Friday, January 27, 2017

Winter grapes

The hopefuls

After any number of grape tests, it turns out that the Concord seems to work the best here.  Not for wine, obviously - who wants to drink a wine that tastes like jelly?  But it grows and produces better than any of the other half dozen varieties I tried.

Frontenac comes in a close second - it grew and produced a few grapes a year.  Cabernet grew a little and produced nothing.  All the others burned down, fell off, and then sank into the swamp.  So Concord it is, and here comes the jelly. Expansion time*.

But who wants to buy a bunch of grape vines? Not I, so I'll be trying a couple of different ways to clone my favorite vine from cuttings.

Everyone, it seems, has a surefire way to start new plants.  One guy makes his cuttings, lets them sit for a few weeks until they callous on the ends, another puts them in water to root.  But I saw one dude who is a slacker after my own heart: he dips his cuttings in rooting hormone and just sticks them in the dirt.

In fairness, he seemed to have a little less success with this method than some of the others.  Also in fairness, I have no problem planting twice as many cuttings as I'll need grapevines, so long as the process is simple. Also in fairness**, he did his cuttings in the spring, when the growth had recently kicked in. I'm doing it in winter, which might work or might not.

But last night I made a few cuttings, stuck them in some left-over potting mix, and left them in a kind-of well-lit spot in the workshop.  If they take root, great, and I'll do it again.  If not, I'll try it again in the spring.  But one way or another, that 60' of fence line I cleared yesterday is going to be populated by grapes, raspberries, and blackberries soon.

* Of course, none of my renewed emphasis on food production this year has anything to do with the civil war being waged within our federal government.  And by none I mean all
** My, aren't we being fair today?


  1. ElBo
    I'm doing it in winter, which might work or might not.

    well, if you keep the plants inside, under lights, they'll never know it was winter, will they?

    1. True enough. My wonder is whether the warmer dirt will cause the plant to awaken before the inevitable rot sets in. We shall see, we shall see.

  2. Careful, EB, someone will start calling you names, i.e., libtard, with all that "fairness" you're throwing around. ;-)

  3. I got several grape vines to start from cutting last summer. I was trimming the vines that had overgrown the chain-link fence separating my back yard from the neighbor's. I ended up with a few dozen sticks two feet long or less. Pretty much at random I stuck the butt ends into wet dirt, under my peach trees where it is always shady. A handful survived and leafed out. I think 4 made it through the fall. We shall see if any survive northern Illinois winter.
    The ones I stuck in sunny areas, none survived. Also, those I stuck in places inconvenient to keep well watered, also none survived.
    I plan to experiment again this spring with a bunch more cuttings.
    I love grapes and they are expensive plants to buy. By the way, in the past I have had excellent luck with the quality of grapes you can grow from seeds. Buy grapes in the grocery, spit all the seeds into pots, grow good grapes.