It may take quite some time to get enough grapes to harvest for a large batch of jam or wine, but it sure is fun to have even just a couple of grape vines in the garden. I have a single one I planted many years ago and it provides just enough grapes that I can have a little snack whenever I’m out in the garden…just enough to put a smile on my face and make me feel happy to taste something so delicious. Here are some helpful tips on growing grapes. I hope you find them useful!
Where to Purchase Grapevines
First thing is first: you have to have grapevines to be able to harvest any grapes, so you’ll need to get some from a reputable source. Go with a nursery you are familiar with, order them in the mail from a company you’ve researched, or buy some at the local farmer’s marked from a familiar face. Using a well-known and reliable source for grapevines will enable you to purchase plants that are strong and healthy.
Types of Grapevines to Choose from
Determining what type of vine you choose will depend on what you are growing grapes for. American (V.labrusca) grapes are very cold-hardy. European (V. viniferia) grapes do well in warm, dry climates and are best suited for making wine. North American native Muscadine (V. rotundifolia) grapes thrive in the south where weather tends to be hot and humid. Some varieties require more than one plant is needed for pollination, so be sure to keep this in mind when buying grapevines.
Planting your new Grapevines
Early spring is the best time for planting new grapevines. Be sure to have a trellis for the vines to climb up. Allowing them to grow out across the ground will cause them to become more susceptible to disease. Choose an area with full sun, or at least lots of morning sun. You’ll have to soak your grapevines in water for 2 to 3 hours before planting. You can do this while you’re getting the area ready for your new grapevines.
Each vine should be spaced 6 to 10 feet apart from the next and the hole should be 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide. It’s best to trim off any broken roots before gently setting the plant into the freshly dug hole. Be sure to gently replace the dirt around the roots. You don’t want to tamp it down too hard, so just use your hands to gingerly pack the dirt down around the roots.
Interested in learning even more about grapes? The Grape Grower: A Guide to Organic Viticulture offers thorough and accessible information on all the basics.
Caring for your Vines
Water at the time of planting and mulch to retain as much moisture as possible. You can fertilize the new plants after the first year. During the first year, your grapevines will need to establish a strong root system. You’ll be able to help them out by cutting back all buds except for 2 or 3 and allowing only a couple of canes to remain. Cut the rest of the canes off and securely fasten the remaining canes to the trellis. Once you start to have grapes on the vines, you can protect them from the birds by putting up a mesh net over the top of the plants.
I hope you find these tips for growing grapes helpful. There are so many things you can do with a variety of grapes; jams, jellies, juice, wine, or just eat them right off the vine!
What delicious recipes are you going to use your grapes for?