Grapes In The Garden – Growing grapes is becoming a common plant to grow with the home gardener for several reasons. Their juice and fresh fruit can be used for jelly, jam, and even wine, along with being picked and eaten fresh from the vine. In addition, grape vines can add ornamental value to your home landscape when trained to grow on an arbor, or trellis for shade or screen planting. But, grape growing is not that easy; it takes a lot of patience, knowledge, and effort in the part of the grower in order to grow healthy and juicy grapes.
A healthy, well managed grapevine can produce up to 20 pounds or more of fresh fruit per vine in a growing season, and once established can be productive for 40 years or more. Choosing the right cultivars, maintaining a healthy soil fertility, proper annual pruning and having a pest management plan in place is very important in growing a successful crop of grapes.
Early spring is the best time to plant grapes, fall is not recommended in cold climate areas because the plants are likely to be harmed due to heaving in the winter months. During the first season to start planting your new crop of grapes, the soil needs to be prepared, cultivars need to be selected, vines need to be planted, mulched, fertilized, along with being managed for disease, insect, and weed control. Pruning off broken and dead portions of branches and the root systems are also very important. It is a good practice to prune off the top growth to a single cane during the first season. Keeping first season plantings staked to keep them off the ground will help to prevent damage, and allow for easier pest control management. If the first season is dry, very important that supplement watering is provided to keep the plants growing, getting as much first year growth as possible is very important.
Normally three years is required to establish a healthy grape planting. Grapevines being planted for training on a trellis are typically planted 8 feet apart, and 4 feet apart when planted to be trained on an arbor. Before second year growth begins, a support system of some type, either trellis or arbor, needs to be provided. Caring for grapevines the second season is similar to that of the first season.
The training of grapevines to a particular system is done by tying and pruning the canes to the support system. In some methods of training, the vines are tied to wires above the vines trunk and arms. This type of training works especially when grapevines are being grown as a fence, or screen planting. Another method of training is to tie the canes to the support wire and allow the fruit bearing shoots to hang down.