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Planting And Training

Two-year-old vines are most commonly planted. The vines are set inside
the house at least a foot from the walls and four feet apart. The
grapery must be built on piers with spaces of at least two feet
between, and the vines are placed opposite these openings in the
foundation. When planted, the vines are cut back to two or three buds,
and when these start the strongest are selected for training, the
others being rubbed off. The grapery must be strung with wires
running lengthwise of the house at about fifteen inches from the
glass. Greenhouse supply merchants furnish at a low price cast iron
brackets to be fastened to the rafters to hold these wires. As the
growing vines reach one wire after another, they are tied with raffia
to hold them in place. Usually, young vines will reach the peak of the
house by midsummer, and as soon as this goal is attained must be
pinched so that the cane may thicken up and store food in the lateral
buds for the coming season. When the wood is well matured, the vine is
cut back to half or one-third its length, depending on the variety,
laid on the ground and covered for the winter. An item of no small
importance in winter care is to keep out mice, this pest being
inordinately fond of grape buds, and once the buds are destroyed the
vines are ruined for the coming season.

The second year's work is largely a repetition of that of the first.
The vines are permitted to reach the peak of the house and are again
stopped by pinching. A considerable number of laterals spring up on
each side of the main vine, and these must be thinned as they develop
to stand at the distance apart of the wires to which they are
fastened. This is pre-supposing that the gardener has chosen the spur
method of pruning, the method generally used in America and the one,
all things considered, which gives best results. The selection of the
laterals the second year, therefore, is a matter of much importance
since spurs are to be developed from them. Care should be taken to
have these spurs regularly distributed over the length of the vine.
This second year, grapes must not be permitted to develop on the
terminal shoots, but a few clusters may be taken from the laterals in
which case the laterals are pinched two buds beyond the cluster, the
pinching continuing throughout the season if the laterals persist in
breaking, as they will do in most cases. At the end of the season, the
terminal is shortened at least one-half, and the laterals are pinched
back to a bud as close as possible to the main stem. The vines are
then put down for the winter as at the close of the first season.

The work of the third season is a repetition of that of the second,
with the exception that the vine is permitted to fruit throughout its
whole length, although not more than one pound of fruit to a foot of
main vine is permitted. The plants are now established and the only
pruning in this and succeeding years is to cut the laterals at the
close of each season close to the main stem, leaving strong healthy
buds of which at least one, usually more, will be found close to the
stem. If more than one bud starts, only the strongest is chosen,
although often an extra one is needed to fill a vacancy on the
opposite side. After the third or fourth season, depending somewhat on
the variety, two pounds of fruit or more to the foot of the main stem
can be permitted. The novice, however, is likely to permit his vines
to overbear with the result that the crop is cast, or the berries
rattle, or the fruit turns sour before ripening. From the beginning to
the finish of the season, in this method of pruning, much pinching of
laterals is required. No hard and fast rule can be laid down for this
pinching, but, roughly speaking, all new growth beyond the second
joint from the cluster should be pinched out as fast as it shows. With
most varieties, this means that the lateral is kept about eighteen
inches from the main stem. After a few years, well-developed spurs
form at the base of the original laterals, and from these spurs the
new wood comes year after year.

An alternative method of pruning is to permit the new canes to grow up
from a bud near the ground each season. When the vine is well
established, this new cane is fruited throughout its entire length,
the laterals being pinched as described under the spur method. This
method of pruning is known as "the long cane method." Gardeners hold
that they can grow better fruit with this than with the spur method,
but the difficulties are greater and the crop is not as large.

Next: Care Of The Vines

Previous: Varieties

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