B Eastwood.

A complete manual for the cultivation of the cranberry. With a description of the best varieties online

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cultivators regard the experiment as hazardous, and in
most cases fatal to the development of the cranberry.
"We give the opinion of one of the oldest cultivators
on Cape Cod, which is, " that if you plant on the
upland it is difficult to raise your vines to bearing per-
fection, and it will entail much labor and expense upon
him who undertakes it. Guard against the upland
mania." Upland planting is regarded as " risky busi-
ness ;" it is therefore avoided on Cape Cod, where the
management of the vine is better understood than in
any other part of America.

Places in which stagnant water has collected have
been selected by some persons, and converted into
cranberry patches. It is positively wrong to do this,
because the water lodging in the soil having no drain
by which it may be drawn off, renders it sodden, cold,


and stiff, and it consequently causes the roots of the
vine to rot, and ultimately the plants die from such a
surfeit. Such locations cannot with safety be chosen
except they undergo a thorough preparation draining,
levelling, and carting on soil, which is friendly to the
growth of cranberries.

If these stagnant pools are selected, great precau-
tions will be demanded in order to make them suita-
ble for the reception of the vine.

Let us name those locations, and point out those
situations which are most conducive to the full devel-
opment of the berry. *

In selecting a place for a patch, it is well to consider
its aspect. Though we have seen the vine doing well ;
and to all appearances very thrifty, when the yard has
faced the north, yet experience is in favor of a souther-
ly direction. If possible, in forming your patch, let it
be sheltered from the cold raw winds ; give it the ad-
vantage of the warm breezes ; by doing this you will
be more likely to succeed than if you neglected it.

A swamp may be chosen. If you find the vine
growing round the edges of a bog, you may safely
conclude that the plant can there be advantageously
cultivated. In the preparation of these locations, there
is often much labor and some expense. But this de-
pends upon its surface, what you have to do in remov-
ing the turf and " filling in." It is customary with


some growers to redeem a certain proportion of their
swamps yearly ; by thus proceeding, they ultimately
overcome the natural obstacles before them, and ac-
complish what they intended to realize. The sight of
each year's progress encourages them to persevering
effort. Then it must be so that you can drain off the
water at your own pleasure. If you make a cranberry
patch in a swamp, and it is liable to have water stand-
ing in pools over the vines in the summer season, this
will operate as a hindrance to the ripening of the
berry. This precaution must be observed in making
choice of such a situation, that you can expel or draw
off the water, when it is necessary.

Meadow land, which is low and moist, affords an
excellent location for the cranberry. In fact, these
damp situations are very suitable, providing the damp-
ness or moisture is not too cold and icy. If the mois-
ture beneath the surface in which the vine is planted
is of too cold a temperature, it will prove fatal to the
young vines. Care must be had, in selecting for a
yard, to ascertain if the water is too cold; if it is not, it
may be converted into a useful and profitable cran-
berry patch. There must be water in the land in which
they are planted. As a general rule, it is best to have
it within twelve inches of the surface. The object
of this is to give moisture The grower must have it,
or his plants will fail.


A gradual slope is often to be met with, coming
down to the edge of a pond. When such inclines are
properly prepared and planted, they make the best of
yards; and such locations generally have a soil in
which the vine will do excellently ; and there is not
so much trouble with them, as the gravel chokes the

Sheltered and protected positions should be sought
after ; situations in which the plants are not likely to
receive and meet with the force of the fiercest and
stormiest weather.

Sandy patches of land, or plats, that are near to
the sea-shore, which are not liable to be overflowed
with the salt water, on Cape Cod, stand high. We
have examined many yards that are situated within a
few rods of the ocean, only protected from the hardest
weather by a small rising in the land, which forms a
bank to resist the waves ; and these yards are among
the handsomest in the county of Barnstable; and
every year these situations are becoming of more value
and consequence to the cultivators of the cranberry.

