Happy Thanksgiving! from my home to yours.
Continued from yesterday: From the Cyclopedia Of American Horticulture ©1906
Planting.—There are several methods of planting vines. One way is to sort the vines and then cut them up, roots and all, in pieces about eight inches in length, laying them down three or four in a place, pushing the lower end into the ground by means of a stick shaped like a paddle; or it is sometimes done by a piece of iron fastenened to the bottom of a shoe. This method leaves the plants in an upright position, and they do not grow so rapidly as when pushed into the ground obliquely or laid on top of the ground, as their first growth is to make runners. Sometimes the vines are cut in a hay cutter, sown by hand like wheat, and then rolled. A good method of planting in the west is to take vines without cutting and drop two or three in a place and step on them; if put a foot apart, they will soon cover the ground, anil will bear a good crop in three years. The greatest care must be taken, while sorting vines, that they do not dry out, for if they do they are worthless.
In subsequent culture is when water comes into use. The ditches should be about ten rods apart, each ditch having a dam built below it of the material thrown from the ditch ; the drain ditches running down through the marsh need not be quite so close together. To promote the growth of vines, it is only desired to hold the ditches about half full, so that the ground may be moist, but if water is kept up onto vines at this time thev will bedrowned and do nothing. When frosty nights come, after vines have begun to grow, water should be drawn from the reservoir to cover them, and let off the next morning. If the ends of the new shoots get frozen, it is a decided set-back, and especially so when the vines have reached the bearing age, as then it cuts off the crop and hurts the prospect for the coming year by taking the terminal bud. The vines do throw out side shoots, however, and sometimes the second season's crop does not seem to be much affected by it. When the plants are in blossom (which is all through July) the ground must not get too dry, or the blossoms will blast. This trouble was experienced in many places during the summers of '86 and '87, when it was so dry that nothing but a stream fed by springs could begin to furnish a supply of water. Through the most of the summer, it is best to keep the water from 4 to 8 inches below the surface, but before the spring frosts are over it is better to keep it nearly to the surface, and if it is a season of drought, draw water down over the marsh about once a week. After the fruit has set, if obliged to flood as a protection against frost, be sure to draw the water off quickly the next morning, or the berries will be scalded.
The marsh should not be flooded for winter till quite late, some time in November, generally, as the fall frosts do not injure the vines, but help them harden, so that they will endure the winter's snow and ice without injury. Sometimes during the late winter, a rain or thaw will let surplus water on the marsh and this may lift the ice, and that will take the vines with it, right out of the ground. This should be guarded against by opening waste-gates and drawing off the extra water. The flood should be left on the marsh in the spring until the spring frosts are over ; in Wisconsin the time for drawing off the water is generally about the 20th of May, and it must be closely watched afterwards, as the vines are then very tender and will not bear as hard a frost as they will after they have been uncovered a few weeks.
Berries are gathered in two different ways : one is to pick them by hand, the other to rake them. The handpicking is mostly done by women and children or Indians. Every thirty pickers should have an overseer, whose duty it is to see that the vines are picked clean and that no refuse is allowed to go into the box; also to give a check for every bushel box filled, and to carry the full boxes to the wagon, car or boat. The pickers in the west use shallow peck boxes to pick in, and when these are filled they empty them into the bushel box. The pickers are placed in a row, thirty of them occupying from 80 to 90 feet, and a rope should be stretched each side of them to keep them going straight ahead, or else they are very apt to turn to the right or left for better picking.
The cheapest way of gathering berries is to rake them \vithwhat is called a " scoop rake "(Fig. 573). It needs stout men to use these to advantage, at least those who are not troubled with backache, as they must keep a stooping position almost constantly. Rakes should not be used in young vines where there are a Ljrrut many runners, as they would pull them up by the roots too much, but as the vines get older and the fruit shoots stand up out of the way of the runners, raking does not seem to injure them. The rakers should have ropes stretched between them, each man being given a space from one to three rods wide, and every ten should have an overseer, who will also rake most of the time. Rakers are hired by the day, but hand pickers pick by the box. The rake is much used in the west.
If the berries can be taken to the warehouse in a boat along the ditches, it is the best way, as they bruise easily and should be carefully handled ; but if that is not practicable, then thev must be taken in wagons which are driven as close to the picking ground as pos, sible ; or a portable track may be laid onto the marshand a car used. The bushel boxes which are used have the sides and bottom made of lath, with small spaces between; and these boxes are used to cure the berries in, being piled up in tiers, so that the air can circulate between them. The berry-house should be built with dead air spaces in the walls, and windows should be darkened and building kept closed during the day. See Storage.
Cranberries are generally shipped in barrels, but some use bushel crates, though in whatever they are packed, the greatest care should be taken to put them up in good shape. If picked before they begin to ripen, and then packed so that when they reach their destination they are settled from one to three inches in the barrel, dealers will not want them, and this kind of management has much to do with low prices. Before putting into barrels, the berries are put through a Cranberry mill, and then, if there are still a few bad berries, they are put on tables made for the purpose, and tbe rest of the bad ones picked out by hand.
The profits of the business depend so much upon the amount of expense which has been necessary to improve the marsh that it is impossible to give any exact figures. The smaller the marsh, the quicker it can be improved and made to begin to pay a profit. Anyone who undertakes to improve a large marsh ought not to expect much from it short of ten or fifteen years, though, if carefully managed, it may be made to pay cost of improving after three or four years.
There is a small sand marsh in Wisconsin, made after an attempt to farm the land had utterly failed because the soil was so poor, which has yielded a better income for several years than the best farm in the county. It is a profitable business when honest work and careful management are united in it, but not otherwise.