve a plan to suit himself by remembering that the buds produced in one year bear fruit the next year, and that the best fruit is produced by the two or three buds near the base of the cane. All the others may be removed. At intervals of three to five years the irregular stubs may be cut out and new buds allowed to take their places and supply new branches.
Unquestionably the most popular American variety is the Concord. It has been proved that it will grow well on a greater variety of soils and produce better than any other American grape. Worden, somewhat earlier, is considered of better quality, and Moore’s Early has been ranked as the ‘very best early black variety. This, however, is likely to be replaced by Campbell’s Early, which bears larger clusters of superior fruit. It is a better shipper than Moore’s.
Among the red varieties Catawba, Delaware, and Brighton are probably the best known, though Agawam and Salem are also popular because of their excellent quality. Brighton is likely to prove disappointing unless planted in proximity with other kinds of grapes. The berries are often small when the vine is planted alone. The best early white variety is Green Mountain. Another white of high quality is Moore Diamond. Pocklington is a superior white grape. The best known white, however, is Niagara, a late variety, which does well in most sections where the Concord succeeds.
GRAPES IN DELAWARE
According to J. E. Carter of Kent county, Delaware, ” the proper soil for a vineyard is a loamy one 8 to 10 inches deep, sloping toward the south, with a good clay subsoil, and good drainage. Give a heavy application of manure, well rotted and plowed 10 inches deep, and harrow until in fine condition. The reason for putting the plant food deep is to keep the roots down, a very important matter, as they have a tendency to come to the surface.
” With a two-horse plow make a straight row as deep as you can, and then come back in the same row, making as deep as possible, and then clean out to the needed depth with a shovel. I make my rows 9 feet apart and plant 6 feet apart in the rows. The vines are trimmed, leaving two or three buds. Trim the roots to 10 inches, and plant as deep as the vines will permit, leaving one or more buds above ground, after covering the roots with 3 inches of soil. Put a handful of bone around each vine, scattering it along the row, and then fill up the furrow. I let my vines run on the ground the first year.
“End poles need to be 10 feet long; put them in the ground 4 1/2 feet. These poles should not be less than 8 inches in diameter at the small end, the middle poles 8 feet long, 4 inches at the small end ; put a pole after every fourth vine, putting the pole in the ground 2 feet. Use No. 11 for the first wire, and put it three feet from the ground. Use No. 9 for the second wire, putting it 30 inches from the first.
” The next spring after planting trim the vines to one cane, selecting the strongest, cutting it 12 to i8 inches in length, and tie to a small pole. This is the most important time in the life of a vineyard, for the beauty of the vineyard will depend on the care bestowed on the vines to keep them straight, and all will depend on this summer’s trimming and pruning. When vines put out new growth, I select the strongest shoot and tie to a small pole when it has reached the first wire, pinch the top out and start two lower arms and then carry the center shoot up to the top wire.
“It is no trouble to get top arms, but lower arms must be provided first or there will be trouble to get them ; nothing but new wood bears fruit. When the vine has reached the top wire, pinch out the top shoot, so it will make two canes, then take one down each side. In trimming the third year, I get four arms from the main cane, with about ten buds on each arm, and tie each to the vine, using two-ply jute twine.
“The implements used in cultivation after the vines have come into bearing are the one-horse plow; the gang plow, consisting of three small plows, attached to one frame or beam; the weeder, the cutaway harrow, and the horse hoe ; one-horse cultivator and hand hoe. Clean cultivation is necessary. For my locality, the varieties I have chosen for commercial purposes after several years’ trial with 25 varieties are only four Moore’s Early, Niagara, Concord, and Delaware.”
” Every season I make a large amount of grape juice,” writes Mrs. Mary Johnson of Tippecanoe county, Indiana. ” In the fall when grapes are abundant, they can easily be purchased in the country at about I% cents a pound. The grape juice purchased in market does not possess the same body as that made from ripe grapes on the farm. I cannot help suspecting it contains a good deal of water and some preservative to cheapen the cost and reduce the amount of sugar that would have to be used to keep it from spoiling. The grape juice I make is used mostly during spring and summer.
“I select perfectly ripe fruit. The riper and sweeter the grapes, the more delicious the flavor of the juice. After washing and stemming, I crush the berries with a potato masher. This, I think, is as good a way as any. There are several small presses on the market for this purpose, but my method answers my need.
” After crushing I put the grapes on the stove to simmer, not boil. Nearly enough water is added to cover the mass of crushed grapes. After the fruit is cooked soft I strain through a jelly bag that has been carefully washed. When the bag has become cool enough to be squeezed without burning the hands, the last of the juice can be pressed out. If the juice were to be used for jelly making, this would not be done, as it would render the jelly cloudy.
” The amount of sugar to be put in depends on how sweet one wants the juice. It is safest to have it very sweet to prevent fermentation. I put the juice up in catsup bottles, using the same precautions that I do in canning fruit. It is a safe rule to use half the quantity of sugar that I have of juice, by measure. If there is too little sugar the juice may ferment and break the jars.
“In canning, one very important thing is to have new rubbers. It is never safe to use old ones, or even those that have been used once. If the juice is made as I have indicated, and fresh rubbers are used each year, there will be little loss from fermentation. When the grape juice is used, it is diluted to suit the taste.”