Saturday, 22 September 2007

Nothing To Whine About..... **

The grapes are ripe 'n' ready, and if you choose the best ones they are delicious...but very small.

This photo shows a couple of the best bunches, so as you can see they are not really going to win any bacchanalian prizes. There are however, dozens & dozens of them like this.

A quick five minute "google" discouraged me from any notions of laying down a few bottles of Chateau Greenmantle however, as it seems you need around 18lbs of grapes to make one batch of wine, resulting in around 4 bottles worth....On this basis I might just about manage a pint. (** Aplogies then, for the terrible titular pun ...)

So other than the few handfuls which I shall pick at with some cheese and biscuits, most of them will just get left for the birds and insects.

The big question is, what if anything, can I do to get bigger, better bunches next year. I'm sure the answer in part lies with pruning. The vine is huge, and very overgrown, and even rambles up a large tree. Surely if it was pruned back to a more sensible size, more of the effort would go into producing fruit, instead of canopy.

Also, I know that for decent size fruit you have to thin out the individual bunches as they develop, with special curved grape scissors. (Or plain old nail scissors.) It was not really worth the bother this year as they were all buried so deep in the foliage.

Thirdly there is of course the issue of what variety of vine it is. Maybe it just doesn't do big grapes.

Looking at my 19th century copy of Beeton's New Dictionary of Everyday Gardening, (which I have just liberated from within 40 boxes of unpacked books) I see that it has extensive and very detailed advice on "the management of vines" with near two whole pages devoted to pruning. This seems to start in early February, and continue at intervals throughout the year. The trouble is, it talks about "last year's laterals" and "newly emergent buds" and clearly assumes your vine is already in a reasonable state of cultivation. A sort of ongoing maintenance scheme. It's also a bit vague about the difference between outdoor and glasshouse schedules.

There is certainly no advice on how to tackle a great rambling, unpruned mass, that hasn't been touched for years.....So I believe I shall have seek advice from the professionals, and contact the RHS or a horticultural college of some sort.

It would be nice to try and reclaim and reinvigorate this vine, but I am a little nervous of doing so as it's not actually mine, I'm only renting the place after all; and I also share it with a neighbour as it forms the boundary between our garden areas. Consultation would clearly be required.

A plan in development then. More news later if it ripens...........


Matron said...

So just lie back in your toga, and have someone feed the grapes to you!

Dorothy Guyton said...

Wow is the pictures the actual color of the grsapes? My mouth is watering. Hey, add another book to the stack of books that you already have, "Diary of a Wannabe Gardener" I am asking all of my gardening friends to check out my book at It is a humorous book about a novice gardener trying to create the perfect flower garden as nature and life tries to attack her. I bet you would enjoy it. Enjoy nature and enjoy life.