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- The Home Acre - 8/28 -


with the other paths, it will be greatly to his advantage to stake it out and remove about four inches of the surface-soil, piling it near the stable to be used for composting purposes or in the earth-closet. The excavation thus made should be filled with small stones or cinders, and then covered with fine gravel. A walk that shall be dry at all times is thus secured, and it will be almost wholly free from weeds. In these advantages alone one is repaid for the extra first cost, and in addition the rich surface soil obtained will double the bulk and value of the fertilizers with which it is mixed.

Having made the walk, borders five feet wide can be laid out on each side of it, and the soil in these should be as rich and deep as any other parts of the garden. What shall be planted in these borders will depend largely on the tastes of the gardener; but, as has been suggested, there will assuredly be one or more shadowy grape-arbors under which the proprietor can retire to provide horticultural strategy. This brings us to that chef-d'oeuvre of Nature--

The vine. It climbs by its tendrils, and they appear to have clasped the heart of humanity. Among the best of Heaven's gifts, it has sustained the worst perversions. But we will refrain from a temperance lecture; also from sacred and classical reminiscences. The world is not composed of monks who thought to escape temptation--and vainly too--in stony cells. To some the purple cluster suggests Bacchanal revelry; to others, sitting under one's own vine and fig-tree--in brief, a home. The vine is like woman, the inspiration of the best and the worst.

It may well become one of the dreams of our life to own land, if for no other reason than that of obtaining the privilege of planting vines. As they take root, so will we, and after we have eaten their delicious fruit, the very thought of leaving our acre will be repugnant. The literature of the vine would fill a library; the literature of love would crowd many libraries. It is not essential to read everything before we start a little vineyard or go a-courting.

It is said that about two thousand known and named varieties of grapes have been and are being grown in Europe; and all these are supposed to have been developed from one species (Vitis vinifera), which originally was the wild product of Nature, like those growing in our thickets and forests. One can scarcely suppose this possible when contemplating a cluster of Tokay or some other highly developed variety of the hot-house. Yet the native vine, which began to "yield fruit after his kind, the third day" (whatever may have been the length of that day), may have been, after all, a good starting-point in the process of development. One can hardly believe that the "one cluster of grapes" which the burdened spies, returning from Palestine, bore "between two of them upon a staff," was the result of high scientific culture. In that clime, and when the world was young, Nature must have been more beneficent than now. It is certain that no such cluster ever hung from the native vines of this land; yet it is from our wild species, whose fruit the Indians shared with the birds and foxes (when not hanging so high as to be sour), that we have developed the delicious varieties of our out-door vineyards. For about two centuries our forefathers kept on planting vines imported from Europe, only to meet with failure. Nature, that had so abundantly rewarded their efforts abroad, quietly checkmated them here. At last American fruit-growers took the hint, and began developing our native species. Then Nature smiled; and as a lure along this correct path of progress, gave such incentives as the Isabella, the Catawba, and Concord. We are now bewildered by almost as great a choice of varieties from native species as they have abroad; and as an aid to selection I will again give the verdict of some of the authorities.

The choice of the Hon. Norman J. Colman, Commissioner of Agriculture: "Early Victor, Worden, Martha, Elvira, Cynthiana." This is for the region of Missouri. For the latitude of New Jersey, A.S. Fuller's selection: "Delaware, Concord, Moore's Early, Antoinette (white), Augusta (white), Goethe (amber)." E.S. Carmen: "Moore's Early [you cannot praise this too much. The quality is merely that of the Concord; but the vines are marvels of perfect health, the bunches large, the berries of the largest size. They ripen all at once, and are fully ripe when the Concord begins to color], Worden, Brighton, Victoria (white), Niagara (white), El Dorado. [This does not thrive everywhere, but the grapes ripen early--September 1, or before--and the quality is perfection--white.]" Choice of P.J. Berckman, for the latitude of Georgia: "White grapes--Peter Wylie, Triumph, Maxatawny, Scuppernong. Bed grapes--Delaware, Berckman's, Brighton. Black-- Concord, Ives."

As I have over a hundred varieties in bearing, I may venture to express an opinion also. I confess that I am very fond of those old favorites of our fathers, the Isabella and Catawba. They will not ripen everywhere in our latitude, yet I seldom fail to secure a good crop. In the fall of 1885 we voted the Isabella almost unsurpassed. If one has warm, well-drained soil, or can train a vine near the south side of a building, I should advise the trial of this fine old grape. The Iona, Brighton, and Agawam also are great favorites with me. We regard the Diana, Wyoming Red, Perkins, and Rogers' hybrids, Lindley, Wilder, and Amenia, as among the best. The Rebecca, Duchess, Lady Washington, and Purity are fine white grapes. I have not yet tested the Niagara. Years ago I obtained of Mr. James Ricketts, the prize-taker for seedling grapes, two vines of a small wine grape called the Bacchus. To my taste it is very pleasant after two or three slight frosts.

