What You Must Know about Grapes and How to Plant Them
Growing grapevines in your garden will give some advantages. They will make your garden shadier, especially if you train them to grow on a pergola. Moreover, when they yield, you will be able to have juicy and tasty grapes readily at home. But, to be able to harvest them, you must know the method of how to plant grapes. If you know this method, you will not find many difficulties in growing them.
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Getting to Know More about Grapes
Before you start planting grapes in your garden, it is important for you to have better knowledge on these fruit plants. With better understanding, you will be able to perform the process of how to plant grapes effectively. In addition, it will also help you to care for them appropriately. These are some facts about grapes that you must know.
1. Origin and History of Grapes
Grapes are originated from areas in Northern Hemisphere. They are from the family of Vitaceae. There are about 80 species of them. Different countries have different species. In Europe, the most common grape that is cultivated is Vitis vinifera. Meanwhile, the native grape in America is fox grapes or V. labrusca.
This fruit plant had been cultivated since thousands of years ago by ancient civilizations. Based on archeological records, humans started to grow the fruits in 6500 BC in Near East. Then, the cultivation extended to Asia Minor and Egypt in 4000 BC. Later on, these fruits were processed into wine. Rules of wine trade were established by King Hammurabi.
Migration and trading caused the spread of this fruit to Europe. After that, grape was widely cultivated in all over the world. Due to this cultivation, modern varieties of grapes were created. They are more resistance to disease. Moreover, we can even buy seedless grapes these days.
2. General Characteristics of Grapes
Different species or varieties of grapes usually have different characteristics. However, there are some general characteristics that are found in them. If you know these characteristics, you will likely gain success in performing the methods of how to plant grapes.
Grapevines are woody climbing vines. The climbing means of these plants are tendrils. The vines can grow up to 17 feet in length. That’s why farmers train the grapevines so that they do not grow too long. In addition, having trained grapevines will allow the farmers to minimize risk of diseases and harvest the yield easier. Therefore, you need to train the grapevines in your garden too.
These particular plants will grow well in areas with long warm summer and cool winter. Frost will damage these plants. To avoid it, they need to be protected from frost in areas with colder winter. Grapevines didn’t require a certain type of soil. They can grow in loamy, sandy, calcareous, non-calcareous, or low fertile soil. But, for best yield, it is better to plant them in fertile soil.
In addition, the soil must be well-drained. It also needs to have pH level between 5.0 and 6.0. Moreover, the plants are suitable to USDA hardiness zones 4 to 10. However, different varieties usually have different hardiness. Therefore, before you plant your vines, you must make sure that they are the right variety for your zone.
These plants are usually planted from bare-root grape vines. However, farmers usually propagate the plants using different methods, such as grafting. The best time to plant the vines is in early spring. Grapevines usually will take about three years to mature.
At this age, they will give you their first yield. In Northern hemisphere, grape harvest is usuall between August and October. Meanwhile, in Southern hemisphere, the harvest is usually between February and April.
3. Flowers and Pollination
In Northern hemisphere, grapevines usually bloom in May. However, in Southern hemisphere, they usually bloom in November. These blooms are very small and vulnerable. Moreover, they are green and white. As a result, they are almost unnoticed.
Generally, grape flowers are self-fertile. There are developed male and female organs in one flower. Therefore, they are capable of self-pollination. However, certain species or variety of grapevine may need another grapevine to pollinate. Therefore, it is important for you to read the tag on the bare-root grape vines that you are going to purchase.
4. Fruits and Nutritional Value
Botanically, grapes are berries. The fruits grow in clusters. There are between 15 and 300 grapes in one cluster. These fruits are available in different colors, such as red, purple, green, and white. In addition, these small fruits have ellipsoid shape.
Grapes are juicy and tasty. However, different grapes have different level of sugar. Therefore, some of them are pretty sweet while others are tart. The fruits must be picked when they are fully ripe. It is because once they are off the vines, they will not ripen. Moreover, they can last for 6 weeks if stored properly.
The fruits contain various vitamins and minerals. They are a good source of vitamin K. Moreover, they also has moderate amount of vitamin B1, B2, B6, and C. In addition, they are also high in antioxidants, such as falvonoids, zeaxanthin, lutein, and phytochemical resveratrol. These antioxidants are mostly found in their skin and seeds.
Grapes are cultivated for three reasons. They are for wine grapes, raisin, or table grapes. Wine grapes and table grapes comes from the same species, i.e. V. vinifera. However, they are of different varieties. Wine grapes are usually smaller in size. Moreover, they have seeds and thick skin.
Meanwhile, table grapes are usually sweet. In addition, they are larger and have thinner skin. Some of them are even seedless. Seedless grapes are usually cultivated for making raisins or sultana. These grapes are cultivars from V. vinifera, such as Russian seedless and Thompson seedless.
Aside for those three purposes, grapes are also used for making ready to drink juice. They are also used to make jelly. In addition, grape seed oil is used in skincare products.
