Sunday, September 27, 2009

Grape Harvest and Juicing and Thoughts of Pruning

For their first year bearing fruit, my grape vines really performed well this year. Yesterday I decided to harvest the fruit, and make grape juice. There were a few indications that this was a good time to harvest...

#1 - The grapes tasted sweet - as sweet as they would get, I suppose. I actually have 3 varieties of grape, all unknown, but the most abundant one reminds me of the concord grape in taste and texture, except that it is green.

#2 - The past few days have been sunny and warm, and the nights cool, which I understand is good for harvesting.

#3 - The colour of some of the bunches had brightened from the green to a yellowish green.

#4 - The weight of the grapes had already pulled the vines off my trellis, so it was a good time to relieve that stress. This photo shows how some of the vines, which used to be tied to the upper horizontal slat, have sagged under the weight of the grapes:
Grape vines
#5 - It was a weekend, so I'd have some more time to make the juice.

#6 - My steam juicer had just arrived last week, so I was happy to try it out. Actually, I had already tried it out a few nights earlier on a batch of apples from my "mystery" apple tree, which were a bit too tart for my enjoyment, and the family was not helping me out enough with eating them.

#7 - The 2 clumps of dark grapes had already gone bad on the vine. When I went to pick them, they were already full of fruit flies, so they went straight to the compost.

I knew it was a good first crop this year, but I was surprised at how many grapes I was able to gather. Just shy of 20 pounds! Here I am, with my harvest:
Grape harvest
The juice turned out really nicely. I got about 8 litres (8 quarts), pictured here on the left, with the 3 bottles of apple juice on the right:
Homemade grape and apple juices
Encouraged by my harvest, my thoughts are already on next year, and learning to prune the vines to maximize grape production. I have read many confusing descriptions of the spur pruning and cane pruning methods, and then finally encountered this one from Oregon State University, which is quite good, especially since it provides clear pictures of what to prune:

Good article on grape pruning

I am reading that effective pruning removes about 90% of the vegetation. That sounds severe, but armed with the information in that article, I'm already looking forward to trying this out, in the Spring. In the meantime, I am enjoying the few bunches of grapes which I kept fresh, and the delicious juice.


Laura Gardens in Desert said...

What a great harvest! You have had some wonderful fruit harvests this year.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

The grapes look so nice, 20 lbs sounds like a lot! It's fun to be able to enjoy fruit from our garden, it tastes so much better.
Thanks for visiting my blog (and following). I finally had a chance to look through yours and it's just great! You have much more fruit than me!

Sigrun said...

That's a great grape harvest. In our nursery we carry 3 types of hardy grapes for our Zon 2b-3: Valiant, Beta and Minnesota. They even produce a bit of a crop in the little 1-gallon pots that we sell them in. I can't wait to plant my own grape patch, but first I have to figure out how to keep the lambs from escaping and eating them. I have become a follower of your blog.

Garden Lily said...

Thanks all for visiting and for your encouragement. Yes, I am very pleased this year by the harvests. Last year I was only "sampling" rather than enjoying fruit.

Sigrun - I am imagining that your lambs are not very tall, so if you grow the vines upward, you may still be able to yield a lot of fruit above their reach. I don't know, but that's my thought.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin