Grapevines are an undemanding fruit to grow in the home garden. They thrive in average soil, and once planted, require very little pruning. Grapevines will begin producing a crop of fruit the second summer after planting and will remain productive for 15 to 20 years in your garden.
Pick a spot to grow grapes that is in full sun with well-drained soil that is on the dry side. Make sure there is room for a trellis or other support system for the grape vine.
Improve the soil. Grapevines grow best in average, well-drained soil. Improve the texture of the soil by adding a 2- to 4-inch layer each of sand and compost to the surface of the soil. Dig these in by turning over the soil with a spade. Rake the area smooth.
Construct the trellis or support structure. It should consist of a central post to train the main vines and an overhead lattice on which to train the lateral vines.
Plant the grapevines. Dig a hole that is large enough to accommodate the root system without bending the roots. Put the roots into the planting hole and spread them out. Position the stem so that it is growing at the same depth as it was growing in the nursery. Back fill the hole with soil, and firm it gently around the base of the vine.
Water in the newly planted grapevine with a hand watering can. Thereafter, provide grapevines with the equivalent of 1- to 2-inches of rainfall per week.
Apply a mulch to the soil. Put down a 2- to 4-inch layer of hay, straw, buckwheat hulls or other organic mulch.
Prune the newly planted vine so that only the strongest cane remains. Cut this cane back so that it has two strong buds remaining.
Train the growth from the remaining buds up the center or main pole of the support structure. Remove any side branches that develop. When the main stems reach the top of the support structure, allow lateral branches to develop. Their tendrils will wrap around the trellis, and the vines will grow horizontally along the trellis.
Fertilize grapevines every year in early spring. Pull back the mulch, and apply fertilizer specially formulated for fruits around the base of the grapevine in a 6- to 8-inch circle. Lightly scratch it into the surface of the soil with a garden claw. Replace the mulch.
Mulch the soil around the base of the grapevine with a protective winter mulch. Apply a 12- to 18-inch layer of fallen autumn leaves in late fall after the grapevines' leaves have turned yellow and have fallen off. Remove the mulch in mid-spring when the leaf buds begin to swell.