Building A Grape Vine Fence

Growing Grapes

We have plenty of wild concord grapes on ourproperty. However, the insurance company doesn't approve of our harvesting methods so it'sprobably best to plant some cultivated grapes. When I cleared the land for the greenhouse,it left plenty of area to plant various fruit producing plants which don't need the greenhouseto thrive. Plus why waste the space just growing grassé Taking a look at my 3rd grade drawing skills,I'm going to set three 4x4x10' treated posts 34 feet into the ground and space them 24'apart. This will allow for 8 plants in the space. Then I'll string 12 gauge galvanizedwire starting with the first wire 4246quot; from

the ground, then space the other two 12quot; apart.The plants can be spaced 6' apart and over time the vines can be trained along the 3wires. I had planned to set the posts first in theevent that I hit any large rocks while digging, however I blew a seal on the backhoe and hadto find some parts for it. So I took my chances and put the plants in first. The row shouldgo in a straight line and a 100' tape measure works well for marking out the locations ofeach post and plant. Jamming a piece of survey's tape at each mark does the trick. We're goingoldschool and using a pickaxe and shovel and digging a hole about 1 foot deep. Luckilythere weren't any large rocks in the way just

a few roots and small stones that the pickaxewas able to pluck out. Later, looking at the post holes, you'll see why I didn't dig themby hand. Planting the vines is fairly easy. I got theseseedless concord grapes from Gurney's for half price. I just remove the fiber that'sused for keeping the roots damp, spread out the roots a bit, and set it in the hole sothat all the roots that emerge from the vine will be just below the finished level of thesoil. All the dirt that came out of the hole was hardpan so I filled it with nice organicsoil, then compacted it down, and gave it a really good watering. It also importantto cover the area with mulch to help maintain

the moisture in the soil until the roots canget established. These will get watered every day for a couple of weeks. The actual work of planting the vines is quick.It's the preparation of digging out the rocks that takes all the time. A 30 cent Oring and a day to dismantle andreassemble the valve assembly and the backhoe is running again. I can now install the postsfor the wire arbor. It may not be the fastest backhoe, but it beats digging through therock with a pick and shovel. The holes are dug to about 4 feet which will provide a deepenough anchor to prevent the posts from leaning

from the future weight of the vines. Someof the rocks that I pulled out where bigger than the hole. If I had to dig these by hand,I probably would have only dug down a couple of feet, and then would have to anchor theposts with concrete and guywires. It seems like a really big hole for a post,but without an auger with rock drilling bit, it's probably the easiest way to set a post.A little cleanup at the bottom of the hole and it's ready. I'm using 4x4 treated lumberrated for direct burial. I'm not a fan of using treated lumber, but in order for itto last a long time, it's a necessary evil. I like to add two temporary cleats to thepost to help support it while I'm set it plumb

and backfill the hole. I also like to dropa few rocks around the base to hold it in place when I start to fill it in. I'll fillthe hole several inches at a time and compact it between each layer, then clean up the areawith some more woodchip mulch. The first wire starts roughly 4246 inchesfrom the ground and the second and 3 wires are spaced 12 inches apart. It will be theperfect snacking height for the deer. At each marking I'll drill a 38quot; hole through thepost and then put in a 516quot; eyebolt. The back side has a large fender washer and nut.Having a large washer will help to keep the nut from pulling into the post under the weightof the vines. It's fairly important to make

Basics of a Grapevine Trellis

I'm Lee Tyre with the Northampton CountyCooperative Extension Service, and we're going to talk about constructing grape vine trellises. A grape trellis is a structure that holds the vines off the ground, allowing sunlight inevenly, and making management and harvesting of the grapes easier. There are several different types oftrellises. What we've constructed here today is a very simple one, what's called a “highcordon grape trellis�. The grapes we are training to the trellis today are an Americantype, and they prefer to grow downward. So

what we've done, is we are going to trainthe cordons, the heavy limbs of the grape vine,along the top wire here, and as they grow, they'll send laterals downward. And we'llprobably come in later and add a second wire, here below it. As you can see here, older, mature vines canbecome quite large, putting a good deal of strain on the trellis. Since we want thesestructures to last for a long time construction materials is an importantconsideration. You want to make sure you use materials that are resistant to decay, andcan support the weight of mature vines.

Once you have selected your materials, it'stime to begin construction. When setting your end posts, make sure they are anchored well.With a short trellis, this could be a 4� by 4� post sunk 2 to 3 foot into a clay soil. With longer runs, or looser soils, settingthe posts in concrete or additional bracing may be required. With a long enough run, evenvery large posts like this one require extra bracing to help support the load. Of course, the last main part of a trellis is the wire. Again, you want to select a heavyenough wire to support your vine for years

to come. In addition to the wire, think about adding a device to allow you to adjust thetension on the wire easily. Wires will sag with time, and something like a fence linetensioner, a turnbuckle, or other devices, will allow you to quickly, and easily adjustthe tension on your vine.

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