As far as fruiting plants go, it’s hard to beat a grapevine for benefits. It will give you delicious fruit in summer for eating fresh or dried, juicing and making wine or vinegar. The young leaves can be used for making dolmades, and if you grow your vine over a pergola you can use it to create leafy shade in summer.
And, if you enjoy doing a little craftwork, the long vines that are removed each winter when you’re pruning are ideal for weaving baskets.
Winter is the best time to plant a grapevine as the plants are dormant and available bare-rooted, which saves a little money, but you can also find potted plants in the warmer months. Grapes grow best in areas with cool winters, wettish spring seasons and dry summers. They struggle with fungal problems in wet, humid summers, but there are resistant varieties worth planting, such as Isabella, or try one of the muscadine types, which thrive in hot, humid conditions.
Grapes are adaptable to many soil types but may need supplementary feeding if the soil is nutritionally poor. Add a generous amount of compost to the soil when planting to get your vine off to a good start. Find a nice sunny spot and a suitable structure. You could grow a grapevine on a pergola, a fence or wires stretched between two posts. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s sturdy.
For more inspiration on how to grow food-producing plants, such as radishes and pistachios, check out the July 2019 issue.