Grapevines are hardy plants that grow quickly and produce multitudes of fruit. There are literally hundreds of varieties of grapes, and they can be eaten fresh, dried to produce raisins, made into jams and jellies, juiced, or fermented to make wine. Getting grapevines to produce plump, juicy fruit can be a bit tricky, and the whole process begins with choosing the right vines for your growing space.
You can buy rooted grapevines from any plant nursery, or from some garden supply stores. Prices vary, depending on the type of grape it will produce. Purchase them after preparing your growing space so you can transplant them into your garden right away. It's important that you understand what's involved in caring for grapevines before you buy them. Before you make your purchase, here are some things you'll need to consider.
- Space - Grapevines needs a lot of room to grow. For each vine you plant, you'll need about 8' x 8' of space to allow it to expand and eventually produce fruit. Make sure you have a large, cleared area before planting grapes.
- Sunshine It is imperative that the location you choose to plant your grapevines gets lots of sunshine; at least eight hours a day of full sun. You should make sure you have the right climate for growing because it can greatly affect how your grapes develop.
- Growing period - Most varieties of grapes will need a growing season of at least 140 days with no risk of frost. The exact growing period will depend on the type of vine you plant, so check labels and ask at your local nursery to see which varieties will thrive in your garden.
- Soil - Grapevines should be planted about 3' deep in rich, well-drained soil. The soil should be tilled before planting, and if you're planning to add compost or fertilizer, you'll have to work it into the entire planting area, since the roots will spread out very quickly over the first two years after planting.
- Time - Grapevines will flourish quickly after planting, but they will not produce fruit for three to four years, depending on the type. You can speed this process up by one year if you purchase rooted vines from the nursery or garden outlet.
- Variety - Grapes come in many different colors, sizes, and flavors. Choose carefully, considering the climate you live in and what you'll be using them for. If you try to grow grapes that aren't recommended for your region, you'll be both frustrated and disappointed with the results. Check with your local horticultural society for recommendations.
- Upkeep - You'll need to spend plenty of time nurturing your grapevines once they begin to thrive. Spraying for pests, cutting back the vines as they grow, building trellises and coaxing the vines to grow along them, and netting the fruit to keep it safe from birds are only a few of the tasks that will be required of you.
- Purpose - If you're growing grapevines to make wine, there is a lot of extra knowledge that goes along with such an undertaking. The grapes must be harvested at just the right time to get the desired level of acidity and sugars, for example. To use grapes fresh or in jellies and preserves, choose seedless varieties and those that have lower acid levels. Check the labels on the grapevines or ask an expert at your nursery for insight into the best varieties to choose for your intended purpose.
Grapevine care can be very laborious, so research all you can about growing and pruning before you get started. If you have the space, time, and patience to grow grapevines, eventually you will be rewarded with pretty rows of thriving vines and bunches of delicious, jewel-toned fruit. It's definitely worth the effort!