Our list of varieties is long enough, and one must be fastidious indeed who does not find some to suit his taste. In many localities the chief question is, What kind CAN I grow? In our favored region on the Hudson almost all the out-door grapes will thrive; but as we go north the seasons become too cool and short for some kinds, and proceeding south the summers are too long and hot for others. The salt air of the sea-coast is not conducive to vine-culture, and only the most vigorous, like the Concord and Moore's Early, will resist the mildew blight. We must therefore do the best we can, and that will be very well indeed in most localities.

Because our list of good grapes is already so long, it does not follow that we have reached the limit of development by any means. When we remember that almost within a lifetime our fine varieties have been developed from the wild northern Fox grape (Vitis labrusca), the Summer grape (oestivalis), Frost (cordifolia), we are led to think that perhaps we have scarcely more than crossed the stile which leads into the path of progress. If I should live to keep up my little specimen vineyard ten years longer, perhaps the greater part of the varieties now cultivated will have given place to others. The delicious Brighton requires no more space than a sour, defective variety; while the proprietor starts with the best kinds he can obtain, he will find no restraint beyond his own ignorance or carelessness that will prevent his replacing the Brighton with a variety twice as good when it is developed. Thus vine-planting and grape-tasting stretch away into an alluring and endless vista.

When such exchanges are made, we do not recommend the grafting of a new favorite on an old vine. This is a pretty operation when one has the taste and leisure for it, and a new, high-priced variety can sometimes be obtained speedily and cheaply in this way. Usually, however, new kinds soon drop down within the means of almost any purchaser, and there are advantages in having each variety growing upon its own root. Nature yields to the skill of the careful gardener, and permits the insertion of one distinct variety of fruit upon another; but with the vine she does not favor this method of propagation and change, as in the case of pears and apples, where the graft forms a close, tenacious union with the stock in which it is placed. Mr. Fuller writes: "On account of the peculiar structure of the wood of the vine, a lasting union is seldom obtained when grafted above-ground, and is far from being certain even when grafted below the surface, by the ordinary method." The vine is increased so readily by easy and natural methods, to be explained hereafter, that he who desires nothing more than to secure a good supply of grapes for the table can dismiss the subject. On the other hand, those who wish to amuse themselves by experimenting with Nature can find abundant enjoyment in not only grafting old vines, but also in raising new seedlings, among which he may obtain a prize which will "astonish the natives." Those, however, whose tastes carry them to such lengths in vine-culture will be sure to purchase exhaustive treatises on the subject, and will therefore give no heed to these simple practical chapters. It is my aim to enable the business man returning from his city office, or the farmer engrossed with the care of many acres, to learn in a few moments, from time to time, just what he must do to supply his family abundantly with fruits and vegetables.

If one is about to adopt a grape-culture as a calling, common- sense requires that he should locate in some region peculiarly adapted to the vine. If the possessor of a large farm purposes to put several acres in vineyard, he should also aim to select a soil and exposure best suited to his purpose. Two thousand years ago Virgil wrote, "Nor let thy vineyard bend toward the sun when setting." The inference is that the vines should face the east, if possible; and from that day to this, eastern and southern exposures have been found the best. Yet climate modifies even this principle. In the South, I should plant my vineyard on a north- western slope, or on the north side of a belt of woods, for the reason that the long, hot days there would cause too rapid an evaporation from the foliage of the vines, and enfeeble, if not kill them. In the limited space of the Home Acre one can use only such land as he has, and plant where he must; but if the favorable exposures indicated exist, it would be well to make the most of them. I can mention, however, as encouragement to many, that I saw, last fall, splendid grapes growing on perfectly level and sandy soil in New Jersey.

A low-lying, heavy, tenacious clay is undoubtedly the worst ground in which to plant a vine; and yet by thorough drainage, a liberal admixture of sand, and light fertilizers, it can be made to produce good grapes of some varieties. A light sandy soil, if enriched abundantly with well-decayed vegetable and barnyard manures, gives wider scope in choice of kinds; while on the ideal well-drained sandy loam that we have described, any outdoor grape can be planted hopefully if the garden is sufficiently removed from the seaboard.

As a general truth it may be stated that any land in a condition to produce a fine crop of corn and potatoes is ready for the vine. This would be true of the entire garden if the suggestions heretofore made have been carried out. Therefore the borders which have been named are ready to receive the vines, which may be planted in either spring or fall. I prefer the fall season for several reasons. The ground is usually drier then, and crumbles more finely; the young vine becomes well established and settled


The Home Acre - 8/28

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