A quick trip out to our back garden and I was rewarded with a basket of fresh sweet grapes. We garden in a grape growing and wine making area so it seems only right to a have a few vines of our own. Names long lost, we have several different varieties of both red and green eating grapes. All are delicious and beautiful to see growing. The vines, broad leaves, tendrils and hanging bunches of fruit are all picture perfect.
Grapes are very hardy plants and are in for the long haul. If you choose varieties suitable to your climate and treat them properly they will probably outlive you. Of course there are some areas where winters are too cold for grapes to survive, but for many of us they are a reality.
You only need a few vines to supply you with enough eating grapes each season and the vines can be integrated into your landscaping. They might climb on a fence or trellis or over an arbor. Plant grape vines in full sun, a gently slope facing south or southwest is ideal. Plant your grapes so they receive good air circulation which is important to ward off disease. Vines should also be protected again strong, cold winds.
Nurseries tend to carry those varieties that are easiest to grow. ‘Concord’ grapes are blue and mature late in the season on vigorous vines. ‘Niagara’ is a bit earlier and ‘Golden Muscat’ is a late white grape. These are all seeded grapes and are good for cooking and preserves. The seedless grapes are more popular for easy eating. ‘White ‘Himrod’ are probably the easiest to grow and ‘Reliance’ a pinkish grape is very hardy as well. When you plant grapes, purchase top grade one or two year old stock.
When to plant grapes in your garden? Planting should be done in early spring while the plants are fully dormant. Within a few years your vines will require strong support so plan for this now. Prepare your soil by adding organic material before planting. Grapes do not require fertilizing however top dressing them each spring with manure is a good idea.
Your new plants will require consistent watering while they get established. Grapes do not like overhead watering due to fungus production such as powdery mildew so best to water them a the root zone.
For the first two years it is best to snip of the flowering clusters to let the vines concentrate on a solid root system By the third year you should be able to leave the flowers on for fruit production. Grape planting does require a bit of patience.
For the best and sweetest taste grapes must be ripened on the vine. Use a knife to cut the grapes off the vine instead of pulling them off. They won’t store for very long so eat and share.
(some photos from pixabay) (some links go to my affiliate Amazon account)
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Do you like Grapes and Chocolate? Try this recipe Chocolate Dipped Grapes for a decadent treat.