Gorgeous garden grapes are the holy grail of most gardeners and easily achievable as long as you have a sunny arbour, wall or pergola. You don't have to have a greenhouse, there are many hardy varieties that ripen well outdoors. But perhaps the most luscious fruits of all are attained ina greenhouse or conservatory.
If you don't want yout Grapes to climb they can be kept pruned or grown as cordon style vines, which is how they are most commonly cultivated on a commercial scale.
General cultivation notes
Plant in a warm sheltered area and if possible in full sun. Grapes prefer a deep well drained soil, are tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions, but chalky soil would need improvement. Plant 4 feet apart and double dig if the soil is hard or in poor condition. Compost or well rooted manure should be added.
SUPPORT. If growing against a wall in the open ground, posts should be erected leaving 4 feet out of the ground and sunk to a depth of 18 inches. Space 10 feet apart. Wire or gauge 12 should be positioned 19 inches from the ground. At 2 feet 6 inches and 3 feet 6inches from the ground two gauge 14 wires should be placed at each height. They should be zig-zagged from post to post as follows. The first in front of the post, behind the second post, in front of the third post, etc. A cane should be inserted for each of the plants.
PRUNING. After planting the main stem should be cut back to 2 or 3 buds. During Summer select the strongest of the shoots and rub out all of the others to leave one strong stem, the tip should then be pinched out in September.
THE SECOND WINTER. Cut back the stem to 3 or 4 feet from the ground and tie it along the bottom wire. If the soil or weather conditions have restricted growth in the first year it may be necessary to repeat the first years pruning and leave the above until the third Winter.
THE SECOND SUMMER. Remove any buds that are below 15 inches from the ground. As new growth is made this should be trained upright between the rows of double wire tucking the soft tips carefully between the thin wire. When the shoots have grown through the top wires, trim off with shears. Some fruits may now be forming but only allow the plant to produce 3 or 4 bunches and none if the plant is at all week.
PRUNING THE ESTABLISHED PLANT. Each year the rod that has fruited should be cut off leaving two shoots. One of these shoots should be tied along the bottom wire. The other shoot should be pruned to 3 buds, the best of these can be selected for the replacement rod in the following season. The young growth can be lightly trimmed during the Summer so that the sun can reach the ripening fruits. This should be done in September.
FEEDING. In February apply 2oz per square yard of Growmore and 1/2oz per square yard of Sulphate of Potash. Mulch well rotted compost and use a foliar feed throughout the growing season.
THINNING. The bunches of grapes intended for dessert use will need to be thinned. For wine, the bunches can be left as they are. When the berries begin to swell thin them with a ling bladed pair of scissors. Leave plenty of fruit at the shoulders of the bunch, remove interior berries first and then the smallest. Spacing of about pencil thickness between each fruit is ideal. Do not touch the fruit with the hand as this destroys the fruits natural bloom.
WATERING. Water well and regularly during Summer months.
HARVESTING. When the fruits are fully coloured they still need a further 4 or 55 weeks before they are ready for picking. Cut the bunches with secateurs.
Varieties - outdoor green
Muller Thurgau [wine]
Madelaine Sylvaner [wine]
Early van der Laan [dual purpose]
Lakemont Seedless [dessert]
Varieties - outdoor red/blue
Flame [dessert, seedless]
Boskoop Glory [blue black dessert]
Brandt [black dual purpose]
Dornflder [deep blue black]
Fragola [red dessert]
Black Hamburgh [black]
Buckland Sweetwater [green]
Muscat of Alexandria [white-green sweet]
Fosters Seedling [green]
Seedless varieties may still produce pips if under stress.