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How to Grow Vines
"You cannot grow and ripen grapes outdoor in this country".
This is a common misconception, here are a few facts:
The page covers the following topics:
This page gives you hints and tips about successfully growing your own vines. If having read the page and you would like to try growing your own vines then I recommend that you buy (or borrow from your local library) one of the following books:
Successful Grape Growing for Eating and Wine-making: A Practical Gardeners' Guide to Varieties, Husbandry, Harvesting and Processing.
The Backyard Vintner: The Wine Enthusiast's Guide to Growing Grapes and Making Wine at Home.
Growing Vines to Make Wines: A detailed guide to growing vines in English conditions and making wines from the grapes produced. It covers growing; vine varieties; site, soil and spacing; pests and maladies; propagation; vintage; fermentation; stabilization; bottling; and storing.
From Vines to Wines: A comprehensive guide to growing your own grapes and making homemade wine.
Your choice of vine is most important. The following must be considered:
There are various ways to train your vines but I will describe how to grow your vines in rows or against a wall. Leave a gap of at least 1 metre between rows and at least 1.2 metres between plants.
You can plant your vine any time that it is dormant, generally between October and March. March is probably best as long periods of frost are avoided. If your plant is likely to experience long frosty periods then cover the lower buds with a pile of well rotted compost - draw it back when growth commences.
When you get your vine, prune it down to the lowest 2 buds on each branch - this is essential if you are going to produce worthwhile crops.
The purpose of pruning for the first 3 years is to build up a strong deep root system, if you don't achieve this then your plant will never be strong. Therefore the growth above ground must be limited so the majority of the plant's energy is directed to the roots. You should only allow your vine to fruit in the fourth year.
Choose a sheltered south facing sunny position if possible. Avoid sites in partial shade - a south or south west facing slope is ideal. Growing vines against a south facing wall can bring success in locations too cold for growing completely in the open.
Sandy, gravelly, well drained soil that warms up quickly is best. Drainage is vitally important - the roots must never become waterlogged.
Two to three months before planting, fork in well rotted manure at the rate of one bucket per square metre.
If your soil is light, the type that may dry out in summer, dig your hole to a depth of at least 200mm. If on the other hand your soil is heavy and retains a lot of water then dig to about 50mm or consider creating a mound above the soil level to aid drainage.
Mark out where you want to position your vines using a piece of string to keep your rows straight and even.
Before planting, push a robust cane into the ground so that 1.8 metres is above soil level.
Dig a hole big enough to take all the roots. Holding the vine in by the stem space out the roots and cover with light soil mixed with silver sand and well rotted compost. Make sure the hole is well filled then tread well in. Continue along the row planting at 1.2 metre intervals.