Archive for the ‘Grapes’ Category

Is it over?

February 17, 2014

Summer, I mean. Only 2 weeks to the official end of summer and 5 weeks to the autumn equinox, which is when I prefer to mark the end of summer. I hope we’ve seen the last of the heat. This coming week will be the first in a while without a forecast temperature over 30º C. It’s quite novel to be putting on a windcheater in the evenings.

While a lot of plants have been stressed, burned and even died because of the heat, the strawberries have thrived up on the deck outside the living room—two in a wicking box and one in a large tub—so I can pick them easily. A small handful each day gives me a tasty addition to my bowl of breakfast fruit.

I want more plants and more strawberries. Enough to make some strawberry jam. How good would that be!

The plants are starting to produce runners. I’m pegging them down into small pots so the roots will grow. Once they’re established I’ll cut them away from the parents and have a whole new collection of plants:


I’ve bought some cheap, ordinary plastic buckets to plant them in. I’ll make them into wicking buckets by drilling a drainage hole about a third the way up from the bottom and I’ll fill them with chook poo compost. The soil below the drainage hole will always stay saturated and water will wick up into the top section.

I’ll keep them on the deck where I can easily protect them from the birds. The only vacant spots on the deck now are under the eaves, but the handles on the buckets will make it easy to move them out into the rain if I want to.

I’m thinking it would be a good gift to give someone, too. Who wouldn’t be happy to receive a bucket of strawberries just ready to be picked?

Look at this!:


The grapes are ripening! This is a native American variety called the Concord. Here’s what they looked like a few months ago:

grapes 004

At the time I thought they were tiny flower buds, but they were already baby grapes. I never saw the flowers. Not every one has developed into a mature grape, but what the heck! I’m so chuffed to actually have grown some grapes. Growing grapes from seed is so easy and cuttings strike readily.

I don’t bother sowing, potting up and planting out lettuces. It’s far easier and less time-consuming to sow the seed direct into a wicking box and thin (and eat) the seedlings:


Same goes for mizuna and purple tatsoi:


I don’t even bother to thin these. I just grab a handful and chop above the growth point with the scissors and they keep regrowing. I use these like lettuce and in stir fries, or lightly steamed.

A simple plant arch

November 27, 2013

I had some grape plants which were grown from seed. I didn’t want to go to all the trouble of posts and wire so came up with this simple arch:


The original post about it is here.

Here’s a view of the pipe in the ground showing how the larger pipe arch fits in:

grapes 001

The larger pipe is really heavy duty 25 mm plastic and Bunnings sell them in pre-cut 3 metre lengths.

The Concord grape at the left hand end has grown well:

grapes 003

The one at the other end is slower:


The Concord has reached the halfway point and I was rapt to see this:

grapes 004

And this:

grapes 005

Flower buds! Yay!

Permaculture solutions

November 23, 2010

I’ve recently planted a couple of seed-grown grapevines at the rear of the carport. One is a purple grape bought from the greengrocer and the other is an American native species, the Concord, which I grew from seed collected at Louis Glowinski’s garden some years ago (Glowinski is the author of the Complete Guide to Fruit Growing in Australia and his garden was open as part of Victoria’s Open Garden Scheme).

Each one has been planted beside a post. I hadn’t decided how I would train the vines—whether to train each one up the post or put up some sort of wire framework from post to post, which seemed like a lot of work.

I’ve been watching the Permaculture Design Course DVD set I bought recently, and Geoff Lawton was talking about chinampa culture (I’m not going to explain that here—go to Google). Geoff mentioned that chinampa systems can be ‘roofed over’ using lengths of poly pipe, much in the way it’s used to net fruit trees, and vines can be grown over it. At once, the unused length of polypipe which had been lying under the house for ages and the grapevines came together in my mind.

Fifteen minutes work and it was done, and no new materials had to be bought. Instead of fitting the ends of the pipe over smaller stakes, I found a length of slightly larger pipe and hammered a short section into the ground at each end. The 25 mm polypipe fits inside this pipe. A supporting stake in the middle (I’ve sown some climbing beans at the base), and it was done!

The area faces due east, so the vines will receive the full summer sun till midday and then some late sun in the afternoon. In winter, they’ll be shaded by the house, but they’ll be dormant and leafless then. Another good permaculture solution!