Langley gardening: Prune dormant grapes hard

Dear Anne,

“How do you trim back grape plants? I have lots of fruits now, and the plant has grown so bushy.”

Raquel, Coquitlam

Grapevines should be pruned when they’re dormant and you can see what you’re doing.

The simplest and most effective way of pruning grapes is to cut almost all the growth on your grapevine, so you end up with one main trunk plus four branches on each. Each of your four branches should be as thick as a ballpoint pen, and cut back to about 12 buds each.

You should also leave four stubs pruned back to about two buds each. Each of those four stubs should emerge from the trunk at a point close to each of the branches.

The idea is that your four branches will produce fruiting side branches that will give you grapes in the next fruiting season (2015).

So what you end up with after you’ve pruned this fall/winter is one trunk, four side branches and four stubs.

Be prepared for a grapevine that looks like you tried to murder it. Also, you’ll have masses of green waste/compost.

When you prune next fall or winter, the four stubs will have grown to a size suitable to become your four branches. Cut them back to 12 buds and also leave four stubs (cut to about two buds each) close to the four branches.

Grapes are a lot of work, but very nice when they’re kept tidy by yearly pruning. Otherwise they will try to eat your house.

Dear Anne,

“I live 22 kilometres north east of Smoky Lake, Alberta. I have struggled for years with a veggie garden. Just when I think I have the soil nice and light and workable, we get a hot summer like this year, then it rains and the dirt turns to concrete. The dirt is what they call number two grey ash about one foot deep, then it goes to sandy clay.

“I have leaves and grass cuttings about three feet deep. I’ve been dumping them in the same place for 20 years on the acreage. Would it help if I put it all in the garden and tilled it in? Big job, but I could do it – or is there a better way? My garden is 50 by 20 feet.”

Richard, Alberta

There is no better way. Putting those leaves and clippings on the garden and tilling them in is the best way possible.

Those grass clippings and leaves will have broken down into rich, black compost. More than anything else, compost holds moisture in soil and forms a nutritious easy-to-work garden.

It’s good that you saved these things over the years and have them all in one place. I suggest you begin by taking one foot depth of this material and till that in. That way it won’t be such a huge job, and the compost will get mixed in better.  

The following year, do another foot, and the year after that, the last foot.

You might try choosing a different spot for the next pile of clippings, so you can use the lower layers of the old spot before you start on the new pile.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Child airlifted to hospital after crash in rural Langley

Jaws of life were used to cut off the roof of a car and free its occupants from a two-car accident.

LETTER: Medical care in Langley and beyond deplorable

The shortage of family doctors shouldn’t exist. Who’s really to blame?

LETTER: Langley has water in its chemical supply

A homeless man in Langley questions what’s being put into the public drinking water.

LETTER: Langley needs to find balance between construction and destruction

One letter writer calls for review of Murrayville development, saying trees need to be preserved.

Langley netminder makes ‘unbelievable’ saves in draw against Seattle

Trinity Western University women’s soccer team battled to a 0-0 draw to Seattle, while boys fell 2-0.

VIDEO: Mustang Roundup in Langley attracts car lovers from all over

A car show dedicated entirely to one model of Ford drew admirers and collectors to George Preston Recreation Centre.

Canadians fear for relatives trapped amid flooding in Indian state of Kerala

More than 800,000people have been displaced by floods and landslides

IndyCar driver Wickens flown to hospital after scary crash

IndyCar said Wickens was awake and alert as he was taken to a hospital

Ex-BCTF president ‘undeterred’ after early release from pipeline protest jail term

Susan Lambert and Order of Canada recipient Jean Swanson released early

Fast food chains look to capitalize on vegetarian, vegan trend with new items

Seven per cent of Canadians consider themselves vegetarians and 2.3 per cent identify as vegans

B.C. swimmer halts journey across Strait of Juan de Fuca after hypothermia sets in

Victoria MS athlete Susan Simmons swam for eight-and-a-half hours in 9 C choppy waters

‘Hard on water:’ Smoke not the only long-range effect of wildfires

The project began more than 10 years ago after southern Alberta’s 2003 Lost Creek fire

B.C. VIEWS: Genuine aboriginal rights are misused and discredited

Camp Cloud one of long line of protests falsely asserting title

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to march in Montreal’s Pride parade

Trudeau will end the day in his home riding of Papineau

Most Read