Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Small Fruits & Berries
by National Gardening Association Editors
- Choose a variety that is recommended for your climate. Grapes require a long, frost-free growing season.
- Grapes start to bear 2 years after 1-year-old vines are planted. Established vines will yield up to 15 pounds of grapes per year, 30 to 40 pounds from a muscadine.
- Plant grapes in the spring.
- Select a site with deep, well-drained, loose soil in full sun.
- Set up a trellis system before planting.
- Space vines 6 to 10 feet apart (16 feet for muscadines).
- For each vine, dig a planting hole 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide. Fill with 4 inches of topsoil. Trim off broken roots and set the vine into the hole slightly deeper than it grew in the nursery.
- Cover the roots with 6 inches of soil and tamp down. Fill with the remaining soil, but don't tamp this down.
- Prune the top back to two or three buds at planting time and follow the first-year training steps.
- Prune annually when the vines are dormant according to the training system you select.
- Do not fertilize unless the soil is very poor or the plants show poor foliage color or signs of nutrient deficiencies.
- Cultivate shallowly around the base of plants to control weeds.
- Drape netting over vines to prevent birds from destroying your harvest.
- See our article Fruit Pests and Diseases for controls of common grape pests such as aphid, scale, anthracnose, and black rot.
- Grapes will only ripen on the vine. As they ripen, the sugar content rises to about 20 percent.
- Harvest table grapes when the flavor is right; harvest wine grapes when they reach the appropriate sugar content.