Growing grapes can be very exciting; if you are doing it for the first time.
We thought having home grown grapes in a cold climate is difficult all these while. Because we often see grape plants appear in the tropical countries.
Later, we discovered that certain types of fruit trees are able to be planted successfully in the cold weather; with a little extra care.
We bought a grapevine bare-root stock "Vistis Boskoop Glory (Vitaceae)" in 2005 year end.
"Vistis Boskoop Glory" is the oldest grape variety in Netherlands. The ripe grape berries are in dark blue to black colour.
When we first bought her, we set her in our well prepared backyard garden bed (near the North side of garden hedge) immediately with plenty of water; and enough space at the bottom for the roots development.
We placed her at the position that she would be receiving full winter and summer sunlight. We gave her a thick layer of fresh potting soil (weed free) under the roots; and cover her top soil with dried organic soil (Coconut fibber) for the winter protection.
We gave her bamboo sticks to support her vines. And we thought she would be happy and would grow well.
However, after 2006 summer (picture 1) we discovered that she was growing very slow. So, we started our pruning work before the frost. We pruned her a little backwards and watch her again for another year.
After the 2007 summer, we have decided to move her into our green house near the West side of our garden hedge. Because the grape plant was not expanding.
In the year 2008, we had decided to leave her alone and let her grow her vines as long as she wanted in the greenhouse.
In the spring, we prepared some garden wires and PVC pipes for her to climb.
On 20th April she started to climb (picture 2). And on 21st June she had plentiful of leaves (picture 3). She was finally expanding.
In the summer, on 1st August, our greenhouse roof was totally covered with all the cheerful fruit vines and the beautiful green grape leaves (picture 4) for the first time.
Conclusion is she needed "space and freedom"! She needed space to expand her vines and freedom to grow to what she desired. She was very happy!
Organic growing grapes require a little more attention than growing shrub berries; or planting strawberries.
When the 2008 cycle is almost over, in the late autumn; when all the leaves had fallen; and the vines were brown and dried; we pruned all the newly developed vines two third backwards.
We covered her with some ordinary potting soil. She was then ready for a sweet winter sleep.
After a long winter sleep, in spring 2009; on a frost free sunny day we sprinkled some rain water; and a little of dried brewed coffee ground on the top soil.
We examined her a little to check and remove insects and or snails around her. We prepared some ropes and PVC pipes this time as the climbing lines for her creeping vines.
We inserted three thick bamboo sticks vertically to secure the old vines; and provide three plastic coded sticks horizontally to the length of 100cm; from left to right across the back of our green house; as the guiding lines.
Monitoring Grapevines growth
*On 26-4-2009 the vines started to climb (picture 5); and we watched and guide the vines line by line. Once the creeping vines were on their way to the pipes, we guided them along the pipes and used some soft plastic wires to hold them in place.
*On 1-5-2009 several flowers buds came; and they were wrapping with a white dress coat (picture 6). Later, the buds would swelled (picture 7) and when the fancy-dress was disappeared; the mini clusters of yellow flowers would be there (picture 8).
*On 21-5-2009 the whole plant was expanding (picture 9).
When the flowers dropped the mini green grapes would be there (picture 10).
*On 18-6-2009 the long legs spider a-like insect (picture 11) and the snail appeared.
*On 3-7-2009 the fruits were expanding (picture 12).
*On 12-7-2009 the roots appeared on top of the soil (picture 13) and we quickly cover it with some fresh soil.
*On 18-7-2009 colouring had started (picture 14).
*On 4-8-2009 marble a-like coloured grapes appeared (picture 15).
*On 6-8-2009 some clusters of grapes turned into dark blue colour (picture 16).
*On 11-8-2009 some grapes turn into blue colour (picture 17).
*On 31-8-2009 All grapes were matured (picture 18).
*On 2-9-2009 harvested 750g sweet and juicy organic grapes (picture 19&20).
Growing Grapes must Know How to Prune Young Grapevines
Top the tender vines once the vines are climbing supper fast towards the 100cm guide lines. Spread the vines as soon as possible; and hold them in place (do not allow them to touch each other) to provide enough breathing space and to encourage larger grapes.
The trimmed off vines you can use them as cuttings.
Support the Vines
When the tender clusters of fruits are slowly turning down, intensive care must be given; to ensure the hanging vines are having good supports.
Pruning Baby Grapes is a Must
Pruning young grapes is necessary when the grapes are grown into different sizes. Trim away those very mini grapes early, so that the grape plant can reserve its energy to grow those bigger ones. And the grapes needed time to develop to their best size and best quality.
Growing grapes organically in a sweet-air greenhouse is successful!