Grapes from the oldest grapevine in Europe (400 years old).
image by Le Max: Flickr
Grapevines have been grown around the world for thousands of years. They can be eaten fresh, dried into raisins, made into wine or just allowed to drape themselves over a porch or arbor. Grapevines are usually hardy between zones 3 and 5, although they grow better in warmer climates where the fruit has a better chance of sweetening. There are many varieties of grapevine that can be grown for home use, from seeded to seedless, including Concord and Canadice varieties.
Choose a variety of grapevine to plant. Grapes for eating are usually sweeter than the wine-making variety. The Canadice is a good red table grape, while the Concord is used mainly for juice and wine.
Choose an area in which to plant the grapevines. Grapes need full sun and like slightly acidic soil, with a pH from 5.0 to 6.0. They also need well-drained soil. Plant along the south side of your house if you live in a cooler climate. Avoid planting in a cold pocket.
Improve your soil. Work in a mixture of compost or manure and high-quality top soil to a depth of about 6 inches.
Plant the grapevines in early spring, after the ground has thawed. Dig a hole deep enough for the root ball, about 6 to 8 inches deep and 8 inches in diameter. Place the grapevine in the hole and fill it with dirt. Pat down firmly on the dirt to avoid air pockets.
Water the grapevine once a week for ten minutes each watering until it is about one year old. Water grapevines older than a year once every two weeks for ten minutes each watering.
Train your grapevine up a trellis, arbor or stake. Tie the two main leads onto the anchor loosely with string. Prune the grapevine in spring once it is a year old. Cut off all growth except the two main leads. Restrict the growth to the leads every spring until the grapevine is at least four years old.
Fertilize your grapevines every spring, before new growth begins, with 1/2 cup of water-soluble 10-10-10. Once the grapevines are three years old, increase the amount of fertilizer to 1 cup.