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In a vineyard newly laid out, the principal object is to keep the ground cleansed of weeds; but as soon as the vines have attained their full size, it is sufficient to plough and hoe the land twice a year; the first time in spring, and again soon after the vintage. If, in the meantime, the weeds should grow too high, they should be cut off with the sickle. The tillage of the soil should be deferred until after the middle of May, when no more injurious night-frosts are to be dreaded. These are the most important suggestions concerning the tillage; as to the treatment of the vines themselves, let it not be forgotten that the stocks should be planted from six to eight feet apart; this open space, as may be easily conjectured, will cause them to grow strong, vigorous, and productive of good and plentiful crops.
The two principal home varieties, are the Isabella and the Catawba. The former is more adapted to northern latitudes, from 42° upwards, while the latter grows better in a southern region, perhaps not much above 37°.
Of distinguished foreign varieties, the Rhenish Grape, originating on the banks of the Rhine, and first grown in this country in the State of Ohio, near Cincinnati, deserves to be mentioned. A farmer in Peoria County obtained a few samples of this kind, and says that they have produced a fair crop of grapes, fifteen seasons in seventeen. It has a considerable resemblance to the Isabella, in appearance and flavor, but the vine is of much slower growth, and very hardy. The destruction to which grapes are more or less exposed, is caused by the rot, produced by excessive rains, followed by very sultry weather. If the winter lasts very long, the frost will sometimes affect, and even kill the buds, without, however, injuring the vines. The best quality of wine, which may be had at Belleville, is the Catawba wine, which is far superior to any other kind grown in the United States. That the grape culture is quite remunerating near Belleville, and even a little farther north, is confirmed by the statements of most of the growers there. One of these informs us that from two acres of land, which have been in a bearing condition since 1850, he obtained 640 gallons in the first year, and 652 gallons in 1853; this, however, shows only the richest crops he obtained in the course of six years; but though the vines may have yielded but half as much at other
times, it will still leave a handsome average yield—about 160 gallons per acre.
The market price of the Catawba is from two to three dollars a gallon.
The rot, and the mildew, to which the grapes are more or less subject, may be diminished by very careful treatment in the cultivation, as well as a judicious selection of the locality. If we consider the difficulties and risks attending the cultivation of foreign grapes, which may either degenerate or prove to be failures, it will doubtless appear a better plan to bestow a little more attention on the grafting of those wild varieties of grapes, which nature allows to grow and thrive freely in the Mississippi valley. This enterprise has already been started by a few people, who commenced their researches last year, going to the Ozark Mountains, as far as Springfield. They gathered whatever they thought valuable of the kind, and returned with five new varieties of grape vines, and a quantity of seed. Not a little work and labor were expended in rendering useful these wild children of nature.
The most valuable varieties thus discovered are :
1. The Halifax vine, a native of the east; the grapes are pretty large, of good, rather peculiar flavor.
2. The Wine Home vine, was found growing wild in a rocky place; the dark grapes are of medium size, and the juice nearly colorless.
3. The Waterloo, or Rockhouse Indian vine, growing wild in the neighborhood of Waterloo, Ill. This vine grows very luxuriantly, and has a rough appearance. The little grapes are close together, and contain a very dark colored juice. This grape ripens about the middle of October. The wine has a fine, bright, reddish blue color, and strongly resembles the best Burgundy.
4. The Ozark Muscat wine, from the Ozark Mountains; in appearance it is similar to No. 2. The grape tastes like nutmeg, a peculiarity which is not shared by the wine.
5. The Little Ozark vine. The whole plant has a bright and fresh appearance; the dark and long clusters nestle close under the shining, green leaves, and not a rotten berry is to be seen on the whole stock. They ripen about the beginning of October.
6. The Ozark Seedling. Most of the seedlings reared from the seeds gathered in the Ozark Mountains, after some years proved to he
unpromising varieties. The grapes are a little larger than those of the varieties above named.
It is to be hoped that the cultivation of the grape, certainly the most valuable of all fruits, will be extended more and more throughout the west and southwest of the United States; and it is beyond all doubt, that those who engage in this business will be amply rewarded.
GROWING OF TIMBER.
THERE is not so much wood in this State as there is in the Eastern States, and in some districts a scarcity of fuel, of fencing and building material, may be noticed. The prairies do not exhibit impenetrable forests, but are only interspersed with groves of limited extension. Upon first viewing the vast prairie-lands, it would seem that there must be something in the soil of the prairies which is hostile to the growth of trees, and yet a careful comparison would detect no difference in the qualities of the soil where timber grows, and where it grows not. The small groves at the head of streams, and along the river banks, were sufficient for the wants of the first settlers, but these were far from sufficient for fencing the vast prairies; and it was plain, that whatever should be used as a fencing material, must be grown upon the soil. The prairie is well supplied with all the elements necessary to the growth of the most gigantic trees.
The following varieties have been cultivated with success:
American White Pine,
Yellow, or Pitch Pine, Hemlock,
Yellow Poplar, (Tulip Tree.)
All these trees have done well upon the prairie soil, and most of them grow with a vigor astounding to those who have only seen them upon the barren lands of their native localities. The prairie farmer, if he be a lover of beautiful trees, need not long be without them. He can surround his farm with a belt of evergreens, at a trifling expense; this will add greatly to its beauty and value. The nurseries
in the West as well as in the East, can supply him with almost every variety of trees for his lawn, or his timber plantation.
While some counties of this State possess but few attractions for settlers, being destitute of timber, other districts, Marshall County, for example, afford a sufficiency of timber to meet the wants of new settled farmers, whom they therefore attract.
As a building material, the Locust deserves to be recommended for its durability; used for posts it will last from fifty to a hundred years. The cultivation of timber on the prairies as a shelter, is highly important.
As very rapid growers, and of an immediate effect, the following varieties are recommended; they have been successfully cultivated :the Soft Maple, the Golden Willow, the Butternut, and the Black Walnut.
Such as wish to have the very best kinds, should take Evergreens, of which the Norway Spruce, the Hemlock, and American Arbor, are the most desirable for screens.
The cultivation of the Locust, of which we spoke before, is performed as follows:-The seeds, if new, may be made to vegetate readily, by being placed in a vessel in which some hot water has been poured; the water is then turned off, and the seeds are mixed with a little sand, and placed in a box, in which condition they are to be exposed to the rains and frosts of the winter and spring. About the middle of April, sift the sand, and plant the seeds in a well-prepared soil, about one inch deep, in rows three or four feet apart, so as to admit the passage of the cultivator between them. By fall, if the trees are properly cultivated, they will be from three to five feet high. The following spring, prepare by ploughing and harrowing the ground well; lay off the ground with a plough in rows, six or eight feet apart. Dig the brier carefully, cut off at one-third or one-half their height from their tops, and lay them into the furrows, putting the roots of one close to the top of another, covering the roots eight inches deep, letting the tops gradually rise to within one inch of the surface. The first and second years the ground should be ploughed and kept clean from weeds, after which the ploughing may be discontinued.
The Willow Tree. Some people think, and they may perhaps not be wrong, that these trees are as profitable as plums, peaches, &c 30*