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Grapes are one of the most popular of all fresh fruits and have been under cultivation by mankind for approximately 6,000–8,000 years. They are even mentioned in the bible when Noah grows them on his farm (Genesis 9:20–21). While it is a simple process to purchase bunches of supermarket grapes, why not take up the challenge of growing your own grape vines from seed. Be aware they they are unlikely to grow true from the parent plants so (as long as you have the space) grow a selection of seedlings to fruition, retaining only those plants which produce the most flavoursome fruits.

If you want to grow your own grape vine from seed then it is a fairly straightforward processes. However you will need to make sure that your seeds are viable and then you will need to break the seeds natural dormancy before sowing.

Seed viability

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Wherever you get your seeds from, be it either from a friend or collected yourself, you should check the seeds viability first.

1. Firstly check that each seed is firm to the touch. Discard any soft seeds

2. Look at each seeds coloratio. A healthy grape seed will have a pale gray or white endosperm under the seed coat.

3. Place your seeds into a container of water. The viable seeds will sink, so discard any that float.

Breaking dormancy

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Remove any fruit pulp stuck to the seeds as this will contain chemicals which inhibit germination. Next, soak the seeds in warm water overnight. Now depending on the time of year you can sow the seeds directly into individual pots and place outside allowing nature to work its magic or you can stratify the seeds artificially. Be that as it may, vine seeds have a low rate of germination and so aim to sow 3 seeds for every one you expect to germinate.

If you are in the northern hemisphere then the best time for sowing will be December, just before the freezing winter weather arrives. Using 3 inch pots containing a good quality, well drained soil-based compost such as John Innes 'seed and potting', sowing each seed 1/2" deep. Water in then place outside in a cold frame until the spring, protecting them from mice and or squirrels. Water periodically but just to keep the compost moist. Do not allow the compost to become waterlogged. You can expect the seeds to begin germinating from late May onwards. Once the risk of late frosts have passed the cold frame cover can be left open. Pot the seedlings on as required using a soil-based general purpose compost and provide the support of a cane. Once they are approximately 1-1.5 metres tall and with an established root system they can be planted out into their final position outside.

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At other times of year you can break the seeds natural dormancy the following way. Place a good handful of damp sphagnum moss or a damp paper towel inside a sealable polythene bag and then add the seeds. Seal the bag and put inside the salad compartment of a refrigerator. The temperature will need to be at approximately 1-3º Celsius.

The seeds can remain in the fridge for 2-3 months, after which they can sown into 3 inch pots containing a good quality, well drained soil-based compost. Gently water in and provide a germinating temperature of 20-25º Celsius. You can expect the seedlings to emerge between 2-8 weeks depending on conditions. Once the roots have established in their pots and have produce at least 6 true leaves they can be potted on into 1 liter pots and then hardened off over a period of 7-10 days before being kept outside in a warm sheltered position. Do not put the plants out if there is a threat of frost or if freezing temperatures prevail. Provide a supporting cane and once they established in their new pots can be planted out into their final position outside.

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1 comment:

Lisa Viger said...

Wow, I like this! I've been getting concord grapes from a local winery this fall ... would love to grow some. How long does it take to go from seed to fruiting vine?