Did you ever want to grow your own Concord grapes, but not know where to start? Concord grapes were developed in New England (see History of Concord Grapes), and the hardy vines will add a bit of interest and old-world drama to your garden. Here’s a quick guide on when and how to plant Concord grapes, as well as how to care for them. Plus, we’ll tell you how to build your own grape trellis, too!
Concord grapes can grow in a wide variety of New England soils, and once established, require minimal care. Grape vines are very resistant to pests and most plant diseases, are self-pollinating, and don’t require regular watering. With very little work in the beginning, you can soon be enjoying the fruits of your labor in your very own mini vineyard!
CHOOSING THE RIGHT CONCORD GRAPES
For the best results, choose hardy, medium-sized grape vine plants that are at least one year old. Purchasing from a knowledgeable and reputable local nursery or garden center is recommended.
WHEN TO PLANT CONCORD GRAPES
Grapes do best in fertile, well-drained soil that receives full sun exposure and is safe from strong wind gusts and extreme winter cold pockets. Grape vines require a trellis or other climbing surface, the sturdier the better, since the fruit can be heavy. The best time to plant grapes in New England is very early in the spring after frost leaves the ground, although any time before summer will work.
HOW TO PLANT CONCORD GRAPES
Supplies to Plant Concord Grapes
Healthy, medium-sized grape plants that are at least one year old
A 1/2 gallon mixture of equal parts compost, peat, and cured manure for each grape vine planted
Straw or mulch
Directions to Plant Concord Grapes
For each plant, dig a hole deep enough to secure the roots of the vine.
Place the plant in the hole and fill in around it with the compost mixture.
Pack lightly and water.
Mulch around the base of the plants.
Take the strongest, longest vine of each plant and guide it to an area toward the top of the trellis, being careful not to overextend. Loosely secure with twine. Use twine to support other areas as needed.
Water lightly just after planting, then water periodically until the plants are established. When watering, avoid wetting the foliage, so as to discourage fungal diseases. Never allow the soil to get too soggy.
HOW TO BUILD A GRAPE VINE TRELLIS
Supplies for Building a Grape Vine Trellis
2 sturdy posts, approximately 6 feet in length
Heavy wire, approximately 6-8-gauge
Directions for Building a Grape Vine Trellis
Dig two holes approximately 3 feet deep about 10 feet apart.
Place the posts in the holes and fill with dirt, tamping it down to secure the posts upright, while at the same time keeping the poles tilted slightly away from each other.
Secure 2-3 rows of wire between the two posts, leaving about 2-3 feet between each wire.
CONCORD GRAPE CARE
How to Prune Concord Grape Vines
Grape vines purchased at a greenhouse will typically have been pruned, so additional pruning may not be necessary until the following spring. To prune grape vines, start by cutting off the top two-thirds of the plant. Then prune off the side branches, allowing buds to remain. The buds are where the flowers — and eventually the grapes — will grow.
Fertilize after the second year, between April and May, following recommendations from a trustworthy greenhouse or garden center.
When to Harvest Concord Grapes
Grapes should be ready to be harvested by the third year after planting. They are ripe and ready to harvest when the vines and stems begin to turn brown.
How to Winterize Concord Grapes
After the grape leaves fall off in autumn, cut the securing twine from the trellis and loosely pile the vines on the soil under the trellis. Insulate for the winter with about a foot of straw or mulch and cover with a secured tarp or wood pallets. Remove tarps and mulch in late winter or very early spring.
Now that you know how to plant Concord grapes, care for them, and even build your own grape vine trellis, why not add a mini vineyard to your property this year?