Once you have selected the site and prepared the soil in your vineyard, it’s time to make a decision. Will you be doing your grape growing from seeds or cuttings? Although it is possible to grow grape vines from either seeds or cuttings, the balance tips on the side of using cuttings if you look at all the factors.
Growing grapes from seeds
As previously stated, it is entirely possible to start your vines from seeds. It will take substantially longer, of course, because year old cuttings have at least that much of a head start. In addition, common belief says that grapes grown from seeds will never taste as good as those that come from a graft off of a parent plant. When you use the existing plant, you know exactly what you are dealing with, but the seed is an unproven source, and a bit riskier. Having said that, there are a lot of people that enjoy the entire process of grape growing from seeds all the way to harvest. For the best results, consider the steps to growing better grapes with seeds.
Grape seeds are not hard to find. Look at a local nursery or online. Increase your odds of success by choosing a cultavar that does well in your area. You can even get your seeds directly from grapes. If this is interesting to you, just collect the grapes, remove the seeds and then clean them well. Next, you should allow them to dry for up to a week before planting. Plant the seeds in small pots filled with soil, placing them about 1/2 inch below the surface. Now you can put these pots in a bag and place them in the refrigerator, covered. Another method that doesn’t take so much room is to place the seeds between two layers of paper towels, which you must keep moist, but not wet, at all times.
Leave them there for up to 3 months, being sure they remain dormant by staying below 40 degrees, but above freezing. Bring the seeds out of the cold, and into room temperature. If your seeds are not yet in pots, you should plant them now. Be sure the soil is moist, and avoid direct sunlight. When the seeds begin to germinate, you can remove them from the plastic bag and place them outdoors if you choose, or keep them inside as many growers prefer. Do not over-water the seeds. Keep them in a shady location until they have grown to a couple inches, being sure to protect them from wind, if outside.
You can now transfer them to individual pots and let them grow another couple weeks at a minimum before planting them in the yard. Some grape growers believe the new seedlings should stay indoors for a year before being planted outside. When you do move them to a permanent spot, keep in mind all the standard things to think about regarding location. Full sun, lack of wind, good drainage and adequate support. Now, if you have chosen a variety that does well in your area, you are off to a good start with growing your grapes from seeds.
Grape growing from cuttings
Most grapes that are planted today are cuttings, and are much easier to get started than seeds. There are two types of cuttings, dormant and green. The most common to use are dormant, or hardwood cuttings, but green ones are used for grapes that don’t root well from dormant cuttings.
Dormant cuttings can be made anytime after the leaves have fallen off the vine, and up until spring. Use the canes that grew the previous season, and look for buds that are close to each other on shoots about the thickness of a straw. When you find wood that is light in color, dense and not too soft, make your cuttings between 12 and 18 inches in length. The bottom should be just below a bud, and there ideally will be at least 3 buds, with a diagonal cut above them.
Once you have your cuttings, use paper towels or peat moss, moistened, and place them in a plastic bag. Put the bag in the refrigerator or other cool location for up to a year. Some gardeners store them under their house, or bury them on the north side of the house beneath about a foot of sand.
In order for the roots to start, the canes have to callus. You will see a white tissue that is forming on the cut edges of the cane. Once your cuttings have become established and are growing, you can expect to see fruit in 2 years.
Grow it Your Way
Either way you choose to start your vineyard, pay attention to consistent care and detail, and you will be well on your way to growing grapes at home. You will feel a tremendous satisfaction when you are sipping that wine, or eating some juicy grapes from vines you started yourself. So now, the only question is, will you be working at grape growing from seeds or cuttings?