By: Amy Grant
Want to can your own grape jelly or make your own wine? There’s a grape out there for you. There are literally thousands of grape varieties available, but only a few dozen are grown to any extent with less than 20 making up the entire world’s production. What are some of the more common grape varieties and some characteristics of the different types of grapes?
Grapevine varieties are divided into table grapes and wine grapes. This means that table grapes are primarily used for eating and preserving while wine grapes are for, you guessed it, wine. Some varieties of grapes can be used for both.
American grapevine varieties and hybrids are generally grown as table grapes and for juicing and canning. They are also the most common varieties of grapes for the home gardener.
Oh, there is a third type of grape, but it is not commonly cultivated. There are over 20 species of wild grape throughout Canada and the United States. The four most common wild grape varieties are:
- Riverbank grape (V. riparia)
- Frost grape (V. vulpine)
- Summer grape (V. aestivalis)
- Catbird grape (V. palmate)
These wild grapes are important food sources for wildlife and are often found in moist, fertile forest soil near streams, ponds and roadsides. Most of the modern varieties of table and wine grapes are derived from one or more species of wild grape.
There may be several different types of grapes suited to grow in your garden, depending upon your climatic region. Warm regions with hot, dry days and cool, humid nights are ideal for growing wine grapes, Vitis vinifera. Those folks in cooler regions can plant a variety of table grape or wild grape.
Common Grape Varieties
Most of the wine grapes grown in the United States are grafted European grapes. This is because there is a bacterium in American soils that is lethal to non-native grapes. Grafting onto the rootstock of native grapes gives the European stock a natural resistance. Some of these French-American varieties include:
- Vidal Blanc
- Seyval Blanc
Varieties that are not of European origin include:
- Cabernet Sauvignon
American wine grapes (which are more cold hardy than the hybrid or foreign grapes) include:
Concord probably rings a bell, as it is a common table grape often made into jelly. Niagra is a white grape that is also delicious eaten off the vine. Canadice, Catawba, Muscadine, Steuben, Bluebell, Himrod and Vanessa are also popular table grapes.
There are many other varietals of both table and wine grapes, each with a unique characteristic. A good nursery will be able to direct you as to which varietals are suitable for your region.
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G2279 В· Index: Lawn & Garden, Lawn & Garden
Paul E. Read, Professor of Horticulture and Extension Horticulturist
This NebGuide provides the basic information to establish a grape vineyard or planting grapes for home use. A detailed table provides the names of potentially suitable grape cultivars and their characteristics.
Grapevines are among the most easily grown fruits in Nebraska. In recent years there has been a resurgence of grape growing as a commercial crop, especially in the eastern part of the state because of the adapted soil and climatic conditions. However, grapes can also be grown in the home garden for personal use.
Grape production for home use is not difficult if attention is given to necessary planting and maintenance practices. Reasons for wanting to grow grapes in the home garden vary from person to person, but the most common are for home winemaking making juice, jams, jellies, and even pies and producing grapes for fresh eating (table grapes). Some homeowners also grow grapes for shade, ornamental, and landscape enhancements. Table I, Features of Grape Cultivars for Home Gardens, lists some of the most common grapes recommended for home fruit plantings in Nebraska and their potential uses.
Grape Hyacinth Care
Grape hyacinths may be petite, but what they lack in size, they make up for in beauty and ease-of-care. Largely, you can plant grape hyacinths in the fall and forget about them for months until they emerge from the ground and enliven an otherwise empty early-spring landscape.
After your grape hyacinths are finished blooming, they'll produce circular green seed pods that can linger well into summer. Remove these pods when the blooms are finished to allow the plant to direct its energy into the following year’s flowers. You can also shear the foliage when it starts to yellow.
Unlike many spring-blooming bulbs, grape hyacinths also produce a flush of grass-like foliage late in the summer or early fall. this foliage should be left in place until the plants finish blooming the following spring. This foliage helps nourish the plant only during the onset of summer dormancy is it okay to remove the leaves until new foliage appears once more.
