Supporting Your Vines
Grape vines require support to grow properly. You can use any trellis, fence, arbor, pergola, or other supportive structure for your vines to grow on. When using an arbor, archway, or pergola, your vines will provide shade as well as fruit! You’ll want to have supports nearby when you plant your new starts.
How to Care for New Vines
The first two years of your grape vines’ lives are growing years and the only real maintenance they’ll need will be watering and pruning. Older vines will require only slightly more effort.
Around the one-year mark your plants will develop shoots coming up from the ground. Prune until all that remains is the single strongest one. This becomes your plant’s trunk; it will begin growing additional shoots and you should prune off all but the best four of these.
At the two year mark, you’ll be removing a large portion of the plant’s new growth. Prune off about ⅔ to ¾ of all new growth; you want to end up with only the plant’s main trunk and the four branches you created the previous year. In the next year, these branches will begin bearing fruit!
In addition to pruning, your new plants will need weeding beneath the vines. Weeds sap nutrients and can also lower the temperature of the soil; grapes do best when the soil is warm.
You should only add nutrients if needed. If you feel this to be necessary, you may want to add:
- Compost can be added annually if you like.
- Nitrogen. Poultry, rabbit, and steer manure are good for this.
- Potassium. Any product containing potassium sulfate will work.
- Magnesium. Try using bone meal for this.
- Phosphate. Epsom salts are a good way to add this.
- Zinc, which helps with pollination and the production of hormones.
Pruning Mature Vines
Aside from weeding and the addition of nutrients, the most important part of caring for your grape vines will be pruning. Once your plant is producing fruit, pruning will help create a good harvest of healthy fruit, while ensuring that the plant remains strong and lives a long time.
How to prune will depend on the variety of grape you are raising and its purpose; consult a viticulturist, another expert, a or a book, for more information on various pruning strategies.