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Planting








The distance at which the vines may be planted will of course vary
somewhat with the growth of the different varieties. The rows may all
be six feet apart, as this is the most convenient distance for
cultivating, and gives ample space for a horse and man to pass through
with plough or cultivator. Slow-growing varieties, such as the Delaware
and Catawba, may be planted six feet apart in the rows, making the
distance six feet each way; but the Concord, Norton's Virginia,
Herbemont, Hartford Prolific, Cunningham, and all the strong growers,
will need more room, say ten feet in the rows, so as to give the vines
ample room to spread, and allow free circulation of air--one of the
first conditions of health in the vines, and quality of the fruit.

The next question to be considered is: Shall we plant cuttings or
rooted plants? My preference is decidedly for the latter, for the
following reasons: Cuttings are uncertain, even of those varieties
which grow the most readily; and we cannot expect to have anything like
an even growth, such as we can have if the plants are carefully
assorted. Some of the cuttings will always fail, and there will be gaps
and vacancies which are hard to fill, even if the strongest plants are
taken for replanting. Therefore, let us choose plants.

But we should not only choose rooted plants, but the best we can get;
and these are good one year old, whether grown from cuttings, layers or
single eyes. A good plant should have plenty of strong, well-ripened
roots; not covered with excrescences and warts, which is always a sign
of ill health; but smooth and firm; with well-ripened, short-jointed
wood. They should be of uniform size, as they will then make an even
stand in the vineyard, when not forced by the propagator into an
unnaturally rank growth by artificial manures. This latter
consideration, I think, is very important, as we can hardly expect such
plants, which have been petted and pampered, and fed on rich diet, to
thrive on the every-day fare they will find in the vineyard. Do not
take second or third rate plants, if you can help it; they may live and
grow, but they will never make the growth which a plant of better
quality would make. We may hear of good results sometimes, obtained by
planting second-rate plants, but certainly the results would be better
if better plants had been chosen. Especially important is the selection
of good plants with those varieties which do not propagate and
transplant readily, such as the Norton's Virginia, Delaware, and other
hard-wood varieties. Better pay double the price you would have to give
for inferior plants; the best are the cheapest in the end, as they will
make the healthiest vines, and bear sooner.

But I would also caution my readers against those who will sell you
"extra large layers, for _immediate_ bearing," and whose "plants are
better than those whom anybody else may grow," as their advertisements
will term it. It is time that this humbug should cease; time that the
public in general should know, that they cannot, in nature and reason,
expect any fruit from a plant transplanted the same season; and that
those who pretend it can be done, without vital injury to the plant,
are only seeking to fill their pockets at the cost of their customers.
They know well enough themselves that it cannot be done without killing
or fatally injuring the plant, yet they will impose upon the credulity
of their confiding customers; make them pay from $3 to $5 a piece for a
plant, which these good souls will buy, with a vision of a fine crop of
grapes before their eyes, plant them, with long tops, on which they may
obtain a few sickly bunches of fruit the first season; but if they do
the vines will make a feeble growth, not ripen their fruit, and perhaps
be winter-killed the next season. It is like laying the burden of a
full grown man on the shoulders of a child; what was perhaps no burden
at all to the one, will kill the other. Then, again, these "plants,
superior to those of every one else." It is the duty of every
propagator and nursery-man to raise good plants; he can do it if he
tries; it is for his interest as much as for the interest of his
customers to raise plants of the best quality; and we have no reason to
suppose that we are infinitely superior to our neighbors. While the
first is a downright swindle, the latter is the height of arrogance. If
we had a good deal less of bombast and self laudation, and more of
honesty and fair dealing in the profession, the public would have more
confidence in professional men, and would be more likely to practice
what we preach. Therefore, if you look around for plants, do not go to
those who advertise, "layers for immediate bearing," or "plants of
superior quality to all others grown;" but go to men who have honesty
and modesty enough to send you a sample of their best plants, if
required, and who are not averse to let you see how they grow them.
Choose their good, strong healthy, one year old plants, with strong,
firm, healthy roots, and let those who wish to be humbugged buy the
layers for _immediate_ bearing. You must be content to wait until the
third year for the first crop; but, then, if you have treated your
plants as you ought to do, you can look for a crop that will make your
heart glad to see and gather it. You cannot, in reason and nature
expect it sooner. If your ground has been prepared in the Fall, so much
the better, and if thrown into ridges, so as to elevate the ground
somewhat, where the row is to be, they may be planted in the Fall. The
advantages of Fall planting are as follows: The ground will generally
work better, as we have better weather in the Fall; and generally more
time to spare; the ground can settle among the roots; the roots will
have healed and callused over, and the young plant be ready to start
with full vigor in spring.


Mark your ground, laying it off with a line, and put down a small stick
or peg, eighteen inches long, wherever a plant is to stand. Dig a hole,
about eight to ten inches deep, as shown in Figure 5, in a slanting
direction, raising a small mound in the bottom, of well-pulverized,
mellow earth; then, having pruned your plant as shown in Figure 6, with
its roots and tops shortened in, as shown by the dotted lines, lay it
in, resting the lower end on the mound of earth, spread out its roots
evenly to all sides, and then fill in among the roots with rich,
well-pulverized earth, the upper bud being left above the ground. When
planted in the fall, raise a small mound around your vine, so that the
water will drain off, and throw a handful of straw or any other mulch
on top, to protect it. Of course, the operation should be performed
when the ground is dry enough to be light and mellow, and will readily
work in among the roots.





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