Growing grapevines

Grapevines make wonderful climbers to scramble over a wall or clothe a shed in green. In our garden centre you'll find varieties for sweet dessert grapes straight off the vine, and others for making deliciously fruity wine. Growing a grapevine outside in the garden isn't difficult: here's how.

Planting: dig plenty of organic matter into the soil, as grapevines are vigorous plants. Plant 15cm from the wall, to avoid the dry area at the base, and tie in loosely to a stake. Backfill, adding a handful of slow-release fertiliser, and water in well.

Pruning: grapes are pruned in December, when they're dormant, as they 'bleed' sap if pruned in summer. Leave your vine to grow for a year or two, then choose one shoot to train as the leader and snip back sideshoots to five or six leaves to encourage plenty of fruit.

Problems: powdery mildew covers leaves and fruit with a white, dusty coating and is most common when grapes go short of water. Prevent it by keeping your grape well watered and mulching the ground thickly to lock water into the soil, and look out for resistant varieties like 'Phoenix'.

Please ask the staff in our Chislehurst, Newchurch, Canterbury and Welling garden centre for more information and advice about growing grapevines.

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