Umbrella Kniffin System for Growing Grapes
David Handley: I'm David Handley, with theUniversity of Maine Cooperative Extension, and we're here to talk about pruning grapes.Very simple system for farnorthern production. Here in Maine, we need to protect the vinesas best we can through the winter, but at the same time try to get enough light andexposure to the canes that we're going to get good fruit set, and good fruit quality. One of the systems you can use for labruscatype or concord type grapes, which are the ones that do best here in Maine, which isthe umbrella kniffin. As opposed to the four arm kniffin, the umbrella kniffin puts allof its canes up at the top, or the first year
growth that's going to fruit. What we're talking about with cane growthhere is one yearold growth that has a chocolate brown color, and nice smooth bark with budson it. We're going to be saving four canes, plus the permanent trunk, to give us all ofour fruiting structure. Everything else is going to be coming off of here, and that includesanything that fruited last year. You can tell the two yearold canes, or thecanes that fruited last year, because they'll be thicker, and they'll have gray, peelingbark. All of these are going to come off, and we're going to save the one yearold canewith the chocolate brown color, and the smooth
bark. The first step in pruning is to look at ourpermanent trunk and remove all of the two yearold growth, the growth that fruited lastyear, saving a few canes that we'll be using for fruiting this year. Our first step isto cut some of these off, looking at that older bark there. We just cut that out, getit right out of there. This will open up the planting, and that twoyearold wood is not going to fruit. Unless we take it out, we'll find that our fruitingwood gets further and further away from the trunk. Part of the reason we're pruning isto keep that fruiting wood concentrated right
near the trunk. With the umbrella kniffin, which is what we'repruning to here, we're only going to maintain four of those fruiting canes. We want themall concentrated near the top of the trunk, or the top wire on our twowire trellis. We'regoing to take each of the canes that remain behind. As you can see here, here's my nicefruiting cane, smooth bark. All these are buds that are going to breakand give us long, green shoots that will have bunches of grapes on them. We're going todrape them over the top wire, and then we're going to attach them to the bottom wire, togive you that kind of quot;umbrellaquot; look, thus
the name of the system called the quot;umbrellakniffin.quot; Then we're going to cut off the ends of thecanes, so that there's only about 10 buds on each one. We just count those from thetrunk. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10. If I need to leave one ortwo on there to make it reach the bottom wire, that's fine. I'll just go to where I can attachthis to the bottom wire, like that. I need two for the other side, to completeour umbrella. You can see this leaves me with several other fruiting canes, and I need tosave some of those as well, but they don't need to be as long. What I'm calling theseare quot;renewal spurs,quot; because we need the buds
from these shoots to come out and give uscane that we'll be able to put up on the wire next year. For every fruiting cane that I'm leaving behind,I also need to cut some renewal cane, or renewal spurs, to provide us with fruiting wood fornext year. I just cut these back to one or two buds, and if they're not where I wantthem I can cut them off completely. But for every fruiting cane, I need to leave at leastone renewal spur. I tend to leave a couple of extra renewalspurs here in Maine, because I'm very sensitive to the fact that I'm likely to get winterinjury almost every year.
Growing Grapes in Texas Jim Kamas Central Texas Gardener
I love Tait Moring's sense ofgardening style. Thanks so much for opening your gates for us. Right now we're going to talk aboutgrowing grapes. One of the hottest topics here in Texas because of all the wineries. We have Jim Kamas with us. It's great to have you back on theprogram. Welcome. Thanks, Tom, I appreciate it. Welcome back to Central Texas Gardener. You've just published a great new bookGrowing Grapes in Texas.
