Care Of The Vines

With the cultivation of all varieties indoors, more clusters set than

the vines can carry. This means that a part of the clusters must be

removed, an operation that depends on the variety and one that

requires experience and judgment on the part of the gardener. Roughly

speaking, half the clusters are taken, leaving the other half as

evenly distributed on each side of the vine as possible. The time to

take these cluste
s is also a delicate matter, since some sorts are

shy in setting and the clusters must not be taken until the berries

are formed and it can be seen how large the crop will be. As a rule,

however, this thinning of clusters may be begun as soon as the form of

the cluster can be seen.

It is very necessary also, especially with all sorts bearing large

berries, that grapes be thinned in the cluster. The time to thin the

cluster varies with the variety. Sorts which set fruit freely can be

thinned sooner than those which are shy in setting. On the one hand,

the thinning must not be done too soon as it cannot be told until the

berries are of fair size which have set seed and which have not;

however, if thinning is neglected too long, the berries become

over-crowded and the task becomes difficult. The thinning is performed

with slender scissors, and the bunches must not be touched with the

hand, as touching impairs the bloom and disfigures the fruit. The

clusters are turned and steadied by a small piece of pencil-shaped

wood. Thinning is practiced not only to permit the berries to attain

their full size but also to permit the bunches to attain as great size

as possible. If too severely thinned, the clusters flatten out after

maturity. This is especially the case when too many berries are taken

from the center of the bunch. A large cluster of grapes is made up of

several small clusters, making it necessary to tie up the upper

clusters or shoulders of the bunch to permit the berries to swell

without being thinned too severely. Grapes intended for long keeping

require more thinning than those to be used at once after picking,

since, in keeping, the berries mold or damp-off in the center of the

bunch if it is too compact.

The vines in the grapery must be watered with considerable care. The

amount of water to be used depends on the composition of the borders

and the season of growth. If the border is loose and well-drained, the

supply of water must be large; if close and retentive, but a small

amount of moisture is required. Watering must not be done during the

period of blossoming, since dry air is necessary for proper

pollination. When the grapes begin to show color, the vines are

heavily watered, after which little if any water is applied. Some

gardeners mulch the vines with hay to retain the moisture in the house

and keep the atmosphere dry.

Ventilating the grapery is another important detail of the season's

work. Proper ventilation is difficult to secure in the early spring

months when the dryness of the sun on the one hand, and cold air on

the other, make it difficult to avoid draughts and regulate the

temperature. Another troublesome time is when the grapes begin to

color, as it is then necessary for the grapery to have air at night;

but when too much air enters, there is danger from mildew. Towards the

end of the season, all parts of the plant become harder in texture and

the grapery may then be more generously aired. After the fruit is cut,

the houses are ventilated in full so that the wood may ripen properly.