Our grape experiment was a huge success. Read on for my update.
Grapes are easy to grow, but hard to protect from birds. The first year our grape vines produced, I decided to hold off on netting our grapes, until I saw the first sign of birds munching on them. Well, the very next morning all of our grapes were gone. Clearly the wait and see approach was the wrong approach to take.
Having learned from the experience, we netted our grapes as soon as they set fruit last year. And that worked brilliantly, until a mocking bird figured out how to get inside of our nets. She had quite the feast at our expense, and we were left with just a few grapes (not grape bunches) to sample.
But that’s all in the past. This year, we will be the ones to eat our grapes. And we’ve taken drastic measures to ensure that it ends up that way …
We’re going old school, folks.
While researching solutions to our bird problem, my husband came across an old trick, and it’s the approach that we’ve decided to take.
Basically, you stick each grape bunch inside of a paper lunch bag in early June, and you staple the bag shut, so the birds can’t get to the grapes. The grapes go about their business and you can go about yours. After lots of research, there seem to only be two drawbacks to this method:
1. The grapes will mature a bit slower (but they’ll turn out sweeter because of it).
2. We’ll have paper bags all over our arbors until fall (and it may not look so hot).
Given the potential for lots and lots of tasty grapes in the fall, we decided that we could live with those trade offs.
So, we hit Target for paper lunch sacks, and we spent several hours bagging our grapes today. Here’s a video of what we did:
Just to recap the steps shown in the video …
We cut a two-inch slit on both sides of each bag (right along the center seam).
Then, we pinched off any leaves that were right next to the grape cluster, and we slid a bag over the grapes, allowing the vine to rest at the bottom of the side slits. This left us with a top flap that we could fold over and staple in place.
It took a while to bag all of our grapes (we bagged around 150 bunches), but there was nothing difficult about the task; and it’ll be well worth the effort, if we end up with lots of grape in the fall.
As to the way it looks … well it may not earn us any points with our HOA, but I can live with it for a few months.
We decided to check on our grapes this morning to see how things had gone. As you can see, the bags were still in good shape. They held up well to our rainy summer.
And when we opened the bags …
Lots and lots of grapes. And man are they tasty. I’m going to be popular at snack time today 🙂
And since I collected eggs and picked apples while I was out there, I’m feeling rather farmy at the moment.