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Having now the grass-seed ready, sow as evenly as possible, and rake in with short-toothed iron rakes, or, if the lawn is of great extent, with the harrow; and roll carefully with a heavy roller if the land is light, avoiding the treading of heavy animals if it is possible. Too much care cannot be taken to get a firm and even surface, as very much of its beauty, for the first season at least, will depend upon this operation.
The grain that is sown along with this grass-seed will be thin, of course, and will not interfere with the young grass. It is designed merely to protect it from the scorching rays of the sun during any dry weather that may occur the first season. In three or four weeks, or when the grain or millet is about a foot high, it should be cut with a scythe, but not very closely. Three inches from the ground is better than less. It will then start again, and grow rapidly; and in three or four weeks it should be cut the second time, and again in August or September. This mode of treatment will secure a uniformly green and luxuriant plat even the first year, while the sward is gradually forming; during which time, it is not desirable to cut too close to the ground.
After a close and well-matted sward is once formed, the lawn is to be managed by top-dressing, rolling, and frequent cutting. Rolling is important, and tends to render the grasses finer and softer; while frequent cutting is essential to promote the same end. In selecting a top-dressing, great care should be observed that no rapidly forcing or stimulating manures are used, — nothing which will have the effect to create a rank growth, which will inevitably incline to coarseness. The oldest and most finely-rotted manure, composted with some loam and plaster, may be spread evenly, and raked in with fine-toothed iron rakes, working the rakes back and forth so as to get the fine manure down among the grass-roots. When this is done, remove all the coarse parts of the manure, if any, from the surface immediately. No manure should ever remain to be seen on a lawn. It will make coarse and uneven patches, which are especially to be avoided. This finely-rotted manure, worked in as indicated, will, the second or third year, make the lawn as soft as velvet; while a close shaving with a lawn-mower once a fortnight or oftener, according to the growth of the grass, through the season, will give it the appearance of being well kept. No expense
laid out in buildings or statuary about a country-house can add so much to give it an air of taste and refinement as a well-kept lawn.
We propose to speak of the grasses recommended in the above list at greater length hereafter. Charles L. Flint.
FIELD-CULTURE OF THE GRAPE IN MASSACHUSETTS.
But a few years since, our horticulturists would have pronounced the cultivation of the grape in the vineyard to be impossible; and we must confess, that, with the grapes known to us at that time, the great body of cultivators would have concurred in that opinion; but to-day, with one hundred acres of vines growing in Massachusetts, many of them yielding an annual income of one thousand dollars or more per acre, the question may be considered settled, — the vineyard is possible in our rude North.
I propose to show, so far as I may in this brief paper, a few of the conditions precedent to the successful cultivation of the grape in New England; some of which, though unnecessary in regions peculiarly suited to the culture of the grape, and therefore neglected in the popular treatises on that subject, are yet so needful to a complete success, that we feel obliged to present them frankly to the consideration of those who propose to plant vineyards.
The best climate for the grape is undoubtedly much warmer than ours. A long season, a fervid sunshine, and especially a dry and warm autumn, prolonged into October, secure the ripening of the grape so completely, that it reaches its best condition. In such climates, trenching the soil deeply is a preventive of the effects of summer droughts; and, as the heat of the long summer warms the earth to a great depth, the deepest roots get the necessary heat, and thrive and multiply. In such a climate, trenching is therefore serviceable; but at the North, if I can trust my own experience, it is not only unnecessary, but pernicious.
Here at the North, with the exception of very sheltered situations, well exposed to the sun, and having also a favorable soil for the absorption of heat, the soil does not become properly heated for the wants of the grape to a greater depth than one foot from the surface.
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Trenching (and the concomitant manuring) invites the roots into the lower soil; abundant moisture and manure force the vine into a rampant growth; the wood ripens badly, and the buds are imperfectly developed. The fruit, though large and showy, will not be of so good quality as it would be under more favorable circumstances; and unripened wood with immature buds, ripening the fruit later and later annually, constantly disappoints the hopes of the cultivator.
It is in this way, perhaps, that such different opinions obtain among cultivators in regard to quality of any given variety of grape; the various circumstances of soil, aspect, culture, being sufficient to justify the most diverse opinions.
