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.





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