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Project Vineyard: Free Grape Cuttings

We’ve mostly used our local “free-cycle” mailing list to discard no longer needed items. Similar lists serve various parts of North America at least, the most famous of which is craigslist. What we like about “free-cycle” is that everything is exchanged for free. Last month an ad came up for free grape cuttings suitable for crafts or propagation. This opportunity seemed something we couldn’t pass up, even though we have little experience with propagating cuttings.

Grape Vine CuttingsActually, I DO have some experience with cuttings, all bad. I’ve tried on numerous occasions to root african violet leaves and I also have tried to rescue old roses from cuttings, all with various degrees of failure. But I’ve wanted to grow grapes for years. Last week, we picked up a sprawling tangle of cuttings from a neighbor and chatted briefly with him about his experience with viniculture. He had his vines supported by a humble clothes lines strung along several metal posts. Nothing too high-fallutin’ here, let me assure you. The fence ran east-west so the grapes could get southern exposure sun all day. I’m told that more sun means sweeter grapes. Another bit of folk wisdom I’m been told is that grapes are even sweeter after the first frost. Perhaps some day soon, I’ll be able to comment on this claim with personal authority. We received two varieties: Niagara and Delaware. Both varieties have seeds which, again, I have heard it said are more flavorful than seedless varieties. Our cutting supplier didn’t remember exactly what he had done to root the seedlings he had received since he started his vines over 30 years ago. Our next step was to consult that source of all knowledge: the internet. I found an authoritative sounding document at:

Prepared Grape Vine CuttingsThough it was balmy and nearly spring-like on the first day of spring, today it’s the day before Easter and last night six inches of fresh snow dumped on us. Darn this early Easter! (Incidentally my grandmother always said to plant peas on Good Friday, which is probably not the best advice.) The grape vines needed to get off the dining room table but it was too early to try putting them in soil. First thing I did was to sanitize my clippers with a splash or two of bleach. I don’t know if this was exactly necessary but I bet I’ve contacted sick trees and bushes over the years and there’s no point transmitting any little nasties to our clippings. I trimmed them to roughly 18″ with at least 3 buds on each stick. We wrapped the sticks in moist towels and put them in a plastic bag. To keep the buds from opening we tucked the bags in our basement which is a nicely chilled 50 to 60 degrees. The table is clear for the Easter lamb roast and I *hope* that I haven’t killed our free clippings. I want to be the cool neighbor who’s giving away free grape clippings in a couple years.

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  1. painterb says

    So, what do you know about blackberries? We have them slung wild over our back fence- lots of sun. I still have frozen ones in tupperware. I drop them frozen into sun tea, its great! But I’d like ot get more out of my crop without well ..doing any at all. Advice?