grape vine Archives

Planting a grape vine

You have prepared your site; you have decided what variety to grow; now it is time to plant your grape vine! Well, unfortunately, this is where many home grape growers terribly fail!

Planting a grape vine is not hard, if fact, it is one of the easiest fruits to get started, but there are a few key things to remember when planting your grape vine.

1. The planting hole

In the early days, before research proofed this method wrong, planting grape vines, by adding fertilizer and all kinds of stuff into the planting hole, was a well-known practice? Research showed, that a grape vine sprouts from energy within the vine itself, and do not actually use any fertilizer until the vine reach about 2 to 3 inch shoot length. By adding fertilizer directly into the planting hole, or directly on the roots of the vines could damage (scourge) the roots.

With knowledge/information you gained from soil samples, you should fertilize and correct all mineral shortages BEFORE you prepare your vineyard site and then plant your grape vine. This will mix all the fertilizer with the soil and will not damage the roots of your grape vine.

Make a large enough hole to accommodate all the roots from the cutting and do not cut or remove any roots – the more roots, the better the chance of successfully planting your grape vine.

2. Preparing the new vine before planting

Before planting your grape vine, you should plunge the complete vine into a bucket of water for at least six hours. Under no circumstances, let the roots of the vine dry out – this is very important! If you are planting a few hundred vines, cover the vines not planted yet with a damp gunny bag or something similar.

3. Watering the vine

Before you plant the grape vine, you should thoroughly water the planting hole and ensure that the water deeply penetrates the sidewall of the planting hole.

Constantly add water to the planting hole while filling the hole with soil, to ensure that no air pockets forms near the roots of the vines. Water your grape vine once a week for at least a month after planting the grape vine.

Following these simple rules when planting a grape vine, will guarantee a much higher success rate.

New growing season – at last!

Thought I share some pictures with you. Our growing season started a bit later than normal because of the abnormal cold & wet winter winter we had.

The early varieties has about 20 – 30cm (7 – 10 inches) of new growth so we will be securing the shoots to the trellis wire probably next week. Will keep you updated and show you some pictures how we do that.

Three inches of growth and already some bunches visible!

4 inches of growth
Removing suckers
During this time of the year, we mainly prepare the vineyards for flowering – a very important stage of growing a grape vine!
What we want to achieve BEFORE the vines go into flowering, is to reduce the number bunches on each grape vine. Why? During the process of flowering, the grape vine is under tremendous stress and could influence the growth of the grape vine. And if the grape vine’s growth is under stress, it will not have a enough vegetative growth when cell division starts (a few days after full bloom). Off course you want your grape vine to be in tip-top condition when this happens, because it will have a huge influence on the berry size.
One of the methods we use to reduce the number of grape clusters at this stage of growth is to remove suckers. No what on earth is a sucker?
If you look at the picture below, you will notice two shoots developed from the same bud on the cane – one on the side and one straight up.
We will keep the one that is growing straight up and remove the other shoot by hand (where the red line is). You can see the bunch on the shoot that we will keep (red arrow)
  • Count the number of bunches on the grape vine, BEFORE you sucker. If you don’t have enough grapes on the vine, do not remove the suckers with grapes on
  • Don’t wait until the vine flowering to sucker – do it beforehand
  • Remove suckers ONLY if you have an established vine – 3 years and older (it will influence the amount of pruning wood you will need for a younger vine)
  • The earlier you do suckering, the more effective it will be. By removing the suckers at an early stage of growth, will improve the vines growth because more nutrients is available to the shoots you want to use on your vine.
  • The earlier you do suckering, the smaller the “wound” where the sucker was, will be.

OK that’s all for now …


Bud break on grapes

I want to share with you a secret many grape growers overlook – and it is the effect bud break has on your grape vine.

What is bud break?

Bud break is when the buds on spurs and canes you pruned during winter (or early spring), breaks open and reveals the new growing point of the shoot that will develop from the bud. Depending on the variety, bud break starts about 2 – 3 weeks before the first growing point of shoots are visible.

Why is a strong, even bud break important?

During winter or early spring we prune our grape vines to form the structure of the vine. Another, even more important, reason we prune is to reduce the amount of buds on each grape vine for a smaller, higher quality grape crop. There are many theories on how many buds to keep per vine, but as a rule of thumb you can use the following method.

To determine the number of buds to leave, use the “30 plus 10” formula.