Congratulations on that! Thanks a lot. It took a couple years to get done, but I'm I'm pretty happy with it. Well you know, like I said, it's a hottopic. A lot of people are very interested in growing grapes in their backyard. Maybe one ofthose famous table grapes, like Concord or something like that. Well Concord ispretty tough to grow here. Concord likes acid soils which we don'thave. And it's much more adapted a cooler climates. If you wanted to grow Fredonia or some of the other lebrusca types, they'll work, but
Concord is a pretty tough one to grow here. Ok, well your book is filled with tips aboutvarieties and things like that. Let's focus on that home grower. You know , I know for example I go out to hillcountry every now and again to go to Fredericksburg, places around there. And I see wineries springing up like mushrooms now. And it kinda makes me wanna grow grapeshere in town. What does a home gardner need to know to get startedé Well if you're a homeowner and you want to grow enough vines to produce a little bit of wine
my advice is plant what you like. If you're planting a commercial vineyards we're going to have a very different discussion. But if you like Merlot, plant Merlot. If you like Syrah, plant Syrah. For smallscale, you have no big economicinvestment, so plant what you like and go with that. Yeah okay, that makes sense. In terms of the space needs, the sun,
all those kinds of things, grapes arerather particular and disease prone. Yes. So let's give people an idea of whatthe basics are that they would need to have any kind of success. Sure. Commercially our rows are spaced nine to ten feet apart, but in the backyard if you are maintaining the row centers with alawnmower or something, you can place the rows as close as six feet apart.And you can also go as tight as five to six feet between vines. You can put a lot of vines in arelatively small space.
So small space is OK. When we talk about the rows, we are talking about providing structures on which the the vines can grow and supportthemselves. Yes, a lot of times in California you'll see these free standing vines that are called head pruned vines. They don't do very well here because we need to keep our vines up off the ground because it rains here duringthe summer and they are very disease prone as you mentioned.
Tiny Gomphrena Grapes Daphne Richards Central Texas Gardener
Hi, I'm Daphne Richards. The inspiration for this week's question comes from producer Linda Lehmusvirta's and my own backyards. Why did some plants bloom so early while others were so lateé That we stood in our gardens virtually willing them to hurry up. Actually, I'm sure that our savvy CTG viewers fully understand why plants bloomed so early this year. You don't have to be a weather nerd to have noticed that 201516 was the year without a winter. Many gardening friends reported to me that they had recorded zero freeze events in their landscapes. Myself, I noted only two, and while that led to most plants' emergence from hibernation much earlier than usual, some during the middle of January, even for others, the lack of cold made for a wasted year. Specifically, certain plants use the hours of daylight as a seasonal yardstick. Only once the days are longer than a certain number of hours will they flower or have a growth spurt. Well more accurately, it's when nights are shorter than a certain length, but that's a discussion for another time.
But, perhaps more notably in your garden, certain fruit trees were late on to the scene. For temperate zone plants, the number of chill hours is critical for the mechanisms that control flowering and fruit production. And since flower bud emergence occurs before leaf buds begin to break, their whole biochemical systems were thrown out of whack. As of May 5th, my plum tree had one flower and two leaves on it. With fruit trees, it's critical that you select cultivars that are matched with the number of chill hours typical for your area. And my plum tree happens to need a more normal amount of winter temperatures than we received this year. Late emergence from my plum tree has been the trend for the five years it's been in my garden. But as I planted this particular cultivar in memory of my mother, it was her favorite plum, and plums were very important to her.
I haven't wanted to give up and replace it with a more appropriate one. Sadly, I think this might be the year that I do so. I think she would understand. Our plant this week is the Grapes cultivar Gomprehena, which is sold under several other cultivar names, including itsy bitsy, teensy weensy, and little grapes. Although grapes is the most common name here in Central Texas, the other three seem a lot more appropriate since the reference is to the flowers, which are a bright purple, but certainly much smaller than any grape I've ever seen. But, what they lack in size they more than make up for in number and vibrancy. Mostly referred to as a perennial and listed as hardy to zone eight in colder areas and in unseasonably cold winters, this mounding plant with lanky floral stems is treated as an annual.
But in our demonstration garden at the extension office in southeast Austin, it's been reliably evergreen since we planted it four years ago. Plant in full sun and water moderately for best performance, and beds with a little extra organic matter are best. With seasonal applications of small aggregate or even compost mulch, which will break down and work it's way into the soil more quickly. Gomphrena Grapes flowers almost all year long, but the most intense display will occur in the fall. The long stemmed flowers attract butterflies, dry easily, and make great floral arrangements. If you don't have room in your garden, Gomphrena Grapes also performs quite well in containers. Our viewer pic this week goes to Victoria Dawson in Lakeway of her gorgeous native giant Spiderworts. Thanks Victoria. We love to hear from you, so please visit us at klru ctg to send us questions and photos from your garden.