Growing Grapes in Texas Jim Kamas Central Texas Gardener
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.
So we put them up on a trellis to try and intercept sunlight and dry the canopy a little quicker. You mentioned some that absolutely have to have full sun. They need full sun. And again that’s the limitation of row spacing. Six feet is about as tight you can put rows together and still get full sunlight penetration on the vine Well we have everything from heavy clay soils which hold moisture for a long time. To those limestone soils which hardly hold moisture at all. So what do grapes really prefer? Well grapes are pretty tolerant of.