Friday, May 13, 2011

Makeshift grape arbor

Years ago -- in the mid to late 90's -- I bought a muscadine grape vine on sale at K-Mart. I planted it in a corner of our tiny patio garden. After two or three years the vine covered the patio fence in two directions. And it started bearing grapes. Profusely. I didn't know what to do with them that first year. But for the next two years I made muscadine grape jelly which was a big hit with my family and friends. Then the Japanese beetles came. The vines were spilling over the fence and grape leaves are a favorite food for the beetles.
This continued for two years at least. Grape production went way down as the beetles chewed up and mated upon my beautiful grape leaves. No more grape jelly. Then one day I came home from work and found that my husband had cut my vine down to a stump. We pulled it up and started growing tomato plants in its place.

I did plant some seedlings from the mother plant in another patch of patio dirt. Soon one began to grow like crazy and I trained it to cover the roof of our little wooden storage shed. After two years of lots of vine but very few grapes, our condo's homeowner's association board told me the shed roof was off limits as a grape support. I cut the plant back drastically and saved the vines by twisting them into rough wreaths.

This spring I used the vines with a wisteria branch and a six foot aluminum tube a neighbor gave me a while back to make an arching arbor at the entrance to our patio. I'm hoping the pruned vine will bear more grapes. If it doesn't I might just replace it. For now I'll enjoy twisting it around the natural support system I've created.