A grape is a fruiting berry of the deciduous woody vines of the botanical genus Vitis.Grapes can be eaten raw or they can be used for making wine, jam, juice, jelly, grape seed extract, raisins, vinegar, and grape seed oil. Grapes are a non-climacteric type of fruit, generally occurring in clusters.
HOW TO GROW
Choose the right variety. There are thousands of grape varieties in the world. For the greatest success in growing grapes, choose the variety that will work best for you. Do some research on grape varieties.
Obtain the grape seeds. Once you identify the variety of grapes you want to grow, get your seeds. You can get them from grapes you’ve purchased, from a nursery, from your yard’s wild grape-vines (in some areas), or from another gardener.
Ensure the seeds are viable. Examine the seeds to make sure they are healthy and in good condition.
- Squeeze the seed gently between two fingers. A healthy seed is firm to the touch.
- Look at the seed’s color. In a healthy grape seed, you will be able to see a a pale gray or white endosperm under the seed coat.
- Put them in water. Healthy, viable seeds will sink when placed in water. Discard any seeds that float.
Prepare the seeds. Take the viable seeds and wash them thoroughly to remove any pulp or other matter. Soak them in a small amount of distilled water for up to 24 hours.
Stratify your seeds. Many seeds require a period of cold, moist conditions to begin the germination process. In nature, this is achieved when seeds sit in the ground over the winter. You can mimic these conditions through the process of stratification. For grape seeds, the best time to begin stratification is in December (the northern hemisphere winter).
- Prepare a bed for your seeds. Fill an airtight bag or other capsule with a soft medium like wet paper towels or sand, vermiculite or peat moss that has been dampened. Peat moss is the best choice for grape seeds because its anti-fungal properties will help eliminate seed-damaging mold.
- Tuck the seeds into the bed. Cover them with about 1/2″ (1.25 cm) of growing medium.
- Refrigerate the seeds. The ideal temperature for stratification is a steady 35-40 ºF (1-3 ºC), so the refrigerator is a good place for this process. Keep the seeds refrigerated for two to three months. Do not allow them to freeze.
Plant your seeds. In early spring, remove the seeds from the refrigerator and plant them in pots filled with good soil.
- Plant seeds individually in small pots, or in larger pots with at least 1 1/2″ (3.8 cm) between them.
- Make sure your seeds stay warm enough. To properly germinate, the seeds need daytime temperatures of at least 70ºF (20ºC) and nighttime temperatures around 60ºF (15ºC). Use a greenhouse or warming mats to keep your seeds at the correct temperature.
- Keep the soil moist but not too wet. Mist the surface with a fine spray of water when it starts to look dry.
- Check for growth. Grape seeds typically take between 2-8 weeks to sprout.
Transplant your seedlings. When your seedlings have grown to about 3″ (8 cm), transplant them to larger pots. For the healthiest plants, keep your seedlings indoors until they have reached a height of 12″ (30 cm), have a good network of roots and have at least 5-6 leaves.
Plant your grape vines in the ground. To thrive, grape vines need the right amount of sun, proper drainage and a form of support.
- Choose the right location. Grapes need 7-8 hours of full sun daily for best results.
- Prepare your soil. Grapes require well drained soil. If you have clay or other poorly drained soil, augment it with decomposed compost, sand or other soil amendments to increase drainage. Alternatively, use a raised bed filled with a good sandy loam mixed with compost.
- Space your plants about 8′ (2.5 m) apart to allow for growth.
Take proper care of your plants, and prepare to wait. Grape vines take up to three years to start producing fruit. During that time, proper care and training of your plants is essential for the best fruit yield.
- In the first couple of years, the vine should not be allowed to produce fruit. It needs to strengthen its root system before it can support the extra weight of fruit.
- Pruning is important. Not only would vines run rampant without control, but canes will only produce fruit once. Prune annually when vines are dormant, in March or April. This is before the buds start to swell, but when winter damage is apparent.
- Don’t be afraid to remove at least 90 percent of the previous season’s growth. This will ensure a higher quality product. Remember, the more you prune, the more grapes you will have.
- In the first year, cut back all buds except for 2 or 3. Then, select a couple of strong canes and cut back the rest. Make sure the remaining canes are fastened to the support.
- In the second year, prune back all canes. Leave a couple of buds on each of the arms. Remove flower clusters as they form.
- Do not fertilize in the first year unless you have problem soil. Fertilize lightly in the second year of growth.
- Use mulch to keep an even amount of moisture around the vines.
- A mesh net is useful in keeping birds away from budding fruit.
- Japanese Beetles
- Powdery Mildew
- Black Rot
- Grapes contain powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols, which may slow or prevent many types of cancer, including esophageal, lung, mouth, pharynx, endometrial, pancreatic, prostate and colon.
- The flavonoid quercetin is a natural anti-inflammatory that appears to reduce the risk of ?atherosclerosis and protect against the damage caused by low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in animal studies.
- The high polyphenol content in grapes may also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by preventing platelet build-up and reducing blood pressure via anti-inflammatory mechanisms.
- High potassium intakes are also associated with a reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density and reduction in the formation of kidney stones.
- Eating foods that are high in water content like grapes, watermelon and cantaloupe can help to keep you hydrated and your bowel movements regular. Grapes also contain fiber, which is essential for minimizing constipation.