How are grape vines like banyan trees?
Grapes are some of the most forgiving plants I know of. The downside of their vigor is that they need regular and extensive pruning. The upside is that they will grow almost anywhere.
When the vines are left on the ground, they tend to form new roots. Kind of like a banyan tree sends roots to the ground, only grape vines need to be touching the soil. If your grapes are sprawling on the ground, it might be because they need a better location. At least that was the case for me. (click on any photo to enlarge)
Grapes can be multi-purpose in the chicken pen
My oldest grapes have survived in a chicken pen for years. We had harvested the grapes, concord in this case, several times and intermittently. Some of the harvesting was before the chickens took up residence. Some was afterward, on years when we got some grapes in spite of the chickens’ self-serve grape bar.
I never felt too bad about the chickens eating the grapes, since all that grape goodness was going into their eggs. I also saw how much they appreciated the lush, low hanging shade and shelter that the vines provided. At least that was one of my excuses for not pruning the grapes much.
However, this year we have been doing some serious overhauling of the yard in an effort to decrease areas to weed. This included the old grapes. They were scheduled for mini-bulldozing.
All it takes is neglect to get grape vines to root
In the midst of all this hard work, my husband proved once again that he knows and loves me. He took time to come ask me if I wanted to transplant any of the grapes. He pointed out the vines that were self-rooting.
Since I am also going to be cutting down my annual vegetable plantings (with hardly any kids living at home and all, I have finally admitted to not needing to plant a garden that would feed a family of 12 for a year), I determined there was room in a raised bed for some grape transplants.
The raised beds are a yard feature that I am not giving up. I have experimented the last couple of years with yard upkeep. Instead of trying to take care of everything evenly, I gave priority to those areas most important to me. This also helped me determine what needed to be re-landscaped. The grapes are much more likely to get the pruning they need in this new location.
Just how simple is it to transplant a grape vine rootling?
Although I dug up and transplanted the grape vine rootlings on the same day, there was no special care given to them. The soil they were originally in was horrible by most gardening standards. Remember I said grapes are vigorous plants! The clay-like soil fell off the roots as soon as I had it loosened around the rootling.
I put the rootlings in a dry bucket and hauled them to the new location. I left them in the bucket without water while I played with the ADHD puppy for a while. Then, I dug a few holes and unceremoniously planted them. I did tamp the soil down around them so that they could get their water and nutrients as soon as possible.
Some regular watering after planting is probably smart
Now, it is true that the soil in my raised beds is very healthy. If you watch the video, you can see how dark and crumbly it is. Also, it was going to be overcast and rainy for a couple of days, which is great for any transplanting.
After that natural moisture, I regularly watered my grape vines along with the rest of my garden. For full disclosure, that particular soaker hose was attached to a faucet that had a very slow leak, so the vines were kept pretty moist. I still thoroughly soaked the whole raised bed about once a week.
What is the best time of year to transplant grape vine rootlings?
I favor spring transplanting for any type of perennial plant. In my southwest Idaho climate, the winters can have long enough dry spells that it puts transplants at risk. It can also get very cold quickly and shock a plant that is not well established.
That being said, if you have free, homegrown grape vine rootlings available, there is nothing wrong with experimenting and seeing if they do take hold in the fall. If anything will survive, grapes will.