red seedless grapes -- can I grow them in my backyard?

topic posted Sun, September 23, 2007 - 7:49 PM by  puah
and if I can... (I'm in Massachusetts, zone 5b I believe.) where would one find grape plants to plant and what are the good varieties, and what to do to prepare the soil in the spring? (etc, etc, etc)


thank you!
posted by:
  • puah: you are posting this in the "sustainable" backyard gardening tribe. You wont find many supporters of 'seedless anything' in here..
    as that means no sustainability.

    Perhaps you just want normal grapes, and for that I can tell you that we grow them here in Switzerland, no problem. They are not so sweet, and you need to get the right varieties, but i actually love the taste of these varieties..especially the red ones,- yum.
  • Own-rooting

    Mon, September 24, 2007 - 8:42 PM
    Most varieties of grape can be propagated through cuttings through "own-rooting." The simplest explanation I've heard is to take a year's growth off a plant in the fall and place it about halfway down into the soil where the buds will become roots as it emerges from dormancy. A much better and more technical explanation is available at

    You may check to see if there is an agricultural extension or home orchard society in your area, since folks who grow grapes usually love grapes and are often happy to share knowledge if not cuttings.
    • Re: Own-rooting

      Tue, September 25, 2007 - 3:20 AM
      You know, if everybody just favored the seedless varieties, then soon the plants would no longer be able to exist without human help at all..- So that is where the sustainability issue is.

      Especially if the breeds that are around already perform badly at propagating from seed.., it seems high time to start growing the self-sustaining varieties again!
      • Re: Own-rooting

        Tue, September 25, 2007 - 7:30 AM
        Do the seeded varieties come "true?" I had a few years of disappointment trying to do this with apples, seeding them into abandoned lots. I got a lot of fairly odd and foul apples: better than nothing but not to my tastes. So, some grape varieties are more like blackberries than strawberries this way? I did not know that! Interesting...

        For a backyard garden, I still see hand-propagation as sustainable, and would argue that varieties that perish without human intervention over time may be better ecologically as well. When the humans go, so should our monster "slave plants," so that native ecosystems can restore themselves with fewer exotics. Gardening and restorative permaculture are different things to me, but it is good to know that there are some domesticated grapes that will reproduce from seeds. Can they be sown into abandoned lots? What is best to help get them established?
  • Is "own-rooting" like "splicing"? -- I think I read something like what you described, Mac, regarding roses and apple trees. I will look for some local orchards -- that sounds like a great idea -- the reason I want to do it myself is simply because I don't like the grapes in the store -- I wonder where they're from and if they're fresh and if they're some GMO hybrid or who-knows-what. Grapes have had a bad rap for a long time too because of the pesticide thing and the politics of the migrant farmers' concerns. So I want to simplify.

    As far as seeds go -- my little boy prefers the seedless variety because it's easier to eat. It is nice to have seeds because it's good knowing that our food is fertile. As for my own grape plants, though, since my understanding is that they are perennial, my one plant doesn't need to go farther than just come back each year. That's sustainable enough for me, for this plant, for this purpose.

    and thanks for your input Jana. I'll keep it in mind.
  • ok... now i'm reading the honeycreek link -- it wasn't "splicing", it's grafting that I was thinking of. (splicing is for wiring the vw bus -- doh)

    so, yes, thank you Mac for the link and i'll look for local growers and try the cuttings method.
    • if you grow native species, the old non cultivated native types, of course they seed just like anything else..
      we have some native grapes in Ticino, the italian climate part of Switzerland, which grows happily and randomly anyplace..
      the grapes of course are more the size of supermarket blueberries.. and have thicker skin, as well as fairly large seeds..
      But frankly, I much prefer the taste!
      Also they are more weather hardy, and dont require spraying with anything..
      People here let them grow into canopies over the terrace, gives shade, fruit, and lovely autumn coloured leaves..

      I am a little disappointed at the lack of sustainability thinking in this sustainability tribe..

      and Puah, one last thought: Your little boy may fuss about seeds for the next couple of years.. but a healthy grape plant may live for 30, even 50 years.. When he is 20 years old, what will you tell him when he asks you what you did to protect his earth inheritance?

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