Home & Garden Gardening

Growing Your Own Grapes on a Trellis

Grapes are one of the most adaptable plants. They can practically grow anywhere and in any condition. The interesting thing about grape vines is that they cannot support their weight as they grow. So what they do is find structures to help bear their weight. They will creep and crawl on walls, trees and fences. So it's a good idea to give them a well-made, sturdy structure to support their growth. As you go on with growing your own grapes, you need to have a trellis system in place and train your grape vines to grow on it.

So what is a trellis system? A trellis system is basically a framework of posts to support your grape vines as they start growing. They can be functional or decorative, simple or complex, and can be made from a variety of materials, including PVC pipes, iron, stainless steel, aluminum and pre-treated wood. If you're on a budget, a simple wooden trellis is pretty cost-effective and can still look decorative. Basically, a trellis system is made of posts around eight feet apart with two rows of steel wires running alongside them, one near the ground and one at the top of the posts. They look pretty similar to a fence.

After you've put up your trellis system, it's time to train your grape vine to start growing up the trellis. During the first spring and summer, as your vines grow shoots and flowers, loosely tie the strongest shoot to your post. This will train the shoot to grow upward.

Prune the lateral shoots from the main shoot. You can also remove excess flower growth. As the season changes to winter and your grape vine continues growing, prune the vine again to leave only around ten buds. Remove the brown and brittle shoots and leave the green, healthy ones to grow and flourish.

Around the next season, your buds will grow about four to six inches long. You should continue to loosely tie the strongest bud up the post, while two of the buds will be your set of horizontal shoots. You will tie these shoots to the lower wires running in opposite directions of your posts, thus creating a lowercase "t" shape. Cut away some more shoots to direct the growth to the buds you leave.

Once your vine reaches the top of the post, select two of the strongest shoots and trim away the others. Again, loosely tie these shoots laterally to the wires running on top of your posts to make another "t" shape.

During the winter, do some more pruning from the four arms you've made and the trunk of your vine. This will let the plant focus on diverting the energy it stores to produce fruit in the coming spring.

Training your grape vine growing on a trellis will really help it get the right amount of sunlight and air circulation it needs to produce and bear fruits. Soon, you will be happy to see the results of growing your own grapes with juicy, delicious fruits growing from your well-maintained vineyard.

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