Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Grape Advice, Please

Fruit is expensive. Organic fruit is very expensive. At least I think so.  I understand why.  I just wish it wasn't so.

This is why we are on a quest to grow as much fruit as we can.  Growing it ourselves means it's way cheaper and organic but it's not as easy as it sounds- so we're finding out.

We have a mature pear tree.  If a late frost doesn't kill the blossoms, we get a tree full of small, fairly sour (but still delicious) pears. Yeah for pears.

We have a mature sour cherry tree that was half taken out in a wind storm when a larger tree fell on it.  We get a few cherries each year now (enough for 4-5 pies) if there isn't a late frost and if we get to the cherries before the birds do.

We have several wild mulberries trees which, try as we might, we just don't enjoy their fruit that much.  At least they lure the birds away from the sour cherry tree a bit.

We have three teenage peach trees.  Two years ago, all the blossoms froze which meant no peaches.  Last year there were about 50 peaches on those three trees (combined) and the night before we planned to pick them something ate every. single. one.  We're thinking ground hogs.  This year we have a plan to fend off the ground hogs but we think a frost got the blossoms.

the lone peach we picked last year before they all disappeared

We have Red Heritage red raspberry bushes.  They bear twice a year and are wonderful.  Thank you, God, for red raspberries.  We also have wild black raspberries and wine berries.  These are wonderful, too.

We have strawberries.  Our crop this year looks less than stellar so we planted 25 more this spring. When they grow, they are wonderful as well.

We planted blueberry bushes (15 of them) last spring.  They are all still alive even though the pH isn't quite where it should be yet (we're working on that).  A harsh but necessary pruning makes them look not much bigger than they were last year but we're still hoping to get a few handfuls of berries this year again and many more in the future.  We net the blueberries to keep the birds from eating them.

We have two very young sweet cherry trees which aren't producing enough to net (yet).

We have two very young nectarine trees.  We also have seven young apples trees (as well as some lovely crab apple trees that we moved to the front of our yard and enjoyed very much this spring- their blossoms are gorgeous).

At the rate we're going, if there are no late frosts and we can keep the birds and ground hogs (and other pests) at bay, in about 5 years when our kids are teenagers (or close to it) we should be swimming in fruit.

Or at least that's the plan.

So now we want to plant grapes.  We've gotten copious amounts of concord grapes in the past from a generous neighbor and we've enjoyed the jam, juice and pie filling that comes from them but we're learning that we're not really juice people.  We enjoy whole fruits.  And jam and pie filling require a lot of sugar. Hence, eating grapes are our goal.

All this to say (my, how I beat around the bush) we'd love any advice regarding growing grapes you can pop in your mouth (preferably without seeds): varieties you like, pest issues that arise, what you think of seedless, if you preserve them and how, etc. I know there is an incredible amount of wisdom among you dear readers. It may also help to know what growing zone you're in.  Here is a map that will help you if you're not sure (click on your state for a better view).  I'd love to hear your experience no matter where you live.

I'd also like to hear about what fruit you grow or any fruit plans you have. And any fruit stories that might go along with that ;-). Pin It


  1. We are pretty high (2100-2500) but if you do plant grapes, be sure they get enough sun & won't attack a nearby fruit tree. They reach out and grab whatever they can to grow up. They will strangle a tree & use it for an arbor. We have several kinds - I like green, hubby likes pink. I don't know the real names, but just wanted to warn you about how aggressive they can be.
    Good luck

  2. I, too, am wanting to plant grapes to eat, so I would love if you could share your findings! I live in zone 5, but also have a cottage in zone 4 where we garden, so am trying to determine what would be best for both. Love your blog -- keep inspiring us!

    Laura R.

  3. Primary advice to give you is to contact you county extension office. They will have recommendations on what type of grape grows best in your area. From that list, you should be able to choose varieties that you like. If you plant different varieties, and decide you don't like one, be strong and purge. Someone else will love it! Also be aware that birds will sample the grapes and spread their seeds around. I've seen wood lots taken over by grape vines, Great for crafting supplies, but disaster to the wood lot.

  4. I live in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, and we have a Concord grapevine, which is wonderful for lots of things but doesn't help you in your situation! :) However, I did want to say that one year, RIGHT before we were going to harvest the grapes, something came and took ALL the grapes. It was total devastation. We had never had that happen before, and we wondered whether it was a four-footed animal, a two-footed creature! (rowdy neighbor boys?), or birds. We still don't know, but I have heard that raccoons can wreak havoc like that in a very short amount of time. Anyway, all that to say you have my sympathy about your lost peaches!!

  5. You should definitely check out She's amazing, and grows tons of grapes in her yard in Las Vegas in order to feed her family of nine. If you post a question or email, I think she would answer.

  6. Stark Brothers has grapes on sale right now. If you plug in your zip code, it shows you the varieties that they recommend for your growing zone.

  7. I love reading your posts. Thank you for sharing. I have grapes but could not tell you what they are other than they look like concord. The vine is older than the 12 yrs I have lived there. Last year we planted strawberries, rhubarb, 3 blueberry bushes, 2 current bushes, and 4 fruit trees, plum, cherry, peach and pear. All are able to produce fruit with only one tree. Not really self pollinating but they do not need cross pollination from additional trees. I have only an acre of ground so space is very limited. I enjoy making jellies, jams and butters. I have been getting fruit from neighbors and friends in the past. It will still be a few years that I will have to rely on my friends and neighbors for fruit but I am hoping to have a productive little acre in the future. I hope you are able to find the type of grape your family will enjoy. Cindy T, central Indiana

  8. If you enjoy your neighbors grapes, perhaps you can ask for a cutting to start your own vines (I assume that would work- though to be honest I don't know much about growing grapes)? Good luck! I'm terribly jealous of all your fruit trees!!


  9. I am new to your blog and really enjoying it. I have not grown grapes but have grown many other fruits. I do know they can be very fussy and require a lot of attention. I would find a wild variety in your area and transplant them to your property. They will be hearty and grow without fuss. Wild grapes tend to be sour and have large seeds but they make great juice. We used to tromp through the woods every summer and pick buckets of them. I got to like their sour taste better than the sweet grapes and the critters won't eat so many because they aren't as tasty. Can't wait to see what you decide to do. Hope you get peaches this year.

  10. Hey there!
    We have two great peach trees, and the only years they did not produce was two years ago. Everything I have read said that the derecho blew off all the budding peaches, not a late frost. I certainly hope that is true, because I do not want this to be another year without peaches!!!!


Just a friendly reminder, if you know me personally please try to refrain from using my name. There are those who may try to locate me, break into my pantry and steal my pickled beets. Thanks:-).

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