Growing Grapevines: Is Your Garden Wine Country? Growing Grapevines: Is Your Garden Wine Country?

You don't have to live in California, Australia, France, Italy or Portugal to grow grapes. Most home gardeners have found that with the right preparation and knowledge, planting and harvesting grapevines is relatively easy, and the delicious fresh grapes, juices, wines and jams are well worth the work and wait. 

What to Plant

Where you live should determine what species of grape you grow in your garden. West coast gardens are great for European species, and northeastern gardens should be planted with American species. If you live in the humid areas of the South, try planting muscadine grapes which have many different varieties. Make sure you know the hardiness zone that you live in and that the grape you are planting is compatible with that zone.

Where to Plant

Grapevines should be planted where they can receive full sun. Plant on a gentle slope with southern exposure if possible as this is generally the warmest area. Before planting, test your soil so the grapes have the rich, well-draining, slightly alkaline soil they need. Soil too dry or too moist or with too much clay will not yield very good grapes. A sandy, loamy soil will give your grapes the best chance to grow. Your vines will need support, so you may want to consider planting them next to an existing fence or trellis.

When to Plant

Plant in early spring for the best results. Grapevines generally take about 3 years before they begin to yield any fruit.

How to Plant

Planting vines is comparable to planting tree seedlings. Dig holes slightly larger than your vine's root system and space the holes about 8 feet apart. If planting more than one row, space the rows at least 9 feet apart. Once you've planted the vine cut off everything but the strongest cane, and cut the strongest cane back until it only has a couple of buds. Tie cuttings loosely to stakes, fence or trellis or whatever you are using for support. Water thoroughly after planting. 

Grapevines don't require much fertilizer, so be careful not to over-fertilize. A light fertilizer like a "10-10-10" can be applied in early spring. For the first year, grapevines should receive about 1 inch of water a week. Allow the grapevines to grow wild for a year and then start pruning regularly for best results. Pull out weeds growing within a couple feet of your grapevine trunks.

Why Plant Grapevines?

There are a number of reasons you may want to plant grapevines in your yard; they provide a sweet, nutritious snack, a refreshing glass of wine or a beautiful vine cover. However, not every grape can do all three. The good table grapes don't generally make good wine, and the prettiest vines don't always yield the best fruit. Choose the best grape varieties for your needs; plant and enjoy!

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