It's been a heck of a winter in many areas of the country and only now can many of us get out and do some much needed gardening chores. One that's tops on my list is pruning my grapes. Many home owners are growing grapes for fresh eating and wine making. It's a great idea because grapes are easy to grow even in small spaces. The key is pruning them annually and now is the time. Here's how.
- New Vines- If you just planted your grapes last year, all you'll be doing this spring is pruning to create a main trunk and removing all other side shoots. The trunk should be attached to a stake to the height of the wire trellis. Top the trunk once it reaches the wire.
- Established Vines- If your vines are already growing on the wire trellis and the trunk is established, cut back the side arms or branches that fruited last year to about 10 buds and remove all the side shoots. Attach these arms to the wire with VELCRO® Brand Ties and VELCRO® Brand Garden Ties. Use the different colored ties to color code which varieties are growing. Leave two smaller branches close to the trunk cut back to 2 to 3 buds as the replacement branches for next year's arms. Remove any shoots growing off the main trunk. You should be pruning off about 70% of the vines each winter.
- Vines on a Trellis or Pergola- If you're growing grapes up a trellis or pergola, train the main trunk up the post until it reaches the desired height. Cut back the arms along the trellis each winter to about 5 to 6 buds and remove thin side shoots spacing the arms about 2 to 3 feet apart. This will create more grape production, while not sacrificing shade.