There is no American Gardening tradition stronger than the harvesting of grapes and making jelly and jams. Easy to grow, our collection offers 3 very hardy varieties. Collection contains 1 plant of each Marquis, Mars and Reliance.
Choose an area in full sun with well-drained soil. Set grape plants 10' apart and slightly deeper than they grew in the nursery. Prune off damaged roots and spread the remainder, planting in a large hole with the roots 4-6 inches below the soil surface. Prune back to one cane and leave only 2-3 nodes on each cane. After shoot growth starts and the danger of spring frost is past, remove all but the 2 strongest shoots. Keep vines watered and weeded, and remove all flower clusters the first year. Allow enough time for the plant to get well-established. Stake the vines as needed, and set up supports such as trellises during summer or fall. Grapes bear fruit on one-year old wood: the shoot that will bear fruit emerges in spring from last year’s cane.
Once grapes are cut from the vine, they will not ripen any further. Berries change from green to red, purple or white depending on the variety. Most berries color up before flavor peaks. When fully ripe, the natural bloom or whitish coating on the berries should be more noticeable. The seeds turn from green to brown, and berries become slightly less firm to the touch.
Protect grapes from hungry birds by bagging individual clusters with sturdy, brown paper type bags tied securely to the cane, when clusters are about half developed. Leave enough air space in the bags for clusters to develop. Pick the grapes when they are ripe by cutting the entire bunch from the vine. Store the grapes in a container with soft lining to prevent bruising the fruits. Grapes are best eaten right away, but can be kept for a few weeks.