Wine and vineyards are what you think of when someone says grapes, why not try and grow your own with this step-by-step guide!
Grapes are some of the best plants to grow in your back garden. This is because they produce fruits that taste great and can be used to make refreshing juice with the potential for you to make your own wine.
Grape vines are also renowned for their aesthetic value and you’re sure to get a few compliments. They can be used to make outdoor spaces very attractive.
In this post, you will learn how to grow and harvest grapes. You will learn how to make sure your grape vines grow the right way and produce healthy and nutritious grapes for decades.
How to Plant Grapes
The best grape vines to plant are generally around a year old. It is crucial to buy them from a reputable nursery to ensure they are vigorous and virus-free.
Note that only the most common grape vines are self-fertile. Therefore, when at the nursery, please confirm if what you are buying is self-fertile. If it is not, you will need to buy another one for pollination duties.
The best time to plant grape vines is in early spring, and the best planting site is where they can get the most sun. Grape vines like loose, well-aerated, and well-drained soils. So make sure the planting soil you use is perfect for them.
To plant a grape vine, dig a 12×12 inch deep and wide hole. If you want to plant more than one vine, leave at least six feet of space between them.
Once you dig a hole, you need to soak the roots of the grapevines you bought for at least two hours. After doing this, you need to fill about one-quarter of the planting hole with planting soil and plant the vine.
Do not plant it deeper than it was in the nursery. After doing this, fill the planting hole with planting soil but don’t tightly pack the soil. After planting your grape vines, it is crucial to water their root systems.
How To Care For Grapes
Since grape vines are just vines, they require support to grow upward. A stable trellis is probably the best support for grape vines. It can have two or more posts depending on the stability you want to achieve.
There are many videos on YouTube explaining how to build a trellis. Check this example out and make one in your garden before planting.
When grapes are growing upward, supported by a trellis, you need to ensure you regularly check on them and secure them better if need be to ensure they continue growing upward.
In addition to securing grapes, you need to prune them regularly to ensure they yield good fruit. You should do this by removing weak or thin branches and by cutting the foliage on the oldest cane down to four or five buds. This will ensure the canes grow more robust and produce good fruit.
How to Harvest Grapes
Generally, most grapes are ready for picking in the last few weeks of summer. The best grapes for picking are plump, juicy, easy-to-crush, colourful, and full-flavoured.
To be sure if your grapes are ready for picking, sample a few of them from different stems. If they are full-flavoured and very juicy, then they are ready.
You can eat grapes after washing or store them in the cellar. When storing them, it is important to separate them from other foods because they quickly absorb odours.
If you have more grapes than you know what to do with then here are some fantastic recipes for you to try out.
Tips and Common Problems
Grapes can be greatly affected by mealybugs and red spiders which can ruin your entire harvest. Keeping your plants moist and encouraging ladybird to your garden should keep them at bay along with the regular organic pesticides.
When your grapes are about to fruit, you should get a good mesh net to protect them from birds, waiting to steal your juicy crop.
It is important to remember to water your vines regularly, to fertilise them just once per year and to use mulch around the roots to encourage growth.
Powdery mildew can be a formidable enemy when growing grapes and it will appear as a white powdery deposit on your fruit leading to growth being stunted. To prevent this, keep the soil moist and grow them in a cooler area.