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.
Hi, I’m Tricia, and organic gardener. Grapes are a beautiful edible landscape plant, as well as producing delicious fruit. Today I’m going to plant a new grapevine. If you’re not ready to plant your grapes as soon as they arrive, that’s ok, you can heel them in. You can either dig a shallow trench, put the grape vines in and cover the roots with soil, or you can do like I’ve done and put the roots in a bucket, cover them with soil and protect them with a little bit of straw.
Grapes are tolerant of a wide variety of soils, but it is important to check with your Master Gardener or local ag extension to find out what varieties will do best in your climate. Your site selection should be in full sun with a southern exposure, away from trees. And avoid depressions where cool air can collect. Ideally, preparation for planting your grapes will start the year before with a soil test and an appropriate cover crop. Grapes like moderate fertility and a pH of about 5.5 7. In most climates you can plant grapes in late winter or early spring.
For northern climates you might want to wait until a little bit later in the spring. Just dig a hole the same size as the roots and don’t add any fertilizer. You don’t want to get more leaves than fruit! Soak the roots of your grapevine for about 2 to 3 hours before planting, and then you can prune off any damaged roots. But it’s important to leave as much of the root system as possible. Make sure that the roots are loose and not clumped together. The hole should be deep enough to plant the vine to the same level it was planted before,.
With a few inches of soil over the longest roots. Gently back fill the soil with the topsoil first. And if it hasn’t rained recently make sure and give your plant some water. You want to train your newly planted little grapevine to grow into a big grapevine with a straight single trunk reaching the trellis. In order to do that we’re going to prune this plant so that it has one straightish cane. By the second year you need some kind of a support system. This two wire support system is very common and easy to build.
To train your grapevine to grow straight up to the trellising, you may need to do a temporary support like bamboo and then just tie it together with a little twine or some tape. These are flame grapes, so I’ll be training them to a bilateral cordon. That is I want a nice straight trunk. And then I’ll choose two buds that will be trained into big, permanent branches on either side of the trunk. It’s really important to tag your plants. I use these permanent zinc plant tags.
Its really important to know what variety you have so that you can prune appropriately. Whether you have a big vineyard or you’ve just planted a few grape vines, grapes will benefit from cover cropping. So get ready for winter pruning, and Grow Organic for Life!.