Grapes

Flame Seedless grapes waiting to be picked, and eaten!

Grapes are an excellent fruit, which can be eaten straight from the plant or processed into jam, juice, wine etc. The plants can also be a valuable addition to your garden as a shade or screen plant when trained up on trellis.

PLANTING

You should plant grapes in early spring, as early as you can start to work the soil. The soil must be weed free so the vines have no competition. Dig the plant hole quite big, grape vines roots spread and the bigger the hole the happier the plant, it will also increase your yield. Spread the plants out 8 feet apart. If planting to cover a trellis remember a single plant can cover a trellis. Try to stake the plants so that they do not trail on the floor and become damaged.

PRUNING

Once you have planted your grapevines you should prune them back to 3 buds. Pruning will increase the grape yield, although a small vine can produce a large amount of grapes without pruning. Pruning should involve a 3-year plan:

FIRST WINTER OR SPRING: After planting prune back to 3 buds.

SECOND SPRING: When shoots reach 6 inches long, select the strongest one to produce the trunk. Cut the rest off, and anchor the trunk.

SECOND SUMMER: Select the strongest branches and tie to stake or trellis.

THIRD YEAR: Four canes should be growing at any given time. After the third year, late in winter, cut out the old canes and replace them by tying new canes to the trellis.

HARVESTING

After 3-4 years each vine should be producing 12-15 pounds of grapes, about 45 bunches. Grapes develop best in heat, so be patient and wait until they separate easily from stalk. Pick on a dry day. Watch out for the birds.

Varieties

ITALICA: Italica has large round fleshy white berries that mature mid-season. A seeded berry that is good eating.

SULTANA: This grape matures early, it has seedless grapes which are yellow in colour and oval in shape. It is a table grape.

CABINET SAUVIGNON: This makes an excellent red wine, and produces bunches of small berries that mature in late January.

RED GLOBE: A very large ovate amber coloured mid-season berrie, seeded. Good eating.