Am looking to grow grapes and was considering constructing a trellis out of
1 1/4" galvanized pipe. I was planning on driving the vertical runs about 3
feet below grade(frost line here) and running 1 1/4" horizontal piping runs
about 7 feet high off them. A few concerns came to mind.....the horizontal
runs will be about 10 feet long....is that long enough? The vines will be
trained along the piping. Due to the size of the piping will it tend to get
too hot for the vines as the direct sun shines on them, thus burning the
vines and leaves? I'm in the northeast. Thanks in advance.
I saw the 3 foot deep frost and mention of northeast and wondered if
you lived up here with me. Now I see your e-mail address and assume
you are south of me. I live in the Adirondacks (Tupper Lake).
I suspect that heat will not be a problem. Pipe of that diameter
will probably prevent the vines from climbing by themselves. You
will have to tie the vines up. Don't tie them too tight when they
are young (just in case I'm wrong about heat not being a problem).
When they get bigger, there will be a lot of shade from all the
grape leaves by mid summer. If by chance, heat does turn out to be a
problem, all is not lost. Keep the galvanized frame but string
plastic coated wire between the uprights and tie the vines to that.
I'm wondering if you have decided which varieties you will grow. Did
you buy them yet? You are at least a zone warmer than here if you
are anywhere near Albany. Even so, some of the good seedless
varieties may be a little tender.
Right now I have Interlaken (it must be over 20 years old by now),
Venus, Reliance and Vanessa. I once had seedless concord but it was
a weak grower and died out. I had, until recently, Canadice. I
didn't like it and I got rid of it.
I can grow all of those here because I prune them each fall and take
them down off the trellis. When laid down flat to the ground, they
can survive. Otherwise, they would die down to the snow line each year.
I think Reliance is the best. It's a nice seedless red with good
flavor. Vanessa is very similar with slightly smaller grapes and a
very vigorous vine.
gee, i'm sorta in the same area as you guise...usda zone 4 in new
hamster...and i was wondering...do either of you ever have troubles with
japanese beetles defoliating your grape leaves as well as this particularly
HUGE catepillar devouring what's left?? man!!! i had SO MANY catepillars on
my concord grape i had (ahem) catepillar manure...enough to form quite a
manure heap and make me wonder if there's any benefit to catepillar manure?
at any rate, to make a short story long, can you guys suggest any ORGANIC
method to protecting the poor little grapies from these horrid buggers??
thanks, in advance.
Over the years, my biggest grape pest has been the grape flea
beetle. They wouldn't be so bad if they only ate holes in the grown
leaves but they also arrive early. The early ones wait for the leaf
buds to swell and they eat a hole and hollow out the center. Some
years, I take a thimble sized amount of pesticide (such as Sevin)
and use an artist brush to paint it on the biggest of the early buds.
That doesn't answer your question. I'm just talking.
Japanese beetles.... not too many years ago, I had never seen one
around here. I was kind of hoping it was too cold for them to live
here. Then one year, I found one. The next year, there were a few,
then several, then a bunch, then last year, there were enough to
actually do some real damage to the grape vines. Assuming the trend
continues, I'll probably spray them with something this summer.
I've never had the caterpillars. Do you have them every year or just
last year? If they return, it would be interesting to find out
exactly what they are and what they turn into when they grow up.
How organic do you need to be? Are you willing to use a natural
insecticide? Rotenone would probably be effective on both pests.
Maybe an oil spray? There are horticultural oils mad from vegetable
oil. If you want to use no pesticides of any kind, that probably
only leaves a physical barrier. Have you ever used Remay fabric? You
might try draping some of that over the top and sides of your grape
vine during the Japanese beetle season. A few might get in under it
but I bet most would just land on the fabric and wish they were inside.
Let us know what you try and how it turns out.
Here's one way to deal with Japanese beetles--get a small bucket, fill
partially with water, and add a good squirt or two of liquid soap. The type
of soap is not important, it serves to break the surface tension of the
water. Then go in the garden early in the morning and again late in the
afternoon, when the beetles are a bit sluggish, knock them off the leaves,
and let them fall into the bucket. They will drown and you can dispose of
them as you see fit.
