A Gardener’s Diary: Prune now for summer fruit

Gardening columnist Jocelyne Sewell shares her tips for pruning grape vines to yield the best fruit

Once again the Enderby Seed Swap and Sale was very well-attended, with 760 persons coming through the doors. Many came to attend the informative lectures and demonstrations while others were looking for specific seeds and information on how to grow them. I also had a chance to talk with some new gardeners that were eager to start a garden.

There is another seed sale going on in Cherryville on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Community Hall on North Fork Road. A donation of $2 would be appreciated. This will be the third year and I will be there for the first time.

I am in the process of pruning my grapevines. Late August, it was nice sitting on the deck and reaching for grapes. I have very good air circulation which is important for grapes, and also a south exposure. The roots being next to our concrete deck do not compete with any other plants and get lots of compost. These grapes are green seedless Himrod. They are very sweet and ripen early.

The other one was supposed to be a red seedless grape, but it turned out to be a small seeded almost black grape which is very sweet. This vine covers an arbor by the shed and last year it went crazy on me. I had lots of grapes and they do freeze well and keep their shape even when thawed out.

The other grapevines are from cuttings I got from a neighbour a few years back. Another method from my gardening book: layering is a simple way of producing new vines for the home vineyard. Simply bury a portion of a low-growing vine about two inches beneath the soil surface. After that piece roots, cut it from the mother vine and transplant it. Almost any garden can produce grapes. Low frosty pockets should be avoided because of the danger of injury from spring frost. Annual pruning is important in maintaining a uniform yearly production of quality fruit. The best time to prune grapevines is after the danger of severe cold weather has past which is about now.

Grapes are not particular as to soils. As long as they are well-drained they grow well on both heavy and light soils. A soil of average fertility is best because too rich soils stimulate cane growth, causing poorly formed clusters. A slightly acid soil is best, but good growth and production are possible on neutral soils. Spring planting can be done from March through May, but it is better to plant as early in spring as the ground can be worked.

Grapes develop on the growth of the current year. Buds left on the vine at pruning time will produce fruit in summer. Year-old wood is the best yielder of fruit. Grapevines respond well to 10-10-10 fertilizer or well-rotted manure or compost. Fertilize in early spring and again about a month later, but do not fertilize past mid summer. Your vines need to enter dormancy at a normal time in fall or they will receive greater than normal winter damage. Grapes should only be picked when you are absolutely certain that they are ripe. They will not ripen any further once picked.

For more information: 250-558-4556.

Jocelyne Sewell is a gardening expert and organic gardening enthusiast. A member of the Okanagan Gardens & Roses Club, her column appears every other Wednesday.

Vernon Morning Star

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