Table of contents:
Growing grapes near St. Petersburg - five key conditions
As practice shows, the cultivation of grapes in our climatic conditions is still fraught with many mysteries. The author also encountered them, which is why the first attempts to grow grapes were unsuccessful. Only after several years, having studied the biological characteristics of this culture, having tried the varieties and mastered the existing experience and agricultural techniques of grapes, he solved the problem of its "domestication".
At the same time, it was possible to shorten the start of fruiting by almost two years and exclude the likelihood of the death of grapes from the winter cold. The most significant finds and mansions that took place during the cultivation of grapes were the following.
1. Selection of cuttings
Not only all subsequent ones, but also the overall success of grape growing depend on this agricultural practice. In this case, the main factors are the variety, the time of selection and the quality of the cuttings. Of the six tested early varieties, the best in terms of frost resistance and strength of growth turned out to be Moskovsky Dachny and Severny, which were already grown by neighbors in gardening.
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Cuttings for cultivation were selected only lignified, and, in contrast to the recommendations in the literature, not in the spring, when there are no guarantees in the vitality of the eyes of the vine, but in the fall, in late October - early November, when the leaves of the grapes become yellowish-bronze. The upper not lignified part of the vine with a thickness of less than 5-6 mm was removed. The antennae, stepchildren, and the remains of leaves were also removed.
After cutting cuttings with 2-3 buds, he put them in plastic bags so that the upper parts looked out of the package by 3-4 cm, and unlike the recommendations to store cuttings in basements, cellars or under the snow, he placed the packages in the refrigerator at a temperature in it 0 + 3 ° C. Before putting them into bags, both cuttings were coated with paraffin, and sawdust scalded with boiling water was poured into the bag, which prevented the stems from drying out during storage.
2. Rooting of cuttings
This agro-reception was carried out at the very end of February - beginning of March, and all the cuttings were first soaked for 30 minutes in a solution of potassium permanganate and heteroauxin (1 table per 1 liter of water) to disinfect from possible diseases and stimulate root formation. Further, in contrast to the existing recommendations, the cuttings were cleaned from paraffin by light pruning and completely immersed in clean snow water for 2-3 days to prevent drying out.
Then he poured water and poured fresh water into the same container at the rate of immersion in it not of the whole cutting, but only of the lower cut by 2 cm, and at this length he made 2-3 longitudinal cuts of the bark, not affecting the cambium. The cuttings were kept in a container covered with a film until the tissue under the bark turned green and the roots began to break through. Let me emphasize that the container was placed in a warm room with a temperature of about 21 … 23 ° C and at a sufficient distance from direct sunlight.
3. Growing seedlings
Getting seedlings is possible in two ways: either in plastic bags, or in a nursery box filled with a substrate, which was well justified by conifers disinfected with potassium permanganate and calcined sawdust. The best results are obtained, of course, in the nursery box. At the bottom of the nursery, drainage from expanded clay, fine gravel or broken brick is arranged to drain excess moisture.
The cuttings are planted so that on the surface of the substrate, covered with the film, there is only one bud protruding by about 2 cm. In this case, the substrate should always be moist to such an extent that only rare drops ooze from the lump squeezed by hand. After the bud begins to grow, the nursery can be illuminated, but without direct sunlight penetrating into it.
With the appearance of the first two leaves, the film should be raised, accustoming the young shoots first to the sparing ones, and then, when the shoot growth reaches 0.5-0.8 m and frosts have already passed, to the natural environment and the sun's rays. Seedlings grown with these requirements, as a rule, become already quite suitable for planting. In the event that, for some reason, it was not possible to fulfill all the specified conditions and the cuttings did not form roots, but gave shoots due to their nutrients, they should be discarded.
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4. Planting seedlings
Unlike the existing recommendations contained in the press regarding planting seedlings in buckets, flowerpots or other containers with their subsequent repeated transplanting, the author planted them immediately in pits with nutritious soil, and in two ways - inclined and vertical (see figure). At the same time, the recommended manure and peat were replaced, respectively, by biocompost and rotted sawdust, and their ratio with garden soil and river sand was 4: 3: 1.5: 1.5, respectively, and provided the soil with not only the necessary nutritional value, but also looseness, which quickly allowed seedlings to develop a root system.
At the bottom of the pits, as before in the nursery, drainage was arranged, the indicated soil mixture was poured onto it, and the seedlings were planted in it while preserving the root ball. Note that the point of growth of seedlings until autumn was 10-15 cm below the top of the pit and only after pruning in the fall at the shoot of the upper part of the growth to a height of about 30 cm was completely covered in the form of a mound of dry sawdust.
5. Shelter plantings for the winter
This event is essential for the survival of young grape plants in winter frost conditions. For this purpose, in contrast to the well-known recommendations, a multilayer shelter made in arcs at a height of about 25 cm from the mound, first with burlap, then with paper or cardboard, and on top of them with dry sawdust, shavings or foliage up to 30 cm thick and polyethylene with a film on top, pressed with an improvised material. At the same time, the shelter was made wider than the pit by 0.5 m from the cut seedling in each direction, and for the winter it was also covered with snow. On the south side, to prevent the seedling from heating up and to "breathe", a piece of hose was laid to ventilate the space under the shelter.
Schemes of vertical (A) and inclined (B) planting of grape seedlings at the beginning (top) and at the end (bottom) of the season: 1 - drainage; 2 - soil; 3 - seedling; 4 - sawdust filling; 5 - wooden support
I also emphasize that the best place for grapes is where there is more light and sun, where the soil is better illuminated and warmed up. In fact, out of 5 cuttings, the author managed to get and plant only three seedlings, and to grow only one, placed on the south side of the house, accumulating heat during the day and giving it to the grapes at night. Of the two seedlings, one froze out due to placement on the east side of the house, and another one due to a careless winter shelter on the west side.
In conclusion, I note that the subsequent care of the grapes and its cultivation were carried out according to the recommendations known from the literature. Several bunches of grapes, obtained in the third year after planting the seedling, produced modest, but wonderful berries, not inferior in quality and taste to those grown in the south.