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.
Grape Arbor Trellis Update Spring 2016
This is what the grape arbor looks like inearly spring before it's ever had any trimming done. This is what it looks like about halfwaythrough the pruning process, getting it ready for spring, and here we are with it fullypruned and ready for spring to fully set in and the leaves to start to come out. So how have things really been going withour grape trellisé Well, you can see it here behind me. It hasn't really been a very bigproducer. That said, I haven't really put much effort into it. I haven't tried to fertilizethe plants in any way. I haven't put compost or manures or even any kind of blood mealor anything like that on them. I've just let
them be, so I don't know if this is the yearthat they really blossom out and we really get a lot of grapes or if it's just not thebest setup. One thing I will say is that throughout the course of the year, you do have to goup there, maybe every two to three weeks, and make sure that the vines aren't growingonto the house. We only do the major pruning back to this once a year, but throughout theyear, every couple weeks, you've got to go up there and make sure they don't grow intothe house. So, if that's not something that you're willing to do or you don't have thecapability of doing it, then maybe this isn't the best setup for you to try. I think thisis probably limited to somebody who really
needs the shade. In our instance, you cansee that the land slopes away from our house very quickly. If we were to try to put somekind of a tree over here, first off it is also going to not just block the light, butalso be a storm hazard for our home, to have a tree so close to this side of the house.The storms would be coming from off camera this direction and would blow trees directlyonto the house, so trees aren't a good option for us. Having the trellis right up againstthe house still gets us the shade we need on this western front and not have our bedroomheat up. I think that's the other thing to consider. What part of your home are you tryingto shade. If this is a room that you're not
going to go into in the afternoon, then maybeit's not worth trying to provide the shade and the extra work involved with keeping thevines trimmed back throughout the year, so take those kinds of things into account tosee if this is an application that's really suited for you. Otherwise, the structure itselfis holding up really, really well. I was up there trimming back these vines and shakingit around and using it for support and it is flexible, because that's the way it's designedto be but I don't see any problems with it. I think if this thing were even in full fruitthat it wouldn't go anywhere, so I'm very happy with the stability of the structureof this kind of trellis.
Lastly, we are growing both table grapes andmuscadines on this trellis and one thing I'll note is that even though we're here in theSouthern United States and muscadines are our native grape, the muscadine vines aremuch more fragile. They're much more likely to break. They're more brittle. The tablegrapes are very flexible and so what I'm trying to say is if I have a vine that starts growingat a diagonal that I wanted to grow at a horizontal, I can come back in the off season and cutthe tendrils off and move that vine down and put it where I want it whereas with the muscadinesI'm finding that as soon as I try to move them I'm more likely to snap them. They justget brittle and go way to dormant to try to
mess with them. I have to train them duringthe year while they're growing, whereas with the table grapes, I can train them right nowand don't have a problem with it at all. So, that's another thing that you could take underconsideration. So, we'll show you this again later as theyear goes on, but wanted you to get an update on the grape trellis. As far as the groundaround the grape trellis, we've got some plans for that too. Come back and see us again andwe'll let you know what's going on with that. Thank you all so much for watching. We'llsee you next time.