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Growing and Caring for Grapes

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Authored by Suzanne Alicie in Gardening
Published on 07-25-2009

Growing grapes is something that many gardeners would like to do. Making jellies and juices with fresh grapes will ensure that you never enjoy the store bought items again. Starting a patch of grapes is fairly easy, but maintaining it can be a little more difficult. However you will see that the hardest thing about growing grapes is learning enough about them to grow them well.

In order to grow grapes successfully you must first find out what varieties of grapes perform well in your region. Once you know what is possible to grow, you have to decide if you have the proper area for them to grow.

Just sticking a grape vine in your back yard may not provide you with many grapes, and it may not even survive through the growing season. Some of the things you need to check on in your planting location are the amount of sunlight the vine will receive, soil drainage and a little something called air drainage. Air drainage is basically the way the air currents move around the grape vine. Simply moving a grape vine a few feet can save it from frost and damage due to cold air drainage. As for the water drainage, grapes don’t require a lot of water, and they definitely don’t do well when the roots stay saturated. The amount of sun and water required will depend on the variety of grape you choose.

In most areas of the U.S. fall planting is advised for grapes because this gives the roots time to develop under the ground over the winter. Plant grape vines in a prepared hole with a lot of organic matter. Whether you use fish fertilizer, or home made compost doesn’t matter. Commercial fertilizers are not recommended for grapes because they usually contain more nitrogen than grapes need. Simply make sure that the roots of the grape vine have access to nutrient rich soil. Cover the hole with grass clippings which will decompose over the winter and make more organic soil for the growing season. Then mulch the area well and you will be done with planting.

In the spring when your grape vines begin to grow and spread provide a trellis or climbing area for them. This keeps the vines up off the ground away from ground moisture and disease. Continue to add organic materials to the base of your grape vines.

Pesticide or natural pest deterrents are almost a requirement when growing grapes. The sweet juicy fruit attracts bugs like crazy. It is advised that you treat the vines in early spring before the blooming begins, and again late in the summer. Of course you must wash your fruit before consuming it, and if you are worried about chemicals, choose a garden friendly, natural pesticide.

Once you have harvested your grapes, you should prune around 75% of the vine for the fall and winter. Surround the vine base with organic matter and mulch, and then leave it alone for the winter. Some grape growers will wrap the exposed part of the vine in strips of cloth, or old towels, and tape a plastic bag over it in order to protect the newly shorn vine from the elements through the winter.

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