6. Grape Varieties
There are many species and varieties of grapes. However, most varieties or cultivars are originated from V. vinifera. Choosing the right variety or cultivar will increase your chance of success in growing them. Therefore, before you start the process of how to plant grapes, you need to decide which variety is best for you.
These are some popular grape variety you can grow in your garden.
This particular grapevine is perfect for you who like red table grapes. This variety produces large fruits. In addition, it is suitable for USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8.
These grapes are pale green, almost white. They are large, but its clusters are loose. These grapes can be used as table grapes or wine grapes. Edelweis grapes are perfect for you who live in zones 4 to 7.
This grape variety is perfect for you who want to try to make wine on your own. The fruit tastes sweet and juicy. This cultivar is from the species of Muscadin grapes. It is suitable to USDA hardiness zones 7 to 9.
This cultivar is perfect for you who like seedless table grapes. The color of these fruits is pink. In addition, it is perfect for you who live in zones 4 to 8.
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How to Plant Grapes
Planting grapes is not easy. It requires ongoing care. However, if you know the techniques of how to plant grapes, it will not feel to burdensome. And when you harvest your grapes for the first time, all of the hard works will pay off.
For beginners, there are two methods of how to plant grapes. You can plant them from grape seeds or from bare-root grape vines. Planting them from seeds is not recommended. First of all, it takes a lot of time. You need to store the grape seeds in the fridge for three months. Moreover, there is a big chance that the fruits have poor quality.
Therefore, it is recommended for you to start the process of how to plant grapes from bare-root grape vines. You can get them easily in an online and offline nursery. Moreover, planting them take less time. In addition, you will likely get high quality fruits from them. To plant bare-root grape vines, you can follow these steps.
1. Preparing The Site
Your grapevines will likely need to be planted in a spot with full sun. If you don’t have this kind of planting site, you need to choose a spot with enough morning sun. After that you need to prepare:
Grapevines need to be train to grow on a trellis. Therefore, you need to prepare it first. In making this trellis, you need to make sure that they are strong enough. Moreover, you also need to make sure that you have enough posts to grow your vines. In addition, these posts must be placed with the right spacing, between 6 and 10 feet.
To plant your vines, you need to create planting holes first. They must be about 6 or 10 feet apart. Moreover, these holes must be 12 inches wide and 12 inches deep. Then, you need to feel 1/3 of the hole with topsoil.
2. Choosing The Vines
To increase your chance of success in planting grapevines, you must choose the best vines. You will likely get high quality vines from a trusted nursery. When you are at the nursery, you must choose vigorous vines which are about a year old. The vines you choose must also be virus-free certified.
Once you prepare the planting site and get the best vines, you can perform the next step of how to plant grapes, i.e. planting. First, you need to soak your bare-root grape vines in water for about three hours. After that, you need to cut broken roots.
Then, you can place the vines in the holes. Next, add topsoil to the holes, about 6 inches deep, and press the soil. Then, fill the rest of the hole with top soil again, but do not press it. Lastly, water the soil properly.
As stated before, your grapevines require ongoing care. These are what you need to do in caring for your vines.
Water is important for your grapevines. On the first year, you need to water your vines regularly. At this stage, water is needed to strengthen the roots and grow the shoots. After that you can decrease the amount of water.
Fertilizing must be done when the vines are more than a year old. But, if your soil is not fertile, you may fertilize the soil. In the second year onward, you can fertilize the soil lightly. In fertilizing it, you can use rabbit manure.
7. Training and Pruning
To train your grapevines to grow on the trellis, you need to tie the trunk or branch to the trellis. Therefore, they will grow on it. However, it is important for you to do this training regularly if you want to get the best result.
Moreover, you also need to prune the canes (new shoots). Pruning must be done in winter or around March. Since grapevines will only bear fruits on one-year-old canes, you need to be careful in pruning your vines. Pruning older canes is a must. But, you must make sure that your vines do not have all young shoots. Proper pruning will help you have a big harvest.
8. Fighting Pests and Diseases
There are several pests and diseases that can affect your grapevines. To repel insects, you can use organic insecticide. However, if your vines are already attacked by certain diseases, it is important to discard the affected vines. In addition, birds may attack your fruiting vines. Therefore, you need to protect the grapevines using netting.
You may need to wait up to 3 years for your grapevines to bear fruits. But, there is a possibility that you will harvest your vines after the first year. When the harvest time is coming, it is essential for you to pick your grape properly.
Ripe grapes usually have more solid color. Moreover, they must be plump and easily crushed. If you are not sure which grapes are ripe, you can sample one of them.
Among the steps of how to plant grapes above, the most complicated one is pruning. Inappropriate pruning can cause low yield. However, you don’t need to worry about it. Once you are used to it, you will know which canes to cut and which is not. Therefore, you will get a nice harvest in the summer or in the fall.
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