Apr 20

Growing Grapes

When I first saw a vineyard here is Kansas, I was surprised. Come on, grapes? Surviving the Heartland winter’s? Sure…. How wrong I turned out to be.

We have begun to establish our own small vineyard here on the homestead. Turns out that grapes are the easiest and one of the most adaptive of fruits. And we are ready to enjoy our third year of grapes.


Why am I talking about grapes now? Now is the beginning of grape planting season. I saw several plants in the farm store yesterday, and thought I would help out any of you that are thinking about growing grapes, but have never done so.

Grapes can be found growing in just about every type of climate here in the United States. Every garden can be successful with there own private vineyard. Look around your yard, the best site to plant is on a slight slope to help with drainage and air circulation. Avoid areas like low frosty pockets, there is danger of the plant being injured in spring frosts. Grapes need full sun and away from competing trees.

If you have a short growing season, plant them next to your house on the south side, train the vines to climb your wall. The heat radiation will help the grapes ripen a week sooner. No worries, insect {except for a certain caterpillar} are not too fond of grapes.

Stay clear of rich soils, you want the fruits, not the foliage. Grapes vines will produce, if properly managed, for 50-60 years. Be sure to mulch with organic grasses every year. You will want to apply 2-3 lb of crushed granite rock in the winter and a ½ lb of a good source of high organic nitrogen in the spring. Spread these out in an area 6 -8 feet in diameter from the base of the grape vine. {Grape vine roots can extend up to 8 feet out.}

Planting can be done in the spring or fall. Spring planting takes place between March and May. Do not buy anything older than two years old. They don’t transplant well, and already producing vines will take longer to produce than the younger vines.

Space your vines out 8x8ft, seven feet is ok as well. Holes should be 12-14 inches deep and 16 inches in diameter. Prune the tops off to just a single cane. and then cut the single cane down until only two buds remain. If you have it, place some bone meal, compost or crushed granite into the hole. Place your plant into the hole, with the two buds at ground level.

You do not need to trellis the first year, but the second year, you will. We will talk about trellis later, if you would like.

We enjoy grape jam here, maybe someday the youngest of my boys will stop eating them off the vine so that we can have enough to make more than a single days serving.


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  1. Annette

    Oh, more grape vine info the better! We inherited our vines from the previous family and are learning via trial and error.

    Thanks Phelan!

  2. Kymber

    oh please – more posts on grapes!!! we, too, inherited a small grape vine at our current residence…they seem similar to concord grapes…very small and very purple…but i am in Canada for the love of?!?!?!?

    so any additional posts on your understanding of grapes would be helpful! oh and i love the pics! thanks Phelan!

  3. Anonymous

    Great post MCK keep up the great work.

  4. keith

    I’m a new grower, my grandmother grew grapes in the back yard when we were kids. I remember those days well, they were great!. my dang gone cousin destroyed her vines after she passed away! the entire family was hurt and upset by it. I love to garden, another gift handed down to me from my grandmother. I am making an attemp to bring back the tradition of grape growing for my grandchildren and family, along with the happy memory’s they created in doing so! this is one of the many wonderful things my grandmother left us with, and a family treasure. Thanks for your help!

  5. Barbara

    I have a old grape vine with a lot of green grapes on it I believe they are concord. They are still green and not growin in size. What do I need to do at this date to harvest a crop for jelly making ?

    Thanks for your help. Barbara

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