Proper pruning, plucking and picking produces the best grapes

    Listen 00:52:57

    Do you have a grapevine that looks great in the Spring but awful by harvest time? Mike McGrath reveals how proper pruning, plucking and picking can produce grapes you’ll be proud of!


    Questions of the Week:

    “Every year I get a nice initial production of grapes from my backyard vines, but they eventually develop blackish spots, dry up and die. My father says it’s “black rot.’ Is there anything I can do to prevent it?”

    — Angelo in Springfield (Delaware County) PA

    “Every year in the late spring I get beautiful little green grapes. But by mid-summer they’re all dry and dark looking. I’ve tried all kinds of fungicide sprays, but none helped. I showed the grapes to my local extension office, but they had no idea what it was. I remember Mike mentioning a product called “Surround” in one of his shows. Do you think that it’s applicable here?”

    — Jing, “doing well in Clinton, NJ”

    Tips and tricks for growing grapes »

    • Growing grapes

    Highlights from show for June 12, 2015:

    Pruning Roses

    Lyn in Edmond, OK would like to know when to prune roses. On a previous episode, she had obtained a partial answer that pruning can take place 2 weeks after they have bloomed. Mike explains that many people injure their flowers by pruning them in the fall, especially those who live in colder climates; pruning stimulates growth at any season of the year except for winter. When this is done, one is forcing their roses to grow and actually weakens the root system. Mike advises to wait for new growth to be visible in the Spring and make sure to prune 2 weeks after they bloom or grow. Lyn confesses that her roses began to leaf out early this year and then winter came along and killed a lot of them. Mike explains that since she pruned them in February, which is too early, the new growth froze. Mike advises for the future, if this kind of situation were to take place again, she needs to be patient until the area is out of the frost zone to remove the dead parts. This would most definitely help Lyn’s situation.


    Mole Control

    Bruce in Raleigh, NC has no idea how to get rid of his neighbors moles, whose yard is filled with raised tunnels. Mike warns that moles are very hard to get rid of. Mike suggests for his neighbor to apply “milky spore disease” to his lawn this fall as we get to August; this is a naturally occurring soil bacterium that will get rid of any kind of scarab beetle larva or white grubs in the soil” continues Mike. By doing this, it eliminates the one of the top food sources of moles. Step two would be to purchase a castor oil based repellent. It is important to purchase the highest concentration of its kind. It should be put down once in the fall and once in the spring. Lastly, traps for moles would be effective too in the process.


    Community Gardening

    Mary in CA would like to know if it is possible to grow a vegetable garden in her apartment that only receives about half an hour worth of sunlight. She is interested in vegetables such as tomatoes. Mike informs her that plants like tomatoes need six to eight hours of sunlight; therefore, she will not be able to grow them in her home. What Mike would suggest, considering her circumstances, is community gardening. Additionally, he adds that by gardening in the local garden, she can allow her tomatoes to get enough sun but to also take note that they need some shade in the afternoon and she can do that with an umbrella. Mike warns that growing plants in such little light is not healthy at all for it concentrates too much nitrogen which isn’t beneficial.”


    Yellow Jackets

    Dee in Emporium, PA has been stung by a yellow jacket and doesn’t have access to the entrance hole of the nest due to the structure of her house. Mike informs her that if these insects are nesting in the ground underneath,it is safe to say that they are merely beginning to populate. Over the winter these yellow jackets tend to save their eggs so they can be able to populate and the month of July seems to be the month where it ‘explodes’ Mike states. Mike would typically advise his callers in this situation to cover the nest up with some sort of cloth or fabric and smother; however, Dee’s case is different. Mike suggests that she purchases an electric trap used to kill mosquitoes for they will fly into the light and electrocute themselves. It is best for her to set up this equipment on a cool night when they aren’t active. She can also get empty quart-sized jars and remove the lid “ using a screwdriver, drill a hole in the lid and insert something such as ham or cat food in the jar with the lid on. Placing that jar nearby their hive would be ideal. Mike adds on that two jars, one with a sweet bate such as a rotten peach and the other with a meat bate; this will allow them to get inside but not out. When they are in the jar it is best to let them ‘cook’ in the sun rather then empty them out.


    Blueberries & Bees

    Drew in PA would like to know how much sun blueberries need, since he has just begun growing them. His second question is how to attract bees to the area where he is growing his blueberries, so they can reap the benefits? Mike reassured him that adding bees is great to pollinate the blueberry bushes. Mike says that blueberries want as much sun as they possible can get. The more sun they receive the more berries will establish. Also, the more plants are around the more blueberries are likely to grow according to Mike. The three seasons for blueberries are early, midseason and late varieties; “instead of having a big three or four cluster, you can put four different varieties of each seasonality and you can extend the harvest to go for many, many months” informs Mike. Peat moss mixed in with well-drained mulched soil, and removing most of the native soil is essential to helping them grow and produce to their fullest potential. These fruits require the most acidic soil in order to thrive.

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