Dozens of varieties are available including white, green and purple eating grapes through to red and white wine varietals.
When, where and how to plant:
Grapes prefer a light, moderately fertile soil but if drainage is good they will grow anywhere. Very fertile soils tend to produce excessive plant vigour, for no gain in fruit quality. Heavy clay soils will need to be drained. A yearly application of lime and general garden fertiliser will also help. Grapes do not like wet feet. When planting out your new vine, trim the roots if they are badly matted. Water well over the first summer to establish the plant.
Grape vines need support to grow well. Plant on a pergola frame, a simple wire trellis, or against a fence. Shelter from strong winds. Vines can be grown about 2m apart, meaning that different varieties can be grown in a small space. You won't get a proper crop until the third year. Protect from the birds with bird-netting. Vigorous vines may need to be pruned during summer to control growth. This is done by cutting laterals back to 5-6 buds above your fruit. Regular cropping is assisted by pruning on leaf fall.
Grapes are ready when the birds start to eat them. Protect your fruit with netting if birds are a problem. Cut of the grape bunches at the stem with sharp secateurs.
How to use:
Use fresh in desserts and pies. Or try making your own wine.