25 August, 2008

We Inherited a Grapevine, Now We Need a Plan

We inherited a grapevine when we bought The Box House.

It's growing on a length of chain link fence that we plan to remove in order to build a wooden fence and create a more private back yard. Right now, every person that walks by can peek over the fence and see what we're up to--and there's a great deal of pedestrian traffic on a corner lot. I like our neighbors, but every once in a while I'd like to be able to sit in the yard with a book and a glass of iced tea and not have to make small talk with passersby.

I almost hacked the grapevine back this past spring, when we actually thought we'd get our new fence built this year. But we decided not to do any radical alterations to the yard until we've lived here for a year, and experienced the house and yard through each of the seasons. (This philosophy didn't cover the yew bushes; those just had to go.)

So I've been watching the grapes all summer long as they have slowly ripened. I've never tried growing fruit before, and I realize that I'm horribly impatient. I've plucked a grape or two every week to sample them, and they've been tart and bitter and have left me with a dry mouth.

But in the last few days, they've begun to swell rapidly and take on a purplish hue. I tasted one, and it was sweet and juicy and oh-so-summery delicious.

It also had seeds, which I discretely spit to the side.

So it looks like we'll have quite a bit of grapes to harvest this week. I don't have a clue about what I'm doing, so need some tips on harvesting and a few good recipes. And now, after having watched--if not nurtured--this vine all summer, I need to figure out how to get it off the chain link fence and onto an arbor of some sort.


Andy said...

Ah, grapes...can't wait until the ones I purposefully planted actually do something grape-like.

I have no recipes...you should make your own wine. Evanston vintage 2008. :)

Anonymous said...

This is the only thing I know about grapes (I saw actual grape arbors for the first time in the middle of Kentucky, of all places, and was greatly ridiculed for getting so excited that I had to take photos of them for a screen saver):

If you want to keep the birds from eating them, you can cover them with mesh.

Grapes sure beat the heck out of the many tomatoes that home gardeners are inflicting on their friends, families and co-workers these days!

Jennifer said...

Mmmm... wine. Mm....

LadyCiani said...

My only ripening advice is: when harvesting, watch out for spiders. My parents' house had grape vines the first year we lived there. They died off the year after that, probably through neglect. I'm pretty sure we just ate all the grapes and didn't make anything out of them.

I also have no recipes, but grape jam/jelly sounds good!

Joanne said...

ladyciani--thanks for the warning about spiders! Ugh. I've never before lived in a place with so many of them. Some days I scoop them up and toss them outside. Other days I take a shop vac to them.

jennifer--I tried that once in college, and ended up with fruit flies for the effort! Perhaps it's time to try again.

tonia--I did plant a number of fruit trees this year, and plan to use mesh once they start producing. Right now, I think I'm losing grapes to the same passersby who peek over the fence. Fair enough, I've nicked a berry or two from other people's yards. :-)

andy--I think I'm going to start with something simpler, like jam or jelly. :-) I'll be cutting this vine way back, but will probably plant a few others later on to keep it company. It looks like there were actually four of them at one time; when digging around I found old stumps in the lawn.

Marilyn said...

You sure about that winemaking? I would love to see a Lucy-style post where you do some grape-stomping.

Okay. If not wine, try pie:


Green Fairy said...

That's one of my favorite episodes!

Thanks for passing on the pie recipe; I think I'll give it a try and post the results.