Grapes are almost as valuable on a homestead as apples. Both can be eaten fresh. With apples you can make applesauce or jam, juice or cider, hard cider (alcohol), dried apples (fruit roll ups or sliced), and even apple doll heads. With grapes you can make grape jelly, jam, raisins, juice and wine. Our property was lacking in both when I moved here 15 years ago. There were two apple trees, two pear trees, one yellow plum, and lots of figs. I planted more apple trees although I think we could still use more. After all, if we don't eat them or preserve them they make great animal food.
This is the fourth year the grapes have been in the ground for four of the plants and the second year for the rest. We now have over a dozen grapevines. The property behind me had over 100 acres of grapes and when I moved in that landowner said we could hop our fence and pick as many as we wanted. He gave permission for me to pick enough for fresh eating, raisins, and grape juice. It was a great deal! Then that owner sold the property. The next owner did nothing with it, including not watering. In our area you have to water or things eventually die. And they did. I was fortunate to see the whithering writing on the wall and decided to plant some of my own.
The older grandsons dug four holes and planted two Thompson and two Red Globe vines. The first year I pulled off all the little grapes that started to grow. I wanted the plants to put their efforts into the roots, not the fruit. The second year, two summers ago, we got two or three bunches. In the middle of the summer I took a bunch of cuttings from the grapevines and pulled off the leaves, dunked in bottom in water, then in a rooting powder. I shoved the stem into a big pot of filled with soaking wet potting soil. I dumped a bucket of water into this pot everyday to keep it really moist.
Then last summer I planted the newly rooted vines into the ground along the walkway in the front. Most lived and grew about 1 foot or two in height. This summer, their second summer in the ground, I trimmed them back to have one main trunk going up the post. They are now about 3 feet tall and very healthy. I expect that next summer each will start producing a bunch or two. I will, of course, take off those bunches so the plant can get fully established. By their fourth summer in the ground, in two more years, they will be fulling bearing grapes.
The original four plants grew quite a few bunches of grapes last year. Even though it was their third year in the ground the plants were probably 5 years old (if I compare the size of the plants when I planted them to the ones I grew from my own starters) so I kept all the grapes on. Unfortunately Boy was being helpful and he picked them all at the same time and brought them into the house. Many of them weren't even ripe.
This year we have about 50 bunches of grapes from our four vines! I have given the grand kids strict orders to not pick any until I tell them they are ripe, and then only to pick what they are going to eat. Do not help me out by picking them all! If I ask you to pick me some grapes I mean ONE bunch. Even with this many grape bunches I do not think there will be any left for making raisins. The fruit tree crop is so bad that other than apples, oranges, and mulberries, it's slim pickings off the trees. The mission figs on the neighbor's tree have already gone to the birds. I did get several trays of dried figs made first. The Kadota figs (the green ones) are going to be ripe in a few more weeks. Still, the grapes are going to be the favorite fruit once they ripen.