Growing fruit in the home garden is more popular now than it’s been in years. More and more people are discovering the fun, savings and great taste from growing their own fruits. I grew up in a family that always had fresh fruit and vegetables available in the summer. One of the fruits I fondly remember was grapes. I remember my grandmother picking grapes and making fresh grape jam. It tasted best served on her homemade country biscuits. It was the greatest!
Maybe its me, but with all the fruit tree and home gardening craze going on you just don't here that much about grapes. Not only are they good to eat, grapes provide a beautiful ornamental look and are valuable as shade or screen plants around your home when trained to grow on a trellis or arbor. And growing them is not hard. All you need is a little space, plenty of sunshine and decent, well drained soil.
Here is an arbor that I built about three years ago located in the corner of my backyard.
Eventually the vine will spread across the top of the arbor and completely shade the area underneath. At that point, I'll probably add a garden bench underneath.
There are many choices when it comes to growing grapes - green, purple, red, black. Some have seeds, and some don't. When choosing a grape cultivar, your best source of advice is a reputable nursery to help pick out a good one for your area as well as a variety suitable for your intended use.
I grow scuppernong grapes (not sure of the cultivar). Scuppernong is a large variety of the muscadine grape family (Vitis rotundifolia), a species of grape native to the southeastern United States, and thus well adapted to the warm, humid conditions of the region.
These will turn to a coppery-bronze color when ripe.
Grapes are best planted in early spring or fall. Regular applications of a balanced fertilizer during the growing season will benefit them. Pruning grapes can be tricky. When it comes to pruning I personally don't follow the suggested methods. Pruning is important if growing grapes for commercial use, but in the home garden less so. I do some light pruning in early spring (just before the leaves appear) to thin out the vines. Also, keep an eye out for any dead or damaged limbs throughout the summer and remove them as necessary. A lot of information is out there on the subject if interested in learning more about pruning grape vines.
Birds enjoy grapes too, and not just for eating. Look closely and you can see a young chipping sparrow sitting in its nest located deep within the grape vine.
So go ahead and give grapes a try - they're good, healthy and can make for an attractive setting in your yard.
More info on grapes...