Grapes have been grown by humans for millenia, and given how delicious they are (not to mention the invention of wine) it's not hard to see why. Once established, their vigorous vines produce a mass of delicious fruit. They can be grown along a fence, over trellis or up a pergola and can provide delicious fruit and delightful shade right in the heat of summer. And, they are easy to grow, provided you get things right from the get go!
Why plant grapes?
Aside from being easy to grow and producing masses of fruit, grape vines can also be grown up pergolas or other structures and used to create a feature that is shady in summer and sunny in winter. Helping you keep cool when it's hot and warm when it's not.
Clever uses of this include as a cover over an outdoor dining area or on a pergola in front of large windows, allowing the light in over winter and creating shade through the heat of summer.
Best grown in full sun in a spot with good air circulation (this reduce the risk of fungal problems). Prefers free-draining light-textured soils.
Dig a whole at least twice as wide and deep as the pot the grape comes in. Backfill, mixing in compost and sheep pellets with your top soil. Then plant your grape into the loosened soil and water in thoroughly. Make sure you plant it to the same depth as it was in the pot.
Grapes aren't heavy feeders. Feeding in spring with Kings Slow Release Fruit and Citrus food is sufficient. For an organic option feed in spring with sheep pellets and Aquaticus Organic Garden Booster.
For consistant cropping grapes needed to be pruned and trained annually. In warmer areas (such as Auckland) prune in winter. In cooler areas, prune in early spring before the leaves appear to reduce the risk of frost damage. Grapes produce fruit from growths from 1 year old stems.
When pruning, cut back to a healthy bud. What shape you are training and pruning the vine to varies depending on what you are training it up. In general, prune back enough older growth to encourage the vine to stay vigourous, but leave sufficient 1 year old stems to produce fruit.
Grape Varities shown in the images above, from left to right: Niagra, Candice and Schuyler.