For the first pound of canes removed, leave 30 buds. For each additional pound, leave an additional 10 buds. For most the training systems, the maximum number of retained buds on a grapevine should be less than 60. As you can imagine, having buds that don’t sprout will reduce your crop size even more and can result in a too small crop, making it an uneconomical grape harvest.

The evenness of your harvest will be determined by the evenness of bud break. If you are a commercial grape grower, you want all your grapes in one vineyard, to be ready for harvest at the same time. This will reduce the amount of time spend in collecting the crop because you don’t have to visit the vineyard three or four times to pick all the fruit.

A strong bud break will not only increase ensure a decent crop size, but also make pruning next year much easier. Some grape varieties that is cane pruned, like Thompson, Crimson for example, tends to sprout more evenly and stronger at the last buds on the cane. The biggest problem grape growers have, when this happens, is that they will not find enough pruning wood next year, to retain the structure and amount of buds for a decent crop size.

Look at the picture from one of the My-Grape-Vine customers. This is a classical example of a grape vine sprouting strongly on the tips of the canes and the basal and first buds have a poor sprout percentage.

How to improve an even, strong bud break.

First of all, I want to share with you a theory I have. If you don’t have to cane prune – don’t cane prune. The only reason why you should can prune is when you grow a veriaty that is unfruitful – period! When you spur prune, you will have a much higher bud break %.

So, choosing your pruning method carefully – this will ensure a decent, sustainable crop, year after year AND prune the correct way.

There are lots of so called pruning secrets available on the Internet, but my pruning system I teach in the Complete Grape Growers Guide, has proven itself over the past decade to be the best and most effective way to prune.

The second theory I have is: Proper sunlight penetration.

A grape vine that is too compact (condensed) will overshadow the shoots and and buds during the growing season and as we all know by now, a grape vine needs sunlight to “ripen” the buds on the shoots. In other words; having a well ventilated, not too compact grape vine will improve the bud break percentage.

Now you may ask yourself the following question. “I have a variety that needs to be cane pruned, and is not too compact, BUT I still get a poor bud break percentage – what do I do?”

I have another trick up my sleeve – luckily!

And it is called: “Hydrogen cyanamide (Dormex)” – please note, it is not cyanide, but cyanamide

Applying Dormex to the grape vine’s buds, one month before bud break will significantly improve the bud break percentage and will also make bud break more even.

The concentrate of which it is applied is 3-5 liters (101 – 169 fluid ounces) per 100 liter (26.4 gallons) water for table grapes and 2 – 3 liter (67 – 101 fluid ounces) /100l water for wine grapes. Be sure to read the product label before applying Dormex.


Dormex irritates the skin, so wear proper gloves when you apply it.

If you live in an area where late frost is a problem, I would advise you to be careful. Why? Dormex will not only improve bud break, but it will advance bud break as well. Some grape growers claims to have advanced their sprouting date by up to 3 weeks. My personal experience tells me that id advance bud break by +- one week. So be careful not to advance the sprouting date of your grape vine by so much, that the danger of cold damage will become a bigger concern.

I hope you have enjoyed this blog, and I hope you understand now why an even and strong bud break is so important. You grape growing success depends on this!

For more proven theories, tricks and grape growing tips, you can get yourself the Complete Grape Growers Guide and grow your grape vine like a PRO!



The Grape Guy

In order to know what to expect when attempting your own hydroponic garden is to know what a hydroponic garden is. Once you understand what this type of gardening entails, you will be more aware of what to expect when constructing a garden of this nature.

Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants in water without soil, and with the proper nutrients added. This process became considerable popular in recent years, and has been done experimentally for over a century. In the year 1929, new studies regarding the feasibility of hydroponics for growing commercial crops have taken place as well.

Nowadays, many home gardeners and farmers use this technique. This method enables plants to be grown closer together in a field, which helps increase the yield of crops. Not only that, but also several crops can be grown in the same hydroponic growth tank.

As far as what to expect from the process of using the hydroponic technique, you will experience both the advantages and disadvantages of growing crops in this manner. One major advantage of hydroponics (besides conserving space) is that it virtually eliminates all weed and pest problems. It is another form of pesticide-free gardening, in some cases.

The major disadvantage of hydronponics is that the equipment used to garden using this methods is very expensive. You will also need to be prepared to provide extensive physical support for your plants when grown by this method. However, this growing method for the most part can benefit many gardeners and crop producers in many ways, if they know how to do it correctly. Those who are successful at this type of gardening can expect nothing but a rich harvest.

