Grape leaves are useful when cooking, especially when making Mediterranean specialties. They are packed with vitamins such as A, C, E and K, as well calcium, iron and fiber. You can purchase grape leaves in jars or cans, but for the freshest, you should consider growing a grapevine in your backyard. Then, you can pick off leaves as you desire to use in recipes.
Buy a grapevine that grows well in your climate and USDA hardiness zone. A local planting center should be able to help. Choose a planting location that is in the full sun, with loose soil. For the best-tasting grape leaves, you need the healthiest, most productive grapevines.
Use a pH test kit to determine the soil's pH. Grapevines do best in soil that is between 6.0 and 7.2. If the soil isn't alkaline enough, raise it one point by adding hydrated lime. If the soil needs to be made more acidic, add ground rock sulfur.
Assemble a trellis in a sunny location. This will give the grapevines somewhere to climb, so they can get the necessary amount of sunlight.
Dig a hole that is about 1 foot by 1 foot. Fill the hole with 4 inches of soil, then place the vine in the soil.
Back fill the hole with the removed soil. Tamp it down lightly to reduce air pockets, but don't pack the soil too tightly.
Prune the top of the vine back so that there are only two or three buds. Cut off straggly looking vines annually. Grape leaves will grow before the fruits themselves do.
Harvest the grape leaves the second year after the grapevines are planted. Cut or pick off the medium-sized leaves that are light green in color and without holes in the beginning of the summer. The longer the leaves grow on the vines, the tougher they will be; small, young grape leaves are too thin.