Getting started with grape vines

Kitchen Gardening
// March 10, 2017
grapevine

You’ve probably come across a neighbour’s garden with an excellent twisting grape plant and wondered if you could ever do that yourself. Well, the easy answer is that of course, you can! Grapes are relatively easy to grow in most climates and come in a variety of types that suit different regions. The grapes can be American, European or Muscatine variety. Even within these, you have many sub-species which can suit your needs.

grapes plantation

Now that you’re convinced about growing your grape vines, here are some tips that you should keep in mind as you get started.

Tips on Growing Grape Vines:

1. Choose already well-established grapevines from your plant nursery. Grapes can take anywhere between 1-3 years to mature, but if you’re looking to get some fruit immediately, then go for an established vine.

2. The soil is crucial:

For grape vines to flourish, you need well-drained soil that will never get water-logged. So, it’s a good idea to see if you can create an artificial slope wherever you’re trying to grow your plants.

soil used for vineyard

3. Grape vines need support

To be honest, this is the secret of growing thriving vines. If they have strong support like a mesh wall, chicken wire or DIY trellises, then the plant will not sag and develop to its full potential. That is exactly what every gardener wants. Read about vegetables that require trellis support.

grape vine trellis

4. Careful with the watering

Once the initial first-day heavy watering is done, don’t worry about watering the vines every day. Just as with avoiding soil that doesn’t drain well, you also want to steer clear of soaking your plants in moisture.

watering vineyard

5. Find the open area

Grape vines need to breathe to grow. So, plant them in a field with a lot of ventilation and enough sunlight. This ensures that your plant gets all the nutrition it needs. Also remember, grapes like to stick to one place for a long time, so choose a location that will be relatively permanent.

Grape field

6. Pruning the grapes

The final thing you need to know is that to prune your grapes in the winter. Keep trimming back those leaves so that there is enough room for the fruits to grow. Also, cut the old shoots to ensure that the plant keeps growing healthily. Pruning in the winter helps to avoid the grapevine from catching diseases. Understand pruning which is an important garden activity.

grape plant care

Let’s plunge in the details.

Planting Grapes:

  • In early spring plant dormant, bare-root grape vines
  • Construct a trellis before planting. Grape vines need to be trained to grow upward
  • Most of the grape varieties are self-fertile. Inquire before you buy the vines if you would need more than one plant to for pollination
  • Before planting, soak the roots of grapevine in water for two or three hours
  • Select a sunny location. The soil should be deep, well-drained, and loose. Grapes thrive well in the soil with good air circulation
  • Space the vines about 6 to 10 feet apart
  • Plant each vine in 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide hole. Fill it with 4 inches of topsoil. Trim off the broken roots and set the vine deep enough
  • Cover the roots with 6 inches of soil and tamp down. Fill with the remaining soil, but avoid tamping
  • Prune if necessary
  • Water at time of planting

grape flowers

Grape Plant Care:

  • In the first couple of years, do not allow the vine to produce fruit. Its roots need to be robust enough to bear the weight
  • Do not allow the vines to go rampant. Hence, prune preferably in March or April
  • Remove at least 90 percent of the previous season’s growth
  • In the first year, cut the buds except for 2 or 3. Then, select healthy canes and cut back the rest. Make sure the remaining canes are fastened
  • In the second year, prune back all the canes. Leave back a couple of buds on each arm. Remove flower clusters
  • Do not fertilise in the first year. Feed lightly in the second year of growth
  • Use mulch to maintain the moisture around the vines. Understand mulching.
  • Use a mesh to keep the birds away from budding fruit

mesh covering for grapes

Pests/Diseases of Grape Plant:

Protect your grape vines from Aphids, Japanese Beetles, Powdery Mildew and Black Rot. Read about different types of pests that can attack your garden.

grape plant diseases

Harvest/Storage:

  • To ripen the grapes completely pinch back some of the foliage to let in more sunlight
  • Grapes will not continue ripening once picked. So, test a few you pick
  • Pick grapes only when they are rich in colour, juicy, full-flavored, quickly crushed but not shrivelled, and plump.
  • You can store grapes up to six weeks in the cellar, but remember that these can absorb the odours of other fruits and vegetables, so store them separately in cardboard boxes or crates lined with clean, dry straw. Separate bunches with sawdust and prevent them from spoilage

Grape harvesting

Growing grapes is a very rewarding experience because you can then have food that comes straight from the garden and into your plant. Also, grapevines add lots of variety to a home garden, and not everyone has them.

Growing and maintaining your grape vines will be a matter of pride!

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