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This is really a trailing blackberry and needs the same culture, except that the canes are naturally slender and trailing and therefore, for garden culture, must have support. They may be staked up, or a barrel hoop, supported by two stakes, makes a good support. In ripening, the dewberry is ten to fourteen days earlier than the blackberry, and for that reason a few plants should be included in the berry patch. Premo is the earliest sort, and Lucretia the standard.
The black and the red types are distinct in flavor, and both should be grown. The blackcaps need more room, about three by six or seven feet; for the reds three by five feet will be sufficient. The blackcaps, and a few of the reds, like Cuthbert, throw out fruiting side branches, and should have the main canes cut back at about two and a half feet to encourage the growth of these laterals, which, in the following spring, should be cut back to about one-third their length. The soil for raspberries should be clayey if possible, and moist, but not wet.
The orange rust, which attacks the blackberry also, is a serious trouble. Pull up and burn all infested plants at once, as no good remedy has as yet been found. The cut-worm, especially in newly set beds, may sometimes prove destructive of the sprouting young canes. The raspberry-borer is the larva of a small, flattish, red-necked beetle, which bores to the center of the canes during summer growth, and kills them. Cut and burn.
Of the blackcaps, Gregg, McCormick, Munger, Cumberland, Columbian, Palmer (very early), and Eureka (late), are all good sorts. Reds: Cuthbert, Cardinal (new), Turner, Reliance, The King (extra early), Loudon (late). Yellow: Golden Queen.
The currant and gooseberry are very similar in their cultural requirements. A deep, rich and moist soil is the best--approaching a clayey loam. There need be no fear of giving too much manure, but it should be well rotted. Plenty of room, plenty of air, plenty of moisture, secured where necessary by a soil or other mulch in hot dry weather, are essential to the production of the best fruit.
The currant will stand probably as much abuse as any plant the home gardener will have to deal with. Stuck in a corner, smothered in sod, crowded with old wood, stripped by the currant-worm, it still struggles along from year to year, ever hopefully trying to produce a meager crop of poor fruit. But these are not the sort you want. Although it is so tough, no fruit will respond to good care more quickly.
To have it do well, give it room, four or five feet each way between bushes. Manure it liberally; give it clean cultivation, and as the season gets hot and dry, mulch the soil, if you would be certain of a full-sized, full-flavored crop. Two bushes, well cared for, will yield more than a dozen half-neglected ones. Anywhere north of New York a full crop every year may be made almost certain.
Besides careful cultivation, to insure the best of fruit it is necessary to give some thought to the matter of pruning. The most convenient and the most satisfactory way is to keep it in the bush form. Set the plants singly, three or four feet apart, and so cut the new growth, which is generously produced, as to retain a uniform bush shape, preferably rather open in the center.
The fruit is produced on wood two or more years old. Therefore cut out branches either when very small, or not until four or five years later, after it has borne two or three crops of fruit. Therefore, in pruning currants, take out (1) superfluous young growth; (2) old hard wood (as new wood will produce better fruit); and (3) all weak, broken, dead or diseased shoots; (4) during summer, if the tips of the young growths kept for fruiting are pinched off, they will ripen up much better-- meaning better fruit when they bear; (5) to maintain a good form, the whole plant may be cut back (never more than one-third) in the fall.
In special situations it may be advisable to train the currant to one or a few main stems, as against a wall; this can be done, but it is less convenient. Also it brings greater danger from the currant-borer.
The black currant, used almost entirely for culinary or preserving purposes, is entirely different from the red and white ones. They are much larger and should be put five to six feet apart. Some of the fruit is borne on one-year-old wood, so the shoots should not be cut back. Moreover, old wood bears as good fruit as the new growth, and need not be cut out, unless the plant is getting crowded, for several years. As the wood is much heavier and stronger than the other currants, it is advisable gradually to develop the black currants into the tree form.
ENEMIES OF THE CURRANT
The worst of these is the common currant-worm. When he appears, which will be indicated by holes eaten in the lower leaves early in spring, generally before the plants bloom, spray at once with Paris green. If a second brood appears, spray with white hellebore (if this is not all washed off by the rain, wipe from the fruit when gathered). For the borer, cut and burn every infested shoot. Examine the bushes in late fall, and those in which the borers are at work will usually have a wilted appearance and be of a brownish color.
VARIETIES OF CURRANTS
Red Dutch, while older and smaller than some of the newer varieties, is hardier and not so likely to be hurt by the borer. London Market, Fay's Prolific, Perfection (new), and Prince Albert, are good sorts. White Grape is a good white. Naples, and Lee's Prolific are good black sorts.
This is given practically the same treatment as the currant. It is even more important that it should be given the coolest, airiest, location possible, and the most moist soil. Even a partially shaded situation will do, but in such situations extra care must be taken to guard against the mildew--which is mentioned below. Summer mulching is, of course, of special benefit.
In pruning the gooseberry, it is best to cut out to a very few, or even to a single stem. Keep the head open, to allow free circulation of air. The extent of pruning will make a great difference in the size of the fruit; if fruit of the largest size is wanted, prune very close. All branches drooping to the ground should be removed. Keep the branches, as much as possible, from touching each other.
The currant-worm attacks the gooseberry also, and is effectively handled by the arsenate of lead, Paris green or hellebore spraying, mentioned above.
The great trouble in growing gooseberries successfully is the powdery mildew--a dirty, whitish fungous growth covering both fruit and leaves. It is especially destructive of the foreign varieties, the culture of which, until the advent of the potassium sulfide spray, was being practically abandoned. Use 1 oz. of potassium sulfide (liver of sulphur) to 2 gals. water, and mix just before using. Spray thoroughly three or four times a month, from the time the blossoms are opening until fruit is ripe.
Of the native gooseberries--which are the hardiest, Downing and Houghton's Seedling are most used. Industry is an English variety, doing well here. Golden Prolific, Champion, and Columbus, are other good foreign sorts, but only when the mildew is successfully fought off.
No garden is so small that there cannot be found in it room for three or four grape-vines; no fruit is more certain, and few more delicious.
If it is convenient, a situation fully exposed to the sun, and sloping slightly, will be preferable. But any good soil, provided only it is rich and thoroughly drained, will produce good results. If a few vines are to be set against walls, or in other out-of-the-way places, prepare the ground for them by excavating a good-sized hole, putting in a foot of coal cinders or other drainage material, and refilling with good heavy loam, enriched with old, well rotted manure and half a peck of wood ashes. For culture in the garden, such special preparation will not be necessary--although, if the soil is not in good shape, it will be advisable slightly to enrich the hills.
One or two-year roots will be the most satisfactory to buy. They may be set in either fall or spring--the latter time, for New York or north, being generally preferable. When planting, the cane should be cut back to three or four eyes, and the roots should also be shortened back-- usually about one-third. Be sure to make the hole large enough, when setting, to let the roots spread naturally, and work the soil in well around them with the fingers. Set them in firmly, by pressing down hard with the ball of the foot after firming by hand. They are set about six feet apart.
As stated above, the vine is cut back, when planting, to three or four eyes. The subsequent pruning--and the reader must at once distinguish between pruning, and training, or the way in which the vines are placed--will determine more than anything else the success of the undertaking. Grapes depend more upon proper pruning than any other fruit or vegetable in the garden. Two principles must be kept track of in this work. First principle: _the annual crop is borne only on canes of the same year's growth, springing from wood of the previous season's growth_. Second principle: _the vine, if left to itself, will set three or four times the number of bunches it can properly mature_. As a result of these facts, the following system of pruning
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