Now, the grape loves heat: it is a child of the sun, and should have both light and heat in as large measure as the circumstances of the case permit. Heat at the root is as necessary as it is in the surrounding air,— I had almost said more so, — and to obtain this heat at the root is one of the first needs of grape-growing. To this end, the soil should be light and warm, and the vines should be planted in rows running north and south, so that the sun will shine upon the ground in its whole length for the greater part of the day.
Sheltered situations increase the heat, and prevent its being dissipated by the prevailing winds. Screens of Norway spruce, or other evergreens, are a good alternative where neither hills, buildings, or adjacent woods, furnish the needful shelter; but by all means secure heat if it be possible.
If the soil is not by nature warm and friable, it can, in most cases, be drained, lightened, and warmed by methods so well known to cultivators, that they need not be repeated here; and, if the most vigorous and hardy grapes be planted, the planter will not be disappointed in his crop.
Indeed, one of the most prolific vineyards that I know of in the State had a heavy and wet soil before it was redeemed by deep, thorough drainage with drain-tiles, and such skilful culture as lightened and warmed the soil. The warmest soils, however, should be preferred.
When our people plant grapes, they usually prepare the ground by heavy dressings of manure. So constant is this practice, that I stop here to consider it briefly, and to give my reasons for arriving at a different conclusion. It is proper to state in advance, that slow-growing grapes require forcing. Rich soil and all resources of the gardener, may be, and often must be, applied to such grapes. We leave them out of the argument, because they can never be made profitable in the vineyard; and proceed to those vigorous and hardy grapes which are sure to succeed, the number of which, I may add, will undoubtedly be increased by others equally hardy, and suited to field-culture
I have already hinted at the fact that excessive growth is necessarily immature, and the unripe wood unfit to carry a crop of grapes to perfection, • and that this is one of the results of high-feeding. Let me add to this the fact, well understood in wine countries, that it impairs the quality of the fruit for either wine or table; a fact which has been verified in my own experience.
I have a piece of land at the top of a steep slope, which was planted with the Concord grape in 1857. At the time of planting, the soil was manured with peat compost at the rate of forty loads (equal to ten cords) to the acre, to promote the formation of roots in the young vines.
This ground has had no feeding since, — not even ashes. The fruit from this vineyard is so superior to that grown on vines of the same kind, in rich soil, about the house (planted in 1852), that it has been taken by experts even for another and better grape. They are not so large in bunch or berry; but the quality of the fruit is so much better as to be full compensation for the less crop.
The "Chateau Margaux " — a vineyard which has made famous the whole district ndw called by that name — is a case in point. According to Haraszthy, the chemical composition of the soil of this celebrated vineyard is as follows : —
Oxide of iron 3 341
Soluble silicates 0-380
Phosphoric acid 0-I47
Carbonate of lime 0.891
Organic matter 6.670
Insoluble residue 85.427
This analysis shows the large proportion of more than three and one
quarter per cent of oxide of iron, about one and one-half per cent of clay, one and one-quarter per cent of potash, with phosphoric acid and carbonate of lime in small quantities, and only six and one-half per cent of organic matter; the rest, 85.427 per cent, being insoluble remainder. Not a very rich soil, one would say; yet this vineyard produces the finest grapes of the district. Add to this the well-known fact, that when it becomes absolutely necessary to manure a vineyard, as happens in some isolated cases, the succeeding crop of wine is either sold to the distillers to be made into brandy, or without its proper name, lest it impair the reputation of the vineyard; and we must, I think, conclude that it is bad husbandry to use manure in the vineyard.
Mineral manures, phosphates and potashes, are indispensable to the health and to the successful culture of the grape. Of these there is not space to speak at this time. In another communication I shall have something to say of them, and of some other essential preliminaries to successful grape-growing. E. W. Bull.
How many of our readers know what a Sphacria morbosa is? Most horticulturists, however, know it only too well under its more common name of Black Wart, when their plum-trees have been covered with it. Familiar as the sight of its ugly excrescences may be, we imagine that many who have suffered from its invasions may be uninformed as to its place in the vegetable system.
The Sphacria morbosa is a fungus, belonging to a very extensive group, which infests the bark of trees and shrubs. The different species are found in myriads throughout the whole vegetable kingdom; sometimes preying upon living tissues, more frequently parasitic upon decaying matter. They vary in their mode of attack, or rather they occur in different parts of the plants which support them. Some are superficial upon the bark; some are immersed in the sub-cuticular layer, bursting through the cuticle, erumpent as they are termed ; others take possession of the inner