Believe it or not, you can grow grapes in West Clare. I have successfully produced lots of fruit in a polytunnel and I'm getting closer every year with a few outside vines. Burren Berries has a variety of green grapes which produces sweet fruit in July and August each year. Growing grapes is a little trickier than other fruit crops and where you plant the grapes is very important. But, there is nothing like the feeling of munching down on your own Mediterranean fruit grown with sight of Atlantic in Ireland. 

Planting in the polytunnel:
Planting is the tricky part. The roots of the grape need to be outside of the polytunnel - they grow deep and are hungry for water and nutrients - but the leaves need to be inside. The solution is to plant the grape at the edge of tunnel, under the plastic if possible. This is easiest done while you are putting on the plastic but can also be done after. Plant the root directly into soil just over the threshold of you tunnel. Slide a piece of pipe or similar over the plant and then trail the pipe into the polytunnel. You may need to dig a hole underneath your polytunnel so be careful not to damage the plastic. Once you've got the roots on the outside of the tunnel and the plant on the inside, you are set. Give it a little water (remember, water the roots outside, not the leaves inside) and wait for it to grow.

Planting outside: 
If you are going to try to grow grapes outside in the West of Ireland you need to choose the sunniest, most sheltered spot you have. The grape plant will grow well outside, but, if you want to grow fruit, you need as much heat and sheer as you can get. Avoid any frost pockets, pick a south facing area close to a wall or hedge. Chose plants or hedges for around the grape that will protect it but not steal its sunshine. If you have a walled garden, or could create the environment of a walled garden, that is the goal. I have two, five-year-old grape plants growing outside in a semi-exposed site. One plant produced grapes last year [2020], but the grapes never grew large enough to eat. I have planted hedging on two exposed sides which will hopefully provide enough shelter and trap enough heat to yield grapes in two or three more

Burren Berries' grapes produce bunches of sweet green grapes with small seeds which ripen in August or September. 

After care:
You will need to support your grape plant with a stake or fence. Once established, the vines can grow up to a metre each summer. The plants are also late to come out of dormancy in the spring - as late as April or May depending on the weather - so don't be fooled into thinking that the plants have not survive the winter. Pruning of grapes is a science all of its own and something that I am not qualified to give any definite advice about. Some people recommend quite extensive pruning of established vines - limiting the number of grape bunches per plant. I would recommend pruning conservatively until your plant is well established and trying to produce fruit - after four or five years. 

Visit the SHOP to buy raspberries and other Burren Berries. 

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