Another big advantage for small-scale hydronponic gardeners is the opportunity to grow plants year-round. This can be accomplished by the use of indoor lighting. The correct type of lighting that you would need for growing plants indoors using the hydronponic method would be a High Intensity Discharge (H.I.D.) light. These types of lights are designed to give off the correct spectrum of light waves, which are perfect for growing plants indoors-and in water no less.

The basic hydronponic growing system includes a variety of other components as well. For example, hydroponic-grown plants are held upright by wire supports or are rooted in substances such as sand or gravel. Furthermore, the growing environment for hydronponic-grown plants needs to be as sterile as possible for best results.

To get you started on using the hydroponic system you will need to keep in mind a few tips. For example, if you want to plant a spring garden, there are some things you will need to know, such as the effect of germinating your seeds ahead of time.

In order to germinate your growing seeds you can grow them a month early with an indoor grow light, and wait until after the last projected frost date to transplant it. Even if you decide to transplant your indoor plants outdoors, you will enjoy a longer production and/or blooming season.

The nutrient solutions added to plants grown by the hydronponic method require the correct concentration of various nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and other nutrients that most plants need. One recommendation for growing plants indoors is to add liquid seaweed to them, which also supplies necessary ingredients to plants.

Other names for hydronponics are soilless culture, chemiculture, and water gardening. This type of growing has impressed many people during the experimental phase and is becoming more and more of a successful form of gardening. It is one way of producing organic foods on a larger scale as well.

Now that you know a little more about hydroponics and what to expect from attempting to construct a hydroponic garden it may be time for you to try it for yourself. You have plenty of free resources available to you online to help you get started. In addition, you can refer back to this article.

If you ever have any questions about the hydroponic growing process you can contact gardening or farming expert. They will help direct you to all the information and resources that you need to help you along.

To find out more about hydroponics click on the book

Laying out your vineyard

Hello grape fans!

Here is how to lay out your vineyard for optimum production, pest control, grape coloring and for best airflow through the vines.
I get lots of question about the spacing of the vines (in the row and between the rows). Now, there isn’t really something like wrong spacing between vines, but there are a few factors to take into consideration when planing your grape vine.
For bunch grapes, the most commonly used spacing is 7.5 to 8 feet between vines and 8 to 12 feet between rows. If you use implements like tractor and mowers in your vineyards, you need to plant the rows wide enough for the implements to be able to move between the rows.

On my farm, I use Slanted Trellis systems, and therefore I row widths of 3 meters (10 feet) rows – remember this is for bunch grapes. Here is a picture from the Complete Grape Growers Guide.

Another big factor that will determine the row spacing is the way you train your grape vine. Using a Four Cane Kniffen training system, takes up less space between the rows than say a Geneva Double Curtain training system, therefore the rows don’t need to be as wide.
Geneva double curtain

Four Cane Kniffen

When you look at how vigorous your variaty grows, this will also influence your decision on row width. Vigorous varieties should be planted further appart between vines and the rows should be a bit wider as well.

The way you prune your grape vine will also determine the spacing between vines. When you prune with canes, you must plant your vines far enough apart (at least 8 feet) so that you can twine the canes on the trellis wires without overlapping the adjacent vine’s canes.

Row direction:

The effect row direction has on the productivity is one of the most common mistakes “newbie” commercial and home grape growers make.

When planning your grape vine, you must always strive to expose as many leaves to direct sunlight as possible. This will ensure optimum photosynthesis, optimum pest control and good coloring of grapes. The prevailing wind direction is also important, especially in wet, humid climates. Planting the grape vine parallel with the prevailing winds, will slow down the wind speed and the evaporation of water from the leaves will be much slower, increasing the chances of diseases.

When you plan to establish your vineyard on a hill, with a slope, you normally plant on the contour of the hill. This is the best way to prevent erosion during heavy rains, BUT planting a vineyard on the contour of a hill, will slow down the movement of cold air through the vineyard, and the danger of cold air getting trapped (like a dam) in the vineyard could lead to cold damage of the vines. Be sure to channel the air out of the vineyard by constructing roads and dead ground at the lowest parts of your vineyard. A bush of forest close to your vineyard, could have the same affect, make sure to funnel the cold air out of the vineyard.

I hope this clears out some questions about row and vine spacing, and some questions about where to grow your grape vine.

For more information on growing grapes, get your copy of the Complete Grape Growers Guide today!

Have a grape (great) day!