There are on Long Island, and in New Jersey, vast
tracts of beach land which are available, and admirably
adapted to the growth of cranberries. Likewise, in
the South and West, there are thousands of acres
which are better adapted for the production of this
fruit than anything else.


It is worth, the agriculturist's while to pay some
attention to this subject. Every year tlie cranberry is
in greater demand, higher prices are being realized.
It is becoming a staple article in the great markets of
the country. Then, why do you, whom nature has
favored with all you need, but planting your yard,
neglect to make an effort to share the profits arising
from the cultivation and sale of this article ?

pSToTE. In planting vines, dead levels by the side
of the ponds should be guarded against. The yard
should conform to the land behind it, sloping from the
hill to the edge of the pond. The reason for this is,
that if it is not done, water from the hills will cause
the land to be springy and spongy, and that it will
make stagnant water, which, generates a green, slimy
moss, which is an enemy to the cranberry vine.]



IT is of importance that the nature of those soils in
which the cranberry will most easily grow, should be
considered, and known to those who intend turning
their attention to its culture. Many failures have re-
sulted, not so much from the unsuitableness of the
location chosen, as from the badness of the soil. It is
generally the case, that the best and richest soils are
selected, as those in which experiments ought to be
tried. Failures sometimes occur, not because the
climate or the season are unsuitable, but because the
soil is too rich. If the vine is planted in good alluvial
soil, it will do well, apparently, but it will not bear
fruit. Such soil will cause the plant to abound with
healthy foliage, and a vast quantity of runners, but no
fruit. Manuring is wholly out of the question. If it
is attempted, it will "kill the plants, or in some cases
make them grow rank, and they will be worse than
they are found to be in their native swamp.

Clay and marl are totally unfit for cranberry col-



tivation. Either of this class are liable to cake and
become hard ; and whatever soil cakes and sogs around
the root of the plant, is to be avoided.

If intending cultivators would exercise some caution
in the choice of soil, it would prevent both trouble and
expense. Failure is often caused by inattention at this
stage of the undertaking.

Rocky loam is not very favorable to the development
of the cranberry. The objection which lies against it
is, that wiry grass and rushes abound therein. These
grasses and rushes are to be guarded against in a cran-
berry yard, or they will choke the vine. Loam of the
kind above-named may be made to do, but it will re-
quire excessive cultivation, in order to effect anything
of importance.

Heavy soils, taken as a class, are not of much service ;
the grower will do well to avoid them to as great^ an
extent as possible. And, indeed, it is questionable
whether the vine can be cultivated at all to any pur-
pose on soils of the above description. The vine may
grow on such lands and seem to nourish, but they will
not bear ; they are unfruitful, and if so, therefore un-

The following soils are those which are preferred by
the Cape Cod cranberry cultivators. There is one fact
which ought to be stated here, as introductcsry to the
subsequent suggestions and statements^ and it will not


be amiss for the inexperienced cultivator to remember
it. If he bears it in mind, he will avoid many diffi-
culties which have discouraged others. It is this:
Dead sand, water and air, are the elements upon which
the cranberry feeds the best, and attains its highest de-
gree of perfection; therefore, that soil and location
which has these advantages is best adapted for the
growth of the berry.

Beach sand stands the first. All other kinds must
be rejected if this can be got. Experience teaches us
this. Those yards which are wholly bottomed by beach
sane? nourish and yield abundantly, far better than those
that have a different soil. During the past fifteen years
every variety of soil and situation have been experi-
mented with, and the results are entirely in favor of
the beach sand. On Cape Cod, the greatest cranberry
field in America, situations are sought for where the
cultivator can be near to the shore, that he may be
able to put on this sand, if it is not on his chosen

We will, in this connection, call attention to a small
yard with which we are acquainted, which is situated
near to the sea-shore. It was originally a pond;
water stood in the basin, but it was not deep. On the
banks and edges of this pond was sand in abundance,
which the owner spaded down to the water, and con-
tinued to fill in. He planted; some said it would


not do much, but now it is one of the handsomest
yards in the county. Everything seems to be favor-
able soil, situation, and water and the result is, heavy
yields of the berry. In this, as many as three bushels
have been picked off a square rod. And so well is it
now known that situations where beach sand abounds
are the best, that the most practical men are buying up
such locations with the view of converting them into
cranberry yards.