If you are diligent about this over the course of several days, you can make
a huge dent in the population. It doesn't take long, and no spraying is
involved. In my garden the beetles congregate on a few favored types of
plants, so I do a quick pass twice a day.
The other thing you can do is pray for starlings 8-)....I know they are
often thought of as undesirable birds, but I've never seen other birds eat
Japanese beetles. The last few summers they have cleaned up the beetles on
my cannas, and I was grateful.
Zone 6, South-central PA
This could be a very good thing. I wonder if starlings everywhere
have learned to eat Japanese beetles? Perhaps this is a new food for
them and it may take a while for all of the starling population to
figure it out. Probably wishful thinking but it would be nice if a
natural control appeared that would keep the beetle damage tolerable.
My main control has been to grab the ones I see, toss them onto a
brick and slam another brick on top before they fly away. I do know
about the bucket of soapy water trick but never bothered to go back
to the house to get the bucket. I'll have to try it this summer.
Their habit of dropping straight down when threatened makes it
perfect for them. Thanks for the reminder.
It might be quicker to just use a small shop vac. Get a voltage converter so
you can run it off your garden tractor's battery. We have serious problem
here in Ohio with Asian beetles. They look like dull orange lady bugs.
It just crossed my mind that a Bt spray would certainly put a stop
to the caterpillar invasion. Get some Dipel or other brand and get
the kind made to be mixed with water and sprayed on. Don't bother
with the dust on type.
If you are concerned about heat, you might consider putting a sleeve of
PVC pipe around the galvanized pipe which would solve the possible heat
problem. When the vines are mature, the leaves should prevent potentially
damaging excess heat when, eventually, the PVC, not being designed for
out-of-the-ground exposure to sun and elements, will degrade. It can then
be removed if you want as it will be quite "cuttable" by that time. If
you decide to do that, you will, of course, put the PVC pipe on the
lengths before you fasten the joints. It might look a bit peculiar at the
joints with the gap in the PVC, but that will fill with leaves and be
hidden. Of course, you could put a big artificial flower there to
disguise it until the vines are tall enough to conceal it (or a bunch of
artificial grapes!).<g> Seriously, you can probably think of a way to
disguise it if you want to do that.
A custom arbor trellis is in the future for my new kiwi plants but in the
meantime, they have a temporary trellis which can be removed when the
permanent one is built. I have aluminum electrical conduit supporting the
plants on the lower horizontals with PVC on the upper parts, and it seems
to not be a problem with heat on the aluminum which was a concern. It
does get quite hot on sunny summer days but, thus far, it hasn't caused
apparent damage. The switch to the PVC was also because of heat concern,
though the permanent trellis will be metal.
It seems logical that the leaves of your new plants will protect the plant
on the verticals as they vine up the pipe and the same would be true of
the horizontals, keeping in mind that there will be leaves to shade the
pipe during any time of year that it might get hot enough to potentially
damage the plants. Something else you might do to reduce the heat
transference is to fill the vertical pipes with sand or dirt once they are
in the ground to help reduce conduction though that would be entirely
experimental since it would still conduct along the pipe. If it were me
and concerned about the heat issue, I'd use the PVC sleeves. Green might
seem more appealing, but black blends in better and tends to disappear in
the mind's eye as well as not obviously fading. I have a black PVC
support for the bird feeder in the middle of the garden and it doesn't
attract the eye like green or white would.
BTW, you will want to be certain to imbed your pipe in a non-corrosive
material or by the time the vines are mature, the pipe will be
weakened/corroded. Definitely consider cutting it and adding a joint
about a foot above the soil level since the damage will be when your
grapes vines are mature and at their very best many years from now.
