Grapes — for the table or the wine bottle — are a great plant for the landscape and for the not-so-attentive gardener.“You can abuse them,” says Contra Costa Master Gardener and grape expert Norm Peters. “They are very easy to deal with and if you make a mistake, you cut them back and start all over the next year.”
Here are some of Peters’ tips on setting up a backyard vineyard.
- Decide the function of your vineyard. Are you growing grape vines for the landscape or do you have plans to make wine? If you want to make your own wine, you’re going to need a lot of grapes, so make sure you have the room.
- Know what type of soil you have, which will be the deciding factor on what type of root stock you select.
- If you are growing in rows, decide if you want north-south rows or east-west rows.
- Set up the vineyard before planting the grapes. Have your trellis in place and if you want to grow rows of grapes, build the structure — posts and wires — and install the drip irrigation system first.
- It’s best to purchase vineyard grade supplies made specifically for commercial growers. They are designed exactly for what you need, and they are of higher quality and last longer.
- Irrigation lines should be 12 to 18 inches above the ground, and emitters should be about 3 inches to the right of the vine, not dripping water directly on the wood. The next year, when the vines are established, you can slide the irrigation line down, moving the emitters to about 6 inches away, irrigating the roots.
- Before planting, test the irrigation system, dig the holes and water them well the night before.
- Newly planted vines will need a gallon of water a day for the first six weeks. If the temperatures are above 95 degrees, you might have to water twice a day. Monitor the vines closely for the first month to make sure they aren’t stressed.
- It will take three years to get fruit. Vines should be heavily pruned the first two years to develop the root system. Any fruit that develops also should be removed, and in the fourth year, you are ready to go.
- Do-it-yourself vineyards cost about $10 to $20 per vine, depending on the system you select.
- December-January: Spray for weeds. Leave grass or other ground cover in the center between rows, but remove weeds close to vines. Avoid using a weed eater as you can accidentally damage the vine.
- February: Prune and tie vines. You want to train your vines to grow on their support systems, so tying them in place before the vine starts producing leaves and grapes is important.
- March-July: Fight fungus. The most prevalent is powdery mildew, and vines must be sprayed every 10 to 14 days in this time period to keep it under control. Peters says because of all the rain we had this winter, powdery mildew is going to be bad this season.
- May-June: Thin shoots and train vines; pull leaves to give grapes plenty of sun.
- June-August: Remove suckers.
- August-September: Drop fruit by thinning out clusters that are too close together.
- September-November: Harvest
Next time in Our Garden: Home irrigation techniques and insights. Free classes start at 10 a.m. Wednesdays at Our Garden, Shadelands Drive and Wiget Lane, Walnut Creek. Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer questions; tour our demonstration garden.
Published at Thu, 15 Jun 2017 21:00:45 +0000