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Preparing The Soil

In this, the foundation of all grape-growing, the vineyardist must also
look to the condition in which he finds the soil. Should it be free of
stones, stumps, and other obstructions, the plough and sub-soil plough
will be all-sufficient.

Should your soil be new, perhaps a piece of wild forest land, have it
carefully grubbed, and every tree and stump taken out by the roots.
After the ground is cleared take a large breaking-plough, with three
yoke of sturdy oxen, and plough as deep as you can, say twelve to
fourteen inches. Now follow in the same furrow with an implement we
call here a sub-soil stirrer, and which is simply a plough-share of
wedge shape, running in the bottom of the furrow, and a strong coulter,
running up from it through the beam of the plough, sharp in front, to
cut the roots; the depth of the furrow is regulated by a movable wheel
running in front, which can be set by a screw. With two yoke of oxen
this will loosen the soil to the depth of, say twenty inches, which is
sufficient, unless the sub-soil is very tenacious. In land already
cultivated, where there are no roots to obstruct, two yoke of oxen or
four horses attached to the plough, and one yoke of oxen or a pair of
horses or mules to the sub-soil plough, will be sufficient. In stony
soil the pick and shovel must take the place of the plough, as it would
be impossible to work it thoroughly with the latter; but I think there
is no advantage in the common method of trenching or inverting the
soil, as is now practiced to a very great extent. If we examine the
growth of our native vines we will generally find their roots extending
along the surface of the soil. It is unnatural to suppose that the
grape, the most sun-loving of all our plants, should be buried with its
roots several feet below the surface of the soil, far beyond the reach
of sun and air. Therefore, if you can afford it, work your soil deep
and thoroughly; it will be labor well invested; is the best preventive
against drouth, and also the best drainage in wet weather; but have it
in its natural position--not invert it; and do not plant too deep.
Should the soil be very poor it may be enriched by manure, ashes,
bone-dust, etc.; but it will seldom be found necessary, as most of our
soil is rich enough; and it is not advisable to stimulate the growth
too much, as it will be rank and unhealthy, and injurious to the
quality and flavor of the fruit.

Wet spots may be drained by gutters filled with loose stones, or tiles,
and then covered with earth. Surface-draining can be done by running a
small ditch or furrow every sixth or eighth row, parallel with the
hillside, and leading into a main ditch at the end or the middle of the
vineyard. Steep hillsides should be terraced or benched; but, as this
is very expensive, they should be avoided.

Next: Choice Of Varieties

Previous: Location And Soil

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