How To Grow Grapes – Learning how to grow grapes can be a lot of fun and may lead to new hobby, making your own wine from your home grown crop. You don’t need a lot of space to learn how to grow grapes, and as long as you follow a few simple rules, you will be sure to be rewarded with fruit off the vine. First off, you need to choose a grape variety that is suitable for the conditions in your part of the world. The two most common grape varieties are Vitus vinifera, which is a Mediterranean species, and Vitis lubrusca, which was developed in the USA and is often referred to as the Concord type (as in Concord, Massachusetts). The Concord types grow best in eastern America and in areas with a similar climate. But the Vitus vinifera varieties thrive along the Pacific Coast and anywhere that has a typical Mediterranean-type climate with winter rainfall, comparatively mild winters and hot summers. Your next choice will be the specific cultivar (or cultivated variety) to plant. This will relate to:* color, * size, and* whether you want grapes to eat or grapes to make wine from.
Nurseries stock grape plants that are suitable for that particular area and a good nurseryman will be able to advise you on important aspects including soil preparation and fertilization, as well as pruning and when to harvest.
Conditions for growing grapes, grapes grow best in deep, fertile, well-drained soil that has a pH of between 5.5 and 6.5, which means the soil will be slightly acid. You can use a pH test kit to test your soil, and this will show how acid or alkaline it is – 0 to 6 on the scale being acidic, and 8 to 14 is alkaline. If the soil is less than perfect, most vines will survive, but they won’t bear as much fruit.
Fertile soil contains all the essential elements needed for plants to grow, namely nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), potassium (K), calcium, magnesium, sulfur, and a whole lot of other trace elements. Grapevines need a lot of potassium because it is this element that is responsible for the manufacture of sugars and starches, and also for the general vigor of plants. If the soil is low in potassium, the fruit will be poor, and often sour. Both organic and chemical contain the ‘big-three’ elements in various proportions, for example, 2:3:2 (N:P:K). This means there is an equal amount of nitrogen and potassium, and half again the amount of phosphorous in the mix.
Good drainage and aeration are also very important, so you should dig and turn the soil to a depth of about a meter, breaking up all the hard lumps. Where to grow your grape vinesYou don’t have to be a farmer to grow grapes, and you don’t need a lot of lands. Grape vines must be staked, and they grow particularly well over some kind of trellis. For this reason you can easily grow grapes over timber fences, pergolas and arbors. Apart from producing grapes, a well-established grape vine makes a great natural ceiling over a patio, and can also be used to screen areas in your backyard. So look around your yard and see how you can incorporate a few vines. Obviously the more you plant, the greater your potential crop, but you don’t want them to be too crowded. The variety you choose to grow will determine exactly how far apart you space your plants. Those that grow more vigorously should be planted further apart. But a good rule of thumb is to leave a space of about 5 feet (or 1.5 m) between each plant. So if you are planting a pergola that has been built over a patio, you can plant at each corner as well as putting a couple of plants along the sides (depending of course on the size of your structure). Planting your grape vinesHaving prepared your soil, dig holes where you are going to plant. These need to be deep enough to accommodate the plant together with the soil that is in the bag or container. Moisten the soil in the bag well before you transplant, and then fill in around the plant with soil and good quality compost. Press this down firmly and then put more compost around the stem for protection and to provide a mulch that will help to retain moisture.
Watering your vinesThe soil that newly grape vines are planted in should be kept damp but should not be saturated with water. During the growing season, make sure they don’t dry out. They need less water when the berries start to ripen but will need thorough watering again once the fruit has been harvested to encourage root development, and ensure you get a good crop the next season.