Ring-bark a grape vine

Hello GrapeViners,
I have something really interesting to share with you today. Do you know what ring-barking is?
Look at the picture below:
Research has shown that the direction of sap flow in a grape vine is in the direction of the red arrows. Sap from the roots of the vine, goes upwards through the core and young wood, also known as the xylem. It picks up carbohydrates as it moves through the leaves and green parts of the vine and transport it back to the routes and older parts of the vine, through the phloem (inner bark).

What happens is when you ring-bark, is that the phloem is cut off with a ring-bark knife, so the sap flow downwards is much slower and therefore much more carbohydrates is available to the green parts of the vine.

Now, let me just warn you about ring-barking! This is a very delicate procedure and you must cut only the phloem of the stem and do not penetrate the cambium too deep, otherwise you will damage the grape vine – even kill it.

Before ring-barking can take place, you will have to remove the bark from the stem of the grape vine, exposing the inner-bark or phloem (no. 2 in picture). Take a knife and cut through the phloem around the whole ambit of the vine, until you reach the place where you started. The cut should only be deep enough to penetrate the cambium (1-2 mm) – you will see some sap-flow coming from the wound – DO NOT CUT TO DEEP!

Now you probably ask: “Why on earth do you ring-bark?”

Well my grape growing friend, this one of the methods I use to enlarge berry size on varieties like Thompson, Crimson and La Rochelle. The reason you get larger berries lies in the slower or much less carbohydrate flow downwards – does is make sense? More is available to grape clusters!

Have a look at the berry size of this La Rochelle bunch – that’s an average of 28-30 mm (XXL!!)

Picture taken with my cellphone, so the quality isn’t that good – sorry!

When to ring-bark and when not and some important things to remember:

  • Never ring-bark a young vine – the diameter of the vine should be at least 30 mm
  • Always ring-bark a day or two AFTER you watered the vine – this will ensure that the vine can handle the “shock” of ring-barking
  • Never ring-bark a grape vine that struggles to grow – remember you are actually hurting the vine
  • In the picture where the numbers are, 1 was last years’ ring-bark and no 2 this year’s ring-bark. Always ring-bark BELOW the previous year’s ring-bark.
  • Don’t cut to deep – PLEASE
  • Ring-barking shortens the life of a grape vine, so if you aren’t a commercial grape grower, don’t ring-bark (although trying it for one year won’t kill your vine IF it is done correctly)
  • Ring-bark at +- 10mm berry size, just after fruit-set has finished – don’t ring-bark to early, as this will have no effect on the berry size.

You might be wondering what happens to the ring-bark wound you made on the stem of the vine. Yes, it is a wound, but the grape vine has a unique way of healing itself and it is called callusing. Callusing is when the grape vine replace damaged membranes with new ones and if you have a close look at the picture of the ring-bark I made last year, you will notice the callosity that formed on last year’s ring-bark.

OK dear grape growers, know you have some kind of idea what ring-barking is all about. Just remember that this procedure should be done with extreme caution and it is NOT for the novice grape grower.

Take care and I will talk to you soon!


The Grape Guy


(Wanna know some more great grape growing techniques? Get you copy of the “Complete Grape Growers Guide” Today!

What is Compost? A good description for compost can be decomposed organic material that is produced when bacteria in soil break down garbage and biodegradable trash, making organic fertilizer.

Gardeners and farmers use compost for soil enrichment. The relatively stable humus material that is produced from a composting process in which bacteria in soil mixed with garbage and degradable trash break down the mixture into organic fertilizer.

Why is compost so important in our everyday grape growing and gardening? I once heard these terms and just love them.

Reduce – Reuse – Recycle

Composting reduces the amount of waste each of us sends to the landfill. 30% of the material we send to landfill is organic and could be composted at home. Making your own compost in your backyard will save you hundreds of dollars over a few years. Think about it this way. In the past, organic materials have been dumped in landfills or burned. The more waste there is to remove, the more money has to be spend – simple as that. By making a compost pile, you will reduce the amount of money spend for waste removal by a huge 30%! Did you know that YOU nearly throw away 600 pounds of compostables each and every year!

Unfortunately, we humans don’t like to reuse. We rather buy new ones because it’s much easier. Isn’t that true? Why should I even consider making my own compost? I’d rather buy my fertilizer from the nursery down the street. The world is falling apart because of waste we humans dump on landfills. The air is polluted with dangerous toxins we breath every single day of our lives. Not many of us like to go through our garbage to see what is reusable and what not. The best way to overcome this problem is to have a recycle bin in your kitchen, where you can throw away organic waste to be recycled.

