Trellising Grapes

Build this sturdy trellis for your grapes to climb.

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Adapted from Rodale's All-New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening

While a trellis requires some effort to build and maintain, it's the best way to manage your vines. Each vine you grow will need about 8' of trellis. To construct a trellis, set 8' posts 24' apart and 2' into the ground (one post set every third vine). Install guy wires from the end posts to keep them from bring pulled over. Secure the guy wires with a block of concrete set into the ground or with an earth screw.

Stretch #9- or #10-gauge galvanized wire between the end posts, 21/2'above ground level, and clamp it securely. Then staple it to the other posts. Add another trellis wire at the top of the posts, and one or two additional wires between them.

Hammer large nails into both sides of each post about halfway between each pair of trellis wires. These nails will support catch wires, used to lift the vines up to the permanent trellis wires during the season. To make catch wires, cut tow pieces of lighter-gauge wire that are as long as the full trellis. Connect short pieces of chain to each end of the catch wires. Hook the chains over the end post nail, and let the wire rest on all the other nails.

Grape trellis
Grape shoots will climb permanent trellis wires on their own, or they can be tucked through by hand during the season. Movable catch wires go around the trellis like a giant rubber band and keep shoots pointing up. Drop the catch wires to the nails below the vine heads when you prune each winter. Once growth starts and shoots are about 2' long, raise the catch wire to the nails above the vine head; as you lift it, the wire will pick up any shoots that are straying from the trellis. Raise the wire to the next set of nails as the shoots grow, or use a second catch wire.

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