Grape vines are quite easy to grow. The basic elements you will need to successfully grow grape vines are sunshine, a good trellis to support the vines, mulch, and some pruning shears. Here are the steps for how to grow and prune grape vines so that you get years of fruit as a result.
1. Choose your grape
There are numerous grape vines to choose from. Some are good for wines while others are good for eating fresh. Still others have seeds and some varieties don’t. Obviously there are green grapes and red grapes and black grapes too. So, to choose your grape vine, decide what you want to use the grapes for. I choose two varieties that are good for eating fresh and that have no seeds. One type is a green grape and the other is a red grape.
2. Plant your grape
Now that you have selected your grape variety, you will need to choose a location to plant the grape vine. The base of the vine doesn’t necessarily need to be in a sunny place as long as the vines can grow to a location that has sun. My vines are planted in a shady spot along the fence between me and my neighbor’s property. Over the past couple of years, the vines have grown along the fence and the majority of them are now in a full sun location. When you select the location to plant your grape vine, dig a hole twice the diameter of the pot size that the grape came in. Dig the hole twice as deep as well. Now, amend the soil by adding in some compost and organic fertilizer (composted chicken manure and some blood meal and bone meal works great). Then, plant the grape making sure that the vines will be able to reach the trellis. My grapes are close to a chain link fence and I used the fence as a trellis for the vines. I loosely tied the vines at various points to the fence and then let the vines grow along the top of the fence.
3. Mulch your grape
Once you have planted the grape vine, be sure to add lots of mulch around the base of the plant. I usually try to have about 4 inches deep of mulch around my grapes. This helps to retain moisture and keeps the roots from drying out. Over time, the mulch also breaks down helping to provide some nutrients for the grape vine.
4. Prune your grape
Now, the waiting game starts. Grapes take a few years to get established. Don’t expect to start eating grapes off of the grape vines for at least 2 or maybe 3 years. My grapes are currently in their 3rd year and I finally have a really good crop that set on. Each year, you can prune the grapes by cutting off the little runners and training the vines to go the direction you want them to. My second year of growing grapes, I had a few bundles of grapes set on but they ended up shriveling and falling off. I asked a gardener friend of mine what happened (he is about 75 years old and has been gardening for decades and has lots of delicious grapes every year). He gave me a secret trick that he uses. He prunes the vine 2 nodules past where the grapes are setting. So, this means that wherever you see a bundle of grapes forming, you will want to prune the vine beyond where the grapes are setting by count two nodules past the bundle of grapes (essentially, two leaves past the bundle of grapes). Then, cut the vine off at that point. What this does, he told me, is to allow all of the energy of the grape vine to go into producing the fruit rather than growing the vine itself. I tried this trick this year and it has worked amazingly! I have the best crop of grapes setting on and I’m excited for them to get ripe.
That’s it. Let us know if you have any tips or tricks for growing or pruning grapes that would benefit the TogetherFarm community.
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