Depending on your soil, consider a good layer of gravel under it to pull
away the excess water (under, not around). I'd also put a PVC sleeve (at
least an inch larger than the metal) around the pipe and fill the space
betweent the pipes with a good sand to keep the soil contact away from the
metal pipe. That way the corrosive action of the concrete and soil is on
the PVC and not the pipe. Many years ago, I typed a very revealing report
by a pipe supplier sales person that described in detail the corrosive
nature of different soils on the many types of metal pipe. He had
definitely done his research and was asked to present it at many seminars
across the U.S. and received some prestigious industry awards for it. Some
last as little as 15-20 years! Having replaced water lines to older
houses, I have no doubt this is a major problem. I worked for a utilities
contractor, and he took some pretty rough-looking stuff out of the ground.
Remember what you see is not what is supporting the vines; the main
support is the part you cannot see since everything else rests on that.
Enjoy your grape adventure.
First.. I'm compelled to say, if you live in the city limits, check
with zoning folks to see if there are any rules as to the height of
your grape support. I'm in the process at the moment (just called the
code enforcement people this morning) with dealing with the issue that
my posts are too tall, over 6' , because the jerk next door that the
woman who lives there married recently, complained that they were too
tall. They've been there for 10 years, and as soon as he saw a friend
out there putting up braces to support the corners he was out there
saying "you can't do that! You can't do that it's against the code"
*sigh* He's taken it upon himself to complain about everything he can
since he moved in.. hates me for some reason. Dun no if it's that I'm
fat, or he took what I had said about trimming the trees growing into
the phone lines as a threat. Just said I didn't know if they phone
company could charge him for trimming if the lines caused an outage.
Dun no, but he didn't trim them and I had an outage because of it.
Anyway, I'm likely to have to cut them to 6' because of the twit.
My father used to be the water master for a geothermal heating
company, and often had to replace water lines where there were still
chunks of pipe that was still sturdy, so he used 3 pipes to support
the grapes on the west side of the back yard (those are going to be a
joy to cut). One was just replaced as it had rotted off at ground
level after 22 years or so. The exterior of the pipes was corroded
with calcifications and such. So you might be able to roughen them
and put some mixed up cement or plaster if it's really bothering you,
but unless your sun beats down harder than this zone 6 high desert
area does, I don't figure it's going to get too hot to bother grape
However, how long of a span are you planning to run these horizontal
pipes before you put in another vertical support? Some of the grape
varieties are VERY vigorous and it's amazing how much growth they can
produce over the course of a summer! I have Himrods, a seedless green
grape, that regularly puts out 20 to 30 feet of vine over the course
of a year, and the weight load can get pretty amazing too when they
bear heavily, particularly if you are like me, and don't get them
pruned when you should ;-)
Himrods can put out a lot of vine by the third year and start cropping
then and every year after that. Himrods have long loose clusters,
others like Mars and Venus have tight large clusters, Canadice have
LOTS of tight clusters with medium sized berries. They too are
vigorous vines. Their skins can get pretty tough if they don't get
adequate water but they're pretty sweet. Concords and Ontario would
be vigorous heavy producers. Interlaken often freeze to the ground as
do thompson seedless grapes in my area zone 6. Some folks who live on
the top of a hillside manage to grow them, as the cold flows down the
hill away from them. But not here, the one year they produced
anything they were smaller than baby peas. I dug them out.
I used 10 gauge black wire for supporting the grapes run through
redwood posts. Wire works well in that it does give a little if the
grapes decide to hunker down and pull on it. I can cut the vines
loose in the winter or spring .. stretch them a little, and they're
good to go. They *might* pull down a more rigid support. I can't
visualize the pipe size ..I know I know.. you told me but I gotta see
it .. to SEE it ;-) Grapes are tenacious things that can surprise
you with how much they can grow and how many grapes they can make.
One season I think I gave away a pickup bed full..long standard pickup
I have one that is my favorite I started from cuttings from a friend's
vine. In their yard it had seeds. In mine, it's been seedless ..
except for the years when the growing conditions gave all the seedless
grapes little soft seeds. That particular grape is soooo good that it
floods the *entire* mouth, cheeks, roof of the mouth, and tongue with
so much flavor it's just amazing. I gotta get some others started
because the jerk that's complaining about the height of the posts
supporting the grapes, is letting a black walnut grow right next to
the fence where that grape is, jugulone put out by the roots could
Good luck with your grapes, but check those city/county codes!
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