Grapes, Summer Gardens

The Grapes After the Storms

After all of the storms we had last winter, I was sure we had lost most of the grapevines in our woods. We had hundreds of feet of Concord Grapevines growing up into the canopy of our white oaks before last winter. We had planned to eventually train what we could against the stone walls near the trees so that we could reach the large, purple clusters of tasty fruits in the future. In an effort to save what we thought remained of the vines, a friend and I took cuttings of dormant sections this past March, planted each one by an end in a bucket of compost and placed them in a cool, dry place at our own homes.

According to research and friends of family, the cuttings should have rooted in the soil and pushed out new growth once the weather reached the 80’s. We were expecting to have about an 70% success rate, but I think we cut some of the sections too short. My friend did not have any luck with the sections she took home, but one of the many cuttings I had left out on our closed up screen porch rooted and started to push growth! I cannot take any credit for this; I think it was dumb luck. I completely ignored the cuttings and only noticed the growth after my husband came in from grabbing some charcoal off the porch and told me.

Even still, the news of this success filled me with joy! I LOVE Concord Grapes. They can be eaten as a snack, turned into juice and even made into some pretty decent wine. When we moved to our home, we had dreams of eating a Thanksgiving dinner made up entirely of vegetables we had grown and a turkey we had raised. We fanaticized about having table wine made from our own grapes and enjoying the fruits of our labor with family and friends.

This past weekend, my parents and aunt came over to help us take down some dying trees in the back part of our property. The white oaks and red maples marked to take down are large, have boring bug damage and are splitting because of rot. Taking down these trees will provide us with firewood for next winter, give the healthy trees space to grow and allow for us to use the open spaces for farming.

Rot and Boring Bug Damage

Big Splitting Job!

I was on the other side of the house with my mother, aunt and Lupin when the big trees came down. After the third tree, my husband called out and said I needed to see something. The four of us ran to meet my husband and father in the woods, trying to imagine what on earth it could be. It turned out there were three things –

1) One of the trees was a red maple with a curly grain to it – a curly maple. My father loves using curly maple to make furniture. We have a beautiful and very special coffee table he made us as a house-warming gift. The table is built from curly maple harvested from our family farm.

2) The space where they had thinned the sick trees is now open and bright. Our woods are in desperate need of thinning. Everything is choking and dying because there is not enough space, not enough light, and a ton of dampness. Yesterday was a great example of what taking down just a few sick trees can do to help make our land more healthy.

3) There is a TON of live grapevine with beautiful grape clusters. I could not believe it. The vines had fallen down from the tall, old trees above and landed on saplings below. The saplings have bent over and formed an arbor in the woods. The vines are now within reach and we can more easily train them onto fencing (and off of the poor saplings) so they can be maintained and give us delicious, healthy fruit!

This weekend was an all around success. We have over two cords of wood for the winter (a good start), a beautifully cleared space in our woods, the start of a path to get back into our property and tons of grapevine! My husband and I kept joking last night saying – “After “the storm comes the sun;” after the nor’easters comes…the grapes!”

5 thoughts on “The Grapes After the Storms”

  1. Grapes are VERY resilient! We had a garden variety of Concord grape in the garden in town. It grew into an evergreen pear and, because it did not get pruned, produces all the fruit out of reach! It is back where it belongs now. When I take cuttings, I always take about twice as many as I will need, knowing that not all will survive. I grew my last cuttings in pots, but would prefer to just stick them where the new plants are wanted.

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    1. I’m seeing that now! I’m so glad that they are. What a neat plant! Do you take dormant cuttings? I tried to take live cuttings last summer and root them with rooting hormone, but they didn’t work out well at all.

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  2. Oh yes, my cuttings are plugged while dormant. I plugged about a dozen over winter expecting about half to survive, but they all survived, so they got given to friends and neighbors. They were plugged in one can to root, and then divided and plugged into individual cans later. If I knew where there were to be planted at the time, I would have plugged them directly. Again, I would have plugged a few in each spot, expecting that some would not take it. What is even better if you have time, is to layer a stem by simply burying it, letting it root through the year, and then digging it the following winter. The roots are the most important part, so when moving it, you can cut it back to a stub with just a few buds on it.

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