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Growing grapes in your backyard not only lets you see the beautiful bounty of these berries but also promises a tasty treat for your palate. Grapes come in various colors, shapes, sizes, and flavors perfect for making wines, jellies, jams, and juices. If you want your own supply of grapes, rest assured that you don’t need to have acres of vineyards. Grapes can also be grown in a small garden. That said, growing grapes in aquaponics gardens can also be a feasible option.
In this article, you will learn how to cultivate grapes in an aquaponics system.
Why Grow Aquaponic Grapes
Grapes (genus Vitis) is a vining or climbing plant belonging to the Vitaceae family. They use tendrils or their modified branches to cling to structures for support. When left untrained, a grapevine can reach 56 feet in length or more.
Grapes are relatively easy to grow; you can provide support in the form of trellis, pergola, arbor, or even a simple traditional post with wires. Once grapevines are established and maintained with proper care, they can bear fruits for decades. Depending on the chosen variety, one can grow grapes that are perfect for jellies, jams, wine, and juice.
Other than the abundance of fruits, the vines can also add a dramatic visual appeal to your backyard. The plant has beautifully-shaped leaves and colorful grapes when they ripen.
Health Benefits of Grapes
Besides being a prolific fruit-bearer, grapes are also valued for their nutritional benefits. According to the USDA, a cup (92g) of raw grapes can provide the following nutrients:
- Calories: 62
- Protein: 0.6g
- Fat: 0.3g
- Sodium: 2mg
- Carbohydrates: 16g
- Sugars: 15g
- Fiber: 1g
When growing grapes in aquaponics gardens, choosing the right variety will depend on what you will do with the fruits. If you desire grapes that you can eat straight from the vine, or make jelly or jam, there will be varieties that are more suited for that specific purpose.
Grapes can fall into three types: American, European, and Muscadine. American varieties include the popular Concord grapes and Mars – both of which are perfect for making jellies and jams. They are also more cold-hardy compared to most European types. The European varieties are more favored for wine-making while the muscadines are also great for making preserves.
It’s also good to note some of the varieties that are great when tasted off the vine, which are:
- America — an American seedless variety, with a distinct rich flavor
- Price — another sweet, seedless American type
- Thompson Seedless — small, green-colored European cultivar suitable for hot climates
- Flames – A European seedless variety that produces red berries
- Crimson seedless — This European variety is seedless but produces large, flavorful red grapes.
Growing Requirements for Aquaponic Grapes
To help grapes thrive in an aquaponics system, refer to the requirements below:
Aquaponics System Types
Grapes, being a vining plant, can be grown in media-filled beds, as long as you provide structural support.
A pH range of 5.5 to 6.5 is considered optimum for growing aquaponic grapes. Make sure to use a quality pH meter.
Home gardeners have been successful with gravel or hydroton when growing grapes.
Water and Air Temperature
Maintain an optimum temperature range between 77 deg and 90 deg F to promote grapevine growth.
Grapes love the sun, so place your plant where they can receive lots of light, about seven hours each day.
You can start with tilapia, a hardy fish, for your aquaponics grapes. Other fish types that should tolerate water conditions for aquaponic grape growing include crappie, bluegill, and walleye.
Growing seeds from grapes is not feasible since it may not bear the same fruit as the ones they came from. A better option is to purchase a grapevine or cuttings that have already established young roots. You can transplant them to your aquaponics system.
Grapes are well-loved by birds, too, so you may want to put up a bird netting to protect the fruits.
Common Problems When Growing Grapes
Black rot is a common problem when growing grapevines that you need to watch out for. This fungal disease can leave circular brown spots on the berries, which then make them appear like raisins.
A grapevine can experience other potential disease problems, and the way to treat them is to identify them. One way to do it is to collect a sample of a twig or leaf and then and have a gardening expert identify it. You can use a tool like this to find someone near your area to help with the identification.
Pruning is required for the maintenance of your grapevine. Ideally, you need to do this early in Spring. Also, bear in mind that you’re not supposed to be getting many grapes during the first few years from planting. If you see them, it’s best to remove them. Keeping the grapevines from fruiting during the first few years promotes the growth of a sturdy stem and well-established roots.