Grapes can be planted in most gardens, and they also lend themselves to decorative plantings. They are one of the most popular berries, which are used in everything from jams and jellies to wines and juices.
Grapes are packed with nutrients from antioxidants and are a very good source of vitamin K, vitamin C, and copper. Grapes also contain resveratrol, which some studies have linked to reducing the effects of aging on the body.
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Grape Varieties for a Home Garden
When choosing a grape variety to grow, the main factor to consider is the climate in which you will be planting them. American grapes tend to do best in sunny warm conditions, such as the Napa Valley vineyards in California.
European Grapes vs American Grapes
European grapes are able to survive cold winters and produce a quality crop the following year. Muscadine grapes are a more wild type that favors the hot humid conditions of its native habitat, the Southeastern United States.
Among the European and American cultivars, you can find every berry color and flavor you might desire. Seedless versions of the most popular varieties are usually available, making those a great choice for fresh eating.
Starting Grapes from Cuttings
Grapes are usually started from vine cuttings or potted plants. You can find a wide selection of grape varieties in catalogs, or to a lesser extent in your local nurseries. If you know a person who is already growing grapes locally, you can ask them for some cuttings. This method of propagation also assures you that the plants are well adapted to your region.
What is the Best Time to Plant Grape Vines?
The best time to purchase grape plants is in the late winter and early spring. You can let the plants sit near a sunny window until the weather warms up. Grape plants need to be planted after all dangers of frost have passed so that the young plants do not get harmed by any late frosts.
How to Grow Grapes at Home
Planting Grape Vines from Cuttings
Grape vines can live up to 100 years, so plan ahead when you select a growing location for them. Grapes need to be grown in an area that gets full sun all day long. Try to plant the grapes on a south-facing slope; and, if you are planting them near a house, plant them on a south-facing wall.
Grape Vine Soil Preparation
Grape vines need soil that has very good drainage, so they prefer a rocky, sandy soil. If your soil drains poorly, you can add sand and gravel to the area. If you do not provide good drainage for the vines, they will be highly susceptible to disease or die.
One good thing about preparing the soil for grapes is that the vines prefer a slightly nutrient-poor soil, so no compost or fertilizer should be added before planting.
Backyard Grape Trellis
Once the soil condition is satisfactory, you should erect the trellis for your grape vines. If you are growing a small planting of grapes, a simple wood or metal garden trellis should suffice. If you are planting long rows of grapes, then use a wire trellis system.
Grape Plant Spacing
Once you have installed the trellis that suits your needs, it’s time to plant your grapevines. The grapevines should be spaced 7 feet (2 m) apart. Dig a hole big enough to lay the roots out evenly, so they do not become root bound after planting.
Then, cover the roots with soil, making sure you leave the first bud above the soil line. Water the freshly planted vines in as soon as possible and continue watering the plants daily until they recover from any transplant shock.
How to Grow Grapes at Home
Grape Vine Care
Grape plants require very minimal watering once they are planted, and will do well with only rainfall in most areas. During the first year of growth, you must remove any fruit that starts to form on the plant, as this will allow the plant to focus its energy on establishing a root system and its vines.
Grape Vine Pruning
You can prune any weak vines off the plant using sharp pruning shears (Buy Online), leaving only the strongest vines to produce quality fruit in the following seasons. Once your grapes have been established for over a year, do your pruning when the vines are dormant.
When Should You Prune Grape Vines?
The best time to prune your vines is in the late winter shortly after your last frost. As the plant’s age and the older woodier vines need to be pruned make sure you remove at least 90% of the vine so the plant can dedicate it’s energy to new growth.
Grape Vine Insect Pests
Grapes have a few disease and insect problems to keep an eye out for. One insect that can destroy your grape vines is the Vine Moth; and if you spot this bug on your grapevines in any numbers, immediately apply Bacillus Thuringiensis (Buy Online) or another insecticide to the vines.
Grape Vine Diseases
Grapes are also very susceptible to powdery mildew; and the best way to prevent this is to keep the vines well pruned, so they have adequate air flow. Also, avoid getting the foliage wet when you are watering the plants.
How Long Before a Vineyard Produces Grapes
The grapevines should have their first substantial harvest 3 years after you first planted them. Once the first bunches of grapes start to look like they are almost ripening, you might have to cover the vines with a net to keep the birds from getting to the grapes before you do.
When are Grapes Ripe for Harvesting
You can check to see if your grapes are ripe by picking a few and giving them a taste. If the grapes are tender and sweet, they are ready to be harvested. Discard any damaged or moldy grapes, in order to prevent the whole bunch from spoiling in storage.
You can store your grapes in the refrigerator for a week or two. If you want to store grapes for a longer period of time, then you can freeze them, or make jams, jellies or juice.