The dangers and difficulties of planting hardwooded plants are greatly

exaggerated. The tyro, in particular, is impressed with his

responsibilities at this time, and often sends a hurry-up call to

experiment station or nurseryman to "send him a man to plant." If the

land is properly prepared and the plants in good condition, the

operation of planting is easily, quickly and safely accomplished.

There is no need, in planting the vine, of such puttering overniceties

as laying out the roots to preserve the fibers, watering each vine as

it is set, inserting the vine in a gingerly fashion to make sure that

it stands in its new abode as it stood in the old, or puddling the

roots in pail or tub of water. On the other hand, the slap-dash method

of a Stringfellow who cuts off all small roots and uses a crowbar in

place of a spade is not doing duty by the plant, and burying the roots

deep in the earth or covering them close to the surface is courting


Digging the holes.

This is a simple task in land in good tilth. The holes need only be

large and deep enough to hold the roots without undue cramping. Herein

is again manifested the wisdom of thoroughly preparing the land; for,

in well-prepared land, the hole is really as large as the vineyard.

Even in the condition of poor tilth, deep holes are often a menace to

the life of the plant, especially if drainage is not provided, for the

deep hole becomes a tub into which water pours and stands to soak the

roots of dying vines. An extra spurt in digging holes cannot take the

place of perfect fitting of the land.

There is nothing to commend the practice of digging holes in a leisure

time that all may be ready when the time to plant arrives. The vines

will strike root best in the freshly turned, moist soil of newly dug

earth, which can be firmly set about the roots when the vine is

planted. Neither is time saved in digging beforehand, for the

sun-baked and rain-washed sides of holes long dug would surely have to

be pared afresh. It is, however, quite worth while to throw the

surface soil to one side and that lower to the other, that a spadeful

of moist, virile, surface soil may be put next to the roots.

There are, no doubt, some soils in which the holes might be blasted

out with dynamite, as, for instance, in a shallow soil with the

hardpan near the surface and good subsoil beneath. It is very

questionable, however, whether these defective soils should be used

for commercial plantings as long as there still remain unplanted many

acres in all grape regions of good deep land for the grape. To such as

are attracted by "dynamite farming," minute descriptions of methods of

use of dynamite and even demonstrations may be secured from

manufacturers of the explosive.

Time to plant.

The best time to plant the vine in cold climates is early spring, when

sun and showers arouse the spirit of growth in plants, and nutritive

solutions proceed quickly and unerringly to their preappointed places.

At this time, the much mutilated vine can undertake best the double

task of making fresh roots and opening the dormant leaves. Fall

planting puts forward the work, thus diminishing the rush of early

spring when vineyard operations crowd, and, no doubt, when all is

favorable, enables the vines to start a little more quickly. However,

there are frequently serious losses from planting in the fall. In cold

winters the grip of frost is sufficient to wrench the young vine from

its place and sometimes all but heaves it out of the soil. There is,

also, great liability of winter-killing in vines transplanted in the

autumn, not because of greater tenderness of the plant, but because of

greater porosity of the loosened soil which enables the cold to strike

to a greater depth. These two objections to fall planting can be

overcome largely by mounding up the earth so as practically to cover

the vines, leveling the mound in early spring; but this extra work

more than offsets the labor saving in fall planting.

In climates in which the soil does not freeze in the winter, the vines

may be set in the autumn if all is favorable. Often, however,

conditions are not favorable to fall planting in warm climates, since

autumn rains frequently soak the soil so that it cannot be placed

properly about the roots; and, moreover, in a cold, water-logged soil

the inactive roots begin to decay; or the soil may be too dry for fall

planting. Under such conditions, it is often better to delay planting

in warm climates until spring when better soil conditions can be

secured. Fall or spring, the soil should be reasonably dry, warm and

mellow when the work is done. The best time to plant must necessarily

vary from year to year, and the vineyardist must decide exactly when

to undertake planting in accordance with the conditions of soil and

weather, mindful that the Psalmist's injunction that there is "a time

to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted" is subject to

several conditions requiring judgment. The grape puts out its leaves

late in the spring, making the temptation great to delay planting;

late-set plants, however, need special care lest they suffer from the

summer droughts which annually parch the lands of this continent.

The operation of planting.

All being in readiness, planting proceeds rapidly. A gang of four men

work to advantage. Two dig holes, a third holds the vines and tramps

the earth as the remaining man shovels in earth. Except in large

vineyards, four men are seldom available, and gangs of two or three

must divide the work among its members as best suits conditions. A

tree-setting board is not needed in planting grapes, although some

growers use it. The man who holds the vines in the hole and tramps as

the shoveler fills, must align the plant after the stake is removed

and see that it stands perpendicularly in the hole. The stake, a lath,

is set in its old place in the hole to serve as a support for the

growing vine and to mark it so that the cultivator does not pull up

the young plant. The soil must be set firm about the roots of the

plant, but zeal in tramping should diminish as the hole is filled,

leaving the topsoil untramped, smooth, loose and pulverized, a dust

mulch--the best of all mulches--to prevent evaporation.

The depth to which vines should be set is a matter of controversy.

This should be governed by the soil more than by any other factor,

although some varieties need a deeper root-run than others. The rule

to plant to the depth the vine stood in the nursery row is safe under

most conditions, although in light, hungry or thirsty soils the roots

should go deeper; and, on the other hand, in heavy soils, not so deep.

Deep planting is a more common mistake than shallow planting, for

roots under most conditions stand exposure better than internment,

going down being more natural than coming up for a root seeking a

place to its liking.

Watering at planting is necessary only when the land is parched with

drought or in regions in which irrigation is practiced. When

necessary, water should be used liberally, at least a gallon or two to

a vine. After the earth has been firmed about the roots and the hole

is nearly filled, the water should be poured in and the hole filled

without more firming. Under dry weather conditions, some prefer to

puddle the roots; that is, to dip them in thin mud and plant with the

mud adhering. In making the puddle, loose loam and not sticky clay is

used, as clay may bake so hard as to injure the roots. With puddling,

as with watering, the surface soil should be left loose and soft

without traces of the puddling below.

Manure or fertilizer about the roots or even in the hole are not

necessary or even desirable. If the soil is to be enriched at all at

planting time, the fertilizer should be spread on the surface to be

cultivated in or to have its food elements leak down as rains fall. In

land in which the providential design for grapes is plainly

manifested, the vine at no time responds heartily to fertilizers, the

good of stable manure probably coming for the most part from its

effects on the texture and water-holding capacity of the soil. The

newly set plant is not in need of outside nourishment; to put rank

manure or strong commercial fertilizers about the roots of a young

newly set vine is plant infanticide.

Plant Characters And Growth Habits Of The Grape Planting And Training facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail