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Post new topic   Reply to topic    Irish Gardeners Forum Home -> Vegetable growing, fruit and allotments in Ireland

How To Prune Your Grape Vine.

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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 4:58 pm    Post subject: How To Prune Your Grape Vine. Reply with quote

How To Prune Your Grape Vine

Pruning grape vines is best managed right from the start. This means doing a little bit of research before you put the vine in the ground to make sure the soil is well prepared, the grape vine is has full sunlight, it has a trellis to grow on, and that the ongoing growth is then managed to produce the best results year after year.

My first thrill with growing a grape vine came when I discovered a self seeded vine in the backyard of a client's garden. The house belonged to an English lady and as her gardener; the garden belonged to us both. It was largely an untamed and somewhat rambling garden free of the contemporary need for gardens to be neatly ordered and manicured.

In the character of the garden there was a rambling grape vine. It was not there when I took over the garden and we did not buy it. Our grape vine invited itself into our garden and we found a place for it to grow.

There is an amazingly abundant and wonderful feeling about finding something of value growing itself from seed in an untamed garden. At some point the emerging leaf shape will reveal a treasure competing among the weeds or it will earmark itself for destruction. You just have to wait patiently for the distinctiveness of the plant to emerge before you can make the salvage or scrap decision

In this case, while the leaves were a giveaway, the origins and type of the grape seed remained a mystery. It could have been a pip cast aside from a delicious grape, dropped by a visiting bird, or simply, an escapee from the compost bin.

Once identified as a grape vine, plant placement became the next problem. Now, I didn't manage my first grape vine very well. It survived a couple of transplants until I finally replanted it against a fence where it grew happily until at least the house was sold. During that time, because the vine was for effect more than produce, I basically just let it run rampant along the fence. It grew quickly and covered what had previously been an eyesore.

Looking for a Grape Vine in Ireland, then you should be able to source some here...... Grape Vine

Looking for a Grape Vine in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, or Australia, then you should be able to source some here......

Looking back, had I known then what I know now, I could have turned that grape vine into a great producer, enjoyed the fruits and possibly even, learned how to make wine. What are the things I should have known and how would I do it differently? Basically, I would look at four critical elements:

Grapes are culturally important, especially for their wine, and of commercial interest for their edible fruit, juice, and dried products such as raisins and sultanas. The versatility of the grape has resulted in a diverse range of available plants. Rather than waiting for a self-seeding plant, you could grow your vine from a cutting taken from a known plant, or you could check with your local nursery to find which variety is most suited to your area.

Grape vines prefer full sunlight.
This means 6 or more hours per day - and they prefer a fairly protected position. Less than full sun weakens the vine, invites pests and predators and encourages fungal and viral infection; in addition, grape vines can be susceptible to frosts and are drought tender.

Growing Structure.
Vines are a creeper so they send out tendrils that wind themselves around anything convenient. Set and build your trellis so that the vine gets full sunlight. Remember that leaves grow toward the sun and roots grow away from the sun so use the sun to get your vine growing naturally over its trellis. Make the growing structure convenient for the plant, and convenient for managing feeding and pruning the vine to obtain abundant produce, Grape vines are deciduous so make the trellis aesthetically convenient so it complements the garden in both its luscious summer and its dormant and bare winter.

Soil quality.

Grape vines are deep rooters so give your vine a depth of good soil to grow in. They also prefer rich organic and well drained soil so prepare and maintain the soil so that the harvest is plentiful and delicious.

Soil is a living thing and a teaspoon of fertile soil may contain 10 to 12 thousand million micro-organisms all feeding off and contributing to the process. Therefore, even if you start out with great soil, unless you keep the soil alive and organically rich, in a couple of years it will no longer have the organics and nutrients required to support abundant growth.

The organic matter in the soil is divided into two broad types, undecomposed and decomposed. The undecomposed matter made up of roots, leaves, stems and twigs that still retain the structure of the plant. This is visible to the human eye and it keeps the soil open and porous and allows water and air to circulate throughout the soil.

Decomposition often begins with earthworms is carried on by micro organisms and then converted into humus by soil bacteria. The plant depends on nutrients in the humus and these must be both available, and available in a form that can be taken up by the plant. Soluble salt is a form of nutrient that can be taken up through the water drawn up into the plant.

You can manage the soil quality by adding mulch, providing compost and by adding organic fertilisers made from farm manure, seaweed or other organically active ingredients.

Plant Management and Pruning.
The first task in growing a grape vine is to get it to reach the trellis. After the cutting strikes and sufficient new growth appears, plant the vine into its final location and use a stake to guide the grape vine to its support structure. Once the main stem is attached to the trellis the vine can then be trained as you want.

The desirable fruit buds usually appear on one-year-old wood, while older wood usually results in watershoots that are not immediately useful for fruit. However, cut back to two buds, watershoots may be useful for fruiting in the following year. Vines should be heavily pruned in winter during their dormant season.

Grape vines can be managed to obtain grapes in the second year and the grape clusters can be manipulated for better color, taste and sugar content. Unlike some other fruits, grapes do not ripen after picking so taste the grapes from the vine to judge when they are right for the picking. Once the vine is producing, you can train the vine as you want it to grow. You can optimise your harvest by avoiding the mistakes people commonly make and engaging the tricks that professionals use.

Once established, your grape vine will be around for many, many years. One of our wine producing areas has a vine that is reported to be around 150 years old. The oldest grape vine in the world grows against the side of a house in Maribor, Slovenia. It is believed to be somewhere between 400 and 500 years old, it produces some 30 to 50 kg of grapes a year and provides around 15 bottles of wine. Nobody knows if it was self-seeded.

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Green fingers
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Joined: 29 Apr 2009
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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a new polytunnel and two new vines. Where do I plant the roots of the vines? Outside the buried plastic in the soil? What size hole should I cut in the plastic and where? Any help would be really appreciated.
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