I'm sitting here grinning, and it's such a simple thing that's making me do it. The outdoor thermometer reads 54° F. This makes me happy, not only because 54° is particularly warm, but because it means the weather is starting to actually act spring-like, even if it officially doesn't arrive for a few weeks yet.
This begins an up and down cycle of temperatures which, along with increasing hours of daylight, helps to signal the gardens that it's time to wake up from their long winter's nap. It makes me more energetic, too. My calendar is beginning to actually have things on it. Today I had lunch with a friend, and tomorrow Mom and I are going to attend the Ft. Wayne Home & Garden Show.
Warmer temperatures also bring to mind those projects that need to be done and first on the list here at Our Little Acre will be to finish the grape arbor. I mentioned last year that I wanted to grow some grapes, and while harvesting them will be wonderful, I really wanted to grow them for the beauty of their vines.
In April, we planted eight vines of table grapes: 2 Himrod (white seedless), 4 Reliance (red seedless), and 2 Mars (blue seedless). They were planted in short rows from east to west, to allow for air circulation, since our prevailing winds come from the west. They were small and took awhile before they started to take off, but all except one Reliance did well.
I moved the opposing Reliance vine and replanted it next to a section of the split-rail fencing on one border of our property. Then I replanted the other Reliance vines so they were equidistant from the others, which was probably a better situation anyway, since I'd placed them a bit too close initially.
I wanted there to be a distinct area for the grapes, so we used landscaping timbers to delineate the area and I killed the grass inside by placing layers of newspaper over it. Next, I put a layer of mulch over the newspaper and that was that.
While we weren't quite sure how we wanted to do the trellis system, we began by just letting the vines grow and staking them to a short post. They grew this way until fall, when we knew they were large enough that we needed to get the more permanent system installed. Otherwise, winter winds would whip them around, so with more sturdy support and staking, they'd be ready to go once spring arrived.
We adapted information found in The Grape Grower to our needs and Romie began by digging holes for the 4x4s that we used for end posts. Next, holes were dug for the 2x2 wood posts which would go next to the grape vines. Here is where we would have been much better off to have placed the posts first, but Romie was very careful not to cut any of the roots he encountered.
Eye bolts were put at the proper heights on all the posts. We strung heavy-gauge wire from the end posts, threading it through the eye bolts on the smaller posts in between.
The grape vines were semi-pruned of their lowest auxiliary shoots, leaving one large stem for the trunk. One of them has two strong stems, so we left them both until we figure out what to do with that one. The vines were then well-secured to the supports with Velcro® plant tape.
Now spring is coming and we need to finish what we started. Plans are to get four more 4x4s, which will go in between the middle vines and the end vines. Then a pergola-type covering will be constructed over the entire structure. It won't be tall enough to walk under, but will provide aesthetic interest and further support for the vines as well as keeping the end posts from collapsing inward.
I also need to read up on how to prune the vines. I don't expect to get any grapes yet this year, but I do expect that the vines will grow quite a bit.