Growing Grapes at Home

Growing grapes at home in your green house is not that much different from how they are grown in a large vineyard. The only real difference is space. There are several facets to growing healthy grapevines that need to be considered by both large vineyards and the home grower. The most important aspect of all these is tending to the vines. This will entail soil preparation, water, sunlight, pruning, and pest control. For many home grape growers, it is the pruning and the pest control that can be the most tedious.

Put simply, pruning is cutting away plant growth to encourage more growth. How the grapevine is pruned depends a lot upon the type of grapes that are being grown. Since hybrid grape varieties were developed to be hardier during the winter and more resistant to diseases, they tend to produce less foliage then the traditional types of grapevines. Grapevines need to be pruned to remove the previous years fruiting canes or spurs. Grapes are only produced on shoots growing from one-year-old canes. Therefore, healthy new canes must be produced by the vine every year. If too much of the vine is pruned back, more shoots will grow on the vine, which in turn, produces more crop and foliage. But this is actually a disadvantage since increased foliage on a vine results in a shady canopy, and this provides a bad environment for the fruit to ripen. The home grape grower has to be careful when pruning to avoid any unnecessary injury to the plant. When removing year-old shoots, a hand pruner can be used effectively. Larger wood on the vine should be cut with either a lopper or a handsaw.

The home grape grower spends a lot of their time dealing with pests like insects, birds and even deer. There are a large number of insects, like grape berry moths, grape leafhoppers, Japanese beetles, and rose chafers that would love to dine on a delicious grapevine. Insecticides can be used to control insect infestation but typically, grapevines can withstand a small amount of insect damage. It is only necessary to control insects when a large portion of the leaf area or the fruit itself is threatened.

Birds, on the other hand, can be much more destructive. A flock of birds can devastate a crop of grapes but, on the bright side, a large flock of birds is easier to scare away than individual birds. Home grape growers can control birds by installing a physical barrier, like a net, over all of the vines. But it has to be taken down before the winter or ice could form on it and damage the vines. Home grape growers can also use visual repellents such as aluminum pie plates, artificial hawks, owls, or snakes. Odor repellents are something that are very effective when it comes to controlling deer. In early spring when shoots are just emerging from the vine and food sources are scarce, home grown vineyards are extremely tempting for the deer. Home grape growers can also use the scent of a human, dog hair, or soap to scare off unwanted birds. Additionally, the scent of coyotes can also be used since coyotes are natural predators to deer.