Some would say I’m experiencing a mid-life crisis. Others would say I’m wasting my time. Both might be right though I prefer to believe neither is an accurate portrait of my latest endeavor.
As a kids growing up one of my favorite memories was the late summer visits to Nana’s house to pick the Concord grapes she had growing from the vines along the fence that stretched across the back alley. The air was so sweet with the aroma from those ripe grapes you could almost taste them without having to pluck even a single one from the vine. My sister and I would spend our time picking clusters off the vine and eating them on the spot rather than harvest them for others to enjoy. And it wasn’t out of the question for one or two to slip from my hand and pelt my sister in the back(I was never mistaken for being an angel).
These memories had been popping up more and more frequently over the past year to the point that I finally decided to do something about it. And do I did! Over the course of this last long winter I set about doing some research to see how hard it is to actually grow my own grapes. I love spending time in my garden and have been looking for a way to block the view of the neighbor’s house so it seemed like the perfect solution.
It started with some research and planning. Sweetness’ advice? “Do yourself a favor and start small. That way if you fail we won’t have a mess in the back yard to contend with.” Sage advice from someone who knows me all to well. So, I scaled back my initial plans for 15 plants and 30 fence posts spanning 174 feet of the back yard to a more manageable three plans and seven posts spanning a more reasonable 36 feet. After all, at 30 to 40 pounds of grapes per plant, 100 pounds of grapes would be an ok place to start.
Once I had placed the order for my very own bare root Concord grape vines it was time to get a fence in place before those plants arrived. And this is where Sweetness’ advice really paid off. Dig, sweat, dig, swear, dig, set, sweat, align, mix concrete, set concrete, plumb, sweat, plumb, beer time! Only to start the process all over again. Of course posts in the ground do not make a fence. You need to string wire between them for those grapes to meander across to ensure plenty of sunlight to all parts of the vine. This requires a large quantity of eye hooks and turnbuckles to support the 1/4″ thick wire strung between posts. And blood. There is no amount of precautionary measures that can be taken to prevent the many puncture wounds and scrapes acquired from stringing that much wire from post to post. Mental checklist time. Blood? Check. Sweat? Check. Tears? No. I will preserve my manhood here by vowing there were no tears shed during the construction of this fence. Thank you.
Growing grapes isn’t all that hard. They are a hearty plant and grow pretty easily on their own. But it is important to get them established upon initial planting. And with the wet spring we have experienced in Northwest Indiana that part hasn’t been hard!
So with a fence in place and plants in the ground it’s time to sit back and watch them grow… and grow… and grow. Eventually I’ll be able to reap the harvest of all this hard work and relive those youthful memories right in my own back yard while disproving everyone’s crazy accusations. Although that will take some time. Grapes require three years to establish themselves before they’ll produce. That gives my critics plenty of opportunities to tell me I’m wasting my time. But, as they say, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” In time I hope to serve mine up in the form of some fine, chilled grape jelly. I’ll keep you posted.
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