by Patti Moreno
No matter what your experience in gardening everyone can grow grapes in their backyard successfully. Let your grape vine grow over an arbor or trellis as a sunshade or keep trimmed for smaller spaces. This is an excellent low cost way to add value, beauty and summer hade to your patio or deck. Growing grapes is a long term commitment. It can take several years before your vines are mature enough to grow grapes and longer for a bountiful harvest. Success begins by picking a sunny south facing location for your grape vines.
In early spring, plant the grape vines near a vertical support such as a lattice fence, trellis, or arbor. Vines can grow 20 to 40 feet a year so this is a must. Plant in fertile soil amended with compost and water thoroughly so the plant can establish itself. Make sure there is proper drainage as well. Add fertilizer every spring there after. As the vines grow train the canes to grow horizontally not vertically. Train the shoots that form off of the cane vertically. If you are training the vines on an arbor wrap the vine around the posts as it grows. This will help evenly distribute where the fruit grows. Once the plant goes dormant it is important to prune your grape vines. Your goal is to have 2 canes growing from the trunk of which shoots grow every year to produce fruit. A common mistake that gardeners make is that they don’t prune their grapes enough. In your first winter, prune the plant at least 90%. Once the growing season begins again, prune all canes except the two you are training horizontally. Once the plant is dormant after the second year of growth, trim the canes back so that they each have 8 buds. This may seem severe, but go for it. Continue pruning the canes back less every year until the canes are as long as you want them. There are so many uses for grape. Fresh grapes make a healthy fruit snack eaten by the bunch and it’s a great addition to a fruit salad. You can also make delicious jams and jellies and can them to enjoy all winter. Before your vines fruit you can still harvest medium sized leaves and make Dolmades or Stuffed Grape Leaves. See my video How to Make Stuffed Grape Leaves.
Wine from grapes can be dated back for millennia starting with the Mesopotamians. For those who want to grow grapes to make their own wine there are a few things you need to know in terms of the varieties that make the best wines and how many plants you’ll need. There are over 10,000 varieties of grapes that make wine. And it takes 600 to 800 grapes or 2&1/2 pounds of grapes to make one bottle of wine. When your grapes are in full production 1 plant can yield about 1 gallon of wine. Any grape that can grow in your zone can be used to make wine. Here are a six Stark Bros favorite grapes for you to try in your backyard.
Sweet Lace grapes are originally from France and have bronze-Red shoot tips and beautiful unique fern like foliage. They are rare and self pollinating. The white grapes are a delicious sweet/tart fresh snack or you can try your luck at wine. If you are looking to grow grapes on a patio, Sweet Lace Grapes are for you. They are hardy from Zone 6-9 and can grow 20-40 feet. In my video I plant Sweet Lace grapes in containers so that they will eventually take over my trellis with beautiful lace like foliage.
Concord Grapes are the most popular grape grown. We all grew up with sweet grape jelly made from concord grapes. The plants are hardy from zones 5-9. These deep purple fruits ripen in mid to late September.
Flame Grapes are sweet red grapes that ripen in august. They are hardy from zones 7-10 so it’s the perfect grape plant for the Southern gardener.
Glenora grapes are a concord type grape that is hardy from zones 5-8. It’s a great alternative to the concord grape. The large clusters of grapes are ready to pick in August.
Jupiter grapes are hardy from zones 5-9. They ripen in august and make a great table grape for fresh eating.
Lakemont grapes were developed in Califonrina, but are hardy to zones 5-8. This white grape is sweet and fruits in august.
You can rely on the Reliance grape. This deep red grape is hardy to zone 5-8 and ripens in August. This late blooming, disease resistant grape will be a favorite with your kids.The scarlet grape is a Muscadine type grape making it a great choice as a wine grape. Hardy from zone 7-9 this highly disease resistant grape ripens in September.
The Canadice Seedles grape is another hardy grape that can be grow from zone 5-8. The red purple grape ripens in early august and is sweet versatile grape that can be eaten fresh, used in jellies or wines.
Patti Moreno is the host of http://www.gardengirltv.com and contributor to Organic Gardening, Fine Gardening, the Huffington Post and the Farmers Almanac . She publishes the web magazine http://www.urbansustainableliving.com and she answers questions at http://www.gardengirltv.com/messageboard. She is the Co-Host of Growing a Greener World and the number one gardening expert on Youtube. Buy Patti’s 4hr DVD at www.olivebarn.com
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