A Greenhorn with His Grapes
Without experience or expectation, my whimsical thought to plant grapes in the yard of my suburban city home was incongruous with my lack of gardening/farming skill or long-term interest. Still, I did it. Well into retirement age, the project was a whim. A reader here should correctly assume that grapes I planted did not get caring attention. That would be correct. I did, however, do a couple of positive things related to the process. First, I called my local agriculture extension office and asked about the suitability for growing grapes and got a solid thumbs up. I chose to put Concord grapes (with seeds) into he ground, because that’s what Mom did too many, many years ago and she used them to make jelly I like. I found Stark Brothers online. I ordered two plants and when they came I did as their online instructions suggested - dig holes eight feet apart and with lots of elbow room in a sunny spot, and then mix in compost (credit: my wife made it), sand, and mulch. Things I did not do, include putting in a good trellis structure (I only have a four steel posts with multiple wire strands strung between them) and I did not leave much space for expanding in the future. Other than watering regularly, I pretty much walked away. The two plants were planted in May (2015) and they did the rest, growing and entwining themselves along my wires. As expected, there were no grapes or signs of grapes last year, their first growing season. In February (2016) I pruned them back, because the Stark Brothers instructions said to do it. I had no idea where to cut, but just did. Afraid to lose all the good growth I had accumulated last year, I probably did not get rid of enough, but that seems consistent with my overall approach. Shortly after, when freezing ended, shoots pushed out in all sorts of directions (yes, untrained) and they were and are covered with little clusters, which look like grapes! Amazing! In spite of how they have been treated, they are trying to produce for me. Life is tenacious and very powerful. It finds a way to thrive. This year I have found there are a few people in my neighborhood who also are growing grapes. Now we stand and compare notes on our experiences, though I am embarrassed by my failure to build a proper growing structure and failure to prune properly. Who knew there was a social benefit from grapes, other than wine? And now I want to plant more and am disappointed to not have space for it. Maybe I should get through this harvest first - September, I think.
How easy is this! And if not, then Stark Brothers details every aspect of the process with volumes of online support information.