Grapes are often ignored in home gardens, and yet are one of the most widely produced fruit in the world not to mention a beautifully ornamental plant.
Grape vines not only produce sweet and versatile fruits, they add an element of drama to a garden or landscape. They are vigorous growers, and with the proper pruning, they will produce fruit with ease for 30 years or more.
For home gardeners, there are three main types of grapes to consider and they include:
American (Vitis labrusca),
European (V. vinifera), and
American grapes are the most cold-hardy, while European grapes usually better for wine than the table and do well in warm, dry, Mediterranean-type zones.
Hybrids tend to be both cold-hardy and disease-resistant, but are not as flavorful as European grapes.
Another type that is grown in the U.S. is the Muscadine (V. rotundifolia), which is native to the southern United States.
Muscadine grape’s thick skin make it best suited for use in jams,
wine, or other processed grape products.
Make sure you purchase grape vines from a reputable nursery.
Meanwhile Vigorous, 1-year-old plants are best.
Smaller, sometimes weaker, 1-year-old plants are often held over by the nursery to grow another year and are then sold as 2-year-old stock. Obtain certified virus-free stock when possible.
Visit our Seedlings Sales Website to order for your grape seedlings now. Nationwide Delivery (Nigeria) and Farm Set-Up Services also available.
Plant dormant, bare-root grape vines in the early spring. Construct a trellis or arbor before planting. Grape vines will need to be trained to some sort of support to grow upward. This will also cut the risk of disease.
Most grape varieties are self-fertile. To be sure, ask when you are buying vines if you will need more than one plant for pollination.Before planting grapevines, soak their roots in water for two or three hours.
Select a site with full sun. If you don’t have a spot with full sun, make sure it at least gets morning sun.
A small amount of afternoon shade won’t hurt. Your soil needs to be deep, well-drained, and loose. You also need good air circulation.Space vines 6 to 10 feet apart (16 feet for muscadines).
For each vine, dig a planting hole 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide. Fill with 4 inches of topsoil. Trim off broken roots and set the vine into the hole slightly deeper than it grew in the nursery. Cover the roots with 6 inches of soil and tamp down.
Fill with the remaining soil, but don’t tamp this down.Prune the top back to two or three buds at planting time.Water at time of planting.
How to Care for the Plant
In the first couple of years, the vine should not be allowed to produce fruit. It needs to strengthen its root system before it can support the extra weight of fruit.
Pruning is important. Not only would vines run rampant without control, but canes will only produce fruit once. Prune annually when vines are dormant, in March or April.
This is before the buds start to swell, but when winter damage is apparent.Don’t be afraid to remove at least 90 percent of the previous season’s growth. This will ensure a higher quality product. Remember, the more you prune, the more grapes you will have.
In the first year, cut back all buds except for 2 or 3. Then, select a couple of strong canes and cut back the rest. Make sure the remaining canes are fastened to the support. In the second year, prune back all canes. Leave a couple of buds on each of the arms.
Remove flower clusters as they form. Do not fertilize in the first year unless you have problem soil. Fertilize lightly in the second year of growth.Use mulch to keep an even amount of moisture around the vines.
A mesh net is useful in keeping birds away from budding fruit.