I think it quite safe to say that more has been written about the cultivation of grapes than has – or ever will be – written about any other fruit. This is not surprising, considering that probably the oldest of known fruits is grape.
Surprisingly, grape planting do not need loads of manures and fertilizers; grapes grow well on quite poor soils and need little after-attention. The roots will search out and find what they want; the only responsibility is where to put the top-growth – the vine itself.
If one of your wall faces south, south-west or even west, that problem is solved very easily. If you cannot plant the vine under that particular wall, plant it round the corner and train the vine round to the sunny side of the house. Grapes may be grown in the open garden in similar fashion to loganberries, or they may be trained over sheds, garages, out-houses and such-like.
Vines are not expensive, and if two are planted, the harvest may be regarded as fantastic when considering the value of the wine that may be made for many years.
Grape planting is best carried out in autumn and in any case before Christmas. If planting against a wall, take out a hole about two feet each way and plant so that the stem of the vine is about fifteen inches away from the wall itself. Dig deeply and work in any compost that may be available and some builders’ rubble taht you can fine. A dusting of lime forked in will be beneficial. Spread out the roots well and plant as recommended for fruit trees.
After having the vine planted, distribute a little manure above the roots: this will not be necessary in subsequent seasons, but the vine will benefit from a mulch each spring if you can give it one.
Vines must not be allowed to fruit the first season; therefore they must be cut back to about four buds.
Having planted the vine and cut it back, we must decide how to train it to cover the wall. The best plan is to use special wall nails, run wires to and from these and train the vine to the wires.
The four long growths that come from the four buds you left when cutting back are stopped at the bud nearest the growing point. These four leaders are the basis from which the vine will be built up to cover the wall. If flower buds form during the first season, they should be nipped off so that the vine uses its energy producing wood for subsequent fruiting. First-season fruiting often permanently weakens a vine.
Grapevine pruning, remember that next year’s fruit will be borne on the wood made this year. But we do not want masses of long, straggling growths hanging about all over the place. Summer it is best time to cut some of them out. Those left to bear next year’s fruit should be cut back to five or six buds in autumn or early winter.