Good enough to eat

Macclesfield Express - - LEISURE -

●● Pre­par­ing ground for grapes YOU may think that grow­ing grapes is only for those liv­ing in the Mediter­ranean, but if you have a sunny, shel­tered, south-fac­ing wall you could be grow­ing vines and may even get some fruit out of them.

Pre­pare the spot now for out­door grapes by dig­ging a large plant­ing hole, around 1m (3ft) square and lin­ing it with bricks. This serves as an un­der­ground pocket which keeps the plants compact so they pro­duce more fruit and less leafy growth. Fill it with good qual­ity top­soil and add plenty of compost. Leave it a few months un­til you plant a new vine.

April is prob­a­bly the best time and plant a pot-grown one, with the top of the root­ball level with the soil sur­face, train­ing the stems out over the wall and tie them to a trel­lis or wall nails.

Those main stems will thicken and pro­duce side-shoots ev­ery year.

Keep vines well wa­tered in dry spells in the sum­mer when they are car­ry­ing fruit. The vine will need a year or two to es­tab­lish be­fore pro­duc­ing grapes and ini­tially it's worth lim­it­ing each vine to four bunches, or fruit will be small. In mid­win­ter, when the vine is dor­mant, thin out over­crowded growth. In spring, mulch gen­er­ously and add fer­tiliser.

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