Hi, I'm Tricia, and organic gardener. Grapes are a beautiful edible landscapeplant, as well as producing delicious fruit. Today I'm going to plant a new grapevine. If you're not ready to plant your grapesas soon as they arrive, that's ok, you can heel them in. You can either dig a shallow trench, put the grape vines in and cover the roots with soil, or you can do like I've done and put the roots in a bucket, cover them with soil and protect themwith a little bit of straw.
Grapes are tolerant of a wide variety of soils, but it is important to check with your Master Gardener or local ag extension to find out what varieties will do best in your climate. Your site selection should be in fullsun with a southern exposure, away from trees. And avoid depressions where cool air can collect. Ideally, preparation for planting yourgrapes will start the year before with a soil test and an appropriate cover crop. Grapes like moderate fertilityand a pH of about 5.5 7. In most climates you can plant grapes in late winter or early spring.
For northern climates you might want towait until a little bit later in the spring. Just dig a hole the same size as theroots and don't add any fertilizer. You don't want to get more leaves than fruit! Soak the roots of your grapevine forabout 2 to 3 hours before planting, and then you can prune off any damaged roots. But it's important to leave as much of the root system as possible. Make sure that the roots are loose andnot clumped together. The hole should be deep enough to plantthe vine to the same level it was planted before,
with a few inches of soilover the longest roots. Gently back fill the soil with thetopsoil first. And if it hasn't rained recently make sure and give your plant some water. You want to train your newly plantedlittle grapevine to grow into a big grapevine with a straight single trunk reaching the trellis. In order to do that we're going to prune this plant so that it has one straightish cane. By the second year you need some kind of a support system. This two wire support system is very common and easy to build.
To train your grapevine to grow straight upto the trellising, you may need to do a temporary supportlike bamboo and then just tie it togetherwith a little twine or some tape. These are flame grapes, so I'll betraining them to a bilateral cordon. That is I want a nice straight trunk. And then I'll choose two buds that will be trained into big, permanent branches on either side of the trunk. It's really important to tag your plants.I use these permanent zinc plant tags
its really important to know what variety you have so that you can prune appropriately. Whether you have a big vineyard or you'vejust planted a few grape vines, grapes will benefit from cover cropping. So get ready for winter pruning,and Grow Organic for Life!.
Knowing when to harvest your grapes
gt;gt;TOM VAN DER LINDEN: It's a beautiful Septemberday in Minnesota. We're at the Horticultural Research Center at the University of Minnesotaand it's time to harvest the grapes. But how do you know when it's time to pické I'll showyou how to tell when the grapes are ripe and I'll show you some measurements to be sure,because it's important. After all, better grapes mean better wine. The most important day of the year is theday you pick. It sets in motion the annual harvest and it also determines the kind ofwine you'll make. As a grape grower and a wine maker you should keep a notebook. You'llbe glad to have records in the months and
years to come. Let's start with sight, touch, smell, andtaste. You want your grapes to be rich in color, not green. A ripe grape will crusheasily, but not be shriveled. A ripe grape is plump, and thickly juicy. It's a balancebetween sweet and tart. Each variety develops special flavors that we call varietal flavor.A fully ripe grape develops its varietal flavor more fully. Does the skin have varietal flavoré Is itherbaceous, or is it vegetal, like a green pepperé Is the aftertaste pleasant or is itbitteré Chemical or vinegar tastes or smells are flaws so take good notes if you have thatproblem. One more time, taste the grape and
imagine what the wine will be. Then we'llmove on to some lab work. It's good to use your senses but it's alsoimportant to measure. You need to measure sugar content, pH, and acidity level. Grapesare mostly water and sugar which will ferment to make wine. Brix is a term that the brewingindustry uses to measure the sugar content of grapes. Brix level helps estimate the alcohollevel of your wine. Like temperature, Brix is measured in degrees. Brix is measured witha refractometer, which you can buy at a winemaking supply store or online. Drop some juice onthe test plate, close the cover firmly and look through the viewfinder. You'll see aline where your juice registers on an internal
scale. In this case, the juice registers 24degrees Brix. A somewhat less convenient, but cheaper methodis to buy a simple glass hydrometer which has a builtin scale. Simply pour your juiceinto the cylinder, float your hydrometer and read the Brix level right off the builtinscale. The more sugar in your wine, the higher your hydrometer will float. As your grapesmature, they store more sugar so the Brix level rises. Different wine styles requiredifferent Brix levels. In general, for white wine, 22 Brix is good. We'll keep an eye onour grapes, testing them periodically, and when we reach our Brix goal, then it's timeto pick.
We now know about sugar and how to measureit. Next let's quickly shift to pH and the pH meter. You may remember pH from high schoolscience class. It's a measure of free hydrogen ions. As our grapes ripen and the sugar rises,the pH will rise too. You can buy an inexpensive, portable pH meter. Be sure you buy pH referencesolutions so you can calibrate your meter. Grape juice is full of natural acids, whichlend important qualities to wine. Every time we measure Brix we should also measure acidlevels. In a way they're opposites; as the Brix goes up, the acid levels go down. Youcan buy a simple acid test kit. It takes a little practice and a little care and you'llwant to make good records, but don't worry,
you can do it! So enough with measuring and tasting, let'sgo pick! Are you ready to pické Let's start by pickinga good sample. Yes, you can pick one grape, put it in your refractometer and take a sugarsample, but it won't be very representative of all your grapes. Instead, pick individualgrapes from many clusters. Sample from both sides of the vine, high and low, in sunnyareas and shaded areas, and pick from different parts of each cluster. An ideal sample mightbe 50 grapes. But if you only have a few vines, it'll be okay to take a smaller sample. Makea note about how they felt, how they smelled,
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