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Mode Of Operating

The wood should be cut from the vines in the fall, as soon as the
leaves have dropped. For propagating, use only firm, well-ripened wood
of the last season's growth, and about medium thickness. These are to
be preferred to either very large or very small ones. The time to
commence operating will vary according to climate; here it should be
the early part of February. The wood to be used for propagating can be
kept in a cool cellar, in sand, or buried in the ground out doors. Take
out the cuttings, and cut them up into pieces as represented in Figure

Throw these into water as they are cut; it will prevent them from
becoming dry. It will be found of benefit with hard-wooded varieties to
pack them in damp moss for a week or so before they are put into the
propagating pots or boxes; it will soften the alburnous matter, and
make them strike root more readily. They should then be put into, say
six-inch pots, filled to about an inch of the top with pure coarse
sand, firmly packed. Place the cuttings, the buds up, about an inch
apart, all over the surface of the pot; press down firmly with thumb
and forefinger until the bud is even with the surface; sift on sand
enough to cover the upper point of the bud about a quarter of an inch
deep; press down evenly, using the bottom of another pot for the
purpose, and apply water enough to moisten the whole contents of the
pot. Instead of the pots, shallow boxes of about six inches deep, can
also be used, with a few holes bored in the bottom for drainage.

After the pots have been filled with cuttings they are placed in a
temperature of from 40 deg. to 45 deg., where they remain from two to three
weeks, water being applied only enough to keep them moist, not wet. As
roots are formed at a much lower degree of temperature than leaves,
they should not be forced too much at the beginning, or the leaves will
appear before we have any roots to support them. But when the cutting
has formed its roots first, the foliage, when it does appear, will grow
much more rapidly, and without any check. Then remove them to another
position, plunging the pots into sand to the depth of, say three
inches, and raise the temperature at first to 60 deg. for the first few
days, then gradually raise it to 80 deg.. When the buds begin to push,
raise the temperature to 90 deg. or 95 deg., and keep the air moist by frequent
waterings, say once a day. The best for this purpose is pure
rain-water, but it should be of nearly the same temperature as the air
in the house, for, if applied cold, it would surely check the growth of
the plants. The young growth should be examined every day, to see if
there is any sign of rotting; should this be the case, give a little
more air, but admit no sudden cold currents, as they are often fatal.
The glass should be whitewashed, to avoid the direct rays of the sun.

When the young vines have made a growth of two or three inches shift
them into three-inch pots.

So far we have used only pure sand, which did not contain much plant
food, because the growth was produced from the food stored up in the
bud and wood, and what little they obtained from the sand, water, and
air. Now, however, our young vines want more substantial food. They
should therefore be potted into soil, mixed from rotten sod,
leaf-mould, and well-decomposed old barnyard manure. This should be
mixed together six months before using; add, before using, one-quarter
sand, then mix thoroughly, and sift all through a coarse sieve. In
operating, put a quantity of soil on the potting bench, provide a
quantity of broken bricks or potsherds for drainage, loosen the plants
from the pots by laying them on their side, giving them a sudden jar
with the hand, to loosen the sand around them; draw out the plant
carefully, holding it with one hand, while with the other you place a
piece of the drainage material into the pot; cover it with soil about
an inch; then put in the plant, holding it so that the roots spread out
naturally; fill in soil around them until the pot is full; press the
soil down firmly, but not hard enough to break the roots. When the
plants are potted give them water to settle the earth around the roots,
and keep the air somewhat confined for a few days, until they have
become established, when more air may be given them. Keep the
temperature at 85 deg. to 95 deg. during the day, and 70 deg. to 80 deg. during the

When the plants have made about six inches of growth they can either be
placed in another house, or in hot-bed frames, if they are to be kept
under glass. The usual manner of keeping them in pots during summer,
shifting them into larger and larger sizes, I consider injurious to the
free development of the plants, as the roots are distorted and cramped
against the sides of the pots, and cannot spread naturally. I prefer
shifting them into cold frames, in which beds have been prepared of
light, rich soil, into which the young plants can be planted, and kept
under whitewashed hot-bed sashes for a while, which, after several
weeks, may be removed, and only a light shading substituted in their
place, which, after several weeks more, can also be removed. Thus the
young plants are gradually hardened, their roots have a chance to
spread evenly and naturally, without any cramping; and such plants,
although they may not make as tall a growth as those kept under glass
all the season, will really stand transplanting into the vineyard much
better than those hot-house pets, which may look well enough, but
really are, like spoiled and pampered children, but poorly fitted to
stand the rough vicissitudes of every-day life.

The young plants should be lightly tied to small sticks provided for
the purpose, as it will allow free circulation of air, and admit the
sun more freely to the roots. In the fall, after their leaves have
dropped, they should be carefully taken up, shortened to about a foot
of their growth, and they are then ready either to sell, if they are to
be disposed of in that way, or for planting into the vineyard. They
should, however, be carefully assorted, making three classes of
them--the strongest, medium, and the smallest--each to be put separate.
The latter generally are not fit to transplant into the vineyard, but
they may be heeled in, and grown in beds another year, when they will
often make very good plants. Heeling in may be done as shown in Figure
2, laying the vines as close in the rows as they can conveniently be
laid, and then fill the trench with well-pulverized soil. They can thus
be safely kept during the winter.

I have only given an outline of the most simple and cheapest mode of
growing plants from single eyes, such as even the vineyardist may
follow. For descriptions of more extensive and costly buildings, if
they desire them, they had better apply to an architect. I have also
not given the mode of propagating from green wood, as I do not think,
plants thus propagated are desirable. They are apt to be feeble and
diseased, and I think, the country at large would be much better off,
had not a single plant ever been produced by that method.

Plants from single eyes may also be grown in a common hot-bed; but as
in this the heat can not be as well regulated at will, I think it, upon
the whole, not desirable, as the expense of a propagating house on the
cheap plan I have indicated, is but very little more, and will
certainly in the long run, pay much better. Of course, close attention
and careful watching is the first requisite in all the operations.

Next: By Cuttings In Open Air

Previous: The Propagating House

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