Have you thought about growing grapes as a quick snack, or you’d like to make your own wine and jams? Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a vineyard to grow grapes. You can do this on a balcony if you have limited space at home.
To grow grapes on a balcony, you’ll need to get a large container, potting soil, a grapevine or seed, water, fertilizer, and a warm place to place the pot. Have the soil mixture ready and plant the seed or vine. Then, put enough water and transfer the vine to another pot once it’s 8cm in length.
Read on to learn more about how to grow grapes on the balcony. We also give you tips on the soil mixture and how you need to water the vines.
What Are The Basic Requirements for Growing Grapes on a Balcony?
- A large container
- Quality soil
- A warm place with six hours of direct sunlight
- A healthy grapevine
- Nutrients like fertilizer
Here’s a detailed look at what you need to get started:
You need to get a sturdy and huge pot or container that will support the grapevines. A 20-gallon pot should be enough. Ensure that the pot is at least 18 inches deep and 24 inches wide. If you don’t have such a pot, you can use a smaller one and later repot to a larger one. Get a pot made from clay, wood, or glazed pottery. Avoid plastic pots as they easily crack and may not handle the heavy grapevines over time.
It’s recommended to use a light potting mix that drains well and is rich in organic matter. Avoid the overused garden soil and over watering the soil as it could make it soggy and unsuitable for growing vines. You can add gypsum if the soil is clay-based.
You can add a handful of slow-release fertilizer if you don’t plan to feed the vines through the growing season. Gardening experts recommend liquid feeding the vine on a weekly or after two weeks each month.
Remember that the soil structure breaks down with time, so you need to add composted bark or grit.
Choose a place with enough sunshine and a sturdy support structure. Ensure that the place is dry and warm. Don’t worry if your desired place gets shade as long as the vine is getting at least six hours of sunlight. Avoid places that ain’t aerated as this could lead to fungal diseases.
Healthy Grape Vine
Determining the best variety of grapes to grow can be complicated, given the different types available. The best option is to visit a local garden center and ask for a variety that works well with the climate and can flourish in pots.
Also, ask for a variety that is disease resistant and can grow well in your climatic zone. The pixie variety grows well in pots, and you won’t have to train the plant to adapt to the pot.
Get a Container and Choose a Healthy Seed
The first step involves getting a container or pot that can accommodate the grapes’ root system. Getting a bigger pot gives the plant enough room to grow and spread its roots. Get the seeds after identifying the variety that you’d like to grow. The seeds are available from yards with grapevines, from a nursery, or another gardener.
Check to see if the seeds are healthy by squeezing on it to see if it’s firm. A healthy seed should be pale grey in color. Another test of figuring out if the seed is healthy is to dip it in water. Healthy seeds sink when placed in water, throw away any seeds that float.
READ ALSO: Grow Herbs on Your Balcony: 3 Easy Ways to Get Started
Plant the Seed in a Pot
Once you have the healthy seeds ready, it’s time to plant them in the soil mixture you prepared earlier. Plant the seeds at least half an inch layer of the soil. Put the pot into a plastic bag and cover it well.
To facilitate dormancy, you’ll need to refrigerate the pot at four degrees centigrade. Be careful to ensure the seeds don’t freeze. Remove the seeds and allow them to come to room temperature. Place the seeds in a plastic bag and avoid exposing them to direct sunlight, as this will cause the seeds to die.
Cover the Container
Put the seeds in the bag and wait until they begin to germinate. After they’ve germinated, place them in a dry area. Ensure you keep the potting soil mixture moist but do not over water it.
Repot Once the Vine is 8 Centimeters
Transfer the seeds in different pots once the grapevines have grown close to 8 centimeters (3.15 inches). Place the pots in a covered and shady area. Make sure that it’s from harsh rain and wind. Keep them in this position for like two weeks and move it to a permanent place in the backyard.
Care and Maintenance of Grapes
Planting grapes is only the first step; you still need to care and maintain the vines to ensure grape quality. Note that you won’t get any grapes until the second year, which means the first year involves a lot of pruning, supporting, and caring for the grapevines.
Below are some tips on how to go about this.
Provide Support to the Vines
The vines require support and training to grow. If you are growing grapes in a container in your balcony, you need to get lightweight trellis made of plastic or wood. You’ll notice that the vines grow longer and may need support. Find a fan trellis or a stake to train the vine. Some nurseries offer trellis when you buy your seeds or vine cuttings from a nursery.
Prune Grape Vines
Pruning is something you can never ignore if you’re looking to grow quality grapes. Pruning removes most of the overused mature branches from the previous year. It also helps with the new growth of the vine.
Although pruning may seem like a step back, it makes the buds grow into a new branch during spring. You can prune the growth from early spring to late winter to have only two buds left.
Growing grapes in a container means dealing with limited space, which means you should keep at least two branches from the main trunk. Prune away the runners that start to show from the trellis.
Watering is essential as it promotes berry growth. Nonetheless, you have to water at the right time. You can start watering from late March to early April, and water once a week and do this through the growing season.
Be careful not to over water the vines as this could risk splitting the grapes. Ensure that the plant is moderately moist. Choose a container that has excellent drainage as the roots easily rot when over watered.
You need to fertilize the plant three times each season. That means at least once per month. You can use aged compost or manure. However, in the first year, you can use general-purpose fertilizer in summer and spring.
The next year you can switch to a fertilizer with high phosphorus and potassium but low in nitrogen. Put the fertilizer when the flower buds during spring. Stop fertilizing mid-summer to ensure the fruit ripens and that there’s slow vine growth.
You need to understand that a lot of grape varieties produce fruits by themselves as they are self-fertile. Nonetheless, when you shake the plant gently during flowering, you’ll get a better yield.
Growing grapes no longer requires having a huge garden or space. You can conveniently grow grapes on a balcony in a container or a small bed. However, ensure that you get the correct container size, right soil mixture, and choose healthy grape seeds. Practicing the above care and maintenance tips will ensure that you have healthy fruits during the harvest season.