We are acquainted with one cultivator, whose yards
produce from two to three hundred bushels of cran-
berries annually, who has the greatest proportion of
his vines planted in the beach sand, and some few in
loam. The difference between the two is marked. Those
in sand are fruitful, those in loam are but small pro-
ducers. He therefore carts off the loam, or carts upon
it beach sand.

"We could produce a vast body of evidence to demon
strate that beach sand is better adapted to develop the
cranberry than any other soil ; but the cases adduced
are sufficient.

There is another reason, though, which should not
be lost sight of, why this sand is so much better than
any other soil. It is light, porous, and is almost inca-
pable of supporting weeds. It admits the atmosphere
freely to the roots of the vine, and is found to be the
only soil in which the rank weeds can be effectually


kept down. It will thus be clear to the reader, that
in such a situation, the plant can throw out its runners
in every direction, and having no weed to contend
against, will therefore spread rapidly, and soon become
matted, a condition of the yard towards which the prac-
tical man looks with anxiety. If you are about to make
the attempt to cultivate the cranberry, if possible, ob-
tain beach sand in which to set out your vines; or
coarse sand when the former cannot be obtainedj but
the white is preferred.

Peat is found to be excellent, in fact, next in value
and importance to the beach sand, for the growth of
cranberries. But peat wants management and care in
its preparation, in order to be made useful to the vine.
In selecting a peat swamp to be converted into a cran-
berry patch, it is necessary to take off the top turf, or
grass, and if possible give the yard a little incline.
When this is done, it is unsafe to plant at once. If
you do so, you will find that the peat will in the fol-
lowing summer cake and crack. It will be hard on the
surface, and some few inches below stiff and dry.
The veriest tyro in cranberry cultivation knows that
such a condition is very bad for the vine.

How is this difficulty obviated? Prepare the surface
as we have stated above, and leave the yard exposed
to the frost and weather for one year. When the frost
is thawed out of it, it will crumble and be powdery.


It will never cake afterward. It will be light and
porous. You may then with safety plant your vines,
and with moderate attention they will do well.

[N"OTE. "We have lately visited a famous cranberry
producer, who is filling up a pond with loam, composed
of sand, clay, and a small proportion of marl. The
pond is about four feet deep. When this is filled up
and levelled, he will plant it in the spring, believing
that the soil will meet the wants of the vine.]




IT is possible that an intending cranberry cultivator
may have the advantages of location and soils, plant
vines, and fail. If the bearing or fruitful vine is not
chosen, the result of the first attempt will be unprofit-
able. In determining upon making a trial, it is neces
sary that the inexperienced should have some know-
ledge of the plants which he is about to purchase, or he
should have implicit confidence in the person from
whom he buys them.

The cranberry vine is such a simple, insignificant-
looking plant, and the difference in the varieties is so
hard to be distinguished, that this fact accounts in
some measure for the utter failure of so many. There
are instances, which we could easily cite, where even
some of the most experienced have been misled and
deceived by the appearance of the vine : then, we can-
not wonder at the beginner suffering loss. "We are



aware that under the head of this chapter we are tread-
ing on delicate ground, and confess that we feel the
difficulty of making the distinctive peculiarities of the
vines so clear, that from this account a person may
distinguish and select for himself. (See Plate No. 6.)

In some cases the vine will be planted in the fall,
and at such times they are purchased most probably
immediately before setting out. Of course, the leaf
will be examined, and the color and strength of the
spears noticed. If the purchaser relies upon the green
appearance of the vine as an indication of its fruitful-
ness, he may be deceived, and regret that he allowed
himself to be misled by such a sign.

