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Greenhouse Growing : Grapes

Planting | Training | Diseases

Planting

A grapevine can be grown successfully in quite a small greenhouse, but the bigger the better because a grapevine can fill quite a large greenhouse. ‘Black Hamburgh’ is the best variety for Irish conditions. Planting is usually done when the vine is dormant in December but the plants are pot-grown and can be planted at any time.

Grapes swelling on the vine

Grapes swelling on the vine

Grapevines are often planted with the root outside the greenhouse and the stem taken in through a hole in the wall or wall-base. It is not essential to plant outside, although it reduces the vine’s watering needs, but the roots will generally grow out under the wall in any case.

Training

Train the vine to grow up into the roof of the greenhouse. First, train it up to gutter height. Then train a single shoot along the wall at this height. When it reaches the other end, allow side-shoots to grow up the roof on wires, tied into place 30 centimetres apart.

Permanent rods of a grapevine before winter pruning

Permanent rods of a grapevine before winter pruning

From these side-shoots, which form permanent rods, come the flowering shoots. These arise every 30 centimetres or so. Allow only one shoot to develop at each station and pinch out its tip one or two leaves past the flower bunch. Tap the rods each day, during flowering, to ensure pollination. Pinch out subsequent side-shoots at one leaf.

Grapevines are normally vigorous but if not, mulching the root area in spring will encourage better growth. Use some general fertiliser as well, if growth is weak or after a heavy crop. Watch for red spider mite.

Diseases

Powdery mildew is a serious problem disease. It is important to allow air movement in the greenhouse. Rose and fruit fungicides containing the active ingredient myclobutanil are highly effective, and one or two thorough applications in late spring on the new foliage before flowering will clear the problem.

Grey mould disease can be prevented by ventilation and maintaining a dry atmosphere in late summer. Prune out the fruit-carrying shoots in autumn when the fruit is picked, leaving the framework of permanent rods.

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