Last summer I wrote about planting my first grape vine, an experiment to see if it would survive the winter here. After much kneeling and peering this spring, the verdict is in — it lived!
To refresh your memory, I planted a Valiant grape from Jolly Lane Greenhouse in Rapid City. Betas are blue grapes hardy to Zone 3, best used for jelly and juice.
Even though the grape lived, I won’t be making homegrown jelly this year; it takes at least three years before harvest. Grapes require an investment of time as well as labor.
I have pruned the vine severely to encourage more growth; steeling myself to prune it back to a single stem was difficult, but it’s necessary for bigger yields down the road. This summer I will allow no more than four side side branches to grow and will pinch off all flower buds. The vine’s roots and those four branches need to be firmly established, and fruit development will hinder that process. Grapes are the definition of “slow food.”
My jelly jars are waiting.