Getting the best fruit production
1 Every winter, in late December, you should cut back all the current season’s growth to one or two buds so that each rod develops many spurs along its length. Timing’s important because if you leave it too late, when growth is about to begin, sap will flow from any cut, causing ‘bleeding’, which will weaken the vine. 2 As shoots grow flower buds appear. If growing dessert grapes, snap off the second shoot from each spur (the fruit-bearing stem that grows from the main rod). When the shoot grows, pollinate flowers by shaking them or running your hand over them. Prune the shoot with flowers after two leaves, beyond the flower cluster, to ‘pull’ sap to the grapes. 3 As summer progresses more sideshoots will appear along this new shoot and these must be pruned or nipped off back to one or two leaves as soon as possible. This will control the growth and make sure there’s good air circulation around the leaves and grapes. 4 When grapes are set and swelling well, thin out the fruits of dessert varieties so they’re not crowded, which may encourage rot. You can thin some leaves too, so sun gets to the grapes for ripening. 5 Black grapes will colour before they’re fully ripe and white grapes will change from lime green to golden yellow. Test a few to check they’re ripe, and enjoy! 6 Clear up the leaves as they fall in autumn and prune again in December.