After planting trees, we next added some berries and grapes.  Teri’s favorite fruit are berries, including blackberries which generally grow well in Texas.  A specific variety of blackberry is the dewberry, which she grew up eating in pies.  And one of my favorite fruits is grapes.  So that became step 2 of our backyard improvement projects.

I planted them near the fence to take advantage of the posts for future trellising. 

Navaho blackberry on left, dewberry on right: April 3, 2011

PICT8930Red flame grapes: April 3, 2011

After planting them, I knew I’d eventually need to install a trellis for the grapes but decided to wait until it was necessary.  It didn’t take as long as I thought!  In July they had grown enough (thanks to regular watering) to where the PVC pipe was no longer sufficient, so I installed a cable trellis across the fence posts.

PICT9417Red Flame grapes: July 9, 2011.

PICT9418This gauge of cable is a bit of overkill, but unfortunately Lowes was out of the cable ties for the smaller sizes!

I unfortunately made some mistakes when I tried tying the grape to the trellis.  Mistake one was tying the delicate tip to the upper cable before they had gotten thicker and stronger.  Mistake two was using zip ties, which are a bit harsh on the younger growth and don’t stretch, so if you’re not careful they can dig into the stems and potentially cause the rest of the grape to wither.  This happened, and I had to cut off the tip of the main grape shoot, preventing it from continuing to gain height just short of the upper cable.  I’m now afraid that it won’t be until next season that it will put off another shoot which I can tie at the top.  Thus, I recommend being patient before tying your grapes to the trellis and using something that’s fairly soft and either flexible or tied loosely to allow the grape canes to thicken unhindered.

This setback aside, the grapes have been doing very well and look as though they may even produce a modest crop next year!  That’s pretty exciting.

The berries, unfortunately, haven’t been doing so well.  Unlike grapes, which do alright in fairly infertile soil, blackberries do need decent soil and our soil is decidedly poor (I did a soil test and the nitrogen content and acidity was almost nil).

PICT9429Berries on the right, not exactly big and bushy yet.

So I’m not sure what to do for the berries.  I’ve added a bit of organic fertilizer and every week water them with diluted leftover coffee from my French press (contains acid and nitrogen), but they continue to grow very slowly.  They don’t look particularly unhealthy, but they’re definitely not thriving.

Anyway, we’ll see how they do next year.  At least I’m optimistic about the grapes!

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