I love tait moring’s sense of gardening style. thanks so much for opening your gates for us. Right now we’re going to talk about growing grapes. One of the hottest topics here in Texas because of all the wineries. We have Jim Kamas with us. It’s great to have you back on the program. Welcome. Thanks, Tom, I appreciate it.
Welcome back to central texas gardener. You’ve just published a great new book Growing Grapes in Texas. Congratulations on that! Thanks a lot. It took a couple years to get done, but I’m I’m pretty happy with it. Well you know, like I said, it’s a hot topic. A lot of people are very interested in growing grapes.
In their backyard. maybe one of those famous table grapes, like concord or something like that. Well Concord is pretty tough to grow here. Concord likes acid soils which we don’t have. And it’s much more adapted a cooler climates. If you wanted to grow Fredonia or some of the other lebrusca types, they’ll work, but Concord is a pretty tough one to grow here. Ok, well your book is filled with tips about varieties and things like that.
Let’s focus on that home grower. you know , I know for example I go out to hill country every now and again to go to Fredericksburg, places around there. And I see wineries springing up like mushrooms now. And it kinda makes me wanna grow grapes here in town. What does a home gardner need to know to get started? Well if you’re a homeowner and you want to grow enough vines to produce a little bit of wine.
My advice is plant what you like. if you’re planting a commercial vineyards we’re going to have a very different discussion. But if you like Merlot, plant Merlot. If you like Syrah, plant Syrah. For smallscale, you have no big economic investment, so plant what you like and go with that.
Yeah okay, that makes sense. In terms of the space needs, the sun, all those kinds of things, grapes are rather particular and disease prone. Yes. So let’s give people an idea of what the basics are that they would need to have any kind of success. Sure. Commercially our rows are spaced nine to ten feet apart, but in the backyard if you.
Are maintaining the row centers with a lawnmower or something, you can place the rows as close as six feet apart. And you can also go as tight as five to six feet between vines. You can put a lot of vines in a relatively small space. So small space is OK. When we talk about the rows, we are talking about.
Providing structures on which the the vines can grow and support themselves. Yes, a lot of times in California you’ll see these free standing vines that are called head pruned vines. They don’t do very well here because we need to keep our vines up off the ground because it rains here during the summer and they are very disease prone as you mentioned.
Pruning Grape Vines
Hi, i’m tricia, an organic gardener. If you want bunches of grapes on your grapevines this summer, then you need to do your winter pruning. I’ll show you how! There are two types of pruning: cane and spur pruning. And both of them should be done late in the season, between January and March.
We’re gonna start with cane pruning, because all table grapes will be productive with that method. For cane pruning, I’m gonna choose one to two canes from last year’s growth on each side of the vine and I’m going to cut the rest! You can tell the age of a cane by its bark. 1yearold canes have smooth bark, older canes have shaggy bark.
When choosing which canes to keep, you’re gonna choose a cane that’s coming off very close to the trunk, as compared to one that’s coming off of a branch, like this. The canes that you keep should have about 15 buds along the length of the cane. And they should be close to the top of the vine. Don’t choose canes that are too thin or too thick. Choose them when they’re about pencil size.
I’m gonna tag the canes that i’m gonna keep with this ribbon, and i’m going to cut the rest. I want to make sure and not cut a good cane. These are the 2 fruiting canes that I’m going to keep. For every fruiting cane that I keep, I’m going to cut another cane into a renewal spur. A renewal spur is a cane cut to 2 buds and these buds are going to create next year’s fruiting canes. If your cut starts to bleed, don’t worry, that’s normal. It won’t hurt the vine.
After seeing how this vine is shaping up, i don’t think i need this cane after all. So you’re gonna cut your fruiting cane back to about 15 buds. And if you have any lateral branches coming off this cane, that’s the time you would cut them. For grape vines growing on arbors, the first thing you’re gonna do is cut off any suckers that are coming off the main vine or cordon. And then you just want to cane prune.
You want to keep one cane and one renewal spur for every 1 2 feet of cordon. This grapevine has been neglected and hasn’t been pruned in a couple of years. So, before I actually start the spur pruning, I’m going to clean it up. Typically, spur prune varieties are trained to a bilateral cordon, which are these thick branches on either side of the trunk. These cordons can be pruned to length, but they’re never pruned all the way off, back to the trunk.
Mine are maintained at about 3.5 feet. A spur is last year’s growth, cut back to 2 buds. Ideally, you’re gonna want 7 spurs on each cordon. And on this cordon, I’ll probably get close. On the other cordons, I’ll have to wait until next year because this vine was neglected. The canes that make the best spurs are the ones that are going upward, close to the cordon.