Planning a vegetable garden is all about making the most out of the space you have. If you can add a vertical component, your space is better utilized. Find out when to plant grapevines along with the best growing practices.
When to plant grapevines: Start by planting grapevines that are one year old. They should be hardy and stable and without any disease. Plant your grapevines in the spring just after the last hard frost date. This will be late March or early April for most areas.
Planting Grapevines in Different Climates
A tropical climate is not ideal for grapes. They need a period of colder dormancy and can develop diseases in areas that are too humid.
Grapes do not need much water, except for the summer, so a dry climate should be able to support wide varieties of grapes.
Some varieties of grapes are able to grow in a temperate climate but you will have to be selective about what you grow. There might not be enough heat in a temperate climate for more robust varieties of grapes.
Grapes do very well in a continental climate. The hot summers produce large amounts of fruit and while the winters are cold, grapes are hardy enough to withstand it.
With limited heat and sunlight, grapes will not grow in a polar climate.
What to do with grapes?
Before you plant your grapes, you should decide what the primary purpose of having them is. Everyone thinks of grapes differently but this is a versatile fruit and there are many options you can go with.
Perhaps the easiest reason to grow grapes is that you like the taste of them. Just as you would with other fruit, growing grapes simply to eat them is awesome.
Grow grapes on their vines and once they are plump and juicy, you can take them down and eat them. Having grapes purely for eating purposes is also perfect if you have kids as they can have a quick snack anytime they are playing in the backyard.
While a bit trickier than other purposes, you can indeed grow grapes to make wine. However, more knowledge and skill are needed, especially when selecting the types of grapes you want.
Finally, grape juice is an instant classic. It provides a sweet refreshment for both the young and old.
If grape juice is your ultimate goal, you should do a bit of easy research on both the varieties and the process of making juice. Obviously, you will want grapes that are large and plump in order to get a big enough yield to make juice.
Choosing Grapevines Seeds
Now that you know what purposes there are for grapes, it’s time to select them for your garden. Grapes are usually classified into table grapes (what you eat) and wine grapes (what you drink).
Note that if you are starting with grapes to eventually make them into wine, it is best to consult someone with experience as there are lot more steps involved including grafting and harvesting.
Common table grapes
- Red Globe
- Thomson Seedless
- Flame Seedless
common Wine grapes
- Pinot Noir
- Muscat blanc
How to Plant Grapevines Seeds
The best time to plant grapevines is in the early spring. Wait until the last hard freeze has happened, which is different from the last frost date. This means you can plant your grapevines from late March to early April, depending on where you live.
For the most part, you want to purchase grapevines that are one year old. They should be strong and sturdy.
Occasionally you will find vines that are two years old for sale. This is because they will have been weaker in their first year so gardening centers will hold them for another year to give them time to grow.
If you’re in doubt about their hardiness, always talk to someone who works at a gardening center to see what your options are.
You should also enquire about the vine’s history. Even if they are only a year or two old, they can still be exposed to viruses so check to see if they are certified to be virus-free.
Single or Multiple
When it comes to any sort of fruit plant, you need to know if the plants are self-fertile or not. Some, such as blueberries, need multiple plants in order to be properly fertilized.
Most varieties of grapes are self-fertile which means you won’t have to purchase multiple plants if you don’t want to. However, you should double-check to make sure; otherwise, you won’t have any grapes.
Grapevines of all varieties grow best in full sun. Be sure to find an area with as much sun as possible although if you can’t, aim for morning sun and afternoon shade.
The best soil for grapes is well-draining. Pooling water can quickly damage the roots of your grapes, so make sure you don’t plant them at the bottom of a hill or in compacted soil.
Add a support
Finally, before you start planting, make sure there is a support system in place. An arbor or trellis is the ideal structure for grapevines as it will give the stems plenty of space to move about and will help the whole plant reach for sunny areas.
For the most part, whether you purchase a grapevine from a gardening center or online, it will come as a bare root. Soak this root structure in water for a few hours to help signal that it is time to come out of its dormancy.
If you are planting multiple vines, space them by at least 6 feet to allow them enough space to grow.
The hole should be about 12 inches by 12 inches when digging. Then, you can add fertile soil to the bottom of the hole and have the root structure just below ground level.
Fill the hole in with fresh soil but don’t compact the soil. After you water, the soil may settle. In this case, you can add more soil to better fill in the hole.
How to Water Grapevines
Overall, grapes do not need a lot of water so they are recommended for areas that are dryer. While you will need to water them during the height of summer, you can ease off in spring and fall.
How to Grow Grapevines
As long as you start with good, fertile soil, you won’t have to add any fertilizer for the first year after planting. It is only after the second year that you can add a small bit of fertilizer to the area.
Every spring, add a new layer of mulch to the area. This will help keep the soil moist between waterings and will also help lessen weeds from popping up.
One problem that many grape growers encounter is birds. Unfortunately, birds see grapes as easy food and will happily munch on the fruit, especially as it is more accessible.
You can add a simple netting to your grapevines although you will have to remove it to help fertilize. An alternative is to tie brightly-colored string or other reflective material to deter birds.
Grapes can be a bit high-maintenance and it’s important to get in the habit of regularly pruning your vines. Fruit begins from shoots that start on grape canes that are one year old.
Too many older canes mean a lot less fruit. However, if you regularly prune your grapes back every year, you will get new growth but won’t complete the year cycle to produce new fruit.
Aim to prune every year in late winter, around February or March. The vines should be dormant so you won’t disrupt any new growth.
Then, cut back any growth that produced fruit that year. Eventually, you will have canes that are spread out by a foot or two that are strong and sturdy.
Grapes will be ready for harvest in late summer or early fall. They should be fully ripe when you pick them and have a full, juicy texture.
If you aren’t sure if your grapes are ready, simply pick one or two and sample them. Ideally, they will have a sweet taste to them and be attached to the stems.
You can store grapes for up to six weeks in a cool, dark place. Just don’t store them with other fruits and vegetables as they will absorb their odors.
How long do grapevines take to grow?
Grapevines are usually sold when they are one year old. When you plant them in the spring, they will then bare some fruit in that first summer.
While you need to prune your grapevines back each year, they will grow larger the subsequent summer and will produce more grapes with proper pruning and care.
Grapes add a vertical element to your garden and can be used for eating, making wine, or making juice. While you will need to learn more about pruning, they are relatively easy to grow.