Another may determine upon planting in the spring
(which is certainly under some circumstances the most
favorable season), and in such a case they would select
and prepare their location in the course of the winter,
that in May or June they might be ready to plant or
set out. Plants for spring planting are most frequently
chosen in the winter. But generally, the buying of
plants at such times is a mere piece of guess-work, for
there is likely nothing in their appearance which may
certify the purchaser that they are good and fruitful.
Plants may be selected in the spring or fall ; one time
is as favorable as the other for this purpose.

In speaking of the Healthy Vine, we wish to be Tin-
dertood as referring to that which is the most fruitful


bears the most abundantly for there is a vine which
is barren and that we choose to describe as the
Unliealthy Plant.

THE HEALTHY VINE, as far as we have been able to
discover, presents an appearance of greenish brown on
the leaf, the spears and runners are fine and thin,
remarkable for their wiry nature and aspect. They
seem of stunted growth, but form beautiful and tufted
groups of spears in their process of matting.

The Unhealthy Vine appears altogether brighter and
stronger, and hence from this peculiarity some are apt
to be mistaken. We will on this point give the expe-
rience of an old and practical grower, as it is from him
we have derived our information. He prepared some
land adjoining a fresh- water pond, which in every way
was adapted to develop the cranberry vine. He came
in contact with a few rods of vines which seemed to
be good, and his impression was that if he could secure
them he would soon have an excellent yard. He
bought them and set them out; he watched them
closely, and was gratified in seeing them look so
thrifty. They spread and matted remarkably quick,
and he hoped for a great yield from such young vines.
But when blossoming-time came, he perceived that they
did not put out so much as his other vines, and that
there were but very few berries on them when picking-
time came. He tried these vines year after year, and


they only yielded here and there a fruit. He might
have sold those vines repeatedly, but he refused to do
so, and ultimately pulled them up and threw them
into the pond. We asked him what the difference be-
tween those barren vines and the fruitful ones was.
This is his statement relative to this point :

"The barren vines looked greener, had more bushy
leaves, and stronger or thicker spears than those which
produced the most fruit. I felt confident from their
appearance that they were the best vines I ever saw;
but I lived to find out that those signs which I took
to indicate the productiveness of the plant, were only
symptoms of disease, which disease means barrenness"*

This is the only case we have met with in which
there was such a total failure in the productiveness of
a good-looking vine.

From what has been here stated, we fear that the diffi-
culty of distinguishing between the barren and fruit-
ful vine has not been much obviated ; but we will now
state a method of selecting your vines, which cannot
fail of assuring you of their real qualities.

We assume that you contemplate making a Cran-
berry Patch, that you have not on your own farm any
vines, consequently you will have to go abroad for

1. Ascertain who has the vine to dispose of. If you

* Mr. Thomas Shiverick.


are in a position to find several, all the better. Assur
ing yourself that vines are for sale by the individuals
whom you have found, before you buy take this pre-

2. When the fruit is nearly ripe, go to those yards
or patches in which the vine is for sale. See how they
bear. If they bear well, or give a yield which is equal
to the average of the vines of that year, you may buy.
You will be certain that those plants are not diseased.
You may then let them remain in the patch until you
are ready to transplant, with this satisfaction, that you
have obtained a good article.

3. Or, if you have confidence in the person with
whom you deal, you can purchase as well in the winter
as at any other period of the year; for the grower
knows well which vines are good, and which bad, in
what part of his yard grows the fine Cape Cod Bell
Cranberry, and every other variety.

These suggestions may be safely followed by the
inexperienced in reference to cranberry culture, and
lead to the most favorable results, as they will prevent
deception, a consideration of some importance in an
undertaking of this description.

[NOTE. The healthy vine, by some cultivators, is
stated to be of medium thickness, or strength of spear,
and bushy leaves. All the barren vines which we
have exarrfined are stouter than the yielding ones.]




