Fancy growing your own grapes?
There is one key factor to remember when you want to grow grapes…this is sunlight. This ensures the juicy grapes ripen properly. Their climbing habitat makes them easy grow up walls, trellis or over arches.
There are basically two types of grape – wine and dessert. Dessert grapes require a conservatory or greenhouse to ensure plenty warmth for the sweet grapes to ripen. In some situations dessert vines can be planted outside but with their branches trained inside a greenhouse window. The benefit of this method is the vine will not require as much water compared to one growing inside.
Ensure that you water the vines frequently particularly during the growing season. Feed them with a high potash fertiliser. Dessert grapes should be thinned out to promote larger bunches which allows sunlight and air circulation into the vine. Dessert grapes need a period of dormancy to promote fruiting meaning the greenhouse or conservatory should be kept unheated over winter, then benefit from extra heat supplied in early spring of 16C.
Powdery mildew can be an issue with grapes but resistant varieties are now available. Remove flowers from young vines each year to prevent the young vine over producing before it has matured. Some grapes can also provide beautiful fall colour. Their large attractive leaves can turn crimson, purple, bronze and pink this adds additional interest to your garden wall or fence.
Grapes are ready to harvest when they are soft to touch and taste sugary. Best eaten fresh but if you cut off the branches they can be stored in a fridge for two weeks.
Wine grapes are suitable for cultivation outdoors – these tend to be less sweet and produce small clusters of acidic aromatic grapes. Plant your vine in a sheltered position that receives plenty of sunlight. A south or south west facing fence or wall is ideal. However, they can also be grown in rows which can be on a slope angled to the sun. Avoid planting in frost pockets as new growth can be easily damaged in a frost. Grapes can grow on a wide range of soils as seen from the famous wine regions of the world but drainage is critical. Also avoid soils that are too nutrient rich which might promote lush growth and prevent fruiting.