Growing Grapes – Care of Grape Vines
Grapes can be grown quite successfully out of doors in the southern part of the country, preferably given the protection of a warm wall. Plant between October and February in a rich, deep soil.
Plant firmly and immediately after planting, prune the young plant to within 30cm (12in) from its base to encourage a strong shoot to grow.
Plants out of doors can be grown as cordons, espaliers, fans or bushes.
The bush method is the simplest and consists mainly in cutting the branches of the plant back each year to within 2.5cm (lin) of the main stem. The straggly habit of the bush form makes it a nuisance in the garden and the berries may be spoilt by trailing on the ground.
The cordon is the most common form. It consists of a rod trained to a wire framework about 1.2m (4ft) high. The rod is encouraged to grow in the same way as an indoor plant.
The laterals from the rod are trained 30-38cm (12-15in) apart and cut back each winter to one bud. Horizontal cordons can also be grown and these have the advantage that they can be covered with tall cloches in late summer to help to ripen the berries.
Espaliers are grown by developing pairs of branches 30cm (12in) apart from the main stem. Two- or three-tier espaliers are quite sufficient.
Fan shapes can be grown quite easily by training 5-8 shoots from the main stem to grow on a wire framework.
The general pruning treatment is the same as for indoor plants, but of course, much less growth will be made during the summer months. In August, cut away as many of the side shoots as possible, so that light and air will get to the berries and ripen them properly.
Planting distances for the various types are: Cordons’ m (3ft) apart; Espaliers’ 2m (6ft); Fans, 2.5m (8ft); Horizontal cordons’ 2.3m (4ft).
Each winter give the soil around the plant a dressing of good general fertilizer, together with a mulch of farmyard manure. Once again prune in November.
Propagation Vines can be propagated by eyes or cuttings. Cuttings should be 30cm (12in) long and inserted to half their length in good soil in November or December. Vine eyes can be propagated in a greenhouse or warm place.
Vines are self fertile and there is no problem with pollination.
There are a number of lesser-known fruits which can also be grown, such as medlars, quinces, figs, mulberries and others. They are not included here because they are of specialist interest only and full information concerning their culture can be obtained from the supplier of stock.