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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Great Grapes

When I first saw a vineyard here is Kansas, I was surprised. Come one, grapes? Surviving the Heartland winter's? Sure.... How wrong I turned out to be.

We have begun to establish our own small vineyard here on the homestead. Turns out that grapes are the easiest and one of the most adaptive of fruits. And we are ready to enjoy our second year of grapes.

Why am I talking about grapes now? We did discuss peanuts yesterday, and now is the beginning of grape planting season. I saw several plants in the farm store yesterday, and thought I would help out any of you that are thinking about growing grapes, but have never done so. {I will be answering those peanut questions in the comment section on the peanut post}

Grapes can be found growing in just about every type of climate here in the United States. Every garden can be successful with there own private vineyard. Look around your yard, the best site to plant is on a slight slope to help with drainage and air circulation. Avoid areas like low frosty pockets, there is danger of the plant being injured in spring frosts. Grapes need full sun and away from competing trees.

If you have a short growing season, plant them next to your house on the south side, train the vines to climb your wall. The heat radiation will help the grapes ripen a week sooner. No worries, insect {except for a certain caterpillar} are not too fond of grapes.

Stay clear of rich soils, you want the fruits, not the foliage. Grapes vines will produce, if properly managed, for 50-60 years. Be sure to mulch with organic grasses every year. You will want to apply 2-3 lb of crushed granite rock in the winter and a ½ lb of a good source of high organic nitrogen in the spring. Spread these out in an area 6 -8 feet in diameter from the base of the grape vine. {Grape vine roots can extend up to 8 feet out.}

Planting can be done in the spring or fall. Spring planting takes place between March and May. Do not buy anything older than two years old. They don't transplant well, and already producing vines will take longer to produce than the younger vines.

Space your vines out 8x8ft, seven feet is ok as well. Holes should be 12-14 inches deep and 16 inches in diameter. Prune the tops off to just a single cane. and then cut the single cane down until only two buds remain. If you have it, place some bone meal, compost or crushed granite into the hole. Place your plant into the hole, with the two buds at ground level.

You do not need to trellis the first year, but the second year, you will. We will talk about trellis later, if you would like.

We enjoy grape jam here, maybe someday the youngest of my boys will stop eating them off the vine so that we can have enough to make more than a single days serving. {Sorry, I thought I had pictures of my grapes, turns out I don't.}

8 comments:

Crunchy Chicken said...

Damn you, gardening temptress. Now I want to add grapes to my already overburdened attempt at starting our new garden.

So, if I get rid of some of those roses....

Rebecca said...

My Brother-in-law grows grapes in his yard here in the chicago area, and had a vineyard started on the family farm in Nebraska.

Donna said...

We have friends who have established a huge orchard and winery nearby.

The Fool said...

There were grapes throughout the woods near our house where I grew up in New England. We picked and ate them all the time. I'm not sure if they were native, or something brought in by the Ag Station. Lot's of memories connected with them...from squishing grapes in each other's hair to swinging on the vines. Now - not too many grapes here in Alaska...but the wine sure stays cool.

:)

UKBob said...

Can I ask, do you have to thin out the fruit on each of the bunches. I know in the glass houses in the gardens of the big houses they thinned each bunch but I don't know if they were just being Perfectionists as they often were or if it's a vital part of growing them. Bob.

Stephanie said...

Plant away from trees? Now how I am going to do that? :)

We have seen a few wild grapes, but never any we could get too!

As a kid my grandparents had grapes on the family farm. Brings back good memories!

Robbyn said...

Oh, yum! My grandparents raised some on an arbor. The kitchen smelled SO good during canning season when all the jellies were made! Thanks for the reminder ...there are even varieties that grow as far south as here! (FL)

Phelan said...

CC, you can candy rose petal's. ;)

Rebecca, How wonderful!

Donna, how's their wine?

The Fool, you guys have some interesting berry wineries up there. I might need to check them out.

UKbob, I have never heard of doing that. But they might be like my youngest boy, he has to taste them to make sure they are not turning poisonous.

Stephanie, well you could, but they need a lot of water to make up for what the trees are stealing.

Robbyn, you are lucky to have childhood memories like that. Yes, there are grapes that will grow down where you are, shhh...but don't tell the fool, but there are some that can be grown up in Alaska as well. :D

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