Grape hyacinth does best in full sun but tolerates partial shade. Keep in mind that many sites that are shady throughout the summer are actually quite sunny in the spring before nearby trees have leafed out. These are ideal areas for planting grape hyacinths, as well as many other spring bulbs.
For the best results, plant grape hyacinth in any well-drained soil around your property. Grape hyacinths are most fond of somewhat sandy soil, but they do well in pretty much all but the soggiest blends. Additionally, grape hyacinth is not at all picky about soil's pH level.
Grape hyacinths like a fair amount of moisture during the spring, but their soil should be allowed to dry out a bit as the season progresses. This helps to prevent bulb rot issues throughout the months that they're not in bloom.
Temperature and Humidity
Grape hyacinths do nicely in all climate conditions within their USDA hardiness zone range. However, they do require a cool winter period in order to bloom, so unseasonably warm winter temperatures may cause bloom failure the following spring.
No fertilizer is necessary for healthy grape hyacinth, but they may benefit from sprinkling 1/4 cup of bone meal (per 100 square feet of soil) once each year in the fall.
If you live in a warm, humid climate where tomato diseases are rampant, you'll probably want a disease resistant type, such as "Jelly Bean" or "Red Candy." Cornell University lists "Juliet" as disease resistant, but this variety showed some signs of disease in an Oregon State University field trial. Determinate plants, such as "Yellow Cherry," stay compact, making them ideal for pots or small gardens. Most grape tomatoes, though, including "Juliet," "Grape" and "Sweet Olive" are indeterminate. These plants continue bearing fruit until cold weather nips them and they produce long, rambling vines that need support.
How to plant grapes
Before you plant bare-root grapevines, you must soak the roots in water for around 3-4 hours. Once thoroughly soaked and ready to be planted, make sure you remove all the canes except the ones that are vigorous.
It is recommended as per our how to grow grapes instructions that each vine is separated from a distance of 6-10 feet. For each vine, dig a hole that is both, 12 inches wide and 12 inches deep. Then fill it into about 4 inches with topsoil.
Now you can trim off roots that are longer than the normal length or are broken. Then set the vines into holes larger and deeper than the nursery they have grown in.
This will allow the root system to expand. Now you will have to cover the roots with soil completely. Grapevines are to be watered at the time of planting.
It is important that you don’t mulch the soil unnecessarily. For grapes, mulching is not always recommended as a best practice since it cools down the soil temperature. Grapevines prefer warmer soil for healthy growth.
In permaculture, which is essentially ecological garden design, we prefer to use plants which have multiple uses to maximise efficiency
More than just a source of edible leaves for making dolmades, the Thompson seedless (sultana) grape is one of the most popular sweet table grapes worldwide, and it is also used for making dried raisins and wine also.
The berries are yellow-green in colour, oval in shape, small to medium in size, and seedless, with soft skin and sweet, firm, juicy pulp with nice grape flavour. The berries are produced in large, conical bunches which are usually well filled. This vine is vigorous, and a cane-pruned variety. It’s definitely worth growing!
Growing Heirloom Grapes
Grapevines are relatively permanent structures, excellent for climbing along fences or creating a beautiful arbor space. But we can’t forget that they are also edibles! A grapevine can produce quite a few grapes, which are useless for anything but feeding the deer if your family won’t eat them.
Decide what kind of grapes you want – table grapes, raisins, juice, or wine – and then select your variety carefully. Will the kids eat thick-skinned, seeded grapes? Will your wine turn out well with a table grape? Is your climate suited to a European variety?
Disease is another factor to consider. Older varieties are sometimes more susceptible to disease. Make sure you are familiar with its history and have an environment suitable for healthy growing.
All in all, heirloom is a tradition and a novelty that make organic gardening fun and interesting. But with something more permanent, like apples or grapes, make sure it’s a variety that you will be able to grow successfully and enjoy at harvest time. Otherwise, stick to heirloom vegetables and simply enjoy growing organic grapes with newer varieties.