Saturday, 25 May 2013

Planting Grapevines in the Greenhouse...

A month or so ago we bought two young grapevines from our local nursery.  They were quite expensive at £15 each, but hopefully we'll be able to harvest fruit from them for many years to come.

One vine is a Chardonnay, which needs no introduction, and the other a Perlan which apparently is another name for the Chasselas variety, very commonly grown throughout Europe.

We decided to use the 'rod' method of training, allowing just a single branch to grow the full length of the greenhouse.

The plants already had some fresh growth when we bought them, and we selected a good shoot on each and then snipped off all the other greenery (note that it's not advisable to cut any old wood at all during the growing season, since the plants have a tendency to 'bleed').  At this stage, we just left the plants in their pots standing inside the greenhouse.

Then we had to sit back and wait, until today - after a month, the selected shoots have now grown to a sufficient length to allow the vines to be planted behind the greenhouse with the rods trained through holes in the wooden back panels.

So, we cut two 100 mm holes in the panels using a hole saw in the cordless drilling machine, one hole towards each end of the building.   The intention is to let the vine closest to the door run up to the roof level and then westwards along the back edge, while the other will be trained upwards and then eastwards along the centre of the roof.

We dug the holes for the roots, and very carefully fed the rod branches through the holes, before backfilling and compacting the soil around the root balls.

Perlan variety at the door end....

and Chardonnay at the far end.....

We then strung some vertical supports inside the greenhouse, from heavy duty garden wire, and also lined the panel holes around the vines with some thick rubber strip, to prevent chafing of the stems in the wind and when growing.

the Perlan from inside the greenhouse....

and the Chardonnay

We'll add high-level longitudinal support wires to the roof frames at a later date, when the vines have grown a little more.

The advantage of planting the roots outside the greenhouse is that they actually benefit from being very cold in the winter.  Apparently, grapevines can easily tolerate living outside in the English weather, but the flowers and fruits need warmth to grow and ripen.  At our latitude, that's only possible with the vines trained inside the greenhouse.

Another advantage is that the vines penetrate the greenhouse back panel around 600 mm from the ground, and can be trained quite tightly to the wires, freeing up the space below and around for planting other things.  And of course, being outside, the vine roots get watered every time it rains.
So it's time to wait and see how long the vines will grow this year.  We'll post an update in the future with any further developments.

Update 20-Aug-13

After almost three months, the Perlan has now reached the roof and has already been routed partway along horizontal wires at the roofline.

Perlan vine going strong...

We even have a bonus with one bunch of small grapes maturing - I'd originally thought about cutting these off before they fruited, but decided to let them grow...

Perlan Grapes....

The Chardonnay is not doing quite so well, but is almost up to the roof level.  Again, there's a bunch of small grapes low down on the vine.

I don't expect that we'll get much further growth this season, so we'll post again next year providing that they survive the winter.

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