People have been growing grapes for thousands of years. Throughout the ages man, and woman, have loved grapes. Some love them fresh. Some love them dried as raisins. And, some love the juice and wine of this delicious and nutritious fruit. Most of us love grapes in any, and in all ways. Many gardeners are growing grape vines in their backyard gardens. And more than a few gardeners will press them into a homemade wine in the Fall.
Grapes are berries that are grown in a cluster on a long-lived, woody vine. While the vast majority of varieties originated in Europe, there are several varieties of North American origin.
A trellis filled with hanging clusters of sweet, ripe grapes, is both attractive and a popular munching spot for home gardeners and visiting friends and neighbors.
Plant Hardiness Zones: 4 – 10.
Lucky for us, grapes come in all kinds of colors and varieties. In general, they are categorized by colors: White, purple, and green being the most common. There are also blue, black, and red varieties, too. There are seeded and seedless varieties. From a quality perspective, grapes are classified as wine, table, or raisins.
Grapes are propagated by rooting sections of the vine. Vineyards that need large supplies will cut 12-14″ sections of the vine and store them in moist soil in the fall. In the spring, it is planted in moist soil, where it is allowed to root. The new vines are later planted in a new vineyard.
Home gardeners often use an easier method. In the spring, take a vine and stretch it to the ground. Cover part of it with some garden soil. Keep the soil moist. After it has rooted, cut the vine from the mother plant, and transplant the new vine to its new home in your garden.
New vines need a couple of years’ growth before they produce heavy loads of luscious, sugar-filled grapes.
Home gardeners find grapes are easy to grow. Protecting them from animals, on the other hand, can be a real challenge.
Plant new vines in full sun. The plant roots do not like wet or soggy soil. Growing grapes on a hill or slope helps with drainage. They grow well in dry, average soil.
Grape vines need the support of a trellis or fence. Train the main vine straight up a fence pole. Allow secondary vines to grow outward on fence posts or wires. The tendrils of the vines will attach themselves to the fence. You may need to tie the vine down to get it started.
Your vines need little attention during the season. Be vigilant for insect and plant diseases. Adding a little fertilizer once a month is helpful. Water vines during droughts only.
Prune the vines in the fall, removing any tertiary vines off the secondary vines. Thin aggressively, remove dead vines, and allow ample room for next year’s growth.
Ideal Soil pH: 5.5 – 6.5.
Occasional insect infestations occur. Treat with an insecticide.
A variety of plant diseases can afflict your grapes. They include powdery and downy mildews, viruses, and black rot. Use fungicides early. Apply before humid weather sets in.
More on Insects and Disease
Grapes are harvested late in the fall, just before the first frost. You can pick some early for use at the table. Place a bowl of fresh grapes on the kitchen counter and they won’t stay there for long!
Making raisins? If you want to give it a try, pick some ripe grapes, wash and remove them from the stem. It needs to be a seedless variety. Lay them out on a pan, a screen, a plate, or on paper. We recommend using a screen. Allow them to dry in the sun with plenty of air circulation. If you dry them outdoors, watch for critters. Bring them in at night, or when rain is forecasted.
In recent years, medical studies have suggested red wines have anti-oxidants that can help to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart ailments. The same is true for feesh grapes and juices.