IN the foregoing chapters of this manual, locations and
soils best adapted to develop the cranberry vine have
been pointed out ; it may not be unadvisable now to
describe the different methods of making a patch.

1. On some farms, locations and soils are all that can
be desired for the above purpose ; in such a case there
will be little demanded beyond labor. Should the
situation be that of a shallow pond, with a sandy bot-
tom, in which the water stands deep in the winter, and
in summer it almost dries up, the first step to be taken
is, either to construct a drain or ditch, by which
you may draw off the water from the pond. Should
the bottom or surface be uneven and irregular, you
must endeavor to make it more level. It is not an un-
common practice with some growers, to make their
patches flat, but this is rather passing into disrepute x ;
the incline plan of construction or formation being
preferred by most cultivators.



The sand which, is on the edges of the pond can be
carted or wheeled to the centre, so that you can bring
the holes to that height which is most desirable. When
this is done, you may rake over and give your patch
that degree of sloping which will carry off the cold
spring water. The object, in such a situation as this,
of making a drain, is to carry off the water in the
spring and summer ; but however favorable it may be
to have your vines "flowed" in the winter, that "flow-
ing" must in the summer be prevented ; the drain does
this effectually.

2. Swamps or logs have been spoken of as favorable
situations in which the cranberry vine can be culti-
vated. In such locations, there is generally more labor
and expense incurred in their preparation than in
many others. First, the brush and undergrowth must
be cleared off. Secondly, the top turf ought to be re-
moved, if possible. If there is not sand in or about
the margin of the swamp, if it is not too distant, of
course you will cart it in, and "fill up" and "fill in,"
making the covering about four inches thick.

You will have to guard against, in this situation, the
" coarse wild grass," which is the enemy of the vine.
This is done by spading off the surface, and " filling
in" with the sand. Should this situation be liable to
be overflowed with water in the summer, the drain
must be resorted to in order to save the vines, and


them a fair chance of blossoming and developing
Che berry.

3. The banks of fresh-water ponds, when properly-
managed and prepared, are good. Should such a
situation be too stony, the stones and rocks may be re-
moved, and the surface made as fine as possible.
Should the water of the pond be apt to rise too high,
at an unseasonable part of the year, and flood the
vines, this ought to be guarded against by forming an
embankment, which would preserve the yard from
being deluged.

4. There are situations which can be made available
for a cranberry patch by a little labor. It will be ob-
served, that there are locations which are favorable,
both as to aspect and soil. But they are uneven or
undulating. It is not unfrequently the case that a
part of that land may be so low as to retain at all
seasons of the year a degree of moisture which exists
in sufficient quantities to meet the wants of the cran-
berry vine. On other parts of it the hills or slight
elevations may be too dry and arid. In this case,
those mounds must be removed and the land brought
to the level of that situation W T ' "b. is moist.

5. Should you possess land which is in every way
adapted to grow the cranberry, but is liable to be over-
flowed with salt water, and you are desirous of turning
that land to account by cultivating the vine, the first


step to be taken is, to devise some plan by which the
salt water can be driven back and effectually prevented
from again overflowing it. This is done by making a
dyke. The land thus redeemed must be prepared by
taking off the sward or covering it over with beach
sand. It is not safe to plant on land of this descrip-
tion immediately after it has been redeemed. It is
necessary to let the land lie exposed to the rains and
atmosphere a sufficient length of time, in order to get
" freshened." When the salt has been taken out of it,
by exposure to the weather, then it is safe to plant.

This chapter might be extended to a length which
our limits will not allow, by describing how patches
are made according to the location chosen. So we will
conclude, by saying no cranberry yard is completed
until it is fenced in such a manner as to keep out the




THE cranberry vine can be removed from the soil
in which it has been cultivated, or from its native

2 4 5 6

Online LibraryB EastwoodA complete manual for the cultivation of the cranberry. With a description of the best varieties → online text (page 2 of 6)