What could be better than stepping out the door first thing in the morning and picking a bowl of organic and natural strawberries or grapes for breakfast? It’s so easy to do that there is no reason not to plant a grape and strawberry garden. It’s cheap and very environmentally friendly.
How to Start a Grape Vine
Grapes come in various seedless and seed varieties and can be started for free. Take a cruise through the neighborhood, and look for neighbors growing grapes. After finding a variety of grape that’s ideal, ask the neighbor for a first year branch that’s about eight-inches in length. This will be a young and succulent branch that’s bright green and not woody. The best time to find this branch is in spring, right after the leaves open on the grape plant.
Take it home and stick it in a vase with water while the planting medium is prepared. Fill a shallow wooden box with clean sand. Beach sand will work fine. Make sure the box has drain holes. Take the grape branch and snip the lower leaves away, leaving a stem with a bunch of leaves at the top. Moisten the sand with water. Now stick only the branch in the sand, covering it to a depth of about one-half inch.
Use River Bottom Soil
In about six to eight weeks, roots will sprout from the grape branch. This is the first grape vine for the garden. Plant the grape branch in the garden, and it will grow. River bottom soil found in old glacial deposits, for example, is ideal for growing grapes. Dressing the grape with river soil will guarantee a bountiful harvest.
In about three to five years, huge bunches of grapes will be available for breakfast. This plant will grow for years with proper care. More grape vines can be started from this plant using the same technique described above. By continuing this process every year, the gardener will be assured of vigorous, young plants that will provide grapes year after year for life. What could be easier or cheaper?
Wild Strawberries Give Two Harvests
Growing the strawberry presents a different challenge for gardeners. Most strawberry plants purchased at greenhouses are hybrids and only last for about two or three years before they stop producing. Buying strawberries at a wild plant nursery is the way to go. They produce strawberries in June and again at summer’s end.
What the gardener should seek out is the wild Virginia strawberry or the wild woodland strawberry. One or the other can be found in almost any sunny field. Gardeners can drive to a nearby farm and ask the farmer for permission to dig out a few berries from the field. The best time to find these strawberries is in the spring. The gardener should sample a plant’s strawberry offering before digging it out. Look for plants that are producing large and succulent strawberries.
Stratify Strawberry Seeds
These produce a small but incredibly flavorful berry that is memorable for its burst of strawberry flavor in every bite. These plants will continue to make new strawberry plants year after year by sending out runners. A manure based soil available at gardening stores is the ideal medium for growing strawberries.
The gardener can also start new strawberries by drying the berries and picking out the seeds. These seeds will need stratification before planting. That means sticking them into the freezer for a few weeks and then removing and thawing them. This mimics nature’s process of freezing and thawing.
Byline: Aaron Gormley understands the importance of sustainable environmental practices, which is why he writes this article on behalf of Alternate Energy, Inc.