Grape orchards, also called vineyards, provide tasty produce for homemade wines and jellies, as well as other culinary dishes. Grape vines need adequate amounts of moisture and soil nutrients to thrive in home gardens. Growing healthy grapes requires proper site selection and cultivar selection. Consider your existing soil composition and your climate when choosing various types of grape vines. Plant your vines correctly to ensure healthy grape production in the future.
Examine your landscape to determine the best possible location for your vineyard. Look for an area that receives full sunlight. Do not plant the vines under overhanging trees or close to sun-blocking structures. Avoid low valleys that hold in chilly temperatures. Poor air drainage and cold air pockets damage grape vines. Choose an area higher than surrounding areas for planting your vineyard.
Test the existing soil in your selected site. A professional soil analysis provides valuable information regarding any nutritional deficiencies in your soil. Most grapes prefer an average soil with a pH level between 5.0 and 6.0. Increase the organic matter in soils with a low level of nitrogen. Use compost or aged manure to increase the nitrogen.
Purchase grape vines according to your location and climate. Select cold-hardy varieties for northern climates. Concord grapes and Elvira grapes thrive in cooler climates, while Venus grapes and Glenora grapes prefer warmer, southern climates.
Prepare your soil for your new grape orchard early in the spring. Remove all existing vegetation, and loosen the topsoil with a garden tiller. Mix in compost and any recommended soil amendments with your tiller, mixing well to create a smooth surface.
Measure the distance between your holes to allow 8 to 10 feet between each plant in a row. Place rows about 11 feet apart. Use a garden shovel to dig holes for your individual plants. Make each hole slightly larger than the root balls of your selected vines. Place the vines in the holes, keeping the surface of the root ball level with the surrounding soil. Water your vines to the depth of the roots. Check by poking a small hole in the soil near the roots and checking for dampness at the level of the roots.
Fertilize your young grapevines about two weeks after planting. Apply nitrogen fertilizer to encourage healthy growth. Apply approximately 1 lb. of nitrogen per plant. Mix and apply your fertilizer according to the manufacturer's instructions.