I planted two grapevines a few years ago and hoped for the best. To be honest I’m not an expert on growing grapes, but I sure did want to try my luck. It all started with two young Red Flame vines that I spotted at the nursery one fall day. From the way it looks they seemed like healthy plants so I bought them.
Good thing the packaging came with instructions. Then I did some research if my area (zone 10-11) is suitable for growing grapes. It is! The next thing to do is to plant them in full sun. I made sure I dug a hole with the same depth as the rootball and double the width. Next, I added some organic compost and mixed it in the soil. In goes the rootball, and then I backfilled the soil. Watering the new plant deeply is important as it keeps the soil moist.
I didn’t really fuss with it too much. As long as it got watered regularly when its not raining, they’re supposed to thrive in bare conditions. In the spring I applied fertilizer once just to give it a boost. As the vine grew taller I built a support with rebars and wires. You also have to prune it to train the vines on a “Y” pattern.
It took a few years before the grapevines started to bear fruit. Last year was the first time I saw fruit. They were very few clusters and very small berries. This year though, it came out with a bang! I have about 27 clusters of fruit on two vines. I’m not sure if it’s because of all the rain we got last winter or the coffee grounds that I dumped into the soil, or maybe it just hit its maturity.
As the grapes got bigger I protected it against the squirrels and possums by putting them inside a net pouch. Wow! After that, not a critter got to munch on it. When the leaves got thicker I had to thin it to expose the grapes to the sun. I’ve seen this done in vineyards as the sun makes the grapes sweet.
The best way to tell if the grapes are ready to pick is by tasting it. So far I think it needs another 1-2 weeks to be fully sweet. I can’t wait….