A bunch of tips on grape growing
If you’re quick, there’s still time to prune your grapevine. If your vine is in a tangle, select the young strong canes and cut both younger and older thinner ones back – you will be rewarded with a healthy vine and a good harvest come fruiting time. If you haven’t got a vine, then it’s a good time to plant one.
Other good reasons to prune grapes are to let light penetrate the vine when in leaf; to get rid of any dead or diseased wood and to make sure there aren’t too many bunches of grapes. This may sound odd, but a few less bunches that are large with sweet flavour are better than loads of bunches bearing tiny fruit with an ordinary flavour.
Once bunches are formed, a sharp pair of nail scissors can be carefully used to remove the tiniest grapes in each bunch, thereby giving room and sustenance to those remaining.
Grapes will be produced on new canes, so it is these you will want to make room for on the vine, just not too many. Cut your five or six leading canes back so there are two buds remaining. Pruning is also helpful to increase air circulation which helps prevent diseases.
Ideally, you’ll wait until after the last frost before planting your grape vine. It’s from the hot climate of the Mediterranean, so choose a super-sunny spot where a gentle breeze blows.
If you have a wall that faces the sunny north, then you have a good place to plant a grape as the added warmth emanating from the wall will help ripen the fruit. Cover the wall in a supporting wire frame, tethered well to carry the weight of the mature vine and plant a bit out from this, so that it has room to put down strong roots. You may need a strong post at each end.
Once planted, give the vine a dollop or two of compost mulch around its roots. They do well in a good soil.
Hibernation: A well-pruned grape vine sits dormant after winter.