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This has been my first year trying to grow grapes … and it’s been a bit of a learning curve :)

It wasn’t so much a choice – I moved house earlier in the year and acquired a greenhouse with an old vine growing in it.

I wish I’d taken some photos of the whole thing when I first moved in, before it started growing, but I was obviously too busy with other things. Besides, it wasn’t doing very much at that point so probably didn’t attract my attention.

The vine is planted outside and then enters the greenhouse through a broken pane, for cool roots but warm grapes. I’ve no idea what the white metal grille thing is, or if the vine is meant to be growing through it or not.

There were a few supports already in place, but they were pretty old and rusty, and there weren’t many of them.

I may have ignored it at first, but that became impossible once it started growing.

A rather dense tangle …

… but it did have baby grapes starting to appear.

I decided to use bits of twine as a temporary measure to hold it up while I tried to find out what I “should” be doing with it …

The baby grapes were getting bigger.

By now it was hitting me on the head and tripping me up every time I tried to get through the greenhouse door … plus I’d been reading about the need for air circulation and pruning/training to avoid disease and get a decent crop. It was time to tame the vine.

First I tried putting in some new supports while leaving the vine in situ.

But it was proving too difficult to untangle all the shoots. So I decided to take it off the old supports completely, sort out the new supports, and then put it all back on in a slightly less tangled way, so I could see exactly what I had, try to figure out what was a rod, a spur, a lateral or a sub-lateral, and then figure out what/where would be best to cut back.

I removed quite a lot of the growth from this corner by the door too as it was just too squashed.

A long way from perfect, but hopefully looking better for all the cutting back and arranging, and at least there was more light and air getting to it now.

The young grapes were still growing well in spite of all my messing about.

I was pleased I’d tamed it when I did as this was a vine I could see growing through the roof of someone else’s greenhouse nearby … I peered in and that one had really taken over lol, nothing else could get in that greenhouse :o))

For a while they were doing ok and a few grapes had started to change colour.

But as summer began to fade, I also started having problems getting enough light into the greenhouse.

Mildew / mould / botrytis.

So I cut back some of the shrubs outside that were blocking the light, removed some of its own leaves, and tried re-arranging the vine (… again).

That seemed to help and the bunches were looking good by now, even after my not-totally-sure-what-I’m doing thinning … but they still tasted sour.

And, finally, as it had felt like forever for them to actually sweeten up, … I picked my first bunches.

And later, taking the last ones off.

No more.

Leaves falling off.

Today – bare.

And now I have to figure out how to prune it. Apparently the best time to do it is immediately after leaf fall (or late November / early December) to avoid it bleeding, but I’m feeling a bit daunted, as I’m not totally sure where to cut and the more I read now the more confused I get … hmmm.

Anyway, once that’s done, I’ll be able to look forward to next year when I’ll have a better idea of what to do with it and when … as long as I haven’t cut the wrong bits off … :P

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Well done with your work on the grape vines.
Amazing how quickly they grow !

Next year you'll benefit from all the efforts you've put in over recent months.
I've added this blog to GoYpedia Climbing Plants ! :o)

18 Nov, 2012


Enjoyed your blog. Great pics showing the progress of your vine. I'm sure someone in this group will be able to talk you through the way to prune it ...maybe you could put the query in the Questions bit. When I was a child & teenager, my parents had several different grapevines growing around the back garden. I loved picking a bunch off the vine to eat, but would drop it hurriedly if a spider scurried out ....& there were always lots of spiders. My niece has a grapevine growing all around her veranda, which looks lovely, but it does block out the sun quite a bit.

18 Nov, 2012


Trial and error and its worked well for you, I hope you do get some good advice, I cannot help you myself but am interested to see the answers as I`d love to try one again, I lost mine two years ago........

18 Nov, 2012


This is our third year of tangoing with grape vines and we now have our own wine in our own barrels nestled in our boilerhouse. Partner is the one who looks after the vines and he found a wealth of information on Google. Just type in 'pruning grape vines' and you'll be offered reams of text and films too, all showing the 'Idiots' Guide to Growing Grapes.' (not an insult - we were glad of the simplified instructions!) :o)

19 Nov, 2012


Interesting to read about your vine, and nice to know you were able to eat the grapes :o) My father grew one but they were always too sour to eat ...
I hope you find out how to treat it for next year :o)

19 Nov, 2012


I had a similar problem when I moved into my current house twelve years ago. There was a vine in the garden which the neigbours said grew over the fence each year and obstructed the pathway entrance to their property. I decided to move it so that it could grow against the west-facing wall of the garage (the neighbours were much happier with the ceanothus replacement). It proved to be an ornamental vine, so my partner's dreams of producing wine evaporated, and it outgrows it's allotted space every year, intruding on the raspberry bed and climbing into the bramley. I hack it each year and it romps back, giving interest to an otherwise unattractive brick wall. Let us know how you get on with your vine, it will be interesting to hear about your progress.

19 Nov, 2012


Thank you Terra, Dwyllis and Hywel :o)

What happened to your vine Lincslass?

I'm impressed with your wine-making Nariz :o) These ones are dessert grapes so I don't think I'll be able to do that but I don't see why I shouldn't enjoy them as they are alongside a glass of shop-bought wine ;)

I must have spent as many hours on the internet/looking in books about it all as I spent hauling them on and off the supports lol! I just about got to grips with the point that I should have pinched out the growing tips of the new laterals at 2 leaves beyond the flower or 6-8 leaves if no flower had appeared yet, and any further side shoots at 1 leaf (admitedly a bit late hence the need for cutting back rather than pinching out by then!), but just can't get my head round the winter pruning - I think I understand the theory but am having difficulty translating it to how to prune this one. I'm wondering if it wasn't pruned last year and so a lot of this year's growth has come from that rather than from the main rod, and that's why it doesn't look like the neatly-pruned vines I see in the books/internet instuctions ... But perhaps I'm making it too complicated trying to follow those systems and should just try looking up those idiots guides instead?!!

But Xela the fact that your vine has proved quite resilliant definitely makes me feel better about it :o))

19 Nov, 2012


Many thanks for your interesting blog, I live in South Africa and we are one of the world best wine producers. It was amazing to see a grapevine flourish within a greenhouse. All the best to you and your vine and I look forward to future reading on your experiences with your vine.

26 Jun, 2013


Thanks Sixpence, I've got it under better control this year - got the supports in place before it started growing which really helped! Some tiny grapes on it now ... just need some sun to help them grow and ripen :o)

28 Jun, 2013

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