Over the past three years I have made a conscience effort to add a new fruit. Three years ago I made an attempt at raspberries which did not pan out very well so I will put them back on the growing block for next season. However the one fruit that seems to be doing well are my grapes.
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I purchased two different varieties at the end of last season on closeout at a local home and garden center for a buck a piece. This season they really took off. The vines have grown thick and healthy and have taken over the trellis that I set up for them. The questions that popped into my own head were “what do I do now?” Do I trim it back? If so, when? Should I expand my trellis and did I even plant the correct variety to begin with? I mean, after all I made a huge investment of a dollar (ok it’s not that huge).
When it comes to growing grapes where else would you to turn for expert advice then someone who grows them for a living. John G. Kramb of Adams County Winery in Orrtana, PA, started producing wine from grapes in 1998. Today they produce over 30,000 gallons of wine from their 15 acres worth of grapes they grow on their farm.
According to Mr. Kramb, the biggest challenge someone can face in growing grapes, “is finding a grape variety that that will grow in their region. Some grapes, like vinifera, will not do well in cold climates. Some grapes, like American varieties, will grow anywhere.”
I asked Mr. Kramb what he would recommend as a good grape variety to grow and he said, “It all depends on what the grower is going to do with the grapes once they are producing a crop. If they want to make wine at home, they need to grow a variety which will produce a wine that the grower knows he/she enjoys. If they are growing table grapes, they probably want a seedless variety like Thomson.”
As of right now in my second year with the grape vines I purchased I have not reaped any fruits of my labor so to speak. Mr. Kramb says that is normal. He doesn’t expect any significant production until after the third year. In fact if the grape vine does produce any fruit prior to the third year that fruit is removed so the plant can develop a stronger root system.
As far as pruning the vine is concerned, he said you should wait until all of the leaves have fallen off and if you live in a colder climate wait until the spring to make sure your plant has not experienced any winter damage.
On a final note, when in doubt check with your local agricultural extension agent to get advice on varieties that should grow well in your area and don’t forget to ask commercial growers in your area to see what they do to get some advice from them. But above all, be patient. Good quality grapes takes a few seasons.
About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the owner of Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC, the exclusive home for the Seeds of the Month Club, which has appeared on NBC, ABC and MSN Money as a great way for consumers to save money.
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