For the last year, our two grape vines have been completely ignored… but we have changed that! A few weeks ago, a small group of students and the garden AmeriCorps coordinator Kate all went to Freed Estates Vineyard to educate ourselves on the process of growing, pruning, harvesting, and even fermenting the grapes.
With the newly acquired knowledge, we got some clippers and string. The string helps train the shoots to go in the direction we want them to go. Since the grape vines were badly neglected, there were shoots of vines going in every which direction. Throughout the growing season, the main vines grow nubs, lots of nubs. Each nub will turn into 3 different shoots, and each shoot will try to grow two bundles of grapes. If you don’t trim back last years shoots then they will make more nubs which make more shoots which make way more grapes. Sounds like a good thing, right? well no. If there are too many bundles and shoots on the vine, it will become overburdened and the grapes will not ripen. Not to mention the amount of shoots going in all directions(which makes a really bushy mess). each year the vine should have 70-90 percent of the plant cut off to keep the vine in order. We cut off about 75-80 percent of the entire vine this year. With each shoot we cut off from the main vine, we left two nubs nearest to the bottom of the shoot. this means that we will get six new shoots per old shoot. Because most of the vine is trimmed, it can now focus on ripening the fruit, which is exactly what we want!