Grapes are a nutritious and tasty snack. Because of the vines they grow on, however, they can seem daunting to the home gardener. But don't worry. Grapes are easy to grow and require minimal maintenance once established.
Select the variety of grape you want to grow. Consider climate, yield and types of fruits produced. Some grape varieties are better for eating fresh from the vine while others are preferred for making jams and jellies. Check with your local nursery or mail order company to find the type right for you.
Choose a location for your grapes. Grapes need full sun and well-drained soil. You also must have room for your trellis or arbor, although it does not need to be constructed until the second year. Grapevines can survive up to 100 years if well cared for. Select a location that can be permanent.
Dig a hole with your shovel that will allow plenty of room for the roots without bending or breaking them. Place the plant in the hole and cover with soil. (Plant as deep as the vine was planted in the original container.)
Water your plant thoroughly. Mulch around the plant to maintain moisture and prevent weeds, which will compete with the young vine for nutrients.
Construct your trellis or arbor now or wait until next year. If you wait, simply stake and tie the plant for support this year. When you build the trellis or arbor, make it strong enough to support the weight of mature vines with fruit.
Prune your grapes in early spring. Aggressive pruning leads to larger, healthier grapes. Keep in mind that grapes grow on this year's growth instead of old wood.
Taste your grapes before harvesting to ensure that they are ripe.
Grapes are not fully mature for five to six years, and may not even produce fruit until the third or fourth year, depending on variety. Do not lose patience, because eventually your grapes will produce an abundant, healthy crop.
Birds may try to eat your grapes. If you notice them in your vines, buy bird netting from local garden centre or home supply store to place over the plants in fruiting season.