Growing Grapes In The Garden
Growing grapes in your garden is as easy as growing any other type of soft fruit. As long as you have a south-facing garden in a relatively warm spot you should have no problems growing grapes outside. Alternatively, you can grow them inside a greenhouse if you live in the north of the UK.
Grapes are hardy plants that can be grown outside in southern England and Wales. For cultivating outdoors, it is best to choose a variety suited for the outdoors. These include:
- Meuller-Thurgau – a mid-season maturing sweet, white grape, suitable for desserts, or wine-making
- Siegerrebe – an acid-loving early fruiting variety, with green/gold berries, ideal for making wine
Indoor varieties (ideal for being grown in a greenhouse) include:
- Black Hamburgh – a well-known variety, bearing large, blue-black berries
- Thompson’s Seedless – this variety produces green dessert grapes and can be grown successfully in a cold greenhouse
Planting A Grape Vine Outdoors
The best time to plant a grapevine is from October until March. Choose a south-facing position and grow the vine up a wall or sturdy structure, such as a pillar. Dig a hole 15cm deep and 15cm away from the support (wall, pillar, etc). Place the rootball in the hole, refill the space with soil and gently tread the soil around the stem to firm it into place. Cover the soil surface around the vine with a thick mulch of well-rotted manure or compost to help protect the roots from frost.
Planting A Grape Vine Indoors
Indoor grapevines can be planted in the soil on the outside of a greenhouse and the trunk trained to grow inside, via a hole in the wall. This method of cultivation is often applied to vines that are grown in greenhouses with concrete floors. However, it is important to provide ventilation (usually via an open window) for grapes grown under glass. This ensures that humidity levels are reduced as the fruits ripen.
Pests And Diseases
A common pest of grapes grown in greenhouses is red spider mite. The mites thrive in hot, dry conditions and can devastate a plant if allowed to spread. Maintaining good hygiene will reduce the problem. Misting the plant will increase humidity (creating adverse conditions for the pest), however humidity can also hamper the quality of the berries.
Growing Grapes In Containers
A grapevine will grow happily in a pot and produce grapes every year if well cared for. Grapevines can be kept in large pots for several years. To maintain a healthy grapevine in a pot, top-dress every spring. Simply remove 15cm of compost from the top of the pot and replace with a fresh layer of well-rotted manure or compost. Regular watering and feeding during the growing season will be required to maintain nutrient levels to ensure the plant grows properly.
Grapes are a fantastic fruit to grow in your garden. They can be grown indoors in a greenhouse or conservatory, or grown outdoors along a wall or in a container. You can eat the grapes fresh on their own or in salads, or even try your hand at making your own wine.