Growing Grapes at the Allotment

Growing Grapes at the Allotment

Grapes can be grown in the UK, particularly in the Southern regions. Grapes come in the form of two main types; wine grapes and dessert grapes and both can be grown in a sunny and sheltered position or in a greenhouse.

Grapes are a climbing plant, which look very attractive on a vine structure, like a Pergola. Grapes can grow in containers and be trained to grow along structures and frames that suit your plot or garden.

Wine grapes tend to give a more reliable crop but are not good for eating. Dessert grapes are more difficult to crop unless you have the right conditions; preferably a greenhouse.

Plant your Grape plant out in February - March and water well. Grapes like rich, well-drained soil but not to become water-logged. Mix with compost and add a layer of gravel in the base of your hole if you are planting in heavy, clay soil. The hole should be 1.5 x the size of the pot that your grape plant has been purchased in. You will still require a supporting structure for this fast-growing, climbing plant. Add mulch to the base to supress weeds in the soil and to retain moisture.

During the summer, thin out the bunches from the main stem to allow airflow and exposure and to lighten the load for the supporting stem. Protect the bunches with netting if required and be mindful of pests; particularly in the greenhouse.

During winter, you can prune the stems and shoots to the desired lengths after the buds to strengthen it. 

Water regularly; especially if your plant is sitting in compost, which dries quicker or under glass. Outdoor grape plants will require watering during dry spells for their first year.

You can harvest bunches of grapes from August, going into autumn; cutting the bunch from the stem. The grapes will be fully ripened when they are soft-skinned and sweet and sugary in taste. The skin will be more translucent in appearance.

Dessert grapes can be eaten fresh and wine grapes are best pulped and used for wine making.


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Growing Grapes in Summary

Planting Grapes

  • Plant young plants in containers or directly
  • Plant in full, sun and a sheltered position
  • Add gravel to heavy clay soil

Growing Grapes

  • Water regularly underglass, in compost or a young plant outside in the first year
  • Prune and thin out bunches
  • Train and grow on a supporting structure

Harvesting Grapes

  • Harvest grapes from August
  • Cut off bunches away from the stem
  • Pulp for wine making