Every single day we take out the garbage, we take out lots and lots of organic material. So what is organic material and can it be recycled into compost? Let’s have a look. Organic materials include yard debris, wood materials, food and food processing by-products, manure and agricultural residues, land clearing debris, used paper and paper bags, leftovers from last nights party (except for the hangover off course J). All of these products can be recycled in compost that you can use to fertilize your grape vine and your garden!

Did you know that compost is more rich in nutrients than peat moss, we so often use?

The benefits of using compost

Let’s have a look at what compost can do for your grape vine and garden.

Applying finished compost will:

  • return nutrients to the soil,
  • hold moisture in gardens and on lawns,
  • contribute to watershed health by controlling run-off and
  • naturally fertilize your soil and
  • improve and provide structure to the soil.

Inside our soil there are literary millions of organisms at work each day. Each teaspoon of garden soil hosts 100 000 000 (100 mil) bacteria and nearly 800 feet of fungal threats? Improving the organic life inside your soil will:

  • Improve soil drainage
  • Suppress soil-borne plant diseases
  • Improve soil tilth and friability

Loosen heavy clay soils

You must always remember that compost isn’t a fertilizer and nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) are mostly in organic forms. Nutrients from compost is slowly released to the grape vine and other plants, therefore it doesn’t leach from the soil as much as normal fertilizers. Compost contains many trace nutrients that are essential for plant growth and for the home grape grower and gardener, this is more than enough for a single year.

Adding compost to your soil

When adding compost to your soil, you must make sure that the compost is well matured. The acquired characteristics of a mature compost or compost pile are:

  • dark brown color
  • it should be a humus like, crumbly and loose texture
  • it must have an earthy smell
  • it should be free of feedstock-readily
  • the size of the mature pile should be 1/3 of the original size

When adding compost, it is best to mix the compost with the top 6 inches of your soil. This will loosen the structure of clayish and compacted soils and will improve the water and nutrient retention of sandy soils.

Making your very own compost isn’t that difficult, but you need to know the basics. Lots of information is available on the Internet, but if you need a hands-on guide to make the worlds best compost I do recommend the following e-book.

Click on the book to get more information

Have a grape (great) day
“The Grape Guy”

Growing grape vines makes money

You’ve perhaps heard that money doesn’t grow on trees, but let me tell you something: “Growing trees make cash!”

Do you like gardening? If so, then why don’t you earn some additional cash while doing what you like. Did you know that the plants market was $ 4 000 000 000 last year alone! Yes, that is 4 billion dollars, and the demand is tremendous and still climbing year after year.

Not only does your garden ad value and beauty to your property, but it can be an extra income source for you as well. If you start your own backyard, grape vine nursery, you will have lots of fun rooting this wonderful plant, and you will earn some extra cash.

Growing grapes from cuttings are not as difficult as you might believe it is. Al you need is a well-drained, well fertilized, weed free area in your backyard and some rooting hormones, and you are on your way!

It doesn’t matter where you live, if you have a minor area that you can use for cultivation, you can make money, rooting and producing grape vines at home! You do not have a garden or backyard. No problem, you can root grape vine cuttings on your balcony or on your stoop in a pot.

The trade for grape vines and plants is giant and with a tiny investment, you as a small grower can make this a lucrative business, because you will have almost no overheads at all.

The complete grape grower’s guide” will teach you how to cut and root the cuttings for your home nursery. The propagation techniques used in this e-book is so easy to understand, and with the images and demonstrations, all clearly represented, event your children will be able do it! It does not matter if you do not know anything about grape vines, all you have to do is to follow the step by step guide, “The Complete Grape Growers Guide” lays out and you will be able to root cuttings from any grape vine.

As a plus, you can also learn how to grow your own grape vine and sell the grapes to push your income even more! Once you have rooted a cutting and grown a grape vine from your nursery, you will be a specialist on that plant. This whole process is much less complex than many of you out there believe.

You probably never thought of this. A rooted cutting sells for roughly $0.50 on the regional market. With a small area of 10 x 10 feet, you can root about 1000 cuttings, which will ad $500 to your income! Go a bit bigger and you can earn a thousand dollars, just like that.

Have fun while making cash in your backyard, with a grape vine nursery. It is a profitable business, and you can learn as you go and making a mistake will not cost you an arm and a leg, because it costs very little to get started.

Subscribe to My-Grape-Vine and get a weekly newsletter full op grape growing tips and techniques and you will be notified when this promising e-book is released. “The Complete Grape Growers Guide” teach you everything you need to know about the grape vine and you will reap the benefits for having your own backyard grape vine nursery.

Have fun in your garden!