Now that you’ve decided to grow your very own grapes, there are some things you need to know about growing grapes at home. There isn’t a lot of difference between growing grapes at home and growing them in a big vineyard. Basically, what makes the two different is the amount of space available for the plants. This doesn’t really have an effect on your plants’ ability to thrive however; only perhaps on the amount of grapes you can plant in your limited space. But not to worry, a small but flourishing vineyard is definitely enough for you to succeed in grape growing and eventually in making your own wine.
There are several things that both a large vineyard and the home grower need to consider in growing healthy grapevines. Tending to the vines is the most vital, and can also be the most tedious. This includes soil preparation, watering, exposing the plants to the sun, pruning and pest control.
Let’s go into more detail on pruning. Simply, pruning is trimming away parts of the plant to allow a healthier plant to grow. It diverts the energy from the vines and roots to the fruit. Without this, your grapevines will result in less fruit, and you will end up with an overgrown mess. Pruning is basically needed to remove the past year’s fruiting canes or spurs. Healthy new canes must be produced every year since grapes only thrive on shoots from canes that are only a year old. The technique you use on your grapevine largely depends on the type of grapes you are growing. General rules include trimming off the shoots that grow to the sides (called lateral shoots), pruning new shoots hard the first years for the main vine to grow, and removing the brown and brittle buds that have been damaged due to weather. To avoid unnecessary injury to the plant, it is best to be careful. A hand pruner is good with cutting year-old shoots, while a lopper or a handsaw is best used for larger woods on the vine.
Pest control is another job that can really take a lot of your time. The grapevine needs protection from pests like insects, birds and deer who would love to dine on the juicy, growing fruits. Fortunately, grapevines can tolerate moderate levels of insect damage. It is only necessary to intervene when the fruit itself or a good portion of the leaves are threatened.
The pests that can inflict more damage on your vineyard are birds. They can really devastate your crop, so it’s best to control them immediately. Physical barriers like nets can be installed so that the birds cannot get to the crops. These barriers must be removed before winter though to avoid ice formation that can damage your vines. Another way to scare away the birds is with the use of visual repellants. These can include aluminum pie plates and artificially made animals like hawks, owls and snakes.
For deer, the effective way to keep them off your grapevines is to use odor repellents. The scent of coyotes, which are natural deer predators, can scare them away.
All it really takes to growing grapes at home is a great amount of patience and hard work. Tasks can be tedious, but just keep at it and the rewards can be extremely generous.
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